This Young Justice review contains spoilers.
Young Justice Season 3 Episode 1
Young Justice is a fascinating show.
In preparation for the return of this critically acclaimed show with a very vocal fanbase (and as a way to maximize the value of my DC Universe subscription, natch), I went back and rewatched the old seasons of Young Justice on the app. I…can’t really believe it ever got made.
Not because it’s not good, mind you. This show is everything people talk about when they go on about “truly all-ages cartoons.” It has been since episode one, and while it’s grown with its audience, even through this first batch of Young Justice: Outsiders episodes, it’s still targeting a pretty broad age range. But the impressive thing about it, and something I didn’t even really realize until just now, is that its storytelling success was to a large degree predicated on tackling issues surrounding the transitional age range that The Team found themselves in, and the continuing success of the show meant looking at the transitions inherent in the aging. Season one was very much about growing into the responsibilities of adulthood, and the slow understanding of the League (Batman and Red Tornado in particular) that these weren’t kids anymore and they could be trusted with more authority. Season two, Invasion, was about stepping in and taking responsibility for their own next generation. This season looks like it’s about all the dark, terrible shit that being an adult entails.
Young Justice has never shied away from darkness. They killed Wally at the end of last season; killed Zatara in front of Zatanna in season one; they’ve basically focused the show on the shades of grey that the League can’t or won’t operate in. It seems like they’re going to crank that up now. The first episode of Young Justice: Outsiders jumps ahead another two years without a ton of obvious changes to the world: Lex Luthor is still Secretary General of the UN, the Light is still the main group of bad guys, and the League is slowly being hamstrung by an increasingly hostile international law infrastructure. But there is a lot of logical progression from where we left off. The metahuman crisis created by the Reach in Invasion has exploded, with world governments and non government, less reputable actors all trying to exploit metas as a resource. This has led to a massive humanitarian crisis, where kids are being kidnapped wholesale to the point where there are PSAs about keeping an eye out for teen-snatchers.
So when the Young Justice: Outsiders team told us they were going into the failure of international law to address a human trafficking crisis, they weren’t kidding.
For the most part, “Princes All” is setup for the rest of the season. It lays out our new status quo with the League (battling parademons on Rann while being largely ineffective back home), has Batman and a bunch of Leaguers quit rather than be hamstrung by the UN, shows us where the Team is at in the heirarchy of superhero groups, has Conner propose to M’gann, and sets Dick up on his own side mission to tackle the trafficking. As setup goes, this is a bunch of great stuff that makes me look forward to the rest of the season.
Outsider Trading Tips
– If you’ve got a better name for our miscellanea and easter egg guide, please leave it in the comments! I’m not thrilled with “Outsider Trading Tips,” but it was better than just “Outsider Trading” (sounds like a weird sex move) and “Titans Tidbits” doesn’t work, so maybe it’ll grow on me.
– That said, hold onto your butts because this show is dense with some DC stuff.
– TONS of new statuses quo here. Aqualad is now Aquaman. Miss Martian looks like comics Martian Manhunter only white. Tim Drake is wearing Damian Wayne’s Robin uniform.
– New members of the team include (and for authenticity, just imagine somebody squeaking “Holy crap!” after every name and getting more excited every time):
OMG TRACI THIRTEEN!
– KEEP THE HYPE TRAIN GOING FOR THE ONSLAUGHT! The Quraci terrorist who kills the Markovian king and queen is Jaculi, a member of the aforementioned Quraci terrorist group. He was created by John Ostrander and Luke McDonnell in Suicide Squad, one of the best and most underrated series in DC history. If you ever find these books on sale, buy them. You won’t regret it.
– That said, more on the rest of the Markovians coming soon, but if you’re watching one episode at a time, Delamb, Brion, Tara, Ecks and Jace are all somebodies.
– New members of the Justice League include Katana, Batwoman, Plastic Man, and Vibe, and also Zatanna and Rocket are full members. And I think Hardware was in there, though he might only show up in the background of the next episode.
– Khary Payton is exceptional. Aqualad has always been one of the best characters on the show, and the way he mixes confidence and insecurity while always sounding calm and in control is a highlight. That gets taken to a new level here with him simultaneously voicing Black Lightning in crisis (because he accidentally killed a Plasmus on Rann) and Aqualad-now-man going toe to toe with Batman in a League meeting and holding his own.
– This season probably would have been good six years ago, but I doubt it would have been packed with Grayson and Batman, Inc. references without the gap. The whole Dick Grayson, Superspy bit is a straight lift from the Tim Seeley/Tom King series.
– Black Lightning’s wife mentions that she’s the sister of a Green Lantern. Apparently, Tony Isabella (one of the creators of Black Lightning) meant for it to be open ended that she was possibly John Stewart’s sister in the comics, but in his most recent run made sure to show that it wasn’t the case.
– Next episode: HOLY SHIT, THE AUTHORITY? You can read our review of Young Justice: Outsiders episode 2, “Royal We” right here!