Young Justice, Episode 2.4: “Salvage”

I am looking at Season Two of the Young Justice animated series, examining its origins in comic book lore and how the show develops its complex mixture of characters and plots. I’m writing as I watch each episode, so Spoilers for everything up to that far in the season.

This season is leaning heavily on the mysteries of the five years that passed between it and last season. That can be an effective storytelling technique, but also can become tiresome, if used too much for just for shock value about things the characters know that we as viewers don’t.

This episode is divided into distinct A-plot and B-plots, with one being focused on superhero action, and the other more about character and those five years. The title of the episode has resonance with both plots: one deals with an attempt by villains to use the remnants of an alien invasion to their own purposes; the other suggests the efforts to rebuild or recover a life from the wreckage of bad fortune and bad decisions.

Intergang

We follow Superboy and Blue Beetle out on a mission. They are investigating the criminal organization Intergang, which has been getting its hands on Apokolips technology. This is a typical MO for Intergang. Along with most everything Darkseid/Apokolips related, they are a creation of Jack Kirby during his time at DC Comics. So far it’s unclear how much if anything the world at large knows about Apokolips.

Some interesting backstory about Blue Beetle comes up here. As in the comics, our current Blue Beetle, Jaime Reyes, has only recently taken on that name, inheriting it from Ted Kord. Ted was a gadget hero, without metahuman powers (he’s the model for Owlman in Watchmen). He is credited as having developed the advanced battle suit our new Blue Beetle uses and was murdered by the Light. The series is making its usual mixture of past and updated comic lore. Traditionally Kord was murdered by a conspiracy he has investigating, but the “Scarab,” the heart of the battle suit, was an alien device that only activated when Jaime found it. Will that be true is the Young Justice world? Was Kord lying about creating it, or is everyone else mistaken? Its extraterrestrial origins are supported by the Scarab knowing something about Apokolips technology, referring to it as “incompatible” with its own systems. We also see that the Light is still involved in most everything nefarious going on. Two shadowy observers are around. One is revealed as Sportsmaster, but the other is unknown.

Speedy

Meanwhile, several other heroes are tracking down Red Arrow, who has gone rogue. He’s fighting crime, but pocketing some of the spoils. When we first see this rough, unshaved Roy I wondered if the show would actually take a plot from a classic 70’s comic where he becomes a heroin addict. It turns out he’s on a lone hunt for the original Speedy, whom he was cloned from. The other heroes have given up after years of searching. A few more bits of backstory are served up, such as that Wally West (who we haven’t seen so far this season) has retired from superheroing (which made me wonder if he’d lost his powers, since his speed is the comics is often unstable). Roy refuses to give up and rejoin the others. He doesn’t consider himself a “real” person, even after Nightwing points out that the Team has only known him during their whole friendship.

A pair of domestic scenes fill in a little more. Wally we see is now living with Artemis. Their relationship was just starting to take off last season. He eating habits remain unchanged, so it suggests he still has his speed. Why he gave up being Kid Flash we don’t know.

An interesting parallel scene shows Roy encountering Cheshire (who is Artemis’s sister remember), with whom he was not only once married, but also fathered a daughter. She is willing to help him find Speedy, believing that he is still captive of the Light. We know that this is true from last season. But should we trust the sincerity of Cheshire’s intensions…? (I don’t think so).

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