Superman on Television

Justice League: Episode Reviews

Season 4 - Episode 12: "Divided We Fall"

Reviewed by: Barry Freiman

Superman Last to Learn that "Divided We Fall"

The Crisis has passed. The heroes have prevailed, in the process regaining public trust and mutual respect. The Flash in particular barely escaped this Crisis with his life. Superman and Batman have rededicated themselves to the League. The League lives on. And, as always, the story's filed with the Daily Planet by ace reporter Lois Lane. Scooped again, Kent.

No, I'm not writing this review from the future where DC's "Infinite Crisis" has already been published. The now-concluded JLU Cadmus arc has so much in common with the "Countdown to Infinite Crisis" in-continuity DC universe. Both are about the heroes being torn apart emotionally by the very qualities that make them heroes. Both are about questionable behavior by the heroes that impacts how others view them and react to them. And both create a hierarchy of heroism that starts with the Man of Steel, the Dark Knight Detective, and the Amazing Amazon. While the road to "Infinite Crisis" continues to deteriorate relations amongst the Big Three in continuity, in the animated universe, it's all over except for the "Epilogue" (the title of next week's very surprising season-ender).

At its core, this arc has been largely Superman's journey. Perhaps that's why the big reveal of Brainiac as the principal instigator is so satisfying. Brainiac placed his consciousness in Lex's body way, way, way back in 1997's "Ghost in the Machine" episode of "Superman: The Animated Series." While the flashback shows enough that it isn't necessary to have seen the "STAS" episode, it's geek heaven to get animated continuity that dates back eight years!

One of the most intelligent changes to the history of Brainiac was to give him Kryptonian roots in the animated world. It not only adds logic to the long-standing animosity a machine like Brainiac would "feel" toward Superman, it helped elevate Jor-El's importance too. And, unlike the Phantom Zone villains, Brainiac as a Kryptonian adversary doesn't detract from Superman's Last Son of Krypton status. Whenever DC gets around to deciding if they're going to embrace "Man of Steel" or "Birthright" or something in between for Superman's origin, they ought to seriously consider using Brainiac similarly.

(Note: It's only fair to reveal that part of why I love the idea of tying Brainiac to Krypton is because I had the idea in 1985 and wrote to the Salkinds my proposal for a sequel to "Superman III" and "Supergirl" - which united the two characters against the robot Brainiac, who was created by Zod to destroy all things Kryptonian. Brainiac was powered by an Omegahedron, one of those crazy magic energy balls that Supergirl had to retrieve from Faye Dunaway's Selina in "Supergirl". I'll never forget the response I got on "Santa Clause: The Movie" letterhead. It was a letter from Ilya Salkind's attorney requesting I cease and desist from any unauthorized treatment. I still have the letter somewhere. But I digress.)

Having Superman address the heroes intermingled with the public at the end of the episode parallels nicely to a similar scene in "JLU" series premiere "Initiation". And once again, there's that nod of the hat to the comic book source material with Superman's suggestion that the JLU establish embassies on Earth - just as the JLI decided back in the late 1980's.

As if there were any doubt that this arc was all about Kal-El, the episode ends where all good Superman stories end - at the Daily Planet with Lois and Clark. And, as always, it's Clark being too hard on Superman - in other words, himself - and Lois cutting the big guy a break for being human. Gee.

On the SFMWNS, both the episode and the Cadmus arc overall receive a perfect score. Combining comic book storytelling with episodic television scripting has never seemed so effortless. This should be required viewing for all comic book geeks. Bruce Timm, Dwayne McDuffie, and company have truly earned their place in Superman history with this storyline.

Next week JLU won't be seen but will be interrupted to bring you a very special episode of "Batman Beyond" - Confused? You won't be after you see next week's "Epilogue." Peace out.

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