Young Justice: “Happy New Year” 
A

Young Justice: “Happy New Year” 

A

Young Justice

“Happy New Year” 

Season 2, Episode 1

This second season may be titled Young Justice: Invasion, but it should really be called Young Justice Unlimited, because this week’s episode brings huge changes for the series with a new central focus and a widely expanded cast. Just like how Justice League Unlimited dedicated each season to one specific story (Cadmus for season one, Legion of Doom in season two), Young Justice: Invasion has the team facing an alien invasion, doing the heavy lifting because the members of the Justice League are wanted criminals across the universe. Last season’s finale revealed that six Leaguers were off the grid for 16 hours while being mind controlled by Vandal Savage, and the repercussions of those unaccounted hours are finally being felt five years later.

Yup, this episode jumps not one, not two, but five years into the future, leading to a huge amount of change:

  • Zatanna and Rocket have joined the Justice League.
  • Dick Grayson has graduated from Robin to Nightwing.
  • Tim Drake has taken on the mantle of Robin and joined Young Justice.
  • Lagoon Boy, Blue Beetle, Wonder Girl, Beast Boy, Batgirl, Bumblebee, and Mal (Herald) have joined the team.
  • Kid Flash, Artemis, and Aqualad have left the team.
  • M’gann broke up with Superboy, cut her hair, and is hooking up with Lagoon Boy.

That’s a lot of material for the writers to cover in flashbacks throughout the season, and all the new characters and relationships introduce story threads that look to make this season a fast-moving, jam-packed adventure. 

The episode begins with Superboy, M’gann, and Robin taking out Clayface in the sewers, a nice bit of misdirection from writer Greg Weisman to make viewers believe the show is picking up where it left off last week. Then Beast Boy shows up, followed by a message from the watchtower that ends with “Nightwing, out.” Wha? If Nightwing’s up there, then who is the Robin in the sewer? It’s the perfect way to end the cold open, immediately establishing that this isn’t the same show it was when we last saw it.

After a brief introduction to the new status quo, the episode jumps to the next big action sequence, pitting Wonder Girl and Batgirl against intergalactic hard-rock bounty hunter Lobo as he tries to kill a UN official. The appearance of Lobo is the first sign that this show is about to expand into cosmic territory, and by the end of this episode, some of the team is already off-planet. The dynamic duo of dames holds its own against Lobo for a while, but ultimately fails to prevent him from ripping Delegate Tseng in half, revealing the tiny green alien that has been controlling his body Men In Black-style.

The green guy is a Krolotean, a race of gremlin-like aliens that have caused trouble for Green Lantern in the comics. They’ve stolen Zeta beam teleportation technology from the planet Rann (cue Adam Strange, woohoo!), and are planting the seeds for a forthcoming invasion. Television pundit G. Gordon Godfrey is planting seeds of his own, using his show to sow paranoid among his viewers by playing surveillance footage of Tseng’s halving and Lobo grabbing the alien inside. The appearance of Jack Kirby creation Godfrey brings up some tantalizing possibilities about the nature of this forthcoming invasion, and the idea that The New Gods may be involved somehow makes me giddy inside. 

The team breaks up into three separate groups to track down the Kroloteans by following Zeta beam radiation, and the rest of the episode primarily focuses on Lagoon Boy, Blue Beetle, and Robin as they stumble on to one of the enemy’s major bases. DC has been pushing the Jamie Reyes Blue Beetle, having him appear in both Smallville and Batman: Brave And The Bold, and he’s a perfect addition to the Young Justice cast. For those not in the know, Jamie found the alien Scarab when it crashed into his small Texas town, and it bonded to his skeleton after he touched it. It’s both armor and arsenal, and it’s also alive, constantly speaking to Jamie in his head. This leads to some comic moments as Blue Beetles argues with himself while Lagoon Boy and Robin watch in confusion.

It’s going to be interesting to see how Jamie plays into this upcoming season, but with the Scarab’s space connection, I expect him to become a leading player. If anyone hasn’t read John Rogers’ Blue Beetle, go do that now (available in collection or digitally) because it’s one of the best teen superhero books of the past decade. Blue Beetle is able to translate and communicate with the Kroloteans, so he’ll be invaluable in gathering intelligence on the invasion, and it’s very possible that the Scarab’s creators, the imperial Reach, might be in on the action. This is just the first part of a 20-episode storyline, and so much has changed that there’s really no way of knowing what direction the writers will take next.

No matter what twists and turns the story takes, it’s going to look gorgeous; Young Justice is the best looking children’s action series this side of The Legend Of Korra. The animation on this show is so crisp,  and every episode is the same quality as DC’s beautiful direct-to-DVD movies. The appearance of Clayface, a notoriously difficult character to animate, gives director Tim Devar the opportunity to show off, and the opening fight sequence is visually stunning. Devar puts great touches in the fights to showcase the impact of superhuman combat, like having all the windows in a building shatter when Wonder Girl punches Lobo. Everything feels appropriately huge, and this week’s cliffhanger promises even more spectacle in the future. 

The episode ends with Beast Boy, Superboy, and M’gann teleporting to Rann, which hopefully means that we’ll get some Adam Strange and Alanna romance as we learn what happened between Superboy and M’gann. It’s one of the many questions left unanswered by this season premiere, and I can’t wait to find out the answers.

Stray observations:

  • Who else has been loving the DC Nation block? Green Lantern has its problems, but I adore the animated shorts, and this week’s are both excellent. “Super Best Friends Forever” finds a grounded Supergirl hitting her cousin with a tractor and giving him a super-wedgie, and Mad’s “Teen Titanic” is hilarious, with some of my favorite bits being Raven doing “King of the world” and Robin painting Beast Boy.
  • Notice that the six Leaguers that disappeared for 16 hours are also the cast of Justice League sans Flash?
  • Why are the black guys always stuck doing monitor duty? First Mr. Terrific, now Mal.
  • Aqualad’s non-appearance in the New 52 DC Comics suggests that Kaldur’ahm doesn’t have a future on Young Justice, but I have faith that he hasn’t been completely written off the show.
  • “Yeah, yeah, ‘Keezy femme.’ I’ve been called worse, I think.” 
  • “Blue’s an odd little fish”
  • We’re not planning on covering Young Justice every week, but if you want to see more, let us know through comments, Twitter, etc. 

More TV Club