"Patriot Act" is the seventh episode of the third season of Justice League Unlimited, and the 33rd of the overall series. It originally aired on February 25, 2006.
A flashback depicts a World War II mission of the famous Spy Smasher, who invades a secret Axis laboratory and steals a syringe containing an experimental super-soldier serum, a fight resulting in the Laboratory being set on fire, and an explosion wrecking the Castle. Moving into the present, we see that General Eiling, former military liaison for Cadmus, is reviewing the sixty-year-old casefile.
Eiling dines with former colleague Amanda Waller, who has greatly softened her anti-Justice League-stance since the Lex Luthor/Brainiac affair. Waller says they were lucky to avoid jail. She advises Eiling that the times are changing, and strongly suggests that the old soldier should change with them, comparing the League to the Soviets.
Meanwhile, aboard the Watchtower, Mr. Terrific has a mission for some of the Justice League reservists. S.T.R.I.P.E., Stargirl, Vigilante, Shining Knight, and Green Arrow are dispatched to Metropolis to cover what is normally a job for Superman. However the League is spread very thin. The quintet assumes public relations duty aboard a parade float paying tribute to Metropolis' heroes — the police and fire departments, much to Stargirl's chagrin. The spectators are at first disappointed by Superman's absence, but soon begin to warm to his non-powered teammates thanks to Vigilante's knack for showmanship.
Eiling is unconvinced, feeling that metahumans can't be trusted and that the Justice League didn't disarm their fusion cannon, and decides to take action. He sneaks into Cadmus, knocks out a guard and forces a scientist to get into the lab. He steals the old Captain Nazi serum. After injecting it into his body despite the scientists advice, Eiling transforms into a monstrous brute of a man with fangs and gray skin. Vowing revenge against Superman, Eiling springs into the air with incredible superhuman strength and heads for the one place he figures he can find the Man of Steel.
Eiling disrupts the parade with a thunderous impact and sends the crowd into a panic. At first, S.T.R.I.P.E. is able to engage him, but even the Justice Leaguer's powerful armor is no match for Eiling's Doomsday-level strength. Stargirl attacks with little effect, and it is all Vigilante can do to keep the bystanders safe with the help of some local children. Eiling bellows out for Superman to face him, but instead he is faced by Green Arrow, Vigilante, and the Shining Knight, who fare poorly against the powerhouse.
Green Arrow calls the Watchtower for assistance, but the only available back-ups are the Crimson Avenger, and Arrow's former partner Speedy, who corrects Arrow's initial comment of "ex-sidekick" upon arrival. But the new additions are non-powered as well, and after a valiant stand, the Avenger, Speedy and Green Arrow are knocked cold. The last remaining Justice Leaguer is the dazed Shining Knight, who informs Eiling that Superman is billions of miles away, saving a star system of alien lives from a planetary crisis. Eiling is unimpressed, and begins to taunt Sir Justin. The former servant of King Arthur tries to remind Eiling of a true warrior's honor, and the protection of the innocent at all costs, telling of an incident when King Arthur told him to lay waste to a village. He refused, whereupon Eiling says he is not a good soldier, but Sir Justin says this was a test and if he hadn't refused, he would have left the court in shame. He continues to fight, but is quickly pounded unconscious.
Eiling moves to strike a killing blow to the Shining Knight, but is halted by the parade spectators. An old woman admonishes Eiling for the damage and terror he's caused, and when the general tries to speak out against the super-powered "threat" of the Justice League, he is quickly reminded by a boy that the only superhuman being for miles around is himself. Eiling reluctantly acknowledges the irony, but tries to remind the crowd that super-beings cannot be trusted, and that someday they would need someone like Eiling around. He leaps away, and though they are battered and bruised, the seven soldiers of the Justice League are further appreciated for their efforts as they are imitated in the streets by the children of Superman's home city.
- Eiling and Amanda Waller refer in general to the events of the Cadmus story arc, chronicled during the second season of Justice League Unlimited.
- Waller sketches that, since the events of "Divided We Fall", Cadmus has been disbanded and/or reassigned, and its leading members have narrowly escaped criminal charges for some of their more questionable actions.
- Eiling maintains that their only mistake was trusting Lex Luthor. Cadmus learned why it was a bad idea in "Panic in the Sky".
- Eiling also reminds Waller of the time Superman broke into Cadmus headquarters to rescue the Question in "Question Authority". According to him, the events of that episode took place "last year". That episode aired in 2005, seven months before this one.
- The length of time that has passed since that episode is not clear, but in the subsequent episode, "Grudge Match", Question refers to the events of "Double Date" (which came before "Question Authority") occurring "a few months back". To make sense with Eiling's aforementioned statement, this episode took place near the beginning of the year, as its airdate was.
- Mr. Terrific is still on monitor duty after J'onn J'onzz's departure in "To Another Shore". He asks Green Arrow, somewhat testily, if he questioned J'onn's decisions in the same way.
Home video releases
- Justice League Unlimited - Season Two (DVD)
- Justice League - The Complete Series (DVD)
- Justice League Unlimited - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
- This episode is full of references to classic DC Comics.
- General Wade Eiling's brutish persona is never officially named, but it is similar in appearance and ability to when he transferred his mind into the body of the Shaggy Man, an indestructible brute who first fought the original Justice League of America in the 1960s and would reappear sporadically in subsequent years, and shaved its body, renaming himself "The General". Eiling's rampage through Metropolis is somewhat similar to that of the comics version of Doomsday. Although Doomsday has appeared in the DCAU, the character was never given the full-on rampage that Eiling is allowed here. As with Doomsday and even Blockbuster, Eiling can be said to have several similarities to Marvel Comics' Hulk as well. Since there have been literally hundreds of "super-rampages" throughout illustrated fiction—at least a hundred in Metropolis alone—many similarities may be coincidental (but considering that the DCAU creative team is constantly paying tribute to comics lore, probably not.)
- The seven Justice Leaguers represent The Seven Soldiers of Victory, a classic DC Comics team of the Golden Age. The first version of this team featured Shining Knight, Vigilante, the Star-Spangled Kid, Stripesy, Green Arrow, Speedy, and the Crimson Avenger. Stripesy would eventually become S.T.R.I.P.E., but since the Star-Spangled Kid has not been depicted in the DCAU, he is replaced here with the natural inclusion of Stargirl, who went by the name Star-Spangled Kid for a while in the comics.
- The smart-mouthed group of street kids who first mock the reserve Justice Leaguers and later assist them are not named as such, but are dead ringers for DC's Newsboy Legion.
- The Nazi scientist says about the test subject that "nothing less than an artillery shell will be able to penetrate his skin". This is an allusion to the initial description of Superman's power which said "nothing less than a bursting artillery shell could break his skin".
- The parade music was previously used for the "Fastest Man Alive" race in Metropolis in Superman: The Animated Series, "Speed Demons".
- Last appearance (production wise) of Amanda Waller and Wade Eiling.
|J.K. Simmons||Wade Eiling|
German agent (uncredited)
|Chris Cox||Shining Knight|
|Kin Shriner||Green Arrow|
|Phil LaMarr||John Stewart|
Doctor Anderson (uncredited)
Spy Smasher (uncredited)
|Michael Beach||Mr. Terrific|
|CCH Pounder||Amanda Waller|
Old Lady (uncredited)
Caitlin O'Shaugnessy-Ruiz (uncredited)
|Jeff Bennett||Rick Wilson|
German scientist (uncredited)
Shining Knight: I still say this Clint Eastwood dishonored himself when he refused to... What was it? Play by the rules.
Stargirl: Haven't you ever heard of "innocent bystanders"?
General Eiling: You spoiled, rich little twerp.
Shining Knight: Once, at the word of my lord King Arthur, I was ordered to lay waste to an entire village. I knew my king's heart could not be so unjust, so I spared them all.
General Eiling: I will not allow any power to rival America's. It's my duty.
Shining Knight: Hold... I have yet to thank you.