Young Justice: First Impressions

New team for new times

I have been consistently impressed by the writing and world building of Young Justice. The evolving story and huge cast of characters is a delicate juggling act and I think they do it very well. This season has had a lot of politics and scheming and secrets along with the action. Now, tired of the shadows and the secrets, some of the younger heroes are stepping forward. A new squad emerges from the ranks to go fully public and offer some hope in “First Impression.”

After an ominous scene at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean to open things up, we get a special meeting at the Watchtower. Both encouraged by what happened in Taos and sick of the bad news in the media as orchestrated by Lex Luthor, Gar AKA Beast Boy (I will always like the Changeling name better for him and wish they’d bring it back) has called a special meeting with several of the leaders of the various Justice League teams to pitch an idea. He’s wants to take a group public, to inspire others and combat the negative media perceptions of metas in general. Both Tigress and Kal/Aquaman (I still want to know what happened to Arthur) have reservations, as does Miss Martian. Gar, however, isn’t taking no for an answer and shows how far his plans have gone. He’s even assembled a team of his own: himself, Geo-Force, Wonder Girl, Blue Beetle, Static, and Kid Flash II. He also has a headquarters that he set up with the money he’s gotten from the tv show he now hates doing but still has to because of contracts. It’s ironic that he’s going against Granny Goodness using her own money. Dr. Jace volunteers to move in as well as den mother, and the other League leaders are out of objections. In the comics, Gar has often been underestimated and then shown what he can do, most notably at Donna Troy’s wedding (a fantastic story if you ever get to read it). I’m glad someone remembered that, or this is a hell of a coincidence.

In Brooklyn. Maine, a young woman chats with the local sheriff and then the town suddenly gets attacked by spaceships. Even as the sheriff is saving her life, she’s acting like a teen and putting stuff up on that world’s version of Twitter. In no time, this gets to Gar, and he summons the team with a “Trouble-Alert,” another callback to the old Superfriends cartoon. I’m not entirely clear on how they (except for Kid-Flash) get from Hollywood to Maine so fast, but the team shows up just as Aquaman gets beaten by force of numbers. They spring into action and while they’re a new team, they all have experience, and we thankfully avoid any rookie mistakes. Several young women show up to document the events, and they are an entertaining mix between the old DC group of the Newsboy Legion and the Scooby Doo gang. Even the town, Brooklyn, is what one of the Newsboys was called. Back in Star City, Artemis realizes that with all the young heroes moving out, she’s actually going to miss them, and has a sleepover with Tara and Halo.

The young women interview Gar, and he shows some real maturity by not taking credit, introducing his team, and staying very level headed. Gar is a celebrity, after all, and he knows how to handle PR. Of course, no good deed goes unpunished and the mayor rants about Lex Luthor’s laws, vigilantes, and the League not being able to act without government approval (part of why Gar formed this team in the first place). The sheriff reluctantly arrests the team, and in another shocker, they don’t do anything foolish and cooperate, after subduing the pilots of the ships. While the attacking force is all Reach technology, the pilots prove to be agents of Intergang, confusing everyone. They even have a “meddling kids” moment right out of Scooby Doo before things get more serious. The ships have some automatic features, and have summoned reinforcements in the form of a much large automated ship. Gar and company un-arrest themselves and leap into action once again. The mayor has somehow or other called in the US Air Force, but they are not equipped for combat against aliens, much like the first half of Independence Day.

The sleepover gets interrupted by a loud thunderstorm, which upsets young Lian, and Halo who, as she has total amnesia, isn’t used to storms either. Artemis handles some of it, and surprises Tara by putting Lian in her care. After a lot of chaos, the team manages to beat the big ship, make it crash in a park instead of flattening the town, and emerges to get more good press from the young women. The mayor once again insists on arresting the heroes, but the sheriff stands up to him and finds a way to let them off the hook. The team ends up being called the Outsiders, which is both the subtitle of this season and roughly how the original Outsiders team got their name in the comics. Later, the conspiracy team meets in the Batcave as Aquaman, Batman, Nightwing, Oracle, Wonder Woman, and Miss Martian discuss the new developments and we learn there was a reason for Aquaman to be in that small town. We see one of the traitors on the team relaying information and awaiting instructions as the other heroes celebrate.

What I liked: The writing was impressive, managing a lot of deep cuts in a short episode. The reasoning behind Gar’s team made a lot of sense, and so did the lineup, for the most part (Wonder Girl’s motive for joining was a bit weak). Gar stood up to the mayor, the aliens, and the League with equal courage and calmness. Lian sleeping with a stuffed Wonder Woman was great. The Newsboy Legion/Scooby Gang was entertaining. The things going on in the shadows are interesting, although when he finally learns about it, I can’t imagine Gar will be happy. With him getting a lot more media presence, that could go badly. All the team got good moments in the battle, although some got less time than others (poor Static).

What I didn’t: They did get all the way across the country really quickly and I doubt Kid-Flash carried them all.

This series continues to impress and delight me. It’s a love letter to some of the great parts of DC Comics history that the current comics have more or less turned their backs on. I’ll give this a 4 out of 5. The Outsiders are going to be an interesting addition to this world’s already complicated meta-human politics.