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The World's Finest Presents

Initiation

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
Credits:
Written by Stan Berkowitz
Directed by Joaquim dos Santos
Music by Michael McCuistion
Animation Services by D.R. Movie CO., LTD.

Voices:
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
Video Clip:

Screen Grabs











Pans



Sound Clips
Batman and Green Arrow Talk (MP3, 269kb)
"With a name like 'Captain Atom', what do you think?" (MP3, 156kb)
"Shayera!" (MP3, 343kb)
"You've got to the count of five..." (MP3, 213kb)
Supergirl and GL Talk (MP3, 272kb)


Review (Maxie Zeus)


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 and again.

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 starts. Recommended!

Bonus Video Clip:


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