"Grudge Match" is the ninth episode of the third season of Justice League Unlimited, and the 35th of the overall series. It originally aired on March 11, 2006.
Roulette informs Lex Luthor that Meta-Brawl's receipts have dwindled to almost nothing, due to the poor quality of the fighters left to her; together with the hefty cut that Luthor demands of all Legion of Doom members, she is having trouble making ends meet. She asks for the loan of a few Legion members to increase interest. Luthor, as always, is preoccupied with trying to resurrect Brainiac, but realizes that he needs funds to construct a new device. When an over-protective Tala starts threatening her, and Sonar goads them on, Roulette comes up with a new idea: an all-female fight card. Luthor contributes to that concept with a special twist: Since most villainesses are occupied with duties for the Society, other superpowered females have to be rounded up as participants...
During a joint night patrol of the city streets, Huntress notices that Black Canary is so exhausted that she has trouble subduing a pickpocket, who manages to knock her down with a single punch at least three times. Huntress suspects something is up, but The Question is skeptical, and despite their mutual dislike, Huntress begins to stake out Canary. After witnessing her leaving her apartment in the middle of the night, and planting a homing device on Canary's motorcycle, Huntress follows her into Blüdhaven. After knocking out a number of guards, Huntress goes secret identity, entering a new, spiffy arena, where she is surprised to see Canary in a brutal fight against Fire, which the former wins. Roulette, acting as emcee, calls Canary the undefeated champion of her new enterprise, "Glamor Slam".
Afterwards as Canary is leaving, Huntress angrily confronts her, pointing out that she had nearly killed Fire. She begins asking if she's working undercover or being blackmailed and continues to demand an explanation, but Canary attacks her. In the fight, Canary's League communicator is smashed, and Canary awakens as if from a trance, but before she can recover her wits, she is knocked down by Huntress, and subsequently both of them are taken prisoner by Sonar, who is assisting Roulette. As they compare notes in their cell, Huntress and Canary realize that Roulette has been using Grodd's mind control technology, utilizing the League comlinks with ultrasonic equipment controlled by Sonar, to “recruit” female Leaguers to fight in her ring. Soon, Roulette and a doctor arrives to check on Fire, to which Huntress informs Canary over what she did while hypnotise. Canary and Huntress confront Roulette, who reveals that since now that they are free of her control, she has to get rid of them – and might as well make a show of it.
That night, Roulette announces a double-match: Huntress and Canary vs. Vixen and Hawkgirl. With difficulty, the two manage to remove the others' communicators and free them from the mind control, but are unable to call for backup due to Roulette disabling the communicators. Then Roulette reveals her final contender: Wonder Woman, who's more than powerful enough to take all of them down.
As Vixen and Hawkgirl fight a losing battle to hold off Wonder Woman, Canary and Huntress break out of the ring's cage and make their way to the control center. Sonar stuns Canary with his ultrasound equipment, while Huntress is surprised to find that Roulette is actually a skilled and deadly martial artist herself. She gains the upper hand, however, disables both her and Sonar, and orders the latter to switch off the mind-control signal. Below, Wonder Woman has Vixen and Hawkgirl thrashed and helpless, and the signal is interrupted only a split second before she smashes their skulls together.
Roulette and Sonar are arrested, and the rest of the League members are released. Canary thanks Huntress, and offers to try to get her reinstated in the League. Huntress thanks her, but declines. Before going home, the two women decide to have one last re-match.
- Question alludes to the time Black Canary fought the Huntress in "Double Date". Likewise, Black Canary refers to Huntress's expulsion from the League in that episode, and offers to support her reinstatement, though Huntress politely declines.
- Question and Huntress are apparently still going steady; they were last seen together in "Panic in the Sky".
- In her fight with Shayera Hol (aka Hawkgirl), Vixen mutters that they were "starting to get along", a reference to their friendly rivalry over John Stewart which they established at the end of "Hunter's Moon".
- Black Canary regrets not having shut down Roulette in "The Cat and the Canary".
- Nightwing's move to Bludhaven was mentioned by Barbara Gordon to Terry McGinnis in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.
Home video releases
- Justice League Unlimited - Season Two (DVD)
- Justice League - The Complete Series (DVD)
- Justice League Unlimited - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
- When he opens a container of ice-cream, Question triumphantly declares "32 flavors". This is in reference to the "31 flavors" slogan used by Baskin-Robbins, an American global ice cream parlor.
- Dick Grayson has a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo as Nightwing, shown watching from a rooftop as Canary and Huntress drive into Blüdhaven, which was Nightwing's base of operations in DC comics in the late 1990s.
- This is the first and only episode to show Huntress without her mask.
- Last appearance of Huntress.
- Last speaking appearances of Black Canary and Question.
- There are several inside references to the unspoken tension between Shayera and Vixen, over John Stewart: Vixen remarks that she and Shayera were just starting to get along, and during the fight with Wonder Woman, there is a moment when Shayera nearly kills Vixen by accident with her mace, and both of them look stunned.
- The episode shares many plot points with the episode "Gladiatrix" of the live-action Birds of Prey series, including female metahumans being recruited against their will for a fight club, right down to the use of Huntress and Black Canary as the main heroines.
|Morena Baccarin||Black Canary|
|Clancy Brown||Lex Luthor|
Meta-Brawl assistant (uncredited)
|Susan Eisenberg||Wonder Woman|
Roulette: You're playing with fire, witch!
Question: A-ha! As I suspected... thirty-two flavors.
(On the phone)
Roulette: Let the pain begin!
Huntress: They've had you up every night working the arena. No wonder you've been fighting like a girl. (pause) You know what I mean.
Roulette: Of course, you two aren't under my control any longer, which means I'm going to have to eliminate you. In the ring, of course. Why just shoot you when I can sell tickets and lay odds?
Roulette: Huntress and Black Canary versus two new contenders! Vixen, the beauty with the beast powers, and the Thanagar thrasher... Hawkgirl!
Huntress: Looks like we're in this together.
Shayera: I don't think I wanna know.
Roulette: Yes, that's really Wonder Woman, ladies and gentlemen! It is on! Can even these four beautiful bruisers stand up to the Amazon powerhouse herself?
Vixen: Anybody got a plan?
Sonar: In another thirty seconds, your brains will be so scrambled, I'll be able to serve 'em up with bacon.
Huntress: Do I kill the signal or you?
Black Canary: You know, if you want, I can talk to the League and get you back in.
Huntress: You know, I was totally whipping your butt back when they caught us.