ANIMATION REVIEW: Justice League Unlimited: The Complete Series (’04-’06) Warner Archive Blu-ray

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My reaction to this new incarnation of DC’s Justice League (2001-2004) cartoon was the same as it was when I first tried to get into the first season of Young Justice (2010-2013), about four episodes in I gave up misguidingly (is that a word?) unimpressed by the animation and not really getting on board with the “lighter” moments of the show. And my reaction to it years later was exactly like it was when I revisited season one of Young Justice, I was stupefied as to why I thought the animation wasn’t good.

I have to thank DC’s animated movies for getting me back into this series back in the winter of 2008. I had just bought Justice League: New Frontier (2008) and they had a few episodes from it included as extras. That was the moment when I realized I was totally wrong about the show. Around this time the Boomerang channel had Justice League Unlimited (2004-2006) on perpetual re-run status, so I took it upon myself to break out some fresh VHS tapes (this was before I had the money to get a DVD recorder) and start recording the series. Winter 2008 was a bad winter, for personal reasons I won’t go into, but JLU got me through it. Boomerang aired two episodes, I believe, around eleven or eleven thirty every night, and that’s when I recorded them. And having never seen the show in its entirety I was instantly blown away by the stories and the season story arcs.

Depending on whom you talk to Justice League Unlimited ran for only two or three seasons. When I was revisiting the show in 2008 and checking out the series on epguides.com they had the series listed as only going two seasons, but in the intervening years something happened and now the show has been broken into three seasons. I’m writing this part of the review, the pre-amble as I’m calling it, before having revisited the entire series again through Warner Archives new blu-ray set so I can’t tell at the moment if that “middle season” that starts with “The Cat And The Canary” and ends with “Epilogue” feels like a complete season unto itself. If memory serves I don’t believe it does. Being part of Justice League JLU starts at Season 3, but back in 2008 epguides.com had Season 3 starting at “Initiation” and ending at “Epilogue,” which meant that season ran twenty-six episodes rather than the thirteen it states it runs now. The final season runs only thirteen episodes, starting with “I Am Legion” and ending with “Destroyer” and that season certainly has a beginning, middle and end.

The runtime on episodes with Unlimited also changed, where as the first two seasons of Justice League had one hour episodes broken up into two parts, Unlimited chose to go back to the traditional 30-minute runtime (22-minutes without commercials), but that didn’t put the show at any kind of disadvantage, in fact it may have added to its greatness. Justice League was exceptional, but when it was retooled into Unlimited it became the pinnacle of any Justice League series. Though arguments can be made, and rightly so, that Young Justice (2010-2013) became DC’s new last word on anything related to that team. But next fall (2016) we get an all new Justice League series! I wonder how it’ll rank? I can’t wait to find out.

(Note: According to The World’s Finest the previous DVD releases had a couple of issues, namely the audio glitch in “Divide We Fall” and the episode error order where “Hunter’s Moon” was mistakenly placed between “Question Authority” and “Flashpoint,” all of them have been fixed on this blu-ray set). 

SEASON ONE:


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1. INTIATION: A great beginning as we see the League’s founding members (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, and The Flash) have decided to expand their roster, and this episode is about trying to recruit Green Arrow, who isn’t a team player when it comes to joining these kinds of all-too-powerful teams, they tend to forget about the little guy, but he’s reluctantly pulled into a mission when a pseudo North Korea-like country’s atomic weapon goes rogue and wanders the countryside making the landscape glow.

He accompanies Lantern, Captain Atom and Supergirl, in trying to combat this Godzilla-sized robot. Lantern and Atom are sidelined by near fatal injuries, more so with Atom since the robot’s nuclear blast proves too much for him and he heads into space to explode once his containment suit is breached.

Kara (Supergirl), despite being Kryptonian and everything that brings with it on Earth is just not strong enough to stop it either. It turns out Arrow has got the goods to stop it since the robot can only be shut down by shoving these specially made steel rods into its exposed core on it’s chest. This means using those rods as arrows, and, yeah, he eventually shuts the fucker down, but, man, this was so a trial-by-fire for him where joining the team is concerned, which he still doesn’t plan to do, until he spots the next best thing this series has to offer—Black Canary!

This episode sets up some of my favorite future episodes, which deal with Canary and Arrow’s burgeoning relationship throughout. Supergirl’s character arc is another favorite highlight of this retooled Justice League series too.

2. FOR THE MAN WHO HAS EVERYTHING: Based on the same story in Superman Annual #11 (1985), it’s Superman’s birthday and Wonder Woman and Batman are on their way to the Fortress Of Solitude to give him their gifts when they discover someone has beaten them to it and given him a gift of their own. He’s found in a semi-comatose state with what looks like an alien sea anemone wrapped around his body. The Black Mercy it’s called, and once in its grasp it probes your mind for what you desire most and recreates in an ultra real simulation. This was no accident. Mongul gave it to him in an effort to get out of the way the only hero on Earth capable of stopping him, and now with Kal-El sidelined Mongul can lay waste to the Earth. So, what does Superman desire most? His life on Krypton back, with his wife, kid and father, and the episode cuts between his simulation and Batman and Wonder Woman trying to stop Mongul from going any further than the Fortress. This is one of the more somber episodes of the series as we know Kal-El’s planet and family are gone forever and once rescued from his simulation he goes ape-shit on Mongul’s ass, beating him to a near pulp for giving him a taste of something he can never have again. In the end Wonder Woman introduces the Black Mercy to Mongul and puts him away in his own simulation.

3. HAWK AND DOVE: One of the things I love about DC toons is that the makers don’t shy away from “real world stuff.” What I mean by that is when criminals use guns they use guns that shoot bullets as opposed to Marvel’s toons where they always use lasers. But not all DC toons are like this. The Batman (’04-‘08) as I recall used laser-type weapons. In Justice League and Justice League Unlimited guns and bullets are used and even the violence is more real world. People in this series and in this episode are bruised when they are hit in some instances. This episode also comments on human’s propensity for violence and making war, which seems to also extend to super heroes. The heroes involved in this mission are Wonder Woman and the sibling team of Hawk and Dove, all of which seem to have anger issues. Martian Manhunter even calls out Diana (Wonder Woman) for roughing up two bank robbers, which she almost took too far because this was her “day off” and she wanted some “normalcy.” Hank/Hawk is the hothead of the team who likes to punch first before asking a question or two.

The mission on today’s agenda concerns a bad guy from Diana’s neck of the woods, namely stopping God Of War Aries from making the Earth that much more difficult a place to live. He’s had Hephaestus build him a mechanized suit of gigantic armor called, the Annihilator, that’ll be used to fuel the flames of a civil war between two Russian-like countries. The twist is rage fuels the armor so the harder soldiers fight against it the stronger it gets, but eventually peace is made once Diana discovers it’s Achille’s Heel and persuades both sides to “relax” when they confront it.

4. FEARFUL SYMMETRY: This is the first episode to set up the season’s story arc and Supergirl’s, as well as being one of a few that link up to previous episodes in the first two seasons of Justice League. I haven’t seen Justice League and a very long time so memory of details are few and far between but there was an episode from one of those first two seasons where Superman went rogue and attacked the earth, Supergirl was injured in that melee and taken to Starlabs for help, but they did more than help her, they cloned her.

Kara is having bad dreams of terrible things she may have done, mostly involving the execution of a scientist; she loops in Green Arrow and the Question (voiced by horror icon Jeffrey Combs) to help her figure out what’s going on. Question believes they might be repressed memories, and so the hunt begins. A visit to Starlabs gets them noticed by somebody powerful, who sends a military copter with armed men and a Zeta robot (Z-8 model in this episode) to take Kara. Incidentally, a Zeta robot got it’s own series at one time called, The Zeta Project (2001-2002). Clues eventually lead the heroes to a research center with a hologram training room. A training room Kara’s clone routinely uses. She calls herself Galatea (Tea for short), and she’s a few years older, shorter hair and curvier. Basically a tad more powerful than Kara herself and Tea needs to take Kara out. There’s a psychic link between the two, and Kara’s morality is interfering with Tea’s missions. In the end this mysterious organization, which Tea doesn’t even know who exactly they are, decides to terminate this huge battle between Supergirls and blows the building up. A quick epilogue shows us that scientist at Starlabs that claimed to know nothing knows a hell of a lot and vows to make the injured and comatose Galatea stronger.

5. KID STUFF: Morgaine Le Fey’s son Mordred has eternal youth, he’s stuck being a kid, and he doesn’t want to be, so in the midst of both of them stealing a powerful amulet, he betrays his mother and casts a spell that banishes anyone older than him to a parallel limbo, which means all adults on Earth are banished to this phantom-like zone. In the meantime, Mordred sets up shop in an amusement park with his subjects (aka all the children who were visiting), while Morgaine hatches a plan to stop him. To get heroes into this kids’ only realm now, she regresses Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman and Green Lantern back into eight year olds and off they go to try and retrieve the amulet. Not one of my favorite episodes, but what I have to say about all the comic laced episodes done in those series, not that there were a lot, was that the comedy and more kid oriented stuff works a hell of a lot better than what Disney Marvel does with the same concepts in their current crop of toons and that’s basically because all of Marvel’s new toons are now aimed strictly at kids (I blame their new masters Disney for this), where as most if not all of DC’s animated toons, where comedy was used, was not only aimed at the kids, but there was an adult edge as well to them. Case in point . . . see the next episode.

6. THIS LITTLE PIGGY: Here we have Circe at large and Wonder Woman and Batman’s first encounter with her gets Wonder Woman transformed into a pig, the rest of this show is about Batman trying to find a magical cure to get her back into voluptuous human form again. Zatanna makes a guest appearance and helps Batman. We also get guest appearances by heroes B’wana Beast and Red Tornado, as well as a villainess guest appearance by Medusa, and we also get Charon, the boatman of the river Styx. This has more comedy in it, but not slapstick, and for that adult edge Wonder Woman in her pig form gets herself stuck in a slaughter house, where she’s just about to get slaughtered when Batman cuts a deal with Circe, since all magic has a price. For Circe this deal has to be something secret, something earth shattering, something no one knows about Batman. Cut to the next scene and he’s singing, “Am I Blu” in this nightclub Circe was just singing at herself, to prove something to her sisters the Sirens.

7. THE RETURN: Another episode that links up with two previous episodes from Season 2 of Justice League. For the most part you can consider this a sequel to “Tabula Rasa” where the android Amazo was created. Lex Luthor secretly used the android for his own nefarious means, until the day the android caught on. I can’t recall exactly how it ended but it eventually “evolved” and decided to leave Earth. Here it’s come back seemingly on a revenge mission to get Luthor. There’s also a brief mention of Luthor having a terminal illness from being exposed to Kryptonite, and the device that helps prolong his life. That is a nod to episode #8, “Injustice For All,” in Season 1.

This is an excellent episode showcasing just how powerful and unstoppable Amazo has become during his time “evolving” and exploring the galaxy. Despite Lex being a bad guy, the League will not give him up and actually help him in trying to defeat the undefeatable A.I.

I remember being surprised by the death of Red Tornado in this episode when I saw it back in 2008.

In the final scenes we get a surprise appearance from Hawkgirl, who’s staying with Doctor Fate. Her new appearance here, devoid of her iconic armor, is a shout-out to the 3-part season finale of Season 2 of Justice League when Hawkgirl’s Thanagarian race came to Earth to conqueror it and they thought she wasa traitor, which is why she’s not part of the team in JLU . . . yet.

8. THE GREATEST STORY NEVER TOLD: This is a fun and excellent borderline comic episode that showcases DC hero Booster Gold, and I believe the only episode in the history of DC toons that does this. I don’t recall this character being used in any other toon since. He’s a hero from the future who covets fame and fortune, but who left the future because he was a failure and thought coming to present day Earth would be an easier time zone to get famous in. Not so much. The Justice League is pitted against a powerful villain, but that’s not the focus of this episode. While the big boys handle Mordru, Batman puts Gold on crowd control, when he really wants to be fighting alongside them.

Now had Modru not invaded a secondary disaster that Gold is pulled into wouldn’t have happened. While he’s rescuing people from a research building a hot female scientist that catches his eye tells him they’ve got a bigger problem. There’s a fellow scientist walking around with a black hole in the center of his chest that’s sucking in everything it can get. Booster, Skeets (his A.I. partner) and his new crush go on the search for him. Eventually, Gold is able to stop the walking black hole and even gets the girl in the end, but none of the other Leaguers ever know of his bravery.

9. ULTIMATUM: Another story arc episode. Superman, Aquaman, Batman and Wonder Woman encounter a new group of heroes. They call themselves the Ultimen. There’s Long Shadow, Wind Dragon, Juice and shape-shifting twins Downpour and Shifter. Three of them I recognize are riffs on heroes from that Super Friends 80s toon. Long Shadow is basically Apache Chief and the twins are Zan and Jayna, with the same powers even. One can shape shift into anything water based and the other can shape-shift into any kind of animal. The Long Shadow character even shows up in the Young Justice toon’s second season. Here though he’s all buffed up, while the Shadow from YJ was a lanky teen.

The Ultimen as we learn are clones, but clones whose cellular make-up is unstable. No problem, though, when they die they’re just replaced. But these clones find out what they really are and that they’re not destined to live long so they decide to go down in infamy by taking out the Justice League. Long Shadow, however, just wants to be a JL member, and even befriends Wonder Woman throughout the episode.

This is the first episode where the League meets Amanda Waller. She has a long history with the DC Universe and has appeared in a few of DC’s animated movies even. We also meet another DC character, Maxwell Lord, who’s marketing the Ultimen to the public. Think Donald Trump with some knowledge of science and you’ll have Lord’s character. Like Booster Gold this is the only episode in any series I believe where Lord makes an appearance. He’s finally made the transition to live action recently, though, with CBS’ new Supergirl series. Though there he’s less of a dick, but not by much, with a significant science background.

In this episode we also finally learn of the Cadmus Project and that the Ultimen were part of it, with Lord and Waller heading it up. What’s Cadmus? We’ll learn more about that as the series goes on. The episode ends with the team facing off with Waller and Lord as they come to claim their failed Ultimen members, except for Long Shadow. He’s part of the League now and if they want him they’re going to have to go through them. So be it. Waller and Lord let Long Shadow go with the team never knowing how much time he’s got left to live.

The pieces we can put together now are this: In ‘Fearful Symmetry’ the Question spoke of a super secret cabal at work in the world, one we eventually learned gave us Galatea, a cloned Supergirl, and now with this episode that cabal has a face, Waller, and since the Ultimen were clones too we can easily surmise Cadmus may be the name of this Cabal.

10. DARK HEART: Not an especially great episode. It deals with an alien war machine that comes to earth to take it over. It’s alien nanotechnology (self replicating robots) that will assimilate everything, including humans unless it’s stopped or until the earth is gone, which ever comes first. Spider and tiger-like robots are the eye candy here. Ray Palmer (The Atom) is the hero they need to really stop this menace, but since it’s an Omega Level threat (aka force(s) that threaten the existence of human society itself) just about every leaguer, old and new, is recruited to beat the bots into scrap metal. Dark Heart refers to the alien war machines core, which is like a heart, stop it and you can stop all the bots roaming the countryside.

11. WAKE THE DEAD: Another exceptional episode and one that connects to a previous Justice League episode. It’s also the single most tragic episode of the entire JLU series. It’s akin to watching The Avengers take on a renegade Hulk, except here it’s the Justice League versus a renegade Solomon Grundy. I can’t recall the details but it connects to the second season episode, “The Terror Beyond,” which is kind of horror oriented as I recall. All I can vaguely remember is that Solomon Grundy sacrifices himself as the League fights some kind of Lovecraftian evil in another dimension. Hawkgirl befriends him at some point too before that happened.

This “sequel’s” catalyst to get Grundy back in the game is three college nerds sick of being picked on buy an occult tome off the internet and perform a spell in their dorm room one night to give them power. The power comes from the resurrection of Grundy, whose usual modicum of sentience is now replaced with unstoppable rage.

Hawkgirl is bought back into the picture because of this. Doctor Fate gives her back her Thanagarian mace that’s built to counteract the kind of dark magic fueling Grundy, a magic so dark and powerful it’s beyond Fate’s understanding and even beyond Amazo’s, who’s pretty much the League’s big gun in this, but his attempt to end Grundy backfires as he feeds on Amazo’s energy. To protect everyone he takes himself out of the fray.

This is also a “relationship episode,” which are some of the best of the series. Lantern (John Stewart) and Hawkgirl had a thing back in the Justice League series that is until her race betrayed the earth in the season finale in the second season. This prompted her to re-evaluate her life, her purpose and her place in the League. Now Stewart is dating Vixen, and he’s shocked to see Hawkgirl appear on the scene with Fate.

This ends with Hawkgirl going down into the sewers where Grundy was walloped into and putting him out of his misery, which is a tearjerker of a scene, though it cuts before Hawkgirl brings down her mace on Grundy’s skull. She appears above ground later telling the waiting hero’s it’s done.

12. THE ONCE AND FUTURE THING, PART 1: WEIRD WESTERN TALES: Of all the episodes in this series this two-parter are the only ones I don’t care for. The action animation is weak and the story does nothing for me. However, what it does have are a couple of bookend scenes that does what all good hero toons about teams do—showing the heroes between missions, what they do in their off time and/or how they relate to one another when not bitch slapping the bad guys. In this episode’s case it has Batman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman in the cafeteria of the Watchtower just getting lunch. Something any normal human being can relate to, but it’s nice seeing larger-than-life heroes doing it too.

The idle chitchat between Batman and Green Lantern is about Hawkgirl being back on the team and how supposedly Lantern is happy now dating Vixen. Before that we get a little encounter between Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl as they pick up their trays. There’s animosity between them ever since the Thanagarian invasion. The café scene closing out the episode actually has a revelation that’ll carry through the season and maybe even the rest of the series. This is a time travel episode and to make a long story short Lantern learns in the future he and Hawkgirl get back together and have a kid that grows up to be a hero himself called, Warhawk. But only John knows this and it does put a kink in his relationship with Vixen and his interactions with Hawkgirl.

The big story in the “finale” concerns a time traveling scientist by the name of David Clinton, whose villainous alter ego is Chronos. He has a nagging, unpleasant wife he constantly seeks approval from and in his spare time pilfers relics that won’t be missed from the past. It’s his desire to add Batman’s utility belt to the collection that gets him noticed. As he flees through his time tunnel, Batman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern follow and everyone ends up stuck in the old west. Though Clinton arrived 6-months earlier and was captured by the episode’s generic villain who discovered Clinton can time travel, so he takes out the local town using an array of robotic devices he steals from the future and makes Clinton teach him how to use.

Jonah Hex is a supporting player in this show as he’s a member of a team that wants to reclaim the town.

13. THE ONCE AND FUTURE THING, PART 1: TIME, WARPED: In part two as Chronos once again escapes the League and they follow, Batman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern end up 50-years into the future in Gotham City, where Chronos has wreaked havoc once again. The jokers from Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker (2000) appear, this time with hi-tech weapons upgrade thanks to Chronos, and they’re now his goons rather than the Joker’s. The heroes fighting to restore order are future Batman (Terry McGinnis from Batman Beyond), Warhawk and old Bruce Wayne, also from Batman Beyond. Some of the fun here is watching current Batman interact with his old self and Terry. Warhawk appeared in a couple of episodes of Batman Beyond, but as I mentioned before his appearance here in Justice League Unlimited reveals who his parents are. Nice touch bridging both series with this kind of revelation.

As Chronos tries to travel back to the beginning of time so he can remake it in his own image it gave me a flashback to Green Lantern: The Animated Series (2012-2013) that had a similar plotline and an appearance of that Hand Of Fate, or whatever it’s called, that shows a giant omnipotent “human looking” hand holding the universe in it’s grasp. Once Batman and Green Lantern stop Chronos they end up right back at the cafeteria with no one but them two remembering anything of what happened.

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Generally I don’t review any extras a disc has until I get done reviewing the movie or the show, but this time I just had an urge to check out the ones included here and learned on the Cadmus Exposed featurette Season One may indeed have gone 26 episodes. And I say ‘may have’ because during the extra where clips are shown with the episode title and what season it was a part of there’s a question asked by Mark Hamill about how the Cadmus arc managed to fit into a 13-episode season. This obviously doesn’t jive with the labeled clips, but I’m more inclined to believe the clips simply because the whole story arc isn’t even remotely concluded by the time The Once And Future Thing 2-parter comes around. So, I’m go review the remaining episodes as if they are part of Season One, rather than do what I initially intended to which was put them under a Season Two label.


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14. THE CAT AND THE CANARY: The first of the Green Arrow/Black Canary relationship episodes. The action animation in this one is even better than normal. Apparently certain heroes and villains like to cage fight as much as normal humans, and they even have their own underground world to do it in. Meta-Brawl it’s called and it’s only for meta-humans and bona-fide villains, and this chick called Roulette runs it. Enter Wildcat. Technically he’s not a superhero, at least not one with super powers. His only ability is that he’s an exceptional fighter, an ex-heavy weight boxer who dons his Wildcat uniform to fight crime. He taught a lot of the heroes in the League to fight, well, the ones not already trained I assume. His best pupil, and friend, is Black Canary. Wildcat is having a mid-life crisis and doesn’t like the League sidelines him a lot when it comes to missions, so to prove to himself he’s still got what it takes he fights in the Meta-Brawl and as of late has become Roulette’s star attraction. He never loses. Here he’s someone, but Canary wants to get him out, so she formally introduces herself to Arrow to help in that endeavor and the relationship is off and running.

A plan is devised. Cat will fight Canary. If she wins, he leaves this life for good, if he wins, she’ll bother him no more, but Arrow’s got a better plan. Drugging Canary into dreamland he enters the ring instead. This is a good episode that shows just how unbeatable Wildcat is and how Arrow was never that good at the hand-to-hand stuff. Against certain low level villains and generic goons, sure, but against someone who lives to fight not a chance. Arrow pushes Cat so hard he kills him, but that’s all a ruse. His plan was to show Cat what it looks like to kill someone, thus forcing him to come to his senses, which he does. And Canary puts an end to Roulette’s Meta-Brawl by using her sonic scream to demolish the ring, but she’s not through yet. We’ll see Roulette and Meta-Brawl again, in a new and deadlier form later in the series.

15. THE TIES THAT BIND: This focuses on the colorful characters of New Genesis and Apokolips, specifically Mister Miracle, his wife Big Barda, their “relative” Oberon, Granny Goodness, Kalibak and Vermin Vundabar. This episode is also linked to Justice League’s Season Two premiere, “Twilight.” There Darkseid was seemingly killed and the fallout from Apokolips’ now having no leader is civil war, specifically between Granny Goodness and Vundabar. He’s kidnapped Darkseid’s son, Kalibak, so Granny kidnaps Oberon (voiced by cult movie actor Dick Miller) and blackmails Miracle and Barda into rescuing Kalibak for her. They in turn ask the League for help, but they refuse. Flash on the other hand decides to help, so he, Barda and Miracle enter the X-Pit of Apokolips where Granny routinely tortured Miracle when he was a kid. The X-Pit is an inescapable death trap, but Miracle vowed to one day escape, which prompted him to become an escape artist. He can virtually escape from anywhere.

A fun episode with good action animation that shows us how hellish Darkseid’s world is.

16. THE DOOMSDAY SANCTION: Another episode focusing on the big story of arc of the season and a lot is finally revealed. Batman takes it upon himself to be a thorn in Amanda Waller’s side, and we finally learn why Cadmus exists, basically to protect the human race from what Waller’s sees as potential enemies, the League itself, if they ever go rogue. The reason Waller’s thinks this is tied to the episode, “A Better World,” from Season Two of Justice League, which this is a second chapter of. In that routine two-parter a parallel reality was discovered where the Justice League became the Justice Lords and ruled the Earth with an iron fist. I can’t recall details but somehow the Lords found out about the parallel reality of the Justice League and tried to make this Earth like theirs. Events unfortunately are playing themselves out exactly like that other reality, namely Lex Luthor running for President, which happened there too. The existence of Cadmus kind of makes sense. If the League ever went rogue, human society could not stop them.

Doomsday was also in “A Better World,” but was eventually lobotomized by Justice Lord Superman. Here we get a full reveal of his origin that links up to his appearance in A Better World; he’s a weapon created by Cadmus that was given A Clockwork Orange (1971)-like brainwashing to make him hate Superman. Round one from “A Better World” didn’t go so well, but his lobotomy has actually healed and a disgruntled scientist, who Doomsday kills, releases him into the world again. His only mission is still to kill Superman, so with that in mind round two commences. After he’s just barely defeated, where Batman almost bought it, Wayne kind of reads Superman the riot act as he’s healing in the Watchtower’s hospital unit at the end. He thinks maybe Waller is right to be afraid of them, this scene playing out as he sees on TV Luthor starting his presidential run.

17. TASK FORCE X: As far as I can tell this is the only time the Suicide Squad has been animated for a DC cartoon series. Waller, however, or anyone else doesn’t refer to the team as that, they are simply Task Force X. This episode is told from the viewpoint of the squad as they are recruited to pull of a mission that looks pretty much suicidal. Infiltrate and steal the Annihilator from the Watchtower. Now we know what happened to that animated construct from “Hawk And Dove.” It was confiscated and locked away in a utility room that appears to have a lot of villain oriented devices not fit for our world. Waller is in charge but a Colonel Rick Flagg, jr is leading the team. The others are Deadshot, Plastique,Captain Boomerang, and theClock King. Clock King is in charge of making sure timeslots during the mission are hit with pitch perfect accuracy, while Flagg and the others do the actual infiltrating.

We get a look inside the inner workings of the Watchtower as it concerns the civilians who maintain it and work there. Apparently, since it would be bad if something like this happened all people who work up there have to meet some place secret before being beamed up. For these three it’s the middle of a cornfield, but it doesn’t matter. Waller had an inside man in the Watchtower who gave these three up, now Deadshot, Plastique and Boomerang have rendered them either dead or unconscious and taken their place looking exactly like any typical Watchtower employee.

The most extraordinary thing about this episode is that the Suicide Squad actually succeeds in pilfering the Annihilator, obviously not without some major complications that may have involved the possible death of Plastique. This episode ends with Waller and Sorceress Tala accessing the Annihilator for possible Cadmus use. There was a cameo from Tala in “The Doomsday Sanction” with comments they’re looking into a plan to secure “the armor,” obviously a reference to this episode here. Incidentally, the Suicide Squad finally got their own animated movie with Batman: Assault On Arkham (2014) and will soon be making the leap to the big screen with the live action Suicide Squad (2016).

18. THE BALANCE: More Wonder Woman mythology and a direct tie in to “Paradise Lost” from Season One of Justice League. To make a long flashback short Hades killed Felix Faust (voiced by horror icon Robert Englund) in that episode, but the reveal here is that Talia saved Faust from Hell by putting his soul in a mirror. Well, Faust wants revenge, not on Tala, but on Hades, so while she’s trying to figure out a ritual to remove the rage trigger from the Annihilator, Faust tricks her into performing a ritual that releases him from the mirror and puts her into it instead. Faust then possesses the armor, goes off to Tartarus and casts Hades out as ruler. Now good and evil are out of balance, so Zeus sends Hermes to the Watchtower to tell Diana she needs to go to Hell and put Hades back on the thrown and cast out Faust.

You can also consider this the make up episode between Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl, for since her mace does real good in fucking up magic Diana takes her along for assistance. Everything works out as planned and we also learn Hades is Diana’s father!

19. DOUBLE DATE: More awesomeness from Green Arrow and Black Canary, not to mention our first introduction to Huntress, who teams up with Question; two more heroes and two more budding relationships that have become one of the best things about this series. Not all heroes are cut from the same cloth and not all heroes get along. We’ve seen that already with Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl, now we’re going to see it again with Huntress and Canary. Like Canary she’s hot, got an attitude and can kick ass, not as well as Canary but enough to endear her to me, but like Question she’s a loose cannon. We also get her origin. Her father was a crime boss who had a memorable goon in his employ by the name of Steven Mandragora. One night he’s sick of being a goon and murders Huntress’ parents. She’s been seeking revenge ever since, but that’s not what being a Leaguer is about. In the opener her failed assassination attempt on his life gets her kicked out of the League. Before leaving she recruits Question to help her find Mandragora again.

Arrow and Canary are already involved, but only as security detail. Mandragora is cooperating with the Feds. Giving up some names in a deal with the government, but this is all bullshit. He’s meeting his kid at the docks (apparently Mandragora is foreign. He looks kind of German to me) and plans to disappear with him. Arrow and Canary are pitted against Question and Huntress. The former protecting, the latter trying to execute the crime boss. A fun episode with great animation, action, and story. Question finally admits to Huntress at the end he’s got a thing for her.

20. CLASH: The highlights of this episode is actually what the title suggests—watching heroes and villains kick the shit out of each other, with the main event being Captain Marvel versus Superman, but before we get there it opens up with a great big rock ‘em sock ‘em scene involving Batman, Elongated Man, Metamorpho and Parasite. I’ve always found Parasite to be an interesting villain, being able to absorb powers from anyone who has them and then use them. I think his first ever appearance in a TV toon was in Superman: The Animated Series (1996-2000), but don’t quote me on that. Since then he’s shown up in this series, in Young Justice and in the animated movie All-Star Superman (2011). He’s a tough hombre to deal with once he’s absorbed powers and in this opener he’s just taken Elongated Man and Metamorpho’s.

I think this is Captain Marvel’s first animated toon appearance anywhere, since then he’s been featured in Superman/Shazam! The Return Of Black Adam (2010) short animated film, and in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009). In this episode he’s just recently joined the League and Superman is just meeting him for the first time. Clearly he doesn’t like the guy, and all his animosity/jealously, whatever you want to call it, is exacerbated by Luthor’s run for the presidency, which he’s doing a good job at making himself look like he’s learned his lesson and planning to go the straight and narrow. But Superman doesn’t buy it. Captain Marvel kind of does and during a public event he overhears Luthor and one of his lackeys talking as if he’s planted a bomb in the vicinity.

Superman finds it underground, but Marvel won’t let him check it out despite the instance from Luthor it’s not an explosive at all. The action animation is very well done here as we see basically two God-like beings try to beat each other into submission but only succeeding at creating a shit ton of collateral damage to the city. It’s one of the highlights, though, when you have Superman the center of any tale. Marvel does not stay on the team for that confrontation with Superman was nothing but utter disillusionment for a hero he used to idolize. He reads the League the riot act and makes a graceful exit. This episode ends with the reveal that Luthor’s “nice guy” persona is all bullshit and that he set up Superman today, and that he’s in bed with Cadmus.

21. HUNTER’S MOON: The second offworld adventure of the series, the first being “The Ties That Bind,” and I’m not sure if there are anymore. This one is tied directly to the season finale 3-parter of the Second Season where the Thanagarians tried to take over the Earth as they fought some galactic war with another race. The surviving Thanagarians from that episode want revenge on Hawkgirl so a bogus interplanetary SOS is sent to the Justice League about radiation and Nth metal, the alloy found in Hawkgirl’s mace, ensuring she takes the bait. Martian Manhunter decides to send Vixen and Vigilante to accompany her on this away-mission setting up another dynamic similar to the one Hawkgirl endured and overcame with Wonder Woman in “The Balance,” but here it’s obviously a tad different. Now she has to face and work with the girl dating her ex (aka Green Lantern), not to mention face their anger at her betrayal in that previously mentioned Season Two finale. And when they get back home she and Vixen come to an understanding of sorts—Green Lantern is Vixen’s to whatever natural end their relationship reaches. I’ve always liked Vixen and do enjoy watching her powers work in the few episodes she’s a part of in this series.

22. QUESTION AUTHORITY: This episode is the beginning of a massive four-part finale. “Epilogue” is something different but we’ll talk about that when it comes up. That scenario from Season Two’s “A Better World” rears it’s ugly head again, where President Luthor had Flash killed which set off Superman and the League in a direction that made them into the Justice Lords dictators. We also get more time with Question and Huntress as Question is still seeking a damning link between Luthor and Cadmus and he may have found it this time. Huntress is tagging along because she still fancies him, but what he discovers on the info he downloaded is something the founding members never revealed to the world. In that other reality with Luthor president Superman confronted him and killed him. And to make matters worse Question is thinking this isn’t any kind of alternate reality problem but a time loop this Earth is about to go through, so to stop it all from happening he reasons it would be better for him to kill Luthor rather than Superman. But Luthor has a few surprises, which is the start of a brilliantly evil twist in this whole Cadmus story arc.

It’s not revealed in total yet; all we know is Luthor’s cancer that was brought on by Kryptonite poisoning is mysteriously gone! The doctors have no idea how or why it happened. And then when Question confronts Luthor and attempts to kill him, he displays some obvious super strength that even amazes him. Needless to say Question is captured and tortured by Cadmus.

Now we bring back Huntress (a favorite anti-hero of mine now) and Superman as they infiltrate Cadmus and rescue Question, but there’s one last monkey in the wrench we see just as the episode comes to its cliffhanging part one ending. In the start of this show after Captain Atom and Superman took down Mantis, General Eiling, whom we’ve been seeing in small cameos through the series, and who clearly is on the side of Cadmus, gets Atom’s attention and tells him his commission in the U.S. Air Force has been reinstated. He’s got new orders now and Eiling pretty much convinces him where his true loyalties should lie and it’s not with the League. Incredibly, Atom agrees, which we learn just before the credits roll when he shows up to stop Superman and Huntress from rescuing Question. Oh, snap!

The animation has just gotten better the closer we get to the end of this season and all the action animation in this episode is top notch, especially with Huntress’ scenes.

23. FLASHPOINT: In Part Two Superman battles Captain Atom and it should be no surprise he eventually wins. Superman, I mean, but when Cadmus scientists come to attend to Atom’s unconscious body, Superman hollers to let him alone, he’s a Leaguer and the League will attend to his injuries, so away he goes back to the watchtower’s infirmary. Trip number two. Remember “Initiation?” This fight reminded me of Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009). Atom and Superman are at odds in that one too, with a more dire outcome.

But this is the start of Luthor’s grand plan. You know what they say there’s Cadmus’ plan and there’s Luthor’s plan and Cadmus’ plan doesn’t count. Lex remotely highjacks the watchtower’s laser cannon and uses it to obliterate an abandoned research and development Cadmus building in New Mexico, the same one I believe they were holding Question in. Luthor’s plan is near genius on the Evil scale. He’s basically framed the League now and made everyone on Earth, Waller and even the President think they did that in retaliation for taking Question. There are no civilian deaths but a lot of homes destroyed and skepticism now directed at the League as to who they really work for, themselves or humanity.

After each blast the power drain is so strong the watchtower shuts down until it can reboot, but this was a cyber highjack and they are down for good. This is where Superman and Supergirl want to simply go down and put an end to Cadmus, but luckily Green Arrow and Martian Manhunter talk some sense into them. While a team of heroes is sent down to help the wounded, Superman decides the only thing they can do is turn themselves in until it’s proven to Earth they didn’t do it deliberately.

Waller believing the League did this on purpose takes the fight to the heroes. Round two commences . . .

24. PANIC IN THE SKY: In Part Three Waller gives a now fit and more buff looking Galatea an army of Ultimen clones to attack and take down the watchtower with. The Lexcorp missiles flying towards the tower pretty much tells everyone who highjacked their laser cannon. Each missile grinds into the hull of the tower, opens up and let’s loose the Ultimen and Galatea. So now we’ve got some massive eye candy to suck on as the heroes (minus the founding members) tangle with tons of Ultimen. Galatea has another mission, a secret one, she wants to take out Supergirl, so she can prove she’s no clone and more real than the real thing. Yeah, she goes rogue.

This is the last time we see Galatea in this series and I’m not sure if Supergirl kills her or not. She’s seen on the floor looking seriously fucked up, eyes open and staring, but with a twitching finger and a slight moan. I guess to give you some hint she may not be pushing up daisies. Supergirl’s arc though, isn’t over, which is good. She’ll have a bittersweet one next season.

In the meantime while Batman does not agree to turn his ass in, he decides to visit Waller and get her to take a closer look at Luthor. He’s playing her, and she eventually agrees. He’s been using a lot of Cadmus tech for a special project. That near death experience he had with Amazo in “The Return” gave him an idea to build his own android so he can download his brain into it, and become immortal.

As this episode closes Waller confronts Luthor in his lab and melts his robot into sludge, while Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Batman and Hawkgirl show up to physically take out the garbage themselves, but this is where that twist I mentioned in “Question Authority” finally and shockingly reveals itself. After Luthor displays more of his weird superhuman strength his body metamorphosis and we see Brainiac’s face take shape in his stomach!

Whaaaaat?!

Yup, and Brianiac even says he was trying to stay on the down low until he could get his mind into that android Lex was building but events here forced his hand.

25. DIVIDED WE FALL: In this final part of the season finale Brainiac recounts how Luthor got infected with him, apparently that moment happened in an episode from Superman: The Animated Series (1996-2000) called, “Ghost In The Machine.” Of course it’s not until this episode here that we learn that attack had a secret agenda.

This episode also ties into “A Better World” again, because when Lex/Brainiac takes on the League later he creates nanobot replicants of the Justice Lords to fuck with their minds, as well as “Dark Heart.” Once mutant Lex/Brainiac escape the first battle with the League they had to Cadmus to upgrade and there Brainiac comes into contact with that alien nanotech warmachine, the spider-bots at least, which he absorbs and makes part of himself.

I loved this episode. It’s very Lovecraftian as well, since Brianiac has a tendency to get all robotic tentacles, turning the Luthor’s headquarters into a tentacled monstrosity and we also get Brainiac’s trademark tentacle brain spaceship.

That time loop Question worried about happening starts to come to fruition during the League’s final battle with Brainiac who has now fused totally with Lex into a new body. After he defeats the others, he attempts to execute Flash like Luthor’s alternate self actually did in “A Better World,” but Flash steps up his game and manages to defeat Brainica/Lex by pushing his powers to their uttermost limits, racing faster than he’s ever gone in one direction and coming back around to smash into Brainaic which dislodges a part of his robotic body. He keeps doing this until he finally decides to stop, tackle the motherfucker and vibrate his hands so deep and so fast into Brianiac/Lex that he completely destroys him, leaving only a naked Luthor on the ground, but he’s done this at the possibly the cost of his own life. Flash vanishes from existence. Ironic since the death of Flash in “A Better World” is what sets Superman on his course to kill Lex, and it appears it’s finally going to happen!

Good news, though, Flash isn’t dead. Martian Manhunter senses his spirit still lingering and Hawkgirl stumbles upon a heavenly portal where they try to pull him out. They do and Superman stands down.

In a quick epilogue the League addresses a massive crowd of heroes and civilians in Washington D.C. where Superman pretty much admits they fucked up and they’re making amends by dismantling the watchtower.

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26: EPILOGUE: This is a genius episode that is actually an epilogue to Batman Beyond (1999-2001), but there’s enough Justice League in it to justify its inclusion here at the end of this season. Terry McGinnis is all grown up and it’s taking place sixty-five years after the events of Justice League Unlimited. Terry’s learned a mind-blowing secret and he visits a now retired and elderly Amanda Waller at her home to learn the details. What he’s learned is he’s a clone of Bruce Wayne and he naturally assumes Wayne had something to do with that. Not so, Waller masterminded it, with a project she called, Batman Beyond. You see she saw Bruce getting old and couldn’t conceive of a world without a Batman, so she did basically what Brianiac did to Lex and, voila, Terry McGinnis is born, our new Batman!

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During the course of the episode we get panavision black and white flashbacks to when Terry found out and confronted eighty-year-old Bruce about it in the Batcave; moments when he was part of the future Justice League and decided to leave it, and when he broke up with Dana because he was too afraid some bad guy would find her and kill her to get revenge on him. There’s one more flashback, this one is in color and not widescreen, it’s Waller trying to show Terry Batman isn’t the narcissistic douche he now thinks Bruce is for doing what he thought he did. It shows the League as we knew them back in this series confronting a new version of the Royal Flush gang, but this one is different. At the heart of it is a little girl (Ace of this new version) who has powers to alter reality, powers honed by Cadmus to make her a weapon, and she’s hours away from a fatal brain aneurysm. Waller tells Batman to prevent her powers from fucking up everything in a mile’s distance he has to kill with this device he hands him. He confronts the little girl on the swings but he had no intention of killing her, instead he stayed with her until she died, thus correcting my original assertion back in “Wake The Dead” that that episode was the “single most tragic episode of the entire JLU series.” Well, it still might be, but this flashback comes in a tearjerking second.

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At least it ends on a high note with Terry going back home and seeing Bruce in a new light, and then calling up Dana to confirm a weekend they have planned together where he’s planning on proposing to her.

Amanda Waller has a pretty good character arc in this series too, starting out as a blatant “bad guy,” but an understandable one, and then being on the side of the League in the finale, to showing even more compassion and understanding of her role in this final episode of the season.

SEASON TWO:


654502_LIZZIE BORDEN CHRONICLES_THE_SEASON 01_DVDSTD-23D Pack Shot

27. I AM LEGION: It’s been roughly a year since the League defeated Lex/Brainiac, so what has Lex been up to since then? Currently he’s escaping from prison, in a truck with the police on his ass, but the second they have him cornered he’s rescued and taken to a swamp to meet Gorilla Grodd, who in response to the League adding an unlimited number of heroes to their roster has just formed the Legion Of Doom in retaliation, and wants Lex to join. So, it’s clear up front what the story arc in this season is. But Lex isn’t the kind of guy to just be member of some “secret society,” and refuses. Grodd came prepared. He blackmails Lex with the only surviving piece of Brainiac on Earth. That merging with Brainaic left Lex with an “odd neurological problem,” he now has an imaginary Brainiac friend and Brainiac tells him to play along until they can get that piece, because with it he can be brought back.

The rest of the episode is testing Lex, so Grodd sends him to Blackhawk Island to retrieve a relic stored in a high security bunker. This was where the WWII paramilitary Blackhawk group had their base. The only surviving member calls the JL and tells them the security has been tripped. Lex, Polaris and The Key are breaking in, so Flash, Fire, and Hawkgirl head on over to kick their asses, but they manage to escape with this spear Grodd wanted to decorate his office with. That does not settle well with Lex who promises he’ll eventually kill him and I think he actually does towards the end of the series.

The League is now operating out of something they call the Metro Tower on Earth and Flash has a crush on Fire. Interesting to note there are various robots that are activated as the island’s defense and one of them looks like a carbon copy of the Iron Giant himself from the animated movie The Iron Giant (1999).

28. SHADOW OF THE HAWK: Another favorite episode of mine. This is the origin and first appearance of Hawkman in the series. It’s also a kind of an “origin” for Hawkgirl too. After one of those cool prologue slugfests the League has with some choice villains (this episode being the Extremists—Gorgon, Tracer, Dreamslayer, Lord Havok), a “Hawkgirl stalker” by the name of “Carter Hall” introduces himself to Hawkgirl. He’s an archeologist looking for help with this Thanagarian sword he unearthed in Eqypt. That shouldn’t be since after the Thanagarian invasion in Season Two their entire tech was rounded up. This sword is 8,000 years old!

Later on a date with Carter she’s brought to the very pyramid he found it in and reveals a secret. He puts on this Hawkman uniform and claims they are reincarnated lovers from ancient Egypt, then proceeds to tell her he found an Absorbacron (a piece of Thanagarian information tech) that when touched showed him Egypt 8,000 years ago when two Thanagarians crashed on Earth and were forever stranded there, so they decided to help the humans and carve out a life for themselves. But this “reunion” is interrupted by villain Shadow Thief (an entity made entirely of shadow) who attacks and subdues them. All he wants is the treasure inside but can’t gain access to it without Carter showing him how. Batman shows up too to battle this weird sentient shadow; he was following and eavesdropping on their date via a bug he planted on Hawkgirl’s mace.

Shadow Thief is defeated and the Pyramid collapses burying the treasure, the Thanagarian tech and ship forever. Hawkgirl doesn’t believe Carter’s assertion they’re reincarnated lovers and he takes off vowing he can wait a little while longer before she comes around. This is clearly more of the love triangle arc between Vixen, Green Lantern and Hawkgirl playing itself out and this Thanagarian origin has a sequel later in the season, where we will learn the finer details of their lives in ancient Egypt.

29. CHAOS AT THE EARTH’S CORE: A good episode, but not a favorite. Green Lantern, Supergirl (sporting a new shirt now with colors more in line with her cousin’s), Stargirl and her stepfather, Pat Dugan, who’s known as S.T.R.I.P.E. (Special Tactics Robotic Integrated Power Enhancer) when he dons his mecha, start off the episode fighting a Gamera-like monster in Japan, then on their way home over the Arctic their Javelin is pulled into a hole where they crash land in a Jules Vernian world under the Arctic.

I liked the character dynamics in this episode, which the prologue is all about, but the general plot didn’t do much for me. Once in this world called Shamballah it turns into Dungeons & Dragons homage with high tech weapons, which is fine and all, I used to play D&D in high school, but I didn’t care for the animation.

Metallo and Silver Banshee are the big reveals here having arrived before the heroes and Supergirl has lost her powers due a massive chunk of Kryptonite that powers this world.

30. TO ANOTHER SHORE: In this episode we learn the Watchtower has not been decommissioned yet, and Wonder Woman has been asked to attend a global warming summit on behalf of her people and she wants Martian Manhunter to come with her. Her argument is he spends too much time alone here and not enough with the very race he’s protecting. What we find out is he’s not totally enamored with the human race to begin with. Who can blame him. He refuses and she attends alone.

Meanwhile, as part of Grodd’s mysterious plan to control the world (at the very location of that summit which happens to be in the Antarctic, or Alaska, I forget which) an ancient Viking ship is discovered frozen in a glacier. The Viking’s corpse on board was cursed by the Gods to be invulnerable and Grodd wants to reverse engineer that power for the benefit of the Legion.

With this episode we meet Devil Ray, a Black Manta wannabe, who joins Killer Frost, Giganta and Heat Wave at the site to claim the ship, but retrieving it from the glacier will bring the mountain down, and the resort holding the summit is on this very mountain.

Green Arrow and Martian Manhunter join Wonder Woman in her quest to bitchslap the shit out of all villains present and accounted for. By the time this show is over the League is catching on to the fact that something strange is going with the odd team-ups of villains. And Manhunter hits everyone with the news he’s leaving the League to get reacquainted with humanity. Being a shape-shifter that shouldn’t be too hard. For all intents and purposes Manhunter is now out of the series and doesn’t show up again until the last episode.

(Note: Due to copyright issues Black Manta could not be used as a villain, so Devil Ray was substituted instead).

31. FLASH AND SUBSTANCE: This episode is an entirely self-contained Flashcentric episode, where Central City is dedicating a museum to him on a Flash Appreciation Day. This irks a group of his villains (Mirror Master, Trixster, Captain Cold, Captain Boomerang) that’s hanging out at a local bar, so they decide to take that appreciation day and shove clean up his ass. Try to anyway.

Flash invites Batman along who in turn makes Orion (a New God who’s working with the League?) join him when he makes a smart ass remark about Flash and him. This is just a fun episode that shows us how Flash’s life in Central City plays out on a daily basis. He knows just about everyone and knows exactly how to handle villains in his district. We also get a look at his apartment and his drawer full of rings where he keeps spare suits in. Apparently, they’re really hard to get into the ring but easy as hell to pop out.

32: DEAD RECKONING: This episode I really liked. Outside of Batman: The Brave And The Bold, I believe this is the only other cartoon series the character of Deadman has ever been animated in. Here he’s still floating around Tibet asking his Master why he hasn’t moved on despite having avenged his own death a year ago. The Master of the temple tells him because his destiny is to avenge his death.

Enter Grodd’s mysterious ongoing plan again to do something bad to the human race, which is finally completed in the next 22-minutes. He needs a mystical orb from this very temple, so he sends Lex, Talia (Grodd freed her from her mirror prison) Bizarro, Rampage, Devil Ray, and Atomic Skull to get it and in the process they seemingly kill every one present.

Deadman is horrified!

He goes to the Justice League for help, but he can only affect the material world by possessing people, and can only communicate with them by doing the same. He possesses Superman to ask for help. Deadman’s lore is tied to Batman; they know each other and that Master that was “killed” trained him.

With all the necessary pieces of his machine in place, Grodd infiltrates Gorilla City in Africa to get the power source he needs to amply this wave. What’s his master plan? To turn every human on earth into a fuckin’ ape! In the end it’s thwarted and Devil Ray is accidentally killed when Deadman steps into Batman’s body to prevent him from killing Wonder Woman, but the lasershot propels him into exposed electrical wires that fries the dude dead. Now Deadman is karmically in debt again and forced to stay in his existence until it’s paid. We never see him again on the show.

Back at the Legion’s headquarters Lex is so pissed by Grodd’s inane plan he shoots Grodd (not dead, not yet) and takes over as head of the society. No one has a problem with that.

33. PATRIOT ACT: And another excellent and favorite episode. General Eiling is still seething after Cadmus was shutdown and put out to pasture. He still thinks the Justice League are the enemies and to ironically prove this he breaks back into a Cadmus laboratory and steals a shelved formula from World War II that was supposed to give Nazis super strength. It was unstable which was why it was never used. Eiling injects himself and turns into a huge gray Hulk-like creature, but retaining his personality and intelligence. Like the “Wake The Dead” episode you get to watch DC heroes take on an Incredible Hulk-type villain. Too bad DC never had an equivalent character.

While all the “Big Gun” heroes are on missions it’s up to Vigilante, Shining Knight, Green Arrow, Stargirl, S.T.R.I.P.E. and later in the episode Crimson Avenger and Arrow’s ex-partner Speedy to try and stop mutated Eiling. Eiling’s goal is to beat Superman and he crashes a downtown parade that Superman was supposed to make an appearance at, but gets the above mentioned heroes instead.

The action animation is great in this one, with Shining Knight being the standout hero here and a nice ending that doesn’t involve the expected heroes-triumph-over-villain(s). Basically it’s a crowd of civilians that prevents Eiling from killing Knight and making him realize he’s turned himself into the very thing he hated. I suspect if there was another season Eiling’s story arc would have continued, because he beat all the heroes and just takes off after the crowd throws that metaphorical mirror up in his face.

34. THE GREAT BRAIN ROBBERY: I forgot about this episode. Unfortunately it ranks up there with “The Once And Future Thing” episodes, as in I don’t really care for it. Lex puts together an experiment designed to link his and Grodd’s brains so he can get some information the ape won’t willingly give up, while at the same time Doctor Fate tries accessing Flash’s brain to see where the Legion has their base, but during both “experiments” something goes wrong and Flash and Lex end up trading minds. The only thing I liked about this episode was how it shows the difficulty in subduing a meta-human with super speed if that was power was ever used for evil.

35. GRUDGE MATCH: This episode is a more-than-awesome capper to my favorite subplots JLU had to offer, starting with Green Arrow meeting Black Canary to pulling in The Question, then Huntress, then their relationship . . . those were all my favorite heroes from this new series and it’s always kind of sad to see all those arcs end here, but all good things must come to an end and an end it does— with a big ass right cross to the face!

As I mentioned in “The Cat And The Canary” we’d see Roulette again and here’s that sequel. With Lex now in charge of the Legion, he’s taking more of a cut from all the other villains than Grodd was. The Legion is part protection racket; the others give Grodd a cut of what they make in their villainous schemes and the Legion will protect them if they ever get in a scrape with the League. Lex is taking too much and it’s cutting into Roulette’s profits, so she comes to him to see if she can “work something out,” and ends up almost throwing down with Tala. This in turn gives Lex a brilliant idea!

The Meta-brawl Glamor Slam Roulette calls it.

Guys love watching chicks fight so there’s the new hook for her underground fight club, but Lex ups it even more by suggesting they don’t have to only have female villains fighting it out. That’s where Sonar comes in. He’s able to tap into all the earpieces the heroes wear that keep them in contact with the watchtower and turn them into mind control devices.

One night following Canary Huntress notices how off her game she is. She looks dead tired, so she follows her and finds she’s the reigning champ in Roulette’s new fight club, and confronting her about it gets her ass knocked out and put in a cell. Knocking the earpiece out is all it takes to kill the mind control. Roulette now has to ice the two heroes but she’s going to do it in style and make money in the process. Shoving them both in the ring, she has them fight mind controlled Vixen and Hawkgirl.

What I love best about these “fight club” episodes is it gives you a feel of who ranks where in the ass kicking category. Not surprising, like Wildcat, Canary is undefeated and we get a feel that Hawkgirl can pretty much hold her own with Canary. Vixen is pretty powerful too, but when both of them have their earpieces removed, and you’ve got four heroes about to fuck everything up, Roulette has a Plan B. And that Plan B is called Wonder Woman. Oh, yeah, Sonar got to Diana and when she enters the ring you can tell all the heroes just crapped their pants, which if you ever had any doubts tells you right there how powerful Wonder Woman is.

Huntress: “Anyone got a plan?”
Vixen: “Stay alive!”
Huntress: “Anyone got a good plan?”

And, yes, if Huntress and Canary didn’t get out of the ring and find Sonar Diana would have pretty much killed Vixen and Hawkgirl. This whole episode ends on a perfect note too. Now that Huntress and Canary are kind of friends, they still want to see who’s better and that’s how it ends. Once everyone’s gone they face off and the episode ends as each leaps into a kick. Action animation was excellent throughout.

36. FAR FROM HOME: Since this series (and this season) wraps up with only a 2-part finale these next two episodes are all that’s left to wrap up a few other character arcs. This one here wraps up Supergirl’s, not that she had much of one, her Cadmus arc is already done, but on a personal level she gets this finale. No, she doesn’t die, though it makes you think she’s supposed to. In the future (31st Century to be exact) the Legion Of Super-Heroes (this team got there own series that ran only two seasons from 2006-2008) is having some problems with their own villains. Most of them have been captured by the Fatal Five and all that’re left is Brainiac 5 and Bouncing Boy, so they recruit three Leaguers  from the past. The historical records say three arrive (Supergirl, Green Lantern, and Green Arrow) but only two go home. Supergirl’s own history in the past stops with this moment, so it’s presumed she’s killed somewhere in a battle in this time frame.

The moment she meets Brainiac 5 she’s smitten and so is he, which give you a hint as to how this really ends. After they win, and get all the Legion freed from the Five, Supergirl makes the decision to stay in the future with Brainiac sending along a cube to explain to her cousin her decision. We learn Kara is 21 on this day. It was her birthday. It’s kind of a bittersweet “ending,” but at least she didn’t die.

37. ANCIENT HISTORY: This is the wrap up to that love triangle between Lantern, Hawkgirl and Vixen, a reveal to more of the origin of Hawkgirl and Hawkman in ancient Egypt, and a shocking reveal of who Shadow Thief is. And all this is orchestrated by Thief himself, kidnapping Lantern and taking him to the local museum. Vixen gets Hawkgirl and together they try taking Shadow Thief down themselves, even Hawkman shows up, but none of them are a match for him. That Absorbacron thought destroyed in “Shadow Of The Hawk” is intact and working and Shadow Thief forces all of them to touch it. When they do we see more of that time in Egypt. The big reveal here is that John Stewart was a part of their history. In fact Hawkgirl cheated on Hawkman with John, known as Bashari back then, and when Hawkman saw them kissing, his idle comment of “I wish they were dead,” was taken seriously by their high priest, Hath-Set, and they were killed. Their wine was poisoned and Hawkman found them. Rather than live the rest of his life without her he drinks the wine himself and dies.

Back in the present Shadow Thief reveals himself to be an incarnate version of Hawkman’s subconscious, having been given life when he first touched the Absorbacron. Hawkman, however, finally defeats Shadow Thief by taking him back into himself and understanding he and Hawkgirl were never meant to be together.

Vixen took a serious beating at the museum, so did John in the end, Shadow Thief broke his arm, so while visiting her in the Watchtower’s infirmary he bumps into Hawkgirl and finally tells her about meeting their son in the future. Regardless of her feelings for him he tells Hawkgirl he’s staying with Vixen. The final scene is a good one . . .

4.12

“Tell me about my son.”

And that wraps up the “personal arcs” of Justice League, now we move back into Omega Level Threat territory for “Alive!” and “Destroyer” . . .

38. ALIVE!: Ever since Lex learned one, small piece of Brainiac was all that was left of him, he’s been obsessed with trying to find a way to “resurrect” him, but like the twist in “Panic In The Sky” Lex is in for a rude awakening. After yet another failed attempt to “pull” some remnant of Brainiac from the rock, Tala finally gives Lex what science couldn’t. Sort of. Using a transmutation spell, hoping to prove to him it’s just a rock, she actually senses something and links her findings with Lex’s mind. What they see is Brainiac’s asteroid floating in space seconds before it exploded in “Twilight,” and a quick look around gives Lex a general indication where that happened. So, obsession renewed, he turns the Legion headquarters into a spaceship and off they go into space to find the remains of Brainiac’s base.

In the meantime Tala has had enough of being treated like shit by Lex so she releases Grodd. Now we have a stand off between the villains who are on Grodd’s side and those on Lex. As expected a huge fight between the two factions breaks out on the ship. Lex and his boys are the winners with Grodd getting iced when Lex mind controls him into an airlock and blows him into space. As long as there are parallel realities, sorcery, super science and time travel no one really dies in comic books, or in hero toons for that matter, so, yeah, it may look like Grodd was just killed, but so what.

Lex’s plan now is to siphon up all the floating remains of Brainiac’s asteroid and using Tala’s sorcery as a power source, which pretty much ends up icing her too, resurrect his old pal again in that age old attempt by pretty much every megalomaniacal villain to ever exist “to become a God.” Not that I’m judging. Hell, if I was a DC or Marvel villain I’d reach for the stars too. While this process is underway an interesting deus ex machina in the form of an entity calling himself Metron appears. He freezes time and tells Lex what he’s doing is going to fuck up all time and space. Lex doesn’t care and Metron vanishes.

Our twist in the tale before the credits roll is that it’s not Brainiac stepping out of that chamber but Darkseid. Back in the Season Two premiere of Justice League, “Twilight,” both Darkseid and Brainiac were seemingly killed on his asteroid. What we can presume is that Lex siphoned up Darkseid’s remains instead of Brainaic’s and voila!—another Omega Level Threat is about do befall the earth! Actually, it probably would have been an OMT anyway regardless of who Lex resurrected.

39. DESTROYER: At the end of “Alive!” Darkseid appeared to have killed off Lex and the remaining Legion with a massive explosion that obliterated their ship. When this episode starts Lex and the Legion show up on the doorstep of the League’s Metro Tower looking for assistance in “handling” Darkseid. Again. He recounts how they survived. Sinestro’s ring protected them in a bubble and a stolen boom tube box got them to Earth. Darkseid is looking for nothing but revenge on Superman for his death in “Twilight,” which means Earth is in his crosshairs too.

Doing the unheard of Lex, the Legion and the League team up to stop the ruler of Apokolips, his paredemons and his machines from turning Earth into Apokolips II. It’s always sad to watch a final episode of any beloved show and this was all that and a bag of skittles. Yeah, I have no clue what that means either. But this episode was a hell of an ending to a great series! The heroes and villains kick as much alien ass as you can find, and Superman certainly does that to Darkseid, but it’s got a great twist in how he’s finally “defeated.”

Lex ends up being the savior of the universe. Our deus ex machina Metron returns and he and Lex have words. It ends up Metron may know a way to end Darkseid but it entails a journey to the Source Wall (an ornate and colossal barrier that separates the DC universe from the source of all life, God, what have you).  You don’t journey beyond this wall and keep your sanity, let’s put it that way. But Lex doesn’t give a fuck, he dives past the barrier and learns something astonishing . . .

Back in a really fucked up looking Metropolis now Darkseid has gotten the drop on Superman and his about to cut out his heart when Lex appears wearing a nice looking suit. His “power suit” he calls it. Clever. He shows Darkseid something he’s been dying to see his whole life—the Anti-Life Equation! Enraptured by the light show in Lex’s hands both of them vanish! That’s it! War’s over! But they’ve seen enough crazy shit to know Darkseid and Lex will be back.

The whole show ends with the League giving what remains of the Legion a 5-minute head start before they got after them. Down the stairs they run with a shot of all the Leaguers going after them, when Wonder Woman casually says, “And the adventure continues,” as she casually follows. Batman races at the camera, and we fade to black as the bat emblem on his chest gets bigger and bigger and bigger . . .

4.26

This series had four DVD releases from 2004 to 2010, in one form or another, before getting a Complete Series set and back on November 10th we finally got in blu thanks to Warner Archives!


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Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.78:1 high definition widescreen—English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio—English SDH subs

I’ve never seen this show widescreen before and it looks great! The series is spread out among three discs.

Extras included . . .

  • Commentaries on This Little Piggy and The Return episodes (On Disc #1)
  • And Justice For All Featurette (9:11) (On Disc #2)
  • Cadmus Exposed Featurette (23:24) (On Disc #3)
  • Justice League Chronicles (33:46) (On Disc #3)

As of this review we’re about nine months out from the debut of a new Justice League toon. It’s rumored to be called, Justice League: Action, but we won’t know for sure for a while. I just hope it doesn’t besmirch the reputations of Justice League/Justice League Unlimited and Young Justice.  Cautiously optometrist I am at the moment.

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About Shawn Francis

Movie collector and horror writer.
Gallery | This entry was posted in ANIMATION REVIEW: Justice League Unlimited: The Complete Series ('04-'06) Warner Archive Blu-ray. Bookmark the permalink.

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