It’s been some five months since new episodes of Young Justice: Outsiders were aired and quite a lot has changed for the fledgling DC Universe streaming service since then. The network found critical acclaim with Doom Patrol, which fast developed a cult following akin to the fandom for the equally odd comic book series. The service suffered a setback, however, when its new Swamp Thing series was suddenly canceled with only a single episode aired, after having its original order cut from 13 episodes to 10. No explanation has been provided for the cancellation, leading to speculation that it may have been anything from overly-high production costs to Warner Bros. wanting to focus on more family-oriented programming in order to better compete with Disney Plus.
This uncertainty has led to a good deal of understandable panic regarding the fate of DC Universe’s other programming, particularly the second-half of Young Justice. While it would make little sense for the rest of the series not to be released at this point, one can’t fault Young Justice fans for being somewhat paranoid. After all, the show was cancelled after two seasons on Cartoon Network despite high ratings because the show was better at engaging teenagers and twenty-somethings than selling action figures to younger kids.
Thankfully, the next three episodes of Young Justice following the mid-season finale are just as good as what came before. Those who were afraid that the series might be afraid to rock the boat at this point can rest assured that the show’s writers are still taking advantage of the creative freedom they have now that they don’t have to worry about the Cartoon Network censors.
Case in point: we’d never get to hear Guy Gardner singing about the beauty of various galactic wonders and how they compare to his ass on a broadcast network.
(Shameless Self Promotion – I wrote a recap of Young Justice: Season 3 for another website, if anyone needs a quick refresher of what’s happened so far.)
Episode 14, “Influence,” helps to remind viewers of how things stand after the mid-season finale. As the Justice League’s team in space track a group of abducted metahuman teenagers, the team on Earth is fighting a public relations battle against both Lex Luthor (currently Secretary General of the UN) and CEO Gretchen Goode (secretly the New God Granny Goodness), who is claiming total ignorance of her company’s VR Goode Goggles being used to identify and brainwash potential metahumans. In the midst of all this, four of the Outsiders are allowed a chance to officially join the Justice League’s junior team. Also rejoining the team is Beast Boy, who is desperate to do something to directly fight the metahuman trafficking problem after accidentally exposing Gretchen Goode.
This episode does a great job reestablishing the status quo and what the various teams are working on. There’s a fair bit of humor (the best of it coming from Guy Gardner) and some great character moments, including an inspiring bit where Nightwing, Tigress and Superboy talk to their younger charges about what it means to be a hero and the sacrifices that go with it. The only real weak spot to the episode is some of the voice acting, which is a little awkward at points… particularly the weirdest rendition of Superman saying “Great Scott!” in animation history.
Episode 15, “Leverage,” sees the new Gamma Squad of the Justice League being sent into Russia to investigate a base that could be housing an illegal metahuman trafficking operation. The covert mission quickly goes south when the team runs into Captain Boomerang, Black Manta and Mounsieur Mallah. This leads to a three-way fight and the introduction of two infamous groups from the late 1980s era of DC Comics into the reality of Young Justice.
While this is playing out, we also get a subplot exploring the Metahuman Youth Counselling program that is being run out of STAR Labs in Taos, Arizona. This brings back a number of supporting characters from Season 2 of Young Justice as well as some of the metahuman criminals seen earlier in Season 3. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t really fit the rest of the episode and it seems likely most people will be more interested in watching our regular heroes fighting some heavily-armed super-villains than examining the ins and outs of the rehabilitation system for juvenile delinquents with superpowers. Your mileage may vary, however. Personally, I love this kind of focus on world-building and characterization.
Episode 16, “Illusion Of Control,” takes us back to the Taos facility and a carnival being held on Thanksgiving weekend that brings in some of the younger Justice League members to help out. Naturally, complications arise when Count Vertigo crashes the party, apparently intent on killing his niece, Queen Perdita of Vlatava, who is currently dating Beast Boy and the only thing standing between him and the throne of his nation.
Beyond that, we get to see Thanksgiving being celebrated in the Harper household in Star City and Superboy and M’Gann’s house in Happy Harbor. Some of the scenes here are predictable, such as Forager’s attempt to teach the true meaning of Thanksgiving to someone who thinks they have little reason to be thankful for anything. Other scenes are more surprising, such as the family drama that breaks out in Will Harper’s home when a secret is revealed by accident and several other things are brought to light. Again, the drama is rich and the voice acting perfect, making this the strongest of the new episodes this week.
Thankfully, those who have a hard time sitting down to watch three episodes at a time will soon be able to relax a bit. Staring next week, Young Justice will adopt the weekly release model employed by other DC Universe shows, with one episode coming out every Tuesday in July and August. However, the final three episodes of the season will be released all at once on August 27th.
Illusion Of Control: 10/10
Young Justice: Outsiders returns on July 2nd, 2019!
Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.