Young Justice Season 1, Episodes 5 & 6
SUMMARY: Superman denies paternity to Superboy, leading to a dispute with Batman. Will it end in a Kramer v. Kramer style legal battle? No, it will lead to Superboy fighting robot monkeys, which is better than anything Dustin Hoffman has ever done.
Syd: This episode is about sublimating the frustration that comes from parental abandonment and finding productive outlets for your anger. Also, robot monkeys.
Margaret: I’ve said previously about how Superboy is a more interesting character than Superman, and that still holds true. However, this episode just showed me that just because you’re more interesting doesn’t make you any less of an idiot that will cause me to yell at the screen.
Syd: The action starts in Metropolis, where a suspension cable on a bridge snaps, sending a school bus veering off the edge. There are so many safety issues in this city. The roads and bridges are completely unsafe. I think that they hire incompetent air traffic controllers, because there are way more plane crashes over Metropolis than any other major city. Also, I don’t know what causes this problem, but they should do something about how many meteoroids are attracted there.
Margaret: Much like how if you live in any sort of movie that involves superheroes or large machines, you should never live in Manhattan because you know it’s going to be systematically targeted and blown up. It’s a wonder that anyone really lives in Metropolis any more except for the people who can’t move away.
Syd: On seeing the bridge wavering, Bruce Wayne reaches for the red button hidden in his bust of Shakespeare (I get that reference!) to change into his Batman costume. I find this hilarious. What the hell is Batman going to do about a collapsed bridge? I know you could write a story in which Batman singlehandedly saves everyone on that bridge, if Batman is your chosen invincible power fantasy Mary Sue, but we can all admit that’s ridiculous, right?
More to the point, Batman’s home is in Gotham. This is not his main office. Does he have busts of Shakespeare that can access costumes at every branch of Wayne Enterprises? Isn’t that a security risk?
Margaret: Honestly, I could see Batman having busts of different writers in all of his offices. That seems like the sort of thing he would do. It’s totally a security risk, but because he is Batman, he never thinks it will come up.
Syd: Fortunately, Batman doesn’t need to get involved (especially fortunate considering Batman really couldn’t have done anything), because he sees from his window that Superboy has caught the bus. Superman flies up and puts the bus back on the bridge, amid Superboy’s protest that he had it.
Margaret: Superboy hopefully and cautiously asking Superman to help train him is such a sweet moment. This poor kid was raised in a lab and didn’t see the sky until a few months ago. He has all these powers and ideals to live up to and very little guidance. Superman’s reaction to Superboy asking him for advice on how to use his powers is, instead, to be a complete jackass and again, fly off in an aura of being a disappointing father figure.
Syd: Don’t knock his bad parenting aura. It keeps everything but his cape from being destroyed.
Margaret: After Superman flies off, Bruce uses his detective insight to insist on speaking to Clark. I could see that being a surprising moment to some, who expect the Dark Knight to not have any sort of emotional intelligence, however that’s not strictly the case. He’s a great detective, I think he would certainly be able to realize that Superman continually pushing off Superboy is going to lead to some bad consequences.
Syd: Are you saying that being a great detective makes you a great father? I think some of Bruce Wayne’s actual children might disagree with you on that.
Anyway, back at Mount Justice, Black Canary is training the team in martial arts.
Margaret: Wally continues the trend of being a gross human being by telling Black Canary that he can ‘show her some moves later’. Ew.
Syd: It was satisfying seeing Wally get beaten by Black Canary, but I don’t think he actually learned anything from it. Superboy insists that he doesn’t need combat training because his strength gives him the advantage in every fight.
Margaret: Superboy continually ignores the points of both his teammates and the Justice League. He thinks that because he has super strength and the ability to leap very far it means that he is better than everyone else. It seems, from the offset, that this will be a Superboy learning moment episode. That point is made even clearer when Black Canary kicks him to the ground multiple times and his response is the typical emo teenager one of saying that it doesn’t matter. My favorite part of this exchange is that every time he’s dropped the floor, the sparring ring reads, “Superboy: FAIL.” Yes, that’s right floor. Superboy is fail right now.
Syd: Suddenly, Batman calls on the team. The Justice League had just finished defeating and disassembling a robot called AMAZO and needed the Young Justice crew to escort the parts as they were being transported to STAR Labs.
Robin speculates that if the opposite of “like” is “dislike,” then the opposite of “disaster” is “aster” – meaning when everything goes right. No joke – this is my favorite part of the episode.
Margaret: Yes! I love Robin’s breakdown of the English language in every episode.
Syd: The truck transport is attacked by Mobile Optimal Neural Quotient Infiltrators – which was Professor Ivo’s way of getting an acronym that spelled something close to “Monkey” – which is what they are – robot monkeys.
Margaret: I thought Robin’s desire to charge in without checking with his teammates in all the previous episodes was bad, but Superboy takes it to a whole new level.
Syd: Now might be the time to point out that this is Aqualad’s first full mission as team leader and he’s hardly in the episode and he still can’t keep the team working together.
Margaret: Well, I didn’t expect Aqualad to immediately become the best team leader. He still is dealing with a disjointed and inexperienced team. Having them immediately choose him as a leader wouldn’t change that. However, I thought they would at least show them deferring more to him and communicating with him what is happening more in order to coordinate. That certainly did not happen.
Syd: Megan grows extra arms to fight off as many robot monkeys as she can. Wally freaks out when he sees her with all of the extra arms. If he can’t handle that, he is very ill-equipped to be a superhero.
Margaret: Well, despite the fact that he knows that she is a shapeshifter, it seems he is uncomfortable with the idea of her having more arms than a human would? It’s weird. He’s seen her impersonate both Robin and himself, yet her having an extra arm is what freaks him out. Priorities, Wally.
Syd: Bruce Wayne meets with Clark Kent in a diner. Clark orders apple pie and Bruce orders devil’s food. Not all of the jokes can be winners.
Margaret: The diner scene between Bruce and Clark was a short, necessary, and great scene. Not only do they get to order their personalities as desserts, but it actually shows Clark being fallible as well as contemptible. Completely ignoring and shoving Superboy is a terrible way to go about this development in his life. Bruce is completely in the right about this.
Syd: As irresponsible and callous as Clark is being, I see where he’s coming from. He sees getting involved in Superboy’s life as bad for both of them. He thinks of himself as a burden on Superboy as an unwelcome reminder of his origins and as for himself, he has never had the experience of being a father or a mentor. He never asked for this kind of responsibility or relationship and he’s afraid that by taking action, he’s likely to make things worse. His emotional conflict is entirely understandable, even if the way he is handling it is completely wrong.
Margaret: I didn’t see it as Superman being a burden on Superboy. Even him saying that Superman would just remind him of the things he went through is wrong, Superboy continually is reaching out to him for advice and support. He’s already been shown that Superboy doesn’t see it that way, so it stands to reason that he is pushing Superboy away is for his own reasons and is using a veil of selflessness to explain it away. I was never enamored with Superman before this, but his actions here are very detrimental to him. I get that he wasn’t expecting to be a father and that this is happening very quickly for him, but he’s making absolutely terrible decisions.
Syd: You’re saying this as if I was agreeing with Superman. I was just explaining his point of view, not excusing it. Superman’s denial of paternity for Superboy speaks volumes and is absolutely heart-rending.
Margaret: It is! It made me really feel like Batman is in the right here and Superman is being a hard-headed idiot.
Syd: Well, Batman says it himself:
As loathe as I am to agree with Batman, he has a point. None of the Kryptonians we have met so far have been nice. You know I like Kara, and even though she is the least asshole of all of them, she’s still kind of an asshole. Life on Krypton must have been awful.
Margaret: That must have been why they blew it up.
Syd: Superboy catches up to Ivo too late, as he has already assembled AMAZO – the robot that can use any of the Justice League’s powers, but only one at a time. Having him say the name of the League member whose powers he’s accessing is crazy annoying.
Margaret: It also kind of limits the surprise of what he’s doing. If his enemies can hear what power he’s about to use, they can prepare for it.
Syd: Robin is able to track AMAZO using the GPS in one of the fallen MONQIs. He sees that it’s headed toward his school in Gotham – also meaning that he just let Wally know where he goes to school, which isn’t great for maintaining a secret identity.
Margaret: Well, it is Wally. I don’t think Robin really fears him putting his secret identity together. That dude couldn’t find a coherent thought with both hands and a flashlight. Though, and I only caught this while gathering screen grabs, they reveal Robin’s name in a close up of a portrait of his Mathlete award. So, maybe he should be worried!
Syd: Good catch! So this is the first time in the show that they mention that this Robin is Dick Grayson. When I was watching the show for the first time, I still thought it might have been Tim Drake.
In the school, Superboy is thrown into a locker by AMAZO, and he sees that there is a drawing of Superman with hearts around him in the locker. When he stops – only momentarily – to punch that teenager’s fan drawing is the moment that hit me the most emotionally in this episode.
A fight ensues that Superboy ultimately wins by punching AMAZO through the head when it turns intangible to avoid one of Robin’s batarangs. Then AMAZO explodes, as robots do whenever anything goes wrong with them.
Margaret: After bringing back AMAZO to the Justice League, Batman, Black Canary, Green Arrow and Red Tornado are there to praise them for stopping and bringing back the mimicking robot. Batman, again, uses his insight – and some compassion – by telling Superboy that Superman will come around. It’s, actually, quite a nice moment for Batman. And, also, it goes to show that being a part of the team and being supported by someone makes Superboy a little less hard headed. He does what he should have done at the beginning of the episode: recognize that he has things he has to learn.
GRADING THE EPISODE
Syd: This is an A. It has just the right balance of emotional weight and fun action. Also robots.
Margaret: I am also at an A! While I thought Superman was totally a dick, that’s kind of in line with what I thought of him before. I liked how Superboy grew in this episode and the character interaction. Plus, as you say, monkey robots are always good.
SUMMARY: Artemis joins the team, much to the chagrin of Wally. But he is the worst, so who cares what he thinks? The plot starts to involve the League of Shadows and a mysterious woman in a cat mask who wants to foil the Young Justicers’ attempts to protect a computer programmer. Meanwhile, nanobots are gathering information and destroying buildings, but Robin and Superboy have that situation handled.
Syd: This episode is about secrets. Unfortunately, very few were revealed in the episode, leaving us with less to talk about than most episodes.
Margaret: It’s essentially a setup episode. The most important thing about it is that it introduces Artemis and sets up her relationships with all the other team members. She’s introduced as Green Arrow’s niece, which is weird as I didn’t realize Oliver Queen had a niece.
Syd: Well, I didn’t realize he had a sister, but television makes fools of us all.
Margaret: TV and comics do love the conveniently forgotten family member.
Syd: Unfortunately, we know that Artemis isn’t Thea’s daughter because when this episode was made, Thea didn’t exist yet.
Margaret: Maybe she’s Mia’s daughter.
Syd: Our story starts on Infinity Island, which is an awesome if implausible place name. Roy Harper rescues a programmer who is being forced to program against her will.
Margaret: Roy brings the information to the Young Justice in order for them to help him. He interrupts Green Arrow and Batman bringing Artemis into the group, and we are told she is Green Arrow’s new protege.
Syd: Artemis is kind of a composite character. There is a character in the DC Universe called Artemis Crock, but this character is not that much like her. This version of the character takes her skillset and iconography from Arrowette, who was a central character in the Young Justice comics. I don’t know why they didn’t give her the name “Arrowette,” and thus she has to use her real name. I guess Artemis in Greek mythology is associated with archery, but it’s a tenuous connection and it doesn’t work as a secret identity when it’s also your real first name. Maybe, being slaves to the canon, they didn’t want to call her “Arrowette,” since she wasn’t Cissie King-Jones, the real Arrowette. They couldn’t just be ashamed of the name, since they let “Mister Twister” and “Sportsmaster” go without comment. I may occasionally call her Arrowette, just because that’s a way better name than Artemis.
Margaret: I thought Artemis was her codename! Roy is upset by this new development. Honestly, it’s silly of him to think that Green Arrow would never decide to mentor anyone else. He’s respecting Roy’s decision to be a solo adventurer and even suggests that they team up to put a stop to the League of Shadows. He’s doing what Roy wanted him to do: treat him like an adult. Instead, Roy continues to be a grumpy teenager and tells everyone that he is now Red Arrow and he still is totally not interested in joining the team or teaming up with anyone else.
Syd: I don’t think Roy is jealous so much as he is suspicious. I’m not saying that he’s not a grumpy teenager, but he’s been introduced to this stranger whom he is told is Oliver’s niece, which he knows is a lie and he doesn’t know who she is or why he is being lied to. Neither does the audience. I like that they’re establishing a mystery behind the character, but I’m not thrilled with how intent they are in letting us know there is a mystery to her.
Margaret: Right. At this point in the episode, though, we don’t have any reason to believe that Artemis is not Green Arrow’s niece. The way it’s set up, it makes it seem like Roy is jealous and petty as opposed to rightfully suspicious, as he knows the Green Arrow very well. It’s resolved at the end, but this moment made me certainly side with Artemis as opposed to Roy.
Syd: When Aqualad asks Roy if he would like to join the team, he says they don’t have a quota on archers. This kind of underscores a problem with this show – there are too many damn archers. Look, I get it if you have one guy who is really into archery and wants to use his skill to fight crime – this is the kind of world where any skill ends up being used to fight crime. If he wants to train another archer to use a bow and arrow to fight crime, that’s kind of weird, but we have the context that this is a world where teen sidekicks are an accepted thing. When we get our third archer, that’s too much! Eventually, one of these guys needs to get a more practical weapon!
Margaret: Roy being upset makes Wally upset and that immediately makes him to be a complete jerk to Artemis throughout the entire episode. I’ve got say, Wally is really the worst.
Syd: Roy lets the team know that he had saved Serling Roquette from the League of Shadows, but they have her program for nanobots that can break into facilities and steal all of their data and also destroy the buildings themselves. It should be noted that the group is called the “League of Shadows” because apparently you can’t use the word “Assassins” in a kid’s show – it contains “ass” twice.
Margaret: The show sets up quite a bit in a few one liners about Artemis, which is interesting. She’s confident, she’s capable, she thinks Superboy has a cute butt. I like that in this one episode I feel as if I have a very good grasp of her character, while still not really knowing anything about her.
Syd: I should point out that she is wearing a half shirt. Between her costume and the beach scene at the beginning of the episode, we now have two out of two main female characters complying with the DC standard that we see all female belly buttons in every superhero story. We will have to keep an eye on Cheshire in the coming episodes, because her stomach remained shamefully covered for the whole episode.
Margaret: Who is Chesire?
Syd: The assassin in the cat mask.
Margaret: Oh! They didn’t ever say her name in the episode. I have her down as Mystery Assassin Woman.
Syd: Oh. That’s weird. I would have thought they’d at least say her name.
Margaret: The team goes to protect Roquette and are put up against the woman in the mask – AKA Cheshire. They protect Roquette, but the attacker escapes. As they’re all debriefing, Wally is, again, totally a jerk to Artemis, saying that she let the infiltrator inside. However, Megan immediately comes to Artemis’ defense, saying how she was also outside and the attacker got by her, too. I really like that Megan stands up for her and then encourages her. When Artemis made the comment about Superboy and Megan got defensive, I thought they were going to go with the stereotypical ‘women are unable to get along with each other’ trope. I’m very glad that though they touched on it, they subverted it.
Syd: I like how instead of the girls fighting with each other, they both fight with Wally.
Margaret: Right, but Artemis saved Wally’s life in the last episode.
Syd: It’s interesting that the first action that Artemis takes in the series was to intervene when Wally was about to be killed by AMAZO. It must be true love if she didn’t want him to die, like everyone else does.
Margaret: Right? There’s also a weird moment where Wally is thrown into Artemis and it made me think, “Man, are they shipping Wally and Artemis?”
Syd: Well, they have two female characters now. They can begin shipping in earnest. Also, Wally/Megan is clearly a non-starter.
Margaret: Honestly? Wally full stop should just be a non-starter. I’m glad they’ve introduced another female member to the team. I was worried for a little while that it would just be Megan. The differences between Megan and Artemis’ personality also seem like it will be a good character dynamic.
Syd: Robin hacks the nanobots to destroy them and declares, “The infiltrators have been outfiltrated.” That is easily Robin’s weakest wordplay. By the way, I checked the dictionary, and “exfiltrated” is already a word so that wasn’t so much a neologism as a malapropism. Come on, step up your game, man!
Margaret: Maybe it’s just propism. Or maybe it’s benepropism. You don’t know!
Syd: We seem to have skipped over most of the fight scenes in our recap, but I would just like to draw attention to Superboy’s one-sided fight with the evil hacker Professor Ojo and his helmet mounted eye laser, only because I didn’t want to get through the whole episode without mentioning the hilariously comic booky name “Professor Ojo” – especially since his name wasn’t even mentioned in the episode itself.
Margaret: We find after Artemis knocks the mask off of the masked woman that she knows her. While we don’t technically know her name in the series yet, now we know that Artemis knows her and that they have a past. In fact, their past is dark enough that Artemis lets her go, because she doesn’t want the others to know about it. I’m not sure what to think about the twist. It’s certainly something to drive a character forward, but it also means that moving forward we are going to question everything that Artemis does and says until we know what’s going on.
Syd: Despite Arrowette and Cheshire going out of their way not to reveal anything to the audience, we do get some important information. Artemis was surprised to see Cheshire’s face, meaning she didn’t know who was wearing the cat mask, but Cheshire knew exactly who Artemis was immediately, despite Artemis also wearing a mask the whole time. That means either Artemis isn’t as good as Cheshire at identifying voices or that Cheshire can recognize people by their midriffs.
Margaret: So, does this mean that Artemis knows Chesire through the League of Shadows/Assassins? Just what we need – more white ninjas.
Syd: Artemis has never been confirmed to be either white nor a ninja. Not to spoil anything, but she is definitely not white.
Margaret: Wait, she’s not white? How else can she credibly pass as Green Arrow’s niece? That dude is as white as sliced white bread.
Syd: But his sister is full-blooded Asian. Adopted from Korea. You racist.
Margaret: Oh fuck you. Come to think of it, I didn’t even know that Green Arrow had a sister. And, wait, if Oliver Queen has a sister that is Asian and Artemis is Asian, isn’t that starting to kind of narrow the pool of who Green Arrow is?
Syd: WAIT! That’s your concern about me obviously covering for Green Arrow’s terrible lie with made up details about his nonexistent sister? That it gives away his secret identity?
Margaret: Honestly, I did not even think of it as a horrible lie! At the time, I thought it was two white blonde people announcing themselves as relatives. That’s pretty credible, right? Reverse racism?
Syd: Non-White people can be blonde, though it is admittedly rare. I mean, you accepted a black blond as leader of this team without comment.
Margaret: I did! But, Aqualad was actually drawn as a black person with blond hair. Along with an Atlantean background, I didn’t question it. Artemis is drawn as being the same skin tone as Green Arrow as well as blond, which made me think of her as white! You can certainly be a lighter skinned Asian, but that’s not where my mind went on the character when I thought she was his actual niece and didn’t know that he had a made up Asian sister.
Syd: Her eyes are slightly differently shaped, you unobservant reverse racist. There isn’t even a succinct word for the kind of racist you are, and I’m beginning to think it isn’t a real thing.
Syd: Megan announces that she thinks of Artemis as a sister – in addition to the twelve sisters that she has on Mars. Artemis says that she wouldn’t know what that’s like, and I would think that few people would know what it’s like to have twelve sisters on Mars, but then again, there are thirteen of them in the previous sentence.
Margaret: The end of the episode has Roy confronting Artemis and telling her that he knows she’s not related to the Green Arrow, but if Oliver is keeping her secret, he’ll trust that it’s for a good reason. He then makes the typical platitude of an ex to someone that has just started dating their old significant other, “If you hurt them, I will hurt you.”
GRADING THE EPISODE:
Margaret: I’m at a B for this episode. I like the introduction of Artemis and what her character dynamic will do for the group, however it feels as if there was a lot in the episode that either was just setting up for later things or was just there to establish Artemis’ character dynamic.
Syd: I’m not quite there. I say C. There was a whole lot of nothing in this episode. Also, Wally is the worst.
Margaret: Wally is always the worst. If I had to consistently include him in my gradings, it would always pull them down.