Saturday, February 11, 2012

Young Justice - "Disordered"

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Episode Seventeen: "Disordered" - Airdate 11/11/11

It's Young Justice Saturday!

by Andy Luckett


Previously, the team had been left emotionally devastated after a training simulation backfired, resulting in Miss Martian telepathically convincing the rest of the group that the horrific events were completely real. After Martian Manhunter finally brought them back to consciousness, the damage had been done.
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After a few days, Young Justice is still hurting; moping around and lost in their thoughts. Batman arrives in Happy Harbor to check on their progress with Martian Manhunter, but sadly little has changed. To combat these developments, Black Canary has set up therapy sessions with each member to give them a chance to talk about their experience. Superboy is first, but not surprisingly, Canary is unable to get much from him except an angry storm-out.
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Meanwhile, a flying car suddenly appears out of a boom tube in Metropolis. It carries five superpowered youths calling themselves The Forever People: Vykin the leader, Bear the powerhouse, Dreamer the telepath, Seraphin the West-obsessed gunslinger, and Moonrider, who remains a nonverbal enigma. They are using a Mother Box to track stolen New Genesis technology, and the first item is close by.
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Back at Happy Harbor, Superboy readies his bike for a ride, but Sphere (the rolling vehicle/sidekick) blocks his way, surprising him (and Wolf) by transforming into a sleek, shiny, three-wheeled bike. That would be awesome enough, but the Sphere-cycle is also able to fly, and Superboy and Wolf take to the skies. After a little joyriding, the pair encounter the Forever People, who accuse him of stealing Sphere, or as they call it, the New Genesphere. Mother Box, the living computer, pipes up and informs Vykin that Superboy did not steal the bike, but rather rescued it in the desert back in the episode "Bereft". That being the case, The Forever People introduce themselves to Superboy and allow him to help them find the next piece of stolen equipment they seek, the Rescue Drill.
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Back in Happy Harbor, Black Canary continues her therapy sessions with Artemis. At first, the young archer doesn't want to discuss her feelings, but Canary suggests she tell the team that her cover identity as Green Arrow's niece is false. Artemis disagrees, especially concerned about what Wally will think. Next up is Aqualad, who is more open and admits to feeling guilt over his decisions within the simulation. He wants to pass on the leadership role, but knows that no other member is ready for it, admitting that even Robin is too young. He decides to keep himself as leader for now.
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Superboy and the Forever People discover the location of the missing drill at a construction site. Seraphin wants to go in bullets first, but surprisingly, Superboy argues for a stealthy approach. After Dreamer distracts the topside guards by impersonating one of their mothers, the group descends into the giant drill hole in the ground to find Bruno "Ugly" Mannheim and Whisper A'Dare wielding alien tech to steal gold from a nearby bank. Mannheim fires up his tech, incapacitating Vykin. Dreamer quickly realizes that this technology is not from New Genesis, but rather its dark sister world, Apokolips.
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Back again to Happy Harbor, we find Wally in the chair talking to Black Canary. He plays it nonchalant, saying that his simulated death was no big deal. That is, until Canary brings up how he reacted to Artemis dying, at which point he nearly chokes on his popcorn. Canary accuses him of being in denial, to which he replies, "I'm comfortable with that."
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Back at the construction site/crime scene, the heroes decide to take the fight out of the tunnel and into the open. But the criminals aren't far behind, driving the Rescue Drill to the surface. The Forever People respond by calling The New Genesphere to protect them, but calling it a "she", which is news to Superboy. The diversion gives the five teens a chance to speak the word "Tarru" and meld, Voltron-like, into a being they call Infinity Man. Finding themselves suddenly outclassed by the huge automaton, Mannheim and his cronies escape into a boom tube, but Whisper A'Dare is captured. Probing her mind, Dreamer finds a picture of Desaad, Darkseid's chief torturer and really bad news. The technology is being supplied to the Mannheim gang by him under the direction of Darkseid.
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Back again at Happy Harbor, its Robin's turn to talk to Black Canary. While feeling guilt and shame for all of his friends' deaths, he is most ashamed that he no longer feels the drive to take on the mantle of Batman when he comes of age, preferring to remain his own brand of hero.
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The Forever People and Superboy are able to track more Apokoliptian technology to a seemingly abandoned warehouse. However, it turns out that Mannheim's gang is hiding inside. As the groups engage each other, one of Mannheim's henchmen splits in two to reveal Desaad in the flesh. As the five teens again become Infinity Man, Desaad commands Mannheim to "deliver the Father Box". After throwing it into the midst of the still-forming Infinity Man, the device overwrites the giant's circuits into a form that obeys Desaad. It attacks Superboy and Wolf, who rush to fight alongside the New Genesphere.
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Meanwhile, M'Gann speaks to Black Canary, telling her that she no longer trusts herself to use her telepathic abilities because of the damage they caused her teammates. Canary responds by saying that perhaps a better solution would be to train with Martian Manhunter until M'Gann can regain her confidence in her powers.
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Back with Superboy, the retooled Infinity Man puts up quite a fight, even dropping an entire passenger plane on Superboy. While he is on the ropes, Sphere attacks Infinity Man and is able to reinstate his control to the side of good, even giving him a power boost in the process. Superboy, in effect "driving" Infinity Man, takes down the Mannheim gang in short order, though Desaad escapes after injuring Sphere. Vykin uses Mother Box to start the repair process for Sphere, but it takes a bit of protest from Superboy before The Forever People allow him to keep her on Earth.
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Superboy returns to Happy Harbor and tells the team his story. Wally immediately renames Sphere "The Supercycle" and Batman orders more study on her. Meanwhile, Superboy allows himself to open up to Black Canary, telling her that he feels guilty for feeling happy that within the simulation, he was able to take Superman's place once he and the other heroes were killed, and achieve what Superboy has wanted to be since he was awakened in Cadmus. Canary tells him that she doesn't know how he can assuage his guilt, but that the first step must be admitting it.
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Man, did Jack Kirby have a world-class imagination and talent for fantasy world-building, or what? While all of Kirby's New Genesis/Fourth World creations have never necessarily been my favorite corner of the DC Universe, it is amazing how many ideas and concepts he introducing in that framework. The Forever People seem like a powerful and interesting group, especially their ability to form Infinity Man. I would've liked to have seen them team up together with the full Young Justice lineup, but this episode served as more of an introduction than a full-scale epic. Hopefully in future episodes the rest of the YJ team will get some action in the Fourth World realm.

As I have been noticing especially in the Young Justice comic book series lately, there seems to be a tendency toward member spotlight stories, and this episode was no exception. Superboy goes out and has all the fun while the rest sit in and discuss their feelings. While the two plots were nicely balanced, it still makes this feel less like a show about a superhero team. While we were able to delve a bit more into the psyches of the young heroes, to me it isn't a great substitute for their personalities being revealed through action and conflict. Aqualad received only one scene this time, and his response to the events of last episode didn't reveal much that I didn't already know; AKA he is too hard on himself, he takes his leadership role very seriously, and he feels protective over the others, especially Robin.

That is my only major complaint about this series (and comic). The characters are consistent, they are flawed yet heroic, the DC Universe is well-represented, and the action is well-handled. I just want to see the writers cut loose on some big plots that aren't revealed to be a dream or an imaginary story.

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