This Young Justice Phantoms review contains spoilers.
Young Justice Season 4 Episode 13
Young Justice Phantoms hit its midseason break with this week’s episode, “Kaerb Ym Traeh!” And it was maybe the strongest episode of the season: lots of storylines were tied off, while the annoying motion comic section was cordoned off to an argument between the Lords of Chaos and Order, and Vandal Savage and the Phantom Stranger. Not moving any of the figures around wasn’t actually a problem there, because the motion wasn’t necessarily the point.
This week’s episode is also the first with a legitimate post-credits scene, and it’s…an interesting choice. They’re gonna hide Desaad in Mary Bromfeld.
The episode brings closure to Zatanna’s portion of the story. Her team battles Child and Flaw to save Earth, while Savage talks the Lords of Chaos out of supporting Child and evening the odds for the team. Savage wins the argument, they pull their power from Child, and a reconstituted Klarion, Dr. Fate, Zatanna, Traci 13, Mary, and Khaled battle her almost to a standoff. It’s Traci who notices Flaw’s weak point and successfully shatters it, saving the team and the world. But Mary does her life force drain thing again, so Zatanna ices her out of the next phase in the plan: splitting time with Nabu’s helmet between her dad, Khaled, Traci, and Zatanna herself. Everyone gets one week in the helmet, three weeks off. Mary’s pretty pissed by this, and storms off until the post credits scene, where we see her sitting in front of an out of order photo booth as Granny Goodness talks her into saying the word.
This is a rough adaptation of arguably the worst DC story of the current millennium: Countdown to Final Crisis. A little context for this: 52 was a weekly book published by DC in the wake of Infinite Crisis. It was co-written by Mark Waid, Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka and Keith Giffen, and followed a bunch of B and C-list characters for a year real-time in the absence of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. It was incredible, a feat of storytelling, collaboration, and traffic management by the editorial team that was nearly impossible to match.
So of course DC tried to match it immediately afterwards with Countdown. They failed catastrophically.
The book was rebranded as Countdown to Final Crisis midway through its run, and immediately upon its finale was contradicted several times by Final Crisis itself. The series is a rushed mess full of continuity errors and bloat, but the Mary Marvel portions are really the relevant ones here. Mary had lost her powers when the Rock of Eternity was smashed during the lead up to Infinite Crisis, and got her powers back when she siphoned off some of Black Adam’s magic. This corrupted her, and Countdown repeatedly removed her powers to get her to join up with Darkseid, all so a corrupted version of Mary could be used as one of Darkseid’s servants on the post-Anti-Life Earth in the second half of Final Crisis – apparently the process by which Mary got her powers back also put Desaad in control of her body, prompting Black Adam to scream that he sees “a leering old man” behind Mary’s eyes. It’s pretty super gross in an otherwise all-time classic DC story.
And apparently it’s happening here! This isn’t to say that Young Justice is necessarily going to do a poor job with it – Marvel is basically redoing the entire Clone Saga in the pages of Spider-Man right now, and it’s actually pretty decent, so why not this one? We’ll see when YJ returns if they can pull it off.
- The biggest news this week might be that Zatanna saw Connor’s spirit floating in the ether as they were returning the school bus to its rightful time. I’ve seen some speculation that they were moving through the Phantom Zone when she saw him, but that’s pretty early speculation and should be resolved when they eventually get Connor back.
- Klarion gets a new familiar, and baby Teekl 2 is pretty damn cute.
- Two heroes jump out of a beetle scarab in the North Pole just as Zatanna’s team disappears: Ice (Tora Olafsdottir, a founding member of the Justice League International and breathtaking scene stealer in Tom King and Greg Smallwood’s Human Target series on stands now) and Isis, created in 52 to be a soothing influence on Black Adam.
- Black Canary is apparently a real therapist, and not just someone sent to listen to the kids like she was in season 1 of the show. That said, it’s been a full decade of in-universe time since season 1, so she may have acquired her license in that time.