In honor of the upcoming Batman vs Superman film and even of more importance, March of 2016 marks the tenth anniversary’s unfortunate cancellation of one of the best animated series on television-Justice League Unlimited!
JLU served as a continuation of the original Justice League series which debuted in 2002 on the Cartoon Network, and ended in 2003 with an unforgettable 3 part episode-Starcrossed.
What sets JLU apart from its earlier series aside from the increased colorful roster and pairings of Captain Atom, Green Arrow, Red Tornado, Black Canary, Fire & Ice, Supergirl & Atom just to name a few. (Let’s not forget Suicide Squad or Mr. Miracle.)This series had contained a few powerful story arcs and aside from John Stewart’s love triangle between Hawkgirl & Vixen, one in particular was the Cadmus saga that involved a dangerous Shadow cabinet whose ambitions were to regulate Meta-humans along with conducting amoral genetic experiments i.e. Doomsday. And I can’t but help to mention that Cadmus’ Amanda Waller is not to be Fucked with. (;’
Project Cadmus’ goals were believed to be in humanity’s best interest, especially after Superman’s attack on earth which was a plan orchestrated by Darksied and then there’s Supes giving Doomsday a lobotomy, again, thanks to his Heat Vision.
This is where the series had quickly gained momentum after a somewhat slow start. One of the members of the League -The Question, discovers “evidence” of Superman murdering his arch nemesis, Lex Luthor in the not so distant future and in doing so, plans to assassinate Luthor in order to prevent Armageddon.
What makes things worse for wear is how Luthor manages to take control of the League’s orbital Headquarters and fires a fusion beam towards a Cadmus facility located within a civilian populace, in order to further pit the League at odds with Cadmus while displacing the public’s trust. The subplot of the League’s “abuse” of power goes into overdrive when Captain Atom is summoned by the government to stop Superman and shutdown the JLU. Thus ensues a battle between The Man of steel and the Atomic Man. This scenario perhaps inspired Marvel to develop the Civil War storyline. More than likely it did.
Don’t you touch him! He’s Justice League!
The wrap-up episodes of the first season involved the founding members of the League going up against a Super powered Lex Luthor. And soo afterwards, Season One concluded the arc with “Epilogue”- a brilliant story that not only closes the chapter of Batman Beyond and Amanda Waller, but also delivers a powerful scene with Batman comforting a dying girl with reality altering powers. Its unforgettable because we get to witness Bats as his most humane.
The level of writing is not kids especially when you hear ambiguous dialogue such as Hawkgirl referring to the female duo- Fire & Ice as “Brazilian”.
- Also in “Epilogue ” An aged Amanda Waller mentions her having “Gentlemen Callers” back when she was younger.
- There’s also Homosexual innuendo in the episode “Starcrossed” and “Hunter’s Moon” involving a Thanagarian Warrior’s infatuation of his leader who in fact was Hawkgirl’s romantic interest prior to John Stewart.
- Justice League Unlimited is the first animated series that actually mentions the C-Word. (Cancer)
Whereas series that had some reference to the disease would not mention the word. (I’m looking at you, Spiderman!)
- Ultimatum was a haunting episode for demonstrating how a individuals are forced to cope with their moralities.
Aside from the brilliant writing courtesy of Dwayne McDuffie the voiceovers breathed much needned life into both Heroes and their antagonists. We all know how well Kevin Conroy (Batman) brings his A-game, however his performance doesn’t take anything away from the remaining cast. Clancy Brown is always menacing and duplicitous as Luthor but its also CCH Pounder as Cadmus’ Amanda Waller that added more depth when it cane to voiceacting. Jeffrey Combs as The Question also stood out among the others.
If there were any major gripes I would have with the series would be that filler episode(This Little Piggie) that has Diana (Wonder Woman) transformed into a Pig while Batman sings “Am I blue” in order for Sersi to lift the curse??
Then there’s “Clash” a hotly anticipated episode that pits The Man of Steel against The World’s Mightiest Mortal! As part of some power play, Luthor concocts a scheme to tarnish Superman’s image but this time it involves Captain Marvel in an all out grudge match with Supes. I was pissed to see Captain Marvel get his ass handed to him like that. Isn’t magic supposed to be one of Superman’s weaknesses?
It sure as Shit wasn’t in this episode!
The third and final season like the first, had a slow start with the Legion of Doom homage (Secret Society lead by Gorilla Grod)however, the final two episodes more than made up for it.
In Destroyer, the League join forces with the Secret Society in order to defend the earth from Darksied (now merged with Brainiac) and his invading forces. The battle between Superman and Darksied was epic and in some way provided groundwork for the Man of Steel’s Metropolis fight with General Zod. Superman was practically Captain America is this episode.
Destroyer was the perfect send off to the Timmverse series and despite only three seasons, Justice League Unlimited stands as perhaps the best Superhero animated shows for television. You can relive the World’s finest episodes available now on Netflix instant streaming.
Dedicated to the memory of Mr. Milestone himself, Dwayne McDuffie (February 20, 1962 – February 21, 2011)