Justice League Unlimited: review – “Ancient History” Season 5, Episode 11:

Justice League Unlimited Info:
New heroes join the fight to stop criminal plots that endanger the universe.
First episode date: July 31, 2004
Final episode date: May 13, 2006
Network: Cartoon Network
Program creator: Bruce Timm

Yeah, this episode always made me kind of uncomfortable, although I do love Mari and Shayera’s friendly rivalry in this.
4

Yes. “Friendly”. She didn’t chance the water, though, now did she?
1

Can’t remember too much about the episode but I really liked Shayera asking Batman to describe her son. Very touching ending.
11

A little reminiscent of the ending of Paging the Crime Doctor when Bruce visits Thorne in jail and asks him to “Tell me about my parents”.
5

yeah i always liked that ending as well but i remember basically nothing about the rest of this. that said i dont remember thinking that Shayera goes baby crazy but that she has a genuine interest upon hearing that she has a future son
12

Yeah, I mean ANYONE, male OR female, would naturally be curious, confronted with news like that. JOHN certainly was!

But…but her AGENCY!!!!
2

I got yer “redirected agency ” right here (holds up mace).

Hawkman’s a creep
6

Nothing compared to the Shadow Thief, though. I got a little uncomfortable in the torture sequence.

Yeah, but they can hand-wave it away because “Alien Devices Does Strange Things to Human Brain”. There is something to be said for the example that Hawkman doesn’t resolve his issues, but he is able to contain them and start moving forward.

Oliver, I really enjoy your reviews and will be sad to see them go. Any chance you could review the DC Animated movies? There are, like, 20 of them now. Just a thought. Thanks again!
1

He already has. Return of the Joker, The Batman Superman Movie, Subzero Mask of the Phantasm and Mystery of the Batwoman are listed under “Season 0″ of his Batman reviews.
5

After the JLU wraps up, though, they might go to the post-Timm (as an animator anyway) DTV movies:
Year One, Dark Knight Returns, Wonder Woman, Green Lanter, Those Batman & GL SHort collections, the 2 Superman/Batman ones, Superman: Doomsday, Crisis on 2 Earths, New Frontier, Under the Hood, All-Star Superman, Superman vs. THe Elite, Justice League Tower of Babel, Superman: Unbound (The Brainiac one), Flashpoint Paradox and this new batch of New 52 and Arkham Game universe ones. Along with the phenomenal Showcase Presents shorts for Green Arrow (wich acted as a dry run for the Young Justice cartoon), Jonah Hex (which had the writer & cast they wanted to use for the live action movie), Catwoman (featuring the voice of Eliza Dushku), The Spectre (which combined the Michael Fleischer Wrath of the Spectre stuff with Dirty Harry) and Shazam & Black Adam (which might also be set in the JLU universe).
I suppose they could also do Brainiac Attacks to go along with Mystery of the Batwoman, but I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
2

I’m hopeful he’ll either finish Gargoyles or review The Spectacular Spider-Man. Braniac Attacks pisses me off to no end. I mean, why go to the trouble of adopting the show’s animated style and reuniting the voice cast if you’re not going to honor the mythology? Well, okay, I know why, but I still find it repugnant.
2

Because they had the footage and wanted money.

Yes, exactly. I said I knew why.
1

I’d like to see him take a crack at Batman: Beyond.
That was an idea that sounded terrible to me that I thought turned out pretty well, and I enjoyed the integration of Terry McGinnis into other parts of the DCAU.
4

Brainiac Attacks :::shudder:::
2

The Shazam short is definitely not set in the JLU universe. Yeah, they got the voice actors for that, but there’s too many contradictions for them to go together.
2

no — I meant the ones that are rated PG-13 — Superman: Doomsday, Green Lantern: First Flight, etc.
1

Fair enough.
1

The Hath-Set thing was a nice red herring, especially since they didn’t credit Remar with Shadow-Thief’s voice in Shadow of the Hawk.

“One day I won’t have to applaud a show for making these kinds of decisions because media will be full of diverse relationships”
“Hmm, interesting theory.” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson.
I have to admit that I was SHOCKED by some of the fanboy backlash over the Green Lantern movie being about Hal and not John. So there’s that.
2

“These events aren’t problematic, but the effect they have on Shayera in the present
is. After experiencing this flashback, Shayera is suddenly baby-crazy, and when John tells her about their son in the future, she immediately tries to rekindle their romance.”
I never read it that way. Learning that she and John have a child doesn’t automatically make her baby crazy. But she takes it as a sign that she and John are ultimately meant to be together. Which is why she made the move she did. It’s like, if you still had feelings for an ex and suddenly learned you were destined to have a kid, how else would you interpret that information? I’m not saying it’s the right thing to do, it may even be immoral, but it’s emotionally truthful.
“That early scene showing Mari and Shayera training and talking about their romantic rivalry comes across as playful banter between two girlfriends instead of genuine threats from two battling forces, giving the impression that Shayera understands her boundaries in this relationship and isn’t going to fall for Mari’s taunting.”
I never bought any of that at all. I’m not saying they have to hate each other,
they can be cordial, and they can even be friends. But the idea that a person
would make light of the (potentially mutual) feelings between their lover and a
former partner just never rang true for me. At best, it’d be an elephant in the room that doesn’t get talked about.
“Thisis especially frustrating because when Carter came to Shayera spewing this kind
of mystical nonsense in “Shadow Of The Hawk,” she rejected him in favor of
creating her own path in life.”
You can’t equate Sayera’s relationship with John to her relationship with Carter.
They spent one night together, in addition to learning that he’d been stalking
her (however benignly – if such a thing can be benign). So learning that he was
motivated by “destiny” would conceivably drive her away. But John and Shayera actually had time to fall in love and probably would have had successful relationship if
not for the Thanagarian invasion. John’s the one that got away.
“There is no shortage of white heroes that could have been at the center of JLU’s
love triangle, but John Stewart ended up becoming this series’ leading man. And
one of those relationships is mixed race. One day I won’t have to applaud a
show for making these kinds of decisions because media will be full of diverse
relationships, but that day hasn’t come yet so JLU gets some major kudos for committing to John, Mari, and Shayera’s dynamic.”
Very true; Very admirable; Although if you want to quibble, it’s still standard
operating procedure when depicting relationships between minorities on
television. If they truly wanted to buck the trend they’d have a relationship
between three black characters, or an interracial relationship involving a
black person and a white one. It’s pretty standard that if a lead black
character becomes involved in an interracial relationship, the lover in question
is either Asian or Hispanic (as Shayera is, for all intents in purposes). I’m not
trying to pick fight, just making an
observation.
8

Yeah. Wanting to find out about a previously unknown child of yours is not being “baby crazy”. By that measure, any guy who later found out he had a child somewhere and wanted to know more is “baby crazy”.
I do think the characterization of Chay-Ara was weak, though: that definitely fit disappointing gender stereotypes (as did the rivalry between Shayera and Vixen which I read as more seriously meant and so a step back in their characterization). The one bit of the pseudo-Egyptian bit I did like was how the seemingly evil, scheming vizier turned out to be just uber-loyal to his king a la Henry II’s knights.
7

Or Kragger, who was also voiced by Hector Elizando.
1

I tend to give Chay-Ara the benefit of the doubt. Assuming that Chay-Ara and Shayera are two separate individuals who share the same soul, we only knew Chay-Ara for a short period of time at one very specific moment of her life. We have no idea who she was during the decades prior to her death or how she evolved into the state of being as someone who wanted a baby. I understand the reticence toward a woman wanting a baby as a motivation. It’s a depiction of women that’s been done to death on television, and there’s a dearth of alternatives. *But* it’s not an invalid motivation for someone to have, especially if their feeling guilty about an affair that they’re having. And there’s a nice symmetry between Chay-Ara trying to make it work with Katar out of guilt and John trying to make it work with Mari for the same reason. But yeah, if they’d gotten more episodes, she’s a character who could use some fleshing out. Maybe Black Adam shows up in a future episode and she features prominently in his origin flashback.
2

Or Nabu.
1

Or maybe she has to battle Thoth Kehepera* for control of
Egypt after she arrives on earth. There’s got to be a JLU episode in there somewhere.
*See the B:TAS episode “”.

Given how incredibly crazy-long Egyptian history is (more dynasties than a lot of monarchies got kings, Cleopatra closer in time to us than to the building of the pyramids), I’d prefer they not treat “ancient Egypt” as the sort of place that everyone we’ve heard of is likely to overlap. It’s like having cavemen fight dinosaurs because it’s all prehistory. (Or Sir Justin, Tomahawk, Jonah Hex, the Crimson Avenger, Arsenal, Space Cabbie, and the Legion of Super-Heroes all crossing paths, sans time travel.)
Granted, all the ancient Egyptian supers’ backgrounds are sufficiently generic that they could all share a generation. But I think it would be cooler to incorporate the scope Egypt operated on, by e.g., making Teth-Adam a millennium-old legend to Chay-Ara, or vice versa.
Which doesn’t preclude crossovers. Because why should modern heroes be the only ones who team up with their successors a thousand years in the future? It would be sort of entertaining to discover that there was an entire Crisis-scale event involving supers across thousands of years, that basically nobody but the Hawks and Black Adam have any inkling of. (And maybe the Amazons have secondhand records of it, but showed up too late to participate themselves.)
1

Fair enough. Although Teth-Adam is established as being defeated in “Ancient History.” So there’s reason to believe that he had some kind of contact with Katar and Chay-Ara.
1

Chay-Ara’s dead eyes were just too much for me. Apparently it was the work of Lauren Montgomery, who’s done a bunch of other great stuff (including Korra!).
1

I think I touched the Absorbicron last night. In that I ate and drank everything in sight.
2

Despite the pronunciation, it’s spelled “Absorbascon”.
1

How ’bout “Absorb bacon”?
3

yes please! (stomach growls)
2

I have never once seen Shayera as “baby crazy” in this episode, and I thought she had a lot of great character moments with plenty of agency. But what do I know, I’m a WHITE MALE.
Still though, with so few episodes left in the series, I remember feeling disappointed. I didn’t much care about John and Shayera’s possible past, I wanted things to move forward, to know more what was coming next. This felt like a bit of a waste of an episode to me.
5

The whole Hawkman / Hawkgirl / Vixen / GL love quadrangle was by far my least favorite development / plot line of JL/U’s entire run. It sucks that such a significant portion of the final season was spent on it.
Thankfully the next, and final, two episodes were amazing.
6

Will Green Lantern ever admit his true feelings? Will Hawkgirl ever stop sublimating her passions with that big honkin’ mace? Will true love conquer all?
Not on my show AAAAAAAAAAAAHA HA HA HA HAAAAAAAA HA HAH AHAA HAA HAHA HA HAAAAAAAAA
[brings back Darkseid]
-Bruce Timm
5

Yeah, the show’s greatest strength is its bench and even when the bench guys don’t get a full episode to show off, they’re around in the background or you can feel their presence. The quadrangle stuff feels like a bad CW show about Hawkgirl and Green Lantern, strong but limited emotions in a limited setting.

Okay. Nitpicking time:
When the Shadow Thief had their hands restrained, he left G.L.’s ring on. Putting a metal covering over your hand doesn’t stop a Green Lantern ring from working. (Unless he lined it with something yellow, maybe? They never outright say there’s a yellow weakness, the same way they never actually mention J’onn’s vulnerability to fire, but with the fruit cup in the Great Brain Robbery, it might still be there.)

I have no memory of this episode.
1

This is my least favourite episode of the whole JLU run, I think. Partly because the gender politics are so icky, but also I think because the Golden Age “doomed romance” Hawkman is, for me, the least interesting version of Hawkman there is (I was the one Hawkworld-era Hawkman fan, I guess)
3

Well you’re in luck: One of those Convergence minis is a Tim Truman Hawkman.
1

Ehh. The moment’s passed now. I’m glad Truman’s getting some work, tho.

“Hawk and Dove” would like a word with you.
1

I liked the Hawkworld ongoing, at least for a while. But I don’t think the “immigrant to America from decadent authoritarianism” story necessarily needed to be Hawkman and Thanagar.
As with excising Superboy from LSH continuity, the long-term effects of both the continuity hole, and the inability of the writers to just leave it be, caused far more long-term harm than it was worth. If they’d just done “Raptor” (or whatever) and chosen a different home star than Polaris, we could have had the same stories without the baggage. (Under which Hawkman totally collapsed for a decade or so.)

“Tell me about my son” choked me up like few things in television, ever.
1

Here’s a list of all the 52 universes in the current DC Multiverse according to the Multiversity Guidebook:
0: New Earth/Prime Earth/the main DC Universe
1: Earth 1 Graphic Novels
2: Earth 2
3: Crime Syndicate of America
4: Charlton Comics/Watchmen homage/parody
5: Fawcett Comics/Captain Marvel
6: Just Imagine Stan Lee Creating the DC Universe
7: Marvel homage/parody that got destroyed
8: Marvel homage/parody that is still around
9: Tangent Comics
10: Quality Comics/Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters + Nazi
Justice League
11: Gender flipped world that first appeared in pre-New 52 Superman/Batman
12: DCAU
13: Magic world, possibly based on a dream sequence from Morrison’s Doom Patrol
15: Perfect world where the Titans had become the Justice League. Destroyed by Superboy-Prime during Countdown to Final Crisis.
16: Earth me
17: Atomic Knights
18: Justice Riders/Wild West World
19: Gotham by Gaslight/Steampunk
20: Pulp heroes world created by Morrison
21: DC: The New Frontier
22: Kingdom Come
23: Race bent world created by Morrison with Obama Superman
24: Unknown
25: Unknown
26: Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew
27: Unknown
28: Unknown
29: Bizarro World
30: Red Son
31: Batman: Leatherwing/Pirates
32: Batman: In Darkest Knight + plus some other mixed and matched heroes from a Superman/Batman arc
33: Earth-Prime/”the real world”
34: Astro City homage/parody???
35: Rob Liefeld Awesome Comics homage/parody???
36: Big Bang Comics homage/parody???
37: Batman: Thrillkiller/Grimdark
38: Superman & Batman: Generations/real time aging
39: THUNDER Agents homage/parody
40: Evil version of Earth 20, created by Morrison
41: Image Comics homage/parody
42: ‘Lil League. First appeared as a hallucination of Superman’s in pre-Flashpoint Superman/Batman
43: Red Rain
44: Robot world. First appeared during Final Crisis.
45: Superdoom Universe created by Morrison.
46: Unknown
47: Hippie world, a combination of Prez, Brother Power the Geek, and one off joke characters from Morrison’s Animal Man.
48: Forerunner World from Countdown to Final Crisis + Lady Quark Universe from before the original Crisis
49: Unknown
50: Justice Lords future from DCAU
51: Jark Kirby World with Kamandi, first established as Earth 51 in Countdown to Final Crisis
It’s really odd that Superman/Batman, which was kind of middling and forgettable, and Countdown to Final Crisis, which was outright hated, both turned out to be so influential on the current multiverse line up.
3

In the robot world, Doc Magnus and Red Tornado are the same character & he looks like Grant Morrison.
2

So many notably absent ones – Dark Knight Returns? All Star Superman? What about all the other cartoons (Young Justice is supposed to be Earth 16 damn it)

Young Justice is now a video game on Earth 16.
Honestly, I’m still probably the only person who’s upset we don’t know which Earth Hot Pursuit is from. Hot Pursuit, the biker version of The Flash who pretty much started Flashpoint.

Well, there are still seven unknown worlds; leaving room for All Star Superman and DKR.

I believe Earth 7 is supposed to be the a pastiche of the Ultimate Universe and Earth 8 is a pastiche of Marvel’s Earth 616.
2

Makes sense. I figured Morrison just wanted to blow up the Marvel Universe but DC still wanted to be able to make fun of them in the future.

Also if Earth 7 is supposed to be the Ultimate Universe, I’m surprised they didn’t re-use the already existing Ultimates parody, the
Maximums, from Superman/Batman. They already used so much else from Superman/Batman.

If you wanted, you could imagine that the reason everyone in the past looks exactly like the characters in the present is that the vision they get is all filtered through Carter Hall’s perspective, since he was the one who touched the Absorbicron first and got all crazed-up. They look and sound like GL and Hawkgirl because that’s his frame of reference, and he jumped to conclusions about it being destiny and reincarnation and so on. Or it’s because Hawkman’s origins are a snakepit of conflicting editorial impulses.
Also: fun Easter Egg early in the flashback, where Bashari returns in triumph from conquering Kahndaq and extracting tribute from Teth-Adam (aka Black Adam).
7

Um, yeah this is another episode I haven’t re-visited that often. Probably only seen it once, actually.

I think this episode was less about Shayera suddenly wanting romance and a child and more about her gradual change from a staunch atheist to a person of faith. She started out as someone who dismissed all that faith, souls, and destiny stuff as being nonsense. However, her experiences with Grundy, betraying her own people, staying with Dr. Fate, etc. began to change all that. While she was skeptical of the whole destiny stuff in the first Katar Hol episode, she wasn’t just completely dismissive of them and was softening to those ideas. This episode was about Shayera finally taking that first step in accepting the idea of faith and destiny.
I also loved how they had Hector Elizando, who voiced Kragger, to voice Hath-Set.
1


a lot of people have said, I don’t recall Shayera being baby obsessed at all. I could be missremembering things, but I didn’t get that, her question at the end seemed to me, more about her questioning her choices again–like, she’d come to terms w/ her reputation since the Thanagarian invasion and her status hero w/ a really bad rep to rebuild. But then THIS comes up and slaps her, the loss of GL reopened, and the knowledge that there should/could be a kid in their.
Rough times yo.