Young Justice: Early Warning

Today’s After School Special of Things Not To Do, Especially At the Same Time…

After a longer break than I intended to take, I got some time to return to highly enjoyable and really well done Young Justice cartoon. This season’s subtitle has been “Outsiders” and, while it’s not exactly a recreation of the team Batman founded in the comics in the 80’s, it’s been cleverly done and shows the increasingly complex world these stories are happening in. Now, Beast Boy (I still miss the Changeling name he used to go by in New Teen Titnas) is leading a team that’s more in the public spotlight and doing what they think is right instead of worrying about political complications. That’s a plot simmering in the background in “Early Warning.”

In this world, Courtney Whitmore seems to be an entertainment reporter focusing on superheroes, rather than the heroine she is the comics and the live-action show on the CW. She enthusiastically reports about the Outsiders’ recent exploits and how they are inspiring younger metahumans and non-powered teens alike. While Beast Boy is guiding most of his team to a metahuman trafficking ring operating out of Cuba, Dr. Jace gets Forager, Tara, and Violet ready for school. Pulling Violet aside, Jace shares some serious news, and then convinces her to keep it secret. Given what I know of Dr. Jace in the comics, I’m suspicious of her motives, but they have made a lot of changes on this show, so I might be going down the wrong path. Up in the Watchtower, Aquaman (I still want to know what happened to the first one) and Miss Martian debate the problems with a team of heroes going to a foreign country, but Zatanna decides what there is more important than politics and goes to help.

At the obligatory abandoned warehouse (I guess they have those for supervillains even in Cuba), Klarion the Witch Boy and his familiar Teekl are up to worse than usual. We see what he’s doing with the captive metahumans, and it’s really ungood. He does something sadistic and creepy enough to be in a Stephen King book, which shows us both how cruel he is and what’s becoming of the powered kids that don’t measure up. Beast Boy, Wonder Girl, Static, and Geo-Force arrive, try and do recon, and then go in with a decent plan. Kid-Flash and Blue Beetle, usually members of this group, are in Keystone City for the funeral of Joan Garrick, wife of Jay Garrick, the first Flash. Beast Boy has blossomed into a great leader, and keeps the team focused, changing tactics once they realize what they are actually up against. It’s not something they’re really equipped to deal with, but fortunately, this is when Zatanna shows up to lend a hand. The battle goes back and forth, and Static, a Spider-Man level wisecracker in the comics, gets in a great line that references one of the oldest costumed heroes. Zatanna, knowing it won’t go well for her to go head-to-head with the powerful Klarion, pulls a great trick, borrowing from another powerful DC Universe mystic.

The Cuban authorities, held at bay for most of this conflict, show up and some of them are thrilled to see the young heroes, while others start throwing their weight around. The heroes, young as they are, are smart enough not to fight the legitimate authorities and make a quick exit. Back at the Premier Building, where the Outsiders are based, most of them come back from school but Dr. Jace is concerned to not see Violet with them. Violet, having trouble processing the morning’s news, is acting up in typical teen fashion, hanging out with a bad influence and doing some underage drinking. That’s a rare topic for a cartoon to take on, but they handle it well. The bad influence in this case is Harper Row (interesting choice given Violet’s last name is Harper), who in the comics is the obscure Gotham City vigilante Bluebird. Here, she’s very different, and ups the ante of teens drinking by including something more dangerous and attention-getting that lands them in serious trouble.

Tara gets in sone training with Artemis, and we see some flashbacks to what Tara is hiding from everyone. Artemis is a good trainer and reaches Tara on some levels, although the older heroine has no idea what Tara is going through. She’s really come a long way since the team hothead back in season one. In Happy Harbor, Megan comes to bail Violet out, and we hear more about the bad situation Harper is in. The Outsiders retreat to the Youth Center in Taos, bringing along those they rescued, including this world’s version of a minor Aquaman support character. Their influence is spreading, and even Gar is surprised at the latest report from Courtney Whitmore. The team is surprised to get a new recruit, which makes a few of the kids at the center very happy. Not something the show often does, but there’s a mid-credit scene that humorously deals with a problem one of the earlier bad guys ends up with.

What I liked: This show combines superhero fun with some mature stories, and does it well. The world building consistently impresses me. Beast Boy, often treated as a joke in other media, is an experienced, skilled hero here. I also really enjoy seeing Static, one of the Milestone characters we don’t get to see much of. The way they are adapting Tara’s story from the comics is an interesting spin on a classic comic book story. I’ve always been a big Zatanna fan, and it’s nice seeing her treated well here. I’m impressed with how many often taboo subjects they worked into the Harper/Violet scene.

What I didn’t: I really like Golden Age heroes, and I’m sad to hear that Joan is gone. This is a weird introduction to Harper Row, and I hope they manage to do something better with her. And really, how many Harpers on this show? Harper Row, Violet Harper, Roy Harper (Arsenal), Will Harper (Speedy), Jim Harper (Guardian). I’m deeply suspicious of Dr. Jace, but that might be bias on my part. And where’s Nightwing?

This show continues to impress and entertain. I’m giving this a high 3.5 out of 5. Hopefully, I don’t end up going as long between episodes again.