In 1992 Bruce Timm set the standard for small screen animation when he helped create Batman: The Animated Series, perhaps the greatest animated series of all time. Timm followed that landmark series with a his own take on the last son of Krypton that sadly failed to make the same kind of impact as it’s predecessor despite being of the same high standard. Once both those shows wrapped up Timm and his team set their sight on expanding the DC Animated universe they had created beyond just the adventures of Batman and Superman. Justice League was the end result. And once again Timm struck gold and gave us another one of the finest animated series ever produced.
Like the comic it was based on Justice League centred on a super-team that was comprised of some of DC Comic’s biggest icons; Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern (John Stewart not Hal Jordan), Martian Manhunter and…err, Hawkgirl (?). After two seasons the show was give a major shake up and morphed into Justice League Unlimited and against all odds actually got better instead of worse as is usually the case when executives mess with something that was already working. The scope of the show was expanded to include almost every single DC hero ever created. This was great because it meant less well known characters like Green Arrow, Booster Gold, Mr Miracle, Black Canary, Captain Marvel, Dr Fate, Huntress, Hawk and Dove, The Atom and the Question got to have their time in spotlight along with all the A-listers.
While Justice League was a great show on its own Unlimited is by far the superior series. It’s a more inventive and entertaining series with better story arcs and character development. Plus it’s obvious that the creators had a real love and passion for the entire DC Universe. It was also surprisingly mature for a kid’s series with the creators wisely deciding not to treat their audience like imbeciles. But when all is said and done this was still an action show. Being a kids series the violence is never overdone but still remains fast and exciting. Superman’s numerous smack downs with Darkseid are a personal highlight.
Another great feature of the series is the fantastic voice work done by the entire cast. In fact, the sheer number of celebrity vocals (many Joss Whedon alumni) that pop up throughout the series is staggering. Okay, deep breath, here goes; Nathan Fillion, Eric Roberts, Michael Ironside, CCH Pounder, Alexis Deninof, Adam Baldwin, Juliet Landau, Mark Hamil, Robert Picardo, John C. McGinly and Clancy Brown to name but a few I could remember without checking IMDB. Special mentions must go, though, to Amy Acker as Huntress and Jeffery Combs as the Question. In fact The Question is the breakout character of the series, a ridiculously paranoid conspiracy theorist who believes that the little plastic things at the end of shoe laces have a sinister purpose and is not above murder if it serves the greater good.
Like I said, this show was surprisingly mature.
Rating: * * * * *