Young Justice: Elder Wisdom

Heroism in two generations

Considering how much I love this show, I’m not sure why I always take so long between episodes. I guess all I can do is chalk it up to life in general being so busy. The third season of Young Justice, Outsiders, is continuing with an odd mix of storylines they are making work really well. There’s a new young hero team, the subtitular Outsiders, who have gone from covert to very, very overt. Pulling strings behind the scenes is Lex Luthor and his collection of bad guys on one side, and Batman and a secret team on the other. Both sides are clashing with the Outsiders caught in the middle. I can’t imagine things are going to go well when the young heroes learn about the machinations surrounding their attempts to do good work. Given all this, it’s perfectly reasonable to doubt the “Elder Wisdom.”

G. Gordon Godfrey leads off with another inflammatory piece, this time about Lex Luthor’s Climate Conference in Bwunda. There’s clearly a lot unsaid between Lex and the dictator of this country. Godfrey had been attacking the heroes throughout the season, but at least is an equal opportunity hothead and goes after Lex as well. In the comics, Godfrey was an invented identity for Glorious Godfrey, who I guess you could call an influencer for Darkseid. I don’t know if he’s actually a villain here, or just an opportunistic attention whore. In addition to Lex, we also get to see the UN representatives from Atlantis and Themyscira: Tempest and Troia. In the comics, these two started as Aqualad and Wonder Girl, and were early members of the Teen Titans, but they’ve been mostly absent from this world. Then again, there doesn’t seem to have been any variation of the Titans here, either. Whether or not Troia was ever Wonder Girl, she’s clearly connected with Diana, as she and Wonder Woman have a video chat and Troia remarks that Cassie (the current (only?)) Wonder Girl misses her mentor.

Naturally, the meeting doesn’t go smoothly. Mysterious attackers show up, and they are well-trained, heavily armed, and some even have powers. Troia and Tempest are targeted by an ambush, but they aren’t alone, as the Outsiders team has hidden themselves in assorted places and spring into action. Among the heroes are Terra, Halo, Kid-Flash, Beast Boy, El Dorado and Miss Martian. The fight goes about the way you’d expect with trained heroes versus talented but mostly non-powered mercenaries. They rescue one enemy agent who turns out to be under the influence of the control discs we’ve seen before, and she immediately switches to the heroes’ side. Between her red hair and then us gradually getting her name, this proves to be Lia Briggs. Lia, in the comics, is better known as Looker, and was a later member of the Outsiders there. Just as expectedly as the attack itself, Lex immediately spins all this with the media, even using his League connections and a member of the team to try and prove his point. The Leaguer in question knows what’s going on and refuses to play along.

After the fight, when everyone leaves, Beast Boy voices some suspicions about what happened, and then the next scene proves him right. We learn the depths of the conspiracy behind what just happened, and some of the key players are identified, although sadly the heroes aren’t aware of this conversation. There’s a line about the difference between knowing and proving something, which comes back later. In Taos at the Metahuman Center, the team doesn’t arrive to the welcome they’d have expected, as Geo-Force tries to figure out what’s wrong with Halo lately, Halo revisits some bad news with Dr. Jace, and El Dorado has an unexpected confrontation about his hero activities. There’s also a running joke about Kid-Flash being injured, and a departure after an emotional conversation. Things keep getting worse at their Hollywood headquarters, as we see some of the other teen heroes meet unexpected opposition, and we check in on Static, Blue Beetle, and a few others. Some of the heroes stand up for themselves in a way the other can’t, and take off to respond to a call for help. The next sequence goes back and forth between the benched heroes and the ones they have to answer to, and the ones answering the request for aid. There’s more than is immediately apparent in both locations.

The team that had to stay behind acts remarkably mature for their age, and shows that the concerns about them aren’t well-founded. The more active team deals with a kidnapping, killer robots, and social media. As all this goes on, Halo has a long-overdue talk with Geo-Force and Terra about the memories she’s been getting back slowly. It’s a very emotionally charged conversation and it doesn’t go well for anyone involved. Terra stays true to her mission, even though she’s obviously shaken, and the young heroes manage to prove their point to their guardians.

As things begin to wind down for the episode, there are some interesting developments. Lex goes on Godfrey’s show, and finally gets the tables turned on him, despite his careful maneuvering and stacking the deck. There’s a great nod to DC’s main history when they reference a major event from the past, and it makes me think the Justice Society, or something like them, was part of this world’s past. Later, Lex rants about how things went, and begins to devise a new strategy. Things take a much more serious turn during a secret meeting in Gotham in what I believe is the Batcave. We learn about what happened during the second mission the team went on, and see Batman on the more ruthless side of things. There’s an interesting little point of Batman lore amid the discussion, and Wonder Woman voices some concerns about how Batman’s team is proceeding. I don’t blame her a bit. The final scene involves Halo, and I believe it’s mostly setup for next episode.

What I Liked: Just about everything. This show is combining DC Comics history, the Milestone characters, and even making the questionable “ethnic” characters on the Superfriends cartoon work. They respect the source material but are very much making their own world. The ongoing plot is complex and well-done, and the individual episodes each tell a great story with different members of a very large cast. The reveal of what is going on behind the scenes is going to cause some big problems down the road. I really liked the inclusion of parts of DC History and even obscure Bat-Mythos. It was nice to see Troia and Tempest as more than a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo.

What I Didn’t: I get Batman being ruthless, there’s certainly enough precedent. I’m a bit surprised and disappointed that both Nightwing and Oracle are going along with it. The young heroes have a lot to learn, but I hope they figure out what’s going on with at least some of these schemes before they get an ugly surprise.

This show consistently impresses me. I’m giving this a 4.5 out of 5. This should be required watching for anyone trying to make a superhero universe.