Justice League Action Delivers on Title's Premise in Fun-Sized Shorts

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Justice League Action Season 1 Part 1

JUSTICE LEAGUE ACTION lives up to its name! When I first heard the concept, I was more than a bit skeptical. After all, the bar was set pretty high by the JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED series, and I didn't see how this new idea was going to top it.

And, to be honest, it doesn't. But it also doesn't have to. Yes, it has its heavy dose of comedic moments: Cyborg's obsession with video gaming distracting him from monitor duty; Booster Gold's daily attempts to last longer in the ring with Batman; Superman missing out on a kiss with Wonder Woman because of garlic risotto; and Plastic Man's...well, his very existence.

But there's plenty of action as well. These ten minute shorts jump right into the middle of things, usually with the action underway. There's no huge buildup, no backstory required. The formula is "just add villain and stir." The character roster is just as wide as JLU, usually involving Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman (or all three) joining forces with another Justice League member or two in order to handle the crisis at hand. This allows for a lot of variety in the cast and the stories, and almost all of them have their cool moments. Of this particular collection, my two favorites are "Time Share" and "Trick or Threat." In the former, Batman (KEVIN CONROY) is teamed up with junior Justice League member Blue Beetle (JAKE T. AUSTIN) to capture the villain Chronos, who goes back in time to foil Batman's first case against Carmine Falcone and thus erase Batman from history. It's a great time-travel story but also funny in all the right ways as we see Batman chide Blue Beetle against committing all the rookie mistakes, only to then see the first-time-out Batman making all those same mistakes and be not-so-awesome. And we learn that maybe Batman got to become Batman because of a little unseen help from Blue Beetle. In the latter, House of Mystery caretaker, Cain, introduces the story wherein four trick-or-treaters (dressed as Batman, Zatanna, Doctor Fate and John Constantine) take on a pair of neighborhood bullies and then enter the House of Mystery at the urging of one of the bully's victims. But we learn that the victim is actually Klarion the Witch Boy, and the kids actually are the real Batman, Zatanna (LACEY CHABERT), Doctor Fate and John Constantine (DAMIAN O'HARE), made youthful by a spell to make them easier to trap in the House.

While it's nice to see that the Justice League Dark characters are getting to play on the team, I was a little taken aback by the addition of Swamp Thing as a Justice League member. Sure, he can play a role in the mystical stories, but to have him as a member -- and voiced in such a clearly intoned and bro-friendly voice (by no less than MARK HAMILL) remains an unreconcilable dichotomy to me.

But for the most part, JUSTICE LEAGUE ACTION is just fun -- and packed to the gills with some top-notch stars to provide the voices. CARL REINER portrays The Wizard in the series opener, when Black Adam (GARY COLE...yeah, that'd be great!) takes over the Rock of Eternity. PATTON OSWALT brings life to the obscure DC character Space Cabbie to give Superman a lift when he's pursued by Lobo for the reward on Mister Mind. And who better than STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION'S JOHN DE LANCIE to portray Brainiac, who underestimates the threat level presented by Plastic Man (DANA SNYDER) to his plans to shrink Metropolis?

You also get JERRY O'CONNELL as The Atom, KHARY PAYTON (who else?) as Cyborg, DIEDRICH BADER as Booster Gold, and no less than JAMES WOODS as Superman's arch-nemesis Lex Luthor!

These bite-sized adventures make it easy and fun to binge watch this entire two-disc set. And while it's not the JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED of days gone, it's still a really fun series all on its own.

Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0