Young Justice Season 1 Volume 1
As with many of the Warner animation releases aimed directly at kids, this is a bare-bones, one-disc package to keep the price low. (With discounts, the DVD can be found under $10.) In addition to the four half-hour episodes, the only other items are trailers for Thundercats, The Looney Tunes Show, and as the disc starts, a couple of Scooby-Doo projects. (What, no Green Lantern?)
That’s a shame, because there’s a lot that can be said about the show, from its new characters (Aqualad, to add welcome diversity) to its comic forebears and place in continuity (connections to Teen Titans and the previous Young Justice comic) to its male-heavy bias. Perhaps those discussions/historical acknowledgements will appear on an eventual season set … or perhaps this show won’t be remembered or recognized enough to get to that point.
By asking for extras, wanting to hear people talk about the show and what it means, I’m realizing that there’s not enough in the show itself to keep me entertained. It’s not aimed at me or what I want, though, because I’m not a preteen boy. That’s the target audience, which is why the emphasis is on action and minimal characterization (mostly along the adolescent lines of “I deserve to fight, too, older hero! I’m ready to make my own choices.”).
I didn’t continue watching the series after the pilot because of the lack of girl heroes. I didn’t have any characters I cared about or wanted to follow. Now that it’s out on DVD, I thought I’d check out the two additional episodes I hadn’t seen. The first two on the disc, “Independence Day” and “Fireworks”, together make up the pilot.
“Welcome to Happy Harbor” opens with group bonding among the characters. Megan (Miss Martian) wants to make the cave homey and tries hard to bring the boys together, but she keeps messing up, burning cookies and annoying Superboy with her telepathy. It’s rather sitcom-ish, with her in the role of little sister wanting to hang with the boys’ gang, when she’s not a crush for Wally (Kid Flash) to be goofy over. Her abilities, plus her spaceship, are very cool, but everyone’s worried instead over Superboy getting his feelings hurt (although it does allow for a welcome moment of maturity for Aqualad (aka Kaldur)).
The team then fights a mechanized Mr. Twister at a powerplant while agonizing over how the adults don’t take them seriously. It’s very suitable for the target audience that way, in showing well the anxieties of being a teen. Everyone jumps to conclusions about the motivations of the others, often choosing the interpretation that’s most interpersonally dramatic.
Alien Megan just wants to fit in; Wally’s goofy and girl-crazy; Superboy is the strong, tortured one (he doesn’t even have a real name! sob); Robin’s the mouthy geek who always knows better; and Kaldur is reserved. (He needs more to do.) Ultimately, their first team activity builds trust among them all.
“Drop Zone” was dark and unpleasant, involving Bane and a Kobra factory in Santa Prisca making Venom, the steroid that makes him super-strong (and insane). However, the island location gave Aqualad more to do, which was nice to see. Batman, voiced by Bruce Greenwood, as in Under the Red Hood, gives them the mission. The high-tech camo-costume versions are nifty, as are the jokes around them. In the B story, the team argues over who’s going to be their leader.
Given her presence on the front and back disc covers, I was especially interested in seeing the introduction of Artemis. However, it’s false advertising — she doesn’t appear in any of these episodes. Black Canary, supposedly the group’s trainer, doesn’t show up, either. It looks like my major reason to pass on the show — other than not really looking to add any more animation to my viewing — has only been partially addressed.
I really like Megan, but I want to see more women and girls. That’s another argument for putting out a bigger collection than just these four episodes. (The studio provided a review copy.)