One of the nice things about Justice League Unlimited is that, as a series, it not only gradually builds an overarching plot but also spotlights lesser known heroes.
Jimmy and Tom got to see some of that firsthand with the episodes “Task Force X,” “The Balance,” and “Double Date”.
“Task Force X”
A group of non-powered villains infiltrate the Watchtower on a secret mission.
jimmy: So, prior to this episode, was there any mention or indication that the Watchtower employed like a thousand people?
tomk: They were always in the background. See how easy it was to overlook them?
jimmy: Were they? I honestly never noticed them before.
tomk: So, perfect cover for Task Force X.
jimmy: Yes, now that you mention it.
tomk: So, you want to wear a purple jumpsuit and work on the Watchtower now?
jimmy: You wouldn’t?
tomk: Seems kinda dangerous for the normies.
jimmy: Like doing construction on the Death Star?
tomk: The Empire probably used slave labor.
You want to be a Martian’s slave?
tomk: Good answer. Here’s a coupon for the new Martian restaurant that opened up in your town.
jimmy: I knew that place looked suspicious.
tomk: Suspicious? Try delicious.
jimmy: Well, that’s true.
tomk: Granted, I have no idea what Martians even eat…
jimmy: Soylent Green?
tomk: Eh, I doubt it. That stuff is made out of people, and there aren’t many humans on Mars to eat.
jimmy: That doesn’t mean they didn’t acquire a taste for us once they got here.
tomk: That sounds cruel.
jimmy: Hey, I never told the Martians what to eat.
tomk: Or what not to eat.
jimmy: Let’s move on from this dietary discussion.
tomk: Ok. How did you like the Suicide Squad?
jimmy: Outside of threatening to blow off Lawton’s head, there wasn’t too much suicide-y about them. Especially since if they failed in their mission they wouldn’t end up dead anyway. Just captured.
tomk: Well, the missions are supposed to be suicidal and Plastique didn’t look too good at the end. Plus, they never call themselves that probably in case kids were watching.
jimmy: That I did notice. But I think they were Task Force X in the comics too though right?
tomk: That is true. “Suicide Squad” is a nickname they gave themselves.
jimmy: And then they got tattoos with “Squad” misspelled,
tomk: Do these seem like the smartest group of people? I mean, they brought back your old pal the Clock King.
jimmy: Ugh. Don’t remind me.
tomk: At least he wasn’t dodging punches this time.
jimmy: Now he’s a master planner and time keeper.
tomk: Is that better for you?
jimmy: Not much, but yes.
tomk: Well, good. You are automatically better than Deadshot.
jimmy: He’s just lucky he’s not fried chicken.
tomk: I dunno. He took on that motorcycle riding cowboy dude.
jimmy: I meant more his last second stay or execution, but yes, cowboy dude.
tomk: And you wanted to be that guy…
jimmy: Who doesn’t want to be a cowboy dude?
tomk: Well, I don’t wanna be the cowboy dude who loses his six shooters to Deadshot.
jimmy: Or gets smashed by the Annihilator. And I might have missed it, but wasn’t exactly sure how Flag took control of the Annihilator in the first place.
tomk: He had a magic spell on hand once he activated it by slugging Captain Boomerang.
jimmy: I must have been reaching for my drink or something at the magic spell part, though not the slugging Boomerang part. That pompous ass.
tomk: And this is toned down Boomerang. Most comics show him as the worst member of the Squad, the guy the others pick on but who happens to be an awful racist and a lot of other nasty things while being only questionably useful.
jimmy: Throwing boomerangs makes no sense when you think about it. They are either explosives…which you don’t want to come back to you…or used as weapons…and once they hit someone in the head, they’re not coming back to you.
tomk: And yet, there he is.
jimmy: Not that accurately throwing things is not a useless skill, just the expecting them to come back part.
tomk: Well, if they come back, he can throw them again. When Deadshot runs out of bullets…
jimmy: Ok, ok.
tomk: Besides, that Aussie jerk somehow gives the Flash trouble.
tomk: Because if the Flash didn’t go easy on them he might kill his enemies?
jimmy: Then he’d never get a power bar sponsorship.
tomk: Obviously. And he isn’t on the Watchtower at this time.
jimmy: I know they timed it so “only” J’onn, GL and Captain Atom would be on the Watchtower (though there were others obviously), but you think those 3 alone are “nothing to worry about”? J’onn almost beat them easily by himself…until he got torn in half…which I didn’t think would be possible.
tomk: He got better.
jimmy: And quickly.
tomk: He probably doesn’t really have internal organs.
jimmy: Still. I know he’s a shapeshifter, but has removing and reattaching a part of his body ever been a J’onn power before?
tomk: I read a comic once where he shifted his mind into one hand, severed it, and let an enemy incinerate the rest as a means of surviving.
jimmy: Well, that’s messed up.
tomk: True. But you asked.
jimmy: I wish I hadn’t.
tomk: Look, the Squad was smart. They knew how to get Captain Atom and Green Lantern out of the way. True, J’onn was a little too tough for them, but they had the Annihilator, and when necessary, they could throw down with unexpected surprises like Vigilante (the cowboy), Shining Knight, and Atom-Smasher. Let us not forget, the League can when necessary summon many mighty heroes.
tomk: What? Those are Mighty Heroes, as created by Ralph Bakshi. I think you’ve seen some of Bakshi’s work before.
jimmy: Yes. It drove me insane.
tomk: “Jimmy Insane” doesn’t have the same ring to it.
jimmy: No. That’s why I came back from the drive.
tomk: We can’t say the same about Plastique.
jimmy: I read we never see her again.
tomk: We do not. But we don’t see most of the Squad again either.
jimmy: Most, eh?
tomk: Yes. Most.
jimmy: Hopefully we don’t see Clock King again.
tomk: We do not.
tomk: Only in your nightmares.
jimmy: If I’m dreaming about the Clock King, I give up.
tomk: We’ll let Cuckoo Man, the Amazing Bulk, and the Talking Cat take care of that guy.
jimmy: Why do you hate me?
tomk: Watson hacked my account ?
jimmy: Makes sense.
tomk: I would think you would think Clock King deserved a beat down from such embarrassing sources. Why waste Batman’s time? Or the time of anyone even remotely cool?
jimmy: Can we stop talking about Clock King!?!?
tomk: Did you know when this cartoon came out, the comic book version of Plastique was reformed and married Captain Atom?
jimmy: I did not.
tomk: You do now.
At the time I saw this one, I wondered if they were doing something with Captain Atom and Plastique.
.jimmy: They do have an intimate explosion.
tomk: And he didn’t blow her up. That was all Deadshot. That wanker.
jimmy: You’ve been watching too much BBC.
tomk: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
tomk: British TV has been known to teach people new words.
jimmy: Too funny. I literally watched that episode last night.
tomk: That’s because you aren’t a common thief. You may be an uncommon thief, the kind that steels Annhilators.
jimmy: Hopefully without the head exploding nanites.
tomk: That goes without saying.
tomk: We don’t need divine intervention to get you to do the right thing.
jimmy: “You’re just like your mother, can’t take a punch.” Oy.
tomk: That family had problems.
jimmy: And a specific set of skills.
jimmy: Indeed. Any more thoughts on Task Force X?
tomk: There’s a heist film coolness to this episode. I rather like it.
jimmy: That’s true. I read somewhere that the episode wasn’t really working until they changed it to be from the TFX point of view.
jimmy: I’m full of interesting information. Like that guy J’onn wanted to mindwipe at the end.
tomk: Are you taking bribes from a Gabbing Geek rival nerd site?
jimmy: Nothing that interesting.
tomk: Ryan’s cheesecake recipe?
jimmy: I wish. That’s delicious.
tomk: If we want delicious, how about a delicious pairing of superheroines?
tomk: Well, we’ll see. I think we have to take a trip to Hades.
Felix Faust returns and overthrows Hades! It’s up to Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl to put aside their differences and set things right!
jimmy; I have a feeling Jenny would like this one.
tomk: Jenny never finished BTAS.
jimmy: Did she start?
tomk: I think so. She wanted something with continuity and storytelling like Avatar The Last Airbender.
jimmy: That I have not seen.
That said, you could easily watch an episode of Justice League without having watched everything before it like we have. Since we’re not heathens.
tomk: Well, that’s you. You have a strong anti-heathen policy when it comes to animated cartoons.
jimmy: Either way, a very “girl power” episode.
tomk: With some very familiar names amongst the guest stars.
jimmy: Such as?
tomk: Jason Bateman as Hermès?
jimmy: Oh? Cool.
tomk: And Wayne “Hello, Newman” Knight as one of the old JLA foes the Demons Three.
jimmy: Oh? Cool.
tomk: And of course the Moose played the other two.
jimmy: He used to get a lot of voice work back in the day.
tomk: He does have that lovely baritone.
jimmy: Indeed. I should have recognized those voices though. Maybe I was thrown by Flash getting another high profile appearance. They’re really making up for lost time.
tomk: I could say something about that but choose not to.
jimmy: That’s not like you.
tomk: No, what would be me is to tell you Super-Chicken is a real thing.
jimmy: No. Serious?
jimmy: You know a lot of obscure heroes. You should write a column about them.
tomk: Watson might read those.
jimmy: Ok, so, Wonder Woman gets upgraded armor and her lasso becomes the classic truth inducer at the push of a button.
tomk: Someone would have told if she didn’t just steal that stuff and run off.
Hmmm, she wanted to steal Hawkgirl’s mace too…I am sensing a pattern.
jimmy: Good point. Though she probably knew Hawkgirl would say no.
tomk: Except Hawkgirl said, “Yes, but…”
jimmy: Package deal.
tomk: I know you like your package deals.
“Hey, Impossible, wanna see something with two superheroines almost getting into a fight before they join forces? At least one will have a bare midriff.”
“I’d say that sounds like a swell package deal, Moose.”
jimmy: Funny you mention that as I was wondering why Hawkgirl was flying around fighting crime with her midriff exposed. Though, probably still less revealing than Wonder Woman’s get up.
tomk: Hawkgirl (and Wonder Woman for that matter) are presumably tougher than most people. Hawkgirl can fly at high speeds and not suffer wind damage, and some old comics suggest Thanagarians can survive short exposures to the vacuum of space. Given how Hawkman dresses, he might be more durable than most.
As she would be too by association.
And Diana, she can take punches from Superman.
jimmy: Still, you have to think they’d be dressed a little less skimpy if not designed by a bunch of middle aged men.
tomk: I dunno. They’re covered up more than, say, Witchblade or Vampirella.
jimmy: Also, I assume, designed by middle/young men. (Witchblade was for sure.)
tomk: But do they go to Hades to help a Greek god who lost his throne to a college professor’s spirit inside nearly unbeatable armor?
tomk: I assume.
jimmy: Hades…or is that Mr. Wonder Woman’s Dad to you?
tomk: Well, he hints a bit. This was before the New 52 when they did the whole “daughter of Zeus” thing.
jimmy: Though I think he more so says he helped sculpt her out of clay, but she was Pinocchio-d after he was banished.
tomk: Yeah, well, they sorta hinted at that before.
jimmy: Either way, he and Wondy’s Mom were an item.
tomk: They said that the first time we saw him too.
What they didn’t say was he had a really nice library lit by naked Ghost Riders.
jimmy: Heh. I thought they were Ghost Riders too. And you’re in hell…having a bunch of paper around…probably not a good idea. You gots to digitize those MoFo’s!
tomk: Hades didn’t strike me as much of a reader anyway.
jimmy: He just looked at the pictures.
tomk: Good thing he has a new hobby now.
jimmy: Torturing Faust?
tomk: Well, maybe some other dead supervillains some day.
jimmy: Do we ever hear from Tala again?
tomk: Oh yes.
She’s not done. She was just kinda dumb here..and maybe in other future appearances.
jimmy: She shows up to tell Amanda Waller who’s the fairest of them all.
tomk: Um…something like that.
jimmy: That’s what magic mirrors do…when not plotting to escape into unbeatable armor and take over the underworld.
tomk: And that’s just terrible.
jimmy: Well, it’s not stealing cakes.
tomk: No, it’s making all the magic people in the world go crazy.
jimmy: Unfortunate for them. Great cameos for us.
tomk: You were just glad to see J’onn manhandle Etrigan again. Or Martianhandle.
jimmy: And then he turned into Two-Face.
tomk: Better than Zatanna turning into the Penguin.
jimmy: The interwebs tell me that Zatanna says: “All is lost! Faust sits on the throne of hell!”
tomk: Fascinating. What else do the interwebs say?
jimmy: Um…Hades got a new voice?
tomk: True. I guess you didn’t get to the Rule 34 web talk on this episode.
jimmy: What you talking about, Tom?
tomk: Ask Watson. Or don’t. Don’t is better.
jimmy: I already had to get off the interwebs when it asked me if I wanted to view Watson’s browser history.
tomk: Smart move.
jimmy: How about that Evil Dead crossover?
tomk: Not enough shaky-cam.
jimmy: But the book!
tomk: Too flammable to be Ash’s book.
jimmy: Assuming it burned.
Anything else about the most disastrous trip to the library ever?
jimmy: I like the continuity of them dealing with the fallout from Hawkgirl’s betrayal. But you knew that.
Also nice that it is taking time, like it would in real life. All wasn’t forgiven in JLU Season 1 Episode 1.
tomk: It might have been if she hadn’t flown off.
Flying away from your problems is never the answer.
jimmy: But she’s been back for a bit now and there’s still people that don’t trust or get along with her.
tomk: True. And Diana may not be the last of them.
tomk: But that may be for later.
However, how would you like an episode that is basically the Birds of Prey animated series that never existed with a script by Gail Simone?
jimmy: That sounds interesting.
tomk: It could be. But if it’s not your cup of tea…
jimmy: No, my “interesting” was sincere.
tomk: Shall we take a look?
The Huntress is out for blood, and she’s bringing the Question along. Too bad Green Arrow and Black Canary are in their way!
jimmy: Looks like Green Arrow got the call since they couldn’t use Batgirl.
tomk: Well the “double date “ thing breaks down if they aren’t all on a date. And who wouldn’t want to date the Question?
jimmy: Everybody but Huntress?
tomk: What? You think faceless men with creepy voices can’t get a date with their crushes?
tomk: Well, good. You aren’t condemning the Question to a lifetime of loneliness.
jimmy: Quite a revelation about the Girl Scouts.
tomk: The Question is great at finding things. Even things that seem unlikely and strange. He also has a formula for bringing back the dead.
tomk: It’s why Green Arrow kept asking if they were dead yet.
jimmy: That and all the death defying situations Black Canary kept getting them into.
tomk: It only cost her a motorcycle.
jimmy: She put it together herself!
So, in other news…Steven Mandragoria.
He was probably supposed to be a stand-in for Black Lightning enemy Tobias Whale.
jimmy: Oh? Neither are familiar to me.
tomk: There were rights issues involving Black Lightning so he wasn’t used for years outside of comics. His archenemy was an albino mobster named Tobias Whale.
Furthermore, I think it’s been confirmed that Mandragoria’s son battled Terry McGinis once in the episode when Terry was protecting the little psychic girl.
Mandragoria name drops Tommy Monaghan, the DC antihero Hitman.
And he was voiced by actor Glen Shadix.
jimmy: I did notice the Hitman name drop.
jimmy: Oh? Interesting.
tomk: Shadix also voiced some bad guys on Teen Titans.
jimmy: He did a good job here.
tomk: As for Huntress, she’s another Joss Whedon show alumni named Amy Acker. She was on Angel, a show Jenny will never get to.
jimmy: Alias as well.
tomk: Did she wear an impractical costume there too?
jimmy: Not that I remember. That was usually left to Jennifer Garner.
tomk: I never saw the show myself.
tomk: Calm down, Jimmy-Bob. I was busy that night.
jimmy: The first couple of seasons of Alias are phenomenal. Then it got too popular and ABC started interfering to make it more “mainstream” and it just got silly.
tomk: Like Lost in Ryan’s mind?
jimmy: Well, Ryan hates Lost and loves Krull, so I try to stay out of there.
tomk: I heard Alias was a lot like Krull, only good.
jimmy: That describes most things.
jimmy: Anyway, yes, the Huntress costume hearkens back to our discussion last episode about the exposed mid-riffs.
tomk: That’s less practical for a character who is basically Batman if his parents were in the mob.
jimmy: And whose father was Batman in some incarnations.
tomk: Maybe if Bats dressed that way…
jimmy: Looks about right.
tomk: Oh, and the two henchmen may have deliberately drawn to look like characters from The Sopranos.
jimmy: They sure did like their scones.
tomk: Don’t you?
jimmy: Only if they have orange zest.
tomk: You’re not a savage.
jimmy: Indeed. And I only watched season 1 of The Sopranos many years ago, so I didn’t pick up on the design.
tomk: Eh, it’s no biggie. We expect you to do other things like know when someone is trying to con you with a fake key.
jimmy: Green Arrow’s no slouch.
tomk: Yeah. He made the Question look like a chump in those fistfights.
jimmy: And Canary with Huntress.
tomk: Well, Canary does have a superpower.
jimmy: She didn’t use it in that fight.
tomk: But Question has a car, Always be concerned when you see him behind the wheel.
jimmy: He let the lady drive.
tomk: Not in the subway tunnel.
jimmy: True. He had a plan.
tomk: A plan that would have gotten messy even with his special reanimation formula.
jimmy: One of his super powers is driving really fast.
tomk: I didn’t know so many NASCAR drivers had superpowers…
jimmy: No? It’s a well known secret. Like all horse jockeys being elves.
tomk: Like Will Ferrell?
jimmy: Like Will Ferrell, but shorter and less funny.
tomk: So, like Chris Kattan?
tomk: I don’t want to get any closer.
tomk: When this episode was over, the Question wanted nobody to hurt him no more.
jimmy: Looked like Huntress was gonna make him hurt so good.
tomk: Quote the Canary, “ Ew.”
jimmy: Um hmm.
tomk: Hey, Canary’s guy has a face.
jimmy: It’s only a mask.
tomk: You sure about that?
tomk: He is a mysterious fellow. He goes through everyone’s garbage and knows the secrets of the Girl Scouts and Boy Bands. Who knows what happened to his face?
jimmy: He does?
tomk: Don’t spend them all in one place.
jimmy: So Canary and Arrow didn’t waste any time becoming an item.
tomk: They get a lot done between episodes.
jimmy: A lot a lot.
tomk: They were on a date while Superman and Doomsday were fighting in that volcano.
jimmy: To be honest, they wouldn’t have helped much there anyway.
tomk: Not even with Ollie’s anti-Doomsday arrow?
jimmy: Hmm. That might have been helpful now that you mention it.
tomk: It really only works on Doomsday.
jimmy: Hence the name.
tomk: It’s why he couldn’t use it on Mandragoria.
jimmy: His Anti-Mandragoria arrow was in the shop.
tomk: Question took it.
jimmy: He’s thoughtful like that.
tomk: She didn’t use it.
jimmy: She would have at the beginning. Which was pretty dark, even if J’onn did move the intended victim.
tomk: People can change.
jimmy: Sure. Especially when that murder would turn another young girl into an orphan.
tomk: You mean Mandragoria’s son?
jimmy: Son, right. But orphan all the same.
tomk: Orphans can be terrible.
jimmy: And so often turn to vigilantism.
tomk: Or they sing about how the sun might come out tomorrow, and that’s only a day away.
jimmy: That’s only when they are kids. Annie 2: Annier has a huge body count.
tomk: As revealed when the sun came out and showed where all the dismembered corpses were.
But I did think the two couples both complimented each other well as they did their thing. Everyone brought something to the table.
jimmy: As much as working completely against each other can be seen as complementary.
tomk: I meant more like how Question and Huntress made as good a pair as Arrow and Canary. For the latter two, they have some nice repartee and they trust each other. For the former, they sure do come across as some sort of anti-Arrow-and-Canary pair.
jimmy: Ah. I see. Then yes, I agree.
tomk: They’re like all the great pairs, like you and the Moose, Chip and Dale, Abbot and Costello, Watson and nobody…
tomk: And this was a really fun episode.
jimmy: It was.
tomk: Anything else to add?
jimmy: Did we discuss Huntress’s origin? It seemed very similar to the one used in Birds of Prey, but I’m not sure about the comics. Earth Prime anyway…or whatever it was called at the time.
tomk: It’s about right. They only really changed the identity of the main killer.
The Birds of Prey movie played her more for laughs since no one remembered the name she wanted to go by.
jimmy: Yes. But still had the parents murdered in front of her, getting revenge on them as a grown-up shtick.
tomk: Yes. She is “if Batman’s parents were in the mob”.
Though neither the cartoon nor the movie showed she earned a living as a schoolteacher.
jimmy: Probably not an important plot point.
tomk: Not this time.
jimmy: Maybe in the next one.
tomk: Well, I only have one word for the next one.
NEXT TIME: Tom and Jimmy will be back soon with more Justice League Unlimited chat with the episodes “Clash,” “Hunter’s Moon,” and “Question Authority”.
Sweet Home “Episode Five”
Noteworthy Issues: The Amazing Spider-Man #62 (July, 1968)
The X-Files “Home”