2005: The Warner Animation Panel
Justice League Unlimited ended its second/fourth season
with an episode called "Epilogue."
As Goodson aptly points out, it seemed like Bruce Timm's final
word on Batman, the future Batman and quite possibly the Justice
League in animated form.
you might also notice that sixty-five years passed in between
the epilogue and the previous episode, "Divided
We Fall." Thankfully for fans, we've got a new season
coming, and at Comic-Con 2005 the creators took looks both
backward and forward.
a panel showcasing two of Warner Animation's superhero shows
(Krypto the Superdog apparently serves as red-headed
step-child, even as it molds little fanboys), the studio
pulled out several stops to give fans what they wanted -
Titans for a live show all its own on Saturday.
Unfortunately, I was caught napping. Literally.
would be no sleeping through Friday's presentation. Timm
started things out by introducing "Divided We Fall," facetiously
saying that "nobody had seen it," despite its prevalence
on the internet. Blame the Canadians, who for some reason
do not have their JLU seasons divided into two like
we do. Of course, the crowd loved it, as this episode brought
all of the season's plotlines to a rousing finish.
the lights came back on, the questions began. One fan asked
Timm the awkward question, "which show is your favorite?"
He fought back the urge to say He-Man (with Paul
Dini, Timm did signings of the MOTU DVD) and went
with a heartfelt answer of Justice League Unlimited.
He admitted, though, that he usually finds his current assignment
to be his favorite.
the exception would be the underrated Superman: The Animated
Series. While working on it, he didn't think that much
of it, but now he looks back and sees it as being more impressive.
the panelists were asked which characters they enjoyed the
most. Dwayne McDuffie answered without a thought: Hawkgirl.
Then he added Chronos, since the animated version was just
a random guy swept up in villainy. With tongue firmly in
cheek, story editor Shaun McLaughlin piped up, "B'wana Beast.
For obvious reasons."
lamented the loss of Blue Beetle for the show, but events
in DC Comics made it pretty clear why the publisher would
not allow his use, even as fellow Charlton heroes Captain
Atom and The Question took major roles this season. No one
would comment on who else DC refused them the rights to
use, though someone darkly joked, "we weren't planning on
using Sue Dibny."
though, Timm did expand a bit and explained that because
of both Batman Begins and The Batman, DC had
asked that they leave most of Batman's rogues' gallery alone.
Perhaps because of the strange continuity issue between
the Timm-verse and Teen Titans, Nightwing, too, was
off-limits (he has appeared on Teen Titans).
the panelists did tease the audience with who they would
be using. Next season, Stargirl will get
some focus. Though she has made several appearances this
year, she has yet to really take centerstage. The Hawkgirl/Green
Lantern/Vixen triangle will heat up when Shayera meets a
young archaeologist named Carter Hall.
Yes, this announcement sent murmurs of appreciation throughout
One episode will also focus on the Seven Soldiers
of Victory, though it must be a slightly different
line-up than the comics, as none of the possible seventh
soldiers have made an appearance: Speedy, Stuff or Wing.
No way are they going to use Wing.
a second appearance after a long absence, the Legion
of Super-Heroes will visit the 21st Century Timmverse.
Not mentioned at the panel but confirmed by anonymous sources,
this episode will serve as a backdoor pilot, though Timm
is not involved in the proposed Legion series.
make sure we stayed on the edge of our seats, Warner showed
just a minute of the beginning of next season. A possibly
insane (or still Brainiac-possessed) Lex Luthor escapes
from prison. Leading the police on a wild chase and telling
his "imaginary friend" to shut up, Luthor hits a dead end.
Up against a wall, Luthor suddenly finds himself pulled
through by a disembodied hand.
hand belongs to one of the comics' League's oldest foes:
The Key. The two ride a Keycycle to a conveniently nearby
swamp, where Gorilla Grodd steps forward to make Lex an
offer he cannot refuse. With the click of a remote control,
a familiar cheesy shape rises out of the swamps, looking
kind of like Black Manta's helmet turned into a super-villains'
Next season the Justice League will face the Legion
of Doom. Only they're apparently unlimited, too.
The panel members shifted downstairs to
do signings at the Mattel Pavilion, while Warner Animation
brought in The Batman team.
Though the cast of Justice League Unlimited
remained faceless this year (would no one give Phil LaMarr
a ride?), Warner brought out two of The Batman's
most popular voice actors, Kevin Michael Richardson and
Tom Kenney. They joined such behind-the-scenes guys as designer/producer
Jeff Matsuda and new writer Duane Capizzi.
The focus of the segment was to really get
everyone hyped for the upcoming home video release The
Batman vs. Dracula, but they did have some things to
offer about the show itself. Most specifically, a montage
clip that introduces a new player in Gotham City: Batgirl.
Yes, Batgirl will appear before Robin, a
choice the producers defended by pointing out that they
had already introduced Jim Gordon. Why not add in Barbara
now? When asked if Harley Quinn would appear, however, Capizzi
danced nimbly around the question. It took sixty years for
her to appear in comics. Left unspoken was, of course, that
the character actually first appeared in Bruce Timm and
Paul Dini's Batman: The Animated Series, a show
that The Batman struggles mightily to make us forget.
The voice actors have an even harder job,
as Mark Hamill's Joker in particular has become almost iconic.
Richardson does his version as a sort of "Jiminy Glick
meets Hannibal Lecter," and his efforts have been rewarded
with an Emmy. Tom Kenny shared an anecdote about landing
his role as the Penguin. After being repeatedly told not
to do Burgess Meredith, he auditioned with the voice anyway.
Of course the casting director loved it, and now Oswald
Cobblepot sounds somewhere between Meredith and Popeye.
It also slipped out that Warner is planning
a direct-to-video Superman animated movie, that Capizzi
has scripted. Meant to tie-in to the Superman Returns
theatrical release, it will send the Last Son of Krypton
on, in Capizzi's words, "a 12 labors of Hercules kind
The announcement seemed more an accident
than an intended part of the presentation, as we got no
glimpse of this project at all. All anyone would say was
that they were revising Bruce Timm's designs, but not whether
or not the new look would be more in line with Matsuda's
Everything came to a close with the first
act of The Batman vs. Dracula. Peter Stormare voices
the dread vampire, and as I noted earlier in my convention
reports, this piece looks much darker than the regular series.
The little ones might not want to watch, as Dracula does
indeed suck people dry and bring them back to unlife.
You, however, may want to watch, as this
segment flowed beautifully between The Penguin fleeing Dracula
and the Batman chasing the Joker. This show may finally
be coming into its own.