Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Living on borrowed ideas : DIDIO: CHALLENGERS Return Reinforces New DC Approach"It's actually very grounded in reality because it starts off as a reality TV show," DiDio said.
He said this with a straight face? He thinks "reality TV" actually reflects reality? Sometimes it's easy to see DiDio started in television writing and showrunning.

I really want to like the new Challengers. If Jerry Ordway is involved, it won't completely suck. And Ordway says this:
Without the luxury of an open ended run, our focus is narrowed, and there has to be some resolution as well.
Well, now, there's a new and different idea. A story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Imagine that.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Farewell, My Rubbery

He wears swim fins over his
super-hero boots?
And he leaves his wife alone on
the boat? Ralph, I think you're
missing the point of this
"honeymoon" thing.
So, there may or may not be a creative embargo on the "world-famous" Elongated Man.

I can't get too bothered over the lack of plans for an action figure: There have been several EM figures over the years, none very satisfying. As paradoxical as it may seem, even an invisible Invisible Woman is easier to render in plastic than a hero meant to look plastic. In all fairness, Plastic Man and Reed Richards figures look just as stiff and lifeless. Maybe, instead of using standard molded plastic, Mattel should look into the process used for bendy, pliable Gumby and Pokey. Or Stretch Armstrong.

Poor Ralph doesn't even have an iconic look anymore. Should they dress him in his original purple tights with removable mask? The maroon-and-black "satellite Justice League" look? The white-and-orchid "Justice League International" suit? Zombie Black Lantern Ralph?

DC clearly isn't interested in building his stock by actually using the character, and hasn't been for at least a decade, since the popular-but-apparently-embarrassing Formerly Known as the Justice League, which itself was a revival. When Grant Morrison was making an Iconic Justice League and needed a stretchy guy, he went with Plastic Man. Ralph and Sue were on DC's "death list" at the time of Identity Crisis. For all that he stole every scene he was in, he wasn't central to the story. The world's second-greatest detective never really tried to solve the only mystery that ever really mattered to him. Even Sue, so cruelly treated by Jean Loring and Dr Light, was only a macguffin. (I don't think DC yet 'gets' how offensive it was for Sue to be raped by Dr Light for no better reason than to be a red herring distraction to the mystery of her own murder.) Ralph's own subsequent death in 52 and brief zombie resurrection in Blackest Light were little more than afterthoughts. And the Dibnys' even briefer appearances as ghost detectives in The Outsiders, well, that was just twisting the knife for this longtime fan.

And the "New 52"... I mean, seriously, in which of these series would Ralph fit? When they were trolling for members for the new Justice League International, it was Plastic Man whose name came up. He was dismissed, but at least he was considered. Where's Ralph? (Do I sound bitter?)

So I get it, DC. You could bring them back, you just don't want to. Julius Schwartz said he'd never have created the Elongated Man if he had known DC owned Plastic Man. That's that.

Tell you what. Just print that blasted Showcase Presents The Elongated Man Volume 2 and I'll buy the thing and stop bothering you.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Taste the rainbow

I really want to like the new Green Lantern animated series. I had hoped to see more of Hal Jordan and his "civilian" supporting cast, which I thought would be possible with a series focusing on one character.

However, DC Animation obviously feels that teams are what pays the rent these days. That, and a desire to attract younger viewers, would be why they chose a hero who comes with 3599 dressalike teammates and a full spectrum of color-coded bad guys. We only meet three Red Lanterns in this episode, but you know the other colors have to be in the wings. And any Green Lantern series that doesn't include Star Sapphire should turn in its power rings.

Another decision I'm not crazy about was to pull a Star Trek Voyager on Hal and Kilowog, stranding them 18 months'  travel time back to Oa at whatever the ring's top speed is, vs 9+ months to repair the warp drive: Either way, It guarantees we won't be seeing any familiar faces unless their backstories are significantly rewritten. Or unless the Guardians had more than one of those experimental starships.

But it does cut down on the number of dressalike teammates we're likely to encounter. And I liked Batman: Brave and the Bold. So maybe this could work. I found myself liking this man, this Hal Jordan who seduces an AI navigational system. Hal, have you met Jim Kirk? I'll bet you would get along famously. Kilowog sure isn't Spock, though.

Actually, characterization is pretty consistent with the comics, as I've come to expect with Timm/Dini DC shows. There's a reason these comic books have lasted as long as they have, and the producers have wisely chosen to keep a lot of it.

Which still leaves two really big problems. One, SPOILER ALERT, is the fact that the Big Damn Green Heroes... lose. This setup wasn't content to put Hal and Kilowog umpteen kessel runs away from anything familiar: We spent an hour (less interminable commercials) getting invested in our three ringslingers and drumming up a serviceable bit of "how are they going to get out of this one", only to discover that they don't get out of it. Another Green Lantern dead, and the planet he rode in on destroyed. Most of the people were relocated successfully, including our casualty's wife and child, on a completely new planet with nothing but the shirts on their backs. I mean, thanks for not letting us all die, but you couldn't have just moved the bomb? There's a lot of unapologetic onscreen death and destruction in Green Lantern.

The other really big problem is CG animation. I was hoping that once I saw it in extended action, it would grow on me. It didn't: I felt like I was watching someone play a video game. Give me old-fashioned hand-drawn cel animation every time.