While most comic book fans my age might fall into the camp of the Silver Age of comics, I’m a massive fan of the Golden Age. I’ve always appreciated these heroes who fought the good fight during World War II and some of those heroes were never updated when we came into the Silver Age e.g. Hourman and Dr. Fate. So, when Warner Bros. Animation decided to release a new feature I became terribly excited to see that it would be Justice Society: World War II.
This animated feature isn’t solely based on one story or idea, rather it loosely borrows from the most famous of The Flash issues (#123) where Barry Allen accidentally crosses over to an alternate Earth and meets the Flash of that world Jay Garrick. The basic idea is still there, but how it happens is considerably different. Barry not only jumps over to Earth-2, he somehow travels back in time to World War II where he meets the Justice Society. There is some confusion regarding where he is, but after some time he realizes he’s not on his own Earth anymore. Barry assists the Justice Society only because it appears that Germany has the upper hand in the war. Along the way, he will meet people he did not expect, help someone realize their full potential, as well as understand what he needs to do in his own life.
This is the second animated feature (to my knowledge) that utilizes this specific animation style. It has a retro look to it in that at times these characters look like cutout figures. They may look like that, but they’re not. I don’t know if they’re pencil drawn or not (I suspect all of this was computer-animated) but the action sequences easily dismiss any notion that these characters are cutout figures. The way both Barry and Jay utilize the speed force to how Hawkman flies shows a wonderful sophistication to the animation that somehow manages to maintain that retro appearance. Probably the biggest animation surprise comes from Wonder Woman. The animation studio probably took a good look at many of the fighting sequences Gal Gadot did as Wonder Woman and utilized that when animating her fighting scenes. It served as a great reminder as to why she is Wonder Woman.
The story was surprisingly strong. I’ve not been the biggest fan of some of the more recent animated features to come out from Warner Bros., specifically the Dark Justice movies as well as Superman: Man Of Tomorrow. The character animation in those movies, especially Superman: Man Of Tomorrow, was superb, but the stories in all three of those were more than lacking. I desperately wanted the story for this movie to excel, and while it got a bit convoluted in an almost Lovecraftian sort of way, I never felt that the story suffered or wasn’t fully developed. Character arcs were perfectly delivered and the climactic battle was riveting in terms of both action and story resolution. Part of the reason as to why Barry Allen ended up there was telegraphed, but it still worked when finally revealed.
The voice talent for this animated feature was mostly pretty good. There was one that came off as odd for me, but the rest of them were quite solid, especially Matt Bomer as Barry Allen. He was able to convey that feeling of Barry running at 100 mph even when standing still as well as the sometimes snarky humor that we’ve seen in animated shows in the past. Also, in another move to help give Wonder Woman a somewhat unusual feel she was voiced by Stana Katic whose parents were from Croatia. She applied only the slightest accent to her performance as Wonder Woman that gave the warrior princess a slightly exotic feeling, but without isolating the precise location for the accent.
Justice Society: World War II was quite a pleasant surprise, which is perfect for me given my aforementioned love of the Golden Age. Now that the Justice Society has been introduced in this way I hope that Warner Bros. Animation will look at possibly producing more features with that awesome JSA!
For its strong character and story writing, as well as its beautifully stylized animation, I give Justice Society: World War II 4.5 out of 5 Stars!
Justice Society: World War II is available for purchase on Apple TV as well as Amazon Prime Video, and will be available on DVD/Blu-Ray/4K on May 11, 2021.