Justice League Action is a great show for showing us lesser-known DC characters. It’s even better at putting them in unique situations, as “All Aboard the Space Train” shows.
As we open, it’s clear that we’re in for a sweet Western-style train robbery scenario. In space, natch. But it’s not a big cargo ship that they call a train. No, this isn’t Firefly.
It’s a train. In space.
Batman is defeated through the villain’s clever use of plotonium (seriously, Batman should not go down that easily), and Cyborg has his hands full piloting the ship. So, they manage to convince Space Cabbie to help out.
Yes, the crew was jettisoned into space. This is a particularly violent episode of Justice League Action, and it only becomes more so.
So, Space Cabbie sneaks onboard the train. This is the first time we’ve seen him do any real hero work, and I’m not sure it suits him. He’s great as a civic-minded civilian. I’m not sure he works as well when he’s playing Sam Fisher around a space train.
It’s also the first time we see his robotic partner Jack, who is a nice touch. They could have just had Space Cabbie push an “Autopilot” button, but this much cooler.
Once onboard the train, Cabbie’s true purpose becomes clear. He’s there to wake up Jonah Hex, who is cryogenically frozen on board.
This is a genius use of Hex. He’s a Wild West hero who shouldn’t even be in the same world as the Justice League. They could have had the Justice League go back in time to battle alongside him, but they already did that in Justice League Unlimited.
So instead, we get a Wild West scenario with a Wild West hero, but they’re both transplanted into a sci-fi setting. All of Jonah’s Clint Eastwood style quips and ultimatums work perfectly, and it doesn’t matter that he’s shooting Han Solo blasters instead of steampunk pistols.
It’s thematically appropriate, but with a unique twist.
Khary Payton pulls double duty as the lead space pirate, and it’s obvious that he and Trevor Duvall (Jonah Hex) are having a great time. Payton plays the role straight for most of the episode, but adds a distinct Texas twang during the final showdown.
Prior to that showdown, we get the aforementioned violence. Jonah Hex does not mess around. Once he gets his hands on a pair of blasters, he gets blasting. He shoots bad guys in the chest, he shoots them in the head, and he shoots windows so they get sucked out into space.
The DCAU shows included a “keep-alive” whenever a character seemed to die. You would always see a tiny parachute escaping an exploding plane, and people knocked to the ground would always let out a grunt or wheeze. Even if Superman had punched them at full strength.
Not so here. Hex just straight up blasts dudes.
So, they blast their way to the front of the train. Hex and Kanjar Ro have their final showdown, and Space Cabbie… pulls the brakes on the train. Making it slip off its space tracks and knocking over a space boxcar.
That part stretches believability just a tad. The thing looks like a train and sounds like a train, but does it have to act like a train? It is in the vacuum of space.
Oh well, as Jonah Hex says, “Sure. Whatever a vacuum is.”
Hex gets to ride off into the sunset at the end, riding a dinosaur. Because of course he does. Batman informs him that it wouldn’t be hard at all to send him back to his own time, but apparently Jonah would like to spend some time as the only sentient being on a desert planet for a while first.
I hope that means we haven’t seen the last of him.
Fun Stuff and Great Quotes in “All Aboard the Space Train”
- The force fields that allow the heroes to breathe in space are clearly Sinestro yellow. Weird.
- Before Hex and Space Cabbie begin their assault on the space pirates, two of them are clearly playing holographic chess straight out of Star Wars.
- Also Firestorm: “Grumpy Swampy!”
- Jonah Hex doing a bit of the old Captain America, eh?
- Funniest quote of the episode that isn’t Jonah’s is definitely Batman’s introduction. “Hex. My name is Batman. We dug you out and brought you to our Justice League meetin’ house.” Hex takes this in stride.
Voice actor Khary Payton, the voice of Cyborg.
Info & Trivia
- Kanjar Ro first appeared in 1961, where he was depicted as the warlike leader of planet Dhor.
- He’s been through quite a few changes since then, including an appearance as an employee of the Thanagarian government. Not a commando or a spy, just an office worker.
- Here, Ro seems to be just a generic space pirate. There’s no indication that he rules a planet, and he certainly doesn’t display any of the mind control tech for which he’s known.
- No relation to Ensign Ro Laren. Probably.
- “You ruined my favorite cloaking device!”
- “If ugly was a superpower, I’d be in trouble.”
Voice actor Trevor Devall, who previously voiced Cain.
Info & Trivia
- Jonah Hex rarely has any interaction with mainline DC heroes. He debuted in a comic called All-Star Western, which also gave us classics like Johnny Thunder, Bat Lash, and El Diablo.
- Crossovers do happen, of course. In “The Once and Future Thing”, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern (John Stewart) find themselves back in the 1800s. They team up with an All-Star Western group, led by Hex.
- His scars are from burns suffered while being tortured by an Apache chief. Not Apache Chief. Just a regular Apache chief.
- He has no powers, but is an expert gunfighter.
- “What the dead bird dust devil is going on around here?”
- “This ain’t Albuquerque.”
- (hefting a gun) “Oh, I know what these are.”
- “Maybe you need spectacles, boy, cause I don’t see no scallywags.”