DC Animated Universe Expands with JUSTICE LEAGUE VS. TEEN TITANS

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Justice League vs Teen Titans Blu-ray Warner Brothers DC Entertainment

JUSTICE LEAGUE VS. TEEN TITANS continues the DCAU continuity that includes such titles as JUSTICE LEAGUE: WAR and BATMAN VS. ROBIN, retaining Jason O'Mara and Stuart Allan as the voices of Batman and Robin.

The story opens with the Justice League in open battle with the Legion of Doom -- Luthor, Solomon Grundy, Cheetah, Weather Wizard and Toymaster -- at the grand opening of the new Justice League headquarters, which the public has deemed the "Hall of Justice." During the aftermath of the battle, Weather Wizard attempts to run, and is suddenly possessed by a shadow demon that longtime fans will recognize as being the influence of Trigon. Weather Wizard is released from the demon's control, but it takes over Superman and goes silent.

The team then turns its attention to its youngest member -- Robin, who managed to take down the demon-possessed Weather Wizard, but in a way that required direct disobedience to orders. So Batman has decided that Robin needs to learn a lesson in teamwork and sends him off with Nightwing to spend some time with the Teen Titans -- Beast Boy, Blue Beetle, and Raven, led by long-time Titan, Starfire. Robin sees teammates as a liability, and quickly gets in over his head with a fight against Blue Beetle. When Beetle's alien scarab goes into overkill mode and takes out Robin, Raven steps in to heal him, creating a connection between the two.

As Robin learns to cope with having teammates, the demon sleeping in Superman manages to come to the fore -- apparently after Clark and Diana just finished seeing MAN OF STEEL, if Diana's post-movie review can be taken at face value. Superman goes full-Trigon and flies off, a threat to the whole world. When he encounters the Atomic Skull, the Justice League have to come to the rescue -- to defend Atomic Skull! In so doing, they get a message from the demon in Superman that Trigon is coming, and he wants "the girl." Superman then flies off and excavates what is seemingly a "stargate" buried in the desert.

After Starfire has a web-chat with Dick Grayson (during which her camera is innocently focused on parts of her that distract the former Robin), she comes to the conclusion that the team needs to have some fun to build some esprit d'corps. This leads to a scene that is largely filler -- a music video of amusement park scenes of the Titans basically over-performing at the carnival games. Beast Boy outdances Blue Beetle, finally finding something the alien parasite couldn't help Beetle with, and Beetle offers free popcorn to whomever can take down Beast Boy. Robin steps up to the plate -- he's had no experience, but claims he's a quick study. After a mediocre opening, he does, indeed, start to pick it up and the challenge is on.

This is a distraction to allow Raven to be called away by possessed park goers, drawing her outside the park to confront a projection of her father, Trigon. We learn that she has trapped her father in a crystal and that he is still there -- but that he has put plans into effect that will result in his release soon. When Raven fights Trigons minions, the fight draws the attention of the remaining Titans. Cue up all the magical costume changing scenes, as apparently Starfire can do the old Wonder Woman television series trick of switching from civilian to superhero attire (with a bit of no civilian or superhero attire in between). In fact, the only Titan who can't change on the spot is Robin, who rather comically has all his gear locked in the car.

After the battle, Raven takes the Titans to Azarath to tell them her life story, which none of them have ever heard. Upon returning to Titans Tower, they are then confronted by the Justice League, with Robin openly defying his father about what will happen to Raven. As they argue, the League becomes possessed by Trigon's minions, and they have to fight Wonder Woman, Flash and Cyborg. Batman, seeing that it's happening, takes himself out of the fight before possession can occur, and Blue Beetle manages to free Cyborg as Flash and Wonder Woman carry Raven off to where Superman has erected the shrine that requires Raven's presence to open the gate and bring her father into the world.

Ultimately, a giant Trigon is released upon the world, the Justice League can't stop him, and it's up to Raven and Robin -- two teens who find they have a lot in common with it comes to having been raised by demons with intent on conquering the world -- battling in a nether-dimension.

The bonus feature on this release that everyone is going to care about is the sneak peek at the next DC Animated film: BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE. This one, obviously, steps away from the establishment of the connected films (thank you!) and reunites Batman Animated Series alums Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, and Tara Strong in their roles of Batman, Joker and Batgirl. The story will contain a backstory not present in the Alan Moore / Brian Bolland classic, but for the most part this looks to be very much the definitive Joker story that fans have been waiting for. Since DC isn't committed to always doing the interconnected stories, maybe that means there's still hope for me to see the DC Animated Teen Titans story that I really wanted to see: THE JUDAS CONTRACT.

If you get the deluxe edition of this release, you'll also get the Robin figurine, manufactured by Schleich, which is pretty damn cool.

While the story itself is okay, and the animation nice to look at, it had too many moments that didn't really move the story forward or grow the characters. It was good to find a way to bring Cyborg from the League to the Titans, as a sort of bridge character, but overall the need to stick to the "New 52" version of the heroes seems to have put restraints on the storytelling.

Previews include LEGO Scooby Doo: Haunted Hollywood and BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE.

3.5 / 5.0