Justice League (Season 1, Ep 1): Secret Origins Part 1

Hi! Welcome to my episode-by-episode recap of, and reaction to Justice League. As is my custom with recaps, I will give you a short summary version and a long and unnecessarily helpfully detailed version. My reaction will follow at the end if you just want to scroll past all of the recap.

So what is Justice League?

Justice League is an American animated television series which ran from 2001 to 2004 on Cartoon Network. It is part of the DC Animated Universe (DCAU). The show was produced by Warner Bros. Animation. It is based on the Justice League of America and associated comic book characters published by DC Comics. It serves as a prequel to Batman Beyond and as a sequel to Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures. After two seasons, the series was rebranded as Justice League Unlimited, a successor series which aired for three seasons.

I watched this show, apparently twenty long years ago (!), when it ran on Cartoon Network. I will be conducting my re-watch via the ancient technology of DVDs.

DVD (abbreviation for Digital Versatile Disc or Digital Video Disc)[8][9] is a digitaloptical discdata storage format invented and developed in 1995 and released in late 1996. The medium can store any kind of digital data and was widely used for software and other computer files as well as video programs watched using DVD players. DVDs offer higher storage capacity than compact discs while having the same dimensions.

I suspect that if you are interested in watching along with me, the show is probably available on a streaming service somewhere.

THE QUICK AND CLEAN EPISODE SUMMARY:

The episode begins on Mars, two and a half years in the past, with an astronaut named Carter who falls into a hole on Mars and discovers evidence of intelligent life below ground. Something happens to him while there but we do not see what it is. The show next takes us Batman investigating to a conspiracy of abnormally strong scientists preventing deep space technology from working properly.

Next, Carter, the astronaut from earlier, is now a Senator and pushes world disarmament – something Superman happily helps with. Unfortunately, this leaves the world less prepared for when an invasion of hostile aliens arrives. The aliens appear to outmatch Superman individually. Superman leaves the battle against them after he receives a psychic message from another alien, J’onn J’onzz. The Man of Steel frees J’onn J’onzz from a lab where he was confined, and then he, J’onzz, and Batman learn that the upper ranks of the military are the same shapeshifting aliens that have invaded the planet. The show ends just as a confrontation between Batman, Superman, J’onzz, and the aliens is about to commence.

THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:

Our episode begins on Mars, in the Mariner Valley. Two astronauts argue about how great it is to be on Mars. Carter says that the planet is a little slice of heaven. The other astronaut says that’s true if one’s slice of heaven equates to a barren rock. While conducting readings of the planet’s surface, they see a rock that looks “almost organic.” They pick the rock up and a hole in the ground opens. Carter falls inside the hole. Ed asks Carter to let him know that he is okay, through their comms device. Carter eventually replies but Ed cannot hear the answer.

Carter looks around inside and sees signs of intelligent life. He finds giant doors adorned with glyph writing. He immediately goes to work trying to open the doors. In a moment, his efforts inadvertently turn on a power source underground. Lights begin to move up the door in bending lines as the cavern itself lights up more clearly, too. Something comes through the doors toward Carter as he yells out in alarm.

Two years later atWayne Tech’s Metropolis sub-station, Batman breaks in through the roof of a facility and listens as one of a group of scientists down below invites the others to a barbeque at his house on Saturday. Once he leaves, the other scientists stand and begin speaking in a non-human language. They stand up and walk over toward a storage unit that appears to weigh thousands of pounds. One of them lift it from the ground as another retrieves something from behind it. Batman watches as the three scientists leave together with this object.

They set the object on a machine outside and it seems to melt into the object. Batman suddenly addresses them and says that he doubts that modification is legal. He fires a rope lasso at them that wraps around all of them. Two of the scientists seem to shape shift to a smaller size so that the ropes fall off while a third attacks him and displays some more super-human strength. Superman arrives and asks Batman if he needs a hand. Batman says he can handle things but Superman says the scientists don’t look so tough.

A moment later, something seems to attack Superman psychically. He falls from the sky and onto the ground in a heap. The three scientists push a button on a detonation device and blow up the entire scientific facility. The three are completely unharmed by the explosion. One of them gives Batman a finger gun salute as the three disappear into the trees outside of the facility.

Batman checks on Superman who is recovering. He asks Batman what happened and the Dark Knight asks him in turn for Supes to tell him. Superman says that he saw a bunch of intense images but says that is all he can remember. Batman tells Superman that he has noticed multiple security breaches in Wayne Tech’s deep space monitoring network over the last few months. Superman asks if anyone has claimed credit and Batman says no. Batman believes that there is more to this than meets the eye. He says that the scientists destroyed the facility because they did not want to leave evidence behind of what they did. Superman says that he would like to stay and help Bats look into this but he is needed back in Metropolis.

Batman: [sarcastically] Another key to the city?

Superman gives Batman a signal watch and tells him to call if he needs assistance. Batman puts the watch in a belt pouch.

Outside the United Nations we see people protesting nuclear proliferation. Inside, a diplomat argues that the United State needs to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction – saying that only by doing this can the world achieve lasting peace. An American General stands up in the crowd and says that these weapons are the country’s only defense against aggression. The other diplomat asks him if that is the official position of the United States. A third man steps out onto the stage in front of the seated people and says no, and that the general does not speak on behalf of the government.

General: But Senator Carter, only a fool…
Carter: General, when I was an astronaut on Mars, I surived an experience that profoundly changed my life.

Carter says that when he was on Mars, looking at earth from a distance, he came to realize that earth was fragile and small. As a result, Carter introduces a proposal to use Superman to create world peace. After he says this, Superman himself walks into the chamber, down the stairs, and to the stage. The General argues that with all due respect, the world’s security cannot be entrusted to one man. Superman says that he understands the General’s feels. However, he says, he believes after speaking with Carter that he can make a difference.

Superman: I solemnly swear to you, to uphold the virtues of truth and justice, not just for America, but for all the world.

Carter and Superman then shake hands.

Six months later, we see a news reporter, Snapper Carr, reporting that Senator Carter’s disarmament plan was ratified six months ago. He says that the Man of Steel has been working around the clock to disarm dangerous weapons ever since. He further reports that public support for the plan has swelled though some still oppose the effort.

We see a reporter speaking with The Flash who says that the big guy’s heart is in the right place but he says even he cannot be in five places at once.

Carr: Most of us will feel safe knowing that Superman is watching over us.

Superman himself was watching the news report, turns the TV off, and lays down to sleep. As his head touches the pillow, he has a painful vision that causes him to sit up breathless.

We next see Batman breaking into Star Labs. He sees some of the technology on the table that scientists stole from Wayne Tech two and a half years ago. Just then, those same scientists enter the lab speaking a non-human language. Batman looks around inside the laboratory. He finds a room with several large organic-seeming pods lining the wall. The scientists that he has seen walking are inside these pods. Batman cuts one of the pods open and the scientist falls out unconscious. Before Batman can do anything with the man, though, a guard dog emerges and attacks him. Batman fights the giant dog off and fires a grapple gun to pull himself to the ceiling. The dog calmly walks up the wall toward his location, and as it does so, it changes form to something with white skin, red eyes, and a much oversized mouth.

In his bathroom, Superman is washing off his face. Suddenly he hears a quiet beeping sound. A moment later, he is in costume and flying out the window. He finds Batman unconscious in the lab facility with the signal watch in his hand. A moment later, a large object crashes into the city outside, from the sky. It appears to be a giant meteor. Superman – holding Batman – flies to an ambulance arriving outside. He hands Batman to an EMT next to a gurney and tells her that he needs help. He then flies away. As the medic moves her hand toward Batman’s mask, he grabs her wrist and tells her not to even think about it.

As the firefighters spray water on the meteor object, suddenly a gigantic white slimy alien, with red spots, emerges from inside the fallen object. The alien fires a laser at a reporter who asks aloud if this is some kind of machine. Superman arrives next and he is also blown backward by a laser blast. Police begin firing their guns at the creature and it responds with an extended laser blast in all directions.

Batman gets off the gurney and gets to his Bat plane within moments. His plane fires missiles at the object and do not seem to hurt it at all. Batman must then avoid laser blasts in his direction. Superman finally gets up from the ground and attacks the creature more venously, knocking it to the ground. He then tears the thing open with his hands only to get blasted once more as he does.

Batman buys Superman some time to recover, again, by firing more missiles at it. As Superman stands back up, he is alarmed to see that another of the creatures has been birthed. Superman has another psychic attack. When he comes out of it, he flies away. Batman, meanwhile, has been joined by other fighter jets in attacking the alien invader. None of the jets are having any effect at all. Military tanks roll up and begin a full frontal assault on the creatures. This also has no effect.

Snapper Carr reporters, sometime later, that after hours of battle, the heart of Metropolis lies in ruins. He says that the question on everyone’s mind is “where is Superman?” He says reports are coming in that similar creatures have landed in large cities all over the world with more coming by the hour.

On a beautiful island, a dark-haired woman tells her blonde-haired mother, while both are on horseback, that the omens do not bode well. The dark-haired woman tells her mother than mankind may be facing its darkest hour. Her mother replies that mankind will have to face them alone. She tells her daughter that whatever happens beyond these shores is not their concern. She says that the gods will protect them.

Batman arrives at a government facility with more of the pod sacks filled with people that we saw earlier. He finds Superman batting down a thick door and tells him that destroying government property is not his style. Superman finishes removing the door and shows him what is inside. The walk through a lab until they find a green alien confined by its hands, feet, and head.

Batman: What is it?
Superman: Mankind’s only hope.

Superman pushes a lever and frees the being, catching it as it falls to the floor. Superman says that *he* has been trying to reach out to him, telepathically, but notes that a stasis field interfered. Superman says that once the message finally came through, he immediately went to rescue him. Batman asks what the alien is doing and the green alien replies telepathically with “the invasion.” He tells the other two that he came to warn mankind but also says he was captured and imprisoned before he could.

Alien: They wouldn’t listen.
Batman: Big surprise.

The alien tells Batman that he senses that Batman does not trust him. He shapeshifts into another form, with clothes and a cape, and introduces himself as J’onn J’onzz. Superman tells J’onn not to take it personally and says Batman does not trust anyone. J’onn says that this is a wise policy.

The three walk outside and run into several military officers. The leader of the group tells Superman that J’onzz cannot leave the facility. When Superman says that world security may be at stake, the military officer says that is why J’onn J’onzz will not leave this facility alive. The officer – and all of his comrades – shapeshift into white skinned aliens with red eyes. They look like more humanoid version of the attacking dog we saw earlier and much smaller versions of the huge creatures invading the planet. They approach a horrified Superman.

to be continued

REACTION:

This is the story of a threat large enough to get Batman and Superman to team up. Since we were introduced to Martian Manhunter, the Flash, and Wonder Woman, it is safe to say the threat is large enough for an even larger team up.

As a sequel series to Batman: the Animated Series and Superman: the Animated Series, it only made sense to put the Justice League together next – as the show’s title indicates. We appear to be facing up against a foe that outmatches Batman’s technical know-how and investigative prowess. We’re also facing a foe that appears to be a match for Superman with respect to strength AND more than a match with respect to numbers.

With a relatively short part 1, there is not much to say about this story just yet. Part 1 is almost exclusively set-up. I enjoy the animation and I also enjoy the voice actors. Gary Cole does the voice for Carter – and once you realize that you will hear Ricky Bobby’s daddy or Bill Lumbergh, or whoever you associate his voice with. Michael Rosenbaum does the voice work for The Flash. Rosenbaum has a long history with DC, playing arguably the most iconic live action version of Lex Luthor for television’s Smallville. Jason Marsden does the voice work for Snapper Carr. His voice acting resume is so prolific it is hard to point you in a direction for where you know his voice (you do know it) but I remember his face from the TV series Step by Step where he played Rich Halke. [Note: No, Jason is not related to James Marsden, but yes, they are good friends and their wives have somehow known each other since they were six years old.]

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