By: Greg Weisman (story)
The Story: Artemis begins to think a life of domesticity doesn’t sound so bad.
The Review: I’m no history buff, but I’m pretty sure that every superhero team in history has included a combo of those with superpowers and those without. A lot of the time, those without powers have to possess some quality that makes up for it: prodigious physical abilities, mastery of certain skills and talents, or genius intellect. Nowadays, the non-powereds tend to come with something else: true grit and sheer verve.
Now, let’s take a close look at Artemis. Obviously, having no powers is a major downside. In the martial arts department, her archery rivals is just a step below that of Red Arrow and she certainly doesn’t come close to Nightwing in hand-to-hand combat. She doesn’t have the tech prowess or pure intelligence as other heroes, either. So ever since she started this double agent gig, the show got us wondering, Of all the people in the world, why this retired C-lister?
You’d still be wondering if this episode got no further than Artemis’ anxious inner ramblings, echoes of the at-times crippling angst she had back in the first season. Fortunately, this episode is a major and important showcase for her, definitive proof of why she’s the right person for the job. If I had to boil it down to one quality, I’d say it’s her ability to improvise fantastically when cornered. As you keep watching, it’s hard to tell if all of Nightwing’s stratagems could’ve resulted in better outcomes than with Artemis just winging it.
Here, Artemis manipulates Black Manta, Psimon, and Deathstroke all at once, no easy feat given their characters. With every new obstacle thrown in her way, she deftly (if resignedly—“Perfect!” being her sarcastic mantra) maneuvers around each one of them, keeping up the Tigress act with remarkable convincingness. Even more impressive is her performance in an entirely foreign environment. Dragged into Kaldur’s subconscious, she handles herself even better than M’gann by following the Martian’s warnings even better than she can (“Not real, not real, not real,” she chants, cringing as psychic attacks pass through her).
For all that, Artemis’ successes are overshadowed by the every-looming threat over her, Miss Martian, and Aqualad: Black Manta sets a clear deadline for Miss Martian’s death; Psimon won’t stay out of commission forever; and now Deathstroke seems to have a hand in keeping watch over things as well. It’s hard to foresee how the three friends can fudge their way out of this one, but that makes the stakes that much more exciting, no?
On the other hand, this inside job seems increasingly farther and farther away from the real conflict at hand. Infiltrating the Light is key, yes, but it doesn’t seem like Black Manta has much to do with the activity concerning the Reach. Whatever secrets Manta and his peers hold, I doubt they will answer some fairly crucial questions for Young Justice right now, like Green Beetle’s true objectives. Much of what he does in this episode reeks with suspicion, and even the most benign action from him carries an undertone of malice.*
Ultimately, it doesn’t take either Green Beetle’s revelations or Nightwing’s research for us to easily figure out the Reach’s game long before they do; they merely confirm our theories. And it’s not clear either what the effect will be of the increasing number of people who know the truth about Artemis and Kaldur. It’s obvious, however, that the tension is reaching a tipping point, and right now, the team is in no position to counter it.
Conclusion: For the Artemis fans, this will reaffirm your love of the character; for the non-believers, this will end your doubts.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: * I did crack up when M’gann reared back in horror at Green Beetle’s smile, though.
– That commercial for the Reach drink is quite possibly the most disturbing thing I’ve ever seen. It amazes me that the public of Earth-16 can fall for that when my instinct is to run screaming in the other direction.
– Man, Connor has grown up quite a bit, huh? I’ve never respected the guy more than when he backed up Nightwing in public even as he reams into Dick in private.