A new age of justice has dawned.
Cartoon Network serves up another four episodes of Young Justice, featuring familiar faces from the DC Comics universe. The good news: This show is great. The bad news: Only four episodes?!?
A group of teen heroes—don’t call them sidekicks—hope to impress their superiors and gain full membership in the Justice League. Robin (Jesse McCartney, Alvin and the Chipmunks), Superboy (Nolan North, Assassin’s Creed), Aqualad (Khary Payton, Teen Titans), Kid Flash (Jason Spisak, Piranha 2010), Artemis (Stephanie Lemelin, The Whole Truth), and Miss Martian (Danica McKellar, The Wonder Years) do the crimefighting thing while also dealing with the ups and downs of teenage life.
The League of Shadows denies any existence of this episode list:
The team members find themselves separated in a vast desert, with gaps in their memories. They have no idea how they got there, or whether to trust each other.
Red Arrow (Crispin Freeman, Naruto), who still refuses to join the team, runs into more trouble than he can handle when facing down more than one surprise villain during a peace conference.
Superboy and Miss Martian go undercover in a jail for super criminals, to uncover a plot some of the prisoners are hatching.
• “Home Front”
A group of androids attack the kids’ headquarters, taking out everyone except Robin and Artemis. Can the team’s only non-super-powered heroes overcome the odds and save their teammates?
One thing’s for sure: The show’s creators are not thinking small. They’re using the entire DC universe as their sandbox, so any episode is filled with characters, locales, and references comic book fans will be familiar with. For non-fans, each new episode means discovering a new part of the heroes’ world, just as we learn more about who they are as individuals.
The characters continue to subvert expectations. Superboy is not the nice guy we remember from old comics, but is instead a loose cannon, quick to anger and always looking for a fight. Robin is far less serious here than he was on Teen Titans, and is more humorous and upbeat. Aqualad is not a joke character, but a stalwart warrior and the team’s leader. Artemis is the quiet, serious one, but she has a troubled past and is sometimes unsure of her abilities. Kid Flash and Miss Martian round out the group with comic relief duties.
As well drawn (heh) as the characters are, let’s not forget superhero battles. With episodes taking place in different locales featuring a variety of enemies, no two action scenes feel the same. Seeing Aqualad really cut loose with his power in “Targets” was a highlight, as was the brutal takeover of the team’s headquarters in “Home Front.” Young Justice gets it right, superhero adventure on a grand scale, without dumbing it down for television.
How unfortunate, then, that the series is being treated as disposable entertainment with these “four episodes per disc” releases. Every episode ties into an ongoing plot, and little reveals along the way further our understandings of the characters. The entire season is meant to be watched from beginning to end to get the full effect.
Picture and audio are great, as expected from a recently-made show. Colors and bright and vivid, and the sound is clean and booming. No extras.
Do I recommend this show? Absolutely. It’s grand entertainment. The caveat, though, is you have to start from the beginning and work your way up to this disc.