It Was Good While It Lasted
by Marc Alan Fishman
Last year I wrote an article about the wave of amazing comic-book related cartooning that was going on. Well, here we are now and I’m sitting on the stoop with an Old English tipped towards the curb. Ounce after putrid smelling ounce of malt liquor spatters on the pavement. The yeasty brew gurgles and slushes into an adjacent drain.
Both Young Justice and Green Lantern have slowly grown into their skin, delivering stories that are equally entertaining and sophisticated without losing any action beats for those just looking for the boom-boom-pow. Both series combined with a pair of schizophrenically wonderful animated shorts, have grown into the only block of programming I go out of my way to DVR and watch commercial free, every week. And much like a few other DC shows that came and went before their time (Batman Beyond, Legion of Super Heroes, and Teen Titans – to an extent), I yearn for what could have been.
To its credit, Green Lantern won me over. The pilot wasn’t much to write home about. Much of the first season had to spend time universe-building. But to their credit, once this was done, the show really took off. And contrary to every gripe and groan I’ve ever sputtered in my columns, GL:TAS did something I truly thought was impossible; it made me like Hal Jordan. It was as if the writers realized that a plucky cocksure pilot with a strong moral compass was cool enough as-is to place as a POV character amidst a crazy universe! Add in a strong sidekick in Kilowog, and the non-comic-originating Razor and Aya… and you end up with a great main cast with enough personal drive (beyond the major season-long arcs) to carry the series for a good long while. At the end of season one, the series had properly introduced us to Mogo, Red and Blue lanterns, the Star Sapphires, and a handful of solid DC cosmic villains.
Come to the second season, and I’ve been truly blown away at the trajectory the stories were moving towards. I honestly figured we’d have continual expansion on the Red Lanterns and maybe an attempt to ignite a yellow or orange corps story. But nay. They unearthed the Anti-Monitor. And with him has come a season that has upped the drama without becoming mopey. Ring-slinging, internal conflict with the Guardians (who aren’t the silly one-dimensional mustache twirlers Geoff Johns wants you to hate…), cameos by Guy Gardner, Sinestro, Tomar Re, and even Ch’p… simply put: GL:TAS was properly creating the mythos that real GL fans has yearned for since the teasers were announced.
Young Justice, much like Green Lantern, started very slow for me. A series built on the angtsy teenage trope wasn’t high on my “new dad” radar. But over time, I realized what the show was doing. Rather than retread old storylines, the first season was all about pushing the idea that this elseworldsesque universe was a smart and slick dressing down of the bloated DCnU. And much like GL:TAS, the second season turned everything on its ear.
The series jumped five years into the future, smeared the Justice League and introduced no less than four major cosmic alien races to the show. In addition, the roster of YJ soon grew to an unlimited level, allowing for each episode to really explore old and new faces. This shot in the arm forced the angsty characters of season one to mature, and with it came a sophisticated serialized structure that dare I say… is smarter and better pulled off than any comic book DC is putting out right now.