"Young Justice" Season One Volume Two – Justice Rules
The DC superheroes have had plenty of shows featuring their powers and heroics. Among them are a few I have thoroughly enjoyed, like Justice League/Unlimited and various Batman shows. The sidekicks, on the other hand, haven’t gotten as much love, with Teen Titans previously being the only (or one of the only) show(s) featuring a group of sidekicks coming together to take down villains. Young Justice is like a sleeker, less quirky Teen Titans, with different sidekicks and the involvement of the Justice League. Since DC has such a large fan base, it was not hard to get on board with the concepts Young Justice brings to the table. The key is the execution of those concepts, making sure each character is developed properly and ultimately doing justice to a universe with so much history. Young Justice Season One Volume Two continues the show’s streak of top-notch storytelling and action.
Young Justice features an overarching plot involving “The Light,” an organization of high-class super villains intent on taking over the world and showing it the light. But each episode of the series focuses on a single mission, which sometimes require the entire team but commonly center around one individual. Since each episode is only twenty-some minutes, this is a smart way to make sure each character gets attention while still keeping the “team” aspect.
“Schooled,” for instance, focuses on Superboy and his growing anger towards everyone around him. When the team is assigned to protect different transports of a disassembled Android developed by Professor Ivo, the task proves difficult as Superboy goes off on his own and refuses to work with his teammates.
In “Schooled” we also learn there is a mole on the team, so eyebrows will go up when “Infiltrator” adds a mysterious archer named Artemis to the team. She claims to be Green Arrow’s niece, but Speedy, entering in his new guise as Red Arrow, knows she isn’t, making her motives unclear. The story has the team assigned to protect Dr. Roquette from the League of Shadows, and Artemis must prove her worth and confront an individual from her past. There is quite a bit more going on as well. For just an archer, Red Arrow has impressive abilities, single-handedly saving Dr. Roquette from the League of Shadows; with the inclusion of Chesire, it also displays a lot of exciting fight choreography.
When Kent Nelson goes missing in “Denial,” Red Tornado sends the team to the Tower of Fate in order to investigate and to secure the helmet of Doctor Fate. The team soon learns that Kid Flash does not believe in magic, and as he is forced to fight a Lord of Chaos, Klarion, he must make a decision that could affect the rest of his life. This episode stands out due to the inclusion of Doctor Fate and the mystic arts in general. That is a portion of the DC world that is so rich in details that it would naturally make for a fun story.
Aquaboy gets his moment to shine in “Downtime,” which shows him in turmoil over whether he wishes to live on land or in Atlantis. While Aquaman is away on a Justice League mission, Atlantis is attacked by Black Manta in an attempt to retrieve a giant frozen starfish, and Aqualad must team up with Garth and defend Atlantis. The conflict between staying on land or going back to Atlantis is a deep one, and when Tula gets added to the equation it isn’t hard to understand why Aqualad is struggling. Out of everyone on the team Aqualad is the most mature, so it is appropriate to see him in a vulnerable light for once.
With six main team members, the kids are being developed slowly but surely. “Schooled,” for instance, shows that Superboy may not be able to find the dad he wants in Superman, but he can find the family he needs from the team. Robin does not get too much focus in this string of episodes, but being Robin automatically makes him awesome. The interaction with the Justice League and mentors is an enticing part of Young Justice, and in “Downtime” Bruce asks Robin to play basketball with him when he sees Robin’s frustrations. Moments like this show how much detail and thought Brandon Vietti and Greg Weisman have put into Young Justice. In addition to the main characters, it is the inclusion of the Justice Leaguers, the cameos and villains that help make Young Justice so well crafted. It provides a nice treat to older fans, and allows newer fans to be introduced to them and want to know more.
Other characters are not so lucky. Kid Flash seems to grow and understand the world of magic in “Denial” but by the end he is back to himself. His jokester schtick is sometimes funny, but by now it would be nice to see a new side to him. His battle tactics could also use improvement, with everyone else on the team being able to use their abilities better than he can. Miss Martian could use some personality growth also, as she is stuck in perpetual awestruck school girl mode.
I also have the feeling that some of the missions in Young Justice are too large for the team to take on. In “Schooled” it is silly to leave the android parts to the protection of the team. The android was able to copy the abilities of each superhero and took hours for the Justice League to defeat. Did the League really think having a few decoys would prevent Ivo from finding his android? Superman or a few of the League’s stronger members could have accompanied the team and it would have been safer. Sure, the team has to start somewhere and prove their worth, but at the expense of the entire world? The larger-scale battles and missions work better when they are spontaneous, like in “Downtime.” There, Aqualad does not return to Atlantis expecting a fight, it just happens, and he has to utilize his combat knowledge to assure victory. It is a clever way to showcase Aqualad’s skills, unlike “Schooled” where the team gets lucky at the end.
Other than these details, the episodes in Young Justice Season One Volume Two are generally very satisfying. In a show with heroes and villains, it is imperative that the action stays fresh. This means introducing new choreography, raising the stakes, and having the team work together. Teamwork is one aspect that needs improving, but since these are the early stages it makes sense that they don’t work well together. Each villain provides a new set of abilities for the team to fight against and it makes for impressive combat. It looks as if Young Justice has been allotted a nice budget, because the animation is smooth and meshes well with the tone of the series. It looks particularly nice in “Downtime,” and the design of Atlantis and the mystic arts spells are very pleasing to the eye.
There are a few problems with Young Justice, but none of them are big enough to eclipse how great everything else is. The intricate plot is coming together smoothly and each character is being explored as best they can with the amount of time Young Justice is working with. It would appear impossible for each episode of Young Justice to be as good as the last, but Brandon Vietti and Greg Weisman continue to prove this notion wrong. Young Justice Season One Volume Two takes the strong momentum Volume One built and takes off, leaving other shows in the dust.