Superman on Television

Justice League Action: Episode Reviews

Season 1 - Episodes 6: "Nuclear Family Values"

Reviewed by: Thomas Dreyfuss

Justice League Action Originally Aired: November 27, 2016 (U.K.), January 28, 2017 (U.S.)

Written by Paul Dini
Directed by Doug Murphy

CAST:
Kevin Conroy as Batman (voice)
Jason J. Lewis as Superman, Biff (voice)
Rachel Kimsey as Wonder Woman, Sis (voice)
Melissa Disney as Mom, Brat (voice)
Kevin Shinick as Dad (voice)
Stephen Tobolowsky as Professor Martin Stein/Firestorm (voice)
P.J. Byrne as Ronald Raymond/Firestorm (voice)

4Rating - 4 (out of 5): I've been consistently impressed with Justice League Action. No, it's not Justice League Unlimited nor is it trying to be JLU, but I've enjoyed how each episode works within the 11 minute time frame and "Nuclear Family Values" is no exception.

So the set up is a group of rogue androids calling themselves the Nuclear Family have invaded a nuclear power plant with the goal of triggering a nuclear meltdown. Unfortunately, Batman (Kevin Conroy), Superman (Jason J. Lewis), Wonder Woman (Rachael Kimsey), and the rest of the Justice League are unavailable to stop the meltdown. It's up to Firestorm, a rookie superhero who's the nuclear fusion of high school junior Ronald "Ronnie" Raymond (PJ Byrne) and Nuclear Physicist Martin Stein (Stephen Tobolowsky), to save the day.

Now as cool as Firestorm is, he isn't that well known outside of the comic book intelligentsia and Arrowverse fans so the bulk of this episode is centered on getting to know Firestorm. We see how Ronnie interacts with Dr. Stein, we quickly see their origin story, and we see how Ronnie uses his powers to save the day. Paul Dini, Alan Burnett, and the rest of the JLA crew had a ball coming up with clever uses of Firestorms transmutation powers like turning an inflatable giraffe pool toy into an inflatable squirrel in order to trick the Dog into jumping into an energy pool.

By far the best part of the episode is the titular family of radioactive androids. It's really cool seeing Dad (Kevin Shinick), Mom (Mellisa Disney), Biff (Jason J. Lewis), Sis (Rachel Kimsey), Brat (Mellisa Disney), and Dog (...an actual dog?) each possessing specific personalities and powers deriving from a nuclear bomb. Dad fires nuclear blasts, Biff can create thermal pulses, etc. They are a worthy threat for Firestorm and Shane Glines' artwork really sells the 50's TV family meet 70's sci-fi aesthetic of the androids.

Overall, "Nuclear Family Values" serves as a solid introduction to JLA's version of Firestorm and a proper demonstration of his transmutation powers. I would've liked to have seen more of what the Justice League was up to during the Nuclear Plant breach, but with 11 minutes on the clock, the JLA crew focused on doing the right story.



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