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:
During a fight with a giant robot, manned by Lex Luthor, Martian Manhunter, Hawkgirl, Flash, and The Green Lantern are transported to a parallel universe with a DC Golden Age comics aesthetic. Shortly after arriving, they meet their superhero counter parts on this world – The Justice Guild – while helping the other world’s heroes stop a robbery.
Not long after that, they are roped into helping the Justice Guild take on The Injustice Guild. The fight does not go well for the Justice League members. However, as the episode ends, Hawkgirl discovers an old cemetery on the edge of town with tombstones marking the graves of The Justice Guild. This discovery calls into question who they are teaming up with and how it is happening.
THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:
A giant robot makes is way through a city fighting the Justice League. Initially, at least, the robot is winning. Hawkgirl asks who could be behind a monstrosity like this and we see Lex Luthor inside the robot, operating it.
Superman is able to tear open a small hole in the back of the robot’s armor. He yells to Batman that he will only get one shot. Batman throws an exploding Batarang through the hole. It explodes causing a reactor breach within the robot. The robot crashes to the crowd and then explodes leaving devastation in its wake.
Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, and Hawkgirl get up from the pavement in a decidedly less devastated city and ask if they won and where Superman and Batman are. They cannot reach either of them via comms. Manhunter yells out in agony when he tries to reach out to them telepathically. Lantern suggests that they fan out to look for the others. As they do so, they realize something is not right. The city now has the appearance of being from the 1950s. Flash and Lantern stand dumbfounded together as an old timey ice cream truck drives past.
Flash asks if they were somehow blasted into the past. Lantern grabs a newspaper and finds that it has the current date. However, they note that the newspaper also says that they are in Seaboard City. Flash has never heard of this place.
While they are talking, a robbery takes place. Police show up and tell someone calling himself Music Master that he is under arrest. Music Master, holding a violin and an accordion, resists. His accordion plays an energy beam at the police allowing him to escape to a car that looks like a clarinet. Lantern uses his ring to stop the car.
Music Master: Your disguise can’t fool me, Green Guardsman.
He blasts Lantern with his accordion, knocking him back. Lantern recovers enough to use his ring to grab the stolen Stradivarius from Music Master’s car before the bad guy gets away. After, Flash and Lantern talk about what Music Master called him and they look at the recovered violent. Suddenly a man with a giant T on his chest arrives and tells the two Justice Leaguers that in Seaboard City, crime does not pay.
The guy with the T punches Flash without asking questions. Lantern responds by telling him that he just made a big mistake. He uses his ring to pull a belt from him that seems to give him power. Another crime stopper from this world arrives, dressed like a cat version of Batman, and he tells Lantern that he is the one who made the mistake when he chose to break the law. The rest of the members of the Justice League who fanned out earlier arrive to help Lantern. Manhunter notes that it seems they are not in Metropolis anymore.
A woman in a black suit with blonde hair arrives to assist “Catman.” A moment later, a blonde haired man wielding something similar to Green Lantern’s ring arrives and announces that they need to surrender. He uses his ring to put a bird cage around Hawkgirl. Flash runs to help her when a red dressed helmet wearing speedster from this world catches up to him.
Streak: You’re quick son, but villainy can never outrun justice.
He punches Flash, knocking him to the ground, as a young man cheers him on from a distance.
As the fight ensues, Streak sees Flash subsequently try to save that young man from falling debris and realizes that both sides are good. He runs between the two sides and yells for everyone to stand down.
Streak: No one who would risk his own life for another can be evil. I think perhaps our two teams should talk.
The Justice League is invited into the base of operations for The Justice Guild of America. Once inside, Streak suggests that they introduce themselves and he calls for a roll call. We meet Catman, Black Siren, Green Guardsman, and Tom Turbine. The Streak names himself last. Lantern introduces the Justice League members present. Finally the Streak introduces the young man from earlier who Flash saved from the debris. He is Ray Thompson, the Justice Guild’s Junior Justice Guildsman. Ray says that when he grows up, he wants to be a crime fighter, too. Streak musses his hair and says that he can as long as he remembers to eat right and stay in school.
J’onn suddenly feels dizzy. Streak offers to give him a tall glass of milk. Black Siren says that she has some freshly baked cookies that might help, also. Hawkgirl starts to snipe at her before Lantern quickly pulls her aside.
Hawkgirl: I will not be patronized.
Green Lantern: We need answers here so maybe just this once we can all play along.
They return to the group and Hawkgirl asks Black Siren, with fake sincerity, about baking cookies and fighting crime.
After the two women go, Lantern and Flash talk privately. He tells Flash that the Justice Guild are comic book characters. Flash points out that this is too weird. Lantern replies that they are corny but that they also taught him what it means to be a hero. He suggests that without them he would not have his ring today. Hawkgirl comes back out with milk and cookies. Flash mockingly asks for a cookie and Hawkgirl warns him that he better be careful or else he will be the fastest man alive with a limp.
Music Master is meeting in a cave with some other guys. He tells them about the new group of heroes who have the same powers as the Justice Guild. Sportsman doubts the story. Dr. Blizzard tells Sportsman to cool it. A fourth man, Sir Swami, a villain with magical powers, proposes to the others a wager wherein each of the four of them will see who can pull off the most spectacular crime. The crimes all require defeating the Justice Guild and the new heroes.
Back at Justice Guild Headquarters, Tom Turbine proposes a theory to the Justice League about how they came to be here. He then explains his multi-verse theory to them. Tom thinks that perhaps the Flash, during the explosion, vibrated at the frequency of the Justice Guild’s world and accidentally tore a hole in the fabric of the universe. Lantern says that this does not explain the Justice Guild comic books he read as a kid. J’onn suggests that perhaps the creators of the comics had a psychic connection to this world and the stories that they thought they were creating were actually just things happening on this earth. Tom agrees with that potential explanation.
Tom shares that he has been tinkering with a trans-dimensional gateway but says that he has not yet come up with a suitable power source for it, yet. He promises to work on it until he comes up with a solution. They walk together back to the main room of the JG Headquarters and suggests that they all drink coffee and eat dessert.
Tom Turbine: Black Siren?
Black Siren: Right, Chief. Hawkgirl?
Hawkgirl: I am not getting dessert.
Just then the doorbell rings. Sgt. O’Shaughnessey and two other officers are at the door. The Sergeant says that a letter was delivered to the police precinct and he rushed it over as soon as he could. Streak comes inside and reads the letter with junior member Ray Thompson reading over his shoulder.
“To the Justice Guild,
Prepare for our most fiendish plot of all, a crime spree based on the four elements of the ancient world – fire, air, water, and earth. Catch us if you can.
The Injustice Guild”
Hawkgirl asks what kind of criminals tip off the authorities and The Green Guardsman tells her the worst kind. He says that he doubts there is enough good between the four of them to care for a wounded puppy. Streak tells the Justice League that they need their help and Lantern readily agrees. Streak sends Ray to fetch Decoder Rings. He says that they do not have time for a formal ceremony but for now they will treat the Justice Leaguers as honorary members of the Justice Guild. Lantern says that you used to be able to order rings like this off of the back of the old comic books.
Streak suggests that they split into teams. Flash immediately picks Black Siren as his teammate.
On the street outside, Streak tells Green Lantern that the clue of fire must mean that the bad guys plan to steal The Fabled Flame of Rasputin, a precious ruby necklace on loan to the Seaboard Museum. Lantern notes that Streak knows his stuff and says that it is a pleasure to fight alongside him.
Streak: The feeling is mutual. You’re a credit to your people, son.
Lantern and Streak arrive at the museum in time to catch Sir Swami stealing the necklace. Streak tells him that they have caught him red-handed. Swami replies that he has one more trick up his sleeve and blasts something at them from his magic wand.
Elsewhere, Music Master is at the Museum of Flying. He steals a priceless antique airplane. Green Guardsman and Hawkgirl see him. She tries to stop him, using her mace, but Guardsman blocks her with his ring.
Green Guardsman: We cannot destroy that plane. It’s an irreplaceable part of our nation’s aviation heritage.
He tells her that they need to stop him using their wits.
In yet another location, the mayor is doing a ribbon cutting ceremony wherein he unveils a new fountain as a symbol of his commitment to the city’s future. Just then, Dr. Blizzard arrives and freezes the water around the new dolphin themed fountain. He tells the mayor that he will be leaving with his chill-gotten gains.
Flash shows up and kicks him in the face.
Flash: Chill out, Dr. Bizzard. We’re putting you on ice.
Blizzard starts firing ice bullets at Flash in response.
Back at the Swami theft, Lantern avoids blasts from the villain’s wand. Swami goes into a phone booth and magics himself to an escape.
Streak: It’s a pity he uses his talent for evil rather than entertaining children at birthday parties.
Sometime later, Sportsman is driving away with a clay court tennis trophy as part of his earth themed crime. He sees Catman catching up with him on a motor cycle in the rearview mirror. Ray Thompson is a passenger on Catman’s side car. Martian Manhunter is flying above them. Sportsman flings an exploding badminton birdie toward Martian Manhunter, slowing him and causing Catman to fall from the top of Sportsman’s getaway car and onto the hood of the car, instead.
Hawkgirl and the Guardsman are still chasing Music Master’s plane. As they catch up, he diverts them by using the plane’s wing to knock window cleaners loose from their scaffolding. After rescuing the workers, Hawkgirl tries to give chase but she is blasted by Music Master’s musical weapon and lands on a green field.
Flash and Black Siren confront Dr. Blizzard. Flash speeds around him and successfully removes the villain’s ice-spewing device from his head. However, after he does this, some distance away, a truck carrying TNT is set to crash into a bus filled with nuns. Flash leaves Dr. Blizzard to take control of the truck and save the nuns. He succeeds only to crash the truck. As Black Siren runs to check on him, Dr. Blizzard puts his freezing device back on his head and freezes both Flash and Black Siren.
In the Catman chase of Sportsman, J’onn helps the other hero get back onto his bike. A moment later, though, he has a sudden and intense headache. For just a moment, he sees a desolated world around himself. Then it returns to Seaboard City. Catman gives up his chase of Sportsman to attend to J’onn lying on the street.
Hawkgirl wakes up to learn that the green field where she landed is a cemetery. She looks at the headstones. One of them says “Here lies Scott mason, The Green Guardsman.” Another says “Here lies Tom Turbine. Another claims to be where Catman is buried.
to be continued
Most of the episode feels like a multi-verse situation. However, we do have a few hints that more is going on. J’onn’s headaches seems to imply that something psychic is happening. His brief image of a desolate world seems to confirm that. Then Hawkgirl’s find as the episode ends takes this firmly out of the multi-verse realm and into something completely different.
Now we seem to be in a WandaVision situation.
As usual with these two-part story arcs, it is difficult to evaluate the story as a whole until we have seen the whole thing. However, I did enjoy the “modern” (20 years ago) confrontation with the 1950s cornball aesthetic. The Justice Guild is essentially a Golden Age version of DC comics. In the actual DC Golden Age, I believe the Justice League was called “The Justice Society of America.”
The biggest fish out of water in this episode was Hawkgirl. She was therefore the source of most of this episode’s best moments. Her anger over Black Siren’s cookies and coffee role on her team was legitimately funny as was her reaction to Green Guardsman’s corny speech about protecting the prop plane because “it’s an irreplaceable part of our nation’s aviation heritage.”
The episode could have shied away from racial issues and gotten away with it. However, instead it gave us a “yikes, racism” moment of Streak telling Green Lantern (who is black) that he is a credit to his race. I suspect that under most circumstances, John would not have let that comment slide. However, he lets it go in this case because it was said from someone who seemed to mean well. He also needs the Justice Guild’s help and could not afford to make that an issue in the moment. I am not certain whether a writing team today would have had Green Lantern handle it the same way.
The funniest revelation to me from this episode was that Ray Thompson (the enthusiastic junior member of the Justice Guild) was voiced by Neil Patrick Harris.
As for the first half of this story, I’ll say that I am enjoying myself so far. I look forward to seeing Part 2 and finding out where the story is going.