Justice Society: World War II Might Be DCAU Getting Back into the Multiverse Business

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Justice Society: World War II

The latest offering from the DC Animated Universe is Justice Society: World War II. From everything I can discern, it is not adapted -- even loosely -- from any particular previously published story, although there are definitely elements lifted from other events and transplanted here.

Despite the title, this is first and foremost a Flash story. Barry Allen (voiced by Matt Bomer) is visiting Metropolis with his girlfriend, Iris West (Ashleigh Lathrop). The intention is that they are getting away from all the "Flashwork" that Central City requires. But responsibility isn't something Barry can turn off, and when sirens grab his attention, he is compelled to run ot the source of the emergency. There he finds Superman (Darren Criss) in heated combat with the villainous android, Brainiac (Darin De Paul). When Brainiac prepares to fire a kryptonite bullet at the Man of Steel, Flash races to grab it out of the air, running so quickly that both he and the bullet disappear... and reappear on a battlefield in France. It takes a while before Barry realizes he must have time-traveled (and space-traveled as well), but he's more bewildered and curious about the super-powered characters he finds himself surrounded by: Wonder Woman (Stana Katic), who instantly distrusts him and believes him to be a Nazi agent; Hawkman (Omid Abtahi); Hourman (Matthew Mercer); Black Canary (Elysia Rotaru); and Jay Garrick (Armen Taylor), who also goes by the name of The Flash. The mystery is that Flash -- the 21st century one -- has never heard of any of them, which demoralizes Black Canary -- even though their missions are kept secret from the world, she wonders what the point is if nobody ever knows about them later.

The so-called Justice Society, led by their military advisor, Steve Trevor (Chris Diamantopoulos), are out to thwart Hitler from obtaining certain objects of magical power. That's a good motivator in a world where magic and super-science are real. But it never really becomes the focus of the story. Instead, the team finds itself transported to the undersea kingdom of Atlantis, where they have their first encounter with Aquaman (Liam McIntyre), who seems to want to offer to help them against the Nazis, but is instead in the thrall of some ever-unnamed villain. Maybe it's the Psycho Pirate. We'll never know, because he doesn't even get a name, let alone a costume. Cue the big fight scene between Wonder Woman and Aquaman, which will have many recalling the confrontation from Flashpoint.

Eventually it gets to be time to send Barry back home -- although not just to his own time and city. Justice Society: World War II looks to be like DC is stepping their toe into the waters of an animated multiverse, and going back to not just the golden age, but the silver age as well. Barry has never heard of heroes banding together before to fight injustice, and it is made clear that this adventure plants the seeds for Barry to help found the coming Justice League of America.

The story has interesting moments, and establishes interesting character dynamics, only a few of which I've discussed. And while I was not enamored of the design for Wonder Woman (and that was mostly just the weird hair style they gave her), the rest of the characters were rendered quite nicely. I'd like to spend more time in this universe, but I really want a story that has a little more cohesion and focus. Justice Society: World War II had a very broad scope and needed to have things dialed back so that it didn't seem like they were just jumping from one mini-disaster to the next; a bit more purposeful direction.

Overall, I'd watch this again, but unless it's the beginning of something new in the DCAU, it will not be one of the more memorable releases.

3.5 / 5.0