Growing Pains

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Young Justice Season 1, Episodes 3 & 4

“Welcome to Happy Harbor”

SUMMARY: The team gets to know each other better and take on the villainous Mr. Twister.  Despite some members’ doubts about Miss Martian, she proves herself a valuable member of the team.


Syd:  The third episode focuses on Megan Morse – Miss Martian – and her first mission as a superhero.

Margaret: I love that they’re finally bringing in a female main character, and Miss Martian seems like an interesting woman. I have more to say about her, but her main story starts a bit later than the beginning of the episode.

Syd: The action starts in Star City where Roy Harper is fighting bad guys who are doing bad guy stuff.  Maybe it’s a drug shipment? It isn’t made clear.  What I have noticed while rewatching this series is how much more slowly everything goes than I remembered it.  We’ve watched four episodes so far and there is still only one female character and Roy hasn’t come up with a superhero name yet.  Come on, Roy, if you don’t get on that immediately, people will be calling you Speedy forever.

Margaret: Roy is too cool and independent for superhero names. He’s also too cool for the Young Justice, telling them he’s not about to join their club. The Justice League is just trying to keep them busy while they do all the important Superhero saving. He equates adult supervision as babysitting. It is probably the most rebellious teenager response I have ever heard.

Syd: You know what, though?  Roy’s doing pretty well for himself and whoever might have been saved from whatever that bad guy was doing is certain to be glad that Speedy is no longer beholden to Green Arrow and able to do… whatever he’s doing.

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Margaret: Having unsuccessfully tried to recruit Speedy with the original three inductees, they return to the Batcave – sorry, Young Justice Cave. There, they are waiting for Red Tornado and their first Team Assignment. Red Tornado, unfortunately, tells them that those come from Batman and he has nothing for them. However, proving he is a machine, he tells them how he is told that social interactions are important to team improvement so they should explore and keep busy: making the team remember Roy’s own dismissal. Megan tries to mind read him, showing the limits of her power – she can only read organic thoughts.

Syd: It’s kind of weird that they felt they needed to point this out to us, as if the audience expected that telepathy worked on robots.  It raises interesting questions, though, of how thought as a concept works and what methods of formulating thought qualifies as consciousness and how that can be read.  Or you could look at this as just rules that the magical superpowers follow.  That’s cool, too.

Margaret: After going through a quick tour of the cave and giving the plot point that it was abandoned because villains found out about it, Megan gasps and runs off to get the cookies she left baking for the team. Megan is an interesting juxtaposition for Young Justice, as the most notable women in the Justice League cartoon are Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl. They are both warriors who measure their worth in battle and strength. They are their own characters, but they also find their pleasure in pursuits that are codified as masculine.

Megan, on the other hand, is a woman who is very interested in team dynamics and in bringing everyone together. She makes them cookies, she worries about their emotional well being, she starts acting a bit like a mom on a 50s sitcom. I get that it can be problematic that the only woman is one that wants to be Den Mom, but I like her character. It’s refreshing to see a woman who is not ridiculed for enjoying feminine pursuits. It reminds me of my frustration about Game of Thrones fans who adore Arya and hate Sansa because they think that Sansa is weak and doesn’t do anything because she is involved in politics rather than with swords.

Syd: Megan mentions that she got the idea for baking cookies from a television show, before catching herself and changing the subject.  Basically, she is learning what is expected of her and what her role is in this society from the images presented in the media, which is such a familiar experience, even though nobody has ever come at it from the same vantage point as a Martian.  We don’t even know what gender roles are like on Mars, but we do see that Megan is not confused by nor does she recoil from the image of femininity that was presented to her, she embraces it.  She loves it.  She wants to be the best and most complete Earth woman she can be, which those who have tried to fit in among girls on Earth might understand.  However, it’s a little bit troubling how completely she wants to assimilate.  She doesn’t even mention what her life was like on Mars, wanting to be fully accepted as someone who belongs on Earth, which is a familiar experience to anyone who has been brought into an alien culture.

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Margaret: It is also interesting that her idea of femininity is compared and measured against the standard of the women she has seen on TV. It’s a very neat commentary on how an alien would view human interactions by digesting their media. It’s both a statement on how women are portrayed in the media as well as showing that being interested in traditionally feminine pursuits is not a detriment to being a superhero.

Syd: Since there is a new member of the team, the heroes all introduce themselves, thus letting the audience know their secret identities. Aqualad starts, saying that his name is Kaldur’ahm, confirming that he is not just a black version of Aqualad from Teen Titans.

He is named after Black Manta’s former sidekick from Aquaman comics, Cal Durham. At the time, Black Manta’s villainous scheme was to take over the ocean, since black people couldn’t get a fair shake on land. Cal ultimately betrayed Manta and became friends with Aquaman when he decided that Manta’s Black Power rhetoric was just a justification for his personal vendettas.

I bring this up mostly because it’s an interesting story. Aqualad is actually a different person from Cal Durham, as he reveals that he goes by “Kaldur,” confirming that “Kaldur’ahm” is just one name, unlike “Cal Durham,” and Aqualad is a completely unrelated black guy with gills.

Margaret: I had no idea that there was a story behind his name. As I really know nothing about Aquaman in the comics, I just assumed this was a comic book character as he usually is presented. It’s interesting that they’ve reformatted a different character in order to ensure that Aqualad is a person of color. I’m glad about their desire for diversity.

Syd: People tend to respond better to making minority characters popular rather than making popular characters into minorities.  I think that either are valid approaches to getting more varied representation in a series.  The problem with creating a new black character for an ensemble of well-known and beloved characters is that the black character becomes the one who doesn’t have an existing fanbase and will often fall by the wayside, being the least popular character.  Aqualad would definitely default to the least popular character on this team if they hadn’t made Wally so obnoxious.

Margaret: It’s a little weird that Wally immediately starts hitting on Megan from the moment she enters with J’onn J’onzz, however I can mostly chalk that up to teenagers being horny. However, yeah, he already seems to be pretty annoying. My two favorite characters from the first episodes were Robin and Aqualad. I will certainly say that having known about Batman certainly made me latch onto Robin all the more, however I also liked Aqualad’s stoic sense of right and wrong. In general, I don’t see the problem with making white characters of a different race, however I know people get protective and absolute when it has to do with their favorite characters.

Syd: Kid Flash reveals his secret identity Wally West to Megan as if that creates a special bond between them because he’s an idiot, before revealing that they don’t know Robin’s real name. It’s kind of cute that Batman is so paranoid and secretive that he won’t let his sidekick use his real name, even among other superheroes –

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– even though everyone else is using their real names and in the first episode, Ollie called Speedy “Roy” in front of everyone like it wasn’t an issue. It’s also interesting that Robin himself doesn’t say anything about how he feels about this.

Margaret: At least Robin is a popularly used name. ‘Robin’ could be his real name. Poor Superboy is still just Superboy and no one has remedied that.

Syd: Megan tries to psychically console Superboy about the fact that he doesn’t have a real name, only to find that Earthlings aren’t comfortable with telepathic communication, especially one who just broke free from telepathic mind control.

Margaret: I definitely get where Superboy is coming from, but they also show that the Superman is a Jerk thing may be a gene that can be passed down through cloning. Everyone was totally fine with Megan attempting to read Red Tornado’s mind at the beginning of the episode.

Syd: But it’s not like they’re going to hurt Tornado’s feelings.  He’s a robot.

Margaret: In order to try and cheer up the others and impress them, she shows them her Martian Ship, which can turn invisible and is steered by her thoughts. She exhibits her shapeshifting powers and also tries to make Superboy laugh, which is almost certainly impossible.

Syd: These scenes are a fun way to establish the characters’ powers and limitations – like Superboy’s superhearing or how Megan finds it difficult to shapeshift into boys – without beating us over the head with them.  It’s also kind of weird that they decided to make Megan telekinetic but not Superboy.  Both Kryptonian and Martian powers are constantly in flux, so you can kind of pick and choose which ones you keep and which you discard as needed, but this version of Superboy was created in the 90s, in the heyday of having every character explain every power in every issue, so if he isn’t talking about his telekinesis, that eliminates about half of his dialogue.

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Margaret: While out in the ship, Red Tornado contacts them to say that there is a disturbance at Happy Harbor Power Plant and to investigate it covertly. Instead, they are the exact opposite of covert.

Syd: Covert is boring.  There’s a villain to punch!

Margaret: All of the Young Justice are quickly taken out by a person wielding twister powers.

Syd: Mister Twister! It rhymes!

Margaret: Once they regroup, Aqualad tells Megan to read Mister Twister’s mind. She, rightly, responds, “I thought I wasn’t supposed to do that!” Robin’s response shows his Batman training when he tells her that “It’s okay to do that when it’s the bad guys.” That brings up an entirely different moral quandary of what a bad guy is and how do you know who are the bad guys, but Megan does what she’s asked to do and finds out that she can’t read his mind, leading her to make a logical jump into assuming that this is Red Tornado attempting to test them.

Syd: I don’t think that I’m comfortable with Robin telling the person who may be unfamiliar with Earth standards of morality to assume that the person that they are fighting is a “bad guy” before they know his goals or motivations.

Margaret: Yeah, it’s definitely a moral quandary. It would be different if he said ‘opponents’. However, she is wrong. Mister Twister is an actual bad guy and soundly defeats them again. It’s only Megan’s quick thinking of putting the invisible ship between them and Mister Tornado that they are saved. However, the entire team is pissed at Megan for misleading them. This is where I get very annoyed. She made a logical assumption from the presented information and told her team about it. It’s not like she had more insight than the others. She told them exactly what she found and made an assumption that they all went along with. Not only that, but when it went south, she found a creative solution in order to ensure her team’s safety. That’s more than any of the other of them did. To call her assumption ‘a rookie mistake that they shouldn’t have listened to’ and that ‘she is pretty inexperienced’, not to mention Wally telling her to ‘hit the showers, we’ll take it from here’ is just ridiculous.

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Why shouldn’t they listen to a suggestion from Megan? Sure, she was wrong, but no one else had any other plausible leads. They went forward with a plan, but it failed. That’s not just her fault. It doesn’t make her a less valuable team member. Superboy also continues to win the Jackass award as he immediately assumes that Miss Martian deliberately misled them and actually threatens her to ‘stay out of their way.’

Syd: I really like how the first encounter with Mr. Twister ends, because it creates a conflict within the group in a way that is organic and character driven.  On the surface, you could say that Megan made a false assumption and everyone else overreacted and turned on her.  Actually, each character’s reaction was directly related to that character’s viewpoint and motivations.  Kid Flash wants to prove himself and doesn’t want the team to be shown being ineffective.  He trusts his friends who have worked with him and acted as superheroes for a while and sees the new kids who have no experience fighting criminals as a liability.  Superboy wants to be like Superman, or at least the popular perception of Superman as someone who can do anything on his own and hates having anyone else’s help.  Neither of them want to think of Megan as a valuable part of the team yet, and see her mistake as confirmation that she isn’t ready to be a superhero.  Robin wrongly goes along with the consensus that Megan screwed up, but notice that he doesn’t blame her for jumping to conclusions.  He blames himself for listening to her.  He wants to take responsibility for the team, but he doesn’t know how.  Aqualad’s only worry is that the team isn’t working well together as he is the most socially minded of the group, but even he doesn’t offer Miss Martian any comfort.  As for Miss Martian, even though she wasn’t the one who immediately barged into the conflict and she did save the rest of the team when things went bad, she blames herself for things going wrong, showing some real self-confidence issues.  We see who these characters are and some of the flaws that they have to overcome shown in a very efficient way.

Margaret: The problem that I have with it is that this is the first female addition to the team. They didn’t do the same thing to Superboy at all. He’s just as new as Megan, yet he’s a trusted member – and at least as a part of the growing consensus – while Megan is immediately distrusted. She didn’t even try to kill them. Honestly, they should be more outright suspicious of Superboy than Megan. I don’t mind women characters making mistakes, but I also see this time and again where as soon as a woman joins a team, they are seen as outsiders or not as competent as the rest of the team. I get that new characters have to prove their mettle and that the best way to do that without them being unbearably ‘so much better than everyone else’ is to show them stumbling and then everyone becoming stronger together. However, it so often falls to women characters – as they are not characters originally introduced – to have to prove themselves over and over again and it gets frustrating and too familiar of a story beat. It feels unoriginal.

Syd: I like that they’re didn’t make the conflict about gender, even though that would be something realistic to come up, since in a team full of boys, there’s often one who doesn’t work well with girls. To make one of them the one who has to overcome his sexism would have ruined one of the characters, though it would probably be Wally, who’s pretty much preruined.  Each of the characters will have to have a moment to prove themselves, and the reason that Megan’s had to come first, while regrettable, I think is obvious and well-handled.  No drooling fanboy or eight year old kid is thinking that Superboy is stupid or useless or is only on the team to assuage the dreaded P.C. Police.  By addressing anyone’s concerns about how much ass Megan kicks in her first episode – in the very scene after those concerns were raised – they are making a powerful statement that she belongs.

Margaret: The characters did not make the conflict about gender, true, but it’s impossible to take that factor out. It’s the problem the creators made when they didn’t include any women in the first two episodes. They handle Megan being tried and accepted into the team in the best way that they can, which is in a speedy manner that shows her as a contributing member of the team definitively. It was handled the best way that they could, however the fact that it had be handled this way at all is disappointing.

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Syd: Agreed.  Also, you’re being way too hard on Superboy.  He only first saw the sky the previous week, and you expect him to be socializing on the same level as the rest of the team?  Cut him some slack!  He’s a jerk, but he’s not as bad as Superman.

Margaret: You’re right, I am being hard on Superboy, but I just have an immediate aversion to broody characters whose only means of communication seems to be lashing out. I do get that he has a reason for being the way he is, but he rubs me the wrong way. Especially as I was immediately drawn to Megan and I dislike how he is mean to her from the start.

Syd: As the team takes on Mr. Twister again, Miss Martian contacts them psychically telling them she has a plan.  That plan seems to be curtailed as Red Tornado shows up and tells them that he’ll take care of Mr. Twister.  Twister bests Tornado, but when he tries to reprogram the robot, it turns out that it was really Miss Martian in disguise.  I’m not sure why that’s the decisive combat advantage, but I can’t argue with success.

Margaret: I was also a bit confused that Megan was able to actually conjure up Red Tornado’s powers as well as copy his form. Is that something she can do?

Syd: Telekinesis is a handy power.

Margaret: Oh! It’s telekinesis! Okay, that makes far more sense.

Syd: Hey, remember when Megan said that it was hard for her to shapeshift into boys?  If you can replicate Red Tornado, I think you can do a pretty close approximation of a male body.

Margaret: I think she may have a problem with doing the boy parts. Red Tornado is pretty much a Ken Doll, so that makes it a bit easier.

Syd: The Mr. Twister robot suit opens and out falls a man whose head Megan promptly bashes in.  Robin flips out on her, telling her that, however they do things on Mars, they don’t execute their prisoners on Earth. It’s kind of disturbing that this is only coming up now. Were ground rules never established? What if Megan had decided to kill one of their opponents during a fight?

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Margaret: I can see that just being a generally accepted thought. If you’re part of the Justice League, or recommended by the Justice League, I can assume everyone would think that the No Kill policy was already well established.

Syd: Well, that’s an academic concern, because it turns out that the man inside the mecha suit was a robot.  Why would you build a robot to pilot a mech suit?  Why wouldn’t you just make it all one robot?  I guess we won’t know until a later episode, when we find out who was behind this plot.

Robin tells Megan that despite being disturbed before, he is now very turbed to have her on the team.  It’s a very sweet moment.

Margaret: It is! And expressed in the most Robin way possible.

Syd: The last line of the episode is Superboy apologizing to Megan.  See?  He’s getting better.

Margaret: He is, I will admit that.

GRADING THE EPISODE

Syd: A.  This episode really shows promise for the kind of fun that the series is going to be and fleshes out the characters and their world.

Margaret: I’m at a B+. I liked a lot of the character development here, despite not liking some of the beats that they had to hit simply due to the way the pilot was set up. Megan is shaping up to be my favorite character of the series along with Robin, so I really liked seeing her in action.


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“Drop Zone”

SUMMARY: Look, a lot of shit happens.  Aqualad is the leader, but you knew that already.


Syd: There is a staggering amount unexplained in the opening of this episode.  In Santa Prisca, some sort of facility has been overrun by people in red robes.  One of them offers to evacuate the facility if Batman enemy Bane can beat one of their own in single combat.  Bane agrees and is led into a convenient caged arena that happened to be in this facility where he is met by someone that a google search tells me is supposed to be Teen Titans adversary Baran Flinders, though he doesn’t say anything and is never identified.  It’s meant to be shocking that this skinny kid is challenging the musclebound Bane to a fight, but I find it more shocking that he’s wearing a half shirt and nobody thinks this is in any way weird.  What kind of weirdo wears a half shirt to a fist fight?

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I should point out that there appears to be a bizarre editorial mandate at DC that all female characters have to have bare midriffs.  I don’t know if this is some sort of fetish or if there was an epidemic of overheated abdomens for the past twenty years requiring bellies to be exposed at all times, even though half shirts look good on very few people and dignified on absolutely nobody. It’s strange and distracting and usually doesn’t suit the characters.  You might think that it’s progressive that this time it’s a male character with his midsection in the open air, but I say that two wrongs don’t make a right.

Margaret: I really dislike the belly shirts. It’s one thing to have it on a singular character, but the fact that it’s a recurring trend is disturbing. It makes no practical sense as to why you would encourage a trend in your superheroines that looks like they will flash you if they lift their arms up too high. But, I guess that may be where the fetish stuff comes in.

Syd: To get him in shape for the fight, Baran is injected with what seems to be the Blockbuster formula from episode 2, causing him to blow up like a muscle balloon and become Mammoth (still never speaking and never identified).  Much like with Desmond, the increased mass caused Mammoth’s skin to rip, exposing the muscle underneath.  This creates an appearance that is both visually striking and full-on gross.

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Margaret: Very very gross. I was grossed out on Desmond and hoped that we would never have to see it again. I’m sad I was wrong.

Syd: After Bane is trounced, the red robed figures start chanting, “Hail Kobra!” proving once again that Marvel comics are exceedingly popular in the DC Universe.

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Margaret: We start on the team flying toward the island that segues into a flashback. Batman informs the team that they are to infiltrate onto the island and only observe the situation there, then report back. They are not to start a fight. Obviously, we know that they are definitely going to start a fight.

The most important part of this, though, is that Batman tells them that they have to choose a leader amongst themselves. As this flashback happens through Robin’s perspective, it’s clear that he thinks that the leader should be him.

Syd: Robin assuming that he would be the leader must seem weird to people who are meeting these characters for the first time.  The fact is that this show is drawing from the comic books Teen Titans and Young Justice – both of which had Robin as their leader.  Robin was the first kid sidekick in DC comics, so him being the leader of a team of sidekicks has symbolic value.  Also, he’s the most well known – even if you haven’t heard of anyone else on the team before watching this, everyone has heard of Robin.

Margaret: It seemed in the first two episodes that Robin was leaning toward being the leader. He’s the one that rallies the group to check out CADMUS in the first place. Also, in the climactic battle scene, it’s his plan that saves them from Blockbuster.

Syd: Superboy refuses a stealth suit like the others wear, insisting, “No cape. No tights. No offense.”  So his superhero outfit is just a t-shirt, jeans, and boots.  I really like this.  I know that the stylized superhero outfits are an inescapable part of the superhero genre, but there are enough Superman-like costumes in this show.  Aside from looking cool, the way a character dresses can express something about his personality.  T-shirt and jeans may not look cool, but I don’t think an angsty young malcontent like Superboy would go for a flashy costume, and, if instead of the S shield, that were a different punk band every episode, that would be the same uniform I wore in high school, so I find his ensemble very relatable.

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Margaret: It also seems the most comfortable. It fits that he hasn’t actually decided what kind of hero he wants to be, so he has no definitive costume. I’m not sure if Superboy ever does get his own superhero getup in the show, but I like that he’s chosen to basically just go out on Justice League business dressed as himself.

Syd:  It’s weird that Superboy chooses to wear the S-shield on his shirt.  That seems like something imposed upon him by creators from our reality to tie him to the Superman brand, rather than a decision he would make himself.  Given that he’s got a chip on his shoulder, it seems counterproductive to him trying to find his place in the world to define himself by his relationship to Superman.

Margaret: Maybe it’s his subtle way of trying to prove that he is worthy of being the clone of Superman. However, you’re right, it definitely is weird that he doesn’t reject it.

Syd: Well, he’s clearly a fan of Superman and what he stands for, and that is important to understanding his character motivation.  Then again, I love my dad, but I don’t wear t-shirts with his initials on them.

Margaret: They find two squads in the forest and Robin immediately vanishes without a word. A firefight breaks out, as we find out that one squad is led by Bane. Wally rushes off to try and find Robin so they can retreat and immediately trips and falls right into the middle of the fight, blowing their cover. The rest of the team charge in to rescue him, capturing both Bane and the Cultists.

Robin disappearing without a word before a fight doesn’t do his bid for leadership any favors. They’ve proven in the past that he has issues with communication, always expecting the others to follow his lead without discussion. It’s a very Batman way to approach things.

Syd: It’s kind of hilarious to me when modern comics try to portray Batman as a dark, brooding loner while still keeping his whole family and all of the associates and children he works with regularly in the stories.  I much prefer how this series portrays him as a team player and a leader, which is a contrast to the way he is portrayed in the also excellent Justice League Unlimited.

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Margaret: After tying everyone up, Wally and Robin get into an argument about who should be leader between the two of them. To the side, Megan and Superboy discuss their own thoughts on who should be leader. Superboy says he doesn’t wish to be leader and when he asks Megan if she wants it, her response is that she doesn’t believe she could do it after the Twister fiasco. Then, Superboy continues his upward spiral toward me actually starting to like him by telling her that she did just fine.

Syd: Also, it’s a step toward Megan developing a sense of self-worth, even if she needed a cute boy’s approval for it.  It does kind of bother me that she refers to the events of the previous episode as a “fiasco,” when, if anything, it makes a compelling case to me of why she should be leader.

Margaret: It’s good to see her believing in herself, though I’m a little disappointed that they never bring up the possibility of her as a leader again in the episode. And, I agree with you. The last episode made a good point of how Megan could be a great leader, so I was rooting for the possibility that it might end up being her.

While the team is in-fighting, Superboy overhears a conversation between Bane and one of his minions in Spanish wherein Bane says he’ll play along and the kids will give him what he wants. On that end, he offers to tell them the whole story of the island and bring them through his secret entrance into the factory. Knowing that it’s okay to mind read bad guys, Megan attempts to glean his plan from him, but is unable to get very much out of him, as he is thinking football scores at her in Spanish.

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Syd: I love that he has sports statistics at the ready just in case he gets captured by a Martian.  This convinces me that he is a worthy adversary more than the entirety of The Dark Knight Rises.

Margaret: Seeing as this is their way into the factory, they decide to reluctantly team up with Bane. Once inside the factory, Robin takes off to hack into their systems and Kid Flash immediately runs off after him without a thought. Robin finds that Kobra has mixed Venom with the Blockbuster formula. Wally is useful for once in asking the question of how Kobra managed to get the Blockbuster formula from CADMUS. They put together that Kobra is working for whoever wants the supply and gave them the Blockbuster formula.

Syd: We now get to what is kind of both the best and worst thing about Young Justice as a series.  Young Justice is probably the most inclusive and complete view of the DC Universe in any single series.  When adapting a story from a shared universe, usually certain elements of that universe will be omitted because they are too silly or too difficult to portray or too dark or were just bad ideas to begin with.  Young Justice tends to embrace concepts and characters that most creators – especially the ones working for the CW – would want to rework to fit the mold of what they want the series to be, even when the audience would be happy to accept a faithful adaptation.  With that in mind, the team finds the drug dealer that Kobra is selling to.  He is identified only as Sportsmaster and he is wearing a hockey mask and pads.  This is the sort of themed villain that would fit in on the 60’s Batman show, only nothing else in the episode is campy or presented with winks to the audience.  The main villain in this episode is a genuinely threatening and creepy cult leader.  Maybe it’s just me.  We are living in a world where someone won an Academy Award for playing the Joker.  Maybe this is the sort of character that audiences just accept without explanation.  Still, Sportsmaster?!

Margaret: I guess they just needed a random villain people wouldn’t care about and picked one out of a hat? That’s really the only reason I can think of for including this character. Maybe someone won a contest and they got to pick one villain the Young Justice fight.

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Syd:  According to his wikipedia page, Sportsmaster once gave up on crime because the Justice League beat his gang of supervillains at baseball.  That was undone by The Crisis on Infinite Earths, but regardless, this is the guy who is meant to be a credible threat to the team. We aren’t given his backstory, but I looked up a synopsis of the comic where he was introduced (because I’m not tracking down an actual copy of a comic from 1939) and it seems he was a professional athlete who was banned from all sports for misconduct and vowed revenge against Fair Play.  He states his intention to use the formula against the Justice League.  This time, they’ll have no chance against his home run hitting prowess.

Margaret: I’ve got to say, I now wish that this episode ended in a baseball game and am disappointed it didn’t.

Syd: The team retreats and Robin is dismayed that every mission he tries to lead is a disaster.  Aqualad points out that Robin is used to working with someone who is very experienced, with whom he doesn’t need to communicate much, but to lead a team, specific and clear instruction is required.  Robin then points out what should have been obvious to everyone at this point – Aqualad should lead the team, as he pretty much had been leading the entire time.

Margaret: This episode certainly made it clear that Aqualad should be the leader of the team. He even had that perfect disappointed lilt in his voice whenever Robin and Kid Flash ran off without discussing anything. I will say I was surprised at how the leadership thing turned out, as I thought from the other episodes that they were pushing Robin for the position and also showing that he had a lot to learn in order to lead effectively. However, I’m certainly not disappointed that it’s Aqualad. I still kind of wish it was Megan, but Aqualad certainly showed himself to be even tempered and able to communicate to the rest of the team.

Syd:  Part of this seems like it’s just giving Aqualad something to do.  Aquaman has never lived down his well-earned reputation as the least useful member of the original Justice League. Even though he’s tough and competent in his own right, he lacks the vast array of powers of five of his colleagues or the inexplicable, all-encompassing, planet destroying popularity of Batman.  Plus, he mostly works underwater, and most viewers see underwater as boring.  So, though it’s not a knock against Aqualad’s power or capabilities, he’s bound to carry his mentor’s stigma in viewers’ eyes.  Being the leader carries a built-in role and position of respect.  It used to be that you would have to make Robin the leader to justify the one guy without superpowers being on the team, but since Batman’s grotesquely overblown popularity has become a horrific behemoth that cannot be stopped, that’s no longer necessary.  Still, whether or not they were preemptively staving off complaints from fans, nothing feels unnatural about Kaldur being the leader.  They really established him well as a leader from the beginning, so that officially declaring it seems like a formality.

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Margaret: They do. And thinking back to even the first episode, he was always the one to chastise Robin for running off ahead. He’s the clear choice.

Syd: It’s about this point where the Young Justice crew is betrayed by Bane, who intends to blow them up, assuming that the Justice League will come to avenge their sidekicks, then defeat Kobra, leaving him in charge of Santa Prisca.  This is one of the dumbest plans I have ever heard.  He thinks that he will remain on the facility, with Kobra, and not be killed or taken captive long enough for the Justice League to find out that their sidekicks are dead, and that they will defeat Kobra, and not him, and they will not stop him from retaking control of the facility and that none of the sidekicks – including TWO invulnerable ones – will survive to tell the League who killed the rest of them.  There are so many steps missing in this plan, I suspect the last step is “PRFIT!”

Margaret: I guess he expected the Justice League to assume it was Kobra that killed the sidekicks. He’d lay low, the Justice League would take out Kobra and then he’d just reopen the factory without them the wiser. It’s a really dumb plan.

Syd: After Bane is defeated, there comes the biggest, pointlessest fight scene of an episode full of big pointless fight scenes.  Sportsmaster is told to take off with the drugs, but he stops to shoot Superboy.  Even if he didn’t know that Superboy was bulletproof (which would be a fair assumption in this world whenever you see a superhero with an S on his chest), why would you delay your evacuation, giving your enemies a chance to, for example plant a bomb on your helicopter, which is precisely what Miss Martian does.

Robin takes on the lead Kobra and is completely outmatched. Kobra says that Robin looks disconcerted, but he is actually perfectly concerted, because he manages to keep the fight going long enough for his teammates to take out Sportsmaster.  I liked how casually Kobra countered Robin’s attack.  It was a cool fight.  I suppose they meant to show that Kobra was especially tough because he could take out someone who was trained by Batman with such ease, but the impact is dampened by the fact that his opponent is 13.

Margaret:  The helicopter explodes and Sportsmaster parachutes to safety as the helicopter crashes into the factory, which destroys all the Blockbuster enhanced Venom. Kobra then fades off into the jungle and the team is left with a burning building. Also, needing an explanation for Batman.

Syd: Batman is mostly impressed with their performance and their choice of leader.

Margaret: As you were mentioning before about no real reason for the Kobra Venom – which is what they call the Blockbuster and Venom – we find out that Sportsmaster is being led by The Light. They are a group of individuals on TV screens, obscured by a bright light filter. We saw them in the first two episodes and now they’ve returned, making me wonder: who the fuck are The Light?

Syd: Who the fuck, indeed.

Margaret: They seem to be multinational, as one has a French accent, but they seem to have no purpose other than shady scientific research and are now worried that the Young Justice are out to foil them. I have a feeling this is the season arc.

Syd: I said, “Who the fuck, indeed.”

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GRADING THE EPISODE

Margaret: C+. This episode really seemed like it was all just set up for later episodes rather than anything that stood on its own.

Syd: C-.  I’m conflicted about my grading scale here, because it’s not like this was technically worse than an average episode of Supergirl, but I know this series can do better than this plodding mess which ends up resolving because all of the villains are idiots.

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