Episode #1 - Initiation Original Airdate - July 31st 2004 - Series Premiere
A reluctant Green Arrow joins forces with the new Justice League to stop
a rampaging nuclear monster in Asia.
Reviews by Maxie Zeus, Jim Harvey
Media by Bird Boy
Written by Stan Berkowitz
Directed by Joaquim dos Santos
Music by Michael McCuistion
Animation Services by D.R. Movie CO., LTD.
Kevin Conroy as Batman
Phil LaMarr as Green Lantern
Carl Lumby as J'onn J'onzz
George Newbern as Superman
Kin Shriner as Green Arrow
Nicole Tom as Supergirl
George Eads as Captain Atom
James Sie as General Kwan
Lex Lang as Robber #1
Justice League Unlimited, the "revamped" new season of Justice
League, hits the ground running this weekend with "Initiation," a
fast-moving, two-fisted tale that introduces the newly expanded League with
a minimum of fuss and bother but a maximum of action. Design-wise, the
premiere episode probably won't shock viewers: the Leaguers all look pretty
much unchanged (though Green Lantern has shaved his head and added a
moustache and goatee), and there doesn't seem to be any revolutionary
alterations in the animation or modeling. But it goes about its business
with quick efficiency and there's a taut fluidity to the animation.
"Initiation" is about as good as Justice League has ever looked.
The second season ended with the massive "Starcrossed" crisis, but the
fallout of that story is not really in evidence here. Hawkgirl's betrayal
and disappearance are not acknowledged (unless, of course, it explains Green
Lantern's hotter temper—he starts "Initiation" at a rolling boil and never
cools off), and it mostly passes over the story of how the League came to
expand. Early in the story Superman simply addresses the gathered crowd of
new members and asserts that the time for "cowboy" independence is over: all
the Earth's heroes will henceforth operate under League authority and be
given assignments to handle individual trouble spots. Within minutes, of
course, a crisis erupts as something hot and dangerous starts stamping all
over northeastern Asia.
This brisk disposal of backstory leaves plenty of room for the subsequent
mayhem: It appears that a giant, nuclear-powered, killer robot (the best
kind!) has escaped the control of its military designers, and Green Lantern,
Supergirl, and Captain Atom are given the task of stopping it. A reluctant
tag-along is Green Arrow, who was basically kidnapped at the start of the
story by the Justice League so they could add a little pressure to their
invitation for him to join. He thinks that the League is far too distracted
battling aliens, monsters, and supervillains to give much thought to "the
little people" that he would prefer to protect. But he gets caught up in the
battle, though, and gradually comes around.
Yeah, I've basically spoiled the entire story. But that's not really where
the attraction is. Green Arrow's protestations notwithstanding, there's not
much drama in "Initiation," and what story there is, is basically just a
clothesline to drape with some classic cartoon superhero ass-kicking. There
is some good character interaction, and character notes (Green Arrow's
radicalism, Captain Atom's soldierly bearing, and Supergirl's spunky
supergirlishness) are made quickly and deftly. In "Initiation," the new
half-hour format works well: there are no "dead spots" that I could find,
and it seems to end almost as soon as it begins. Which is far from a bad
thing when you're looking for an animated comic book.
Within minutes of its broadcast, of course, fanboys all over the internet
will be hunched over their keyboards speculating about how the new series is
going to fit into DC animated continuity. Didn't Batman Beyond
establish that Batman isn't a "joiner"? If there are to be no more
"cowboys," does that mean that Nightwing and Batgirl and the Teen Titans are
hidden somewhere in the crowd? And where does the funding come from to build
and staff the massive new Watchtower?
Well, maybe such answers will be forthcoming. But, based on this episode and
the producers' own stated description of the show, I wouldn't hold my
breath. Justice League Unlimited sounds like it is going to serve up
superheroics cafeteria-style, with speed and convenience. Those needing
their Justice League are unlikely to be disappointed.
Review (Jim Harvey)
In the opening moments of
Justice League Unlimited, superheroes flood the screen, from A-listers to Z-listers,
barely a hero is overlooked in these opening shots. The opening episode is
far from perfect, but the promise and potential more than makes up
for any missteps.
We're introduced to a who's-who of DC heroes, all redesigned under the usual
Timm aestetic. While the designs don't stray to far from what we'd expect from
the producer, they look pleasing to the eye. We get a glimpse of many, but a
better look at a few, particularly Green Arrow and Black Canary. Arrow looks
perfect in this style, embracing the rigid look that Timm has developed. And
Canary? She has never better. Somewhat related, the animation is clearly stronger than previous Justice League efforts, but it still slips now
The "Magnificent Seven" return, sans Hawkgirl, with their usual look. Green
Lantern is slightly tweaked, but everyone else remains as is. Superman
remains at the helm, saying all heroes must henceforth operate under team
authority, that they all must handle both the big problems and the little
problems. Of course, some heroes think they're too small to handle alien
warcrafts and invaders. Others stand there, not saying a word...like their
character is just there for show...and nothing more...
And with Superman's quick speech, we're completely filled in on what the
series will be about. Different heroes stopping new threats on a weekly
basis, starting with Green Arrow (handled perfectly here) and Supergirl
(still looking like jailbait). Heroes will clash of course, with Arrow being
the perfect example. He wants to help the little people, not gargantuan
terrors. Of course, in typical "1, 2, 3 plot" action, Ollie comes around.
The plot is simple and plays out as expected, but we get some great
character interaction in this all. Characters argue with each other over their differing beliefs, but when faced with a mammoth threat that stands to destroy the
country-side, they tend to get along pretty fast. And given the quick pace
of the episode, there are no real dead spots. There's no
time. With 21 minutes to tell a full story, things move at an alarming pace
and it's refreshing. Instead of the padded length of the typical Justice League episode,
we get the quick, compact Justice League Unlimited version.
Justice League Unlimited is a quicker, slicker rendition of DC's heroes and it works quitefine. It
still has a few problems to work on, but overall the series is off to a fun, adventurous