This Young Justice: Outsiders review contains spoilers.
Young Justice Outsiders Episode 13
If “Nightmare Monkeys” is a sign of what the Young Justice team can do freed from their constraints of a network and a regular tv schedule, “True Heroes” is what happens when they forget that they’re unchained. “True Heroes” is an hour to 90 minutes of show jammed into a 22 minute television episode, a failure of storytelling and imagination that represents the first real turd of an otherwise spectacular return to the world.
Young Justice has never had a problem jamming a ton of stuff into a 20ish minute show. But when they do try and pack it in, they’re usually more elegant about it, relying on subtlety and character to drive the central plot forward. That doesn’t happen in the midseason finale: it’s discarded for rote sequencing and infodumps, with nothing getting space to breathe except for the (very good) fight scene. And come to think of it, the fight scene succeeds because it’s pretty Black Lightning-centric and uses the action to tell us more about his character.
“True Heroes” starts with Halloween getting cancelled so Nightwing’s Outsiders can hit up a meta fight club in Bialiya. Dick infodumps the last episode on his team, then sums up all their leads on Terra. They break into the meta fight club, confirm that it’s her, buy her after she loses, then get into a fight with the bad guys to break up the meta trafficking depot. Meanwhile, Halo and Cyborg are left home where they reenact Halloween, basically. And then “The Judas Contract” starts.
That’s a glib description of the episode, but it’s unfortunately it’s curtness is not as exaggerated as it should be. Dick’s infodump is rushed. There’s no time between when Artemis places her first bid on Terra and when they walk out of the building. Literally – it just smash cuts from Artemis holding up the bidding paddle to them all walking coolly out of the building. The Halo/Cyborg story is basically resolved halfway through the episode. If they had another 20 minutes to stretch some of this out, they probably would have pulled it off, but I’m sure budgetary restrictions kept them from trying. Unfortunately, it’s just not a very good episode of television.
That shouldn’t detract from what the Young Justice: Outsidersteam accomplished so far this season. Through 13 episodes, we’ve had one stinker and twelve astonishingly good half hours of TV. The voice acting is stellar, animation top notch, writing sharp, and action exhilirating. To come back six years later better than when you left after starting from such a high baseline is a tremendous accomplishment. I can’t wait for June.
Outsider Trading Tips
– Turns out I was right to be suspicious of the stilted League of Shadows dialogue in “Exceptional Human Beings.” They were definitely setting the Outsiders up to plant Terra in their operation.
– Keep the above in mind: Dr. Jace is sketchy as hell here. It might be crappy writing, but it feels like she was lying to Halo about her daughter, and they made a thing of her picking up Halo’s brush at the end of the episode. I wonder if she’s Desaad?
– The guests at the fight club are dressed like they’re members of the Court of Owls, the sinister secret society of rich people in Gotham (think the World Economic Forum) that hates Batman from back at the beginning of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s run.
– Another Suicide Squad reference! Onslaught is the name of the Quraci terrorists in the Ostrander/McDonnell legendary run. In the comics, they were Jaculi (who killed the Markovian royals at the beginning of the season), Manticore, Chimera, Djinn, Col. Mushtaq, Rustam, and Ravan (who would eventually join the Squad). Here, they’re Psimon, Shimmer, the Terror Twins, Mammoth, Devastation and Icicle, Jr.
– By the way, Icicle, Jr’s interaction with Superboy about him and Miss Martian being engaged is terrific.
– Mr. Bliss, the host of this metabrawl, is from a TV Flash comic.
– Another Milestone import! Holocaust, Terra’s opponent, was a Dakota City gangster and member of the Blood Syndicate.
– Next episode: it’ll be summer and I won’t have 3 feet of packed ice on my driveway HOORAY! Seriously though June is too long to wait for new episodes.
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