After watching and digging the Justice League Unlimited episode based off of Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons’ classic Superman tale, For the Man Who Has Everything, I figured I’d see what else the series has to offer. Blastoff’s comics historian, Scott Tipton, recommended I check out two episodes – one that shows the lighter, adventurous side of the DCU and another more intense, arc-driven episode.
Between this show, the little I’ve seen of the original Justice League, and Batman: The Animated Series, this is probably my absolute favorite episode. Yeah, I’ve been moved by episodes of B:ATS before, and this was a pretty straight-forward comedic adventure, but it was just… well, brilliantly out of its mind.
First, Batman and Wonder Woman – who are dealing with some very nicely handled romantic tension – encounter the villainous Circle. After a little throwdown, Circe turns Wonder Woman into a pig. She gets to keep her indestructible bracelets even as a pig, which is pretty awesome. Batman takes her to Zatanna, who goes with them on their adventure to find Circe and reverse the curse. However, Wonder Pig gets distracted and meanders off… and gets scooped up with a large herd of pigs who are being taken to a meat factory. Yikes!
Wonder Woman obviously doesn’t get stripped down into bacon, but the way that Batman and Zatanna resolve their conflict with Circe and save their oinking friend is brilliant. It makes a certain kind of sense that this episode, which is simultaneously crazy and a little sad, ends with Batman, in full costume, singing the blues to an audience of moved listeners.
And now for something completely different. I jumped way ahead into the later episodes of Justice League Unlimited to get to this climatic installment. A government agency called Cadmus is building forces that can protect the world against the Justice League if the heroes within it were to go rogue – you know, the whole absolute power corrupts absolutely thing. The Justice League, in a previous episode, dealt with an alternate version of their own team that showed them just what would happen if they went dark. So the possibility of their corruption hangs over their heads as well as a world that is attempting to arm itself.
Of course, though, that doesn’t go well. One of their weapons, Doomsday, escapes when a member of Cadmus seeks revenge against Amanda Waller, who fired him. Doomsday has nothing on his mind except Superman, though, so he heads out to take down the Man of Steel himself.
Most interestingly, the way that Superman deals with Doomsday – banishing him to another dimension without harming him – leads an injured Batman to question the League’s ethics, and how Superman gave himself the right to pass judgment. It’s interesting watching the Justice League pushed to rethink their philosophies based on what they’re going through and how the world reacts and, though this is all part of a larger storyline, it was also an exceptional episode.
Also? The Doomsday Sanction has Lex Luthor running for President. I know that this episode in part shows the negative fallout of the Justice League, but I don’t know… when I watch something like this and see our world mirroring fiction, I can’t help but wish that I could look out my window and see the silhouette of a caped man cutting through the sky. Because you know what? I think we could really use some heroes.
PAT SHAND writes comics (Family Pets, Robyn Hood, Hellchild), novels (Charmed for HarperCollins), and pop culture journalism (Sad Girls Guide, Blastoff Comics). He stands firmly against Luthor, but thinks that Wonder Woman would make a fine President.