Superman on Television
Justice League Action: Episode Reviews
Season 1 - Episodes 28: "The Fatal Fare"Reviewed by: Thomas Dreyfuss
Originally Aired: May 28, 2017 (Scandinavia); July 15, 2017 (U.S.)
Written by Paul Dini
Directed by Doug Murphy
Jason J. Lewis as Superman/DeSaad (voice)
Troy Baker as Hawkman/Kanto (voice)
Gillian Jacobs as Roxy Rocket (voice)
Rachel Kimsey as Wonder Woman (voice)
Mark Hamill as Swamp Thing (voice)
Jerry O'Connell as The Atom (voice)
Patton Oswalt as Space Cabbie (voice)
Jonathan Adams as Darkseid (voice)
Rating - 4 (out of 5): It's kind of weird how Darkseid became one of Superman greatest foes. Having first made a cameo in Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #134 (1970), Darkseid's official debut was in Forever People #1 (1971) as Jack "The King" Kirby unleashed the Fourth World onto our world. I don't want to get too deep into the mythology surrounding Fourth World as I could be here all day rambling on about the significance of Apokolips, New Genesis, Boom Tubes, Mother Boxes, and the Anti-Life Equation. Suffice it to say, Kirby's mix of science fiction, old testament mythology, and gorgeous art shocked the comics industry asunder and I truly believe that this is where DC Comics started to venture into the "comics aren't just explicitly for kids anymore" market. Unfortunately for Kirby, the Fourth World books were cancelled in 1973 and everything from them were folded back into the mainstream DC Universe. Darkseid's big exposure to mainstream audiences came from his animated debut in the short lived 1984 Super Friends installment The Legendary Super Powers Show, but it was his appearance in Superman: The Animated Series that cemented his legacy as a perfect foil for Superman.
This episode of JLA kicks off with Darkseid and his followers readying an armada of ships to invade Earth via Boom Tube portals. In the nick of time, Superman intercepts the Boom Tube and flings Darkseid's forces across the universe. Elsewhere, Space Cabbie's jealousy towards Roxy Rocket's competing space taxi service spurs our reluctant hero to take on Darkseid as a paying passenger. But when Space Cabbie inadvertently learns about Darkseid's invasion, he tries his best to contact the League and what ensues is some clever bits of misdirection and pulse pounding action.
There's a lot going on in this episode as Paul Dini's script juggles between multiple characters with Space Cabbie serving as the lynchpin. Patton Oswalt has been great at portraying Space Cabbie as an intergalactic everyman in way over his head but this time around, Oswalt gives the character more confidence as the Cabbie survives an encounter with Darkseid and his top assassin, Kanto. Speaking of Kanto, Troy Baker's pulling double duty here as Hawkman and Kanto with both performances coming off as different as night and day. The same sentiment goes for Jason J. Lewis who pulls off a creepy DeSaad and a rather serious Superman. Superman's constant conflict with Darkseid always brings out a unique intensity within the Man of Steel and Lewis really sells that Superman's so determined to stop Darkseid, that he's willing to get captured and subject himself to torture. And I think it goes without saying, but Darkseid steals every scene thanks in part to Jonathan Adams' deep, gravely voice that perfectly captures Darkseid's ruthless demeanor and gravitas.
The rest of the cast adequate themselves well. Rachel Kimsey's Wonder Woman pops in and out, Mark Hamill tags along as Swamp Thing (in Space no less), and Jerry O'Connell makes a tiny cameo as the Atom. But then there's Gillian Jacobs as Roxy Rocket and I like what they did with this character. When she debuted in The New Batman Adventures, Roxy Rocket was risqué for being a former stunt woman turned career criminal obsessed with seeking out the next big thrill. I was never really fond of that character but I liked that the JLA producers have turned Roxy into an interplanetary entrepreneur and I especially like how she bookends Space Cabbie's arc. And how about that G'nort cameo? Yeah, Google that.
So overall, "The Fatal Fare" is a solid excursion into Darkseid's world. It suffers from having too many characters and not enough time devoted to each of them while the action scenes feel lackluster. But the dialogue's on point, the focus on Space Cabbie keeps the plot moving, and there's a great payoff with a gag involving "Darkseed".
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