Superman Homepage reviewer Thomas Dreyfuss reviews episodes from the “Justice League Action” Animated Series, airing on Cartoon Network.
Check out his review of the 11th episode of Season 1 in which Toyman turns Cyborg, Wonder Woman, Superman, and Batman into players in a twisted version of a fighting game.
Originally Aired: December 17, 2016 (U.K.), March 4, 2017 (U.S.)
Written by Paul Dini
Directed by Shaunt Nigoghossian
Kevin Conroy as Batman (voice)
Jason J. Lewis as Superman (voice)
Rachel Kimsey as Wonder Woman (voice)
Khary Payton as Cyborg (voice)
Ken Jeong as Toyman (voice)
Rating – 5 (out of 5): Do I even need to review this episode? You saw the score at the top so you know that I loved it. If you’ve been following Justice League Action, then the chances are high you’ve seen several “leaked” clips from this episode. Hell, the episode debuted at Comic Con 2016 and the coverage on that gave away cool stuff like the cellophane “S Wrap” from Superman II. I’m going to review it anyway because it’s my job and after waiting so long for this episode to air, I’m happy to report it lives up to the hype.
So the set up for this episode is Toyman abducts Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Cyborg from the Justice League Watchtower to use as playable characters in a twisted live action version of the popular (and fictitious) “Blvd Brawlers 2” fighting game. When Cyborg challenges Toyman to some 1v1 bouts, the DC Trinity has no choice but to trust Cyborg’s game skills to set them free.
There’s so much to unpack because there’s so much to love. First and foremost, I love that this version of Toyman is based on the Hiro Okamura version instead of the creepy man child super villain Winslow Schott. Ken Jeong’s stellar comedic skills help convey that this Toyman is an immature brat which in turn, ties into Cyborg’s own immaturity as their shared love of “Blvd Brawlers 2” comes into direct conflict with the DC Trinity. It’s one thing for Cyborg to shirk off guard duty to play video games, but seeing him spam the “I. AM. BATMAN!” taunt against the Dark Knight’s free will is hilarious juxtaposition.
As much as I love Paul Dini’s tight script, my favorite aspect of this episode is the art direction. From the opening of “Blvd Brawlers 2” that apes the opening to “Street Fighter Alpha 2” to each of the Trinity’s super moves, you can tell that the entire art department had a blast cramming in as many video game references and DC Comics Easter Eggs as they could into this single eleven minute episode. But that’s all garnish to the general audience. What makes this episode work is seeing Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman duking it out and it all looks great in motion coupled with excellent digital effects. My only complaint is the inconsistency with the health bars when Batman and Superman get knocked out.
When the door finally closes on Justice League Action (which I hope doesn’t happen soon), “Play Date” is probably going to end up as my favorite episode of the entire series. It’s a great premise that’s made perfect thanks to plenty of comedy and spot on video games references. Everyone brought their A-Game for this episode and thus, the bar has been set for the rest of the series.
Check out the “Justice League Action – Episode Reviews” Contents page.