Young Justice: Phantoms Just did the Unthinkable

The latest episode of Young Justice: Phantoms takes a chance we never thought it would take. Will it stick?

Young Justice: Phantoms
Photo: DC/HBO Max

This Young Justice: Phantoms review contains spoilers. SERIOUSLY. BIG HUGE SPOILERS IN THE SECOND PARAGRAPH. BEWARE.

Young Justice Season 4 Episode 4

The latest episode of Young Justice: Phantoms just dropped, and they waited until the end, but it sure as hell seems like they just made a major change to the show’s roster moving forward.

I promised I’d give you to the second paragraph to bail, so last warning.

Here it comes:

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I’m astounded that they just killed Superboy.

It would be a hell of a thing for Young Justice to introduce the new Superboy in a stinger at the end of an episode only to kill the original cast member Superboy at the end of the next one. But it certainly appears as though Conner Kent is good and dead. Even if it’s not immediately clear from the visuals.

“Involuntary” spends most of its run time on the investigation into who killed the King of Mars. We get to see Beast Boy and Superboy showing off some genuine investigatory chops, tracing scents and tastes (Beast Boy is still the weird farting Martian animal who smells with its tongue, I think), and using microscopic vision to track movement in and out of the palace. They discover that a green Martian was posing as a white one, snuck in as a servant, and then was unaccounted for.

There’s a bit of commentary on how nobody pays attention to the underclass because they’re not important, but I get the sense that if you strip out the allegory and just put in humans, an unaccounted for minority being in the palace the day a regent gets murdered would have been a bigger issue for the investigatory services of the ruling class. 

And really, that’s where the chunk of this season falls apart. It’s seemed like Young Justice has wanted to make a point more than it’s wanted to tell a story, so you get strained plot developments like this, where we’re supposed to believe that the King’s guards can just forget that a person was in the palace the day of his murder, when, if the metaphor was done correctly, there would have actually been brutal attacks on the nearest white Martian neighborhood (among MANY other horrible things).  

And it’s just dragged. We’re four episodes into this season, and I feel like there’s been 1.75 episodes of worthwhile plot and character development. We’ve had nice moments, but they’re too few and far between.

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It turns out the priestess who was going to perform Conner and M’gann’s wedding was the one who killed the King. It was an accident, but that’s why she took the vows and became a celibate priestess. 

And then Conner died.

Ma’alefa’ak, Miss Martian’s brother, planted the gene bomb he got from Apokalips under the throne room. Conner caught the mysterious bad guy activating it during a celebration, punched his way through the ground, and beat a hole to the planet’s core to burn off the virus in it, to stop mass death. But apparently (we find out from Beast Boy’s narration, and the newly arrived Superman’s near-collapse as he entered the magma chamber), the bomb was laced with kryptonite. And, in a confusing visual, Conner was apparently vaporized by the bomb. What looks like Superboy trapped in some crystal-looking rock was actually just the shadow of his ashes on the rock wall. That’s a pretty final fate, though the Legion was floating around the palace at the time and could have easily snatched him away in the time stream.

This episode was mostly fine on its own merits, but the season has been way too slow so far. It really needs to either start moving faster or start introducing better B plots to keep the episodes moving, or it’s going to continue to suffer. 


I’m updating our odds on who the secret big bad of the season is so far. 

  • I’ll say 10-1 on a new, secret brother of Kaldur: Jackson Hyde, the Aqualad introduced in the comics just ahead of Kaldur’s first appearance on the show. 
  • And 20-1 that it’s a future Lightning Lord. Mekt Ranzz is the older brother of Garth and Ayla Ranzz, Lightning Lad and Light Lass, the Winathian twins who are the heart and soul of the Legion of Super Heroes. He doesn’t make a ton of sense as a time traveler alone, but he might work as a harbinger of the Legion of Super Villains.

More on either when the main bad guy is revealed. 

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  • We also get a bit on the religion of Mars in this episode that doesn’t exist elsewhere in the DC multiverse. Here we get mention of Ser’idyal, the god of love. They do not exist anywhere in the comics history of Mars – the only gods we know of that I can recall are H’ronmeer, the god of fire and death (who is the Martian embodiment of Death, the Endless); and a Martian form of Dream from The Sandman. I might be wrong on the fullness of the pantheon, though. Let me know in the comments!


3.5 out of 5