Justice League Unlimited

Season 3 Episode 10

Dark Heart

Aired Saturday 10:30 PM Dec 11, 2004 on Cartoon Network
out of 10
User Rating
172 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary


When nanotech-based alien robots land in the American southwest and overwhelm the League, only the Atom, a microscopic super hero, can defeat them.

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  • The War of the World

    This episode moves right into things - couple spots alien structure, one of them gets eaten/consumed (presumably), the Justice League show up, and hordes of robot creatures emerge and plan to swarm the Earth. That's the first three minutes. Then call in a specialist hero to save the day, throw in lots of battle shots, and wrap it up with a vague hint of government conspiracy.

    This episode seemed a waste of Warren Ellis' considerable talents. For a guy who has written Global Authority and was selling it to the WB (unsuccessfully), this vaguely Stargate-ish tale of replicating mechanical invaders seemed imminently disposable. Hopefully they didn't pay him more then scale as a "name" writer, because all he did was what the staff writers have demonstrated they can handle.

    Presumably Ellis is a fan of the Atom and/or the concept of a "scientific superhero." The Atom gets a good amount of screen time and saves the day, and gets a bit more personality as the curious-to-distraction professor type. It seems a little dumb for him to start talking instead of acting sometime, but most heroes and all villains seem to do this in the comics anyway - at least the Atom has a reason here.

    Of the "main team," the emphasis is once more on the trinity of Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman. The Flash is absent once more and Green Lantern is reduced to non-dialogue status. J'onn hangs out in the tower - it's still not clear why. You'd think being able to telepathically link the team would be useful and he needs the distance and isolation to do so, but he never does this (even though he does regularly in the comics).

    We get to see maybe 90% of the League newbies here and a few of them (Vigilante, Dr. Light, Atom-Smasher) get a few cool moments. Oh, that's the cowboy on the motorcycle, the Asian woman in black-and-white, and the giant-sized guy, for those just reading this review after having stumbled across this episode and have no idea who these relatively obscure heroes are.

    Generally it's another extended "spot the hero" cameo episode, though, like "Initiation"> and "Greatest Story..."

    And wow, this episode had a lot of black-and-white. Dr. Light in her black-and-white episode had the perfect camouflage...

    And finally we get another glimpse of the government conspiracy. Considering some of the Leaguers are weapons of mass destruction, the government's concern over an artificial one seems a little strained. Also, why did the League keep it secret and/or not check it in with the various governments? They seem to have worldwide UN-like operating status - why would they keep this secret? But presumably this'll tie in with the whole government-conspiracy story arc.

    Overall, there were some neat moments of characterization and a very little bit of overall advancement, but mostly this one was entertaining but forgettable.moreless
  • all heroes unite to stop an alien robot from unleashing chaos in our world. but it's up to the Atom for the mission to succeed.

    this is one of the episodes when almost all of the JLU is involved. i like this episode because of that. we can see everyone involved, including the ones who were considered as the mediocre or the non-powerful (Shining Knight, Vigilante), and we also see former heroes who were not appreciated get in the act and actually help (Booster Gold). here we also see a development of a conflict that will be later used as grounds for the disband of the JLU (the power of their sattelit station). this is where the real story of the Justice League Unlimited starts.moreless
  • This is a showcase of the superhero community. A generous amount of action, serious crisis coupled with some light hearted dialogues, and great lines delivered by the characters. A fun episode to watch.moreless

    This episode contains great action and great dialogues. My favorite guest star of the whole series has to be Professor Palmer.

    Palmer has a great sense of humor. I love the opening scene of him and the light banter between him and his assistant, Katie. And he takes everything in stride; the way he took out the 'serpent', and is seemingly unfazed when Superman asks for his help.

    It also helps that he is voiced by John C. McGinley, who plays Dr. Cox on Scrubs.

    There are great character moments for most of the heroes as they try to slow the machines' march toward the nearby towns, and from there, the rest of the world. The JL drew a line and by god, nothing will cross it. It's great to see the heroes use their powers in an all out fight here.

    Beside the action, there are numerous little humorous bits sprinkled throughout the episode, as is the standard with this show. I -love- how calm Batman remains as he plunges toward the ground, his voice level as he calls for backup. At the last second, Superman drops by and the Bats resumes the mission as if nothing happened.

    Of course, there is a potential crisis here and the seriousness of the situation is not lost. There are a few grim moments (the implication of using -people- as raw material to make more machines is creepy) and some tense scenes as the battle rages on.

    Overall, it is a great showcase of our heroes using their skills in tackling this enemy, be it powers or brains, or both, and the characters delivered quite a few good lines. The introduction of The Atom is the highlight for me.moreless
  • this is a great episode.

    this episode is about nano-tech robot aleins that can take over an entire planet are trying to take over earth but the justice league are going to stop them, but the nano-tech robot aliens are the size of rabbit's and every time you destroy one two more form, but the only way they can stop them is with the atoms help, this is a great episode.
  • An entertaining episode, that is more significant for the ongoing storylines (THe military not trusting the JLU), but not without its entertainment value.

    This was a fine episode. Not Spectacular, as some of the other ones in this series are, but it does what it sets out to do. The viewer gets to see just how large the League is growing, some of the members really get to cut loose (THis is an issue for some fans likely, since somebody probably has a favorite hero that just never gets the screen time, due to the large ensemble that supports the main characters), and we see the seeds for humans, and the military not trusting the JLU, due to the power they command, further nurtured.

    This is actually an ongoing storyline that has its roots in the Previous Superman Cartoon, and while touched in Justice League, never really explored until Justice League Unlimited (Where it builds in Seasaon 1, climaxes in Season 2, and still exists in Season 3 ) (I\'m using the onld season listing...where Justice League was 2 seasons, and Justice League Unlimited is 3 season, not just seasons 3, 4 and 5.moreless
George Newbern

George Newbern

Superman/Clark Kent/Kal-El

Carl Lumbly

Carl Lumbly

Martian Manhunter/J'onn J'onzz

Kevin Conroy

Kevin Conroy

Batman/Bruce Wayne

Susan Eisenberg

Susan Eisenberg

Wonder Woman/Diana

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (16)

    • After Batman ejected himself out of his jet we clearly see that Superman saved him from smashing into the ground. Superman carrying Batman is flying to meet Wonder Woman in ground. In the next scene we see Batman fighting in the battlefield behind Wonder Woman. Then in the next scene we see Superman still carrying Batman arriving to the battle field to meet Wonder Woman. How is possible that Batman in the previous scene was already in the battle field fighting if Superman has not arrived with him?

    • When Superman looks down to see Wonder Woman's Javelin unloading, we see Green Arrow, Crimson Avenger and Ice laying down some covering fire. However, Ice is shooting yellow energy blasts, not ice blasts.

    • As the Atom is discussing how the nanites replicate, in the background you can see Fire in the back, holding some kind of black pistol (or it's in shadow) and firing flames from it. Except she doesn't use a gun, and a few seconds later there's a shot of her projecting flame from her hands in her normal manner.

    • It's established the drones need to "consume" materials to replicate. But after Supergirl heat-visions one, they just...regrow, to the same size as before. There's no signs that the ground around them is missing any material that they used to reconstitute itself.

    • When Wonder Woman is fighting the drone at the end, it goes inert and she throws it off, and there are no other drones near her. When Superman and Batman come rushing up, there is at least one other drone laying close to her on the ground nearby.

    • The Atom's use of his belt control is inconsistent. When he enlarges in the chemical solution (and later in the Dark Heart), he has to touch-manipulate his belt controls. But there's at least three scenes when he changes his size/weight - when he first arrives, when Wonder Woman is holding him and he says, "Just don't squeeze," and when he enters the Dark Heart - when his hands are extended out from his sides and there's no way he can be touching his belt.

    • At the beginning, the Atom is shrunk and standing in a chemical solution up to his knees. Then he enlarges, and we see his head emerge from the chemical solution. If it was originally only up to his knees, how did he end up entirely underneath it by getting larger?

    • When fighting the rogue nanite at the beginning, why does the Atom stay at one size? All he has to do is start at twice the size of the nanite, immobilize it, then determine the faulty circuit at his leisure.

    • When J'onn uses the Watchtower-weapon to carve the trench, we see an overhead shot of the alien structure, and it's not on a mesa. In fact, it's on a fairly large flat plain and there are mesas nearby it. But in both earlier and later shots, we see it's on top of a mesa.

    • In the initial scenes in the Javelin, we see only Wonder Woman and six heroes - none of them are Huntress or Aquaman. But when Green Arrow and Crimson Avenger are shooting, you can see Huntress and Aquaman emerge behind them (along with Elongated Man, establishing it's the same Javelin) from their Javelin - where'd they come from?

    • At the beginning, the soldiers open fire on the spider-drones with their semi-automatics and assault rifles and have absolutely no effect - the creatures don't even seem to notice. But later, heroes like Nemesis and Vigilante, who don't use anything other then normal 20th century pistols and revolvers respectively, are blowing away the creatures left and right.

    • What happened to the female mountain climber? Before the first commercial break she's just standing there with the creatures less than a dozen feet away and advancing on her. Then the military gets called in and they land and rescue her (although her boyfriend is nowhere to be seen). Shouldn't the aliens have grabbed her several minutes ago.

    • When Green Arrow and Crimson Avenger are near the Javelin and blasting away at the aliens, Green Arrow's quiver is yellow.

    • Although the effect of seeing all the heroes fly in to surround the intended battlefield looked great, it makes little sense since the transporter could have gotten them there much quicker (as it did in "Greatest Story...").

    • At the beginning, the drones shove aside and otherwise ignore the soldiers and start disassembling the helicopters. But as established, they convert anything into more drones, including humans - why wouldn't the soldiers, being closer, be targeted instead of completely ignored?

    • Once he blasts the trench, why does J'onn act like he's cut off from the ground and can't find out what's going on for an hour. He's a telepath with pretty extensive range, and he's in orbit directly above the League.

  • QUOTES (8)

    • The Atom: Amazing. Show (Eiling) a weapon that destroyed its creators and every other thing it saw and he wants to play with it. What's to stop history from repeating itself right here on Earth?
      Superman: We are.

    • The Atom: Batman, can you hear me? It's a war machine.
      Batman: What was your first clue?

    • Batman: Batman to all points. I could use some air support. Since I can't fly. At all. (still falling) Now would be good.

    • Batman: Where's the Atom?
      The Atom: (in Superman's ear) It's getting sweaty in here...

    • The Atom: I'm going to lay here for a while, Katie. I'm old now, and I get tired.

    • Atom: He's bigger then my car now, Katie. Personally I blame you.
      Katie: How can it possibly be my fault?
      Atom: Because otherwise it would be my fault. That can't be right – I'm a professor.

    • Wonder Woman: Batman, what was that?
      Batman: Thermionic gas. Cools to within a few degrees of absolute zero.
      Wonder Woman: Why would you have something like that on board?
      Batman: I needed to freeze the Gotham River once. Long story.

    • Rock Climber: (to her boyfriend) You are so dumped when we get down from here.

  • NOTES (8)

    • There is no Goldhanger in the United States. There is a town named Goldhanger in England - Warren Ellis lives in England, apparently close to Goldhanger, Essex.

    • Character bios: General Eiling, The Atom

    • Warren Ellis
      Warren Ellis is a famed writer of comics and graphic novels, best known for Global Frequency (which was the source for an aborted WB network pilot originally set for early 2005). He also worked on Transmetropolitan and Planetary, a PC game (Hostile Waters) and any number of other works. This is his first work on a WB animated series.

    • Who's Who?
      Heroes seen but not heard and/or credited and their approximate first appearance in order include: Ice, Crimson Avenger, Green Arrow, Vixen, Nemesis (aboard the Javelin plane), Shining Knight & Winged Victory, Supergirl, Green Lantern, Steel III, Dr. Fate, Captain Atom, Red Tornado (presumably rebuilt), Stars (Stargirl) and S.T.R.I.P.E., Dr. Light, Booster Gold, The Ray (initial flight formation), Atom Smasher, Vigilante (advancing ground formation), Aquaman, Huntress (disembarking from Javelin), Rocket Red, Aztek (misc. battle shots), Wildcat, Blue Devil (front line formation), Fire, Starman (later misc. battle shots), Vibe, Steel II (fighting behind Vixen), Dr. Mid-Nite (helping Elongated Man hold a rock in place), Black Canary, Gypsy, Obsidian, Crimson Fox, Hawk (group shot just after the drones go inert), Hourman (final group shot).

    • This episode ended with a preview of the "Wake the Dead," "The Once and Future Thing Part I," and "The Cat and the Canary" with Black Canary, Wildcat, & Green Arrow.

    • Eiling bears a marked resemblance to J.K. Simmons, the voice-actor who plays the role (and not so much like the character in the comics).

    • John C. McGinley reprises his role as The Atom.

    • First aired on YTV Canada, November 12, 2004


    • Atom's Intro
      Atom's introduction in this episode is very similar to his introduction in the graphic novel, The Dark Knight Strikes Again. In that comic, a captive Ray Palmer is in what appears to be the middle of the ocean. He is attacked by a serpent, but is rescued by Batman's new sidekick, Catgirl. It is then that you find out he was shrunken down and kept in a petri dish. Similarities? Both appear in a vast expanse of water, battle a microscopic serpent, and turn out to be in petri dishes.

    • The Brave & The Bold
      There are several interesting sub-teamups within the fighting groups. Vixen, Vibe, and Steel II are all seen fighting close to each other - they were members of the "Detroit Justice League" in the comics. And the Shining Knight and Vigilante team up - in the comics, they're both members of the Seven Soldiers of Victory (and S.T.R.I.P.E, who was a member as Stripesy, later joins them, as does Stargirl, filling in for the Star-Spangled Kid). Green Arrow and Crimson Avenger also fight side-by-side - they were members of the Seven Soldiers as well (pre-Crisis).

    • Batman: Save it for the autopsy.
      The comment is addressed to the Atom. Interestingly, in the issue of the DC comic Identity Crisis published just prior to this episode's release, the Batman determines the Atom is considered the person responsible in a miniaturized "locked room" murder - a fact which Dr. Mid-Nite seemingly confirms via an autopsy. Dr. Mid-Nite appears in a scene just prior to this bit of dialogue.

    • Alien sound effects
      At several points, most noticeably when the Batman launches conventional missiles, you can hear the distinctive "alien machinery" noise used in the original War of the Worlds movie.

    • Self-replicating robots:
      The Atom mentions the theory of "self-replicating robots" developed by the mathematician John von Neumann (1903-1957).