The Life & Times of an Auteur.

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

Friday, March 29, 2013

Oy....

So, I made the mistake of revisiting the 90's X-Men cartoon on Netflix. Good lord, I want to know what kind of direction the actors received in the booth, because everybody SCREAMS ALL THEIR LINES! Geez.... you could replace Storm with Dr. Orpheus from "The Venture Bros" and not notice a single difference in the performances.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Who Is Beyond Redemption?


In my long history in the "Gargoyles" fandom, and my resistance to the notion that Demona will ever be easily redeemed by Angela (as Darth Vader was by Luke Skywalker), one very interesting pattern that I've noticed is that none of the fans who think Demona can easily be redeemed by Angela believe John Castaway is redeemable by "the transforming power of a child's love." This interests me because both of them are two sides of the same coin, and Castaway was designed to be a human parallel of Demona.

Both of them, with the best of intentions, ended up screwing their families over. Demona got her clan massacred and the survivors turned to stone. Castaway paralyzed his brother from the waist down. And both of them said the exact same thing: "What have I... what have THEY done!" Both of them quickly found scapegoats to blame their own failings upon rather than take responsibility for their own actions.

But let's get down to this, shall we? Demona is a mass murderer. As of #12 of the "Gargoyles" comic book, Castaway's worst crime is attempted murder of a police officer, and attempted murder of Goliath... which, at this point, wouldn't be seen as a crime yet, but we all know it is, so I'm counting it. We've watched Demona kill innocent people on screen, and attempt mass genocide. So why do the same fans who excuse her refuse to excuse Castaway?

Well, I can think of two reasons. Two big, round reasons...


Let's face it, she's hot. Hotter than Castaway. But as a heterosexual male, that's definitely easy to say. But there are people out there who will always forgive "beautiful people" easily. Too easily. It's a mentality I hate, but it exists.

Castaway could be seen as "the man." Because, he's part of "the establishment" by virtue of being human, while Demona is part of a persecuted species. Let's face it, his Quarrymen despite welcoming humans of all races, religions and walks of life, definitely evoke something very insidious and very real. I don't think that's the main reason Castaway has no apologists. It might be one of the reasons, but doesn't defeat the argument that there are other, worse reasons. And even if they are designed to invoke the Klan, the Quarrymen are not the Klan. They are a fictional organization persecuting fictional people. Therefore, dislike of them is not that much more righteous than disliking other villains. But even if this is the case, Senator Robert Byrd was a recruiter and leader in the KKK before he left the organization, denounced it, and is even quoted as saying: "I know now I was wrong. Intolerance had no place in America. I apologized a thousand times ... and I don't mind apologizing over and over again. I can't erase what happened." Who is to say Castaway isn't capable of this down the line? It's just as plausible as Demona changing because Angela waves a finger in her face and then hugs her.


But let's say Demona succeeded in either recruiting or cloning a new clan or something, I think she would be using them to spread fear, terror, and violence in her quest for genocide.  She would do the exact same thing Castaway is currently doing, she just wouldn't be wearing a hood as she does it.

There is also a tendency among some outcast nerds to identify with non-human characters and consider them superior to humans. But either way, it's not actually believing they are that thing... just that they have enough self-loathing to think their own species sucks, and therefore they identify more with a non-human species because they must be "better." Look at the people who thought of the Na'Vi from James Cameron's "Avatar" as their otherkin. Usually such fictional species are innocent and idealized, and big, bad, Man is the villain, especially in that movie. I have seen some fans who praise Demona for being willing and able to "fight back" as opposed to Goliath who just "stood there and took it," never mind that these are both gross mischaracterizations of what went on.

Bigotry is bigotry no matter where it comes from, and for both Demona and Castaway, we understand where it comes from. For Demona, she projects her guilt instead of absorbing it, while Castaway had this anti-gargoyle dogma drilled into him by the Canmore family since birth. Both know what they're doing is wrong, but neither can face the consequences of their own actions so blame others for their sins. But let's say that Demona is right because the actions of some (not all, but some) humans such as the Hunters and the Quarrymen, and the vikings of the past and others prove that all humans need to be destroyed in order to protect their kind, and any gargoyle who disagrees and opposes her (like Goliath) needs to be killed. Then isn't Castaway right because the actions of Demona (one, but not all) prove that gargoyles need to be destroyed in order to protect our kind, and any human who disagrees and opposed him (like Elisa Maza) should be killed, also right?

Fandom & Women - My Experience

Well, here we are again. Dammit, geek culture, stop making me do this. But, the phrase "social justice warrior" needs to be burnt to ashes. If anything, anyone who uses that as an insult needs to be called what they are: a sexist pig. I shouldn't still be as astounded by the amount of misogyny in geek culture as I am, but it's still such an alien concept to me because of my fandom roots.

My first fandom was "Gargoyles", and for many years it was the only fandom I ever really participated in. I'm not saying it was perfect, but when I post on Spider-Man boards and people are shocked that a woman would occasionally post, or when I used to post on a Transformers board and again, few to any women, I was surprised. I admit, the whole "nobody is a woman on the internet" thing is something I never got used to, probably because the "Gargoyles" fandom always had just as many women in it as men; actually, I'm confident that there are more. I went to eleven out of thirteen Gatherings, and as far as I could tell, the women outnumbered the men there.

I remember when the character of Constance, a heavy-set female gargoyle from London appeared in the comic book; on non-Gargoyles boards where the comic was discussed, the character was mocked and made fun of. Not that this didn't happen in the Gargoyles fandom, but when one person did it, he got called out for it in a very beautiful and brutal manner. That never happened on non-Gargoyles boards. In fact, on other boards and fandoms, I see the phrase "social justice warrior" get thrown around with a sneering contempt for it. So while the "Gargoyles" fandom definitely had it's share of pigs, it was always made clear to them that they were not welcome. Now, to be fair, the other fandoms I've mentioned have people who call the pigs on their bullshit, but the pigs don't really tend to go anywhere. They stick around. "Gargoyles" fandom has run people out for this sort of thing.

In some ways, I tend to think that maybe the nature of said franchises plays a part in it. Yes, most of the lead "Gargoyles" are male, but we have Elisa Maza as the co-lead alongside Goliath, and she's saved his life more than he's saved her's. She was not April O'Neil. Nor was Angela, once she was introduced, and quickly grew into a very heroic character, and one who made it clear that she was not a prize to be won in some kind of contest between the trio. Aside from them, you had supporting characters like Maria Chavez, who was the Captain of Detectives and definitely tough; Robyn Canmore who went on to lead the Redemption Squad in the comics; and you also had Fox, who was every bit the equal to her husband, David Xanatos. Hell, even Demona has managed to manipulate and get the better of Xanatos on occasion. You would think I'd be describing a show that screams "girl power!" and yet, it was played so naturally, it never stuck out. The women on that show were people with their own strengths, weaknesses, virtues, and flaws.

Compare that to Transformers, where Optimus Prime did not let his girlfriend, Elita-One (who was demonstrated to be a powerful warrior) on his mission to Earth because "it was too dangerous." I remember back in the 90's on the newsgroups, I was one of the people who mentioned how creepy sexist that was, and hardly anyone seemed to get it. "Optimus isn't sexist, he cared about her" was what they said. You can care about your girlfriend without disrespecting them. Goliath almost always brought Elisa with him to fight dangerous supervillains, and even back in the Dark Ages, Demona was his second-in-command and best warrior, and had that kind of respect. Now I know some might say "Elita-One" was tough, it wasn't sexist," but, if anything, that makes Optimus Prime's actions even more sexist.

Most DC and Marvel comics, while definitely progressively better than Transformers ever was (although I have to give the "Prime" version of Arcee some credit) are still, at their heart, male power fantasies. I applaud them for at least trying to make progress in this area. Well, DC stopped with the New Fifty-Two, but Nolan's Batman movies gave us a strong Catwoman, and "The Avengers" film did a great job with Black Widow. But there is a reason that the phrase "women in refrigerators" exists. And, of course, "The Spectacular Spider-Man" did great with all of its female characters.

The DCAU and "Young Justice" both did very well in this regard, too. While both weren't perfect, I thought most of their female characters were great. Shayera Hol on JL(U) is a prime example, but I'll never forget the freak out, among many male viewers, when she slept with Hawkman on their first date... um, she is an adult, she can make her own choices. None of these same people would bat an eye if Batman slept with someone on their first date.

Now, I'm not a woman and I can't speak for any, but I tend to think part of the reason why the "Gargoyles" fandom attracted so many women to it was because the show didn't patronize their gender. Everyone had characters they could relate to, and it was done without invoking the Smurfette Principle.  This is a good thing. This is the way it should be. Caring about how women are represented in popular culture doesn't mean you're a "social justice warrior." It's not crazy or unreasonable to care about these things. But it's far better than being a pig.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Supernatural


It's funny, this is a show that's currently on its ninth season, on a major network, and I had never heard of it. I probably would have continued to be ignorant of this show had my close friend and partner in snark, sarcasm, and laughing at stupid people, Jennifer L. Anderson, hadn't become obsessed with the show back in September. Even then, I avoided it. I didn't feel like getting sucked into another TV show... which is funny, since I watch so little TV nowadays. But, after months of her raving about it, and her recommending it to me, and she probably knows my tastes better than any other person on the planet, I gave it a shot...

... and she had to urge me to keep watching, because it was a slow build. But once I got about half way through the second season, I began watching it without her having to urge me to. It became something we did together, which is a lot of fun, especially when you can throw the kind of snark back and forth that we do.

So far, I've only watched the first five seasons, and they were a fun ride in an Impala. The show focuses on two brothers, Dean and Sam Winchester. Their mother was murdered by a yellow-eyed demon when Sam was an infant, and their father began raising them as soldiers to hunt demons and monsters. Eventually, Sam tries to escape this life, goes to college, to law school, but as this family is cursed and he himself is the living macguffin for ultimate evil, he gets sucked back in.

It's a shit ton of fun. Our protagonists go from hunting monsters and demons to becoming key players in a war between Heaven and Hell, and at one point they decapitate Paris Hilton with an iron ax (which was very therapeutic for me, let me tell you). Ironically, I thought the most frightening episode was one where the monster of the week was an ordinary human psychopath. The series also does comedy really well, especially when Ben Edlund (yes, that Ben Edlund) pens the script as well as drama. And, yes, burgers and pie are a virtue, not a vice.

I'm sure that in the very near future, Jen and I resume with season six and get me caught up, she's already seen every episode of the series. Right now, it reminds me of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel" at their heights, and this is a good thing. I'm enjoying it immensely, even if I have every intention of avoiding it's nut job fandom (Jen warned me about them). But, I'm having a good time, and I look forward to the next series she gets into that she makes me dive into.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

W...T....F.....?!



Wait….. they made an episode where Craptimate Douchebag-Man goes to Boston? An entire episode where the gimmick is NYC vs Boston with the kind of humor only Man of Garbage could come up with?

It’s titled “Spidah-Man”. Seriously. People got paid for this.

Remember when “The Spectacular Spider-Man” did entire episodes that integrated Shakespearean monologues as a means of informing what was going on as opposed to feeling forced and stuck in there? Remember when they integrated “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” seamlessly into an action story inside a prison?

Well, fuck that shit because Loeb, Quesada, and their Man of Garbage henchmen are bringing you and your kids “Spidah-Man.”

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Defending Mediocrity

So, in my journeys through the internet for the past few months, I have picked up on a disturbing trend that is getting stronger by the day, it seems. For once, I am not just talking about Joann and Cletus, the average moviegoer, I am talking about the fanboys and fangirls. What people seem to want isn't passion and vision, it's bland mediocrity. It's what's safe and familiar. Granted, I've said such things before and elsewhere, and I tend to get the "you're an elitist" reply every single time.

For an example from two different mediums; look at the crap Christopher Nolan is getting these days, when you can't say the man isn't a gifted visionary. Look at the praise that new "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" TV show is getting when it is by far the blandest animated series I've seen in years, trying to combine the "best" traits from the 1987 and 2003 shows and ending up with no identity of its own in the process.

I go out there, and I see Greg Weisman criticized for "shooting too high" and not playing it safe; and his preference for open ended closure is really getting the brunt of it. J. Michael Straczynski created the greatest science fiction series television has ever seen, and hardly anyone talks about it anymore, while Ron Moore's "Battlestar Galactica" (which is a good series itself) gets credit for inovating TV science fiction in ways that B5 had already done a decade before BSG even got started.

Hell, Quentin Tarantino has just as many haters as he does fans and has had his backlash from Day One.

I've always believed it was best to aim to create the best story you possibly can. To be a visionary. To go that extra mile. But it seems what people want is to strive for mediocrity and settle for adequacy. Or, as Homer Simpson might say...

Friday, March 22, 2013

Just For the Record.

In any work of art, there’s a power dynamic between the creators and the audience. The writers control what the audience sees, and when. Some are very pornographic: showing the audience what they want to see whenever they want to see it. Some make us work a little more. My favorite creators tend to be sadistic, controlling bastards.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Being On the Outside

It's kind of funny when you think about it. I've always felt a little bit outside the mainstream. But as a geek and nerd, we're all outside the mainstream in ways, but I've always felt outside the mainstream there as well. I don't mean to sound like a hipster, that is not something I'm trying to do, none of this was conscious, but here we are.

In terms of science fiction, the two big franchises are "Star Wars" and "Star Trek" and while I have enjoyed both on occasion, neither of them do anything for me on a personal level. I watch something "Trek" related maybe once every three years. While "Star Wars" is something I feel I am going out of my way to avoid at this point. Give me "Babylon 5" any day over that schlock.

In terms of animation, the two biggest action franchises have to be Transformers and Bruce Timm and Alan Burnett's DCAU. Now, I loved Transformers as a kid, but I can't see myself ever watching a G1 episode again unless I plan to rip into it for a review (I just don't like 80's cartoons. At all). Now I did love "Beast Wars" and at some point I'll re-visit that, an Animated was fun. While I will admit that "Prime" has improved since its pilot, it's still one of the blandest cartoons I have ever watched; and don't get me started on Bay's movies. But, I'm at the point where, you know what, if it's based on a Hasbro toy property, I have no desire to watch it.

The DCAU is something I have a complex relationship with. I love "Batman the Animated Series," but hate "The New Batman Adventures." I love the Darkseid episodes of "Superman TAS" but 90% of the rest of that series is just too hokey and corny for me. The first season of "Justice League" and last season of "Justice League Unlimited" are both garbage in my eyes, although I love a lot of what came between. And as for "Batman Beyond," well, you don't want my opinion on that.

And then there are comic books, well, I can't say I'm outside of the mainstream there, for years I read Marvel's core books. But I guess I'm on my way. Superhero comics and I are a hair away from being done with each other professionally. My favorite comic book of all time is "Lucifer" and my favorite recent comic book is "Kill Shakespeare," which engages with me more than any superhero comic book ever did.

I have a weird relationship with fantasy. I love "The Lord of the Rings," and I like what little I've seen of "Game of Thrones." But it's not a genre I usually seek out. Although, I think "The Dresden Files" are brilliant. As far as LOTR go, I just am a sucker for classics, and always have been.

In terms of movies, I still love Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy and most of Marvel Cinema's output, but you will never see me say any of these are Best Picture material. But then, my favorite film of all time is "Casablanca" so I don't believe I'm outside the mainstream there. I don't know.

I'm not saying mainstream is bad, I don't want to say that, I don't even think it. But as far as my geek hobbies go, I find that very little of what is considered mainstream geek culture strikes that personal chord with me. But one thing I do know about myself, and again, this is not a conscious decision, but the more likely something is made to appeal to a wider group of people, the less I am likely to find personal enjoyment in it. Or rather, I love "Pulp Fiction" and I despise "Forrest Gump."

But, I'll always find something to enjoy. My friends know me, know my tastes, and are always recommending something new to me. Sometimes it has mass appeal, sometimes it doesn't. But most of the time it will strike that personal chord.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

My Pitch to Warner Bros Animation and Cartoon Network


Okay, Warner Bros Animation... "Young Justice" and "Green Lantern" just ended. I know you've got a new Teen Titans and new Batman show starting, but how about you dig into the DC library for a character who has never shined in animation. I've got a pitch for you He first appeared in the critically acclaimed "Sandman" and his own book ran for seventy-five issues, one miniseries, and one one-shot.... and one Eisners. He is multiversal, so every single corner of your universe can be explored. "Lucifer the Animated Series"!

A little unorthodox, I know. But imagine the possibilities! Visiting Heaven, visiting Hell, visiting every realm in between! Angels, demons, pagan gods, even superheroes! Do kids love Batman? He can appear and engage in a battle of wits with out intrepid hero!

Kids love teenagers, right? Why do you ask? Because they can all relate to the rebellious coming of age story! Who better to star in a story like that than a protagonist who has spent the past twenty billion years acting out against his distant father figure?

But that's not all, we also get his "friend" Mazikeen for some sex appeal for the older audience; plus his schoolgirl devotee and niece, Elaine Belloc to appeal to the younger demographic. Kids and their parents. The parents buy themselves the "Lucifer t-shirt" while the kid picks up the lunchbox!

Guest stars can include Superman, Batman, Death of the Endless, Darkseid, and Vandal Savage! And don't forget the rotting soul of Wally West when we visit Hell! It's still more than DC Comics are giving Wally these days ;)

Give me twenty-six episodes per seasons, I'll even plot out a two season arc and not three, because I know the bean counters at Cartoon Network don't like third seasons all that much. Green light me now so we can replace "Teen Titans Go" when that show runs its course.

The kids will love it! And remember, there is no such thing as bad publicity!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Endgame



Well, that's that.

I've had a week to theorize about what would happen in the, now, series finale of "Young Justice," which joins the pantheon of Greg Weisman produced animated series that has been taken from us way too early. In some cases, more like months to theorize. For everything that I predicted would happen actually happening, there was always something to subvert that expectation. I've been going back and forth in my head over how I should review this. Do I spoil the whole thing, as I often have, or be vague in case someone reads this first who hasn't watched the episode? I think I'll pick and choose on that point.

I was a little shocked that Black Beetle got taken out before the five minute mark (proving the comparison I made between him and Lord Cedric last week wrong), but by then, being the subtle guy that he is, he had already activated his plan to destroy the Earth which led to an all hands on deck episode that, unlike the all hands on deck to save the Earth from destruction finale of "Avengers - Earth's Mightiest Heroes" actually had narrative build-up. "Endgame" felt like a culmination of the forty-five episodes that had built up to it, which is what any good finale should be. It's why "Hunter's Moon," "Z Is For Zenith," and "Final Curtain" worked so well. "Endgame" evoked everything that came before while still planting the seeds for what would come next.

The Earth was saved, however, as in all good fiction, there is always a price. Goliath saves the world from Demona, two of the three Hunters are enlightened, the gargoyles get invited back to the castle, and Goliath and Elisa kiss; however the gargoyles are revealed to a world that is unprepared to welcome them, and one of the Hunters pays for his enlightenment with the use of his legs. Spider-Man saves the city, unmasks and defeats the Green Goblin; but he can't be with Gwen Stacy. The Team, well... I won't spoil this here. If you watched it, you know what I'm talking about, and that was the biggest shock of the episode.

I think my favorite shot in the series was the "Rimbor Six" returning to Earth only to have the Team descend on them from the air like gods, a callback to "Fireworks" and "Happy New Year" which also was a perfect visual of just how far this team has come. To paraphrase Red Arrow back in "Independence Day": don't call them sidekicks, not after today. And, of course, it ended on Independence Day. Perfect.

However, and I can't let this go, I wish I could, but I can't. Miss Martian and Superboy getting back together is something I cannot root for in any way, shape or form. He broke up with her in the first place because she tried to erase his memories of a fight they had because she was forcibly extracting information from the minds of living beings, leaving them in vegetable states. What she tried to do to him was a terrible violation, and at one point I asked myself, what if a male character had done this to his female significant other? Yes, mixed feelings and lingering chemistry on both parts is understandable and realistic, especially after M'Gann admitted she was wrong and stopped doing it. But that's the sort of thing that should be a deal breaker in regards to ever pursuing a romantic relationship with that person again. I suppose the silver lining is that they never really got back together... they almost kissed before being summoned, and who knows, maybe after the episode ended, they both realized pursuing a relationship again wouldn't be a good idea. But if they did, I suppose the age old truth applies: men are idiots and women are insane. I was hesitant to write this paragraph, especially when I am friends with the producer. But this aspect of the episode really bothered me, and if I'm not honest with my criticisms, then I can't be honest when I praise.

Aside from that, if I have any complaint it was that the episode was too short. But that's hardly a deal breaker. Twenty-two minutes is not as much time, you have to budget every second you have. While I would have liked to see Red Arrow and Cheshire helping in the fight, maybe even Sportsmaster, too, you'd have to cut something to get that. And in an episode was was trying things up and planting seeds for what was to come, time is a luxury and you have to service the show, not just a segment of fans, and I understand that. Now I'm sure some would say they could have done less seed planting, and more tying up. But, at the time this episode was written, I'm sure they were still hoping for a third season. I've seen what happens when a show with a multi-year plan appears to be getting cut short, so most of the loose ends are transported into the penultimate season before they surprisingly get a renewal; it happened to "Babylon 5" and look at the amount of crap the first half of the fifth season gets to this day because of that. It's better to hope for the best and to take a risk than it is to prepare for the worst and blow your wad way too soon.

Never the end.

How did I feel about "Young Justice" as a whole? I did end up loving it after all, even if during the earlier sections of the first season, I found myself wondering if that would ever happen. In my case it was because both "Gargoyles" and "The Spectacular Spider-Man" had me hooked before their pilots were over, while YJ took longer for me. If I had to rank this as compared with Weisman's other shows, I would put it above season two of "W.I.T.C.H." (which was also very good), but below "Spectacular Spider-Man" which itself is below "Gargoyles." This is not a knock against any show, since all of them are amazing. These are just my personal preferences.

Now, before I continue, I know I took some heat, and perhaps rightfully so, for my comments about "Justice League Unlimited" when I wrote my review for "Auld Acquaintance." Fundamentally, I do agree that the worst way to build something up is to tear something else down to make the object of your praise look good, so this time I won't do that. But as a fan, I'm sure I'll be guilty of that again some day, but today I'm going to try to avoid it. I think it was the best DC Comics based animated series since "Batman the Animated Series" which, and I promise this time is not to diss "JLU," which did episodic storytelling very well. "Young Justice" did serial storytelling very well, and my tastes tend towards serialization over episodic, not that it makes it automatically better, as I prefer good episodic to bad serialization... it's always about execution. And since I'm the one writing these reviews, my taste is the one you're stuck with. So while both were high quality shows, this was more along the lines of what I'd like to see. Although, I like to think no one will disagree with me when I say that Greg Weisman, Bruce Timm, Brandon Vietti, and Alan Burnett are masters at producing good television.

While I didn't like all the characters, to this day Superboy and Miss Martian do next to nothing for me, I loved this show's take on Dick Grayson and Wally West... especially the extra dimensions added to Wally so he wasn't just the dumb, gullible guy; but his basic humanity was the essence of who he was, and in the end, he was the most heroic out of all of them. Kaldur turned out to be a cool, badass and yet very human character. I've heard of Blue Beetle, but knew next to nothing about him, and he turned out to be a very enjoyable character. While I missed Zatanna after she was promoted to the Justice League, she was a favorite too, and I loved getting to know her and explore her in ways previous DC shows didn't. And I absolutely loved Artemis (and Tigress), and I want to give a special shout out to Stephanie Lemelin for her voice and performance.

It was also refreshing to see a show that seemed to remember what it was like being young, warts and all. I know some people didn't like the sexual tension on the show, or when the main cast displayed some unlikable qualities  but... well, they're teenagers! I thought this show was a realistic take on the teenage mindset, if said teenagers were working in a cover-ops team. I know some people wanted more of the Team to be pissed at Nightwing over what he did, but at the same time, this is the life they chose when they joined the Team. Covert-ops. Ask Valerie Plame what happens when secrets aren't kept.

I admit to being a bit iffy on the villains at first, and anyone who knows me knows that I love villains. I always felt Weisman's greatest strength when writing characters was his villains. As close to perfect as "Gargoyles" was, I find that outside the fandom, David Xanatos and Demona are who most people remember, because they stood out so much from every other villain on TV as strong, unique characters. Nerissa on "W.I.T.C.H." was just great. Green Goblin, Doc Ock, Tombstone, Venom and even Vulture were perfect on "The Spectacular Spider-Man," but then so was everything else on that show. So for the first half, or even two-thirds of season one, with the Light hiding behind the scenes and the barest of glimpses being occasionally given, I felt that they didn't really have time to develop as characters in their own right. That changed later, and the fact that we saw them only on occasion turned out to be a strength. "Young Justice" gave us the definitive Vandal Savage, with a design that evoked his origin and perfect voice acting from Miguel Ferrer. Ra's al Ghul was fun when we saw him, and Oded Fehr did great with his voice (although, I still prefer David Warner). This is the first time I ever enjoyed Lex Luthor as a character, but this time he was written with an EQ to match his IQ. What can I say about Queen Bee, I wish we saw more of her (and heard more of her). Poor, disgraced Ocean Master is the one character who made no impact on me either way. The Brain was fun with his creepy design and voice. Klarion was just a riot (I love Evil Thom Adcox). And Black Manta was great as a villain with some noble qualities, but whose villainy ultimately won out. I could go even further, and talk about how awesome this show made Sportsmaster, and how cool Cheshire was, but we'd be here all day. I will say that the ending the Light received was probably the perfect ending for them... and given Vandal Savage's motive and the way the show ended, I have a feeling that in a hypothetical third season, the heroes wouldn't have had to stop the Earth from getting invaded, but given the Light's true partner and Lex Luthor's new position, they'd have had to stop the Earth from becoming the next galactic conquerors.

DC has never been my preferred comic book company, I was a Marvel Kid growing up... but between this and the DCAU, I think I've learned my fair share of the DC Universe as a whole to appreciate its cast and world, and say it intrigues me as much as the Marvel Universe ever did. Mostly I've sporadically read Batman and read a lot of Vertigo. Hell, while Marvel was my preferred company, DC published my favorite comic book of all time, "Lucifer," which is a breathtaking story. Will I start reading more DC? To be honest, nothing about the New 52 has intrigued me, in fact most of what I've heard has encouraged me to avoid it. Not that Marvel is doing much better these days, they're a hair away from losing me as a customer all together. But the point is, it's stupid to be so loyal to a brand that you won't check out their competition. No law says you can only like one company, maybe there are things at both that will appeal to you, I'm sure there are things at your favored brand that you have no interest in touching. As someone who made that mistake at a young age, thank you "Young Justice" and thank you DCAU for showing me another world that I wish I had spent more of my childhood in.

It's interesting that "Young Justice" ended when it did, because we also lost "Green Lantern" on the same day, "Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes" several months ago, and will be losing "Transformers Prime" and some other action cartoons, with no signs of new ones going into production. Marvel Animation is gearing itself towards more comedic takes on their classic characters, targeting a younger audience (or rather talking down to a younger audience with tripe like "Ultimate Spider-Man"), but shows like "Adventure Time," "The Regular Show," and "My Little Pony" seem to be ruling the airwaves... also the fact that these shows as well as shows like "Ben 10" and "Johnny Test" being much, much cheaper to produce is not lost on me.

In fact, I would dare say that today is the day that the pendulum has swung away from action-drama in animation. We've been here before, of course, back in the late 90's when "Gargoyles" and other action-dramas of that era died, and while there were some exceptions, soft and quirky was where it was at. Right now, we've got "Legend of Korra," and maybe "Beware the Batman," two shows that don't excite me all that much, to be honest. The pendulum will swing back, eventually. There will be a new era of action-drama, but for now it's going away. But when it comes back, I'll be there. In fact, I hope the pendulum swings back at the same time 90's nostalgia heats up and Greg Weisman re-teams with either Frank Paur, Vic Cook, or Brandon Vietti to bring us "Gargoyles 2198."

Fair thee well, Earth 16, maybe we'll see you again some day. In the mean time, I'll be watching season five of "The Venture Bros" and pre-ordering my copy of "Rain of the Ghosts."

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Love For Bruno


So, a while back I wrote up my "Top Twenty Gargoyles Universe Villains" and decided to post it to ASK GREG, where I was promptly asked about my lack of love for Bruno. So, you asked for it, Greg. A tribute to Bruno. In song form!

Now, Bruno is his name.
Shootin' gargoyles is his game.
Nessie, you dope!
Escape his hole,
and watch Sevarius go insane!

If a small gun can't perform.
Goliath's too true to form.
With a cliffhanger ending at his side,
His gun will increase in size!

He's through with takin' falls!
Mutates busting through the walls!
His comrades drown in the loch!
Then Angela kicks him in the crotch!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Summit


The penultimate episode of "Young Justice" has aired, and it tied a lot up while leaving a lot open... as it should, with next week's episode being the climax. Overall, it was a satisfying episode, about 90% of it depicted in real time, and in one location. All hands on deck!

It was a long time coming, and while I don't know if the Light's defeat was crippling, but they were hurt this time. Badly. While the Light were grand chess masters and magnificent bastards all around (as they should be considering who their members are), Aqualad was right that their greatest weakness was their arrogance. With all of their resources, they were always able to set the stage in their favor... but even one wild card can alter the game for the most skilled card sharp. Aqualad and Artemis were those wild cards, and Nightwing learned from the Batman. So Black Manta and the Brain have been captured; Ra's al Ghul is dead... again; Vandal Savage and Klarion are playing one final card; Queen Bee and Lex Luthor did not attend the summit because of their public works. Savage didn't outright say their names, but it's a safe bet that the world now knows of the Light's existence even if Luthor and Bee can't be officially tied to the organization at this point.

Oh, and "Summit" was set on June 19th which is Fathers Day in 2016 also known as the year this season is set in. Black Manta was betrayed by Kaldur on Father's Day. Which is not something you need to know, given how well the confrontation between Manta and Kaldur worked on an emotional level, but damn does that tidbit add to it. And knowing Greg Weisman, the choice of the date had to be intentional. Even betrayed, Manta did not want the Reach killing his son... but he was more than willing to "beat a lesson into his skull"; likewise, as Kaldur himself said, he had seen Manta's honorable side and shown his own ruthless side in defeating him. Even after discovering his son betrayed him and was shot by "Deathstroke" for it, he still ran to his side. I thought the confrontation was fantastic. I doubt it was easy for Kaldur either.

So the Light were outplayed as the Team infiltrated the summit with Miss Martian disguised as Deathstroke and the rest hiding among the ninjas of the League of Shadows. I enjoyed all the reveals... and it was cool to see all the current members of the Team come together to take out the enemy they stumbled across in the pilot. I was glad to see Wally suit up again as Kid Flash, and an official passing of the torch to Impulse. Had we gotten a third season, I suspect that Wally would have become the Flash. Yeah, I know Wally said he and Artemis were going to go back into retirement once this was all over, but sometimes life gets in the way of such plans. Especially with what's coming next week.

And while the Light were defeated, true to form, Savage did play his final hand when he and Klarion teleported to the War World with the crystal key, took out the League members guarding it, and stole the War World. Considering that Black Beetle was at the summit, a play for the War World was inevitable, but I think this sped things up. I'm not sure if Savage would have gone for the War World immediately, though. He had no choice in timing after everything was outted. He knew the summit would have been recorded, and the League would be cleared as a result. Corrupt or not, there's only so blatant you can be, and with the heavy hitters coming back.... yeah, hew as out of options. Which, like he said, is pretty much as desperate as he's ever been in fifty-thousand years. Although, at this point, I fear we'll never see Savage and Klarion again... but I could be wrong.

It was deeply satisfying to watch Aqualad's recording play, shattering their partnership with the Reach, just as it was satisfying to watch the Ambassador get what was coming to him. Black Beetle removing that smug and pompous ass from command while keeping the more ruthless scientist at his side was beautiful. The ambassador better home he has intergalactic diplomatic immunity, because he's about to get thrown into a cage.

So what's next, what's missing? Well, the Reach Conquest has been stopped, but it was stopped the moment Impulse went back in time. What am I missing?


Ah yes, just the apocalypse. And with Black Beetle threatening to destroy Earth to cover up the Reach's crimes, the Team and the League will have their work cut out for them next week. I will admit that I can't help but be reminded of the penultimate episode of "W.I.T.C.H." at this point, where the guardians outplayed Nerissa and Phobos, or for Phobos' lieutenant, Lord Cedric, to pull a fast one and become the main villain in the series finale. Only this time Black Beetle is in Lord Cedric's role and is, at least in my opinion, a much cooler and more intimidating villain than Lord Cedric ever was. I don't mean to imply that these are the same plots, because they are not. But I couldn't help but see the similarities. In any event, we're down to the wire. This is it. One more to go.

* Will the Team and the Justice League save the world?
* Will the apocalypse be stopped?
* Will Black Beetle be defeated?
* Will we ever see Vandal Savage and Klarion ever again?
* What about the New Gods?
* If Vandal Savage must cannibalize his direct descendants in the comics as fuel for his immortality, what really happened to Roy Harper's arm?
* If Lucifer means "light bringer" does this mean the Light was allied with Lucifer Morningstar? Will we see Lucifer and Mazikeen animated? What about the Endless? ..... Yeah, probably not.

Tune in one last time, same Young Justice Time, same Young Justice Channel.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Intervention


When last we left the Reach, they were having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week! This week, despite Black Beetle and Green Beetle getting Mongul back into containment, their bad luck continues, and it is glorious to watch. Ever since the Reach arrived, their ambassador has been the most pompous, smarmy asshole to have appeared on the entire series, so it is very nice to watch him get taken down a peg or fifty. It's even worth noting that his own underlings don't to highly of him. Black Beetle talked trash of him behind his back, and the Scientist berated him for his own failure. Although it was fun to watch his exasperated "SAY. ONE. MORE. WORD."

So Blue Beetle and Green Beetle are now free of the Reach's control, and I loved the way that Blue's scarab kept trying to subtly help the team. "Cooperative technology works by absorbing kinetic energy, it should KNOW that." And, not surprising, I think Jamie has finally come to terms with it, and maybe they will finally be a real team.

It was also nice to see characters in action whom we don't see too often. Batgirl is someone we haven't seen much of since the season started, and after becoming a favorite of mine last season, I missed Zatanna when she graduated up to the Justice League (especially with her wardrobe change). So watching them, along with Beast Boy, and Robin take out Queen Bee's henchmen, was a treat.

M'Gann finally let La'Gann down, and gently. Well, these things are hardly ever gentle. But I have to say I am not rooting for her and Superboy to get back together. I think the best thing either of them can do is grow on their own instead of fallback on their co-dependency. I'll save my thoughts on them as a couple for my review of the finale if they do get back together, though. I've spoken about it in previous reviews already.

And once again, the Light were pulling the strings. I know this is getting tiresome to some people, but I'm not one of them. They've been building up to something for a while and it looks like it's about to hit the fan over the next two episodes. These are seven of DC's most sinister masterminds, of course Nightwing's biggest flaw as a leader is his inability to outwit a fifty-thousand year old strategist and his friends on his first try. Maybe it's the fact that there are only two episodes left, maybe it was Marina Sirtis' delivery of Queen Bee's lines, but things sound even more ominous than they usually do in these Light tags. I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for the next episode, "Summit," which looks like it'll kick all kinds of ass.