Home > B-plus, Episode Reviews, Justice League > Justice League 1×08-09 – “Injustice for All”

Justice League 1×08-09 – “Injustice for All”

October 17, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Injustice for All

Written by Stan Berkowitz
Directed by Butch Lukic
Originally Aired: September 6th & 13th, 2002
DVD: Justice League, Season One

Summary: After finally bringing Lex Luthor to justice, the League is forced to deal with his escape and subsequent formation of the Injustice League. However, Luthor will have to deal with an old friend: a clown who has decided to crash the party.

Featured Characters: Batman, Lex Luthor

Other Team Members: Full roster.

Debuting Characters: Solomon Grundy, The Shade, Star Sapphire, The Cheetah, The Ultra-Humanite, Copperhead

Background:

(incoherent blubbering)

Sorry, just a ton of potential things to talk about in this episode and it’s driving me nuts. As the title suggests, this is the first appearance of the Injustice League in JLU. DC has had various evil counterparts to the Justice League in their history, but the rather simple inversion of the JLA’s name probably has the Injustice League at the top of the list (a season two episode introduces a second evil league, the Secret Society of Super Villains, and the entire third season of JLU deals with the Legion of Doom). The Injustice League in this episode draws on villains from a variety of sources and comic series (and, truth be told, eras) to form its cast:

  • Lex Luthor [leader] – Him you know.
  • The Joker – I’m assuming you know him as well. Billion dollar movie? Oscar for Heath Ledger? Has a really freaky knife?
  • The Ultra-Humanite – A bad guy with a long history, who was the first supervillain faced by Superman (and subsequently mothballed when Siegel and Schuster created Luthor). Originally a mere mad scientist, Humanite was given the gimmick of transplanting his brain into various replacement bodies, including a voluptuous female movie star and, as seen in this episode, a giant albino gorilla.
  • The Cheetah – Wonder Woman’s #1 rogue, a mad… anthropologist… transformed into a werecat. Her main attribute in this episode appears to be “kinda slutty.”
  • Star Sapphire – Basically, the Green Lantern version of Catwoman, only this time it’s the hero’s regular girlfriend transformed into a villain by the influence of an extraterrestrial jewel.
  • The Shade – Originally a 1940s Flash villain (possibly explaining his inclusion in this episode, as there aren’t any other Flash villains in the lineup), Shade was used by writer James Robinsion as the primary… anti-villain, I guess… in his groundbreaking Starman series during the 90s.
  • Copperhead – the odd man out of this group, a relatively minor Batman bad guy who, while he has an interesting, albeit goofy, costume, never really made much of an impact in the DCU until he was killed off by Kate Spencer, Manhunter, in the debut story of her series.

(Yes, once again, I’m telling you just to buy Manhunter, already.)

Notably, there doesn’t appear to be a direct Hawkgirl antagonist in this group. Then again, Hawkgirl’s rogues gallery isn’t so much a gallery as it is “a poster that just happens to be hanging on the metaphorical bathroom wall.”

Thoughts on the Episode:

This is the start of one of the biggest story arcs in the DCAU, namely Lex Luthor vs. the Justice League. The first half of the episode depicts Luthor’s transition away from his Superman:TAS status quo to a more overtly villainous characterisation reminiscent of his Super Friends era, while the second basically exists that even if you have Batman tied up and mindblocked, he’s still Batman and is capable of taking your team apart with a few choice words, a glass of water, and some well-timed Bat-on-Cat action that probably resulted in more than a few horrifying fanfics.

Luthor is portrayed as being out of the comfort zone that he existed in during all of his prior appearances – before the credits even hit, he’s been chased out of his LexCorp offices by the league, and collapses in Superman’s hands due to what’s identified as “blood poisoning” (Luthor’s suggestion of chemotherapy as a treatment seems to suggest that it was written as cancer – which was a comic storyline – and changed later by BS&P). He’s then tossed in jail only to be bailed out by the Ultra-Humanite, and as a somewhat desperate means of getting back at the Justice League embarks on a plan so foolish that he never would have tried it if it wasn’t for the fact that he may not live that much longer (seriously, stealing a JL communicator and planting a bomb on the Watchtower? That’s it?). In the course of this series, we’ll see Luthor descend further into comic book supervillainy before ultimately appearing to redeem himself, then finally showing that he’s basically been the evil, cunning businessman all along.

Interestingly, Luthor almost pulls his plan off, largely because, once he’s adjusted to the new reality of having a team of heroes coming after him rather than just Superman, he’s able to lay several traps for them, which normally work as the League still isn’t working like a well-oiled unit. Although it probably wasn’t intentional, this Justice League is shown to be a lot more individualistic in their approach to battle early in the series.

However, in one of the first signs of BatGod syndrome striking, it’s doubtful that the League provided much more than a distraction for Batman, who basically takes the Injustice Gang apart without bothering to free himself from his restraints. Playing on either emotions (Cheetah, Grundy) or just plain old Greed (Humanite), Batman tears the Injustice League apart from within, allowing even an ineffective Justice League plenty of time to take them out. This is one of my favourite Batman characterisations – he’s not winning by preparation, but rather because he’s the tactically smartest guy in the room. The only one immune to this approach is Joker, who doesn’t do much (this isn’t a match for his role in “World’s Finest”) but, as the one member of Luthor’s team not motivated by greed, at least has the good sense to want to kill off Batman before anything can go wrong. No one listens, of course – they’re bad guys. Joker’s failure to finish the job at the end provides the line of the episode.

“Injustice for All” was beset with problems during production, as it was pushed far further back in the schedule than what was intended (nearly a full year after “Secret Origins” premiered, and paradoxically well after the Injustice Gang’s second appearance in “Fury.”) It’s a complicated episode due to having more than a dozen “named” characters to keep track of at nearly all times in fight scenes, but it never comes across as incoherent.

At the time this one aired, it seemed like a reversion back to Super Friends, but there’s certainly a lot more character depth than that show, as the conflict between the villains carries past any slow moments and minimizes the silliness. Although it’s all an excuse to have a fight between two superpowered groups, at least the excuse seems somewhat plausible this time around.

Overall Grade: B+ (after the brilliance of “World’s Finest”, this is a bit of a comedown, but it’s a strong episode.)

Random Thoughts:

  • Joker KnifeSee? Knife (thought to be the same one used in Mad Love and the “Return of the Joker” flashback sequences). Also, isn’t it great to see lips on the Joker again? This design strikes the right balance.of terror and whimsy that makes Mr. J so great as a bad guy.
  • Amusingly, this is one of the first times that Batman leverages the Wayne fortune to win a fight.
  • The J’onn Fakeout is used again at the start of the episode. It’s not annoying… yet.
  • This is one of the only two episodes this season to credit all seven principal league members after the pilot; come the second season, it would seemingly be rarer to not see every Leaguer in the episode (yes, yes, a version of Batman appears in the first season finale, but I don’t count that)
  • Hawkgirl goes after Grundy in the first brawl between the two teams, presaging their storyline from later in the series.
  • Luthor goes through more wardobe in one episode than some recurring characters got in entire series: he starts in his STAS black dress suit, moves into prison garb, dresses in a purple-and-green variant of his Super Friends attire (which will show up again in season three of JLU) then finishes off the episode wearing a redesigned version of his classic Super Powers / George Perez battlesuit.
  • I assume you caught the most blatant Super Friends reference of the series, when Hawkgirl is thrown into a suspicious-looking pair of statues in part 2.

Line of the Episode: “You’re… despicable.” Proving that you can take the cartoon out of the Joker’s design, but you can’t take the cartoon out of the Joker (even Batman – BATMAN – cracks a smile at this one).

Next Justice League: The second of the three stories focusing on DC’s holy trinity – this time it’s Wonder Woman, as I try to avoid saying anything that will set off the Wonder Woman fans, who are like the provisional arm of comic geeks.

Next Time: I start to deal with what will become the Big Plot of Justice League via Brainiac’s first two appearances as a main antagonist – “Stolen Memories” and “Ghost in the Machine.”

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  1. JFink
    October 19, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    I love how one step of Batman’s plan is to seduce the cat woman. Nice to know things never change.

  2. October 19, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    Yup. Although I’m not going to edit the entry to point this out, if one was inclined to do gymnastics for the sake of trying to fit everything into the DCAU continuity, you could try and claim that Cheetah was somehow related to Dr. Dorian from “Tyger, Tyger” in BTAS.

    Of course, you’d be wrong, but you could try.

  1. February 6, 2010 at 7:37 pm
  2. November 29, 2010 at 8:28 am

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