Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Young Justice is served

Young Justice has finished. The show based around the sidekicks of the DC Universe and Batman setting them up to be some black ops division of the Justice League. A brilliant show, with adult themes that just happened to be animated. After two seasons it was talked about with reverence, and got a fairly decent audience to start with, but Cartoon Network did everything they could to kill it. And being the channel that shows it, they have final say.

First were the great delays. Every now and again the series would just go on hiatus with no warning whatsoever, all at the whim of some CN exec. This hit a high point last year. At the start of June Cartoon Network ended the first half of the second season two episodes early. Luckily it fell at a big reveal. In September it came back, but only for two episodes, when Cartoon Network threw it away in favour of twentieth anniversary celebrations, but this was decided with less than twelve hours before the show was due to air, so last minute that the third episode actually still went up on iTunes. That episode wasn't shown on Cartoon Network until the New Year. That's just one example of how badly it was treated. It's no wonder that Young Justice struggled to keep an audience, but at least it got two seasons. It deserved so much more.

The show goes from a point in continuity most people can accept as fact from DC now. That of the Justice League operating with all of the major heroes. Though from the off, you only really need to understand Batman, Superman, The Flash and Aquaman, with Green Arrow and Martian Manhunter in the following episodes.

But the story telling is brilliant, the voice actors great. The show starts off around the four sidekicks, Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad and Superboy form a team despite the League's cries that they aren't ready. Finally Batman concedes and decides to use them as a Black Ops team. It doesn't take long for The Team to grow a bit too. Throw in long gestating plans of some villains and it shapes up to be something quite special.

Not to mention the five year jump between the first and second season. Two of The Team are full time leaguers, two are on sabbatical, The Team has grown quite a bit and perhaps most importantly, Robin is now Nightwing. There's a couple of other changes that will shock you, all of which was how masterful the second season was set up. Meanwhile the villains plans didn't fail in last season's finale, they've bounced back and been setting up the long game.

Then there's the look of the show. Not just animation, which is pretty stellar but the design of it too. DC took the opportunity with their comics reboot to redesign a bunch of costumes, compared to this show most fail. The light armour look for the Bat folk, is far more subtle then Jim Lee's designs, and looks much more effective then Bat Girl's silly boots with bat ears on the knees. Hell, the Geoff John's new Aqualad was based on the version here, it does such a good a job.

I never thought I'd see the old Justice League Unlimited/DCAU shows equalled, they were that good. Young Justice doesn't just manage it, but does it in spades. Between this and the Marvel movies I'm starting to think that the best way to enjoy the Big Two's superheroes is to wait for adaptations. The only problem being is that animation just isn't being treated well. I'm still smarting from the cancellation of the Thundercats reboot.

Does it end well? Yes, more or less. It does wrap up the Invasion storyline. The final episode feels like an epilogue with most of the heavy lifting done one before. But there's a few storylines that have been brewing under the surface that would be nice to see more of, and the last five minutes are nothing but set up for the future. A future I badly want to see. I just hope that Warner Brothers decide to throw it at their animated movie department to keep them going.
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