By: Kevin Hopps (writer)

The Story: Joining the League is not unlike joining the Plastics in Mean Girls.

The Review: To the show’s credit, the writers have done a careful job focusing on the young team itself, despite the constant temptation of the Justice League appearing tantalizingly on the fringes of stories.  Still, we’re constantly reminded the League is the real aspiration here.  Sure, the YJers have tackled every mission before them with as much energy and professionalism as you could hope, but their eyes especially light up at anything to do with the big boys and girls.

This may be the first episode where we get a real in-depth glimpse into the actual workings of the League, and the timing can’t be better since now is the time they’ve chosen to reconsider their roster.  Among the many illustrious candidates for membership are our very own YJ kids—exciting, no doubt, though a bit odd considering it wasn’t all that long ago (in the time frame of the show) that full indoctrination was a no-no for these eager, teenaged heroes.

But the episode also informs us that bigger stakes motivate this sudden recruitment process.  We’ve seen the villains have become more organized and collaborative, and so the League must be pitch-perfect to handle that.  Hopps thus does an excellent job spelling out the thought process of evaluating each potential Leaguer.

Some of these discussions are just there for humorous effect.  Flash’s suggestion of Guy Gardner as a useful powerhouse receives a resounding chorus from fellow Lanterns Hal and John: “No!”  “But we could really—”  “No!”  Other issues receive more serious treatment, especially when they concern shake-ups within the current roster.  Now that Zatara has taken on the mantle of Dr. Fate, no one how wise it is to retain such an unpredictable force on the team, even if only to keep “a close watch on us,” as Zatara/Nabu claims.  Then, too, there is the recent discovery of Captain Marvel’s true age; though he insists he never lied, Wonder Woman accurately points out his omission was still a deception, proving that despite having the wisdom of Solomon, there’s still a kid’s brain in that big, brawny hero.

Underlying all these debates is the issue of trust, which is why it’s particularly fitting that juxtaposed against all these quiet, even dry conversations, we have a storyline focusing on Superboy.  Here he proves that even though he’s really grown in character since the pilot, even developing his own set of principles revolving around the ideal of freedom of choice, he can’t quite escape his origins as a weapon.

It was all but inevitable that we’d learn of Superboy’s complete genetic heritage, and the revelation comes as much of a blow to him as we could expect.  Yet as much as he’d like to reject any connection to Luthor, every part of his existence is unchangeably tied up with the villain, something Luthor proves very clearly at the end of the episode.  It’s significant, however, that on the one point where Superboy has complete freedom to turn his back from Luthor’s influence—namely the patches which temporarily allow him full access to his Kryptonian powers—he keeps to himself instead.  Look out for angst to come from this in future episodes.

Conclusion: This is easily one of the most tightly and well-written episodes of the already strong series, treating both Young Justice and the Justice League with great respect and integrity.  There’s plenty here to please both the young and old viewers, a treasured quality in any cartoon.

Grade: A

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – The Guardian as Red Arrow’s uncle?  Cool, but what this little revelation is supposed to mean in the long term is a mystery.

– Give credit where it’s due: Amanda Spence is a pretty obscure character in Superboy’s comic book continuity, so the accurate and purposeful use of her here is pretty impressive.