Saturday, June 16, 2012

16683--It Ain't Easy Being Green

I'm experiencing a little bit of a sweet spot in time.  After a dry spell that seems to have lasted a few years, there are finally a few hours of cartoons worth watching on Saturday morning.  Hallelujah!

I don't know about you, but it's the well-written superhero action that gets me excited.  Ben 10 has been successfully changing themes every couple of years and maintains fairly clever writing.  Thundercats is delivering a far more interesting update than its original series ever managed.  Young Justice, like Marvel's Ultimates, very smartly focuses on DC's Earth 16 rather than the Earth 1 that most people are accustomed to seeing in the comics, thus freeing it from the constraints of comic continuity (not that they really seem to be worried about that in the comics anymore--Yeah, I went there.).  With The Legend of Korra, Nickelodeon continues tales begun in Avatar: The Last Airbender and the only bothersome thing I find in either continues to be that Nickelodeon doesn't show them more often.  That just leaves Green Lantern: The Animated Series, Bruce Timm's latest addition to the DCU animations (I'll talk about Disney's new toons another time).

Being a ring-slinger has always been a lot to shoulder.  The job comes with a whole committee of bosses who are not only stern but omnipotent, no pay or benefits, relentless workload and tremendous responsibility.  Oh, and travel.  Oh, boy, do they travel.  In the post-Crisis DCU and with the many subsequent, ridiculously frequent revisions it has undergone since, being a Green Lantern hasn't gotten any easier.  At least the loyal workforce of the Guardians could feel confident before that it had been provided with the most powerful weapons in the universe.  Now, they seem to have little more than watered down versions of what the mighty power rings once were.  The wearers of the rings are as tough as ever, don't get me wrong.  The intrepid corps, clad in their green and black tights, has a lot of heart.

The universe portrayed in the new GL series is suffering from the decay of the last three decades in the comics.  A single Green Lantern was once a force to be reckoned with.  Against threats that could endanger worlds or star systems, such a hero was important to have fighting for order.  Now they've been neutered, reduced from special forces soldiers charging into the fray with the best gear anyone could have to neighborhood watchmen with whistles and glowy Nerf nightsticks.  To the bad guys, Green Lanterns are pussies now and they'd better not go nosing into things without back-up.

The Guardians of the Universe now cower when Oa comes under attack.  Excuse me?  These are the Guardians of the Universe?  They must be actors hired to pose as immortal titans.  Oa should be the last place anyone should even think about assaulting.  Likewise, if you're a bad guy, I shouldn't have to tell you to locate in some city other than Gotham, Metropolis or New York.  If you're a bad guy who just has to operate in one of those towns, I have to conclude it's because you have some pathological drive to take on one of the heroes living there and won't be convinced to leave until one of you is dead.  But attack Oa?  Have the Guardians been neutered, too?  They may want to look at next year's budget and see if they can follow the model of Earth's locale, Sector 2814: bolster it up with multiple Green Lanterns.    It certainly can't be because we have a shortage of superheroes around.  I passed three the last time I leapt a tall building.

It also seems they need to work on the rings a bit because they seem to have difficulty remaining charged for any consistent length of time.  The GLs may want to start carrying the lanterns with them so they can recharge at will or use them to bash bad guys with in a pinch.  They may want to keep power ring tech support on their speed dialers while they're at it.  I've had this problem with cell phones before, but I never put up with it for long (hint hint).

As mentioned earlier, the GLs may want to start working in groups.  As ineffective and unreliable as the power rings are being portrayed, it's becoming increasingly difficult to accept that any of them make it through any of their adventures solo.  How do they even manage the trips back to the home office?  Turning light years into a simple commute takes a lot of power.  And remember, the omnipotent bosses are immortal, but not patient.  They don't want to have to wait when they send out a summons, which means GLs have to be able to move PDQ.

I get it.  I really do.  Superman used to be able to move worlds and fly through stars.  A Green Lantern used to hold power enough to snuff stars if needed.  No more of that.  Omnipotent heroes are hard to challenge which makes them harder to write for, so they've made things easier...for the writers.  The heroes have to work harder for their triumphs.  That's fine.  It earns them more respect and makes their stories more interesting.  Don't try to sell me, though, on them forgetting to charge their rings or even thinking about standing up to a score of Red Lanterns when they can barely handle two.  Those sorts of behaviors just end up coming off as foolish.

Again, don't get me wrong.  Green Lantern: The Animated Series is not a bad show at all.  The dialogue is witty and the CGI, while new for DCU, reminds me of The Incredibles (a fantastic movie in its own right).  The show could be improved with more consistency and power rings worthy of the name, though.  I think it'd make a stronger challenge for the writers and better protagonists for the show to have the mortals a little brighter and the immortals a bit more patient than arrogant.

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