“Duck Dodgers,” for those of you unfamiliar, is the best kind of meta-television cartoon entertainment. Starring Daffy Duck and his eternal sidekick Porky Pig, the show aired on Cartoon Network from 2003 to 2006. Spun from an original 1953 Looney Toons short entitled “Duck Dodgers in the 24th ½ Century,” the series followed Daffy-as-superhero through a series of inept adventures across the galaxy. It’s a fantastic blend of classic cartoon elements and a hysterically contemporary sensibility. As you watch, you can just picture the creators having the time of their lives.
This particular episode takes the spoofing to the next level, tossing the already entirely referential character of Duck Dodgers/Daffy Duck into the world of the “Green Lantern” comics. The result is a strange and entertaining comedy, with jokes firing from every angle. The set up: while running errands with The Eager Young Space Cadet (as Porky is known on the show), Dodgers picks up his laundry. Yet there’s been a mix-up and he ends up taking home the black vinyl and latex outfit of a Green Lantern, ring included. The mildly incompetent duck has been given real superhero powers for the first time, and gets sucked into the Green Lantern Corps in a moment of their greatest need.
It’s hilarious. The dedication to the “Green Lantern” world and its characters is impressive, with everyone from Sinestro to Boodikka flying around. It’s the kind of crossover joy one finds when Batman and Robin would show up on Scooby Doo, if a bit less groovy. We all know Daffy and Porky so well that it’s already delightful to see them transported to an intergalactic future, and “Duck Dodgers” is devoted to keeping the characters familiar down to the last detail. When that care is taken in adding yet another universe, the comedy hits a new height of creative nonsense.
There’s also a bit of surprise Kevin Smith at the end, stepping in as Hal Jordan himself. He does a good job; maybe Warner Bros. should have considered him for the role, instead of Ryan Reynolds? At the very least I’d love to see some Duck Dodgers show up in this weekend’s upcoming blockbuster, though something tells me that’s wishful thinking.