Young Justice S03E14, E15, and E16 Review

Young Justice is back, after a six-month hiatus. This time around it's apparently airing one block of three episodes. And then one episode a week for ten weeks to make the 26 episodes necessary to finish the season. Episodes will drop on the DC Universe channel on Tuesdays through July and August.

Why Young Justice needs to be 26 episodes, I don't know. The first season was 26 episodes, but the second was only 20. It does mean I probably won't review one episode a week but wait until three or so aired and take them in a chunk.

I like Young Justice. But the 26-episode season, and the comic book trivia game creator Greg Weisman likes to play, means the show is very overstuffed. In the three new episodes, we have Hawkman. And Hawkwoman. And Granny Goodness. And the Female Furies. And Guy Gardner. And the Rocket Reds. And the Suicide Squad. And the return of Traci Thirteen, Onslaught, Count Vertigo, and Henchy.

While the season title of Season 3 is "Outsiders", Young Justice is only about half dealing with that group. We get a lot of focus on Beast Boy, which is kind of strange. Titans has come and gone until season 2, and Beast Boy wasn't a big part of that. Why he has to be a central focus of Young Justice, I don't know. Vic Stone, who actually appeared pretty regularly on the more recent Doom Patrol, gets less screentime on Young Justice than Beast Boy. And Dick Grayson, who was front and center in Titans, is barely in these three episodes. So, if it's some kind of cross-promotional strategy, I don't follow it.

There's also a relatively big focus on the meta-trafficking ring set up in the first half of the season back in January. We also get a youth center for metas recovered from the ring's slavery. And the introduction of Wendy Jones aka Windfall, who was a sometimes member of the Outsiders in the comics. But there's no sign of Katana and Metamorpho, who were founding Outsiders. Like I said, it's weird.

I'm grateful to have Young Justice back. It's basically a DC universe animated show. rather than either a Young Justice show or an Outsiders show. And Greg Weisman does great DC universe. So... just give him a DC universe show and stop calling it Young Justice. Young Justice is so padded with non-Young Justice/Outsider elements, that if everything else was dropped except those two teams and the meta-traffiicking, DC Universe wouldn't need 26 episodes.

It's essentially thirteen hours of superhero TV. And it's a lot more interesting than 22 hours of The Flash, or Arrow, or Supergirl. But it's still thirteen hours, spread out over roughly seven months. It's... exhausting.

But enough about that, what about the individual episodes. We start off with "Influence", which reintroduces a lot of the Young Justice elements. Which were introduced and reintroduced in the first half of season one. So we hear about Young Justice, and the Outsiders, and the meta-traffickers, and Lex Luthor chairing the UN, and the Goode Googles, and G. Gordon Godfrey.

We also finally get the "Outsiders" integrated into the Justice League as their covert ops team. They don't seem that covert: Geo-Force creates lava tubes and Terra throws boulders. It's good for sneaking into places, as we'll see in the next episode. But it's not exactly Mission: Impossible subtlety, is it?

With all of the reintroduction stuff, there's not much of a plot. With the help of some snowball interviewing from Godfrey, both Lex and Gretchen Goode (aka Granny Goodness from Apokolips) manage to skate on the various suspicions brought against them. The major part of the story focuses on the Justice League in space, tracking down stolen rare metals. The team is Superman, Wonder Woman, a pretty unmemorable Hawkman and Hawkwoman, and Guy Gardner, the world's biggest dick, and a Green Lantern in good standing. Voice artist Troy Baker is clearly having a lot of fun as Guy, who has his energy bubbles stick out their tongues at obnoxious aliens, and sings about his ass while flying through space.

The League team tracks the thieves to The Orphanage, a space station run by Big Barda. Granny isn't thrilled Barda led them there to kill them, and sends Barda and her fellow Female Furies Lashina and Guillotina into battle against Superman, Wonder Woman, and Hawkwoman. Superman rescues Barda from a... torture energy sphere Granny unleashes. I think. Which makes an impression on Barda, which is good because in the comics she's a hero.

Lex and Granny join forces on Earth to donate money to the STAR Labs meta youth center and achieve a PR coup. Also, the Outsiders enjoy breakfast burritos, and Dick Grayson makes his only appearance in this three-episode block to tell them everyone but Vic is going to become part of Justice League Covert. And Beast Boy shows up to insist he be on the covert team missions. They say he's too high-profile given he's in a SF show. But he can turn into a bird or a worm: even if it's green, that's still pretty subtle.

And that's about it. One thing I find mildly irritating is a lot of characters wander in and out and have no dialogue to save on paying a voice artist. So while Catherine Cobert, the League liaison, gets dialogue, Brion's sister Tara doesn't. The first half-season ended with the revelation she's working for the Light. In these three episodes she throws rocks and silently follow Brion. But that's it. Forager also falls victim to budget cuts: we see him in a number of shots, but he never says anything. If the show is going to have a big cast, then pay to have them speak. Or don't have as big a cast.

"Leverage" sends Tigress and the covert Outsiders team to Russia to investigate the Rocket Red Brigade. Which is an 80s kind of comic book thing. The problem is, Amanda Waller sent her Suicide Squad members Black Manta, Captain Boomerang, and a dialogue-free Monsieur Mallah there to do... something. It's not entirely clear what, and they're not the most subtle bunch of villains in the DC universe. Black Manta fires energy blasts, Boomerang throws exploding boomerangs, and Mallah shoots people with a Gatling gun.

The covert team gets spotted, and Tigress surrenders since they don't want a fight. She's of the opinion whatever the Russians are doing has nothing to do with the meta-traffickers and thus is none of their bees wax. But the Squad shows up and attacks them, and then attacks the Rocket Reds. And the Rocket Reds attack them. Tigress tells the Russian commander if they get taken into custody then word will get out about the secret Russian Rocket Red base, and the commander lets them go, along with the Squad prisoners.

Back at Belle Reve, the new Aquaman, Kaldur'ahm (Khary Payton) has a brief exchange with his father, Black Manta (also Khary Payton). Manta isn't thrilled his son is now wearing his archenemy Original Aquaman's green and orange colors. This is another example of how Young Justice is so overstuffed. I'd like to hear more about how Kal became the leader of the League. And the relationship between him and Manta. Kal was a big part of Young Justice in the first two seasons, but in Season three, he's been brushed to the side. Heck, Young Justice has been mostly been brushed to the side. Weisman seems to get a bee in his bonnet about something ("Ooh, the Female Furies!", "Ooh, the Rocket Reds!", "Ooh, the Suicide Squad!", "Ooh, a nut!") and rushes off to explore it instead of giving us more about Young Justice. And Weisman appears to have a lot of bees.

Kal and Amanda Waller, head of the Suicide Squad, get into a face-off over Waller using Kal's father as part of her disavowable assault squad. She threatens to blow the whistle on the League's covert squad, and Kal backs down. And again, I'd rather see more about Amanda Waller, and the Squad, and Kal.

Again, Beast Boy gets a large amount of screentime. Gretchen Goode (who is Granny Goodness) owns his studio contract and makes him do repeated takes as punishment for his threatening to expose her. He then goes on the Russia mission and does a lot of shapeshifting and villain punching. And Halo has a flashback to when she was Gabrielle, and took a bribe to let the assassin into the Markovian Palace to kill Brion's parents.

We also get more on the Taos youth center. We're introduced to Eduardo "Ed" Dorado Jr. (Freddy Rodriguez), who helps the teenage metas coming to the center. He's also a teleporter. Wendy shows up, and the two of them hit it off, but she decides to put on an inhibitor collar when her powers go out of control.

Overall, "Leverage" is a decent episode. It's mostly a series of big fight scenes, with lots of little character moments Weisman and writer Thomas Pugsley throw in. Black Manta gets several: he's reluctant to kill "children", and has a moment with Kal. Captain Boomerang is in full lecherous mode, and Mallah has a cute French beret. The rest of it seems like a backdoor pilot for a Suicide Squad series. Which I wouldn't mind, except about half of the Young Justice episodes seem like backdoor pilots for another series. "The Adventures of the Youth Center" seems like another pilot, as we're introduced to two new characters. Weisman seems more interested in adding new characters than exploring the old ones.

The final episode of the three is "Illusion of Control". Which seems like... yep, a backdoor pilot for another series. In this case a Young Young Justice series, as it focuses primarily on the adventures of the youngest members of the team: Static, Traci Thirteen, Blue Beetle, Kid Flash, and, of course, Beast Boy.

Two teams are celebrating Thanksgiving: Artemis and her adopted family of Will Harper and his daughter Lian, and Young Young Justice (YYJ) in Taos. The Harper dinner has a bit of angst as Artemis' mother shows up. I've been watching Young Justice from the beginning, and I don't remember Paula or how she ended up in a wheelchair. I could look it up in a wikia somewhere, but where would be the fun in that? Anyhoo, Paula learns Artemis is back to being Tigress, and isn't happy her daughter could end up crippled like she is. She finally tells Artemis to marry Will and give Lian a mother, since Lian's biological mother Cheshire ain't coming back. And they leave it at that.

In Taos, Count Vertigo and his henchman... umm, Henchy, show up. They abduct Gar's girlfriend Perdita, who is the rightful queen of Vlatava, and Vertigo's niece. YYJ force Vertigo's escape helicopter down at the Taos Pueblo. And soon learn "Vertigo" is actually Psimon in disguise, and "Henchy" is his lover, Devastation, since they're both members of a minor super-villain group, Onslaught. It turns out Perdita's abduction was a distraction so the other members of that group could abduct the youth center metas and return them to the meta-traffickers. YYJ makes short work of them, and in the end, Beast Boy decides to go public with YYJ's activities. He, Blue Beetle, and Kid Flash meet with the press while the other heroes watch from the shadows.

At the Harper house, Halo reveals to Dr. Jace she remembers her previous self, Gabrielle, took money to let in the assassin who killed Brion's parents. Jace tells her it will be okay and then calls someone and says she needs their help. There also have been a couple of scenes of Jace in her new lab analyzing a piece of hair from a hairbrush.

Also, Vic is feeling very sad and sulking. Forager finally has some dialogue and tries to cheer him up. Eventually Vic comes in for dinner.

Again, "Illusion of Control" is stuffed with plot points. Traci and Jaime (Blue Beetle's alter-ego) are a thing. Beast Boy and Perdita are a thing. Eduardo wants to have a thing with Wendy. Psimon and Devastation are a thing. Static doesn't have anything, and as he notes several times, he really needs a girlfriend. I guess Traci has some kind of bad luck/mishap-generating power, but she just... does it. There's no explanation of her background, or how her powers work. I suppose this is liberating for the creative team, but it tends to mean the viewer (well, this viewer) are often left adrift.

There are also so many plot points it's difficult to track everything's going on without a flowchart. The meta-trafficking ring alone has a lot of moving parts: The Light, and Lex Luthor, and Deathstroke, and Granny Goodness, and Apokolips, and Count Vertigo, and Henchy. And sometimes they drag out old plot points. The Halo/Gabrielle thing is just coming to fruition... fifteen episodes into the season. There's an awful lot of padding.

The main thing is, it's not clear where it's all going. Granted, we have ten more episodes before the end of the season. But the meta-trafficking ring seems to be going just fine even if it was forced underground. There are so many elements involved and they're so detached from each other that it's hard to see how the League and Young Justice are ever going to get anywhere against them. It just seems like an excuse (or more politely a backdrop) to set up a bunch of one-off episodes. They want to do the Rocket Reds and the Suicide Squad? No problem, just slot them in because the meta-trafficking ring will provide a fig leaf of a reason to involve them. A few fight scenes and character moments, and... nothing has changed. And on comes the next episode.

But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?

Written by Gislef on Jul 5, 2019


Braken7 posted 15 days ago

I think the reason why the season is focusing on Beast Boy and Cyborg isn't due to any cross-promotion but simply because it's called Outsiders, which sure, it's a reference to the actual Outsiders team in comics but it's important to remember that this word also means "a person who does not belong to a particular group", which I think applies to both of them.

And yes, Greg Weisman has called Young Justice an "adaptation of the DC Universe first and foremost", it's not really about the actual Young Justice (which is more of a thematic name for the show rather than referring to any actual team).

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