Young Justice Season 1, Episode 15
SUMMARY: The Team and their new friend Zatanna uncover Dr. Morrow’s plot to use element-themed robots for world domination.
Syd: The main villain of this episode is Thomas Oscar Morrow, whose name can be shortened to “T. O. Morrow” or “Tom Morrow,” depending on if you want the pun to work when written or spoken. I kind of love this name. It’s up there for me with the Riddler’s name being Mr. E. Nigma.
I know we touched on this the first time we talked about Morrow, but I am annoyed by the push in modern comics to downplay characters’ joke names. Some writers seem to think that silly names are unrealistic and distracting when plenty of people in real life have pretty funny names. For instance, the guy who drew that panel I just posted was named Dick Sprang. I like that Blink’s real name is Clarice Ferguson, even though that’s a reference to a show that kids today have never heard of. I will even give a little bit of credit to Mr. Freeze being named Victor Fries, even though that’s confusing and doesn’t quite work. What I can’t stand, though, are characters whose names are ALMOST jokes. The worst offender there is Harley Quinn, whose real name is Harleen Quinzel. What kind of bullshit is that? First of all, “Harley Quinn” is perfectly plausible as a person’s real name. Maybe Mr. and Mrs. Quinn didn’t even notice that the first name “Harley” would make their daughter’s full name sound like a character from Commedia Dell’arte, but having that be her real name would in itself explain why the Joker would fixate on her. Failing that, she could have a name that has nothing to do with clowns – “Maria Shapiro” or “Susan Epstein” or something. Harleen Quinzel is nothing. Either commit to the joke or don’t make one – don’t give a character a name that sounds KIND OF like a pun. I love that Young Justice – unlike Supergirl – has the courage to use the name T. O. Morrow on air.
Margaret: Punny names are part of the game in comics, I think. It’s also why the Batman movies before Batman Begins kind of leaned into that sort of humor. They went overboard with Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze, but I feel like when you’re dealing with movies and shows that involve people dressing up in costumes and fighting crime you have to prescribe to the Willy Wonka theory: “A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.” There’s nothing wrong with taking the puns with both seriousness and a bit of levity. It’s when you either ignore the fact that some of this is silly or decide that ‘because it’s comics no laws or logic apply’ that things tend to go off the rails.
Syd: We start with Morrow working on Red Tornado in pieces on an operating table. Morrow is talking and waits for a response before he remembers that Tornado’s voice isn’t operational, though his senses and mind are hooked up and working. So, Tornado can hear and process what’s happening, but can’t react. With this horror movie setup, the cartoon lets even first-time viewers know in the creepiest way possible that Morrow is bad news.
Margaret: You can tell this guy is evil before he even speaks because he has the evilest mustache I have ever seen. It’s only compounded by the fact that every sentence he utters is creepier and creepier. Poor Red Tornado! He’s disassembled on a table and Morrow is taunting him gleefully about the fact that he is the one that did this to him. That is remarkably terrifying.