Can’t wait for Ambush Bug to join the team.
The first season of Young Justice was a pleasant surprise, an island of calm among the vast of ocean of superhero media. It explored the DC Universe in such a way that was fun and exciting for newcomers and hardcore comic book fans alike. After that season ended with what seemed like a satisfying, conclusive ending, a lot of fans wondered where they could possibly go in a second. The answer? They’d go in as many different directions as they can.
Five years have passed since the events of Young Justice season one. The events of the finale, though, are still being dealt with. Key members of the Justice League still have gaps in their memories from when their minds were being controlled. Now, it’s revealed that the League attacked an alien world during their blackouts, and the aliens are preparing a massive retaliation on Earth.
The chief leaguers take off for Oa, home of the Green Lantern Corps, in the hopes of working out a peaceful solution. This leaves a bunch of league second stingers, and, more importantly, the young “don’t call them sidekicks” team. Superboy (Nolan North, Assassin’s Creed) and Miss Martian (Danica McKellar, The Wonder Years) are still with the team, in a leadership role for newbies like Beast Boy (Logan Grove), Lagoon Boy (Yuri Lowenthal, Ben 10 Alien Force), Impulse (Jason Marsden), Wonder Girl (Mae Whitman, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World), Batgirl (Alyson Stoner, Camp Rock), Bumblebee (Masasa Moyo, Angels and Demons) Blue Beetle (Eric Lopez), among several others. As for the other members of the team, the ones from five years ago, their lives have seen many changes.
The first season established a singular emotional throughline for everything that happened. The kids wanted to earn the respect of their elders in the league. No matter how crazy or comic book-y things got, viewers still had that one throughline to carry everything. The protagonists had a single goal, and all the action and world-building always came back to the one goal. This season lacks that throughline. Basically, the two threads running through these episodes are, first, the Justice League’s memory loss and its subsequent fallout, and second, how life has changed for the original Young Justice members over the last five years. What’s the problem? These are cerebral challenges, lacking that singular emotional element. That’s not to say this season is entirely plot-based, it’s just that character development feels uneven, and all over the place. This extends to the basic plot structure of any given episode as well. In the first season, we had the team. But in this season, there are so many characters running around, I lose sense of who is and isn’t “the team.” Hey, I loved all those old-school JLA/JSA team-ups where it would be a surprise as to which characters would team up with which, but it doesn’t work as well when you’re just being introduced to all these folks at once.
Superboy and Miss Martian have split, with her now dating someone else, and this drives a lot of tension and teen angst in several episodes. Seeing where the original team members’ lives have gone gives them a lot of emotional heft to play with, as they’re in new relationships, and, in one case, with conflicting loyalties. We spend quite a bit of time with the new Blue Beetle—this is the Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle—as we get to see glimpses of his home life and various other “real-life” issues he has to deal with. Picking up comic relief duties are Impulse, who plays up a lot of fish-out-of-water gags, and Wonder Girl, who gets some of the best lines as she is incredibly positive and overenthusiastic about everything.
OK, enough character analysis. Let’s talk superhero action! When you’ve got a variety of characters with a number of different powers, that means the action scenes are never repetitive, and are staged in numerous creative ways. Folks like Superboy and Blue Beetle can unleash all manner of destruction, while street-level heroes like Robin and Wonder Girl get by with plenty of slick martial arts moves. For villains, the conspiracy known as “The Light,” made up of a gang of DC heavy-hitter baddies, makes a return. The aliens are led by the not-scarily named the Partner, and they provide all kinds of challenges for our heroes. Other famous to semi-famous baddies making appearances include Black Manta, Queen Bee, and Captain Cold. The creators really up the stakes with an attack on the team’s home base that is shocking in how far it goes to upset the show’s status quo.
There was a lot of excitement among fans about Batgirl joining the show, only to have her do practically nothing. She busts out a few cool martial arts moves and cracks a joke at one point, but other than that, she’s strictly a background character. Similarly, Nightwing shows up to chat with Robin, leading to all kinds of questions about which Robin is which from last season to this one. Hopefully there will be a Bat-family themed episode coming up to sort this out and to let Batgirl have her moment in the spotlight.
Remember when I said “Aqualad” was too dorky of a name for one of these characters? Well, I’m eating crow now, because we get a new Atlantean this season named “Lagoon Boy.” He’s actually a pretty cool guy, able to grow into Hulk-like size when underwater, and that’s cool, but…Lagoon Boy? Really?! What self-respecting teenage crime fighter would go around calling himself that?
This two-disc set contains the first ten episodes of the second season. For a recently-made show, it’s no surprise that the video and audio are quite good, with clean, clear animation backed by bright, vivid colors. The sound makes good use of all the fights and explosions, with dialogue coming through smoothly as well. For bonus features, you can check out three bonus episodes of Batman: Brave and the Bold, guest-starring Blue Beetle.
Although something of a narrative mess, there’s a lot to enjoy about these new episodes of Young Justice, enough so that I’m intrigued to see where the rest of the season is going.