Summary: Following the rescue of a runaway train, Green Lantern runs into Rex Mason, an old friend from his time with the Marines and, after hearing of his lifestyle and meeting his girlfriend, Sapphire Stagg, he begins to wonder about the road not taken. However, after Rex is transformed into a monster during an "accident" staged by his boss, Simon Stagg, Green Lantern and his teammates must stop him from his misguided attempts at revenge and help get him back on track. In the end, the Justice League must stop Simon Stagg and help Rex Mason ease into his new identity as Metamorpho, the Element Man.
JL Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, J’onn J’onzz, Hawkgirl
Featured Characters: Green Lantern, Metamorpho
Villain: Simon StaggSupporting Villain: Java
Cartoon Network on “Metamorphosis”: “While on duty, Green Lantern reunites with Rex Mason, an old ex-Marine buddy who is now a successful executive at a large chemical company. But after Rex is exposed to a powerful mutagen that transforms him into a freakish abomination called Metamorpho, he blames his old friend Green Lantern and vows to destroy him" (courtesy of Cartoon Network).
Bruce Timm on “Metamorphosis”: “This one is probably neck and neck with ‘War World’ if you go by the fans. I love this show—it’s very old-school, and a lot of people have a resistance to that. A lot of people just can’t handle superheroes with that much corn. I have to say, though, aside from all of the Metamorpho characters looking kind of weird, they’re played pretty straight. It’s kind of what we’ve always done when we translate characters from the comics into an animated series: we try to put a little bit of a modern spin on it, but we deliberately didn’t go too twisted or too dark so we could honor their origins from the comics.
“You know, Metamorpho was one of the weirdest superheroes, even from the ‘60s era, so we wanted to go with that. The one thing we did kind of modernize to a kind of fifth degree was Stagg’s relationship with Sapphire; there was definitely some weird triangle between Rex, Sapphire, and Stagg. We took that a little bit further than they did in the comics, so that Stagg has a kind of unhealthy attachment to his daughter. There’s that creepy scene where he’s going to see her at her apartment and he’s got flowers in his hand and he’s slicking back his hair. It’s like, ‘Oh, that’s just skeevy.’
“Unlike other heroes whose origin we shoe-horned into Justice League—I always use the Green Lantern episode of Superman as a real clumsy example of how not to do that. Superman shouldn’t be anywhere around from Green Lantern’s origin scene—he just detracts from it—to the point where, literally, Superman goes to Oa before Green Lantern does and the Guardians tell Superman what the oath is, and then Superman has to go back to Earth and tell him what the oath is. It’s just, like, ‘It’s wrong; it’s dumb. Superman, it may be your show, but get out of the story!’ But it works great with Metamorpho. We took some hits because his origin story is too similar to Clayface and Two-Face, but it works. So we play him not necessarily as a villain, but as an antagonist in Part One, and then by Part Two he becomes a hero. I think it works fine" (courtesy of RetroVision CD-ROM Magazine).
Stan Berkowitz on "Metamorphosis": “It’s a combination of the ultimate '50s monster movie and the ultimate Silver Age comic story" (courtesy of Toon Zone).
Len Uhley on "Metamorphosis" #1: “I was on staff at Warner Bros. Animation, finishing up my story editor duties on the Second Season of Static Shock, when Rich Fogel offered me the chance to write an episode for Justice League featuring Metamorpho. I was very grateful for the opportunity, as the character is one of my favorites…[In the end,] Rex Mason / Metamorpho, Simon Stagg, Sapphire Stagg, and Java are incredibly true to the original late-'60s comic book.
“With lots of guidance from Rich and from Stan Berkowitz, the story has several huge action sequences as well as some intriguing emotional content. Not only do we touch on Green Lantern's sense of isolation—he's a part of humankind, but apart from it as well—but we also (judiciously) deal with the rather disturbing feelings that Simon Stagg has for his daughter. I mean, this guy really needs some therapy" (courtesy of [website name removed]).
Len Uhley on "Metamorphosis" #2: “Let's face it—a lot has changed since Metamorpho started out in the comic books. You simply couldn't play Sapphire as a spoiled little rich girl (she's still rich in this version, but that whole whiny cutesy-poo routine she did in the comics is long gone). The globetrotting adventurer thing Rex Mason did back then has been kind of done to death since (thank-you-very-much) Indiana Jones. So we had to find something else for him to do. Having said all that, the basic relationships and personalities remain intact. Sapphire loves Rex. Rex loves Sapphire. Simon has an unhealthy affection for Sapphire (Eewwww!). And Java is still a thicko.
“Also, real world events have an impact on the material. In my drafts of the script, the first big action piece featured Green Lantern saving an airliner. Well, obviously, after [September 11, 2001] that was a non-starter, so the guys in-house had to alter it to a runaway train (it's a very cool action sequence regardless).
“All of the early Metamorpho scenes work very well—you really get the sense of Rex's surprise at his condition and his self-loathing (‘Look at me! I'm a freak!’). Simon is truly creepy. Sapphire is a babe, but in a self-actualized, 21st Century way. Green Lantern is melancholy. Hawkgirl is, surprisingly, not unkind. I hear from Rich and Stan that Part Two [teleplay by Dwayne McDuffie] has some incredible monster-trashing-the-city action. And did I mention that Java is a thicko?" (courtesy of Toon Zone).
Dwayne McDuffie on "Metamorphosis": “I scripted 'Metamorphosis,' Part Two from a terrific story by Len Uhley [who scripted Part One]. I don't like to give away too many details, but I will tease you with the prospect of the Justice League in all-out battle with a giant monster (one who fans of the old Metal Men comic might find familiar). There's lots more Metamorpho, Simon Stagg gets even creepier about his little girl, and Green Lantern considers the road not taken. It's a light-hearted, action-oriented episode—albeit one with some relatively adult themes. I think it's an entertaining mix and I hope you'll agree" (courtesy of Toon Zone).
DarkLantern on Chemo's "appearance" on "Metamorphosis": “The creature's appearance was definitely inspired by Chemo, but it isn't called Chemo. […] I always thought Chemo would have been a great Metamorpho opponent back in the day" (courtesy of Toon Zone).
Screen Grabs from "Metamorphosis"
Commentary coming soon!
Images courtesy of Toon Zone.
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