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Summary:  When an centuries-old alien probe, dubbed the Dark Heart by the Justice League, crash lands on Earth and begins to destroy the planet on a molecular level, the Justice League must contain and destroy it before it spreads.  However, despite the sheer number of heroes sent to fight off the menace, their only hope may be the hero who can fight on a molecular level:  Ray Palmer, the Atom.

JL Mission Roll Call:    Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, J’onn J’onzz, Atom Smasher, The Atom, Aztek, Black Canary, Blue Devil, Booster Gold, Captain Atom, Crimson Avenger, Crimson Fox, Dr. Fate, Dr. Light, Dr. Mid-Nite, Elongated Man, Fire, Green Arrow, Gypsy, Hawk, Hourman, Huntress, Ice, Nemesis, Obsidian, The Ray, Red Tornado, Rocket Red, Shining Knight, Stargirl, Starman, Steel, S.T.R.I.P.E., Supergirl, Vibe, Vigilante, Vixen, Wildcat

PC Roll Call:  General Wade Eiling

Featured Character:  The Atom

Villain:  The Dark Heart

 

Cartoon Network on “Dark Heart”:  “When the entire League is helpless to stop an alien invasion, the world’s only hope is the Atom, a microscopic superhero (courtesy of The World’s Finest).”

Warren Ellis on “Dark Heart”:  “Never too old for learning experiences:  watching the tape of my Justice League Unlimited episode with the script in hand.  The excellent Dwayne McDuffie was very kind to leave all the funny bits in.  It actually sounds like me.  John C. McGinley lands the last line brilliantly.  And the animation team covered the slack I left in the script so well that you’ll never tell…Oops (courtesy of DwayneMcDuffie.com).”

Bruce Timm on “Dark Heart”:  “What was supposed to have happened was that, during the time Superman was off-site picking up the Atom, the nano-alien assimilated the entire mesa and expanded into the surrounding area, including the area beyond the trench.  I freely admit that the visuals didn’t quite make that clear (one big glob of nano-goo looks pretty much like another, and the increased scale didn’t really ‘read’).

"There are other visual gaffes scattered throughout the episode (but I’m sure as hell not pointing ‘em out!).  Let’s just say that for such a seemingly simple plot, you guys have no idea how extremely difficult and labor-intensive this episode was to do.  For me, it was all worth it for that sublime Vigilante / Shining Knight moment alone.

“(As for Atom not quipping while riding in the ‘wonderbra,’ we did have him saying something originally, but Broadcasts, Standards, & Practices asked us to delete it.  It was something like, ‘Just don’t take any deep breaths!’  We knew we were pushing our luck anyway, so we didn’t mind losing the line, no siree, not one bit.)

“I think ‘Dark Heart’ has a lot going for it, not just the Vigilante / Shining Knight scene.  We always knew that is straight-ahead, ultra-dry procedural tone wasn’t going to be to everybody’s taste (and I certainly wouldn’t want every JLU episode to be done that way), but we felt it was well worth doing as a change-of-pace one-off.  It’s not necessarily one of my absolute favorite episodes of the season, but it’s far from by least fave.

“As for ‘only fans of obscure comic book characters’ digging the Vigilante / Shining Knight bit […] I’ve had several people—completely unsolicited—tell me how much they were knocked out by that little sequence.  Two different people told me their pre-teen kids loved it.  Now, since kids these days don’t even know from cowboys anymore (and they sure as hell don’t know the characters from reading the comics), I can only surmise that the scene works on some almost-primal level.  There’s not really any ‘logical’ reason why the bit is cool, but seeing two classic hero archetypes battling monsters with sword and six-guns, backed-up by one of the absolute sweetest musical cues of the entire season, just sings (to some of us, anyway; courtesy of Toon Zone).”

Dan Riba on “Dark Heart”:  “That was a difficult show to stage.  Even with the advent of computer animation, there’s still so much time that the animators have to take to process all that information.  There are shots where you have hundreds of these spider things.  They had to clone these small groupings into infinity (courtesy of ToyFare Magazine).”

 

Commentary

Commentary coming soon!

 

Image courtesy of The World’s Finest.

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