Justice League Unlimited

Season 3 Episode 8

The Return

Aired Saturday 10:30 PM Sep 18, 2004 on Cartoon Network
out of 10
User Rating
189 votes

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Episode Summary

After the power-absorbing android Amazo destroys the home planet of the Guardians of the Universe, the League must intercept him before he reaches Earth and achieves his goal: murdering the recently reformed Lex Luthor.

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  • The Return...of quality episodes?

    The Return gives us another sequel to not one but several previous episodes from earlier scenes. The most obvious is "Tabula Rasa" and the return of "Professor Ivo's Android" - not as catchy a name as Amazo, but then the voice actors might not be able to keep a "straight face" trying to say that name. We'll call him that heer though for convenience.

    But we also have references to "The Terror Beyond" and the return of Dr. Fate, who is just as enigmatic and clearly not quite in line with the rest of the League agenda-wise. Which is good - so far we've seen Leaguers who just show up and follow orders and as much as we know, they're all happy campers. The Question (in "Fearful Symmetry") is another chink in the armor - clearly you've got folks like Green Arrow wondering why he hides out in his quarters on the Watchtower. Dr. Fate doesnt' even do that - he teleports in and out as much as he likes.

    We have the return of Lex Luthor, who is clearly still kinda/sorta "reformed" after the events of "A Better World." Clearly the League has its doubts but it's hard for the audience to tell - is he putting on a front that he drops for the League who know him better, does he not try because he doesn't expect anything better from them, or is he just getting snarky because he's under pressure what with the whole "cosmic being trying to kill him" issue and all? It's as always a credit to Clancy Brown that he shades Lex Luthor in so many layers - in fact, the character is more subtle in Justice League then he ever was in Superman.

    And finally, we get the much-demanded return of Hawkgirl, last seen in "Starcrossed." Given the hints of mysticism tied in to Thanagar mentioned in "The Terror Beyond," it would make sense for her to go to Dr. Fate for assistance - where else is an alien with a unconcealable pair of wings going to hang out but in an other-dimensional mystic tower? If the team of Solomon Grundy, Aquaman, and Dr. Fate is weird, then now we have Hawkgirl, Amazo, and Dr. Fate. Umm, okay...

    With all the refer-backs, how does the episode itself stand up? Considering it's pieced together from plot threads from multiple previous episodes it stands up damn well. We get the Green Lantern Corps and Oa and finally get the answer to "Whatever Happened to Kyle Rayner?", Earth's Green Lantern from the Superman animated series. Amazo trashes Oa and heads for Earth, and the League mobilizes its forces. We get a little closer look at a few heroes then just brief shots: Starman, Dr. Light, S.T.R.I.P.E., Rocket Red, and Fire cut loose. They don't do much, but at least they don't stand in the background looking useless.

    We also get more of the Red Tornado. Unfortunately, it's not made very clear that he's an android and some folks found the shot of him being sliced in half and exploding rather startling. Presumably he'll be rebuilt (with or without explanation?) but his "death" here does come across as a misstep on the producers/writers' part. Amazo doesn't think much of other androids and consider them "alive"?

    Steel gets a few lines although not much of a personality, and Supergirl gets a few minutes to shine. With the regulars fading into the backgrouund except for John Stewart, that gives us The Atom - scientist, superhero, and all-around good guy.

    John C. McGinley is amazing in this part given that he has so relatively little to do. He's cocky, confident, competent, caring, and a bunch of other C words. McGinley and Clancy Brown put together a pretty good rapport and there's a lot of little things tossed in here that hint at the character - his ability to enter subatomic universes, his scientific expertise, the fact the power comes from his costume as indicated by the electrical sparks when Amazo hits him. Like the Question, he's another character that piques the audience's interest and one we'd like to see more of. he's already scheduled for another appearance this season, but his "early appearance" here is a bit of a surprise and a nice prelude to him going solo down the road.

    Finally we have Robert Picardo, often underrated until he showed up on Voyager, doing more voice work for Amazo himself. Amazo here doesn't really have a lot to do other then look big and menacing - instead of duplicating powers he simply is is power, which deprives the character of some subtlety. But his quest for purpose, and Lex Luthor's answer to his questions, is nnother good moment.

    So overall "The Return" ends up probably the best episode of the season to date in terms of sheer superheroing and continuation of themes. Fearful Symmetry does much the same thing, but it's a little more focused on character and less on the "big issues," but it also runs with some dangling plot threads from other episodes and spins them out into future stories. overall, an excellent conclusion to the "summer season" of the series.moreless
  • Amazo returns, and he wants revenge

    from the previous seasons, we first see Amazo as this relentless android created by Luthor. in this episode, he seems to be the same as before, but in the end, we realize he just wants to be enlightened. this was shown by the disapperance of the planet of the Guardians. it turned out that he just teleported them to another dimension.

    overall, this is a very exciting episode. we get to see how almost each of the JLU members fight. this episode also marks the first appearance of hawk girl as shayira, who has seeked refuge in dr. fate's mansion to find meaning in her life.moreless
  • this is a great episode.

    the episode is about the return of amazo and he can't be stoped this time and this time he wants luthor dead, this episode was very great, I wouldn't miss it,it had a great plot and story to the episode, it's a very cool and exciting, it's a good episode.
  • The Amazo android returns to Earth to seek revenge on Lex Luthor, and not even the League can stop him.

    Brilliant. Maybe the finest episode of any animated American action/adventure series. The action scenes are truly thrilling, which is suprisingly rare in animated series. The exceptional direction builds a real sense of tension and desperation into the heroes\' plight. Dozens (hundreds) of characters are tossed into the mix, making the show a delight for hardcore DC comic fans, but that is just the icing on the cake. However, it is the final confrontation between Luthor and the android that just twists the episode into a higher level, adding richness and depth to what could have been a simple (albiet highly successful) action outing. Fans of Star Trek and similar series can probably see the ending coming a mile away, but it is rare to see it so well handled, especially in this format.moreless
  • Can the Justice League prevent the all-powerful android Amazo from seeking revenge on the recently reformed Lex Luthor?

    Can the Justice League prevent the all-powerful android Amazo from seeking revenge on the recently reformed Lex Luthor? In every season, there are a one or two episodes that completely knocks it out of the park. “The Return” is truly astounding. It’s one of the best written episodes in the entire series. The writers went all out on this episode. Amazo is one of the most interesting adversaries in “Justice League”. After easily defeating the Green Lantern Corps, it is obvious that Amazo has grown more powerful. There is plenty of action. About two dozen heroes join forces to stop the android. Despite their great effort, the Justice League proves unsuccessful. In the end, it’s Lex Luthor who manages to stop Amazo. This is a perfect example of mind over muscle. Lex’s speech was quite overwhelming and insightful. Fans of Green Lantern will be pleased by the return of Kyle Rayner and other members of Corps. The Atom was nicely presented and offers some good bits of humor. The ending was great with a surprise appearance of Hawkgirl.moreless
Carl Lumbly

Carl Lumbly

Martian Manhunter/J'onn J'onzz

George Newbern

George Newbern

Superman/Clark Kent/Kal-El

Maria Canals

Maria Canals

Hawkgirl/Shayera Hol

Phil LaMarr

Phil LaMarr

Green Lantern/John Stewart

John C. McGinley

John C. McGinley

The Atom

Guest Star

Will Friedle

Will Friedle

Kyle Rayner

Guest Star

Clancy Brown (I)

Clancy Brown (I)

Lex Luthor

Recurring Role

Oded Fehr

Oded Fehr

Dr. Fate

Recurring Role

Nicholle Tom

Nicholle Tom


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (8)

    • Amazo wipes out Dr. Light II, Superman, Green Lantern, S.T.R.I.P.E., Starman, and Orion, and a fleet of Javelins. Supergirl knows that the second wave of defense is only there in case Amazo busts through the first wave. If he's that powerful, why does she try to take him out all by herself? For that matter, why does each of the heroes in the second wave take him on one-on-one? And even worse, the third wave just surround him and...stand there. Wasn't the fact the first two waves got decimated suggest they should maybe hit him before he hits them?

    • Why are a bunch of Green Lanterns hanging out on Oa with Kyle? Don't they have anything better to do? Also, conveniently, at least two of them, Kilwog and Katma Tui, are ones who've been involved with the Justice League before.

    • When Lex is talking to the reporter, he unbuttons his shirt at the upper chest and shows the armor-plate underneath it. But in the later scenes where his collar is unbuttoned, he's wearing an undershirt, which would have made it impossible to see the armor plate earlier.

    • When we saw Lex enter his secret lair, a series of doors opened then shut behind him. But when Amazo approaches the same way he only busts his way through one door, walks down a hallway but all the earlier doors are already open, and then busts directly through the main door into Lex's private room with the cannon.

    • For all of his vast cosmic powers, including intangibility he adopted from J'onn, when Amazo flies into Luthor's base he just follows the tunnels. Wouldn't it be easier and simpler just to go straight down through the ground? He goes directly through Oa, and goes directly through the heroes in orbit, but to get to Lex's panic room he takes a more complicated route.

    • When the Leaguers confront Amazo outside the barbershop, he blasts outward and sends them flying - Wonder Woman goes shooting back dozens of feet in one direction, and Flash and Steel together in another. But when the smoke clears, all the Leaguers are laying in a very small area at the center of the blast crater, and Flash and Steel are laying opposite each other.

    • There probably wasn't much reason for the League to call in, say, the Elongated Man or Crimson Avenger. And maybe some of the League are on off-planet assignments. Still, given Amazo threatens the entire Earth (having seemingly destroyed Oa), shouldn't they call in a few more heavy hitters like Waverider, Aztek, and Johnny Thunder & his Thunderbolt, or a super-genius like Mr. Terrific to help the Atom and Luthor?

    • It seems odd that the Green Lanterns are so eager to destroy half the planet simply to save the life of Lex Luthor. It's possible that they thought Amazo would annihilate Earth as he did Oa, but Superman and the others seem pretty convinced that he's only after Lex. If the GLs wanted revenge, they could've easily waited until Amazo left Earth.

  • QUOTES (15)

  • NOTES (12)

    • This episode along with "For The Man Who Has Everything" and "The Greatest Story Never Told" was released on DVD as Justice League Unlimited: Joining Forces.

    • According to the commentary: while the Cadmus storyline was already planned while making the episode, Lex's role in the storyline had not been fully conceived.

    • Character bios: The Atom, Kyle Rayner - Green Lantern, Steel, Amazo, Lex Luthor, Dr. Fate & Inza, Red Tornado

    • Kilowog and Katma Tui are both wearing new costumes, different from those seen in "Hearts and Minds."

    • Superman wears a new version of his white spacesuit, one that he wore a few times in Superman: The Animated Series. This new suit is more Superman-like since it has the color blue.

    • The episode title, "The Return", has a double meaning. The obvious one is Amazo returning to Earth. It could also refer to the return of Hawkgirl, whose whereabouts have been unknown since "Starcrossed".

    • Michael Dorn doesn't reprise his role of Steel, which he played in Superman: The Animated Series. The actor who plays Steel here is uncredited. DVD commentary states that it is Phil LaMarr doing Steel's voice here, played to resemble "a young Morgan Freeman."

    • Robert Picardo, Clancy Brown, Oded Fehr, Nicholle Tom, and Jennifer Hale reprise their roles as Amazo, Lex Luthor, Dr. Fate, Supergirl, and Inza, respectively.

    • As in his first appearance, "Amazo" is never referred to by that name in the episode itself, although the end credits do so.

    • Heroes seen but not heard and/or credited include: Fire, Starman (Prince Gayvn), Rocket Red, Red Tornado, Ice, Dr. Light II, Orion, Steel, S.T.R.I.P.E., and Captain Atom. All of the regulars except Batman appear although Flash and Wonder Woman have no dialogue.

    • Kyle Rayner, the current Green Lantern in the comic books (as of 2004 when this episode aired), appears in this episode, as does a number of Green Lantern members including Kilowog and Katma Tui. They've gone with more individualized costumes/uniforms then seen previously. Kyle Rayner is voiced here by Will Friedle - Michael P. Greco originally portrayed the character in Superman: The Animated Series.

    • Again the end credits are reduced to a lower half screen and clips from previous episodes are shown in the upper half. This time we also get previews of the upcoming episode "Ultimatum".


    • Lex's Lair: Sliding Doors
      The scene in his lair where Lex walks through the long hallway with the numerous sliding doors is clearly a reference to the popular '60's spy spoof, Get Smart that starred Don Adams.

    • Barber Shop: Secret entrance
      The secret passage to an underground headquarters through a barber shop is an allusion to the Nick Fury comics of the '60s. SHIELD headquarters was accessed by going in to it through a barber shop that operated as a front for the super-secret agency.

    • Luthor: Heisenberg compensators...
      As Amazo searches for Luthor, he hears him mention (or think about) patching in the "Heisenberg compensators." Heisenberg compensators are ficitional devices used in the transporters of Star Trek. They purportedly allow the transporters to overcome the real life Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle of quantum mechanics. The principle states that you can't measure a particle's position or momentum simultaneously without changing one or the other. Without such a fix neither transporters nor Luthor's weapon would presumably work. This principle is also cited as evidence for the notion that the process of observing changes the observed.

    • The Barber:
      The barber in Lex's secret hideout is styled to look like Floyd the Barber (played by Howard McNear), from The Andy Griffith Show. Though the character spoke no lines, his hairstyle, glasses, and mustache are distinctive.