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Young Justice: I Didn’t Know I Wanted It

by on October 10, 2011

When asked about what they’d want in a DC show, half of all
responses are “I want a Batman that can punch people through the heads and then
Bruce Wayne will hit on the widow at the funeral.” The other half are the
simple responses of “Plastic Man series,” or “a Green Lantern Patrol show would
be sweet.” I may have been looking in the wrong places, but in the time before
2010, I never once saw someone say “I’d like a show where just the sidekicks
fight crime. Sure Batman and Superman would be in it, and, don’t get me wrong,
they’d be awesome. But what I really want to see are the fourteen-year-olds.”

Cut to now, where “Young Justice” is midway through its
first season, and has become both critically acclaimed and very popular. It’s
drawn comparisons to earlier shows, like “Teen Titans,” and “Justice League
Unlimited,” and while many claim it better than the former, they also claim
that, with time, it could prove superior to the latter.

How is it so popular? We weren’t clamoring for it. Or at
least I wasn’t. If someone had told me in 2009 that they were excited about a
show where Superboy and Miss Martian dealt with relationship issues, I would’ve
asked them when I could borrow their latest issue of Seventeen. I would’ve
written it off as a probably bad Teen Titans clone, and I would’ve imagined enduring
a pilot episode full of Aqualad being “comically” unable to understand human
language and Robin making at least two fart jokes. Then, after watching said
hypothetical bad pilot, I would’ve blogged about how much I hated it, and how
much I wanted a grim Batman show, one with no sidekicks and loads of
Joker-torture. Because I’m that kind
of fan.

Maybe it’s because I love Greg Weisman’s style. Legend has
it that if Greg Weisman got stabbed, he would bleed Shakespeare references and
liquid long form story-telling. Here, Weisman has brought his brand of humor,
action and plotting into the DC Universe and has made it work so well. Often
times I feel the need to say to myself “This is too good. This can’t be this
kind of show. A show about sidekicks. Fifteen-year-olds. What?” After which, my
girlfriend will tell me to be quiet, because I’m missing Robin’s spin kicks.

Weisman doesn’t just tell stories, he’s interested in telling a story. I still lament the
loss of The Spectacular Spider-Man and I still sometimes hope that whoever
made the decision to pull the plug on it has their shoes peed on at the urinal
every day, but Young Justice is too good. It doesn’t provide a re-invention
of the DC Universe. This isn’t an origin tale. This is the first DC show where
I actually feel like there’s history. I feel like the older heroes have been
fighting crime for a while. I feel like there have been different generations
of Justice League. I feel like there has been tension between members that
existed before Robin, Kid Flash and Aqualad first went into the Cadmus
building. I feel like, for the first time, that a DC show is building off of
things that I don’t know about, but that will be explained or at least
referenced later.

I’m not trying to diss the Timmiverse when I say that Young
has become my favorite DC show of all time. Timm and Dini and company
sit atop animated pedestals, ones shaped like the words “awesome” and “awesome,
again,”  and, in my mind, are pretty untouchable.
The cartoons that they created are timeless, and there’s never a time when I’m
not in the mood to watch an episode of Batman Beyond or Justice League.

But what puts Young Justice at the top of my list is how
much I didn’t want a show like that. How limited my “Batman must bleed and
punch faces” mindset was before the show premiered.  It might seem like high praise, and it
probably is, but Young Justice has expanded my mind in what I could see myself wanting
from a DC show. I think outside the box a little more. With the recently
announced, Beware The Batman show, I’m no longer saying to myself “There’s a
guy who looks like a frog and Alfred has guns. I didn’t know that the creators
of this would be allowed to hold sharp, dangerous objects like pencils.” But
now, bring it on Beware The Batman. Weisman, along with Brandon Vietti and
others have shown me that I don’t necessarily have to want a certain show for
me to fall in love with it.

This entire blog might seem biased, but, as someone who has,
for a majority of his writing career, written fake dating advice and criticisms
on Twitter trends, it was about as un-biased as I could make it. Nevermind, I
take that back. It’s not biased to say that Young Justice rules. Because it
does. And I can’t wait to see where the rest of the first season takes us. I
can’t wait to see more about Red Tornado’s betrayal and Superboy’s constant
adjusting to humanity and the reveals of who the different members of The Light

But, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go back to dreaming of a
show where The Penguin will have a five-minute monologue about the nature of
being wealthy and a freak. Before getting mangled, of course. 

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