REVIEW: HARLEY QUINN – SEASON 2

Harley Quinn (2019)

Starring

Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory)
Lake Bell (The Secret Life of Pets)
Alan Tudyk (Doom Patrol)
Jason Alexander (Shallow Hal)
Diedrich Bader (American Housewife)
Ron Funches (Powerless)
Tony Hale (Chuck)
J. B. Smoove (Spider-Man: Far From Home)

Wayne Knight and Kaley Cuoco in New Gotham (2020)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Christopher Meloni (Man of Steel)
Wayne Knight (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2)
Jim Rash (Sky High)
Jacob Tremblay (Good Boys)
Matt Oberg (Sisters)
Sanaa Lathan (The Cleveland Show)
Rachel Dratch (Click)
Tom Hollander (Gosford Park)
Andy Daly (Semi-Pro)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Vanessa Marshall (Final Space)
James Adomian (Storks)
Brad Morris (Cougar Town)
George Lopez (The Smurfs 2)
Briana Cuoco (The Lydia Bennet!!)
Michael Ironside (Highlamnder II)
Jessica Walter (Archer)
Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad)
Will Sasso (Mom)
Justina Machado (Scoob!)
Scott Porter (Speed Race)
James Wolk (Watchmen TV)

Kaley Cuoco and Lake Bell in Riddle U (2020)While the first season only wrapped up a short while ago, DC Universe’s Harley Quinn is back for more, and it couldn’t be a better time for it to return. The animated series has stolen fans’ hearts with its all-star cast, hilarious approach to the DC canon, and adult-oriented approach to humor and violence. Season Two  absolutely keeps up its momentum in the episodes, while also evolving things forward in a necessary way. Kaley Cuoco and Alan Tudyk in All the Best Inmates Have Daddy Issues (2020)The premiere picks up a few weeks after The Joker’s (Alan Tudyk) apocalyptic attack on Gotham City, as Harley Quinn (Kaley Cuoco) navigates the aftermath as only she can. Without getting into spoilers (which, if I’m being honest, would sound ludicrous out of context anyway), the episode gradually expands the rogues that are causing trouble in Gotham — a movement that gives Harley a new vendetta without feeling forced.Kaley Cuoco and Lake Bell in There's No Place to Go But Down (2020)Part of what’s made modern-day Harley Quinn so effective — from the comics to the recent blockbuster Birds of Prey movie — has been her approach to and subversion of feminist issues. Season One of Harley put that at the forefront, as she tried to prove her worth and agency among the male villains of her life. While there’s only one episode to go off of, Season Two seems to tackle that misogyny from a slightly different angle, one that will hopefully be incredibly satisfying to watch unfold.Kaley Cuoco in Inner (Para) Demons (2020)Of course, one of the standouts of the series is the rapport between Harley and her “crew,” something that remains the beating heart of the Season Two premiere. Cuoco is somehow even more energetic as Harley, and there’s a sense that she’s legitimately comfortable bringing the character to life. Each of the supporting cast members — from Lake Bell’s Poison Ivy to Jason Alexander’s Sy Borgman — are as great as ever and get their own moments of hilarity within the episode.Kaley Cuoco in Bachelorette (2020)The other villains of the series are as pitch-perfect as ever, between James Adomian’s scene-stealing Bane and Jim Rash’s delightfully-obnoxious take on The Riddler. Spider-Man 2 alum Alfred Molina joins the roster as Mr. Freeze, but manages to weave himself into the ensemble as if he’s always been there. Plus, the Season Two premiere rectifies one of the first season’s few flaws, which was that there wasn’t nearly enough of Andy Daly, who voices Two-Face and a handful of other characters in the episode.The Runaway Bridesmaid (2020)Harley Quinn’s sophomore is a  genuine hit — it somehow manages to outdo its stellar first batch of episodes. The cast and crew are clearly having fun bringing this new adventure of Harley’s to life.

REVIEW: HARLEY QUINN – SEASON 1

Harley Quinn (2019)

Starring

Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory)
Lake Bell (The Secret Life of Pets)
Alan Tudyk (Doom Patrol)
Jason Alexander (Shallow Hal)
Diedrich Bader (American Housewife)
Ron Funches (Powerless)
Tony Hale (Chuck)
J. B. Smoove (Spider-Man: Far From Home)

Kaley Cuoco in The Final Joke (2020)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Charles Adler (Rugrats)
James Adomian (Storks)
Tisha Campbell-Martin (My Wife and Kids)
Briana Cuoco (The Lydia Bennet!!)
Andy Daly (Semi-Pro)
Chris Diamantopoulos (The Three Stooges)
Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad)
Susie Essman (Curb Your Enthusiasm)
Sean Giambrone (The Secret Life of Pets 2)
Tom Kenny (Super Hero Squad Show)
Wayne Knight (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Rahul Kohli (Izombie)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Sanaa Lathan (The Cleveland Show)
Howie Mandel (Gremlins)
Vanessa Marshall (Final Space)
Christopher Meloni (Man of Steel)
Natalie Morales (Santa Clarita Diet)
Frankie Muniz (Agent Cody Banks)
Matt Oberg (Sisters)
Rhea Perlman (Sing)
Jim Rash (Sky High)
Will Sasso (Mom)
Nicole Sullivan (The King of Queens)
Wanda Sykes (Clerks II)
Jacob Tremblay (Good Boys)
James Wolk (Watchmen TV)

Diedrich Bader and Kaley Cuoco in The Final Joke (2020)DC Universe’s funny, gory supervillain comedy mixes rollicking action with psychological growth. In DC Universe’s Harley Quinn, a gloriously foul-mouthed and blood-spattered adult cartoon, our psychologist-turned-supervillain heroine finds herself in a brutal skirmish with her own parents, who are trying to kill her. (First, they accidentally blew grandma’s head off, then they put a peekaboo hole through grandpa.) Harley beats her emotionally abusive father to a pulp in a filial dynamic I haven’t seen since Karyn Kusama’s Girlfight. “All I wanted was what every Jewish mother wants — for you to marry a doctor!” her mother wails, brandishing a bloody knife. “I AM A DOCTOR!” Harley (Kaley Cuoco) erupts in a zing so nuclear it nearly knocked me as dead as grandma.Kaley Cuoco, Tony Hale, and Ron Funches in The Final Joke (2020)Harley Quinn is the story of what happens when a woman’s ego happens to be as inflated as any mediocre man’s. It’s one of the best surprises of the year. The show stems from Justin Halpern, Patrick Schumacker and Dean Lorey, who have created another clever postmodern take on superhero lore, à la The Incredibles, The Boys, Watchmen and Powerless. (All three were executive producers on the latter.)Kaley Cuoco in Devil's Snare (2020)In 13 zippy, violent and irreverent half-hour episodes, we’re introduced to lovesick Harley, a minor sidekick in unbecoming pantomime garb, who soon breaks free from her toxic romance with narcissist Joker (Alan Tudyk) to branch out on her own (complete with a sexy makeover to embody Margot Robbie’s bat-wielding-in-short-shorts version of the character). Harley, a former practicing therapist, bursts with lava-hot anger, and her addiction to her own temper ends up being her Achilles heel in most episodes. She’s a great protagonist because she makes bad decisions and maintains unhealthy goals. Honestly, it’s a refreshing set of vices for a cartoon female lead.Kaley Cuoco in Devil's Snare (2020)Short of being “How Harley Got Her Groove Back,” the series takes its time to deprogram its heroine from the abuse cycle, following her as she slowly builds her nascent supervillain business/brand. First, her sardonic and husky-voiced best friend Poison Ivy (Lake Bell, playing the character as a grown-up Daria) stages an anti-Joker intervention for Harley that includes hurling her friend in a vat of neon margarita mix disguised as acid (“It’s still kinda stingy,” Harley whines).Kaley Cuoco and Alan Tudyk in Devil's Snare (2020)Then, once her ex is out of her life, Harley realizes how little respect she has in the supervillain boys club (a.k.a. the Legion of Doom) and seeks to establish a ruthless reputation for herself. She assembles a new crew, including a #MeToo-disgraced Doctor Psycho (Tony Hale), shape-shifting thespian Clayface (Alan Tudyk), easygoing fishman King Shark (Ron Funches) and elderly spy-turned-cyborg Sy Borgman (Jason Alexander). Ivy, an avowed environmentalist with her own plant-based agenda, insists she’s not officially in the crew … but let’s just say she’s not-not officially in the crew. They’re raggedy, but they’ll do.Kaley Cuoco and Lake Bell in Devil's Snare (2020)The best episodes are the ones in which Harley must confront her own boundaries as a supervillain. Early on, she finds herself in a cringey nemesis relationship with seemingly-cherubic tween Robin (Jacob Tremblay, as delightfully profane as in Good Boys), which threatens Harley’s fledgling professional legitimacy. Later, she befriends charming villainess Queen of Fables (Wanda Sykes), only to realize she’s hardcore bloodthirsty and not just your garden-variety heisting baddie. I mean, she full-on murders Humpty Dumpty for an omelet. “Oh, you got a line, huh?” she admonishes Harley. “Superheroes have a line. Teen Titans have a line. We don’t give a fuck.”Kaley Cuoco in Devil's Snare (2020)Harley Quinn juxtaposes cheeky joke-telling against face-melting body horror. It’s also not afraid to mock the DC brand at large. Here, every classic superhero is a righteous blowhard, every revered supervillain an impotent buffoon (Harley taunts Batman about how he “fucks bats” every chance she gets). We watch as Aquaman cradles a dying pufferfish in his arms and as Bane continuously fails at every little task. Comedian James Adomian’s harpooning voicework superbly obliterates Tom Hardy’s iconic performance as this character.In fact, the cast at large is key to Harley Quinn’s success. Harley screeches so much I actually became worried for Cuoco’s vocal cords, but the shrieking nonetheless remains essential to Harley’s personal development. She’s no longer the nasally, sexxii baby-voiced Noo Yawka dripping at Joker’s heels, but a rage machine about to explode into flames. She’s often tempered by Ivy’s voice-of-reason deadpan, a masterful turn from Bell, who in fact wrote and directed an entire feature film about the art of vocal talent. Other main cast standouts include Alan Tudyk, doing his cartoon pastiche Alan Tudyk thing, and Jason Alexander, who infuses Sy Borgman with craggy Yiddishkeit. My favorite guest stars of the season include Susie Essman and Rhea Perlman.Kaley Cuoco and Lake Bell in Devil's Snare (2020)Instead of relying on caper-of-the-week hijinks, the producers opt to highlight Harley’s personal growth, organically building action sequences and serialized storylines from that seismic emotional epicenter. Harley may be a supervillain, but she’s also healing from systemic manipulation, finally able to explore her own identity outside of her ex’s. Harley Quinn has its finger on the pulse of female trauma and strength. Kaley Cuoco in Harley Quinn Highway (2020)

REVIEW: CONSTANTINE (2014)

Matt Ryan in Constantine (2014)

Starring

Matt Ryan (Justice League Dark)
Lucy Griffiths (Robin Hood)
Angélica Celaya (Danger One)
Charles Halford (Reprisal)
Harold Perrineau (Lost)

Charles Halford, Matt Ryan, and Angélica Celaya in Constantine (2014)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Lisa Darr (Popular)
Joelle Carter (Home Before Dark)
Michael James Shaw (Limitless)
Sean Whalen (Superstore)
Jonjo O’Neill (The Fall)
Charles Parnell (The Last Ship)
Chasty Ballesteros (The Ranch)
Emmett J Scanlan (Krypton)
Niall Matter (Eureka)
Laura Regan (Mad Men)
Amy Parrish (One Tree HIll)
Max Charles (The Neighbours)
Juliana Harkavy (Arrow)
Megan West ((This is Us)
Claire van der Boom (The Square)
Jose Pablo Cantillo (Crank)
Joelle Carter (Justified)
Paloma Guzmán (The Deuce)
Roger Floyd (Graceland)
Amanda Clayton (John Carter)
Mark Margolis (Breaking Bad)
Jeremy Davies (Lost)
William Mapother (Another Earth)
Skyler Day (Raven’s Home)
Robert Pralgo (The Vampire DIaries)
Annalise Basso (Ouija 2)
J.D. Evermore (Cloak & Dagger)
Brandon Larracuente (13 Reasons Why)

Angélica Celaya in Constantine (2014)DC/Vertigo’s John Constantine leapt from the sordid, scary pages of his Hellblazer comics thanks to EPs David Goyer (The Dark Knight, Man of Steel) and Daniel Cerone (Dexter, Charmed). Matt Ryan, as the titular hero, was really effective in bringing Constantine to life on screen. Flippant when called for. Vulnerable when need be. All the while – whether casting out a demon from some poor body or battling one within himself – creating a very commanding, likable presence on screen. John Constantine was a the sort of hero you had to get right immediately and Ryan excelled.Matt Ryan in Constantine (2014)John’s back up proved reliable from a charismatic standpoint. Chas and Zed were great characters and as the serious progressed we got to see their back story’s and what made them the way they are.I really liked that Newcastle was used as the show’s jumping off point, and that throughout the season John would have to atone in various ways with scattered members of that ill-fated team, but his own team often suffered. Even though we’re only talking about 13 episodes here, the show still made good use of a seasonal arc format. Even using the “Rising Darkness” to both inform and be the cause of a procedural “case of the week” structure .Matt Ryan in Constantine (2014)The “Scry Map” gave John demons and ghosts to chase, all under the umbrella that hell was slowly encroaching upon the world of the living. And while not every “case of the week” landed, a couple of stories ripped from the comics came alive in (remixed) cool ways (“A Feast of Friends,” “The Saint of Last Resorts: Part 1” and “Waiting for the Man”). Along with some DC notables like Felix Faust, Eclipso’s Black Diamond, and Jim Corrigan.I liked that Manny turned out to be the villain right at the end of the finale. Mostly because the “Rising Darkness” needed a face. The Brujeria were mentioned quite a bit, but never shown.Matt Ryan in Constantine (2014)Was the twist worth sitting through a handful of episodes where I wondered why Manny was even there at all? Maybe, maybe not. But the show needed a “big bad,” and whether or not Manny turns out to be Satan himself or just an evil angel, he still fits the bill nicely.Constantine had a cool look, an awesome lead, and a confidence that you don’t see in most fledgling series. As the series went on it became an intriguing show with many dimensions that would of been worth exploring in later seasons, this is a show that was cancelled too soon and now with a unresolved cliffhanger we may never know where it will lead. On the plus side Matt Ryan’s Constantine is coming too Arrow, so we at least get to see him at least one more time.

REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED – SEASON 1

Main Cast

Kevin Conroy (Justice League Doom)
George Newbern (Law & Order: SVU)
Susan Eisenberg (Lego aquaman)
Phil LaMarr (Futurama)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Maria Canals (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns)

MV5BMTk2NzY1NTU5OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjIwOTM2MjE@._V1_

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Kin Shriner (Manhunter)
George Eads (CSI)
Eric Robert (The Finder)
Dana Delany (Tombstone)
Mike Farrell (Patch Adams)
Shelley Fabares (Coach)
Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games)
Christopher McDonald (Happy Gilmore)
Dakota Fanning (War of The Worlds)
Olivia d’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Sheryl Lee Ralph (Fam)
Fred Savage (The Princess Diaries)
Jason Hervey (Back To The Future)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Michael York (Logan’s Run)
Patrick Bauchau (Panic Room)
Rachel York (One Fine Day)
Jack Carter (McCloud)
Jeffrey Combs (Re-Annimator)
Robert Foxworth (Transformers)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)
Sam McMurray (Raising Arizona)
Cree Summer (Voltron)
Tom Everett Scott (Because I Said So)
Billy West (Futurama)
Lori Loughlin (Full House)
Jeremy Piven (Old School)
Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
John C. McGinley (Scrubs)
Oded Fehr (V)
Scott Rummell (Six)
Tim Matheson (The West Wing)
Grey Griffin (The Book of Life)
CCH Pounder (Avatar)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Michael Beach (Aquaman)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Peter MacNicol (Veep)
Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
Nestor Carbonell (Bates Motel)
Mindy Sterling (Austin Powers)
Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina: TTW)
Dennis Farina (Get Shorty)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Virginia Madsen (Better Watch Out)
Ioan Gruffudd (Ringer)
Farrah Forke (Lois & Clark)
Michael Dorn (Star Trek: TNG)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Michael Jai White (Arrow)
Armin Shimerman (Buffy: TVS)
Juliet Landau (Ed Wood)
Alan Rachins (Showgirls)
Robert Englund (2001 Maniacs)
Wayne Knight (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Jason Bateman (Office Christmas Party)
Susan Sullivan (Castle)
Michael T. Weiss (The Pretender)
Amy Acker (Angel)
Glenn Shadix (Beetlejuice)
Steve Schirripa (Must Love Dogs)
Jerry O’Connell (Sliders)
Lisa Edelstein (House)
Nathan Fillion (Serenity)
Elizabeth Peña (The Incredibles)
Hector Elizondo (The Princess Diaries)
Robert Forster (Jackie Brown)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Hynden Walch (The Batman)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)

MV5BMTk4NTc5Mzg3Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTc5ODM2MjE@._V1_Fantasy now runs your life? Comic books become your vice? And your best friends still have their virginities? Then look no farther, friends, because this collection of episodes is so good you don’t need friends, significant others, or a single reason to emerge from your Geekdrome. But you know what the best part is? It’s not just for geeks – Justice League Unlimited stands tall as the best collection of American action/adventure animation you’re likely to find. While there is, of course, a certain geek charge some may get out of seeing characters like Powergirl and Green Arrow in action (not to mention an episode featuring Nathan Fillion voicing Vigilante and Gina Torres voicing Vixen – come on, how cool is that?), these episodes will entertain because of good characters, good humor, and good storytelling, even if you don’t know your Booster Golds from your Blue Beetles.MV5BMTA3OTAzMDYwMjdeQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU4MDMzMDkzNjIx._V1_While the first two seasons of Justice League nicely expanded upon the world first established in the early ’90s with Batman: The Animated Series, it wasn’t until this, the show’s third season (or first, depending on how you look at it) that the format and structure was perfected for the genre. It was an interesting experiment having the previous seasons’ episodes run for one-hour, but with JLU the format is scaled back to stand-alone half-hour stories and, ironically, it fits like a bat-glove. It’s strange, but these shorter episodes actually manage to pack in more than the double-length ones. A lot more. And what a roster of characters to fill a show with! You’ll see everyone from The Atom to Elongated Man. Because this is a full-blown, all-star take on these characters, each character can shine their brightest. When you get Superman, you get the best of Superman. Wonder Woman? The best of Wonder Woman. B’wana Beast? Uh… well, I guess this is the best he’s ever been.MV5BMjIwOTMxMzk2MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTU5ODM2MjE@._V1_The surplus of great characters is fun, but what really sells the show are the stories. Or, more specifically, story. No doubt borrowing a page from the work of Joss Whedon – showrunner Bruce Timm admits in a commentary that Whedon was a big influence – these episodes highlight a large and complex season-spanning plot that actually has meaning in today’s world. This is certainly the most mature and thoughtful storytelling you’re likely to get from a cartoon of this type. What elevates the show from great to brilliant is its ability to tell stories that are exciting and also manage to propel the larger narrative forward. For example, Dark Heart – penned by famous comic book scribe Warren Ellis – manages to mix a great science fiction plot (a self-replicating AI) with humor (Wonder Woman, needing both hands to fight, rests The Atom in a very interesting holding place) and its plot still manages to play a part later on down the road in the season’s climax.MV5BMjAwMTU4NDI0NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzIwOTM2MjE@._V1_The writing is the best the show has ever seen, no doubt a result of staff writer Dwayne McDuffie coming into his own; his versatility with the characters is fantastic. Comic book writers Warren Ellis and J.M. DeMatteis join in on the fun, and new series director Joaquim Dos Santos infuses the episodes with a dynamic energy that allows the show to compete with the best of today’s cutting-edge, anime-inspired programming. It’s like the entire DC animated universe has been supercharged in the best way possible.MV5BMTk3NjM3NzI3Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjQwOTM2MjE@._V1_This collection contains two seasons, and both season finales are just fantastic. The Once and Future Thing is an exciting time romp (with a great Western segment) and Divided We Fall is a showstopper of epic proportions. Either finale would make for a better DVD movie than any of what has been released thus far. Then there’s Epilogue – just brilliant. It manages to tie in the entire DC animated universe – including films Mask of the Phantasm and Return of the Joker! – and still say something meaningful about a very important character. The episode isn’t just great animation, it’s great television.MV5BMTk1MDgzMTYzN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTUwOTM2MjE@._V1_There really is nothing bad to say about these episodes. The new rock-inspired opening credits do ring a bit too much of cheesy ’80s electronica, but you get used to it, and, after a while, it fits. Of course, the fact remains that if you aren’t into cartoons in the first place you probably won’t be willing to hop on the bandwagon no matter how cool a series is. But if you consider animation to be a legitimate and respectable medium, then this is the pinnacle of the form.  While there are bigger and more influential cartoon shows out there – namely, comedies like The Simpsons – Justice League Unlimited is still one of the best American animated programs you’ll find. With this show the genre has been perfected – it’s fun, exciting, and thoughtful. In other words, this is exactly what superheroes should be.

REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE – SEASON 1

Main Cast

Kevin Conroy (Justice League Doom)
George Newbern (Law & Order: SVU)
Susan Eisenberg (Lego aquaman)
Phil LaMarr (Futurama)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Maria Canals (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns)

JL_line-up

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Gary Cole (Fam)
Jason Marsden (Young Justice)
Susan Sullivan (Castle)
Corey Burton (Transformers)
Clyde Kusatsu (Midway)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
James Remar (Black Lightning)
Kurtwood Smith (Robocop)
Rene Auberjonois (Star Trek: DS9)
Garrett Morris (2 Broke Girls)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Dennis Haysbert (24)
Scott Rummell (Six)
Kristin Bauer van Straten (50 First Dates)
Xander Berkeley (Terminator 2)
Robert Englund (A Nightmare On Elm Street)
John Rhys-Davies (Lord of The Rings)
Eric Roberts (The Finder)
William Smith (Laredo)
David Ogden Stiers (Two Guys and a Girls)
Cathy Cavadini (THe Powerpuff Girls)
Bill Duke (Black Lightning)
Virginia Madsen (Better Watch Out)
Keone Young (Crank)
Powers Boothe (Sin City)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Julie Bowen (Modern Family)
Olivia d’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Stephen McHattie (300)
David Naughton (The Gathering)
Stephen Root (Barry)
Ted McGinley (No Good Nick)
Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother)
Udo Kier (Iron Sky)
Michael McKean (This Is Spinal Tap)
Jeffrey Jones (Howard The Duck)
William Katt (Carrie)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Ian Buchanan (Panic Room)
Sheryl Lee Ralph (Moesha)
Grant Heslov (THe Scorpion King)
Michael T. Weiss (The Pretender)
Pam Grier (Jackie Brown)
William Morgan Sheppard (Transformers)
Dave Thomas (Coneheads)
Cam Clarke (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Danica McKellar (The Wonder Years)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Michael Bell (Transformers: The Movie)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Tom Sizemore (Red Planet)
Patrick Duffy (Dallas)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)
Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager)

secret-origins-pan-01They’re the rockstars of the DC universe and they’re a heck of a lot of fun to be around. Giant robot rampaging through the city and Superman alone can’t stop it? Insidious villain plotting to invade the world with an army of zombies and the task is too much for Wonder Woman? Puzzling crime-spree that Batman can’t – er, wait. Strike that last one. Given enough time, Batman can do just about anything. Even so, when the world is in dire need of saving, it’s a job for the Justice League. MV5BMDMyN2UzOWQtZjg4OS00MmFiLTk0MzItNTlkZTk3NTRjZWRmXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_This series is the culmination of nearly ten years of animation continuity headed up by animation producer Bruce Timm and friends. It’s very rare for a consistent creative team to play around in what is essentially the same sandbox for so long. From the writers to the directors to the voice actors – Kevin Conroy has been voicing Batman for over ten years now – Justice League is the spiritual conclusion to the DC animated universe that Batman: The Animated Series helped kick off way back in 1992.MV5BM2Y5M2JmYTEtNWRiMy00OTgwLTkwOGMtMzI2ZWIxZmM3ODAwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_The creative team has taken everything they’ve learned in their previous shows (Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond) and brought it to the next level. Justice League features seven main heroes and a host of villains. If that wasn’t enough, in its later seasons the series would expand its roster to include virtually the entire DC comic book universe. MV5BOTUyYzZlMDUtOTk2ZC00NGQxLTkxNzMtZmVmMjNjNWNhNGYzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_Obviously, since the show features the world’s greatest superheroes, you’ve got to come up with some pretty challenging foes for them to face. At the same time you’ve got to ensure that the characters maintain unique personas and don’t step over each other’s ground. This is not an easy task, especially when confined to the constraints of a kids’ show. The greatest weakness of the first season is the show’s inability to keep its characters distinct and interesting at the same time. Sure, it’s easy making Batman cool – and it never gets old – but its somewhat more difficult peeling the other characters apart. For example, Superman and Hawkgirl seem to be identical characters in terms of functionality. They both fly, are very strong, and can tear things apart. The only difference is that Hawkgirl uses a mace.MV5BMTYzMjA5NzEyNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTEwOTM2MjE@._V1_The best way to keep characters with overlapping powers interesting is to develop them as individuals. Sadly, the show’s first season seems more interested in flashy action than character development. Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and J’onn J’onzz get some great moments, but The Flash, Superman, and Hawkgirl are left out in the cold. My personal pet peeve this season is that Superman gets dumbed down to the point of uselessness. Bruce Timm admits in the extras that they thought having Superman get beaten up so often would make their villains look even scarier. After all, if something can take down Superman it’s got to be tough. However, after a while Superman gets beat up so often that the “Super” is sapped out of him. If you see anything electrical it’s a guarantee that it will shock ol’ Supes and put him out of action. If you’re willing to forgive a few missteps (I certainly was) then you’ve got a real treat in store for yourself.MV5BODQ1Nzk0OGQtYWNmYy00N2M0LWFmYTgtZjA4MDhjYmVjNjUzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_In a wise move by the show’s producers, the first season (along with the second) is divided into a series of two-part episodes. This gives the show forty-four minute episodes in which to tell more complicated stories than would be possible in the standard twenty-two minutes. The result is a four disc set packed with high-flying superhero fun. From Injustice For All, where our heroes battle an evil society headed-up by a terminally diagnosed Lex Luthor, to The Enemy Below, where the League team up with Aquaman, this entire boxed set is full of great action and enjoyable comic book storytelling.MV5BYjQ4NmY2NzEtMTM1Yi00YzY2LWEyMjItZjlkODE3M2E1N2JmXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_If you’re willing to forgive some unbalanced character development then you’ll have a great time with this first season. Justice League is a very entertaining show that any fan of superhero animation should not be without. These guys were the world’s first superhero team and they set the template for everyone that came after. They were the best then, and thanks to this show, they’re the still the best today.

REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE: DARK

CAST

Matt Rayan (Constantine)
Jason O’Mara (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D)
Camilla Luddington (The Pact 2)
Nicholas Turturro (Zookeeper)
Ray Chase (Kingslaive)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)
JB Blanc (Breaking Bad)
Roger Cross (Arrow)
Colleen Villard (The Avengers: EMH)
Jerry O’ Connell (Sliders)
Rosario Dawson (Sin City)
Jeremy Davies (Sleepy Hollow)
Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)

All over the world, people suddenly begin panicking as they start to see everyone around them as demonic monsters and end up killing innocents before members of the Justice League stop them. Deliberating about this strange outbreak, most of the League’s members come to the conclusion that magic must be involved in this. Despite his own past experiences with magic, Batman expresses his skepticism and walks out; but as he returns to Wayne Manor to rest, he finds the word “Constantine” written all over the walls.
In a flashback, occultist John Constantine and Jason Blood – engaged the Demons Three in a poker game in Las Vegas for high-end stakes, even offering his home, the House of Mystery, as his part of the pool in exchange for a box of artifacts, including one called the Dreamstone. However, both parties cheated at the game, and when Constantine exposed the Demons’ trickery, they attacked him. Constantine unleashed Jason’s alter ego, the demon Etrigan, who defeated the Demons Three, but not before they swore revenge on him.
Batman visits Zatanna after one of her performances and begins to ask about Constantine. Deadman possesses Batman and tells Zatanna she needs to see John. Zatanna brings Batman to Constantine. The trio narrowly manage to get inside John’s house in time where they are joined by Black Orchid. The group gathers to share information, and after a quick discussion and some argument between John and Zatanna, form a team to investigate the cause and reason for these supernatural occurrences.
The heroes visits a friend of Constantine and Zatanna’s named Ritchie Simpson, but outside the house they find shroud spirits of Death waiting to collect Ritchie’s soul upon his upcoming demise. The team is granted entry by Simpson, who is suffering from a magical cancer and resentful of Constantine for abandoning him to his fate but loans them the Keshanti Key. Constantine and Zatanna look through a man’s memories for the cause of his frenzy, and discover that he was possessed. Batman, Deadman, Constantine, and Zatanna narrowly manage to escape from a conjured beast as the creature consumes its victim, and Zatanna proceeds to destroy the monster.
Returning to Ritchie’s home to identify the ring from the man’s memory, the team finds him about to die with Blood nearby. Batman revives Ritchie with an adrenaline shot to the chest, but he quickly falls into a coma. After being brought to the House of Mystery for interrogation, Blood tells the team that he did not attempt to hurt Ritchie, but was looking for a way into the House of Mystery to find the Dreamstone; created by a sinister magician naming himself Destiny. Ritchie awakens and names Felix Faust as his assailant before falling back asleep.
The group locate Faust’s observatory with help from Swamp Thing. When they infiltrate Faust’s lair, the wizard battles the team, but is ultimately defeated by Zatanna; however, Faust is found to have no involvement in hurting Ritchie. Ritchie awakens and is revealed to have the other piece of the Dreamstone; using it to keep his cancer in remission, but then he is seemingly killed when the Dreamstone brings Destiny back to life. Destiny declares himself a god, destroys the House and departs to sink the United States into chaos; Zatanna saves the group, but passes out from the exertion. The Justice League tries to fight Destiny, but he makes them perceive each other as demonic threats. Etrigan attacks Destiny, but is separated back into Jason Blood and Etrigan. Constantine summons Swamp Thing, who agrees to fight Destiny, while Batman and the recovered Zatanna disable the Justice League.
Constantine tricks Destiny into bringing him and Deadman within his protective shield, allowing Deadman to wound Destiny, before Constantine, Batman, and Blood destroy the Dreamstone and Destiny’s body, leaving Ritchie, whose soul is dragged to Hell by the shroud spirits. Right afterwards, Blood succumbs to his mortal wound from centuries before. Zatanna, Constatine and Etrigan bury Blood’s body near the place of his old village, before Etrigan leaves for parts unknown. Zatanna agrees to join the Justice League, while Constantine declines (knowing Batman won’t approve if he did). The two return to the now-rebuilt House of Mystery, taking a first tentative step to restoring their fractured relationship, and Deadman likewise joins the restored Black Orchid as her soulmate.It’s refreshing to see a simpler, more straightforward, yet still effectively intriguing story-telling pace set by DC’s animated feature titles. JLD continues the trend of it’s predecessor, excelling at brief but complete introductions to some of DC’s more obscure characters, bringing them out of the shadows. The use of the overly popular Batman is very fitting here and die-hard and new fans should find a bunch to like. Animation is solid, the voice-casting is even better.And it’s great to see Matt Ryan back as Constantine.

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)

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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 (No Good Nick)
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.

REVIEW: THE SUPER POWERS TEAM: GALACTIC GUARDIANS

CAST (VOICES)

Adam West (Batman)
Jack Angel (A.I.)
Rene Auberjonois (Star Trek:DS9)
William Callaway (Darkwing Duck)
Peter Cullen (Transformers)
Danny Dark (Melvin and Howard)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
Stan Jones (Tranformers)
Stanley Ralph Ross (Babe)
Mark Taylor (Melrose Place)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)

A look at what makes this incarnation vastly superior to prior efforts reveals a cast of individuals who would continue going on producing beautiful DCAU efforts even up through today: Andrea Romano (Batman: Animated series, Batman Beyond, Justice League, JL Unlimited, The Batman) directs the voice talent here and story editor Allan Barnett (The Batman) appears on the roster as well. Clearly this show was the stepping-stone to what would eventually become the DCAU as we know it today. Plus, thanks to reworked character models from none-other than famed comic artist José Luis García-López, the team received a much-needed makeover which coincided with DC comic books at the time.Lucy-Locusts-lucy-lawless-37131768-850-709The writing matured to include much more space-scenarios with  an improved scientific understanding throughout. Rather than carbon copy characters in different costumes, for the first time we receive individual personalities, struggles, and conflicts of each of the members of the Justice League of America (which are renamed the Super Powers Team here to better reflect Kenner’s corresponding toyline).The villains are given their proper due as well and, much to my appreciation, are used to near perfection. The Penguin, Lex Luthor, Brianiac, Darkseide, Felix Faust, The Royal Flush Gang, and even the Scarecrow make wonderful appearances. The show’s writers seemed also to finally have figured out that the only way to balance out a cast as diverse and powerful as the Justice League, separation is a necessity (a technique later mastered in Justice League). Many episodes focus on only one or two members of the Team which allows for far better story arcs and character development. Gone are the Wondertwins  and signed on is Cyborg who, like his comic book character, is quite well done and allows the younger set an opportunity for appreciation.Capt3ure_zpsfb4b8813

Episodes that stand out are The Fear, whereby for the first time we receive a Superfriends episode with our heroes out of costume and also Bruce Wayne’s backstory masterfully told without ever showing a gun onscreen. Death of Superman also comes on strong considering just a few short seasons earlier the word death was strictly prohibited. Here it shows up in the very title of one of the episodes which just so happened to be one of the hottest selling comic books of the era. In conclusion, The Super Powers Team: Galacatic Guardians was perhaps the biggest step in the right direction for the Superfriends franchise possible. Sadly this would be the last series but at least it went out on a high.