I would love to go further into a backstory here and just ignite tons of nostalgia for a lot of you, but it'll never get me to my point. Because it was in September of 1992 that "Batman: The Animated Series" debuted on Fox. Since that time, there has always been something on television from DC comics with Bruce Timm behind the wheel. Always. From Batman: The Animated Series evolving into The Adventures Of Batman & Robin, to Superman: The Animated Series to The New Batman Adventures which then morphed into The New Batman/Superman Adventures. After that came a big change (and one that worked) in the form of Batman Beyond, then The Zeta Project & Static Shock, and then finally Justice League and Justice League Unlimited.
These shows have been, in my opinion, the best translation of a comic book universe to television to date...in any form, be it animation or live action. The shows remained faithful to the character of the comics and no place else. It's inspiration came from the pages written and history set long before it. Even from studio demands for changes, there was still a thread of legitimacy and...well, class, that kept the series and stories the best on TV.
Tonight, 14 years of great animated comic book television came to an end with the final episode of Justice League Unlimited. I can't say it was the best episode - in 14 years, there are FAR too many episodes to even try to pick bests out of. But it was good, and well, it was the right way to end something like this. You can collect almost every season of every show I mentioned earlier on DVD. They do exists and are in production as well. But if you want to side step things, stick with the JLU episodes. And to even narrow it down further, go with season 3 on.
That season began with a retelling of an Alan Moore tale, "For The Man Who Has Everything". It's Superman's birthday, and Wonder Woman and Batman arrive at the Fortress Of Solitude to celebrate. Ever wondered what you could give a guy like Superman for his birthday? Yeah, it's an interesting concept and one done so well that I kept that episode on my TiVo for a good six months till most people I knew had seen it. Yep. I forced it onto them. It was that good of an episode.
Then there was last year's season ender. A story arc that stretched over the past 3 seasons of JLU and even back into Superman: TAS. A story that brought us the team of Lex Luthor and Brianiac, Cadmus, and Flash showing us exactly what it meant to be the fastest man alive. It even gave us closure to the Batman Beyond series.
Tonight, we saw another team of Brainiac and...well, I won't ruin it for anyone, but it wasn't Lex this time. It was someone far more powerful than he. We also saw nearly every incarnation of a Justice League team. And then there was Superman. The Man Of Steel. He showed us something we've never seen from him before in film or TV.
"I feel like I live in a world made of cardboad. Always taking constant care not to break something; to break someone. Never allowing myself to lose control, even for a moment, or someone could die. But you can take it, can't you big man? What we have here is a rare opportunity for me to cut loose and show you just how powerful I really am."
With those words, Superman does exactly that.
It's a good ending. A good ending of 14 years of good television. I hope that in those 14 years all of you caught, at the very least, one episode. And if you did, I'm sure you probably remember it. That's how good it all was. And that's how good it'll probably never be again.