Young Justice Season 1, Episode 17
SUMMARY: After the trauma of everybody dying last episode, the Team sits down for therapy sessions with Black Canary, except Superboy, who thwarts a gold heist with the Forever People.
Margaret: The episode opens with the Team still scarred from the simulation they went through. Batman comes into the Cave expecting everyone to have already healed and moved on from saying the simulation went ‘badly’. Badly? Everyone died, Bruce! Jeez, you are so emotionally stunted.
Syd: I don’t know what Batman’s reaction to traumatic situations is supposed to be. He tends to violently overreact, but that also always works out for the best. I’m not sure if we’re meant to see Batman as horribly maladapted or absolutely the BEST adapted.
Margaret: I’m sure we’re supposed to read him as maladapted, as J’onn chides him in his response to thinking everyone should be okay by now. In many ways J’onn acts like the show’s moral compass at times.
Syd: Well, You would expect that J’onn would be wiser and more mature than Batman, as he has several decades on him (and come to think of it, it’s weird how many interpretations of J’onn are less mature). I expect that his life was much more normal before he left Mars, too, so he would have more experience dealing with people – albeit a different kind of people.
Margaret: Exactly. As he rightly states, Black Canary has her work cut out for her in trying to get the Team to talk about what happened and work through some of the trauma. It seems the rest of the episode will be getting into some meaty character development, which I always enjoy.
Syd: But before we get to the talking about feelings portion, Superboy storms off. Superboy doesn’t TALK feelings, he ACTS feelings, MAN! Then we cut away to Metropolis, where we meet the guest stars for the episode, the Forever People, who demonstrate the importance of having a long-standing shared universe – they were obviously designed in a previous decade. They really feel like they are from a completely different series, which helps them feel believably otherworldly.
Margaret: They are definitely a strange addition to the world, as it immediately feels like a shoehorned crossover episode.
Syd: It’s like they’re trying to promote a new series, but in real life, the series has been cancelled since the 80s and the main characters have been dead since 2008.
Margaret: Spoilers, man! There does seem to be a point to why they are here, though, which is more than I can say for most crossover episodes. They mention that the New Genisphere is on Earth…do they mean BB8?
Syd: Look, I know The Force Awakens hadn’t come out when this episode aired, but BB8 is SUCH a better name than “New Genisphere.” And spoilers, she gets another name which is also terrible.
Margaret: But, enough about names, holy crap, BB8 can turn into a tricked out motorcycle! That is amazing.
Syd: Seriously. I love Wolf seems flabbergasted by the transformation, because seriously, how does a wolf even understand what’s going on? But then they fly away and Wolf is Conner’s R2D2 in a BB8 X-Wing. It’s the mashup we’ve all been waiting for.
Margaret: Batman attempts to stop Conner, but he’s taken out his earpiece and is now essentially on his own solo adventure for the rest of the episode. Back in the cave, Black Canary is talking to Artemis, who steadfastly refuses that she needs to talk about anything. Having died early, she insists that she was in a coma and therefore has no trauma. However, Black Canary does bring up the fact that she has hidden things from the group. She knows Artemis is not Green Arrow’s niece.
Syd: So Artemis knows that Black Canary knows. Also, everyone who knows Oliver’s secret identity knows that he doesn’t have a niece. It’s a shame that we don’t see how deep Team Arrow’s ties are. Does Artemis work with Black Canary when she patrols with Green Arrow?
Margaret: It’s possible! That might be why only the Team Arrow people and parts of the Justice League know Artemis’ true identity. However, Artemis’ main problem with telling the group who she really is comes down to Wally’s reaction. She knows he’ll react poorly to it.
Syd: I actually think the shipping in this show is somewhat slick. We know they’ve written at least to the end of the season at this point. The writers know that Wally and Artemis end up together. The hard part is convincing the audience that this isn’t forced and that these characters actually care about each other. Little moments like this don’t seem heavy handed and they really work for me.
Margaret: Moments like this work better for me, too. We’ve known since Denial that Wally and Artemis are going to be a thing. That’s clearly endgame for these two, so seeing the smaller moments is interesting to me. Especially since it’s going to take a lot of convincing that Artemis could look past Wally being the worst and having a relationship with him.
Syd: If anyone’s going to end up with Wally, I’d rather it be someone who doesn’t take any crap from him.
Margaret: Same. Back with Conner, he’s testing out what motorcycle BB8 can do when he’s intercepted by the Forever People. I’m sure they’re supposed to be good guys, but when they show up again I just did not trust them! They’re far too easily swayed. I definitely thought they were trying to set up Conner for one reason or another.
Syd: I think it’s weird that they refer to BB8 as “that” or “it” when talking to Conner, when they referred to her as “she” among themselves. If they think of BB8 as a sentient being, why do they dehumanize her for the sake of an Earthling?
Margaret: That’s pretty weird, it makes no sense as to why they wouldn’t just keep insisting on the sentience of BB8 and letting Conner know that Sphere is a she.
It’s Kaldur’s time for the Black Canary chair and he wishes to resign as leader of the group, despite the fact that his actions directly contributed to ensuring they all made it out alive. When Canary asks him who would take his place, he gives a list of reasons as to why no one else is capable at the moment and rescinds his request.
Syd: I’m as glad as anyone that Kaldur remains as the leader, but I don’t think he really wanted to resign. Some of his reasons for why the others couldn’t lead seemed like grasping at straws. Dick is “too young”? Arguably, but, as Black Canary points out, aren’t they all? Megan is “too eager to please”? Why does that mean she can’t lead? Or at the very least, why couldn’t she learn to lead? You might as well say, “Kaldur is too unsure of himself.” His resignation just feels like it’s what he thinks he was supposed to say, not what he really thinks is best.
Margaret: Far too many of Kaldur’s plot points lately have been about either the Team or he himself doubting his capabilities as leader. I understand that it can be an interesting struggle, but we all know that he’s going to be the leader when the episode is over and so it starts to feel a little repetitive. This mostly just seemed like a set up to Robin’s character point a little down the line. That’s what is a little frustrating about Kaldur’s storylines, they always seem to be as counterpoints or setting up someone else’s growth.
Syd: Going back to the Forever People, they introduce themselves, and we get a couple of moments to smooth things out for people who are new to Jack Kirby’s brand of 1970s National Comics madness. First of all, Conner has a slight note of skepticism in acknowledging “New Gods,” letting us know that we shouldn’t take this too seriously. The two people whose names might be seen as demographically problematic get curtailed – “Vykin the Black” is introduced as “Vykin” and “Beautiful Dreamer” as just “Dreamer” (though that does ruin the musical reference of her name). As for Big Bear, I really like that the writer noticed that since they are from another world, it doesn’t make sense for him to be named after an Earth animal, so they had him translate his name as “Wolf” before correcting himself to “Bear.”
Margaret: This continues the weird feeling of a crossover episode, as we’re introduced to characters that clearly have their own storyline we know nothing about. I like that Conner is just as skeptical as these new characters as I was, just giving a deadpan ‘Right’ when they explain they are New Gods. His own introduction has him stumbling, too. He starts to say his name is Conner, but quickly corrects to Superboy. I like the idea that he’s so used to being called Conner now that it takes him a moment to introduce himself with his codename, which used to be his only name.
Syd: Anyway, with that out of the way, the Forever People go to retrieve the technology that has been stolen from their homeworld. The find Ugly Maheim and Whisper A’Daire stealing gold underground, which gives each of the Forever People an opportunity to show off their particular superpowers. Unfortunately, they aren’t really that clearly communicated and all that’s sure is that Serifan’s voice actor is DEFINITELY not from Texas.
Margaret: Vykin ignores Conner’s advice to go in stealthily and instead announces their presence, telling them to give back the stolen technology. They are immediately attacked by large glowing red disks which apparently are ‘Anti-Life’ the enemy of New Genesis. I have no idea what that is, but apparently it is bad!
Syd: Back on Black Canary’s couch, Wally is very cool about having gone through his own death. He sputters a bit when she brings up Artemis’ death, but quickly recovers. Canary says he’s in denial, which he’s okay with.
Margaret: He also attempts to deflect his feelings for Artemis into a gross pass at Canary. Man, Wally, even in trauma you remain the worst.
Syd: Absolutely. Anyway, the Forever People combine to form Voltron and this Voltron is called Infinity Man and has some sort of powers that are really vague and ill-defined and I don’t care about any of this.
Margaret: Yeah, there’s an entire backstory about the two different worlds and their war, but as this is a crossover episode, I doubt any of this really carries over throughout the rest of the season. Most of this episode other than the Black Canary scenes just feels like exposition to a series we aren’t watching.
Syd: The backstory is mercifully short and we get a cut back to Dick Grayson, pouring his heart out. The first time he got to lead the team, everyone died. He can’t even rationalize that he did what he had to do in an unwinnable situation, the way Bruce Wayne undoubtedly would have. He’s starting to understand who he is as his own person separate from Batman and it scares him. He had been so sure that he was meant to be the leader and now he doesn’t want that burden.
Margaret: He also, rightly, realizes that Batman is not the person he wants to be any more. It’s an incredibly deep character moment.
Syd: The fight scene with the Forever People continues and it’s pretty tedious, except for Vykin exclaiming, “These weapons resist my magnetic powers!” which made me burst out laughing. Then the FPs turn into Voltron again, but Dasaad throws a “Father Box” (a concept that is never explained) at them, turning them into Evil Voltron.
Margaret: I guess it’s supposed to be the counterpart to the ‘Mother Box’ that they use to turn into Voltron. However, the implications are pretty creepy? The Mother Box turns you into Voltron, tossing a Father Box into the transformation turns you evil?
Syd: Smash the Patriarchy, Margaret.
Margaret: I guess! Evil Voltron is sent to kill Conner, who runs out to motorcycle BB8 and says they can take Voltron together. BB8 immediately nopes out of that situation. And who can blame her?
Syd: Ugh! I’m so sick of — Oh wait! It’s Megan’s turn on the couch! This should be fun!
Margaret: Feeling incredibly guilty about her part in turning the exercise into a nightmare, Megan tells Black Canary that she can’t trust herself with her telepathic powers. In fact, she feels so guilty and lost that she turns from Green Megan to White Megan. Black Canary comments on it and she freaks out, apparently not realizing that white also means Caucasian. It’s weird that that freaks her out so much. I guess it feeds into her feeling as if she can’t control her powers.
Syd: Black Canary gives a speech about Megan learning to use her powers, which she relates to her own experience growing up with superpowers, terrified of hurting the people around her. This is the first glimpse we have gotten into Black Canary’s backstory, and it’s frustrating, because there seems like there is so much there to tell. This version of Black Canary is the Dinah Laurel Lance version – the daughter of Dinah Drake, the original Black Canary from the 40s (I checked the wiki page – apparently, Dinah the elder had Dinah the younger when she was relatively old, so the timeline matches up). People don’t seem to realizes that these are two different versions of the character – in fact, when Drake was declared THE Black Canary in the New 52, I didn’t even hear any uproar that this effectively erased Dinah Laurel from the timeline. But she has her own unique story. She was the first second-generation Justice Leaguer. She grew up around superheroes and was trained by them. There is so much we don’t know about her story — and I guess we’ll never know unless they have flashback sequences in Season 3 of Young Justice.
Margaret: Black Canary is a fascinating character! I do wish we saw more of her and think she’d make for a really interesting solo series.
Syd: Ok, so to wrap up the Forever People story, BB8 forms a Voltron helmet that Conner can use to pilot Infinity Man. Dasaad has a Starscream moment, where he oversteps his authority, then walks it back, which is meaningless for people like Margaret who have never met his boss AND people like me, who think Darkseid is a dumb one-note villain. The good guys win. Conner gets to keep BB8. Batman is suspicious, which he really should have been before this episode.
Margaret: It all ends with Conner talking to Black Canary again, admitting that he feels guilty for the fact that he felt happy in the simulation as he finally got to feel like Superman. It’s not really as revealing as the Robin saying he didn’t want to be Batman any more or as touching as Megan fearing her own powers, so it just kind of makes this uneven episode end on a somewhat emotional, but ultimately flat moment.
Syd: I think the point was not specifically what Superboy revealed, just that he was finally ready to talk at all, which is development. I guess.
GRADING THE EPISODE
Syd: C+. I guess I’m not into Jack Kirby weirdness as much as comics fans are supposed to be. I mostly liked it for the X-Factor #87 style sessions with Black Canary. We got some really great character work there. The Superboy plot fell a bit short, though I should note that I just found it forgettable while watching the episode and it only bothered me when we were discussing it. It was more annoying to explain than to watch.
Margaret: Honestly, I’m at a C. The Forever People plot seemed very out of nowhere, though I know they were setting it up with BB8. You’re right, the only thing that saved this episode were the therapy sessions with Black Canary.