Superman on Television
Justice League: Episode Reviews
Season 4 - Episode 5: "The Balance"Reviewed by: Barry Freiman
What Once Was Rope is Now Magic Lasso - "The Balance" is Restored
Anyone who's been reading my reviews dating back to the original animated JL: Year One, knows that, gushy fan-boy excitement aside, my biggest pet peeve with the early League was in their depiction of Wonder Woman. These problems largely grew out of her hasty origin where a disagreement with her mother leads her to steal the Wonder Woman costume and accoutrements. Emotionally, the result was Wonder Woman seemed petulant and arrogant and only the third end of the Big Three Triumvirate because comic book history - and the Super-Friends - dictated it. Power-wise, Wonder Woman lost even more.
Since Diana's first appearance in All-Star Comics #8, one of her defining accessories was a lasso that compelled those ensnared in it to tell the truth and obey her. Because the other great invention -- beside the Amazing Amazon -- that Wonder Woman's creator is known for is the "lie detector", the lasso's power has been even more closely associated with the public's perception of the character than her Feminum bullet-deflecting bracelets.
Early interviews with Bruce Timm and company, the JL creators, indicated that they felt a truth-compelling rope would make solving cases too easy - and in the power company of the League make Batman's own unique abilities in compelling the bad guys to spill the beans superfluous.
Unfortunately, the character on JL suffered for the change and caused the animated WW to fall prey to Diana's greatest vulnerability over the years - she came off more than ever like a female Superman who happened to carry a rope to help with heavy lifting. Even after episodes like "The Savage Time" and "Maid of Honor" helped further define Diana's personality, she felt less than whole without a glowing lasso of truth to call her very own. Now, with "The Balance", the balance has been restored.
The very second Hippolyta touched Diana's tiara and the lasso began to glow, I screamed like a little girl. And who better to be the lasso's first victim than a truth-hating demon (with a comic book pedigree of his own - write in and tell me the character's significance to the JLA comic first and you'll get credit in my next review) voiced by the nefarious Newman, Wayne Knight, from TV's often Superman-inspired "Seinfeld."
On the SFMWNS, this episode scores five out of five speeding bullets. There's only one Superman - well not counting Supergirl that is. And the dog. But, even in a Superman-less episode, taking the last necessary step to make Wonder Woman unique consequently makes her less like Superman, and therefore reinforces the true uniqueness of the Man of Steel himself.
Coming up next week - The Question, the Huntress, Black Canary, and Supergirl's pal, Green Arrow. Yes another seemingly Superman-less week. But the week after - Superman returns. Lex Luthor strikes. And the League enlists the power of Shazam. Does life get any better for someone with nothing better to do on a Saturday night but watch cartoons? I don't think so.
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