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 and Martian Manhunter are taken captive by space pirates after they are knocked unconscious when their attempt to destroy an asteroid renders them unconscious and floating in space in the vicinity of Saturn. They are sold to a planet called War World, which is ruled over by an alien named Mongul. War World is a gladiator world where “specimens” of alien species are pitted against each other in combat to the death.
On the planet, Superman helps Martian Manhunter escape. He is unable to escape himself, though. Hawkgirl and Green Lantern track their missing comrades to War World. The episode concludes with Superman, as a punishment for his attempted escape, forced to fight the long-term champion of War World, Draaga. After Superman wins, he refuses to kill Draaga. Angry and insulted, Mongul orders his robots with lasers to destroy him.
THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:
Superman and J’onn are near the planet Saturn destroying a three and one half mile wide asteroid on a collision course with earth. Hawkgirl is monitoring their work from Watchtower. Superman places an explosive on the asteroid and invites J’onn to join him, some distance away, near their space jet. Suddenly, Hawkgirl warns them that there is a hydrogen pocket inside the asteroid and says they need to get farther away from there. Before they can, the explosion detonates.
Hawkgirl: J’onn! Superman! Come in!
All she sees on her screen is static.
An alien space ship approaches Superman and J’onn as they float in space. The alien notes that their life functions are still active and he gives the order to bring them aboard.
Green Lantern asks Hawkgirl how this could happen and he scolds her saying that she was supposed to be monitoring their situation. She snaps back that she followed the protocols, to which Lantern replies that two of their men are out there, injured, and maybe worse.
Hawkgirl: [in his face] Do you want to stand here pointing fingers or do you want to do something about it.
Green Lantern: Let’s go.
Superman wakes up aboard the alien space craft. There are several others of varying races confined where he is. He tries to move and is electrocuted. The camera pans over to the aliens who brought him aboard. One of them tells the other than his instincts were correct about this one. He tells his commanding officer that Superman is a Kyrptonian. The boss replies that he thought their race was extinct. He then states that he is pleased that they have captured such a rare specimen. He notes that Superman should do well on War World.
Sometime later, we are in a gigantic arena, with a large viewing screen for those in the crowd farther away to see. The crowd is cheering for an alien named Draaga. The muscular grizzled alien with missing teeth, and a helmet, tells the crowd to save their cheers as he fights not for cheers but for honor. The crowd cheers more after hearing this. He says he also fights for their leader, the great Mongul.
Mongul (see pic above) appears before the crowd, notes that what Draaga has said is well said, but then wonders aloud whether Draaga’s next opponent will feel the same way. Mongul, who is something like a professional wrestling promoter, introduces Krodar the Terrible, an alien who prefers to let his weapons do the talking.
Mongul: And that’s exactly what they’ll do… on War World! [crowd erupts in cheers and applause]
A moment later, in the flash of a green light, Draaga and his opponent are transported to another planet to do combat to the death. The crowd, chanting for Draaga, watches their combat from the large viewing screen where they are gathered. The fight is not a lengthy one. Draaga wins, turns to the camera, and asks Mongul whether he should spare his opponent. Mongul asks the crowd – and they do not want mercy. Draaga then uses an ax to kill his foe as Mongul exclaims “long live democracy!” The crowd begins to boo, soon after, though, because the fight was over too quickly.
Mongul makes a video call to the space captain who has captured Superman. He asks the captain to listen to the jeering of the crowd and tells him that they are not happy with his most recent specimen.
Mongul: A dozen creatures you’ve found and not one of them has been able to last more than two minutes against Draaga.
Captain: A promise the next one will be different. He’s a powerful Kyrptonian guaranteed to give Draaga the fight of his life.
Mongul: He better.
Lantern and Hawkgirl arrive at the location where Superman and J’onn were taken. The Justice League jet is present and unoccupied. Lantern’s ring detects an ion trail. He says that it appears a large ship has been by this location.
Back on War World, Draaga inspects the new specimens. He says that there is not a real warrior in the bunch. He approaches the Kryptonian (Superman) spits in his face, and declares him to be the biggest disappointment of all. Once Draaga is gone, Superman easily breaks lose of his chains. An insect-like alien asks him why he did not do that while Draaga was here and Superman says that it is called turning the other cheek before setting out to find J’onn.
He wanders around his holding area and finds two aliens dragging the body of Draaga’s most recent opponent and leaving it next to a body of water. One of them says that one minute you’re a champion and the next you’re croc chop. Superman looks around where they have left the dead body and finds another body – that of J’onn. Just then an enormous crocodile emerges from the water. It approaches J’onn but moments before it can eat the Martian, Superman punches it in the face. With the croc back in the water, he helps J’onn to his feet. The Martian tells him that something in the atmosphere of this place is sapping his strength. Superman tells him not to strain himself and says that they are getting out of there. As they leave, the croc suddenly returns, bites Superman, and pulls him down deep under the water. The Man of Steel fights him off again, flies out of the water, and tells J’onn that this place is starting to get on his nerves.
They try to leave. However, just outside the room, a small army of robots with lasers begin firing on them with laser blasts. Superman rips large stone pillars from the building, flings them at the robots, and then escapes with J’onn. The destruction creates an opening to leave the building. Outside, Superman flies J’onn upward but he then runs into a forcefield that shocks him, dropping them to the ground. More drone robots with lasers arrive and fire on them. J’onn is able to phase through the forcefield but Superman cannot. J’onn tells Superman that he will not leave without him but Superman shouts that J’onn has a better chance of helping him out there than trapped inside with him. The laser shots knock down Superman again and J’onn flees.
Lantern and Hawkgirl, inside a green sphere created by his ring, follow the ion trail. They eventually come to a planet that looks to them like a refueling point. Hawkgirl says that they should go check it out and Lantern asks her who is driving here, anyway.
In Mongul’s throne room, one of his advisers is telling him that their planet is going to suffer from food shortages. He warns about rebellion. Mongul replies that there will be no rebellion for so long as he can continue giving the people good fights. Just then, an unconscious Superman is carried in. Mongul asks what this is about and his advisor informs him that this is the Kryptonian and he shares that he tried to escape.
Mongul: A pity. I was hoping to build him up with some preliminary matches but now I will have to make an example of him. Give him to Draaga.
Lantern is interrogating an alien who looks like a humanoid frog. He asks the frog-alien about his missing friend and is told, in turn, that it is best not to ask too many questions around there. Lantern asks him why and the frog tells him that there is a lot of stuff going on – smuggling, bootlegging, and slavetrading to name a few. Just then he hears Hawkgirl yell out in such a way that it sounds like she is fighting someone. He arrives to find her fighting three people. He uses his ring to break up the fight and says that he has more important things to do than saving her behind. She says that they know something and that he is now letting them get away. Lantern uses his ring to stop them and bring them back. He inform them that they can talk to him about their missing friends or they can talk to Hawkgirl. The camera pans over to her playing with her mace.
One of the aliens tells Lantern that he heard something about a Kryptonian who is being taken to War World. Lantern asks him what War World is and the alien says it is a nasty place, heavy into carnage for the masses. Hawkgirl then instructs that alien to take them to War World.
Back on War World, the crowd is chanting for Draaga. He says to the crowd to let them all come to fight him, from every corner of the galaxy. J’onn is part of the crowd entering the arena. He is speaking with another person in the crowd.
J’onn: So many spectators. Don’t they have families or jobs to tend to?
Woman: Are you kidding? There’s no jobs. I haven’t worked in years.
Inside, Superman is brought in and introduced. He is handed an ax. Superman breaks the ax and announces to Mongul that he will not fight for his amusement. Mongul – to the crowd – declares that this is a bold move but then he asks how long his idealism will last… on WAR WORLD! [crowd cheers] Superman and Draaga are transported to War World.
Immediately after arriving, Draaga begins his attack. Superman tells him that they do not have to do this and Draaga replies that they do not have a choice.
The fight begins. Superman takes away Draaga’s ax right away and melts it with his heat vision. He mostly just absorbs punches and boulders after that, only fighting back hard enough to prevent Draaga from doing any real actual damage. Draaga throws an enormous boulder onto Superman and silence follows. As Draaga claims victory to the camera, the boulder begins moving and then it shatters.
He punches Draaga out. Mongul stands and then announces that in a stunning development, the Kryptonian is victorious. Mongul consults with the crowd and they cheer for Superman to finish Draaga by killing him. Superman tells Mongul that he refuses. Draaga himself asks Superman to give him an honorable death. When Superman says no again, Draaga begs. Mongul warns Superman that this is his last chance to do as Draaga says. Superman says no again.
Robots with lasers surround Superman and Mongul orders them to destroy him. They fire.
TO BE CONTINUED
I feel as though this episode demonstrates some pretty significant incompetence on the part of Hawkgirl and the Justice League as a whole. There’s nothing in Watchtower to warn them about space vessels traveling through earth’s solar system? We can put bombs on asteroids within the vicinity of Saturn but we don’t scan for hydrogen pockets inside until the last minute?
I’m also confused about Superman’s physical capabilities. A nearby bomb can knock him out for hours. Sometimes even punches knock him silly. But a fifty ton boulder does essentially nothing to him?
The setting for War World is basically “imagine the worst parts of the Roman Empire… but put it in outer space.”
The other somewhat notable part of this episode is that the seeds of something vaguely romantic, between Hawkgirl and Green Lantern, are being sewn.
In any case, most of this story is set-up for Part 2. We’ll see what happens then!