Groundhog Day Continues
I’ve always been more of a Marvel girl – well, not the Marvel Girl – but a Marvel fan who is also a girl. Still, as much as I’ve followed Marvel Comics forever, having purchased my first Wolverine at the tender age of six, my favourite superhero has always been Batman.
I’ve never been a fan of Justice League, having always found DC’s pantheon to be full of boring characters (especially a Batmanless Superman). Still, I thought that Bat-trickle would be worth it all. I milked the entire series, including Justice League Unlimited for more Batman and in the process, I discovered something I never expected: Batman isn’t the only thing I could ever love in DC. I’ll do my best to whiz through my opinions of the buffet of shows I’ve gobbled down in the past month.
I grew up watching Batman: The Animated Series, Batman/Superman Adventures, that bubblegum adaptation with Adam West, and every last live action Batman flick, with the sole and very pointedly chosen exception of Halle Berry’s Catwoman. Any time a new Batflick is out, I’m on it like Bane on Venom. Under the Red Hood, Year One, Dark Knight Returns… It was inevitable that I would eventually run out of material that wouldn’t commit me to a new addiction of pouring my money into a comic subscription. Luckily, two of my best buds in Brooklyn know DC much better than I do, and were ready, willing, and eager to point me to some new stuff.
Unluckily, I also gave Beware the Bat a shot. It was dismal, and it isn’t even because they diverted so wildly from the canon. It was just… not even worth one more derisively worded sentence. Instead, I leave you with this screencap of Batman, his weird chin, and his Japanese sidekick Katana (who has the cutest Chinese accent this side of the entire cast of Memoirs of a Geisha).
Flash, Green Arrow, and Hal Jordan… Justice League even gave some of the second tier heroes and villains their moments to shine. Slowly but strangely, I began to fall in love with the DC universe. But what to do once I was finished with Justice League? I’ve never watched Teen Titans, and the idea of an “all kids” team just seemed like creative suicide. At a glance, I presumed that a kid cast would get into kid problems with kid villains they would fight with kid weapons and kid tactics while resolving kid dramas in their kid headquarters, which would likely be equipped with ball pit and bouncy castle. Young Justice proved me so wrong that I had to repeal my previous prejudices against almost every character showcased therein.
Contrary to my preconceptions, Young Justice wasn’t about a bunch of bratty kids deciding to play hero by themselves. The reasons and plot points that led to the team’s formation, the evolving dynamics between characters, their impressive development into a formidable team… all of these things were expertly executed and well thought out. Aside from the team members’ behaviour in their off-time and one small, annoyingly chirped catch phrase (which was later explained and justified and thankfully taken out of commission), there was nothing immature about this show. Shit gets dark. And rationally speaking, why wouldn’t it? This isn’t the junior leagues by any measure. By creating their own team, these former A-listers’ sidekicks are pitted against the real villains. Parasite, Black Manta, Lex Luthor, Vandal Savage, even the goddamned Joker. The conflicts are such that the actual Justice League would have trouble, people die, and unlike many other series, we find our investment in the characters are actually put at risk.
And as if the show knew I was mainly only watching it to get my Batfix, it dropped me this wonderful lineup as a surprise Christmas present:
Among many of the valuable lessons featured therein, this show also taught me that despite the man’s mullet-ridden past, I would readily marry Nightwing over Batman. Tragic loss, Young Justice. And after they axed it, they gave us Beware the Batman.
Luckily, the live action half of DC’s television offerings hasn’t disappointed me yet. If you know me personally, or at least drunkenly, you’ll have heard one of my many rants about CW’s Arrow.
I’ll try and stay vague with regards to Arrow as it’s one of those shows that fans are a little slower to pick up. At least in my case, Green Arrow was never in my top five heroes, and I typically hold low expectations on live-action comic shows since Smallville decided to exist. But as an archer living in a city where I don’t have a club to go to or a bow to shoot, I needed me some bow-porn, so I gave it a shot. (It’s me. Of course the pun’s intended.)
Verdict: I love it. How can I not love this
guy show? It’s about an archer dressed in green who runs around fighting crime with his brain, his wallet, and his friends because he loves my his city so damned much.
This isn’t to say it hasn’t got its faults. Laurel’s eyelashes are probably more needlessly, comically embellished than David Bowie’s codpiece in Labyrinth. Two out of every three episodes feature at least one member of the Lance family getting kidnapped. And I’m fairly certain they pull the same cheesy love song every single time Tommy or Ollie are left alone with Laurel for more than six seconds. Thankfully, the characters do evolve and develop (some with more painful reluctance than others), but this is about as soapy as a superhero show can get without being Smallville.
Outside of that soap, however, the format is surprisingly effective. The whole show follows two different storylines: one featuring Annoying Young Oliver Queen’s post-shipwreck crucible on an island, and the other focusing on Cool Vigilante Oliver Queen in present day
Vancouver Star(ling) City. The storylines actually work well in congruence with each other, and there usually isn’t anything to complain about in terms of wasted plot points, aside from an overabundance of dead-horse-kicking eyelash-batting drama between Laurel, Oliver, and Tommy. It’s also worth mentioning that metahumans are completely unheard of until you hit Season 2, so the show cements itself as just a good ol’ fashioned vigilante crime fighting gig before it starts comic’ing it up: a move that might have spared more than a few botched TV superhero shows. If you’ve ever read Game of Thrones, you’ll know how much more compelling it is when a fantasy/spec fic doesn’t read like a fantasy/spec fic until you’re already fully invested in the story.
Now, as if Arrow wasn’t already doing a great job of holding its own, it’s now served as a catapult for a new superhero show – one with an actual superhero whose powers are not his pecs and his wallet. The midseason finale of Arrow introduced and delighted us all with the introduction and geek-blushingly endearing portrayal of Barry Allen, who will soon be piloting his own show as Flash. Barry instantly became my favourite character next to Felicity, and he was only a guest for two episodes. To top it off, Felicity Smoak is probably the first time I’ve ever seen a female tech geek on TV that was portrayed in such a way that a) didn’t offend me, b) made me proud to be a geek, c) wasn’t a badly written tits-on-legs stereotypical nerd antisocialite with self esteem and daddy issues, and d) was and still is utterly enjoyable. I just adore her.
Arrow is so much fun that it’s helped ease the Marvel Girl misery that Agents of SHIELD inflicted on me.
Thank you, DC. When Marvel failed me, you stepped up and reminded me that you’ve always been there for me, waiting for the day I was ready. For your recent achievements in the live-action realm, I almost forgive you for sins in the animated realm. This forgiveness is temporary, however, as I am beginning to suspect that your movieverse is about to lose you a lot of brownie points. (See: Wonder Woman’s origin fuckery, Batfleck, and Nolan’s uninteresting plot points for his watered-down Catwoman who could have been so much cooler if they’d just let her do stuff that mattered and was cool)
My birthday wish, DC? Put out another Under the Red Hood quality animated feature that focuses on Nightwing. If not, I’m happy with seeing something similar to the storyline of Injustice but without the disappointing costume redesigns. Honestly though, kids, if you haven’t played Injustice, at least watch the story when you’ve got two and a half hours of boredom on your docket.