Justice League (Season 1, Ep 5): In Blackest Night Part 2

Hi! Welcome to my episode-by-episode recap of, and reaction to Justice League. There will be no spoilers beyond the current episode. As is my custom with recaps, I will give you a short summary recap followed by 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.

If you want to see my prior Justice League episode reviews, click HERE:

THE QUICK AND CLEAN SUMMARY:

Superman notices that the moon, which had been in orbit around the planet Lantern allegedly destroyed, still seems to be orbiting something. He and J’onn investigate and discover that a giant projector on the moon’s surface has created the impression that the planet was destroyed. Just as Lantern’s guilty verdict is rendered, and his death sentence is underway, Superman and Hawkgirl turn off the projector and prevent the execution.

Hawkgirl discovers that the Manhunters are behind the plot. Their goal was to destroy the Latern Corp and the Guardians of Oa in revenge for being decommissioned as a galactic police force in favor of the Lantern Corp. While Lantern is being saved, the Manhunters are attacking Oa – and winning. Just as the Manhunters are about to destroy the Guardians and take the Green Lantern power source for themselves, the Justice League and Lantern Corps members who attended John Stewart’s trial arrive. They defeat the Manhunters and save Oa. After, John Stewart is upset that his Lantern Corp members turned against him when they thought he was guilty. But he he pleased his friends in the Justice League believed in him even when he did not believe in himself.

THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:

Sometime later, after Lantern confesses to the League that he is guilty, Flash reflects on just how many people three billion truly is. Flash states that he cannot believe it. Superman is more contemplative, though, and says that he cannot believe it either. He seems to truly not believe it and states a desire to take a closer look at what happened. He asks J’onn to come with him for the investigation and he further asks Flash and Hawkgirl to slow things down in court despite nobody disputing the facts.

Flash: You’re asking the world’s fastest man to slow things down? Won’t be easy.

Superman and J’onn conduct their own investigation. J’onn asks him what he expects to find and Superman says he does not know. He says there is something bothering him about all of this, though. As they leave to investigate, the pirate who testified previously against J’onn notices them leaving and runs off unseen by the two Leaguers.

At the trial, John Stewart refuses to defend himself. From the gallery, Flash yells out an objection.

Flash: You call this a trial? I say it’s a joke.

Hawkgirl asks him if he is out of his mind and he tells her to prepare to be dazzled. As the leaders of the tribunal attempt to remove Flash, he zips around saying that both sides need to be heard. One of the final tribunal leaders suddenly says that she agrees with Flash. Another leader asks who will speak for John Stewart.

Flash: Don’t you have any lawyers here?
Leader: We solved our lawyer problem a long time ago.

The leaders tell Flash he can speak for the accused but they warn him that if he does, he will suffer the same penalty as the accused. Flash says that’s crazy and the leader replies that this is how they solved their lawyer problem. Flash agrees over John Stewart’s objection.

Flash: [stalling] But first I’d like to say a few words about habeus corpus. And ipso facto. [Hawkgirl shakes her head in disbelief and leaves the trial] Phi Beta Kappa.

Hawkgirl finds a group of Green Lanterns dining and she asks them why they are not at the trial. They tell her that they could not stand to be there and that John Stewart made them all look bad. She mocks the vaunted loyalty of the Lantern Corps. She crashes her mace onto their table and calls them all cowards. When the bartender pleas with her not to use weapons, she throws it aside and says she can take them down without it. They brawl. Hawkgirl is true to her word and throws all of the Lantern Corps members around the dining establishment until the one who opted not to fight, Kilowog, declares and end to the fight and further declares that she is right. He leaves with her to go stand up for John Stewart. As Hawkgirl flies away with Kilowog, she notices the pirate witness to Lantern’s crimes, Kanjar-Ro, speaking privately with one of the Manhunters.

Back at the trial, Flash is arguing for John Stewart.

Flash: If the ring wasn’t lit, you must acquit.

One of the tribunal leaders accuses Flash of wasting time. Just then, Kilowog arrives. Flash says that he has a big scary surprise witness.

On the moon which had been orbiting the now destroyed planet, Superman points out to J’onn that it should have blown out into space but instead continues to orbit a planet that no longer exists.

Back at the tribunal, Kilowog is speaking up for John Stewart as a character witness, recounting times when John has saved his own life at risk to his own. During cross-examination, Kilowog is asked who gave him the ring and the authority to patrol the galaxy to enforce right and wrong. Before he can answer, newcomers enter saying “we did.”

On the moon, J’onn finds an object and is uncertain what it is. Superman joins him. J’onn says that on Mars, they had projection toys. He notes tht the engineering principles of the toy, and this object, are teh same. Superman notes then that the planet’s destruction is an illusion.

J’onn: That would explain why this moon’s orbit has remained intact.
Superman: But who… [laser blasts him]

The pirate from earlier is the one who fired at them. Rubble falls on them and he says the secret will remain buried with them. Just then, though, Hawkgirl’s jet fires at his own. Superman and J’onn get out from beneath the rubble easily and J’onn notes that the moon is filled with surprises. The notice the fighter fight happening above them. Hawkgirl destroys Kanjar-Ro’s jet but not before Superman pulls the pirate from it, first.

Hawkgirl lands and tells the other two Leaguers that she had to, uh, borrow, one of the defense force’s fighters. Superman asks if Kanjar-Ro is behind this and she says “not exactly.’

Elsewhere, a Manhunter speaks to a large gathering of other Manhunters stating that it is time to avenge a thousand years of grievances. To a cheering group, the leader says their plan has worked flawlessly thus far. He says they have sewn dissension among the Lantern Corp ranks and he says they have also lured their most hated foes away from their home planet of Oa – the Guardians. The Manhunters cheer about destroying the Guardians.

At the Tribunal, the Guardians explain that individual Lanterns have autonomy over the rings – despite the fact that the Guardians are the ones who give them access to the power within the rings.

The leaders of the tribunal says that they have heard all of the facts and they quickly render a decision that John Stewart is guilty. He declines to make a statement and they tell him that his sentence is termination, both for himself and his advocate the Flash. Flash complains and John asks him to have some dignity for once in his life. John says that Flash needs to think of others like themselves, with immense power, and he continues that they all need to be held accountable for their actions.

Flash and Lantern are harried into a domed chamber. Once inside, it begins to fill with gas. They collapse and begin coughing.

Superman arrives, breaking a hole in the ceiling where the tribunal is held and then tearing a hole in the chamber where Flash and Lantern are dying. The tribunal leaders ask Superman how he dares and the Man of Steel replies that John is innocent. He whispers to Hawkgirl that’s her cue. She uses her mace to destroy the machine projecting the destruction of the planet. Suddenly, the planet is once more visible to the gathered crowd at the tribunal. Superman announces that the planet was never destroyed and that it remains now where it always was.

Enraged, John Stewart tackles Kanjar-Ro and asks why he did this to him and the pirate replies that he did it for money.

John: Whose money?
Pirate: The Manhunters.

The Guardians from Oa file out of the trial. Superman notices and tells the other Leagues to follow him. They catch up and John asks them where the Manhunters are. They tell John that the Manhunters are heading back to Oa.

John: Back to Oa? They’ve been there before?
Guardians: Yes. We created them there.

The Guardians explain that they once believed, before forming the Lantern Corp, that robots would make good peacekeepers. They go on to say, though, that the Manhunters were flawed and that they were incapable of understanding the subtle gradations between good and evil.

On Oa, the Manhunters are attacking the planet in earnest. One of the Manhunters announces that the Guardians protecting the planet are weakening and he encourages the others not to let up. Slowly they penetrate Oa’s defenses and begin to disable them. As they reach the Guardians themselves, a Manhunter commands the others to rip them when he is interrupted by John Stewart and the returning Lantern Corp members along with the Guardians who attended the trial.

Manhunter: [sees everyone arriving at Oa to defend the planet] They can’t stop us brothers. No one can.

The Justice Leaguers and the Lantern Corp immediately begin proving them wrong. However, the leader of the Manhunters manages to get to the power course of Oa and the Lantern Corp. John tries to stop him and he tells John that the Guardians stole this power source from the Manhunters.

John: It was never yours. It was always the Guardians’.
Manhunter: And they betrayed us just as they betrayed you.

He fights off John and gains control over the power source. As he does, he grows to an immense size. The power flows out of the Lantern Corp rings, and the Guardians themselves, and into the Manhunter. One of the collapsed Guardians whispers to John that all is lost.

John: Not while I’m standing.

He holds up his Lantern ring at the super-sized Manhunter and speaks the Lantern creed.

In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight.

The green power begins flowing away from the Manhunter and toward John’s ring.

Let those who worship evil’s might beware my power Gren Lantern’s light!

As everyone stares in amazement, the Manhunter collapses and John restores the power to the Guardians. The Guardians approach him and say that they chose wisely when offering him the ring. Then they say thank you to him.

Outside, everyone looks on at the devastation of Oa. One of the Lantern Corp members tells Hawkgirl that she is some fighter. they laugh, remembering their earlier fight with her, and say that they already knew that though, didn’t they. John emerges from inside and the other Lantern Corp members approach him to apologize. One of them says they were wrong about him and he agrees that they were [strangely forgetting that he agreed with them and refused to defense himself, I guess.]

John walks to the Justice League and notes that they believed in him even when he did not believe in himself. Flash says that’s what friends are for. They leave to go home.

REACTION:

The Green Lantern “in brightest day…” creed is just cool.

Ah, the classic “we projected an optical illusion to make the planet appear blown up” scheme. Nobody bothered to go to where the planet had been, and I guess nobody from the planet communicated off-world, so it worked out perfectly until Superman started thinking through basic gravity science. I will give the Manhunters scheme some credit, though, They had to time turning on the illusion at just the right moment to fool John and they succeeded at that.

I guess this story is okay though it leaves me somewhat less impressed by the Lantern Corps than I probably should be. Hawkgirl beat several of them in a fight without her mace. A small army of robots almost manages to overrun Oa itself – but once the much smaller Justice League group arrives they handle the Manhunters pretty easily and decisively. Does it make sense that Earth’s other Green Lantern(s) made no appearance? Not really unless maybe he had to hang behind to help Wonder Woman and Batman defend earth.

I’m not sure I’ll ever understand when/when not Superman needs to wear a space suit.

I’m also not sure what to think about a culture wherein they “solved their lawyer problem” by making defense attorney work non-existent via fear and/or execution. That said, that type of culture probably would just execute the guilty within seconds after a verdict is rendered. Maybe this incident will help them to re-think how they approach criminal justice.

The Flash as a lawyer was the highlight of this episode for me. “If the ring wasn’t lit, you must acquit.” Even if you don’t get the OJ Simpson / Johnny Cochran reference, that’s still funny. I think the episode was also supposed to give us a sense of Hawkgirl as a legit force when it comes to fighting. It succeeded on that front, too.

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