|Comfort and Joy
Episode #47 - Comfort and Joy
Original Airdate - December 13th, 2003
After saving a distant planet, the Justice League returns to Earth just
in time for Christmas Eve. While Flash plays Santa for some orphans,
Superman invites J'onn home to celebrate the holidays in Smallville.
Meanwhile, Green Lantern and Hawkgirl share their favorite holiday
traditions with each other.
Media by James Harvey
Review by SJJ
Written by Paul Dini
Directed by Butch Lukic
Music by Lolita Ritmanis
Animation Services by Koko / Dong Woo Enterprise C.O., LTD.
Maria Canals as Hawkgirl
Phil LaMarr as Green Lantern
Carl Lumby as J'onn J'onzz
George Newbern as Superman, D.J. Rubber Duckie
Michael Rosenbaum as Flash
Ian Buchanan as Ultra Humanite
Mike Farrel as Pa Kent
Shelly Fabares as Ma Kent
Kimberly Saunders as Mrs. Saunders
Robert Ito as Mr. Hana
Little Stevie as Little Boy
Amber Hood as Little Girl
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Christmas specials can be awkward fare in an action cartoon. How do you
capture the season's festive spirit in a show which is centered on
fights, fast quips, spandex and glorious explosions? The best way--if
Justice League's entry is anything to go by--is to throw all such
preconceptions out of the window and offer something entirely different.
Defying action cartoon convention, "Comfort and Joy" is a gentle,
character-based affair. There is certainly little of the standard
explosions and fast moving action, but there is a fair amount of the
aforementioned fast quips and superhero spandex. The episode manages to
capture the communal atmosphere of Christmas in a heart-warming manner
without becoming sugar-coated and overly sentimental.
There is no real plot here. We follow several of the League’s
extravocational exploits at Christmas time. Hawkgirl and Green Lantern
go off world, the Flash goes Christmas gift hunting and, best of all,
Superman takes J’onn back to Smallville.
Those viewers, who have complained about the lack of character
background in Justice League will surely enjoy the Smallville scenes.
The Kents are perfect characters for a Christmas special, being both
gentle and honest characters. Their attempts to make J’onn feel
comfortable in a season which offers him so little joy is enchanting.
Furthermore, it is great to see Superman as Clark once more. I found
J’onn’s comments on the striking difference he found between Clark and
Superman rather interesting. It showed just how separate the team’s
individual life styles are kept from the League, while at the same time
offering an explanation as to why we so little of their secret
identities on the show.
Flash’s hunt for the perfect Christmas present for the Central City
Orphanage is another touching tale offering gentle humor and festive
spirit. It seems that even the fastest man alive finds it a superhuman
feat to locate “DJ Rubber Ducky,” the most wanted Christmas item in the
world, before Christmas comes. I’m sure that’s an element most parents
watching the show will empathize with. His run in with Ultra Humanite
offers some very witty dialogue and a fine resolution to the Flash’s
Hawkgirl and Green Lanterns exploits are perhaps the least entertaining
and offer the most action. Their segment starts well with a light scene
of John and Hawkgirl playing on a snowy planet, and it was fun to see
these two Leaguers conversing in a personal rather than serious mode.
Unfortunately, things go downhill rather quickly as they go off world to
suffer a rather average bar room brawl which feels slightly out of place
in this episode. Despite the alien action, there is some nice chemistry
forming between these two characters. There is nothing wrong per se with
their story, but it doesn’t compare to the other two plotlines.
The individual segments interweave fluidly and the pacing is nicely
handled. The story is about people and interaction: Nothing massive
happens, no damsels in distress, and, most importantly, no cheap
Christmas gags. This is an intelligent and well handled episode which I
found both emotional and entertaining -- something I’m unused to seeing
in Christmas specials.
Technically, I found the animation above average and the score was
gentle and unobtrusive. All in all, this is an excellent episode of a
caliber that was missing last season but is rapidly becoming expected of
My only question is: Just what is Batman doing in the Watchtower? And
where is Wonder Woman? I think I’ll duck my head down and let the fan
speculation run off on its own....