Okay, TV, but as a three part JL episode, it may come to rest here.
Season Finale for Justice League brings an invasion to earth with surprising
More than anything this episode convinced me that the writers are full and well
aware of their play with masks and identity. Costumes and humanity. Masks
conceal, but equally the present the face that we want to show.
Batman’s mask, his costume, doesn’t just conceal Bruce Wayne. It embodies the
darkness and fear that he wishes to present. That perfect blending with the
shadows where he dwells.
Wally West’s mask displays the bright and the red and the shiny beating heart
that he is. A man who is optimistic in the face of loss. A red haired boy who
collapses to the floor at Batman’s farewell. A masked hero who hugs Hawk Girl
good bye. He isn’t the smartest tack, but sometimes, that’s not what’s needed.
Superman’s bright red, um…yellow, and blue, are all the colors of, not so much
the American way, as the primary way. Superman representing CMYK in a printed
world. Even though I know differently, I want to call that color palate: Cyan,
Magenta, Yellow, Kryptonite.
The primary palate characters blend with blacK (or K for Key) to create, enable,
a colorful world. As the Justice League’s Watchtower hovers in the interstitial
of orbit, our heroes watch over this fragile sphere in the vast black K of the
universe from a distance. Well, for a little while.
The season began with the Watchtower. Hawk Girl, her name not in common use,
joking to J'onn that the Justice League should rename themselves the Just Us
League, because most of the members are alone. Kal El/Superman, Krypton's last
son. J’onn/Martian Manhunter, Mars’ last son. Wonder Woman/Diana, exiled from
her paradise. Batman/? in his brood. And Hawk Girl/Shayera herself, lost to her
people with no way home. Well, that last one, not so much.
Of them all, I didn't suspect that Hawk Girl had a secret identity. I mean, she
can't blend in. The wings kind of give it away and yet, and yet…she wasn't who
she said she was. Then again, until mid second season, I had no idea she was
mask.. Her self was secret. Her face hidden. Her emotional life buried. A
woman with a mission. And in the end, the love that sways her isn’t love for an
individual, but love for the entire world of individuals that she looked at in
the season premiere. Not Just Us, but Justice stripped of masks and symbols and
everything but the belief that there must be another way.
Well, really that was the episode all over.
The wonderful simplicity of the moment when the character who trusts the least,
names the names behind the masks, and ends by giving his own. And more
importantly, in the face of necessity, Batman lets his friends into his cave
beneath the earth, which is the antithesis to Watchtower. The Watchtower hangs
glittering above, alone in the dark. The cave is the dark, is the vast small
earth itself; as the Hawkmen crouch on the Daily Planet’s globe and impose
their, it’s for your own good, martial law.
The Just Us League. Last sons and exiles.
Men on a roof throwing rocks at enemies they can’t hope to overcome. A
restaurant owner calling to two strangers, “Come in here.” Calmly lying to the
men with wings, who’d use our world for its surface tension, to skip their
I loved the image of the Aesir-esk Thanagarian high council willing to sacrifice
some blue marble on the other side of the universe. Versus Hawk Girl’s
delightful transition from feathered Hawk Girl mask to Lieutenant in military
helmet to exposed face, to Shayera. Yes, of course, the helmet mask was her
Lorder, A Better World face. Hard and curved and willing to abridge a few
civil liberties and imprison her erstwhile friends, if it’s for some greater
good. It is some greater good right?
Well, not so much. Time and distance and wounds mean that she no longer knows
her fiancée. What lay beneath her lover’s mask was a tracery of scars that she
couldn’t understand. When her long ago lover went to lift her mask in a moment
of emotional honesty, they were interrupted by the mission. Masks stayed in
place until it is no longer possible for Shayera to say, “I was under orders.”
There are some costs that are too high. She cannot sacrifice one people to save
It’s a choice that first strips her mask, then her symbol, her costume, and
eventually causes her to leave her place in the Justice League. Revealing a
woman, vulnerable, sipping her cup of tea in t-shirt, jeans, and some very nice
2” heel boots. Feeling small and wanting another inch of height. Well,
understandable. Rather than tear the League of Heroes apart, she chooses
Exile. Just Us. Last sons of dead worlds and exiles from distant places. The
masks come off and they are…well, they are who they were all along.
The face that J'onn chooses to wear is the face that he wore when he went to
Smallville for Christmas with Clark. Tall and thin and ordinary. Hardly
threatening at all, except with a camera flash. Or I suppose more technically
that was the costume, the real face was J’onn swinging electrified num chucks.
Anyway, after they have left their costumes behind, Bruce Wayne and Diana choose
to rescue with their powers and abilities. While, Clark saves Wally and GL by
being Clark, runs up and is that annoying reporter, “If you could just answer a
few questions.” Well, it’s how Clark started the episode, protecting an
important conference and covering the story of the conference at the same time.
It’s not about power, it’s about knowing how to apply it.
Men throwing rocks from roofs at Bird men with guns. Batman in space, throwing
the Watchtower at a machine that would consume the world. I do wonder if the
moment that Batman took off his mask, he wasn’t already three steps ahead to the
sacrifice that he might have to make. Of all the characters, the shadow, who is
all human, makes the choice to die for the Earth. The hero who is fueled by the
sun choosing to turn away from the mission to save the individual.
Not to get too Trekkie, but it was a very fine example of the needs of the many
versus the needs of the one. Heroes striving for both Just and Fair.
Standing there, looking at the burning fire in the desert, Superman standing in
his classic pose, Batman crouched on the ground. The ease of their exchange,
“Always have to be the hero.”
“Right back at you.”
Meanwhile, back in the good fight, Diana, the wonderful woman and classic third
in this Trinity, stalks through corridors with a sword. Defeats minions and
gives Shayera mercy, freedom to act, and that final moment of reckoning with
“No Javelin, Watchtower, no Hawk Girl is this the end of the Justice League?”
Don’t worry Flash, the league isn’t Just Us. As next season expands from a
league of a few heroes, to an unlimited palate of a CMYK heroic world.
Description: A family of superheroes attempts blend
in with the population after over active litigation makes heroics illegal.
Alas, poor good Samaritan, we suppressed them well.
Another warm hearted cartoon from the folks at Pixar.
The animation is simply beautiful. The James Bond 60s
sensibility is in every pod shaped tram and villain’s volcano lair perching
The characterization is sharp and funny. Mr. Incredibles’
forced to fit his large body into a tiny cube and cog as a wheel for a giant
insurance company. Denied even the ability to help people within his job, he
fumes. Elasti Girl, a mother now, trying so very, very hard to forget the glory
days. Violet, their daughter, hiding behind her hair and frightened voice and
teen age angst. Dash their son, acting out at high speed with no useful outlet
to his power.
It’s a movie about being yourself. Learning to get support
from your loved ones. Learning to give support to your loved ones.
Plus, it’s wicked funny.