DC Universe: Justice League: Doom
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DC Universe: Justice League: Doom

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As boys grow up to achieve man’s estate we put aside many childish things. Perhaps this old, axiomatic saying might better be phrased we replace our boyhood interest which forms more suitable to the degree of maturity a man might reach. One example of this is comic books. Like millions of others I was dedicated to a number of these magazines following the stories as vigorously as a housewife watches her ‘stories’ in the afternoon. The two main camps when I was a kid persist today; Marvel and Dc. Yes there was ‘Archie’ but being seen with one would result in an immediate dissipation of any playground respect you may have established. I was a Marvel fan collecting ‘Spider-Man’, ‘The Avengers’ and ‘X-Men’. As a matter of necessity for the sake of schoolyard detente I also followed the DC universe with ‘Superman’ and ‘Batman’. Currently movies based on comic book characters are the most lucrative segment of the film industry with movie budgets in the hundreds of millions and collective profits exceeding a billion dollars. Right now Marvel is in the lead with ‘The Avengers’ and individual movies for the component super heroes. A significant reason for this is Marvel’s ‘second tier’ characters are generally accepted as more interesting and conducive to individual films than their DC counterpart. But comic franchises have branched out into animated films but for DC this has become more a mainstay that a side business. One of the better made of these animated film series involves the DC assembly of earth’s mightiest super heroes; ‘The Justice League of America’. It was one of my favorite DC comics as a kid so it is a lot of fun to revisit the old gang again after all these years. Like Marvel’s "Avengers’ the membership has changed over time with a rotating cast of characters but the core members seem to survive most incarnations. When I receive an opportunity to review one of these movie I admittedly find myself in a nostalgic frame of mind recalling lazy summer afternoons reading comics on the front stoop with my friends. One major differences between the superhero stories of my youth those I encounter now; they are significantly darker in tone and more mature in thematic direction. One under consideration here is ‘DC Universe Justice League: Doom’ and it places some intriguing new twist on our classic characters.

The Batman (Kevin Conroy) in current favor is a long way from the overly campy costumed clown popularized in the sixties TV show. Now the Dark Knight is living closer to that mysterious moniker presenting to the world a disturbed vigilante trying to quite some of his many demons by roaming the streets fighting crime. Although is the epitome of a loner he has made certain concessions for the sake of expedience by joining with other crime fighters in the Justice League of America (JLA). There he works side by side with some of the most incredibly powerful entities on the globe including Superman (Tim Daly), Wonder Woman (Susan Eisenberg), The Martian Manhunter (Carl Lumbly), The Flash (Michael Rosenbaum) and the Green Lantern (Nathan Fillion). Individually they represent amazing abilities but collectively they are the most potent force for good the world has ever seen. Ever the practical paranoid Bruce Wayne realized there was another side to this coin. If one or more of these superheroes was ever to go rogue the potential for death and destruction would be staggering and beyond any established means to stop them. To prepare for this possibility Wayne has collected contingency strategies to counter each member of the League. Stored deep within the massive memory of the Bat computer are dossiers on each member including a section on their weaknesses and how best to implement them. Although this computer has security that is the envy of the National Security Agency it is not invulnerable to as talented hacker with resources almost as unlimited as Bruce Wayne.

The premise of the movie is highly conducive to the fashion many comics presented their stories. In both the Marvel and DC universe had stories that not only spanned a number of issues but encompassed several different comic book titles. This is the feel that is obtained in this movie. It commences when immortal arch villain Vandal Savage (voiced by Phil Morris) has a plan that would literally mean the end to civilization. His nefarious plot is to exterminate the majority of the human population leaving him as absolute ruler of a new civilization created along his sinister mind. He hires a long time foeman of The Flash, The Mirror Master (voiced by Alexis Denisof) to hack the Bat computer. This gives him access to Wayne’s contingency plans detailing the vulnerabilities of each League member. Savage assembles a group of the most powerful super villains ever assembled, the Legion of Doom. With a $100 million dollars as a prize the arch enemies each JLA begin the extermination of the heroes. In the old days each story might have been presented in the individual character’s comics with the setup and grand conclusion in the JLA magazine. The segments are well integrated here and flow naturally from one segment to the next.

One thing that has helped with the success of this feature animated film and the dozen that has preceded it is consistency. The studio has assembled a standing collection of vocal talent that voices the same characters in most installments. While some of the talents are dedicated voice actors many have established notable careers in front of the camera. Fillion is well known as the star of the cult classic Sci-Fi series, ‘Firefly’ and currently has his own mystery show, ‘Castle’. Morris is a very successful character and appeared on TV’s ‘Smallville’ as the Martian Manhunter while Michael Rosenbaum stared in many seasons of that series as Lex Luthor.
Carl Lumbly is a sought after voice and character actor was the first handicapped super hero in 1994 as ‘M.A.N.T.I.S.’ by using the same group of actors familiar to devotees of the genre they have reinforced the concept of a consistent comic book universe. The story itself is like a sampler of the DC characters and will appeal even to those not familiar to the current roster.

Posted 05/24/12

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