Justice League Season 2 Review

  • Series Title: Justice League
  • Season: 2
  • Episodes: 26 (13 stories)
  • Discs: 2
  • Network: Cartoon Network
  • Cast: Kevin Conroy, George Newbern, Susan Eisenberg, Carl Lumbly, Phil LaMarr, Michael Rosenbaum, Maria Canals-Barrera (Credited as Maria Canals)
  • DVD: Widescreen, Blu-Ray (R1, NTSC)

The second season of the animated Justice League series is bigger and the stakes are higher. Again, most stories are two parts, except the Holiday episode, “Comfort and Joy” and the three-part season finale “Starcrossed”. The season opens with Orion attacking and defeating one of Darkseid’s attacks, but as Darkseid recovers, he’s attacked by Brainiac – Darkseid convinces the Justice League to help him. They work with Highfather to stop Brainiac’s attack, but it puts New Genesis in danger.

In “Only a Dream”, Doctor Destiny traps most of the Justice League in nightmares, but insomniac Batman is able to defeat Doctor Destiny.

In “Maid of Honor” Wonder Woman befriends the party girl princess of Kasnia. Despite at first complaining about the princess’s lack of responsibility, the two bond and have fun. The princess confesses she doesn’t even want to marry her fiancé but she must as part of her duty. When her father has a sudden “stroke” the marriage is moved up. Diana is shocked that the Kasnian princess’s new husband is Vandal Savage. The Justice League ends up interfering when Savage threatens the world with an orbiting rail gun satellite.

This season features an episode with the Justice Lords – an alternate Earth Justice League that became world dictators after the death of their Flash. The fight scenes in the second part are particularly good because our Justice League doesn’t face off against their own opposite numbers but fights other members. This allows them to succeed.

“The Terror Beyond” has Aquaman, Doctor Fate, and Solomon Grundy fighting off Cthulhu-like monsters. Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl and Superman stop Dr. Fate’s spell to close the gate that’s been opened to the horrific monsters. Eventually, Fate, Aquaman, and Grundy are able to convince Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl, and Superman that they must stop the creatures. While Fate and his group try to close the gate again, Superman and company go through it to stop the invasion from the other side. This two-parter is visually stunning, and the “mad” monsters from the Cthulhu-like beings are drawn well.

“Secret Society” features another group of B-rate super-villains banding together to drive apart the Justice League. However, by spying on the league their plan almost works and the league splits and each go their own way. It takes Batman, who discovers the surveillance to get the League back together so they can defeat the”Secret Society of Evil”.

In “Hereafter” it appears Superman is killed in a battle with Toyman. While the world deals with its grief, and tries to process a world without a Superman – Superman is actually thrust forward into the far future. He meets Vandal Savage who has finally figured out that ruling an empty, destroyed planet is no fun at all. Superman and Savage finish a time machine Savage was working on and send Superman back to his own time.

In “Wild Cards” the Joker (voiced by Mark Hamill) and the Wild Card gang take over Las Vegas. The Joker airs the chaos on TV, like some type of reality show. Joker has also placed a large number of bombs, some real, some fake all over Vegas – the League has to find and dismantle the bombs.

Finally in “Starcrossed”, an alien spaceship attacks Washington DC, but the ship is destroyed by Thangarian ships. Thangar gets world leaders to accept their “protection”. However, they later impose martial law. Later it turns out the Thangarians aren’t building a shield for the Earth to protect it from a Gordanian invasion – rather they are building a hyperspace bypass engine so the Thangarians can invade to Gordanian homeworld. Unfortunately, activating the hyperspace bypass will destroy the Earth. It also turns out Hawkgirl was an advance scout and spy for the Thangarians. She is also promised or engaged to one of the other Thangarians – which surprises Green Lantern. The League is upset that Hawkgirl betrayed them. But when Hawkgirl finds out Thanagar intends to destroy the Earth she jumps sides, frees the League from their prison on one of the Thangarian ships, and helps the League defeat the Thanagarians and destroy the hyperspace bypass engine. The League decides to take a vote as to if Hawkgirl will still be accepted in the League, but Hawkgirl leaves first.

Justice League Season 2 is bigger than the first season, and the Justice League faces bigger threats. This is still top-notch animation. There are again several notable guest performances. I highly recommend this season.

Read my review of Justice League Season 1.

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Justice League Season 1 Review

  • Series Title: Justice League
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes:  26 (12 stories)
  • Discs:  3
  • Network: Cartoon Network
  • Cast: Kevin Conroy, George Newbern, Susan Eisenberg, Carl Lumbly, Phil LaMarr, Michael Rosenbaum, Maria Canals-Barrera (Credited as Maria Canals)
  • DVD: Standard, Blu-Ray (R1, NTSC)

Justice League was the first of the DCAU series that I ever saw and even nearly ten years later the series still stands up. The members of the Justice League are: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (John Stewart), Martian Manhunter (J’onn J’onzz), Flash, and Hawkgirl. The individual episodes of Justice League are 30 minutes (well, 22-25) but in this season every story consists of two or three parts. This means that it’s more like watching a series of short movies than a normal animated television series. The stories have plenty of time for characterization and in-depth storytelling. Justice League also doesn’t waste time on traditional “origin stories”. The first episode, “Origins” has Batman and Superman confronting an actual alien invasion, including a first shot of the tripod-like invading machine that’s reminiscent of George Pal’s War of the Worlds. Superman is telepathically attacked but finds Martian Manhunter being held in a military prison. He and Batman free Martian Manhunter and learn his name is J’onn J’onzz and that he’s the last survivor of Mars. J’onn tells him the beings that threaten the entire Earth had attacked Mars and destroyed their entire civilization. Other leaguers-to-be, including Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, Flash, and Wonder Woman join the fight against the alien invaders, eventually defeating the alien menace. Batman proposes building a satellite Watchtower to warn of future invasions. Superman proposes a permanent league of superheroes. Flash asks, “What a type of superfriends?” to which Batman replies, “More like a Justice League”. This sets the stage for the series.

Green Lantern is given an in-depth story, “In Blackest Night” in which he is put on trial for destroying an entire inhabited alien planet while in pursuit of a space pirate. Once the league discovers what’s happened, they rush to his defense. Martian Manhunter and the others are able to prove the planet’s destruction was an illusion orchestrated by the Manhunters (different Manhunters than on Mars, these are androids from Oa the home of the Green Lantern Corps, and the Guardians first attempt at a benevolent galaxy-wide police force). The league frees Jon Stewart Green Lantern and the Flash, who acted as his advocate, clears John’s name, then defends Oa from the Manhunters with the aid of the Green Lantern Corps.

“The Enemy Below” is a modern Aquaman story, and although Aquaman doesn’t formally join the League, he is recognized as the King of under the seas.

“Injustice for All” has Lex Luthor bringing together a group of supervillains to fight the Justice League, especially Superman. It doesn’t go well for Lex.

“Paradise Lost” sees Felix Faust attack Thermyscira, turn all the Amazons to stone, and bribe Wonder Woman to find a McGuffin in three parts – the Key to the Underworld. Wonder Woman and the League find the key but are very worried about what Faust will do to it. Faust releases Hades, who then drains him of life (not the reward he was expecting). The Justice League is able to defeat Hades and return the Amazons to life. But Hippolyta decides to follow Amazon law to the letter and banishes her daughter for bringing men to the island.

“War World” is a slugfest with Superman forced to fight in the War World arena for Mondo.

“The Brave and the Bold” has Gorilla Grood taking over Central City after a scientist accidentally reveals the location of Gorilla City.

“Fury” has a refugee who was raised as an Amazon on Thermyscira reviving Luthor’s Injustice League and launching a biological attack on the world’s men. But Hippolyta reveals that Aresia was actually rescued by a man who got her to Thermyscira before dying.

“Legends” has the League transported to a parallel Earth where the heroes resemble Golden Age comics heroes and John Stewart (GL) recognizes the heroes as heroes from the comics he read as a kid. The “Justice Guild of America” is locked in battle with the “Injustice League” but something doesn’t seem right. J’onn J’onzz keeps having telepathic flashes of a disaster. One of the League members finds the graves of the entire JGA. Eventually, they discover the entire dimension was destroyed in a Nuclear War and a telepathic mutant had re-created the “perfect” world of years ago. The story works both as a story and as a comment on the good and the really bad aspects of older Golden Age comics. After the illusion is broken the League members are able to find a way back to their own Earth.

“A Knight with Shadows,” tells the story of Jason Blood, Etrigan the Demon, Morgaine, Merlin, and Modred. It’s as close to a traditional origin story as season 1 of Justice League gets. But it’s also a great story full of Arthurian lore, magic, demons, etc. For the most part, only Batman is in this story, though the rest of the League lend a hand at the end. I enjoyed the story very much.

“Metamorphosis,” tells the story of Rex Mason who is turned into the Element Man – rather than an archeologist, he works for Stagg Industries and is rich and accomplished, but when he and Sapphire Stagg decide to marry, her overprotective and cruel father decides to use Mason as an unwilling human subject in his plan to create artificial workers who can withstand any environment. Mason and John Stewart are also old friends, having both been in military service together. Although Mason’s origin is substantially different, it’s a great story, and very enjoyable.

The final story in season one is the three-part “The Savage Time”. All of the Justice League but Batman are returning from a mission in space when there’s a flash on Earth below them and the Watchtower disappears. Green Lantern lands the Javelin spacecraft (which was apparently out of power because he’s towing it with his Ring). The Justice League discovers the US is now a dictatorship under the power of a mysterious Leader. They walk into a resistance attack on the military police of the leader and run into a different version of Batman who is the leader of the Resistance. Working with Batman, they discover a time tunnel anomaly. The League, minus Batman, enters the anomaly and finds themselves in World War II. There they join the allies, the Blackhawks, Easy Company, Steve Trevor and other forces to help the allies and defeat Savage before he can become a world dictator. “The Savage Time” is a brilliant story, and also a lot of fun to watch. (Savage in the future sent a laptop and plans for weapons and communications equipment to Savage in the past.) This is a much more menacing Vandal Savage than the one in Season 1 of Legends of Tomorrow.

Overall, I really enjoyed Justice League (the animated series). The regular and guest casts are wonderful, and the series features many well-known and excellent guest actors. The animation is hand-drawn and beautiful and has that traditional DCAU square-jawed look. I highly recommend this series. Even if animation usually isn’t your thing, or you’ve tried the live action DC film Universe and been unimpressed, this series overcomes many of the faults of other versions of DC Comics in both older animation and in live action.

Note: For some reason, the Blu-Ray discs auto-play the first episode whenever a disc is put in the player. You can get a list of episodes by pressing the “Top Menu” button and then choosing the episode you want to watch, but it’s still annoying and results in a lot of unnecessary wear and tear on the disc.

Superman The Complete Animated Series Review

  • Series Title: Superman: The Animated Series
  • Season: Complete Series
  • Episodes: 54
  • Discs: 7
  • Network: WB Animation
  • Cast: Tim Daly, Dana Delany, David Kaufman, Clancy Brown
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1, Animation

Superman: The Animated Series along with Batman: The Animated Series started off what became known as the Timm-verse, a series of related series by WB Animation based on DC Comics. Although I am quite a fan of Batman: TAS and later series Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, Batman Beyond, and Young Justice – I had never watched Superman: TAS before, also the first series I saw chronologically was Justice League even though it was a later series in terms of when it was made. (I basically caught some of Justice League on Boomerang a sister channel to Cartoon Network and loved it so much I bought everything on DVD a set at a time. I did not see the Timm-verse in the chronological order of when it originally aired.) Superman has never been one of my favorite DC characters, though, I’m much more of a Batman fan, so I delayed ordering and watching this.

Superman: The Animated Series does well what other series in this set of shows do well – the stories emphasize the character from the comics as he was in the early modern age of comics. This isn’t an angsty Superman or a conflicted Superman who is unsure about his role. Also, other than showing the destruction of Krypton (a sequence repeated in the title sequence) and an almost montage of Clark being found and raised by the Kents and first using his powers as a teenager in Smallville, this series doesn’t dwell on Superman’s origin story. After the 3-part pilot, “The Last Son of Krypton”, the series settles down into its usual format: Clark Kent, a reporter for the Daily Planet, is secretly Superman and must battle bad guys and rescue people.

I’ve always found the character of Superman to be too perfect. He has the perfect parents, perfect job, perfect girlfriend, and he’s basically invulnerable to everything except for Kryptonite. That Superman is only vulnerable to Kryptonite is something so well known in modern culture, “What’s your Kryptonite? or, “he’s my Kryptonite” – has become slang for “What’s your vulnerability?” or “He/she’s my vulnerability?” In Superman: The Animated Series – Kryptonite is something that seems extremely easy for any villain to get. Also, because Superman is so over-powered, his villains are extremely over-powered. Many of the Superman: TAS episodes have an extremely strong villain (like Darkseid) show up and try to physically beat up Superman, which tends to not work. We also see a lot of Brainiac, who in this series comes from Krypton and was responsible for no one else being saved from the planet.

Superman: TAS also doesn’t build up a relationship between Lois and Clark. They are shown to be more colleagues than romantic partners. Clark’s relationship with Jimmy Olsen doesn’t get really explored until nearly the end of the series – when Jimmy gets a signal watch (something that Lois doesn’t have as far as I can tell). Even Clark’s relationship with his parents, Jonathon and Martha Kent, is not really explored. We see them a few times, but they are definitely background characters.

However, there are some episodes I really liked. One episode I enjoyed very much was “The Late Mr. Kent”. First, it had a monologue for Clark – this made him more relatable. If the entire series had used a monologue I probably would have liked it better. The episode tells the story of Clark investigating the case of a man found guilty of murder during a robbery and sentenced to be executed. Clark talks to the man and examines the evidence and believes that the man was, in fact, innocent – and framed. As Clark investigates further, he discovers proof. But then his car is blown up by a car bomb and crashes into the ocean. Because there’s a witness to the “accident” Clark fears he can’t just show up again, unhurt. Clark as Superman continues his investigation, while Lois, Jimmy and other characters mourn the death of Clark Kent. Eventually, Superman is able to prove that a dirty cop was behind everything – the frame up, planting evidence, the actual murder, etc. Superman also finds out the witness was unreliable, so with some help from Lana Lang, he returns as Clark, claiming he swam ashore and was under Lana’s care. The convicted man is released and the cop is executed instead.

There are also episodes of Superman: The Animated Series that introduce other characters from the DC universe, including Lobo, the Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, The Legion of Superheroes, and Batman. I, for the most part, enjoyed these team-ups. The Lobo two-parter felt a little flat to me, but the others range from good to excellent. There are three Batman-Superman team-up stories in this collection and I liked all three. Batman is voiced by Kevin Conroy of Batman: The Animated Series and the guest characters are voiced by their Batman: TAS counterparts. I enjoyed seeing Batman and Superman work together, and their mutual relationship was well done. We also get to see Lois fall for Bruce Wayne, whom she discovers is Batman. I thought that was a bold choice, and something different.

Superman: The Animated Series also featured several impressive guest stars including: Mike Farrell (as Jonathon Kent), Michael Ironside (as Darkseid), Malcolm McDowell (as Metallo), Edward Asner (as Granny Goodness), Charles Napier (as General Hardcastle), Robert Hays, Robert Ito, Carl Lumley, Roddy McDowell, William H. Macy, Robert Morse, Michael York, John Rubinstein, Charlie Schlatter, Jason Priestley, Sarah Douglas, Richard Moll, Paul Williams, David Warner, Ernie Hudson, Carolyn Seymour, Ron Glass, and Marion Ross, and as mentioned from the Batman crossover episodes: Kevin Conroy, Efrem Zimbalist Jr, Mark Hamill, Arleen Sorkin, and Bob Hastings. As with other Timm-verse shows – the casting is extremely impressive on Superman: The Animated Series.

Overall, though I have some issues with the perfect nature of the character of Superman, I find that this series brings the comics to life so to speak. Because it’s animation, the budget is less limited than in a live-action series, and we see Superman in space, huge fight scenes, and impressive story-telling. Superman: The Animated Series is recommended. This particular set consists of discs that have not been labeled consecutively. Also, every other disc is a two-sided disc. And the final disc has one special feature on it and that’s it – no episodes. I would have preferred it if they had remastered everything, putting eight episodes per disc and not doing any two-sided discs, even if that had increased the number of discs and making the set more expensive. I did like the single case with flip pages to hold the discs and slipcase packaging though. Even with the mastering issue, the episodes themselves look good and I recommend this series, especially to Superman fans.

Supergirl Season 2 Review

  • Series Title: Supergirl
  • Season: Season 2
  • Episodes: 22
  • Discs: 5
  • Network: CW
  • Cast: Melissa Benoist, Mehcad Brooks, Chyler Leigh, Jeremy Jordan, Floriana Lima, Chris Wood, David Harewood
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1

This review contains spoilers for the second season of Supergirl.

With it’s second season, Supergirl switches over to the CW, which frankly, is where the show belongs instead of on CBS. Also, Supergirl is now officially part of the CW DC-verse (aka the “Arrowverse”) and this season of the show includes two crossovers. Click here to read my Season 1 review of Supergirl.

There are some character changes for Season 2, Cat Grant is in the first two episodes, but then she leaves to find herself, putting new reporter, Kara Danvers, in the care of Snapper Carr. The opening episodes with Cat show her both as her acerbic self and as a mentor to Kara, and when Kara announces she wants to be a reporter, Cat hands her a sealed envelope – inside is Kara’s resume, with the word, “reporter”, written across it. But rather than shepherding Kara through her new role, Cat leaves. Snapper, Kara’s new boss, is rude, entitled, and a bit racist and sexist. As annoying as that is, by the end of the season – Kara’s experiences with Snapper do show a different type of mentorship – and for a show with a younger audience, an audience that it probably dealing with “old guard’ bosses at work that behave like Snapper or worse, and it shows how to deal with it and with people like Snapper. Kara even follows her heart and publishes a story on her own, a story that Snapper refused to publish due to his own prejudices. Breaking her contract with Catco gets Kara fired. To get her job back, not only does Kara need to find another exclusive story, and bring that story to Snapper with it’s resources and documentation done precisely as Snapper wants, but she has to share the byline with Snapper who did nothing on the story. Then Kara has to apologize to him and declare he “was right” and that she’s learned a lot from Snapper. Watching that scene is hard and it made me bristle – clearly it was Snapper who’s anti-alien prejudice prevented him from wanting to publish either story in the first place. In both cases, Kara was right in her stories – and she wasn’t writing mere opinion, but facts.

Snapper also co-opted Kara’s work and took credit for it. But, as unfair as that seems – it’s also the way of the world. That type of stuff happens all the time in the real world, and in all sorts of industries. Supergirl shows, especially to it’s young audience of teens and twenty-somethings, how to deal with those situations in the real world. Essentially by swallowing her own pride and sucking up – Kara gets her job back, and is given more freedom to do want she needs to do – be a reporter. Would Snapper have treated a male reporter the way he treats Kara? Probably not. If Kara’s stories had been full of anti-alien trash and prejudice with no research and just prejudicial language and hate speech – what would Snapper have done? Probably publish them without a single red-pen edit. In a sense, his Archie Bunker attitude is the one being criticized, while at the same time showing just how to circumvent such people. Snapper also attacks James, whom Cat has named as her successor during her sabbatical. But within an episode or two, James tells Snapper off – pulling the “I’m the boss whether you like it or not” card.

Season Two also introduces Maggie Sawyer, a National City cop, and a lesbian. Alex meets her, they become friends, Maggie gets Alex to realize she is also a lesbian, then Maggie rejects Alex. They do get back together, and Maggie is present in some form or another for the rest of the season. The Maggie/Alex relationship is brilliantly played, with ups and downs, rather than as a fairy tale. It becomes clear that both Maggie and Alex have some self-esteem issues. Both have had trouble in the past being true to themselves and opening up to others. These flaws make the characters more interesting, and give the audience different types of characters to identify with.

Winn also meets a girl (are we sensing a pattern?) an alien named Lyra. Their relationship seems fine, and very hot, until she sets him up to make it look like he broke into a museum and stole Starry Night by Van Gogh. Winn, though, doesn’t buy the police line that he was simply used. Even when Lyra tells him the same, he pushes, until he finds out that Lyra was blackmailed into the theft and a series of others to pay off her brother’s gambling debts and free him from the alien mobsters who are holding him. Even though Supergirl, Winn, Alex, and the DEO are able to free Lyra’s brother and arrest the mobsters, after the incident we seldom see Lyra.

The season introduces Megan McGann, (aka M’Gann, Miss Martian) whom at first seems to be a Green Martian refugee like J’onn J’onezz. She turns out to be a White Martian instead, one whom became disgusted at the genocide of the Green Martians on Mars – and whom helped some escape. The relationship between the two also has its ups and downs and ends with M’Gann deciding to return to Mars to find similar thinking White Martians.

Finally, Kara, herself finds love – but it’s a bumpy, season-long process. At the very beginning of the season, a Kryptonian pod crashes on Earth. It’s occupant is Mon-El of Daxam. Since Daxam, sister planet to Krypton, has also been the enemy of Krypton for centuries, we get the rare experience of seeing Kara’s prejudice against someone – namely Mon-El. She even jumps to conclusions and blames him for a crime that he is innocent of and has no knowledge of. When it quickly becomes apparent that she was wrong, Kara, to her credit, admits her mistake. She then starts to work with Mon-El, trying to basically make him exactly like herself – from wardrobe, to internship at Catco, to becoming a superhero, to wearing silly glasses to hide his identity. It doesn’t work. However, over time, the real Mon-El emerges, and as Mon-El becomes his own person – it is that person that Kara falls in love with. And Mon-El also improves himself because of knowing Kara. Once he gives up on being an intern at Catco, Mon-El gets a job as a “mixologist” at the alien bar that’s a reoccurring location for the season. But he gradually becomes more involved in helping the DEO and Kara.

This season also introduces Lynda Carter as President of the US, who passes the Alien Amnesty Act, allowing alien refugees to become US citizens. In contrast to her compassion and understanding, Cadmus – run by Lillian Luthor (Lex’s mother) is an anti-alien organization that wants the destruction of all aliens – especially Supergirl and Superman. Like most people who act out on unreasonable prejudices – Lillian sees all aliens as the same – something evil, to be hated, to be feared, and Lillian also uses her resources to stir-up hatred in the general population. Lillian is unable and unwilling to see people as individuals but sees all others as evil ones to be hated and feared. Cadmus makes threats over the airwaves, taking over the media in National City. They use alien weapons to commit crimes and attack people then blame aliens for the crimes. Cadmus even co-opts Jeremiah Danvers, Alex’s father and Kara’s adoptive father, convincing him that deporting all aliens is the Final Solution to the Alien Problem. Yeah. For the most part, however, even with the destruction, death, and set-backs (at one point the alien bar is attacked and every alien is killed), the DEO, Alex, Maggie, and Supergirl are able to stop Cadmus and Lillian.

In contrast to Lillian, Lina Luthor is actually a good person. She becomes a fast friend of Kara (who, again, was willing to hate her for being a Luthor, but saw Lina as a person and became her friend instead), and goes up against her own mother to protect the people of National City, including aliens. Lina is fascinating, she’s also a businesswoman, re-branding “LuthorCorp” as “L Corp” to distance the corporation from her notorious brother and evil mother. She develops an alien detector, which becomes a plot point, though not an over-used one.

The beginning of the season tends to have a lot of stand-alone episodes, though threads are being laid for season-long plots, especially in terms of the characters and their relationships. One problem with the stand-alone episodes is it generally goes like this: alien menace arrives, alien menace (or cyborg or constructed alien like Metallo, etc.) defeats Supergirl in a fist fight or by using special powers (Kryptonite, absorbing her powers, etc.) Kara goes to the DEO and John, Alex, Winn, and maybe James or Maggie come up with a way for Supergirl to defeat said alien menace. Supergirl challenges the menace and wins. This is a boring and repetitive plot. Fortunately, it’s only a few isolated episodes in the first half of the season, and all of those, as I’ve said, have other character stuff going on, but it’s something future seasons really need to avoid. Besides, seeing Supergirl get defeated over and over again weakens the character, and makes her subsequent wins unbelievable.

There are two crossover events for this season of Supergirl: Invasion and the Musical. Invasion is the 4-part crossover that features the entire CW DC universe (aka the Arrowverse). Invasion is actually a pretty much stand alone episode. For the Supergirl episode that introduces it – it’s pretty much just the last five minutes of the episode, when The Flash and Cisco arrive via a universe-hopping portal and ask Kara for help. She then leaves with them and spends three episodes as a lead character in Invasion. Unfortunately, those other episodes are not included on the DVD set. Because the DVD releases of all four shows were spread out over a month, it’s also not possible to stop watching Supergirl and skip over to Invasion (until after The Flash and Arrow were finally released that is). I highly recommend that, since I do enjoy the crossovers, the crossover story be released as a separate special DVD with all four episodes in order. Which isn’t to say those episodes shouldn’t be included on the season sets of their respective shows. But like the Doctor Who Christmas specials – Why not release the Crossover Event as a DVD a few weeks after it airs? I’d buy it – and I’d still buy the season sets at the end of the season. From watching Invasion during the highly-rated Crossover Week – it’s pretty stand alone anyway, and it’s a good introduce to the Arrowverse for new fans. An inexpensive DVD/Blu-Ray release would be an awesome idea.

The Musical is a story that is integrated well in the season arcs of both Supergirl and The Flash. In Supergirl, Kara has just found out that far from being the “palace guard” that she thought Mon-El was – he’s the prince. Although every one tells her to work through her anger at being lied to, in the end, Kara breaks up with Mon-El. Meanwhile, on The Flash, Barry and Iris are in a similar situation – Barry had proposed marriage to Iris, she accepted, then for plot purposes they broke it off (there will be more when I watch and review The Flash). Again, at the end of a Supergirl episode, suddenly an “alien” is being led into the operations center of the DEO, he breaks free of his bonds, and whammys Kara, who collapses. Now by this time, my copy of The Flash had arrived from Amazon, so I was able to go straight to “Duet” and watch it. In “Duet”, we find that the “alien” is the Music Meister, an imp with Mxyzptlk-like powers and an interest in “true love”. He traps Barry and Kara in a musical, which features some actors from Legends of Tomorrow and Arrow as well as The Flash – though everyone is playing different characters. They sing. I was disappointed with “Duet” though. The music was, overall, only so-so both the old songs (“Moon River”) and the originals (“Superfriends”). The storyline in the musical is OK, but pokes fun at musicals (“It really is easy to convince people in a musical!”) The story does end with a beautiful scene of Barry proposing again to Iris (for real) and in song. Kara also sees the error of her ways and declares her feelings for Mon-El.

The final arc of Supergirl is brilliant – well acted, relevant, smart, and a better season finale than even Myriad. Cat Grant returns and we realize just how much we’ve missed her. The President (Lynda Carter) becomes a important part of the story. We meet Mon-El’s parents, played by Kevin Sorbo and Teri Hatcher – and discover that Queen Rhea is the most controlling parent in the the universe (not to mention a little nuts). Rhea returns and tries to get Mon-El to return to lead the survivors of Daxam as prince and future king. But Rhea hates Kara because she’s from Krypton, and after all when Krypton was destroyed it bombarded Daxam and made the planet a wasteland. Mon-El eventually is forced to sacrifice himself and his love for Kara, but she rescues him. This puts Rhea on the warpath. She passes herself off as human, approaches Lina, and gets Lina to work with her on a portal to move goods and people from point A to point B instantaneously. There are two issues with this: one – major side effect, the radiation from the generator that runs the portal turns telepathic aliens into dynamos that attack with the uncontrolled power of a tornado, and two – Rhea has no intention of the portal being used for the humanitarian uses Lina envisions, instead she brings in a fleet of Daxamite ships, which attack National City and hold it hostage.

In the end, even though Supergirl challenges Rhea to single combat for the planet, Rhea cheats – not only by using Kryptonite, but by calling in her guards and airstrikes despite Supergirl winning. This causes Supergirl to release a weapon of mass destruction developed by Lillian and Lina Luthor – they seed the entire planet with lead, which is toxic to Daxamites. This kills Rhea outright, and means Mon-El has to leave the planet. He escapes in the Kryptonian Pod, only to be swallowed up by a wormhole.

I had to wonder about the whole “lead” thing. First, lead is highly poisonous to humans, birds, and animals – it causes brain damage to children and babies; yet Lillian, Lina, and Kara don’t seem to even notice this fact or care. Second, it’s stated several times that Supergirl and Superman (who makes several guest appearances this season) cannot see through lead. If microscopic pieces of lead are in the very atmosphere, it would rend both characters blind until the lead settled out of the air, at the very least. It would be like walking outside on a day with heavy mist – you get wet. Not as wet as in a downpour, but your face and hair is going to be covered in a fine spray of water. So the “fix” to get rid of the Daxamites doesn’t make a lot of logical sense.

Still, Season 2 of Supergirl is an enjoyable series. The characters are likable – and it’s nice to see the interpersonal struggles without either falling into the extremes of soap opera plots or perfect characters who never have problems. I liked the relevance of the series, from Superman’s “I’m with her” statement while standing next to Supergirl, to the female president who has compassion and sense, yet is still strong and capable, to the last episodes being entitled, “Resist” and “Nevertheless She Persisted” – this is a show with something to say, and that is good. Also, looking at the credits in the episode guide flyer included with the set – nearly every episode is written, co-written, and/or directed by women. And that is awesome! This season also has less of a “aimed at teenaged girls” feel and more of a “general audiences” feel which is good, many of the people who “need” the messages of this show won’t watch a program they think is for teen girls. Kudos on that.

Recommended.

 

Book Review – Trinity vol. 1: Better Together

  • Title: Trinity vol. 1: Better Together
  • Author: Francis Manapul
  • Artists: Clay Mann, Seth Mann, Brad Anderson, Steve Wands
  • Line: Rebirth
  • Characters: Superman (Clark Kent), Batman (Bruce Wayne), Wonder Woman (Diana), Lois Lane, Jon Kent
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 06/30/2017

**Spoiler Alert** I read Trinity twice, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There are some parts that are a bit confusing, especially at first, but it’s a wonderful story – about Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. The story opens with a monologue by Lois Lane who is now married to Clark Kent and the two are raising their son, Jon. Bruce Wayne and Diana arrive at their farm house. Young Jon experiments with his powers, which he can’t quite control. Next, he’s in the barn, Jonathan Kent is unconscious on the floor, young Jon is freaking out, and Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman arrive in their costumes. Jon flies off. The costumed heroes save Jonathan then go after young Jon. They find him, and later, Superman begins to wonder what just happened, though he’s happy to have seen his parents again.

Next, is Bruce’s story – he’s too late to see his parents before they die, or to prevent the horrible events of That Fateful Night. He sees a counselor, who gives him some medication to control his fears. This causes horrible, frightening hallucinations. Superman, adult Batman, and Wonder Woman have to save Bruce. By this point everyone is getting suspicious.

Next, Wonder Woman takes a boat, with Bruce and Clark, to Themyscira. By now, the three, including Wonder Woman, know nothing that is happening to them is real. The Amazons test the three, and they pass their tests. Hippolyta offers “Wonder Woman”, as she introduces herself, the chance to stay, but says the two men must leave. Diana decides she must go with her friends. Meanwhile, young Diana, is incensed at this and follows them, then begins to lead them through. They discover that Mongul, under the influence of the Black Mercy is behind everything. However, he had contacted Poison Ivy, Avatar of The Green, whom he manipulated to help him escape. The third person that is behind the dreamworld is the White Mercy – something created by Mongul’s need to escape and his boredom. The White Mercy, who appears as a child, appears to Poison Ivy as a child – she wants to use Superman to free her “daughter” the White Mercy. Mongul wants to escape the dream world of the Black Mercy. Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman are caught in the thrall and dream world of the Mercy plants. Ivy even goes after young Jon. However, though, basically a construct, the White Mercy learned from the three scenarios he had Clark, Bruce, and Diana experience. In the end, he helps them escape the dream world. Mongul is returned there, Ivy forgets everything, including her “daughter”, and the White Mercy? It may have escaped to the real world.

This is a beautiful book – the art is gorgeous, with a marvelous painted look. The panels reflect the characters, as well, forming the famous symbols for Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman at times. Though at times it was hard to tell what order to read the panels in. All three interwoven stories really explain and stress the strengths of Bruce, Clark, and Diana. It’s a great book and deserves a spot on any DC Comics fan’s shelf. Highly recommended.

Book Review – Infinite Crisis

  • Title: Infinite Crisis
  • Author: Geoff Johns
  • Artist: Phil Jimenez, George Pérez, Jerry Ordway, Ivan Reis, Andy Lanning
  • Characters: Batman, Superman, Lois Lane, Superboy, Alexander Luthor, Dick Grayson, Power Girl (Kara), Blue Beetle (Ted Kord), Wonder Woman, Justice League, et. al.
  • Publication Date: 2006
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 8/31/2016

Infinite Crisis is a sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths, however it doesn’t bring back the Monitor or the Anti-Monitor. Rather, remember the characters who were stranded in nowhere? Superman from Earth-2, Lois Lane, Alexander Luthor, and Superboy? They return to cause havoc. It seems Superman (2) and company could watch what is happening on Earth-1 and they do not like it one bit. Having seen the darkness in our heroes – Superman (2) gets a bright idea – he will bring back Earth-2 instead, because Earth-2 is the better Earth. Superman (2) is also motivated by the fact that Lois is dying (of old age). Alexander Luthor encourages Superman in this plan – though he also shows his true colors, as it plays out – Luthor doesn’t care about Lois (he knows she’s doomed to die) or Earth-2, he wants to bring back all the Earths until he finds the perfect Earth. Meanwhile Superboy is pure nuts. His violence disillusions everyone.

The first thing the alternate characters do is bring in Kara, Power Girl, a version of Supergirl that no longer has a home planet, because she’s from Earth-2 but survived on Earth-1 at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths. Kara although initially under the sway of Superman (2) and Lois – eventually comes around.

Superman (2) visits the Earth-1 Batman and tries to convince him that bringing back Earth-2 is best for everyone. Yet, when he learns that Dick Grayson no longer exists on Earth (2), Batman refuses. He even tries to bring down Superman with his Kryptonite ring, but the ring has no effect on the Earth-2 Superman. Later, in one of the best vignettes in the story, when the Brotherhood of Evil uses Chemo to attack Blüdhaven – destroying the town with toxic waste, Batman rushes to find Nightwing. Nightwing wasn’t in the city, fortunately, but he stands on the outskirts ready to rush in to help. Batman prevents Dick from going in, brings him to the Cave where he fills him in on everything: Superman (2)’s plan, Brother Eye, OMAC, how Batman’s own surveillance plan went horribly awry – Grayson is impressed at Bruce’s openness. Bruce then gives Nightwing a mission, something to keep him occupied. As Dick Grayson heads out to Titans Tower – Bruce asks, “Those early years – were they good for you?” Nightwing answers, “the best”. It’s a wonderful moment, tightly written, not overly sentimental – yet it shows how much Bruce cares for Dick. Probably the best page in the book.

In general, though, Infinite Crisis is a big, showy book, that again features most of the DC characters. There are many full-page or double-page spreads filled with heroes and even villains. But the plot, not including the miscellaneous side plots, is simple – those left behind from Crisis on Infinite Earths want to return to the status quo. If Earth-1 is destroyed in the process, they don’t care – the old way is best. For our heroes on Earth-1, many have been in a crisis of conscience. After Maxwell Lord betrays the Justice League and kills Ted Kord (Blue Beetle), Wonder Woman executes Max. This shakes up the League and leads to distrust of the League by the general public. But the new Crisis brings Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman back together. In the end, this book has a more final ending – if a bit of a predictable one. But our heroes are together and strong as they pull together to face a world-bending, well, crisis.

Overall, I liked this book better than Crisis on Infinite Earths, though I enjoyed both. And the art is very spectacular. For the DC fan, this book isn’t to be missed and deserves a place on the shelf.

Book Review – Crisis on Infinite Earths

  • Title: Crisis on Infinite Earths
  • Author: Marv Wolfman
  • Artist: George Pérez
  • Characters: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Justice League, et. al.
  • Publication Date: 2001 (this edition), first published 1985
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 8/12/2016

Crisis on Infinite Earths is big, really big, you might think it’s a long walk down to the chemist’s but… No wait, that’s The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but nevertheless this graphic novel is huge. It is really big – in every sense. It’s 364 pages – not including the introduction or the final analysis/review and the sketchbook at the end. Not only is it a lot of pages, but the art style and layout of Crisis on Infinite Earths include many small panels almost crammed onto the individual pages – rather than four or two or a single splash page there are often 9, 11, 14, small panels per page – the effect isn’t that the art is crowded or hard to follow – it’s that there’s so much going on simultaneously that multiple panels are needed to even give a glimpse of the story. This novel is a breathless read.

The story is also huge in every way that a good superhero comics story can be. It features just about every DC superhero – from all the various alternate Earths in the pre-Crisis universe. Earth 1, Earth 2, Earth 3, Earth X, Earth S – those and more are all here – as are their heroes. Every hero from the known (Superman (two of them), Wonder Woman (two of her too), Batman, Aquaman, etc.) to the obscure (Bwana Beast, The Question, Rip Hunter, various magic-users, etc.) is here – at least briefly. And the teams are here too – from the World War 2 Era Freedom Fighters to Doom Patrol, the Justice Society to the Justice League of America, The Green Lantern Corps to the Legion of Super-Heroes. Amazingly, this doesn’t get confusing or overwhelming – the book is skillfully-written to give you at least a name or affiliation for each character, as well as usually defining their powers.

The actual story had a very pragmatic purpose – the DC Universe had gotten very confusing. When you’ve been around since 1932 – that’s bound to happen. And the creative folks at DC were feeling a bit confined by trying to keep everything in continuity or declare a story an “Elseworlds” or “Imaginary Story” (DC’s parlance for alternate universe stories and stories outside the main continuity.) The creatives at DC felt their universe was also intimidating to new readers. Crisis on Infinite Earths was DC’s plan to simplify. Not to quite go back to a clean slate or change everything – but to create a new starting point. Yet for something that had a practical purpose, it’s just an amazing roller coaster ride of a story. It moves. It has sad bits. It has humor. It has moments that will make you gasp. And it the end, it does what was promised: some will live, some will die, the DC Universe will never be the same.

I started with reading DC Comics immediately after Crisis on Infinite Earths – so I didn’t read it in softcover. And it took a long time for this story to be published as a graphic novel. This was my second reading (the first was when I bought it whenever that was) and I was even more impressed. Crisis on Infinite Earths is a “wow” graphic novel. It’s amazing. And it’s something any comics and graphics novel fan needs to read. This novel didn’t just change things at DC – it changed the comics industry forever by showing that a long, complicated, cross-over story that actually changed things could be done and could be both successful and popular. Not to be missed.