Superhero comics have always been about dual identities, so it makes sense that doppelgangers and clones would be recurring motifs in the genre. The entire concept of the superhero sidekick is creating a younger copy of the main hero, and it’s a way of having offspring without the messy female element in the mix. That said, doppelgangers and clones are two of the most convenient plot devices in superhero stories, and are often used as easy outs for writers that have dug themselves in holes they can’t get out of (*cough*Clone Saga*cough*). I didn’t love the reveal last season that Red Arrow was a clone of Roy Harper, but “Salvaged” reveals the storytelling potential in having a character trying to come to terms with his past identity as he forges a new life for himself.
This episode catches up with the remaining unseen faces from season 1, focusing on Red Arrow, but also featuring the return of Wally West and Artemis Crock, living together as college students who have hung up their tights. Wally joins Green Arrow, Nightwing, Black Canary, and Jim Harper (apparently no longer Guardian, but I’m still predicting that was him last week) for a rooftop intervention, facing down a scruffy, emaciated, long-haired Roy who’s started keeping some of the cash from the robberies that he stops. He’s been funding his search for the real Speedy, a fruitless mission that has driven him to the brink of exhaustion.
Each person gets their chance to tell Roy that he’s hurting himself, but the only person that is able to make any sort of impact is Cheshire, who shows up in Roy’s apartment and reveals that not only are they married, but they’ve got a baby. With the introduction of Lian Harper and Artemis traipsing around in an oversized jersey with no pants, this show is continuing to get more adult, and I applaud the creative team for taking some story risks with a show that airs on Saturday mornings. As the characters grow up, their stories become more complicated, and this show isn’t straying from the serious issues that would trouble a young superhero.
With Roy/Jade and Wally/Artemis, we see two sides of the super-couple coin, with the former continuing to live their costumed lives while the latter has given up on the heroics. It’s not a coincidence Roy and Wally are dating sisters, because the boys are set up as foils to each other. Roy is making all the bad decisions while Wally is making the good ones, and ironically, Roy’s major flaw is that he takes things too fast. He’s so obsessed with accomplishing his mission that he’s lost focus on everything else in his life, to the point that he didn’t even know he had a daughter. Along with their child, Jade brings Roy a new lead on Speedy’s location, a last effort to find his predecessor before he slows down and takes responsibility for his choices. You know you’ve hit rock bottom when Cheshire gives you a lecture on responsibility.
Meanwhile, Adam Strange has set up the Zeta shield around Earth, preventing any further Krolotean troops from infiltrating the planet. Annoyed by M’gann and L’gaan’s PDA, Superboy grabs Blue Beetle for an old-school team-up as they track down the alien tech used to blow up the Krolotean Zeta platform. There’s a whole lot of exposition split between the two of them, with Blue Beetle finally explaining the nature of his relationship with the Scarab and Superboy providing us with the origin of the Justice League in the Young Justice universe.
The Scarab bonded to Jamie’s nervous system is a sophisticated A.I. created by Ted Kord, who was killed by the Light before Jamie ever got a chance to meet him. Was Ted killed in the same attack as Tula? I have the feeling that all of this season’s changes stem out of one big event from the last five years, and that at some point this season we’re going to get a flashback episode that reveals just what made the team change so much. It would be cruel to name-drop Ted Kord and not show him at least once this season, and hell, I’d be totally fine with him just showing up in the present day. They could say he was captured, not killed. Or that he faked his death to continue investigating the invasion in secret. Just put Ted Kord on this show.
Superboy and Blue Beetle track down Whisper A’Daire and Bruno Mannheim of Intergang breaking into the Hall of Justice with Apokoliptan tech, and the villains revive one of the Justice League’s first enemies to attack the teen heroes. Superboy’s half of the exposition double whammy is providing more details about the Justice League’s origin after they fight the Appellaxian golem, one of the soldiers used in the invasion that the League stopped twelve years ago. We’d learned about the Justice League and the Appellaxian invasion last week, and Superboy’s little history lesson makes it likely that they’re one of the alien races gearing up to take out Earth this season.
As Superboy and Blue Beetle fight the golem, two figures watch from a distance: Sportsmaster as a deep-voiced man that is magically always in shadow. (I guess it could be Shadow Thief, but that’s doubtful.) After destroying the device that gave Mannheim control of the golem, the monster tries to destroy nuclear power plant so that it can finally die, but Blue Beetle uses the Scarab as a suicide hotline and begins to convince the alien that they can help. That’s when the shadow-voyeur joins the fray, shooting a sonic beam that destroys the golem. Who is this man? Add it to the pile of mysteries that this season is building up.
“Salvage” feels like the end of Invasion’s first arc, introducing the new status quo and establishing where all the players fall on this expanded game board. With so many new characters and stories, one question is beginning to rise above all the rest: will the writers be able to deliver on all this promise? Thus far, the answer looks to be yes.
- This week in DC Nation: Detroit Justice Leaguer Vibe gets a hilarious two-part story where he competes in a break-dancing competition against a dancing android created by Dr. Ivo. Best line: “Curse your dopeness, Vibe!”
- When Roy ditches the intervention, does he say “blow”? There’s a part of me that really wants to see this show do a drugged-out Roy storyline, as long as it’s more Denny O’Neill than J.T. Krul.
- Please, oh please, let Stephanie Brown be a student at Wally and Artemis’ college. She could be dressed as Spoiler but have her Batgirl characterization.
- Good thing the Scarab shoots giant staples.
- “Think Jiminy Cricket, but with a really bad attitude.”