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‘Justice League Vs. The Fatal Five’ (review)

Justice League Vs. the Fatal Five, DC Animation’s 34th feature film, shines a spotlight on The Fatal Five (comprised of Tharok, Emerald Empress, Validus, Mano and the Persuader), traditionally utilized as villains of the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Original Batman Kevin Conroy is leading the Justice League team along with Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman and rounding out the Trinity is George Newbern as Superman. Miss Martian, Mr. Terrific and the Jessica Cruz Green Lantern (voiced by Doom Patrol‘s Diane Guerrero) round out the JL roster, with Jessica and M’Gann having some growing pains and need to prove themselves to the team, or at least to Batman.

Sam Liu directs, and continues to serve as showrunner for DC Animation and the legendary Bruce Timm is on hand as executive producer and voices Two-Face in a cameo.

Liu does a fine job of injecting some realism in his work and the voices of the characters, literally and figuratively, maintain an accuracy and vibe we have come to expect from the DCAU.

In researching the Fatal Five, I discovered this was an early creation of former Marvel Editor-In-Chief Jim Shooter, then a teenage wunderkind, writing for Action Comics and Adventure Comics. Shooter was also drawing breakdowns of the books in 1966. Pretty cool gig for a 14 year-old!

Kicking off the film is a flash forward to The Legion of Super-Heroes being attacked. Star Boy Thomas Kallor gets caught in the time stream portal chasing after Mano and the Persuader, Tharok and Mano.

An amnesiac, confused and nude Star Boy is apprehended by Batman in the present day, only to be committed alongside Two-Face in Arkham.

The bad guys end up tracking Star Boy from the 31st century as they target Portland. The League fends them off but they even injure Superman in the process. At the Oregon super-fight Terrific and Wonder Woman save Jessica. These future folks are doing some damage!

Star Boy is rescued, but only after the League wonders at his powers. He’s gone a bit off the deep end with his Cuckoo Nest routine taking a toll on his brain. In the future, Star Boy is able to regulate his brain chemistry with a drug, but since he’s back here in the present, he may never recover from his lack of dosage.

The movie takes some interesting turns, as M’gann takes Batman and Jessica into Star Boy’s mind for a flash forward, The Fatal Five reveal their plan to take over the world, and Jessica is similarly wowed by the fact the Legion looks back at her as a hero.

Star Boy’s mental state and Jessica’s anxiety shine a light on mental health in a way that is helpful for representation, as well as the diverse makeup of the Justice League itself in the film.

As far as stories and villains are concerned, it’s always a spotlight on the Big Bads, not necessarily lower tier villains like Fatal Five or the Elite, but DC and rabid Legion of Super-Heroes fans should be happy. I personally am not leaving this movie with a sense good or bad about the Fatal Five, but think the story was passable, if not terribly interesting or engaging.

I could have used more Brainiac 5, Saturn Girl and Legion action myself, they appear in a few cameos, but this is a Justice League film after all. Both Jessica and Miss Martian grow past the sidekick phase in this coming of age subplot and the fate of Star Boy is revealed.

I did enjoy this at a four star level, if my usual enthusiasm lands at about a 5 star rating. I don’t have much to knock about this movie, but not being connected to the characters on a personal level dampened my enjoyment a bit:  I was just tuning out to parts that weren’t compelling to me.

Extras include:
Audio Commentary, Sneak Peeks, Featurettes, and two Legion/Fatal Five-centric animated episodes.

 

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