By: Nicole Dubuc (writer)

The Story: Superboy gets treated to his first encounter with a woman in fishnets, and the team discovers flying monkeys don’t always have fur.

The Review: It used to be that teenaged sidekicks couldn’t get much of an identity beyond their partnership to their more popular mentors.  Eventually, they grew more popular and came into their own as characters, some of the lucky ones even gaining their own ongoings.  Nowadays, writers make a point of keeping the older superheroes and their younger counterparts separate.  It lets the kids stand on their own, but it also cuts the mentorship aspect out of their relationships.

So far, one of Young Justice’s supervisors, Red Tornado, has stuck to a strict rule of letting his charges work out their own problems.  It’s an admirable philosophy, but it defeats the idea that there’s some valuable experience the adults could pass on to make the teen heroes that much more effective.  Nicole Dubuc tackles the issue by making Superboy’s lack of connection with his natural mentor central to the episode’s tension.

Enter Black Canary, who takes a more hands-on approach to managing the team—and couldn’t be a more perfect choice.  She’s a legacy hero herself, and how awesome is it to have a character that has a superpower, but is much better known for her butt-kicking skills?  Dubuc writes a tough, no-nonsense, but sensitive Canary, but the writing team has been doing a great job offering natural characters.  Canary doesn’t blink an eye at Superboy’s sass, and though she’s merciless in striking his weaknesses, she stays committed to being a source of guidance for him.

A good thing, as the Man of Steel doesn’t seem like he’ll be stepping up anytime soon.  The timing couldn’t be better to address Superman’s attitude to his young clone.  When Batman is the one telling you you’ve got a chip on your shoulder, that’s bad.  Their conversation is logical and offers some fun character quirks (Bruce Wayne has a sweet tooth—who knew?), but ultimately nothing advances on that front and Superman comes off looking like a bigger jag than ever.  It just doesn’t gel that the big Boy Scout can be so harsh to someone so eager for his approval.  The perils of a parallel Earth, I suppose.

One disappointing factor to the episode is how unthreatening Amazo and Ivo turn out to be in this episode.  Sure, Superboy, Kid Flash, and Robin get tossed around for a while (with again some spectacular action choreography), but Amazo still gets taken care of a little too neatly at the end—especially for an opponent that supposedly took eight hours for the Justice League to defeat.  And Ivo just makes some boneheaded, inexplicable decisions that prove key to Young Justice’s success.  It feels like YJ got it easy this time, but there’ll be juicer challenges ahead.

One weakness to all these episodes is how the team gets so occupied by their missions they only get to interact in spurts.  But Dubuc sort of makes up for it by peppering the action with a lot of little gags and jokes that sound more true-to-life than the forced banter we’ve gotten before (Kid Flash: “Yoink!”).  Even Aqualad lightens up a little bit, though Miss Martian remains hopelessly smitten with Superboy.  Hopefully, they give her more to do than doting on him all day long.

Conclusion: A strong Superboy-centric episode that dumbs down the action a little bit, but lays the groundwork for big developments to come (after all, there’s still the question of whose arrow saved Kid Flash in that big battle with Amazo).

Grade: B+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings:

– I don’t care what kind of parallel Earth this is, but the fact that it allows Clark Kent to wear that sweet fedora means it’s awesome.

– One of these days, they’re gonna figure out a way to animate fishnets and make some fanboys very happy.  And yes, that includes me.  I’m owning it.