Superman on Television

Justice League: Episode Reviews

Season 5 - Episode 9: "Grudge Match"

Reviewed by: Barry M. Freiman

Final Five is No Time for a "Grudge Match"

There's nothing to review here. If this story - and I use the word "story" in its loosest sense - is exemplary of what's left in the coffers of imaginativeness and ingenuity after five seasons of two different incarnations of the Justice League, then maybe Cartoon Network isn't off-base in failing to renew the show. Just because the heroines acknowledge the clichéd components of this "Grudge Match" doesn't mean the story isn't clichéd. This would be much more excusable if it weren't one of the five final JLU stories. But it is Blanche.

To borrow a phrase from Wonder Woman, this episode really panders to the worst elements of "Man's World". Chicks beating up chicks for the amusement of men - that's all there is to this episode. The entire half-hour is a distraction from this season's main storyline - Lex Luthor's use of the Secret Society to find and free Brainiac. The villains are vile so that they come up with an idea to exploit chicks beating up chicks for personal profit doesn't surprise. That the plan is executed with so many plot holes is a surprise.

Luthor has the ability to mind-control the Justice League through their signal devices. Re-read that sentence. Lex Luthor, the vilest villain in the entire DC universe - animated or otherwise - and he can control the minds of 50-some-odd heroes? That's a scary proposition. He could essentially double the membership of the Secret Society. He could order them to kill each other. He could make Superman and Supergirl walk into a roomful of deadly green Kryptonite and just sit down. He could make Batman walk in front of a truck. He could tell Aquaman to sit on the sand by the shore and just watch the water as he dehydrates. So what's he do? Well he does the next most obvious thing, of course - he hypnotizes all the super girls (and not even Supergirl) into beating each other up for money so that sleazoid bad guys can bet money on the outcome.

Tell me - who's watching these grudge matches? That's right, super-villains. And who's in the Secret Society? Yup, that's right again, super-villains. So Lex Luthor is using the Secret Society to make the members of the Secret Society bet on fights? Isn't the money just being transferred from one super-villain account into another? Wouldn't it be easier to charge a membership fee for membership privileges in the Society? The money basically never changes hands.

Then again, Lex Luthor cares about only one thing right now - freeing Brainiac. The Secret Society is merely a means to an end. One could say that Lex knows a mind control plot using League signal devices would unravel as quickly as it took one Leaguer to drop their signal device during a fight. So why not initiate a plot with a short shelf-life like this girl-fight idea, then use the siphoned money on Brainiac-related research? Lex is certainly sufficiently far-sighted and duplicitous to use his supposed allies like this. The problem is that Luthor's expected to be acting like this. We don't need these 22-minutes to conclude that Lex Luthor is a bad guy just as willing to sell out his friends as smite his enemies - that Luthor finds a way to do both is presumed of a character like him. We certainly don't need a full episode this late in the game to make that point.

I'd have been much more interested in whatever caper the Question was involved in that would have required him to seek out the super-secret 32nd flavor at Baskin-Robbins. Now that would've been sweet. (Groan....)

The only noteworthy thing that really happens in the episode is the Nightwing cameo. As the heroines speed into Bludhaven, Batman's former Boy Wonder Dick Grayson watches them from the top of a bridge. Blink and you'll miss him - just like his last two cameos. That's right, Dickie boy has shown up twice before on Justice League (once on "JLU" and once on "JL" - but that's my only hint). Write in and tell me and all the other comic geeks will praise your inner super geek along with me in my next review.

Next week the "JLU" is back in super-form with Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century. Peace out.

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