Saturday, April 28, 2012

(DC NATION) APRIL 28th, 2012

Young Justice
Season 2, Episode 1
"Happy New Year"

Young Justice is an animated superhero show done right. One of the reasons I generally dislike more contemporary animated superhero shows is because the writers and producers tend to coddle the audience, assuming children aren't able to (or simply don't want to) understand more complex story elements. Fortunately, Young Justice is the exception to the rule, proving that taking a big leap with audience expectations can greatly pay off, especially when it appeases the hardcore comic book fans, too.

Looks like Cassie Sandsmark is YJ's Wonder Girl of choice!
"Happy New Year" starts off five years after the events of "Auld Acquaintances" and things are different. Dick Grayson has become Nightwing, allowing Tim Drake to take the Robin mantle (and join the Team); Blue Beetle, Beast Boy, Wonder Girl, Batgirl, Lagoon Boy, and Bumblebee have all joined the Team; M'gann and Superboy are no longer an item (but M'gann and Lagoon Boy are!); Aqualad, Artemis, and Kid Flash have apparently left the Team (they are nowhere to be seen); while Zatanna and Rocket are full-fledged members of the Justice League. WOW! I think that about covers it.

Most networks wouldn't dare allow a show (technically) aimed at children to deviate so harshly from the core framework of it's first, highly successful season. But just like the comics, the Team is has an ever-changing roster, and the writers have conveyed this fact excellently. It very much feels like this second season of Young Justice comes from the heart - the producers obviously hold these characters in high regard and want to use as many of them as possible. How much cooler is it to write a episodes with Robin and Nightwing? Or to include the under-appreciated, rather interesting second incarnation of the Blue Beetle? It's a win-win situation, as Cartoon Network now gets to sell soooo many more toys.

The second season of Young Justice is subtitled 'Invasion', a concept that comes to ahead when Wonder Girl and Batgirl take on Lobo, who himself is looking to complete a job by retrieving a Krolotean criminal. Lobo rips apart a seemingly innocent diplomat to reveal the small Krolotean operator inside. Video footage makes its way into the media and the question becomes, "How can we trust who is and isn't an alien?" While this story element may harken to Marvel's Secret Invasion event a few years ago, it remains to be seen if the Kroloteans have infested the superhero community.

At the end of last season, six superheroes went missing for 16 of the 24 hours that the Justice League was under Vandal Savage's mind control. In the present (or five years in the future if season one was 2011) Adam Strange - a scientist accidentally Zeta Beamed to the planet Rann - explains that the same six missing heroes are wanted criminals on Rann and across the galaxy. This revelation sets into motion the major arcs for 'Invasion': how do the Missing Six connect to Rann, why have the Kroloteans invaded Earth, why are they afraid of the Blue Beetle, and finally; who will we meet next?

Overall, "Happy New Year" is about 80% showcasing for the new faces audiences will be seeing going forward in Young Justice, and about 20% fantastic plot that moves the story forward while making connections to a bigger malice.


Green Lantern: The Animated Series
Season 1, Episode 9
"In Love and War"

Zamarons! Yes! Green Lantern: TAS seems to really be picking itself up by the bootstraps - with three great episodes in a row, this show may just be an acceptable Green Lantern enterprise yet! By incorporating two new Lantern groups (and a technical third with the cameo from Saint Walker a few episodes back), Bruce Timm is really bringing Geoff Johns' multi-colored Corps dream to life. Of course, just like in the comics, the Sapphires mostly use love instead of have it, per se. I mean, their entity is the Predator, who infects hosts who use love as an excuse to commit vile actions. It came as no surprise when Kilowog's girlfriend from last episode showed up as a new Sapphire, then froze ol' 'Wog in pink ice.

More and more, the writers for Green Lantern: TAS are bringing elements from the comics into the show, however slowly. Carol Ferris hasn't made an appearance since the first episode, so it was nice to see her return, not only for continuity's sake, but also as a mirror image of her comic book self: a Star Sapphire. Carol's ability to resist the Sapphire's power shows another young Sapphire that the Zamarons have a fundamental misunderstanding of the meaning of love. Unfortunately, the show squanders a chance to build a "Rainbow Brigade" of its own (a la Green Lantern: New Guardians) by sending Carol back to Earth by the end of the episode.

"In Love and War" is definitely one of better episodes of the series so far. While not as strong as "Reckoning" (an episode I still regret not covering), it gives this animated GL universe even more depth without going overboard with colors quickly.


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