Superman on Television

Justice League: Episode Reviews

Season 3 - Episode 13: "The Once and Future Thing - Part Two: Time, Warped"

Reviewed by: Barry Freiman

"The Once and Future Thing" is in Flux, so Let's Do the "Time, Warped" Again

"It's astounding. Time is fleeting. Madness takes its toll."

Exchanging Hal Jordan for sweet transvestites (and John Stewart), the JLU completes its time-traveling excursion -- and its freshman year -- in crisis.

As continuity has become more important to the creators and fans of the animated DC Universe, a black hole has emerged in the shape of a bat threatening to implode the DC animated universe. The future was mapped out relatively clear on the WB's "Batman Beyond" even before the first episode of JL ever aired.

For those who didn't follow the future Batman's adventures, Bruce Wayne has a heart attack at an inopportune crime-fighting moment leaving him with only one alternative to stop the bad guys - using a gun. Batman retires in disgrace and the Gotham City of the future falls into disrepair. Enter Terry McGinnis, the new Batman.

McGinnis works with crotchety old Bruce Wayne. In one adventure, released directly to DVD, we learn that Bruce's last Robin, Tim Drake, was kidnapped by the Joker and Harley Quinn and surgically made to resemble the Joker in a perverse attempt to adopt Batman's kid as their own. It was such a nasty turn for the Joker that the WB pulled the project, "Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker" ("ROTJ"), edited some of the more horrific elements out of the film, and released a somewhat sanitized version and later re-released an unedited, uncensored version for collectors.

Then came the "Teen Titans." Because the show appears to be set in the present, many people assumed that the Robin on "Teen Titans" is Tim Drake. However, because an episode that featured Starfire leaping to the future had her meeting up with future Robin, who'd adopted the new moniker of Nightwing another school of thought has been that this Robin is Dick Grayson, the only Robin to date to outgrow the Batcave and adopt the Nightwing persona - as far as we fans know.

The future isn't set in stone, which is what accounts for the half dozen or so reboots of continuity for the Legion of Super Heroes - particularly over the past post-Crisis, post-Zero Hour decade. The future Batman, along with a future Static Shock, and War Hawk - revealed in this story arc to be the child of John Stewart and Shayera Thol - are losing the good fight to Chronos and his band of meta-human cyborgs, the Jokerz.

Time runs amok. Even Wonder Woman ceases to exist. And finally, we meet animated Green Lantern Hal Jordan. But, best of all, it's suddenly real fuzzy whether or not the "Batman Beyond" future is a sure thing, effectively rescuing Tim Drake from his promised fate in "ROTJ".

Superman may have cousin Supergirl and Steel, but John Stewart's got an entire Corps to cull fellow GL family members from. In the comics, the first Green Lantern was Alan Scott. Before the first Crisis on Infinite Earths, Scott lived on parallel Earth-2, the fictional planet where things that took place prior to about 1955 in the DCU happened. After the Crisis, Scott was and is simply the Golden Age Green Lantern unrelated to the remainder of the GL Corps. Scott has two children - Jade and Obsidian. Obsidian has made a cameo appearance on "JLU" in "Initiation".

In the comics, the Earth-1 GL, or the Silver Age GL, was Hal Jordan. Chosen to replace Abin Sur as the GL of space sector 2814, Jordan ceded his role and shared it at various points with John Stewart and Guy Gardner. Eventually, Jordan went nuts after Mongul destroyed Coast City during Superman's rebirth storyline, and, in the process, destroyed the entire GL Corps. That resulted in his becoming Parallax. And Kyle Rayner was hailed as the last GL of all time by DC Comics. Liars.

Jordan's in the process of being vindicated for his insanity and the murders that were always blamed on him. In "GL: Rebirth", it's revealed that possession played a role. It's known that Jordan is returning to his role as GL, though how remaining GL'ers Stewart, Gardner, and Rayner fit in remains to be seen. Stewart, Rayner, and now Jordan have all appeared on "JL" and "JLU".

What is interesting about Hal Jordan being the alternate GL to John Stewart in animated continuity is that, in the early 1970's, Stewart was introduced as Jordan's alternate. Stewart was introduced in an attempt to be "relevant" since he represented the defiant young African American man permeating much of pop culture at that time. Now, Jordan's the substitute and, as cool as it is to see Jordan with the animated League, it's wonderful testament to Stewart's character - and voice work by Phil LaMarr - how missed he is for the short time he's gone. Stewart's life began as a forced role model for one minority and, thanks to the animated creators, he's become a genuine role model for all people.

LaMarr also deserves kudos for credibly distinguishing adult Static and GL Stewart so well that they are distinct characters even when talking to each other.

Chronos sounds a bit like Krona and, when Stewart tells Batman there's a GL law about seeing the birth of the universe, he's referring to DC villain Krona's attempts to do just that. Krona's most recent attempt to see the universe's birth took place during the long-awaited "JLA versus Avengers" series that pitted DC's premiere super-team alongside the Marvel universe's main super-team (not counting the X-Men and the Fantastic Four). In fact, there's been some speculation that this storyline sits at the center of the upcoming "Crisis 2" (and I recommend that you read the in-continuity "JLA" title where the "baby universe" born during "JLA versus Avengers" may or may not be "Crisis 2"-related).

There's no Superman in this episode. In fact, it's all about rectifying Batman's continuity and setting up John Stewart's future. Notwithstanding the absence of Kryptonian influence, this episode was a hoot (I must still be influenced by the Old West visit from last week). On the SFMWNS, the episode gets a big "N/A" for "not applicable" but I recommend the arc anyway to fans of good, old-fashioned time-travel yarns and/or "Batman Beyond."

Finally, in my review last week, I erroneously referred to Terra-Man's horsey as "Noah". James McNichols wrote in to remind me that name is way too biblical for a flying white horse - the horse's name is actually "Nova". On behalf of flying horses everywhere, I apologize. Thanks, James.

Given how long we're usually made to wait on new seasons of DC 'toons, I'm thrilled that there's only a one week spread between the end of JLU's first season and the beginning of its second season. Next week, Supergirl's pal, Green Arrow, teams up with Black Canary for the first time to rescue her mentor, Golden Age super-fighter Wildcat.

Let the arrows fly, break out the fishnet stockings, and, as always - Peace out.

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