Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
George Newbern (Father of The Bride)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Mike Farrell (Vanishing Act)
Shelley Fabares (Coach)
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.
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
Juliet Landau (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Donal Gibson (Braveheart)
Alan Rachins (Showgirls)
Chris Cox (Family Guy)
CCH Pounder (Avatar)
At Belle Reve Correctional, Floyd Lawton, aka the hitman Deadshot, is being led to execution, displaying defiance for his fate, even towards the priest. Upon entering the execution chamber, however, it is to find another man who hands some official papers over to the warden. After reading them, the warden orders Deadshot to be released and handed over to the newcomer. On the drive away from the prison, Lawton’s savior introduces himself as U.S. Colonel Rick Flagg who wants Deadshot to assist in a top-secret mission. Flagg also reveals that miniature devices have been infiltrated into Deadshot’s body and will kill him if he does not cooperate. The mission is a simple break-in and theft – from the Justice League’s Watchtower HQ.
They arrive at a warehouse formerly used by Lex Luthor and thus very secure against super-hero surveillance. Lawton is introduced to the rest of “Task Force X”: explosives expert Bette Sans-Souci, a.k.a. “Plastique”; inventor George Harkness, a.k.a. “Captain Boomerang”; and planning expert Temple Fugate, a.k.a. “The Clock King”. With the exception of Flagg, they are all criminals being offered amnesty in exchange for their services. The plan is to infiltrate the Watchtower disguised as members of its support staff, at a time when only three major obstacles are aboard: Green Lantern John Stewart, Captain Atom, and J’onn J’onzz. Flagg warns the other members of Task Force X that there is to be no unnecessary killing. While the others go to the tower, Fugate will stay at base coordinating their progress.
The first phase goes off perfectly: The squad ambushes a group of four Watchtower staff members before they are teleported up. Once there, Flagg uses a device in a pair of prop glasses in order to cause a computer to break down thus enabling them to proceed without a security check. Deadshot and Plastique then head to the lower levels and into the generator room, while Flagg and Boomerang make their way to the high-security storage area. Plastique sets off a bomb on the reactor to cause a diversion from Boomerang’s breakthrough into the vault. There, Flagg takes control of the “package”: a powerful combat robot called the Annihilator. The damage to the reactor causes a radiation leak and an evacuation is ordered. Captain Atom flies down to contain the reactor explosion and reports to J’onn that it was done intentionally.
Deadshot and Plastique sprint up to join Flagg and Boomerang and together they and the Annihilator make their way to the bridge. Along the way, they are stopped by Shining Knight, Vigilante, and Atom-Smasher, but manage to defeat them with the Annihilator’s help. Reaching the bridge, they are confronted by J’onn, who easily defeats them until the Annihilator literally tears him in half, disabling him long enough for the team to reach the transporter. J’onn recovers and defeats the Annihilator, but Plastique gets him to stand back by holding a bomb above the throat of an unconscious Atom-Smasher, and he is forced to allow the others to mount the transporter platform. Just as Plastique is about to join them, Captain Atom arrives and tackles her and one of her bombs goes flying. Deadshot detonates it with a shot from his pistol and, in the confusion, three of Task Force X and the Annihilator transport away. Plastique is left behind, severely wounded. J’onn checks the transporter console, which has been sabotaged and blows up before he can trace the coordinates.
Flagg turns the Annihilator over to Amanda Waller and Tala of Project Cadmus. Before leaving, Waller commends Flagg, telling him his father would be proud of him. Deadshot bids everyone a cheerful goodbye, but Flagg decks him with a punch and informs him that he is to serve in Task Force X for five years before he can go free, otherwise he can go back to prison for execution. Deadshot snidely asks Flagg how Waller is blackmailing him, to which Flagg gives a sneer of contempt and states that he isn’t being blackmailed at all: He is a patriot who serves his country loyally. Aboard the Watchtower, J’onn has discovered that Vance, a member of the bridge crew, passed inside information to Cadmus, using an anti-telepathy device to mask his thoughts. J’onn is tempted to wipe Vance’s mind, but Stewart tells him it would be pointless since Vance has already leaked everything he knows, and they can’t trust any of their staff now.Task Force X really does stand as one of the best examples of what Justice League Unlimited had to offer – a show starring a bunch of random characters that found time to tell an engaging story and humanize each of them a bit. Sure, it plays into a grand over-arching plot, but – on its own terms – Task Force X is really just an example of what the DC animated universe did really well. A fun story well told featuring an interesting cast.
Bud Collyer (Flesicher Superman)
Marvin Miller (The Invisibile Boy)
Ted Knight (The Love Boat)
In 1967, the Filmation-produced Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure featured short animated segments with additional DC characters. The Superman and Aquaman segments have previously been released on DVD, and the rest are now available as the two-disc set, DC Super-Heroes: The Filmation Adventures.
These discs feature three seven-minute episodes each focusing on:
The Justice League of America (made up of the above heroes, plus Superman)
Teen Titans (Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, Speedy, and Aqualad)
I’ve never seen these before (I grew up on Super Friends), and it’s hard to not compare them to the Bruce Timm-designed Justice League cartoons, which benefit from 30-odd years of advances in animation techniques (and technology) and storytelling — not to mention a decent budget. The stories are simplistic, the villains’ motivations even more so; lots of footage is re-used, and the heroes are flat. But the action tends to be wild and crazy, in keeping with the comics of the time.
In fact, a lot of the aspects that stand out when viewing these today are true to the source material. This was deep into the Silver Age at DC, and wild and crazy sci-fi adventure hadn’t yet given way to the more street-level storytelling of the Bronze Age. The excessive narration, while annoying at first, recalls the heavy use of narrative captions to point out exactly what’s going on — how the Flash can run across water, for instance, or reminding us of the name of Hawkman’s mascot Screel (I’m sure I spelled that wrong) even when he calls the bird by name. It also gives the features the feel of a radio play with accompanying visuals.
Almost every villain is an alien trying to invade the Earth. There’s the occasional mad scientist or mutated creature, and in two of the Green Lantern stories, an alien trying to invade Oa. Only one villain from the comics makes the cut: Evil Star, who appears in one of the Green Lantern shorts. The villains are all one-dimensional, but they’re at least differently one-dimensional. They range from pranksters to military commanders (even the ones shaped like beetles) to mustache-twirling megalomaniacs.
As far as the video quality is concerned, the shows themselves have been remarkably well-preserved or restored. The opening sequences have fared less well, with plenty of scratches and the occasional problem with the sound. The Flash stars in three segments, and appears in the three Justice League episodes. His civilian ID as Barry Allen is mentioned, but his job as a police scientist is only used as set dressing. (The Atom sequences make the best use of a character’s civilian ID.) Meanwhile, Kid Flash appears in two of the Flash episodes, and the three Teen Titans segments. Wally appears out of costume just once, and the fact that he is Barry’s nephew is not mentioned.
The Flash’s costume is simplified somewhat for ease of animation, with a plain belt instead of a lightning zigzag, and yellow gloves instead of lightning cuffs around the wrists. (Though the wings on his cowl are clearly wings, not lightning bolts as they appear in Justice League.) Less explicable is the change to Kid Flash’s costume. It’s fairly simple: they reversed the yellow and red. But it’s hard to imagine why. The Flash episodes feature a wide range of uses for super-speed. He and Kid Flash not only run fast, but vibrate through walls, create vacuums, launch themselves into the sky like helicopters, run up the sides of buildings and across oceans, clear rubble and tie things up at super-speed. In doing so, they fight a mutated giant ant (created by radiation, of course!), a mad scientist with what we’d now call a mecha suit (and a number of autonomous robots), and an alien speedster who manages to keep one step ahead of them.
The Justice League of America segments all involve alien invasions of one sort or another, and all pair up the Flash with the Atom. Despite creative use of his powers in his solo stories, the Flash doesn’t do much more than carry the Atom around in the team-ups. Maybe the cast is too big for the seven-minute length. Kid Flash fares better in the Teen Titans episodes, particularly in “Operation Rescue,” in which he breaks his teammates out of a cell, helps Wonder Girl trip a group of attackers with her lasso, and single-handedly protects the T-Copter during takeoff.
While the stories are played straight, the villains and situations are also way over the top, making for a great deal of unintentional humor. It would probably be better to watch an episode or two a day, rather than all in one weekend like I did. Still, as I worked my way through the set, there was a sense that anything could happen in the next episode. As groan-inducing as the dialog can be, or the ridiculous situations, it’s hard to deny the fact that these are fun.
Benjamin Bratt (Traffic)
Michael C. Hall (Dexter)
Tamara Taylor (Bones)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS
Paget Brewster (Criminal Minds)
Daniel Hagen (The Bonfire of The Vanities)
Penny Johnson Jerald (Star Trek: DS9)
Josh Keaton (The Spectacular Spider-Man)
Tahmoh Penikett (Man of Steel)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Bruce Thomas (Legally Blonde)
Big changes were promised with Bruce Timm’s latest project at Warner Bros. Animations, offering an alternate take on DC Comics’ resident super-team in Justice League: Gods & Monsters. Re-imagining DC’s Big Three as the son of a Kryptonian general, a vampire, and a new god, the animated feature proved too limiting to show just what was made possible in terms of storytelling – meaning the early release of a number of Chronicles; animated shorts introducing fans to these radical takes. The first such episode sent a vampire Batman up against Harley Quinn (with predictable results), and the second installment, titled “Bomb,” shows a darker side of Superman. Not darker in his motivations or character, per se – simply willing to do things that the typical Man of Steel is not.
If the goal of these shorts is to show fans that Gods & Monsters is up to snuff with the rest of Timm’s work, we would say they are succeeding. Reinventing heroes simply to grab attention is nothing new, but we know Timm is interested in proving naysayers wrong – and “Bomb” shows that he and the writers aren’t wasting any opportunity to subvert their audience’s expectations.
People have proven to take exception to the idea of a Superman who kills, but Gods & Monsters manages to dodge those issues with its alternate timeline. In this version of the DC Universe, Amanda Waller has given up her role as the head of the Suicide Squad, residing instead in the White House (with the supervillain Dr. Sivana as a top advisor), with classic Superman villain Brainiac now an engineered Superman-deterrent.
From visionary producer and animator Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series), Justice League: Gods and Monsters Chronicles turns the DC Universe upside-down. In this dark, alternate world, telling the good guys from the bad guys is never easy: Superman is not the son of Jor-El, he’s the son of General Zod; Wonder Woman is not from peaceful Themyscira, but rather the warring nation of Ares; and Batman is more vampire-bat than man…and he’s not Bruce Wayne. It is unclear if our greatest heroes are here to protect us…or to rule us. Machinima has already announced a second season, which will come out in 2016.
Benjamin Bratt (Catwoman)
Michael C. Hall (Dexter)
Tamara Taylor (Bones)
Paget Brewster (Community)
C. Thoms Howell (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Eric bauza (Batman: Assault on Arkham)
Larry Cedar (Constantine)
Richard Chamberlain (Chuck)
In an alternate universe, the Justice League is a brutal force that maintains order on Earth. This universe has its own versions of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman:Superman is Hernan Guerra, the son of General Zod, who was rocketed to Earth as a child and raised by a family of honorable and hardworking Mexican migrant farmers. Having gone through the troubles that illegal immigrants face in the United States, he has become short tempered and withdrawn from humanity. Batman is Dr. Kirk Langstrom, a scientist who, after graduating college, has inadvertently transformed himself into a form of pseudo-vampire in an attempt to cure his cancer, feeding on criminals to satisfy his hunger after it begins to eat away at his humanity.
Wonder Woman is Bekka, a New God and the widow of Darkseid’s son Orion, who fled Apokolips for Earth using a mother box-sword after the New God Highfather killed her husband in a massacre of the Apokolips royal family.
The Justice League’s unaccountability is ultimately challenged by the world’s governments following the suspicious deaths of three renowned scientists: Victor Fries, who was drained of blood in the Arctic, Ray Palmer, who was sliced into two with a sharp weapon, with his car having traces of a high heel shoe, and Silas Stone, who was burned alive by an explosion of heat vision energy along with his young son Victor Stone. The true killers are dark, robotic creatures with appearances and attributes mirroring the Justice League’s, along with ‘Boom Tube’ teleportation abilities. As all suspicion falls on the Justice League, President Amanda Waller asks that they co-operate with the government’s investigation. Wonder Woman speaks to Steve Trevor to learn what the government knows while Superman invites Lois Lane to the Justice League’s HQ, where he tells her of his goals to help humanity, and reveals how little he knows about Krypton or his heritage.
Batman investigates himself and discovers an email on Silas’ computer that was sent to a number of scientists including Dr. Will Magnus, Kirk’s best friend and college roommate who helped his transformation. Having remained close friends with Magnus and his wife, Tina, Batman asks the doctor about “Project Fair Play,” which involved all the scientists under Lex Luthor’s employ, but Magnus tells him nothing. Later, Batman locates all the remaining scientists (consisting of Magnus, John Henry Irons, Michael Holt, Karen Beecher, Pat Dugan, Kimiyo Hoshi, Emil Hamilton, T. O. Morrow, and Stephen Shin) discussing the possible threat over their heads, when they are attacked by the robotic assassins, who travel via Boom Tube. Despite Batman and later, the other League Members intervening, the assassins slaughter the remaining scientists and Tina before ‘Booming’ out, with Magnus being severely burned, and the sole survivor of the attack.
The Justice League take Magnus to their HQ, the Tower of Justice, to recover, while Superman flies into orbit to a satellite, where Luthor now resides. Luthor reveals that Project Fair Play is a weapons program to destroy the League if necessary, while also revealing that he retained all the remaining information on Krypton from Superman’s shuttle, and tells him the truth about Zod, who Superman had envisioned as a hero trying to save his world. Luthor tells Superman that Waller has the original files, and as Superman leaves, a robotic assassin booms in and the satellite explodes. As Superman looks on in shock, Trevor shows satellite footage of the explosion and Superman’s presence to Waller, and she retaliates with Project Fair Play, which consists of troops and vehicles armed with energy weapons powered by red sunlight radiation.
Superman and Wonder Woman face the army at their door as Batman stays inside the Tower, where he activates the Tower’s forcefield, with the idea being that once Magnus recovers, he can clear the League. Suddenly, Tina arrives, confusing Batman, who saw her dead body, but before he can ask the obvious question, she subdues him and shapeshifts into a liquid metal robot. With Batman restrained by Tin, Magnus’ house robot, Tina revives Magnus, who is revealed to have orchestrated the framing of the League, with Nanites that enhance his physical strength to mildly superhuman levels. The assassins, and Tina, are in fact the Metal Men, and the assassins appear with a weapon. Magnus tells Batman that he intends to use a Nanite Bomb to forcefully link humanity together into a hive mind. He reveals to Batman that he accidentally killed the real Tina in a fit of rage one night early in their marriage. Overwhelmed with irrational jealousy, Will believed that she secretly loved Kirk, and was tired of her constantly begging him to find a cure for Kirk’s vampiric condition. After covering up her death, Magnus replaced her with a robotic duplicate named Platinum, and joined Fair Play soon after, intending to use its resources to fund his secret Nanite Bomb project, as he feels that his actions prove that humanity does not deserve to continue if even a brilliant, rational man like himself could do that to his own wife.
As Magnus prepares his weapon, Lex Luthor suddenly teleports into the middle of the battle outside and tells everyone that he has discovered Magnus’ plan. Inside, Batman destroys Tin and frees himself, then seizes an opportunity to drop the forcefield. The Justice League then do battle, with Batman fighting Magnus, Wonder Woman facing Platinum, and Superman fighting the other Metal Men, who quickly merge into a single, more powerful form. Eventually, they all succeed, the bomb is destroyed (at the cost of Superman’s Kryptonian escape craft) and a regretful Magnus commits suicide by disintegrating himself with nanites. week later, the Justice League has been cleared of all wrongdoing, and the world, along with Lois Lane, views them differently. Bekka decides to leave the Justice League to face her past along with Lex Luthor, who wants to explore other worlds after growing bored with this one. Before leaving through a Boom Tube, Lex Luthor gives Superman all the data on Krypton and tells him to be a “real hero”. The film ends with Superman and Batman deciding to sort through the data immediately to help humanity.Bruce Timm and Alan Burnett have really crafted a masterpiece here with ‘God’s and Monsters.’ Each of the 3 main Justice Leaguers or the trinity if you prefer, have been reimagined for this universe in very unique and imaginative ways, we enabled the writers to go further with our heroes than might be possible in the main DC continuity.