Mr. Freeze (the real one, not the one from Batman & Robin) has got a new wrinkle in an old plan. And Bats in his frozen belfry. The young-uns get involved this time, as Firestorm and Killer Frost bring the justice. Or do they?
Justice on a Popsicle Stick
Firestorm’s chasing Killer Frost. She gets away. Mainly because, Firestorm doesn’t get the nature of her powers. They write this Firestorm as a combination of Johnny Storm and Plastic Man. So he’s always brash, teenagery, naive, and doing his best Jim Carrey impersonation with every line. But it’s working, he’s hilarious.
Right away in this episode, you see the great writing quality. Professor Stein is rebuking Ronald for crushing on Killer Frost. (More on that later.) And he tells him to call Batman. Firestorm slams into a flagpole. It’s slapstick but great. Here’s the thing tho…they manage with that humor to address a very real weakness of the Firestorm character. He’s constantly preoccupied and distracted. That’s what anyone would be with another persona living inside their head that’s forever lecturing them. It’s touches like that in the writing that convey volumes.
Brand new Hideout
“Same old Bat problem.” That line was a great, and a throwback to the Batman ’66 series. They milked the form of “same Bat-time, same Bat-channel” every week to campy success. And again, the subtle touches are there. Mr. Freeze’s voice sounds frosty and like it’s in a hyperbaric chamber around his head, which it is! Again, it’s little stuff like that that elevates this show. He sounds like a man suffering, as Mr. Freeze should sound. Seems like Batman can track Freeze no matter where he is. Then guess who shows up and shoots Batman in the back? That’s right, it’s lil’ Miss Arctic Winter herself.
More Double Crossing
So this plan of Mr. Freeze’s actually makes sense. Because they wrote the actual Mr. Freeze this time. He wants to bring permanent winter down on Gotham City because he can’t stand heat or warmth. When Killer Frost shows up, she also is a blushing fangirl in his presence. He then proceeds to charm her even more. She wants to hang with the Sultan of Sub-Zero. Too bad that’s all a ruse on his part, because he electro shocks her and knocks her cold. Um, knocks her out I mean. #SeeWhatIDidThere Brilliant writing again. She’s angry with herself later for falling for his flattery. Freeze kicks popsicle Batman into the Gotham River sewage pipe. I had to wonder what it was like for Bruce to be swimming in….well you know what’s in a sewer. Yikes.
Now this next scene is just fantastic. Professor Stein is explaining to Ronald how Killer Frost’s powers work. It takes less than ten seconds. Can someone explain to me how this animated series manages to not insult the intelligence of its viewers(which are primarily kids mind you), yet the live action shows insult their audience on a weekly basis? I have been nothing but an ardent fan of the incredible work that Danielle Panabaker is doing as Killer Frost on The Flash. But we as the audience still have no idea what’s going on with her powers or her motivation. Here we get a frame for understanding the Killer Frost character in seconds. Unbelievable. And for those that don’t know, Killer Frost and Firestorm were a creepy couple(mainly because she needed him for constant heat) in the comics. Kind of a one way pairing, meaning she was obsessed with him at first. HAH. Also, Caitlin Snow is not the only Killer Frost, but she’s the most well known and popular one now! Another idea that’s inferred here is that Stein is privy to all of Ronald’s daydreams. I want you to imagine a middle aged man watching the fantasy life of a teenage boy.
Less Talk, More Action
Mr. Freeze has the equivalent of T-Spheres at his disposal. Very good touch, speaking again to the fact that Victor Fries actually is a scientific genius. Bruce is struggling trying to get out of that nasty sewer. He finally activates some thermal power in his gloves. I tell ya, Batman’s grappler gun can latch onto anything and he never misses. I have Batman bias, so sue me. What again is great here how is how you get a sense that every character is in actual danger and has actual challenges. That’s what makes the stakes believable in any adventure, animated or otherwise.
Freeze activates his plan by taking off in his Freeze Plane and beginning the ice down of Gotham. He’s using Killer Frost as a power source for his freeze ray. Insidious. She’s a living battery inside his machine. This hearkens back to the callous way Magneto used Rogue in the 2000 X-Men movie. (Yes I referenced Marvel in a review about a DC show, don’t have a fanboy aneurysm.) Firestorm meets up with Batman because Batman is already in motion against this threat. Ronald was going to charge off on his own against Freeze. Batman just barks orders and takes off. Hah, love this guy. The indomitable Kevin Conroy can play him for the rest of his life as far as I’m concerned.
Freeze even says, “Ah, the Dark Knight Returns.” HAH. You gotta love winks within winks. It’s so fourth wall breaking until it’s like they’re trolling their own universe. That was so great. Freeze starts to move towards ice puns, but it still works here. Because they established his character first. Then something else happens that I want to point out to you. We get a 2 second shot of Batman calling up EMP torpedoes from the Batplane. That means that when they hit Freeze’s plane, we get what they do. Again, with just a passing shot, they respect the intelligence of their audience. They also have Justice League Unlimited‘s music underscoring Bats’ confrontation with Freeze, as the keen-eared can pick out. Batman does a total Batman move and crashes through Freeze’s windshield. Their scuffle is also respectful of Freeze’s armor.
Don’t Count Your Chickens
Firestorm is busy in the sub decks freeing his frosty crush. He faces off against Freeze’s T-spheres. We see his matter transmutation powers at work, because that’s what Firestorm does. Bats electroshocks Freeze, and the plane starts to crash. Killer Frost creates an ice ramp to guide them down, and Firestorm turns a building into a catcher’s mitt. Hokey but I’ll take it! Freeze isn’t quite subdued(because seriously, has Batman ever watched a movie? Villains are never knocked out the first time), but it’s Killer Frost that blasts him this time. This is another nod to just how powerful she is. Her powers seem to be on the level of a Cold Elemental. She freezes Mr. Freeze, how is that even possible? HAH. Firestorm and Frosty Pants exchange winks, and he really thinks he’s in. Then she gives him a serious uppercut resulting in a black eye. She leaves, but at the end, Batman nods to the most recent development in the comics. Killer Frost has redeemed herself through Batman’s help and fights with the heroes now. This is also where I suspect the character is going on The Flash.
See, episodes like this are why I watch this show. In an eleven minute animated short, you can understand the characters, their powers, and their motivations. Even if, and especially if, you’re not a comics reader. Can you see that’s brilliant writing? The plot this time made sense given the villain, as well as the other characters in the mix allied against him. And we still got surprises. That’s just awesome.
Keep giving us more episodes like this right here! Viva la Justice League Action!