Summary: When Solomon Grundy is dragged back to the mortal plane due to a magickal incantation gone awry, he is now nothing more than a vessel of rage fueled by chaos magick. The Justice League, Dr. Fate, and AMAZO prove ineffective in stopping the beast, but Shayera Hol—who has forsaken her Hawkgirl identity out of shame—may have what it takes to grant her old friend the peace that he seeks.
JL Mission Roll Call: Superman, Green Lantern, Shayera Hol, Aquaman, Dr. Fate, Vixen
Featured Character: Shayera Hol
Villain: Solomon Grundy
Cartoon Network on “Wake the Dead”: “When Solomon Grundy rises from the grave, an old friend must come out of hiding and team up with the League once more (courtesy of The World’s Finest).”
Bruce Timm on voicing Solomon Grundy in “Wake
the Dead”: “Anyhow, what
happened was this: Mark [Hamill] was
“Funny thing: when I covered Grundy’s looping in ‘The Terror Beyond,’ it was because Mark was getting over a severe sore throat, and the Grundy roars were killing him. Wouldn’t you know, when we did the ‘Wake the Dead’ looping I had walking pneumonia, and after an hour of primal Grundy screaming I could barely talk. And, for the record, yes, my voice was electronically pitched way deeper, by about 20% (same as when Mark does Grundy; courtesy of Toon Zone).”
Bruce Timm on the death of Solomon Grundy: “We normally like to keep our dead guys dead, and we really […] no intention of ever bringing ‘Grondy’ (personally, I love how Oded [Fehr, the voice actor for Dr. Fate] pronounces his name!) back from the grave. We did it this one time because a) we thought it would be a kickass way to end Shayera’s exile, and b) it brings him back in a way that doesn’t in any way render his death in ‘The Terror Beyond’ meaningless. I can’t see any good reason to ever bring him back again so, seriously, this dirt-nap’s stickin’.
“Also […] if you’re thinking we (and Shayera) are pulling a fake-out, that she didn’t kill him for some reason, the staging, the music, her facial expression, everything says otherwise. And why wouldn’t she kill him, anyway? Not only is he extremely dangerous in his current incarnation, but he’s also suffering. Clearly, killing’s the best thing for him.
“Who knew [that ‘Wake the Dead’] would spark such a ‘euthanasia: good or bad?’ debate! Last thing in the world I expected, that’s for dang sure. The way we see it: Grundy was […] basically an empty shell pulled from, well, heaven, I guess, against his will. Think of his non-stop roaring as translating to, ‘DAMMIT! I WAS AT PEACE, RE-UNITED WITH MY SOUL AT LONG LAST, BUT NOW I’M BACK IN THIS SODDING MONSTER BODY! KILL ME! KILL ME NOW!!’ Maybe […] we didn’t get that point across properly (though lotsa people here seem to have gotten it). Blame it one me, if you like; possibly Mark Hamill coulda sold it with more emotion-packed grunting and screaming.
“The ‘Old Yeller’ comparison doesn’t quite match up exactly. We toyed with the idea of him still ‘Ggrrr’-ing right up until the moment she whacked him, but thought the silent bowing of his head would be more poignant (I still think it was the right choice). Anyhow, […] he was allowing her to kill him; to end his misery…it’s what he wanted all along. But, really, the ‘Old Yeller’ comparison does work in this way: Shayera was—to all intents and purposes—putting down a very sick dog. Period.
“And now, just to throw some more gasoline on the fire, I have to say the whole ‘heroes should never ever kill’ rule just doesn’t sit well with me. I think it’s a decent rule in theory, and certainly I think we need to honor it for the most part for the sake of the younger members of our audience, but say a bad guy’s got a knife at an innocent victim’s throat. A cop draws his gun, points it at [the] perp, tells [the] perp to drop his weapon. [The] perp not only doesn’t drop the knife, he starts to slash at the victim. If the cop doesn’t shoot the bad guy at that point, he’s not doing his job, as far as I’m concerned.
“Now, obviously that’s an extreme example, and not really applicable to the fantasy world of JLU. And I’m not saying [that the Justice League] should be issued a carte blanche ‘license to kill’ (and trust me, they won’t), but I think in extraordinary circumstances, use of deadly force could conceivably be justified. I didn’t have a problem with them roasting the Invaders in ‘Secret Origins,’ for instance, and blowing up all them Luftwaffe pilots, to halt their slaughter of the allied troops [in ‘The Savage Time’]? Okay by me (courtesy of Toon Zone).”
Dwayne McDuffie on the death of Solomon Grundy: “J’onn couldn’t have gone into Grundy’s mind—that version of Grundy didn’t have a mind or a soul. Dr. Fate examined him mystically and pronounced, ‘I’m sorry. I sense nothing of the Grundy we know within that shell. He is nothing but rage.’ Fate meant nothing quite literally.
“Grundy wasn’t alive to kill; there was no soul there to save. Shayera disrupted an obscene spell that reanimated the ‘lifeless’ corpse of a friend. While she has killed before, she didn’t this time. The League understood what had to be done and allowed her to do it. If they had believed there to be any spark of life in Grundy, they would have fought to preserve it, just as Superman did in ‘The Terror Beyond’ (courtesy of Toon Zone).”
Dwayne McDuffie on AMAZO in “Wake the Dead”: “AMAZO had no way of knowing about Solomon Grundy’s vulnerability. He did know that Grundy was draining his powers and becoming stronger with every second AMAZO remained near him, so he withdrew from the fight.
“AMAZO can turn into Nth Metal, but since he left before Dr. Fate figured it out, he had no way of knowing—among all of his many abilities—that Nth Metal would hurt Solomon Grundy, especially considering he had just hit Grundy with a much more powerful attack that only served to make him stronger (courtesy of Toon Zone).”
Bruce Timm on “Wake the Dead”: “We just wanted to fill up the kids’ dorm room [from the opening sequence] with geek stuff. There’s a Swamp Thing poster on the wall. There’s a statue that looks like Hellboy; the statue is not specifically Hellboy, but it’s Hellboy-like (courtesy of ToyFare Magazine).”
Dwayne McDuffie on Aquaman and chess: “Aquaman put Shayera [Hol] in check twice. The second time she resigned even though she could have escaped. That’s what set Aquaman off: she gave up (courtesy of DwayneMcDuffie.com).”
Commentary coming soon!
Image courtesy of The
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