REVIEW: THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE

CAST

Will Arnett (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Zach Galifanakis (The Hangover)
Michael Cera (Juno)
Rosario Dawson (Sin City)
Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter)
Jenny Slate (The Lorax)
Hector Elizondo (The Princess Diaries)
Billy Dee Williams (BAtman)
Mariah Carey (Glitter)
Eddie Izzard (Hannibal)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Jemaine Clement (Men In Black 3)
Ellie Kemper (21 Jump Street)
Jason Mantzoukas (Bad Neigbours)
Doug Benson (Super High Me)
Zoe Kravitz (Divergent)
Kate Micucci (The Big Bang Theory)
Riki Lindhome (Much Ado About Nothing)
Channing Tatum (Dear John)
Jonah Hill (Cyrus)
Laura Kightlinger (Lucky Louie)
Ralph Garman (Ted)
Chris Hardwick (Terminator 3)

Three years after saving the Lego Universe with Emmet and Wyldstyle, Batman continues fighting crime in Gotham City. During a mission to prevent The Joker from destroying the city, Batman hurts his arch-rival’s feelings by telling him he is not as important in his life as he thinks he is, leading to the Joker to desire seeking the ultimate revenge on him.
The following day, Batman attends the city’s winter gala as his alter ego, Bruce Wayne, to celebrate the retirement of Commissioner Gordon and the ascension of his daughter Barbara as Gotham’s new police commissioner, but is infuriated when she announces her plans to restructure the city’s police to function without the need of Batman. The Joker crashes the party with the rest of Gotham City’s villains, but has all of them surrender to the police. Despite realizing that this makes him no longer relevant to the city’s safety, Batman suspects his arch-rival is up to something and decides to stop him by banishing him into the Phantom Zone, a prison for some of the most dangerous villains in the Lego Universe.
Before he can make plans to acquire the Phantom Zone Projector that Superman uses, Alfred intervenes and advises him to take charge of Dick Grayson, whom Bruce had unwittingly adopted as his ward during the gala to which he eventually agrees and fosters Dick as Robin. The pair manage to recover the Projector from the Fortress of Solitude, before breaking into Arkham Asylum and using it on the Joker. Annoyed at his reckless actions and suspecting that the Joker wanted this to happen, Barbara locks up Batman and Robin. While the Projector is being seized as evidence, Harley Quinn steals it back and uses it to free the Joker, who unleashes the villains trapped within the Phantom Zone to cause havoc upon Gotham, including Lord Voldemort, King Kong, Sauron, the Wicked Witch of the West, Medusa, Agent Smith and his clones, the Daleks, and the Kraken.
Realizing that the city does still need him, Barbara releases Batman and Robin and reluctantly teams up with them as “Batgirl” to stop the Joker, with the team joined by Alfred. Batman soon finds himself able to trust and rely on the others, allowing them to defeat Sauron, but upon reaching Wayne Island, he ditches the team out of fear of losing them like his parents, before confronting Joker alone. Upon seeing that the Batman will never change, Joker zaps him to the Phantom Zone, before stealing the Batcave’s stash of confiscated bombs and heading for the city’s Energy Facility. Arriving in the Phantom Zone, Batman witnesses the harm he has caused to everyone because of his selfishness and slowly accepts his greatest fear when Robin, Barbara and Alfred decide to come to his aid. Making a deal with the Phantom Zone’s gatekeeper, Phyllis, to bring back all the villains in exchange for returning to Gotham City, Batman arrives to save the trio and admits to them his mistakes, requesting their help to save the day.
Seeking to stop Joker from setting off the bombs beneath the Energy Facility, thus causing the plates beneath Gotham to come apart and send the city into the infinite abyss, Batman and his allies team up with the city’s regular list of villains, after they had felt neglected by Joker, with the group successfully sending back the escaped villains to the Phantom Zone. However, Batman fails to reach the bombs in time, the detonation causing the city to split apart. Realizing how to stop the city from being destroyed, Batman reluctantly convinces Joker that he is the reason for being the hero he is, and working together alongside Batman’s friends, the villains, and the city’s inhabitants, chain link themselves together, reconnecting the city’s plates and saving Gotham City.
With the city saved, Batman prepares to be taken back into the Phantom Zone to fulfill his bargain with Phyllis, only to be rejected by the gatekeeper who chooses to let him remain after she saw how much he had changed in order to save everyone. Batman allows the Joker and the rest of his rogues gallery to escape with the confidence that whenever they return, then they’ll be no match for the combined team of himself, Robin, Batgirl, and Alfred.Overall, this is a very enjoyable movie with a gripping story, fantastic animation that tops its predecessor and clever humor. I definitely recommend giving this a watch if you’re a fan of The Lego Movie.

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REVIEW: BATMAN UNLIMITED: MECHS VS MUTANTS

CAST (VOICES)

Roger Craig Smith (Avengers Assemble)
Chris Diamantopoulos (About A Boy TV)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Charlie Schlatter (Diagnosis Murder)
Dana Snyder (Open Season 3)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Richard Epcar (Power Rangers)
Oded Fehr (V)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Dave B. Mitchell (The Lorax)
Troy Baker (Marvel Anime)

Image result for batman unlimited mechs vs mutantsBatman Unlimited: Mechs vs. Mutants is half Batman and Batfamily adventure. This time around for Batman, Robin (Damian Wayne), Flash, and Green Arrow vs. Penguin, Bane, Chemo, Mr. Freeze and Clayface. This is the third in the Batman Unlimited direct to video animated films.The latest in the toy-centric Batman Unlimited storyline transforms from a commercial to current Dynamic Duo adventure in a frozen Gotham City. Roger Craig Smith (Batman: Arkham Origins) returns as Batman and introducing Boy Wonder Damian Wayne voiced by Lucien Dodge (Fate/Zero). The Damian/Batman relationship is explored a bit here, in a surprising move that wholly embraces the current DC Rebirth status quo.Image result for batman unlimited mechs vs mutantsThere is no mention of Batman being Damian’s father, but it is hinted that he is the grandchild of Ra’s al Ghul when Robin awakens from a bad dream screaming, “Grandfather, NO!”. Pennyworth encourages Robin not to stay up too late studying to become Robin, as The Dark Knight has enrolled him into a “Robin Training Program”.Image result for batman unlimited mechs vs mutantsWill Friedle (Batman Beyond) appears as Nightwing and a simpatico brother to young Master Wayne. When faced with the threats lobbied by a team-up of the exiled Penguin (Dana Snyder) and Mr. Freeze (Oded Fehr) who recruits Killer Croc, Chemo, Clayface and Bane, Batman and Robin enlist the aide of Leaguesters Flash (Charlie Schlatter) and Green Arrow (Chris Diamantopoulos). Good guys round out their team with Commissioner Gordon and Dr. Kirk Langstrom.Genius scientist Victor Fries comes up with a formula to mix the compositional makeup of Bane, Chemo and Clayface to develop monsters capable of crushing cars and stomping through Gotham. Croc is the first to get juiced up, growing ten times his size and making the citizens of Gotham run for their lives. Of course, this is the Godzilla movie part, that frankly works pretty well.Image result for batman unlimited mech vs. mutantsWhat makes this Godzilla-type movie trope work really well is the cartooning and archetypes of these villains filling the Kaiju role. Batman has no choice but  to fight size with size. Batman and Green Arrow are able to pilot their own Mech suits to punish the bad guys before they have a chance to destroy Gotham’s Police Department and the rest of the city. Green Arrow is even conscious of which buildings to destroy in the process (by asking the computer which ones he owns). By placing a seed of doubt in Damian’s character early in the movie, he is able to redeem himself by playing detective himself and helping Batman problem solve. Green Arrow/Ollie Queen serves as a good uncle figure to Robin, who uses his years of experience dealing with Batman to assure Robin that he is important to the Batcave operations. Flash fulfills his normal role as comedian and lab scientist.Image result for batman unlimited mechs vs mutantsWhile not the grim and gritty, this Batman Unlimited release turns out a decent story. Of course, the allied bad guys find a way to stop getting along all together when the heroes’ strength lies in unity. While I was at first skeptical of the gigantic yellow Batsymbol on Bruce’s chest, it is growing on me, ever so slowly. Batman Unlimited: Mechs vs. Mutants is fun for most ages, riding the fine line between serving the fans and serving the general audience, and selling toys.

REVIEW: GOTHAM – SEASON 2

CAST

Ben McKenzie (Batman: Year One)
Donal Logue (Ghost Rider)
David Mazouz (Mike & Molly)
Morena Baccarin (Firefly)
Zabryna Guevara (All Good Things)
Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers)
Robin Lord Taylor (Another Earth)
Erin Richards (The Quiet Ones)
Camren Bicondova (Girl House)
Corey Michael Smith (Carol)
James Frain (The Cape)
Jessica Lucas (Cult)
Chris Chalk (12 Years a Slave)
Nicholas D’Agasto (Final Destination 5)
Michael Chikilis (Fantastic Four)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Richard Kind (Stargate)
Clare Foley (Win Win)
Carol Kane (The Princess Bride)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Peter Scolari (The Polar Express)
Anthony Carrigan (The Flash)
Cameron Monaghan (The Giver)
Dustin Ybarra (Hop)
Drew Powell (Straw Dogs)
Maria Thayer (Hitch)
Natalie Alyn Lind (The Goldbergs)
Michelle Veintimilla (Limitless TV)
Ron Rifkin (Alias)
Michelle Gomez (Highlander: The Raven)
Tommy Flanagan (Sin City)
Lori Petty (Tank Girl)
BD Wong (Jurassic World)
Tonya Pinkins (Enchanted)
Nathan Darrow (House of Cards)
Michael Bowen (Lost)
Melinda Clarke (Spawn)
Paul Reubens (Batman Returns)
Ned Bellamy (Termiantor: TSCC)
Jada Pinkett Smith (Collateral)

The origin story continues on Gotham and the stakes are higher than ever, as Super Villains more ambitious and depraved are introduced, and a shift of alliances shakes up the fight for power in Gotham City. In season two, Detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and the ethically questionable veteran Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) remain at the forefront of the fight against crime in this dangerously corrupt city. While confronting Gotham’s most notorious criminals, however, Gordon’s moral compass begins to waver, but he is taken under the wing of Nathaniel Barnes (Michael Chiklis), a law-and-order zealot who is unafraid of making enemies. At the same time, Gordon continues his quest to gain the trust of the young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), who is on a clear path towards the man he is destined to become, after discovering his father’s deepest secrets, with the help of his trusted butler and mentor, Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee), and newfound ally at Wayne Enterprises, Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk).

In the epic turf war that occurred at the conclusion of season one, Oswald Cobblepot aka The Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) battled his way into power over Gotham’s underworld. Heading into season two, Gotham will continue to follow the evolving stories of the city’s most malevolent villains: Edward Nygma/The Riddler (Cory Michael Smith), whose transformation from Gotham PD’s forensic expert to psychologically unhinged villain continues; Selina Kyle/the future Catwoman (Camren Bicondova), whose hard-knock existence propels her into a life of crime; and the increasingly unstable Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), who is out for Gordon and his girlfriend, Dr. Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin). Also hoping to leave his mark on the city is Theo Galavan (James Frain), the billionaire industrialist, who appears to be the savior for whom Gotham has been waiting. Theo, along with his sister and lead enforcer, Tabitha Galavan aka Tigress (Jessica Lucas), keep their centuries-old vendetta hidden, as they manipulate their way to power.

Here in Season Two, there is far less dependence on self-contained episodes and more emphasis on the development of long running and serialised story arcs. In my opinion, this is better than Season One.
This remains a highly entertaining show.

REVIEW: BATMAN UNLIMITED: THE WEB SERIES

CAST

Roger Craig Smith (Avengers Assemble)
Chris Diamantopoulos (About A Boy TV)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Charlie Schlatter (Diagnosis Murder)
Yuri Lowenthal (Legion of Super Heroes)

DC has become increasingly more successful at gearing their content towards adults. Whether it is the gritty world of The Dark Knight or the even grittier Batman parallel Arrow, it has all been for the grown ups. We ask though, what about the children? We forget that our favorite heroes are essentially adults wearing tights who admittedly don’t always have to be so dark. We were all kids at some point and were enamored with these fictional characters at one point or another. Batman Unlimited strikes that perfect balance between kid friendly yet still enjoyable to adults. Even recent animated films from DC were extra violent so getting a film that is by no means dumbed down and still fun for everyone is a breath of fresh air.

The ensemble cast chosen for this film can be considered to be a strange pairing. For the good guys, you got Batman, Red Robin, Night Wing, Flash, and Green Arrow–who, we’d like to point out, is now referred to as Arrow. Two of those characters aren’t exactly straight from the streets of Gotham. It seems that DC is trying to bring these heroes together in different yet interesting ways, maybe even attempting to match Marvel’s ability to mix it up with no one batting an eye. Another pretty obvious reason to include Flash and Arrow is they both have popular television shows currently airing. Add Batman to the mix and you have DC’s most popular characters at the moment. If there is one thing that the shows have made apparent, it is that crossing into each other’s worlds is possible and will be occurring more often. It also makes sense that Bruce Wayne and Oliver Queen would be at the same social gatherings since we all know they are both rich guys. The action is there and it is good. There are motorcycle chase scenes, transformations, great fights, you name it. There is a lot of action, with very little violence. Now, that is something hard to accomplish, but necessary when trying to create a family-friendly Batman web series. Each one of our heroes has a specialty that is used in some way like Flash’s speed or Arrow’s archery skills to complete the task at hand. As he himself will let you know, Batman is Batman, so he is a badass, which is really nothing new.

This won’t be a game changer in the DC Universe canon, but it is at least a fun time for all ages.

REVIEW: THE NEW ADVENTURES OF BATMAN

CAST
Adam West (60’s Batman)
Burt Ward (60’s Batman)
Melendy Britt (She-Ra0
Lou Scheimer (He-Man)
Lennie Weinrib (The Smurfs)
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 They only made 16 episodes and reran them endlessly from 1977 to 1981 starting off alone and then with Tarzan and the Super 7. The best element this series had was the voices of Adam West and Burt Ward who portrayed Batman and Robin a little more serious or a little less campy than in live action. Commissioner Gordon finally looked like his comic book counterpart and I enjoyed Batgirl, the Joker, Penguin and his quack cackle, the sexy voiced Catwoman, Mr. Freeze, and Clayface. The best original villain let alone best episode this series had to offer was the Moon Man. Electro was also good. I also loved the full body rotoscoping animation style that was used plus most of the 70’s style music for this series.  The worst elements this series had were, the inclusion of BatMite, but if they had to have him, at least he was regarded as a pest and a hindrance than as a friend like other useless cartoon tag alongs were. BatMite replacing Alfred was a bad move and the Riddler’s absence from the series, yet his appearance on the intro in a wrongly colored red costume made no sense to me at all. And new villains like Sweet Tooth, Professor Bubbles,the Chameleon, and Zarbor all left a bad stain on this series.
 I was glad to see this series again.  To me, Adam West was the best pre Kevin Conroy Batman voice over and the New Adventures of Batman is well worth checking out.

 

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: THE NEW BATMAN ADVENTURES: HOLIDAY KNIGHTS

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HOLIDAY KNIGHTS

CAST
Kevin Conroy (Batman Beyond)
Bob Hastings (Wonder Woman)
Matthew Valencia (Lawnmower Man 2)
Robert Costanzo (Total Recall)
Liane Schirmer (Batman: TAS)
Tara Strong (Sabrina Goes To Rome)
Mark Hamill (The Flash)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Arleen Sokin (Comic Book: The Movie)
Diane Pershing (Gotham Girls)
Marilu Henner (The Crazy Ones)
December 22
Harley Quinn bemoans her fate to her friend, Poison Ivy, as they stay holed up in a scuzzy hotel. With a raised eyebrow of devious foreboding, Ivy assures her that she has a plan that will make it “the happiest holiday ever”. Later on, at the Vreeland estate, we catch up with Bruce having a pleasant conversation with heartthrob Veronica about forthcoming vacation plans. Much to “Brucey’s” chagrin, his quiet moment is interrupted by a gaggle of suitors all intent on snagging a moment with Gotham’s most eligible bachelor under the mistletoe. Backing away in order to make an escape, he finds himself in the arms of a shadowy female figure who – seizing him by his necktie – plants a big one right on his kisser. Finding himself completely discombobulated as to what exactly just transpired, he makes his way outside with the intent to head home.
On his way to his car, however, he’s intercepted by Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, with a look on his face like he cannot resist their every command no matter how hard he tries. While in the car, Harley kindly reveals exactly what happened: Poison Ivy used a special lipstick laced with a chemical in order to infect Bruce, via the aforementioned kiss. They also boldly pronounce that they intend to have a night on the town at Mr. Wayne’s expense. The girls shop endlessly buying clothes and jewels, all the while Bruce begrudgingly (yet uncontrollably) puts it all on his credit cards. Finally, Bruce begins building up a will as the chemical’s potency begins to wane. Vocalizing his discontent, the girls decide it’s time for another dose; backing away from Harley’s approach, however, Bruce falls down a conveniently placed ‘out of order’ open elevator shaft. Believing the slip to be his last, Harley and Ivy leave Bruce for dead, yet as they turn their backs and walk away, a portentous hand reaches out of the abyss and grips the edge of the floor. As the duo burn rubber away from Bergduffs Department Store, the silhouette of the Batman can be seen swooping after them. When Harley spots him through the back window, Ivy wastes no time in making an escape: she grabs the wheel of the car and ram raids the Wacko Toys shop. Probing through the pitch black with his flashlight, Batman soon needn’t wonder where they’ve gone to as a huge toy soldier comes crashing down nearly upon him. Looking up, he can see them taunting him atop a citadel of toys. Not one to decline a challenge, Batman eagerly ascends the tower only to find a boxing glove by Poison Ivy and a wooden sledge hammer from Harley Quinn. Plummeting to the bottom, the girls cannot resist a gloat as they make – what they believe will be – their exit. But the quick minded Batman has other plans: he uses his grappling hook to snag the base of a massive Christmas tree, which he then yanks hard, causing it to topple over directly on the would-be escapees.
December 24
In Mayfields Department Store, Barbara is just purchasing a new tie for her father when all of a sudden an ear-piercing wail cuts through the air. The shop attendant comments on how they’ve been crying all day, at which point we see why: Harvey Bullock is playing Santa. With his partner, Montoya, he’s on a stakeout. Bullock, showing rare sensitivity, comforts a young girl who’s father he put in prison, and winds up giving her cash to soothe her Christmastime woes.
Barbara, walking through the store, happens to spot a child shoplifting, but when she tries to apprehend him, his clothes and hand seem to dissolve into nothing. Then, Montoya gets a call through her earpiece that detectives are in pursuit of four child bandits in the store. Just when the children seem to be trapped, they meld together into… Clayface. He begins tearing up the place and no one can stop him, that is, until Barbara gets changed into her Batgirl outfit and delivers a blow to the head the sends him crashing out the window and into the skating rink below. Montoya and Bullock arrive on the scene and with a little guidance from Batgirl, succeed in halting the giant shapeshifter by way of electrocution.

December 31
In Commissioner Gordon’s office, Batman and Robin have just reviewed a taped broadcast by the Joker, who reveals some good news and bad news: the good news is that for the next year, he will not kill anyone; the bad news is that he intends to make up for the loss in activity that very night. Gordon tells Batman the only murder that day was a GothCorp scientist who specialized in sonics. This Dr. Erikson had been working on a sonic based weapon powerful enough to kill anyone in ‘earshot’. Using some rudimentary deductive skills, Batman concludes that the New Year’s Day countdown at Gotham Square is assuredly the place where the Joker will set off the bomb.
Indeed, the Joker is setting up, and Batman is close at hand, but – always with a trick up his sleeve – the Joker has prepared a mass of plastic joker masks in order to help him blend in with the crowd. Batman is not amused. Using his ‘Batnoculars’, he easily spies the real Joker (with a huge clown wearing ear muffs on either side of him) playing the piano on stage. So just before swooping in, he makes his presence known with a well-timed Batarang to the head, removing the Joker’s ear muffs. Then, instead of going after the Joker directly, Batman and Robin take out the muscle on either side of him. This seemingly simple task, however, proves to be too much for the caped crusaders and they find themselves in the clutches of the Clown Prince of Crime. As the bell is rising to ring in the New Year, the Joker is having himself one final gloat by standing next to Batman with a bottle of champagne. The ever-alert Dark Knight snatches the bottle and sprays it all over the controls, shorting the wires and eventually exploding the bell’s pulley, resulting in a falling, massively heavy bell. As luck would have it, the giant object lands right on the Joker.
A few hours after midnight, Gordon enters a small tavern and has a seat, while the barkeep ushers out the remnants of the punters. He speculates that “he” might not show due to the hectic day “he’s” had, but the Commissioner is sure he will show so not to break tradition. Naturally, it’s Batman who they’re talking about and who makes an entrance from the kitchen. He sits; they chat for about ten seconds; he slips away like a shadow, leaving money for the bill behind. Gordon, surprised, swears that one day he’ll beat him to the check, then heads home with a swinging Bat close behind him.
 A Great Holiday episode showing how Batman, Batgirl and Robin spend the holiday season fighting the bad guys. the villains of the episodes are all brilliant and each bring there own villainy to the capers. The ending is touching showing just how much respect batman and Jim Gordon have for each other

REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE – SEASON 1-2

Image result for JUSTICE LEAGUE  TV LOGO CAST (VOICES)

Kevin Conroy (Batman: The KIlling Joke)
George Newbern (Superman/Shazam)
Susan Eisenberg (Justice League: Doom)
Phil LaMarr (Futurama)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Maria Canals Barrera (Camp Rock)

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Gary Cole (Chuck)
Susan Sullivan (The Incredible Hulk 70s)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Jason Marsden (Full House)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Rene Auberjonois (Stargate SG.1)
Garrett Morris (New Girl)
Kurtwood Smith (That 70s Show)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Dennis Haysbert (24)
Scott Rummell (Rugrats)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)
John Rhys-Davis (Lord of The Rings)
Robert Englund (A Nightmare On Elm Street)
Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight)
William Smith (Conan The Barbarian)
Virginia Madsen (Sideways)
David Ogden Stiers (Two Guys and a Girl)
Powers Boothe (Agents of SHIELD)
Julie Bowen (Lost)
Olivia d’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Jeffrey Jones (Howard The Duck)
Michael McKean (This Is Spinal Tap)
Ian Buchanan (Panic Room)
Pam Grier (Jackie Brown)
Tom Sizemore (Heat)
Danica McKellar (Young Justice)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Patrick Duffy (Dallas)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Tara Strong (Sabrina Down Under)
William Atherton (Die Hard)
Fairuza Balk (Almost Famous)
Peri Gilpin (Frasier)
Dany Delany (Superman: TAS)
Larry Drake (Firefly)
Keith David (The Cape)
Michael Jai white (Arrow)
Brian Doyle Murray (Wayne’s World)
Lauren Tom (Futurama)
Lukas Haas (Inception)
Tracey Walter (Batman)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)
Oded Fehr (The Mummy)
Rob Zombie (Super)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Hot Shots)
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Khary Payton (Teen Titans)
Greg Cipes (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2012)
Scott Menville (Frozen)
Hynden Walch (The Batman)
Hector Elizondo (The Princess Diaries)
Elizabeth Pena (The Incredibles)

When it comes to comic book related cartoons there are several that have gained mainstream popularity over the years. From Spider-Man to X-Men or Batman to Superman, DC and Marvel have been fighting it out through animation for some time now. One could argue when Bruce Timm brought his talents to the Batman series DC struck gold and they have been on a roll since.

For over a decade Batman and Superman have been mainstays in the world of cartoons thanks to Timm. His unique design breathed new life into the shows that he produced and brought Batman Beyond and Justice League into the spotlight as well. While Batman Beyond may be the most original concept, the Justice League has technically been around since the 60s. There have been many incarnations of the superhero group over the years, though this one feels modern yet somewhat closer to original JLA. Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Hawkgirl, Flash, J’onn (Martian Manhunter), and the Green Lantern (John Stewart not Hal Jordan) all come together to form this new team.

If you have been a fan of the previous DC cartoons and haven’t checked this one out then you’ll want to pay attention. Just about everybody from the run that started over 10 years ago is contributing to the Justice League. That’s a lot of consistency and means that if Batman sounds familiar to you when you hear him it’s because Kevin Conroy is still his voice.

As is the case with a lot of productions of this nature you really need to have some basic understanding of what’s going on in order to really appreciate it. In fact a lot of what goes on this season is based on the assumption that the viewer knows certain characters and histories involved with them. Unlike Batman Beyond which basically built its world from scratch, the Justice League tiptoes the type of line that could have fanboys throwing their arms up in frustration. Fortunately even though this first season is a little more action-oriented and oddly paced, it is very successful.

Since there are so many characters and most of them are familiar the series takes its time introducing them to us. This means that character specific episodes are in the mix here but some of the League’s personalities don’t get fleshed out as the season progresses. Most of the attention seems to be paid to Green Lantern, Hawk Girl, Wonder Woman, and J’onn. That’s not to say that Flash, Superman, and Batman don’t get their fair amount of screen time. It’s just difficult to find a perfect balance with so many heroes to focus on. While there isn’t a lot of continuity within the episodes that are featured here the episodes themselves are like mini-arcs. Each story in the first season is split up between two or three episodes. This gives the plot more room to develop and doubles the run time. For the most part each episode in the first season here is pretty good.


Some of my favorite episodes were “The Enemy Below”, “In Blackest Night”, “Metamorphosis”, and “The Savage Time”. In “The Enemy Below” Aquaman’s character is introduced with a plot that involves Atlantis destroying the surface civilization. I always liked Aquaman and the way that he’s portrayed in this episode showcased the strength of his determination. “In Blackest Night” was enjoyable as well and featured Green Lantern being put on trial for the destruction of a planet. Probably the biggest treat for me in this season was “A Knight with Shadows”. In the DC universe The Demon (Etrigan) always struck me as one of the most interesting side characters because of the ties to Arthurian legend. Imagine my surprise when Etrigan and his human form Jason Blood show up muttering about the villainess Morgan le Fay. She’s looking for the Philosopher’s Stone and the Justice League joins Etrigan in an effort to stop her.

The dialogue was much better in the second season as well with more fluid storytelling and greater character interactions. Yes, the creators, actors and writers finally hit their stride with this season and there’s nothing to complain about. These episodes are bigger and bolder than the previous ones. More risks were taken with the storytelling and the franchise tapped into the vast pool of DC resources. The result is a collection of the best that Timm and company have had to offer over the years and something that comic book fans shouldn’t be without.

The way that Justice League tells its tales is in the form of two part episodes instead of stand alone adventures. The first season did the same thing and quite honestly it adds a certain amount of quality to the manner in which the story unfolds. With roughly 45 minutes to bring a plot from point A to B instead of 22 minutes things are allowed more time to flesh out and develop. Sometimes past events even come back so don’t be surprised if you see some things that are referenced to an episode in the first season. In the second season there are quite a few stories worth mentioning because they are simply amazing.

One of my favorite story arcs from this season is one called “Tabula Rasa”. In it the League sends Luthor packing but during his flight he stumbles across an android called AMAZO. It’s a cheesy name for sure, but once AMAZO’s powers are revealed he takes on a life of his own and becomes one of the greatest challenges that the JL has ever faced. His ability is to analyze and mimic the powers of anyone that he comes in contact with. As he squares off against Hawkgirl, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Flash, J’onn and eventually Superman he just gets stronger and stronger. The battle not only threatens to destroy Metropolis but the League as well when things get out of control.

“Only in a Dream” was cool because it showed that without Batman the League would probably have been defeated long before now. It’s just ironic that despite all of the super powers that they possess it’s up to Bruce Wayne and his utility belt of toys to save the day. In this particular episode an inmate becomes imbued with psychic powers and can enter people’s dreams. One by one the League falls under his spell and are left in a catatonic state. Batman and J’onn have to team up to take down the bad guy and bring his victims out of their dreamland.

My second favorite adventure in this set has to be “A Better World”. The story starts out in typical fashion with Superman and company taking down Luthor. The twist here is that Luthor is the president and Superman crosses the line between Boyscout and murderer. Two years later the Justice Lords dominate Earth and keep humanity in check to save them from themselves. The super dictatorship seems to be going well and good until the alternative Batman discovers a universe where our Justice League lives. Evil Batman and company capture our heroes and set out to take over their world. The most definitive moment from this episode is when Doomsday comes to town. You’ll remember him as the guy that “killed” Superman in the comic books. Well, the Justice Lord Superman isn’t going to put up with that so when the fight doesn’t go as planned he simply lobotomizes Doomsday and takes him out of the picture completely. This plotline has everything you could ever want from a comic book standpoint and really makes the what if scenario shine.

Several other episodes like “The Terror Beyond”, “Hereafter” and “Wildcards” all prove to be just as exciting though the crown jewel is probably the three part story that ends the season: “Starcrossed”. The hawkpeople from Thanagar arrive on Earth and destroy a Gordanian battleship. They bring news of an impending invasion and form an alliance with Earth to construct a force field to save the planet. It is revealed that Hawkgirl has been a spy for her people all along and is actually betrothed to a high ranking officer. In the meantime Batman discovers that the Gordanian’s aren’t actually attacking Earth and that the invasion was in fact being conducted by the people of Thanagar. The League has to battle for their planet and Shayera Hol (Hawkgirl) has to figure out which side of the fence she is on. This was the perfect way to end this great season and leaves things open for Justice League Unlimited.

To say the second season of Justice League was better than the first would be a gross understatement. Everything in the show was improved for the second year and that was mostly thanks to the big risks taken by the creators. They thought bigger and out of the box and it shows once you finish watching the end result.