Monday, July 15, 2013

DC vs Marvel Animated Shows, ROUND 2

Both DC and Marvel have positioned themselves on opposite sides, dueling for Weekend Morning supremacy - with a block of shows. As detailed before about their initial offerings, DC came in with strong shows of Green Lantern and Young Justice, while Marvel was lukewarm with Ultimate Spider-Man, but strong with Avengers.

Green Lantern had a slow start, but became an incredible series, which is sorely missed - being canceled solely because of a lack of toy sales. I believe the cancelation of Green Lantern is what drove Bruce Timm out of DC's animation house, which is a steep and grave loss. Young Justice continued to impress throughout their 2-season run, wowing me even further with a 5 year leap ahead, adding more and more characters, and more and more intrigue.

Marvel's Ultimate Spider-Man disappointed legions of anticipating fans, who assumed the series would be similar to the Ultimate Spider-Man comic series, but instead got a modern-day "Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends". The show boasted incredible animation -- but it seemed wasted in a show that was aiming, more than usual, to a young and immature audience. Where we just spoiled, during the 90s, with mature shows like X-Men and Batman? The show became merely entertaining for the humorous aspects, and some of the fan-driven episodes, with good results, like for example, the Damage Control episode (highlighting Dwayne McDuffie), the Thor-Frog episode, and the followup Spider-Man-Pig episode. The series, simply put, is a fun distraction - but was never aimed at the over-20 crowd to begin with.

The Avengers tv series bowed out, ending on season 2, to incredible success. If ever there was an example, of how to do a Comic Cartoon show right -- Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes was it. The writing, animation - everything was perfectly in synch, managing to deliver great story arcs like Secret Invasion, the Red Hulk saga, and including characters like Spider-Man, the New Avengers, and Yellow Jacket.

Avengers Assemble

Almost as if, in total opposition to the excellence of Avengers EMH, Avengers Assemble comes in with sub-par animation, weak storytelling, and even weaker characterization. This is clearly from the same group responsible for Ultimate Spider-Man, but at least with that show, there was an attempt at 4th-wall breaking humor. There's nothing funny about this horrible show. Taking its cues from the Avengers movie, the series seems like the exact type of corporate-directed, drivel that you'd expect from lesser franchises. Comic Animation fans, quite frankly, have long experienced and deserve better than this. This series just looks awful, from every conceivable angle. From the bright saturated color pallet, to the faux wide-screen scenes, the entire series looks decidedly unappealing. Visually, they are attempting to match what we all saw in the movies -- but, the realism, turned into more simplistic animation, unsurprisingly falls flat. There's simply no style, no imagination, or balance to the art direction. The characterization, besides being cartoonish caricatures of their movie-counterparts, fails to deliver on all fronts. The entire show, quite frankly, is a hollow shell of what the Avengers film was.

I am even less thrilled by previews coming out to Hulk Agents of S.M.A.S.H., which looks like yet another childish attempt by this failure of an animation house.

DC Nation

For all intents and purposes, Marvel has ceded their foothold in this battle against DC. Still, could DC, somehow, screw it all up -- loosing, despite the abject failure of their competitors? Yes, DC, can and is failing. Teen Titans GO is entertaining, and certainly visually appealing -- but it's also just a joke-machine show. Theres no drive to watch one episode from the next.

What is DC's second attempt, following up the cancelation of Young Justice and Green Lantern? Well, in complete contrast to the cartoony Teen Titans GO, Beware the Batman attempts to recapture the noir appeal of Batman during the 90s under Bruce Timm. I have to wonder, though, how much Bruce Timm was involved in this series, before he left. Its certainly in his style - the same CGI style as Green Lantern - but this dark series seems to be missing that imaginative edge.

Not saying the show isn't good -- it's dark, creepy, -- just, well... too dark and creepy for it's own good! The show decidedly is aiming for a Dark Knight-style series - but all I keep wishing for, while watching it, is a more colorful and fun series to breakout. Where's Robin when you need him, to brighten the mood? Alfred, with a nice sarcastic comment here and there, is nowhere to be found - instead replaced by a hardened ex MI-6 spy. Katana adds a new element to the shows dynamic - but, it just feels like this show is trying far, far too hard to be a stone-cold noir detective drama, with little time for fun or adventures in-between. The series tries to bolster itself to longtime fans, by hosting obscure, and even more obscure villains -- all resulting with me wondering "Why Should I Care?"

What I think, though, that is this series' biggest problem, though, is this simple fact: we didn't need another Batman series this soon. Coming off of Batman Brave and the Bold - the promise of a darker Batman series seemed nice - but, I feel now was a misplaced direction to build a series upon. Better to wait and have a excellent Batman series, rather than rush, slapping together something with Batman's name on it.

Avengers Assemble went in all the wrong directions beforehand -- now, it seems, Beware the Batman is going in all the right directions, but with similar disastrous results. At least Beware the Batman is watchable, though...


  1. Very good show. I typically do not like cartoons. However, the writers for this show do an amazing job. PS: Do not judge the show by the weird theme song. It was made by a weird Japanese sensation band that I'm not fond of. The show is not similar to the odd music.