Justice League – The Complete Series
Following previous DVDs of Cartoon Network's Justice League and Justice League Unlimited that offered a few shows and entire seasons, fans can now revel in all 91 episodes with the release of Justice League – The Complete Series.
These aren't your daddy's Super Friends where congenial heroes dealt with easily resolved conflicts and infrequently fought supervillians in programs geared towards young children. No, the Justice League is creatively led by Bruce Timm, the man partially responsible for the acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series and other DC Comics-based television series. Here, the characters have realistic personalities and interactions and the stories are much more complex. During the two seasons on Justice League, the stories took two or three episodes to complete.
The series begins with "Secret Origins" as the team comes together for the first time to repel alien invaders. The line-up is Superman, Batman, Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, and Hawkgirl. Most of the other characters know each other, but they meet Wonder Woman for the first time, whose origin is altered from the comics. As the series progresses, a romantic relationship between her and Batman develops. Rather than the more popular Hal Jordan, John Stewart is the Green Lantern.
Justice League is a comic book fan's dream as so many characters from DC Comics, familiar faces like the Joker to more obscure ones like Sgt. Rock of Easy Company, make an appearance playing pivotal roles in stories or have brief cameos. In "Injustice For All" Lex Luthor forms a group very similar to the Legion of Doom from Super Friends.
Marvel Comics also gets a little love in "The Terror Beyond" which plays like a story from The Defenders with DC characters (Doctor Fate, Aquaman, Solomon Grundy) in the roles of their counterparts (Doctor Strange, Namor the Submariner, Hulk). This episode, based on H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos, is surprisingly powerful for a superhero show as it deals with faith and souls.
When the third season was coming around, Cartoon Network, in a move that makes no sense so it was obviously done by executives with limited creative abilities, asked for the series to rebranded. Timm and his team expanded the roster for Justice League Unlimited, an apropos title as many more DC heroes took part, and they created single-episode stories, although there was also a season-long story arc taking place.
The aspect ratios change between seasons. Season one is full screen, season two is widescreen, and the remainder is Anamorphic. The colors look very good and I didn't notice any flaws in the transfer.
There are many special features spread out across the discs to keep the fans entertained, revealing the inner workings of the series. There are commentary tracks on seven episodes and features on storyboards, plots, character design, voice work, music, and favorite moments. There's an excerpt from Bryan Singer and Kevin Burns' Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman and an all-new feature created for this set "Unlimited Reserve: Exploring the Depths of the DC Universe" where the creators reflect on the stories and casting.
All that's missing are the Static Shock crossover episodes, which occur some time before the end of season two, and the liner notes aren't accurate about what shows are on what discs, but those are minor complaints for this fantastic collection.
Presented in a tin sleeve that showcases the main seven heroes, Justice League – The Complete Series will keep comic fans entertained for hours. It's a smart show that understands and respects both the material and its audience.