Scorn of the Star Sapphire!
Original Airdate - September 16th, 2011
Batman and Hal Jordan work to take down Green Lanternís greatest enemy, Star Sapphire. Hal Jordan is the only one who knows her secret identity.
Written by J. M. DeMatteis
Directed by Michael Goguen
Review by Andrew
Media by Warner Bros. Animation
Creator Q & A with Producer James Tucker
The World's Finest: First off, can you give us a rundown of what we can expect in the episode "Scorn of the Star Sapphire!," debuting this week on Cartoon Network!
James Tucker: "Scorn of the Star Sapphire" is our Green Lantern showcase for this season. As you can guess, the villainess is Star Sapphire and will also include some cameos from some old and more recent Green Lantern villains. We havenít used Hal Jordan much on Batman: The Brave and the Bold, so we thought it was time to give him a spotlight. I really wanted to do a Green Lantern story that didnít focus on OA or the space opera aspects of GLís mythos as much. With Hal, thereís his whole life on earth that usually gets ignored when it comes to non-comic related representations, so I really wanted this to be an earth-bound Green Lantern story with none of the Guardians or other Green Lanterns around that dealt specifically with Hal Jordanís personal life and his relationship to Carol Ferris. This was a far more psychological story than we usually do and I think, especially for those not familiar with all things Green Lantern, that there are some nice revelations into his character. J.M. DeMatteis did his usual stellar job on the script as well.
The highlight of this episode for me though, was the teaser which features the first official appearance of Wonder Woman. She had a cameo in one episode that we snuck in but this one will be the one old school Wonder Woman fans will have been waiting for. I personally storyboarded this teaser because Iím a huge Wonder Woman fan, so it was a lot of fun and one of the perks of being the producer! I tried to cram as much Wonder Woman-centric stuff into the teaser as possible including some very nostalgic references to the old TV series.
WF: This series has used Guy Gardner and Hal Jordan on a fairly regular basis, moreso Guy than Hal. What do you find engaging about these two Lanterns? Would you have ever considered bringing in John Stewart or Kyle Rayner, like Justice League Unlimited?
JT: The challenge of this show was always deciding which version to use of the multiple versions of heroes who share the same name that exist in the DC Universe. The thing I love about DC is that DC characters tend to be about family and legacy, so the Ďmantelsí (I hate that word, by the way) tend to get passed along from person to person, parent to offspring, etc. This is very cool for a kid reading about the history of these characters and itís great playing connect the dots and trying to figure out the history of DCís characters, but to make it understandable for a casual viewer has always been a challenge. Itís just not possible to use every version of a character that exists and not hopeless confuse the audience that isnít in the know. Having said that, we regularly pushed the boundaries of that in our episodes and I think by and large we embraced the whole of what DC comics is and tried to make it accessible and enjoyable to fans who only had passing knowledge of the comics as well as enjoyable to long time fans. Anyway, itís my feeling that the earth based Green Lantern situation is just one of those things thatís just too confusing to lay people and having two earth based Green Lanterns in one show is pushing it. So, since we used Kyle and John very prominently in the earlier DCUA series, I wanted to stick with Guy and Hal. Mainly Guy, since he has a very strong personality that creates sparks when heís bouncing off other heroes. Hal as a Green Lantern is fine, but itís his private life as Hal and the complications he has with his interpersonal relationships that make him interesting for me.
WF: The classic villainess Star Sapphire gets plenty of screentime in this new episode. Given her infamous Ďbarely thereí costume and sometimes conflicting origin, was she a hard character to adapt? Is there any other GL villain you wouldíve liked to have used? Perhaps Hector Hammond? Maybe even Black Hand?
JT: I really wanted to do a Star Sapphire focused story because sheís got a great origin and complicated relationship to Green Lantern that weíve never been able to touch on in animation. Mainly because we used John Stewart on Justice League and Justice League Unlimited and also the default villain mode with Green Lantern is always Sinestro. So Iím glad we got to use Sapphire and give her a decent showcase. I wasnít as interested in Hector Hammond because weíve already used The Misfit as a reoccurring villain, and you donít need more than one huge headed mega genius villain in any given series, in my opinion. I never Ďgotí Black Hand to be honest, but itís kind of moot since we knew weíd probably only do one Green Lantern related story in our last season.
WF: Green Lantern is a character with considerable powers. How do you balance having him and Batman share an adventure, or fight a villain, and making sure both heroes are on equal footing?
JT: Batman doesnít have to do much to hold his own with other heroes. People root for him because heís the only one usually without superpowers, and he does tend to be the smartest person in the room. The fact that Batman isnít afraid of anything helps the audience buy that, even when heís on another planet surrounded by Para Demons, all he needs is a couple of batarangs to handle the situation. The force of his personality is enough for the audience to believe that he can stand shoulder to shoulder with these other god-like beings.
WF: Any final hints, perhaps an inside joke or easter eggs, that fans should keep an eye out for when watching the new episode "Scorn of the Star Sapphire!," debuting this week?
JT: Given that we finished these episodes almost a year ago, the memory fails, but expect a lot of nostalgic shout outs to Wonder Woman history in the teaser and a lot of Green Lantern references in the main story. The teaser especially was a labor of love for me to produce!
Big promises came with the premise of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, most of which were by producers to give a whole new experience to animated fans with dropping them into an ocean of Silver Age splendor - and then others came from expected promises that went unspoken. Among those expectations were Superman and Wonder Woman. The majority of the big three, the Holy Trinity of DC Gospel, and yet for two seasons - each twice the length of its third and final season - they remained vague entities to the Brave and the Bold universe as only a passing implication or awkward rear shots in a brief flashback. Superman, of course, found his inevitable debut in the odd episode ďBattle of the Superheroes!Ē but this episode marks the debut, albeit short, of Wonder Woman to the show. Well, at least it didnít leave us simply ogling her animated derriere, as teased by ďSidekicks Assemble!Ē
Despite the lackluster choice to not devote an entire episode to Wonder Woman, the teaser, at least, is devoted to her in many pleasing ways. Most fortunate is that they waste absolutely no time getting her into an action role, as has been problematic when introducing some other characters, as she immediately takes on a Nazi-but-Notzreally version of Baroness Paula von Gunther in attempt to save Batman and dams-male in distress, Steve Trevor. They even go as far as poking fun at the unfortunate sexism, that has been one of the few complaints of Brave and the Bold, by having our titular Dark Knight be the one jealous of not having Wonder Womanís affections. Of course, speaking of it as though it was some highlight does misrepresent it slightly, since it really was simply manifested in a brief reaction at the end of the teaser.
Wonder Woman is designed much like her theme song-sister, Lynda Carter, naturally based off of the Silver Age that brought the iconic look into fruition. Iím slightly surprised they didnít try to do something a bit more unique, such as give her the jogging shorts look, but I suppose giving a nod to the legendary Lynda Carter took priority - understandable. As said, throughout the teaser sheís a woman of action with very little time spent standing around, those moments of which find themselves with decent dialogue. Nothing overly noteworthy since things are kept short, but at the same time thereís nothing cringe-worthy either. All in all, a worthwhile appearance for one of the most popular heroines, one of the most famous superheroes in general, now how about her own show like this, WB?
What I found most interesting about the following main story is that, much like the Wonder Woman teaser feature, itís a much needed spotlight on a very popular character that has received the short end of the stick, on Brave and the Bold, so far. Surprisingly, though, itís the Green Lantern nearly everybody knows: Hal Jordan. Heís had the occasional appearance, the most prominent of which was fleeing like little girly-man during the invasion of Despero, along with 99.3% of the Corps, leaving the purple people eater to Batman. This time, however, the entire story focuses around him and his bossy beau, Carol Ferris. Obviously one can assume this was simply to provide hype for the predictably flopped movie, but DC/WB similarly flopped with getting this to its potential audience given that its airing on U.S. televisions comes a whole two months after Green Lanternís threatrical debut. Nice move.
Fortunately, unlike the movie, this is a very well written story and is the most refreshing version of Hal Jordan to be featured in animated form in a long time. Hal Jordan is a character that has been around a long time, and yet recently his story has been everywhere thanks to Hal-fanboy-in-control, Geoff Johns. Between Justice League: New Frontier, Green Lantern: First Flight, Green Lantern: Ryan Reynolds Makes Faces, and Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, itís safe to say that modern DC animated audiences are familiar with this particular Green Lantern. The problem is that none of them really depict him as anything other than shallow Hal, aside from maybe Emerald Knights which woefully wastes the vocal talents of Nathan Fillion by having his presence be a dull narration. But I digress. Throughout the episode weíre introduced to his pink-powered rival, Star Sapphire, and the unfortunate twist that keeps Carol Ferris entwined to Jordanís life in a vast contrast to their love life. Fortunately, they seemed to have worked off of the assumption that most viewers would already be aware of Star Sapphireís backstory and instead emphasized the tragedy of it all rather than attempting to make it a shocking reveal. However, I wouldnít be surprised if this turned out to be effective to those that werenít previously aware.
Overall, both the teaser and main story are fantastically written and have been much needed features for Brave and the Bold, giving two of the most iconic DC Comics characters much needed depictions. Wonder Woman still deserves more, given she is criminally underused nowadays, but hopefully this is a start to something great. Hal Jordan has been enjoying the animated spotlight in recent years, but this is the first time that I truly feel as though I was watching a story about Hal Jordan, and not just Green Lantern. Who knew there was a human behind that ring?Bonus Clip!
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