"The Return" is the eighth episode of the first season of Justice League Unlimited, and the eighth of the overall series. It originally aired on September 18, 2004. It depicts the return of Amazo. After the power-absorbing android "destroys" the home planet of the Guardians of the Universe, the League must intercept him before he reaches Earth and achieves his goal: revenge on the recently reformed Lex Luthor.
John Stewart is in communication with the Guardians of the Universe on Oa, who inform him that his recent request for a transfer away from Earth has been denied. Then the planetary defense system alerts them that something is approaching Oa at an incredible speed. Kyle Rayner and the other resident Green Lanterns fly into space to establish a shield, but the object breaks through it instantly, revealing itself to be the super-android Amazo. Before the Guardians can react, the android hurtles into the planet, there is a sudden flash of light, and Oa is gone.
Amazo's trajectory shows that he is heading for Earth. The League mobilizes its full strength, determined to stop the android from reaching the planet's surface. In short order, they realize what Amazo is coming back for: revenge on Lex Luthor.
On his estate, Luthor is giving a television interview explaining his reformation since he was diagnosed with Kryptonite poisoning. He has just finished expressing his hope that he and the Justice League can be friends when Supergirl and Steel suddenly appear and fly him away. As soon as he is told Amazo is coming, Luthor insists on going to a safe house of his own design — located in a barber shop. He soon gives the two heroes the slip and escapes down an underground tube which includes a number of defenses, including Kryptonite-lined walls. This proves too much for Supergirl and she and Steel return to counter the android.
Luthor ends up in a laboratory where he arms a powerful cannon which is based there. However, the League is one step ahead of him — the Atom is riding on his clothing, having slipped on earlier. Since Atom is an expert in nanotechnology, and has Professor Ivo's original blueprints for the android, he and Luthor agree to modify the cannon specifically to destroy the android.
The League has set up three defensive lines to halt the android: the first, in orbit, consists of Superman, Green Lantern, Captain Atom, Orion, Dr. Light, S.T.R.I.P.E., Starman, and the League's entire fleet of Javelins. As the android approaches, he communicates with them telepathically, confirming that he has returned seeking for Luthor and warning them not to get in his way. When he refuses to turn back, the assembly unleashes a massive energy barrage, but Amazo shrugs it off, smashes through the entire line in moments and continues towards Earth.
In the laboratory, Luthor and Atom are working flat out to complete the cannon before Amazo arrives. Flying above Metropolis, Amazo listens simultaneously to millions of conversations before pinpointing Luthor's and making his way to his location. He is challenged by the second defensive line — Supergirl, Fire, Red Tornado, and Rocket Red — but again beats them all. He then touches down outside the barber shop and, just as easily, disables the third and last defensive line — Wonder Woman, Flash, Steel, and Ice.
Luthor and Atom complete the cannon just before Amazo enters the laboratory and blast him with it. It was supposed to alter his nanotech program, but has no effect whatsoever. Mildly impressed, the Android tells the two men that he has in fact evolved beyond nanotechnology.
In Earth's orbit, Kyle Rayner and other surviving Green Lanterns suddenly appear to assist the Leaguers defeated by Amazo. Rayner tells Stewart that Oa is no more and that their only option is to hit Amazo with a concentrated blast from all of their rings at once. Such an act could result in destroying half of Earth.
In the laboratory, Amazo manhandles Luthor over the way he manipulated him during their original encounter. To get away from him, Atom shrinks both himself and Luthor down to subatomic size. Again, this proves futile: Amazo shrinks himself down as well, though he appears as a giant holding the two men in the palm of his hand.
With Luthor at his mercy, Amazo then reveals that he has returned not so much for revenge as for guidance. Luthor is a man who has been blessed with wealth and power but this never appears to be enough and Amazo wants to know what drives him. In fact, the android wants to know what is his own purpose in life — what is he for and what is his ultimate goal?
Luthor describes how, for all his accomplishments, he is still mortal and everything he's done will be gone and forgotten after a few generations. Amazo, on the other hand, is immortal and nearly all-powerful: he will be able to see time through until its very end. Amazo is not satisfied with merely being a witness to events, to which Luthor says that every being must seek and create its own purpose in life. It is not something another person can just assign to them.
Luthor then mocks the android as a powerful being who can destroy planets but is consumed by self-pity and lack of direction. Amazo appears to act angrily to this but instead restores himself, Luthor and Atom to their normal sizes. Back in Luthor's laboratory they are suddenly surrounded by the Green Lanterns led by Stewart.
The Lanterns are about to blast Amazo — and half of Earth — when Fate teleports beside Amazo, telling them the threat is over. John is not moved by this, stating Amazo's destruction of Oa and its people were too severe. Amazo then reveals that Oa was not destroyed: he simply moved it to another dimension as it was in his way. The shocked lanterns then request for him to move it back. In the blink of an eye, he moves it back.
Fate then offers to help Amazo find a goal in life, describing it as his "purpose". Amazo accepts and Fate teleports them to his tower. There they meet Fate's wife Inza and another guest, the exiled Shayera Hol.
- John Stewart has requested a transfer away from Earth because of "personal problems" — presumably a reference to his heartbreak over Shayera in Justice League, "Starcrossed, Part III".
- Katma Tui and Kilowog are wearing new uniforms from those seen in "Hearts and Minds".
- Amazo's last appearance was in Justice League, "Tabula Rasa", which both introduced the character and gave the reason for his vendetta against Luthor.
- Luthor is still wearing the harness that the Ultra-Humanite created in "Injustice For All, Part II" to hamper his Kryptonite poisoning.
- Luthor claims that the League trusted him "when no one else would". Presumably, he's referring to their teaming up in "A Better World, Part II".
- Amazo destroys Red Tornado when he defeats the second defense line, but Tornado appears in subsequent episodes; how he was reconstructed is not explained.
- This is Shayera's first appearance since she left the League in "Starcrossed".
Home video releases
- Justice League Unlimited - Season One (DVD)
- Justice League - The Complete Series (DVD)
- Justice League Unlimited - Joining Forces (DVD)
- Justice League Unlimited - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
- Green Lantern: First Flight (Blu-ray only)
- Justice League: 3-Pack Fun (DVD)
- DC Comics Super-Villains: Justice League Masterminds of Crime (DVD)
- When Lex is talking to Sroya Bashir, he shows her the harness underneath his shirt. However, when he is working with the Atom, he has his collar unbuttoned, showing an undershirt.
- This is the first episode of Justice League Unlimited where the end credits have clips.
- This was the final appearance of the Green Lantern Corps, including Kyle Rayner, Katma Tui, and Kilowog, in the DCAU.
- Most of the Green Lanterns in the episode appeared as holograms in the Superman: The Animated Series episode: "In Brightest Day...".
- Will Friedle, the voice of Terry McGinnis in Batman Beyond, replaces Michael P. Greco as the voice of Kyle Rayner.
- This is Steel's first speaking appearance in Justice League Unlimited. Phil LaMarr replaces Michael Dorn.
- The voice actress for news reporter Sroya Bashir is likely an uncredited Jennifer Hale.
- On the DVD audio commentary for this episode, series creators comment that the battle between Amazo and the entire membership of the Justice League was designed to illustrate just how powerful the android was, and the threat he posed to the entire planet, and the universe at large. The same technique was used during the first season of Justice League, when episodes would often feature the temporary defeat or incapacitation of Superman to reveal the true level of danger facing the League. Commentary on other episodes reveals that fan reaction to the frequent defeat of Superman was highly negative, and a different approach was adopted for later seasons.
|Phil LaMarr|| Green Lantern|
|Carl Lumbly||J'onn J'onzz|
|Clancy Brown|| Lex Luthor|
|Maria Canals||Shayera Hol|
|Oded Fehr||Dr. Fate|
|Will Friedle||Kyle Rayner|
|Jennifer Hale|| Inza|
Sroya Bashir (uncredited)
|John C. McGinley||The Atom|
The Atom: The android, why does he hate you so much?
Amazo: Your bravery is admirable, but annoying.
J'onn J'onzz: You'll need that cannon very soon.
J'onn J'onzz: You've come to offer help?
Amazo: An intriguing idea, modifying the cannon so that it could alter my programming, and it might've worked... a month ago, when I was still nanotech. But I have transcended that limitation.
Luthor: What do you want from me?
Luthor: The truth is, for all my struggles to make my mark in life, for all I've accomplished, in just a few short generations my name will be forgotten. Even the greatest of us can't compete with time... and death.
Luthor: We create our own purpose in life. Now go create yours.
Luthor: You know, when I heard you were coming I was actually afraid of you. Petrified. But now, when I see your fear, your uncertainty, I just pity you.
Dr. Fate: I can help you on your journey. In your search for meaning.