JUSTICE LEAGUE: SEASON TWO
As I stated in my review of season one of JUSTICE LEAGUE, this show follows in the outstanding traditions of BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES and BATMAN BEYOND and is, unquestionably, the finest animated superhero series ever produced for television. The basic premise of JUSTICE LEAGUE brings together Batman (voiced by Kevin Conroy), Superman (voiced by George Newbern), Wonder Woman (voiced by Susan Eisenberg), Green Lantern (voiced by Phil LaMarr), Hawkgirl (voiced by Maria Canals), The Flash (voiced by Michael Rosenbaum) and The Martian Manhunter (voiced by Carl Lumbly), who combine their abilities to form the Justice League and take on threats that would overwhelm a single superhero. Like its freshman year, season two of JUSTICE LEAGUE continues to be action packed, yet features complex and intelligently written stories, which generally require multiple episodes to play out.
JUSTICE LEAGUE: SEASON TWO ($45) comes to DVD in a four-disc set that features the following twenty-six episodes: Twilight Part 1, Twilight Part 2, Tabula Rasa Part 1, Tabula Rasa Part 2, Only A Dream Part 1, Only A Dream Part 2, Maid Of Honor Part 1, Maid Of Honor Part 2, Hearts And Minds Part 1, Hearts And Minds Part 2, A Better World Part 1, A Better World Part 2, Eclipsed Part 1, Eclipsed Part 2, The Terror Beyond Part 1, The Terror Beyond Part 2, Secret Society Part 1, Secret Society Part 2, Hereafter Part 1, Hereafter Part 2, Wild Cards Part 1, Wild Cards Part 2, Comfort And Joy, Starcrossed Part 1, Starcrossed Part 2 and Starcrossed Part 3. Personal favorites from season two include Twilight, which finds the League forced into an alliance with Darkseid to save both Earth and Apokolips from Brainiac; A Better World Part, which brings our heroes face to face with The Justice Lords, a darkly misguided version of themselves from an alternate dimension, and Starcrossed, which brings the Thangarians to Earth and reveals the secret agenda of one of the League’s own.
Warner Home Video has made all twenty-six episodes that comprise JUSTICE LEAGUE: SEASON TWO available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation, which sadly lacks the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. The unenhanced presentation is a disappointment, to say the very least, especially when one considers that JUSTICE LEAGUE: STARCROSSED THE MOVIE was a compilation of the final three episodes of season two and released in the16:9 enhanced format. Warner’s response to inquiries about the video mastering indicates that JUSTICE LEAGUE: SEASON TWO was released in this format per a request from the production team, but stressing that JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED will be released 16:9 enhanced.
Playback of JUSTICE LEAGUE: SEASON TWO requires digital manipulation of the image to fit the proportions of a widescreen display. This unfortunately, introduces artifacts and causes solid black lines within the animation to break up anytime there is motion. On a 4:3 display the image looks better, but who wants to dig an old monitor out of mothballs eek out a better quality picture on a new DVD release. As for the colors, they are quite strong and appear stable. Blacks are accurate and the whites are clean. Since the animation is no longer produced on film, JUSTICE LEAGUE: SEASON TWO is free from grain and print flaws.
JUSTICE LEAGUE: SEASON TWO comes to DVD with Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks, which decode fairly well to standard surround. Sound quality is generally good, although the television origins of these soundtracks are fairly evident. Not surprisingly, the forward soundstage remains dominant, with the rears adding mild effects, along with musical and ambient fill. Dialogue is crisply rendered and easy to understand. No alternate language tracks have been included on the DVD, although French and Spanish subtitles have been provided.
Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as a few nice extra features. Running audio commentaries are offered on Twilight Part 2, A Better World Part 2 and Starcrossed Part 3. Other features include Voices Of Justice, a ten-minute introduction to the vocal talent, Justice League Declassified, an eight minute roundtable discussion with the production team, and a preview of Look, Up In The Sky: The Amazing Story Of Superman.
As I stated above, JUSTICE LEAGUE is unquestionably the finest animated superhero series ever produced for television. Although the format chosen for the video presentation is a disappointment, the show is just too good (especially season two) for fans to omit this release from their collections. JUSTICE LEAGUE: SEASON TWO is recommended, but with reservations.
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