By: Greg Weisman (writer)
The Story: Well, they do say teens have one foot in youth and the other in adulthood.
The Review: Yes, this review is a bit late in coming. In my defense, I had no idea the show had returned until just a day or so ago. The erratic scheduling of this series has been of the few truly frustrating aspects of Young Justice. No sooner does it come back than it goes on hiatus again. Consequently, the first season has stretched on for nearly two years now, which is quite an achievement, depending on your point of view.
Anyhow, the five months since our last visit with the team gave this episode the feeling of a season premiere. That idea must not have been lost on Weisman, since the scope and quality of this episode feels very appropriate for a premiere. He chooses to adapt Todd Dezago’s JLA: World Without Grown-Ups, the first storyline involving the team later to be known as Young Justice, and a pretty challenging one at that. As you might figure out from the title, our immature heroes get placed in the awkward position of being the world’s only hope for salvation, mainly because there’s flat out no one else to turn to.
It’s actually quite interesting watching Weisman’s interpretation of the story, because it seems to exemplify some of the show’s standout features. First off, the episode doesn’t have nearly the humor and slapstick when it was Fonzie-wannabe Superboy, hyperactive Impulse, and straight man Robin (Tim Drake flavor) zipping around. Here, things feel pretty sober, even tragic in places, and though Weisman writes it with great credibility, it’s undeniably a bummer story.
Yet strangely, at the same time, the episode somehow falls short of the maturity Dezago’s original storyline had, even though technically, the team here acts a lot more mature than the one back then. Dezago used the absence of adults to satirically play out a world where kids can act on their impulses and desires without restriction, true, but he also dove into the crushing resentment of kids whose parents are merely figuratively absent. Weisman sort of dismisses that to focus on the more after school special (ASS, remember) side of things: parents and children learning to appreciate each other’s presence in their lives, kids who must grow up fast to take responsibility as necessary, that kind of thing.
Still, this all affords the opportunity for Weisman to clean house on all the scattered plotlines and characters that have been established previously. He integrates two honorary YJers into the team proper: Captain Marvel (who clearly sounds different—less peppy—than before, even though Rob Lowe’s brother Chad filled in for him) and Zatanna. He also sends off a rather dangerous piece of inventory that’s been sitting around on the show, the Helm of Nabu—dangerous in a story sense, since the team would always be tempted to use it to deus ex machine their way out of any situation too sticky for them to handle on their own.
Weisman also makes great use of Klarion as a replacement for the (also young, overpowered) antagonist of World Without Grown-Ups. If any villain should be brought back time and again to harass the team, it should be Klarion; he’s pretty much the only one who’s actually as young (or seems as young) as our heroes, so that gives a slightly different edge to their battle. And actually, Klarion’s the only villain that could have made the plot work here; only Klarion would go through such extreme, world-bending measures to effect a distraction for a mere heist.
Conclusion: It’s back, maybe not better than ever, but certainly as good as it ever was.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – I don’t know why—maybe because there’s a bit of dummy in my blood—but I couldn’t stop laughing at Wally’s overjoyed cry of “Cookie fixin’s!?” when M’gann brought in the groceries.
– Are we seriously to believe that besides Young Justice, the only other teen hero in the world is Rocket?
– Seriously, Klarion—I really want to see your butt kicked someday.