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"Question Authority" is the ninth episode of the second season of Justice League Unlimited. It originally aired on June 25, 2005. It begins the four-part finale of the Cadmus story arc that concludes the season.

Plot

The rogue New God Mantis is rampaging through Metropolis. He proves a handful for the combined powers of Superman and Captain Atom, but Superman manages to open a Boom tube and send him hurtling back to Apokolips. No sooner has the dust settled than Lois Lane arrives and reminds Superman that they have a date. As Superman flies away with her, Captain Atom is surprised to be hailed by General Eiling, in full dress uniform. Eiling informs him that his commission in the U.S. Air Force has been reinstated, and it is time for Atom to make a choice.

Over a picnic, Lois gently tells Superman that the Justice League's recent heavy-handed behavior is making some people nervous, and that people haven't forgotten the time when Superman was under Darkseid's control.

With Huntress's help, The Question steals a series of high-security files from a government terminal, hoping that it will finally provide proof of a link between Lex Luthor and Project Cadmus.

Inside Cadmus, Luthor is examined by Professor Hamilton and is shocked to be told that his Kryptonite-induced cancer has disappeared entirely, as if it was never there. Amanda Waller arrives and informs them of the theft.

In his apartment, Question cracks the files and begins to review them. He happens upon footage of the Justice Lord Superman assassinating President Luthor in the alternate dimension.[1] After days of poring over the data, he becomes unhinged, believing that the same thing is fated to happen in their world: Luthor will become President, Flash will be killed, and Superman will attack the government – except that, according to Cadmus simulations, the resulting war between all the metahumans of the Justice League and humans will destroy the world.

Question confronts Superman, who assures him that he would never do what the Justice Lord Superman did, even if Luthor does become President. Question is unconvinced, and decides that the only way to prevent Armageddon is to kill Luthor before he takes office. He goes to Luthor's office to do so, but Luthor swats him away with a display of inhuman strength that surprises both of them –and confesses that his entire presidential campaign is nothing but a bluff, “a small part of a much grander scheme.” Question is taken to Cadmus and tortured by Dr. Moon for details on the files he stole.

Huntress kidnaps Jimmy Olsen and uses his special watch to call Superman, alone. They conclude that Question has been taken by Cadmus. Superman initially refuses to help her, insisting that the League cannot act without legal grounds. But when she points out that Cadmus is interrogating Question under the government's authority, he concedes.

The pair smashes into Cadmus and Superman easily defeats their soldiers. As Huntress searches, Superman looks through a wall and sees Professor Hamilton, realizing his role in the conspiracy. He confronts Hamilton, who doesn't deny what he's done, insisting that the world needs protection from Superman and his kind. Superman leaves in anger.

Together, he and Huntress break into the cell where Question is being tortured. As they are leaving, they are stopped by Captain Atom, who says that he is now taking orders from the government and his job is to stop them.

Continuity

Background Information

Trivia

  • In DC Comics, General Eiling is the original antagonist of Captain Atom. First he blackmails the then-Captain Nathanial Adams into participating in the military experiment that transforms him into living energy, then marries Adams's wife and raises her children as his own.
  • Dr. Moon tortures Question by showing him visions of the future he so fears; the vision of Luthor killing Flash with a shotgun is mirrored in the subsequent episode "Divided We Fall."
  • The Cadmus Computer file that Question steals contains the following subjects:
  • Question's interrogation scene was purported to be carried out by Dr. Hugo Strange, expert psychologist. According to Dwayne McDuffie, Strange's cameo in "The Doomsday Sanction" was a set up for this scene, but due to the Bat-Embargo he could no longer be used and was replaced by Dr. Moon.[2]
  • In "Critters" audio commentary, Bruce Timm expressed some regret for not including Farmer Brown as a member of Cadmus, instead of Doctor Moon. It's unclear, however, whether he was being serious, seeing as Farmer Brown had no expertise in psychology.

Cast

Actor Role
George Newbern Superman
Jeffrey Combs The Question
Amy Acker Huntress
Clancy Brown Lex Luthor
Chris Cox Captain Atom
Dana Delany Lois Lane
Robert Foxworth Emil Hamilton
CCH Pounder Amanda Waller
J.K. Simmons Wade Eiling

Uncredited Appearances

Quotes

Huntress: You get what you came for?
Question: I believe so. If there's a link between Luthor and Cadmus, I'll find it here.
Huntress: Which leaves the rest of our evening tantalizingly free.
Question: There are three terabytes of data here. I'll be busy for days...
(she snatches the hard drive away and glares)
Question: Uh... dinner and a movie?
Huntress: It's a start.


Question: It's all connected!


Question: Everything that exists has a specific nature. Each entity entity exists as something in particular and has certain characteristics that are part of what it is. "A" is "A". And no matter what reality he calls home, Luthor is Luthor.


Lex Luthor: That's right, conspiracy buff. I spent $75 million on a fake presidential campaign. All just to tick Superman off.


Question: (being tortured to find out "what he knows") Topically applied fluoride doesn't prevent tooth decay! It does render detection possible by spy satellite!


Superman: Don't you know what they are?
Emil Hamilton: Power brokers, politicians, criminals and black ops mercenaries with one thing in common, besides. They're humanity's last hope against your kind.
Superman: What are you talking about? Humanity doesn't need protection from us.
Emil Hamilton: I used to believe that. I thought you were a guardian angel, come to answer our prayers... But Lucifer was an angel too, wasn't he?
Superman: Professor...
Emil Hamilton: You forget, I've been on the receiving end of your wrath, when you brought Supergirl to S.T.A.R. Labs for medical treatment! I know what you're capable of!
Superman: That's what this is about? One little scare and you turn on us? You stole Kara's DNA! Violated her trust! My trust!
Emil Hamilton: The chicken, or the egg, Superman?


Footnotes

  1. Justice League, "A Better World"
  2. As you suspect, many Batman characters are unavailable for JLU, at least for the time being. It's only been a problem a couple of times [...] I wanted to use Hugo Strange [...his appearance in "Doomsday Sanction"] was to set up a later appearance. The later appearance won't happen now.

    — Dwayne McDuffie in DwayneMcDuffie.com

Previous episode:
"Clash"
Cadmus Story Arc Next episode:
"Flashpoint"

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