Justice League Unlimited
Carving tunnels off the main eruption, to stop it before it starts. Supes
could just as easily set it off, so he has to go slow.
“Fine. Why don’t we walk into the light together? I’m sure the sure the American
people will be just as interested in your activities as mine. Secret weapons,
illegal cloning experiments, bypassing Congress.”
“If we present a threat! You’ve got a space station floating over our heads with
a laser pointing down. In another dimension, seven of you overthrew the
government and assassinated the president. We’re the good guys protecting our
country from a very real threat. You.”
It’s not that they’re both right, it’s…
“I don’t care get it done.” “Sent him off to the Phantom Zone didn’t you?” “How
fast can you get the second team up and running.” “And now we’ve got Calibak
locked up on Earth where neither side can use him.” “Sanction Doomsday.” “And
would you have us help three people at the expense of billions more.”
It’s a far cry from the league at the beginning of S2 shocked at the suggestion
that they wouldn’t help save Apocalypse.
In Ultimatum, there’s a scene where the Justice League members of the episode
are sitting around a round table. I didn’t think anything of it. I mean, for all
I know it’s the break room. But this time, that table was a high council. The
original members of the JL sitting at their round table where none is greater
than the other. Even Hawk Girl recently returned to the fold. Face bare and
The cabal of Cadmus sitting around their round table where none is greater than
the other. Cadmus. Seeking sisters that cannot be found. Sewing dragon’s teeth
to populate their cities. It’s interesting that only one of the conspirators was
new. Characters seeded over multiple series into giants. Until they all turn to
look at their warthog generating conspirator.
And the JL all turn and look at Flash. “Let’s put a pin in that theory to
explore another time.” I’d wonder if Flash realizes the path he’s already
sprinting down, but we are talking Flash here.
The problem isn’t sitting in judgment on yet another Superman clone. Or locking
up Calibak. Or refusing to help people asking for help because it doesn’t suit
your goals. Or an increasingly isolationist feel to the Just Us League, even as
they expand to include more members.
The problem is a lack of Covenant.
Every member of Justice League from Batman (I made a promise on the grave of my
parents to rid this city of the evil that took their lives. By day, I am Bruce
Wayne, billionaire philanthropist. At night, criminals, a cowardly and
superstitious lot, call me Batman) to fame seeking Booster Gold is a vigilante.
Green Lantern may be a member of the Green Lantern Core, but that agency
certainly wasn’t/isn’t designated by Earth locals. It’s certainly a good thing
that Diana ran away from home, that Clark chooses to uses his ability so, but
….none of them are subject to any sort of review process.
They receive accolades from the public. Except when they don’t. And those
detractors are not all Livewire shocks.
“heroes people can trust, depend on. They don’t put themselves above us mere
mortals the way some heroes do.”
“Not everyone’s independently wealthy.” “I’ve seen the Federal budget.”
Doomsday, cloned from Superman and tortured to hate Superman. When I consider
what fear made that kindly scientist into that cold figure at the table. The
anger that could bend steal, clone a teenage girl hero with her white gloves.
“I’ll just have to try harder.” When I consider the anger at another world
threatened. I don’t think it’s coincidence that Jonn wears the same face in
Starcrossed as in the Christmas episode. The amount of rage it took to force his
way into another’s mind and leave it empty and shuddering in the dirt.
There is an implicit promise in the minds of the Justice League members to
defend Earth from the Other. To protect Justice. Peace. Life. Just as there is
an implicit promise in the minds of the Cadmus team to defend humanity from the
There’s a problem with that. With that kind of promise it’s easy to change the
rules, because your promise is whatever you say it is. Because you never
actually talked with the people you’ve promised.
By contrast, a covenant is when a promise is made within a relationship. Open,
explicit, defined, communicated.
The curious thing about Lex Luthor running for President is that his cards are
all on the table. He was a criminal. He went to prison. Now he’s out. He’s
selfish. He’s done enormous good. He wants to see how it all ends. It remains to
be seen if he has more secrets, but I don’t think the secret is Cadmus for all
its comic pedigree. This Lex chose not to shoot Superman when he could have. For
this Lex anything is possible.
The arc is not really about humans versus meta. It’s about connection. Trust.
Two of the Trinity leaving the third to brood in the splintered dark. Like he
needs help with brooding. Although that glance makes me think in the end it will
be Diana who makes the connection.
At a guess this is where everything hinges. Again. Where JL headquarters grounds
to Earth. Where Batman pulls away from his friends. And pulls away and away.
Broods in his mansion alone.
Superman sitting in supplication, as the lava flows, waiting to be consumed.
Batman washed by bullet train tidal wave. Wonder Woman swooping in to blur a
hero into the sky.
Ultimately, I think they’re going to need to make Covenant not just with each
other, but with the ones they protect. Open. Reciprocal. But we’ll see.
This is just the start of the season.
On one level, a shallow fun little romp in the sand.
And here I turn back to the beginning somewhat. What pleases me, I like to
analyze. While certainly Dante is deeper than a Harlequin (Mills and Boon to you
over the ponders), it seems there is always meaning that can be squeezed because
the meaning comes from our bloody heartfelt, meaningful selves.
The ties that bind. When did JLU become Pilgrim’s Progress?
Heart sits waiting to be acknowledged. Youth is tired of being ignored. He was
one of the original 7. The Magnificent 7. The JL before it became unlimited and
hard to tell just who is in the League. He plays at meaningless games with a
character that in this series is comic relief. Elastic, plastic, bitter.
In wanders the Free. Of course we don’t know how he escapes. He isn’t a man.
He’s a mask with startling contrast eyes. He’s what was small and little and
constantly striving. Hope. He is an idea.
He’s come to the JL because little father has been taken.
Two father’s in this story. Well, three, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
Darkside, who is gone. His statue lies shattered on the ground. In pieces as a
result of his quest to live forever. Everyone trained by Granny Goodness as step
brothers. Children of the dark side. Crattered, pitted, glowing eyes and gone.
The little snapping father. Weak where Darkside was strong. Small. Ready to be
sliced by the un-mother figure. Granny Goodness.
Then too that last absent father figure. The one that’s not only super fast, but
super strong. The hero everyone wants. The last son of a dead world. Or perhaps
better to say other son figure. Since the events that caused Darkside’s
disappearance arose from that final Superman episode where Kal-el was led to
think of Darkside as father, Granny Goodness as mother, earth as just a new
But they are all gone. Whatever.
Youth and age clash. Old mind wants to let enemies growl and fight one another.
Keep each other weak and Earth safe. It’s a far cry from the attitude at the
beginning of S2 JL. Young flashing heart has other ideas.
And so we go. Through mazes and cake. The heart spins, gathers the fire up and
walls fall. Free Hope swims in the water and emerges…well he emerges.
However for the father figure to be rescued from the steel slice, Mind and Heart
must work together. Mind guiding. Heart racing pumping pulse ahead.
In the end, Heart wants to be the Green one. To have the longer reach.
Respected. Mind wants to be himself, the one that wears his own color if not
The ties that bind us. Family. The ones we choose and the ones that choose us.
Responsibilities to country and place and safety. The ties to other human
beings. The shape of Flash’s eyes when Free talks about the only father he’s
ever known. The bindings we ourselves choose when we give up hope. Whap, whap,
whap goes the red hand and the manacles fall. Frozen and under a falling train.
Spring free. Green. Oh, ye of little faith. Hope. Love.
Justice League, Then and now, now and again.
To begin, how great was that to hear Jayne the hero of Canton shooting his
shotgun, surely named Vera, at our heroes sides.
This episode was nothing so much as a mobius. We begin with a garage filled with
treasure whose value is in the perspective. We begin with a relationship out of
joint. With turning away in time. Then we twist to Batman and Green Lantern
discussing relationships. Love that has been left behind. Love that won't come
And in the background, we see the past continue to affect the present. Diana's
inability to forgive Shayera's betrayal. Hawkgirl in her black and white, her
face open without its masks. Spool forward as the future flies back to steal
Batman's belt of many options. Batman, whose past informs his present to the
degree that he won't
wear a gun under any circumstances. Batman, whose past informs his future. When
his body finally fails him and he faces death, for one moment he'll pick up a
gun. He'll stare down its length at another human being. The sound of that
falling to the ground will be the sound of him putting aside his other self. Of
Batman ceasing to be. It will be the sound of that truely scary old man coming
into unblinking yellow eyes. Who can't believe he was ever so green as to rely
on physical strength to instill fear.
Past. Present. Future. Green Lantern flickers from John to Hal Jordan and back.
Meets the son that represents so much not over in his relationship with Shayera.
These are the slowest, biggest bullets that Wonder Woman has ever seen. This is
the fiercest fight she's ever had with a clown. Watch Wonder Woman fades away as
what killed the dinosaurs. Rather than being a fortress in Metropolis, the
Watchtower was destroyed. This Static
Shock's hair is gray, not black as it was in the Static Shock/Batman Beyond
crossover. Virgil has been worn by his life. Terry torn apart by his. One more
casualty in that old Bruce's tapestry.
"Bruce Wayne meet Bruce Wayne, perhaps you've met?" And perhaps they haven't.
To be honest, one of the harder things in JL/JLU is that Batman Beyond seems to
make less and less sense the more Batman is pulled into not alone. Not lone
knight in the dark, not that he ever was for long. There's always a Robin or a
Batgirl or a…
So, we end on the beginning. The beginning of time represented as a vast hand
with a spiral palm closing its
fist. Or perhaps, in the way of things and time, the creation of the universe as
the act of a vast hand opening to a spiral of possibility.
There are no breaks on this ride of time and for all that Green Lantern hates
time travel, we all do it every day. Time isn't money. It's a continum, but the
clowns of the world respond to the money thing.
So, our heroes find themselves sitting at a table in the Watchtower. Lives
complicated by a future only they know. It's not the cause and effect of
Hereafter. It's messy and tangled. Grown children and living to a bitter
overripe old age. Then again, the alternative is the eternal loop. Frozen in a
moment of bitterness and running away from what once was hope and love.
Solomon Grundy, born on a Monday, was never really a good man. The glitter of
gold drew him to his grave in the fecund swamp soil and magic drew him soulless
out. And yet, the character in JL was not defined by the illiterate rampage of
his un-life, but the leaving of it. Again.
Angry. In pain. No longer even restless seeking his lost soul, not knowing what
he seeks. Instead in WtD, Grundy is the wind at the window. The rumble of the
earth. The sound of things falling apart.
Chaos magic that humbles even Amazo’s vast golden knowledge, until darkness
drives the returning android light years away.
In Dante’s Inferno, while there are many torments, ultimately, the true torment
is to be separate from God’s love/light. Separate. Alone in a crowd in the dark.
And the deeper you go into hell, the more frozen, dark, desperate, howling the
winds become. The sound of Satan’s wings endlessly beating as he traps himself
in a lake of his own frozen tears.
Trapped beneath, inside.
Shayera’s soul is winter still. Betrayer of her people, her world, her fiancée,
her love, her friends. Everything she touches seems to turn to death and loss.
Ash. Frost. Her wings beating, but she does not move.
The lady in the tower. The girl in the rose garden. Roses. Flowers. Blossoms
that bloom in their own sweet scented time.
In the Romance of the Rose, the hero goes to a tower where he seeks to win the
Rose. To have her passively open. To take her sweet fragrance into himself.
Various representations of Virtues and Vices aid and oppose him. And the Rose
sits within its walls and waits.
Shayera is the Rose. Shayera is the hero. Waiting to breath her own possibility,
but trapped in winter. In the dark of night.
We all bring something to the table and everyone one of us is necessary to the
whole. Chaotic pawns and aquatic kings. Brooding knights and fateful bishops.
Queens and castles sliding across the checkered board. Queen me. The Rose, who
used to defeat the Dark Knight, toppling her own pieces without care.
Fate plays strange tricks.
Life plays strange tricks.
Light plays strange tricks.
Osirus, god of the dead, holding his ankh, life. Missing a piece of himself that
all his sister/wife/queen’s searchings cannot return to him. And each night, Ra
journeys into Osirius’ realm. Into the dark. Each night, Ra dies. And each
morning, the sun is reborn to light the world.
To wake the dead.
Redemption. 2nd chances. Believing in friends.
Because we all bring something to the table. Super and friend.
The crack and smash of Grundy flinging Superman, who so loves to save bridges,
who is a bridge, through the supports of a bridge. And the kraken rises from the
depths to hold the fragile steel and stone together. And the hawk girl flies,
barefaced, costumeless, reaching out.
Last season, Shayera left masks behind. Hiding. Truth-untruths. She is no longer
bird nose and Grundy that bad, bad man, is longer there.
And so she goes into the earth. Into the spiraling tunnel to close Grundy’s eyes
to the sparkling light of her mace that disrupts all magic.
So she stands before her accusers. The hungry reporters and the angry mortals.
Turns to face them and accepts their words as her betrayers due. And yet, and
yet. Ah, chica bonita.
The Dark Knight and the Castling Queen may have voted against you, but the Heart
and the Shaper (his third eye long ago opened) voted for you. Love couldn’t
vote. Didn’t go to the tower. It would have been a conflict of interest. But it
didn’t matter, the man whose power flows from the sun believes in second
chances, redemption, and friendship.
Believes we all bring something to the table.
Last season, Shayera flew off into the sunset. This season, she walks into the
sunrise with her friends. The flower turns to the sun. To light.
We all make our own destiny. Lex Luthor grabs his and clings to life so he can
see what happens next. Who indeed could keep Amazo in Fate’s tower. Watching.
Absorbing. Trying to figure out why we’re all here.
Then sometimes destiny is taken from you. Grundy ripping himself from his grave
to seek the boys that would call him. Children that rather then blossom in the
university years, play at dungeons and dragons high school revenge. Don rented
costumes and straddle unspeakable names. Unspeakable. Unknowable. Ancient ones.
Kutulu in R'lyeh lies dead, not sleeping.
Fate is a gamble. The wind howls and hard choices freeze action. But still there
is the rising sun and learning to walk into the morning before you try to fly.
Wake the dead and live.
Ah, chica, cracking the egg, good to have you back.
Resonance occurs when more than one object vibrates in the same frequency. The
delicious of a shared hum.
This episode vibrated along its arc and through the multiplicity of layers that
is the pop culture of heroism.
Where to start. The oldest resonance that I know. And I all scattered and
reacting, what many did I miss. What I did not…the Magma men.
Learning to share the earth. Long, long, ago, in an era same and different from
mine, there was a movielette, part of popular television series, Superman vs.
the Mole Men starring George Reeve. Drillers puncturing that fragile shell the
earth to unleash the strangely glowing Mole Men. Like the Devil in the Dark
episode of Star Trek, the devil isn’t what you expect. Superman resolves the
episode by asking the humans, himself an alien, to accept the different. Saying
that we all have to learn to share our world.
And now Superman stands and calls his own speech corny. Delicious. Superman
calls a speech corny. Superman. His cape fluttering as he shatters his shell of
The Ultimen headquarters. The old Super Friends headquarters on some Teen Titan
ish tower. Black Vulcan and Batman trading lines, old chum.
When I was a child, I spoke as a child and I watched childish shows. I watched
the Hanna Barberra Superfriends. All these characters some half remembered
shadow figures on a stage. When I was a child, I laughed and watched strange
When I became an adult, the things of childhood took on new reflection.
The Wonder Twins with their unwonderous actions. Form of, oh, stop being a
bucket of water. Ah, a tidal wave. The sheer force of liquid. Rain down the
heavens. Open the flood. Your sister can play raven and dove. Panther. Elf.
Ah, Giganta in an episode about people manipulated from what they were. This
universe’s Bizzaro in a story about clones. The clone of Superman that didn’t
quite flow right. Zig zag wrong, help break boyfriend out.
Ah, Cadmus. The ancient antithetical to Star Labs. And yet. And yet. Dr.
Hamilton is both.
Power and power. Batman’s are bigger than hers and yet, rich boy, don’t delve
too deep. This wondrous society of loose cannons in the heavens. We’ve proved
that watch towers can fall. Who watches the watchers of the watchmen.
The Question quirks and the clones float in their created memories, never to
wake, their purpose broken in children’s need for identity. The one year old
Samurai only ever wanted to be a hero. Someone planted that Superman was his
hero. Someone planted that he was to be loyal to his government. But wild cards
break free and mad men gamble in Vegas.
A conspiracy so large his superiors are small fish. And those fish are very
large indeed, swimming prehistoric in water. To be a dinosaur. To be water, the
stuff of life. Big stuff indeed.
And yet, Aquaman, king of the sea. A king, whose realm lies vulnerable to the
world above the waves.
Secret identities are meaningless, rich boy. The shadows know the shadow man’s
secrets and the heroes know only a name. Cadmus.
It takes money to be a hero and not everyone is independently wealthy.
Power. Who has it. How it’s used. The children who freeze the Magma men all
unknowing of what they want. The JL who want to communicate.
The ultimatum between the two. Ultimate. The highest the finest. The best.
Clones in an endless stream.
The runaway Apache Chief, gone to spend those last few breaths in the society
that he wants. Not in shadows, but above the clouds.
The lines are drawn and I wonder, what role President Luthor to be will play in
all of this. At what point will Justice League headquarters finally come to
earth. Not on a tower, but on a bit of island in a bay.
No hero an island, but one of a volcanic island chain.