27 November 2010 | paperback_wizard
'Independence Day' or 'All we want to do is save the world!'
There has been no lack of series about the young, troubled, and super-powered set. Arguably, the very concept of the super-hero genre has been called a teen power fantasy. The hero IS the teenager, striking out at the world, righting wrongs in a way a kid never could.
And I can see that. I can also see the implications of that notion. Because teens are sometimes scared of themselves. Scared of the new thoughts and feelings they have, the older they get. Scared of the changes in how they perceive themselves and how they see the world.
Why, even Robin has days when Batman seems like a weird control freak rather than the beloved mentor who keeps Gotham City safe! There comes a time when a young super-hero wants to venture out with his peers.
This is the core premise behind Young Justice, the latest series based on DC Comics' vast and rich mythos of super-heroes. Heading the series is Greg Weisman, perhaps best known for his work on the cult classic Disney series "Gargoyles" and the highly popular "Spectacular Spider-Man" animated series.
His strengths are character development, intelligent and complex villains, and world-building. We get quite a lot of each in the first episode.
The partners (do NOT call them "sidekicks") of the sixteen-member strong Justice League are getting ready to take their first step into, well, the Big League. Access to the Hall of Justice. Participation in the missions that save the World, the Universe, All of Reality, etc.
But when the League does get an alert, they're left to pose for tourists and stay put. How infuriating.
Why, it's almost enough to make them want to sneak out and investigate a mysterious fire at a top secret genetic research facility! Which they do
only to find that someone's after-school science project involves cloning the most powerful hero on Earth, and transforming him into a loyal, brainwashed slave. My, my, my
The banter is crisp and funny, ranging from Robin's pondering on why people are always being over or underwhelmed, yet one never hears about someone just being "whelmed", to the classic bit about confusing codenames: Bystander #1: "Hey, look. It's Speedy!" Bystander #2: "Oh. Is he the Flash's sidekick?" Bystander #1: "No, he's Green Arrow's." Bystander #2: "
well, that makes NO sense at ALL." Most of the episode sets up the cast dynamic. Speedy is the hot-headed rebel. So rebellious, in fact, that he storms off in a rage a mere eight minutes into the episode. Robin is the tech geek. Kid Flash is the plucky comedy relief . Aqualad is the calm, natural leader who always finds his center, despite increasing misgivings about the world and his place in it. And Superboy is the freshly-minted son Superman never knew he had
much to each other's mutual confusion and anger.
I loved the usage of obscure characters from the DC mythos, such as Blockbuster, the Golden Guardian and Dubbilex the DNAlien. I loved the twist about the true goals of the eerie creatures being created by the Big Bads.
The Big Bads themselves, an ominous unseen council of ominous known as "The Light" managed to seem creepy and smart rather than cliché and trite. Always a plus.
If I have a complaint about the pilot, it's that the female members of them team were either absent entirely (Artemis won't join until episode six) or only made a cameo in the coda (Miss Martian, the sweet-natured niece of J'Onn J'Onzz, Manhunter From Mars). Hopefully they'll be given a prominent role in the actual series.
All in all an exciting, witty, satisfying pilot. The scope of the series looks ambitious, the animation budget seems to be sky high, and the young heroes are now basically the Black Ops branch of the Justice League! That's a notion as disturbing as it is awesome. I'm sure the moral ambiguity will be addressed.
Count me in for the regular series, coming out January of next year.
(Originally appeared at http://fourthdayuniverse.com/reports/ )