Review: DC Nation Debut

When I started doing reviews again for Comics Nexus, I wasn’t really reading any comics at the time, so I would basically do a lot of reviews for comic-related animated series, like Young Justice and Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. When DC announced they would be putting together an hour of DC-focused programming, I was really curious about how that would pan out.

The crux of DC Nation is full-length episodes of Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Young Justice, with shorts and segments scatted in between, so I am going to break down each segment and then give my overall impressions.

Green Lantern: The Animated Series – “Beware My Power”

This was just the first half of the Green Lantern pilot that aired back in November of last year. The pilot was pretty good, it introduced the characters very well, and showed how important the Green Lanterns are to the universe.

I also think the “Lost in Space” setup they had going really should create a unique dynamic for the show.

The Red Lanterns make for a pretty cool threat (though I will admit freely I would have prefered the Sinestro Corps).

They did a good job finding a place to split the pilot in two, which didn’t seem to naturally have a breaking point when I first saw it. Granted, the way Hal and Kilowag managed to defeat Razer and Zox seemed a little weak if you view it as a stand alone episode (the second half of the episode which is airing next week was MUCH stronger to me)…and I am pretty sure the main villain, Atrocitus, didn’t even show up in this episode (I was in and out of the room when it was airing to be honest since I had already seen it).

But, taken for what it is, Green Lantern: The Animated Series is a much better adaptation than the movie, and I think it has potential to be a very good show!

Score: – 8.0/10

Young Justice – “Misplaced”

I am constantly amazed by how Young Justice doesn’t seem to pull any punches. This adaptation of “World Without Grownups” was very well done, but the ending was just so dark. Dr. Fate’s mask had been an ongoing story throughout this season, with the Young Justice team viewing it as their last resort to stop threats. Fate’s mask gives the wearer great power, but there is a tremendous risk with the wearing being taken over by Nabu for good. When Zatanna put the mask on, I just knew that Zatara would end up being stuck with it at the end.

My five year old daughter actually made me tear up watching this episode when they show the team with their families. She turned to me and said “Poor Zatanna can’t hug her daddy anymore.”

The best part of this episode was how they shifted focus back and forth to show the story from the kids and adult’s perspective. I also loved that “Kids’ World” was much saner and more controlled than “Adult World” thanks to Young Justice’s efforts. Kids are eternally hopeful and knew that everything would turn out okay. Meanwhile, the adults were all panicking. I thought this worked very well!

I also love that Captain Marvel’s dynamic with both teams was more fully explored. I loved how Captain Marvel was used in the comic version of World Without Grown-Ups, and always thought it was a shame that they didn’t explore that angle in the comics more (they did some in JSA, but more in a “Is Captain Marvel a perv for flirting with Stargirl?” angle.).

By the way, during a commercial they aired during Green Lantern, they had a Young Justice team shot that featured Zatanna and Rocket. As a huge Milestone fan, I am really hoping that she will have a bigger role in this show (she’s had a few non-speaking cameos throughout the series).

Score: – 9.0/10

“DC Nation in Claymation” Short

DC Nation describes these claymation shorts as: “Aardman Studios (Arthur Christmas, Wallace and Gromit) brings Batman, Superman and Catwoman to life in this stop-motion clay animation clip.”

I thought the one they aired during Green Lantern was really goofy, but kind of funny at the same time. The best part to me was Superman talking about not being sure why a character named Batman would hang out with someone named Robin…bats and robins have nothing in common…except for the fact they fly and eat bugs. I don’t know what exactly, but that made me laugh.

All in all, this just wasn’t really my type of humor. My wife and daughter seemed to have enjoyed it though.

Score: – 7.0/10

Plastic Man Short – “Super Hero Sketch Artist”

The Plastic Man Short (LINK HERE) was hilarious. Tom Kenny returns as the voice of Plastic Man (he did it in Brave and the Bold), and I laughed pretty much through this entire short.

Plastic Man has been one of my favorite characters since his cartoon from the 80’s, and DC did a great job showing just how fun a character he can be. Hopefully, DC will start doing some Plastic Man shorts in the Green Lantern and Young Justice comic-tie ins.

In a lot of ways, these Plastic Man shorts (which were originally created a few years back) seem to have been what inspired Brave and the Bold and DC Nation, so that makes them awesome!

Score: – 9.0/10

One other thing which I thought was kind of cool. They had a live action segment during the first commercial break which showed a professional archer demonstrating that a Boxing Glove arrow could be an effective weapon in reality.  I thought that was kind of cool.

Next week, New Teen Titans will air a short.  New Teen Titans basically an even more Chibi version of Cartoon Network’s Teen Titans…they had a preview New Teen Titans short during the Green Lantern pilot in November and it was pretty cool.

Over all, DC Nation was pretty much exactly what I hoped it would be. Having good Saturday morning cartoons I can watch with my daughter is awesome! Granted, Young Justice and Green Lantern are a little more adult than the cartoons I watched when I was five, but seeing my daughter wearing her Green Lantern ring and ask me to teach her how to charge it was totally worth any potential therapy bills that might come from these shows.

I did think it was a little disappointing that even though in the opening of DC Nation they mention “nothing can stop the DC Comics Superheroes,”  that is pretty much all they did to link to the comics.

I didn’t see anything about “If you like these shows, check out the comics,” not even a link to DC’s website. Come to think about it, I didn’t even see a link to DC Nation’s Website! That just seems like a poor marketing strategy to me.

All that aside, DC Nation is off to a strong start, and they definitely have grabbed my family as regular viewers.  And next month, Ultimate Spider-Man debuts  and Avengers: Earth Mightiest Heroes returns.  It is a great time for superhero animation!

Final Score: 8.0 – A strong hour of superhero love. I just wish they had done more to show people how they can get into comics!

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