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Recap: Justice League S 1 E16- 17 Legends
A battle involving Superman, the Flash, Batman, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter and Hawkgirl against a Giant Robot being piloted remotely by Lex Luthor goes wrong when the destroyed robot, starting to self-destruct, collapses onto the unconscious J'onn J'onzz, John Stewart and Shayera. Flash races to use his whirlwind-creating speed to hold it up, but instead triggers an explosion that causes the robot and the four heroes to vanish in a huge explosion. When it fades away, the four heroes are gone.

Meanwhile, the four then reawaken in an unfamiliar city, unharmed but confused. A local newspaper identifies their location as "Seaboard City", which none of them have ever heard of. Puzzlement has to wait, however, as a crime is being committed; a wild-looking red-haired man has just stolen one of the legendary Stradivarius violins from a local store; using an energy-blast-throwing accordian and a suped-up car that resembles a flute, the criminal, who goes by the name "Music Master", manages to escape — but not before the heroes recover the stolen violin.

Which unfortunately leaves them looking like the actual criminals when the city's own defenders arrive. They promptly attack the displaced Justice Leaguers, until their own speedster sees Flash save a child from being crushed by rubble as a result of a misplaced blast. He immediately calls his friends to a halt, insisting that nobody willing to save a child could be a criminal.

The local heroes take the Justice League quartet back to their headquarters, explaining that they are Seaboard City's defenders: the Justice Guild of America. Green Guardsman, who wields a mentally directed energy construct ring. The Streak, the team's Super Speedster. Tom Turbine, a genius whose "energy belt" allows him to imbue himself with power to achieve feats including Flight and Super Strength. And Catman and Black Siren, skilled martial artists. They also introduce the boy that Flash saved as Ray Thompson, their team mascot.

The Justice Guilders and the Justice Leaguers talk, with John Stewart explaining that the Justice Guild of America were characters in a 50s comicbook series that he loved to read as a child. Tom Turbine and J'onn J'onzz theorize that the Justice Guild's world is one of myriad alternate worlds that form The Multiverse; the comic authors in the Justice League's world were subconsciously viewing the exploits of the Justice Guild and used these to create the comics, while Flash's absorbed vibrations from the giant robot opened a temporary rift that catapulted the Justice League into the Justice Guild's world. Tom Turbine reveals an interdimensional gate generator he has built, but admits he hasn't found a way to power it yet. He promises to do all he can to get it running so as to send the Leaguers home.

Meanwhile, Music Master is meeting with his own gang, the Injustice Guild — himself, Doctor Blizzard, Sir Swami and Sportsman. While the latter are skeptical of Music Master's claim that there are new heroes in town, they decide to throw a contest; whoever can commit the most successful crime based on the four elements (Earth, Air, Water, Fire) can instead direct the Injustice Guild in its next big organized crime.

To the disbelief of the Justice League, the Justice Guild receives a letter warning them about the contest from the Injustice Guild itself, and the two superhero teams divide into four groups to go after each member of the Injustice Guild.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work. Sir Swami easily escapes Green Lantern and The Streak with the "Flame of Rasputin" ruby. The Sportsman manages to defeat Catman and Martian Manhunter whilst making off with the trophy for a tennis championship after a psychic impression of the city exploding stuns J'onn. Music Master evades Hawkgirl and Green Guardsman whilst flying away in an antique airplane. And Doctor Blizzard's attack on a new city fountain not only goes off without a hitch, he captures the Flash and Black Siren in the process.

The Justice League quit the field first. Regrouping at the Justice Guild's headquarters, Shayera has disturbing news for her teammates; while she lost Music Master, she found herself crashing into a cemetary — where she found headstones dedicated to each of the Justice Guild's members. The "Justice Guild" they have been speaking to aren't real. Refusing to believe this, John Steward flies off, forcing Hawkgirl to go after him. This leaves only J'onn to help when the Justice Guild return and immediately have to go and stop a blimp-based attack on the Seaboard City Mint by the Injustice Guild. After a fierce battle, they free their captured friends and return triumphant.

Whilst they are doing this, however, Hawkgirl and Green Lantern are making unnerving discoveries. John Stewart also finds the same graves Shayera did; determined to find the truth, he sets out with her. Firstly, he interrogates the local icecream truck's driver, having noticed he constantly circles the city but never stops. The man refuses to say anything, but hints ominously at the presence of someone who would be dangerous if they heard what Green Lantern is trying to find out. At the local library, the books are all blank, while the newspaper archives are bricked up. When Shayera breaks through the wall, they find themselves in the mangled ruins of a subway station, where they find two old newspapers from 40 years ago. One announces the imminent outbreak of war, the other is more disturbing...

When the Justice Guild, Flash and Martian Manhunter return to the Justice Guild's headquarters, Green Lantern and Hawkgirl confront them with the fact that the Justice Guild are not real — the second newspaper they found, dated the day that the Justice Guild comics stopped being published, declares the Justice Guild perished in an attempt to save Seaboard City from being consumed by nuclear war. Horrified, the Justice Guild are forced to admit that they are fakes — though they didn't know it.

It turns out that of the Justice Guild, only the "junior Guildsman" Ray Thompson is real; forty years ago, the nuclear inferno of war mutated him into a grotesque being with powerful psionics, which he used to generate an ultra-real illusion that recreated the city and heroes of his childhood. In the resultant battle, Ray nearly defeats the Justice League... but the Justice Guild, declaring that they can repeat their sacrifice, turn on him, finally rendering him unconscious and revealing the desolation that is the reality of their world, fading away into nothingness with this last act of heroism.

However, it turns out that Ray was not the only survivor; the other non-super people seen in the illusory Seaboard City were all human survivors, trapped in an endless loop-world to amuse Ray. They thank the Justice League from freeing them of their nightmarish prison, vowing to rebuild their home in reality.

Exploring the ruins of the Justice Guild's headquarters, Green Lantern is able to power Tom Turbine's gateway generator with his ring and return them home.

Tropes:

  • Bat Deduction: The Justice Guild gets a notice that the bad guys are planning a crime spree themed for the four classical elements. The Guild members immediately figure out what these refer to, even if they are only tangentially related to the elements themselves: The fire crime is the theft of the famed fire ruby (a gem), the air crime is the theft of an "antique flyer", the water crime is the theft of a new fountain being dedicated by the city's mayor, and the earth crime (this one is a doozy, and the biggest Bat Deduction of all) is the theft of the trophy for the clay court tennis championships. The League is pretty confused by this development, to be fair, which is one part of The Reveal that neither the Guild nor its enemies are real.
    • The earth crime being the trophy for the clay court tennis championship makes a bit more sense when you consider that the criminal who commits it is the Sportsman.
  • Body Horror: Ray Thompson's true form.
  • Captain Ersatz: The Justice Guild and Injustice Guild are based on the Justice Society of America and their nemesis team the Injustice Society from The Golden Age of Comic Books.
    • Tom Turbine is based on Golden Age Atom, with elements of Golden Age Superman
    • Green Guardsman is based on the Golden Age Green Lantern
    • The Streak is based on the Golden Age Flash
    • Black Siren is based on Black Canary 1, the first of the Golden Age incarnations of the character
    • Catman is based on Golden Age Batman and Wildcat
    • Sportsman is based on The Sportmaster
    • Music Master is based on The Fiddler
    • Doctor Blizzard is based on The Icicle
    • Sir Swami is based on The Magician
  • Comic Books Are Real: In the Justice League's world, the Justice Guild of America were comic book characters that Green Lantern had read as a kid. J'onn brings up the possibility that the comics' authors in the primary universe had a subconscious link with the Guild's universe, hence why they existed only as comics characters in the primary universe. This is also why their comics abruptly stopped forty years ago: the year the Guild died saving the world from an atomic cataclysm.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The Justice Guild's distinctly 50s/Golden Age-based world is this to both the 90s-based Justice League and any younger viewers, with cliches and routine elements of that era played for laughs. Less "fun" versions can be seen under Innocent Bigots, below.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Seemingly innocuous Tag Along Kid Ray is actually behind everything.
  • Dream Apocalypse: Once the League and the Guild defeat Ray, Green Lantern at first attempts to apologize to the freed citizens for destroying the utopia-illusion. Unlike most examples, this was shown to unambiguously be the right thing to do, as the now-ex ice cream truck driver brushes off GL's apology, revealing that the people were trapped in the illusion against their will, and freeing them finally gives them a chance to live their own lives and repair their world. "Being stuck in an ice cream truck for forty years, that's a nightmare."
  • A Fate Worse Than Death: How one of the survivors describes being trapped in Ray's false world.
  • Genius Bruiser: Tom Turbine is an accredited nuclear physicist and inventor... he's also the Justice Guild's counterpart to Superman.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The Justice Guild charges into battle against Ray, despite knowing his defeat will result in a Dream Apocalypse that would take them along with it. In the backstory, the people they were based on did something similar to save the Earth from complete atomic catastrophe.
  • Hurricane of Puns: When Flash fights Doctor Blizzard, he gets really into the spirit of the thing.
  • Innocent Bigots: The Justice Guild displays some of the less than admirable qualities of 1950's morality — the unassuming misogynism/patriarchal patronizing evoked by Black Siren and The Streak calling John Stewart "a credit to your people", mainly. John is polite enough to take the condescending "compliment" in the spirit it was intended, although he does sound a mite frustrated at the same time.
  • It's What I Do: The Justice Guild contemplate that defeating the enemy will, in fact, kill them as well. The immediate reply they give is, "We gave our lives once for this city, and we can do it again."
  • Justice Will Prevail: The Justice Guild's catachphrase "Let Justice Prevail!"
    • A pretty catchy variation, said by the Streak to The Flash, whom the Streak thinks is evil: "Evil can never outrun justice!"
  • Let's You and Him Fight: This is how the League first met the Justice Guild, who mistake the League for villains.
  • My Brain Is Big: Part of Ray Thompson's Body Horror mutations.
  • Mythology Gag: Tom Turbine explains a vibration-based multiverse theory, which is pretty close to how the pre-Crisis DC multiverse worked.
  • Nostalgia Filter: The episode deconstructs the fondly-remembered "Golden Age" of comic books in numerous ways, with the most blatant examples being the casual sexism and racism Green Lantern encounters, and the artificiality of their world. At the same time, it still portrays the Golden Age heroes as heroes.
  • Psychic Powers: Officially, Ray Thompson creates psychic illusions; in practice, he comes off as a Reality Warper.
  • Reconstruction: This episode is both an Affectionate Parody and reconstruction of The Golden Ageof Comic Books. The episode points out the racism and sexism prevalent in the Golden Age, and the Flash mocks the Guild's cheesy "let justice prevail!" catchphrase, but at the end of the story the Guild helps defeat the villain, knowing that they'll fade from existence when they do, and when they yell "Let justice prevail!" that time, it's completely awesome.
    • The episode was in dedication to Gardner Fox, a rather influential comic writer, so it wasn't just Reconstruction; it was an Homage to the man.
  • Retro Universe: Seaboard City, which feels like it came straight out of the 1950s.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The giant robot at the beginning of part 1 looks like it was commissioned by Gendo Ikari.
      • It also bears a passing resemblance to Ultron.
    • The Justice Guild's sidekick "Ray Thompson" is an expy of Golden Age fanboy supreme Roy Thomas.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Parodied. Given that since the Justice Guild's world is based on the fifties, therefore it isn't considered at all awkward for the only female member of the 50's-esque team to suggest to Hawkgirl that they go get cookies while the "men" talk out the whole dangerous supervillain issue. Flash is amused. Hawkgirl... isn't.
    Hawkgirl: One word and you'll be the the Fastest Man Alive with a limp.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Green Guardsman's power ring has no effect on anything made from aluminum, a reference to the Golden Age Green Lantern, Alan Scott, who couldn't affect anything made from wood with his ring.
Justice League S 1 E14- 15 FuryRecap/Justice LeagueJustice League S 1 E18- 19 Injustice For All

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