Justice League: Doom (Review)
Justice League: Doom
Written by Dwayne McDuffie
Based on JLA: Tower of Babel by Mark Waid
Directed by Lauren Montgomery
The Justice League is under attack, except this time it’s by one of their own! Okay, not really by one of their own, but by the very plans Batman developed to deal with members of the Justice League.
Justice League: Doom is based loosely on the JLA: Tower of Babel storyline by Mark Waid, Justice League: Doom changes things up enough to be a different take while providing a nice adaptation of the overall themes. The main villain is changed (from Ra’s al Ghul to Vangal Savage) and some of the Justice League’s lineup is different, but the feelings of betrayal by a paranoid Batman remain.
Doom is not direct sequel to Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, but follows it with very similar character designs and voices. Many of the DC Animated films are their own shards of a loose continuity that exists purely to tell that exact tale. It’s a perfectly fine way to operate, allowing the general mythology of the heroes to exist and leaving toom for the specifics needed to make the stories work and be unique. The return of many of the familiar voice actors helps sell the loose familiarity and provides a comfort to longtime fans so they aren’t put off by Batman sounding weird or something.
Justice League: Doom is one of the better DC Animated films, dividing enough characterization between the different members to give each of them their own take, while still keeping a focus on Batman. Switching the villain to Vandal Savage helps push a more minor villain into focus and provides an excuse to make the full range of the plans make more sense than eliminating reading and talking.
Things open with a robbery perpetrated by the Royal Flush Gang, a deck of cards themed group of villains. Batman arrives to interrupt their plans, but just when the villains look to be getting the best of him, the Justice League appears, Batman having called them as backup. Everyone divvies up opponents, giving each member a chance to show off by taking down a Royal Flush Gang member. Soon Superman is smashing the robotic Ace, people are flying around on giant paying cards, and the house of cards soon falls.
Cyborg is also there, examining the technology the gang used to break in, an advanced phasing device beyond current technology. He’s downloading and decrypting data to try to find where it came from, but until that’s all done, there isn’t anything left to do, despite Batman’s angry attempts to do anything production.
Batman heads home, momentarily glancing someone in the rear-view mirror. As Batman is injured, he shakes it off as fatigue, but it’s not a sign of Batman losing some screws, but Mirror Master, who travels in the mirror into the Batcave to download files off of the Batcomputer – under orders from a mysterious voice that claims to already know who Batman really is. The voice is later revealed to be Vandal Savage, immortal human who has lived for 50,000+ years and cannot be killed. He recruits an enemy of each of the Justice League to launch attacks designed by Batman that will incapacitate the members so they’re out of the way for his bigger master plan.
So the attacks are on, with —- Bane steals Bruce Wayne’s parents bodies and buries Batman in his father’s grave; Metallo shoots Superman with a Kryptonite bullet; Star Saphire causes Green Lantern to lose his will after faking him failing to save a hostage; Ma’alefa’ak tricks Martian Manhunter into ingesting magnesium carbonate, which leaks through his skin and catches on fire; Cheetah attacks Wonder Woman with nanobots that cause her to see Cheetah everywhere and are designed to keep her fighting until she drops dead; and Mirror Master implants a bomb on Flash’s write that will explode if he slows down.
Batman manages to escape being buried alive in his dad’s coffin by going full Kill Bill 2 and punching his way out. He discovers everyone else is under attack, and quickly realizes the attacks are from his designs (though modified to be more lethal) Though the attacks are designed to take down their specific targets, the weakness is the heroes are not alone, they have friends, they have other members of the Justice League, and they have Cyborg, who shows up and helps solves some of the attacks and managed to be under the radar enough to not get targeted (as he’s not officially in the Justice League!)
Despite the resentment against Batman for designing the attacks that left them incapacitated and likely dead, the Justice League must put off their anger to track down Vandal Savage and the other villains and stop his plan to kill billions of people.
One of the fun parts of Justice League: Doom is that it’s entirely believable that Batman would have contingency plans against every hero, because Batman is always prepared and doesn’t play well with others. His insistence of having control over situations would naturally come into conflict with working in a team where everyone is considered equal.
Vandal Savage’s plan is brutal, but there barely seems to be more of a plan than cause mass destruction. He doesn’t have a cache of supplies and troops stashed away (or at least doesn’t mention it), so he’d be in almost the same position as everyone else had his plan gone through. The only real advantage would be his years of experience in dealing with crisis situations like this. Worldwide catastrophes like the one he’s attempting to cause are the situations the Justice League was created to battle, so the scenario does work as an even that they would stop.
With a credible threat to the planet and the individual members of the Justice League, Justice League: Doom provides an entertaining adventure with character driven drama and threats that scale in magnitude from Superman to Green Lantern. The animated DC films trend towards entertaining, and Justice League: Doom is no exception.
Rated 8/10 (girl’s best friend, kryptonite heart, strange meteor, Thomas Wayne cameo, not Cheetah, Wonder Woman nude!, martian life form, martian life form)
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