Young Justice: “Cornered” 
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Young Justice: “Cornered” 

As this season moves forward, it’s become clear that Young Justice: Invasion is all about tearing down Earth’s superheroes and killing the planet’s faith in their competence. That means destroying Young Justice’s home base in Mount Justice and weakening the team through deception and personal drama. This episode continues the collapse of the heroes as the Reach aliens continue to ingratiate themselves with humankind while intergalactic hunter Despero arrives on Earth to collect some new heads to mount on his wall. The two may seem unrelated at first, but by the end of the episode, there are hints that the alien forces have a deeper connection than initially thought.

The Reach ambassador must have gotten straight As in all his alien invasion classes, because he sure does know how to infiltrate another world and turn the populace against their protectors. At the end of last week’s episode, the Reach made the first move toward public adoration by arriving at the UN and announcing their peaceful stance. Captain Atom meets the Reach ambassador in front of the cameras and suggests a private meeting because he rightfully doesn’t trust these new visitors, and G. Gordon Godfrey immediately bitches him out on the air for trying to pull this event away from the public eye.

When the Reach ambassador mentions that the Justice League heroes are now intergalactic outlaws and that the League’s young covert team attacked their base, Captain Atom counters by speaking the truth, which the Reach ambassador shoots down by saying that Captain Atom has confused them with the Kroloteans. He pulls the “do you think we all look the same?” card, and that’s just playing dirty. And when Despero destroys the Hall of Justice, the Reach ambassador drops one last bomb, revealing that the League has a satellite in orbit watching over the entire Earth. The League’s secrets are going to be their downfall, and the Reach knows exactly how to bring them to light without making themselves look bad in the process.

Despero was one of the first villains the Justice League of America ever fought, and he remains one of their toughest foes to this day thanks to his incredible strength and a third eye that gives him psychic abilities. He strikes at the perfect time, with most of the Justice League off-planet and Young Justice still reeling from the events of last episode. M’gann is afraid to use her psychic powers after what she did to Kaldur, and the team hasn’t even had time to make themselves comfortable in their new home base in the basement of the Hall of Justice. That’s fine, because Despero completely destroys the entire place, including its precious assortment of superhero memorabilia. Despero has no trouble taking out all the members of the team, and as always, the action looks spectacular. The only thing that stops him is the collapse of the entire building, and even then it’s unclear whether or not he’s still alive.

This season has done great work balancing personal drama with high-stakes action, and this week we get some further developments regarding Mal and Karen’s relationship. Mal doesn’t want to live in the new Blüdhaven digs that Nightwing has found for the team members who used to live in Mount Justice, and when he asks Karen if he can live with her, she shoots him down. Their relationship has been on rocky ground, but it’s possible that Mal’s actions this episode will get him back on his girlfriend’s good side. In a surprising turn of events, Mal is this week’s standout character, who steps up to the plate to take on Despero when the rest of the team is incapacitated. With no other options, Mal puts on the Guardian armor, a great visual shout-out to Grant Morrison’s black Guardian in Seven Soldiers, even if it’s not the same character. He pretends to be Earth’s greatest champion until the rest of the team can find a way to defeat Despero, again showing just how good this show is at combining different aspects of DC Comics mythology in a way that takes characters in a new direction.

Everyone who predicted that the boy in the blue and yellow jacket was Virgil “Static” Hawkins gets a cookie, and he gets some time in the spotlight during a short scene with Black Canary detailing the experiments that the Reach put him through to test his metagene. “They started out small, little static shocks,” he tells Black Canary in a great line that calls back to Virgil’s old Kids WB TV series. Virgil fumbles with a paper clip while he’s talking to Canary, and when he tosses the object onto her desk as he exits, it attracts the rest of the clips with its new electric charge.

Canary is interviewing all the metagene teens about their experience with the Reach, and Impulse doesn’t want to tell her about his knowledge of what Jaime becomes in the future because he fears that may be the thing that gets the Scarab on-mode. When Jaime goes in to talk to Canary, he also keeps his fate a secret, instead telling her that the Reach is unable to communicate with the Scarab. She realizes that this makes Jaime the League’s best possible weapon against the Reach, but Jaime has doubts about not sharing everything he knows, especially when the malevolent Scarab approves of not telling. The Scarab is not a good guy, and Jaime figures out that the most valiant course of action is to go against whatever the Scarab tells him, so at the end of the episode he spills the beans about his evil future and demands that the Scarab be removed. Of course, Jaime is the only thing keeping the Scarab in check, so getting it off of him is probably going to be the very thing that turns it into the killing machine that the Reach wants it to be.

Stray observations:

  • This week’s DC Nation shorts: First, a repeat of the first “Batman Of Shanghai” short, which is so awesome that I wouldn’t mind if they aired it every week. Beautifully stylized with incredibly dynamic action, I’d love to see the entire Justice League reimagined in this environment with this animation team. Then we get the second chapter of the adorable “Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld,” which has the heroine doubting her new role before defeating an evil spider with a hot pepper. After only two minutes, this story has already proven to be far cleverer than the current Amethyst tale unfolding in DC’s Sword Of Sorcery.
  • It’s nice to see Virgil get some spotlight, but where did Stephanie Brown go? Last week was a cruel tease, Young Justice.
  • Why hasn’t Ystyna, the teenage female Shining Knight of Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers, appeared on this show yet? She would be a great fit for the team.
  • I love those Justice Society statues in the Hall of Justice, and hopefully we’ll get a flashback at some point in this series assuming it continues past Invasion.

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