DC Animated Universe

"Only A Dream" is the 31st and 32nd episodes of Justice League. It originally aired on October 11, 2003.


Part I[]

Dee praised

John Dee dreams about taking down the Justice League.

John Dee has a grandiose daydream in which he single-handedly defeats the entire Justice League with an enormous robot. He snaps out of the dream and returns to reality: he is a convict in Stryker's Island Penitentiary. He has been volunteering as a guinea pig for experiments with the Materioptikon, a device that gives its subject extra-sensory perception. He is eager to try an increased dose, but the scientists say that would be dangerous.

Dee is told that he has been turned down for parole; more bad news comes when his wife, Penny, says she is leaving him for another man. His chance comes when a prison riot breaks out and several dangerous inmates escape. During the riot, he breaks into the laboratory and turns on the Materioptikon to maximum. After the riot is quelled, Dee is found in the lab in a catatonic state.

The League springs into action to recapture the escapees: Firefly, Volcana, Luminus, Copperhead, and Solomon Grundy.

Batman yawns

Batman yawns.

Batman alongside John Stewart capture Volcana and Firefly and return them to Stryker's. Batman yawns, explaining that he has gone for three days without sleep. While there, they are told that Dee has escaped the prison infirmary, now littered with the bodies of other men in similar catatonic states. Lantern leaves to join the others, while Batman is determined to track down Dee.

That night, Dee is watching the house Penny shares with her new man. Through telepathy, he appears in her dreams, adopting a new, terrifying appearance and the name "Doctor Destiny". Asleep, Penny begins to scream, and her man is unable to wake her.

Flash and Hawkgirl sleep

Doctor Destiny's chance to strike as Hawkgirl and Flash sleep.

Superman, Flash, Hawkgirl, J'onn J'onzz, and Lantern are able to capture the remaining escapees. (Hawkgirl nearly breaks down inside a trap made of shrinking walls conjured by Luminus, showing that she is claustrophobic). Superman and Green Lantern decide to call it a night. Batman tracks down Penny in a hospital, and J'onn, whom Batman calls in. J'onn probes Penny's mind but is unable to bring her out of her delusional state, though he gleans Dee's new persona, and that he wants revenge against the League.

As the rest of the League falls asleep, Doctor Destiny chuckles as he sees the perfect opportunity to strike.

Part II[]


Doctor Destiny traps Flash.

Batman quickly calls the other members, but they are already asleep. In their dreams, each of them lives out their worst nightmare:

  • Flash is trapped in a world where he's moving so quickly that everything and everyone around him appears practically motionless, making him totally alone.
  • Superman's powers increase beyond his ability to control them, and he accidentally causes massive destruction and kills all those he loves, including Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and Perry White.
  • John Stewart is trapped in a world where his bond with the power ring has literally alienated him from his loved ones to the point that he is unable to understand their language or make himself understood, and the energy of his ring is consuming him from the inside.
  • Hawkgirl is trapped in a coffin and buried alive, after having her wings restrained.

Batman determines to track Dee down, reasoning that he has probably chosen someplace familiar as a hideout. J'onn takes the other Leaguers to the Watchtower for medical attention. Hearing a news report that Penny has died as a result of Destiny's torture, J'onn decides that he has to risk entering his teammates' minds.

Batman buys coffee

Batman buys himself a coffee.

Batman searches Dee's house and his regular haunts, but his lack of sleep is threatening to catch up with him before he can find Dee. His computer tells him that Dee was a low-level LexCorp employee arrested in a warehouse for guarding a supply of smuggled weapons, after a sweep by the League.

One by one, J'onn meets his teammates in their dreams, and brings them out of their delusions, mainly by telling them they can control their power. He is frozen by Flash's perception of his nightmare but manages to give enough information for the speedster to realize that he simply had to slow his heartbeat.

Batman stairs

Batman finds himself in a maze of stairs.

As J'onn frees his teammates, Doctor Destiny attempts to stop him, using taunts in Superman's dream world, and directly attacking in John's nightmare. By the time Flash is freed, Doctor Destiny has resorted to manifesting as a giant that proves nigh invulnerable. Although they defeat him, Hawkgirl is still trapped, and her mind has a strong resistance against telepathy.

Batman tracks Dee down at the warehouse. Dee is close enough that he can enter Batman's mind even though he's awake, but Batman keeps him out by humming “Frère Jacques” over and over again. Relying partly on projecting telepathic illusions, Dee attacks Batman hand-to-hand, trying to stab him with a syringe containing a sedative. In the fight, Dee accidentally injects himself, and falls unconscious.

Hawkgirl awakens and sees the rest of the League gathered around her, smiling – except for a tired Batman, who is snoring in a nearby chair. At the same time, Dee lies alone in the infirmary at Stryker's, catatonic, humming "Frère Jacques" over and over again.


Background information[]

Home video releases[]

Production inconsistencies[]

  • Dana Delany and David Kaufman are credited for Part I but only appear in Part II, while Clancy Brown and Mark Hamill are credited for Part II but only appear in Part I.
  • When Dee accidentally injects himself with the sedative, the plunger of the syringe is stuck halfway along its tube. But since the whole serum was administered, the plunger should be all the way down.


  • In his dream, Dee refers to the ESP machine as the Materioptikon. In mainstream DC Comics, the Materioptikon is the mystical stone that grants Doctor Destiny his powers in the world of dreams.
  • It is revealed in "Starcrossed" that Hawkgirl, like all Thanagarians, has a strong resistance to telepathy, which would explain why J'onn J'onzz was unable to enter her dream in this episode.
  • The entire League appears, except for Wonder Woman (though she does appear in a dream sequence at the beginning of Part I).
  • Several villains, including Lex Luthor, The Joker, Shade, Star Sapphire, Gorilla Grodd, Deadshot, Simon Stagg, Ultra-Humanite, Tsukuri, Cheetah, and Copperhead cameo briefly in John Dee's dream sequence.
  • In the comics storyline Sword of Azrael, Batman uses a similar technique to resist a truth serum, reciting children's nursery rhymes. He explains that it was one of many skills he learned while training in his youth.
  • The use of "Frère Jacques" by Batman to keep Dee out is somewhat a joke which pokes fun at Destiny's powers. The reason behind this is the translation of “Frère Jacques” from French to English is roughly: Brother Jack? Brother Jack? Are you sleeping? Are you sleeping? Sound the morning bells, Sound the morning bells. Ding, dang, dong. Ding, dang, dong.
  • The scene where Flash is trapped in his dream and tries to escape by using a pay phone may be a reference to the film The Matrix.
  • Upon seeing Jimmy, Superman refers to him as "my pal", a reference to the comic series "Jimmy Olsen, Superman's Pal" (and the episode "Superman's Pal").
  • When John Stewart first encounters Doctor Destiny in his dream, a sign can be seen with the word "Humuhumunkunukuapuaa". Despite seeming like gibberish, Humuhumunukunukuapua'a is the name of the official state fish of Hawaii, also known as the Reef Triggerfish.
  • According to Bruce Timm, he was aware that Dr. Destiny's costume looked too much like the He-Man villain Skeletor, even though the outfit predated He-Man by several decades. They tried to counter this by changing the costumes color, but a gray cloak made him look too much like Phantasm, and a green cloak too much like Doctor Doom, and it was decided too many villains had purple as a main color already, so the blue cloak remained.[1]


Actor Role
Maria Canals Hawkgirl
Bat-computer (uncredited)
Kevin Conroy Batman
Phil LaMarr John Stewart
Carl Lumbly J'onn J'onzz
George Newbern Superman
Michael Rosenbaum Flash
William Atherton John Dee/Doctor Destiny
Fairuza Balk Penny Dee
Clancy Brown Lex Luthor
Dana Delany Lois Lane
Peri Gilpin Volcana
Nicholas Guest Doctor
Luminus (uncredited)
Mark Hamill Solomon Grundy
Joker (uncredited)
David Kaufman Jimmy Olsen
Kid #2 (uncredited)
Richard McGonagle Warden
Jason Marsden Snapper Carr
Kid #1 (uncredited)
Mark Rolston Firefly
Jose Yenque Copperhead

Uncredited appearances[]


Part 1[]

John Dee: And I thought I'd actually have to break a sweat!
Superman: (Flying in.) I'll be doing the breaking around here!
John Dee: (Transforms into a giant and crushes him between his hands.) Yes. You break very nicely.

Flash: Say no more.
Batman: I wasn't intending to.

Flash: What were you working on?
J'onn J'onzz: Nothing. I was taking a nap.

Green Lantern: Look, whatever he is, he's sure not in the same league as Grundy and the others. He's a nobody.
Batman: Ever read the Odyssey? After Odysseus was caught by the cyclops, he told it his name was "Nobody". So when he poked its eye out and its friends asked who did it, all the cyclops could say was "nobody".
Green Lantern: Point taken.

Copperhead: Get me out of here!
Hawkgirl: And what if I don't?
Copperhead: I give you your last kiss.
Hawkgirl: And you fall forty stories.
(Copperhead looks down.)
Hawkgirl: Didn't really think this through, did you?

(After Grundy crashes.)
Hawkgirl: He'll live. You won't.
Copperhead: I'm not scared!
Green Lantern: Then maybe this'll help: you do anything to her, and you won't even make it to the ground.

Green Lantern: Good bluff.
Hawkgirl: Who was bluffing?

Part 2[]

Batman: Don't worry. I'm used to late hours.

Batman: (Barging into a coffee shop.) Give me a triple. Now!

Doctor Destiny: Adrenaline rush wearing off? Good. The doctor will see you now.
Batman: Sorry. I'm gonna have to cancel that appointment.

Doctor Destiny: Coming here was the mistake of your life. You see, the closer I am to someone, the stronger I get. I'll be able to go into your brain even if you're wide awake.
Batman: My brain's not a nice place to be.

Doctor Destiny: What's that stupid song going through your mind?
Batman: It's what's keeping you out, Johnny.

Doctor Destiny: You don't have any special powers!
Batman: Oh, I have one, Johnny. I never give up.
(Batman starts humming the 'Frere Jacques' tune.)