Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"Young Justice" Saves DC Nation

This is a series that, even though it's been around since last year, I've just now gotten to watching. Young Justice is one of Cartoon Network's entries in its DC Nation programming block.  It centers on a team of young heroes as they work under the supervision of the Justice League to carry out missions and learn what it means to be a team and a hero.

The "Team" in the first season is comprised of Robin, Kid Flash, a new Aqualad, Superboy, Miss Martian, and Green Arrow's new protege Artemis.  New members eventually join up, but these six remain the focus of the series during the first season.

First off, what I like about the show.  It looks great, especially when compared to that god-awful looking Green Lantern.  I also like how each member of the team has some sort of relationship with their corresponding "senior" hero whether it be familial (Miss Martian and her uncle Martian Manhunter) or a bit strained (Superboy and Superman).  And even though normally I don't like characters who are invented purely for a show, I really like the new Aqualad and the gravitas he brings to the Team.  Plus, the fact that he is black actually serves a narrative purpose later on rather than just to make the roster politically correct (I'm looking at you John Stewart on Justice League and Justice League Unlimited).  Coming of age is a major theme, and it is executed rather well as each hero learns the full extent and limits of their powers and how to work with each other.  I particularly enjoyed Robin's struggles with leadership and his relationship with Batman.  The show feels less like and origin story and more of a proper tale unto itself.

There are some drawbacks however.  Many times the writing feels off or just plain bad.  Some little gimmicks, like Robin's fascination with prefixes, strike me as more annoying than clever.   The show may be geared for teens, but there is way too much crushing and relationship stuff going on for my liking.  Luckily though there isn't much in the way of the dreaded love triangle.  To further the "don't trust anyone under 30" vibe, many of the established members of the Justice League come off as cold and even downright harsh.  I can't help but scratch my head at the fact that the two most compassionate heroes are Red Tornado (an android) and Batman (The Goddamn Batman)!  Young Justice is in the middle of its second season, and the tone this time around has shifted drastically.  The whole season is now one long arc with each episode tying directly to the next one.  Season one was also guilty of this with its references to the Big Bad at the end of nearly every episode, but at least the first time around it was a bit looser and a viewer could enjoy an episode without feeling completely lost.

As I've pointed out before, the two main comic companies seem to have differing levels of success regarding their respective properties.  DC has always led the pack in animation, both for TV and their direct to DVD films.  Young Justice fits in nicely with DC's other successful TV shows, and while I don't think it will surpass the universe created by Bruce Timm, it is still a strong entry in the animated superhero genre.  All it needs now is more of this guy.


  1. They initially try to keep it a secret which Robin it is, but it's eventually revealed to be Dick Grayson in season one. In season two, set five years later, he's now Nightwing and Tim is the new Robin. There's even a nod to Jason Todd in an episode in season two.

  2. So glad you finally jumped on the bandwagon with this show! Unfortunately, however, I hear they just went on hiatus again :(