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.
Serious warning about Spoilers this time, as the plot of this season takes some major twists here.
This episode is focused on one sequence of events, unlike the previous few. There are some side scenes, but one main storyline – which is good given how complicated things are now. For instance when Miss Martian and Superboy were masquerading as Martian Manhunter and Superman, to hide from public knowledge that their elders were off-planet being tried in space-court, I thought “Oh yeah, there’s all that going on, isn’t there…” Nightwing attempts to frame the central, big picture issue as the need to discover The Light’s unknown, extraterrestrial partner. But even that gets murky when you review what has gone on so far. The Light seemed to be working with the Kroloteans, but then betrayed them to a “Competitor.” We’ve seen the evidence of Apokolips at work on Earth, so is Darkseid this Competitor? Other evidence points to the aliens behind Blue Beetle’s Scarab, but nobody in the show seems to know yet that the Scarab even has extraterrestrial origins…
There are still the usual parallel stories of the heroes’ external goals – stopping an attack on a rocket launch – and their internal issues. Here that is the simmering conflict of the Conner, M’gann, and La’gaan triangle. Lagoon Boy is showing his immaturity and inexperience by acting against orders for personal reasons, as the original members tended to do in early episodes, before learning to act together as a team. That suggests a reason why the show decided to introduce a set of new characters this season. The veterans are a little too competent (likewise the show has established reasons why powerhouses and masterminds such as Superman and Batman aren’t around to handle everything). The more senior Team members do still have their troubles. We learn that what broke up Conner and M’gann was not just that she was starting to use her mental powers more ruthlessly, but that she also tried to use them to make Conner less upset about it. That’s a pretty serious violation of their trust. But it doesn’t get in the way of them doing their job, as they continue to work together efficiently with minimal distractions, unlike La’gann who gets careless and is taken captive.
Two elements of DC Comics lore stood out this time. That rocket launch is being carried out by Ferris Aircraft, one of DC Comics go-to benevolent businesses. Carol Ferris was originally the token girlfriend of Green Lantern in the 60’s and 70’s, but in more recent times is portrayed as the CEO of her family’s company. In her Young Justice appearance she’s wearing a purple jacket and lipstick, which is an homage to her history of becoming the supervillain Star Sapphire. We don’t know yet if that’s her destiny in Young Justice’s continuity yet.
Also pundit G. Gordon Godfrey make one of this usual rabble rousing appearance, railing against the threat of aliens to Earth. This continues to be extra ominous to comic fans, knowing that not only is “Glorious Godfrey” a scheming badguy, he is to all intent and purposes a God of Deception and Persuasion from Apokolips
The game-changing reveal in this episode was of the deep undercover operation that the elder members of the Team have been engaged in. I am not sure how I feel about it. It is very clever and I didn’t see it coming. It fits with the Team as a Black Ops squad more than a strike force. Yet I liked the potential for emotional conflict that having Kaldur turn badguy had suggested. The series is recognizing that this trick is not without consequences. The staged “death” of Artemis has real emotional consequences on those who are not part of the plan and I expect the deception to have long lasting reverberations.