YES! I finally got my paws on this - JLU Season One! Don't get me wrong, the first two seasons of Justice League were great! Justice League, after all, was the logical next step in the progression and maturation of the DC animated universe, which began with the superbly gritty Batman: TAS, followed by the aesthetically cleaner looking Superman: TAS. But, as a lifelong fan of crossover comics, where heroes interact daily, I was happily stunned when they, in effect, opened up the whole DC roster of heroes to the viewing audience. Justice League has always had sweeping, big-budget sensibilities and an escalated level of jeopardy. But with JLU, the scope expands even more and the stakes are raised even higher. Time travel, technology run amok, magic of the highest order, clandestine government operations - these are all effectively explored in JLU.
Warner Brothers may label it as the complete first season but this box set actually includes JLU Seasons 1 and 2 (chronologically Justice League seasons 3 and 4, if you really wanna get technical). Following the harrowing closing events of Justice League Season Two, in which the team thwarts an alien invasion and suffers betrayal from a League member, the third season finds the League expanding its roster from the original seven to over 50 costumed heroes, thus meriting the title change to Justice League Unlimited. These new episodes, while still occasionally showcasing the core members, tend to focus more on the new recruits. Noteworthy rookies are Green Arrow, Captain Atom, the Question, Black Canary, the Atom, Booster Gold, and Supergirl. JLU, unlike Justice League, features a continuing story arc which, in effect, inundates the whole season. In JLU Season 1, the focusing element is more or less the shady, super-secret government agency Project Cadmus and its insiduous machinations and escalating hostilities against the League. Project Cadmus, which deals in genetic engineering, is the government's first line of defense should the Justice League go rogue. Project Cadmus initially came into being after a brainwashed Superman attempted to invade Earth (Superman: TAS Volume 3, "Legacy"). The incident with the Justice Lords (Justice League Season 2: "A Better World") merely broadened the Project's goals to include the League. This storyline carries over into the next season and isn't actually resolved until the final episodes of JLU Season 2. These interlinked stories serve to add fantastic depth and a sense of continuity and drive to this animated series. All the episodes are presented in their widescreen cinematic-like glory. The theme music and opening and closing sequences have been altered, but not gratingly so.
All the episodes are excellent (excepting the merely decent "Hawk and Dove") but my favorites of JLU Season One are: "Kid Stuff," where we see further developments in the Batman-Wonder Woman romance and we also see four of the original Justice Leaguers converted to kids (Batboy is a gas!); "This Little Piggy," where Batman attempts to rescue the porcine Wonder Woman and, along the way, gets to sing "Am I Blue?" in a nightclub; "The Greatest Story Never Told," which is all about the glory hound Booster Gold and his sycophant robot sidekick Skeets; and the very cool "The Once and Future Thing" storyline, which has League members chasing Chronos and traveling back in time to the Old West and then to the future of the Batman Beyond universe. It was nice to see old friends Static and Terry McGinnis (Bats Beyond) again in the "The Once and Future Thing: Part 2." Standout episodes of Season 2 are: "The Ties That Bind," which casts Mr. Miracle in a starring role; "Task Force X," where you just have to root for the bad guys; "Clash," which pits the World's Mightiest Mortal vs. the Man of Steel; and the 4 episodes ("Question Authority," "Flashpoint," "Panic in the Sky," and "Divided We Fall") which conclude the Project Cadmus arc.
The voice actors continue to lend gravitas to their animated roles. The great Kevin Conroy is simply irreplaceable as Bats. Carl Lumbly contributes depth and weight and conveys a sense of unimagined solitude in his Martian Manhunter vocalizations, while Maria Canals ably portrays the feisty warrior-woman Shayera Hol (Hawkgirl). Phil LaMar gives John Stewart (Green Lantern) a formidable military sensibility. I still miss Tim Daly as Superman, but George Newbern comes into his own as the season progresses. Clancy Brown's awesome voice is used to great effect in his rendering of the wily, ever-scheming Lex Luthor. Kin Shriner, by the way, voices the stubborn Green Arrow to contentious perfection.
Now, for having 2 seasons come in one packaging, this 4-dvd-set doesn't really have a lot of extra features. Disc 1 has "And Justice for All" - a 9-minute look at the revamping process of the series, as well as audio commentaries (by Bruce Timm & others) on 2 episodes: "This Little Piggy" and "The Return". Disc 4 contains "Themes of Justice" - where you select (yawn!) your favorite JLU musical audio track - and trailers for other animated shows. And...that's it! So, yeah, the lack of more extras is very disappointing.
Justice League Unlimited Season One contains these episodes:
"Initiation" (episode 1) - Green Arrow takes center stage as he reluctantly becomes a member of JLI, joining forces with Green Lantern, Captain Atom and Supergirl as they fly to Asia to face off against a gigantic nuclear creature. Green Arrow's loose cannon persona amusingly clashes with Capt. Atom's rigidness.
"For the Man Who Has Everything" (episode 2) - Batman and Wonder Woman drop in on Superman for his birthday in the Fortress of Solitude, only to find that Mongol has also crashed the party and has brought snacks for everyone - knuckle sandwiches.
"Kid Stuff" (episode 3) - Mordred magicks all adults off the planet, but his mother Morgan Le Fay enchants Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern into tots to combat him. A humorous, must-see episode.
"Hawk and Dove" (episode 4) - The focus is on the war-minded Hawk and his peace-loving brother Dove as they, with the aid of Wonder Woman, go up against the Annihilator, an invincible creature of war created by Ares in an attempt to initiate WWIII.
"This Little Piggy" (episode 5) - The enchantress Circe transforms Wonder Woman into a pig in this hilarious episode. Batman, with Zatanna, must find a way to change Wonder Woman back.
"Fearful Symmetry" (episode 6) - Project Cadmus comes to the fore as Supergirl begins to delve into her disturbing dreams, with the help of Green Arrow and the inquisitive Question. Cameo appearance by Prof. Hamilton from the animated Superman series.
"The Greatest Story Never Told" (episode 7) - Booster Gold is shunted off to the side and relegated to crowd control as the big guns battle the powerful Mordru. However, Booster gets a shot at the big time when he chances upon a sentient black hole that threatens to swallow, well, just about everything.
"The Return" (episode 8) - The unstoppable superandroid Amazo (from Justice League Season 2: "Tabula Rasa") returns from deep space and vengefully targets Lex Luthor, who has "turned over a new leaf." The full might of the JLU is set loose for the first time as the heroes attempt to nullify Amazo. Meanwhile, it's up to Luthor and the Atom to come up with a weapon to save the day.
"Ultimatum" (episode 9) - Maxwell Lord is the money man behind the Ultimen, a supposedly altruistic band of superheroes, who wants to be the people's choice of heroes. Of course, they end up confronting the JLU. This is a great nostalgia piece for fans of the Superfriends show, as the members of the Ultimen are based in large part on old-school heroes such as Apache Chief, Samurai, Black Lightning, and the Wonder Twins. Also, Project Cadmus once again rears its ugly head.
"Dark Heart" (episode 10) - The JLU tries to hold off an invading nanotechnological alien creature, who is self-replicating and ever expanding. It's up to the Atom again to breach the surface of the alien technology and cut things down to size (sorry).
"Wake the Dead" (episode 11) - An out-of-control, muddle-headed Solomon Grundy is magically restored to life and begins to wreak havoc. Dr. Fate and Aquaman, among others, attempt to counter him, but it's finally up to a grieving Shayera to put a final end to Grundy. A bittersweet ending to this story.
"The Once and Future Thing, Part 1: Weird Western Tales" (episode 12) - A rousing time travel two-parter. Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and Bats temporally chase Chronos into the Old West, where they hook up with DC western heroes such as Jonah Hex, Batlash and El Diablo. Then the Justice Leaguers, still tracking Chronos, travel to the future universe of Batman Beyond.
"The Once and Future Thing, Part 2: Time, Warped" (episode 13) - Conclusion. In the Batman Beyond universe, the time-travelling Justice Leaguers partner up with the future Justice League to shut down Chronos. The future Justice League has on its roster Batman Beyond, Warhawk (Green Lantern and Shayera's son), and a mature Static. The current League also meets the future Bruce Wayne, very much older and arthritic but still very intense and in full faculty.
Justice League Unlimited Season 2 contains the following episodes:
"The Cat and the Canary" (episode 1) - The Black Canary and Green Arrow try to help Canary's mentor Wildcat, who's indulging his midlife crisis by competing in Meta-Brawl, an underground super-powered fight club.
"The Ties That Bind" (episode 2) - This episode focuses on Jack Kirby's Fourth World characters as only Flash is willing to lend an assist to escape-artist Mr. Miracle and Big Barda, who - in order to save Oberon from Granny Goodness - must infiltrate an escape-proof prison and release Kalibak from the clutches of Vermin Vunderbarr.
"The Doomsday Sanction" (episode 3) - As the JLU attempts a rescue mission of an island beleaguered by an active volcano and Batman looks into Project Cadmus, Superman tussles with an escaped Doomsday.
"Task Force X" (episode 4) - An undercover ops group, headed by Amanda Waller and consisting of costumed criminals Capt. Boomerang, Deadshot, the Clock King and Plastique, is given a mission to infiltrate the JLU satellite headquarters to steal an artifact. Shades of the Suicide Squad! What a fun episode!
"The Balance" (episode 5) - When Wonder Woman tries to steal Hawkgirl's mace, she instead ends up partners with Shayera as they fly to Tartarus, where Felix Faust now reigns supreme.
"Double Date" (episode 6) - The Huntress and the Question target Steven Mandragora, a crime boss who the Huntress believes murdered her parents. Unfortunately, Mandragora is in protective custody and being watched over by Green Arrow and Black Canary.
"Clash" (episode 7) - Very cool episode, as Capt. Marvel ("Shazam!") is the JLU's newest recruit. But Marvel's naive, optimistic outlook constantly irks a disenchanted Superman, and this eventually results in a brutal, drag-down battle royale between the Man of Steel and the Big Red Cheese. Luthor co-stars as the main catalyst for Superman's ire.
"Hunter's Moon" (episode 8) - Shayera is spotlighted as she, Vixen and Vigilante respond to a distress call from space and are accosted by revenge-minded Thanagarians. The tension between Shayera and Vixen (both of whom have an eye on John Stewart) is palpable. Nice to have Vigilante in a hefty role, for once.
"Question Authority" (episode 9) - This is the episode that brings the Project Cadmus saga to a head. While nosing around Project Cadmus, the Question unearths an insidious plot that puts the JLU in direct jeopardy.
"Flashpoint" (episode 10) - Luthor uses his control of Watchtower weaponry to frame the Justice League. Project Cadmus revives Galatea and the Ultimen and points them towards the League. Supes and Capt. Atom face off.
"Panic in the Sky" (episode 11) - The Justice League founding members (but one) give themselves up to the authorities until the truth is uncovered about the firing of the Watchtower ion cannon. Meanwhile, Project Cadmus launches an all out attack on the beleaguered JLU. Meanwhile, Batman confronts Amanda Waller.
"Divided We Fall" (episode 12) - The original seven Justice League members battle the combined technological might of Lex Luthor/Brainiac. Flash takes the kid gloves off in this one.
"Epilogue" (episode 13) - In this season coda, the focus is strictly on Terry McGinnis (Batman Beyond), who questions his past, future and legacy as a crimefighter. Along the way, he chances upon an aged Amanda Waller, who gives him advice and tells him a previously undisclosed Batman story.
Presented in awesome widescreen format, with a running time totalling at 595 minutes, and packaged in a double Amaray case, this 4 disc box set is not to be missed!