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The Avengers Saving The World In Style

British Ministry agent John Steed, under direction from "Mother", investigates a diabolical plot by arch-villain Sir August de Wynter to rule the world with his weather control machine. Steed investigates the beautiful Doctor Mrs. Emma Peel, the only suspect, but simultaneously falls for her and joins forces with her to combat Sir August...

Alive is a dangerous beast.


Before this rare animal named "Jay El Yew" can be put to rest, we have an episode which essentially defies the protocol of the series and of action cartoons as a whole. With the show's pent-ultimate breath, it produces an episode which could arguably be the most controversial choice at the most controversial time.


With one episode of JLU to follow it, this first part of the two part finale offers no speaking heroes.


None. The Invisible Hand will probably go down as the big turning point in the show’s run, throwing not one but two big reveals as well as a superb smackdown with Alex O’Hirn, who has finally become The Rhino.


I am absolutely loving the fact that this show isn’t a strictly villain of the week affair. After seeing how dismal a job of it The Batman did in their first season, it’s been great to see each villain appear each week with an actual reason other than to serve the stories need for a fight scene. Given how many of them have come from The Big Man, it’s surprising that they’ve managed to keep the theme so fresh throughout the show’s run but it’s not a single episode yet has felt like we’re treading over old ground.


As said above, the fight scene with The Rhino was especially well done and came so very close to beating the brawl with The Lizard from Natural Selection. Clancy Brown is perfectly cast as the large, simplistic villain. I was very impressed with Brown here – after seeing his perform as Lex Luthor for years and how impressive he was in that role and his very memorable role as Flash as Luthor in Justice League Unlimited’s The Great Brain Robbery, I’ve seen that he has a lot more range than I would’ve normally given him credit for. Kudos, Clancy.


My favourite scene here was the reveal of The Big Man. I admit to having never been too enthralled with Tombstone before this episode – he’s never been a bad villain but he’s never quite lived up to some of Spidey’s top flight villains but he made a hell of an impression here. Richardson does well in the role and his dialogue is superb throughout. I’m really looking forward to seeing where they go with this storyline, the build up, if you’ll pardon the pun, has been spectacular.


Nada. At last! The Big Man returns!


This episode sees a lot of old villains return as the new bigger, badder, better Enforcers confirm their allegiance to Tombstone who is now all too aware of the ever growing presence of Dr. Octopus and his attempts to usher in the age of the super criminal. It’s a fascinating direction to take the series and it’s one I’d like to see continued should the show survive its sophomore season. It’s cool to see The Shocker again – I didn’t expect to see him again after his departure from The Sinister Six but they did manage to sneak him in here – the good villains always come back better than ever.


Much like Accomplishes the episode seems destined to simply lead to better things – many of the seeds have been planted in this storyline since the first episodes. One of the benefits is that it manages to utilise a lot of the show’s cast without simply stuffing them in for the sake of it. It also fits into the show’s theme of the education of Peter Parker – these episode, moreso than a lot of the others feel like Spider-Man is a boy playing in a man’s world – it’s usually more apparent in his confrontations with Shocker and Tombstone and I think it’s one of the keys to the show’s success. Rather than go the generic route and make everyone a teenager in order to make them more relatable, and in the case of most of these shows, tired and clichéd, the show cleverly uses this to it’s advantages and makes the main antagonists of Spider-Man many years his senior – they’re all older, smarter and more experienced than him. See Tombstone’s line in Catalysts for a more direct case in point. “That’s what we grown ups call irony.”


The ending drops more hints to the return of The Green Goblin. Just how good is this show at cliff hangers? Every episode ending just leaves you desperate to watch the next one immediately – this show will make for a cracking season long DVD release when Sony finally gets around to it. As with all great episodes, this one simply leaves you dying to watch the next one. It makes me sad that each season is only 13 episodes long. More of the same please!


Not a muscle bound heroic whisper.


With audiences poised to watch their heroes� final hour in their tenure on Cartoon Network, some may be horrified to find that this time has been cut by half. This episode solely spotlights the villains, and arguably, why not? They play an equal part in the heroic exploits of the JLU. They are the obstacle course that allows the hero to prove his worth. They are more than just a punching bag, they are a characters in their own right. If this series is to finish, should they not have a virtually exclusive episode?


Like it or lump it, this story focuses on the escapades Lex Luthor as he tries to balance his power base in his Secret Society with his need to merge with Brainiac.


It's a risky writing venture. The placement of this type of episode is certainly surprising. The audience is most likely to tune in to JLU to see Superman, Batman, Green Arrow and their various ilk. When the show enters it's final run, will an episode that focuses on the hero's opponents truly satisfy? Furthermore, within the story itself, there are - unsurprisngly - no villains here which can really be deemed likable. Interesting, certainly, but real empathy goes a long way in a show. We the audience, need to feel for one side or another. Tension comes from taking a side. If you don't have any empathy for a character's motivation, it automatically damages the dramatic tension. Is this unique perspective, just a little too late?


Of all the enemy characters, Tala is probably the villain the audience sympathies with. She's caught between a rock and a hard place. Attracted to power and unable to really find a place with either male, animal or otherwise. However empathy isn't the key to this episode, its motivation. The dramatic tension comes from not really wanting Lex to succeed in finding Brainaic, but at the same time, not really wanting Grodd to really stop him either. Lex is infinitely a more fascinating character than Grodd, so out of the two, I think most tend to side on Lex - despite the knowledge of his dreadful intent. The dramatic tension for the audience comes from a lack a decisive certainty as to who they should root for.


So in practical terms, this works fairly well. While hardly likable, Lex is a fine character in DCAU. We may not really root for him, but his victories are always amusing and the extent to his ruthlessness never ceases to surprise. Like with Batman, the audience can't help but relish the sight of a "normal" take victory over the giants.


Lex's quest for Brainiac leads him to the very spot we saw both Brainiac and Darkseid meet their doom in the excellent Justice League episode, "Twilight". Convincing a host of super-villains to follow Lex to the world's utter enslavement via Brainiac is made somewhat more difficult when Grodd is released by a dissatisfied Tala. The result? Another vaguely watch-able brawl.


JLU has had many multi brawls. If we combine the two seasons of Justice League, with the three of JLU, that's five seasons with collectives of super characters battling it out. So by the end of this final season, these fights are feeling somewhat tired. There are a few highlights. Toyman's small scene with his yo-yo was a delight as was Giganta and her very nasty squeezing fit with Grodd. Nevertheless, the only battle sequence I felt really held any true dramatic action this season was in "Grudge Match". I didn't personally feel "Alive" came close to matching it.


Once the battle finishes, and the audience are awakened from this extended period of thwacks and bangs by the shock of Grodd being ejected from an airlock, we have a rather unusual scene. Metron, passive observer of the cosmos pops by to offer a futile warning of what might come. Seems odd for a demigod to bother offering such an apocalypyic warning to a stubborn, arrogant and power mad mortal. Perhaps such declarations are a house rule of an immortal's job, who knows. Whatever the reason, it certainly adds a portent to what's to come..


The final twist will shock and quite possibly disappoint some of the audience. Tala is ruthlessly used to bridge the gap between the asteroid and Lex's Brainiac capturing machine. It's quite a shocking scene, but this is nothing new for this season. Be it baldy humor, realistic character interaction, topical comment or just simple plain violence, this season has not been afraid to push it's constraints. Nevertheless, this whole scene plays off with the epical proportions it requires.


And so Lex doesn't succeed in bringing Brainac back... or at least not in the way he wants.. To his clearly visible horror, his gigantic gambit has brought him a gigantic threat - Darkseid.


Personally I was a filled to the brim with an unholy mix of major thrills and minor disappointment. It certainly is a climatic and well produced scene. The arc of this season, with villain working with villain, has a logical fluidity that would accumulate with a scenario which might require villain working with villain standing next to hero alongside hero. In essence, the ultimate JLU bound together to fight against the might of Darkseid.


However, the problem lies with Darkseid himself. If Darkseid had not had several outings through DCAU already, there would be no issue here. The problem lies with Darkseid's godlike status. He is a character with limitless power. With limitless power comes limited writing potential. When the stories revolve around heroes who do have limits, how do you put such limited characters against a virtually limitless foe again and again? How do you do so without having to add more limits to the villain or less limits on the heroes? How do you prevent a resolution manifesting without having to weaken or strengthen one against their natural strength?


It's a danger all powerful villains have in stories when you reuse them. Be they Darkseid, be they Borg, It is a natural part of character writing that demands a different method of resolution each time you create adversity. Create an almost unbeatable character, you are left with almost unwinnable odds for the weaker side.


Darkseid's death in "Twilight" made his exit from Justice League a solid one. How will his return and assumed defeat affect Twlight's powerful finale? In all fairness, the audience cannot say. We can offer our natural reaction to this revelation, but no honest fan - particularly with JLU's solid track record - can presume that the finale, "Destroyer" won't hold a twist the audience has not participated. Here's hoping my assessment is stamped on by Mr Timm and company, thus proved to be utterly irrelevant. I can endure the kick to my opinionated ego if it means we have one hell of a finale.


Finally, we have the epilogue and at this point, it is slightly confusing. Darkseid is back on Apocalypse after destroying Grodd's ship along with Lex and his crew. Back on Earth, the JLU are warned about Darkseid's potential threat by .. Lex and his crew. How these threads and all of JLU will resolve (or not) is yet to be clear. Again, one is hesitant to condemn any lack of resolution until we've seen "Destroyer" and its ultimate resolution to life, JLU and well, everything.


So as a pent-ultimate episode, I must honestly say, for all it's strengths, "Alive" feels poorly placed. The mandatory battles seems too long and at this point in the show, way too extensive. It's just another excuse to see X character to battle Y character. Probably a part of the show's official mandate, but nevertheless at this point feels fairly unwelcome. That's not to say the battles are badly played out. They have their strong points, but overall they lack the real inspiration to warrant their length. As a long term watcher, I just honestly wanted to fast forward onwards to the character parts.


Furthermore, such a unique tale doesn't get the appreciation in deserves when it's placement feels like padding to the upcoming event. Unfair when assessing the show on it's own, but as part of a larger entity, one can't help feeling it was poorly timed. Knowing there is little more than half an hour left before we lose our JLU heroes forever makes "Alive" a slightly resentful watch.


Nevertheless, it's still good drama from a very respectable final season. Lex is wonderfully ruthless, there is some great pieces of direction and, as always, some super shreds of dialogue.


A good watch, however it just feels such a unique episode would have been far better appreciated (and overall, more conducive to the season as a whole) if it had got an earlier slot. Watch, enjoy and do your best to forget about the time left.

So here we are. The finale. The final one. The end. Excited.


I bet you are. Nick Fury is director of S.H.I.E.L.D, an international peace keeping agency. The agency is a who’s who of Marvel Super Heroes, with Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow. When global security is threatened by Loki and his cohorts, Nick Fury and his team will need all their powers to save the world from disaster


And what a mixed bag it is. Two sides to this, my ill-metaphored sword. On one side, it's a shinning beacon to all that is JLU; it has action, it has heroes, it has battles. It has great animation, some really smart one liners and it treats all it's characters with dignity. On the other side, it is all slightly ill paced, utilizes the worst case of deux ex machina I've seen on TV and lacks a little character detail for my personal taste.


In a little more depth (or in the context of the plot, maybe a little less), "Destroyer" concludes the season arc "Legion Of Doom". Lex Luthor's Legion returns to Earth after accidentally unleashing the maniac god Darkseid instead of the maniac machine, Brainiac. The Justice League and the Legion Of Doom (or Secret Society as DC would prefer) come together in alliance to stop this threat as revenge thirsty Darkseid and his creatures invade Earth.


There isn't much more than this to the story, but then the whole episode is designed to be a virtual homage to all that is super-hero action. One shouldn't condemn this episode for the weak plot, it's all about action, action, action.


Action certainly comes thick and fast. It's fluid, dynamic and very exciting stuff. Some pretty nasty scenes there; a spear in Shayera's wing, a decapitation of one of Darkseid's many goons.. It's all fun, occasionally shocking and unlike some of the previous episodes, the action scenes feel well placed and not contrived. After-all, action is the whole point to the story.


While it means there is little in terns of story-depth, this approach allows the show to pay it's respects to as many characters equally and fairly. This seems rather appropriate for a show about a whole league of super-heroes.


In between the action, there is some nice dialogue and a couple of welcome character scenes. J'onn makes a return. The character has clearly evolved and as he intended, found a life. Good on him.


Those expecting any serious resolutions won't find any. This is JLU-alongside-the- Legion-of-Doom-versus-Darkseid-and-minions (his generic minions, don't expect any of his usual cohorts).


The focus battle is Batman, Luthor and Superman Vs Darkseid. The arena: The remains of "The Daily Planet" building. It's a damn fine fight. A particular highlight for me was Superman's small speech before he goes "extra super" on Darkseid.


The attempts from Batman and Luthor to distract Darkseid's attack on Superman give this feud an extra layer. Some may argue having a mortal like Batman knock a virtual god over is slightly unrealistic. However, considering how vital Batman has been to Justice League, it's nice to see him have some serious interaction. It's particularly good to see Superman and Batman working together again.


This seems a good time to take a break from the good, and speak of the bad. Overall, there isn't much of this, but there were certainly some issues in this episode.


I still question (for those who read my review of the previous episode, "Alive") as to whether Darkseid needed to return. He offers nothing new here at all. It's Darkseid after Superman again and the fight is like an extended version of their last encounter in "Twilight". It's good, but with all of DC's literature at their disposal, did we need a forth reckoning? Wasn't "Twilight" major finale strong enough?


Furthermore, his invasion forces are toned down to stupid drones and until his final attack on Superman, he doesn't seem that much more impressive than before. After so many world threats, this doesn't really FEEL much above the norm for JLU, despite seeing such a large roster here.


Personally, I feel that characters that are godly in nature tend to be restrictive. A story can only offer a certain amount of resolutions for such one sided battles. It seems, by "Destroyer", that DCAU have exhausted all angles on Darkseid. It's good fun, but nothing new is done with the character.


The deux ex machina in the final moments comes from the power of anti-life. The problems are two-fold. Its introduction, application and resolution are lightning fast. This really gives some pacing issues with the rest of the episode. It also means it falls for the danger of any such device; the audience feels slightly cheated after such a gigantic buildup.


The second problem is there is no explanation to this device or its effect. If this was a continuing series, you could forgive that, however as a finale in which it's used to resolve the whole story dilemma, it bewilders.


If you know your DC, there probably is no problem - you probably have the background knowledge required to understand the use of anti-life. However, a television show should cater for it's whole audience in the same way a school essay should work on the presumption the reader has little to no knowledge of the subject. In the end, the whole event feels very messy, unwanted and unresolved.


That said, we can now go back to the good. The ending is very touching. Some well executed comments (Superman's remark to Batman about getting old neatly points towards the next stage of the saga - Batman Beyond) and a wonderful montage of all that is JLU, visually and aurally. It's a lovely "heroes heading off into the sunset" type of finish. While some fans would rather have more resolution details, I feel we know all we need to. We know Batman, Superman and JLU carry on into the future. We know that Lantern and Shayera will have a child who joins the JLU. We know there are many more battles out there to fight in the interim between now and Batman Beyond.


So enjoy. It is overall, a great half hour. As I said, in some ways the ending is a little frustrating and one wonders whether having Clark simply beat Darkseid would have been a better ending to the big fight - even if it would have been a little more simplistic. I personally felt that Superman's final blows to Darkseid were an effective enough climax not to warrant any external intervention.


What's more to say? Oh yeah, Grodd and Tala don't come back. Nor do the captive half of the Legion from "Alive". There may have been no obvious deaths for the JLU team, but there were certainly serious casualties in this final epical battle.


A good end to an overall strong season. Not as strong as "Divided We Fall" and a little bit disappointing in relation to the seasons arc (Luthor does disappear mighty fast), but still a solid ending to a solid season. Regardless of the minor issues, JLU certainly was an epic series with an epic finale. Now, go and watch Epilogue again. I think this is the right time to do so.

Residents

After 39 episodes and many hours of entertainment, Justice League Unlimited comes to its end here. Given how the season has ranged from absolutely brilliant to mind numbingly boring, I was really hoping for something special to cap an uneven season. On a personal note, this episode felt special for the sole fact that I had to get up on a Saturday morning to watch it! I haven�t done that since Spider-Man: The Animated Series ended 8 years ago!


Finale�s are difficult top crack at the best of times but when you�ve got a 14 year history and an entire legion of fans expecting you to top "Divided We Fall", it was never going to be an easy task. Justice League Unlimited is arguably the biggest superhero cartoon of all time and there simply isn�t enough time or money to do everyone justice in a single episode. One does wonder they used an all villain story beforehand though, especially as it could�ve been the perfect opportunity for many characters to get their final lines and such. Fret not though, whatever DC�s versions of True Believers are called, as in the end, it simply didn�t matter, this was an awesome finale, and did as good, if not better job as expected.


I was excited to see Darkseid once again, because let�s not fool ourselves; he�s the ultimate villain. As much as I love Luthor or even Joker, they�re physically no matches for The League and despite whatever plan they come up with, when it comes to one on one, the heroes will hand them their ass. But Darkseid is different, to me at least. If any of the normal guys came up against him, he could crush them almost instantly. All in all, this means we�re gonna get a hell of a Superman fight, as he takes on his greatest enemy. Luckily, Joaquim Dos Santos directs, and once again, he is in fine form.


I remember being slightly disappointed by Darkseid in Twilight, specifically how he moved. The visuals weren�t there weren�t anywhere near as cool as they were back in Superman, and I thought he lacked presence. It sounds odd, and fanboy nitpicky, but even the way Darkseid walked in Twilight was far too �mere mortal� like. Thankfully, Darkseid is back to his best here, and his new Brainiac heavy design is certainly a treat. Michael Ironside returns to voice the Lord Of Apokolips and manages to make dialogue that could sound corny work perfectly. �Let�s go� had me pumped throughout the commercial break. There�s something about his booming voice that simply brings out the best in scripts, weak or strong.


Superman vs. Darkseid has never disappointed before and this battle was their best to date. It was an interesting twist to throw Batman and Luthor into the mix, but it wasn�t an unwelcome one. As odd as it sounds, I don�t think I would�ve cared for it if Green Lantern or Captain Atom were involved. Batman acts as a strategist here, and Luthor is there to help Batman beat up Parademons. The talking in between the punches really does help emphasize the fight here, it�s good to see that they haven�t forgotten exactly who is fighting here, and they�re still interested in telling stories with their characters, even if the episode is basically everyone in the League battling Parademons. I absolutely loved Superman�s �I live in a world of cardboard� speech and then promptly laying the smackdown on Apokolips� Lord and Savior.


I thought the Anti Life equation would work in the episode somewhere, but I thought they might actually attempt to explain it and even possibly use it against Darkseid. One couldn�t help but feel slightly jilted, especially considering Luthor apparently committed suicide to use it against Darkseid. Had he gloated at the end of it all or even said something about this being his revenge for stealing Brainiac away from him, it could�ve worked better, but no dialogue, a weak explosion and no real conclusion left me feeling slightly disappointing. In the end though, everything else was pretty much spot on, so I found myself with very little to complain about by the end of the episode.


I know some people will complain that there�s too much fighting in the episode, but I felt it was worth it to see everyone get their due. I originally wasn�t sure if I cared if everyone got a spot or not, but when I didn�t see Flash cameo at the end of the last episode, I had a terrible feeling of dread that he wouldn�t appear. I actually cheered when he showed up on screen, and literally laughed out loud at his �Why don�t you just throw it into the sun?� Yeah, that was a pretty stupid idea. Given how he�s essentially been ignored all season, it was nice to see The Question kicking some ass. Given how he�s ignored in the current comics and there�s nothing cooler than this version, I feel he�s going to one of the characters I miss most.


So, now it�s all over, how did it do overall? I admit to being hesitant when they announce that the show was being revamped, but it�s been too good a series to dismiss that now. I found a lot of the new characters they introduced to be more interesting than the original 7, and we�ve seen some of the best storylines ever in the DCU unfold in this series. At the end of the day, this is quite easily the best show on TV, and it�s going to be missed terribly. With The Batman seemingly peaked and dropping in quality, Teen Titans ending on a whimper and the new upcoming DC cartoons sounding like manufactured drivel for a network that can�t even do a simple thing like stick to the market it was created for, it seems that there are dark days ahead for animation in general. The DCU has been a constant success both critically, commercially and personally for 12 years and it�s as good now as the day as the day Batman rode "On Leather Wings" all those years ago. A true testament to the talent behind the show who�ve yet to let us down even if the rest of their very medium has.


Thank you gentlemen. It�s been an honor