After years of delivering a new style of animation for a new generation of DC and Warner fans, the DC animation department is going back to the well and reviving the classic Bruce Timm animation style for some brand new films. While they all haven’t been slam dunks, “Justice League vs. The Fatal Five” is a fine return to form for a part of DC Comics Entertainment that almost always delivers. It’s certainly better than the junky 2017 “Batman and Harley Quinn” movie, and even takes the time out to delve in to important overtones about PTSD, Mental illness, and overcoming our fears.
The 34th animated film from DC Animation by Sam Liu features time traveling villains The Fatal Five, a lethal group of criminals that manage to go back in time to stop Green Lantern Jessica Cruz from fulfilling her destiny to the future of the Legion of Super Heroes. When fellow Legion eammate Star Boy follows them in an effort to stop them, he’s thrust in to a world he doesn’t recognize. Housed in Arkham Asylum after running out of his meds, he struggles to convince Batman that he is a hero who can aide in defeating the Fatal Five. Meanwhile Jessica Cruz and the Justice League have to contend with the vicious team of villains.
“Justice League vs. The Fatal Five” is an entertaining re-visit to the classic DCAU that focuses on the lesser seen superheroes. Of course the big three come along for the ride, but there are also bigger emphases on great superheroes like Miss Martian, and Mister Terrific. I loved the exploration of a different Earth Green Lantern, as Jessica Cruz is a fascinating superhero. She’s called in to duty constantly and can prove to be a great tool in fighting evil, but she is battling her own personal demons, which involves barely surviving an attempted murder years before. Liu directs a great cast, including Kevin Conroy, Susan Eisenberg, and George Newbern along with Diane Guerrero, Tara Strong, and Noel Fischer. “Justice League vs. The Fatal Five” is a great sequel, with the continuation of a fun trend and I hope we re-visit the Timm animation style again very soon.
The release from Warner comes with a Digital Copy and DVD Copy. There’s an Audio Commentary with Executive Producer Bruce Timm, Director Sam Liu, and Screenwriters Jim Krieg & Eric Carrasco both of whom discuss certain scenes, and cover elements like the original score, Star boy’s costume, the digital tools used to create it, and more. It’s an energetic track with a lot of great conversation and insight. There’s a nine minute Sneak Peek at Batman: Hush. This is a short segment looking at the upcoming animated adaptation of the classic Batman graphic novel, with interviews from select cast members and director Justin Copeland, as well as art from the original series. Battling the Invisible Menace is an eight minute look at the mental challenges faced by the main characters as well as their physical ones. It’s a great look at the overtones of mental illness and trauma.
Justice League vs. Fatal Five: Unity of Hero is a fifteen minute look at the diversity of the Justice League, and how it relates to social and cultural responsibility and its access to wider and bigger varieties of stories. There are two Sneak Peak “Revisited” segments with an eight minute preview of “Justice League Dark” and an eleven minute preview of “Justice League vs. Teen Titans.” Finally, there are two episodes From the DC Vault, an episode of Legion of Superheroes entitled “Man of Tomorrow,” the first episode of the series featuring Superman, Saturn Girl, and the team’s first battle with the Fatal Five. There’s also the “Justice League Unlimited” episode “Far from Home,” which finds Supergirl, Green Lantern and Green Arrow traveling to the 31st Century to help the Legion of Superheroes fight The Fatal Five.