America’s greatest superheroes ever – organised into a single league with one singular goal – stopping crime and terror across the world! Justice League Unlimited teams up DC Comics’ most memorable superheroes under the guidance of the heavy hitters Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and the Martian Manhunter to present a single front against crime and acts of terror across the globe. From super-powered villains from outer space to ordinary human criminals to unstoppable natural disasters, these heroes are responsible for saving very world as we know it.
Justice League Unlimited is a 39 episode long American animated television show that is a direct sequel to the successful Justice League series and is yet another successful entry in DC Comics’ ever expanding, distinctly styled, Animated universe that began so very long ago with the award winning Batman: The Animated Series. Its selling point is the simply humungous cast of featured DC Comics’ heroes, varied enough to satisfy even the hardest of comic book fans as well as its slick animation and solid one-shot stories.
As I mentioned before, the primary heavy hitters of Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and Batman are always present, appearing in basically every single episode, with the Martian Manhunter organising things above from the Justice League space station situated in Earth’s orbit. What makes Justice League interesting though is that the writers are able to draw upon nearly any DC comic book hero (both past and present) that they can think of and that makes for some interesting and diverse stories to be told.
The first season is made up entirely of one-shot episodes as is the tradition in the DC Animated Universe, which is a bit of a pity because it makes the series a little disjointed and feeling a little without purpose. However, the fact that such a wide variety of stories and characters are used throughout the run is a major saving grace. As it is, a team of established DC Animated universe writers are featured and each and every single episode is as strongly written as the next. There is a wide variety of themes and topics explored and with each heroic victory you can’t help but smile and enjoy the ride. Thankfully though a tighter sense of continuity is introduced into the second season and although the stories continue their one-shot format, they do have ramifications for the next episode which gives the second season a far tighter feeling that the first.
Visually, Justice League Unlimited follows the exact same over-simplified, stylised artwork that the original Batman: The Animated Series employed and it is this distinct look that pulls the entire DC Animated universe together. It is simple, a little flat and rather kiddy-like, but it is fantastically effective and great to look at. Of course, with today’s advances in technology, the colouring is as vibrant and fantastic as ever (even if the show leans towards a more flat colouring scheme) and the use of the occasional special effect for the super-powers every now and then is a nice visual touch too. A bit of simplistic CG is employed for the various space stations and aircraft in the show, but this little trick is never over-utilised and therefore doesn’t interfere too badly with the series’ overall design.
Of course, being an animated series means that the show relies heavily on the voice talent used and in this regard Justice League Unlimited certainly does not let one down. All the usual DC Animated universe suspects are present and accounted for, making for a nice tie in with the other shows in the DC universe. Kevin Conroy once again voices Batman, a character with whom his name has now become synonymous with, the established Phil LaMarr handles his Green Lantern duties once more, the voice of Wonder Woman since 2001, Susan Eisenberg, is back, George Newbern reprises his role of Superman and Smallville’s very own Lex Luthor, Michael Rosenbaum handles the duties on Wally West, better known as the flash.
Actually that is quite a nice little touch because the show’s producers manage to surprise you by throwing in an established actor more than once, and during the series’ run you will come across the talents of actors like Jerry O’Connell, Tom Sizemore, Ron Perlman, Dakota Fanning, Michael Ironside, Robert Englund, John Rhys-Davies, Rob Zombie, Eric Roberts and Mark Hamill just to name a few!
Throughout the series the voicing cast does a terrific job and you’ll be hard-pressed to ever find fault with any voice used, always an important element in an animated feature. Of course, it is not just the voices that are important and Justice League Unlimited features quite a few great orchestral arrangements, including its very own (although a little cheesy) victory/hero theme music that gets painfully played at each and every battle turning point.
To sum it all up, if you are a comic book lover, in particular of the DC Comic Book universe, then you are going to love Justice League Unlimited as every fanboy should. To see almost every major and minor character, both hero and villain, ever produced up there on the silver screen is a delight indeed and I will have to admit having tons of fun trying to identify all those characters I’ve encountered in their print form before – and Googling those that I haven’t!
The stories are all well written and the fluid, stylish animation is a treat to behold and honestly, this level of quality in a children’s show is truly amazing and a wonderful indication of what children’s entertainment should be. It is a show that your boys (and maybe girls too) will love and you will probably get as big a kick as them when you sit down to watch it for the first time. Enjoy!