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Justice League: Season 2

Justice League: Season 2

What He said:

He

DC’s most popular superheroes are back for more adventures against some of the most powerful and well-known villains from the DC universe. The second season wastes no time in pitting The League against one of the toughest villains DC has to offer.

When it comes to bad guys in DC, Darkseid is one of the heavy hitters. He is a member of a race called the New Gods. Whether they are actually “gods” or not is up for debate. They don’t appear to be the creators of life as we know it or anything, but they certainly make humanity look like insects by comparison. They are a race of super-powered beings with a variety of abilities. They are stronger, more durable, and can do a whole bunch of other things human beings can only dream of. They hail from two planets that have quite the history with one another. Darkseid (voiced perfectly by Michael Ironside) lives on Apokolips, which is the more violent of the two. It’s not that New Genesis doesn’t have any problems, but it’s a paradise compared to Apokolips, which is a war-like planet. There is always some kind of conflict going on there and Darkseid is usually at the front and center of it. He is the ruler of Apokolips and is always looking to expand his empire. He’s also something of a madman. He enjoys death and destruction and wishes to mold the universe in that image.

This is where Superman (George Newbern) comes into play. Being the power-hungry monster that he is, Darkseid has attempted to invade Earth in the past and Superman has clashed with him a few times. This time around is different though, as Darkseid is coming to The Justice League for help. He says that another one of Superman’s enemies – Brainiac – has invaded Apokolips and is threatening to destroy the planet with his army of drones. Superman’s reaction is rather uncharacteristic and he refuses to help. The rest of The League is shocked by his response, but Superman hates Darkseid that much.  He has his reasons, and it dates back to events from Superman: The Animated Series. The League convinces Superman that innocent lives could be lost if Brainiac (Corey Burton) isn’t stopped and he reluctantly agrees. Well it turns out his instincts were right and Darkseid betrays them after all. It leads to one of the better one-on-one fights of the series and was a hell of a way to kick off the season.

Justice League: Season 2

Speaking of Brainiac, he’s no slouch either. He’s not as strong or durable as Superman or Darkseid, but he is a Kryptonian (Superman’s home world) robot who has an endless supply of copies of himself at his disposal. You can destroy him all you want, there are always more copies of him. He’s scattered throughout the universe, making him pretty much immortal. He’s got all kinds of technology at his disposal too.

So the guys and gals of The Justice League are up against not only one powerful villain, but two at the same time, and this is just the first two episodes of the season!

They face many powerful enemies throughout this season. One of the first they encounter is the android Amazo (voiced by Robert Picardo). He is a relatively new life form, which makes him a little naïve. That is perfect as far as Lex Luthor (Clancy Brown) is concerned. Luthor uses the androids naiveté – and his ability to mimic other superhero’s powers – to attack the League.  This ability makes him a very tough opponent. He’s one of those villains that nobody can really handle one-on-one.

Justice League: Season 2

Perhaps the most interesting challenge they face is…themselves. In an alternate universe, when the Flash (Michael Rosenberg) is killed by Lex Luthor, this forces the Justice League – who call themselves The Justice Lords in this universe – to take extreme measures. They pretty much control the planet and do things the Justice League would never dream of. When they get to the point where they think they have nothing else left to fix in their world, they decided to travel to other worlds and start all over again.

One of the things that made this show really successful was its more realistic – and frankly adult – approach to relationships. That continues in the show’s second season. Take Batman (voiced once again by Kevin Conroy) and Superman for example. They are definitely on the same side, there’s no doubt about that. They definitely respect one another too. But they have a funny relationship. Let me look back at the first couple of episodes I mentioned in the beginning of my review. When Darkseid asks The Justice League for help, Superman tells him to go pound sand. Batman – in a way only Batman can – tells Superman to man up. Superman could literally kill Batman in seconds. If he punched Batman in the face, Batman’s skull would cave in. But Batman says what has to be said for the sake of the greater good. He could use a little more tact, but that’s another issue.

Another relationship that continues to be explored is the potential romantic relationship between Hawgirl (Maria Canals) and the Green Lantern (Phil Lamarr). While on a mission with his old mentor, Hawgirl grows very jealous when she realizes John’s she was more than a teacher, she was a former girlfriend. The tension between the two continues in the final arc of the season when Hawkgirl’s people – the Thanagarians – show up and aren’t forthcoming about their motives coming to Earth. Just when John was starting to warm up to Hawgirl, he finds out she was a spy for her people, and engaged to another man.

One of my favorite storylines of the season is the two episode arc that involves Superman losing his powers. It forces the character into a situation he’s never faced before. He has to adapt and partner with an unlikely ally. Superman is a character who relies on his strength and invulnerability. He’s not a trained fighter and can rely on brute strength to get by. But when confronted with a situation when he’s not able to do that, it really forces him to adjust. I thought it was a great way to add a little depth to the character. It’s one of my favorite storylines of the season.

Speaking of depth, they really focus in on Hawkgirl in the episode where she teams up with former villain – and misguided soul – Solomon Grundy (Mark Hamill). Long story short, Grundy was asked to help out a few lesswe known heroes fend off an ancient evil (think of something out of an H.P. Lovecraft story). Hawkgirl and Grundy (voiced by Mark Hamill) form an unlikely friendship and the episodes explore some really serious themes. Religion, death, and trust are amongst the issues explored in this storyline. It’s pretty serious stuff, especially when you consider it’s a cartoon. I really enjoyed this story arc as well. My only complaint is that I’m not crazy about creator Bruce Timm’s animation style sometimes. It works great for human characters. His minimalist approach really works for people, but monsters is where it falls short. There are or two I thought were kind of cool. They looked like something out of an old 50s monster movie, but in this particular set of episodes, they looked kind of lame to me.

Another episode that focuses on relationships is the only stand-alone episode of the entire season. It’s a Christmas episodes and Superman/Clark Kent invites The Martian Manhunter (Carl Lumby) back to his parents farm to celebrate the holiday. Both Superman and Jonn (another name the Martian goes by) are aliens, but Superman has adapted to Earth much better. Jonn is still an outside, so Superman does what he can to make him feel at home. Jonn is very awkward and doesn’t connect with humanity either, so Superman wants to help him with that. He also doesn’t want him being alone on the holidays. Superman’s a nice guy like that.

The Batman and Wonder Woman (Susan Eisenberg) relationship is also explored more again this season. I love this potential relationship. For starters, it’s a complete role reversal with her being the much stronger of the two. Not to mention, it’s rather funny. You can tell he would like to explore the option, but he's also completely uncomfortable with the whole thing.

Overall, relationships are still a big theme throughout the season. On a more simple level, it’s the relationships between the members of The Justice League. On a more complicated level, it delves into the issues society would face if there was a group of super humans living in the real world. It’s not as simple as people think. Civilians fear the super humans, even if they are heroes. The government is terrified of them. They have no idea how they would deal with them if the heroes ever decided to turn on humanity – like they did in The Justice Lords episodes. You’re talking about people who could easily rule humanity if they so desired. That’s kind of frightening. Stuff like that is what makes this one of the better cartoons I have ever seen.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on October 12, 2013.

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