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Review: 'Justice League: Doom' is legions of fun

And he would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for those lousy Justice Leaguers!

Vandal Savage assembles a new Legion of Doom in the this week’s animated movie from Warner Bros., “Justice League: Doom.”

While the ending falls apart a bit with a few “why don’t they just …” moments, “JL:D” is the most enjoyable of these films to come out in a while. The action is smooth, even inventive at times. The dialogue is fine. And even the animation itself seems a bit stronger that we’ve had for most of these.

The movie starts with a fun fight between the League and the Royal Flush Gang. They’ve got some high tech that baffles everyone but Cyborg, who’s been called in to consult.

Meanwhile, Savage manages to steal some files from Batman’s computer — his back-up plans to immobilize the other members of the JL in case they go rogue by choice or by mind control. He tweaks the plans to make them deadly and hands off this information to a collection of mostly B-listers, but it’s pretty effective.

Only they make the classic villainous mistake: They don’t wait until they actually see the heroes die before moving on to the next phase of the plan for world domination. (Um, guys, the JL aren’t the only superheroes.)

Susan Eiseberg and Nathan Fillion reprise roles as Wonder Woman and Green Lantern. (Warner Bros.)

In addition to an entertaining story, “JL:D” brings back several old friends to provide voices. On the hero side, Tim Daly (Superman), Kevin Conroy (Batman), Susan Eisenberg (Wonder Woman), Michale Rosebaum (Flash) and Carl Lumbly (Martian Manhunter) all reprise their “Justice League: Unlimited” roles. Nathan Fillion comes back as the Hal Jordan Green Lantern and gets more lines than he did in his solo movie. He does a fine job. I have to admit I don’t like it when anyone else does these voices, so it’s good to hear them.

Newbies to the franchise include Claudia Black (“Farscape”), who gives us a wicked Cheetah.

The movie is based loosely on the “JLA: Tower of Babel” story arc by Marc Waid, with a few swaps. Out are Ra’s al Ghul, Aquaman (darn it!) and Plastic Man, for instance.

Most of the new Legion of Doom: Star Sapphire, Mirror Master, Bane, Metallo and Cheetah (Warner Bros.)

But these movies really hinge on the story, and in this case, the film delivers. Yes, I mentioned a bit of tripping up toward the end, but up until that point, “JL:D” is a great yarn. A bit more space for character development would have been nice, but there are some nice, emotional moments as the villains take down their nemeses. I was especially touched (yes, I said “touched”) by Martian Manhunter’s human friends.

But it’s a quick-paced movie that gets in all the high points of what you want to see in a comic movie: good fight scenes, interesting plot, a bit of banter. It’s not Oscar material, but it’s fun enough for an afternoon.

Dwayne McDuffie attends the West Coast premiere of "All-Star Superman" at the Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles Feb. 17. (Warner Bros.)

And included on the Blu-ray is a tribute to Dwayne McDuffie, the noted comic book and cartoon writer from Detroit who died last February. “JL:D” was his final screenplay.

I was expecting a short 10 minutes or so, but they did a really nice job with a 36-minute mini documentary. They interview his widow, Charlotte, along with several friends and colleagues from the comic and cartoon worlds.

Interviewees include his former editor, SidJacobson, at Marvel Comics, where McDuffie got his start with “Damage Control.” There’s also Eddie Berganza, Mike Carlin and Jim Krieg, a “Ben 10″ writer who even breaks up a bit, plus his Milestone co-founders.

It ends with video fan tributes. Nice job, DC.

Eric Henrickson is a Detroit News copy editor who has also been writing about comic books, video games and anime for The News for more than 10 years. His favorite bit of geek cred so far: appearing in an online "Star Trek" fan series.