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Monday, November 29, 2010

Young Justice - "Independence Day"

Season One, Episode One: Independence Day
Original Air Date: November 26, 2010

Another Friday, another appearance by Aquaman on Big Time TV!

This time it was in animated form on the new Cartoon Network series Young Justice. The first two-part episode opens with Mr. Freeze running amok in Gothm City, where he is stopped by (of course) Batman and Robin. Afterward, the Boy Wonder seems especially impatient, talking about how today is "the big day."

The same scenario plays out in Star City with Green Arrow and Speedy, in Central City with Flash and Kid Flash, and in Pearl Harbor where we see Killer Frost blasting away at someone. Turns out to be...Aquaman!
One of Frost's freeze blasts hits it target, encasing Aquaman in ice. Seconds before he bursts out of it using his immense strength (yay!), his new sidekick, Aqualad, reaches Frost and with a well-delivered punch knocks her out.
The four duos meet up in front of the Hall of Justice (looking more modern and high-techbut still recognizable), and the young heroes are almost giddy with anticipation about finally being inducted into the Justice League.

Once entering the hall, they are met by some imposing architecture:
...it's a little hard to tell, but it looks like Aquaman (far left) is in his Classic outfit, which to me signifies that Young Justice is part of the larger, historical DCU that we've all come to know and obsess over.

But the awe and delight quickly dissipates when its clear that Robin, Speedy, Kid Flash, and Aqualad aren't being inducted as full members of the League--rather, they're sort of allowed to take the first step, and have to be satisfied to wait in the lobby--almost literally.

The young heroes take this with varying degrees of outrage--none more so than Speedy, who angrily storms off. The remaining sidekicks are no less angry, but decide to stick together and try and talk their mentors into changing their minds.

But of course that doesn't happen, and shortly after that the show's main plot kicks in, involving Project Cadmus (which seems to bedevil every TV iteration of DC superheroes, from Smallville to Justice League Unlimited), a clone of Superman who they eventually call Superboy, and some creepy monster-ish-type creatures.

Robin, Aqualad, and Kid Flash--who in their discovery and subsequent rescue of Superboy realize they make a good team--find themselves face-to-face with not just their mentors, but a good chunk of the League (Superman, Captain Atom, Hawkgirl, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, and more) amid the rubble.

Once again they're schooled by their elders, but they are defiant and basically tell Batman and the rest that if they can't handle their former sidekicks being heroes in their own right, they need to "get out of the way." Holy Generation Gap!

Shortly, we see the JLA has reconsidered, and assembled the teens in their own HQ (the former JLA Secret Sanctuary, nice touch):
Batman says that under the training of Red Tornado and Black Canary, the four young heroes will be dispatched on special covert missions. Robin and the rest are thrilled to hear this, and they're even happier to accept a new member--Martian Manhunter's niece, Miss Martian. Young Justice is born!

I found myself enjoying Young Justice quite a bit--as much as I can any show that starts off with Aquaman only to get rid of him until the last couple of minutes. I'm thrilled to see Aqualad as one of the main characters of this show, and as voiced by actor Khary Payton he's someone I'd be interested in following week to week.

The writers (whom I couldn't determine by post time--the credits for this show are nowhere to be found, even on IMDB) also did a good job combining action with humor--Kid Flash and Robin have some lines I actually laughed out loud at, and the relatively serious Aqualad balances off them nicely. I've always liked Miss Martian, as well, so I'm especially happy to see her join the team.

I'm not exactly sure why it was felt that Aquaman needed some sort of redesign (he's rocking WW-style wrist bracelets, for example), but its relatively minor tweaking, when all is said and done. I like the Brave and the Bold-esque beard, and on the evidence of just a few lines, actor Phil Lamarr acquits himself well as the Sea King.

Apparently Young Justice will return as a weekly series in 2011, and the Shrine will definitely be checking it out once it does!


Wings1295 said...

Sounds great! Gonna have to scan the tv listings or online for it, as I missed it.

Josh Hill said...

I really enjoyed this first episode a lot. Not sure if you were aware of this or not, Rob, but YOUNG JUSTICE is actually set on one of the Earths in the DCU Multiverse. I think it's supposed to be Earth 16, to be precise (I'm about to leave for work, so I don't have time to fact check that, though, so don't hold me to it). So, by rights, there could be stories in the comics that co-exist alongside the proper continuity/Earth. And that also explains the slight differences, too.

On the Aqua-front of YOUNG JUSTICE, I like that Aqualad is such a powerhouse and is positioned to be the team leader. I think he may become a very popular character. As for Aquaman himself, I would have liked to have seen him a bit bulkier, but overall I thought he looked great. I definitely approve of the beard.

JRainey said...

Im not too into Aqualad. He seems ok. I like his powers. But why not use Garth? They have the new Aqualad in the comics but this isnt the same guy. If it were Id say ok but its not. So why the change? And can they please stop with the beard on Aquaman. Something about it doesnt seem right to me. He should have a nice smooth face. I think it would make it a lot easier to move through the water.

Anonymous said...

Okay so I'm not the only one the lack of continuity drove nuts. I liked Aqualad, especially since they let him hold his own against Super Boy, but it was driving me batty thinking Robin was Dick when its obviously Tim, but sadly Kid Flash looks like Wally, the problem is they should all be Roy's age.

David J. Cutler said...

Tim Drake was 11 years old and had Jason Todd's origin in the 1990s Batman TAS, I really never imagined status quo changes would bother people so much. There are elements of Tim and Dick in this series' Robin--he has Tim's computer skills, but he has Dick's willingness to defy Batman and be a hero on his own.

I liked the episode overall, a lot of fun and I hope it lasts a good long while. Not sold on any of the show's redesigned costumes mind you, but I prefer Aquaman to be a little on the svelt side. The less Superman-sized he is the more impressive his level of super strength is, I've always thought. Good stuff.

Joe Slab said...

IMHO, AQUALAD is the coolest new character DC has created in YEARS!!!

For those who asked, the cartoon and the accompanying comic book both debut on a regular schedule in January and are set on Earth -16 of the DCU.

More from writer/producer Greg Weisman:

Statistics interest me. So I thought I'd share some with you guys. (Okay, yeah, I'm procrastinating. But it is my lunch hour, so sue me.)

As of episode 17, we have 147 named characters from the DC Universe. That's an average of introducing 8.6 DC characters per episode. Of course, the reality is that some episodes have introduced many more than that, others fewer. But that's the average.

All 26 scripts have been assigned to writers. (All 26 premises were written and approved months ago.)

We have seven writers, including myself, staff writer Kevin Hopps and our freelancers: Andrew Robinson, Nicole Dubuc, Jon Weisman, Tom Pugsley and Peter David. My fellow producer Brandon Vietti is also heavily involved in the writing process.

via ComicVine

Anonymous said...

I found myself very impressed with the Young Justice debut. Good writing, and the designs are still close enough to my bronze/silver age preference. This cartoon felt more like a good comic book than any other animated adaptation of DC/Marvel in the past. I've been a fan of all the DC animation since Batman premiered in the early 90's, but this took things to a new level. For me, the closer it feels like a comic book, the more I like it. Best animated version of Speedy ever. I was sad to see him go so fast. The new Avengers cartoon is pretty good too. Good thing, because Marvel's track record with animation has been way behind DC in quality. Only one thing: can Aqualad breathe underwater? 'Cause he sure hasn't so far (same thing with the original Aqualad's appearance on Brave & Bold).

james Chatterton-Fan of the Aqua Shrine

Earth 2 Chris said...

Robin's visual will never revert back to the original Robin costume, outside of the occasional flashback, ala Brave and the Bold. This show is far to hip to use that suit too. But most folks think Dick is Robin, so Dick it is. Having Roy be older is a bit odd, but why would all the sidekicks be the exact same age anyway, really?

Great start to this series. Far better than I expected, and I expected to like it.


HollyH said...

I really enjoyed this. I'm not so attached to YJ in the comics that the changes made bugged me, the way I think they bugged some people. (But it's true that I don't get why Robin = Dick and not Tim, and it's Wally and not Bart, when they went with the new Aqualad, not the old one. *shrug* AU.)

I *love* the Aquaman design; I've said that before. I dig the beard with the short hair, because to my mind, it looks very "King Arthur" without going all the way barbarian-esque, and because it makes him stand out amongst the general run of heroes. If I could have my druthers, they'd adopt it in the mainstream comics as well. I also just overall like his costume here, but I'd love for a better look at the full-length version.

And I was really pleased at how powerful Aqualad is depicted as being. Although Superboy will obviously be stronger, Aqualad was the group's initial Tank, and that's great -- not least because I think it reflects on Aquaman. (I get the feeling it's meant to depict the baseline for the underwater heroes.) And that's really cool, that's as it should be.

(To answer John's question above: this Aqualad would appear to have GILLS on his neck, so I'm assuming he can breathe underwater.)

David J. Cutler said...

While I definitely prefer Aquaman to be clean shaven and I'd probably spend a week complaining if they brought it back into the DCU, it's actually his pants I have a problem with. So much black with green boots--he looks like Halloweenman to me and I can't shake that image. In general I think all the tweaked costumes suffer from being over designed, but I'm so happy to have a two-handed orange shirted animated Aquaman running around, I feel like a jerk for complaining.

But I never said I wasn't a jerk, so.

rob! said...

The first step is admitting you have a problem, David.

David J. Cutler said...

Haha ;)

Vincent Paul Bartilucci said...

Caught most of the movie but I'm still up in the air about it.

I hope they address why Aqualad has great honking gills on his neck but Aquaman doesn't. And I'm not digging the "Water Swords" or whatever they're supposed to be. Heck, I'm not digging the fact that A-lad isn't Garth. I hope DC Comics isn't planning on Temptest's death being permanent so as to give this new A-lad a better shot.

Don't dig the redesignes either. Aquaman's beard is okay, I guess, as long as they keep his hair short and his shirt on. The bracers look silly but, I suppose it could be worse. I mean, what the heck is up wth Hawkman? IMO the Silver Age Hawks are a lock to be on the top ten coolest costumes ever list. Why would you possibly want to mess with that look?

I hold out some hope for the redesigns, though. Batman gave us an incredible Mr. Freeze we hadn't seen before. JLI gave us Vixen's wonderful new look. And Teen Titans took Bumblebee from zero to hero(ine). So, maybe we'll see a guest star whose look is so cool that it'll be worthy of "port"ing into the DCU proper.

So, like I'm not totally negative ...