Featured Screen Shot
It is a cold and snowy November 11th in Central City. Wally West, alias Kid Flash, believes that this day may prove to be his best birthday ever. The arm he broke fighting the Injustice League (“Revelations”) has healed and his cast has been removed. His mother has prepared a massive fried breakfast that only his accelerated metabolism could cope with and his dad offers to take him down the DMV to get his driving license. For once, however, Wally isn’t in a rush — its not that Kid Flash has much need for wheels. Wally’s Aunt Iris gives him a special shout out on live TV and to top everything his school is closed because of the snow. Wally ponders whether life “can get any sweeter”, but he is unaware that the current cold weather is not a natural phenomena.
Later that afternoon, Wally teleports into the Cave. He feigns shock when the Team, Flash, and Red Tornado appear with his surprise birthday party — although Robin notes that he has been dropping hints for days. Megan (Miss Martian) baked two cakes and tells Wally to make a wish. It’s clear that Wally’s wishing for Megan — which anger’s Artemis — , but all the bemused Kid gets by way of a birthday kiss is a friendly peck to the forehead. He continues hitting on Megan until Artemis finally takes it upon herself to break the news to him that Megan is actually dating Conner (Superboy). Wally’s dismay is interrupted by an urgent alert from the Batman.
The wintry weather has degenerated into an intense ice storm that has paralysed the entire North American continent. Even the League’s zeta-tube system is off-line due to the intense atmospheric cold. Satellite imagery shows that five heavily fortified flying ice fortresses are generating the storm. The Justice League is already engaging the fortresses, but with both Green Lanterns off-world Batman needs all hands on deck. That means the Team will be fighting alongside the full Justice League for the first time. Kid Flash notices that he has been left out of Batman’s orders and questions why. He had been eager to fight alongside the League, but Batman crushes his hopes.
A young girl in Seattle needs a heart transplant, but the donor organ is in Boston and the ice storm has blocked all conventional transport options. Kid Flash’s mission will be to run the heart 3,000 miles across the country. Kid Flash is incredulous that he’s been left out of the League/Team team-up, but even he realises that he cannot say no to saving a little girl’s life. Law enforcement across the country has already been alerted to his mission and is clearing a path for him. The Kid reaches Boston General at approximately 16:30 local time and picks up the heart from a surgical team. It is in a special insulted shock-proofed backpack, but the Doctors warn him that the heart will only remain viable for 4-hours.
Meanwhile, Superboy uses the Super-Cycle to meet the Batplane at Ice Fortress #1 and drop off Robin and Aqualad. He then continues with Wolf to meet up with Black Canary and Red Tornado at Ice Fortress #2. Miss Martian, Artemis, and Zatanna takes the bio-ship and rendezvous with Green Arrow and Martian Manhunter at Ice Fortress #3. The heroes at Ice Fortress #1 are taking heavy fire from guns emplacements and focus their efforts on taking the guns out first. Superboy and co have a similar experience at Ice Fortress #2. Kid Flash watches his team-mates adventures on a live video feed, but breaks off his viewing when he has to detour around a blocked road.
Kid Flash passes through Chicago 1 hour 20 minutes after he picking up the heart. He’s moving so fast that the police barely see him. By 1 hour 45 minutes into his run the Kid is passing through South Dakota. Vandal Savage — leader of the Light — has noticed the road closures and seeks to get Kid Flash’s attention by attacking the police officers who had been clearing the road. The Kid almost runs past them, but doubles back when he recognises Savage. They fight – Savage is immovable, but Kid is faster – as Savage bait’s the Kid. The alarm on Kid Flash’s PDA suddenly reminds him of his real mission and he breaks off their confrontation. He waisted 15-minutes on the fight and now has 2-hours left to reach Seattle. Savage notes the time on his own watch and comments “It should suffice.”
Kid Flash passes through Montana twenty minutes after leaving Savage. He will still make Seattle on time, but he used up his emergency snacks and is risking exhaustion. He nevertheless presses on through the freezing weather and the hunger. The Kid finally makes it to Seattle with 19 minutes to spare. He hands over the heart to the lone medic waiting outside the hospital, but is told that girl passed away 12 minutes ago. A crest fallen Wally slumps into a seat in the hospital foyer as he realises that he would have been in time to save her had he not stopped to fight Vandal Savage. Suddenly, another set of doctors run up to him and ask him where the heart is — the medic he gave it to was a fraud. The real recipient, young Queen Perdita of Vlatava, is still alive.
Kid Flash tackles the fake medic in the Hospital’s underground car park and snatches back the heart. He dodges a group of armed men, but is blind-sided by a disorientating vibrational attack of Count Werner Vertigo! The Ice Fortress and Savage were all part a conspiracy to murder Perdita — Vertigo’s niece! — by preventing her from getting the transplant heart she desperately needs. Vertigo’s elaborate plan was to keep suspicion off of him and allow him to become King after Perdita’s death. The Kid has kept Vertigo talking long enough to spot an opening — he slides the heart to safety, knocks down the henchmen, disables Vertigo, and then doubles back to the medics with only minutes to spare. The Kid then collapses with exhaustion.
Iris Allen’s news bulletin reports that the League successfully destroyed the Ice Fortresses, but ends with the sad news that despite Kid Flash’s efforts Queen Perdita died on the operating table. The Kid does not hear the news until he awakes in a hospital bed and sees Count Vertigo is standing over him. Vertigo gloats to Kid Flash that he is now King and there is nothing to connect him to Perdita’s death. He even acknowledges the contributions of Vandal Savage and five Ice villains in helping him attempted regicide. Kid Flash then surprises Vertigo by pulling back a curtain to reveal Perdita alive and well. It was all part of Kid Flash’s plan to fake the Queen’s death and entrap Vertigo into self-incrimination. The child Queen then gives Kid Flash Count Vertigo’s sword as a souvenir.
Nov 13th – Count Vertigo is returned to Belle Reve where Brick and the other inmates find his drop in status amusing. Batman questions Warden Strange whether the five imprisoned ice villains had anything to do with the Ice Fortresses, but Strange swears that they were locked up the entire time. At the Cave, Kid Flash adds the heart container to his wall of souvenirs — although the sword was cool the heart box seems more appropriate. Robin congratulates him on saving an entire country. Wally blusters that he’s “the man”, but secretly the thinks that his best birthday present was just seeing the smile on little Perdita’s face.
- This episode takes place on the 11th to the 13th of November.
- Vlatava is a small European country ruled by an hereditary royal family. The current Queen is the child Perdita who assumed the throne after the death of her father. The late King’s brother and Queen Perdita’s uncle is the super-villain Count Werner Vertigo.
- Kid Flash’s birthday is November 11th. He turns 16-years-old at the start of this episode. It takes 4 hours for him to run 3,000 miles.
- The Justice League’s zeta-tube network is vulnerable to atmospheric ice effects.
- Vandal Savage owes the Flash for some unspecified defeat.
Perdita and DC Comics Presents: Green Arrow
The political back story to the events in “Coldhearted” follow on from DC Comics Presents: Green Arrow, a short animated film that were released on the DVD to Superman/Batman: Apokalypse. In the short Green Arrow, in his civilian identity as Oliver Queen, is waiting at Star City Airport for Dinah’s arrival (Black Canary) when he spots the assassin Merlin. The killer is there with mercenaries for an attempt on the life of the child princess Perdita of Vlatava. Her father had just died making her the new Queen and the only person between the throne and her uncle Count Werner Vertigo. Merlin is working for Vertigo. His mercenaries kill Perdita’s bodyguards, but Green Arrow saves her before they can finish the job. That leads to a cat-and-mouse pursuit through the airport that only ends after Vertigo and Black Canary have both intervened.
The Green Arrow short was written by Young Justice producer Greg Weisman and the characters were designed by a team led by Young Justice Lead Character Designer Phil Bourassa. Thus, the writing style and appearance of the short is virtually identical to an episode of this series. Furthermore, Count Vertigo and Perdita are voiced by Steve Blum and Ariel Winter, the same actors that play them in this episode. Vertigo’s chief henchman is an identical character in both cartoons.
There is even a dialogue tick that Vertigo uses which is picked up in his Young Justice appearances. When Arrow sees him for the first time he ask “Vertigo?”, to which the villain retorts “Count Vertigo to you peasant!. It’s a line Vertigo uses with Kid Flash in “Revelations” and paraphrases in “Coldhearted” as “King Vertigo to you peasant!”.
Whether DC Comics Presents: Green Arrow is officially in the same continuity as Young Justice was answered categorically by Greg Weisman in an Ask Greg answer as,
Yes and no. The short isn’t canon, but the Earth-16 version of those events will eventually appear in our companion comic.
However, the Young Justice comic book has recently announced that they are jumping forward to the time frame of Young Justice: Invasion earlier than they had anticipated. What this means for the Earth-16 version of DC Comics Presents: Green Arrow is unclear.
Queen Perdita — The name Perdita means “lost one” and first appears as the name of the central character of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. That connection is quite opportune given the blanketing of North America by the winter’s storm in “Coldhearted”. Perdita was voiced in DC Comics Presents: Green Arrow and this episode by Ariel Winter. Ariel will be voicing Robin (the Carrie version) in the direct-to-DVD movie of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. For the inheritance to work Vertigo would have to be blood-kin of Perdita’s father, i.e. Werner Vertigo was the King’s brother.
Count Vertigo — The Count is a long running Green Arrow villain. He first appeared in World’s Finest Comics #251 (July 1978) as a European Count, the last surviving member of a Royal Family whose country had been annexed by the Soviet Union. Vertigo wears a prostheses that corrects a hereditary inner ear condition which affects his balance. He altered the device to broadcast a signal that affects everybody else’s balance and became a supervillain fighting variously for his own personal gain and/or his ancestral home. The Count is played in the Green Arrow short and this episode by Steve Balm, a prolific anime and video game voice actor who played the Batman and Joker in Lego Batman: the Videogame and Killer Croc in Batman: Arkham Asylum.
Vlatava — The country that both Vertigo and Perdita are from is called Vlatava. In the real world Vlatava, or Vltava is a river in the Czech Republic. The non-canonical Atlas of the DC Universe puts Vlatava on the river Danube at the intersection of Romania, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia (that part that is now Serbia).
Word of Greg
- Vertigo and Vandal Savage use the same phrase “Little Hero” to describe Kid Flash. Vertigo repeats his “Count Vertigo, peasent!” line from “Revelations” and DC Comics Presents: Green Arrow.
- Superboy appears in this episode, but does not speak.
- Batman states that in this reality the Justice League Watchtower is not weaponised. This contrasts with the DC Animated Universe (Earth-12) reality. The weaponisation of the Watchtower was a major plot point in Justice League Unlimited and is one of the justifications used for the conspiracy against them.
- Kid Flash’s emergency snack compartment reappears after first appearing in “Bereft”.
- The schools in Central City include Dubuc Elementary (named after Nicole Dubuc, the actress who plays Iris West-Allen), Spisak Junior High (named after Jason Spisak, the actor who plays Kid Flash), and Central City High (the school Kid Flash goes to).
- Most episodes of this series contain hidden allusions to the number 16. These are particularly prominent in this episode and include:
- The minutes number on Kid Flash’s alarm clock.
- Wally West’s 16th birthday.
- It’s 16-hours something in each of the first 3-4 time zones that Kid Flash passes through.
- According to Google Maps the driving distance between Boston and Seattle is 4,900 km = 3044 miles. Kid Flash arrives at Boston with 19 minutes left on his 4-hour timer, so excluding the 15 minute top to fight Savage, his total running time was 3 hours 36 minutes. That distance in that time equates to an average speed of 845 miles per hour. The speed of sound at sea level is only 768 mph so KF will need to be marginally supersonic for most of that journey.
- The doctors at either end of Kid Flash’s journey are established DCU characters. The woman who gives him the heart in Boston is Mattie Harcourt who was a supporting character from Peter David’s Supergirl series. The real medic who receives the heart in Seattle is Pieter Cross, the civilian alter ego of the third Doctor Midnight.
- Vandal Savage. I’m sorry, but he’s a complete scene stealer.
- What is it with the Light and elaborate distraction plans. Last episode they split Earth into two dimensions just to cover a robbery and in this episode they create an ice age to cover up a murder attempt!
Risking one character doing the same repetitive thing for half an episode was a brave creative decision. The end result works surprisingly well. The only thing that begins to grate after a while is Kid Flash’s internal monologue. He has a selfish streak that makes him rather unsympathetic as a character — he’s like a much younger child who can only think of himself on his birthday and need the Queen’s emergency to kick him into line. I understand that this is the point of the episode, but I now think its now been done to death.
The matt paintings and the wide scenes of snow were beautiful, but I felt some of the animation was looser than normal.
This episode felt like one of those standalone episodes that you get near the end of a TV season, the one that’s put in to give the viewers and the back room crew a rest before the mad dash to the end of season finale. It could so easily of crashed and burned, but the creative team managed to pull it off. Maybe not spectacularly, but it is still an engaging 22-minutes of adventure that provides a good look at one of the show’s mainstays.