Thursday, February 14, 2013

It All Comes Down To This: The Greatest Showdowns In DC Animation

Batman: The Animated Series (Batman vs. Joker)
After viewing this episode, I concluded that the whole thing represents one of those classic Batman versus Joker moments, but it isn’t until the final, climatic scene, where they square off. The episode, titled “The Laughing Fish” follows Joker on a long list of evil schemes, all involving his infamous “joker” toxins, with Batman and Gotham’s finest following up on all their leads. The final clue leads Batman to save the life of Harvey Bullock and pursue the Joker to the roof of Gotham’s aquarium. What makes this duel so epic is not just the build up from the cat and mouse theme of the episode, not just the action, but also the setting and the dark storm happening around them. The best moment is when Joker swings a crowbar at Batman as Batman grabs the crowbar. The battle ends with the Joker falling to his apparent death in the shark-filled waters below. Unfortunately, this was the fifth episode of the second season, and the Joker would be seen many more times after that, but a part of me realizes this would have made a great series finale.

Justice League Unlimited (Flash vs. Luthor/Brainiac)
The Flash was used quite a lot in the original JL series, but was given less airtime when the show expanded into JLU and expanded their superhero roster. Throughout the entire season I was hoping for more episodes focused on the Flash, but was slightly disappointed, until the second last episode of season one, titled “Divided We Fall”. All season, the stories built up the Cadmus conspiracy until this final episode concluded all the story arcs, with the fusing of Lex Luthor and Brainiac. After the original seven JL members fail to defeat Luthor, he decides to recreate the events of a darker, alternate reality (seen in an earlier episode), where Flash is killed and the JL turns evil. Flash ends up running away but returns even faster as he continues to run into Luthor, shattering more armor each attack. Flash circles the world in micro seconds, providing blow after blow until he ends the fight by digging his vibrating hands into Luthor’s chest, destroying the connection he had with Brainiac. The music, the sound effects and the love of the Flash truly made up for any under usage throughout the season, all in this short-lived two minutes of the episode.

Justice League Unlimited (Superman vs. Darkseid)
A homage to their original brawl seen in the series finale of the 90’s Superman animated series is made in the series finale, titled “Destroyer”. After the armies of Apokolips invade Earth, the JLU is forced to team up with the Legion of Doom to stop them. Though the center attraction in all the madness lies atop the Daily Planet where Lex, Batman and Superman battle Darkseid, a battle that soon sees the destruction of the Daily Planet. The coolest moments of the battle lie whenever Batman attacks Darkseid, because even though he has no powers and nothing he does can hurt him, he still fights. The climax of the fight arrives when Superman unleashes his full power on Darkseid, providing us with a Superman more powerful then anything we’ve seen in animation. Unfortunately, it is short-lived, way too short, like 30 seconds, but I still get chills every time I watch it. Oddly enough, it ends up being Lex who “defeats” Darkseid, kind of.

JL: Crisis on Two Earths (Batman vs. Owlman)
He could have sent anyone to defeat Owlman, but I think that deep down, Batman needed to prove he could beat his alternate self. Owlman has traveled to the very first Earth, Earth-Prime, where he plans to set off a bomb that ill create a chain reaction destroying all Earths, until Johnny Quick creates a portal, allowing Batman to travel to Prime to challenge Owlman. While there are no powers involved, this is truly the best-animated Batman sequence. The animation is clean and the martial arts used in the fight make it that much better. There’s also that satisfaction that it’s Batman versus “himself”, essentially. The fight also ends with the coolest line in animation (in my opinion), followed by Batman saving all Earths.

The Dark Knight Returns Part 2 (Batman vs. Superman)
There is not a better-animated adaptation of comic book to screen then there is in DC’s newest animated feature. Panel for panel, the fight seems just as intense, dramatic, climatic, then it did in the comic, if not more so. The flow of the animation was spectacular and the action is unmatched by anything I’ve seen involving superhero cartoons. Batman has become a national problem, so the nation sends its greatest solider to deal with its greatest outlaw, creating an epic showdown between the two greatest superheroes. As cool as it was to read Frank Millar’s masterpiece, it may have been even cooler to watch it on the “big screen”. 
You'll just have to purchase the DVD to watch this.

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