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Justice League Unlimited – Destroyer! (Review)

This September marks the twentieth anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series, and the birth of the shared DC animated universe that would eventually expand to present one of the most comprehensive and thorough explorations of a comic book mythology in any medium. To celebrate, we’re going back into the past and looking at some classic episodes.

Destroyer is the last episode of Bruce Timm’s shared, massive DC animated universe to air. Beginning with On Leather Wings, two decades ago, the producer brought an animated version of the publisher’s pantheon to the small screen. It’s certainly an impressive accomplishment, and I think that Timm’s work provided the definitive versions of many of the company’s characters and concepts. That said, the entire final season of Justice League Unlimited seems like one giant epilogue. The first season of the show finished on a triumphant note, with a four-part story that would have provided a nice finalé for the shared universe, and a one-episode coda to the entire world that Timm and his staff had brought to life.

Destroyer, the actual final episode, isn’t nearly that good. At best, however, it serves as a fond farewell, conclusive proof that, as Wonder Woman promises, “The adventure continues.”

Talk about an unlikely team-up…

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Justice League Unlimited – Alive! (Review)

This September marks the twentieth anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series, and the birth of the shared DC animated universe that would eventually expand to present one of the most comprehensive and thorough explorations of a comic book mythology in any medium. To celebrate, we’re going back into the past and looking at some classic episodes.

I have to admit to being a bit disappointed with the final season of Justice League Unlimited, and the final season of Bruce Timm’s animated DC television shows to air. It had its moments, of course, but it felt a bit more shallow than everything that had come before. The first season of the show had wrapped up in such a way that it really was the perfect conclusion to well over a decade’s-worth of stories. While the finalé presented here, in the two-part Alive! and Destroyer, works well enough for what it is, it isn’t nearly quite as satisfying as either Divided We Fall or Epilogue.

The gold standard?

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Justice League – Starcrossed (Parts I, II & III) (Review)

Starcrossed serves as something of a grand finalé to the first two seasons of Justice League. At the time it was written, Timm and his fellow creators weren’t assured of another season. When they did get another season, the show was massively revamped – repracing the team of seven with a much broader cast of characters, scaling down the multi-part episodes to stand-alone adventures, and building on its own themes. As such, Starcrossed can be seen as a conclusion to this era of the show, tying up loose ends and also serving as an impressive showcase for each of the major character featured.

Flights of fancy…

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Justice League Unlimited – Divided We Fall (Review)

This September marks the twentieth anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series, and the birth of the shared DC animated universe that would eventually expand to present one of the most comprehensive and thorough explorations of a comic book mythology in any medium. To celebrate, we’re going back into the past and looking at some classic episodes.

Divided We Fall makes for a fond farewell to the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. At the time the show was produced, the creators did not know that they’d get another season, and the season finale that followed Divided We Fall was dedicated to wrapping up the entire DC animated universe from Batman: The Animated Series through to Batman Beyond. So, appropriately, Divided We Fall focuses on the “original seven” members of the Justice League, offering one final climactic confrontation between the Justice League and combined forces of Lex Luthor and Brainiac.

Heroes for higher purposes?

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Justice League Unlimited – Panic in the Sky (Review)

This September marks the twentieth anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series, and the birth of the shared DC animated universe that would eventually expand to present one of the most comprehensive and thorough explorations of a comic book mythology in any medium. To celebrate, we’re going back into the past and looking at some classic episodes.

Panic in the Sky is an interesting episode, essentially serving as the climax of the conflict between the Justice League and Cadmus. Divided We Fall would focus more tightly on the League confronting Brainiac and Luthor, with an after-thought given to the question of their authority to wield such power. Panic in the Sky, as such, feels a bit torn between positioning all the players (“the big seven”) for that final confrontation, while offering the inevitable conflict between the Justice League and the United States government. As such, it’s really one big extended fight sequence, allowing McDuffie to avoid some of the more complex and compelling issues he’d raised. Still, it’s an effective episode of the show, a fun confrontation, and an illustration of just how skilled McDuffie is at structuring these gigantic arcs with so many plots and characters in the air.

Power Girl Power…

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Justice League Unlimited – Question Authority (Review)

This September marks the twentieth anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series, and the birth of the shared DC animated universe that would eventually expand to present one of the most comprehensive and thorough explorations of a comic book mythology in any medium. To celebrate, we’re going back into the past and looking at some classic episodes.

If Paul Dini’s writing can be said to evoke the best of Batman: The Animated Series, Dwayne McDuffie’s work on Justice League Unlimited fills the same niche. Dini’s scripts tended to generate pathos and tragedy for the massive and varied supporting cast of Gotham City, offering insightful character studies about the broken denizens of Batman’s world. McDuffie’s Justice League work offers a thoughtful and modern examination of traditional characters, often finding moments of character amid epic storylines built around exploring the tapestry of this shared universe. While the late McDuffie was responsible for quite a few memorable episodes of the show, it’s fair to argue that the four-episode climax of Justice League Unlimited‘s “Cadmus” arc capture those strengths almost perfectly – playing to his skills as well as Heart of Ice played to Dini’s.

Luthor’s got a gun…

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Superman: The Animated Series – Stolen Memories (Review)

This September marks the twentieth anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series, and the birth of the shared DC animated universe that would eventually expand to present one of the most comprehensive and thorough explorations of a comic book mythology in any medium. To celebrate, we’re going back into the past and looking at some classic episodes.

Superman: The Animated Series gets a bit of a hard time among the Bruce Timm “DC animated universe” shows. I think it’s fair to say that the show never reaches the highs (or even the average consistency) of Batman: The Animated Series, and it never matches the scale of Justice League, the pace of Justice League Unlimited or the ambition of Batman Beyond. However, it actually does a fairly wonderful job working with a character who has proved quite difficult to handle. I think Superman: The Animated Series was at its strongest when it distinguished itself from its direct predecessor, Batman: The Animated Series, and I think that Stolen Memoriesis the perfect example of that.

He’s got the whole world, in his hands…

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Paul Cornell’s Run on Batman & Robin – The Sum of Her Parts (Review)

To celebrate the release of The Dark Knight Rises, July is “Batman month” here at the m0vie blog. Check back daily for comics, movies and television reviews and discussion of the Caped Crusader.

Today we’re taking a look at three of the authors who followed Grant Morrison’s groundbreaking Batman & Robin run. We’ll start with Paul Cornell.

I’m going to be entirely honest here. I am very disappointed that Paul Cornell hasn’t really got a shot at an on-going Batman book. The author has been something of a rising star at DC comics for what seems like years, and recently provided the best Superman run in recent memory with his wonderful Lex Luthor story in Action Comics. He’s a writer who is astutely aware of the genre conventions, while being shrewd enough to exploit them to his advantage. He writes distinctly “comic book!” comic books, but without following the standard plot patterns just for the sake of adhering to formula. His three-issue Batman & Robin fill-in arc might not be his best work, or the best work on the title, but I do admire Cornell’s willingness to provide a compelling criticism of the Batman mythos instead of merely offering a generic paint-by-numbers treading-water adventure. Even if it doesn’t quite stick the landing, Cornell’s story is certainly ambitious.

Drilling it into them…

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Geoff Johns’ Run on Green Lantern – Brightest Day (Review)

It must be difficult to follow an absolutely huge event like Blackest Night, which cemented Green Lantern as one of DC’s largest franchises (perhaps second only to the Batman books under Grant Morrison). After all, the gigantic crossover was the culmination of over five years of work by architect Geoff Johns, and it might have been easy for the writer to pack it all in and call it a day. However, he didn’t. This collection, covering the entire New Guardians story arc, is very clearly a bridge between two big Green Lantern events – Blackest Night and War of the Green Lanterns. It also works a launching pad for a whole host of other titles, from Brightest Day to Emerald Warriors to Green Lantern Corps. However, the collection works at its very best when it is smaller in scope, and more intimate – when it pauses to wonder what happens to a world-saving superhero when the heat of the great big galactic threat has passed.

Hal's still got really poor self-image...

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Absolute Crisis on Infinite Earths (Review/Retrospective)

This January, I’m going to take a look at some of DC’s biggest “events.” This week I’ll be taking at the event that started it all, Marv Wolfman and George Pérez’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, reprinted in DC’s oversized and slipcased Absolute line.

It’s interesting to reflect on Crisis on Infinite Earths, more than a quarter of a century after the twelve-issue maxi-series was published. In the time since, it seems like the editorial purpose driving the event – the desire to “simplify” DC’s tangled and messed continuity into one single and unified history by abolishing the myriad of alternate continuities – has been somewhat undone with the return of the multiverse in 52 and Final Crisis, but this arguably allows Wolfman and Pérez’s epic to be considered on its own merit. Although the series might not be as important as it once was in explaining the sometimes bizarre way that all of DC’s published line fit together, I think you can still see a huge influence of this crossover in the stories that the authors at DC are telling, and how they approach them.

Holding out for some heroes...

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