“We’ve been caked!”
With its love of skewering pop culture, and with superheroes being big business these days, it’s no surprise that Robot Chicken: DC Comics Special (Blu-ray) has aimed its satiric sights on the funnybooks for the themed episode, which aired in September 2012 on Adult Swim. Up, up, and bawk ba-gawk!
At the Hall of Justice, Aquaman (Seth Green, Sex Drive) is sick and tired of being the butt of everyone’s jokes. Elsewhere, the sinister Legion of Doom plots the Justice League’s downfall, assuming Lex Luthor (Alfred Molina, Spider-Man 2) can get everyone’s acts together. While all this is happening, Bane causes some recurring mischief, some lesser-known DC heroes and villains introduce themselves, and more.
Despite the huge blockbuster successes of The Dark Knight and Man of Steel—and, to a lesser extent, Green Lantern—the Robot Chicken creators have instead skewered the Super Friends cartoons of their youth. This should come as no surprise to regular viewers of Robot Chicken, which often plays in the sandbox of ’70s/’80s kids’ shows and toys.
While the sketch comedy nature of Robot Chicken is intact, with some sketches lasting only less than a minute, this special has a single plotline running through it, connecting most of the sketches together. Aquaman has been cast as the main character, which means about two-thirds of the humor is devoted to the one joke of Aquaman not being as cool as the other heroes. The problem is that this has been done before. Saturday Night Live, Entourage, and The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson have all taken potshots at Aquaman in recent years, so no new ground is broken in this special.
The shorter, non sequitur sketches fare better, playing up the many if-you-stop-and-think-about-them absurdities of superhero tales. The recurring Bane sketches are winners, as are the male heroes having a guys’ night out, and a take on someone else other than Hal Jordan getting the Green Lantern ring. Knowing their target audience, the Robot Chicken writers often go for the lowbrow, so expect no shortage of toilet jokes, dick jokes, etc. On the plus side, a number of well-known actors lend their voices to the project, including Megan Fox (Transformers), Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother), Nathan Fillion (Castle), among others.
It’s a lot to ask consumers to pay money for a 22-minute special on Blu-ray, so thankfully the disc is loaded with special features. There are two commentaries, one with the writers and one with some of the voice actors. A “chicken nugget” feature is a branching option in which you use your remote to open up more short featurettes during the special whenever a chicken icon appears on the screen. There is a featurette looking at the making of the special, and all the effort that goes into the stop-motion animation. Another featurette has Seth Green and co-creator Matt Senreich visiting the DC Entertainment office in LA. From there, we get a look at the animators and writers dressing up as DC heroes and villains for the wrap party. We get deleted sketches in their storyboard form, and “outtakes,” which is footage of the voice actors screwing around in the studio. Finally, there is a series of Q&As with the creators about their favorite DC comics and characters.
Although more amusing than all-out hilarious, the Robot Chicken: DC Comics Special should provide a few decent laughs for the comic book fan in your household.