Injustice for All is a personal favorite of the various episodes of the Justice League cartoon, for several reasons. Yes, there’s the prerequisite action and fighting, but it’s really a character-centered episode, focusing on the Batman, the “weakest” member of the League — who is also the most dangerous, as this episode highlights.
Injustice for All begins with a defeated Lex Luthor in prison — defeated, exposed as a criminal, stripped of his fortune, and in a crowning indignity, dying due to his prolonged exposure to Kryptonite radiation after his years of conflict with Superman. Like a cornered animal, however, Lex Luthor is never more dangerous. He bribes the Ultra-Humanite, the villain in the cell next door, to break them out of prison. That’s only the beginning of his plans, however. No sooner is he freed than he begins to form a group of supervillains to counter the Justice League — as part of his final attack on Superman. He gathers the following villains to counteract the Justice League:
- Solomon Grundy – raw strength to counter Superman
- Cheetah – one of Wonder Woman’s recurring villains, seen here as a scientist who has mutated herself into a were-cheetah form.
- Copperhead – one of Batman’s rogue gallery villains, a snake-themed villain — who manages to scratch Batman during a fight with one of his poisonous fangs, and nearly kill the Dark Knight.
- Star Sapphire – a counter to the Green Lantern, wielding purple energy instead of green.
- The Shade – one of Hawkgirl’s villains, who controls a black “fog” with his cane.
- The Ultra-Humanite – a “mad scientist”, a genius on the level of Luthor, who’s currently inhabiting the body of an albino gorilla. Although it’s not pointed out in this episode, the Ultra-Humanite is actually a genius-level brain that’s been transplanted into various bodies at different times, changing his appearance (and physical abilities) each time.
- Lex Luthor – the founder (and financial backing) behind this Injustice Society, whose idea of leadership is offering the other villains more money when they need additional motivation.
- The Joker – not originally part of the crew, the Joker invites himself along as the Batman’s arch-nemesis — and uses his knowledge to spring a trap and cause them to capture Batman himself.
Shortly after their escape, the Ultra-Humanite fashions a high-tech vest to stabilize Luthor’s condition — and Luthor’s Injustice Society attacks the Justice League, unsuccessfully. Although in the fracas, Copperhead poisons Batman, nearly killing him. Upon recovering, Batman tracks down the Injustice Society, and goes to capture them by himself. His need to prove himself stems from his insecurity as the only member of the Justice League with no superhuman abilities. This also leads, thanks to the Joker, to the Batman being captured by Luthor’s Society. And that’s when the best part of this story begins.
The enemy within
As Luthor tries to use the contents of Batman’s utility belt to break into the Justice League’s orbiting satellite (“the Watchtower”), Batman performs psychological warfare on his captors, sowing discord, causing Luthor to feel that one of his Society members has betrayed him. And wrongly chooses Cheetah as the weak link. Batman is actually allowing himself to remain a captive in order to defeat them from within, until the time is right, and he escapes. Alerting the rest of the Justice League to his location, and ending in a final, decisive battle.
Injustice for All is a classic, and strongly recommended.
Quotes from Injustice for All (2001) – Justice League season 1
[Luthor interrupts Humanite’s opera program]
Lex Luthor: Humanite! How can you stand that caterwauling?
Ultra-Humanite: Music is one of the meager pleasures I’m allowed in here, along with a few other necessities. You should try the culture channel. It might improve your disposition.
[after disabling the two guards bringing his dinner, Humanite prepares to break Luthor out, but pauses and takes the cover off his tray]
Ultra-Humanite: Salisbury Steak? Really.
The Shade: Lex Luthor. Well, well – the plot thins.
Cheetah: My talents don’t come cheap.
Hawkgirl: That’s fast.
The Flash: Yeah, fastest man alive.
Hawkgirl: Which might explain why you can’t get a date.
Joker: But seriously, Lex, you need me.
Lex Luthor: Like I need a skin rash.
Joker: Maybe, but I know something you don’t know.
[he pats Luthor on the shoulder – then holds up a bat-shaped homing device]
Joker: I know how the Bat thinks.
Batman: Joker. I should have known you’d be in on this.
Joker: Really? I must be falling into a rut.
Joker: You’re not going to leave him like this, are you?
Lex Luthor: Why?
Joker: HELLO? He’s still alive!
Joker: And people say I’M crazy.
[Cheetah is supposed to be guarding Batman]
Batman: So what happened then?
Cheetah: My research opened up whole new worlds. There was so much to do …
Batman: But so little funding.
Cheetah: You know about that?
Batman: You didn’t have enough for test subjects, so you used yourself.
Cheetah: And now I’m a freak.
Batman: That’s not what I see. I see someone who was willing to sacrifice everything for a cause she believed in.
Cheetah: [softens] How do you know so much about me?
Batman: Let’s just say, cats aren’t the only creatures who are curious.
[she sidles up to him]
Cheetah: Too much curiosity can be dangerous.
Batman: Maybe I like danger.
Cheetah: Do you?
Batman: [whispers] Try me.
[she kisses him]
Joker: [wheeling a TV into Batman’s cell] Showtime, everybody! Live and in color – the end of the Justice League!
Batman: Don’t make me laugh.
Joker: It’s no joke. There’s a surprise hidden in your little clubhouse.
[turns on the TV, showing the Watchtower]
Joker: And when your friends get there, kablooie!
[holds up a box]
[Batman is silent]
Joker: Oh well, more for me.
Ultra-Humanite: Joker, you nauseate me.
Grundy: Luthor doesn’t want you alone with him
Joker: Oh, Come on, Grundy – what’s a couple of nicks between friends?
John Stewart: [to Star Sapphire as he’s fighting her] DUCK!
[She ignores him, and gets hit by the head of a giant duck statue]
John Stewart: I tried to warn her.
Joker: How did you get free?
Batman: I could have escaped from that trap at any time. But I thought I’d hang around to keep an eye on you, clown.
[to Batman, a la Daffy Duck]
Joker: You’re dethpicable.
Lex Luthor: [after Ultra-Humanite disables Luthor’s containment suit] Et tu, Humanite?