Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Young Justice Season One


When it comes to my favorite genres, fantasy is at the forefront of things. Even with the various Middle Earth movies, it still doesn't get a lot of airplay on the big screen.

Super heroes, my second favorite genre though, has been. This ranges from special done in one movies like the recently released Justice League War to the plethora of movies that Marvel has successfully launched, or Marvel properties, like X-Men and Spider Man, that have taken up real estate. DC seems to be limping along in the movie aspect but that's apparently allowed them time to do some great television shows like Young Justice.

This cast of characters are the 'sidekicks' of the more experienced heroes of the DC setting. They are also some of the 'newer' incarnations in some instances and allow the story to take place in a larger environment because of it.

For example, way back in the day when I was first collecting comics, Superboy was a young Superman. After the original Crisis of Infinite Earths comic event and things were rebooted to ground zero, Superman was never Superbody but DC managed to sneak a Superboy in as a clone during the whole 'Reign of the Superman' storyline that took place after the huge event 'The Death of Superman'.

There have been all sorts of legal wrangling back and forth with the Superboy character and those discussions are well outside my brief ramblings about Young Justice, but those interested to see how legalities can possibly be seen to effect the comics that are made should look into it.

Other characters are familiar like Robin and Kid Flash, appearing in their 'iconic' versions here.

Miss Martian is a relatively newcomer to the DC in general and was a member of the Teen Titans. Her role her is that of the still learning to be human, learning to be a hero, learning to fit along with everyone else while having her own issues and secrets. It makes her one of the more likable characters as despite her vast array of abilities and powers, she still has much to learn.

Aqualad is a strange one. One of Aquaman's trusted aides, he apparently has all of the heightened abilities of an Atlantian, but he also has some technomagic equipment that allows him to use water as objects, manipulating it as the Invisible Woman might manipulate her force barriers, ranging from shields and maces to other physical weapons and protection.

Aqualad is different than the original Aqualad I believe, who was 'Garth' who later became Tempest. This works out great because it gives Atlantis some more characters to play with, and allows the writers to put this Aqualad into situations that don't necessarily correspond to the massive library of events that Garth went through.

Artemis, the female archer, is a replacement for 'Speedy' who quickly goes onto become Red Arrow in this series. Artemis has her own issues with trust and with proving her abilities but as a skilled archer with trick arrows, she does fine. One of the nice things about Artemis appearance here though, is that it initially at least, seems that she's still learning as Red Arrow proves to be a better archer and show cases that these members of 'Young Justice' are here to learn.

The series takes a weird premises. These younger heroes, will do 'shadow' work. They will do recon and spying style missions. On one hand, the theory is to keep them out of the way of the heavy hitters. On the other, while some like Robin and Miss Martian have perfect abilities to match this type of work, others, like Superboy and Aqualad, do not. All in all, it works well enough to keep the team moving on from mission to mission while giving them an overarching goal of 'joining' the Justice League.

The fact that so many of the characters have issues ranging from keeping their weaknesses secret to keeping their species secret, provides much fodder for the series which it doles out slowly but with a great payoff. The series also lets us see how things might look for some of the adult versions of the Justice League.

For example, Superman is often portrayed as being all on the up and up. Here though he has a real hard time with just the existence of Superboy and keeps his dealings with Superboy to a minimal. Superboy on the other hand, has been created to fill in for Superman should the Kryptonoian ever fall so to be ignored and shunned by him is most troubling. Superboy is also not a pure clone and is missing some of the big S powers like flight and heat vision. This makes him have to 'work' harder on his missions.

Another good example, is Shazam, the big red cheese himself. Unknown to most, the 'man' behind Shazam is just a kid, Billy, and the series does a great job of showing how Billy prefers to hang around with Young Justice as opposed to the regular team mates.

The DC mythology is for the most part treated with respect but the authors aren't afraid to play with some of the bits and elements when it allows them to tell a better story. For example, Starro, is, in my opinion, one of the silly villains. The Starfish Conqueror? Please.

In the series though, they use one of his tendrils, frozen in ice for millions of years, to give Starro more of a 'Old One' feel and use genetic modifications to create the star fish that allow the control of others. That works surprisingly well as opposed to using Starro himself.

The only bad thing? Only season one is available to stream on Netflix so it'll be a while before I catch up on season two.

If you're running a Champions campaign or a Mutants & Masterminds campaign and want to see how a team adventure can be easily run that has complications ranging from hidden identities to family members that are villains, Young Justice is a great inspiration.