The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Targets

Well, after a long hiatus Cartoon Network has finally... posted the new episode of "Young Justice" on their website without actually airing the damn thing on television. I could ramble about how absurd I find this, but I think I'd rather ramble about the damn thing.

Or rather it was up. Looks like Cartoon Network finally realized the mistake and took the episode down. It's been pulled off YouTube as well. I think this was definitely a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.


This is a show that, I swear, gets better with each episode. I've been enjoying the Red Arrow character since the first episode, so I really dug this episode. He had a lot of character development, and while I can't see him joining the team yet, I do think the door is open for it.

Sportsmaster and Cheshire both make welcome returns. And Cheshire is a character that has really grown on me. I love the chemistry she has, not just with Red Arrow, but with everyone. Kelly Hu is doing a magnificent job with that character. So are the writers and animators. She just personifies the sexy badass, and I am eager to see more of her.

As for Sportsmaster, well, I still don't know too much about him. But I am told he is a D-List villain in the comics who is really shining in this series. He's intimidating, badass, and I guess I'm eager to see more of him to. And while we're talking about villains, for the first time in this series, two of the DC Universe's A-List villains have finally been formally introduced.

I was really happy to see Ra's al Ghul, he's one of my favorite Batman villains. Oded Fehr did a great job with his voice, even if I'll have to take some time to get used to it. I guess David Warner's voice has just imbibed itself into my brain for that character, that Fehr has a lot to live up to. But I enjoyed his performance and I am eager to hear more of him. I also enjoyed his skills not just as a leader, but as an assassin. With just pure skill he knew Red Arrow was watching his meeting with Cheshire and Sportsmaster and from where. Very cool. This is why he's the master of the League of Shadows.

And then, there's Lex Luthor. Lex is a character I have never, ever liked. I'm not quite sure why, it's like oil and water with me. I've always thought of him as the poor man's David Xanatos, even years before I ever met the character of David Xanatos. I don't know why. That being said, I did enjoy Mark Rolson's performance as Lex, he brought a lot of charisma to the role. Clancy Brown did the same thing for Lex Luthor too, loved the performance even if I still didn't like the character. Will this version of Lex break the mold and make me like the character? Time will tell. But Greg Weisman managed to make me like Venom, a character I've always detested. Again, time will tell.

Also, looks like we can finally, officially, identify two members of the Light. Oded Fehr voiced L-2, and Mark Rolston voiced L-3. May I just say, and I understand that this might be a bit petty, how ecstatic I am that Lex Luthor is not L-1? If these numbers are indeed a rank, then I would have been disappointed if Lex, again, took center stage. That's one of the reasons why the "Justice League" cartoons disappointed me, because they put too much emphasis on Lex Luthor (who already had that in the Superman cartoon that preceeded it) and not enough on a guy like Vandal Savage, who's appearances in "Justice League" really impressed me and who I felt should have been the main antagonist of that show.

The school scenes were pretty fun, although I was wondering why Superboy needed it, or a secret identity at all. But then, knowledge aside, Superboy could definitely benefit from learning more social skills, so I understand it. Miss Martian too, who seems to have learned everything about interacting with humans from a 50's sitcom.

And who is that, voicing the teacher. Hmm... someone couldn't resist now, could he? ;)

BTW, I loved the origin of the Conner Kent alias, and where they all think the "Kent" part came from.

11 comments:

  1. Personally I never saw what Savage would do that other villains couldn't. His appearances had a pattern of the 1st being in the past, 2nd being in the present, and the 3rd being in the future, but that's just me. Who was the voice of L-1 again?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Miguel Ferrer voiced L-1.

    As for Vandal Savage, there was just something about him in "Justice League." A real presence, real gravitas. I thought he was awesome. And I got that they were going for the past/present/future thing. But it didn't completely work, especially since "Hereafter" would have meant something if Savage and Superman had actually met one another prior to that episode.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Coming from someone who is a much bigger fan of Luthor than you seem to be (or of Superman's corner of the DC Universe in general, really), I LOVED this incarnation. Rolston struck just the right balance between the self-superior smugness that defines his character and the genuine skills and power to justify that attitude.

    To me, the distinction between Luthor and someone like David Xanatos is that David doesn't really care what his enemies are feeling so long as he comes out on top; Luthor genuinely wants them to feel crushed by his victories. It's somewhat petty, perhaps, but in his best incarnations I think it makes him ring truer. He is the personification of the arrogance and self-righteousness that Superman COULD wield with all his strength but actively chooses not to, and that's why I've always found the character fascinating. If you never have, I would suggest picking up Grant Morrison's "All-Star Superman" series; now THAT was a story that really got at the heart of why Lex occupies such a place of prominence in DC.

    In any event, however, the L-Number designations don't look like descending ranks to me. The Light strikes me as more of a high council sharing power equally, but I suppose time will tell.

    Vandal Savage, Ra`s al Ghul, Lex Luthor, the Brain, Ocean Master, Queen Bee, and our mysterious seventh member...yep, as far as Legions/Secret Societies/Leagues/whatevers go, the Light is shaping up to be one of the best in DC history. :D

    [Incidentally, according to the credits Greg W. is playing Lucas "Snapper" Carr, the original League's kid side-kick and later a mentor for the comics version of Young Justice. Quite appropriate a role for our favorite former English professor.]

    ReplyDelete
  4. To me, the difference between Xanatos and Luthor is this:

    Luthor has an inferiority complex. Xanatos has a superiority complex. Xanatos doesn't have to prove a damn thing to anyone, because he is self-confident enough to believe he's already won a long time ago. Luthor is an insecure person who feels the need to prove himself, and throws tantrums when he doesn't win.

    Xanatos is a confident adult. Luthor is a crybaby.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh, I agree entirely with that analysis, at least in broad-strokes. Where I differ with you is that you seem to believe that those qualities make Luthor a bad character, and I do not.

    Superman already has a supremely self-confident archenemy, and that is Darkseid (although Brainiac and Zod both share elements of this as well). But in addition to being Superman's archenemy, Luthor is also CLARK'S antithesis, and none of those other villains really serve that role well. For me, it is Lex's very immaturity that makes me buy him as the self-appointed representative of humanity that he depicts himself as, and it's what makes him work for me. Again, he's an externalized character flaw, similar to Ra`s al Ghul being something of an externalized version of Batman's more extremist temptations and Two-Face being an externalized version of the issues posed by his essential duality.

    One thing I am wondering, though, based on your Top Twenty Comic Book Villains list, is why you're so hard on Luthor and yet so fond of Doctor Doom, when I see them as fundamentally the same sort of character. Both Victor and Lex are unparalleled geniuses, concerned with the constant acquisition of power, would have changed the world to a technological utopia decades ago were they not obsessed with a personal vendetta toward a single hero, and typically tend to lose...somewhat ungracefully. Obviously much of this Depends on the Writer, particularly in Doom's case; there's a reason the trope "Actually a Doombot" exists, after all. But generally, I do consider them both the same sort of archetype - the overman with unlimited potential that is squandered by the fatal flaw of obsessive revenge - that the character of David Xanatos is a conscious rejection of.

    But what say you? As an unrepentant geek, I find all this stuff fascinating. :D

    ReplyDelete
  6. I do too.

    Well, Doom is helped for me by a fascinating back story, and, IMO, a really awesome look. I admit some superficiality here. But his basic look is awesome.

    I also love the science and sorcery angle he has going.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Eh, I can understand that. Lex Luthor certainly lacks that "stand-out" visual quality, and while I happen to think that that's part of what makes him work so well, I can understand why it could be something of a turn-off. I've had something of a similar problem with Marvel's Loki until the recent movie; as interesting of a character as he is, I find it immensely difficult to get past how frakking ridiculous his costume looks.

    But yeah, while I'm not much of a Fantastic Four reader in general, I'm an immense fan of Victor von Doom (somewhat similar to my feelings vis-a-vis Magneto and the X-Men, really), and agree fully with all you stated there. Shame the guy lacks any particularly good adaptations in other media; "Marvel Ultimate Alliance" probably pulled him off best, but that's only from catastrophic lack of competition.

    I may not be much a Marvel reader outside of the Spidey corner of their Universe...but they've definitely got some juicy Big Bads.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great review, Greg. The Sportsmaster was pretty much a goofy D-List villain that you wouldn't waste a second punch on. I am surprised and love how much this show has made Sportsmaster a credible adversary and a solid 10 on the badass-o-meter. Even his weapons aren't total cheesy gimmicks as they were in the comics.

    The very first rumor that I can remember for Young Justice was from IMDB stating Miguel Ferrer will voice Vandal Savage. This was months before the pilot. And since then, we know L-1 is voiced by Ferrer. Then a YJ toy for Savage surfaced some time ago. So it really seems like Savage will be L-1. Maybe the designations are for oldest to youngest?...heh...

    Are you able to contact Greg Weisman and ask him what the "NST" in the Taipei timestamp in the opening of the episode stands for?

    ReplyDelete
  9. MASTERDRAMON:
    I actually like Marvel's Loki a lot, always have. But I like Jack Kirby's style. I prefer Oliver Coipel's Loki, though.

    MICHAEL:
    I can contact Greg anytime I want, but I try not to go around "Ask Greg" as that wouldn't be fair to others. I'm afraid you'll have to wait for it to re-open to ask about the NST

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'll stick to Google searches for now until this "Ask Greg" starts again. Thanks for the quick reply.

    (I'm also a fan of Jack Kirby)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Michael, let me save you some trouble. NST stands for National Standard Time, i.e. UTC+8. SO SAYS WIKIPEDIA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_in_Taiwan).

    Love the review, Greg. I was also interested in Lex not being L-1. But Vandal Savage you say? Interesting...

    ReplyDelete