[Some minor SPOILERS AHEAD]
So I was clued in by one of Johanna’s recent posts that there was a new Justice League animated feature that was going to be available exclusively at Target stores, which seemed to come as a surprise to pretty much everybody. According to this interview with the director, there was a desire for a DC superhero cartoon that maybe skewed a little younger than the usual DC Direct films that could be marketed alongside the toylines, and this was the result.
They really want you to know that this is an “original movie,” since it not only tells you so in a blurb directly printed under the title, but this sticker is affixed to the front of the package as well:
And this sticker is slapped on the box too, reminding you about Superman’s 75th anniversary last year:
As for the cartoon itself…it’s entertaining enough, with plenty of superhero versus supervillain action and a simplistic time-travel plot. The Legion of Super-Heroes are involved, kinda sorta, with Dawnstar and Karate Kid as two potential members of that future super-team who find themselves in the present day, trying to prevent Lex Luthor from using Legion villain the Time Trapper to destroy the Justice League. Dawnstar is given, in addition to her traditional super-tracking powers, some kind of magical glowy energy-healing ability that seems to primarily exist to provide a quick ending to the climactic battle of the movie. Karate Kid’s ability to spot structural flaws are given enough of a flourish to be a visually-interesting super power, and his martial arts skills are given a good showcase in a battle with Robin.
The character designs are New 52-inspired, with too many seams and not enough red trunks:
…though Superman doesn’t have that terrible collar, which is a plus. Bizarro does
have red pants in this cartoon, in case you were worried. I should note that Superman’s design, from his costume to his facial features, do fluctuate somewhat throughout the feature, which is a little distracting.
One of the major highlights in the story is when everybody time travels back to Smallville, with the villains attempting to prevent the Kents from rescuing baby Kal-El, and the heroes trying to keep history on track. It’s a very funny, slightly surreal sequence as the good guys and bad guys play keep-away with Baby Kal, who is repeatedly referred to as “Superbaby.” This Silver Age fan approves.
While mostly enjoyable, if slight, there are some minor quibbles with the film, such as Robin’s characterization as a bit of a petulant child (meant to be comic relief, and probably funny to the target (heh) audience, but may grate on old people like you and me). Plus, the Time Trapper’s ultimate gambit, to apparently…wreck stuff around Earth with time vortices, I guess? — doesn’t seem like much of a final battle beyond giving heroes one last action scene to show off their stuff.
One surprising positive: this dude shows up, and though my initial reaction was “oh, no,” he’s actually one of the more entertaining parts of the film:
Yup, that’s the jester-ish Toyman from the ’70s Super Friends
cartoons, redesigned into apparently being some kind of robot-toy-thing himself:
…and a brief shot of a display in a 31st century museum gives us his extremely depressing fate:
The original Toyman of the ’70s cartoons was mostly just annoying. I want to know more about this
Toyman, who is less annoying and more creepy and / or goofy.
Bonus features on this disc include two of the original Super Friends episodes, both involving some kind of time travel, and I haven’t watched them yet because I’m sure I’ve seen them before and therefore they have already stolen away enough of my life.
Overall it’s a fun cartoon, despite some minor issues, and hopefully will lead to more all-ages original animated features based on DC properties. …By which of course I mean “Swamp Thing.”
That’s a dick move right there. And that guy in the yellow shirt…just look at that smug bastard. Kim Luc should just pop him one.
Anyway, Superman happens to be flying by and, having overheard this meeting of the Junior John Birch Society, decides to step in:
And I guess everyone’s learned their lesson, and fast
, because sometime between that first scene and Superman finishing his gentle admonishment of these misguided children, “JLA FAN CLUB” was hastily scrawled on Kim Luc’s shirt.
And yes, Red Tornado is colored yellow. I don’t know, maybe Superman’s telling it wrong and the kids somehow now think a character with “red” in his name is mostly yellow. Also, not revealed by Superman? Every member of the Justice League? Totally Communist. Oh no! An ironic comeuppance for those three character members of the JLA Fan Club from Anytown, U.S.A.
This is from The Secret Origin of the Justice League of America mini-comic that came packaged with some toy or ‘nother in the 1980s…you can read more about it here.
So yes, we sold out of the first issue of Justice League, the vanguard title for DC’s rebootalaunch, and orders have already been placed for the second printing. Had a few new faces come into the shop looking for it, had plenty of our regulars pick it up, and have been receiving calls from out-of-towners trying to track it down as their local suppliers ran dry. That kind of momentum isn’t going to keep up, of course, as media coverage dwindles and first-issue fatigue starts to set in as wave after wave of debuts hits this racks…but at least it shows some interest is there, and that DC’s new publishing initiative isn’t falling flat on its face saleswise from the get-go.
An interesting thing I’ve noted is the number of people asking when those next #1s were due to come out, and how surprised they were when I told them DC would be releasing several #1s every week for the next month. So apparently DC was successful in getting the word out there that there was a new Justice League #1, that there would be more #1s to follow, but not when they were coming? Or perhaps I just had a string of folks who happened to miss that bit of info. Or even more likely, people were still in denial that they have 51 more first issues headed their way. “Tell me it’s not true…it can’t be true!”
About the Justice League itself…well, yeah, as our intro to this new DC Universe continuity, it’s a little underwhelming. Superheroes meet, they fight, we get teased with the supervillain threat, oh hey there’s Superman, and suddenly “to be continued.” All very by-the-numbers, with nothing to intrigue or inspire the imagination. I mean, it looks okay, with Jim Lee turning in a respectable art job on this issue, even if Superman’s new costume continues to appear unnecessarily rejiggered. And I’m calling “no way” on Batman being able to yank Green Lantern’s ring off his hand without GL noticing. I mean, come on.
DC’s other release this week was Flashpoint #5, the conclusion of the whole crossover event hoohar that introduced this new DC Universe. I hadn’t read any of the previous issues of the mini, and the only tie-in minis I read were the Frankenstein series (which seemed to have very little to do with it) and Project Superman (the reasons for which I explained previously). However, having read plenty of superhero comics in my life, I don’t feel like I missed anything by not reading the first four issues of the series. I can pretty safely extrapolate how they got to this point, I think. But anyway, the only reason I did pick up Flashpoint #5 was for the Swamp Thing cameos. …Yeah, I know.
I was discussing DC’s new publishing strategy yesterday with a longtime customer of mine, and he was wondering when DC would switch everything back to the way things were, including continuity, issue numbering, etc. My response was that if things went badly enough that this new strategy clearly wasn’t working, this wouldn’t be the kind of problem that would be solved by reverting to the old issue numbers and the old DCU. As I said on this site before, this whole thing smacks of a “nothing left to lose” decision, that is was either this or “might as well shutter the publishing arm and give our characters to the movie and TV studios so they can make real money with them.” No idea if that’s actually the case, though this article makes it seem like it is.
At the very least, DC’s efforts are generating some activity and discussion among our customers, and that certainly doesn’t hurt. Whether it helps in the long run…well, let’s hope so.
from Justice League of America #141 (April 1977) by Steve Englehart, Dick Dillin & Frank McLaughlin
Your project for the week: you must call someone an “insolent squirrel” at least once. Like your boss. Or your spouse. Try it, it’s fun!*
* Not responsible for resulting job loss or divorce. Will totally take credit if you get punched in the nose, however.