"Flash and Substance" is the fifth episode of the third season of Justice League Unlimited, and the 31st of the overall series. It originally aired on February 11, 2006.
In a bar where all of Central City's Rogues seem to hang out, four of Flash's enemies share grievances over drinks, lamenting how Flash has always foiled their various capers: Mirror Master, Captain Cold, The Trickster, and Captain Boomerang. As a final insult, Central City has declared the next day "Flash Appreciation Day" and dedicated a museum to him. The Rogues decide to work together and toast to killing the Flash.
The next day, Wally West spends the morning at his day job, as a forensic science technician for the Central City crime lab, where he successfully finds evidence from a suspect's shoe to close a homicide case. Reminding his supervisor that he's taking a half-day, Wally ducks into a closet and teleports up to the Watchtower. Seeing that all of the original seven founding members are on assignment except for Batman, Flash drops hopeful hints about the museum opening, and Batman reluctantly agrees to show up, much to Orion's disgust. After Flash leaves the room, Orion begins to chastise Batman for allowing Flash to talk him into attending. Batman shoots Orion a stern look, which is all it takes to convince Orion to tag along for the ceremony.
While making the rounds in Central City, Flash hears a little girl crying for help inside an abandoned disco club. The girl proves to be an illusion, and the disco has been booby-trapped by Mirror Master, with lasers shooting from the disco ball. Flash escapes the trap by throwing a record at the disco ball, severing its cord and causing it to crash to the floor.
Flash receives the key to the city from the Mayor and gives a brief humble speech thanking everyone, but the ceremony is interrupted by a barrage of explosive boomerangs. Flash disposes of them safely, but then a giant rocket-propelled boomerang snatches him up and heads for a mountain. Flash manages to tear out its circuitry, causing it to crash prematurely on a street. Batman and Orion find him, telling him there's a plot to kill him, but Flash says he still plans to attend the ceremony.
After Captain Boomerang's plot fails, Trickster proposes an elaborate but deadly prank involving four hundred cases of fake dog vomit and a wall of metal spikes. Ignoring him, the other three Rogues, at Cold's suggestion, decide taking turns is "dumb" and to simply ambush Flash together at the museum opening, and they leave while Trickster remains behind, depressed that "nobody gets me".
The three heroes teleport into Flash's apartment, where Flash changes his costume and cheerily shrugs off Batman and Orion's concerns about the four villains attempts on Flash's life. Following Flash's remark about the four's favorite bar hangout, they proceed to that place, where they find the Trickster moping. Orion and Batman interrogate him in their usual tough style, but Flash takes a more humane approach and convinces Trickster that he needs to continue his psychiatric care. Trickster agrees to spill about the others' plan if Flash promises to come visit him in the hospital, and warns him about the planned ambush at the museum. As they leave, Trickster cheerfully agrees to turn himself in as soon as he finishes his drink, much to Orion's bafflement.
At the museum opening, Batman and Orion stake out the outside of the building after having taking precaution that Mirror Master couldn't use any mirrors inside the building to sneak his way in. Orion wonders aloud at how a "buffoon" like Flash can be considered a hero, or deserve membership in the League. Batman agrees... that Orion doesn't understand. In fact, Flash is a member of the original seven.
Meanwhile, Flash is signing autographs inside the museum, Linda Park, an infatuated TV reporter, slips him her phone number, but he is so distracted that he just signs it and hands it back. Before starting their on-air interview, Linda checks her makeup in a compact mirror – out of which Boomerang, Captain Cold, and Mirror Master emerge. The crowd flees, alerting Batman and Orion to the situation inside. The three heroes engage the villains, but during the ensuing battle, Linda falls into one of the many mirrors Mirror Master has scattered throughout the museum. Flash follows her in, and they both end up trapped in an alternate dimension with millions of mirrors, with their numbers and random interconnections proving too difficult to find the right exit back to Earth.
During the fight in the museum, Captain Cold encases Orion in ice. Batman fires a flare into the mirror, marking the exit for Flash. As Flash and Linda return to the museum, the Leaguers regroup and defeat the Rogues. Boomerang simply gets knocked out; Captain Cold is encased in a block of ice; while Mirror Master tries to escape through a mirror, but Batman shatters it with a batarang, leaving the villain literally in pieces.
In a TV interview, Flash reports that everyone is safe. Linda laments that the museum has been destroyed, and pours out her adoration of Flash. Embarrassed, Wally covers with a joke: "Hey, at least I got to be on TV".
Orion realizes that the speedster is actually quite the worthy warrior, and that he only acts the part of a fool to deal with the emotional stress and trauma that goes along with super-heroics. Though the museum has sustained heavy damage, Flash shrugs it off, stating that what matters most to him is that no one was hurt and the good guys won in the end.
- It is revealed that Captain Boomerang has completed his five years with Task Force X, which featured heavily in "Task Force X"; he claims to have gotten a "good deal" that cut his sentence down to five years which he has complete and is labeled as reformed. He is out for "good behavior" i.e. his work with Task Force X.
- In the Flash Museum, there is a statue of Grodd holding his mind-control helmet from the Justice League episode "The Brave and the Bold".
- Also, in the Flash Museum, there is a giant globe depicting "The Fastest Man Alive" race disputed between Superman and the Flash in the Superman: The Animated Series episode "Speed Demons". According to the banner, the Flash won the race.
- To Flash's dismay, Orion destroys the last "Flash Standee" from the Lightspeed Energy Bars advertising spot that Flash did in the Justice League episode "Eclipsed, Part I".
- The mayor's speech refers to the Thanagarian invasion chronicled in the Justice League episode "Starcrossed".
Home video releases
- Justice League Unlimited - Season Two (DVD)
- Justice League - The Complete Series (DVD)
- Justice League Unlimited - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
- While the four villains talk in the bar, three men are seen playing pool in the background. Near the end of the scene, one of the men takes a shot and strikes at the black eight-ball when he should have hit the customary white cue-ball.
- One of the men even disapears, while Mirror Masters is talking.
- Orion's lips don't move when he observes "You're tied to a very large boomerang."
- Even though the Turtle-Man display gets destroyed, it can be seen in the background later when Orion lunges at Captain Cold. Either Turtle-Man had two displays, or this is an oversight.
- In some form or another, almost every major villain in the Flash's history appears in this episode, making cameos either at the Rogue's hangout or in depictions at the Flash Museum. The rogues at the bar include Weather Wizard, Turtle-Man, Thinker, Fiddler, Doctor Alchemy, Abra Kadabra, and Pied Piper.
- One particular sighting places Mr. Element at a bar sitting next to Dr. Alchemy. It's a strange sight, considering that for most of the character's history, the two villains had actually been one man with a split personality. However, in DC Comics continuity, a false Mr. Element has appeared at least once, so the presence of both men isn't completely out of the question - as long as Dr. Alchemy's deadly hatred of the impostor is discounted!
- The presence of both Jay Garrick's helmet and the Kid Flash costume raises the question of how many Flashes there were in the DCAU.
- One could make the assumption that Wally West was Kid Flash in his youth, as is the case in DC Comics continuity, and took on the role of the Flash upon reaching adulthood.
- Batman's interaction with the Trickster is somewhat similar to his encounters with the Joker, though the Trickster is much milder. Both villains are voiced by Mark Hamill, who actually played the Trickster in the live-action Flash TV series in 1990. The role ultimately led to Hamill's audition for the animated Joker. The Trickster's appearance here is modeled heavily on Hamill's appearance from the older series. Hamill also guest starred as the Trickster in the 2014 The Flash TV series.
- This marks Mark Hamill and Ron Perlman's last appearances in the DCAU (not chronologically).
- Linda Park is also a reporter in DC Comics continuity. However, her name in the comic books is Linda Park-West; the wife of the Flash and mother of his twin children. In this episode, she demonstrates a deep attraction for the Flash, perhaps planting a seed for a later relationship.
- Captain Cold mentions a wife. In comics continuity he's single; in fact Leonard Snart is a notorious womanizer. In an odd role switch, the Wally West of DC Comics is married, with children, while in the DCAU, the unmarried Flash is a self-styled ladies' man.
- Apart from the Flash standee, Wally's apartment also has a treadmill. This is possibly a reference to the Cosmic Treadmill, a time travel device used by several Flashes.
- Flash mentions his uncle; in the comics, Wally's uncle was Barry Allen, the Silver Age Flash.
- Wally's day job is in the forensic division of a police department. In the comics, Wally never held such a job (though he was a mechanic for the police at one point). It was Wally's uncle, Barry Allen (the previous Flash), who worked in police forensics.
- When Flash receives the key to the city; the exact same building and plaza was used prior in the Superman: TAS episode Speed Demons.
|Michael Rosenbaum||The Flash|
|Kevin Conroy|| Batman|
|Ron Perlman|| Orion|
Wally's Supervisor (uncredited)
|Alexis Denisof|| Mirror Master|
|Lex Lang|| Captain Cold|
|Mark Hamill||The Trickster|
|Donal Gibson||Captain Boomerang|
|Kim Mai Guest|| Linda Park|
Little Girl (uncredited)
|Lani Minella|| Mayor|
Mirror Master: Gentlemen, we live in brutal times. Last week, to make ends meet, I was reduced to hijacking a tractor-trailer full of sports cars.
Captain Boomerang: Well, at least he didn't make me eat my own laser kaleidoscope...
Flash: Oh right, uh, cause it's Flash Appreciation Day. Yeah, it'll be great. I understand if everybody's too busy to come, no biggie. My mom's gonna be there. Let's see, my uncle's flying in. Be great if one of the original seven made it. I mean, okay, yeah, it's the Flash Museum, but to me, the whole League deserves the honor, all of us, like I said no biggie... (sighs sorrowfully)
Flash: Mirror Master!
Flash: While you're waiting for me to come arrest you, why not take the time and reflect on your mistakes? (walks away) Hey, that was pretty good.
Captain Boomerang: Touch of dizziness. You might find it useful to fix on one point on the horizon. For instance, that mountain you're set to crash into.
Flash: Listen, I need to go home and change before the opening tonight.
(After hearing the Trickster's over-elaborate plan)
Trickster: I mean what's so special about a "disco of death?" Heck with 'em! I'm an artist! They're just robbing banks. Captain Cold, Captain Boomerang... Probably would have gone for it if I was a captain...
Orion: Talk! While you still have a jaw.
Orion: What about your enemy?
Orion: Central City builds statues to this... fool. Who makes bad jokes. Who concerns himself with pitiful men like the Trickster. I don't understand.
Captain Cold: That's it? I was all set to crack some bones.