Justice League Season 2 magnificently realizes its potential and soars to the top of the animated world, elevated by explosive, plot-driven stories of top-notch quality. All the episodes are pulse-pounding, well formulated, and lives up to the mythological grandeur implicit in these seven iconic heroes. The stories are so superbly written. The show's writers gleefully mine the rich decades-old history of DC comics to produce diverting episodes varying in tone from light-hearted romp to apocalyptically cosmic.
The writers obviously took the viewers' few complaints about Season 1 to heart. Gone, for example, is the prior season's sissy Superman who had a tendency to have his butt handed to him over and over. Instead, we have the Man of Steel in all his unparalleled might, and in "Twilight," he even cuts loose a bit. There's also more screen time for Wonder Woman's innocent crush on the Dark Knight. While Batman, though ever focused on his war on crime, finds himself not insusceptible to Diana's charms. Meanwhile, little is left to doubt about the romantic interest between Green Lantern and Hawkgirl. In a series full of top flight episodes, "Only A Dream," "Secret Society," and "Wild Card" stand out, while the seminal "A Better World" and "Starcrossed" prove to have long-standing repercussions.
The show also did away with the stifling full-screen treatment. The new wide-screen format greatly contributes to a more stunning and epic presentation. With the regular cast of voice actors going as strong as ever (with the indispensable Kevin Conroy, as usual, mezmerizing as Bats), and all-star guest voices Michael Ironside (Darkseid), Clancy Brown (Luthor), Dana Delaney (Lois Lane), Brad Garrett (Lobo), Ian Buchanan (the UltraHumanite), and voice chamelion Mark Hamill (Solomon Grundy, Joker) ably hitting their mark, Justice League Season 2 is decidedly superior animation making.
The special features contain commentaries by Bruce Timm & company on 3 episodes: "Twilight" Part 2, "A Better World" Part 2, and "Starcrossed" Part 3. There's also "Justice League Declassified" - where Phil Lamarr (voice of GL) hosts a behind the scenes feature with the show's creative team. Here's a disc by disc breakdown of the season's 26 episodes:
"Twilight" (episodes 1 & 2) - Season 2 starts with a bang as Darkseid calls upon the Justice League to aid him against Brainiac's incursion on Apokolips. Superman (still stewing over past run-ins with Darkseid), Hawkgirl and Martian Manhunter take a boomtube to Apokolips to take the battle to Brainiac, while Batman and Wonder Woman head out to New Genesis. Episode 2 showcases a no-holds-barred throw down between a furious Man of Steel and Darkseid, while episode one has Batman chastising Superman: "We know he used you...humiliated you, brainwashed you, wound you up like a tin soldier and turned you loose against Earth - cry me a river!"
"Tabula Rasa" (episodes 3 & 4) - A desperately wounded Lex Luthor finds a new, all-powerful ally in an innocent automaton who has the capability to mimic superpowers. Meanwhile, J'onn J'onzz suffers thru a period of crisis as he questions the worth of defending Earth's citizens.
"Only A Dream" (episodes 5 & 6) - Very atmospheric episode as mind-bender Dr. Destiny first puts his ex-wife out of commission then tries to take out the Justice League, trapping all but one in their own worse nightmares. This episode alone is worth viewing to see Batman patronize a Starbucks-like coffee shop in a desperate attempt to stay awake.
"Maid of Honor" (episodes 7 & 8) - Diana babysits the carefree Princess of Casmia, who is engaged to Vandal Savage, who, as usual, is up to his ancient shenanigans. Meanwhile, Batman investigates suspicious incidents involving Casmian military special forces. In this one, Wonder Woman goes clubbing!
"Hearts and Minds" (episodes 9 & 10) - It's GL to the fore as the beleaguered Green Lantern Corps ask his and the League's assistance in battling the tyrant Despero and his Legion of the Third Eye. There's also a subplot involving Hawkgirl, Stewart, and Katma Tui (Stewart's mentor and, er, more). Also nice to see one of my favorite poozers, Kilowog.
"A Better World" (episodes 11 & 12) - Classic, seminal episode which directly ties into the main story arc of Justice League Unlimited Season 2. The League chances upon an alternate world whose version of the Justice League (called the Justice Lords) has taken a darker, more authoritarian persona.
"Eclipsed" (episodes 13 & 14) - As Flash predictably puts his foot in his mouth and sends the League's public image careening downwards, an inimical presence with the ability to invade people's bodies is released from imprisonment. When the JL members are taken over one by one, it's up to the sole remaining JLer Flash to save the day. This episode unveils for the first and only time: the Flash-Mobile.
"The Terror Beyond" (episodes 15 & 16) - Dr. Fate, Inza, Aquaman, and Solomon Grundy team up with Superman, Wonder Woman, and Hawkgirl to fend off the long-banished mystical Old Ones.
"Secret Society" (episodes 17 & 18) - As internal strife consumes the League and ultimately causes the group's disbanding, Gorilla Grodd takes full advantage and assembles the third incarnation of the Injustice Gang, with new members Sinestro, Parasite, Killer Frost, Giganta, Shade, & Clayface.
"Hereafter" (episodes 19 & 20) - Superman falls in battle against a plethora of his personal foes and is believed to be dead. As the League and the world mourns, a powerless Superman, in reality, is alive and trapped under a red sun in the far-flung future, with no way of getting back until he finds help in the person of an unlikely, old-time foe. Meanwhile, The Main Man, Lobo, joins the League.
"Comfort and Joy" (episode 21) - A feel-good Yuletide episode as the League gets some down time. The Flash runs all over the city in search of a DJ Rubber Ducky toy for an orphanage, Clark takes J'onn J'onzz home to Smallville for Christmas, and GL and Hawkgirl bond.
"Wild Card" (episodes 22 & 23) - In a funny take on reality TV shows, the action takes place in Las Vegas, where Joker and the Royal Flush Gang have planted various explosives set on timers, forcing the League to desperately scurry around on a bomb-disarming mission.
"Starcrossed" (episodes 24, 25, & 26) - These are epic, emotionally-charged episodes as betrayal strikes the team from within and secret identities are revealed. Thanagarians come to Earth to ostensibly warn the League of an imminent alien invasion by the Gordanians. The Thanagarians offer their aid, but do they have an ulterior motive? This is the defining storyline that opened up the Justice League roster to other superheroes in the next season.