image courtesy http://www.batmanytb.com/
Last night Cartoon Network aired the season finale of Justice League Unlimited. Next season starts next week. Yes, thats sounds stupid as anything, but with the big gaps of new new episodes airing all over the place for Unlimited and the precursor Justice League series, I’m glad they’re at least not forcing us to wait even longer for the next season to start.
The finale is titled “The Once And Future Thing.” Batman the animated series began the DC universe animation as its now known, and its been over 12 years since it took critics and fans hopes and dreams and took them to new heights. As the years went on and Batman spawned spinoffs in Superman, new Batman adventures and even took a 50 year jump into the future with Batman Beyond, the villains and stories got bigger and bigger. The finale takes this to great legnths by putting Batman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern John Stewart into time traveling peril at the hands of Chronos (played here by Peter MacNichol of “Ally McBeal” and “Ghostbusters 2”).
Chronos is a petty thief who just wanted to collect historical trinkets for his own collection, but when he’s caught stealing one of Batman’s Utility belts, he takes the heros into the old west where they must team with a cavalcade of cowboys (including Jonah Hex, who starred in the original Batman episode “Showdown”). All hell breaks loose as an outlaw gets hold of Chronos time traveling powers and things are barely patched up at the end when Chronos tried to flee to the future on his own. The first part concludes in a cliffhanger as Batman, Wonder Woman, and John Stewart end up 50 years in the future and are about to face off against the Jokerz gang when they are saved by Warhawk, Static Shock, and Batman of the future, Terry McGinnis.
The rest of the fight in the future is more satisfying to my taste. Getting the thug cast of the Batman Beyond movie “Return of the Joker” reunited was a welcome nod, as was the implication that John and Hawkgirl would patch things up as Warhawk is revealed to be their son. The elderly Bruce Wayne also gets to collaborate with Batman, and its revealed that the three future heroes are all thats left of the League after a cataclysmic event no doubt tied to Chronos disruption of time. By now Chronos has gone nuts and doesn’t bother thinking about the consequences of his actions, with massive historical landmarks littering the future Gotham landscape. This also plays havoc with our heroes as Wonder Woman disappears and John Stewart breifly becomes classic Latern Hal Jordan.
All ends well with a reference to the DC story Zero Hour; Batman and John return to the Watchtower where the episode began, where they are the only ones with any memory of what happened. Since the future was an improbable one, they take no stock in what they’ve seen, but John and Hawkgirl clearly still need to patch things up…
Overall, it was a classic adventure and with the series trying less and less to address the alteregos and more on developing them as heroic characters, this story does much to further that.
Batman The Animated Series and Superman The Animated Series are both being released on DVD in collected forms. I hope Warners gets around to collecting Justice League and Batman Beyond in the same fashion. Its a shame this show gets only one airing on Saturday nights and it makes an excellent companion to the classic series.