Superman Homepage reviewer Marc Lax reviews episodes from the “Justice League Action” Animated Series, airing on Cartoon Network.
Check out his review of the 40th episode of Season 1 in which, when the Joker traps Batman, the Justice League decides against their better judgment to allow Riddler to help them track him down.
Originally Aired: October 14, 2017 (U.S.)
Written by Jonathan Callan
Directed by Shaunt Nigoghossian
Chris Diamantopoulos as Green Arrow (voice)
Mark Hamill as Joker (voice)
Rachel Kimsey as Wonder Woman (voice)
Dana Snyder as Penguin (voice)
Brent Spiner as Riddler (voice)
Rating – 4 (out of 5): The Joker broadcasts his latest crime. He’s kidnapped Batman! His challenge is for the heroes to figure out where he’s got Batman before it’s too late. Wonder Woman and Green Arrow start confronting and threatening some of Gotham City’s criminal element but get nowhere. Coming out of the shadows is Edward Nigma aka The Riddler. Seems he’s been released from Arkham Asylum with a clean bill of health and is now trying to make his way as a private detective. He offers his services in locating the Batman’s whereabouts and our heroes reluctantly accept his help. But not before Wonder Woman tests his loyalties with her magic lasso. He passes. The Riddler shows a snap shot of Joker’s broadcast and points out a plaque on the wall with four different pictures. Put the pictures together and get the first clue. They all add up to one name – Solomon Grundy. The two heroes and Riddler go to Arkham to confront Grundy. The Riddler goes into Grundy’s cell and closes the vault-like door. After some loud booming and banging Wonder Woman smashes the door open and finds Grundy on the floor and Riddler triumphantly holding a glass of club soda with ice and an umbrella. Next clue – The Iceberg Club owned by the Penguin! Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, and Riddler arrive at the club and are quickly ambushed by Penguin and the gang. Penguin throws down his umbrella after running out of ammunition and is quickly taken out. The Riddler picks up the umbrella, opens it and we get the next clue… on the inside of the umbrella is another riddle that after deduced leads the heroes to a Gotham museum that is having a Pop Art exhibition. Will they find Batman and what dastardly plan does the Joker have up his sleeve?
I really enjoyed this episode, and although it’s a Batman story we get very little Batman. That’s because this episode is all about the Riddler. And I love that. I’ve always enjoyed the character and the different interpretations many creators have used. The Riddler has been more prominent in the Batman comics of late but for many years he was short changed. Riddler has been around since at least the Silver Age perhaps longer but was not seen as one of Batman’s major foes really until Batman in 1966. Frank Gorshin’s portrayal of this character catapulted him from C list villain to A. The show made the Riddler a much more complex and evil character, but most of the credit goes to Gorshin. His performance made the Riddler more diabolical and a villain to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, in the intervening years since the show, creators never could quite pinpoint exactly how to use the character. There certainly have been some good stories along the way and his portrayal in Batman: The Animated Series was done well. He also got exposure when Jim Carrey played him in Batman Forever, though he was just doing a warmed over version of Gorshin but still entertaining. The comics have been a different story. He’s been used as a silly villain, they’ve tried to make him truly evil, even giving him some supernatural abilities at one point. Now again some of these stories were very good but the character has never been given a specific treatment. Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee’s “Hush” story arc in Batman refined the character a bit making him more formidable. But again afterwards he was given short shrift. Lately the character has been used to good effect especially with his most recent storyline. Hopefully he can stay a more prominent villain for a while. I would like that.
After arriving at the museum they find Batman trust up hanging upside down from a giant statue of Lady Justice. The Joker appears and while Green Arrow and Wonder Woman are indisposed the Riddler and Joker fight. Bouncing from one giant prop to the other they finally face off on top of a giant typewriter. The Joker has one more riddle for the Riddler to solve, a riddle so easy that the Riddler scoffs. The Joker says if the Riddler speaks the solution into a microphone the Batman will be electrified. The Riddler says he won’t solve the riddle, he won’t even say a word. But the Joker knows the Riddler’s weakness. His life is all about devising and solving riddles. After sweating it out for a short time the Riddler finally blurts out the solution activating the electricity that will cause the statue to kill Batman. Green Arrow who is all tied up is able to loosen an arrow cutting Batman down and saving him. Riddler and Joker scuffle until Green Arrow lays the Joker out with one punch from a trick arrow. While Batman escorts the Joker away they realize this was all a set up for the Riddler. Wondering why he would go to all that trouble the Joker mentions that one day while the two of them were in the cafeteria at Arkham the Riddler stole the Joker’s donut! With that the Riddler walks off congratulating himself for being a genius.
This was a fun show. Seeing Batman’s famous rogues portrayed here was a lot of fun, though I would have liked to see Catwoman, but maybe next time. This had both a silver age vibe to it and a little bit of an homage to the sixties TV show. The giant props was something right out of the early comics and was a nice visual. A clever and entertaining episode all around.
Check out the “Justice League Action – Episode Reviews” Contents page.