“Zombie King” gives us our first Justice League Action look at Solomon Grundy. This is a simpler show, of course, so he’s not quite as nuanced here as in the past.
The show opens with Grundy leaping out of his grave.
Nice play on the “zombie hand sticking out of the grave” trope.
This is a pretty smart incarnation for Grundy, and he immediately grabs a gem out of a grave marked Cotton Mouth. It’s magic, and lets him raise an army of zombies in a matter of seconds.
Fortunately, Swamp Thing shows up and ties everyone up with vines.
Swamp Thing?! Whoa. Vertigo reference.
Solomon Grundy cannot be held by mere vines, and he quickly knocks out Swamp Thing. The zombie army marches on, and Swamp Thing calls for help.
Batman heads out and calls for help from John Constantine and Zatanna, but they’re tied up. Zatanna explains this is the Night of the Crimson Moon, when magic is especially strong.
This episode is a reunion of Justice League Dark, Batman’s “magical task force” within the Justice League.
Zatanna does know a bit more about Cotton Mouth, and clues Batman in that it can raise zombies.
The action movies to New Orleans, where Grundy hopes to raise an enormous army in the city mausoleum.
His zombies have apparently unlocked the “airborne transmission” perk, and they quickly set about converting cops and civilians.
Swamp Thing’s first on the scene, and starts the battle.
The baby crying at the sight of him is a strong reference to the comics, where Swamp Thing is feared and hated by humanity.
Meanwhile, Batman catches up with Grundy in the cemetery. It’s a tough battle until Swamp Thing shows up.
The ice bomb Batman deploys was taken from Mr. Freeze. Batman has a history of “borrowing” non-lethal weapons from his foes.
Despite their efforts, Grundy succeeds in his plan and places the gem. Zombies start pouring out of the woodworks, and Zatanna arrives to join the fight.
Just in time to be zombified along with Batman and the entire city of New Orleans. The only one immune is Swamp Thing, being a magical nonhuman creature.
He manages to grab the gem with his toe (!) and easily dispatches Grundy. Batman freezes him, and the trio go enjoy Mardi Gras.
Fun stuff! Now who the heck were those guys?
Info & Trivia
- Solomon Grundy is a longtime favorite villain in the DCAU. In Superman: TAS and Justice League Unlimited, he was voiced by Mark Hamill.
- Throughout the DCAU, he went from a dumb Hulk-talking bad guy, to a dumb Hulk-talking hero who literally punched Cthulhu in the face, to a violent, mindless beast.
- In Justice League Action, the character is much more like the version on the old Super Friends He still talks like a caveman, but he’s smart enough to think up evil plans on his own.
- His name is taken from an old English nursey rhyme:
Born on a Monday,
Christened on a Tuesday,
Took ill on Thursday,
Grew worse on Friday,
Died on Saturday,
Buried on Sunday,
That was the end,
Of Solomon Grundy.
- “Now the world belongs to the undead, with Grundy as king!”
- “Grundy stole diamond fair and square.”
Voice actor Mark Hamill. You know, Luke Skywalker. The Joker.
Info & Trivia
- Although he’s a DC creation dating back to 1971, Swamp Thing rose to stardom under the Vertigo imprint. That’s DC’s label for very story-heavy, more mature titles.
- He was once human, but now he’s sort of a manifestation of the power of nature. He inhabits clusters of vines and swamp goop, and he has complete power over plants.
- Swamp Thing is a longtime friend of John Constantine, ever since they starred together in the Vertigo Swamp Thing comic series.
- He’s never been featured in animation before, but he did make cameos on Justice League Unlimited (during the Christmas episode and during “Initiation”).
- Several video games have featured Swamp Thing however, including DC Universe Online, Lego Batman 3, Infinite Crisis, and Injustice 2.
- “The swamp is my domain.”
- “Grundy’s gonna turn the Big Easy into the Big Nightmare!”
- “Humanity. I do not miss it.”
- “Appearances aside, I’m more of a sunshine, life-affirming creature.”
Voice actor Damian O’Hare, who previously voiced the character in “Shazam Slam”. Check that article for a character history.
He’s listed here just to point out that his “Ridiculous Accent” curse did finally wear off… at least partly.
Voice actor Lacey Chabert, who voiced Zatanna in Young Justice and Injustice, though not in the original Batman: TAS and Justice League shows. She’s best known from Party of Five.
Info & Trivia
- Zatanna first appeared in comics in 1964’s Hawkman Since then, she’s been most closely associated with Batman.
- As her top hat and costume imply, Zatanna is a stage magician who knows real magic. Think Now You See Me with more punching.
- Her spells work by speaking English sentences backwards. For example, if she wanted to turn someone into a rabbit, she might say “Emoceb a Tibbar!”
- Zatanna, Swamp Thing, John Constantine, and Batman all feature in the Justice League Dark animated film.
- Constantine: “Love to help, Bats, but Zee and I are having a set-to with our old friend, Brother Night.” Zatanna: “And his fangirl ghouls!”
Voice actor Dan Donohue, who has smaller roles in all kinds of things from Fallout 4 to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Info & Trivia
- Brother Night is a relatively recent character. He first appeared in Zatanna #1 in 2010, as a major foe for Zatanna herself.
- He’s a crime boss who uses magic, and isn’t afraid to deal with supernatural entities.
- In the fiction, Brother Night has been active since the 60s when he smuggled human souls to demons and sorcerers.
- Zatanna’s series went away after the New 52 reboot, and Brother Night hasn’t surfaced in the new continuity.
- “Waste them, my beauties! Wrack their very souls!”