Sunday, March 6, 2011

Young Justice Looks Like it's Going to Rock

I would sum up Young Justice as being somewhere between Teen Titans and Justice League/Justice League Unlimited. That's high praise indeed, as I am a huge fan of both shows.

The first episode of Young Justice is an hour-long made-for-TV movie that introduces Robin, Kid Flash, Speedy, and Aqualad, the sidekicks of Batman, the Flash, Green Arrow, and Aquaman, respectively. As the episode begins, the sidekicks are excited to finally get to see the inside of the Justice League headquarters. Unfortunately, when they get there, it turns out that they only get a partial tour that does not include the League's true headquarters, the space station known as the Watchtower.

This annoys Speedy, who is wound tighter than a bowstring. He pitches a fit and leaves. Robin, Aqualad, and Kid Flash are disappointed, too, but they decide to stick around anyway. It's a good thing they do, because they soon discover that a disaster is unfolding at a secret laboratory, and the Justice League is busy with another danger and cannot respond. So the sidekicks take it upon themselves to look into it.

At the lab, they find some monsters that look like they were designed by Mike Mignola and a scientist voiced by Rene Auberjonois.The lab is also growing a clone of Superman, whom the other kids free and decide to call Superboy.

The good guys win, and a new team is formed: Young Justice. The show's premise is that the kids are are not as famous as the Justice League, they can go on missions without attracting as much attention. The four boys are soon joined by Miss Martian, who is Martian Manhunter's niece, and Artemis, who is Green Arrow's niece (the show lampshades the niece thing by having one of the characters say, "What, another niece?")

The characters are well done for the most part, with a few missteps. To my great surprise, Aqualad turned out to be the most likeable character in the bunch. He's the most mature of the group, and definitely the one with the most common sense. Besides the ability to swim and super strength, he also has the ability to bend water into weapons (similar to how Green Lantern uses energy, but with water), and the ability to electrify things (thanks to his magical electric eel tattoos. Just go with it.)

Robin is the youngest member of the group. It took me a while to warm up to him, but now he's one of my favorite characters on the show. I like that he jokes around without crossing the line into becoming obnoxious. His habit of deconstructing words in unusual ways has grown on me. His creepy laugh has got to go, though.

Kid Flash reminds me mostly of Sokka from Avatar: the Last Airbender. He's sarcastic, wacky, and sees things from a scientific perspective. Unfortunately, the character also has a rather creepy crush on Miss Martian. The writers feel the need to have him hit on her at least twice each episode, which starts to feel either desperate or stalker-esque.

Superboy is a kid with some issues. He has most of Superman's powers, but not the power of flight, and he doesn't have some of Superman's more unusual powers, like heat vision. He's also far too gloomy. Let the Linkin Park jokes commence. Fortunately, there is some hope for some character development. Let's hope it comes soon.

Miss Martian is the character that I think comes across the worst. The creators give her a ditzy, cheerleader-like persona that feels forced. Worse, her catchphrase "Hello, Megan!" is guaranteed to be found in every episode.

Artemis joins the team later in the seasons, and so far she seems to be a pretty standard no-nonsense girl with a mysterious past. The writers hint heavily that she's not what she seems, and I expect we'll find out more before the first season is over.

As I was watching the first episodes of Young Justice, I had a startling epiphany: though I consider myself more of a Marvel comics fan than a DC fan, but when it comes to cartoons, I tend to enjoy the DC offerings more than the Marvel. Maybe it's that the DC cartoons tend to be a bit more lighthearted and action-packed, while the Marvel comics slather on melodrama.

In any case, Young Justice's strengths are definitely in its excellent fight scenes, interesting characters, and cool plotlines. The animation is top-notch, on par with Avatar: the Last Airbender. I can't wait to see more of these characters, as the creators clearly have a lot planned for them.

I saw an interview with the creators where they mentioned that one of the major characters would die. I don't know who or when, but it's got me intrigued.

If you haven't checked it out yet, I would highly recommend you give Young Justice a try, especially if you're a fan of DC's other animated offerings. You may find yourself pleasantly turbed.

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