This Young Justice: Outsiders review contains spoilers.
Young Justice Outsiders Episode 15
“Leverage,” the latest episode in Young Justice‘s nearly flawless comeback season, does two things really well. It likes all the same comics I like, and it uses them to somehow make a really good X-Men episode. That’s a bizarre bit of praise for a show that is one of the most thorough and entertaining representations of the DC Universe ever put on screens, but what “Leverage” does exceptionally well is bring the social pressures on metahuman teens, the alienation and the puberty metaphor and the weird power stuff, to the forefront.
Also it’s a Rocket Red/Suicide Squad fight with Young Justice in the middle on a show named for the third biggest ’80s DC superteam.
The heart of the episode comes in Taos as Ed Dorado is guiding the new residents of the metahuman community center through what their lives are going to look like there. It’s staged as an orientation to the facility, with Eduardo senior talking the kids through what the facility can do for them, and Ed junior “translating” into soothing teen patter. This is helpful scene-setting – it shows us how far Ed and his father’s relationship has come since they were first introduced back in season 2, but it’s also a nice practical reminder that we may have had six months pass since the last episode, but it’s basically been two days since the episode before the midseason break in the show.
Ed functions as our guide through a lot of the emotion of the episode. Freddy Rodriguez’s voice acting sells the whole scene. We hear concern, frustration, empathy and confidence all from Junior’s speech, taking us through everything the kids themselves are supposed to be feeling. Later, the kids are testing out their powers, trying to learn control, and Windfall loses control of her wind powers, sucking the air out of the room and nearly suffocating El Dorado, Live Wire and Mist. Only when Ed teleports her outside does she stop, and then it’s not long before she asks for a power inhibitor collar.
The pin they put in the power inhibiting collars is what draws the clear X-Men comparison, for me. One of the things that good X-Men media does is demonstrate how shitty it is to be a mutant. This was the first time on Young Justice that being a meta felt the same way.
There’s also a big fight in Russia. The team (Beast Boy, Halo, Geoforce, Tigress and Terra on the ground with Forager manning the bioship) has word of a Russian meta operation, so they head in on the sly to investigate. They discover tha it’s not a meta operation, but the formation of the Rocket Red squadron. Unfortunately, on their way out, they run into three Belle Reve “escapees” – Black Manta, Captain Boomerang and Monseiur Mallah rocking a gatling gun. They have an awesome three-way fight that, to me, was completely overshadowed by Amanda Waller being an unstoppable badass on the radio and in person to her “Task Force X”. After the team wins out and the League is returning the villains to their prison, Waller comes at Aqualad/man now I guess and stares him down, and honestly it might be my favorite cartoon moment since Waller verbally slapped Batman around in JLU.
OUTSIDER TRADING TIPS
– Rocket Red was an integral member of the classic Justice League International. They’re played a little more seriously here, but the mech bonding aspect that looked so intensely painful in this episode is pretty close to the comics origin. They were also Green Lantern adjacent, at least at the beginning.
– Almost the whole Justice League International is here now, right? Fire and Ice showed up earlier in the season, and last week gave us debuts of Guy Gardner and Barda, so we’re just missing Booster Gold and Mister Miracle I think.
– There’s a nice touch at the beginning – Granny is forcing the crew of Space Trek 3016 to work Beast Boy to the bone because he dared challenge he authority last episode, and as Gar is about to quit, the director reminds him of all the people who would be out of a job if he walked. So he stays. Gar’s the real hero here.
– We are supposed to think Dr. Jace is up to no good here. She gets her own lab in Dakota City from Hardware, and she uses it to look at Halo’s hair under a microscope right after we see Halo realize that her human form let the assassins into the Markovian royal palace way back at the start of the season. But it feels a little too obvious for writers who are usually more subtle than that. This feels like a head fake.
– Joining Livewire and Mist (HOLY SHIT THAT’S JACK KNIGHT’S WIFE HOW DID I MISS THAT) in Taos is Australian teen tornado making person, Windfall. She’s a classic Outsiders character, who fought the team as a member of the Masters of Disaster in Batman and the Outsiders #9.
– In case you were wondering, Belle Reve’s Warden Economious is the warden from John Ostrander, Kim Yale and Luke McDonnell’s Suicide Squad.I think that whole run is on DC Universe right now, if you need something to read that you won’t be able to put down for 70 issues.