DCU animated R.I.P.

When DC cancelled its Justice League Unlimited comic book series a few months ago, it closed the door on the greatest version of its universe ever, save perhaps for Kirby’s Fourth World. The animated DC world, starting with the Batman cartoons of the 90s, then continuing with Superman and finally Justice League, were smart, sleek, well-written, well-directed and gave us the best of both worlds: a cartoon series for kids that was intelligent and mature enough for adults. The Superman & Justice League comics based on the ‘toons were more kid-oriented, but the Batman series (particularly Batman: Gotham Adventures and Batman Adventures) were among the best superhero books ever written.

The cartoons, though… man. I just switched from cable to satellite a few months ago and gained a couple hundred new channels for my troubles, including Boomerang. Boomerang regularly shows the old Justice League cartoons and it amazes me, watching them again, just how seamlessly they work in heroes and villains you never thought you’d see. Sure, Wonder Woman and the Flash, but — the Suicide Squad? The Steve Ditko Starman? And speaking of Ditko, the Question — that faceless, scary, trenchcoated conspiracy freak — is unquestionably the highlight of any episode he’s in. Watchmen fans take note: this is the character that Rorscharch is based on. And he could kick Rorscharch’s ass. And what about the villains? The Key, Mirror Master, the Royal Flush Gang… it makes my fanboy heart flutter.

Lately, the Marvel movies (Iron Man, Hulk, etc) have been putting the DC flicks to shame by integrating all the characters into one big interactive universe. HELLO DC — HAVE YOU WATCHED YOUR OLD CARTOONS LATELY?? These are so well integrated, that all you have to do is hire the series’ creators and designers (Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, Dwayne MacDuffie, and especially background artist Paul (Mr. X) Rivoche) to work on the DC films, and soon you’ve got a mega-movie-merchandising empire set to topple Marvel and their respective franchises.

Now, I know that DC is still printing the Legion of Superheroes animated comics, but that’s not the main universe, and you know it. Krypto the Superdog is geared more for younger kids (but thank you God for bringing back that rarest of Silver Age pleasures, the Space Canine Patrol Agency. Woof!) and the current Batman cartoon is just ugly and has a wimpy theme song. Guys, let’s get your act together and bring back the DCU that the fans love, need and deserve!!!!

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