Justice League of America: Season 2 (DVD)
In this action-packed animated series, the World's Greatest Super Heroes, including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Hawkgirl and Martian Manhunter, join forces as the Justice League to battle powerful villains, supernatural creatures and evil entities determined to take over the world and destroy the League. Highlights of season two include League founder J'onn J'onzz fighting an android, League members confronting their deepest fears in a dream world, and a race through Las Vegas to deactivate all of The Joker's planted bombs, among other wild adventures.
Better characterization and epic storylines combined with the usual topnotch voice talent make Justice League's second season even better than the first. Some of the more intriguing story lines involve the League forming an unlikely partnership with Darkseid against Brainiac ("Twilight"); an alternate-dimension Justice League establishing a martial state in order to keep the peace ("A Better World"), which raises an interesting moral question that came up later in DC's Identity Crisis comic series; the death of Superman ("Hereafter"); and the League teaming up with Doctor Fate, Aquaman, and Solomon Grundy ("The Terror Beyond"). Other villains include the Secret Society and the Joker's Royal Flush Gang; Amazo, the android who can absorb the heroes' powers; Vandal Savage; and Eclipso. Most story lines are given two episodes (except the holiday-themed single episode "Comfort and Joy" and the three-part season finale "Starcrossed") and involve some combination of the seven Justice Leaguers: Batman (voiced by Kevin Conroy, continuing his work from Batman: The Animated Series), Superman (George Newbern), Wonder Woman (Susan Eisenberg), J'onn J'onzz (Carl Lumbly), Hawkgirl (Maria Canals), Green Lantern (Phil Lamarr), and the Flash (Michael Rosenbaum). One of the themes developed was an emerging relationship between Hawkgirl and another Leaguer, but it threatens to come apart in the monumental "Starcrossed," when her fellow Thanagarians arrive on Earth to protect humanity from a Gordanian invasion and it turns out Hawkgirl has been keeping a secret from her teammates. Producer Bruce Timm, casting director Andrea Romano, and others also worked on the highly regarded Batman and Superman animated series, and the result is one of the best animated series on television, satisfying for adults and sometimes too intense for kids.
DVD features include commentary by producers Timm and James Tucker, director Butch Lukic or writer Stan Berkowitz, and story editor Dwayne McDuffie on three episodes (why they love Hawkgirl: "If she loves you, she loves you with all her heart. If she hates you, she's gonna hit you with that big honkin' mace."), and featurettes on the voice talent and the second season. The series is shown in the widescreen format it adopted for this season, but it's not anamorphically enhanced for widescreen televisions, which is unusual for 2006, especially considering Starcrossed was released in anamorphic widescreen as a stand-alone DVD in 2004. --David Horiuchi