As with the first volume, Young Justice Season 1 Volume 2 is a bare-bones, just-the-episodes disc. I didn’t care much for the first few episodes, but I keep hearing that the show continued to improve over its run, so I figured I’d try these next four and see what I thought.
“Schooled” begins with Superboy (Nolan North) and Superman (Nolan North) facing off during a school bus rescue, as Superboy clearly wants more of his mentor’s attention than he’s getting. Black Canary (Vanessa Marshall) finally makes a significant appearance as the teens’ trainer, before Batman (Bruce Greenwood) provides a mission for the team. They’re asked to stop the android Amazo (Peter MacNicol, who also plays Professor Ivo and his Monqis).
It was neat seeing more of the Justice League, even if it meant putting up with Superboy being grumpy and angry at everything. I know they’re dramatizing adolescence, but as an adult viewer, I found it overplayed and obvious. Still, I’m not the target audience. Younger viewers may better appreciate the high-stakes approach and the exaggerated conflicts.
In “Infiltrator”, we finally meet the long-advertised Artemis (Stephanie Lemelin), the archer. Since she’s Green Arrow’s (Alan Tudyk) protege, there’s also some argument with Red Arrow (Crispin Freeman), the former Speedy, who wanted to go out on his own while still having everyone leave a place open for him. I may find the teenage elements somewhat over-emphasized, but they’re dead on in their emotional components. I’ve known kids like that, who didn’t just want to leave, they wanted everyone to miss them all the time. The fight scenes with Cheshire (Kelly Hu) were high points of the episode, with many of the characters contributing and some secrets suggested. (Which unfortunately aren’t answered on this disc.)
I was surprised to see Doctor Fate (Edward Asner) and Madame Xanadu (Cree Summer) kick off “Denial”. I was even more surprised to see the message of this episode be “magic does too really exist”, as Kid Flash (Jason Spisak) has to be convinced of the “existence of the mystical arts”. Much of the show is a battle between Doctor Fate (Kevin Michael Richardson) and Klarion the Witch Boy (Thom Adcox), in case you’re curious to see the cartoon dark side of the DCU. The rest is a spotlight on Kid Flash, who wasn’t one of the characters I was needing to learn more about, but he does spat well with Artemis.
“Downtime” focuses on Aqualad (Khary Payton), who gets chewed out by Batman after a difficult mission. Kaldur is having trouble balancing his lives between our world and Atlantis. It’s bizarre yet entertaining to see the underwater world, with Topo (James Arnold Taylor) now being an octopus/Cthulhu-headed artist and Aqualad’s other friends magicians of various kinds, including Tula (Cree Summer) and Garth (Yuri Lowenthal). This is also a great episode for seeing more of the other kids’ lives, including Kid Flash’s uncle Barry (also a speedster, George Eads) and Artemis’ mother (Cree Summer).
Aqualad and Tula in Atlantis
In terms of the disc overall, these episodes definitely had more to recommend to me than the previous volume. I found them more involving in characterization and with more intriguing conflicts and antagonists. I’m particularly glad to see Artemis finally joining, since I appreciate her personality. (The studio provided a review copy.)