Summary: When Aquaman interferes in a military operation to capture Solomon Grundy, the Justice League fear that their ally has gone rogue. However, following a battle with several eldritch, aquatic monstrosities, they suspect that there is more to the situation than they anticipated; a belief that is confirmed following an encounter with Dr. Fate. After an initial misunderstanding the course becomes clear, and the League must team up with Fate, Aquaman, and Grundy in order to prevent the coming of the dread, extra-dimensional being known as Ichthultu.
"Defenders" Roll Call: Dr. Fate, Aquaman, Solomon Grundy, Hawkgirl, Superman, Wonder Woman
Featured Characters: Hawkgirl, Solomon Grundy
Cartoon Network on “The Terror Beyond”: “After Aquaman frees Solomon Grundy, Hawkgirl and the Justice League are convinced that the Lord of Atlantis has gone rogue. But when the trial leads them to the mysterious Dr. Fate, they discover there is more to this strange partnership than meets the eye (courtesy of Cartoon Network).”
Bruce Timm on “The Terror Beyond” (circa 2004): “That’s our backward homage to the Defenders. It was one of those weird things where I had pitched a story that had an odd two-part structure. We wanted to bring Aquaman back, because we really liked the Aquaman episode from the first season, and I was toying with this idea of H.P. Lovecraft—a lot of his ‘Cthulhu Mythos’ deities are water-based. So that gave me a hook, and I thought, ‘It could be interesting if it was a Lovecraftian monster attacking Atlantis and the Justice League helps Aquaman defeat the monster.’ Then I thought, ‘That takes care of the aquatic side of the Lovecraftian theme, but then there’s the sorcerous side of it.’ So the original story was, at the end of Part One, they seemingly defeat the monster, they fly back towards Metropolis, and they get back home and realize that whatever they had done to defeat the monster has unleashed a portal and now there’s a full-scale invasion of our dimension from these Lovecraftian beasties. Part Two would not have [had] Aquaman in it, but would have Dr. Fate, just to keep our guest stars down to a minimum per episode.
“The writers totally did not like the story. They thought the gimmick of it—the fact that it was two seemingly unrelated stories that are connected by a little thread in the cliffhanger—they thought it was a little odd; they just couldn’t see the story. So I kind of gave up on that, but then I mentioned, ‘You know, we’ve got Aquaman here and Dr. Fate; we’ve basically got two-thirds of a DC Comics alternate universe version of the Defenders.’ Little light bulbs started going off over everybody’s heads. I said, ‘All we need now is the DC equivalent of the Hulk.’ Somebody mentioned Grundy and it all went from there. It was a weird, fun thing (courtesy of Modern Masters, Volume Three: Bruce Timm).”
Dwayne McDuffie on the absence of “Silver Surfer” from the “Defenders” line-up: “Well, [Silver Surfer] wasn’t in the original Defenders, he showed up in their second appearance. Hint, hint (courtesy of DwayneMcDuffie.com).”
Bruce Timm on “The Terror Beyond” (circa 2005): “It’s classic comic book team-up structure and it’s corny and old-school. It used to happen in comics all the time: two heroes would show up, would think the other guy was doing something wrong and fight, and then halfway through the story they would realize they were fighting for the same goal, they would team-up and take down the villain. We felt it was something that, in our own way, was a nod to a comic book convention. For better or for worse, it’s just something that’s there and why not have fun with it? As we were plotting the story out, Dwayne McDuffie said, ‘I want to see Wonder Woman and Aquaman going at it. I want to Superman and Grundy to be just beating the crap out of each other for several minutes.
“This was the perfect opportunity to give a pretty good-sized mysterious hint about Hawkgirl’s past. There’s that bit where she’s fighting Dr. Fate, and she realizes that the runes he’s using to cast a spell [are] written in Thanagarian, and she’s like, ‘What do you know about Thanagar?’ It’s sort of a misdirect, because up until that point we’d been making the audience believe that she doesn’t know how to get home, and we think she wants Dr. Fate to tell her how to find her way there. As you find out later in the season, it was really more like, ‘Have you found out my secret? Are you going to blow the whistle on me?’ That was, I thought, a clever misdirect (courtesy of RetroVision CD-ROM Magazine).”
Dwayne McDuffie on “The Terror Beyond”: “I really enjoyed letting people see a different side of her [Hawkgirl] because pretty much all we had seen is that she was very quick to hit things with her big mace. That’s what’s cool about her, but clearly there’s more to her than that, so putting her in a situation where we learn a little bit about her history and we see that her humanity allows her to see the good in others—even in Solomon Grundy—which is not what you would expect. You would expect her to be the first one to smack him with her big mace. It just worked out really well. Great performances from everybody and fantastic music.
“[In addition to not having as much baggage as the Hawkgirl from the comics], I also like the idea of a female member of the team who is absolutely the equal of the others and isn’t apologetic about it and, at the same time, is really female. The vocal performance is incredible, she’s a great-looking character—a person with wings is just a powerful image. There’s a lot of stuff going there that makes me pretty happy (courtesy of RetroVision CD-ROM Magazine).”
Bruce Timm on “Starcrossed” foreshadowing: “In ‘The Terror Beyond,’ she sees what appear to be Thanagarian runes on the floor of Dr. Fate’s ‘cosmic chamber,’ then immediately launches herself at Fate, menacingly shouting, ‘What do you know about Thanagar?! TALK!’
“[It was a] dirty little misdirect trick we pulled there: she was actually worried that Dr. Fate might somehow know about Thanagar, since the runes on his floor were [seemingly] written in Thanagarian; she didn’t want him to blow her cover. Interesting to speculate how far she would have gone to keep her spy-mission secret safe; good thing the squid-god showed up in time to distract everyone’s attention, eh? Maybe we would have found out what that bell on his head sounds like (courtesy of Toon Zone).”
Dwayne McDuffie on the Wonder Woman / Aquaman fight: “The Aquaman fight [in ‘The Terror Beyond’] was shortened in editing. Wonder Woman kicked Aquaman’s ass until he tricked her near the water and knocked the wind out of her as he pulled her down. If they weren’t near the ocean, Aquaman would still be looking for his ass (courtesy of DwayneMcDuffie.com).”
Scott Rummell on Aquaman in “The Terror Beyond”: “Once again, we don’t know if Aquaman is good or not so good. Is he a team player, or is he not a team player? Of all the voices I’ve done, Aquaman is the one that people come up to me and say, ‘Do that one’ (courtesy of [website name removed]).”
"Bird Nose helps Grundy? But Bird Nose and her friends hate Grundy."
"Grundy help Bird Nose, Bird Nose help Grundy, okay? Excuse me, Hawkgirl smash."
An exchange between Solomon Grundy and Hawkgirl from "The Terror Beyond"
Commentary coming soon!
Images courtesy of The Bruce Timm Gallery and The World's Finest. The Defenders courtesy of Marvel Comics.
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