Summary: Returning home from a mission in deep space, the Justice League discovers that, in their absence, the Earth has been transformed into a fascist empire ruled by a despot named Vandal Savage. Upon discovering that he rose to power by using time travel to supply both weapons and information to a younger version of himself—who then overthrew Adolph Hitler and assumed command of the Axis powers during World War II—the League travels back in time to that era to correct the time stream. While in the past, the team gets separated, and they each must team up with that era's heroes if they are to stop Savage from carrying out his master plan: an invasion of the United States.
JL Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, J’onn J’onzz, Hawkgirl
Featured Characters: Wonder Woman, Green Lantern
Villain: Vandal Savage (WWII Era)Supporting Villain: Vandal Savage (Modern Era)
Cartoon Network on “The Savage Time”: “When the Justice League returns from a mission in space, they find that the world has changed, and that it is now ruled by a ruthless, oppressive dictator named Vandal Savage. To restore life as they know it, they must travel back in time and team up with Sgt. Rock and the Blackhawks to re-fight World War II" (courtesy of Cartoon Network).
Rich Fogel on "The Savage
Time": “We initially wanted
to do 'The Savage Time' because it gave us an opportunity to put characters
like Superman and Wonder Woman back into World War II, the period where they
first appeared in print—we were inspired by those Golden Age covers of
Superman tossing tanks and Wonder Woman roping Nazi spies.
We also thought this would be a great chance to animate Sgt. Rock and
Easy Company and the Blackhawks. [However], as the story
grew, it really took on epic proportions. Each
of our main heroes has an important arc or character moment, and the action is
jam-packed. I'm glad Cartoon Network is showing this one as a movie
because I think there would be riots if we left fans hanging.
“When we storyboarded the complex aerial action sequences we were really nervous about whether or not we were over-taxing our overseas animation studios—we even sent them model airplanes for reference. But they came through with flying colors and exceeded our expectations. These sequences are breathtaking. Be sure to listen for the rousing Blackhawk theme music; I was humming it for days afterwards."Stan Berkowitz wrote the script and Butch Lukic and Dan Riba teamed up to direct it. [...] Butch [Lukic], particularly, is a big fan of Sgt. Rock, and he went all out to ensure that the war settings felt authentic. The aerial fight scenes are breathtaking, with the Justice League taking on the entire Luftwaffe [German Air Force]. Believe me, this one huge [episode], packed with good old-fashioned action, heroism, and, hopefully, more than a few surprises. [...] We are very proud of this episode and think that it ends our first season on a high note. We hope you'll agree" (courtesy of Toon Zone).
Bruce Timm on "The Savage Time" (circa 2002): “I've always loved that whole 'Superheroes Fight the Axis' sub-genre, going all the way back to the very beginning of superhero comics, up through books like The Invaders, All-Star Squadron, and that amazing Superman vs. Wonder Woman one-shot (one of the absolute best 'Treasury'-sized comics ever, well worth tracking down). And I've long had a soft spot for the Blackhawks and Sgt. Rock, so this was a special treat for me, as well as for most of the crew.
“As I've mentioned before—for scheduling purposes—we had to split the show between our two directors, and it worked out perfectly: Dan Riba is a huge Serial / Golden Age comics fan and Butch Lukic is a major WWII buff, so they both poured their hearts and souls into this one. Butch is so into Sgt. Rock that he even story-boarded all the 'Easy Co.' scenes in Dan's show! And Dan went so far as to buy and build a Grumann Skyrocket model kit for the animation team at Koko to use as reference. All this extra effort paid off: the WWII battle scenes are pretty damn spectacular across the board, if I do say so myself, definitely some of the most ambitious action set-pieces we've ever attempted. The sheer amount of 'pencil mileage' in this one is staggering. We all breathed humongous sighs of relief when the show came back from overseas! It could have been a disaster, but the gang at Koko also went that extra mile and did just a superb job.
"I mean, everybody put 110% into this show: all three of our composers each did some of their all-time best work. I especially get an enormous kick out of hearing Lolita Ritmanis' 'Blackhawk' theme during that dogfight in Part Two! Long-time fans know that there actually was a 'Blackhawk Theme' that they used to sing as they roared into battle, and it was even recorded back in the day as a single. The music and lyrics were recently reprinted in DC's magnificent Blackhawk Archives hardback, for those interested. We couldn't afford to use the original song, but we made sure that the 'new' theme would work with the old lyrics, so you can actually sing along as the Blackhawks kick Nazi butt: 'Hawk-aaa, we are the Blackhawks! Hawk-aaa, we're on the wing...! [In addition], Rob Hargreaves' sound effects are the icing on the cake—an incredibly elaborate feature film-quality sound-design. I can't wait for this baby to come out on DVD!
“Story-wise, I don't want to give too much away, but there are three major character arcs running through this story [that] focus primarily on Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, J'onn, and Wonder Woman. Batman and Superman are prominently featured as well, but, if anything, it's Diana's story more than anything else. As you know, the story was originally intended to be our whopper season finale, but it works just as well as a "Season One-and-a-Half" relaunch premiere episode. Fortunately, there are no continuity-busters in this one as in 'Injustice For All,' so the re-shuffling does no violence to the overall scheme of things.
“Our vocal cast was terrific […] Robert Picardo as the icy cool Blackhawk, Patrick Duffy as the square-jawed, All-American Steve Trevor; and Fred Dyer as the tough-as-nails Sgt. Rock all sound just right. And amongst our 'regulars,' I have to single out Susan Eisenberg—she totally sells the 'love story' elements of the show, easily one of her best performances in the series to date!" (courtesy of Toon Zone).
Bruce Timm on “The Savage Time” (circa 2004): “’Savage Time’ is a really good show, but there’s still a little bit of a blandness in the dialogue, I think. There’s a reliance on clichés just to get the story going. What you tend to do [when you write a script] is write a first draft that will have a certain number of clichés as placeholder dialogue so that you can tell the story, then you take a second pass at it and say, ‘Okay, how do we put a spin on this dialogue so that it flows better or sounds a bit fresher?’ and rewrite it so that even if what they’re actually saying are clichés they’re not saying it in a cliché way.
“But what happened with ‘Savage Time’ was that there were a whole lot of things going on at that time internally. We were really rushing to finish the season, and there were some problems with the first draft and the second draft structurally. That was a very difficult show to beat out properly, because there was a lot happening—we had three or four major plot threads that had to pay off by themselves and then also had to dovetail into the main plot. That ate up the time we had for rewrites. So the final draft of the script was not quite as polished as I would have liked, but it’s still a really good show. The story is ultimately the key—as long as it’s a good story and holds your interest, you can forgive some lapses in logic and lapses in the dialogue" (courtesy of Modern Masters, Volume Three: Bruce Timm).
Bruce Timm on “The Savage Time” (circa 2005): “One of my favorite episodes; it’s definitely the top two or three of Season One, and I think it still holds up even with all the improvements we made in Season Two. We were definitely more comfortable with the show at that point, Superman doesn’t get his ass kicked quite as badly throughout that show, because at that point we realized we had a problem and were taking steps to avoid that. He gets knocked around a bit, but at least we gave him some attitude. That was a show that we talked about doing early on.
“Me being a huge comic book fan, just like the rest of the staff, we talked about doing a time travel story that takes us back to World War II and would give us a chance to play with Blackhawk and Sgt. Rock. It’s just a comic book fanboy’s wet dream for me. Fortunately, I think the story itself was really strong. It gave us the chance to give Wonder Woman a mini-romance; it’s her first kiss from a man. Learning from our mistake from ‘Secret Origins,’ we made sure that the three mini-teams had wildly different parts of the story to play. You had the whole bit where Green Lantern has to go back to being a non-super-powered soldier by hanging out with Sgt. Rock and the gang; J’onn J’onzz has the espionage story, Hawkgirl and Superman and Flash get to team up with the Blackhawks and do the air war bit, and Wonder Woman has her ground-level running through the fortress with Steve Trevor. It was neat having those three or four distinct storylines go off in their own direction and then dovetail at the end. That worked really, really well. It was just fun as hell" (courtesy of RetroVision CD-ROM Magazine).
Butch Lukic on “The Savage Time”: “Savage came in when World War II was in full force and [he] took over. He put Hitler aside, froze him, took the Reich and molded it to his satisfaction. We didn’t have to show swastikas and things like that.
“For me, the whole purpose of doing this episode was putting Sgt. Rock and Easy Company in there. Rock was the only one who would up being written in, and the rest I kind of sprinkled in" (courtesy of ToyFare Magazine).
Dwayne McDuffie on “The Savage Time”: “Actually, ‘The Savage Time’ did alter history. In JLU continuity, Vandal Savage ran Nazi Germany for a year or two, displacing Hitler until Savage’s 'death,' whereupon Hitler retook control. Everyone on Earth DCAU knows this as history" (courtesy of DwayneMcDuffie.com).
DarkLantern on Justice League’s timeline: “Wonder Woman’s comment that the League has known Batman ‘for years’ means [that] a few years have passed between ‘Secret Origins’ and ‘The Savage Time’—understandable, since ‘eight months’ have passed between ‘Secret Origins’ and ‘Paradise Lost’" (courtesy of Toon Zone).
Screen Grabs from "The Savage Time"
The Savage Time Image #1 | The Savage Time Image #2
The Savage Time Image #3
Commentary coming soon!
Images courtesy of Bat313, Cartoon Network, and Toon Zone.
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