Description: It's Superman's birthday and Wonder Woman and Batman show
up at the Fortress of Solitude to celebrate.
It’s too bad that with the half
hour format they couldn’t really delve into the creepyness below the surface in
the Moore original comic, but okay.
The benefits of a televised medium had its perks.
Clark’s love interest as this intriguing blend of Lana + Lois. Jor-el’s voice
slipping into Jonathan Kent. The implication of a rift between Jor and Kal
because Kal has chosen to be a farmer. Jor-el’s bitter reflections on his
predictions about the end of the world. And yet from the beginning the world
shakes. Fields of golden grain under a red sun. In Superman’s fantasy, the dog
has accidents on the floor and the birth of his son was the happiest day of his
life. That even as he destroys his own heart’s desire dream, he holds his son in
his arms and cries. Kal/Clark can’t just wake up. He has to destroy Krypton
again. Only this time, he’s there to see it all.
It made think of nothing so much as Picard living a lifetime in a few minutes.
And then there’s Batman. The sheer horrific deliciousness that in Batman’s
fantasy, the mugger who killed his parents speaks with his own voice. The Mask
of Zorro, happy California hero in the sun, but tears for pearls are always
destined to fall.
The wrongness of that black and white fantasy where Bruce’s father takes the
upper hand and beats and beats and beats on the mugger. The dread of the
overwhelming shadow that consumes his father. It’s a little less clear than with
Clark, but I think to awake Bruce had to kill his parent’s over again.
I did kind of want the plant whosit to land on Wonder Woman and then promptly
fall off because, umm…she’s living her bliss. This life isn’t the result of a
Thus she gives Clark a new kind of rose. A hybrid. Something to evoke old and
Although, I wonder, just how much cash does a gazillionaire give the world’s
most powerful man for his birthday?
Shiny Fluffy Heroes - JLU Kid's Stuff
For such a cute fluffy episode, as is so often the case with JLU, my mind is a
churning with the ricochet of ideas.
When a story that is in a medium traditionally associated with children in
America (cartoon) regarding a corpus of work associated with children (comic
books) has an episode where the adult main characters are turned into children,
I can’t help but think about what the episode is saying about what it means to
be a child. Where is the end of childhood? What does it mean to be frozen in
Frozen Mordred. Static Batman. Green Lantern revisiting the fantasies of
childhood. And I wonder, when, in this universe, did Diana’s childhood begin?
I suppose, I should pick a direction.
We have Mordred, whose mother, Morgan La Fey, has frozen him in childhood for
centuries. How like the fey. The Fair. The mother whose face is hidden. Her body
stiffly encased in metal.
She willow wisp promises Mordred power, but denies him responsibility. She could
have chosen to stop his aging process at any point. The point she chooses is a
doll-like pre-pubescent state. Precious. Beloved and over refined. The statement
that she bathes him is played for laughs and yet…it’s just one more sign of how
she denies him power over his own body. Mordred as not just a child, but an
infant. This plays interestingly with the episode’s resolution of Mordred as
frozen old man. Infancy and old age rendering the same result.
And unlike some child/ancient characters, Mordred is genuinely a child, not an
old man trapped in a child’s body. Just as the Justice Leaguers become their
child selves. The image of Mordred freezing them before the dungeon struck me
as…interesting. And what lies below, but the demon self of yet another un-aging
character (Etrigan/Jason Blood)
So, after centuries of empty promises, no wonder Mordred uses the power of the
first magic (which by its name can be seen as both the oldest and the
youngest/most elemental magic) as he does.
The world that he creates is a child’s world. He transforms the cotton candy
“Happy” Land, built by adults for children, into this child’s view of Happy
Land. It’s horrible and dark. There are guillotines and thorns and dark clouds.
It mades me think of a book a friend of mine just showed me. The author asked
children to draw a monster and then interviewed them about the monster. Based on
the interview and initial drawing, the author (who is a fairly well known artist
in comic book circles) filled in the details on the drawing. Wonderful and weird
and fantastic. Valentine’s Day monsters throwing hearts. Double headed creatures
(the second head was in the torso) going for a baseball double header. Horrible,
terrifying, friendly. Really, the interviews were one of the most interesting
parts of the book. A window into a familiar and yet alien perspective.
So, after transforming the world, what does the despotic child do?
Mordred sits in his throne room hearing petitions from his subjects. He’s bored,
but that’s what rulers do. Except, because he is a child, his understanding of
what is needed is limited. A little girl comes forward with her baby sister and
says that the baby is hungry and wanting their mother. Mordred gives her a cow
and calls for the next petitioner.
I’m also intrigued by his choice of costuming. After his initial costume change
to indicate to his mother that he is rebelling against her control, he shifts
back to the costume that she no doubt chose for him. The king does not wear “new
clothes” until he breaks out of childhood. And then only briefly, before old age
reduces him to the clothing of his childish estate.
It’s also interesting that the majority of the images of adults with children
before the spell are authoritarian and constraining. A teacher assigning
homework to her class. A mother telling her child that she cannot have a sweet.
A police officer catching children tagging a box car.
Without adults the world is only mildly Lord of the Flies. Sword fights with
stick swords (heck I did that. When mom caught me at it, I had to wear swim
goggles. It’s harder to poke your eyes out that way, but sweaty) and running
with sling shots.
I loved that the children questioned the Justice Leagues right to inform their
behavior. I mean, Superboy may no longer be an adult, but I pretty sure he could
still kick those little boy’s hineys. Ultimately, the threat of the return of
the parents is enough to force them to conform.
Superboy was a bit wasted here, but I can be content with Green Lantern’s
ecstatic smorgasbord of choices for his green power. Freed from the restraint of
silly, he can hardly choose from the array of options. Although, I can see why
Flash isn’t in the episode, it would be hard to tell the difference.
And then there is Batman’s statement with which we close the heroic section of
the story, that he has not been a child since he was eight years old.
Interesting to take in context with last week’s episode, “What do You Get the
Man Who has Everything.”
There Bruce’s happiest fantasy wasn’t to be an adult, but to be a child again in
a black and white world where his father will save the day. His fantasy is
violent with his father striking the mugger over and over as little black and
white Bruce smiles and looks on. An interesting contrast to the children who in
Mordred’s fantasy world drag empty adult sized armor to be decapitated in the
guillotine. Children aren’t sweet. And what Bruce wants most is a child’s
justice. His father’s shadow overpowering the thug with the adult Bruce’s voice.
Bruce hasn’t been a child since he was eight years old. Simultaneously, he will
always be that old young eight year old. Of all the Justice League members who
become children, he is the least changed because he can never change beyond that
defining tragic moment.
Batman’s emotional coldness to Wonder Woman reminds me of one of the Batman
episodes. Dick Grayson, Nightwing, is arguing with Bruce/Batman, about Bruce’s
inability to connect. Bruce yells that Dick cannot possibly understand his
motivations to which Dick replies something to the effect of, hello, look who
you’re talking to. He goes on to say, that he hasn’t let that tragedy stop him
from living his life. Now, Batman’s influence, well that’s a whole other
dysfunctional kettle of twistyness.
I’d ramble more, but um, I think I’ve said enough about an episode primarily
built from squee and cuteness.