Superman on Television

Justice League: Episode Reviews

Season 4 - Episode 4: "Task Force X"

Reviewed by: Barry Freiman

"Task Force X" - Because Suicide is No Animated Endeavor

Unlike my other JL/JLU reviews, this piece on "Task Force X" is actually a preview as I caught a sneak look at it though it hasn't yet aired in the United States. This preview review is therefore rife with spoilers; take heed.

The most unique element of this episode is the complete absence of any members of the JLU for about the first half of the episode. "Task Force X" refers to the group of villains recruited by the Government to accept reduced sentences and pardons in exchange for harrowing suicide missions that could get them killed. Survive long enough and earn freedom. In the comics, this group is known as the "Suicide Squad" - obviously a name that wouldn't sit well with CN's standards and practices.

The animated group consists of Colonel Rick Flagg, Captain Boomerang, Deadshot (never referred to by name), Plastique, and mastermind the Clock King. Deadshot is again voiced by Michael Rosenbaum. Ironically, Deadshot is saved from the electric chair at Belle Reve Prison and, on TV's "Smallville", Rosenbaum's Lex Luthor underwent electric shock therapy at Belle Reve sanitarium.

L.A. Law's Alan Rachins returns to the role of the Clock King for the first time since voicing the character a decade ago on two episodes of Batman: The Animated Series. What's striking about the Clock King's appearance and function to the group is that he looks like and acts like DC comic book revamped baddie The Calculator, who currently plays a pivotal role (not unlike Clock King's role here) in the newly formed Secret Society (see the four-part "Villains United", the first issue of which is currently on sale for more about the Calculator and the Secret Society).

The bad guys have been recruited to infiltrate the JLU Watchtower and commandeer the powerful God-forged armor that had been captured by Wonder Woman, Hawk, and Dove in the early JLU episode "Hawk and Dove".

JLU members do actually show up eventually and include J'onn J'onzz, Green Lantern, Atom Smasher, Shining Knight, the Vigilante, as well as brief walk-ons by Stargirl and Vibe.

When the conspiracy is exposed and Task Force X neutralized for the time being, the League turns its attention to the JLU security officer whose betrayal enabled TFX to gain access to the Watchtower. J'onn actually considers using his telepathy to wipe out the last three years of the security guy's memories, which stands in sharp contrast to J'onn's outrage in an upcoming "JLA" comic book arc over Batman's mind wipe first revealed in "Identity Crisis."

On the SFMWNS, this episode barely squeezes out three out of five speeding bullets. It doesn't add much to the conspiracy arc as the JLU learned about the conspiracy in "The Doomsday Sanction." Nonetheless, the similar plot line running through the DCU currently and this season's JLU makes this an interesting point/counter-point to similar themes presented in "Identity Crisis", "Countdown to Infinite Crisis", et al.

The most fun in the episode, however, takes place during the closing credits as we catch a glimpse of Billy Batson and his alter ego, Captain Marvel, inheritor of the power of Shazam. The Big Red Cheese faces off against Big Blue in upcoming episode "The Clash." Bring it on.

Peace out.

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