"Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths" came with an animated Spectre film short, and the upcoming "Under the Red Hood" is following suit, with an animated "Jonah Hex" short. Sure, these could simply be the usually bonuses or extras for customers who buy the films. But as we look at the some of the stills from the project, we're also wondering: Could it also be the beginnings of a new line of animated entertainment, one specifically aimed at adults?
When "The Spectre" short came out, it was a good, solid story, but also a pretty typical one, for the Spectre. A crime is committed and The Spectre hunts down the bad guys and dispatches them in the most brutal way possible. The (very grim) End. The 15-minute film was made more creative by the self-conscious way the animators drew it to look like it came from a specific place and time. The clothes and attitudes were all straight out of the '70s; the lights had a washed-out look, and the animators included the burns, scratches and specks of grit that would come with an imperfect film.
Jonah Hex, however, has a wider range in terms of tone than most Spectre stories allow. Hex can be gritty or goofy, heroic or anti-heroic, and so there are more ways that the short could go. However, if the animators use the same technique they used in "The Spectre," taking on the conventions of past Western films while still telling a modern story, things could get interesting.
Looking at the first stills from the "Jonah Hex" short, they clearly aren't going with the lavender-shirted cowboys of the early colorized films; this has more of a spaghetti western feel, which could be a lot of fun.
Most comic book fans know how entertaining "The Justice League: Unlimited," series was due to the plethora of story types and guest stars. "Batman: The Brave and The Bold" is doing the same thing, and although it's aimed squarely at kids, it sneaks in enough jokes for comic book nerd adults, as well. Could the Spectre and Jonah Hex shorts be a building block for a DC TV venture that takes that to the next level, with content aimed entirely at adults?
If they continue with their era-specific focus, we could also have Sergeant Rock appear in a fifteen-minute to half-hour episode that used the un-self-conscious propaganda of the war films of the 1940s, or Superman get back to his socialist roots in a film based in the '30s, or Batgirl run around in a purple suit and banter with Robin in a Pillow Talk-style romantic comedy short from the '50s. Hey, we could even bring some Liefeld animation in with a '90s-style character.
Could DC be gearing up for an ongoing TV show series that plays to both comics geeks and film geeks?
And wouldn't that be awesome?