This week’s launch of DC Nation, a Saturday morning cartoon block, is a most welcome addition to kiddie programming that older people can enjoy, too. The main attractions are a Green Lantern series plus continuation of the excellent first season of Young Justice.
The two half-hours are knit together by interstitial, one-minute cartoons that this week include a nicely wacky Plastic Man short, “Super Hero Sketch Artist,” and an adorable Aardman Animations production (the folks who brought you Wallace and Gromit) featuring stop-motion clay animation figures of kids dressed in the costumes Superman, Batman, and other DC heroes, making amusing comments about their dress-up heroism.
I’ve written before about the Green Lantern pilot that re-airs on Saturday morning: Green Lantern is first seen as hotshot pilot Hal Jordan, wrested from the arms of a slinky Carol Ferris only because he’s summoned by the Guardians of the Universe to Oa. There, he teams with the burly Lantern Kilowog to rescue a dying Lantern on a faraway “frontier” Lantern outpost.
The cartoon maps out the Green Lantern mythology including the Red Lanterns, who, led by Atrocitus, rage against Hal and Kilowog for power. If all this is beginning to sound like inside-comic-book baseball to non-comics readers, rest assured that Kilowog’s line “What the nards is a Red Lantern?” is your cue to knowing that the cartoon is going to take the time to explain all the principal players and their various animosities.
But not too much time. The GL production does a good job of balancing the info needed to educate newbies and action designed to satisfy those in the know.
Young Justice is even better. Conceived as a covert team operating at the behest of the Justice League, these youthful upstarts — who include Aqualad, Robin, Kid Flash, Superboy, Miss Martian, and a clutch of other semi-regulars, most notably in Saturday’s return engagement, Billy Batson/Captain Marvel.
The central plot of this week’s installment, as articulated by one YJ member is that “every adult 18 or over has disappeared.” This is a problem? The way the Young Justice crew is occasionally ordered around with sniffy entitlement by JL oldies like Batman, I’d think the younger heroes would almost be relieved. Ah, but this included every adult in their universe, not just the super ones. The way Young Justice solves the problem, more or less without adult supervision (or super-vision), was shrewdly accomplished.
I’m looking forward, in the near future, to another promised feature of the DC Nation animation block: a series of minute-long shorts featuring the shorts, S.B.F.F. (short for Super Best Friends Forever), featuring Supergirl, Wonder Girl, and Batgirl, among other female DC super-heroes.