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Static Shock 042: “Fallen Hero”

January 21, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

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Written by: John Semper Jr.
Teleplay by: Stan Berkowitz
Originally Aired: February 7, 2004

Summary: Static must defend Dakota from the attacks of the rogue Green Lantern John Stewart, his personal hero.

Arc Notes: Further establishment of the Static / John relationship that comes up again in Unlimited.

Guest Stars: John Stewart

Featured Villain: Sinestro

Thoughts on the Episode:

I was actually going to use this one in that big Static Shock run of episodes, but since the underlying theme of “A Better World” and the episodes I’ll be covering during these next couple of episodes is what to do about rogue heroes, it fits better here.

By this point – late in Static Shock‘s four-season run – the writers had matured Static to the point where he seemed a bit too good for most of the lower-grade bad guys that normally made up his rogues’ gallery. However, while that generally made for weaker storylines on his own show, episodes like this one worked much better, as now Static was seen as if not an equal, then at least comparable to Justice League members (and… other… DCAU heroes, but we’ll only cover that much later). But even with Static seeming to be on Green Lantern’s level in this episode, this ultimately comes down to Green Lantern vs Sinestro, which seems a bit of a disservice to the character the show’s named after.

The basic idea of Static having to take down one of his heroes is a good one, but this story almost loses its own way in the process of saying what it needs to. The cold open is effective in establishing that something’s wrong with GL and has the great moment of a cop absolutely refusing to engage for fear for his own life, as a reminder that a Green Lantern weilds “the most powerful weapon in the universe.” And the initial quick and dirty takedown of Static and Gear makes it clear that while they’ve come a long way, they’re still a bit out of their league in dealing with threats as powerful as a rogue Lantern. \

However, when all of that is piled on top of itself in the opening act, the story gets a bit too cramped, although the sudden emergence of a second, stubbly-bearded John Stewart from a train (looking like all manner of horrible 90s hero designs) at least provides a trigger for the viewer to figure out what’s going on – it’s not any of the causes speculated on by Virgil when he’s talking with his family, but rather some sort of clone or illusion.

The plot twist turns out to be a bit better than intially suspected, as Sinestro gets brought into the story (complete with calling GL “Johnny”, which is a weird but effective way of showing how much he enjoys annoying the hero). The setup is actually a pretty good follow-up on what was seen in Hearts and Minds, with John being able to access the power battery in its pocket dimension wherever he goes, and Sinestro knowing that and taking advantage. Sure, it’s a bit of comic science that doesn’t make sense if you take a second look at it, but all you need is for it to make enough sense to move on to the rest of the episode. The key point is Static’s crisis of faith and his ability to believe just enough in John  that he can overcome it.

The finale is the expected throwdown, but surprisingly Static largely stays out of the way as this basically winds up being a Justice League fight that never actually happened, with a great scale, and Sinestro finally being overpowered by John’s charged-up powers. Even then, though, the breakneck pace doesn’t really let up, as the ending basically has John flying off and Gear trying to sum up what had happened.

The biggest issue I have with this episode is that it strikes me as a missed opportunity to do character work. While there were other characters in Static Shock that could serve as mentor characters for Virgil, John Stewart obviously carries more weight to him due to his status as a hero not created specifically for the series. But there’s no real hints of that; we get that Static looks up to John from his first dialogue, but there isn’t any more of that as the story progresses. While I recognize that you can’t really do a pure character piece on Saturday morning, a bit more in that direction would have really elevated the episode.

Grade: B. The plot’s a bit too convoluted for its own good, but that being said, it’s a plot with some substance to it.

Random Thoughts:

  • Phil LeMarr must set some sort of record in this episode in terms of percentage of lines in a single show spoken by one voice actor. He does both Static and Green Lantern’s voice, and I think he might also do the Sinestro-as-GL voice, although I hear a bit of Ted Levine in there.
  • Captain Dwayne’s Decoder Ring,” indeed.
  • Probably won’t be back to clean up Static Shock for a little while – one episode has a logical placement later in JL Season Two, but the final episode I intend to cover won’t be until Unlimited’s well underway.

Line of the Episode: “We really need an oath.”

Next Justice League: Find out what would happen if the rest of the League went too far.

Next Time: MUAHAHAHAHA. Or, to be more DC-appropriate, Bwah ha ha?

Review of an entire episode featuring the two most prominent black superheroes in the DC Animated Universe, Static and Green Lantern, as Static is forced to take on his hero in combat when Green Lantern turns rogue. A pretty good episode, although something of a missed opportunity.
Categories: B, Static Shock
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