This episode, which is well into the first season of Justice League, opens in medias res – but not in an actiony superhero bout, which I’ve seen a million times. In a clever twist on things, Superman is seemingly captured by the villainous Luthor (who I vaguely remembered from the Superman episodes that I saw as a kid. The muscular, hulking design looked familiar to me; he’s definitely no Jesse Eisenberg) and, instead of… you know, kicking his ass, the Justice League outsmarts Luthor. It clearly demonstrates that the League isn’t just made up of the most powerful superheroes – it’s balanced by intelligence strong enough to outwit a genius foe.
Luthor escapes the League for a bit, but ends up losing control of his jet after having a seizure. Superman stops the jet from crashing, saving his arch nemesis’s life and bringing him to the hospital, where it is revealed that Luthor has a terminal illness. The twist is, said illness came from the fact that Luthor constantly kept a sample of Kryptonite on his person, hoping to one day use it to defeat Superman. Like any logical madman, Luthor blames Superman for this and vows to kill the crap out of him.
The episode quickly becomes an action-packed thriller when Luthor assembles his own injustice league, including Ultra-Humanite, Cheetah, Sapphire, Solomon Grundy, Shade, and the Joker in hopes to take down Superman and the Justice League for all. It’s a twisty episode with fights, shocks, betrayals, and quips at every turn. The episode probably peeked for me, though, when Flash was boasting about being the fastest man alive and Wonder Woman shot him down, saying, “That might explain why you can’t get a date.”
And it isn’t even the funny bits that made this a blast. The jokes between the characters highlighted the fact that this group of heroes have grown into a team of friends, balancing each other out with both their strengths as well as their personalities. They have come to genuinely care about each other and, even after only having seen five episodes, I can tell that is the backbone of the show.
This episode climaxes when Luthor is built a suit that sustains his health, while also making him powerful enough to throw down with each member of the Justice League, who already have their hands full with his cronies, each of them with their own agenda. I was a bit let down that the first part of the episode had such a rich premise, and I was hoping that this would be less of a “Kill the Justice League” story and more of a character study of Luthor, the smartest man in the world destroyed by his own hand… but it was still fun. It seems as if the suit has stabilized him, but I hope his bout with mortality will have had a lasting effect on his character arc in subsequent episodes. The most interesting part of the episode, by far, was Superman attempting to help a sick Luthor, speaking to him as if he’s a friend, and Luthor blaming all of this on him. That is character, and that is rich – I hope we get more of that because, as fun as the fights are, it’s the characters keeping me interested.
NEXT – Justice League: A Better World