Thanks in small part to an accidental leak from Cartoon Network’s Canadian counterpart in October, it has only been a matter of time before DC Entertainment (the multimedia wing of DC Comics) confirmed one of the most poorly kept secrets in TV animation. That is, that a new “Justice League” cartoon would be returning to weekly animation in some form. Yesterday (January 29), such confirmation came from DC Comics’ own website as it confirmed “Justice League Action” from Warner Brothers Animation, intended for a 2016 debut on Cartoon Network! Included in this revelation was that Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill would be reprising their voice roles as Batman and the Joker (respectively).
The series is described as a “quarter-hour series” as each episode will be approximately eleven minutes each – on par with the length of some of their “DC Nations shorts” which were included on Cartoon Network and select animated direct to video films in the past. As the included image showcases, the “big three” of the League (Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman) will be included on the show as well as dozens of other DC superheroes fighting villains in every installment. Their designs (especially Superman’s) appear to be inspired by their “New 52” redesigns by Jim Lee. Sketches of other characters can be spotted within that image, such as Green Arrow, Zatanna, Shazam, Plastic Man, Blue Beetle, Hawkman, and the Flash, alongside villains such as Darkseid.
Additional voice actors will include James Woods as Lex Luthor and Diedrich Bader (star of “Batman: Brave and the Bold”) as Booster Gold. It is intended to run alongside “Teen Titans GO!”, which will (amazingly) return for a fourth season. “Justice League Action” will be executive produced by Sam Register (“Teen Titans GO!”) and co-produced by Alan Burnett (“Batman: the Animated Series”), Butch Lukic (“Batman Beyond”, “Justice League”), and Jim Krieg (“Green Lantern: the Animated Series” and writer of some of “Spider-Man: the Animated Series”). On his Facebook page, John Semper (story editor for “Spider-Man: the Animated Series”) also confirmed writing an episode of the show. An exact debut date was unknown, but “fall 2016” seems likely.
One can imagine that Cartoon Network would like to repeat the success of the first “Justice League” animated series, which ran for five seasons from 2001-2006. Its first two seasons consisted of two part episodes aired in hour long blocks before being re-titled “Justice League Unlimited” upon its third season and shortened to half hour episodes once more. The series aired in syndication on “Boomerang” and “The CW Vortexx”. Unlike that series, “Justice League Action” appears to be aiming for a younger audience more interested in the sort of fast paced humor that “Teen Titans GO!” provides (at best). DC Entertainment has seemed to struggle with keeping many of their DC cartoons on the air on Cartoon Network for long for quite some time. “Beware the Batman” aired one sporadic season from 2013-2014 after abrupt endings for “Green Lantern: the Animated Series” and “Young Justice” after two seasons each. The network seems to be pushing for shorter, more comedic fare, and the endurance of “Teen Titans GO!” has encouraged the embracing of that mandate.