Superman on Television

Justice League: Episode Reviews

Season 4 - Episode 3: "The Doomsday Sanction"

Reviewed by: Barry Freiman

No Cutesy Title Required for Review of Episode as Good as "The Doomsday Sanction"

The JLU's back on fire - in Superman's case, that's a literal reference as he spends most of this episode inside a volcano - with "The Doomsday Sanction", a story that puts the conspiracy sub-plot back on the front burner.

This episode adds nuances of complexity to the JLU hierarchy as we see the original seven JL'ers functioning as a Board of Directors in relation to the rest of the JLU (and the world). Michael Rosenbaum's back again as the Flash, as much the JLU's light as his "Smallville" character's Lex Luthor represents impending darkness.

The counterpoint of "bad guys" under Waller's leadership evokes thoughts of the cabal of baddies recently seen as an organized force in several DCU comic titles, including Teen Titans, Firestorm, and Manhunter. Just as mysterious, Waller's team consisted of "BTAS" bad guys Dr. Milo (though he's forcibly retired by Doomsday) and Dr. Hugo Strange; Phantom Stranger adversary, Tala, in her first animated appearance; General Wade Eiling (returning from his animated debut in "Dark Heart"); and "STAS" former ally Professor Emil Hamilton (whose report on Galatea's recovery must herald an eventual return for the animated Power Girl).

There's a follow up to the casual dispatch of Doomsday and his treatment as a side character in the "Justice Lords" arc. As we saw in that story, Lex Luthor gained credibility in helping the League defeat their alternate universe selves. Now it seems Luthor's trying to parlay that credibility into a run for the White House. Except it was Lex's gaining the Presidency in the "Justice Lords" universe that drove their Superman to kill Luthor, setting in motion their embracing the dark side. And now Lex is taking steps that parallel what his deceased doppelganger did in the "Lords" universe - and what the comic book Luthor did as well.

What's fascinating is that, what some saw as a very perfunctory use of Doomsday in the initial episode, has turned into only part of the story. The animated creators almost mocked Doomsday's DCU role as Superman's comic book killer in 1992. But, in this episode, they reveal an origin for Doomsday that provides a more coherent explanation for Doomsday's single-minded goal of beating the snot out of Superman.

And Superman's not entirely guilt-free in creating this mess. Loose lips may sink ships, but can super loose lips sink a Watchtower? Waller explains to Batman that Superman told the Government all about what the "Justice Lords" did in their own universe to induce the Feds to pardon Luthor in exchange for his help defeating the ersatz team. Those revelations, along with the JLU's impressive display of fire power emanating from the Watchtower itself in the Warren Ellis-penned "Dark Heart", left the Government feeling disadvantaged and furthered the "us versus them" mentality fostered by Superman's brainwashed behavior in "STAS" finale, "Legacy." It's amazing the number of episodes that have now been mined out of this underrated "STAS" arc.

Finally, an idea that I'd like to see more of in the comics is the use of non-speaking super-heroes as background. "JLU" does that all the time, but nowhere more as effective as in this episode. The number of heroes drawn in the Watchtower heightens dramatic tension. Of course it may also strain credulity just a little when Batman runs off to stop a nuke when so many other heroes were present who possessed super-speed (not the least of which was Martian Manhunter, who could have been halfway to Earth by the time Batman had barged past Vibe and Booster Gold).

The real joy of this episode for Superman fans is the use of the Phantom Zone projector to exile an unrepentant Doomsday. Batman's accusation that the League may have taken a step closer to the "Justice Lords" style of heroing has merit and raises questions about due process and constitutional protections for clones. Clearly this episode is just a step along the overriding conspiracy arc.

On the SFMWNS, this episode hits a bulls-eye - five out of five speeding bullets for Superman, Rosenbaum's Flash, Doomsday, Luthor, and the Phantom Zone.

Due to technical difficulties - mainly my age which makes me forget things - I forgot to give proper kudos in last week's review to Steve Crow (a.k.a. Gislef) who correctly identified the villains who appeared in "The Cat and the Canary" alongside Roulette: The Crow identifies them correctly as The Sportsmaster, The Electrocutioner, Bloodsport, The Atomic Skull, Hellgrammite, Tracer, Evil Star, and Amygdala (who I identified wrongly as Big Sir). Thank you, thank you, thank you. Oh, and thanks too.

I believe we're in hiatus till the second week of April, but this is Cartoon Network so their schedule is subject to constant change. But the news isn't all bleak, Super Friends -- CN just announced that they are ordering 23 more episodes of "JLU" - the DC Showcase will continue!

Peace out.

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