When Young Justice was first announced, I was optimistic. The showrunner of the show was Greg Weisman who was behind some of my favorite animated series such as Gargoyles and The Spectacular Spider-Man. The show was announced as one that focused on the teenage superheroes of the DC Universe, the “sidekicks”. But this was not the Teen Titans but its own beast. So while it was different and not what one would expect, I was still intrigued as I had full trust in Weisman.
The first promo image showed the initial lineup of the team and it consisted of Robin, Superboy, Aqualad, Miss Martian, Kid Flash and Artemis. This showed this DC Univere was going to be different as it was a mish mash of characters. Robin (Dick Grayson) and Kid Flash (Wally West) have always been peers with one another so that was nothing new. Superboy (Conner Kent) and Miss Martian were two superheroes who debuted much later compared to these two. Artemis was a brand new character based on a mix of some older ones. Aqualad (Kaldurham) was an interesting case as his comics counterpart debuted a few months before the show but since the show had some delays, it was supposed to be the other way around. Also he was portrayed as being black compared to Garth who was usually Aqualad and actually on the show as a friend.
Weisman was always one who was never one to shy away from adult themes despite the shows he worked on being cartoons. This did not change with this show either. The young superheroes struggled with things that teenagers dealt with all coupled with being a superhero. They dealt with issues such as sex, issues with their parents (or parental figures), identity and inadequacy. The fact that the initial kickoff of the show is teenage rebellion because they feel they are being slighted is not lost. Though the show dealt with the teens, it also showed how their adult counterparts dealt with them. One particular moment showed when Batman was called out on having a young partner. All that he could do is solemnly admit that he wanted Robin to be nothing like him. The flipside of this was Robin thought Batman did want him to be like him.
The series did have a big superhero conspiracy at the heart of its first season. The Justice League had become such a threat that a group of supervillains dubbed “The Light” formed just to carry out its big plans. The Justice League became aware of this and wanted the teens to act as its unofficial black ops team to do things that they were too big to handle themselves. This was ultimately a twist as you would expect a show about teens to be more “fun” but they were frequently put in harms way. The Light was another example of mature themes as they were basically an Illuminati type of group who dealt in things such as cloning, drugs, black magic, kidnapping and the gamut continued. The fact that the conspiracy wasn’t even tied up and continued to the next one showed that there are no happy endings. The fact that Batman calls a hero’s fight “the good fight” says it all. One can never defeat evil but we can do out best.
What started off as a good series quickly developed into a great one. By the end of the first season, I could not wait to see what was up ahead for the young heroes. Weisman and company created an intricate series that could be appreciated by casual and more hardcore fans. This show will definitely go on to rank among highly on any sort of list about DC Comics’ heroes.
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