JUSTICE LEAGUE: DOOM – McDuffie Delivers One Last Time

Do you have your copy of Justice League: Doom yet?

What are you waiting for?

The latest installment in the DC Universe animated features, Justice League: Doom – heavily inspired by Mark Waid’s “Tower of Babel” story – is Dwayne McDuffie’s last script. And it’s a good one. Directed by Lauren Montgomery with voice direction by Andrea Romano (well, who else is gonna do it?), JLD takes the idea of Batman’s paranoia and takes it to its logical conclusion.

What if the Justice League went bad?

JLA roster: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash (Barry), Green Lantern (Hal), J’onn J’onzz. They are each faced with challenges from their evil counterparts, and this time it seems the JLA might be on the losing end. Bane, Star Sapphire, Metallo, Cheetah, Mirror Master, and Ma’alefa’ak are all recruited into a new Legion of Doom. Only this time, it’s not Lex Luthor pulling the strings. It’s the immortal Vandal Savage.

And he’s not kidding around this time. His plan involves destroying the Justice League so they’re not in the way of his much bigger, much more destructive plan.

When the League falls under attack, Batman realizes someone’s stolen and altered his plans to neutralize the super-powered League members. Batman knows – and instinctively, we all do – that if any one (or more) of the JLA goes bad, someone will have to be able to stop them. Batman, being the harmless little fuzzball paranoid non-super growler that he is, has developed contingency plans for all of them.

Think about it. Who else could figure out a way to defeat every single super-powered member of the JLA?

That’s all you get on plot. No spoilers.

McDuffie’s script is tight, clean and well-paced. Director Montgomery takes it and applies visuals that really feel like they belong on a big screen. (Seriously, someone put the animated guys in charge of a live-action film.) The battle with the Royal Flush Gang is loud and dirty and just exactly the right beginning to the story. It introduces the JLA without a lot of pomp and circumstance, and gives everyone a chance to show their stuff individually before the main event.

Tim Daly and Kevin Conroy are back as Superman and Batman, along with fan favorites for just about everyone else: Susan Eisenberg (Wonder Woman), Micheal Rosenbaum (Flash, although it’s a different one), Carl Lumbly (J’onn J’onzz). And Nathan Fillion returns as Hal Jordan.

I found it interesting that Rosenbaum would be playing Barry Allen and not Wally West, as he did in the Justice League series. But it’s still so much fun to hear the top-choice voices in this. Claudia Black is a great Cheetah, and Olivia d’Abo returns to her role as Star Sapphire. Lots of good performances here.

Other features on the Blu-Ray: a tribute to Dwayne McDuffie, who passed away last year after heart surgery. It was a retrospective on his impact in the comics industry, from his development of Milestone comics to his work in the DC Animated Universe, and all of the work he did in between. It was a fitting tribute that should inspire a new generation of creative talent, and serve as a reminder that we don’t have as much time as we think we do.

The commentary by producer Bruce Timm and animation chief Mike Carlin goes into the development of the story and a lot of the process in bringing it to life. Plus, they discuss the logic behind bringing Cyborg into the mix, noting that he’s the first hero with the computer/tech abilities on the team, something that’s long overdue. And Timm adds a couple of episodes from the “Justice League” series, featuring the Royal Flush Gang’s appearance there.

There’s also a preview of the next project, Superman vs. the Elite, which we cover in our current issue of “Comic Con Carne” – so go there for details.

Overall, it’s a nice package, and a fitting end to the career of creative powerhouse Dwayne McDuffie. Many will lament his loss, but all should reflect on what he contributed to the industry and how much impact it had, both while he was here, and beyond.

 

Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

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