Justice League: Season 1
What He said:
I’m not really sure how or why it ended up this way, but I
always read more Marvel than DC comics. I’m still like that
as an adult. DC was definitely a little more mature, but that
has kind of evened out over the years, so it is not like I was
more or less attracted to one over the other because of that.
I do read some DC stuff now (Wildstrom, Vertigo, and other
non-mainstream stuff). But the more popular titles in DC
always seemed a little muddled to me. There’s all these
different timelines or alternate universes, characters
origins have been rebooted several times, and it all gets a
little hard to follow at a certain point. That being said,
they’ve got some iconic characters we all know and love.
Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, and a few others
are some of the most popular comic book heroes of all time.
Ironically, I always
thought DC had better cartoons. Batman: The Animated
Series is one of the best cartoons ever made. It’s so
dark and serious. It really captured the Batman
universe. Creator Bruce Timm has a very minimalist style of
drawing. When coupled with noir setting the show takes place
in, it makes for a very appropriate environment for a good
Timm would go on to create several more animated shows
that all took place in the same continuity; one of which was
Justice League. I always caught the odd episode of
it here and there, but it was eventually canceled. By the
time I realized that, it was too late, so I took a chance and
decided to pick up the DVD when I saw in this awesome store I
use to frequent. It was like nerd heaven. Comics, movies,
t-shirts, toys, you name it, and this place had it.
Justice League opens on Mars. A group of
astronauts accidentally unleash a group of shape-shifting
monsters known as White Martians, who hitch a ride back to
Earth and begin their secret invasion. They begin inserting
themselves throughout our society, taking various positions of
power, and biding their time for their takeover.
Little do they know Batman – the world’s greatest
detective – is on the case. Batman (voiced by
Batman veteran Kevin Conroy) follows a few of them,
but is overpowered. He is saved by Superman (voiced by George
Newbern), but the bad guys get away. Together, they continue
to investigate the case. Superman keeps having some kind of
visions and he eventually finds out that a Green Martian
named J’onn J’onnz (AKA The Martian Manhunter) has been trying
to contact him telepathically. J’onn is a native Martian and
the White Martians are invaders from another galaxy who
destroyed his people. He (voice by Carl Lumby) has been
trying to warn the heroes of Earth about the looming threat.
He was being held captive until Batman and Superman free him.
Apparently Superman isn’t the only hero he was trying to
contact. The Green Lantern, Flash, Wonder Woman, and Hawk
Girl are some of the other heroes he has summoned; and thus
The Justice League is born.
The team is made up of seven heroes and they all have
different personalities, and their interactions with one
another are a big part of the show.
Batman and Superman have a real interesting relationship.
Superman is an All-American country boy. He has a very
outgoing personality and shows up numerous public events. He
tries to work with government officials, but doesn’t overstep
his bounds, despite the fact he has the power of a god. He
could force entire countries to do what he wants, but decides
not to. It’s not his way. Batman is a loner. He’s dark,
mysterious, and not the friendliest guy in the world. Superman
could squash him like a bug, but like many other members of
the team, fears Batman. Batman and Superman are definitely on
the same side, but Batman is the kind of guy who carries a
piece of Kryptonite in his back pocket just in
case he ever needs it.
Green Lantern (Phil LaMarr) and Flash (Michael Rosenbaum)
are often paired together and they too are opposites. “GL” as
Flash often calls him is all business. He’s a former U.S.
Marine, so even without his power ring, he’s knows how to fight. With
his ring, he’s a very deadly weapon. His ring gives him the
ability to create any object his mind can conjure up. He’s a
good guy who likes being a hero, but he’s a little rigid at
times. He has a lot of pride and honor, sometimes too much. In
one episode, he’s arrested by group of robotic “cops" from outer space and framed
for a crime he did not commit. Despite that, he refuses his
fellow team members’ help, and actually becomes angry when
they interfere on his behalf. Flash on the other is a total
goofball. GL is all business, Flash is not. Flash is a good
guy, he just likes to have some fun while doing his hero
thing. They give him some really funny lines throughout the season
and Rosenbaum (perhaps better known as Lex Luthor from
Smallville) does a great job delivering them.
The remaining three members of the League actually share a
lot in common. All three are a fish out of water. All of them
are either aliens or alien to human culture. J’onn is the
last of his kind. Not only is he not human, there’s nobody
else like him left in the universe. The White Martians wiped
out his people years ago in a devastating war. He is a quiet,
caring, but powerful guy. He likes helping people, but does
not understand human nature and often feels like an outcast.
Hawk Girl (Maria Canals) was her home world’s version
of a cop until she got lost on a mission. Her planet is so far
away that she’s never even heard of Earth and has absolutely
no idea where her planet is in relations to our galaxy. She
is a tough gal who likes to smash things first and ask
questions later. Wonder Woman (Susan Eisenberg) is an
Amazon Princess who is from the Island of Themyscira. It is an
island of warrior women who are sheltered from the outside
world. Her mother is their leader. She is proud, strong (can
hold her own against Superman), but a little naïve to the
outside world. She is eager to fight evil – and there is no
doubt she’s one of the “good guys” – but she is completely out
of her element in our society. Her home is stuck in Ancient
Greek times, so “man’s world” as she calls it is a complete
mystery to her. She is kind of like Thor when he comes to Earth from Asgard
(more humorous examples here and here).
I mentioned earlier that I read way more Marvel than I do
DC, but still really enjoy some of the classic DC characters.
That and the fact that creator Bruce Timm and company had
started their own animated universe really appealed to me.
This show has an established continuity from shows that aired
both before and after Justice League. Batman: The
Animated Series was one of them. Superman: The
Animated Series was another. I had seen chunks of both
and always enjoyed them; the first one was a particularly good
cartoon. This show was a continuation of those two previous
shows, so I decided to check it out. While still a cartoon,
and certainly something kids can watch, Timm’s animated
universe was something adults could enjoy as well. It’s a
little more serious than stuff you grew up on, but still
light and entertaining like a cartoon should be.
The show unfolds very similarly to a traditional story arc from a comic book. There are no
standalone episodes. Each storyline consists of two or three
episodes. This allows for more in-depth storylines, especially
when you consider it’s only a half hour show. It also allowed
me to explore the DC Universe more. There are characters,
locations, and storylines I knew nothing about, and this show
introduced me to some major DC stuff. I didn’t know who the
Manhunters or Vandal Savage (a three episode series about him
can be seen here) were. I knew who the Green
Lantern was, but didn’t realize there were several of them.
From my understanding of DC history, John Stewart, is not the most popular
Green Lantern in the comics. There are more popular characters to carry the name, but I’m glad
they chose Stewart. I think he’s kind of a bad-ass and it was
nice to see one of the less popular Green Lanterns get some
attention. To me, he is the Green
Lantern. Phil LaMarr’s voice acting makes the character a
strong presence. He is a big reason why I enjoy this lesser
known version of the character.
Speaking of strong performance, Kevin Conroy is an
excellent Batman and has been since 1992. He’s voiced the
character in countless different shows and video games and
whenever I think of Batman, I think of him. George Newbern (you might know of him
from Adventures in Babysitting or Father of the
Bride) does a great job as Superman. He replaced Tim
Daly from Superman: The Animated Series, and some
people didn’t care for that, but I prefer his voice to
Daly’s. The other two performances that stand out to me are
Susan Eisenberg’s and Maria Canal’s, as Wonder Woman and Hawk
Girl respectively. They are both strong independent
characters and each actress has a very commanding voice. Even
if these characters didn’t have superpowers, I’d still be
scared of them.
The only complaints I have about the show are that I feel
the show’s opening story arc, Secret Origins, wasn’t the
strongest showing. My other gripe is that sometimes Timm’s
minimalist style of animation doesn’t work so great,
particularly when it comes to some of the aliens or monsters.
Sometimes it is fine, others it looks like a kid drew it.
Other than that, if you are a fan of comic books,
animation, and animation that explores some more in-depth or
serious storylines, you might want to check this show out.
Rating: Thumbs up.
This review was written for your reading pleasure on July