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The World's Finest Presents

The Call: Part 2

Episode #51 - The Call: Part 2
Original Airdate - November 18th, 2000

Batman must go up against the traitor within the JL ranks, which will have lasting repercussions on Batman, and the JL itself.

Media by Bird Boy
Review by Jim Harvey
Credits:
Story by Paul Dini, Alan Burnett
Teleplay by Stan Berkowitz
Directed by Butch Lukic
Music by Kristopher Carter
Animation by Koko/Dong Yang

Voices:
Will Friedle as Terry McGinnis/Batman
Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne
Christopher McDonald as Superman
Farrah Forke as Barda
Peter Onorati as Warhawk
Jodi Benson as Aquagirl
Wayne Brady as Micron
Lauren Tom as Green Lantern
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Review

In part one, Superman asked Batman to join the Justice League Unlimited to ferret out a traitor in their midst who almost killed Micron. And then Terry and Bruce jointly discovered that the traitor was, in fact, Superman himself!

This week, Batman and the rest of the League spot Superman fiddling with the controls for Micron's medical tube as he floats unconscious. Warhawk accuses Superman of being the traitor, and Superman angrily says it's not Warhawk who's the traitor, but all of them, working together! Aquagirl tries to defuse the tension, touching Superman on the chest, and something under his shirt squirms away from her touch!

Superman lashes out with heat vision, which Green Lantern blocks. Warhawk tackles Superman and gets beaten down; Barda fires her mega-rod, but Superman puts Warhawk in the beam's path, then throws him at the others. Batman is knocked sprawling, but Micron escapes from his cell and grabs Superman, giving Batman time to get a box from his belt. Barda blows Superman through the wall, and he flies off.

Terry calls Bruce. He had the kryptonite (supplied by Bruce) but hesitated to use it because, well, it's Superman, the first and best superhero of them all! The League concludes that Superman probably went to his Fortress of Solitude -- fortunately, Bruce knows right where that is.

So they're up in the Arctic Circle when Barda boom-tubes them in. They can't hope to surprise him (the Boom Tube is awfully loud) so they stay together and search for him. They pass though a huge space zoo of space creatures; one of the cells is open, and has been for a while.

Superman attacks them, but it turns out to be a Superman robot! Then some more robots buzz them, only to be shot down by Barda and Green Lantern. The real Superman snatches Batman's swinging line out of midair and hauls him in like a fish, but Batman whips out the kryptonite. Superman sinks into unconsciousness. Warhawk wants to finish him off, but instead, they pull off his shirt, revealing a huge starfish-shaped parasite on his chest. It's bonded to his skin, and they can't get it off without risking harm to Superman.

Aquagirl contacts the starfish telepathically and discovers it's a form of marine life, captured from a world of water by an alien collector who preserves species by picking up the last of any world's life forms on his big zoo-starship. Eventually Superman was captured by the collector, and escaped, as did the starfish. But the starfish saw how strong Superman was, and determined to use that strength for himself. One day, in Superman's alien zoo, the starfish jumped him and took over his nervous system.

That was years ago; Superman's been possessed for years! But the starfish wasn't done there. It planned to take over the world, breeding countless copies of itself to enslave every being on the planet! And all that remains is to release them from the water tanks under the Fortress into the Arctic Sea.

The heroes discover the tanks full of starfish, and boom! The fish are all over them, possessing everyone except Batman, who electrifies his costume and shocks the fish off him. Now he has to fight the rest of the League, including Superman, whom the other possessed Leaguers revive!

Barda hurls the Kryptonite shard away from Batman, and the League closes in. Batman uses a flash grenade to cover his escape, and the Batmobile arrives, sent by Bruce. Unfortunately, Superman's after him! Superman tears the wing off the Batmobile, and it crashes. Terry staggers out, gets close to Superman and electrifies the starfish on its chest. It's considerably less invulnerable than Superman, and it falls off him, restoring Superman's mind to his own control. He doesn't seem to remember much.

Superman and Batman take on the rest of the possessed Justice League; they've almost opened the door to release the starfish. Superman shoots Green Lantern's fish off his face with heat vision, and Batman frees Barda with electricity. Aquagirl dives to open the door, and Batman dives after her, but crowds of starfish cover him up until he shocks them loose. Superman starts heaving big rocks into the water, hoping to block the passageway at the bottom of the pool before the starfish get to open water. That means Batman and Aquagirl will be crushed, but he knew the risks. Batman manages to lift a huge rock off Aquagirl and haul her to safety, then remove the starfish from her face.

Then Aquagirl reads the fishes' minds, discovers where they came from, and Barda uses a Boom Tube to send them back to the planet where they came from.

The Leaguers all want Batman to join the League full-time. Even the old Batman, they say, never made it past part-timer. He wasn't what you'd call a joiner. Terry says that goes for him, too, and declines permanent membership.

Analysis
Permanent League membership apparently means residing at the Watchtower and not doing private adventures; it would effectively transform this series from Batman Beyond into Justice League Beyond starring Batman. I have trouble seeing this as a bad thing, but WB is famously unwilling to do a JLA series, so perhaps they wouldn't let Dini and Burnett do it. Still, the League can now show up whenever they want, so this is one step closer to a real League series, and the future setting helps by removing continuity shock issues.

It makes no sense at all for the starfish creature to bring Batman in to locate a traitor when it knows full well that IT is the traitor. So let's not mention that any more.

Remember last week when I said it would stink for Superman to be a bad guy? Well, he was and he wasn't. We got to fight Superman without the serious reservations I'd have about Superman being genuinely evil.

Notes
The starfish creature, though never named in the episode, is Starro, the first enemy the Justice League ever fought, back in Brave and the Bold #10. Does Paul Dini love the League or what? When Superman is chasing the Batplane, there's an echo of the music from the Superman TV show, which is doubly chilling now that Supes is a bad guy.

The collector of life forms is from the Superman episode "The Main Man," who captured Superman and Lobo as the last sentient forms from their respective worlds.

Quotes
Terry: What's the top speed on this thing?
Bruce: Mach 3.
Terry: Is that faster than a speeding bullet?

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