Some people have complained the Young Justice: Invasion has been an overstuffed storyline, and “more” certainly is the key word for this season: more characters, more villains, more drama, and more plot threads. Young Justice is becoming a show for DC Comics enthusiasts, much like Justice League Unlimited (a comparison I’ve made often in these reviews), and while the expansion may seem a bit daunting, the writers have done a great job focusing on specific characters in each episode to make the show more accessible. “True Color” is a return to covert form for this series after a string of chapters highlighting blockbuster action, and while there’s certainly no shortage of fight sequences, there’s more of an espionage feel to this story.
When the Reach partners with “noted philanthropist” Lex Luthor to increase food production, Nightwing immediately senses that something is very wrong and sends Alpha squad—Robin, Impulse, Blue Beetle, and Arsenal—to infiltrate LexCorp Farm’s Smallville factory and find the truth about what’s really going down. This mission is the exact kind of thing that G. Gordon Godfrey has been protesting on his cable news show, criticizing the Justice League for its privacy and lack of honesty while the Reach and LexCorp are completely open, even allowing public tours of the LexCorp facilities. Tim Curry is doing phenomenal work as the voice of Godfrey, creating the type of slimy yet persuasive pundit that can be seen on any cable news network.
Godfrey is extremely aggressive in getting the public to turn against its heroes, and the actions of Alpha squad (particularly arsenal) just give him more fuel for the anti-Justice League machine. Alpha squad’s stealth mission goes very well at first, and Robin is able to get his hands on the extraterrestrial pink additive being pumped into all the food at LexCorp without being seen. Then Arsenal’s crazy ass sets off an explosive and blows the whole thing. Arsenal’s actions garner the attention of Black Beetle, who wipes the floor with the team because Jaime is afraid to surrender control to the Scarab. They barely manage to escape, and if Lex is smart, he’ll hand over the surveillance footage to Godfrey and dig a deeper hole for the Justice League and their young allies.
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The resolution to last week’s cliffhanger comes in the form of Atom and Bumblebee shrinking to molecule size and going into Jaime’s body to remove the Scarab. It’s a very cool sequence that shows just how deep the Scarab has its claws in Jaime as well as its defensive capabilities to prevent it from being detaches from its hosts. When Atom uses a laser to cut through the Scarab, it releases tiny larvae antibodies that attack the heroes, forcing them to abandon their mission as the Scarab immediately heals itself. It’s a good thing they run, because Young Justice is going to want to have a Scarab on their side for their final battle with the Reach, and this episode they end up with an extra Scarab-powered ally.
When Alpha squad runs off into the cornfields to escape Black Beetle, they encounter a new Green Beetle who is working on their side. Judging by the Green Beetle’s ability to shift his shape and density, Robin determines that he must be of Martian origin, and surely enough, when the team flees to the Kent farm, the Green Beetle reveals himself as B’aars O’ohm (awesome John Carter reference), a Martian archaeologist who found a Reach Scarab that didn’t know how to adapt to his alien physiology. He became an admirer of Earth culture by being exposed to television airwaves J’onn J’onnz had been broadcasting to his home planet, and is now offering his assistance in helping our heroes overthrow the Reach.
Unfortunately, Young Justice has more to deal with than just alien invaders, and the Light has their own agenda to further. It’s been a while since we’ve checked in with show’s evil brain trust, and this episode’s developments are sure to cause lots of problems. When Sportsmaster comes to his old employers and demands an eye for an eye following the death of his daughter, the Light refuses to let him have Kaldur, so he goes after Black Manta instead. His attack is stopped by a character fans have been clamoring to see on this series, signaling the arrival of Deathstroke the Terminator, one of the biggest badasses of the DC Universe. Beyond the ugly grey ponytail, Deathstroke has a sleek design, but this episode only gives us a taste of what he’s capable of. It’s interesting that the character goes by the name of Deathstroke rather that Slade (as he did on Teen Titans), showing how this series is able to get away with more mature subject matter, even if it’s just a character name.
The arrival of Deathstroke does not bode well for our heroes, but it’s not as bad as Vandal Savage bringing in Psimon to pull Kaldur out of his vegetative state, diving into his brain to explore his deepest thoughts. Things are going to get ugly when the Light realizes that Kaldur and Tigress have been working for the heroes all along, which will surely result in an epic throwdown between Young Justice and the new team of metateens that Lex proposes the Light create at the end of this episode. Virgil Hawkins, Ty Longshadow, and the two Asian teens abducted by the Reach are about to be recruited by the bad guys, which means that we’re about to get even more characters on this show. A team of heroes working for the villains is a plot development ripped directly from JLU’s Ultimen, and while it may appear that this show is retreading old ground, the way that the writers are integrating all these plot threads into a suspenseful, cohesive story is impressive. So bring on even more.
- This week in DC Nation: “Batman of Shanghai” continues with a chapter spotlighting Bane, a rickshaw driver who pumps himself with venom to carry an obese passengers, then hulks out and turns into a King Kong-Sonic the Hedgehog hybrid as he goes after the Scroll of Destiny. And hot damn it’s gorgeous. “Amethyst, Princess Of Gemworld” continues, falling on the opposite side of the anime spectrum as Amethyst makes her way through an aggressively adorable fantasy world where everything has a smile on its face and is incredibly encouraging. It’s so cute and lovable, and make me yearn for an Amethyst/Super Best Friends Forever crossover.
- For fans of young superheroes, Marvel Now! Young Avengers #1 launches this upcoming Wednesday, and it looks to be one of the best new comics of 2013.
- Hurray for the return of the Scarab’s giant staple gun!
- How awesome is Arsenal’s super weapon hand? Very, very awesome.
- “Now that’s a rudabaga.”
- “Tell me that doesn’t make you smile!” Cheshire’s mask remains 100% creepy.
- “Nothing like a warm plasma bath to calm the nerves. And clean off the tomato stains.”
- “How many colors do these guys come in anyway?”
- “All Martians love television.”