Shiny Shelf


Justice League: Injustice For All Parts 1&2

By Mark Clapham on 24 November 2002

WARNING! Contains spoilers!

The UK Cartoon Network have been showing this excellent new series across the last few weekends and, as their Australian counterparts did earlier this year, have broadcast this pivotal two-parter before it has even been shown in the States. In the USA it was held back from it’s natural place in the series’ running order – resulting in the anomaly of it’s semi-sequel, Fury, being broadcast first, but over here we get the first appearance of the Injustice Gang, well… first.

The plot is a lovely mish-mash of bits of comics continuity from across the decades. Corporate raider Lex Luthor develops a fatal disease from lugging around the Kryptonite he’s been using to try and kill Superman for all these years (late eighties), so becomes a purple and green wearing supervillain (sixties and seventies), forms the Injustice Gang to take down the League (many eras, most recently in the mid-nineties), and eventually winds up donning green and purple, Kryptonite-fuelled battle armour to fight Superman (early-mid eighties). Oh, and his chief sidekick in the Gang is the Ultra-Humanite, who in his earliest comics incarnation was a bald, mad scientist – in other words a proto-Luthor character.

Confused? Well, you don’t need to understand any of the above self-referential gibberish to enjoy the episodes, which deliver what we’ve come to expect from the Justice League, both in the comics and now the cartoons – the world’s greatest heroes taking on the biggest threats imaginable. Lex Luthor has always hidden behind respectability in this version, but when the League expose his criminal activities, and his terminal illness is diagnosed, he throws off all the safety catches and applies his full villainous resources to killing Superman and all his allies. Luthor without restraint is a serious threat, especially backed up by a whole bunch of villainous heavies. The ability of Bruce Timm’s team to bring each character, however minor, to vibrant and distinct life is unsurpassed – you can’t go wrong with icons like Luthor, but here even minor players like Solomon Grundy, Cheetah and Star Sapphire have their own personalities and foibles. Like the beautifully clear character designs, personalities are sketched in with impressive simplicity.

Although this is a villain-led story, and the dynamics between Luthor, the Humanite, and a late addition to the Gang are the main reasons to watch, the lead characters aren’t entirely neglected. As usual, Kevin Conroy’s absolute, definitive, accept no substitutes Batman steals the show – but then, this team have been honing him to perfection for ten years, so they’re not going to go wrong now – but there are also nice moments for The Flash (played here by Smallville’s Lex Luthor, Michael Rosenbaum), Superman and the others. As in the comic, Jonn Jonnz the Martian Manhunter – a character who’ll always be the bridesmaid, never the bride – proves a pivotal presence, even though on his own he’s deadly dull. Hawkgirl is a surprisingly interesting member of the League, possibly because she’s so colossaly violent, and is always fun to watch. Each member gets their moment in the sun, even in a packed story like this.

The second half of the story zooms along to a satisfying climax, with some pleasing scenes as the Gang falls to pieces under a League assault, and Batman yet again proves how incredibly clever and hard he is. (I said it above and I’ll say it again – the animated Batman played by Kevin Conroy is The One, really.) While occasionally the dialogue in Justice League drifts into the risible, and plot points occasionally get overlooked, this is epic widescreen animation, and absolute manna for comics fans. UK viewers can tune in next weekend to find a rare gem – a story about Wonder Woman and her supporting mythology which isn’t lame – while those elsewhere in the world should search it out if they can. For superhero fans, Justice League is pretty much essential viewing.


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By Mark Clapham

Mark Clapham is a Devon-based writer and editor. You can find out more about him at the egotistically named markclapham.com.




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