For animation month, my weekly article is going to essentially become a showcase of how much of a n00b I am to this stuff. I casually watched the Batman and Superman animated series when they aired, but until now, I’ve never seen a single episode of Justice League or any of the spin-offs. Not even the animated films… until now, that is. Starting with “Secret Origins,” the three-part first episode of Justice League, I’ll be watching and reviewing key episodes of Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, picked by Grand Master Blastoff himself, Scott Tipton. Let’s get started.
Having seen Batman and Supes before, I was pretty much expecting the quality of the animation. I’d assumed that this took place within the continuity of both of those series, which the relationship between Batman and Superman confirmed. You know how movie goers often complain about how superhero flicks always have to spend so much time on the origin of a character we’ve seen many times before? This doesn’t do that at all. Batman and Superman are already established, and society knows about other superheroes, such as the Flash (wisecracking Wally West) and Green Lantern (John Stewart, who is a super douche in this), enabling the story to start at a breakneck pace and keep that up throughout all three parts. It still plays like a beginning, however, as it is about the formation of the Justice League. Before this, all of the heroes were operating solo… and Wonder Woman wasn’t involved in helping humans at all, as her mother forbade it. Besides the aforementioned Lantern, Flash, Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman, the team is rounded off with Hawkgirl, a character who we know next to nothing about except that she’s a badass who can fight alongside powerhouses like Superman and Wonder Woman without missing a beat, and the mysterious Martian Manhunter. The team dynamic is interesting from a character perspective (Superman and Batman have their obvious balance, and little tidbits we’re shown like Lantern scoffing at Wonder Woman wanting to join the fight with them) and an action perspective, giving us a group of people that are interesting to watch interact and even more captivating to watch scrap with some weird ass aliens.
And that’s what this episode is about. It’s unapologetically sci-fi, comic booky action that I can almost promise the upcoming live action Justice League movie will not be. Martian Manhunter is tied to the central threat of a group of strange alien lifeforms that destroyed his species and are now moving on to Earth. Through a series of incredible fight scenes, the Justice League teams up to snuff the threat before the human race meets the same fate of the Martians. While the action is dazzling, Justice League: Secret Origins never fails to demonstrate that it isn’t the rock ‘em sock ‘em fights that make this team – and this show – enthralling. It’s watching this team of very different heroes come together and figure out how to function as a unit and outsmart a seemingly unstoppable evil.
What I liked most, however, was the way the scenes of destruction were done. There was no random civilian death or suffering shown, though the action still looked real. It gave the whole thing a feeling of… it feels corny to say “purity,” but I think that’s it. The darkness that is cast over these characters in their live action forms is completely absent here and, man… it’s a breath of fresh air.
NEXT TIME: Justice League: Injustice for All!
PAT SHAND is a writer and editor for Zenescope Entertainment. He may be new to superhero animation, but he had a mean crush on Velma Dinkley when he was a kid. And maybe also right now.