Justice League (Season 1, Ep 24): The Savage Time Part 1

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:

The Justice League returns from a battle on the other side of the galaxy. Lantern is towing them with his ring because the Javelin has run out of power. As they prepare to dock the ship, a powerful pulse of energy from earth disrupts them. When the pulse is over, Watchtower – with Batman inside – are gone. The Justice League flies down to the earth’s surface and find a planet where the Axis Power won World War 2 and a version of Batman, from an alternative timeline, is leading The Resistance. With this timeline’s version of Batman providing assistance, the Justice League breaks into a research lab of Vandal Savage – the dictator of the world – and finds that he has created a time travel portal. The superheroes with powers pass through leaving this earth’s version of Batman behind.

In the past, the Justice League finds the Allies overmatched by Axis powers with highly advanced technology. Superman, Hawkgirl, Flash, and Lantern attempt to help the Allies on the battlefield while Wonder Woman and Martian Manhunter fly to Berlin to learn more about Savage’s regime. On the battlefield, Lantern’s ring runs out of power and he is separated from the other heroes with only his military background to help him. J’onn and Wonder Woman meet an American spy, Steve Trevor, who tells them about a high tech Axis weapons facility. Inside the facility, J’onn is captured.

THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:

The episode starts with Green Lantern using his ring to tow the Justice League jet. He says that his ring will need to be recharged after towing them halfway across the galaxy while Flash chimes in that at least they won the battle.

Superman tells Batman to prepare the landing bay for Javelin 7.

Batman: Just when I was starting to enjoy the peace and quiet.
Superman: Same old Bats.

As the Javelin is preparing to dock, a sudden burst of light envelopes their ship. When it is gone, the Watchtower is gone. Superman tries to call to Batman and gets no reply. J’onn searches for him telepathically and says that he is gone.

Lantern tows the Javelin down to the surface of the earth. Flash and Wonder Woman wonder aloud how Watchtower could disappear without a trace. Martian Manhunter says that perhaps they will find answers when they locate the source of the mysterious pulse of energy.

As the Javelin lands, the members do not recognize the world they now see. Flash asks where they heck they are. Red, black, and white flags line the streets. The buildings are different. Superman says that it looks like they are home as he stares at the Daily Planet building’s globe emblem. However, the globe he now sees has the added feature of a hand grabbing the globe.

Flash: Either the city fathers did some high speed urban renewal while we were away, or…
Lantern: Or what?
Flash: I don’t know.

Flash speeds away and returns with a poster. He tells the others that the man pictured on the poster is pictured on similar posters everywhere. Just as Flash is showing the others a poster, two police officers in military style uniforms approach and demand to see their papers. Flash jokes that his identity is a secret and that chicks dig the man of mystery thing. Outraged, one of the officers asks if he thinks that this is a joke and tells him that he is being placed under arrest. Hawkgirl asks ‘on what charge?’ and a fight ensues.

The police officers call for backup and more police officers arrive on small jets. The police begin firing at them while Lantern shields them with his power ring. The Justice League finally fights back and overwhelms the initial onslaught of police. Just then, though, they look up and see a dozen more jets of police en route.

A voice calls to them from the shadows. Flash recognizes the speaker at Batman. They follow Batman down a hole and onto a train. Dozens of police officers follow firing on them. Batman suddenly accelerates the train causing the Justice Leaguers to fall over.

Hawkgirl: Whose hand is that?
Flash: Sorry.

They get off the train and enter a large cave-like room. Batman’s costume is different. His suit and cowl appear more armored than usual. Flash says that this is all too weird and tells Batman that he has questions. As he puts his hand on Batman’s shoulder, Dozens of armored soldiers appear with guns pointed at all of the Justice Leaguers. Batman tells them that he is the one who has the questions and he asks them who they are.

Batman: The Resistance might be able to use you. But you’re going to have to prove we can trust you.
Lantern: Are you kidding? You’ve known us for years.

Flash says that he does not think Batman is kidding. As the scene becomes more tense, Superman steps directly in front of Batman and says that if they wanted to hurt him, they could have. Batman looks down and sees that Superman has a bent and broken gun in his hand.

Batman: Let’s talk.

This version of Batman tells them that Stormtroopers came to his house when he was eight years old and murdered his parents. When Superman asks why, Batman says they were murdered for speaking out against the regime.

Superman: Incredible.

Batman tells Superman that this event is why he started the Resistance. He explains that its membership is comprised of orphans and outsiders fighting the good fight. Lantern asks how long the regime has been in power and Batman replies “since World War 2.”

Lantern is incredulous about the Allies losing World War 2. He starts to explain that they invaded on D-Day but Batman cuts him off and says that it was a disaster. The Justice League speculates that they are in a time displacement and that perhaps they were protected by the aura from Green Lantern’s ring from being part of its effects. Superman asks Batman if he has detected any large electrical magnetic disturbances lately and Batman says yes and asks why.

Sometime later, Batman tells them that the pulse emanated from Vandal Savage’s research center.

Lantern: Who is Vandal Savage?
Batman: You’re joking. [blank looks all around] He’s everything I’ve been fighting against – the undisputed dictator of this repressive regime.

The Justice League goes to the research lab. J’onn overhears scientists talking about time travel just as the others break into the facility. Once the Justice League has overcome the guards, with some help from this world’s Batman, J’onn calls for them. He describes something in front of them as heavy matter, like a black hole, and he tells the others that they used it to tunnel into the past. Hawkgirl says that they used this to change the outcome of World War 2. Flash asks if they can use the tunnel to change the outcome back. J’onn tells them it would be risky because they only have forty-eight hours until the tunnel collapses.

Lantern: We’ve gotta try.
Batman: Wait. Are you saying that my world, my whole life, is like this because someone went back in time and changed the past?
J’onn: That appears to be the case.
Batman: Then doing this could save my parents.

Superman says he cannot make that promise and Hawkgirl asks if he will go with them. Batman declines saying that if their plan does not work, someone needs to stay behind and fight. J’onn makes sure that Batman understands that if they succeed, this version of himself will have never existed. Batman says nothing would make him happier.

The Justice League jumps through the portal and arrives on a World War 2 battlefield. Flash says that it feels like watching an old documentary when Hawkgirl says “not quite.” Just then, an enormous advanced machine rolls onto the battlefield. After only a moment of the new machine waylaying the Allies, the Justice League intervenes and eventually stops and destroys it. As the Allied soldiers cat-call Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl, and thank them, J’onn shows the team transistors he pulled from the tank.

Lantern points out that those were not invented until after the war. J’onn replies that the instability from the time travel hole means that the scientists who jumped in ahead of them might have arrived moths or years before them.

Several more of the enormous tanks arrive. J’onn says that he suspects more answers are likely to be found in Berlin. Wonder Woman says that she will not let him go alone, at which point Superman tells them both to go and says that they will handle things here.

Elsewhere, a German man runs to the Führer with news from the front. Vandal Savage, the leader of the Axis war effort, speaks.

Savage: Another report about costumed fighters with magical powers. [crushes the report in his fist] Allied propaganda.

When one of the generals in the room asks him what they will do if the reports of supermen are real, Savage tells him that he has a short memory. He says that the man has forgotten about the weapons he has already created – weapons the Allies could never dream of. He then puts his hand under his jacket and draws out and electrified metal glove. Savage then shoots electricity from that glove into the questioning general, apparently killing him. He asks the room if there are any more questions.

Just then the room shakes as an explosion is set off outside. A Stormtrooper guard points a gun at a man in shadows, standing on the wing of a plane. The shadowed man asks the Stormtrooper if he minds if he borrows the plane. He then knocks the Stormtrooper out and starts the plane.

As the man flies away, multiple planes take off to give chase. The plane thief is an excellent pilot but he is hopeless outnumbered in the air. After his stole plane takes several gunfire blasts, the man ejects from his plane. His parachute does not deploy. Just before he hits the ground, Wonder Woman catches him. Martian Manhunter frightens the pursuing pilots into leaving.

On the ground, the man opens his eyes and looks at Wonder Woman.

Man; Angel. I must be in heaven.
WW: You’re not dead.

She asks him if he is a deserter or a spy. The man replies that he is not sure if he should answer her. She points out that she did just save his life. He decides to tell her that he has something that they want. He further tells her that word is they are planning an invasion of England and that he has a way of finding out when and where. He then tells her none of it matters if he does not get to France. He asks if she will excuse him, kisses her hand, and makes as if to leave. Before he goes, though, he tells her to look him up if she is ever States’ side after the war. He tells her his name is Steve Trevor.

Before he can go, J’onn appears in front of him. Steve draws his gun but Wonder Woman tells him that he is with her. J’onn asks where the Axis came up with these new weapons. Steve says some genius named Vandal Savage invented them and he further says that the High Command was so impressed that they made him their new Führer. Wonder Woman confirms with Steve that Vandal Savage made the weapons and he confirms before noting that they will never make it inside and he says he has tried himself. J’onn says that he is sure it will be easier for him. He then phases into the ground below them and disappears.

Steve: [to Wonder Woman] You’re sure I’m not dead?

Inside the facility, J’onn finds advanced technology, including a laptop. He also finds a cryogenically frozen Adolf Hitler. As he is looking around, he is unexpectedly hit with a laser blast. He collapses to the ground.

On the battlefield, the Justice League is battling Savage’s military with mixed success. Lantern’s power ring finally runs out of juice during the fight. The episode ends with Lantern alone and powerless on the battlefield as two gigantic tanks roll his way.

to be continued

REACTION:

I love a good alternative history saga. It remains to be seen whether this one is actually good but it’s off to a good start at least.

I’m not certain that I understand how the time travel event here works. Were the temporal changes limited to earth? (i.e. if the JL had still been halfway across the galaxy, but not under Lantern’s power ring’s protection, would they all be effected by the change the way that Batman was?) I guess it doesn’t matter except to the extent that Vandal Savage might have just been enormously unlucky with respect to timing.

In the alternative timeline, the Axis wins the war under a different leader. Batman’s parents suffer the same fate in this world as the one we are familiar with, just from different perpetrators. Batman from the new timeline has the false hope that sending the JL to the 1940s might save is parents. Superman and the rest of the JL now know that Batman is awesome – and a tragic figure – under pretty much all circumstances. They’re going to like original timeline Batman more once they fix things.

Kevin Conroy only gets half of this episode as Batman but his half is exceptional.

This episode introduces us to Steve Trevor, Wonder Woman’s comic books love interest. He is an American spy, charmer, pilot, and an all around near-perfect dude. He is voiced to perfection by Patrick Duffy.

The episode ends with the super-hero good guys split into multiple groups: Superman, Flash, and Hawkgirl are evacuating troops from the battle. Lantern is powerless and on the ground with the Allied soldiers. J’onn is captured inside Savage’s research lab. Wonder Woman is outside the research lab somewhere, presumably, waiting on J’onn to come out.

My potential gripe from this episode is a pretty typical complaint for stories involving Superman. When he is fighting, unless the other side has superpowers, the fight should be one-sided in his favor. Advanced Tech should not hold up to all of his powers. In this episode, though, the Advanced Tech holds up. We’ll need an explanation for that in Part 2.

Vandal Savage is voiced by Phil Morris. You probably know him best as Jackie Chiles from Seinfeld but he also plays Martian Manhunter on the TV series Smallville. He appeared earlier in the season doing voicework in The Brave and the Bold but here he gets a bigger role.

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