As a number of my faithful readers have pointed out, this Saturday Vibe returns to popular culture in a DC Nation Short all his own on Cartoon Network. Can Vibe: the Musical be far behind...?
It is as I have maintained: Vibe is inevitable. And now his time has arrived.
Note well: this portrayal of Vibe is accurate, unrevisionist, and completely UNAPOLOGETIC. Even I was unprepared for its bracing Vibetasticness.
The creators could have opted for one of Vibe's later, more sleeker, abstract, simpler, "cooler" costumes. But they didn't.
Here is Vibe as he first appeared in 1984:
Here is how he appears on the DC Nation Short.
The outfit is essentially the same--including the yellow harem pants--with some understandable simplifications making it more appropriate for animation. If you look carefully, you'll notice the little Vibe fan beside him in the clip below is wearing elements from Vibe's other, later costumes: nice touch, DC.
It gets bolder, actually. Note from the clip below that Vibe's hobby-- breakdancing--isn't ignored or even glossed over in favor of his streetgang connections: it's the crux of the episode.
Believe it or not, those dance sequences are, for the most part, ones that Vibe was actually portrayed as doing in the Justice League comics of the 1980s. That's RESPECT, people. Also, did you notice what Vibe said? "I'm going to shake things up." Now look again more carefully at the cover to JLA #233 above.
This is glorious. I have said repeatedly that DC comics tend to go off the rails when creators become embarrassed about DC's characters, usually worried they aren't "edgy" like Marvel characters are (supposed to be but aren't really anyway). This DC Nation short says quite clearly, "Yeah, this is Vibe. You don't like him, fine, go read the Spectre."
Now, you can make fun of breakdancing all you want (probably because you can't do it). While you're doing so, chew on this:
- Step Up $65M
- Step Up 2: $58M
- Step Up 3: $42M
- Breakin' : $38M
- Breakin' 2: $15M
- You Got Served: $40M
- You Got Served 2: $10M
EVEN "You Got Served 2"--which sports a non-coveted and fairly rare ZERO PERCENT rating at Rotten Tomatoes--earned $10M at the box office.
It may seem silly to you, but the concept of ritualized dance/display as an alternative to actual fighting isn't a "fad"; it's commonplace throughout the animal kingdom. Vibe's background as a streetgang member is neither coincidental nor incidental. Breakdancing was the mechanism by which he turned from being a criminal into, eventually, a hero. Dance is just like sports in that respect: an organized ritual "battle" that can be used to constructively channel young men's competitive aggressive energies while rewarding pro-society values.
I am also delighted that the DC Nation folk allowed Vibe to 'self-contextualize'. You know how the Toons in Roger Rabbit brought their own 'cartoon physics' with them even in the human world? Ever notice how Batman sometimes manages to be a big black slab with two white eye slits even when he's in a well-lit satellite space-station? This is allowing characters to self-contextualize, to carry along with them the context that generated them, and in which they make the most sense.
In this case, they are allowing Vibe to "self-contextualize" by giving him an animation style consistent with when the character was created.
The DC Nation Shorts are not made with one overall 'house-style" (as were, say, the Batman/Superman/JL Animated Series). Observe the difference in art between these two DC Nation Short designs:
Super Best Friends Forever
Black Lightning and Family
Each has an individual style and contextualizes the characters.
Note what the DC Nation folk have done in the Vibe short: they have used an animation style based on cartoons of the 1980s. Here's two stills from '80s cartoons (G.I.Joe and Defenders of the Earth) to illustrate my point (particularly for those of you who weren't around yet to watch cartoons at that point):
I think you can see how the style of the Vibe short is much more like these 1980s cartoon than it is like the animation in the other DC Nation shorts; Captain Planet could walk right into the Vibe cartoon and you wouldn't bat an eyelash.. Choosing to contexualize Vibe this way is a decision that is at the same time bold yet sensible, and a healthy sign that DC's own genius is in full renaissance.
And everyone will learn to love Vibe. Some of them for the first time.