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Monday, November 15, 2010

Justice League: "The Terror Beyond"

Season Two, Episode Fifteen: The Terror Beyond
Written by:
Dwayne McDuffie
Directed by: Butch Lukic
Original Air Date: November 15, 2003

This episode of Justice League opens with an Army platoon chasing after the zombie before zombies were cool, Solomon Grundy. Supposedly he's on a rampage through town, but he keeps protesting all he wants is to be left alone.

After zapping Grundy with a high-tech weapon, which seems to render him immobile, they prepare to stuff him in a huge portable prison cell. But before they can do this, a giant sea serpent rises out of the water, and aboard is...Aquaman!

The soldiers begin firing on him, leading Aquaman to make hash of some of their weapons:
He then offers a hand to Grundy, saying "Come with me if you want to live!" Grundy, not completely stupid, hops aboard, and together they disappear.

They make their way to the spooky, door-less castle home of Dr. Fate, who, along with his wife Inza (I love that name), is waiting for him:
Aquaman keeps talking about "doing what's been asked" of him, but Dr. Fate is at the moment more concerned with Grundy. He taps into Grundy's brain, and we see how the man-monster came to be: he was once a heartless gangster, a murderer, whose own men turned on him when it suited them.

Tossing his body into a swamp bubbling with mystic energy, the gangster returned from the dead as the unliving Solomon Grundy--a brainless, soulless killing machine.

At first Grundy was humoring Aquaman for the promise of gold (which Aquaman delivers on), but after his meeting with Fate, Grundy becomes obsessed with getting back that thing that his former friends took from him--even if he isn't exactly sure what that is.

Back in town, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Hawkgirl investigate the battle scene, and the Army's commander wants nothing more to do with superheroes, assuming they're in, er, league with Aquaman. Superman and Wonder Woman are dubious, but Hawkgirl is less skeptical about the idea of Aquaman "going rogue."

Their conversation is interrupted when they see a giant tentacled sea creature attacking a cruise ship. They fight it off, though its difficult because it seems to have magical properties(?)--only to see it swim away, back to Atlantis. Or, as Hawkgirl puts it, "running back to Daddy."

(There's a wonderfully brutal sequence where Hawkgirl smashes the creature's teeth with her mace:
...ouch ouch ouch!!)

Anyway, they make their way to Atlantis, where they meet with Mera. Mera tells them where Aquaman is, and while Superman and Wonder Woman are more calm, Hawkgirl is accusatory and in Mera's face. After being accused of starting a war, Mera declares their meeting is at an end. Hawkgirl tries to follow, but...
I said, Meeting Adjourned!

Superman, Wonder Woman, and Hawkgirl head to Dr. Fate's HQ, where they stumble upon the weird ceremony that Dr. Fate, Aquaman, and Solomon Grundy are participating in. It looks bad:
They accuse Fate and Aquaman of torturing Grundy, but they try and protest this is all for a purpose. Superman and Wonder Woman are held off by Fate's magic, but surprisingly Hawkgirl--using her mace--seems to be able to make a little headway.

Dr. Fate says he needs time to restart the spell, so he teleports everyone away so they can fight it out in "peace." Superman tries to find out from Grundy what's going on, but of course all Grundy wants to do is smash Superman.

Meanwhile, Wonder Woman and Aquaman duke it out, using their fists, their weapons, some rocks, whatever they can. After pasting Aquaman one really good, Diana seems to almost enjoy having someone this tough to fight:
Turns out Wonder Woman is a little overconfident: Aquaman makes a surprise lunge, dragging her into the water, where of course he is at an advantage. As he pushes her deeper and deeper into the pitch black sea, we see that Arthur too seems to be having a good time:
Back in Fate's dimension, Hawkgirl threatens to ring "that bell" on Dr. Fate's head, and she's actually able to hold her own, for a while. She's shocked to see some of the symbols flowing from Fate's ball of energy are Thanagarian, and she demands to know what's going on.

Meanwhile, everyone else is transported back. Superman faces off with Aquaman, and one punch later he is dragging an unconscious Aquaman and Solomon Grundy behind him.

They ask Fate what's going on, and his response is, "I was trying to stop...that!":
...to be continued!

I enjoy pretty much every episode of Justice League, but of course any one with Aquaman (even the super angry, super loner version seen here) is extra fun. Arthur's knock-down, drag-out battle with Wonder Woman is extraordinary--not only is it just a solid, well-choreographed fight scene, but as an AquaFan its cool seeing Arthur go toe-to-toe with Wonder Woman--not exactly a slouch in the ass-kicking department.

The combo of Dr. Fate/Aquaman/Solomon Grundy makes a nice little DC version of The Defenders, with each of them acting a little more like Dr. Strange, Sub-Mariner, and Hulk than they normally would.

I've decided to cover both installments of this story in one day, so be back at noon for Part 2!


Anonymous said...

I never caught the Defenders parallel before! Awesome.

David J. Cutler said...

Later they add in Amazo to Aquaman and Fate's little club, taking advantage of his redesign and power levels to be the Silver Surfer stand in. It's kinda genius.

Aaron said...

Whoah, never would have made that Defenders connection but I'm not as familiar with them as I should be, even as I warm up more and more to seventies Marvel... suddenly I feel there may be an Essential Defenders in my future.

I loved these shows, I'm about due for a marathon on the big TV.