Suggested by iKnowledge Darth Sidious is a powerful Sith Lord and quite possibly the strongest one of all time. His Force lightning is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what he can do. The Force is quite versatile and Sidious also has super speed, strength, and can do just about anything. I would still give Martian Manhunter the edge though. His power is leagues above anything Sidious has ever done. Manhunter’s weakness to fire will be tricky to get around, but he does have a lot of experience so that should help him navigate through this fight with minimal issues. It won’t be easy but it’s a winnable battle. Martian Manhunter wins.
Suggested by iKnowledge Darth Sidious is a powerful Sith Lord and quite possibly the strongest one of all time. His Force lightning is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what he can do. The Force is quite versatile and Sidious also has super speed, strength, and can do just about anything. I would still give Martian Manhunter the edge though. His power is leagues above anything Sidious has ever done. Manhunter’s weakness to fire will be tricky to get around, but he does have a lot of experience so that should help him navigate through this fight with minimal issues. It won’t be easy but it’s a winnable battle. Martian Manhunter wins.
Suggested by Random The Martian Manhunter is a pretty tough DC fighter. He has super strength and a whole arsenal of other abilities. You certainly can’t hope to beat him with pure power alone. That being said, Broly definitely has the skills to make victory a certainty. He can move at speeds far greater than what Martian Manhunter can keep up with and he can destroy the planet in an instant. How do you compete with that? Broly wins.
Suggested by Destroyer Martian Manhunter is definitely very strong. He has really taken Superman to the edge of defeat in the past. That being said, he can’t actually beat Superman. Lex has obtained Superman’s powers in the past so that form will also be a little too much for him. The strength and speed is simply too much. Lex Luthor wins.
Batman and Scooby Doo have always made for a very intense pairing. The crossover just writes itself as Batman tends to be a detective series that is very serious while the Mystery Gang prefers to have a lot of fun as they save the day. The groups have very different detective styles and solve crimes in two very different neighborhoods. Still, at the end of the day they are detectives and in this film we shall see them match wits.
The film starts off with Fred and the gang attempting to solve a mystery. Unfortunately this ghost is a formidable opponent and seems to have the upper hand. That’s when Batman himself shows up and he suggests that the Mystery Gang is too young to handle villains in Gotham. This leads Fred to trap Batman while the gang takes down the ghost. They go into their usual explanation about how they knew who it was all the time in a way that is fairly self aware with how exaggerated it is. Batman then shows up and declares that the group passed his initiation and he would like them to join the official Mystery Solvers group which also features Black Canary, Martian Manhunter, Question, Plasticman, and Detective Chimp. The group exists to fight the mysteries that no single detective could. Batman only has one unsolved case in his section so the team decides to focus on that one first. A mysterious voice has been scaring Batman lately and now the Mystery Gang are being framed. It’s all connected but how? The heroes will have to find the answer to this question along with some proof, all while trying to elude the Police, Fellow Heroes, and Supervillains!
This film takes place in the Batman Brave and The Bold continuity. It’s a very good selection for the crossover and I’m glad to see the series be brought back. The two animation styles mix together very well and that’s probably why it was chosen. It’d be hard to mix Beware The Batman with Scooby Doo without switching the animation after all. Scooby Doo’s animation has always been consistent for a very long time now and this one is no exception. The animation is very clear and easy to watch. The backgrounds are detailed and the action is easy to follow. It’s definitely some of the best American Animation currently.
Since most of the film is rather solid I may as well change things up and start with the negatives first. For starters, Fred looks pretty bad here. Why is he obsessing over Black Canary when he should just be psyched to be helping out a team of Elite Detectives? This is Fred Jones, the Leader of Mystery Incorporated. I wanted to see him match wits with the others but he is a little too distracted. Meanwhile Black Canary basically mocks him whenever she appears, but given the circumstances I can’t blame her one bit. The insult almost sounded like too much for this film but then you remember that she’s just making fun of his signature tie style which can easily sound like something else if you are not prepared.
My other negative is how bad all of the heroes who aren’t Batman or Aquaman look. When the Mystery Gang is framed and Batman helps them out he is seen as guilty as well. Sure, Batman keeps running off and doing his own thing, but isn’t that par for the course with the Dark Knight? All of the heroes turn against him so quickly that we finally see them for who they are. They weren’t good friends, their bonds are about as strong as the average Naruto character. They made the hero’s job a whole lot harder.
I always think that when a villain framed a hero it shouldn’t be so easy to convince the friends. Especially when in this case Batman has had a solid track record for so many years. The only one with a decent motive is Detective Chimp since he was humiliated by Velma and likely wants payback. Is that how a hero should act? No, but that’s how I can imagine Detective Chimp acting. He really got roasted here, but I’ve never liked the character so I was personally okay with that.
Martian Manhunter’s cookie gimmick is a nice call back to Justice League International. He is portrayed as an unlikable jerk, but I can’t say I have a problem with that. He is fairly memorable in the movie thanks to this and it also helps you root for Shaggy and Scooby a little more since they are effectively being bullied and can’t do anything about it. By the end of the film Manhunter hasn’t really learned anything, but he’ll likely think twice before crossing the Mystery Inc since they’re heroes now.
Aquaman actually looks pretty good now. He is very determined and keeps on pressing Batman until he is finally let into the secret club. He’s also the only hero who didn’t actually doubt Batman which gets him big points in my book. He was really on point with his entire portrayal so I definitely had no qualms with him. Batman also looks pretty good for the most part. The opening scene may get you worried for a bit, but after the twist it’s okay. Now, he may be a little too nervous with the ghost the whole time, but this way the heroes get to console him that there are no such things as ghosts. Aside from when he’s getting mentally wrecked by the ghost, Batman’s still in character and gets some good burns in. He’s always got a plan after all and is still a solo act at the end of the day.
Aside from Fred, the gang looks about as good as you can expect. Shaggy and Scooby don’t look good, but they never do. At least Shaggy finally gets revenge for all the times Scooby steals his snacks. That was actually pretty satisfying since the Shaggy and Scooby rivalry really should be even. The film has a pretty good amount of action for a Scooby Doo film since the heroes and villains can actually fight here. The fights themselves are rather short so as not to take away from the mystery but it’s pretty cool. The special feels more like a Brave and The Bold episode than a Scooby Doo movie, but it manages to have a good balance.
The climax may start to stretch on a little too long by the end, but I’d say that it’s still executed fairly well. The last time the villain runs back into the warehouse for round 5 may have just been one round too long. A slight missed opportunity is that it would have been awesome to have seen the Mystery Gang fight once they got into costume. That would have really sold me on the final act. At least we did see that happen once in the Brave and The Bold show a while back so I guess that’s why they wanted to go a different route here.
As expected the writing is pretty solid. The film also flows by very quickly and the pacing is on point. It’s definitely pretty surreal to have the characters meet up again and hopefully we’ll get a sequel at some point or have the gang meet up with another version of Batman. Either way, I’m always game for crossovers and since Scooby Doo gets so many films, it’s always a good idea to shake up the formula a bit.
Overall, This film was pretty solid. There really isn’t as much of a mystery compared to the average film since they sort of just stumble into fights as opposed to giving us a bunch of suspects and choosing one, but when Batman’s in town you do have to switch gears a bit. The soundtrack and animation are solid and it’s a very good all around movie. I’d definitely recommend checking it out. The movie was pretty close to getting a solid 8, but I don’t think I can quite justify it. Still, it’s a high 7 and one that has quite a bit of replay value. There’s just a lot to like here.
Suggested by Jimmy Hannibal Lecter is one of those mass murderers that the books try to get you to sympathize with, but it doesn’t work. I don’t plan to read any novels with him to be honest, but I doubt that they would convince me anyway. He doesn’t sound like a very good character and knives aren’t a great weapon to use against the Martian. It will just snap and one punch is all that MM needs to win. Hannibal doesn’t have the speed to dodge it. Martian Manhunter wins.
Suggested by Jimmy Biscuits Waluigi has always been a pretty interesting Mario villain. He is good with a tennis racket and he’s also not a bad dancer. That being said, his physical abilities are nothing special and the Martian doesn’t even have to just rely on his super strength. His shape shifting will let him slip around all of Waluigi’s attacks and he can take his time before dealing the knockout blow. Make no mistake, one shot is all that this Manhunter is going to need to end the round. Waluigi just doesn’t have a whole lot of defense to protect him. Martian Manhunter wins.
This show always brings a lot of memories. Not only have I seen this show numerous times, but it is easily my favorite American show of all time and top 5 overall. It is the perfect adaption of a superhero team and I doubt we will ever see another such title top this one. Justice League ran for a very long time and got to fit in dozens of excellent episodes. They hold up well and you will be hard pressed to find a bad episode here. Even the worst episodes are still fairly good when placed in another title. Let us get started because this is an incredibly long review. Maybe it should be called a look back to be more accurate?
The show is divided into two parts. There is Justice League and then there is Unlimited. I count them as the same show but you could make the case for it being two separate titles. Part 1 is a lot more episodic, but each adventure was double length which made it easy to tell just about any story. Unlimited’s episodes were normal length, but they made up for it with long story arcs. Both had very different styles and worked well in their own way. I’ll talk more about Unlimited in a bit, but lets focus on part 1 first.
The show started off with ambitious three part event which showed how the league formed to fend off an alien invasion. Part of what made the DCAU so awesome was the continuity and Justice League builds off of what was already established. As a result Batman and Superman already know each other. The first aliens still manage to escape, but only because Superman was being telepathically attacked at the time. What starts off as a Batman and Superman story quickly transforms into a Justice League adventure. While I would have loved to have seen the team fight each other as per the trope, logically it makes sense that these veterans wouldn’t randomly start attacking each other when there are aliens to deal with. Priorities right? Superman may have been heavily nerfed so he wouldn’t steal the show, but beyond that I really had no problems with this start to the series. You could feel the tension and the danger from the alien invasion and the animation holds up extremely well. I dare say that it is the best looking episode in the series, particularly the first part of the 3 part adventure, but naturally there is a lot of competition there. You may see me nominating a few other episodes for that honor in this review.
I won’t go through all of the Justice League episodes of course, but the series had a lot of great episodes and I want to give a good chunk of them an honorary mention. After the explosive alien invasion story set the stage, the League got to fight many foes as a team. One solid episode was when the Manhunters arrived to arrest Green Lantern. I like this two part episode because of the great action scenes and story, but part 1 stands out particularly for the opening scene. The Watchtower is able to detect the arrival of these drones so the League quickly heads in to intercept them. Unfortunately, Wonder Woman, Superman, and Batman aren’t available so the rest of the team has to make do. Hawkgirl, Martian Manhunter, and Flash put up a decent fight and get some hits in, but they are clearly outmatched. That is when Superman comes in, for one of the most satisfying moments in the series. This episode may have less importance in the grand scheme of things than other episodes, but it is still a personal favorite moment of mine. Superman has a tendency to lose to things that he shouldn’t in these episodes and is under powered at times to make the others look good, but not here. He is taking all 3 of the Manhunters down and calmly walks through one of their large energy blasts. It was definitely a lot of fun to watch and I am confident that The Justice League would have won that fight if it hadn’t been interrupted. The other members were getting their second wind as well. The music selection was also really good for this moment. The only weak part of the episode is Green Lantern taking his judgment so passively. I understand that he was feeling guilty, but he definitely should have looked into the situation more. Especially considering that you cannot atone for your mistakes if you are dead. I just disagreed with Green Lantern’s whole rationale here, but he got the job done once his innocence was proven and took the Manhunter leader down.
Another all star episode, and one of the greatest episodes in any show period, is the Amazo saga. Amazo is a being who can copy powers and abilities. They can be physical equipment, mystical abilities, or even biological ones. Amazo doesn’t seem to have any limits and he can mix and match different powers during combat. The only downside is that he gets the weaknesses as well but since most of the heroes have no weaknesses, it is definitely a worthy cost for such power. This is one of the rare episodes where you get to see the entire cast fight at once and Amazo makes for a very good villain. Superman provides us with the highlight moment once again as he actually appears to have the upper hand during hos fight with Amazo even though the latter should technically be more powerful at the moment. It just goes to show that Superman’s battle experience and tactics should not be underestimated. Batman meant well, but he probably should not have interfered this time or maybe he could have waited a little longer to make his move. He can’t take much of the blame though because the other League members should have been ready to nab Amazo once he was weakened. I think the League could have used more teamwork to take Amazo and Luthor down, but overall it was still a great effort and an epic saga.
Amazo would later return for another great episode in Unlimited. Unfortunately, this one was only a single part so it didn’t have quite as much time for the adventure. The episode did its best to cram in as much action and intensity as it could despite this limitation. Amazo has now become a super being with unlimited power and he wants to destroy Lex Luthor. The expanded Justice League assembles all of its forces to fight him, but their combined might doesn’t really have much of an effect. I definitely think that Amazo’s power was a little exaggerated here. He was portrayed as being completely and utterly invincible, which is a bit of a stretch. Sure, they did injure Amazo once or twice, but thanks to the fact that he can heal and can move whole planets with his mind, it isn’t much of a consolation in the end. It definitely would have been nice to have seen a proper fight between Superman and Amazo here. Amazo typically just beat everyone with a single energy burst which makes sense because there was only one episode to cover such a big plot, but it still would have been really cool to see this gold Amazo fight.
Another rock solid episode is the return of Mongul over in JL Unlimited. That episode is easily one of the all time best and it certainly has one of the best music selections out of all the episodes. The constant rock music really amps the episode up to the next level and the fight between Superman and Mongul is intense. Wonder Woman’s fight with Mongul is also pretty great even if it is very one sided. I could care less about the future fantasies everyone was having. They were all right, but at that point I just wanted to see more of the fight. It’s true that this episode makes no sense in continuity since Mongul was fairly weak in the original series, but it is an adaption first and foremost. Making Mongul this strong is a good move since he is always a big threat in the comics. Also, having an episode with just the main 3 League members was certainly a treat. The banter and intensity can’t be matched by the side member.
Next on our list of really good episodes is the debut of Shazam. It starts off with a fun mini fight as Shazam beats Superman to the rescue. The latter begins to feel jealous the whole time and makes things hard for Shazam. This escalates when Superman finds out that Lex has planted a bomb under the new city that he built. Lex even invited a lot of kids to this to make it even more stressful for Superman, but Lex denies this. Shazam chooses to believe Lex and that begins the big fight between Superman and Shazam. It’s definitely one of the better fights in the series as they both possess powers that are a blast to watch in combat. Superman is always my pick to win despite Shazam’s strength being magic based. Superman is simply more powerful. Still, Shazam does land a lot of good shots in and there is even a nice homage to the famous punch between Superman and Doomsday. Naturally, Superman wins this exchange. Superman was a bit extreme with how rude he was to Shazam in this episode though. That is probably the only negative that I would have with this episode. I do think Shazam should have shown up another time as the series went on. He may not be a member, but he is still a hero so I’d expect to see him during the alien invasions.
One fun episode involved Flash Appreciation Day as the Speedster got a whole museum in his honor. It is nice to see a hero being appreciated since a great number of them are treated like crooks and vigilantes. This episode may not have been incredibly action packed or plot heavy, but it was a fun episode that was handled well. The pacing was very quick and the writing was solid. Batman should definitely have put up a better fight against the Rogues, but I guess I can always just try to say that he would have won if he didn’t have to save the Flash. Flash also got another good episode a few seasons earlier when the Justice League went up against Eclipso. The JL was quickly taken out of action as they got mind controlled by an alien rock. Batman wasn’t around of course since that may have made things too difficult for the Flash. Be that as it may, Flash did a stunning job of taking on the League long enough for him to find a cure. The episode had some fun commercials and most shows don’t really deal with the PR angle enough. It is definitely something that the League has to deal with in order to keep their great reputation. Flash may have been outsmarted by the media in this episode, but he was still wise enough not to volunteer for the final commercial.
Green Lantern had a solid story where he went to an alien planet to rescue his mentor. Her squad had been attacked by a group of priests with white energy blasts which could actually break through the energy constructs that Green Lanterns could make. The opening fight scene is definitely very epic and starts the episode off on a solid note. The rest of the episode isn’t quite as interesting since Green Lantern has to relearn how to use his powers and the villains suddenly get a lot weaker. They had to nerf them since the strong members like Superman and Wonder Woman weren’t around, but it would have been the perfect time to just have a bunch of Green Lanterns show up. Still a good episode in the end, but one that had a pretty weak conclusion. Despero is a real fighter in the comics, it would have been cool to have seen that here.
Justice League had its fair share of aliens attacking the planet and one of the deadliest threats was the arrival of the Dark Heart. It was a self replicating machine that can eat anything and use the material to duplicate itself. This even worked on all kinds of energy so projectiles and physical blows would only make it stronger. This was the first time we got to basically see the entire Justice League Unlimited get in on the action. Towards the end even the stronger members like Wonder Woman were starting to weaken. It’s safe to say that Superman and Supergirl are the only ones who would probably be totally safe thanks to their durability. The Dark Heart was definitely impressive and its mechanical monsters made for good minions. This episode is definitely a classic and it even got to squeeze in the government acting shady at the end.
Aresia’s debut made for another fun story. Unfortunately she never got to appear again. She made for a fun good villain so that was too bad. She wanted to rid the world of men and gathered up a group of villains so she could accomplish this task. Defeating Superman is probably her best feat. It was cool to see a Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl team up. Unfortunately, Wonder Woman was nerfed as a result and I’d say that her mom was as well. Surely she should be able to fight off a human with a sword right? She is supposed to have super strength and must have been an incredible warrior to have become the queen. I’m not sure where it all went wrong for her. The episode also started out very strongly with Batman showing up to deal with Aresia’s group. He was super close to winning even though he was heavily outgunned. His fans would definitely be pleased.
While it didn’t have much of a plot, we can’t forget the Christmas special. It was a fun little episode where we got to see the team just hang out and enjoy a peaceful day for once. Flash definitely got the best plot as he had to try and find the perfect present for the kids. Ultra Humanite was even a decently likable villain here. This was the only Justice League episode that wasn’t a one hour special so it felt like a nice little bonus to the rest of the show. It’s always good to see a Christmas special and naturally one with Superheroes would be a lot of fun.
Back to the intense action episodes. Metamorpho was a really fun episode and that’s mainly because it was another episode where the whole team could fight. Having a 1 vs 7 (Usually more like 1 vs 5 since one or two members will be missing) fight is just a lot of fun. Granted, there is definitely some plot hax to be found here since Superman should be enough to deal with Metamorpho. Sure, Kryptonite gas is scary, but Superman should be able to keep on fighting a little better. It was especially sad for Green Lantern during that match. Metamorpho may have been a little overpowered, but it just continued to show why he is such a good opponent to have. As a character he wasn’t great though as he was fairly gullible, but more on that later. Even the giant monster fight was actually cool because it had a real cool theme as Superman flew towards it. He got wrecked of course, but I liked Superman’s confidence. No matter how many times he loses, Superman tackles the villain without hesitation.
An interesting episode was Task force X. It involves a lot of plot hax and instances where you will wonder how this can possibly be aiming to be realistic, but I suppose the episode did its best considering that having a team of humans infiltrate the Justice League would never really work. Superman and Batman weren’t around so that does add a little credibility. Throwing either one of those two into the mix would have not been wise. The Task Force definitely weren’t all that likable, but they were all right as the antagonists. I am glad that the government got to throw their weight around for once and this is probably the best depiction of the Suicide Squad in all of animation.
Wild Card was an interesting way to end Justice League. It didn’t have the same weight that an average finale would have, but it was a great episode regardless. We got to see the Joker show up and as he rarely gets to face off against the whole League, it was pretty interesting. His Royal Flush gang probably looked a little tougher than they should have as the League should destroy them in a fight, but the League did take the win in the end so that’s what counts. It was also one of the only times where we got to see a reality warper get in on the action so that was definitely interesting as well. She is a little overpowered and Superman should be able to resist this, but she was a good villain. The romance in the episode wasn’t handled all that well, but it very rarely is. It’s the only weak point of the episode and the adventure is pretty epic otherwise.
A fun episode which didn’t have a lot of stakes or importance in the plot was the Legion of Superheroes episode. Every series has an episode or two that has nothing to do with anything, but still ends up providing us with an great epic. After all, a solid self contained story can still have a lot of depth and excitement. Seeing the Fatal Five take on members of the Justice League is not something that you would expect. There was a lot of action here and the episode was great from start to finish. While it is one of the stronger episodes, I did have some power level complaints here. Is the show really trying to say that the Emerald Eye is stronger than the Power Ring? I definitely have a tough time buying that. While fewer people will agree with this, I do think that Supergirl could probably take out the whole Legion of Superheroes on her own. Mon-El and Ultra Boy would prove to be the toughest opponents, but I am confident that she would prevail. It would have been cool to have seen Superman break into the future and help out, but I suppose it would all be too easy if he did that all the time.
The Vandal Savage three part event was one of my least favorite episodes when I first saw it. It was a big deal because my cousin came over to watch this live with me and the rest of the family, but I wasn’t impressed. It was a swarm of plot hax all converging on the same spot. Random robots were handling the League and they had a tough time back in World War 2. The episode had aged decently and I like it more than I did the first time, but the concept is still better than the execution. Vandal Savage also just isn’t a very good villain. He is immortal, but beyond that I have a tough time seeing him as an actual threat.
He would end up returning in the Death of Superman episode where he apparently destroyed the Justice League. I don’t buy that. Even if he is immortal, there are many ways to beat Savage. The team may be a lot weaker without Superman, but they are still tough. I think the show was low balling them this time. Still, it was fun seeing a destructive future where WWIII occurred. It’s too bad that Superman’s powers were on the fritz though. I suppose it would have all been too easy otherwise. The present subplot with Lobo was definitely fun though. It had been a while since we got to see him in animation. Batman arriving on the scene without prep time against the villains was a little cheesy, but if there is any character who can save Batman fair and square, it is Superman.
A good one shot episode was the one with the underground arena where Huntress investigates why Black Canary has grown weaker. It turns out that JL members have been kidnapped and forced to fight in brutal battles. Ignoring how bad this makes the League look for not noticing this, it makes for a fun episode. Who doesn’t want to see a lot of good hand to hand fights? I am also glad that Wonder Woman was completely defeating the other members. Let’s face it, numbers alone isn’t enough to overwhelm this amazon. The soundtrack was really good in this episode and matched up well with the quick fight scenes. It was definitely a lot more fun than the first underground episode with Wildcat. That one needed more cool fight scenes like this one.
The Felix Faust saga is one that I have seen many times. It is a fun two part event because we get some fights that you wouldn’t typically expect to see. Hades vs Superman? That is definitely a winner right there. We also got a brief fight between Superman and Wonder Woman. Naturally, I do have to point out that there was a lot of plot hax here. I don’t care how magic based Hades is, he can’t take down someone as strong as Superman. He even beat the Flash. I don’t remember how GL lost, but I am pretty sure that he was in the fight. As always, it was great seeing just about the whole League getting in on the fight. If you ignore the power levels, then you can just enjoy the great visuals and hype. Imagine that Hades is a whole new character or something who was made to be Darkseid level. This saga also got a sequel where Felix Faust returned to get his revenge on Hades. One of the reasons I liked that episode is because the first time the Destroyer armor appeared, it could not be stopped. This time, the heroes got to actually destroy it, which is a lot more satisfying. WW and Hawkgirl were the only JL members on deck this time, but they were enough.
Now we are getting near the end so let’s look at some of the best episodes in the series. A really solid two part episode was the battle between Darkseid and Brainiac. The former asks the Justice League for help, but as you would imagine, it’s a trap. Superman did see it coming though so I’ll give him props for that. The only part that brings this episode down a little is the subplot with the New Gods. They’re all very unlikable characters who are overhyped to oblivion and are ultimately pointless. Still, the main plot is good enough to overshadow this as Superman finally gets a big rematch with Darkseid. Darkseid is one of those guys who really gets on Superman’s nerves and you can tell as Superman is a whole lot more aggressive in this episode than he usually is. He was really raring to go.
Time for what is still the best two part episode in the series, the Justice Lords! It features another universe where Superman crosses the line and takes a life. This causes the League to become crueler as they go about getting Justice through any means necessary. They don’t start murdering everyone or rule the world out of the blue, but they begin to take away freedom of speech. It is handled very realistically. If Superman did ever lose sight of the heroic path, this would be a reasonable direction to go in. He believes that he is doing it for the greater good even if the civilians may not like it. Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, and Wonder Woman would likely get on board right away because they are used to a system like this. Flash wouldn’t go for it, but that wasn’t really an issue since he was dead. Martian Manhunter would roll with it, but it is hard to see Batman rolling with this. The show did do a good job of making it feasible though. The Justice Lords aren’t going around murdering people or anything like that. They’re just acting as dictators now for the greater good. It’s not the right approach, but at least you can understand their reasoning.
We even get to see how they fight as a team when the Justice Lords take on Doomsday. It would have been cool to have seen Doomsday take on the League, but this was a fight that nobody saw coming and was just as satisfying. It really helped start the saga off on a good note. Naturally, things got even better as both teams fought each other. The only missed opportunity was not having both Supermen fight each other. That would have been a blast. Crisis on Two Earth’s, the movie also skipped this fight so I’m not sure what the deal is here. Still, seeing Flash take on Superman was cool as well. The Justice Lords never got to really return (Androids don’t count) but they had a nice impact. It just goes to show how one moment can completely change an entire planet. You always have to stay vigilant.
Continuing the Doomsday plot was an episode in Unlimited. I didn’t really buy the recon origin for Doomsday, but I’ll take it I guess. It felt unnecessary but seeing him get to fight the real Superman was definitely a blast. Superman definitely should have put up a better fight, but we can attribute that to the fact that he was fighting while inside a volcano and couldn’t go all out. Doomsday is a tough villain as well so the fight shouldn’t be one sided anyway. The Batman subplot was also engaging as he does what he always can beyond the shadows. While Superman was dealing with the obvious threat, Batman still saved just as many lives on his own. It was a solid episode and certainly one that holds up well as part of a bigger saga, but also as a stand alone. It also had a great soundtrack and if you’ve noticed, that typically happens. Great episodes have great themes to accompany them.
The Deadman episode was definitely a lot of fun. It took place during the Legion of Doom arc. He is a ghost because of a mistake Deadman made a long time ago and he needs to balance the scales to move on. The problem is that he never gets any closer to this goal. His temple is attacked one day and so he is forced to ask the Justice League for help. There is no time for backup so it is just the main 3. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. That’s part of why the episode is a blast since it is the three of them against the whole villain army. Needless to say, they clean shop. The villain group is actually pretty powerful since they have heavy hitters like Bizarro, but that just speaks to how strong the Justice League is. The episode is basically one large action scene and does a good job of ending Gorilla Grodd’s plot. It also reminds you of the difference between heroes and vigilantes. Deadman makes a call but it isn’t the right one. I don’t think he should be able to control Superman, but it’s not that big a deal. The music is great as expected and the episode has the thematic atmosphere that always elevates the episode to the next level.
Another personal favorite of mine is the epic Back to the future two part event which sees the return of Batman Beyond and a lot of other characters from that series. It is like the crossover that we had been waiting for. The first episode takes place in the past so it isn’t nearly as good. The guest stars aren’t very interesting and the villains are weak. The second episode is just so awesome that it makes up for this. Seriously, having the really cool futuristic music of Batman Beyond back once again is definitely very cool and even seeing the villains again was nostalgic. It does remind you that maturity isn’t always a good thing though. The old Terry would have jumped into the fray with Wonder Woman and the other JL members right from the start while this one decides to retreat. First of all, there is no way that the JL should be losing to these Batman Beyond villains. Superman isn’t there, but Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Batman can take these guys on. The fights definitely had a Lot of plot hax to try and make the villains look tough. I didn’t buy it for a minute, but it did make for some good fight scenes. Also, the Hal Jordan cameo was definitely really cool. Little tributes like that are always fun to see. It was definitely an epic way to end the season.
It’s time for another really epic finale, the return of Brainiac. It wrapped up the excellent Cadmus arc on a really high note. I also would have loved seeing the new Amazo body, but this is just as good. Brainiac’s fused form has a great DBZish design and he is certainly one of the toughest foes that the League has dealt with. I also really enjoyed the brief Justice Lords cameo. The music was really good and they made excellent use of the mindgames. I do like that the Flash was immune as he shouldn’t have any doubts that can be used against him. That’s pretty much Flash’s whole deal. Batman and Wonder Woman also didn’t seem flustered. In the end, Flash pays a pivotal role in stopping the threat and I’ve always considered him to be one of the secret heavy hitters. When the writers aren’t having him trip on everything and get knocked out by nonsensical plot lines, Flash can hold his own with the best of them. The thing is, you can say the same for most of the JL members, which is what makes the team so special. Flash fans had definitely earned this after seeing their favorite character downplayed for so long.
We can’t forget Lex Luthor’s original criminal group from the first part of the show either. He made his own mini Legion of Doom involving Ultra Humanite, Shade, Star Sapphire, and a few other members. Team vs Team fights are always a lot of fun and while the Justice League should have the huge edge over this team, the villains use a lot of teamwork to make it close. Throwing in the Joker also added an extra dynamic. He held his own pretty well considering the fact that he doesn’t have any powers. It was just a fun two part event. There weren’t any world shattering stakes or big guest stars, but it was a solid action two part event which showed that Batman still considers himself to be a loner at heart. For the record, I don’t disagree with his call. He’s the most experienced member and breaking into a villain base on his own seems reasonable.
Another good episode involved yet another team battle. Dr. Fate had gathered his own team to stop a supernatural menace. The problem is that he intends to sacrifice Solomon Grundy in order to do it. Superman decides that this is inhumane and while Grundy has given his consent, it’s hard to say whether he really understands the stakes or not. So, the Justice League decide to do battle with Fate’s Defenders. This episode involved a heavy amount of plot hax to make Dr. Fate’s team stay in the game. There’s no possible way that Aquaman can beat Wonder Woman. The only incarnation of his that has any shot is the New 52 version and that still doesn’t work because it’s also Wonder Woman’s strongest depiction and she’s still ahead of him. I think Fate should have beaten Hawkgirl, but having a magic disrupting weapon does make things tricky. Superman’s fight with Aquaman is the best part of the episode. Yeah, this was definitely an awesome two parter and it’s one of the episodes that I’ve seen the least so it’s always cool to revisit it.
Finally, we’ve got the final two parter with the return of Darkseid. The first part is exclusively used for a big villain team against team battle as half of the Legion of Doom sides with Luthor and the other half go with Grodd. There’s a lot happening in the episode so you have to keep your eyes peeled if you want to catch all of the background fights. The main bout with Grodd and Luthor is also handled really well and was epic despite both characters not usually being combatants. It all goes back to how great the show is. The second part is mainly Darkseid’s fight with Superman and Batman while also showing all of the other heroes handling the minions. This definitely should have been a three parter to fit it all in as it is very rushed, but the fight is still satisfying. Whenever Superman and Darkseid are on screen, you know that cool things are about to happen. One slight issue I have is the fact that Superman loses in the end. He really deserved this win after all of these years.
That’s it for individual episodes, but I’d like to quickly give a shout out to the overall Cadmus arc. It was a superb addition to the show and is part of why Unlimited was so good. The first part of the show always stuck to self contained episodes while the Cadmus arc connected a whole season of Unlimited. Amanda Waller’s group were portrayed well. They were outgunned, but there is a lot that you can do with science. The verbal debates between her and Batman were always good to see and the arc always asked the tough questions. It has the honor of being one of the only pieces of media to properly portray a more complex/darker Superman. He was forced to look at the gray lines and betrayal from his friends. Superman never snapped and took a life though, but he would get visibly irritated and temperamental. It doesn’t always make him look good, but it does show how he is still only human. Bending the rules to save Question was a morally iffy move, but one that I felt was completely in the right and I was glad he made the call. Whether you can prove that Cadmus is evil or not, it doesn’t change the fact that they kidnapped and tortured one of the League members. I’d have been very disappointed if Superman had not broken in ASAP. There was definitely no time to call in the League and no real need anyway. Superman can handle whatever they throw at him. Galatea, The Ultra Men, the Captain Atom battle, Luthor’s Presidential Subplot, there were a lot of awesome plots within the arc. To really understand just how great it was, you’ve got to watch it. There’s a reason why many consider this to be the high point of the franchise, it was just very awesome to watch and you’d be at the edge of your seat the whole time. I think Cadmus got off a little too leniently, but the fact that they are currently disbanded is a start.
We may as well start off strong with Superman in the characters section. He is easily the best character in the series and it isn’t even close. His character is portrayed to perfection and beyond in this series. While Superman does take a beating throughout, you have to remember that he is constantly holding back so that he doesn’t injure someone. He only really goes all out a few times and even then he goes to great lengths to ensure that he does not destroy the villain that he is facing. Superman is the ultimate hero and the Unlimited Cadmus arc did a good job of also showing that he can get angry as well. Storming into the Cadmus facility and rescuing Captain Atom may not have been playing by the rules exactly, but it was certainly the right thing to do. Even if Atom was a total traitor there. It is certainly hard to forget that and it will hurt the character in his right up. Superman has always been meant to be the ultimate symbol of heroism and justice. He does a great job of upholding this role and is portrayed as an intelligent guy in addition to being the world’s strongest fighter.
Next up is Batman, another highlight of the show. The DCAU is really how I became a Batman fan. His character is definitely a lot tougher to get right than Superman’s. That is because Batman can be more of a vigilante at times and some authors like to make him cross too many lines or show off his Bruce Wayne alter ego a little too excessively. In Justice League, these problems are nowhere to be found. First of all, Batman is portrayed as being very heroic in Justice League. He even gets along with the cops a lot more than he usually would. His voice is very iconic and helped make his scenes even cooler. He ended up saving the League several times and he started this tradition in the very first multi part story. Batman is basically perfect here and he is right under Superman. It is no wonder that both of these characters are my top 2 comic book characters of all time.
Wonder Woman is next on the list and she is very good. You are going to quickly notice that a great number of characters are pretty likable in this show. With the writing so on point, it is to be expected. Wonder Woman is always eager for a fight and that is really why she is such a great character. Once again, I have to point out For The Man Who Has Everything as a great example of this. Wonder Woman is eager to fight Mongul right from the start and doesn’t give up even when she is completely outmatched. The two part time travel adventure in Unlimited is another good example of why she is so likable as Wonder Woman declares that Justice League members never retreat even when the other characters were losing their nerve. WW is a warrior so she is made of sterner stuff. While the gap in power between her and Superman is rather large in this show, she is still quite formidable.
The Green Lantern in this show is John Stewart as opposed to Hal Jordan. Hal is still my favorite GL, but John is handled well here. One thing that I typically don’t like about army characters is that they tend to follow the rules a little too closely, even if it means letting a teammate get a bad deal. It is why I typically like the rebels like Batman…or Hal Jordan. Luckily, the army angle isn’t played up too much. If anything, that is Green Arrow’s role this time. John is maybe a little too quick to doubt himself at times like his terrible appearance in the Manhunter two parter, but just about every character is entitled to having a bad day or two in a series that is this long. He has plenty of good scenes to counter all of the bad ones like when he was able to get up and fight on in the Legion of Superheroes episode after getting blindsided. He also put in a great effort during the Starcrossed invasion. I also do appreciate the fact that he doesn’t have to keep his secret identity a secret. He just transforms whenever he wants too and that lets him act a lot quicker than some of the other heroes. As with Superman, his power is low balled quite a lot to make the villains look good since he should be able to take most of them down without a sweat. The Justice League is just too strong though so it is to be expected. Guys like Green Lantern, Flash, Wonder Woman, and Superman can take whole superhero teams down on their own. With all 7 united, there are very few foes who can last against them.
Next up is the Flash. This isn’t Barry though as the show opted to use Wally West. This means that his personality is closer to Spiderman’s than Superman. Wally can be fun to have around as he always keeps the atmosphere light. He can flirt a bit too much at times, but for the most part he is actually funny instead of just being super annoying the whole time. He does have a tendency to trip quite a lot, but that just goes back to the plot hax issue. There aren’t many villains who can legitimately land a hit on Flash so unless the writers can be really creative, they end up having to wave the flag of defeat by low balling Flash. One episode that did a good job of giving Flash a real challenge without a lot of plot hax was the Flash museum episode. Mirror Master’s abilities make him a decent match for the Flash and once the hero is stuck on a boomerang, there is only so much that he can do. So far, all of the characters that I have mentioned are likable and can hold their own episode with ease. That is about to change as I do not like the final two members.
Next up is Hawkgirl. She is the perfect example of a character who talks a great game, but can’t really back it up. She has some slight super strength as her stats are similar to that of a super soldier. Hawkgirl’s mace is a great weapon to have around as well. Unfortunately, we all remember how her character went down the tubes in Starcrossed. Granted that it was the movie so whether or not it should be counted in this review is up for debate. It colors all of her actions in a new light and I’d say that it is all right to count it here. Hawkgirl’s drama in Unlimited was also not very interesting and I missed the mask. A positive trait that she has is her eagerness to fight, but this time it was simply not enough to turn her into a likable character. I’m still surprised that she was chosen as one of the original 7. There were definitely other characters who could have worked better. At least Justice League’s writing is still top of the line so Hawkgirl is never terrible aside from Starcrossed. Put her in another show and she would probably outshine most of the characters, but we can’t just ignore Starcrossed. Thanks to that, she is definitely a very bad character.
Finally we have the Martian Manhunter. Theoretically he should be one of the strongest members since he has a great array of useful abilities. Well, I don’t think that the show agreed. He gets some super strength and still has his intangibility and everything, but despite all of this he never looks that good. He spends most of the time getting wrecked by everyone and panics quite a lot. When he tries to scan for Lex Luthor in the Amazo two part adventure, Manhunter is so distressed that he has to fly away and reconnect to himself. He also quite the team for a little while towards the ens of Unlimited and becomes a complete by the books fellow, which hurts him quite a lot. If you’ve read my reviews in the past, you will probably know that I think comrades should always come before the rules. Considering that a teammate was kidnapped by Cadmus, he should have been quick to approve the plan. He is not someone that you can count on in a pinch so there was no way that I was going to like him.
Aside from the main 7, I’d say that Lex Luthor deserves the first mention. He is portrayed very well in Justice League and is often the one who brings a lot of villains together. While he often acted on his own in the Superman show it would appear that he finally saw the value in having underlings work for him. He is easily the most likable villain in the series. His super powered Brainiac form was definitely quite the sight as well. It was a solid power up.
Justice League had a good track record with the more strategic villains. They don’t all have to be powerhouses although those tend to be quite good as well. Amanda Waller is another good example of a solid villain. She may not have been quite as charismatic as Lex, but she still did a pretty good job through and through. Cadmus needed to have a good leader to make them credible and she was really suited for the role. Her banter with Batman was always a lot of fun and she certainly did not lack in confidence.
Mongul is the polar opposite of Waller as he is all about physical combat. I didn’t care for him much in War World as he was portrayed as more of a pretender to power who needed blackmail to win. In Unlimited, they powered him up quite a bit which I thought was a really good idea. He should be able to give Superman a really good fight. I mean…isn’t that the point of a good Superman villain? He has tough competition to compete with there though since Darkseid, Doomsday, and Brainiac are all around as well. Brainiac was a mix of strategic and powerful. Needless to say he is also a great Superman villain. He didn’t get a whole lot to do in the series as his appearances were limited, but he made a big impact whenever he would show up. The two part fusion with Lex was definitely a big moment.
Doomsday is easily the best of the power villains. His first appearance really sold him to be as he had a very Vegeta sequel character to him. He wanted a challenge and was disappointed after wrecking the JL. In Unlimited, he kept his confidence and lived up to the hype. Honestly, I’d say that he was even stronger than Mongul and Darkseid in this continuity but I’d say that you could make a real case for any of the three. They were all very close in power.
Darkseid got the series finale to himself so he definitely had a big role. His final power up was a lot of fun to have and he was always a very cunning villain. Just look at how he baited Superman into doing one last Dash attack with a few well placed words. That’s part of what makes him such a good villain, he is anything but one dimensional. His voice actor did a good job with him and the episodes really gave him the status and recognition that is due. Darkseid is a planetary threat and he leads an incredible army. There are few foes who are this dangerous.
One kind of villain that is usually fun is when a hero gets a dark counterpart. This is a trope across all of media and Justice League was glad to throw a few in as well. Aresia is essentially Wonder Woman if the hero ever went too far. They have a brief fight and are fairly evenly matched. Aresia is an interesting villain who was a little underused, but still managed to be interesting. Galatea is basically evil Supergirl and she got a sizable role. She was one of the stronger villains in the show since she is Supergirl, but physically a little stronger. I’d argue that it’s debatable though as clones are rarely as strong as the original. Galatea’s Ulta (Ultra? Something like that) Men were less impressive, but they were mainly around as a distraction anyway.
Green Arrow is one of those characters that I didn’t remember being awful until I re watched the show for the 10th time. He’s definitely worse than I could have ever imagined. He only joins the team because he hopes to get a date and then he does his best to sabotage the team at every angle. He is supposed to represent the average joe who may find the team scary. Maybe this is good in theory, but certainly not in practice. We don’t need him egging on the civilians after the League was hijacked and nearly destroyed a lot of people. Even when he is “defending” the league, he makes sure to do it in a bad way so that they all look bad. After the Question is kidnapped and the team finds out that Cadmus is responsible, Arrow is against attacking them. (Martian Manhunter agreed…) Arrow just stands for the worst of the League and I was waiting for everyone to boot him out. When the going gets tough, Arrow gets going and that’s not the kind of guy that you want on your team.
Black Canary is a far better character. She is always ready to fight and doesn’t mind breaking the rules when necessary. Her rivalry with Huntress always made for a cool dynamic even if the fights were a little one sided. I still say that Huntress should have the edge in a pure hand to hand fight, but it is what it is. Huntress was even better than Black Canary. She became a mercenary and was booted off of the League. Once she became a loner, Huntress was able to help out a lot more from the shadows. Without her, the Question definitely would have been forgotten. She acts like Batman to an extent as she is certainly a vigilante through and through.
The Question and Captain Atom are two characters who are sort of good at first and then fall down the ladder. Atom’s decent is in a league of its own though. He betrays the whole League and allows the Question to be tortured while he just waits in another room. He did it for the Army, but that just shows that he has no moral compass. There was no way he was going to recover from that and he ended up being one of the worst League members. The Question also cracked as he went off to go destroy Luthor. That was never going to work, but at least I can understand his reasoning. It’s the wrong move, but it was logically sound so it wouldn’t make the character drop all that drastically at all.
Amazo is one of those figures who isn’t a good character, but makes for a good villain. I like having him as an opponent for the League because he’s super strong and his adaptive abilities are really fun. His personality just isn’t that interesting though as he goes from being super naive to super emotional. He also looks embarrassingly bad in his final ever appearance. That was definitely a nice moment of plot hax and Unlimited went a little too far with how powerful they made him. Still, he gave us some of the best episodes in the series. His first two part fight with the League was definitely awesome and his gold mode felt like something out of an anime with how powerful he was. I definitely wish he had gotten to appear more.
Solomon Grundy’s another good villain to have around. He got a really good power up in Unlimited that allowed him to finally have a really good fight with Superman. They’ve had good matches in the past I suppose, but it was always obvious that Superman would wreck him by the end. This new form changed all of that. The show handled the ending pretty badly though. Certainly not the way that the climax to such a fun episode should have went down. Grundy’s not very smart and the show tries to portray him as a nice guy sometimes, but I don’t really buy it. He’s not too bad though.
Gorilla Grodd is one of those villains that I never really cared for. He’s a classic “Talks tough, but can’t back it up” character. Thanks to the fact that this show is amazing, he’s not all that bad. Grodd will never be my kind of villain, but at least you can actually take him seriously here. His ultimate plan was pretty terrible and I’m glad that Luthor called him out on it. Grodd’s overconfidence was ultimately his downfall, but he made for a good sub villain.
Back to League members, Supergirl was certainly a great character. She got a lot of character development during the show as she went from being a pure hot head to an experienced fighter who was still eager for a challenge. Unlike a lot of the petty characters throughout media who don’t like to be in someone’s shadow, Supergirl embraced the fact that people would think of Superman when they saw her. She was proud to be related to him and continued to excel. It was a shame that we couldn’t see her in the final two episodes, but she had a great role in the series. She was one of the strongest fighters and she was the first one to charge in against Amazo once he made it to Earth. The League shall definitely miss her.
Aquaman’s one of those League members who gets a little too close to politics. I think he’d choose that over his ties with the League which is why I wouldn’t trust him much. This was before the New 52 days so he isn’t all that strong either. At least he’s fairly good at Chess right? Dr. Fate was the leader of the sub Justice League group and he was pretty annoying. He was always very cryptic and making the wrong choices. Sacrificing the few for the many…no wonder he never became a League member!
Felix Faust was a pretty weak villain who eventually became strong by grabbing a magical armor. It shows just how important a good artifact can be in a fight. I definitely didn’t like him as a villain, but at least he was tough in Unlimited. Hades is a villain who was definitely over hyped in Justice League. He actually takes down Superman and Flash, which is pure plot hax. His design is cool, but the character is not. It’s a bit of a trend for some of these villains, but if it makes for good fights then I’m game. There are certainly a bunch of other characters in the show so enjoy meeting them all once you start! Some characters are pretty cool like Star Sapphire and Mirror Master while others aren’t handled well like Hawkman and the Ult(r)a men.
You will not be surprised to hear that Justice League is a technical masterpiece. The animation doesn’t just hold up well against the newer shows, it destroys them. There has never been an American TV show with better animation and I’m starting to doubt that there ever will be. The character designs were all on point and that made the 3 fight scenes even better. Fights can only be so good when the character models are bad so having really good ones like the type found here can make quite the difference. Some episodes in particular also stand out for the great animation. One such example is the opening three part special. I dare say that it may have had the best animation in the series. It was also a rare example of a night time fight done right. The animation stays solid throughout the rest of the series and into Unlimited. It was simply way ahead of its time. There was never a moment where I looked at back at a full episode and didn’t find it to be brilliant.
We also can’t forget about the great soundtrack that the show had. It used a wide variety of themes over the course of the show. In particular, I’d say that Unlimited had the best themes. For The Man Who Has Everything’s music was extremely good. It had a lot of good rock music and really threw you into the episode. We also had a quick moment of Batman Beyond music. Another good tune was the one that played during the battle between Superman and Doomsday in Unlimited. Opera type themes like that can be quite epic. There are a lot of other great themes like that scattered around. As for the first theme song, its decent. I do appreciate it a little more than I used too, but it still isn’t great. Unlimited’s theme song is a big step up from the original as it sounds pretty inspiring. It is still rather low budget as far as the images are concerned, but the audio is good.
I think a perfect example of how great the show is on a technical level can be traced back to Luthor vs Grodd as I mentioned earlier. I don’t care for Grodd and I can’t usually take Luthor seriously in a fight. Despite this, the fight was actually very well done. This is due in part to the crisp animation during the fight. It was visually on point throughout. The music chosen was very fitting and illustrated just how important this fight was. The writing was good as proper trash talk can also really help a fight. Finally, the character development that both of them had already received had built up to this fight for a very long time. If a typically uninteresting fight like this one can be very good under this show’s direction, you can just imagine how awesome the other fights are. Superman vs Shazam, Captain Atom vs Superman, Superman vs Mongul, Darkseid vs Superman, Doomsday vs Superman, etc. It’s hard to describe just how awesome they are.
I really want to go off on a tangent about why I think the Justice League are so much better than the Avengers, but I do verbally attack the latter quite a lot lately. I’ll just briefly say that of the 7 members in the show, Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Superman could probably beat the Avengers on their own. Hawkgirl, Martian Manhunter, and Batman teaming up could also potentially pull this off although it would be very close. Ignoring the power levels though, the Justice League are just a lot more likable because they are loyal. The Avengers are constantly splitting up because the government plays them against each other or adds some new law in. The Justice League have never taken orders like that and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. In the latest Avengers Assemble episode, The Avengers allowed the Hulk to be given a thunder collar that would constantly zap him and while they halfheartedly talk about it, they simply allow it to happen. They let the government treat the Hulk like a slave or an animal. The Justice League would never allow one of their members to be treated like that. Nuff said.
Overall, This was definitely a long review. Typically I discuss the arcs more generally or just choose less episodes, but Justice League has always been a very special series so giving it a more thorough review was fun. It’s my 5th favorite show of all time and if we discount anime, then it’s number 1. There is no comic book show even remotely in the same league as Justice League and I dare say that nothing will ever reach its level. It is American perfection as far as I am concerned with animation. I could go back and talk about the positives as I wrap up, but you already know what I think of the show in great detail. So, instead of all that I’ll just recommend that you go watch the series if you haven’t already. I have a policy of only giving one perfect score per field on the blog so Yugioh GX already claimed the 10/10, but that’s the only thing stopping this show. It’s essentially perfect and it will show you why the Justice League is and always will be the greatest superhero team in fiction.
It’s finally time for another really old comic. This is from the good ole Silver Age…as you probably gathered from the title. This was a great age for comics and DC in particular as the Justice League had a superb roster and Superman was still nigh invincible. Of course, every villain and even the D listers had Kryptonite back in the day so it balanced out. It’s certainly a great comic collection and while it can get a little formulaic at times, it’s great to see these classic stories. It’s also interesting to see that Superman is the strong member as well as the smart one this time.
There are definitely a large variety of stories to be found here. They are all fairly formulaic so it is good that the writing is on point as it could get a little old otherwise. For example, one comic has a villain pit the Justice League against a group of other villains who were getting in his way. He sends them off in pairs to fight and each team goes up against a tricky situation where they end up coming out on top after each member is able to do something to help. There’s never a change to the formula with a character actually losing. It stays completely true to this and then in the end the team gets together and saves the day. It is very predictable, but it’s not something that actually ends up hurting the issue. I would enjoy seeing the issues stray from the format a little, but this works well enough.
Before talking about the issues a little more, lets talk about the art and the characters a little more. The art is consistent and all of the characters are in their iconic designs. This was definitely the classic era of DC and it’s cool to see all of the characters together. I can imagine that fans were incredibly hyped to see the team together. While this is volume one, the characters already know each other and the team is formed so I’m assuming that they came together in a different title. One comic has them all go into their secret identities which was also cool since they got to bring supporting characters along for the ride. The fight scenes all look solid and this art style will always be a lot of fun. It’s clear and easy to read.
Due to the writing being so sharp for this collection, all of the characters are fairly likable. Even someone like Martian Manhunter, who I am certainly not a fan of, is acceptable here. I still find him rather bland next to the other characters and his weakness against fire is so easily exploited, but he’s not super arrogant here and is a decent team member. Flash is solid as always and his speed is more consistent than the strengths of the other heroes. There are less excuses for villains to exploit it which really works in his favor. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Green Lantern since literally anything that is yellow ends up messing with him. It happens quite a lot and he is the only hero who had to watch from the sidelines during the climax of the final adventure. He even mentions how he is sad that he couldn’t help out, but the other heroes cheer him up.
Wonder Woman’s only real weakness is that she loses her powers when she is tied up, but that never actually happens here so she does fairly well. She may still not be as strong as Superman, but she’s certainly a heavy hitter on the team. Naturally, the big two really steal the show here. Superman is great as always even if he gets less screentime than the other members. He is always very confident and isn’t afraid to call the other team members out if something appears to be off. He seems quite upset when he returns from a wild goose chase until he learns that it was all part of the plan. Superman is also shown to be super smart as he always knows what is going on even when Batman is forced to ask questions.
Of course, Batman looks great as well. He may not have super powers, but his gadgets always come in handy and he is still shown to be one of the smart members. He always has something up his sleeve and the team wouldn’t be the same without him. Finally we have Aquaman. His weakness is the most exploitable so the issues always have very forced moments where the villains sprinkle him with water so the hero won’t die. After all, Aquaman must make contact with water once every hour or he will perish so for the issues where he is knocked out for a few hours…..things happen. In one issue, we find out that his chair has an automatic sprinkler which blasts Aquaman with water every hour so even if he is tied up for a while, he ends up being okay. The other heroes find water for him as well once in a while, but you’ll really expect him to die on a mission one of these days. There are so many situations where water just isn’t around for a little while. It’s hard to get past that. Luckily, I believe that a lot of the modern comics got rid of this weakness or at least lessened it.
There are also some rare guest stars here like Green Arrow and Adam Strange. It was nostalgic to see Strange return since I read a lot of his adventures back in the day. He handled the situation well even if the ending was rather tragic for him as per usual. You’ll feel bad for Green Arrow when he shows up since he gets framed quite a bit (Although he could have defended himself a little better) and the whole team is eager to jump on him. They don’t doubt that something may be off for a second and are pretty harsh with the guy. It’s easy to see why he is rarely on the team. I certainly wouldn’t be eager to join after this issue.
One of the stories has a guy hypnotize the Justice League. He did a pretty good job of it as he simply tricked all of the Leaguers into running right to where he was and they all fell instantly. He then sold the JL members to local gangsters so that the League could steal things for them. The gangsters then decided to compete with each other so they had pairs of League members (formula) head to each artifact, where they then got to fight with each other. I’m always up for some good JL fights, but unfortunately, they all essentially ended as ties. The heroes then realized that what they were going to steal was already gone, which is why they had no reason to battle. The only match that was almost definitive was probably Martian Manhunter vs Wonder Woman, where the former certainly had the edge before it was interrupted. It was a fun story although the Justice League certainly didn’t look great that time. They tend to greatly underestimate their foes.
Of course, this collection also has some very iconic stories like the Starro Invasion as well as that time where Despero infiltrated JL headquarters and telepathically defeated all of its members. Flash then had to play the ultimate chess game with his friends hanging in the balance. Flash wasn’t pleased, but he is a good Chess player so he was prepared for this. Another story had Snapper find out about an alien plot to take over the world so he phones the Justice League in. Unfortunately, they were defeated rather easily and lost their confidence and physical abilities after being distorted by a magical trick mirror. (Close enough) Good thing Aquaman was at the ready!
The only character here who could be a little annoying at times was Snapper. It’s cool to see him as a hero since he is typically just a TV reporter who likes to insult the heroes. It was quite the switch, but his “hip” dialogue could be a little over the top at times. He also uses his snapping gimmick too often and just about all of his screen time is used up on this. I believe that just about all of the other human sidekicks have been more fun, but at least Snapper always takes the subtle burns fairly well. Nothing that the JL tells him ever manages to get the kid down.
Overall, Most of the other stories are fairly similar to the ones that I listed above. The JL is constantly kidnapped and forced to go to various places or they decide to split up and gather artifacts. Whatever the narrative reason, the team uses this excuse to split into pairs and then solve the mission. Perhaps every issue was treated as a special team up and this formula made it easier for the writers to think of new ideas. One idea would become 5 whole plots after all. It could have been more unique, but having the world’s greatest heroes teaming up will never get old. I highly recommend checking out these Silver Age comics and remembering how it started DC on such a great path.
Justice League Starcrossed is a film that I’ve seen countless times in the past. It’s a classic that has withstood the test of time and still proves to be one of the best western films of all time. It makes sense as this film ended the Justice League (pre Unlimited) series and that was the greatest American cartoon of all time. It’s about time that I give this title a proper review.
Hawkgirl’s people arrive on Earth and let its inhabitants know that the Gordanians are planning to attack Earth so the Thanagarians (Hawkgirl’s people) will protect them. The Justice League agree to this, but Batman never trusts someone without having a plan in motion. He quickly figures out that this is all just a ruse, but is unable to help the Justice League escape. They are all kidnapped and upon breaking free they must figure out a way to retake their planet. The governments have been taken down and Earth is virtually defenseless. Not to mention that Hawkgirl is a traitor and can no longer be trusted. Things will have certainly changed when this is all over.
It’s a great plot and the film never breaks stride with its quick pacing. I’d also like to point out that the opening credits were very well done. It was essentially the main theme of the show and in the background you got to see a quick recap of the show for new viewers who could be tuning in. Of course, this is the Justice League so there’s no need for a very detailed recap. Everyone knows who the main characters are after all.
The film continues to start off well as the Justice League quickly try to stop the incoming alien threat before the negotiations begin. The first epic scene of the film is definitely when the Thanagarians betray the League so then the first fight occurs. Obviously, I’m going to call for a good amount of plot hax as the heroes should have easily crushed these aliens. I don’t care how much prep time they had, it wouldn’t be enough to take out this powerhouse group of heroes. Don’t even get me started on Wonder Woman losing while on the Watchtower!
That’s to be expected though so by and large I’ll let it slide. Having a depowered Superman for part of the film did help the drama angle since he couldn’t just fly in and wreck everyone. His fight against one of the Thanagarian soldiers was definitely solid. Once he was back to full power for the climax, I figured that the villains were definitely toast. Superman and the others really laid waste to the army with ease. If anything, Hro Talak is lucky that Superman had to go save Batman since he would have been crushed otherwise. At least against Green Lantern he was still able to stand in the end. Few can hope for much more than that after fighting the Man of Steel.
The Justice League had to go undercover for a little while so it was nice to see Clark Kent back in action. It’s times like these where having an established alter ego is so useful. Batman and Superman would pass the Thanagarian security checks. Green Lantern and Wonder Woman would have a tougher time if they don’t have some kind of ID. I feel like the Flash is the best off in this case though. With his speed, he can be in the next country the instant that someone spots him. The effects of the gravity wore off rather quickly after all. If anything, he could have ran everyone back to Batman’s place, but I suppose that this is more discreet.
As mentioned, Hawkgirl’s betrayal is one of the pivotal parts of the film. The League takes a vote on whether to allow her back in or not and my vote would certainly be on the nay side. Hawkgirl had a chance to be one of the Justice League heroes and blew it. Now she must deal with the consequences for that. It’s one thing to be confused and not take sides in the fight during the beginning (Which is still murky) but Hawkgirl’s been fighting alongside the League for a very long time. She knows that they are not villains and has no reason to doubt them. When the Thanagarians explain that the League is not being cooperative, Hawkgirl should have immediately helped the League. With or without her, they should have won the initial skirmish, but siding with the Thanagarians was the part that sealed the deal on Hawkgirl’s status as a traitor. That was when she crossed the line.
On a side note, I don’t like how she was able to find the Batcave. That’s a little too much hype. Sure, she’s a spy, but this is Batman that we’re talking about. You can’t find his base so easily. Hawkgirl may have tried to help in the end, but that’s what we call “Too little Too Late” It’s one of the main reasons why Hawkgirl is my least favorite member of the core Justice League.
Still way better than Green Gullible Arrow though. I was never able to root for her again after this.
I’d also like to note that I was thrilled by the fact that the Justice League was able to get free without Hawkgirl’s help. It would have been a little insulting if they had needed her to break free and instead it was Wonder Woman who was able to initiate the escape. It’s also in character since Wonder Woman is a warrior born and raised. The next best candidate would have been Batman and he’s always pulling off things like this so I’m fine with the switch. Notice that Wonder Woman freed Batman first. The scene where the Justice League broke out was one of the best parts of the film. It was a great fight scene and definitely the moment where the League began to get the upper hand.
Back to Wonder Woman, her role here was really good and she actually outshone most of the League. In one scene, the Thanagarians are picking on some humans and Wonder Woman decides to step in. Similar to the time travelling adventure in Unlimited where she broke someone out of jail. Being impulsive is always a good trait for a hero and you’ve always got a duty to protect people even when it’s tricky. Batman is usually willing to let the villains have their way for a little while before stepping in so that he can win in the end, but that’s not Wonder Woman’s plan of action. Of course, it helps when you have god-like abilities. She’s certainly the MVP here.
Of course, this is the Justice League. They all look really good in the film with the exception of Hawkgirl. Green Lantern may have been suckered, but he does a good job of getting past that and helping to save the world. I really don’t think that his Power Ring can be sliced in half like how it was in the film though. Power Rings don’t break, no matter what kind of magic disruptor hits them. It doesn’t even run on magic after all. Flash’s role is a little smaller than some of the others, but he’s a solid hero as always. When he actually lets loose with his speed, he’s able to take down a lot of the fighters at once.
Martian Manhunter actually looks a little bad as well when you consider that he never told anyone how Hawkgirl’s mind was impervious to telepathy. A little sketchy eh, but trusting in your comrades is not necessarily a bad thing. He also went all out against the general and nearly broke him as he figured out how to use the controls. Running straight into a laser was a little iffy and he didn’t do as well as the other League members, but he did fine. Batman is Batman. As always he came up with the plan of action and even provided the safe hideaway for the heroes. Without Batman, the heroes would not have known about the Thanagarian’s true purpose for a little longer. (Again, it makes Hawkgirl look uncharacteristically naive not to realize what was happening though. I just can’t buy the explanation that she thought she was in the right)
Superman was sadly taken out of the first fight right away, but he bounced back and showed the Thanagarians why they call him Superman. He could have probably taken out the whole army on his own if necessary. This is still the greatest portrayal of Superman and seeing him in the DCAU universe is always great. Of course, his big character arc would soon start in Unlimited so the character won’t be going anywhere. Hro Talak’s a fine main villain I suppose. I like the character design although I naturally think that he could have been cooler without the romance with Hawkgirl. The film had quite a bit of romance with Hro Talak, John Stewart, and Hawkgirl, but luckily it didn’t take up too much of the film. It was also mostly the drama part of the romance that was in the film as well since tensions split them all the whole time. That’s the best way to handle romance so I’ll give the film some props for that.
Finally, I’ve got to give the government props for trying to fight back. They didn’t look so good and it would have been cool for them to have done some major damage, but they didn’t hesitate and went to back up the Justice League once and for all. It makes you wonder how things changed so much for the Cadmus days. For all we know, it had already started though. Whether the government trusts the Justice League or not, they were the best chance during the Thanagarian Invsion so it makes sense that they would team up. Still, I’ve always liked how the government aides the Justice League and it’s definitely the ideal situation. When an alien invasion comes knocking, then you have the government along with the Justice League. Again, I feel like the government should have been able to put up more of a fight since they’ve been shown to have some really high tech armaments in the past. It’s a mild complaint though and the general did his country proud.
This won’t come as a surprise, but the soundtrack is very good for this film. I believe that it’s the first time that the big opera theme comes into play. It happens in this film during the final fight with Green Lantern and the leader of the Thanagarians and it also played in Justice League Unlimited when Doomsday was kicking Superman’s can. Seeing the main theme is also good and the theme that plays when the Justice League are evading the authorities is classic. I’ve seen this film so many times that I can basically play out any scene in my head and even remember the music. It’s the sign of a true classic.
Naturally, the animation is also quite good as well. Like the show, Starcrossed’s animation has really held up through the years and I still consider it to have some of the best animation in all of somics. It’s definitely hard to top and you can really feel the action scene. Each blow has weight behind it and that’s something that newer films have a hard time of matching at times. Apparently one scene has some recycled footage, but you definitely wouldn’t notice that while watching it. The character designs are all on point as expected.
Overall, Justice League Starcrossed is a superb film and one of DC’s all time best. It loses to Justice League Crisis on Two Earths, but that is probably it. I’d put this at second followed closely by Batman/Superman Public Enemies. This was the perfect way to wrap up the Justice League series and start the Unlimited Saga. I’m sure that everyone was saddened to see the end of an era but it signalled another bright time just about to begin. If you’ve never seen this film before, then I highly recommend that you fix that transgression. All comic book fans should watch this film to see how you handle an alien invasion and why the Justice League shall never be surpassed as the ultimate comic book team. It’ll also get you hyped for the upcoming Batman vs Superman film since that will be a prelude of sorts to Justice League.
Luigi may be a plumber and he has a lot of good acrobatic skills at the ready, but it simply won’t be enough to stop the Martian Manhunter. Martian Manhunter is one of the stronger members of the Justice League and his skills are pretty sound. One good punch would likely prove to be too much for Luigi to handle and the Martian’s speed will ensure that the blow connects. Martian Manhunter wins.