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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Justice League Unlimited - Season One
Justice League Unlimited - Season One
Warner Bros. // Unrated // October 24, 2006
List Price: $44.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted October 11, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Show:

The first two seasons of Justice League were fantastic. Packed with action, humor and great storytelling the world of DC's heroes came to life thanks to the collaborative efforts of the folks behind the rest of Warner Brothers' successful cartoons. The show focused on the adventures of Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Flash, Hawkgirl and J'onn (the Martian Manhunter). They spent most of their time fighting established villains and trying to save the world from impending doom as you'd expect. When Justice League Unlimited (the show's sequel series) was released it shook up the formula a bit and quite frankly, really felt like a new show.

The reason behind this different atmosphere was the change in the cast. The main seven characters were still kicking around but their ranks had swelled since the end of the original series. The basic premise was that the Justice League felt they could do better with more members. Many hands make light work and all that. Therefore anyone with superpowers that could do some good was offered a spot on the team.

Not every character gets their chance in the spotlight but it certainly fleshed out the show with some of DC's more obscure characters. Most of these episodes focus on the original characters though many of the rookies become involved in the storytelling. Being a longtime comic book fan, seeing more of these characters was definitely a thrill. Getting Green Arrow added to the ranks was probably the best addition to the show in my opinion, but Supergirl, Booster Gold, Captain Atom, Black Canary and The Question definitely helped round things out. In all more characters were added to the series than the show actually featured so you can imagine the insanity that ensues. Many of these characters do get washed out thanks to the lack of coverage, but it's not handled to the point that they become obscure or disrupt the quality of the show.

The set up of the episodes also changed a little bit. In the original Justice League many of the plotlines were two-part episodes. That allowed for the stories to really flourish and gave plenty of time to flesh things out for some good development. This time around Unlimited offers one pair of episodes presented in this manner along with a handful towards the end of the set. The rest of the season is comprised of one-shot deals with stories that don't really spill into other episodes.

In total there are 26 episodes. Of these episodes there were only a few that were let downs to me for one reason or another. The rest; and by rest I do mean the majority of this set, completely blew me away. In many ways it seemed that the good portions were almost better than those the original Justice League offered. Watching through the season I got the impression that the writers became more comfortable with the show and what they could do. The first season of Justice League for instance was wildly unbalanced as things were tweaked and refined. The fruit of those efforts is the synergy that oozes from Justice League Unlimited.

Because of the one-shot nature of the episodes here there isn't a whole lot of continuity between each story. Many nods are given to episodes from the previous Justice League series and there are even some thrown in the direction of Batman Beyond. This helps to not only let the viewer know that this is a new show but also that it takes place in the same universe as everything else they've known. Shadows from the past like Solomon Grundy and Amazo come back as well so as you'd imagine everything ties together.

I guess saying that there is no continuity going through isn't exactly true. There is an underlying plot that surfaces from time to time and becomes more prominent later in the series. In the episode "Dark Heart" the Justice League reveals to U.S. military that they have the capability to unleash a nuclear-like strike from their Watchtower base. This, in addition to their superpowers, only instills more fear into the hearts of man and the American government works on ways to take down the League if it ever became necessary.

Call it a conspiracy if you will but there are snippets of this plotline throughout several series and it comes across like a Men in Black kind of thing. Portions of this sub-plot tie into the original Justice League's second season with many nods to the episode "A Better World". In case you forget that episode feature a mirror universe where the Justice League became the Justice Lords and used their powers to rule Earth as dictators. Lex Luthor was also the president of that universe, although he was killed by Superman. Doomsday came to town as well only to be lobotomized by the Man of Steel. Both of these tidbits come back around in Unlimited which is another nice way of tying this series into the previous one.

Beyond that engrossing storyline there are several episodes here that really made an impression on me. "Fearful Symmetry" was a very solid story that told a tale about Supergirl and really fleshed out her character. In it she is basically cloned and begins to have dreams that mirror the actions of her sinister clone. Green Arrow and Question get involved in order to help her out and we got to see some interesting facets of the DC Universe.

For my money "The Greatest Story Never Told" was probably my favorite episode. It doesn't have a lot to do with anything and it's a fairly weak story but it features Booster Gold as its main character. In case you are unfamiliar with Booster he's basically a smartass guy from the 25th century who travels back in time for fame and fortune. He's accompanied by a wisecracking robot named Skeets and finds himself not feeling the love from his other JLU teammates. In this episode he's given the noble duty of crowd control while the League fights to save the world. There's nothing particularly great about the story it's just that I love Booster's character and quite honestly, this episode was hilarious all around.

"Kid Stuff" was another fun episode that featured Morgan la Fey's son getting his prissy little hands on a powerful amulet. The item makes him more powerful than his mother and he casts a spell that sends all adults to another dimension. In order to set things right Morgan turns Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern into kids so they can once again enter the world. As their younger selves the heroes start to let their juvenile side out and it's funny to see Batman and Wonder Woman banter as if they were childhood sweethearts.

Overall Justice League Unlimited was a great show. It's a shame that this series went the way of the dodo because quite frankly I couldn't get enough of it. Any comic book fan, or viewer who enjoyed Timm's other series, definitely owes it to themselves to check this set out. This release offers 26 episodes (from the first and second seasons) so it's the majority of what Unlimited had going for it, but it's the continuation of the Justice League universe that makes it worth while. With so many fantastic episodes in one set you can't go wrong here.

Episode List

Initiation
For the Man Who Has Everything
Hawk and Dove
Fearful Symmetry
Kid Stuff
This Little Piggy
The Return
The Greatest Story Never Told
Ultimatum
Dark Heart
Wake the Dead
The Once and Future Thing: Parts 1 & 2
The Cat and the Canary
The Ties that Bind (AKA Miracles Happen)
The Doomsday Sanction
Task Force X
The Balance
Double Date
Clash
Hunter's Moon
Question Authority
Flashpoint
Panic in the Sky
Divided We Fall
Epilogue

The DVD:

Video:

Unlike the previous seasons of the show Justice League Unlimited is actually presented in anamorphic widescreen; which was kind of surprising. The picture quality is pretty much on par with the previous Just League series. The image was very good overall though there were some bits where aliasing and compression artifacts were noticeable. The widescreen definitely helps out the video but some minor gripes keep it from being flawless.

Audio:

Once again the audio for Justice League is presented in stereo format for Unlimited, which just doesn't do the action justice like a 5.1 mix would. For what it is the sound quality is fine though with very little to complain about. Sometimes the volume can pitch with some questionable balancing when the action heats up but it's nothing too distracting. French and Spanish languages are included as well but alas there are no subtitles.

Extras:

A few special features make the cut but the fact that the bulk of them are on the first disc makes the rest of this release feel like an afterthought. And Justice For All is a feature where the producers get together in an interview format and talk about Justice League Unlimited. It's cool in a sense because they talk about how they came to approach the concept and what the differences were between the first and second series. The first disc also includes audio commentaries for "This Little Piggy" and "The Return". The commentaries offer quite a bit of information and a good amount of banter between Timm and the others.

Other than that stuff there's only a smattering of trailers and a collection of some musical scores on the final disc of the set. Needless to say the content here is kind of lackluster but after the first two seasons of Justice League I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised.

Final Thoughts:

Justice League was a great show and quite honestly, Unlimited was even better. It's a shame this series went away but getting the first and second season released in this collection is a great way to experience it. Nearly every one of the 26 episodes here is fantastic and will make the comic book fan in you giddy with excitement. From fans of Batman to Superman and every DC hero in between, this show has something for everybody who ever found themselves picking up and reading a comic book.


Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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