Saturday, May 13, 2006

TV: Justice League Unlimited

Tonight was the season -- and series -- finale of Justice League Unlimited, and it was tremendous. A great end to the best superhero cartoon series ever -- in fact, one of the best animated shows of any kind, period.

I've talked about JLU once or twice before -- okay, I've mentioned it more like a dozen times, including my second ever entry at this blog. And I've made a special habit of commenting on the appearances -- and notable absences -- of my favorite character, the Flash. In fact, looking at all those entries one after another (including one on my favorite episodes of the entire series), I'm worried I might have a crush on the Flash.

Over on the AV Club blog, Keith Phipps notes that while every media outlet in the country is talking about several long-running TV shows coming to an end this season, almost nobody is talking about JLU. Which is a shame, but only to be expected. Cartoons are for kids, right? And kiddie shows are beneath notice. It just so happens that this kiddie show was smarter, funnier, and infinitely more exciting that the majority of grown-up programming (once again, I'm talking about you, Freddie. I seriously hate you so much).

Keith says it all about the series as a whole, and he says it much better than I could have. So I'll stick with taking a look at this last episode in the typical crass Tom the Dog style. These are the "Holy shit!" and "Fuck yeah!" moments in the JLU finale. (Dave Campbell hasn't copyrighted the term "Fuck yeah!" yet, has he?)

--Batman: "Boom Tubes." Superman: "He's right! Can you hear it? Like thunder." Superman's scared? Holy shit!

--Superman, when Batman suggests the heroes work with the villains: "Oh, come on! It's Lex flippin' Luthor!" Fuck yeah!

--The various heroes, from the Atom to the Question to Hawkman to Fire and Ice, suit up and teleport into battle. Fuck yeah!

--And then the epic world-wide battle begins, with superheroes and supervillains fighting side-by-side, from the Shining Knight and the Vigilante on the Great Wall of China, to Giganta putting the smackdown to a whole row of parademons (is that the right word?) on the Eiffel Tower. Fuck yeah! Special super ultra FUCK YEAH! to the Question, who uses his crappy-ass sedan as a blunt instrument. Oh, hell yes.

--Darkseid to Superman: "I hope you appreciate, Kal-El, that everything that happens from this point is on your head. The skies will rain fire, the oceans will boil, the streets will run red with the blood of billions. Only then, after your last, pitiful hope is extinguished, will I end your life. Let's go." Ho-lee SHIT! Now that is a threat.

--Lex Luthor: "You destroyed Brainiac, and I'm going to make you pay!" Darkseid: "Unlikely." Fuck yeah!

--Darkseid destroys the Daily Planet building, using the giant globe on the roof, and the battered body of Superman, as his demolition tools. Holy shit!

--Hawkgirl takes a spear in the back. Holy shit! Followed by the immediate Fuck yeah! of her Captain America-like partner (someone more comics-knowledgeable among you will have to tell me who that was) decapitates her attacker with the sharp edge of a flying shield. Seriously: Fuck yeah!

--The Martian Manhunter's badass return to the Justice League. The second biggest Fuck yeah! of the episode.

--Batman escapes Darkseid's Omega Beam. Fuck yeah!

--Superman to Darkseid: "I feel like I live in a world made of cardboard. Always taking constant care not to break something. To break someone. Never allowing myself to lose control, even for a moment, or someone could die. But you can take it, can't ya, big man? What we have here is a rare opportunity for me to cut loose, and show you just how powerful I really am." Followed by the biggest, baddest motherfucker of a punch Superman has ever landed. OH! FUCK! YEAH!!! Best moment in the episode, and one of the best moments in the series. If you weren't cheering your head off at this, you're dead inside.

--Just when I'm ready for some more Superman-delivered beatdown, Darkseid unleashes the Agony Matrix. Now with skeleton-illuminating agony. Holy shit!

--Metron: "Only a 12th-level intellect has the slightest hope of surviving what you are about to experience." Luthor: "Then I'm overqualified." Fuck yeah! Followed by the Holy shit! of Luthor actually experiencing what's behind the Source Wall.

--Darkseid pulls a Kryptonite dagger from his costume. "I'm going to carve out your heart and put it on a pike in my throne room." Seriously, that guy knows how to deliver an awesome threat. Holy shit!

--Lex Luthor gives the Anti-Life Equation to Darkseid, apparently destroying them both. That's a Holy shit! AND a Fuck yeah!

--Wonder Woman: "And the adventure continues." Followed by the final shot, the entire League racing into action for one last time. And one last Fuck yeah!

And farewell, to 14 years of excellent superhero animation. There still remains a possibility that this incarnation of the DC animated universe will be continued down the line -- if not in another series, then at least in some direct-to-DVD movies (thanks to Noel Murray's comments on Keith Phipps' post for that info). But if not, this was a thrilling and fitting end to a great run.

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