"The Once and Future Thing Part One: Weird Western Tales"
The Once and Future Thing Part One
Air Date January 22, 2005
Directed By Dan Riba
Written By Dwayne McDuffie
Episode Guide




"The Once and Future Thing Part One" is the twelfth episode of Justice League Unlimited. It first aired on January 22, 2005.

Plot Edit

In the future Gotham City, Enid Clinton scolds her husband, David, about clogging up the garage with his collection of historical artifacts. Timidly, he tries to explain their importance: they are originals that he retrieved from their respective time periods, using a time machine he built. Enid's initial amazement turns to fury, and she delivers an even more blistering scolding, saying that he could have used the machine to make them rich and powerful instead. "You invent a time machine and can't think of anything useful to do with it?!" He shoots back, "I can think of one thing!" and activates his machine. "I can use it to get away from you!" he yells as he disappears into a time portal.

In the present day, Batman and John Stewart are lunching in the Watchtower's commissary. Though Shayera has rejoined the League, John denies any awkwardness, claiming he's moved on and is now seeing Vixen. Batman scoffs in disbelief, so John turns the tables and asks Batman what's "going on" between him and Wonder Woman. Batman stiffly denies that anything is going on, saying that his work is too important for him to be distracted by a relationship, while admitting that Diana has many admirable qualities—only for Wonder Woman herself to appear behind him, having heard a good deal of what he said, and seductively tell him to "keep digging".

The awkward moment is interrupted when an intruder alarm sounds. The three of them follow it to the crew quarters and find David trying to steal one of Batman's utility belts. He escapes into a time portal, and they follow.

They arrive in the middle of the Oklahoma Territory in 1879. After turning the tables on a trio of highwaymen, they adopt cowboy clothes and ride into the nearest town, Elkhorn. Right away they see what is wrong: the new "sheriff," Tobias Manning and his thugs are equipped with radically advanced weapons. After losing a hand of poker, Manning throws his opponent in jail. The League go to break him out, and he introduces himself as Bartholomew Aloysius Lash, a.k.a. Bat Lash. His cell mate is David, who explains that Manning stole his time machine and has been using it to poach advanced technology from the future and make himself ruler of the town.

As they leave the jail, they are attacked by Manning's thugs, who are overcome by a sort of Wild West Justice League, to which Bart belongs: Jonah Hex, El Diablo, and Ohiyesa Smith, the former sheriff of Elkhorn.

Banding together, the new and old Leagues travel to Manning's headquarters in the desert; his men confront them with an arsenal of bizarre weapons, including robotic dinosaurs, main battle tanks, and android exoskeletons. They overcome his men, and Smith personally bests Manning in a knife fight.

Freed, David snatches the time belt away and disappears into another portal. Again, Batman, John, and Wonder Woman follow him. This time, they arrive in the future Gotham City and are immediately confronted by the Jokerz: Bonk, Chucko, Dee Dee, Ghoul, and Woof.

They are soon joined by that era's Justice League Unlimited: Batman, Static, and Warhawk. As they square off against the Jokerz, Warhawk catches sight of John and says, "Dad?" John's jaw drops in shock.

To Be Continued...

Continuity Edit

  • John Stewart's dislike for time travel refers to his previous experience in the Template:Jl episode "The Savage Time".
  • As often demonstrated, Batman's disdain for guns is made evident when John Stewart offers him a revolver in order to keep up appearances. Despite the fact that Batman wouldn't have needed to use the gun, he still refused to even carry it. Of course, Bruce's hatred of guns stems from the infamous night when a gun-wielding thug killed young Bruce's parents, which set Burce on the path to becoming Batman.
  • It is possible that Batman recognizes Jonah Hex's name, having heard his story from Ra's al Ghul in the Template:Btas episode "Showdown".
  • In "Showdown", which takes place in 1883, only four years after this one, Hex seems to have aged several decades.
  • Warhawk first appears in the Batman Beyond episode "The Call". His parentage is not explained in that episode.

Background information Edit

Home video releases Edit

Production notes Edit

Production inconsistencies Edit

  • When Batman, Wonder Woman and John Stewart catch David Clinton stealing Batman's utility belt, he drops it on the ground beside him and escapes. When the Leaguers chase after him, the belt is no longer on the floor.
  • In this episode, Bruce's eyes are blue, which is consistent with his Template:Bb incarnation, but not with previous Template:Jl episodes such as "Maid of Honor" in which they were black. Strangely enough, in "Part Two" the "old Bruce" has black eyes.
  • During the poker game, after Earl folds and the view shifts to Manning, the table is only partially drawn; the right edge is missing.
  • Batman's grapple line is left hanging from under the skull on the ranch's entrance, but during the shots from inside the ranch, it's missing. When it does show up again, it's hanging from the skull itself.
  • During the shot after the gunman on the velociraptor shoots at Batman with a revolver, Batman is shot at in a SMG fashion even after the gunman stops shooting.
  • After Batman says "Six guns, six of us. Nobody miss." John pulls out the gun in his holster. However, after Manning's gun's destroyed, the gun's back in the holster and he's pointing his ring at him instead.
  • When Ohiyesa Smith confronts Manning, he tosses away his guns. After defeating him, the guns are back in his holsters.
  • When John beams the futuristic tech upwards, the bubble is green but the beam coming from his ring is yellow.

Trivia Edit

  • The title is a pun on "The Once and Future King" by T.H. White. The subtitle is a reference to Weird Western Tales, a comic series in which many of the western heroes like Jonah Hex and Bat Lash appeared.
  • Both episodes are thematically very similar to "The Savage Time", the finale of Template:Jl Season One. In that episode, the League travels back in time to World War II, and finds history altered because of technology contributed from the future, and also finds itself assisted by a host of DC Comics heroes created for that era.
  • Clinton's checklist includes "M's Dress";. This probably refers to Monica Lewinsky's dress as an in-joke to Chronos' own last name.
  • This episode features a Western-style rendition of the original Template:Jl theme.
  • One of the guests at the saloon when the Leaguers enter is based on the barmaid from "Showdown".
  • In the comics, Tobias Manning is the real name of the Superman villain Terra-Man.
  • In the poker game, Manning' ace has the A index on the upper-right/lower-left, while Bat's aces have the indices on the upper-left/lower-right corners, which would prove that Manning was cheating.
  • Jonah Hex's understanding of rayguns and his line "I've had an interesting life" are a nod to the 1980s comic series Hex, in which the character was time-transported to a Road Warrior-esque post-apocaplytic future.
  • Batman gives an obvious spoof of a famous Clint Eastwood line.
  • The scene with Batman, Wonder Woman and John in the canteen lampoons a scene from the movie City Slickers when Billy Crystal's character is talking about Jack Palance's and says "He's crazy... He's a madman. We are being led into the desert by a madman... He's behind me, isn't he?"
  • The gag is also frequently used on episodes of NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service, referring to the team's intimidating boss, Special Agent Gibbs; one such gag was performed by Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perrette).
  • The Pterodactyl in the Western is a reference to the classic 1969 B movie The Valley of Gwangi.
  • Bat Lash's line "My pappy always said..." is taken from the series Maverick.
  • Warhawk's skin tone is considerably darker in this episode compared to "The Call".

Cast Edit

Actor Role
Kevin Conroy Batman
Phil LaMarr John Stewart
Susan Eisenberg Wonder Woman
Peter MacNicol Chronos
Ben Browder Bat Lash
Adam Baldwin Jonah Hex
Jonathan Joss Sheriff Ohiyesa Smith
Nestor Carbonell El Diablo
Ed O'Ross Tobias Manning
Mindy Sterling Enid Clinton
Peter Onorati Warhawk

Uncredited appearances Edit


The Once and Future Thing Part 1

The Once and Future Thing Part 1

Quotes Edit

John Stewart: What's going on between you and Diana?
Batman: Nothing. She's a respected colleague.
John: Uh-huh...
Batman: I don't have time to pursue a relationship. My work is too important to allow any distractions. Diana's a remarkable woman, she's a valued friend, she's... standing right behind me, isn't she?
Wonder Woman: Don't let that stop you... keep digging.

Wonder Woman: These shoes are killing me.
Batman: You fight crime wearing high heels.
Wonder Woman: High heels that fit.

Bat Lash: Seems like a waste of a good-sized pot. How 'bout we split it and both walk away?
(Manning's gun extends six additional barrels)
Tobias Manning: How 'bout I keep it all?
Bat Lash: Sounds fair the way you explain it.

David Clinton: He keeps me here to show him out how to work the stuff he can't figure out for himself.
Bat Lash: Which I'd suspect is most of it, what with him being so mule-stupid and all.

Wonder Woman: You're with us.
(tears the door off David's cell)
Bat Lash: That's a healthy gal.

Ohiyesa Smith: What have you learned?
Bat Lash: Among other moral failings, the man cheats at poker.
Jonah Hex: (scoffs) I could have told you that.

Batman: Go ahead... give me an excuse.

Ohiyesa Smith: Tobias Manning's always been trouble. I've run him out of town before. Well, he came back, except this time he had... I don't know, magic powers.
El Diablo: There's no such thing as magic, my friend. It was some sort of trickery.
Ohiyesa Smith: Well, he "tricked" me near to death.

Batman: Six guns. Six of us. Nobody miss.

Previously produced episode:
"Wake the Dead"
Episodes of
Justice League Unlimited
Next produced episode:
"The Once and Future Thing Part Two: Time, Warped"
Previously aired episode:
"Wake the Dead"
Next aired episode:
"The Once and Future Thing Part Two: Time, Warped"