Thursday, April 25, 2019

DC Superhero Girls #MeetTheCheetah

DC Superhero Girls #MeetTheCheetah aired a while ago. Sorry it has taken me so long to have it bubble to the top of the pile.

I have been pretty impressed with the show so far. It has had a great mix of action and humor. Each of the characters have a pretty unique outlook and personality. And, under it all, are the social lessons which seem to be de rigueur for cartoons these days. Unlike the old version where those lessons seemed primary, here they seem to be more nuanced. That makes me happy. Cartoons should be fun and educational ... not necessarily preachy.

We finally get a supervillain in the mix and it is classic Wonder Woman nemesis Cheetah. I like how the identity of the Cheetah is a little bit of a mystery here. I am curious if people who have never been exposed to the character anticipated the expected reveal at the end. And we also see the first time that Supergirl needs to be eliminated as a story element because of her power level.

But for me, the best thing about this show so far is that it truly is an all ages affair. Prior episodes have included Spinal Tap riffs and Watership Down references. Here we get pretty much a straight up homage to the Alien movies. And that makes me thrilled.

So far so good for this series! Loving it.

We start out meeting Barbara Minerva, the mean girl at Metropolis High who is perfect in everything. She sticks the gymnastic vault landing. She assumes she'll be named captain of the team. She disparages her teammates in a way that is cutting and assuring her social position.

But Diana is now trying out for the team and does just as great a vault. Suddenly there will be co-captains.

Just like that, there is a threat to Barbara's standing as queen.

Things get worse when Diana proves to be just as good or better in academics.

When Barbara invites all the girls over to her house for a pool party, they all decline. They'd rather stay with Diana and decorate the gym for the upcoming dance. They like how supportive Diana is.

We even see that Diana invites Barbara to join them. She isn't exclusionary. She wants everyone to be together.

As I have said before, I love some of the artistic choices on this show. This sequence with Diana running at the camera is fantastic.

Diana usurping her control over the gaggle of gymnasts is the last straw for Minerva.

She heads to her mansion, breaks into her daddy's hunting room, finds a trophy case of cursed objects and says a charm to this idol, bringing about the curse of the Cheetah.

It is a funny sequence as she peruses the items deeming some too gross, others too final.

When the superhero girls head to the dance, they find all the decorations torn and ruined.

In perhaps the best thing ever, we see that this Supergirl loves puns. She showers all sorts of puns about the wrecked decor - shredded, torn, ripped ...

Everyone should know that I love puns.

A Supergirl who loves puns??? That's like peanut butter and jelly!

Heading to the locker room, Diana sees claw marks on everywhere and is attacked.

When the others investigate, Babs somehow intuits the whole thing. Someone upset about the shift in social power has unleashed a monster to attack the school.

Babs is hypercaffeinated on this show! Amazing.

Of course, the gym is filled with students attending the dance. How can they safely get everyone out?

Suddenly the fire alarm goes off.

Check out rebel Kara, hitting the fire alarm to clear the building while looking oh so innocent.

Again, phenomenal.

With the students gone, the team suits up and splits up to go after whatever is stalking the grounds.

What we get next are a bunch of vignettes of the Cheetah (still unseen) eliminating our heroes one by one. And in the most Alien/Aliens/Ridley Scott way possible. Dark rooms, jump scares, blurry attack sequences, motion sensors showing monsters on top of the heroes, and even a shot of the Cheetah's tail coming out from the ceiling tiles.

Pure homage here.

Supergirl is a different story and is as fast and more powerful.

But when Kara gives chase, she is immobilized by a panicked Zatanna who is firing spells frantically.

I guess Supergirl needs to be stopped so Diana can save the day. Better this than Cheetah defeating her.

Finally Diana tracks down the Cheetah who has Bumblebee defeated and nearly eaten.

Did I mention the Aliens homages.

Here Diana goes all Ripley saying 'Get away from her you ...'

Of course, no curse words.

We then get a pretty savage fight sequence with Diana playing the best 'talons and bracelets' I have seen in a while.

To hearken back to the opening, we see the two vault towards each other only to have Wonder Woman stick the landing.

But before too much investigating can happen, the Cheetah slips away.

Diana gets back into her civilian garb and finds a battered Barbara in the locker room who admits she released the Cheetah because she was jealous of Diana.

Here is our lesson. One person's success does not preclude another's.

Barbara makes it sound like the Cheetah is another person, another entity, a monster. And when Diana hears noises in the gym, she rushes out to investigate.

It's just the gang, gathered together. Poor Supergirl, frozen for 7 more hours.

And then we see that Barbara was the Cheetah. Of course I was expecting this. But nice feint for newcomers.

What I love his how the show has her wash her face in they gym. The running mascara mimics the stripes of the Cheetah's face. Great stuff.

Anyways, this is another big win for this show.

A Supergirl who puns and hits the fire alarm! Amazing.


Anonymous said...

"Cartoons should be fun and educational ... not necessarily preachy."

Nonsense! If something have taught me the old He-Man and G.I. Joe cartoons is the moral of the episode must be beaten into the viewers' heads over and again and again and AGAIN!

Kara hitting the fire alarm oh-so-innocently is instant classic, although I hope her role doesn't become "the one makes puns but is quickly and repeatedly taken down by the Villain of the Week so she can't stop Wonder Woman and Batgirl from saving the day". I hope the cartoon-makers are indeed aware than one person's success does not preclude another's.

Anyway, it was a very funny episode. The show is great but I'm not quite thrilled with the way Hal and Barry have been treated so far. Let's hope Superman is treated respectfully when he finally shows up.

If I can go off-topic... I'm not fond of the CBR boards, but I came upon an interesting thread. Patrick Gerard -who was an aspiring writer for DC around the time of "Our Worlds at War" and later, and saw a lot of inside stuff from before DiDio's hiring and after- made several posts regarding Superman's Jeph Loeb's run which explain a lot about DC's past and current decisions. He even touches upon Jeph Loeb's Supergirl a bit. Apparently Jeph Loeb was perfectly okay with using Silver Age Kara but he was afraid that it wouldn't go well, so he came up with his own take.

"Loeb left to his own devices probably would have brought back Linda Lee/Kara with Tim Sale but he recognized Silver Age was a thin ice approach that might have cost him respect with editorial so he pitched it as Splash meets Terminator, drawn by Mike Turner. That’s what it took to get the green light. I think shooting for a Wildstorm/J. Scott Campbell flavor also got Jim Lee onboard."

William Ashley Vaughan said...

I agree that this episode is an Alien/Aliens homage, but I think it may also be a tip of the hat to an even older classic horror movie, the original 1942 version of Cat People. With its cat curse and indoor swimming pool sequence, Cat People(1942)also bears a strong resemblance to this episode. Of course, it may just be that Cat People (1942) was an influence on Ridley Scott when he made Alien and possibly on Dr. Marston when he created the Cheetah in the fall of 1943.

SimB said...

Great review Anj! I'll have to look this up.
On Cheetah though, I will say the Magical part of her has been a Kryptonian equaliser since before Kara was reintroduced into post Crisis DC, so I would've seen no problem at all if it was Diana who has to finish her off

Nutation said...

Obviously, Diana was going to be the last survivor as Cheetah picked them off. But, I wondered how Cheetah was going to take down Supergirl. I forgot that there was someone else in the building who could do the deed, so credit to the writers for surprising me.