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Justice League
Premiere Review
Reviewed by Joe Crowe, ©

Format: TV
By:   Bruce Timm and Glen Murakami and Rich Fogel and James Tucker
Genre:   Superhero Action / Adventure
Released:   Premieres November 17, 2001
Review Date:  
RevSF Rating:   10/10 (What Is This?)

So I'm watching the first episode of the new Justice League cartoon, and a couple of times, I catch myself hollering "Oooh! Ooh! Cool!" Just like I did when watching cartoons when I was a younger child. Superhero comics were my favorites then, and superhero cartoons were even better, because all the heroes and villains moved and spoke! (Well, kind of moved. It was Hanna-Barbera). Super Friends was on for years and years, but it didn't really click with me until the year of Challenge of the Super Friends, when the whole group added 6 members and fought a team of 13 bad guys straight from the DC Comics. Up till then, they did the comics characters, and they had the powers, but it never seemed right, because they never fought super-villains like in the comics.

Fast forward to Batman: The Animated Series, which I immediately enjoyed, and followed throughout its run. It was true to the tone and the spirit of the Batman comics, and featured practically every friend and foe he ever faced. I began to think "Wouldn't it be neat if..."

Then the same group of people did Superman: The Animated Series. Superman started meeting other characters from the DC Universe like Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern... then he met Batman in the superlative World's Finest special. I shamelessly admit that seeing the two of them on screen together again gave me goosebumps. And again I thought, "Wouldn't it be neat if..."

Well, they finally did it. And it's mighty good.

I was really more excited about this premiere than any live-action sci-fi anything lately. Enterprise and Smallville were big news, sure, and Lord of the Rings will be good, sure. But this show strikes closest to the heart of my personal fandom. Truth be told, I would have watched anything anybody did called "Justice League," but luckily, I didn't have to. The pedigree of this show's creators is unparalleled.

The first episode establishes the group's founding. Superman and Batman join with Flash, Green Lantern (the little-seen John Stewart version), Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl, and J'Onn J'Onzz, the Martian Manhunter. The team unites to fight off an alien invasion. It's just cool to see them in action together.

The scope of the action is just immense. The alien invasion is played out on a devastating global scale. When the heroes come to the rescue, you get the same action-hero rush that the best big-screen flicks offer. It's the same over-the-top manner that writer Grant Morrison went for in his recent Justice League comics run, and it works well in animated form here.

In the JL Q & A at San Diego's Comic-Con, the show's creators said they strived to make each team member an individual, since on Super Friends few characters were anything more than their powers. They succeeded. Flash is a wisecracking goof, Green Lantern is all business, J'Onn J'Onzz is angst-ridden. Batman and Superman are... still Batman and Superman. Kevin Conroy is still the Bat-voice after all these years. I can't read a Bat-comic without hearing his voice now.

The two most intriguing characters to me from the first episode were Wonder Woman and, surprisingly, Hawkgirl. WW is established as brand-new to the superhero business, and straight off her Amazon island home. Some of her reactions, including double-takes to the Flash's wisecracks, are very funny.

Hawkgirl has been second fiddle to husband Hawkman in the comics for decades, but no more (he isn't even mentioned). Maybe the creators had the most to prove with her character, since every other hero present in the group has been established as a main event player. Hawkgirl is just super-bad. She bashes people and things with a mace. Her battle cry of "EEEEAAAAARRGGGGH!" may not be very articulate, but it gets her point across.

Obviously, the creators of the show know their stuff. But they are not beholden to it, like the original X-Men cartoon was. Less-familiar heroes like Hawkgirl, this version of Green Lantern, and J'Onn J'Onzz were all pulled straight from the comics. A senator is named "Jay Alan Carter." Common enough names, but they're also the first names of DC's Golden Age versions of Flash, Green Lantern, and Hawkman. Coincidence? Maybe, but I thought it was neat. There is also a surprise appearance by an honorary member of the original 1960s comics' League. They didn't have to do that.

Watch it. I think you'll dig it. Justice League is actiony, superheroic, and fun.

I'm now hungry for more episodes. I've read that a plethora of DC villains, and some more DC heroes, will be appearing. But I'll go nuts about that when the time comes. The first episode sets the stage, and I can't wait to see what they do next. I think that I'll be going "Cool!" pretty often.

Joe Crowe is News Editor and Official Comics and TV Back-up Guy for RevolutionSF.

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