RadioBubble: A View from Cybertron Episode 2: Throne of Atlantis Review and DC / Marvel Debate

Episode two was impromptu. Find out why after the jump!

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Alight, guys, I apologize in advance for how shitty I sound. This weather has been absurd to say the least.

Anyway, welcome to this week’s A View from Cybertron! I know that this week, we were supposed to go Prime Time. However, a funny thing happened on the way to the television. Last Thursday, the mailman gave me a present, and my copy of Justice League: Throne of Atlantis came in.  You may want to take a seat, this may be a long one. The first part is going to be a bit of a history lesson on how the Marvel and DC anim ated fights came to be. Then we’ll lead up to my review of Throne of Atlantis. Don’t worry, it’s coming, I just like to talk a lot.

Now, if you have been following along, Warner Bros. Animation, and DC have kicked the shit out of Marvel so bad in the animated feature department, Marvel gave up, only giving us fucking terrible motion comics and equally terrible shows on DisneyXD. At DC, we have gotten quality movies, including the marginal Batman: Gotham Knight, and Green Lantern: Emerald Knights.

That said, from DC’s first animated movie, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, there has always been a high level of quality in the animation. There really hasn’t been an animated movie I hated. However, I can name a few from Marvel. Rise of the Technovore was shit. Doctor Strange was okay, but it was a flash in the pan. The only real great animated movie that Marvel put out was Planet Hulk, and that got jettisoned to nowhere due to licensing issues. A story like this could have gone miles, especially with World War Hulk following up. Oh well, dem’s the brakes.

Meanwhile, We’ve gotten: Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo, Batman and Superman: Public Enemies, Superman: Doomsday, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, and a slew of Justice League movies, like the New Frontier, Crisis on Two Earths, Doom, and War. There was so much good coming out of DC.

We can’t go on without mentioning the beginnings, now can we? Not all Marvel animation has been bad. The runs of X-Men and Spider-Man were fantastic for it’s time. Spider-Man had that pseudo-CG going on when Spider-Man was web slinging through the city, and X-Men were closer to the comics than any previous adapted series have been before. Granted, Wolverine’s drive in the first few seasons were based on a character that didn’t exist in comics until Changling was reintroduced as Morph.

There was also a Fantastic Four show, which was forgettable. But the Marvel animated efforts took a terrible turn When Iron Man took off, because the two seasons may have been two different series, because the look, tone, and designs of the characters, especially the title character, all changed. It was one of the worst things I’ve seen when it comes to how shows are handled. I also remember a syndicated Avengers show as well, with every character donning an armored suit.  Then we get a bunch of forgettable series, mostly shows that were aimed at a younger audience, because a lot of the dark undertones were taken away, and there was less violence. One show that stood out was X-Me  n: Evolution, because it took the X-Men and Brotherhood, and made them high school children.

Other than that, everything has been forgettable. Wolverine and the X-Men was okay, but the fact that it was cancelled, then burnt off so Nick’s hands can be washed clean of it just made it forgettable. Then we get the Disney XD shows, and I just lose my desire to talk. Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes was great, but was ultimately nixed in favor of the infinitely sub-par Avengers Assemble. Add in Ultimate Spider-Man and Hulk: Agents of SMASH, and you’ll have a recipe for me to lose my shit.

DC, on the other hand, hasn’t had anywhere near the series that Marvel released. However, the shows have been more up to par than Marvel. In my eyes, the greatest cartoon of all time was Batman: The Animated Series. The look was so different, and the way the cartoon was drawn was so unique. The art-deco design was so sleek. And let’s face it, that Batmobile was fucking sexy.

The success brought us Superman, and even though he was still the boy scout douchebag we all know and hate, the series was actually pretty well done. It was the exact opposite of Batman, yet complemented it beautifully. For a time, WB actually combined the two series, which was mighty convenient. The success of Batman and Superman gave us a very hefty series. Justice League was the first time bringing the League to television. Before you say it, fuck you. Superfriends was terrible, and it wasn’t even the Justice League.

The show gave us the first look at the super team, with a few changes, of course. For starters, there was no Aquaman, we had Hawk Girl. We also didn’t have Hal Jordan as Green Lantern, but we had Jon Stewart. The quality of this show was fantastic, because it kept the backbone of what made the DC shows of the time so great. Paul Dini as writer, Kevin Conroy as Batman, and George Newburn as Superman allowed Warner to expand, and give the writers more freedom in their stories. Where else could you have Batman, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman go back in time to the wild west?

After Justice League concluded, we got a full length movie called Starcrossed the Movie, and that set the table perfectly for an even more expanded roster in Justice League Unlimited. The roster went from seven, to seemingly every character ever. The highlight was the story involving Project Cadmus. Luthor went full nuts when he merged with Braniac. What was most refreshing about JLU was that the focus wasn’t on Batman and Superman. Other characters got some screen time, like Question and Black Canary. It was a great introduction to the DCU as a whole.

While Justice League was in full effect, we got a cartoon based on Teen Titans. This show was everything that Justice League couldn’t be. It had Robin in charge of a team consisting of Raven, Starfire, Cyborg, and Beast Boy. There is not enough I can say that would convey how highly I regard this show. Using Deathstroke…sorry, I mean Slade as the villain of the series, was money. His constant persuit of Robin so he can join Slade was not something you’ve seen before, nor have you seen something like Red X. If I was able to get some more of this, and zero Teen Titans Go!, I would sell my soul. Seriously. Warner Bros. execs, if you are listening, I would sell my soul for a good Teen Titans show.

After Teen Titans, we got two more Batmans, which were very forgettable. After some time away, we got a new show based on the youngins, and that was Young Justice. I’ve gone into detail on how I feel about how Cartoon Network handled it, and Green Lantern and Beware the Batman all got the same treatment. Fuck me. I just realized that Cartoon Network is just a Warner owned Nickelodeon. Cartoon Network’s handling of DC not withstanding, I think that it goes without saying, but DC owns Marvel on every angle of the animated genre.

And now we come full circle. With a much less focused effort on television, Warner has started shitting out movies on the regular. Since 2009, we have gotten three movies a year. The magic formula is a Justice League, then Batman, then an original movie. The fact that DC is using the Batman and Justice League movies as a way to bring adapted works of comic stories to life is fantastic. The latest, is Justice League: Throne of Atlantis. Now, wait for the shocker. It’s loosely based on the Aquaman story, Throne of Atlantis.

As the cast and crew have told us, this is absolutely “Aquaman Begins.” This direct sequel takes place some time after Justice League: War, where the group has their base in Star Labs. The star of the movie. Arthur Curry, starts the movie talking to a lobster in a tank after his father died. Of course, we get a look at the super strength, and the gills on his neck right from the get go. There was a lot going on in the seventy or so minutes of the movie, so, let’s get started.

Orm and Black Manta were ruthless in this movie. These two took pride in their home to a new level, to the point where they actually kill their own so Atlantis can go to war with the Surface. They end up killing Curry’s mother while Mera is trying to bring back Curry to Atlantis. Orm believes that he is the one true ruler, and his claim isn’t really wrong. He is of true blood, but his mother wants Arthur on the throne.

Thankfully, the focus is almost solely on the Atlantean conflict. Following in the light of JLU, the focus is off of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Yeah, there are scenes where they are the focus, but the movie is all Aquaman, and his home in Maine. That said, they change the dynamic of the Justice League, from a team that was cohesive, to a team that wanted nothing to really do with the team concept. None of them really meet up , not even when they’re needed. This leaves Cyborg to do the base work while the rest of the team took care of their own things at their home. Well, except Superman and Diana, who decided to start a superpowered romance. Not going to lie, it took a long time for Superman and Wonder Woman to try and bang out in the movies. I was hoping for a little bit more out of Shazam, because he didn’t get a lot of screen time. I’m sure there will be something for him in the future.

The ending is rather obvious, but you kind of concede that if you are watching an animated movie adapted from a comic. Rather conspicuous by his absence is Garth, but the producers of Throne of Atlantis told the press at New York Comic-Con that we shouldn’t count him out going forward. What we should take away from Throne of Atlantis is that the League is actually gelling together now. Hopefully, that means that we’re getting bigger villains. Darkseid, Braniac, Doomsday, and hopefully the Injustice League. We have a resurgence in popularity for Deathstroke, so people would eat that up. Of course, you can take the main villains for each JL member, like Grodd, Sinestro, Joker / Penguin / Riddler / Two-Face / Bane, Orm / Black Manta, and so on, and one huge battle, Injustice type of war.

The animation was very crisp, and are going further away from the big jawed characters, and the art-deco animation that DC animation was known for. The studio has kept true to form, and is keeping the New 52 inspired designs. The movie was something that accomplished two major things for the DCAU. First, we got a cohesive Justice League. Second, we finally have an outlet to give us a great Aquaman character. Maybe then the Robot Chicken jokes can stop.

There were a few things that I took away from Thrones of Atlantis, besides those two. So, we may get a little fragmented here. For one, when did Superman get to be so…badass? When the Atlanteans tried to capture Curry, Superman arrives, and literally makes one a pool, kickstarts his laser eyes, and just growls “Retreat!” These writers actually gave Superman a killer moment that made him look badass. Fuck you guys, for making me backpedal on two characters in this movie!

Next, you never really see Arthur Curry not want to take the throne. Seeing his family was something you didn’t really see much of outside of Mera, Orm, and Aqualad. Seeing his dad, and his queen regent of a mother was nice to see, and added a little more depth, and made Aquaman more than just some asshole who talks to fish. However, if he ends up getting a hook at some point, I’m cashing out.

Moving on, for those who don’t like a movie with only punches and serious superhero things, there is also some really funny moments. Early on, Batman refuses to go to Star Labs. Of course, GL had to go and screw up Batman and his plan to get information on Scarecrow. Of course, and scene with Shazam talking is hilarious, because a 30 year old sounding man sounding and acting like a 10 year old slays me everytime I hear it. More, please? Throne of Atlantis was more serious than War, but the comedic moments were funnier.

If the upcoming releases from Warner Bros. and DC are going to keep going up in qua lity, I may want more. I think I’ve watched Throne of Atlantis about 12 times now, and 13 is looking pretty tempting right now.

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Well, that’s all for this week. If you have any questions, comments, or something you want to hear my insight on something that is near and dear to your hearts, you can hit me up on Twitter. The link is in the yellow box under the wall of text. You can also email me at cybertronmessiah@bubbleblabber.com, if Twitter isn’t your thing. For next week, I have no idea what I’m doing, yet. I guess you’re going to have to tune in to find out!

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Cybertron Messiah

Anime, gaming, action, I do it all. Most of it shows up on the Broadcast Bubble show, Gaming on Cybertron. Tuesdays at 9 pm, right here on BubbleBlabber!