Superman on Television

Justice League: Episode Reviews

Season 5 - Episode 3: "To Another Shore"

Reviewed by: Barry Freiman

Dead Comic Book Character Takes JLU "To Another Shore"

"To Another Shore" had some very cool fan-geek moments, especially for lovers of the old live-action Wonder Woman TV show starring Lynda Carter. And, without, a lot of fanfare, it had the Martian Manhunter taking a significant step in his character's emotional arc with his resignation from the JLU and adoption of the John Jones secret identity. But, even with all this to offer, this still wasn't one of my favorite episodes. I do suppose things could have been worse - had the "Shore" in "To Another Shore" been Pauly Shore perhaps.

The first hint that this wouldn't be one of my favorite episodes was the hero-less opening scene. The ship coming on the thawing Viking Prince ship reminded me of some of the slower opening scenes from JL's first season. I much prefer episodes like "I Am Legion" where the story opens mid-action.

The still-shot flashbacks of the Viking Prince are interesting - in fact, I'd read Bruce Timm took those images directly out of comic artist Joe Kubert's original Viking Prince stories in "The Brave and the Bold". But, the still images also reminded me of the horrible early Marvel heroes' cartoons from the 1960s that depicted animated action similarly. Worse yet, combined with Grodd's narration, that entire scene takes the viewer out of the action. Still, it was a valiant attempt at trying something new and different. Get it - valiant? Whatever, let's move on.

Bringing the show back up to a gallop, though, were a series of great moments that channeled an animated Lynda Carter Wonder Woman. Of course, there was the spin heard round the world. But Devil Ray's method of incapacitating Diana also reminded me of how the lame bad guys used to subdue Lynda Carter.

Devil Ray raised a lot of questions. His comic book counterpart is Black Manta, the Aquaman villain who killed Aquaman's first son (long time JL viewers will remember that Aquaman's son didn't die in the animated universe - instead, Aquaman made the ultimate sacrifice and ripped off his own hand to save his son's life). Manta was eventually revealed to be African-American and a separatist.

So why was Manta reinvented as Devil Ray? Surely the story of why they couldn't use Manta is an interesting one. Is it because the Aquaman characters have been licensed for use in HBO's "Entourage"? Was it a problem to have the character's name reflect his skin color especially in light of his separatist agenda? Is Black Manta going to be on "Smallville" alongside Aquaman who's slated to appear this season? Turns out the rights to Aquaman are tied up, but whether it's Smallville-related, HBO's doing, or James Cameron really is interested in "Aquaman: The Movie" is anybody's guess.

The great moment of the episode, and what makes it important in animated continuity, is J'onn's decision to resign from the League and spend time with humanity. Comic geeks will of course recognize the human form J'onn takes as the character's aptly generic secret identity, John Jones.

As I researched Viking Prince on the internet to refresh my recollection - I did usually skip his stories when they were reprinted in the 100-page "Brave and the Bold" comics in the 1970s - I was reminded that he was the first regular feature in the original "Brave and the Bold". Three issues after he stopped appearing, in "Brave and the Bold #28", the Justice League of America made its debut. So I guess there is something poetic about his inclusion in an episode of JLU.

JLU appears to be back on hiatus - there are no new episodes currently on Cartoon Network's schedule. That makes the decision to air two new episodes a week for two weeks, rather than one new episode over four weeks, even more confusing.

When new episodes are finally scheduled to appear - my guess, with absolutely no inside information, is November sweeps - I'll be back too. Till then, treat each other kindly. Oh and one more thing: Peace out.

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