Young Justice: Dangerous Secrets (DVD)

“What are we waiting for, a theme song?”

Young Justice: Dangerous Secrets is a two-disc set containing the second half of the show’s first season. The first half was previously released in three separately-sold single-disc sets. Who makes these decisions?

Brain-twisting release schedules aside, this is a top-notch show, one that no superhero fan should miss.

A group of teen heroes, former sidekicks to members of the Justice League, hope to someday join the league. Until they can prove themselves, the league allows them to operate as a team, handling smaller, side missions the adult heroes can’t get to.

• Aqualad, the always-does-right-thing leader (Khary Payton, Teen Titans)
• Robin, martial artist and master tactician (Jesse McCartney, Alvin and the Chipmunks)
• Superboy, mega-powerful angry loose cannon (Nolan North, Assassin’s Creed)
• Kid Flash, super-speedy jokester (Jason Spisak, Piranha (2010))
• Miss Martian, shape-changing, mind-reading nice girl (Danica McKellar, The Wonder Years)
• Artemis, tough-girl archer with a mysterious past (Stephanie Lemelin, The Whole Truth)

Along the way, the team picks up a few new members, magician Zatanna (Lacey Chabert, Party of Five) and trash-talking flyer Rocket (Miss Kittie, The Boondocks). They have occasional run-ins with Red Arrow (Crispen Freeman, Naruto), who still refuses to join their group. Also, piece by piece, the team gets closer and closer to uncovering a plot by a secret organization known only as the Light.

This episode list was swiped from the Watchtower database:

• “Alpha Male”
While on assignment in India, the team mistrusts one another as suspicions abound that one of them is a mole.

• “Revelation”
The team might get their moment in the spotlight when the Injustice League shows up, threatening worldwide destruction.

• “Humanity”
The heroes learn the fate of their missing mentor, Red Tornado, who was kidnapped at the end of the last volume.

• “Failsafe”
It appears that the Justice League has been defeated once and for all, leaving their teen counterparts with only themselves to rely on.

• “Disordered”
Superboy has a night out on the town with the Forever People, a gang of trippy young heroes from another world.

• “Secrets”
On Halloween night, Artemis and Zatanna get to know each other while having fun and then chasing some genuine supernatural frights.

• “Misplaced”
It’s a global crisis when all the adults in the world disappear. A young kid named Billy Batson could be the key to saving the day.

• “Coldhearted”
On Kid Flash’s birthday, he’s given an assignment to run across the country to save a young girl’s life, learning a few lessons along the way.

• “Image”
A covert trip into enemy territory threatens to reveal all of Miss Martians secrets to the rest of the group.

• “Agendas”
Superboy returns to Cadmus, the lab where he was originally cloned, only to discover how much life there has changed.

• “Insecurity”
This time, it’s Artemis whose secrets are about to be revealed when the team is reunited with some familiar foes.

• “Performance”
Robin faces his past as the team goes undercover as circus performers.

• “Usual Suspects”
The Light finally makes its move, hoping to sway some of the young heroes into switching sides.

• “Auld Acquaintance”
Justice League headquarters has been invaded. The team must save the day, but standing in their way is…the Justice League?

Continuity. Comic book fans love to go on and on about continuity. Why? On the surface, it’s fun when one story references a previous story, making each issue or episode feel connected and part of the same universe. In a bigger sense, though, it’s a feeling of world-building, of mythology. That’s the same feeling you get when watching Young Justice. The movie makes use of the entire DC universe, so that any DC characters, locations, or concepts could show up at any time. It’s a grand stage for which all the action and drama can commence.

The good news is, you don’t have to be a comic-reading McDorfus to follow all this. Because we’re seeing everything from the kids’ perspectives, you don’t need to do the required reading. It’s understood that there’s this larger organization called the Justice League that saves the world on a regular basis. They’re on the periphery of the kids’ point of view, so if you’ve never heard of league also-rans like Icon or Captain Atom, then don’t worry about it.

More good news is that despite all the superheroic save-the-world craziness, the show never forgets the character development. The characters have really grown and changed over the course of the season. They started as disparate team members, ultimately learning to trust one another and becoming friends. It sounds trite when I describe it like that, but it works in context. As the teen heroes learn to trust and befriend each other, the audience at home comes to care about them as well. As the season heads toward its big finale, the kids have to come clean with their secrets, only to find being honest with each other is more of a challenge than things like alien invaders could ever be.

I’m being non-spoilery here, because I want you all to see this season from the beginning, and watch how nicely hints from early episodes pay off in these later episodes. Although episodes are mostly stand-alone, both character arcs and the season-long arc build in each one, making this one singular superhero epic. Its truly epic what they’ve created here.

Let’s not forget the show’s bread and butter, the big action. With a number of characters, and all with different powers, the fight scenes never get dull or repetitive. The scripts keep things varied enough so that each one of the young heroes gets a moment to shine, even though some are more powerful than others. The show has a lot of humor as well, and it’s all character-based, believable, and never once feeling out of place.

Through an increasingly convoluted set of circumstances, it all comes to a head in the season finale, win which the unthinkable happens—the Young Justice goes head-to-head with the Justice League. It’s a big, explosive, satisfying ending. Yet, the question of whether the young heroes are worthy of the league, which has been their motivation from day one, goes unresolved. Obviously, the creators want to have a second season, but it’s odd that everything is tied up so neatly except this one thing.

The smooth, clean animation really pops on DVD, with bright, vivid colors, and no signs of pixelization or color bleeding. The sound is good as well, making the most of the laser blasting, big booming action. A digital comic is the only bonus feature.

If you’re going to enjoy Young Justice, and you should, you’ve got to start from the beginning and work your way up to this set.

The Verdict

You have been found worthy.

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