Featured Screen Shot
Synopsis "War World Part One"
The Justice League investigate a 3-mile wide asteroid that is on a collision course with the Earth. It is still orbiting beyond Saturn, but the League want deal with the threat as early as possible. Superman and J’onn J’onzz wear space suits to place explosives on the asteroid while Hawkgirl monitors their progress from Justice League Watchtower. She detects unstable hydrogen pockets within the asteroid and warns J’onn and Superman. They try to retreat, but the asteroid’s explosion is a lot bigger than they were expecting. Hawkgirl can only watch in horror as the explosion engulfs her teammates and her radio link with them goes silent.
The unconscious Superman and J’onn J’onzz drift amid the debris from their wrecked Javelin and the asteroid. The captain of a passing star ship remarks that its “Incredible” that they’ve survived and orders them brought aboard. The ship is not on a mercy mission, however, as it’s a slave ship that is hunting for powerful warriors. They’re surprised to have found a living Kryptonian and believe that Superman will make an excellent addition to the Gladiator pool. The ship’s destination is War World. It’s a cosmopolitan world, but it is crippled by food shortages, blackouts, and severe unemployment. War World’s charismatic ruler, Mongul, keeps his wretched people enthralled with public displays of gladiatorial combat, but of late Draaga, the popular champion, has been more than a match for any opponent Mongul’s slavers can find.
The latest slave/gladiator, Krodar the Terrible, is a bulbous inhuman robot. He and Draaga are teleported to the arena – an empty, shattered city beneath a blood red sky – while a host of floating cameras relay images of their battle back to the crowds on Warworld. The crowds chant for Draaga, but the outcome is never in any doubt. Mongul asks the crowd if Krodar Krodar “>should be spared, but the crowd just boos. Mongul declares “Long live democracy!” and Draaga finishes the droid. The crowds, however, weren’t booing Krodar. They were booing the falling standard of the games. Mongul then warns his starship captain that his next specimen had better be more of a crowd pleaser.
Superman awakens to find Draaga studying him. Draaga calls him pathetic and then spits in his face. Superman refuses to rise to the challenge and doesn’t free himself from his chains until after Draaga has left. He finds J’onn unconscious, next to where Mongul’s guards feed the bodies of ex- and reject gladiators to a monstrous alien crocodile. Superman saves his friend from becoming croc bait, but something in War World’s atmosphere is weakening J’onn, sapping his strength. They manage to escape the palace security droids, but become separated when a force field surrounding the complex lets J’onn past, but not Superman. The Man of Steel is recaptured, but J’onn manages to disappeared into the surrounding city. Mongul had hoped to build Superman up with some preliminary matches, but he must now make an example of him for trying to escape. Mongul’s command is “Give him to Draaga!”
Earlier at the Watchtower, Green Lantern John Stewart, had berated Hawkgirl for not watching her team-mates more closely. She retorts “Do you want to stand here pointing fingers or do you want to do something about it?” By the time they arrive at the blast site Superman and J’onn are long gone. Lantern’s ring detects the ion trail from the starship that kidnapped their friends and they follow its course. They lose the trail near a refuelling outpost and turn their attention on the local scum. Lantern plays good cop, to Hawkgirl’s bad-cop to convince a local smuggler to admit that he’d heard something about a Kryptonian being taken to War World. Hawkgirl then demands that he takes them there.
On War World, J’onn J’onzz joins the crowds streaming into the palace to watch Superman and Draaga’s fight. Superman defiantly refuses to fight for Mongul’s amusement, but once in the arena he’s forced to fight just for his own life against Draaga’s onslaught. Superman tries to reason with Draaga, but the gladiator tells him that neither of them has a choice. Superman takes Draaga’s pounding, unable or unwilling to match his ferocity. Draaga’s claim of victory is premature as Superman rallies with the call of “Enough!” Superman returns Draaga’s blows, defeating the exhausted gladiator.
Mongul and the watching crowd and are stunned. The fickle crowd turns hostile at their former champion and Mongul orders Superman to finish Draaga. Naturally, the Kryptonian refuses to murder Draaga, even after Draaga asks for an honourable death. Mongul then orders his security droids to kill Superman for refusing his command. J’onn watches helpless as his friend is brought to his knees by the droids.
Superman being Superman – turning the other cheek, refusing to fight.
Green Lantern berating Hawkgirl and needing prompting to go after his teammates.
My feelings about War World are conflicted. I have a fondness for it because it was the first Justice League episode that I ever saw, but it is generally thought of as one of the weaker episodes of the first season. I now think that should be regarded as assessment of how strong the other first season episodes are instead of a critique of how weak this one is. Watching it back, the animation and direction are actually rather good. It’s real crime is highlighting the weaknesses of the Season One Superman and in not translating the intensity of Warworld.
Argh! Why does the DCAU Superman constantly do this? Why is he such a masochist? He just sucks up Draaga’s blows, letting himself be pounded into mincemeat on the off-chance that Draaga will have some sort of miraculous conversion and decide to become a flower seller. Then, once even he’s had enough, he KOs Draaga in a matter of seconds. So frustrating. Superman’s ability to fight is as inconsistent as Hulk Hogan during a Wrestlemania.
The original Warworld was a planet sized fortress that, while not entirely dissimilar to the Deathstar, truly lived up to its name. Mongul, as its ruler, had a real stature that is lacking in his adaptation. The DCAU Mongul seems like a game show host in comparison. He has more in common with Damon Killian, the host from Running Man, than the classic Cesar at the Coliseum motif. Nevertheless, a change to Mongul’s character/use was probably necessary to differentiate him from Darkseid.
|Character Site||The Captain's Justice League Homepage||Jason Kirk||2/5|
2009 Oct 27 – Added notes on Draaga and William Smith. Changed post title from “Warworld” to the correct “War World”.