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The Once and Future Thing, Part 1: Weird Western Tales

Episode #12 - The Once and Future Thing, Part 1: Weird Western Tales
Original Airdate - January 22nd, 2005

Batman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern chase a time-traveling villain to the past, where they team up with the greatest heroes of the Old West.

Review by Bird Boy
Media by Bird Boy
Credits:
Written by Dwayne McDuffie
Directed by Dan Riba
Music by Kristopher Carter
Animation Services by Dong Yang Animation

Voices:
Kevin Conroy as Batman
Phil LaMarr as Green Lantern
Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman
Peter MacNicol as David Clinton
Ben Browder as Bat Lash
Adam Baldwin as Jonah Hex
Jonathan Joss as Sheriff Ohyesa Smith
Nestor Carbonell as El Diablo
Ed O'Ross as Tobias Manning
Mindy Sterling as Erid
Peter Onorati as War Hawk
Screen Grabs











Pans




Sound Clips
"I'm very happy." (MP3, 118kb)
"Static?!" (MP3, 106kb)
Review

I’ve never experienced such delay in cartoons airing on TV as I have with the DC Animated shows. Ever since Superman: The Animated Series massive delays started it, it seems to have spilled over into every DC show since. Batman Beyond had it’s “Unmasked”, Justice League had it’s last half of Season 1 and almost all of Season 2 delayed for what seemed like forever, and now Justice League Unlimited it hitting every bump in the road: schedule changes, generic delays and problems with the episodes themselves, resulting in send-backs to the animation studios. “The Once and Future Thing” has been nearly every fans most anticipated story arc this season, and we’ve been waiting ever since June since the loglines were released.

So was it worth the wait and agonizing speculation? Nothing ever is; fans over hype things to the point of exhaustion and by the time the episode airs everything’s been inadvertently spoiled via a careless lack of a spoiler warning. Nothing in this first part of “The Once and Future Thing” surprised me; things that would’ve excited me was the re-appearance of Jonah Hex (not seen since Batman: The Animated Series “Showdown”), Batman Beyond, Future Static and Warhawk’s appearance and the whole “Dad?!” line (I know I read somewhere that was going to happen). The Return of the Joker Jokerz gang did surprise me though, albeit if they are a bit changed (more on that later).

Where was I? “The Once and Future Thing” starts off with our first look at Future Gotham since Static Shock’s “Future Shock” crossover, bringing an already exciting mood to the episode (Batman Beyond is one of my all-time favorites, so I may be biased); we then meet the mastermind behind the episode, Chronos (“David Clinton” for those who are picky since “Chronos” was never directly named in the episode, aside from a quick throwaway comment on his suit). After a humorous scene with his verbally abusive wife, we’re thrown into present where he’s attempting to steal Batman’s utility belt from the Watchtower. The first odd thing in the episode occurs here: if an “intruder” alarm is sounded on the Watchtower, a supposedly impregnable fortress, wouldn’t more than just three heroes run to investigate? Batman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman bolt right as the alarm sounds, while everyone else in the surrounding lunch room just sits and gabs away. I realize that’s probably an unavoidable hole due to only wanting Batman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman to be the time travelers, but it’s still a bit odd, none the less.

Before you sit down to watch this episode, you have to keep in mind that not all things are going to make sense; it’s time travel and that always manages to screw something up. We have mechanical Pterodactyls and Raptors with Cowboys riding on their back, robots dressed up as Old West Gun Slingers and a main villain who had a six-pistol gun. If you want to make sense of that…be my guest, but it’s really best just to sit and enjoy it as it plays out. Granted, you could justify everything that happened since Tobias just kept jumping into the future and hijacking this stuff back, but…dinosaurs? I don’t see the purpose for those, unless he wanted to scare people into doing his dirty work (ten foot robots and massive guns would do that for me anyway); regardless, they were fun to see, even if they were completely random.

Heroes in the episode included El Diablo, Bat Lash, Sheriff Ohiyesa Smith and the aforementioned Jonah Hex. They were all great to see in animated form and I couldn’t help but laugh every time El Diablo talked, as his voice actor (Nestor Carbonell) played “Batmanuel” in the live-action The Tick! series (I think I’m one of few who loved that show). Jonah Hex was awesome to see again and Bat Lash was fun to watch as well.

The Wild West portions had their fare share of camp to them, but they were a fun little romp. Bruce refusing to carry a gun and then using his utility belt as a “Go on, I dare you” type move the cowboys used when reaching for their guns, Diana taking her time in deflecting the bullets (“These are the biggest, slowest bullets I’ve ever seen”) and John’s “Green Lantern” Ghost looked like something pulled from a Scooby Doo episode, were fun to watch. There were some nice character moments in this one, but honestly, I think we’re all just waiting for the second part.

Speaking of the second part, we got a nice little teaser end to the episode. Landing in the future after chasing Chronos again, the League come up against the Return of the Joker Jokerz gang; descending immediately is the Future Static, Batman Beyond and Warhawk. Static appears much older than his “Future Shock” appearance and Batman seems to have lost the red on the interior of his wings, but Warhawk remains the same. The episode ends with the clinching “Dad?!” from Warhawk as he looks at Green Lantern, who then looks like he just saw Future Shayera in the shower. It was a great ending and created a session of out loud “I gotta wait a week to see the conclusion!?” cursing.

Perhaps the most debated part of this ending was the reappearance of the Return of the Joker Jokerz gang; Bonk died on-screen (in both versions of the film, though one more graphic than the other) in the movie, while everyone else seemed to simply get taken away by the cops. One other thing to point out is Woof’s mechanical arms; definitely not on the original model and Chucko’s new look (different color shirt and is now carrying some sort of round object, similar to Ghoul’s pumpkin bucket), all suggest that the gang may be different. If they aren’t, I refuse to believe that one of the story writers of Return of the Joker and producers of Justice League Unlimited simply glazed over Bonk’s death or forgot; the gangs there for a reason that will have to wait for another week to find out.

It’s sort of sad that all of the work that was put into the first twenty plus minutes of this episode are overshadowed by the ten second closer, but it’s to be expected. People have been hungry for more Batman Beyond and now that we’ve got him again, it’s gonna be hard to let go.

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