25 Things I Love About the DC Animated Timmverse (Spoilers)


Cooler than Chuck Norris
Jul 11, 2006
In honor of my 500th post (and my brand new avatar), I’ve decided to compile a list that commemorates what I love about our favorite animated continuity. Thanks to the magic of DVD season sets, I’ve now had the privilege of viewing every episode and movie for myself. I own fourteen years’ worth of superhero television, and this is my way of showing gratitude.

WARNING: This is EXTREMELY long. My apologies.


Batman and Superman’s Relationship (#1)
First, I have to pay respects to what I see as the greatest pair of superheroes in existence. Many will disagree, of course (especially those loyal to Marvel Comics), but the fact is, they are the two most famous and recognizable comic book characters of all time. On top of that, they are the epitome of a hero, in my opinion. And their greatest depictions, as far as I’m concerned, were seen throughout the Timmverse.

Superman-- inherently good, and at least as powerful as any other superhero he knows. He lost everything at birth, only to receive a miraculously moral upbringing, respectable career, and darn-near perfect sense of right and wrong. He was never driven by guilt, anger, or self-righteousness. He does what he does for the greatest reason of all: because he has the ability to help people, the desire to do so, and the good will to put others before himself.

Batman-- poetically tragic, with as much compassion for the human race as anyone. Born into wealth, he was cursed to see its shallow worthlessness in the face of emotional loss. But he built upon his father’s honest reputation, using what he had to help the less fortunate, and training himself to become an incomparably skilled mortal with an intellect to match. He has committed himself to prevent the common crime whenever possible, and never lets his humanity slow him down.

Putting these two heroes together made for my favorite aspect of the DCAU’s entirety. From their first encounter in “World’s Finest,” we were treated to an uneasy balance of respect and conflict, through “Twilight” and “The Call.” But it came to its greatest peak in their desperate times of true brotherhood-- Batman’s respects at the Superman memorial in “Hereafter”; Superman rescuing Batman from the Watchtower crash in “Starcrossed”; and their equally determined stand against Darkseid in “Destroyer.” Nothing pleased me more than to see their friendship grow and expand, while yet remaining stubbornly the same.

The Music-- Themes and Score (#2)
I could go on about Shirley Walker’s beloved “Batman” theme, but I’ll take this opportunity instead to brag about all the others. Like, say, the terribly underrated theme for “Superman.”

Seriously, though, the DCAU gave us so many amazing theme songs-- from the two already mentioned to the rock-driven themes for “Batman Beyond” and “Justice League Unlimited”-- that I, for one, neglected the various cues we became subconsciously familiar with over the years. The Green Lantern theme, the Nightwing theme, the Darkseid theme-- I can’t think of anything about the music in these series that I didn’t like. Just listen to the “Death of Superman” theme that plays during his supposed funeral, or the miraculous piece that Mike McCuistion created for Flash’s showdown with the Luthor/ Brainiac fusion.

Only in “Star Wars” have I found such musically epic perfection. For such an achievement, we owe a debt of gratitude to not only Shirley and Mike, but Lolita Ritmanis, Kris Carter, and all those involved for doing such great work.

The Voice Acting Talent (#3)
Where to start?

Let’s start by calling Andrea Romano a genius, because she sure must be. Finding Kevin Conroy would be enough of a career move to satisfy any casting director, but she did so much more. Along with Conroy’s flawless Batman, we were granted the opportunity to hear Clancy Brown’s unforgettable Lex Luthor, Michael Ironside’s iconic Darkseid, Efrem Zimbalist Jr.’s exemplified Alfred, and Brad Garrett’s side-splitting Lobo.

On top of that, we were able to watch original characters develop under the talents of their gifted performers, like Will Friedle’s Terry McGinnis, and Arleen Sorkin’s Harley Quinn. We were given not one, but two, superb voice actors who vie for the title of Superman in my mind-- Tim Daly and George Newbern. And these are just a handful of the many, many amazing performances that brought life to the DCAU through the years.

Carl Lumbly, Susan Eisenberg, Loren Lester, Phil LaMarr, Dana Delaney, Bob Hastings, Tara Strong, Michael Rosenbaum, Maria Canals, Robert Costanzo, Matthew Valencia, and Cree Summer rounded out compelling casts. Guest spots and recurring roles are remembered just as fondly, thanks to the likes of Corey Burton, Jeffrey Combs, Jennifer Hale, Michael Ansara, David Warner, Adrienne Barbeau, Sherman Howard, Ron Perlman, Kin Shriner, Michael Dorn, CCH Pounder, Phil Morris, Lauren Tom, (*deep breath*) Morena Baccarin, Powers Booth, Hector Elizondo, Paul Williams, Malcolm and Roddy McDowell, Nicholle Tom, Richard Moll, Lisa Edelstein, Robert Picardo, Stockard Channing, Bud Cort, and the list goes on and on.

Never has a cartoon provided such believability through voice work. And of course, one could never go on too long about the voice talent without taking a moment to recognize Mark Hamill, who practically outdid all the rest… simply by laughing.

‘Nuff said.

The Animation Designs (#4)
It may have started with “Batman: The Animated Series,” but it was through “Superman” (and the later “Gotham Knights” revamp of “Batman”) that we found the distinctive, cherished style that fans have come to love. Bruce Timm’s trademark design has defined the look of the DCAU. So authentic, yet so proudly rooted in classic animation techniques, it bridged the gap between realism and cartoon as effectively as any. Without its visual appeal, I’d never have adopted it as I have. Simple and fluid, it’s the first thing I’ve loved from the very beginning.

The Rogues Gallery (#5)
Nowhere can one find such a colorful array of badguys. From the tragedy of Mr. Freeze to the hilarity of Mxyzptlk, the Timmverse offered up a buffet of villains. Beginning with Man-Bat’s first flight, and ending with the Secret Society’s five-minute head start, we, the fans, have seen it all.

We’ve seen centuries-old tyrants with a thirst for power (Vandal Savage) and a grudge against mankind (Ra’s al Ghul). We’ve seen metahuman experiments with a vengeful autonomy (Doomsday) and a naive ignorance (Bizarro). We’ve seen multiple personalities (Two-Face) and multiple identities (Blight); the chemically enhanced (Bane) and the mechanically enhanced (Metallo). We’ve seen those who walk the line (Catwoman) and those who could barely identify it (Gen. Eiling).

We watched the Royal Flush Gang surface under Joker’s meddling tutelage. We saw the traces of their survival in Gotham City’s future, as their power gradually slipped through their hands. We witnessed Grodd and Grundy’s criminal origins, and we were there to watch them fall at the hands of a greater evil. We passed through Stonegate, Stryker’s, and Arkham. We’ve been to Apokolips; we’ve been deep within the ranks of the Society of Shadows. We know the dark secrets of Cadmus, STARR, and LexCorp.

We knew Brainiac during his occupancy on Krypton. We followed him as he betrayed his homeworld and embarked on a universal mission of knowledge and destruction. We saw the establishment of his bitter rivalry with Superman, and we watched, unknowingly, as he planted a nanotech copy of himself into Lex Luthor’s body…

We watched as Darkseid set his sights on Earth. We saw the cruelty he bestowed upon Superman and Metropolis. We saw his cold-hearted acts of violence and rage. We watched him manipulate the Man of Steel, and we watched him take advantage of Brainiac himself. And when it seemed that he was gone forever, we saw his resurrection at the hands of Tala’s magic and Luthor’s foolish quest for godhood.

And I don’t care what anyone says. Watching a bunch of badguys whoop up on each other is just plain awesome. “Alive!” proved how important the villains are to the DCAU; the Secret Society proved how cool they could be on their own. I hated Toyman before that episode, but watching him take out Killer Frost made him one of my all-time faves.

A good hero needs a good villain. We got the best of both.

Why do I feel like I forgot somebody?

Krypton (#6)
Watch “Superman: The Movie” again. Richard Donner made a great movie. Marlon Brando made a great Jor-El. And Krypton seemed majestic, imposing…cold, boring, and uncomfortable.

Don’t get me wrong. It worked great in the context of that movie, but never has Krypton been quite as appealing as it was in “The Last Son of Krypton.” With just one episode, the creators made us care about its people, so much so that we grieved for their beautiful, attractive home planet when it reached its untimely end.

Fortunately, after its poignant demise, we were given several other chances to see the environment we had come to love. “For the Man Who Has Everything,” in particular, showed us how life could’ve been for Superman if he had grown to adulthood there. And the various Brainiac narratives throughout “Superman” gave us glimpses of years past, like the tyranny of Jax-Ur and Mala.

However extinct the world may be, it left a powerful mark on the DCAU, and a standard by which any other version of Krypton must live up to.

The Near Apocalypse of 2009 (#7)
One line from “Out of the Past” made fans crazy. All we know about this global catastrophe is that it was the end of Ra’s al Ghul’s criminal history. Batman and Talia defeated him.

That’s it. We don’t know anything else. But one line stirred up a lot of interest, created a lot of story potential, and inspired many imaginations to fill in the blanks. So it deserves a mention…besides the one it got in “Epilogue.”

Emotional Deaths (#8)
Censors have done wonders for us, in the long run. Just take a look at the Flying Graysons’ death in “Robin’s Reckoning.” The producers weren’t allowed to show Dick’s parents fall from their trapeze. But the alternative-- a severed cord swinging through our field of vision in synchronization with a bone-chilling musical cue-- was artistically greater.

But a death scene, in the Timmverse, is far from difficult to pull off. The death of an entire planet has long been the birth of the Superman mythos, but it was given new meaning in its solitary “Superman” appearance. Again, the score was crucial in defining the moment. Volcanic geysers; Jor-El and Lara’s final kiss. It still breaks my heart.

Best remembered is the death of Dan Turpin, simply for its shock factor. Who would’ve expected a recurring character-- one who had been given vigorous life by cast (Joseph Bologna) and crew-- to be killed off in the spur of a moment, when a monumental episode had just wound down? Darkseid’s ultimate act of cruelty cost the lieutenant his life, and the grave scene that followed brings tears to my eyes, even now. “So long, old friend. In the end, the world didn’t need a Superman. Just a brave one.”

Warren McGinnis was a realistic, off-screen example of how heart-wrenching a death scene could become. Credit goes to Will Friedle for his incredible performance, and to the writers for making it seem true-to-life. A murder story, more than any other, from a broken family’s point of view.

Killing villains can be a hard thing to do effectively, at least with anything but a feeling of glee. Watch “Meltdown” or “Return of the Joker” to see how else it can be pulled off. Mr. Freeze’s tragic story comes to a morbid ending when he gives himself up for lost, in shame and sorrow, allowing Batman to escape. The Joker was revealed to have been killed in a bitterly gruesome turn of events-- gunned down by the Boy Wonder, with no strength left to laugh. Or how about Solomon Grundy, who surprised everyone by becoming a sympathetic, lovable hero in his final appearance? His and Hawkgirl’s parting exchange puts a lump in my throat every time.

Even the phony deaths were moving. Clark Kent, Barbera Gordon, and Superman were all presumed dead at different times. Each was a touching tribute to the character, and helped us learn more about the relationships that surrounded them.

And just when we thought the writers couldn’t top what they’d already done, we learned that Ace-- the psychopathic young outcast from the Joker’s Royal Flush Gang-- was terminally ill. The only way to stop her was to kill her. But when Batman went in with that supposed intention, it turned out to be the most arguably moving scene to pass through the DCAU. “I’m scared,” she said, and Batman took her by the hand. It was a beautiful moment, followed by a beautiful conclusion: the Dark Knight carrying her peaceful body in his arms.

Team-Ups (#9)
After years of “Batman,” I’d found solo work to be a bit lackluster. I was pleased to see “The New Batman Adventures” become every bit as focused on the sidekicks as it was the Dark Knight. When “Superman” made the decision to give us a handful of superhero cameos, I became giddy. It was the starting point for what we know now as “Justice League.” Aquaman, Kyle Rayner, and the Flash all passed through Superman’s world in excellent one-shot episodes. As if that weren’t enough, we got to see Nightwing and Batgirl, Etrigan and the Creeper, Steel and Dr. Fate, Supergirl, Robin, and the New Gods, all while watching Batman and Superman’s relationship grow.

“World’s Finest” plays out like a premature “League” pilot, bringing together the icons of the DCAU for a superb first meeting. To see their following crossovers in “Knight Time” and “Demon Reborn” only added to the fun. Without them (or the introductions mentioned above), “Justice League” would’ve felt cold. With them, we had a firm establishment in the history of superheroes; we were no stranger to the field when we watched the League expand in “Unlimited.”

On top of all that, “Unlimited” was a horde of surprise appearances-- the Legion of Superheroes, Jonah Hex, Warlord, Deadman, the Viking Prince, and our very own Batman Beyond. Nothing’s cooler to a fanboy than cameos and crossovers. Mix ‘em up, and you can’t go wrong.

While I’m on the subject…

The Extended League (#10)
Superman’s got his allies, but he mostly works alone. Batman works with anywhere from one to three sidekicks, depending on what day of the week it is. And camaraderie is my favorite part of any heroic story. So when we were given a show with seven united superheroes, it seemed I’d received the ultimate fanboy gift.

Then came “Justice League Unlimited.” It sounded crazy. How could these heroes fit comfortably into a show that left us wanting more of its seven main protagonists-- not to mention the various supporting characters we had come to know? How could we give a whit for these nobodies? How could they mix such a vast roster-- roughly forty-nine new members-- with our treasured core seven?

Well, I don’t know how they did it, but they did. Somehow, they worked out a brilliant rotation of endearing new heroes with old favorites, who, ironically, received their best development during their tenure on “Unlimited.” We were treated to the collective returns of Supergirl, Zatanna, Steel, Orion, Dr. Fate, Etrigan, Metamorpho, Aquaman, and the Creeper. We were introduced to Green Arrow, Vixen, Captain Atom, Black Canary, Shining Knight, Vigilante, the Atom, and the Question-- all who came to feel nearly as familiar to me, at least, as the founding members. Not everyone got a chance to shine (or even to speak), but that’s part of what made it so cool when a new character would surface. In the same respect, the original seven became more elite among the newcomers.

Our final League count (though we never saw Plastic Man) was fifty-seven, presumably the same as when “Unlimited” began. (Hawkman may have bumped it up to fifty-eight, but who knows?) With a number like that, Booster Gold may find himself on crowd control duty a lot more in the future.

Kudos to the writers for their extraordinary accomplishment.

Location, Location, Location (#11)
What do you do when using a real country doesn’t work within the context of a story; when you need freedom to mold a characteristic government and its people as you wish? You make one up. Thus was born Kasnia, a fictitious nation of civil war and terrorism. It provided the DCAU with its numerous subplots of overseas threat, and was aligned with nearly every kind of crime at one time or another: gun-smuggling entrepreneurs; cunning commercial tycoons; and long-suffering immortals with a desire to rule. But even Kasnia came to a (mostly) happy ending, with Audrey on the throne, uniting her people in the wake of an Ares-driven war.

Kasnia made us feel-- along with Metropolis, Gotham, Central City, Bludhaven, and the like-- that we were part of an actual world. That world became even more interesting when we were introduced to Atlantis and Themyscira. They are just as much a part of the Timmverse’s planet Earth as America, and we welcome them as such.

First, there’s Atlantis. Like Kasnia, its people are restless, jealous, bitter, and oft-times divided. Unlike Kasnia, it is an underwater kingdom that has long retained its integrity and pride. Though they may appear violent to the surface-dwellers, they desire only peace for their exclusive dominion. At the heart of Atlantis is a great king, willing to give his life for the cause.

And then there’s Themyscira. Usually known as Paradise Island, it is a haven for the Amazons, and a death trap for the race of men. Led by Hippolyta, and cursed by the legacy of Hades, Themyscira was virtually unknown to the public before Wonder Woman emerged. She has become a liaison between the governments of the world and a slowly progressing Paradise Island.

Combined, these countries and cities create a feeling of global existence, and (in the case of Kasnia) give us something exclusive to the Timmverse.

The Justice League of the Future (#12)
When “Batman Beyond” introduced us to the Justice League, it was a very different League than the one we would come to know. Fifty years into the future, the central heroes were required to be younger, fresher, and original. What came about was a group of unique heroes who all stood in for one of their older counterparts, with individual links to the past.

First, there’s Terry McGinnis, the protégé of Bruce Wayne, and the familiar new Batman for Gotham’s future. Superman is still leading the League, as powerful as ever, with a sleek new look and an edge that came with time. With him now is Kai-Ro, the new Green Lantern for Sector 2814; Marina, the daughter of Aquaman and successor to the throne of Atlantis; and Barda, a New God with ties to the original League. One of the League’s leading members now is Rex Stewart, the son of Shayera Hol and John Stewart; he is also a worthy, redeeming successor to the Thanagarian legacy as Warhawk. And residing with the League is Static, who stood alongside the veteran Leaguers as a youth, growing to become one of Earth’s greatest heroes. Finally, there’s Micron. Erm…there’s really nothing on him, but…come on. He can shrink and grow. That’s just cool!

How many more the League includes is a mystery. Are there any more at all these days? Could J’onn and Diana still be members, as hinted at in “The Once and Future Thing”? At any rate, I would gladly welcome back this imaginatively assorted team. To see how they carried on the League’s work was most rewarding.

Comedic Timing (#13)
Humor is one thing the DCAU was never lacking in. We’ve had enough laughs through the years to rival any prime-time hit. One-liners, running gags, and completely left-field slapstick littered the Timmverse.

I felt that this deserved an honorable mention. But since nothing I say is going to be remotely funny enough to do it justice, I’ll move on.

Alter Egos (#14)
Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent are at their coolest in the Timmverse. The suave, dapper billionaire playboy and the mild-mannered, down-to-earth reporter both carried their respective series as much or more than their costumed identities. Indeed, there are times when I feel that these particular personalities are more interesting than even their recognizable superhero selves.

And there’s also something undeniably hip about watching Clark Kent fly, or Bruce Wayne kick somebody’s butt. The animated Batman and Superman series offered us several doses of this. And when their alter egos all but vanished among the Justice League, they became an even more welcome contribution, rare as they were. (Like Bruce Wayne dancing with Wonder Woman at the beginning of “Maid of Honor,” or Clark Kent’s trademark “S” reveal in the “Starcrossed” teaser.)

Wally West and Kyle Rayner both offered up an episode or two of insight into their respective personal lives, while Diana and John Stewart chose to let themselves be known. But whatever the circumstance, I’d take an episode centered on the man or woman behind the mask just as eagerly as I would…

A Good, Old-Fashioned Alien Invasion (#15)
Or not. Let’s face it. Crazed psychopaths are great. Government conspiracies are even greater. But nothing-- repeat, nothing-- compares (within the fantastic universe of the DC superheroes) to the most clichéd “save the world” storyline one can find. True, they’ve been done to death, but only in the DCAU did alien invasions ever become so interesting and diverse.

First, we have the attack from Apokolips that made Superman a hostage and forced New Genesis to declare their protection on Earth. Best remembered as Dan Turpin’s swan song, the episode (“Apokolips…Now! Part 2”) is notable for setting up Darkseid and Superman’s rivalry. This rivalry came to a head in “Legacy,” when Darkseid sent a second invasion force, led by the Kryptonian himself.

But it was “Secret Origins” that first showed us how believable an alien invasion could be. I’m not comparing this three-part “Justice League” debut to some of the finer moments in the Timmverse, but part one made quite an impact on me, with its atmosphere of hopelessness. It was “War of the Worlds” meets DC Comics. A truly epic setting.

Then came “Starcrossed.” All one can really say about the episode is, “Wow.” And we all know that it had a little bit of everything. But from this point of view, it had a unique, intriguing alien invasion. Martial law on Earth, led by the Thanagarians. If any one scene lives in my mind as the icon for “Starcrossed,” it would be the image of hawk people swarming the globe of the Daily Planet. What made them different was the sympathy we feel in retrospect for Hro Talak and his people.

One could stop and talk about “Divided We Fall” as a semi-invasion story, but for the sake of keeping with the true theme, I’ll move on to “Destroyer.” Darkseid returned and broke his treaty with New Genesis, unleashing more parademons on Earth than anyone knew existed. Few episodes define the Justice League (and the very act of being a hero) better than this. Chaos across the planet; too many Leaguers to count. It is the standard for an old-school alien invasion. They barged in, they got beat, and they crawled back to where they came from. No mess, no motives-- just an all-out, international war.

Anything and Everything About the Joker (#16)
I knew I forgot somebody. But since I’ve already talked about the villains, it might seem odd to do this. So I’ll explain it as such: the Joker gets his own slot. He has to. He’s too cool not to.

The Joker embodies the essence of a supervillain, without any real powers. He is the glaring opposite of Batman, which makes him the perfect foil. He is to Lex Luthor’s personification of evil as Batman is to Superman’s personification of good.

No one knows his real name. His shady past with the Valestra gang only makes him eerier and more disturbing. Yet with all of the horror that surrounds him, he’s only looking for a good laugh. His appearances are not just welcomed in the Timmverse…they’re anticipated. He was written into episodes that had nothing to do with him, simply because we couldn’t resist.

Behind the character’s psychopathic mind was a genius. He has broken the lines of Cadmus security, and rerouted his own DNA via nanotechnology. He has commandeered a nuclear satellite, and outfoxed Lex Luthor for control of his own artillery. He destroyed the mind of a promising psychiatrist, and manipulated five young metahumans to create the Royal Flush Gang. He was there for the final crusade of both Robins, and he’s been a thorn in the side of his own Arkham cellmates. He murdered the man whose sins helped instigate the origin of Batman, and he, in turn, found his identity at the hands of Batman himself. He has mysteriously avoided death time and time again, then met his chilling end twice at the hands of Batman’s protégés.

Like Lex, the Joker has proven himself comfortable with everyday antagonists, while still remaining just as great a threat as the mega-villains of Ra’s al Ghul’s calibur.

He’s made us laugh, and he’s sent shivers down our spine. He was the first of our classic rogues to crop up in the Timmverse. And he’s just about the only one who can do the same thing ten times over without getting stale.

Have I mentioned Mark Hamill yet?

A New Batman for a New Gotham (#17)
Twenty years had passed since the Batman’s last appearance. Gotham City was noticeably different. But criminals-- still cowardly and superstitious-- were not.

A shifty, two-faced crime lord named Derek Powers was in control of Gotham’s business world. He had developed an enterprise by overthrowing Bruce Wayne, and had secretly formed an alliance with Kasnian terrorists. An insignificant employee by the name of Harry Tully discovered a plot to produce nerve gas; the only witness to Harry’s subsequent murder was Warren McGinnis. Derek Powers made the greatest mistake of his life by sending Mr. Fixx to assassinate him.

From the public’s point of view, nothing unusual had happened. A news report on Warren’s death only ended up on the Jokerz’ apparent resumé. And then, to the surprise of Gotham (and the world), Batman resurfaced from the shadows. There was an upset at WaynePowers, costing Fixx his life. Wrongdoers were once again coping with the fear of facing the Dark Knight. What was the truth behind this mysterious ghost of a vigilante? Was it an imposter, hoping to carry on Batman’s legendary work? Was it the former hero’s son, following in his father’s footsteps? Or had the original Batman miraculously re-emerged?

In truth, it was all three. Fate played a crafty hand in the life of Terry McGinnis, when he escaped the Jokerz’ cruelty at the gates of Wayne Manor. It just so happened that he met Bruce Wayne and discovered his secret past all in one night. Knowing that secret gave Terry somewhere to go when Fixx killed his father, Warren, under the guise of the Jokerz. Wayne was against the idea of letting Terry use the Batsuit. Terry was not.

In time, Wayne came to appreciate his protégé, and trained him to be what Dick Grayson, Barbera Gordon, and Tim Drake were not: a true successor. Terry carried on his legacy with honor, and even defeated the remnants of the Joker. In discovering his origins, Terry found a connection with Bruce unlike any other: flesh and blood. In the face of it all, Terry McGinnis became his own hero, his own man, and one of the DCAU’s crowning achievements.

The Cadmus Arc (#18)
Duh. How long can one go on about Timm’s DC universe without paying respect to Cadmus? It was the most complex, interweaving storyline I’ve ever seen, Timmverse or otherwise.

It’s hard to know where it really started. “Question Authority” was the beginning of the acclaimed four-part pinnacle. “The Doomsday Sanction” really got the ball rolling; “Ultimatum” introduced us to Amanda Waller. But, of course, the entire idea of a conspiracy began with “Fearful Symmetry.” Although it (and the rest of the arc) was building on story elements from “A Better World” (in “Justice League”) and “Legacy” (in “Superman”). Then when it came down to the final reveal, it reached all the way back to “Ghost in the Machine,” with references to old-school “Batman.”

On top of that, it gave us some the best interaction we’d ever seen. From Batman’s initial lack of assurance to the Question’s apocalyptic mind frame, we learned more about characters, new and old, than we ever could’ve learned amidst an alien invasion. We saw Superman at his absolute worst (facing Captain Marvel in “Clash”) and at his absolute greatest (facing a very mortal Luthor in “Divided We Fall”). We got Doomsday, Galatea, the Ultimen, and Gen. Eiling. We got a thought-provoking power struggle, without ultimately losing faith in our heroes. And we got the most shocking, perverse turn of events that we ever could’ve imagined: Brainiac.

Just as “Unlimited” was the culmination of the DCAU, the Cadmus arc was the culmination of “Unlimited.” It’s more than we had hoped for, and more than we may ever see again.

Respectable Roles for the Supporting Cast (#19)
Though Superman and Batman carried most of the Timmverse on their shoulders, there would have been a void without the strong parts played by traditional comic characters. Here, in no particular order, are some of the finest examples of the DCAU’s TV adaptations.
Lois Lane-- Injected with an undeniable likeability by Dana Delaney, Lois was the most potentially typical character that I was surprised to love. She was the second star of the “Superman” series and a delightful guest throughout “Justice League.” Never has she been a more fitting soul mate for the Man of Steel. She’s a multi-faceted character with endless possibilities, and I never got tired of her.
John Stewart-- He was an odd choice for the DCAU at first, given Kyle Rayner’s previous appearance. But John evolved into a realistically complex man, torn by his emotions and committed to his work. He is a former member of the United States Marines, a founding member of the Justice League, and a lifelong member of the Green Lantern Corps. His contribution to the DCAU should not go uncredited.
Shayera Hol-- No one is remembered as a more controversial addition to our beloved Timmverse than Hawkgirl. I’ll admit that she was my least favorite Leaguer at first, but “Starcrossed” (and her subsequently superior “Unlimited” design) gave her the depth and appeal she needed to match DC’s heavy hitters. Her relationship with John Stewart-- and her struggle to regain a place in the world-- are fondly remembered.
Superman’s parents-- Be it Jor-El and Lara or Ma and Pa Kent, the DCAU’s respect for Superman’s upbringing goes without saying. Never were his Kryptonian parents more believable, or his adopted parents from Smallville more endearing. All became as fine a rendering of Kal-El’s family as any version. Seeing them here opens the world of Superman up in a way that no reporter or super criminal ever could.
J’onn J’onzz-- His powers and personality may have changed drastically since the Silver Age version my father grew up on, but the Martian Manhunter saw an amazing tenure in the Timmverse. First a trusted ally, then a respected mentor, J’onn spent five years learning and adapting to the ways of the human race. He was a forlorn, but lovable, hero, and the true guiding light for the Justice League.
The Green Lantern Corps-- They are a regal military spanning the cosmos, entrusted by the Guardians of the Universe. They were never handled lightly on-screen throughout the DCAU. They were treated as a majestic society, and seen only in times of absolute peril. Katma Tui, Kilowog, and Kyle Rayner led the charge with captivating portrayals, with Kai-Ro serving as a sign of things to come. The Corps’ representation in the DCAU is a tribute to their legacy.
James Gordon-- A hero among the common people, Commissioner Gordon’s Timmverse depiction is the ideal embodiment of an icon. He never wavered in his job, but still held fast to his friendship with Batman. We know, despite his daughter’s fears, that he never would’ve betrayed the Caped Crusader. His love for Barbera, his commitment to Gotham, and his alliance with Batman were at the center of his life. He handled them all with respectable ease.
Aquaman-- Brilliantly modernized by the creative team, Aquaman became a stubbornly brutal monarch, determined to make peace for Atlantis. But in “The Enemy Below,” we saw his true character as a family man. Nothing means more to him than his people and his family. When faced with fear of death for himself and his infant son, the noble sovereign cast off his own hand to save his baby. No one moment defined a character’s virtue more.
Diana-- Some say she was the most inconsistent character we know. I say that’s a part of who she is. A character who is consistently inconsistent is still consistent, in a way. Diana can be a confusing character, but why wouldn’t she be? She is royalty, warrior, prejudiced, open-minded, short-tempered, and patient all rolled into one. Her time among man is a trying one for Wonder Woman, and I, for one, found her to be written as excellently as she needed to be. Heck, even if she hadn’t, she’s Wonder Woman. So she still rocks.
Alfred Pennyworth-- Forget Batman and Superman. Alfred Pennyworth, as depicted in the Timmverse, is quite possibly the coolest single character in any DC cartoon. How can you not love him? His dry sense of humor and memorable one-liners always helped to lighten the mood of the darkest “Batman” show. His presence was essential to the original series, and his role in Batman’s life was crucial to the Dark Knight’s character. He was priceless.

The Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall of Lex Luthor (#20)
His story is perhaps the most interesting of any DCAU character. As was chronicled in his speech to AMAZO, Lex rose from near-poverty and built an empire with his brilliance and charm. LexCorp rose to the top. Metropolis was a shrine to his work. Superman himself once noted that Lex was responsible for much of the city’s development. And it was Superman’s stature there that fueled Lex’s ultimate jealousy for the last Kryptonian.

Being second favorite in “his” city wasn’t good enough for Lex. He made it top priority to eliminate Superman; otherwise, how would he be able to carry on his illegal activities? Weapons of mass destruction were like playthings to Lex. Kasnia was a pal. And as long as Superman was in his way, Lex would never be where he wanted to be. Where was that? On a higher plane than yesterday. His constant goal was to keep learning, keep earning, and keep expanding on his riches and reputation. He had a drive to be the greatest.

Unfortunately for Lex, all good things must come to an end. After failing to bring Superman down for years, he made a fatal error that cost him his freedom. The Justice League unveiled his secrets, and he ended up at Stryker’s with the criminals he had once employed. Now ailed with a cancer that was born of his kryptonite obsession, it seemed unlikely he would ever return to form.

Then came the Justice Lords. The League was left with no choice but to ask their archenemy for help. Lex obliged, received a full pardon, and moved on to politics. Would things end up as they did in the Justice Lords’ dimension? No, because Brainiac had been hiding in Lex’s body for years. A cancer-free Lex outsmarted the greatest of intellects. Brainiac-- the unchanging mind of the universe-- changed his mind after all. He turned from ultimate destruction to ultimate control, simply with Lex’s persuasion. Merged with Luthor, he would’ve conquered the planet using Dark Heart tech. But the Flash got in his way.

Crazed by his loss, Lex became a renegade. Grodd offered him solace in the Secret Society, but working under mad gorillas is hardly Lex’s style. He overthrew the primate, single-handedly seized control, and set out to reclaim Brainiac. His greed became fear when face-to-face with Darkseid, but Lex is a cunning individual. After fighting alongside Batman and Superman, he took dubious advice from Metron; the Anti-Life Equation gave him all the power he needed to take down Darkseid and achieve his possible godhood. The two vanished together in a whirlwind.

Did he really come back to save his home planet from a tyrant? Is it possible that the Anti-Life Equation gave him balance between good and evil? Could he have been playing the part when he claimed to desire Superman’s death? Or was he himself outsmarted by Metron? Did the Anti-Life Equation finish them both in a stunning turn?

Lex Luthor may be alive somewhere, more powerful than all of us. Where he is now remains a mystery, but his journey to get there was amazing.

The Speed Force Smackdown (#21)
After a season of near-absence, and a reputation for incompetence, Wally West did what no one could do.

Lex Luthor and Brainaic had merged. Metropolis was now ground zero. Cadmus was a fraud and a farce. Dark Heart technology was now in the hands of the world’s greatest threat. The Question’s fears were being realized. With Luthor’s reign at hand, it looked like the end of the Justice League as we knew them. In a parallel world, it was the Flash’s demise that triggered their tyranny. Would it be the same here? Would Superman go off the deep end as easily as his otherworldly self?

Yet with all of these questions left unanswered, the biggest remained, how would the League stop Brainiac? The Dark Heart was impossible to beat, except at a microscopic level; it held the power to manipulate any material, infinitely multiplying itself. With Brainiac’s mind in control, there was no chance of defeating it as they had before. What’s more, Luthor was taking out the entire Justice League alone. Even Superman and the Green Lantern’s power ring were helpless against him.

Then, standing over Flash in triumph, ready to bring about his prophecied doom, Lex announced a looming Armageddon. He mocked Flash’s apparent surge of bravery, and when Wally turned to leave the scene, I’m sure more than a couple of hearts sank. What followed was the single greatest coming-of-age superhero moment I know: the Flash-- a long-time goof-off and a novice to his peers-- ran the circumference of the planet, giving Brainiac the beating he deserved. Again and again, he raced the globe, ripping the android’s exoskeleton from Luthor’s human body. Fully charged and willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, the Flash tore Brainiac apart with his bare hands, until the nightmare was over and the Dark Heart was no more. The Speed Force nearly claimed him for his superheroic deed.

Someone once said, “How many times has Flash really saved the world? ‘Eclipsed,’ maybe?” Well, my friends…no one asks now.

The Awesomeness of Batman (#22)
He started the entire history of the DC Animated Universe, so it’s only fitting to take a moment just for him.

Eighty-five episodes (and one outstanding film) before anyone ever thought about another series, Bruce Timm’s crew had created an award-winning, critically-acclaimed television show that redefined superhero television. We’d come to know Batman and Bruce Wayne, inside and out. We’d learned his physical strengths and his emotional weaknesses. We’d watched his enemies surface, and his friends develop a fondness for him. We knew by the end that Batman was an amazing detective, and we knew that happiness eluded him as deftly as he eluded his opponents. Above all else, we knew that Batman could be read like a book, while still managing to surprise us.

He is the poster boy for human perfection-- a standard to which body and mind must live up to in the DCAU. No matter how skilled the warrior or how sharp the intellect, all have been compared to Batman. He’s an athlete; an inventor; an escaped artist; a master of disguise; an expert in every known fighting style; and he is the World’s Greatest Detective.

He’s made his way past the tightest security; he’s learned the secrets of villains and heroes alike. He has unsurpassed courage, and he has unsurpassed heart. He is an entrepreneur with a compassion for the poor, and he’s a freedom fighter with no fear of death. He’s been a brother in arms, and a seasoned mentor. He sees the Justice League from the government’s point of view, and the government from the League’s. He is a tortured soul; he is a trusted guardian. He’s traded punches with the Joker, outsmarted Lex Luthor, and become the only known Earthling to avoid Darkseid’s omega beam.

He is the greatest of all mortal heroes, and the equal of his further-powered counterparts. He is a champion for the everyman, and an inspiration to the superman.

He is vengeance. He is the night. He is Batman. And he is awesome.

A World of Cardboard (#23)
It’d been a decade or so since Superman first swung his fists within the twisted tales of the Timmverse. We’d seen him move ocean liners, trains, and skyscrapers. We’d seen him duke it out with heavy-weights on both sides of the fence. But unbeknownst to us, something had been brewing within the Kryptonian’s physical being. No, I’m not talking about the anger and the temptations we watched him face. I’m talking about his power.

Sure, we know: he’s strong. We knew long ago what he was capable of. But we know now that Superman has a secret-- a secret he doesn’t hide behind glasses and a suit. It’s a secret he’s kept almost from himself. It’s become a habit to Kal-El. Raised as a human, it’s like second nature. Clark Kent knew as he grew older that he wasn’t like a normal boy. He was becoming stronger all the time, as he grew to adulthood. He possessed more power now than he needed. He had reached his full potential, and the only way to keep the world from knowing his identity was to downplay everything. So it’s only natural that he ended up forgetting how mighty he’d become.

Don’t squeeze the politician’s hand too hard, Clark, is just one of his many inner warnings. Careful hugging Ma; careful slapping Jimmy on the back. Never slam the door. Such was the conscience of our favorite farm boy. How were we to know that he’d applied this mindset to his alter ego as well?

Superman’s done some pretty amazing things, but in the back of his mind, only he could know how much more he’s really capable of. He feels pain; he feels strain. And he knows his limits. But along with the power that he still seems to acquire (just compare his airplane rescue in “The Last Son of Krypton” to practically anything from “Justice League Unlimited”), he’s also kept his greatest abilities bottled up. And no one brings out the animal in Superman better than Darkseid.

After two years of pending fury, Superman had realized how important it was to keep himself in check. When Darkseid returned from his astronomical grave, Superman’s rage was gone, but the motivation was there. How was he going to prove to Darkseid that he’d always win, if he’d lost the ferocity he’d shown in “Legacy” and “Twilight?” Simple: he revealed to Darkseid (and to us) that we’d never truly seen him at his greatest. We’d seen glimpses of it, to be sure (flicking Grodd across a football field with one finger, or smashing up Lexor City with Captain Marvel), but never had he been given the chance to unleash his inner strength without reservation. So with his temper in control, he did what he could never do…

“I feel like I live in a world of cardboard, always taking constant care not to break something--to break someone. Never allowing myself to lose control, even for a moment, or someone could die. But you can take it, can't you big man? What we have here is a rare opportunity for me to cut loose and show you just how powerful I really am.”

Marvel Comics has made it known that “with great power comes great responsibility.” Our big blue boy scout carries that responsibility as well as any. Even Batman himself recognized the Man of Tomorrow’s integrity. “You showed me that justice doesn’t always have to come from the darkness.” Superman is what every superhero should be. No one can match him, and no one should try.

Slam-Bang Finishes, Climactic Tragedies, and Happy Endings Nonetheless (#24)
How many grand finales does one television universe usually get to have? Three or four, at best, if it’s more than one series. But the DCAU managed to give us several. And with “Batman Beyond” firmly in place years ago, we always knew what the future held. So the trick for the creative team was to surprise and please us on our way there.

Someone on this forum once said that the Timmverse continuity wasn’t a straight line, but a circle. I can’t think of anything that describes it better. There were episodes and series aired out of chronological order and more time travel stories than should be legal. (Along the way, we also saw enough death to rival “Saving Private Ryan.”) But no matter how many times we said goodbye, we were willing to welcome them back. It should’ve gotten tiresome, with its tangled timeline bidding adieu so often. But it never did.

Why? Because no one goes out with a bang better than Bruce Timm and his various cohorts. The DCAU is filled with finales, both thematic and literal. “Legacy,” “The Call,” “Starcrossed,” “Return of the Joker,” “Divided We Fall,” “Epilogue,” and “Destroyer” all served such a purpose. They left us wanting more. And I’d take more in a heartbeat.

#25.) Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Dwayne McDuffie, Alan Burnett, James Tucker, Glen Murakami, Boyd Kirkland, Eric Radomski, Rich Fogel, Matt Wayne, Butch Lukic, Curt Geda, Stan Berkowitz, Dan Riba, Joaqium dos Santos, and everyone else involved in giving us fourteen years of action-packed, thought-provoking, rock ‘em-sock ‘em, awe-inspiring, lump-in-your-throat, edge-of-your-seat, quality animated superhero television.

How does everyone else feel about these aspects of the DCAU? If I’m not breaking any forum rules by posting this here, go ahead and share your thoughts.

Palin Dromos

The Abyss Stares Back
Feb 1, 2002
Los Angeles, CA

Reading that was like watching all 44 discs in my DCAU collection all at once!

Really liked what you wrote as #8 and #23.

This is the kinda thing I love finding on these boards

Hope all the "#25's" get a chance to read that.



The Ultimate Warrior
Feb 27, 2006
Well SuperBat, what else can I say? You've managed to pretty much sum up all the DCAU in one post (albeit a very long one!) with honorable mentions of each series although I'm sad to see that poor Zeta didn't even get a mention. Your specific spots about Flash, Batman, and Superman are especially great. Definitely do those characters justice in your post.

In then end I've only got this to say: Well done! Truly one of the most thoughtful and intelligent posts I've read on this board.


Dec 2, 2003
Dublin, Ireland
Man SuperBat, that was a wonderful read. What can I say? You've put it into words. Words that have been often thought, but never so well expressed!
Well done!!


Feb 14, 2007
Ottawa, Canada
That post was so well done that I had to read it, who cares how long it was. You have a real gift for writing. thanks for sharing it.

Temple Fugate

Active Member
Jan 15, 2004
If I had a penny for every time I woke up in the morning and found a post like this on the message board...I'd have one or two cents. You threw me at the start with the touting of the post count, and I'll admit to being a jerk and rolling my eyes just like I do every time...but everything that followed was AMAZING. You pinned down the greatest aspects of the greatest cartoons ever made, and I actually learned a few things that I never really thought about before. How people like you can see all this introspection and true unification across seasons and series with the skill and finesse rivaling The Question I'll never understand, which is why I'll never be a professional critic.

This is definitely deserving of inclusion among the greatest threads of the DCAF.

Neo Yi

Staff member
Sep 11, 2004
He is the greatest of all mortal heroes, and the equal of his further-powered counterparts. He is a champion for the everyman, and an inspiration to the superman.

He is vengeance. He is the night. He is Batman. And he is awesome.

BIG. FAT. WORD. Agree wholeheartly in everyway, or maybe I'm just saying that cuz' I like Batman.

This was an intensely good read and made me appreciate the DCAU more then I already do. Excellent reasons to an excellent animated universe.


Cooler than Chuck Norris
Jul 11, 2006
Wow. Thank you, everyone, for the positive feedback, and for taking the time to actually read this. (Happy to make you a penny richer, Temple. :) ) I'm totally regretful that it took up so much space, but I'm happy you appreciate it anyway.

FireWarrior: I am sorry about not mentioning Zeta. I suppose I should've, but seeing as this was my favorite aspects of the Timmverse, I had to use things I'd actually seen. I'm not fortunate enough to have seen "The Zeta Project" or "Static Shock" (save a few crossovers). The core of the DCAU is what I included, and having never seen the others, I can't be sure I would've included them anyway. But I loved the characters in their crossover appearances, if it makes you happy. :D

Thanks again!


Feb 21, 2004
With these long posts, I usually tell myself I'll read it until I get bored, which is usually paragraph six. I started yours, and before I knew it, it was over.
It's liks you're saying what we're all thinking.


The Ultimate Warrior
Feb 27, 2006
Wow. Thank you, everyone, for the positive feedback, and for taking the time to actually read this. (Happy to make you a penny richer, Temple. :) ) I'm totally regretful that it took up so much space, but I'm happy you appreciate it anyway.

FireWarrior: I am sorry about not mentioning Zeta. I suppose I should've, but seeing as this was my favorite aspects of the Timmverse, I had to use things I'd actually seen. I'm not fortunate enough to have seen "The Zeta Project" or "Static Shock" (save a few crossovers). The core of the DCAU is what I included, and having never seen the others, I can't be sure I would've included them anyway. But I loved the characters in their crossover appearances, if it makes you happy. :D

Thanks again!

It's cool man. I sometimes forget that some people still haven't seen The Zeta Project or Static Shock/
Oct 3, 2005

You've just send shivers down my spine with love for the DC Animated universe that Bruce Timm, Paul Dini & others had so lovingly crafted together!
Great list mate!

I salute You!

Amayirot Akago

Mar 9, 2007
Out of my mind
That was one hell of an entertaining read, and perfectly sums up the brilliance and love that Bruce Timm, Paul Dini and all the others put into the DCAU all these long years. A more than fitting tribute to these geniuses and their legacy.


The Original
May 2, 2001
Great job Superbat!! Really says everything I love about the Timmverse. You should forward it on to the suits at Warner. Maybe, they will feel the same sadness at the end of the show and want to bring it back. :D

One thing I would add to your list...Stories that weren't dumb. One only has to watch the old Super Friends cartoons to see how much better the Timmverse stories were. And going beyond the actual story. The Timmverse took a little reality into how things around the heroes are affected. For example. In one Super Friends episode. A supersized villain takes the Washington monument. And it stays in one piece (like a baseball bat). With the Timmverse if that was attempted the monument would break apart like it would in real life if someone tried to pick it up. It was that sense of "realism" and treating the audience like they were adults and not 3yrs old. Made a huge difference.


Nov 11, 2006
A magnificent job, SuperBat. You have a real knack for writing and bringing out the thoughts and emotions that people feel towards the DCAU. I can't tell you how great it was to have all those memories simultaneously refeshed, (though I suspect you have a good idea :)) especially from the perspective of a true fan through and through like yourself. I agree that Warner Bros. have to read this. An awesome thread like this could easily move them to resurrect JLU or at least give us another DTV, and think of the impact that it would have coupled with a petition signed by fans that have read it! But I'm getting ahead of myself... A real pleasure to read, and a powerful, intricate summary of the various series' that the fans have loved.

... But how could you forget Maxine Gibson?! :eek: (Or maybe you did give her a nod; I'm not sure.) She, more than anyone else, cemented the DCAU as the single greatest cartoon series in history. ;)


dead is dead
Dec 30, 2001
Well said, SuperBat. Well said. Very eloquent and thought-provoking. It was a nice trip down memory lane, seeing (and in some cases, remembering) what Timm & Co. has given to us these past 15 or so years.

Exams are over. i don't have to work for a few days. I think i just might see how much has happened between the Man-Bat's first flight in Gotham, and the Justice League's victorious run down the steps of the Metro Tower.

Kudos to you, SuperBat. Kudos.


Staff online

Who's on Discord?

Latest profile posts

It's fun to see James Sie talk about Jackie Chan Adventures.

No mention for Sam & Cat nor Wendell & Vinnie since those two also premiered in 2013.
Since it's the animated show that was produced in France, ''Xiaolin Chronicles'' sure deserves a redub into English. Do you want to see this happening?
Norm of the North was released 7 years ago today.
The paradigm shift of “it’s 2011 and I want all my cancelled shows back on TV!” to “you better not so much as GLANCE at Moral Orel.”

Featured Posts