Young Justice on Blu-ray
I was given a chance to check out the release of Young Justice on Blu-ray from the Warner Archive. I hadn’t gotten into the show the first few times I tried it, but I wanted to give it another shot, for two reasons. I knew it got better later, and sometimes, knowing exactly how a series played out — in this case, that there was no finale, just cancellation, after only two seasons — can set expectations more appropriately.
There are two Blu-ray discs in the case, each with 13 episodes, no extras. Each disc has almost five hours of content, broken up as:
|Disc One||Disc Two|
It’s basic superhero adventure with generic, competent animation. (The Blu-ray looks fabulous, though, crisp and clear.) The kids are exaggerated teens — impulsive, grumpy, over-confident — which likely made them sympathetic to the young male audience the show was targeting. (Reportedly, the show was cancelled in part because the emotional content meant it appealed too much to girls.) The team is made up of Aqualad (the most sensible and de facto leader), Kid Flash (humor relief), Robin, Superboy (an angry Superman clone discovered and rescued in the first two episodes), Miss Martian (introduced at the end of episode two), and Artemis (who first appears in episode six, without much background, just that she’s Green Arrow’s niece).
Miss Martian is interesting, because as the niece of the Martian Manhunter, she plays the naive “I don’t know much about Earth” role. The others get upset when she doesn’t know how things are done here, demonstrating their youthful lack of empathy. Her role also makes it clear that the boys are there to instruct her, keeping her as an apprentice even though her mental powers make her as strong as any of them. I also wish Artemis had been given more of an introduction episode. She just shows up and she’s on the team because one of the older heroes says so.
The second disc, at least, was new to me, as well as the last episode of the first. That’s when Captain Marvel starts hanging out with the team, Superboy gets a wolf-dog, and we learn more about team mentor Red Tornado. Plus, young Zatanna makes an appearance. I also was thrilled when, in the last few episodes, Rocket (and Icon) show up.
The stories are mostly about fighting, with a strong undercurrent of Superboy looking for acceptance and friendship, both of which he won’t admit he needs. The whole thing feels angry — about the kids not yet being accepted as full heroes and about them not wanting the rules and advice they’re given. That makes fighting a sensible response, to get out that aggression, but the result is a show that I’m still not that interested in.
But then, I’m clearly not the target audience. The tone of this series, and its approach to guest stars, is in line with many of the DCU original animated films — darker and with less humor than I like in my superheroes. Instead, there’s an undercover prison infiltration, an attack on an armed base of militants, an alien invasion to stop, and other types of genre stories that aren’t normally seen in kids’ cartoons. This is in keeping with a lot of other DC-related products, from comics to movies. There’s no joy or happiness in these stories. It’s deadly serious, so no one can laugh at the viewers for liking it.
A teen boy will likely find this much more interesting, particularly as it expands into the DC universe, with other heroes appearing. This set makes it easy to do a marathon and sink into their world for a nice long time. I did like Black Canary as the team’s fight trainer, especially when she shows Superboy it’s not about power, but what you do with it. (The studio provided a review copy.)