A Look at ‘Justice League Unlimited’ – Part Three

In 2007, Conor took a look at Superman: The Animated Series. If you missed it, you can check out parts one, two and three. (Be forewarned, as the articles were imported from the old version of iFanboy.com, many of the graphics are missing and some of the formatting is wonky.)

In 2008, Conor examined the follow-up series, Justice League. If you missed that too, you can check out parts one and two. And now, as promised — the event two years in the making! — Conor takes a look at the final Bruce Timm DC Animated Universe series: Justice League Unlimited!

Part one can be found here and part two here.

Season Two

In the final season of Justice League Unlimited we replace Project Cadmus with the Legion of Doom as the evil organization that will plague the Justice League (though they do a pretty poor job of being serious adversaries, unlike Cadmus).

The second season is written almost entirely by Dwayne McDuffie and Matt Wayne and feels much more focused, character-wise. In the first season the Justice League felt like it had a roster of thousands. There’s a much much smaller cast of characters this season. Or it feels that way, anyway.

Still, there is a lot of fun to be had in the final season of Justice League Unlimited, including the return of the best villains in the entire Timmverse.



I Am Legion – Lex Luthor has escaped prison and he’s… crazy? He’s talking to someone who isn’t there, anyway. Pursued by the police, he is rescued by The Key who brings him to Gorilla Grodd who in turn introduces him to the Legion of Doom – the evil version of the Justice League. While Superman, Shayera and Aztek investigate Luthor’s escape with help from Special Agent King Farraday, Grodd introduces Luthor to his super villain co-op which seems to include just about every super villain that has shown up in the various Timmverse shows. Luthor isn’t interested in joining up until Grodd reveals that he has a piece of Brainiac, and we learn that the invisible person that Luthor has been talking to the whole episode is in fact Brainiac. Meanwhile, the last member of the WWII era Blackhawks gets a security alert from Blackhawk island, and Shayera, The Flash and Fire (who The Flash is crushing on, the ol’ horndog) go to investigate. Teaming up with the last Blackhawk — who Shayera and The Flash last fought alongside when they traveled back in time in the last series — they face off against Lex Luthor, The Key and Dr. Polaris who are looting the tech from the decommissioned Blackhawk base. They fight off the villains and save the Blackhawk base, but the villains escape with what they came for: the Spear of Longinus — the spear that Hitler believed made the holder invincible. But I’m sure that won’t be a big deal later.

After the big build up at the end of last season with the Justice League meaning to mend their relationship with those they protect it’s back to business as usual. If there’s a new status quo between the Justice League and the people of Earth, it’s not explored here. But it made up for that with high flying Blackhawk action, which is always a good thing.

Best Moment: After the police have Lex Luthor trapped in an alley, and The Key pops up behind Lex and pulls him through a dimensional portal, the cops UNLEASH gunfire on the empty alleyway. For, like, ten seconds. It was crazy.

Shadow of the Hawk – Dashing and roguishly handsome Carter Hall shows up at the tail end of a big brawl between the Justice League and some hapless supervillains. He’s got an 8,000 year old Thanagarian artifact that he wants Shayera to consult on. Privately consult. In Egypt. If you know what I mean. Meanwhile, no one seems to notice that Carter Hall’s shadow moves independently of his body. Seems like at least Batman would have caught that one. What Batman *does* catch is that the man known as Carter Hall seems to be a Shayera stalker/groupie. He’s found all over news footage of Shayera’s various appearances and battles, and he is a regular on the 57 “I Hate Hawkgirl” message boards on the internet defending her honor. Batman and Green Lantern tell Shayera not to go to Egypt with Carter Hall. So of course she does because you can’t tell a girl what NOT to do, that’ll just guarantee she’ll do it! In Egypt, Shayera and Carter find all kinds of Indiana Jones-esque booby traps as they investigate the pyramid where the mystery Thanagarian artifact was found. Unbeknownst to them, Batman is right behind them. Unbeknownst to Batman, The Shadow Thief is trailing behind him. HAWKMAN HEADACHE ALERT! Carter reveals to Shayera that they are in fact the reincarnated versions of lovers who were killed in that very pyramid. He reveals that his real name is Katar Hall and after donning fake wings and the familiar costume he calls himself Hawkman. Hawkman claims that hundreds of years ago Katar and Shayera were Thanagarian law officers who fell into an errant wormhole and ended up on Earth in ancient Egypt. They used their Thanagarian technology to help Egypt and they ruled over it… and… help, I’m feeling light-headed. While Hawkman is engaging everyone in his crazy history lesson, The Shadow Thief attacks and subdues them (he already took out Batman). A big fight ensues and the pyramid and all the Thanagarian tech is destroyed (whoops!). When the dust clears, Hawkman refuses to believe that he’s just a crazy guy. (He probably is.) Shayera doesn’t know what to think.

Finally Hawkman shows up in the Timmverse… and it ends up being a meta commentary on how insane his continuity is. I guess I’ll take it.

Best Moment: Green Lantern shouting “Judas Priest!” in reaction to seeing Shayera in a dress.

Chaos at the Earth’s Core – Monsters! Giant Monsters are attacking Tokyo! (Again?) While Green Lantern, Stargirl and S.T.R.I.P.E. fight them off, Supergirl shows up, wearing her traditional blue and red costume from the comics. It’s a Supergirl convention and Stargirl is jealous. While flying back to their base, the Justice League ship gets sucked down a giant hole in the North Pole and they end up in some foreign land deep beneath the surface of the Earth. Underneath the surface and away from the power of the sun, Supergirl is powerless to defend herself against the dinosaur riding natives and Stargirl is gloating. Enter Green Arrow Travis Morgan, Warlord. His daughter Jennifer used her magical powers to bring the Justice League ship to their home of Skartaris because her people require champions to fight the evil wizard, Deimos, who is trying to steal The Great Stone (a giant piece of Kryptonite). That must be emasculating for Warlord. Oh, and for reasons never explained, Deimos is being advised, militarily, by Metallo and Silver Banshee (how did they get down there??). As the Justice League is getting to know the salt of the earth denizens of Skartaris, Deimos shows up with his giant army. The battle for Helms Deep Skartaris commences! Sword fight, sword fight, sword fight, and then it ends, with Warlord defeating Deimos. Green Lantern tries to interrogate Metallo about why the hell he and Silver Banshee are under the earth when someone remotely fries Metallo’s circuits. Green Lantern seals off the hole in the North Pole and they all return to the Watchtower.

Much like the Hawk & Dove episode in the first season, when you don’t care about the special guest star, the episode ends up kind of boring. I don’t care a lick about Warlord, never have.

Best Moment: A powerless Supergirl using her wits, and a knife, to defeat Metallo.

To Another Shore – Diana is on a diplomatic mission. She’s representing Themyscria at the world global warming conference, which dovetails nicely with the scary viking ship that was just unearthed from a melting glacier. Diana wants J’onn to come along with her to the conference. She thinks that J’onn is becoming a crazy old hermit up in the Watchtower. He spends all his time in the monitor room. He doesn’t eat in the commissary. Soon the kids will be calling him Old Man J’onzz and they’ll be daring each other to ring and run the monitor room. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor has been augmenting the powers of some of the lower level villains. Gorilla Grodd wants that viking ship, he thinks it holds the body of the all powerful viking Prince Jon, and he’s sending Black Manta Devil Ray, Heatwave, Giganta and Killer Frost to get it. At the global warming summit (conveniently located on top of the mountain that sits above the glacier with the newly revealed viking ship) Diana is having trouble convincing global warming skeptics about the dangers of pollution. She warns that Themyscira might consider military action if man’s world doesn’t quit it with the running of the air conditioners non-stop. I mean, how cold does Sephora need to be, anyway? We don’t have time to discuss this in committee because the Legion of Doom is attacking and in a move that would make Lynda Carter proud, Diana spins out of her civilian identity and into Wonder Woman. She begins to cut her way through the Legion of Doom second stringers like so much cordwood until the newly enhanced Devil Ray manages to shoot her with a poison dart. Is this the end for Wonder Woman? No! She is saved by Special Agent King Farraday and his men who are at the conference to protect the Vice President of the United States. The Legion have Wonder Woman and Farraday and his men on the ropes. Wonder Woman calls the Watchtower for help and J’onn agrees to send… Green Arrow? How about Mr. Terrific? There must be a janitor around here that could help out… (Man, J’onn really does not want to leave the Watchtower.) But leave he does and he and Green Arrow (Mr. Terrific: stuck on monitor duty… again) show up to the rescue. Sadly, rescuing is all they can accomplish as the Legion of Doom manages to get away with the viking ship. (The Justice League does not have a good track record so far this season with protecting artifacts. They’re all getting stolen or destroyed.) But all is not lost! The Justice League give chase and with the help of King Farraday’s missile wielding submarine, the Legion of Doom are stopped and the viking ship recovered. J’onn is concerned that when he tried to telepathically question Giganta, her brain shorted out, just like Metallo in the last episode. Something fishy is going on here. But there are more important concerns at the moment. Like J’onn J’onzz deciding to take a leave of absence from the Justice League to try to connect with humanity before he descends into a life of despair and loneliness. As Wonder Woman performs a traditional viking ritual to send the body of Prince Jon off into a burial in the sun, we intercut between Prince Jon and the ritual and J’onn J’onzz saying his goodbyes on the Watchtower, teleporting to Earth, transforming into John Jones, and rejoining humanity.

This is the first time we’ve seen the Watchtower since last season. I thought they were decommissioning it after the events of “Divided We Fall”? Superman said they were going to leave the satellite and move back to Earth to reconnect with the people. So much for that! I did really like the exploration of J’onn J’onzz’s mounting agoraphobia. And what’s this? An episode with Black Manta Devil Ray and no appearance by Aquaman? Conflicting TV rights means that King Arthur gets the shaft again. Great ending, though. GREAT ending.

Best Moment: The GORGEOUS Joe Kubert style art used to illustrate the story of the viking Prince Jon.

Flash and Substance – At a grungy super villain hangout, Mirror Master, Captain Cold, Trickster, and a just out of prison Captain Boomerang (he got let out early for good behavior… with Task Force X!) lament the effect The Flash has had on their criminal careers. Captain Cold will never make his mortgage payment if The Flash keeps foiling his schemes! They decide that the best way to take on The Flash is to team up and attack the grand opening of the Flash Museum. Over at the Central City Police Department, CSI tech Wally West has a supervisor who looks suspiciously like Barry Allen. Wally teleports up to the Watchtower to try to get some of his teammates to come down to the opening of the Flash Museum. (It’s also Flash Appreciation Day in Central City!) Superman and Green Lantern are off on a mission in deep space. Wonder Woman is taking care of giant fire disaster somewhere. The Flash really wants one of the original seven Leaguers to show up and since J’onn J’onzz is gone that leaves… Batman. (I guess Shayera is still persona non grata amongst the general populace.) The Flash can’t believe it! Batman agrees to come to his museum opening! He runs off to celebrate and Orion can’t believe that Batman agreed to go which of course now means that Batman’s got a hot New God date to the opening. Back on Earth, The Flash runs right into the Rogues’ trap inside an abandoned roller rink. He faces off against the Mirror Master who disappears after a brief tussle. The next day, at the dedication of Flash Appreciation Day, Captain Boomerang attacks. (The Rogues don’t seem to be teaming up so much as attacking him one at a time. Again.) Batman and Orion arrive to find The Flash strapped to a giant boomerang. No one is surprised. Batman informs The Flash that Captain Cold, Mirror Master, Captain Boomerang and Trickster have all dropped off the radar. The Flash will deal with this news later, though, he’s got to change into a new, not ripped-to-shreds costume before the big museum opening. Batman and Orion tag along to watch his back. Meanwhile, the Rogues decide that attacking one at a time is not working and they better attack the museum opening all at once. (Duh.) Later that night, The Flash, Batman, and Orion head over to the super villain hang out to get some information and they find a muttering Trickster who reveals the Rogues’ plans. The next day at the opening of the Flash Museum (where a flustered Linda Park is totally into The Flash and tries to give him her number) the Rogues finally attack all at once. During the fight, Linda Park gets sucked into one of Mirror Master’s mirrors and The Flash jumps in to save her. Trapped in a dimension full of infinite mirrors, The Flash and Linda seem trapped forever until Batman shoots a flare into the mirror dimension and The Flash follows it to safety and to the inevitable pounding of the Rogues.

We rarely get to see the secret identities of the heroes on this show. But in the last episode we had Diana and here we have some Wally West action. There’s a really nice moment when Orion calls The Flash a buffoon and doesn’t understand why Central City would honor him and Batman says he just wouldn’t understand. I like how they keep underscoring how important The Flash is to the original seven. Lots of Flash Easter eggs in the museum including Jay’s helmet and Wally’s Kid Flash costume.

Best Moment: Batman and Orion try to intimidate and then muscle information on the other Rogues out of Trickster. The Flash steps in and sits down and talks to him about his health and his meds and treats him with respect and gets the information they need. That scene encapsulates the odd relationship between The Flash and his Rogues.

Dead Reckoning – At a temple in Nanda Parbat, Deadman learns that avenging his own death (which he has done, apparently) will not release his soul to the next plane, but avenging the death of his Master will. Which is odd, because The Master is still alive. Oops, not for long. A whole passel of Legion of Doomers invade Nanda Parbat: Lex Luthor, Black Manta Devil Ray, Bizarro, Atomic Skull, Tala, and Rampage (not to mention a whole bunch of troops, which you would think this group wouldn’t need). Despite impressive kung fu skills, the monks of Nanda Parbat are no match for the Legion of Doom and they’re overrun and Deadman watches in horror as The Master is murdered. Deadman briefly posses Rampage and causes some damage but Tala susses him out and exorcises him. The Legion of Doomers steal a big glowing orb — The Heart of Nanda Parbat, which is filled with the souls of the hundreds of monks killed by the Legion of Doom — and make their escape back to headquarters and Gorilla Grodd. Apparently this Orb is going to be some super power source for a scary sounding mind control device. Up on the Watchtower, while Wonder Woman tries to get Superman and Batman to have dinner with her because they never spend any time together outside of work anymore (I guess the romance between she and Batman is kaput), Deadman appears and possesses Superman. Batman immediately recognizes his old friend Boston Brand (Batman helped him solve his own murder) and immediately agrees to help once he learns that the Legion of Doom killed The Master, who Batman once trained under as well. Just as Batman, Wonder Woman, Dead(Super)man and Mr. Terrific figure out that Grodd is probably behind the murder of The Master (as well as the spate of recent odd super villain team ups) they get a distress call from Solivar that Gorilla City is being attacked by an army of super villains. Well, it’s a good thing there’s an army of super heroes… wait, only Batman, Wonder Woman, and Dead(Super)man respond? No matter! The fight in Gorilla City is on! While the second stringers keep the Justice League busy, Gorilla Grodd, Lex Luthor and Tala combine The Heart of Nanda Parbat, Grodd’s mind control helmet, a genetic reconfiguration device, and Gorilla City’s shield generator so that Grodd can devolve every human being on Earth back into apes. (This is the big plan?) The device is activated and it works! The Justice Leaguers and the Legion of Doomers are now apes and despite being bamboozled by Grodd as to the true nature of the device (he thought it was just a mind control device) Lex Luthor seems oddly cool with being an ape. But don’t start buying shares in Church & Dwight Co. just yet (they make Nair). Superman destroys the device and reverts everyone back to human form. Just as the heroes are slapping each other on the back for a job well done, Black Manta Devil Ray enters and before he can shoot Wonder Woman, Deadman possesses Batman, grabs a gun and shoots and kills Black Manta Devil Ray. This, you might imagine, is a bit upsetting for Batman. By murdering Black Manta Devil Ray Deadman has unbalanced the scales. Even though the destruction of the orb resurrected all the dead monks (including The Master) Deadman cannot move on to the next plane. He must stay and try to balance the scales. Back at Legion of Doom headquarters, and in front of all the Legion of Doomers, Lex Luthor makes fun of Gorilla Grodd’s master plan and then shoots him, and takes control of the League.

Kind of a letdown, big evil plotwise, which I guess was kind of the point. Turn everyone into apes? Okay. Anyway, Deadman rocks. I don’t know why, but he does. The biggest disappointment? The best subplot from Justice League and the first season of Justice League Unlimited was the Batman/Wonder Woman romance and apparently that’s over.

Best Moment: After Batman learns that Deadman used his body to commit murder with a gun, he storms off and Wonder Woman… just… lets him walk away. I’m sorry, did I say Best Moment? That was the Worst Moment. Of the whole series.

Patriot Act – Black and White Nazi Flashback Alert! A Nazi scientist is about to inject a blonde test subject to create the first in a long line super soldi– um… okay, I won’t tell anyone at Marvel if you don’t. Luckily for the Allies, Spysmasher shows up and smashes the Nazis but good before they can enact Project: “Captain Nazi”. For real. Our old pal General Eling has been reading old military files while he’s stuck at his new desk job. Later at dinner with his old crony Amanda Waller, Eling tries to convince her that the Justice League is still the single greatest threat on the planet. Waller’s not buying it. (We know she’s going to be firmly on the Justice League’s side. We’ve seen “Epilogue”!) She tells Eling that it’s a different world now and he needs to figure out how to live in it, but he’s not buying that. Meanwhile, the Justice League is spread thin and Superman is off on another mission so Mr. Terrific sends Green Arrow, Stargirl, S.T.R.I.P.E., Vigilante, and Shining Knight on a very important mission to Metropolis in his stead. They have to ride on a float in a parade. Of course the crowd is not happy because they came to see Superman, but whatever. Later, General Eling returns to base and, holding a military scientist at gunpoint, breaks into the biovault and steals the sample of the Nazi super soldier serum (shhh). With guards approaching, Eling injects himself, despite being warned of horrible disfiguring side effects by the scientist. Scientists: Always trying to stop us from having fun. Eling takes the serum and ends up looking like a big, bald, purpleish… hulk with giant lower teeth. (I don’t know, people. Apparently no one at Marvel watched cartoons five years ago.) The inevitable happens and The Incredible Eling crashes the parade and starts smacking around the second string Justice Leaguers. He wants Superman! Green Arrow calls the Watchtower for backup and everyone is busy. Everyone? There are like 100 Justice Leaguers. Mr. Terrific can only scrounge up two reserve members? But what is this? One of them is Speedy! Awesome! For me! Not so much for the Justice League. He and the Crimson Avenger are not really much help against The Incredible Eling. All seems lost until the people of Metropolis, those that General Eling purports to want to protect, rise up against The Incredible Eling and stand up to him. He says that he only wants to protect them from the menace of meta humans. They point out that he’s the only one there with super powers. (Really? I didn’t even notice… hey, look at that! They’re right! None of these Justice Leaguers have powers!) Shamed, The Incredible Eling leaps away vowing that one day they will see they need him to protect them against the menace of super heroes. In the aftermath of the destruction, the people that were once grumbling that Superman wasn’t at the parade just these lame second stringers were now thanking their protectors with the kids running around pretending to be Vigilante and Shining Knight.

Well, it you ever wanted to see the Justice League fight The Hulk, this was the episode for you.

Best Moment: Vigilante and Shining Knight debating Dirty Harry in the elevator. “His proper duty is to his police captain!”


Next week — The final part of the second season of Justice League Unlimited plus my thoughts on the entire series.


  1. I like that at the end of Patriot Act Eiling was basically berated into stopping and accepted that everyone was right without much argument.  Also those kids that Vigilante enlists as his deputies? The Newsboy Legion.

  2. Flash & Substance, Dead Reckoning and Patriot Act are three of my favourite episodes. Didn’t notice til now that they were all neatly in a row like that. Weird.

    Incidently, the superheroes featured in Patriot Act are a tribute to the original Seven Soldiers of Victory, I believe.

  3. Patriot Act is a tribute episode to the original Seven Soliders of Victory and Eiling, like in Morrison’s JLA, becomes the shaved Shaggy Man.

  4. I’m not particularly fond of the first half of this season.  The second is considerably better (in my opinion).

  5. Also notable is the fact that, in both the show and the comics, Eiling steals his powers from another supervillain, albeit different ones.

  6. I really liked what they did with Luthor this season.  For the longest time, it seemed like the writers couldn’t really get into a comfortable characterization with Luthor.  They started to really get their groove in the Cadmus arc and then this season proved Lex was a pretty awesome villain indeed.  I spent the entire season rooting for him.

  7. Not the best group of episodes for this series if I’m being honest. There are some good moments in each episode. I love Luthor just berating then shooting Grodd in Dead Reckoning, and the moment with Trickster and Flash was really great. You’re right, it shows just how there is some type of respect between the Flash and his Rouges.

    Overall though not much else to really praise.. 

  8. The 3rd season of JLU is interesting. It returns the series to it’s original "Brave and the Bold" format, but keeping and building on all of the character development from the Cadmus arc. Works better because of that, I feel.

    To Another Shore is definately in my Top 5 episodes. Great character work with J’onn, leading to a fantastic reveal in the season finale.

  9. somehow while watching this I skipped "To Another Shore". I found it really odd that suddenly Mr Terrific replaced Martian Manhunter without explanation XD

  10. can i just say how much i love patriot act. seriously. it’s like my favourite episode of the entire series. green arrow and speedy firing those binary arrows; vigilante turning his bike into an impromptu ied; one of those newsie-kids hitting general eling with a wrecking ball–all awesome!