Superman on Television
Justice League Action: Episode Reviews
Season 1 - Episodes 7: "Zombie King"Reviewed by: Thomas Dreyfuss
Originally Aired: December 4, 2016 (U.K.), February 7, 2017 (U.S.)
Written by Paul Dini
Directed by Jake Castorena
Kevin Conroy as Batman (voice)
Mark Hamill as Swamp Thing (voice)
Fred Tatascoire as Solomon Grundy (voice)
Lacey Chabert as Zatanna (voice)
Damian O'Hare as John Constantine (voice)
Dan Donohue as Brother Night (voice)
Rating - 4 (out of 5): Solomon Grundy (Fred Tatascoire) raises a zombie army with a magical gem in a graveyard near New Orleans. When Swamp Thing (Mark Hamill) initially fails to thwart Grundy, the protector of the Green calls in Batman (Kevin Conroy) who then calls in John Constantine (Damian O'Hare) and Zatanna (Lacey Chabert) to rally against Grundy before the corporeal revenant turns New Orleans and eventually, the entire world into his zombie kingdom.
Now there's a lot to unpack in this episode so let's start with the family friendly version of the zombie apocalypse. Initially, I was nonplused that the JLA crew wanted to show off zombies on a kid friendly series but after viewing the episode, I thought they handled the mature material quite well. Shane Glines' designs on the zombie horde looks really grotesque but not too scary for children. Having the zombies just breathe on their victims instead of biting them is a smart creative decision that escalates the threat of an ever growing undead horde without any of the gore that comes with it. And then there's that cool sequence where Batman fights through waves of zombies using old his wits and his mitts.
But as cool as that was, it's Swamp Thing who's steals the spotlight on this episode. Mark Hamill's performance as Swamp Thing hasn't changed much from "Abate and Switch" but here, he's given more room to flesh out the man of moss. Swamp Thing is the good immortal being whose lost his humanity but he still cares about all living things despite everything that's happened to him. Grundy is the bad immortal being whose completely lost his humanity and weirdly enough, views "Swamp Man" as an equal. It's a shame Grundy and Swamp Thing don't fight each other often because they're great foils of each other.
"Zombie King" is a good episode that has a surprising amount of intelligence in JLA's version of the zombie undead apocalypse. I would've liked to have seen more with John Constantine whose bizarre introduction in "Shazam Slam" left me wanting more of the family friendly Heckblazer. I would've also liked more of Brother Night (Dan Donohue) who's quickly tossed aside minutes after his series debut in this episode. But my quibbles aren't determents to the action packed proceedings or the commendable voice acting on display.
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