The premise of the show is that a handful of companions (don’t say sidekicks) to big hitter heroes want to be recognised as Justice League members in their own right. Initially they’re denied this, but after proving themselves the League give the group their own base, training, and assign them their own missions, all to earn themselves consideration as full blown Justice League members.
The first episode jumps right into establishing the show. It’s the day Robin, Kid Flash, Speedy and Aqualad think they’re going to be admitted into the Hall of Justice (Justice League HQ). However, it turns out that’s not even the real base, just a front for the world to focus on– it’s actually a place Justice League members use to travel to the real base–in space. Which Robin, and the others aren’t being invited to. The four find that they’re just being given token recognition and palmed off with a meaningless reward.
That’s all too much for the young heroes and Speedy quits to go it alone as Red Arrow who is done being a sidekick. The remaining three are equally unhappy, but don’t react as quickly or in the same way as the bitter Red Arrow. When the Justice League are faced with needing to intervene in two situations they chose the priority mission–Robin, Kid Flash, and Aqua Lad decide to prove themselves and take care of the situation the League chose against–a fire at the Cadmus science facility.
The trio charge into danger–and a situation MUCH bigger than they (and the League anticipated). The three soon become four when they find a juvenile clone of Superman has been bred at the facility–Superboy.
The four prove themselves to the League and stand up to them too. They are given a base of their own, from which they will deal with missions especially assigned to them by the League, to prove themselves to be full Justice League members with Red Tornado and Black Canary as their trainers. They’re soon joined by Miss Martian and Artemis, and a couple of others. They also cone to the attention of a group of super villains in the group called ‘The Light’.
Although the first series was released in 2011, I came late to the party and for me this was a real geek highlight of 2014. Season 1 of the animated series was a Netflix jackpot find. I love ‘Clone Wars’ and ‘Archer’ and had been revisiting ‘He-Man’ and ‘ThunderCats’ and was missing having a cartoon series in my life. I thought I’d give it a try. I also have to admit hot Superboy and cute Robin caught my eye on the promo pics too…
The stories are quick-paced, full of action, engaging, and have a well-scripted humurous banter between the heroes that I can only compare with that of Buffy. I like the style of the animation too. It’s stylised, for sure, but not overly stylised as some cartoons can be where the characters end up looking like caricatures.
This is a series with continuing plots and consequences–not a cartoon that resets when the end credits roll. The characters themselves aren’t shallow cyphers, they develop individually and as a team, and have their own distinct personalities, wants, secrets and a couple either have their own agenda, or aren’t quite what they seem. There’s even betrayal in the mix. More than I had expected of characters in a cartoon.
The Justice League come across as dickish in the way they dismiss their young companions achievements, and although seem willing enough to take these kids into fights, won’t cut them any slack in acting alone or as equals. Hell, they even consider kicking out Captain Marvel when they realise that his alter ego is actually a kid. So that all helps you root for this young band of Justice League wannabes.
Aqualad is serious and contemplative, Robin is smart and sarcastic (& cute), Kid Flash is excitable and cocky, Artemis is snarky, Miss Martian is naive in her alienness, while Superboy is powerful but weakened by emotions from his human DNA. It’s a really good mix, none of which are set to type, take Aqualad, he can be mature and to me, a bit dull for it, but he still has chemistry with the others and can be part of the banter that flows between all the leads. My favourites though, are Robin and Kid Flash as they really spark well off each other.
Oh, and if anyone is going to point out that my crushing on Robin is a bit weird, yeah turns out he’s a 13 year old in the show. But he’s a cartoon and he’s not drawn like one–what 13 year old had that definition. Plus he’s voiced by an actor in his 20s. Plus I substitute his image with that of Gay Comic Geek (some of the site is NSFW by the way!) who is a HOT Robin safe for me to crush on and it’s all good again.
The series also has heart, whether it’s who will get the boy or girl, to youngsters trying to prove themselves to each other, to their group, and to the parental Justice League. A strong scene in the second episode is where Superboy stands up against the league. Superboy also gets some touching scenes in seeking recognition from an indifferent Superman. All enough to summon a lump in this geeks throat.
I can thank this series for getting me to give the live action ‘Arrow’ another go, which I’ll be writing about soon.
Ultimately, each episode of ‘Young Justice’ are short doses of fun. And who doesn’t need that in their life? Check it out–even if you’re an adult and consider yourself being past cartoons as a grown-up. As Robin might say ‘you need to grow-down’. Actually, he’d probably do better than that.
I’ve only seen season 1 (Netflix, can we get season 2 & 3) but there are two other series available on DVD.