When I saw the teaser for Machinima’s Justice League: Gods and Monsters during Newfronts, I knew it was going to be crazy but I wasn’t expecting it to go quite this far.
The animated series comes from the mind of Bruce Timm, the man responsible for most of DC Comics’ expansive and acclaimed animated universe. However this isn’t the Justice League fans are used to. Instead of a group of high handed moral heroes protecting the innocent, Gods and Monsters depicts a more chaotic world in which a ruthless and powerful Justice League skirts the line between protecting the world and ruling it.
So far the series is living up to its potential as a darker and more twisted version of the DC animated universe that we’ve come to love over the last two decades. However, the most recent episode is particularly intense since it twists one of DC’s most incorruptible heroes. To be fair, the Superman of Gods and Monsters is the son of the ruthless Kryptonian warlord General Zod, not the peaceful scientist Jor-El, so the apple isn’t falling too far from the cutthroat tree.
Superman is confronted with as situation that wouldn’t be totally unfamiliar to his traditional counterpart. The alien villain Brainiac is attacking an American city and he needs to be stopped ASAP to avert a nuclear crisis. It’s the way the Superman handles the problem, especially once he discovers that this world’s Brainiac is a scared alien kid and not a stone faced android villain, that makes the story so shocking. Let’s just say his solution to the problem of the overpowered child is…final.
Alternate world stories are often some of the most interesting because they allow creators to explore new facets of their characters in situations that couldn’t or wouldn’t happen in their traditional timelines. It’s particularly fun when creators who are intimately familiar with a character get their hands on this kind of unlimited sandbox. For Bruce Timm and his creative team, some of whom have been living with these heroes and villains since the mid 90’s, intimately familiar is something of an understatement.
Gods and Monsters is easily the darkest of DC’s extensive library of animated series, films, and shorts. It’s also the first to be released entirely online through a deal with hero-focused MCN Machinima. That means it’s totally free to fans on YouTube over at Machinima’s hub channel. The show is well worth a look, even if it’s just for the dark but compelling redesigns of iconic characters. Batman has dropped his signature cape and picked a pair of vampire fangs, Wonder Woman is wielding more weapons as a disciple of Ares, and Superman gets the fascist friendly redesign seen above. For hardcore DC fans as well as newcomers looking for a dark superhero drama, this is the perfect jumping on point.
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