Home > A-minus, Justice League > Justice League 2×07-08: “Maid of Honor”

Justice League 2×07-08: “Maid of Honor”

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Written by: Dwayne McDuffie
Directed by: Dan Riba
Originally Aired: October 18th, 2003
DVD: Justice League, Season Two

Summary: Wonder Woman’s attempts to get out and enjoy life a little bit quickly find her wrapped up in an international indecent that will force her to choose between a newfound friendship and the security of the planet.

Arc Notes: Second part of the Vandal Savage trilogy. First mention of Kaznia since Superman: TAS. Wonder Woman knows Batman’s secret identity.Focal Characters: Wonder Woman, Batman

First Appearances: Princess Audrey, Colonel Vox

Other Team Members: J’onn, Green Lantern, Flash

Featured Villain: Vandal Savage

Background:

After the last few entries touched on another villain with an immortality gimmick, Ra’s Al Ghul, this episode deals with the DC Universe’s oldest immortal villain, Vandal Savage. Created in 1941 as a villain for Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott, Savage’s comic book origin matches what’s shown on-screen in this story pretty closely, specificially that he’s a cro-magnon man who was exposed to radiation from a mysterious meteor that granted him virtual immortality. As a result, he became something of the DC universe’s version of an historic boogeyman, responsible for calamities throughout Earth’s history such as the sinking of Atlantis, the murder of Julius Caesar, and even claiming to be the Biblical Cain at one point.

An interesting hook is that he’s probably related to half the planet at this point, having sired many children throughout history (whom he uses as organ farms every so often). Gail Simone took that hook and ran with it via the creation of Scandal Savage, Vandal’s daughter and member of the Secret Six.

Aside from (interestingly enough given the content of the episode we’re about to talk about) Batman, Savage claims almost the entire DC Universe as opposition. Alan Scott, but he’s also locked horns with original Flash Jay Garrick and the rest of the JSA, both in its WWII and modern eras, the JLA, the Titans, the Outsiders… well, pretty much everyone short of Young Justice. The Flash rivalry has continued through both Barry Allen and Wally West, and even into another one of those great high-concept DC series that never quite found a place in the marketplace, Resurrection Man. Heck, he’s such a great character that he’s often written as one of the few people that even Lex Luthor respects, and is a great fusion of the mad scientist and supervillain archetypes.

Thoughts on the Episode:

“The Demon’s Quest” may have been a mere Bond tribute, but this story is a straight-up James Bond movie that happens to star Wonder Woman and Batman.

The most unique aspect of the episode is that it takes place entirely away from the DCAU’s usual Metropolis / Gotham stomping grounds; although the fictional cities are fun, occasionally you just want to get away to the city of lights. Given the quieter nature of much of this episode and the high-class status of most of the main characters (mythical royalty, actual royalty and modern “new money” corporate royalty), Paris is a perfect fit. Although, aside from a mandatory trip to the Eiffel Tower, there’s nothing really specific about the Parisian locations, the art design clearly differentiates the show from North American cities, giving the episode a lusher feel that’s matched by the very good score that samples a broader range of music than the normal material.

Secondly, there’s plenty of women wandering around. Although Wonder Woman had a couple of episodes to herself in the first season, the first two Vandal Savage episodes are her two real coming-out parties. In the first season, we saw Diana wandering through malls in full battle attire; an interesting contrast, but nothing that gave any depth to her character. Here, she’s adapted a bit more, showing up in formalwear at parties and receptions, displaying broader emotions, and starting to show signs of the more diplomatic side of her character that would be used in later seasons. Of course, the calm and demure Diana at the start of the story is rapidly replaced by the warrior princess, but it’s still miles ahead of Hawkgirl.

The friendship with Audrey is another example of Diana’s softer side – the point is initially to get Diana some more exposure to the broader world, but it becomes something that does seem like a somewhat genuine friendship. Audrey is a fun combination of Paris Hilton and Eurotrash royalty, but when placed next to Wonder Woman’s combination of power and naiivite, the odd couple-like pairing works. Although the plotline of the episode isn’t complicated at all – it’s essentially a two-team-member romp, a la “Brave and the Bold” – that works to this one’s advantage, giving over plenty of time to the girls’ night out (unfortunately, the club scene is, as usual, underpopulated – the problems with a TV budget) and, more importantly, following it up in a logical way by having them keep it up until the night of the engagement.

After that, things go a bit south as Diana doesn’t exactly make a great case for Savage being the criminal we know he is, as her arguments with Audrey in the cell don’t really have much substance to them (“For what?” “What do you think?” She can’t think anything, you haven’t bothered to tell her yet!). And Audrey’s seeming maturation by the end of the story kind of robs things of a conclusion between her and Diana. Audrey’s redemption is well-handled, but it separates her from Wonder Woman by necessity, and that slight disconnect is the only real flaw of the story. Luckilly, the storyline void is filled by Batman’s presence in the final scene, and the result is probably the most memorable final exchange in the series, although this season had a LOT of great bits at the end of episodes (just wait until “Eclipsed.”)

After Diana planting a kiss on Batman’s cheek back in “The Brave and the Bold”, Batman and Wonder Woman quickly became a fan favourite pairing (mercifully eliminating the tired Superman / Wonder Woman coupling; as has been noted many times by writers more insightful than the typical lonely preteen fanfic writer, Diana and Clark don’t really anything much in common aside from their powers). The chemistry is great from the start of the episode with the fun repartee at the gala, but it ramps up later with Batman hanging out in Wonder Woman’s bedroom quite a bit (either via communicator or in person) and his usual manner moderated by some very mild flirting on her part.

Much like a proper Bond movie, after the slow first half to set things up, Batman then gets to show off just about every trick in his arsenal in the second half, between the Batwing dogfighting jet fighters to the breakout sequence from the prison and then throwing down on Savage.

Amongst the pantheon of DC villains, Vandal Savage is the choice to play a Bond villain. Although he wasn’t given many distinguishing features in his original appearance, merely serving as a rather generic dictator, he’s much more interesting this time around. Savage actually has a pretty high success rate in terms of his plan; he manipulates and marries Audrey, disables her father and wipes out an entire carrier group, presumably killing thousands (one of the few times the aforementioned limited crowd scenes work, as it looks as though only a few sailors survived the attack even if that wasn’t necessarily the intent) while only really failing to get the world to agree to his list of demands.

He’s very reminiscent of DCAU Luthor in a lot of ways, in that he’s cultured but always has some menace peeking through from beneath the surface, but his dialogue also contains a lot of delicious double entendres that make the show funnier since we know more about Savage than the characters do. He’s even less directly involved in this one than he was in Savage Time, but he chews scenery about as well as it’s possible for an animated character to. The deleted scene from this episode makes it clear that he was originally written as even more over-the-top, but that was pulled back in the final edit.

While the first half is small-scale stuff, the second half ramps up the scope nicely. The attack on the wedding is well-handled (the “GI Joe parachutes” aren’t a major problem, since it’s not like Wonder Woman and Batman would go around killing off military personnel), and the remaining members’ attempt to eliminate the mass driver actually has a nicely tense moment as Flash is tossed into the one environment where his powers are useless – the vacuum of space. For the first time in the series, we see what happens when Flash actually gets mad at bad guys, which is a nice touch even though it doesn’t really come back into play for a long time.

Batman’s breakout from prison has a beautiful shot of him shoulder-checking the guards out of the cell, and that’s followed up by his great entrance into the control room where he wipes out half the guards in one charge before hitting Savage with a chairshot worthy of The Rock.  It may not be an epic in the style of “Twilight”, but the action is appropriate to the story being told, and that’s what matters.

Although modern Bond films have gone more intense, this is a perfect take on the lighter style of Bond movies. The dialogue is smart and funny, there’s enough action to keep things moving, and although it’s not as large in scope as other

Grade: A-. Somewhat of a smaller scale than you’d expect from a Justice League episode, but great nevertheless.

Random Musings:

  • Kaznia was used as the DCAU’s generic Balkan republic for a long time; as noted above, the name popped up in Superman: TAS a couple of times, and the country is still around in the Beyond era as Kaznia’s foreign minister plays a key role in Terry’s debut adventure.
  • How long are we supposed to believe Diana was knocked unconscious? Audrey had enough time to put together a fairly impressive ceremony, including guests, and get a wedding dress. Then again, she’s probably the type of girl who’s been planning her wedding since she was six years old.
  • Diana has to set a kind of record for most non-disguised outfits worn in one DCAU episode in Part 1  – black dress, red dress, the black dress with the sheer top, and her regular costume. (My girlfriend interjects herself at this point to get me to note that the DCAU design staff has very good taste in formalwear).
  • Kids, turn away for this next bullet point. Gone? Okay, check out this screen grab:

    Batman sandwiched between two beautiful women? Nothing new.
  • While we’re on the subject – it can’t be a coincidence that Diana slides up next to the club guy who most resembles Steve Trevor.
  • If you want a final bit of proof that this episode’s lighter than the usual fare, Batman even smiles during the final act. Of course, he made a crook pretty much wet his metaphorical bed in the first act, so it all balances out.
  • Savage’s immortality seems to be a fully regenerative type here, but he’s also lacking the near-superhuman strength and speed of his comic counterpart.
  • I’ll leave it to the comments to put together a full list of Bond references, but: there’s an action sequence in the opener that closes with a one-liner; Savage’s outfit is the same as Hugo Drax’s from Moonraker; the villain’s headquarters is destroyed spectacularly; Savage has a henchman with a gimmick; double entendres galore; and the male hero attends a party in a tux.
  • This was the first episode to give a hint that Diana’s origin was identical to that of her comic book self.
  • I really ought to have kept track of who has priority in flying the J-7. First one we’ve seen get officially destroyed here.

Line of the Episode: “You want a couple of them? We can go to the VIP room.” Kids show? Yeah, right.

Flash Line of the Episode: “Yeah, but we’d come anyway.” Remember what I said about Flash being the conscience of the team? Little throwaway lines like that reinforce it.

Next Justice League: Green Lantern apparently needs a Cialis prescription in “Hearts and Minds”

Next Side Story: A quick double-shot of Static Shock with the first two crossover episodes.

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Categories: A-minus, Justice League
  1. Tyler
    January 5, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    Great analysis of a great episode. I generally find Wonder Woman to be pretty bland in both comic and cartoon forms and thus don’t care much for the episodes that are focused on her, but this is one of my favorite JL episodes. This is probably due to my love of the Bond series and the cartoon version of Vandal Savage (who is put to even better use in “Hereafter”). There’s also some great character bits in this, including John’s suggestion that they should just destroy the railgun and that the astronauts aboard “knew the risks.” Finally, the image of Savage’s broken limbs contorting back into their proper positions is about as hardcore as you can get in a cartoon.

    • January 6, 2010 at 11:45 am

      Thanks for the comment – sorry it took so long for me to approve it, but it was a busy evening.

      The scene at the end is definitely hardcore – even moreso than the subtle healing of Audrey’s face rake earlier in the episode, it drives home just how tough Savage is.

  2. January 12, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Very descriptive review. I agree to a point. The Wonder Woman character has a lot of potential and a loyal following, but sometimes her character is not shown to its full potential in the Justice League. If she were a little more daring or was going through a midlife crisis the character might become less bland.

  3. Pam
    March 30, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    What really upsets me is everybody thinks Diana should be with Bruce. I absolutely hate it. Diana and Kal deserves to be together. Please get rid of that Lois Lane. She is such so boring and such a drag. She’s only bringing down superman. He needs a real woman and that’s Diana.

    • April 2, 2010 at 1:28 pm

      Pairing up Superman and Lois is, as has been mentioned many, many times, something more apt for a poorly-written fanfic than anythign actually based on their characters or personalities (the running gag in the DCU is that if you want to make Diana laugh, suggest the idea to her). Although the Batman pairing is just as awkward, the best one out there is probably what Morrison hinted at during his JLA run, namely Aquaman. Makes the most sense in just about every aspect, except for the rather awkward point of Arthur usually being married to Mera.

  4. Rocketrider
    May 7, 2010 at 11:23 pm

    Ok well i really like the idea of Bruce and Diana together because batman is so silent and mysterious perfect for Diana

  5. JenesisDark
    August 14, 2010 at 8:16 am

    I kinda liked the lesbian undertones going between Audrey and Diana. I’ve never been a fan of Batman and Wonder Woman… they just seems like a flirtation to me. If anything, this brought to me that Diana is flirtatious more than anything. She’s seeing a new world, she wants to explore it – male relationships, clubs, she wants to explore the newness of it. Bruce is a playboy – If you look at some time-lines, isn’t this about where Mystery of the Batwoman plays in with both a gangster’s daughter and Catwoman flirtation going on in Gotham?
    Also; I think Bruce was in his own hotel room… Hotel rooms aren’t exactly indistinguishable – take it from a hotel worker 😉

  1. January 4, 2010 at 5:26 am

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