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Remembering the Animated Justice League Pilot (And Its Forgotten Sequel)

Welcome to Adventure(s) Time's fifty-fourth installment, a look at animated heroes of the past. This week, we're going back to the animated debut of the Justice League. Then, we'll examine a sequel to the story from the tie-in comic that's been largely forgotten.

Recently, we looked back on the unusual path Justice League took to air. To sum it up, this was a highly anticipated series, one we were told for years wouldn't happen. How it even came into being seems to be a minor miracle.

Debuting as a ninety-minute movie on November 17th, 2001, "Secret Origins" written by Rich Fogel and directed by Dan Riba and Butch Lukic, introduces the animated League. Finally. And it would be easy to claim the actual event could never live up to expectations, but "Secret Origins" is pretty darn good.

animated justice league

The animation is crisp, and the voice actors already feel rather confident in their roles. Additionally, the plot rarely drags, even over the course of three episodes. Looking back, it's fun to see the adventure begin as a standard Batman/Superman team-up, then expand into this new world.

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The action-heavy plot opens with American astronauts accidentally awakening aliens on Mars. Within a few years, the invaders (dubbed "The Imperium") are on Earth. J'onn J'onzz, a survivor of the first Martian invasion, is discovered by Superman and Batman. J'onn telepathically summons Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl, the Flash, and Green Lantern to aid the fight. Following their victory, Batman commissions the construction of the orbiting Watchtower. He refuses to officially join, but the remaining heroes band together as the Justice League. Superman comes up with the name. Flash thinks it's corny. The adventures begin.

Oh, and just to prove the series isn't totally divorced from the source material, Snapper Carr is here. Snapper was the kid identification character in the original Justice League comics.  There's really no place for him in the plot, but he's around occasionally in the early episodes as a newscaster.  He even gets to snap his fingers twice in the opening story arc.

While The Imperium were essential in forming the team, the series didn't seem interested in returning to the concept. Tie-in comics, however, are the perfect place for these kinds of sequels. Justice League Adventures #16, from writer Scott McCloud and artists John Delaney and John K. Snyder III continues the show's opening storyline.

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