REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRISIS ON TWO EARTHS

CAST (VOICES)

William Baldwin (Backdraft)
Mark Harmon (NCIS)
Chris Noth (Sex and The City)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
James Woods (Family Guy)
Jonathan Adams (Bones)
Brian Bloom (The A-Team)
Bruce Davison (High Crimes)
Josh Keaton (Transformers Prime)
Vanessa Marshall (STar Wars Rebels)
Nolan North (Ultimate Spider-Man)

In an alternate universe where evil usually triumphs over good and where the roles of the heroes and villains are reversed from their counterparts in the mainstream DC Universe, heroic analogues of Lex Luthor and the Joker (called the Jester) are attempting to steal a device, the “Quantum Trigger”, from the headquarters of the Crime Syndicate. The pair trip an alarm but manage to secure the device. The Jester sacrifices himself to allow Luthor to escape and kills J’edd J’arkus and Angelique (alternate versions of Martian Manhunter and Hawkgirl respectively) with a radioactive bomb. Luthor is confronted by the remaining Syndicate members (Ultraman, Superwoman, Power Ring, Johnny Quick and Owlman) but escapes to the Earth of the heroic Justice League by activating a dimensional travel device.

Luthor locates a police station and is mistaken for the evil Luthor where he ends up strip-searched. The Justice League is summoned and Superman’s x-ray vision confirms Luthor’s reversed organs indicate that he is from a parallel Earth and that the evil Luthor is still incarcerated at Stryker’s Island. The Justice League take the alternate Luthor to the Watchtower, where they learn of the Syndicate threat. As the Justice League debates the matter, Luthor hides the Quantum Trigger on the satellite. With the exception of Batman, the rest of the Justice League (Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash and Martian Manhunter) travel to Luthor’s Earth. Arriving at the parallel Justice League’s base, the heroes begin to attack Syndicate targets. After a successful series of raids in which they capture Ultraman, the League confront United States President Slade Wilson, who releases Ultraman and explains that acceding to the Syndicate’s demands saves millions of lives. His daughter, Rose, however, regards him as a coward. Martian Manhunter inadvertently reads her mind and explains that as a military man her father actually holds life more dear than others. Martian Manhunter foils an assassination attempt on Rose and the pair fall in love.

Owlman constructs a weapon, the Quantum Eigenstate Device or Q.E.D., which the Syndicate intend to use as the equalizer to the threat of a nuclear reprisal. When pressed by Superwoman, Owlman admits the weapon can destroy entire worlds. Believing there are many parallel Earths, and that each one develops from the choices that each person makes, Owlman becomes obsessed with the idea that nothing he does can possibly matter, as there will always be parallel worlds where he explored another option. As a result, he begins fervently seeking Earth-Prime, the very first Earth from which all other universes originated, intending to use the Q.E.D. to destroy it and spark a chain reaction that would erase the entire multiverse, as it is the only action that would not result in the creation of another universe. He then sends Superwoman with three of her lieutenants to the League’s dimension, and on the Watchtower they battle Batman, Aquaman, Black Canary, Black Lightning, Firestorm, and Red Tornado. Superwoman and one of her lieutenants escape with the Quantum Trigger, but are followed by Batman.

Batman tricks and defeats Superwoman, and summons the League. J’onn and Rose bond, and Rose decides to learn the location of the Syndicate base to allow the Justice League to confront them. The League arrive at the Crime Syndicate’s moon-base with the captive Superwoman, and eventually battle the Syndicate. Owlman fights off Batman and takes the Q.E.D. bomb to Earth-Prime, finding it to be uninhabited and lifeless, having suffered an unknown cataclysm that caused it to leave solar orbit. Luthor speculates that a speedster might be able to vibrate and match the temporal vibration of the teleported Q.E.D. device and open a portal. Flash volunteers but Batman states that he isn’t fast enough, only Johnny Quick is. Johnny agrees and opens a portal.

Batman pursues Owlman to Earth-Prime and defeats him. He then teleports Owlman and the Q.E.D. device to another lifeless, uninhabited Earth. Although Owlman is able to abort the countdown and save himself, he realizes an alternate version of himself would make the opposite choice regardless, stating “It doesn’t matter.”, and allows the bomb to detonate and destroy that alternate Earth, killing himself in the process. Batman returns to discover that the strain of acting as a vibratory conduit has aged Johnny Quick to near death. Before dying, Johnny correctly deduces that Batman had lied about Flash not being fast enough and knew what would happen to him. Despite this, he shows no ill will toward Batman, dying with a smile. Martian Manhunter returns, accompanied by President Wilson and the U.S. Marines, and together they arrest Ultraman, Superwoman, and Power Ring. Wilson thanks the heroes, and although Rose asks Martian Manhunter to remain with her, the group return to their dimension. Batman and Superman later discuss a membership drive, with the five heroes summoned previously greeting the League.

This movie is smart, interesting, and grabs you from the get-go. The action is top notch, the animation is ultra sweet, and if these direct-to-video DC Universe movies have proven anything, it’s that they know how to make a good Justice League flick.

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REVIEW: BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD – SEASON 1-3

Image result for batman the brave and the bold logo

MAIN CAST

Diedrich Bader (Vampires Suck)
Image result for batman the brave and the bold logo
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Jason Marsden (Full House)
James Arnold Taylor (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
Marc Worden (Ultimate Avengers)
Grey DeLisle (The Replacements)
John Dimaggio (Futurama)
Tom Kenny (Super hero Squad)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Corey Burton (Critters)
R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
Vyvan Pham (Generator Rex)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: TTW)
Mikey Kelley (TMNT)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Will Wheaton (Powers)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)
Loren Lester (Batman: TAS)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Jeff Bennett (James Bond Jr.)
Oded Fehr (The Mummy)
Ellen Greene (Pushing Daisies)
Armin Shimmerman (Star Trek: DS9)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Tom Everett Scott (Scream: The Series)
Billy West (Futurama)
Jeffrey Tambor (The Hangover)
Paul Reubens (Gotham)
Diane Delano (Jeepers Creepers II)
Peter Woodward (Crusade)
Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother)
James Remar (Flashforward)
Jeffrey Combs (Gothman)
Ioan Grufford (Ringer)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
William Katt (Carrie)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Hynden Walch (The Batman)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Mark Hamill (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Adam West (BAtman 60s)
Julie Newmar (Batman 60s)
Dana Delany (Body of Proof)
Tony Todd (Chuck)
Peter Scolari (Gotham)
Cree Summer (Batman Beyond)
Steve Blum (Wolverine and Thje X-Men)
John Wesley Shipp (The Flash)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
Olivia D’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Mae Whitman (Independence Day)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Vanessa Marshall (Star Wars: Revels)
John Michael Higgins (Still Waiting)
Michael Jai White (Arrow)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Tippi Hedren (The Birds)
Gary Owens (That 70s Show)
Ted McGinley (Highlander 2)
Henry Winkler (Happy Days)

There’s a gloriously meta moment in the back half of this season of Batman: The Brave and the Bold where the show’s producers are raked over the coals at Comic-Con. One of the twentysomethings in the crowd grouses and groans about how the Caped Crusader in the cartoon isn’t his Batman, and…well, he’s not wrong. DC’s comics anymore are joylessly grim and gritty…22 monthly pages of misery and scowling and torture and dismemberment and death and high collars and way too much crosshatching. Batman: The Brave and the Bold, meanwhile, is defined by its vivid colors and clean, thick linework. It’s a series whose boundless imagination and thirst for high adventure make you feel like a six year old again, all wide-eyed and grinning ear to ear.


You know all about The Dark Knight’s war on crime, and in The Brave and the Bold , he’ll duke it out against any badnik, anywhere. He doesn’t go it alone, either, with every episode pairing Batman up with at least one other DC superhero. Heck, to keep it interesting, The Brave and the Bold shies away from the obvious choices like Superman and Wonder Woman. Instead, you get more interesting team-ups like Blue Beetle (more than one, even!), Elongated Man, Wildcat, Mister Miracle, Kamandi, and B’wana Beast.
Other animated incarnations of Batman have been rooted in something close enough to reality. Sure, you might have androids and the occasional Man-Bat, but they tried to veer away from anything too fantastic. The Brave and tbe Bold has free reign to do just about whatever it wants. One week, maybe you’ll get an adventure in the far-flung reaches of space with a bunch of blobby alien amoebas who mistake Batman for Blue Beetle’s sidekick. The next might offer up Tolkien-esque high fantasy with dragons and dark sorcery. Later on, Aquaman and The Atom could play Fantastic Voyage inside Batman’s bloodstream, all while the Caped Crusader is swimming around in a thirty-story walking pile of toxic waste. He could be in a Western or a post-apocalyptic wasteland or a capes-and-cowls musical or even investigate a series of grisly something-or-anothers alongside Sherlock Holmes in Victorian England.

Batman has markedly different relationships with every one of those masked heroes. There’s the gadget geekery with an earlier incarnation of the Blue Beetle. With the younger, greener-but-still-blue Beetle, Batman takes on more of a mentor role.

More of a stern paternal figure for Plastic Man, and a rival for Green Arrow. Sometime it might not even be the most pleasant dynamic, such as a decidedly adult Robin who doesn’t feel like he can fully step outside the long shadow that Batman casts.

There are some really unique takes on iconic (and not so iconic!) DC superheroes here, and far and away the standout is Aquaman. This barrel-chested, adventure-loving braggart is my favorite incarnation of the king of the seven seas, and if Aquaman ever scores a cartoon of his own, I hope he looks and acts a lot like this. Oh, and The Brave and the Bold does a spectacular job mining DC’s longboxes for villains too, and along with some of the familiar favorites, you get a chance to boo and hiss at the likes of Kanjar Ro, The Sportsmaster, Kite Man, Gentleman Ghost, Chemo, Calendar ManKing, Crazy Quilt, and Shrapnel. The Brave and the Bold delivers its own versions of Toyman, Vandal Savage, and Libra while it’s at it, the latter of whom has the closest thing to a season arc that the series inches towards.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold is every bit as fun and thrilling as you’d expect from a series where every episode’s title ends with an exclamation point. Each installment is fat-packed with action, and the series has a knack for piling it on in ways I never saw coming. Even with as imaginative and off-the-walls as The Brave and the Bold can get, it still sticks to its own internal logic, so the numerous twists, turns, and surprises are all very much earned.

The majority of the episodes have a cold open not related to the remainder of the episode. Despite its episodic nature, if you’re expecting a big storyline in these 26 episodes, you’re going to be pretty disappointed as the extent of an overarching story in the season is the occasional villain that appears more than once, like Starro, but that’s really the only connecting bridge between episodes.

Season 2 contains one of my favorite episodes of not only this particular season, but probably in the entire series, “Chill of the Night!”, which goes back to Batman’s origins as Bruce Wayne learns more about the man who murdered his parents, turning him into the crime-fighter he would become, it’s one of the most well known origin stories in media, ever, but it’s done so well here. Another reason I love this episode is my blinding nostalgia for the voice cast.

The original 1960’s Batman, Adam West, guest stars as Batman’s father, Thomas Wayne, while Julie Newmar, who starred opposite of West as Catwoman from the original Batman TV show, plays Batman’s mother, Martha Wayne. My favorite Batman of all time, theatrical or not, Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman from Batman: The Animated Series and various other series/movies/games, voices the Phantom Stranger. Lastly, the baddie of the episode, The Spectre, is voiced by none other than Mark Hamill, the definitive voice of the Joker.

The Episodes in season 3 are wildly imaginative; so much so that purists will probably be put off, at least initially. They range from “Night of the Batmen”, where batman is incapacitated and it is up to Aquaman, Green Arrow, Captain Marvel, and Plastic Man to don the cowl, and keep gotham safe. As weird as that may sound, this episode is pure fun, and a joy to watch. Other stand outs are the never before seen in the states “The Mask of Matches Malone”, “Shadow of the Bat”, “Scorn of the Star Sapphire”, and “Powerless”.

Special mention has to be made of the final episode of the series however, “Mitefall”. In this meta episode, Batmite does a fantastic job breaking down why the series is ending, and the disconnect of the so-called “purists”, whose baseless, closed minded, ignorance eventually doomed this excellent series.

When all is said and done, we received three outstanding, and criminally underrated, seasons and it is a joy to see.