Sunday, March 06, 2011

I heart Young Justice

I was sure that I had posted about the new Young Justice series, which I've been asked to weigh in on, but apparently not.

In short (as Comic Guys would put it):

Best. Animated Series. Ever.

And, yes, I'm including BTAS and JLU in that estimation. Flame away.

1. I like the art.
Now, I'm more of a story-guy than an art-guy, but the cartoony-ness of BTAS and JLU always bothered me a lot. Honesty, even "Batman Brave & the Bold" is more realistic than BTAS (and if you don't believe that, compare their drawings of the Joker).

2. I like the balance of tone.
Young Justice is not as wacky as Teen Titans was, nor does it get as dark and somber. That's part of what I like about it. Teen Titans was too schizo and the changes in tone far to extreme for my Western tastes. Young Justice has its amusing moments... and they manage to convey that without relying on a momentary change of art-style, as TT did with its anime style.

3. The YJers are placed in context.
Teen Titans were entirely divorced from the 'ahem' real world of adult superheroes. In the entire series I believe there was only one oblique reference to Robin having a mentor in Batman. Young Justice makes it clear that the JLA supports the group as whole, and has a purpose (secret weapons) and a plan (training) for them. Supporting roles for heroes who don't have proteges (such as Black Canary and Red Tornado) have made it clear that the whole 'village' of superheroes takes an interest in raising the next generation.

4. The YJers interact one-on-one with their mentors.
The YJers aren't just 'the junior Justice League'. They are each also the proteges of individual heroes with whom you see them closely relate, and each in their own unique way: M'gann adoring her Uncle J'onn, Superman's severe discomfort with Superboy's origins, Wally's extended "Flash Family", Kaldur's fond but formal allegiance to his king, Robin's jealousy over Batman's attention to the other kids, and Artemis's obvious strain in the pretense of Green Arrow as her uncle. [By the way, since her full name has just been revealed as Artemis Crock, it's pretty clear why that pretense is being made. ]

5. The adults are portrayed realistically and individualistically.
Superman's not perfect, and he's understandably creeped out by Superboy. Batman is certainly no-nonsense, but he's the one with the most parenting skills and its very obvious that he knows what the kids need, even if that's just a little time playing basketball. Red Tornado respects the team enough to let them work out their own problems without micromanaging. Aquaman's not preachy but shows Aqualad by example how to balance responsibilities.

6. It shows enormous respect and understanding for DCU history and employs it in innovative ways.
There are the obvious things like having Red Tornado as their POC and the Justice Cave as their HQ. Other nice touches include good old-fashioned regular human JLA foes like Prof Ivo and T.O. Morrow kicking their butts. But the recent Atlantis-based episode is a good example of weaving traditions into a new continuity, with Garth having declined the role of Aqualad, Tula injured by invaders, a cameo of Tad William's version of Topo, and the mysterious echinoderm that is oh-so-surely going to wind up at the surface world's Star Labs, where it will earn a new name as an old villain before it troubles the JLA.


Cap'n Neurotic said...

While I wouldn't place it over JLU myself, I do agree with pretty much all of your points; the scene where Bruce notices Dick's bad mood and solves it with some one-on-one time was a highlight of this week's episode . . . and considering how much I loved the episode, that says a lot.

My only quibble so far has been the amount of in-fighting the team has had; I'm hoping they start to gel as a team sooner rather than later.

Jim McClain said...

I agree with all your points. Love it.

Scipio said...

The basketball was a great highlight.

But for me the ULTIMATE was the fact that Aquaman and Aqualad had their initial casual conversational in Ancient Greek, which, given that Atlantis is an Ancient Greek myth, shows that the creators are willing to take a little extra effort to make the show good.

Diabolu Frank said...

I haven't seen a complete episode yet, only clips online, but I've been very impressed with them. I love the art style, and the dialogue feels comic book serious in a way I haven't seen previously. I never fully embraced the Timmverse, which took too many liberties and always seemed a bit soft peddled for the kids. Also, none of the Timm series were good out of the gate, relying on a slow build through various writers developing a mythology, as opposed to having a story bible upfront. Plus, it doesn't hurt that I already prefer the cartoon Aqualad, Miss Martian and Artemis (whether Roy Thomas', Peter David's or Bill Loebs') to the originals.

Jeff McGinley said...

I do like the way it both ignores continuity to get the line up and situation it wants...but then has throw away bits for people who do know the continuity to explain the differences (Like nod that Garth could have been Aqualad, but isn't)

CandidGamera : said...

I have mixed feelings on the show. It seems like they're trying to force relationships amongst the cast that I just don't buy yet. And the next time M'gann slaps her forehead and says 'Hello, M'gann!' I may punch my TV.

On the other hand - Lagoon Boy was in Friday's episode.

r duncan said...

What did you think of Orm apparently NOT being Ocean Master? He appeared to be genuinely a good guy in the most recent episode. While I doubt he will stay that way, I for one would love it Orm stays 'good.' Maybe he and Dolphin could even get together.

And what about "Aquababy" who we should see in about nine months?

Anonymous said...

Agreed on all counts.

I firmly believe that television doesn't have to be dumbed down for children; you obviously can't go all "Usual Suspects", but neither does it have to insult the kids' intelligence. As much as I enjoyed "The Superfriends" growing up, I could never quite get excited about it; it was more hoping that next season would be better than the current one. That whole "dumbing down" thing.

Anyway, "Young Justice" does a good job of telling a story that is going to be exciting for kids, with a good sense of pacing and tone. The fact that there are subtleties that will fly over kids' heads is not a problem; it just means that the show has something extra for adults to enjoy.

Scipio said...

Duncan, I think Orm IS Ocean Master, but was successful in hiding that fact during his first failed attempt to usurp the throne. The fact the Aquaman can now expect an heir should hasten his plans, since the line of succession would now pass him by. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Orm winds up hiring someone to take care of that problem Say... Black Manta?

Anonymous said...

So what WAS in the iceberg? Starro?

kyle b. said...

I am loving this show, and this past episode was a definite highlight.

I, too, got a big kick out of the Greek (though I got less of kick out of seeing various posters around the 'Net say "It sounds like that Avatar language!"). I'll always be thinking anax when it comes to Arthur/Orin from here on.

And, of course, there was the Lori Lemaris cameo (, plus the fact that Aqualad's name is Kaldur'ahm (a nice nod to Cal Durham).

r duncan said...

Scipio, Of course, you're probably right. I've just got a soft spot for redeemable villains. (My favorite seasons of Smallville were when Clark and Lex were friends.)

Bryan L said...

So far I've been very pleased, and I am a HUGE Timm fan. But I've found things to like in all of the DC cartoons, including Teen Titans and (gasp) The Batman (which really started to hit a decent stride in the last couple of seasons -- for those who hung in after the abominable first season).

Thanks for tipping me on the Greek, too. I didn't get it, having studied Latin. I'm not surprised at the detail, though. Greg Weisman headed up Gargoyles (when it was good) and Spectacular Spider-Man (also very good but tragically short).

Scipio said...

(1). Yes, that is almost certainly Starro in the iceberg.
(2). Yes, I was delighted to see Lagoon Boy, but forgot to mention it.
(3). When fanboys mistake Attic Greek for Na'avi, it makes the baby George Autenrieth cry.

Hal Shipman said...

Ah, I learn so many things from the Absorbascon. Artemis Crock and Cal Durham being two today.

And I totally thought the same thing about Orm.

I'm very happy with a lot of it, though not as excited from episode to episode as I was about JLU.

Maybe with time. They definitely need to move on that Superman/Superboy plotline.

Anonymous said...

Two more things to like:

- Robin as a laughing boy daredevil. Sometimes the laughing is a bit out of place, but in concept it's good sauce.

- Both Aquaman and Aqualad are from the school of making every word count. Aqualad never says a thing without good reason, and did you notice in the pilot where Aquaman advised Speedy that his outburst wasn't helping his case?

Historians are going to look back on this time in history as "The Era When Cartoons Made Aquaman And Robin Cool". Who would have predicted it?

Anonymous said...

Thanks to this cartoon, my 3-year-old wants to be Kid Flash for Halloween. So it's working for me.

NeoShazam said...

Enjoy the cartoon, but wouldn't put it over JLU yet.

Anonymous said...

While it is good, I still don't appreciate it and the Teen Titans cartoon pretty much having the wrong name, characters, and atmosphere attached to them when looking at their comic book counterparts. To be precise, the Young Justice cartoon is pretty much 80s Teen Titans filtered through the Young Justice stuff and the same goes for the Teen Titans cartoon.