Young Justice, Episode 2.9: “Darkness”

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.

Young Justice goes all in on plot for the next two episodes, which is a wise choice, given how many mysteries and plot threads the show has been juggling.

Tigress & Tigress

Aqualad is holding up against the stress of pretending to be on the baddies’ side while still progressing his secret mission, and working towards freeing the captured Lagoon Boy. As viewers we understand the double meaning in his “I will do whatever it takes to enter the Light.” In his mission he is assisted by the magically disguised Artemis, who has taken the new identity of “Tigress.” Fortunately the villains are not DC Comics nerds, so they don’t recognize that as a name once used by Artemis’s mother in her criminal career (after, for complex reasons, she could no longer go by the name “Huntress”).

We are told definitively that the as yet unseen aliens are studying humans that possess a “meta-gene.” Individuals with superpowers gained by magic, such as Lagoon Boy, or alien genetics, such as Suberboy don’t interest them. They care even less about nonpowered individuals such as Nightwing. Yet when Aqualad leads a raid on Mt. Justice, their main target is Blue Beetle, whose powers come from technology. I wonder why that could be, hmm…

To most people I imagine a superhero is a superhero. Maybe Superman is from Krypton, Spider-Man was bitten by a radioactive spider, Batman is a combat expert with lots of gadgets. What difference does it make? Well, to a comic nerd, these power sources are important. Knowing the lore of each hero is important. As I’ve mentioned before, knowing what a hero can or cannot do is important. These all contribute to the verisimilitude of the fictional world. Comics are utterly fantastic, but having rules, accepted limits, and shared expectations all make that fantasy a coherent whole. And on the subject of superpower limits, it is fun to see Impulse use his Flash-level super speed with such enthusiasm. Kid Flash, as quick as he was, would frequently trip on mud, or stumble over some obstacle a villain would put in his way. Bart blithely runs up walls, vibrates through solid objects, and in general defies most of Newton’s Laws of Motion . And we, as comic fans, accept this because, while Wally couldn’t do such feats, we have long read comics full of Barry Allen’s Flash doing them. Those are the established rules.

We see more of Jaime struggling with the Beetle Scarab AI voice in his head. It is sinking in how violent and utterly ruthless this voice is, always advising deadly force, unconcerned about collateral damage. And it appears capable of taking control of the Beetle armor, whether Jaime wants it to or not.

Aqualad & Black Manta

Though only a few members of the Team know it, the raid is a ruse planned by Aqualad and Nightwing to set up infiltration of the base where Lagoon Boy and other captives are being held. In order to maintain authenticity, Aqualad has to blow the Mt. Justice base to smithereens — which works almost too well, injuring Nightwing and other Team members. Wally is furious that the deception has gone to such extremes, putting people’s lives at risk. He even wonders if Aqualad is playing is role too well, and might have turned triple agent, working for his father and the Light for real. Whatever is going on, Aqualad has proven his worth to the conspiracy of villains that is the Light, and is ready to meet their extraterrestrial partner.

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