spreading the talent

Babbling About Doom

Review by Rick Pipito

This week brought us the release of the newest DC Comics’ animated project, “Justice League: Doom.”  The story is based on the comic “JLA: Tower Of Babel.”  I have not read the Babel story, but Doom was probably one the best DC animations to date.  Be warned there are SPOILERS AHEAD…

The story premise is that Batman has a backup plan to take down each member of the League in case they go rogue.  As one of the only nonsuperpowered members of the JLA, I can immediately see why he would do this.  I’ve always known Batman to have a contingency plan for everything, but what would happen if a villain were to get his hands on these secrets?

While the Royal Flush gang is committing a robbery, the League shows up to thwart their plans.  Ten, Jack, Queen, King and Ace are well animated here and though their roles are minor compared to the rest of the story, they set the stage.  All previous incarnations of the RF Gang seemed to not matter that much.  They were always taken down too easily.  In this case they were as well, but it took the whole Justice League to do so.  Part of this is because someone has supplied the Royal Flush with advanced technology.

As they are carried off to prison, Batman returns to his cave injured in the fight.  There is a real quick glimpse of something in his rearview mirror, but it disappears.  Unlike Batman, he shrugs it off as something in his mind.  This is where he is mistaken.  Mirror Master sends one of his holograms through his mirror and is able to hack the batcave’s console.  I’m glad they did something with Mirror Master to boost him up a little.  I’m not talking about his redesigned costume, I mean he always seemed to be one of the “B” villains.  In Doom, he is more of an “A”.  In fact, this can be said about a few of the villains save for Bane and Metallo.

With the secrets in hand he returns to his boss and meets with a few other archenemies of the Justice League.  Vandal Savage has arranged this meeting to form his new Legion of Doom.  Okay, here is one of the great parts of the story.  They go through explaining briefly, the origin of Vandal Savage and why he is over 80,000 years old and can’t die.  The details as to how remain sketchy, but his whole origin is there.  So where are they meeting?  None other than the swamp where the Hall of Doom has often been portrayed.  The reimagining of the hall is also another really nice nostalgiac point here.

At first I was a little disappointed by the lack of Justice Leaguers and Legion of Doom members, but I understand why they cut down the amount from the original comic.  There is just no way they could fit all of that into an animated movie and have it be under two hours long.  Still, my heart ached for it slightly.

After the plans have been set, the villains seek out to destroy their hero archenemies.  Each of these baddies has been taken down countless times by their counterparts, but this time they get even.  I’ll make it brief in explaining.

Bane buries Bruce Wayne alive in his parents’ grave.  Not only has he “broken the bat”, which he references (meaning that this takes place after the “Knightfall” storyline), but now he has broken Wayne as well.

Ma’alefa’ak poisons Jonn Jonzz and lights him on fire.  Jonn reverts to his Martian Manhunter shape and begins burning alive.

Cheetah poisons Wonder Woman forcing her to fight illusions in her mind to the point of near heart failure.

Mirror Master manages to strap a bomb on the Flash’s (Barry Allen) wrist.  Think of the movie “Speed” here and you will know what the bomb is going to do.

Star Sapphire convinces Hal Jordan that he has failed in saving lives.  Hal then can not power his Green Lantern ring because his will is broken.

Metallo manages to shoot Superman with a Kryptonite bullet.

So, now what?  The Legion has won and Savage offers each member their own piece of land to conquer when he blows up a third of the Earth’s population.  How does he do this?  Well, he plans to use a rocket that will leave a magnetic trail.  Once it impacts with the Sun, a large solar flare will follow the trail back to Earth and wipe out the whole side facing the star.  Realizing that Vandal Savage does not die (which the theory is tested in a cool way by one of the Legion members), they have no choice but to join his cause.

Here is one of the weak points of the story.  Batman manages to escape from his burial.  This would be damn near impossible to pull off, and quite frankly, I’m still not sure how he did it, but I’ll suspend disbelief.  Once he begins to put the pieces of the puzzle together, he and Cyborg manage to reassemble the team and save them from their ultimate doom.

When the heroes are able to regroup, they attack the Legion in the Hall of Doom.  A fight ensues and you can guess the victor.  Also, how they stop the flare from reaching Earth is a nice visual as well and shows the limitations of even the Green Lantern’s ring.

At the end, Cyborg is made a new member of the Justice League and Batman quits because no one sees eye to eye with why he made these contingency plans, and why he will make them again.  Another downer in my mind here is okay, Bats has always been a loner, but to let him walk off is insane.  The League just lets him go (all except Superman who seems to be the voice of reason here).  My question is “why can’t the heroes see how valuable Batman is to the team.”  If he can singlehandedly take down every one of them, then they should try to see his point of view instead of just downright chastising him.

While doing a little research I found these differences between the animated film and the original graphic novel:  1) Vandal Savage is used in place of Ra’s Al Ghul.  This is probably because Ra’s has been overused as a villain ever since Batman Begins made him a more mainstream character. 2) Aquaman is in the graphic novel and is given some of the Scarecrow’s fear gas to make him afraid of the water.  Without going near water, he will die in a matter of hours.  3) Plastic man is frozen in the graphic novel and shattered with a hammer. 4)  Green Lantern in the comic version is Kyle Raynor, and is rendered blind by his own ring. 5) Wally West Flash is in the graphic novel and is hit by a bullet that forces him to have seizures at the speed of light.  6) Superman is not hit by a bullet in the graphic novel.  Instead, his skin becomes transparent from red kryptonite and his organs are exposed to direct sunlight, which can be deadly.  7) Finally, Talia Al Ghul plays the saving part in the comics that Cyborg did in this dvd release.  There are other changes as well, but those are the major ones I thought were noteworthy.

The original voice castings from the previous Batman and Superman animated series and Justice League cartoons have reunited to do this movie.  For that alone, this dvd is worth buying.  The animation and designs are something new for each character, but closely resemble those in the current “Young Justice” animated series.  With all factors involved, I give this a 9 out of 10.  I will read the print version when I get my hands on a copy just to be able to do a better comparison.  Until then, I suggest you go grab your copy and tell me what you think…

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2 responses

  1. Sound like a must own. DC Animated is really knocking it out the park lately. If they can find a way to translate this success to live action features, Marvel better watch out.

    February 29, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    • I agree (with the exception of All Star Superman). I think that DC really needs to answer the X-Men and Avengers movies with a Justice League live action. It’s bound to happen at some point, and I’d love to see more than just Superman and Batman being the mainstream DC heroes. Hell, I’d even watch a movie that is focused on the character, The Question. Both franchise companies have so much potential and characters to work with that I can’t believe they aren’t more competetive (Marvel with their animation & DC with their live action). Thanks for the comment!

      February 29, 2012 at 3:25 pm

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