STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $44.98
RUNNING TIME: 593 minutes
• Commentary by creators on three episodes
Voices of Justice Phil Lamarr (the voice of Green Lantern)
takes you behind the scenes with the show’s creative team

• Segment from Look, Up In The Sky, the upcoming Superman
documentary by Bryan Singer and Ken Burns

The Pitch

The Superfriends are back for a new generation to kick some DC ass – sans them steenkin’ Wonder Twins and Gleek.

J’onn: "Hey isn’t that Galactus?"
Batman: "Yes."
Hawkgirl: "He’s bigger than I thought."
Green Lantern: "Much bigger."
Wonder Woman: "What’s he doing here?"
Flash: "Screw that, why’s he naked?"

The Heroes

Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter.

The Nutshell

Season 2 of Justice League picks up from the so-so Season 1 with the same premise: Earth’s mightiest heroes (DC Universe anyway) have united to face the threats and defeat the foes that no single hero, not even the Man of Steel, could handle alone. From the JL Watchtower – which Batman managed to pay for with Wayne Enterprises funds without getting arrested for embezzlement – the seven heroes, Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, Wonder Woman and Martian Manhunter, keep lookout over the Earth and spring into action when trouble shows its head. Foes they encounter include Darkseid and Brainiac, the power-copying giant android, AMAZO, Demon Snakedudes, Grodd and his Secret Society, Joker and the first Royal Flush Gang, and the entire Thanagarian invasion force. Along the way, Superman gets his ass kicked much less often, romance springs between Lantern and a certain smokin’ hot chick with wings, the JL meets their not-so-nice mirror images, and we learn how Superman’s parents got around that whole x-ray vision thing come Christmastime.

"Please Diana, be gentle with me…"

The Lowdown

You can check out Thor’s bitchin’ Season 1 review right here. Season 2 is where this show really started hitting on all cylinders, leading up to the simply transcendant future incarnation of the show, Justice League Unlimited. After what the producers called an admittedly "safe" Season 1, they took more chances with the character interactions and relationships this season, expanded the universe, got back with some old favorites, and faced some challenges that fans had waited forever for. The season kicked off with Twilight, which showed Darkseid returning for the first time since receiving an Omega Beam migraine courtesy of Superman in his solo show’s final episode: Legacy (probably the best episode of Superman: TAS). Darkseid shows up at the Watchtower to ask for the Justice League’s help to stop the threat of Brainiac, who has arrived on Apokolips to do his data purge / planet purge thing. Supes ain’t too happy to see Darkseid, considering that he brainwashed Superman into attacking the Earth during their last encounter. But he has to put all of that aside to stop the bigger threat in Brainiac. So Superman, J’onn and Hawkgirl go to Apokolips to try to stop Brainiac, while Batman and Wonder Woman journey to New Genesis for some backup. What ensues is the expected double-cross by Darkseid, some slammin’ action with multiple Brainiac drones, and a climactic slugfest between Superman and Darkseid. Excellent episode.

"…Goddamn what a woman!"

Another great episode was the follow-up, Tabula Rasa, where a huge android, AMAZO, falls under Luthor’s machinations, uses its nanotech abilities to copy all of the League’s powers, has a decent fight with Superman along the way, before taking off for parts unknown. He would return in a later season episode titled appropriately enough, The Return. The B-story in this episode involves J’onn getting a little too intimate with the thoughts of everybody in Metropolis and nearly going nuts from it. In A Better World, the League comes face to face with their counterparts from a parallel dimension, the Justice Lords, who have taken complete control of their own Earth and now seek to do the same to the League’s. This was a fairly dark episode because of all of the League members, Superman’s alter ego proved that it could be just as dark – if not more so – than Batman ever thought of being. Of course the real highlight of this episode is the slobberknocker between Justice Lord Superman and Doomsday. The producers were well aware of what people expected from this confrontation and gave it to us…to a degree. Basically the building shattering punches are thrown between Doomsday and Supes, but the outcome isn’t quite the way it was in the comics.

"Okay, so next week we’re carpooling in the Supermobile. I just got Sirius by the way…"

Other great episodes include The Terror Beyond, where Solomon Grundy goes looking for his soul while a demon named Ichthultu seeks to invade Earth. An unlikely friendship develops between Grundy and Hawkgirl and there’s a touching denouement to that friendship when Grundy finds what he seeks. Also, a not-too-bad scuffle between Superman and Grundy, and a better one between Diana and Aquaman occur. A peak into Thanagarian beliefs – or lack thereof – are provided as well. Secret Society is especially fun because Grodd, who has assembled a super team composed of Sinestro, Killer Frost, Shade, Parasite, Clayface and Giganta, has been playing the League’s resentments of each other to his advantage to defeat them, not once but twice. The climactic fight gives a whole new meaning to Monday Night Football.

"So I take it you heard about me and Cheetah in the petting zoo…"

Rounding out the season are Hereafter, where the League believes that Toyman has succeeded in killing Superman with a disintegrator beam, but in actuality has zapped him to a distant future where he becomes more Grizzly Adams than Man of Steel; and his only ally is Vandal Savage. Meanwhile, back in the present, Lobo becomes the newest member of the League, although they never really invited him to. There’s also Wild Cards, where Joker uses a new super team he discovered called the Royal Flush Gang to keep the League busy in Vegas while he hatches a plot involving 25 bombs and a super powerful (and creepy) member of the Gang to do his version of "Must See TV." In this episode, Lantern and Hawkgirl finally admit their feelings for each other and we see for the first time that Wonder Woman ain’t the only League member that’s spankworthy when Hawkgirl is finally unmasked.

"Hey Doomy, dig my new suit?"
"I was wondering about that. Armani?"
"Nah, some unknown designer in the Andromeda Galaxy. Very reasonable."

Lastly, there’s the three-part finale, Starcrossed, where the League must deal with a Thanagarian occupation of Earth. Arriving under the guise of helping to prepare a defense against the Thanagarian nemesis, the Gordanians, the massive Thanagarian armada assumes total control over the planet and captures the League to get them out of the way. Lantern and Hawkgirl’s romance is short-lived when she chooses her people over the League. This episode is pivotal because not only do the League have to go underground on their home turf, but they all learn each other’s identities. This is also a great episode.

Joker tried like hell to understand Batman and Robin, but, well…

The progress that this season made over Season 1 is evident in the quality of the stories that are told and the expansion of the characters’ universe and the interpersonal relationships that developed between the team to bring them closer together. Plus, on a personal note, Superman finally stopped getting the short end of the stick in terms of beatdowns. Against foes like AMAZO, Darkseid and Grundy, he finally cuts loose a bit and at least gives as good as he gets. The producers freely admitted that they did Supes wrong in the first season and sought to rectify that this go-round. Although he does have more trouble than he should with Grodd, Ten and others, he shows what he’s really made of in Hereafter most of all when he’s rendered powerless by a red sun and has to use his wits to survive a pack of wolves and giant bugs and other nasties. Of course Justice Lord Superman shows what a total badass the big guy would be without any restraint, as Doomsday and Luthor found out the hard way.

"So Nightwing’s just as big a pussy in your universe too?"

The League was given more chances to truly work as a team in more episodes rather than the episodes concentrating on a few characters at a time taking center stage. Their teamwork was truly put to the test in Secret Society when they couldn’t stand the sight of each other anymore and almost broke up. A Better World and Starcrossed also saw them working together at their best. But what also made this season better than the previous is that the stories were also better. I was much more interested in seeing the Superman / Darkseid and Superman / Brainiac sagas continue (Twilight), or having the DC version of the Super-Adaptoid running amok (Tabula Rasa) or having Joker dish it out (Wild Cards) than seeing a rogue amazon with man issues (Season 1’s Fury), or especially having Static Shock guest star (A League of Their Own). Even stories with similar themes were executed better in Season 2, I thought. For instance, the Green Lantern Corps-centric episode Hearts and Minds appealed to me personally more than Season 1’s In Blackest Night; and of the parallel universe-themed episodes, A Better World is head and shoulders above S1’s Legends (Justice Lords cool, Justice Guild not so much).

The really interesting thing about Ace was that uh…she…uhhhhhhh……(drools).

Finally, there was a lot of good material that set up even better material that would be used later in JLU. To wit, Twilight was a direct set up for the JLU series finale, Alive! / Destroyer; and Tabula Rasa set the stage for The Return, where AMAZO returns to Earth and knocks about all kinds of League ass in impressive fashion to get to Luthor. Also, Secret Society was a direct precursor to Grodd’s assembly of the Legion of Doom, which was the season-long story arc of the great Season 5. Justice League is probably my favorite cartoon in my adult years, even more so than the great Superman: TAS and the simply awesome Batman: TAS (I fellated both here). I hadn’t had a cartoon that I simply had to catch every week in the longest time.

When Cartoon Network screwed us over earlier this year by making us wait forever for the final episodes of Season 5, I procured myself the episodes by, well let’s just say other means because I couldn’t stand the wait. Episodes like The Return, The Doomsday Sanction, Divided We Fall, Clash, and Destroyer just make me giddy whenever I see them. The quality of the work on those episodes and many others is just so far above everything else it’s ridiculous. Justice League is one of those rare shows that got better as it went along and Season 2 was where it really got its start in the right direction.

For some reason, AMAZO took much longer to look at Wonder Woman to copy her abilities, like 14 hours…

The Package

First off, these episode are simply flawless. The animation is sharp, the lines crisp and the transfer superb. The quality of not only the stories but also the animation was definitely kicked up a notch from Season 1 to 2. The filmmakers also wanted you to notice the detail of the backgrounds and the coloring, and it’s hard not to with episodes like Twilight and Starcrossed. Plus the episodes are in 1.78:1 widescreen and overall the look of these episodes is just fantastic. The sound is also fine in the boilerplate Dolby, but the look of these discs is definitely what’s going to grab you. The cover art is keeping in tradition with the comic book look Warner Bros. is giving their animated releases like Batman: TAS, Superman: TAS and the old Superfriends.

In addition to being a mass murderer and destroyer of worlds, turns out Brainiac was also really grabby…

There’s commentary on three episodes by producers Bruce Timm, James Tucker, story editor Dwayne McDuffie, and director Butch Lukic and writer Stan Berkowitz: Twilight, Part 2, A Better World, Part 2 and Starcrossed, Part 3. The commentaries are pretty fun, mostly centering on how they wanted to take things to the next level for Season 2 and trying to fix some of the inequities of Season 1, mostly Superman. There’s also a 10-minute feature, Voices of Justice, where Phil Lamarr (Green Lantern), leads a roundtable discussion with some of the voice cast and voice director Andrea Romano. Lastly, there’s a six-minute segment from Bryan Singer’s upcoming documentary, Look, Up In The Sky! that looks pretty good from what I saw. This set is part of the Superman blitz that WB is throwing at us on June 20 in preparation for Superman Returns, and is definitely one of the better offerings.

Lashina…blowjob…man oh man…

9.0 out of 10