There Is Justice

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"Le what!" No, thoughts on Cartoon Network's Justice League? Don't you believe it. I was merely waiting until the shock of how bloody stunning it is to wear off, but you know what? I am a fanboy, and the shock will never wear off.

The premiere opens with astronauts doing things relevant to science. No Tony Nelson antics here. Disaster within the Martian soil strikes, and the remains of ancient Mars seem to have been found. Apart from that attractive animation kicked off by Batman the Animated Series some ten years ago, I noticed immediately that one of the astronauts was named Carter, as in John Carter Warlord of Mars. Furthermore what I think will happen doesn't.

The screen goes black, and the rousing score to Justice League trumpets. It exhibits an underlying western melody, and the musical message combined with the creative title cards is obvious. These are the big guns coming into town to protect its people from the banditos. The Justice League lives!

The next scene reminds viewers why Terry McGuinness will never be fully ccepted as Batman. y eyes grow wide as I blissfully watch the steeple-eared Batman infiltrate Waynetech in Metropolis.

Using his skills as a detective, Batman uncovers an alien scheme far too early for the invaders' liking. He upsets their time table and forces them to battle him. The melee attracts the attention of Superman. Even the World's Finest are no match for the alien shape-shifters. Again, my suspicions on their identity are in error. After the aliens survive the destruction of the Waynetech plant and arrogantly go off on their merry way, Superman gives Batman a signal watch. Though Batman subtly hints that it will be a summery day on Apokolips when he'll use it, he slips the watch into his utility belt. Great Rao, this is good, and it gets better!

Superman we learn has volunteered his services for now Senator Carter's plan to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Only General Welles (wink, wink) objects. Snapper Carr brilliantly updated into a--heh--snappy news reporter seeks out opinions on this world-shaking event. Ironically, the Flash voiced by Smallville's Lex Luthor Michael Rosenbaum, hits the proverbial nail: "Hey, I'm the fastest man alive, and even I can't be in five places at once."

At night, Batman's investigations lead him to an abandoned STAR labs-the same one to have likely served as the setting for "Brave New Metropolis." There, he finds humans encased in repugnant slimy cocoons, but before you can say Hellhound, we and he learns the mutt who uncovers his skullduggery is no ordinary dog. The alien-canine incapacitates the Dark Knight!

As shocked as we are, Superman's surprise upon hearing Batman's alarm is evident, and though he arrives at a full clip, he's too late. We stare in horror as the signal watch lies in Batman's still hand poking from debris. He was felled by a shelving filled not with empty boxes but heavy equipment. No MST3K experiment is this. The engrossing adventure actually issues the concept that Batman can die!

As Superman retrieves Batman's body: his groan allows the viewer to release the breath she's been holding since commercial break. Suddenly, a meteor burns through Metropolis' skyline once more reinforcing Superman's inability to be in two places at once. Superman takes Batman to a nearby medic and flies off to face the new menace which turns out to be organic, albino versions of H.G. Welles' Tripods and just as powerful.

The death rays actually manage to hurt Superman! Fortunately, Batman is back on his feet and in the pilot seat of his batplane. His sorties however appear to have no effect, and in a bizarre homage to Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, Batman, the urban legend, becomes very much visible to the USAF jets flying beside him. The aliens have changed the rules. Batman is no longer a myth. Superman can be hurt.

The Man of Steel seems to turn his back on mankind. Batman doesn't believe it for a second and follows him to a secret military base. Superman and Batman here discover the imprisonment of J'onn J'onnz. J'onn tried to warn the military, and for his troubles, they shackled him to something that neutralized his powers. He has been in telepathic contact ever since managing to circumvent the stasis field. Carl Lumbly, from Mantis and Alias, the television series, portrays the Martian Manhunter. George Newbern takes over admirably for Tim Daly's Superman, and Kevin Conroy once more rumbles Batman's voice. All the actors take this show seriously and raise it above such debacles as the Avengers and silly super-hero shows like X-Men: Evolution.

The military seems none too impressed by Superman's vandalism nor his word, and we learn why. They morph into disgusting, albino blob-men which are not the White Martians. Their white skin however gives the viewer a clue to their weakness. A short battle between Superman, Batman, J'onn and the blobs lead into a full-scale dogfight with nasty looking alien aircraft soaring to the tune of eerie plonky music. At this point, we learn J'onn has sent a s.o.s. to other heroes.

"Hawkgirl? What's she doing here?"

Kicking alien behind, Batman. The way she does it just robs away your breath. I'm in love, and she's got the best battle cry next to Xena. Furthermore, all these heroes know each other. {Blissful Sigh}

The theme is again teamwork. Hawkgirl is down! Nooooooooooooo! Suddenly, Wonder Woman announces herself with a flash of her bracelets to defend the winged hottie, and John Stewart beams a shield around them both.

After the invaders are killed--oh, yeah--our heroes compare notes. J'onn relates how the invaders exterminated his people. First, you have the irony of the Wellesian aliens invading the peaceful Martians of the DCU. Second, it's only after being enslaved J'onn's people discover a means to defeat them that is singular to Mars. Third, their bane was destroyed when J'onn first came to earth. So, there will be no easy out.

The heroes split into teams to find another means to defeat the aliens who pollute their skies with clouds of thick, brown smoke, but this phenomena is not merely a waste product given off by their biofactories. There's a reason for this pollution.

Fun and games come from GL and the Flash, but another clue can be found in their skirmishes. Somehow the aliens know about the Flash and have prepared for his speed. Superman and Hawkgirl savage the aliens in Metropolis, and Batman while fighting alongside Wonder Woman and J'onn notices the easily dismissed in Egypt. These scenes are brutal. The League are killing the aliens! They're sentient, and they're snuffing them out! Hawkgirl slays a whole cadre of them while Superman watches. Did I mention I'm in love? Wonder Woman's and Batman's diversions are lethal. J'onn phases his fists through them. He's not disrupting their nervous systems. They lose coherency and turn into goo. I love this show!

The heroes pay with casualties of their own. Superman and Hawkgirl have been captured. Batman trapped in the craft faces a horde of well-armed space scum. You hear the whine of their weapons. Noooooooooooooooooooo! They killed Batman offscreen! The heroes only seem to reinforce the fact, and you completely forget the rule about death and an absence of the corpse.

"The Bat's gone !?!"
"He fought bravely."
"He was a true warrior."

The League really seems to be in trouble when their rescue attempt fails and they all wind up in the hands of the space slime. Things become worse when the big ugly Grand Poobah shows up. His appearance creates an astounding amount of destruction that alludes to September eleventh and makes his eventual comeuppance that more powerful.

As the abomination tortures J'onn someone its been hoping to torture for a long time, we discover rather explosively, Batman lives! J'onn shielded his presence and greatly exaggerated his death. Batman, in a homage to Sherlock Holmes, used his time of death to discover if his hypothesis was correct. Hell, he's Batman. You know he's right. J'onn sums it up beautifully:

"Why do you hide underground? Does the sun burn your putrid white skin!"

Boy, does it ever! Batman uses science to muck up their "pollution" maker. Ironic how the darkest hero uses the light to stop them. The music at this stage almost becomes messianic. The heroes freed from their bonds start punching holes in the ship. Beams of light turn them into albino ooze.

The climax isn't only spectacle. Quiet scenes play out among the pyrotechnics and the meltings. The Justice League in a touching manner protects Batman. Wonder Woman almost tenderly envelops her arm over him to deflect a beam from the alien filth. Batman doesn't even flinch. He knew she would back him up. The Flash speeds him out of harm's way:

"Wouldn't want to lose you a second time."

Time for the formula writing to kick in. The head blob makes a hasty retreat to live to fight another day. Uh-Uh. The League is out for blood. Diana lassos the escape ship. I'm in love! The aliens fire at her, and she loses her grip as she deflects the beams. The blob speeds off to plan anew. Uh-Uh. Hawkgirl whips her supercharged mace and smashes the ship. I'm in love! This gives Wonder Woman the opportunity to grab her lasso and hold the ship steady while Hawkgirl beats the snot out of it! The ship blows up! The big blob incinerates! I'm in love!

In the aftermath, the heroes mop up the poor alien sods left behind. Welles asks what about next time, and Batman unexpectedly becomes the motivating force behind the formation of the Justice League. I love this show!

The second story adapts a classic JLA adventure involving the Manhunters. Superman gets a chance to think. Hawkgirl beats up a platoon of familiar Lanterns. I'm in love! The finale departs completely from the source to invoke surprise and make John Stewart incredibly resonant.

The third story just started but oh, my! Batman appears out of the shadows, acts like a scientist and terrorizes a well-known loser villain from DC's stable. I let out a girlish scream and practically swooned. Aquaman is awesome and fulfills many roles: king, hero, husband, father. Wonder Woman with a single blow causes a minor earthquake! I'm in love! In short, Justice League is the best thing to happen to television since Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

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