Blu-ray Review: Justice League – Season One

In Blu-Ray’s by Rebecca WrightLeave a Comment

I’m not going to beat around the bush; Justice League – Season One is a must have for any true superhero fan. Producer Bruce Timm followed Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, and Batman Beyond with Justice League. Previously, DC characters had made appearances on different series– Batman met The Creeper, Superman joined forces with Dr. Fate on his series–What we hadn’t seen before was a large group of superheroes together in an episodic format.
When he took on Justice League, Timm’s goal was twofold: to pay tribute to the original line-up of the Justice League of America while also reflecting modern day racial and cultural diversity. The League members are as follows: Clark Kent / Superman (George Newbern), Bruce Wayne / Batman (Kevin Conroy), Diana / Wonder Woman (Susan Eisenberg), represent the big three. Joining them is the speedy Wally West / The Flash (Michael Rosenbaum), J’onn J’onzz / Martian Manhunter (Carl Lumbly) who has telepathic and shape changing abilities. As part of the effort to create diversity, Aquaman (Scott Rummell) was relegated to recurring character status, in favor of League member Shayera Hol / Hawkgirl (Maria Canals). A fiery police officer from the planet Thanagar, Maria Canals was cast as Hawk Girl because of her Hispanic accent, which the producers felt would make Hawkgirl appear more foreign and alien against her team mates. Rounding out the League was John Stewart / Green Lantern (Phil LaMarr).

justice-league.jpgA lot of credit for the series success has to go to the list of talented actors who provide the voices for each of the characters. Kevin Conroy continues his excellent work as Batman, while it took some getting used to, George Newbern brings his own style to the voice of Batman. He took over for Tim Daly, who had originated the role in Timm’s previous Batman series but had to bow out of Justice League because of another commitment. Michael Rosenbaum, best known as Lex Luthor on Smallville, voices Flash, Clancy Brown returns as Lex Luthor, a part he first played in Superman: The Animated Series. Mark Hamill returns as The Joker and Solomon Grundy. The impressive collection of voice actors also includes: Rene Auberjonois, Powers Boothe, Olivia D’abo, Patrick Duffy, Robert Englund, Neil Patrick Harris, Dennis Haysbert, Jeffrey Jones, Greatest American Hero’s William Katt, Udo Kier, Virginia Madsen, Michael McKean, Robert Picardo, Ron Perlman, John Rhys-Davies, Eric Roberts, Arleen Sorkin, Tom Sizemore, and Kurtwood Smith.
The episodes on the Justice League – Season One BD set are split into two or three different parts, allowing plenty of breathing room for each tale. The BD set itself is twenty-six episodes spread across three discs, plus the special features.
Disc 1:
“Secret Origins 1-3”
This one kicks the series off, as alien invaders accidentally awaken on Mars begin to take over the Earth, Batman and Superman rescue J’onn J’onnz who telepathically recruits Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl, the Flash, and Green Lantern to defeat the invasion. The group decides to form a permanent team, the Justice League.
“In Blackest Night 1 & 2”
John Stewart is put on trial by an army of robotic peacekeepers known as the Manhunters.
“The Enemy Below 1 & 2”
A nuclear submarine is attacked in the Atlantic, forcing the League to come face-to-face with Aquaman and his Atlantean army. Aquaman goes to Metropolis to take his problems up with the various governments of the world. When a mercenary. Deadshot attacks Aquaman, the League steps in. Aquaman discovers that Lord Orm, his own brother, was behind the attack. Orm takes Aquaman and his infant son and places them on a cliff over a vein of molten lava, leaving them to die. In order to save his son, Aquaman must make the terrible sacrifice of severing his own hand.
“Injustice for All 1 & 2”
Dying of radiation poisoning, Lex Luthor puts together is own team of supervillains, The Injustice Gang, in a final attempt to kill Superman.
Disc 2:
“Paradise Lost 1 & 2”
Sorcerer Felix Faust threatens to keep Wonder Woman’s home population transformed into stone if she does not gather artifacts for him. He uses the artifacts to release Hades from Tartarus. The League succeeds in banishing Hades and his minions, but the victory is bittersweet as Diana is exiled from Themyscira for allowing the males of the Justice League to help.
“War World 1 & 2”
Superman is forced into a gladiator-like battle by Mongul, an alien despot, who rules the artificial planet known as War World.
“The Brave and the Bold 1 & 2”
Green Lantern and the Flash uncover a plot by Gorilla Grodd to destroy Gorilla City. Grodd has a device that allows him to control the minds of others. Grodd uses it to force the Flash into stealing radioactive isotopes, and prevents him from remembering this once he awakens. The only protection our heroes have against Grodd’s mind control is a special headband given to Flash and Green Lantern by Solovar, Gorilla City’s chief of security.
“Fury 1 & 2”
A rogue Amazon gathers a group of Luthor’s former henchmen and sets out to kill the world’s male population, who she holds responsible for the death of her family members in a war. ors former henchmen and sets out to kill the world’s male population, who she holds responsible for the death of her family members in a war.
“Legends 1 & 2”
The League is accidentally transported to an alternate world where they meet the Justice Squadron, characters that pay homage to DC’s Golden Age superheroes.
Disc 3:
“A Knight with Shadows 1 & 2”
Jason Blood and his alter-ego Etrigan the Demon, seek the assistance of the Justice League in preventing the Philosopher’s stone from falling into the hands of his ancient enemy, the sorceress Morgaine Le Fey.
“Metamorphosis 1 & 2”
Rex Mason, now working for a shady industrialist, suffers an “accident” arranged by his jealous employer and is transformed into the superhero Metamorpho.
“The Savage Time 1-3”
In the last episode of the season, The Justice League travels back in time to stop supervillain Vandal Savage from taking over the world during World War II. They fight Nazi’s alongside DC Comics’ WWII-era heroes (including Easy Company, the Blackhawks, and Steve Trevor).
Each episode on the Blu-ray edition of Justice League – Season One features a 1080/VC-1 transfer hat presents the original television broadcast aspect ratio of 1.33:1. There has been a lot of debate over Warner Brothers’ decision in the matter–the series creators wanted the series shown in widescreen when it first aired, but executives at the Cartoon Network thought the idea would upset viewers. Reportedly, the widescreen versions of the episodes still exist, but aren’t included on this release.
The episodes as presented look fantastic, especially when compared to the standard DVD version that was released back in 2006. The colors are bold, vibrant and striking. The blacks too, are fresh and eye-catch, lacking the dullness a standard DVD sometimes creates. Short of providing fans with full screen and widescreen versions of the season, Justice League – Season One couldn’t look much better than it does here.
Justice League – Season One has a decent Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track. But in fact, there isn’t much noticeable difference between this audio track and the one provided on the standard DVD release. The real reason to upgrade is the far superior video quality. English subtitles are available for the hearing impaired.
The Blu-ray edition includes all of the special features that were present on the standard DVD released in 2006. However, there is still a lot of good stuff here. The only downside is that all of the video content is presented in standard definition. First up, is a trio of audio commentaries. Bruce Timm, James Tucker, Glen Murkakami, Rich Fogel, and Dan Riba discuss “The Enemy Below,” “Legends,” and “The Savage Time” story arcs. Each provides interesting information for fans.
“Inside Justice League” (10 minutes) is a panel discussion with Timm, Tucker, Fogel, and Riba where they discuss the idea for the series, the challenges in making it happen and the changes that had to be made.
“The First Mission: Never-Before-Seen-Promo” (5 minutes) A low budget short that was put together to sell the idea of Justice League as a show.
“Character Design” (4 minutes) A look behind-the-scenes at the way Timm and his team developed, illustrated, and animated each character.
“The Blueprint for Justice” (7 minutes) A short look at how the creators use storyboards to map out each episode.
The only feature exclusive to the Blu-ray release is a three minute Blackhawk Theme” music video that was shown at Comic Con.