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Jurgan writes...

I have a bad habit of getting DVD's as presents or while they're on sale and not watching them for years. Case in point, I just finally watched my Young Justice episodes. I planned to write a review of season one, and I was a little disappointed at how anticlimactic the whole thing was. Then I realized I only had the first twelve episodes. Well, I've got a little time, so I'll write a season 1 part 1 review.

First, background: I was always more of a Marvel guy, and I know practically nothing about the DC universe. Well, I know a lot about Batman's corner thanks to various TV shows, movies, video games (Arkham City is one of the best games of all time), and a few graphic novels. Aside from that, I could tell you a handful of things about Superman and maybe the names of some other characters. So I'm mostly going in blind on this one. I've heard some descriptions of events from fans on S8, but I don't know who Vandal Savage is anyway (some sort of thousand year old caveman, I think?), so spoilers don't mean much. One funny thing, though, is that I usually watch DVD's with subtitles so I don't miss any dialogue, and in the scenes where the mysterious members of The Light talk, the subtitles gave their names. Like: "Vandal Savage: Blah blah blah. Brain: Blah blah blah." That's a pretty embarrassing slip-up.

It's hard to approach an ensemble show, because there are so many characters we have to get to know. Spectacular Spider-Man was about Peter Parker. Gargoyles was about the Manhattan Clan but almost always seen from Goliath's point of view. But there's not really one "main character" on Young Justice. As a result, the show seemed to focus on quirks as a shortcut to characterization. Things like Robin's playing with pronouns, Wally's souvenir collecting, and "Hello, Megan" are helpful to me, as I often have trouble keeping straight who's who in a large cast. On the other hand, it's not exactly depth of characterization. The only one I really connected with was Aqualad and his conflict over where he belonged and whether he should be leader. I kind of liked Superboy's trying to deal with his "father," as well, and the implied budding romance between Wally and Artemis was cute. Red Arrow/Speedy was a jerk, and Crispin Freeman did a good job making me dislike him. There's potential there, for sure, but I'm hoping we plunge a little deeper into the characters in the back half.

As for the story, it's very different depending on whose POV you have. If we only saw the heroes, it would be almost entirely episodic. Each conflict appears to be separate from the others. My favorite episode was probably whichever one where they all get amnesia. I also liked the prison riot and the bit in episode 12 where Robin and Artemis are the only ones not captured, and Artemis has to save the day. There's an old joke about why the Justice League (or the Avengers, for that matter) have "guy with arrows" in a team of the most powerful people on Earth. This episode has the character herself acknowledge that, and have to overcome the resulting feelings of insecurity. On the other hand, from the villains' perspective it's all connected. Most episodes ended with one of your patented "Xanatos Tags," where the villains muse about how they didn't get everything they wanted but still advanced their overall plan. The Light, whatever they are, are gradually taking over more and more, but they're doing it under the radar so as not to bring down the hammer on themselves. So I like the core concept that Young Justice is also a below the radar group to confront them. At this point, though, it's not really clear what they're after, and some of the tags strain plausibility. They staged a prison riot and mass escape attempt just to get Hugo Strange in charge? That seems like overkill. I guess they also wanted some of the prisoners to escape if possible, but only The Riddler did. I'm hoping he gets a moment of glory later in the show.

So far, I'd say this show is good, not great. I enjoyed it, and there was good action and humor, but the whole thing felt kind of inconsequential. I guess that's the problem with reviewing half a season- it's deliberately not a whole story, so there's no way to know what's important and what's not. Hopefully, it all builds to something bigger and more exciting by the end. I know season 2 involves a five year time skip and is called "Invasion," so that certainly has promise. I'll let you know when I've finished the first season, but for now I'd give it a B, or 3 out of 4 stars.

Greg responds...


Response recorded on March 10, 2017