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Justice League Action: Season One, Part One DVD Review
Studio: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Release Date: October 10, 2017

Synopsis: The world’s most beloved DC Super Heroes are back together – but unlike any iteration you’ve ever seen – as Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and DC Entertainment present Justice League Action: Season 1 Part 1, the first DVD collection of the hit Cartoon Network animated series!

Witness the Justice League like never before in this all-new animated series where the pace is quick, the action is relentless and the fun is non-stop! The “Trinity” of DC’s Justice League– Superman (voiced by Jason J. Lewis), Batman (Kevin Conroy) and Wonder Woman (Rachel Kimsey) – are joined by a galaxy of rotating allies and enemies like John Constantine, Zatanna, Booster Gold, Plastic Man, Lobo, Mr. Freeze, Black Adam and Swamp Thing. The Super Heroes must battle enemies that include space invaders and bizarre forces of magic as they try to defend Earth from Super-Villains intent on destroying the planet. No matter the threat, the Justice League is ready for the challenge.

Justice League Action: Season 1, Part 1 featured episodes:

Disc 1: Classic Rock, Power Outage, Night of the Bat, Abate and Switch, Follow That Space Cab!, Nuclear Family Values, Zombie King, Galaxy Jest, Time Share, Under a Red Sun, Play Date, Repulse, Trick or Threat

Disc 2: Speed Demon, Hat Trick, Field Trip, Luthor in Paradise, Plastic Man Saves the World, Rage of the Red Lanterns, Freezer Burn, The Trouble With Truth, Inside Job, Double Cross, Battle for the Bottled City, Garden of Evil, All Aboard the Space Train

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Justice League Action: Season One, Part One
By James Harvey

The Justice League face off against of myriad of threats in the fun, fast-paced and infinitely enjoyable Justice League Action, the latest animated series starring DC's premiere superteam, and now a host of those adventures are finally available on DVD. The first 26 episodes of the Justice League Action are here in a two-disc set that, definitely, fans should swoop up.

Fun, energetic and at times unrelenting, Justice League Action deftly mixes action and humor, managing to juggle a flurry of punches, gags and an incredible number of characters without ever feeling overstuffed. Produced by DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation, this all-ages animated series is a fun spin around the DC Universe, offering a lighter take on some of the best heroes to take up the cape and cowl. Headlined by Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, and featuring a who’s-who of DC’s finest (and some not-so-finest), Justice League Action gets straight to the main event, with each episode focusing on select Justice League members dealing with a specific threat, coupling the throwdowns with humor and an extremely streamlined aesthetic.

For what Justice League Action sets out to do, it’s a clear success. Each episode quickly establishes the plot and throws our heroes right into the mix. Not a moment is wasted getting our heroes to where the action is. There's an unabashed love of the DC Universe that drips off nearly every frame, and each of the 26 episodes included in this release is a treasure trove for longtime fan. Character beats are carefully sprinkled in through dialogue and the stakes are always looming. Now, we know our heroes are going to come out victorious in the end, but this is one series where it's definitely about the journey there, and boy - it's a fun trip. Though, honestly, sometimes the episodes move by so fast - there's just so much fun stuff going on - that I wish they were longer than 12 minutes. However, the shorter runtime is definitely the right call for this series.

The animation, for the most part, is on point. Especially during the fight scenes, things flow without any real visual hiccups. Some of the show’s rare quieter moments do sometimes feel a little jumpy and exhibit a bit of a stutter, but overall, it looks solid. The streamlined and simple characters designs likely help in making the animation flow that much smoother. But by no means are these child-ish character designs, just more dynamic. Characters are instantly familiar and recognizable, each looking unique. More importantly, all the characters look like they inhabit the same world. Batman looks totally in place right next to Space Cabbie, for example (an extreme example, sure, but it proves a point), who looks fine next to Swamp Thing who looks fine next to Wonder Woman, and so on. The show’s design work, handled by the awesome Shane Glines, is pretty fantastic given just how the show is able to create a unifying look when DC characters can look so varied. And the action is cool, fast and nicely choreographed. The series uses exaggerated motion blurs and character distortions to emphasize the speed and movement of the characters during the fight, and it works wonderfully.

Voice acting is solid across the board, with a mix of returning voices and some new to the characters. Kevin Conroy is back as Batman and, honestly, his lighter take on the Dark Knight is a welcome spin. Mark Hamill, while returning as The Joker, also voices Swamp Thing. Rachel Kimsey brings a nice edge to Wonder Woman, and Jason J. Lewis brings a perfect boyscout-ish spin to Superman. The DC Comics Trinity tend to be the main anchor for the series, usually pairing up with some of DC Comics' lesser known but still top-notch super heroes. The whole cast is seriously great, without a weak link in the bunch. Just to name a few names, Justice League Action also features James Woods (Lex Luthor), Christian Slater (Deadshot), Sean Astin (Shazam), Batman: The Brave and The Bold's Diedrich Bader (Booster Gold), Jerry O’Connell (The Atom), Patton Oswalt (Space Cabbie), Peter Stormare (Mr. Freeze) and Khary Payton (Cyborg). It's an insane cast.

The creative team behind the series is full of familiar names to those who’ve been keeping up with DC Comics-based animated shows and movies over the years. Producers Jim Krieg, Butch Lukic and Alan Burnett lead the charge on Justice League Action, while Jake Castorena heads up directing for the series. Castorena has been responsible for some amazing storyboard and design work in the past, and it's fantastic to see his role in these DC Comics-based cartoons grow. Of course, there’s a host of other fantastic talent involved - including the likes of Paul Dini, Ernie Altbacker and John Semper Jr., among many others - so it’s safe to say this series is some pretty incredible hands. Scrolling through the end credits brings up names that several folks should recognize from DC Comics-based shows and movies both past and present. It's truly a remarkable collection of talent.

Some viewers may have an issue with the slight nature of the series. It's not meant - at least at this point - to be a massive, complex show, but one that's digestible. A series that is meant to be jumped on to at any point. Fans expecting a multi-layered mythology right out of the gate will be disappointed, but those just looking for a fun action romp with some of DC Comics' best should be satisfied. Younger viewers will definitely appreciate the humor and action, and likely latch on to Firestorm as one of their favorites, while older viewers will likely enjoy the numerous homage and reference littered here and there and, well, likely the action, too. It's got a fun, zippy tone that ends up being remarkably pleasing.

Justice League Action is just a straight-forward, light-hearted super hero show, but more importantly it reminds us that heroes can be fun. The characters are entertaining and feel fresh, the action nicely handled, and the possibilities ... endless. Given the scope this series is trying to cover, and the complete freedom to use DC Comics' massive arsenal of heroes and villains, we get to see some pretty remarkable team-ups and appearances that we'd never thought possible. John Constantine appears in the series, which is insane considering his comic book history. Hardened DC Comics fans should get a kick out of the barrage of homages and references, in addition to the well-handled action, and may actually find the lighter tone refreshing. Remember how fun comics were when you were younger? That's this show. Big action, lots of fun, a wealth of characters ... it's fantastic!

Turning to the actual DVD release, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has given Justice League Action a solid initial release. The audio and video is top-notch for a DVD release, with the standard definition transfer really popping. Menus are basic, with the themes playing over Warner Bros' house menu design. Everything sounds nice and clean while looking as colorful and deep as a DVD transfer can muster. The extras consist of a handful of trailers, but that's common for a home media release such as this. The main feature is 26 fun episodes of Justice League Action, clocking in at nearly five hours, so there's no shortage on content. That said, it would still be nice to get a peek into the production of this series, particularly the design work and how the 12-minute format affects the writing.

Justice League Action: Season One, Part One is a solid DVD release for fans looking to own the first chunk of this fun, action-packed animated series. For those looking for an HD collection, that's only currently available with a season pass through an assortment of digital retailers, but with a little luck we'll see Warner Bros. (likely Warner Archive) give this show a complete season collection down the road. Until then, Justice League Action: Season One, Part One is definitely worth picking up, especially on the strength of the series itself. It's a breathe of fresh air on the animated landscape, giving hardcore fans an easter egg-riddled romp through the DC Universe while providing new fans a glimpse into how massive the world actually is. It's a series that truly appeals to fans of all stripes and is well worth adding to one's collection. Highly Recommended!

Please note Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided The World's Finest with a copy of the DVD for reviewing purposes. Also to note, the "Season One, Part Two" collection is identical to the set above - except for the included episodes of course - so the above review also pertains to that release, as well.

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