When Young Justice first aired on Cartoon Network, back before the channel was taken over by someone who only wants to air wacky hi-jink shows that only last around 10 minutes an episode, I very much enjoyed it. It had action, great characters, character development…it was a good show for teens, although clearly not for younger audiences who would either be bored or a bit freaked out. I however am not a younger audience, despite the fact that I occasionally watch preschool shows, so I got into it.
When season two, subtitled Invasion, was also good. While I was disappointed in the ten year time skip it was still an intriguing show that continued the theme of “the team” handling dark plots and conspiracies, only now they had new younger members and still good character development and plot advancement. I enjoyed it and was as disappointed as everyone else that there was no season 3.
Recently they finally released a season three…but it was on their DC Universe streaming site. Not having any money I couldn’t subscribe to it and so I didn’t really think about it much. However, as reported earlier this week, DC Universe is offering the first episode of their original series free for a limited time to help promote the service. This includes the darker and more violent take on the Titans, the slap in the face of the Doom Patrol–I’m sorry, have you seen the latest trailer? I’m not very familiar with the team but are fans bothered by watching Niles making pig noises at one of his heroes who suffers from multiple personality disorder? Is that comedy now? Well, the only DC Original I was interested in was the new season of Young Justice, subtitled Outsiders. I can safely say that everything fans loved about the first two seasons seems to be right there.
So why didn’t I enjoy it?
It’s not the fact that we have yet another time skip. This time we’re two years in and someone is trafficking metahumans to be used on weapons, not only on Earth but in this episode attacking the planet Rann. Black Lightning ends up shocking a monster who turns out to be a teenage Earth girl with a bad heart and she dies on the battlefield. How this is related to his powers going on the fritz I guess is part of his character arc. Meanwhile, Superboy and Miss Martian are back together and about to get a lot closer while Nightwing has taken a leave of absence from the team after Kid Flash’s death and ends up investigating the metahuman trafficking, the clues leading to Moldovia just as the king and queen, whose daughter was kidnapped for her own metahuman gene, has called for a push against the trafficking, and pays for it. A lot of other stuff goes on too, but it’s all tied to these events. While all this is going on Aqualad has now become the new Aquaman and is leader of the entire Justice League, who is not only dealing with further reputation damage, but UN secretary Lex Luthor (because President of the United States wasn’t bad enough) has used his authority to hamstring the League, causing a few members of the main League and the team to leave to form a new group under Batman while other members are still fighting in space trying to clean up their intergalactic reputation after season 2.
That’s the set-up for this season, and honestly it’s just as good as the first two, only slightly more darker given the move to the streaming service. It’s not like they care about kids shows over there. I looked over the show list and the kids shows are nostalgic stuff like the Filmation and Hanna-Barbera offerings or the DCAU shows. They don’t even have either incarnation of DC Super Hero Girls or Justice League Action up there. I’m not surprised given DC’s current direction but that’s a rant for another time. It has no bearing on the quality of the show, and the show is good. It’s like the show never ended outside of the time skip. (Can you guys stop doing that by the way? We WANT TO SEE THE CHARACTERS EVOLVE, not after the fact, especially since we know stuff happened during these time skips.
The acting is good, the animation is good, the plots are still intriguing…so why aren’t I happy for having seen this show? I think it’s burn-out. Not superhero burn-out; if they made an all-superhero TV network I’d never get any work done. I’m burnt out on this darker take on superheroes that have ruined the DC Universe…the stories, not the streaming service. (Thanks for making that confusing by the way DC Entertainment. DC Comics universe. DC Universe the online game. DC Universe the streaming service. I like having people know what I’m referring to you know. It makes communicating easier.) When Young Justice was on TV there were still alternatives even among DC shows that were still fun action stories about heroes versus villains without conspiracies and heroes not being allowed to hero, and with all the dynamic action and good versus evil that I love about superhero stories. Even more lighthearted fare like Big Hero Six: The Series and the current Disney XD Spider-Man have conspiracy and long plot threads.
I liked the story Outsiders was presenting but I wasn’t having fun watching it, and that’s becoming par for the course when it comes to DC stories, even in the comics. It was the fun that got me into superheroes and that wasn’t happening here. If there were more of a balance of superhero stories not involving long plots and dark conspiracies, or the Justice League not being held back so that members leave I would have enjoyed this more even with all of that still in there. Since this is becoming a rarity if it exists at all without wacky hi-jinks like Teen Titans Go!, whose comedy I wouldn’t care for if it wasn’t holding back another season of the other Teen Titans, I just couldn’t bring myself to enjoy this because it’s same old same old with none of that light and fun that got me into superheroes in the first place.
That said, would I recommend the show? Well, it’s the closest thing to a DC universe story being put out by DC Universe so yes. It is just as good as you remember, if the first episode is any indication. For me though I’d probably watch it but only after going through the older shows and reminding me why I love superheroes in general and the DC multiverse in particular. Then I could sit back and enjoy this as something different like I could for the original two seasons. As it stands I’m just tired of dark and cynical stuff being the dominate mode of DC Entertainment’s current content, whether it’s comics, TV, or video games. Batman Vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles looks fun, and so does Batman And Harley Quinn or Gotham By Gaslight–I notice that’s all Batman stuff because Superman’s stuff hasn’t been all that fun lately either since Rebirth ended in the comics–but most of what’s coming out just isn’t what made me a superhero or DC fan. I’m not sure the show is worth spending money on the service unless you want access to all the other shows, movies, and comics that would sway me as a fan and a reviewer (and that would be mostly to see what I want to track down physical copies of because I like owning stuff offline) but it’s the best thing DC’s originals are putting out and continues the great work of the first two seasons.
I’ll take the victories I can at this point.