EPISODES #53 - INITIATION
Voiced by ---
Manufactured by the breakaway republic of Chong-Mai, this nameless, nuclear-powered automaton was designed to defend its nation's borders from invaders. However, due to an error in its programming, the android went on a rampage, bringing it to the attention to the newly-reformed Justice League.
DarkLantern on Brimstone: "[In the comics], Brimstone is comprised of nuclear plasma given form by magnetic fields. The fields are generated by an Apokolyptic computer, the size of a book, which was thrown into a nuclear reactor. The computer also gave Brimstone his intelligence and [the] personality of an angel of death, serving a 'dark and angry god,' [meaning Darkseid]. In Legends, Deadshot took Brimstone out by using a prototype laser rifle designed to penetrate magnetic fields to blast the core, which caused [Brimstone] to disperse into nuclear plasma [...] but that was the comics (courtesy of Toon Zone)."
The first adversary for the reformatted series (seen here rampaging), this unnamed character is an amalgam of Brimstone, a creation of Darkseid who was featured in the Legends crossover event (1986-1987), and the Atomic Skull, an old Superman adversary. In addition, this character, who I will refer to as Brimstone for convenience, also derives inspiration from a surprising, but obvious, source: Godzilla. Reimagined here as a gigantic monstrosity menacing an Asian countryside, Brimstone functions as an allegory for the dangers of atomic energy just as its reptilian forebear does. In addition, the grinding of its metal joints produced a wonderful sound that mimicked Godzilla's trademark roar, and this scene definitely draws parallels to the earlier monster's infamous Tokyo rampages.
Name: General Kwan
Voiced by James Sie
An important military and political figure in the breakaway republic of Chong-Mai, General Kwan met with the Justice League following their arrival on his nation's soil. However, seeking to cover up the nuclear accident, Kwan attempted to get them to leave, despite the danger posed by the nuclear-powered automaton they had unwittingly unleashed.
Like Kasnia, Chong-Mai is a fictional country devised by the creative team to give their story a backdrop without ruffling any international feathers (nations can be offended by how they are treated on television, such as the heat that The Simpsons received following Blame It On Lisa, an episode that poked fun at Brazil). Not much information was given concerning the nation, but much can be interpreted through what little was offered.
For example, based upon dialogue from the episode and a brief shot of a map, it would appear that Chong-Mai is a breakaway republic somewhere on the Chinese / North Korean border (compare here). Also, based on information given by the General during his initial meeting with the League, it would appear that Chong-Mai only recently declared independence:
"My apologies for the fireworks.
Colonel Kim here was just a farmer before the revolution; he doesn’t
know who you are."
Based upon this information, we must assume that this revolution occurred sometime during the original Justice League series, meaning that the nation is only a year or two old. This would explain why they constructed the nuclear-powered robot to defend its borders (the robot was quite fearsome, and capable of taking on large armies with ease), as well as why it wasn't too keen on letting outsiders know about the accident (the government of Chong-Mai wouldn't want China or North Korea to know of its weakness, lest they consider invading to claim the territory). Finally, considering the inherent instability of such an area, this would explain why Chong-Mai would be on the U.S. State Department's no-travel list.
Just before the robbery scene at the supermarket, we see the camera pan past a display of candy bars with names such as Hepzhjy's, Kscksl, Nr. Gnedbor, and Cockies & Creem (seen here). These are all tributes to Hershey candy bars: Hershey's Milk Chocolate, Krackel, Mr. Goodbar, and Cookies & Cream, respectively.
During Green Lantern and J'onn J'onzz's discussion at a bank of computer monitors, headshots of Copperhead, Cheetah, Star Sapphire, and the Shade can be seen on nearby screens (seen here).
In a potentially heart-wrenching scene, Green Lantern, who just received significant injuries at the nuclear cannons of Brimstone, attempted to stop Supergirl from going out to fight it on her own by calling out to her, but accidentally referred to her as Shayera instead of Kara. This is, of course, refers to Shayera Hol—better known as Hawkgirl—with whom he was romantically involved with and who resigned from the Justice League following the events of Starcrossed. This mistake can easily be attributed to his injuries—he may have had a concussion—as Supergirl's "smash-it-until-it-stops-moving" attitude made him, for a brief moment, think he was talking to the similarly-minded Hawkgirl instead.
Justice League members that appear in this episode include the following (in alphabetical order): Aquaman, Atom Smasher, the Atom, Aztek, Batman, Black Canary, Blue Devil, Booster Gold, B'wana Beast, Captain Atom, the Creeper, Crimson Avenger, Crimson Fox, Dr. Fate, Dr. Light, Dr. Mid-Nite, Dove, Elongated Man, Etrigan the Demon, Fire, the Flash, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Gypsy, Hawk, Hourman, Huntress, Ice, Johnny Thunder, J'onn J'onzz, Metamorpho, Mr. Terrific, Nemesis, Obsidian, Orion, the Question, the Ray, Red Tornado, Rocket Red, Sand, the Shining Knight, Stargirl, Starman, Steel (Hank Haywood III), Steel (John Henry Irons), S.T.R.I.P.E., Supergirl, Superman, Thunderbolt, Vibe, Vigilante, Vixen, Waverider, Wildcat, Wonder Woman, and Zatanna.
EPISODES #54 - FOR THE MAN WHO HAS EVERYTHING
Real Name: Kal-El
Voiced by George Newburn
Possessed by the organism known as the Black Mercy, this is how Superman appeared to himself in his dream of a life on Krypton.
For more information, see the Superman entry.
Real Name: Loana
Voiced by Dana Delany
In Superman's Black Mercy-induced dream, Loana was the wife of Kal-El and the mother of his child.
One of the more interesting, but subtler, additions to the Alan Moore-inspired script was the addition of Loana, a woman who is, in essence, a fusion between the two loves of Superman's life: Lana Lang and Lois Lane. Moving away from the original story (where Kal-El's wife was an actress named Lyla and possessed the traits of neither), this character appears to take a cue from another Alan Moore Superman story: "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow" (originally published in Superman #423 [first series] and Action Comics #583), where he confided to Perry White that he could never choose between Lois or Lana because he knew that he would choose Lois, but couldn't bear to break Lana's heart. As a result, here the Black Mercy—a telepathic species—recognized this and created a hybrid of Superman's two loves, as shown by the following:
As you can see, Loana possesses the red hair of Lana Lang, but the violet eyes and facial structure of Lois Lane. In addition, the bangs of Loana's hairstyle are a combination of the looks sported by Lana and Lois from their appearances on Superman, and her name is a fusion of "Lana" and "Lois." Overall, however, it would appear that Lois Lane offers the most contributions, as—in addition to Loana's facial features—the character is also a reporter (of an unspecified, Kryptonian medium) and her voice is supplied by Dana Delany, the voice of Lois Lane. In fact, at first, Loana looked exactly like Lois Lane until her red hair was revealed (see here).
In the end, this hybridized character subtly reveals to the audience that, while not as torn between them as he was in the comics, Superman realizes that both women possess traits that he finds attractive and that he cares for both of them deeply. It's like a scene from the movie Threesome, where the character Eddy looks at his two roommates (one male, one female) and realized, "[...] if Stuart and Alex could have been genetically merged into one person, he or she would have been the love of my life."
Real Name: Van-El
Voiced by Josh Hutcherson
In Superman's Black Mercy-induced dream, Van-El was the son of Kal-El and Loana.
A character from Alan Moore's original story, this version of Van-El possesses his father's black hair, but also his mother's violet eyes and cheekbones. Also, it is worth noting that Van-El's older sister Orna was eliminated from this adaptation, as she only made a small appearance to the original story and would have complicated the Kal-El / Van-El subplot.
Finally, the Kryptonian name "Van" actually predates Alan Moore's story, as it was used by the character Van-Zee, who first appeared in Superman #158 (1963). The character, who was Kal-El's cousin (who, ironically enough, looked identical to the Man of Steel), was a resident of the Bottle City of Kandor and also moonlighted as Nightwing, a superhero who functioned as the "Batman" of the bottled metropolis. It's probable that Alan Moore intended for Van-El to be named in memory of his cousin, as—in the original story—Kandor went missing, as it had been stolen by Brainiac years before.
Real Name: Jor-El
Voiced by Christopher McDonald and Mike Farrell
In Superman's Black Mercy-induced dream, Jor-El's belief that Krypton was doomed turned out to be incorrect, costing him his credibility and his reputation as a scientist. Now, years later, Jor-El is quick to dismiss his son's feeling that maybe he wasn't as wrong as he thought he was.
A significant character in the original story, Jor-El's presence is downplayed here, present more as verisimilitude than as a plot point. Portrayed as unhinged and possibly senile in Alan Moore's version, he's allowed more of his dignity in this adaptation, though the subplot of Jor-El being slightly disappointed in his son's life choices was touched upon ("Oh, so you're a scientist now."). As for his wife Lara, it is unknown what became of her, though in the original story Jor-El made reference to her death, as she died years before due to an illness known as the "Eating Sickness."
Christopher McDonald reprises his role here as Jor-El, which he originally performed in the Superman three-part episode The Last Son of Krypton (this is also the second time that he has performed an older version of a character, as he provided the voice of Superman himself in the Batman Beyond episode The Call). Visually, his appearance is similar to his Superman appearance (albeit older), though it is worth noting that Jor-El's older profile features the pronounced cheekbones that his son possessed in Season One of Justice League (keeping up the visual similarity between father and son, as the younger Jor-El closely resembled his son on the prior show). In addition, in a blink-and-you'll miss-it moment, Mike Farrell briefly reprises his role as Jonathan Kent during this sequence (as Jor-El tells his son and grandson to go up to the roof, his voice shifts to Pa Kent's, further signaling to Superman that all is not what it seemed).
Finally, Jor-El's claim that he made his doomsday predictions when Kal-El was "only a few days old" contradicts what we know from The Last Son of Krypton, where baby Kal-El definitely appeared to be, at most, several months old; able to stand and even made rudimentary speech (seen here). This may be due, however, to the limitations of Superman's memory, as he may either not remember his prior life on Krypton or subconsciously recalls it as being shorter than it really was.
Real Name: Krypto
Voiced by ---
In Superman's Black Mercy-induced dream, Krypto is Van-El's pet and faithful companion. Brought into the family as a way to teach Van-El responsibly, Kal-El nonetheless stepped in a reminder that his son still has much to learn.
Technically this is the fourth Krypto to make an appearance in the DCAU: the Dog of Steel has appeared previously as a robot designed by Karl Rossum in the Batman episode Deep Freeze, as an infant Kal-El's playmate in the Superman episode The Last Son of Krypton, and as a creature from Superman's Alien Zoo that was adopted by Bizarro in the Superman episode Bizarro's World.
Not surprisingly, this version of Krypto resembles the character as he will appear on Krypto the Superdog, an upcoming animated series that will debut on Cartoon Network in Spring 2005 (see here for comparison).
Real Name: Brainiac
Voiced by ???
In Superman's Black Mercy-induced dream, Brainiac is depicted as the beneficial helper that it was designed to be, not as the grim destroyer of worlds that Superman has faced on repeat occasions.
Included in this episode to account for Brainiac, who was portrayed as being a major part of Kryptonian life in The Last Son of Krypton, this household robot appears to derive from the Kryptonian robots that maintain Superman's Fortress of Solitude in the comics and H.E.R.B.I.E. the robot from Marvel Comics' Fantastic Four (both of which can be seen here). Again, this being Superman's dream, Brainiac is portrayed here as an altruistic version of its real world, evil self.
Finally, Corey Burton—the voice of Brainiac—was not present in this episode as the voice of this version of the character. While it is possible that Corey Burton wasn't available or the creative team wasn't able to use him for budgetary reasons, it is also possible that Superman subconsciously changed the computer program's voice simply because—after frequent encounters—he's sick of hearing that voice, and it has no place in his fantasy world.
Real Name: Bruce Wayne
Voiced by Josh Hutcherson
Having freed Superman from the Black Mercy's grip, Batman found himself enraptured by the alien organism himself. Transported back to that fateful night in Crime Alley, he got to briefly watch his father avenge his own death until Wonder Woman broke the spell, resulting in the inevitable tragedy.
Real Name: Thomas Wayne
Voiced by ---
In Batman's Black Mercy-induced dream, Thomas Wayne springs into action, interrupting the gunman's shot and beating him senseless. However, this fantasy was not to last, as the Black Mercy's removal ended the dream in a familiar manner: with his death.
Appearing in flashbacks, hallucinations, and dreams during the original Batman series, this is Thomas Wayne's first appearance on Justice League. In addition, this is his second appearance in an artificially-induced dream sequence, as the Mad Hatter's dream machine brought an older Thomas Wayne into Batman's consciousness in the episode Perchance to Dream (seen here), who was voiced by Kevin Conroy.
Real Name: Martha Wayne
Voiced by ---
In Batman's Black Mercy-induced dream, Martha Wayne was given a brief extension on her life as her husband accosted the gunman and fought for their lives. This was short-lived, however, as the dream ended with his murder before her eyes.
Appearing in flashbacks, hallucinations, and dreams during the original Batman series, this is Martha Wayne's first appearance on Justice League. In addition, this is her second appearance in an artificially-induced dream sequence, as the Mad Hatter's dream machine brought an older Martha Wayne into Batman's consciousness in the episode Perchance to Dream (seen here), who was voiced by Adrienne Barbeau.
Real Name: Unknown / Joe Chill
Voiced by Kevin Conroy
In Batman's Black Mercy-induced dream, the murderer of Bruce Wayne's parents briefly received his comeuppance at the hands of an enraged Thomas Wayne.
Denny O'Neil on Joe Chill (circa 1998): "I get a lot of static for [the story 'Yesterday Gone,' which revealed that Joe Chill—the character traditionally considered to be the killer of Bruce Wayne's parents—was actually innocent of the crime]. I did it for the same reason I do anything: to create a better story. It strengthens the archetype of a guy who is symbolically avenging his parents' murder every time out. It gives him a stronger motivation (courtesy of Wizard Magazine)."
Sometimes referred to as Joe Chill, sometimes as simply a nameless gunman, this is this character's first full appearance in the DCAU. Coincidentally, the character made an appearance two weeks later in Batman Adventures #17, where the character (identified again as Joe Chill), driven to near-madness over the paranoia that Bruce Wayne may someday remember his face and send him to the electric chair, discovers Batman's secret identity and, mistaking it for insanity, falls over the edge of a balcony and plummets to his death.
This episode was inspired and loosely based upon the classic Superman story "For the Man Who Has Everything," which was published in Superman Annual #11.
This episode features the first DCAU appearance of Wonder Woman's famed Invisible Jet, a mainstay of the Wonder Woman mythos. Boasting an exotic design that, fortunately, doesn't leave the pilot visible in an invisible cockpit (the jet appears to possess a cloaking device, rather than be a transparent plane), this model apparently is submersible and may even be suitable for space travel. The Invisible Jet appears again in Hawk and Dove.
DarkLantern on the Invisible Jet: "Even an inborn power like flying can take a lot out of you; a jet is good for long distances. As you may recall, even though Diana can fly, she traveled back to Themyscira in the Javelin-7 in Paradise Lost (courtesy of Toon Zone)."
Bruce Timm on the Invisible Jet: "While it's an obvious nod to traditional Wonder Woman lore, it's an invisible jet, not necessarily the Invisible Jet (and, no, it's not just a cloaked Javelin). There actually is an origin story for it—the currently 'on indefinite hold' Justice League [direct to video] explains where it came from. It's a particularly clever idea of Dwayne [McDuffie's], so I'm not gonna spoil it now, just in case the DTV ever gets back on track (courtesy of Toon Zone)."
Never featured to any large degree on Superman, this is our first good look at Superman's modern-day Fortress of Solitude (Superman's fortress was also featured rather extensively in Part Two of the Batman Beyond episode The Call. Featured prominently here are the Hall of Weapons (seen here), the Alien Zoo (seen here), and the statue of Jor-El and Lara holding aloft a Kryptonian globe (seen here as an ice sculpture; in the comics it was an actual statue). Also, Batman identifying the Hall of Weapons by name implies that he has been there before.
The crux of both versions of the story, the Black Mercy was described briefly in the episode, but a more detailed description can be found in the original comic book. Found in a region of space known as the Tangled Zones, Mongul identified the entity as being a cross between plant and fungus; a symbiote that attaches to a host and, while feeding on the creature's bio-aura, telepathically reads the creature's mind and grants them their heart's desire. In addition, the Black Mercy can be seen in Jor-El's laboratory in Superman's dream sequence (see here), which gave him a moment of déjà vu.
This is the second time Superman has been possessed by an alien life form as, in the Batman Beyond episode The Call, he was possessed by a creature that resembled the entity Starro from the Silver Age pages of Justice League of America.
This is the second time Batman has been under the thrall of a fantasy world as, in the Batman episode Perchance to Dream, he was manipulated by the Mad Hatter's dream machine.
Superman's fantasy differs significantly from the world presented in the comics. In the original story, Krypton was going through a period of political and social upheaval, where crime and drug use was on the rise and people were protesting the use of the Phantom Zone as cruel and unusual punishment. To counteract this period of change, Jor-El, who was now unhinged following years of ill treatment after his claims that Krypton was doomed turned out to be false, founded an organization called the Old Krypton Movement, which was tied to a political extremist group known as the Sword of Rao. Patterned loosely upon the changes occurring in Alan Moore's native Britain in the 1980s, the story featured many disturbing aspects, including the tense relationship between Kal-El and his father and the beating of his cousin Kara by Phantom Zone protesters (in the comics Jor-El was the inventor of the Phantom Zone Projector, making his family a target for violence in this story). This nightmare scenario can be explained by rationalizing Superman's dream being simply for a Krypton that survived, which the Black Mercy faithfully created, warts and all. Even Superman recognized this discrepancy as, when presented with the destroyed Krypton rose at the end, he looked at it for a moment and said, "Perhaps it's for the best." By comparison, the Krypton presented here is positively idyllic: he's happily married, he has a son, and lives a fulfilling life as a farmer on what may or may not be an idealized version of Krypton. In its own way, this change to the story makes sense, as the audience can better understand Superman's loss—unlike the comic book version, this Krypton was worth holding onto (which explains why he was so upset at the end; in the comics he kind of shook it off pretty quickly).
Batman's fantasy, which revolved around his father savagely beating the mugger who killed him for what appears to have been a moment frozen in time, differs significantly from the comic book version (where Thomas Wayne disarms the mugger and he is arrested) and the fantasy world presented in the Batman episode Perchance to Dream (where his parents survived and he was engaged to Selina Kyle). In regards to the latter, the difference in fantasies may have to do with the differences in the delivery system: the Mad Hatter's dream machine was designed to give Batman the perfect life, while the Black Mercy grants the wearer his or her heart's desire. To Batman, these are apparently nonexclusive.
Loana's mention of "Little Zod" is a reference to General Zod, a Phantom Zone criminal and classic Superman villain who is best known for his appearance in the film Superman 2 (where he was played by actor Terrence Stamp, see here). His story arc—escape the Phantom Zone and attempt to conquer Earth—had already been used by fellow Superman villain Jax-Ur, who served as a stand-in for the better-known character in the Superman episode Blast from the Past, so this is merely another case of recycling a well-known name (like Morgan Edge in Secret Society).
Loana and Van-El's references to the "Kandor Skyway" and "Kandor" refer to the Bottle City of Kandor, a Kryptonian city that was stolen from the planet's surface by Brainiac and shrunk to miniature size for its collection in the Silver Age of Comics. It eventually found its way into Superman's possession, and his attempts to restore its still-living Kryptonian inhabitants to normal size became a well-known facet of the Superman Mythos. It has recently been introduced into the Post-Crisis continuity as a miniaturized Kryptonian city, albeit one that was an alien ghetto where non-Kryptonians were banished by the Pure Krypton Cultural Program.
As was the case in the comics, the film that Bruce Wayne's went to see the night of his parent's deaths was The Mark of Zorro (see here), which featured a character that served as an inspiration to the Dark Knight. However, considering that the film was released in 1920 and 1940, that would make the eight year-old Bruce Wayne either 92 or 72 in 2004. A more elegant solution to this would be that the film was simply in re-release.
In a potential animation error, Thomas Wayne's hair is mussed up in one scene fighting the mugger, but it is back to being perfect in the next scene (coincidently, he more closely resembles the adult Bruce Wayne here).
Wonder Woman's gift to Superman is a new breed of rose called the Krypton. This also derives from the original story, except it was Batman's gift to Superman; Wonder Woman's gift was a to-scale model of the Bottle City of Kandor.
Justice League members that appear in this episode include the following (in alphabetical order): Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.
EPISODES #55 - HAWK AND DOVE
EPISODES #56 - FEARFUL SYMMETRY
EPISODES #57 - KIDS' STUFF
EPISODES #58 - THIS LITTLE PIGGY
EPISODES #59 - THE RETURN
EPISODES #60 - THE GREATEST STORY NEVER TOLD
EPISODES #61 - ULTIMATUM
EPISODES #62 - DARK HEART
EPISODES #63 - WAKE THE DEAD
EPISODES #64 - THE ONCE AND FUTURE THING, PART ONE
EPISODES #65 - THE ONCE AND FUTURE THING, PART TWO
Images courtesy of Toon Zone, DC Comics, The University of Texas at Austin, Bird Boy, The World's Finest, the Superman Homepage, Action-Figure and X-Entertainment, General Zod.net, and the New Batman/Superman Adventures Homepage.
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