Friday, August 29, 2014
'Young Justice' S1 BD: Boy Wonder Meets World
The recent 2-disc Blu-ray (BD) release of the 2011-2012 26-episode first season of the Cartoon Network series "Young Justice" is the latest 2014 Warner Archive release of a set from the modern super hero genre.
Unreal TV has already shared thoughts on the awesome BD release of the first season of "Green Lantern: The Animated Series," posted a review of the equally good BD release of the first season of "Batman: The Bold and the Brave" and mused on the BD release of the first half of the more recent and much darker "Beware the Batman."
September 2014 will be a good one for fanboys of all ages in bringing new BD sets of "Brave" and "Beware."
Before getting to the heart of "Justice," the modern origins of the series deserve a brief homage. The depressing decline of traditional Saturday morning cartoons in the '80s and '90s led to consolation in the form of new series that included the highly stylized "Superman: The Animated Series" and "Batman: The Animated Series." The caliber of both the animation and voice actors highlighted the wonderful shortcomings of both in the beloved less expensively produced fare of the '70s and '80s.
"Justice" awesomely starts with some of the central junior superheroes (do not even think of calling them sidekicks) battling aside their paired elders against ice-themed villains. These conflicts are occurring in the hours before the Robin the Boy Wonder and the teens are scheduled for the "honor" of being allowed inside the Hall of Justice, which is the seeming headquarters of the Justice League to which the "prime" superheroes belong.
In very realistic teen fashion, learning that their access to the big leagues is insultingly limited prompts the young offenders to go rogue. This involves taking on a dangerous mission without the knowledge or consent of Batman and the other big boys. Those of us denied permission for unchaperoned overnight trips and other "perks" during our senior year of high school despite being good boys and girls for four years can relate.
The most awesome part of this virgin (of course, pun unintended) outing for the group that includes Robin, Kid Flash, and Aqualad is having the first super-villain whom they face comment that they are not your "typical meddling kids." Giving the Scooby-Doo gang a chance to respond to that sentiment would be an uber-awesome follow-up to '70s Scooby and Batman animated adventures.
This momentous adventure also brings Superboy into the mix and leads to the Justice League handing over their former headquarters inside Mount Justice to the new kids on the block and establishing them as the titular crime-fighting group.
The oft-repeated guidelines are that Red Tornado supervises, Black Canary manages the training, and Batman makes the assignments. Other members of the Justice League show up to lend a hand, and members of the super-villian equivalent "The Legion of Doom" help keep things interesting.
The challenges that the young defenders face extend well beyond ensuring that truth, justice, and the American way prevail to juggling their superhero duties with high school-oriented obligations and resisting using their enhanced abilities to make their lives easier in the latter. Bringing these studies bring our gang into contact with great "Super Friends" characters is a wonderful bonus and clearly shows "old school" love.
The group that must somehow form a not your ordinary modern family faces choosing a leader and re-evaluating that selection when they and/or the current BHOC has doubts regarding that selection, contends with the embarrassing consequences while joined telepathically, find a way to remain a close-knit group despite the dating drama that often plagues any group of teens, and further deals with various manifestations of teen angst that plagues adolescents (and adults) of all abilities and origins.
Like most other 21st century Warner superhero series, "Justice" additionally has a handful of continuing story arcs that appear to varying degrees throughout the season. These include ongoing resentment by the superteen formerly known as Speedy, the inclusion of a team member who qualifies for the name Mole Man (or Woman), the mystery regarding the common element of the attacks at the beginning of the pilot, and the complicated nature of the relationship between Superman and the "Justice" version of Superboy.
All of this adds up to an entertaining and witty series in which even the obnoxious Robin and Kid Flash are largely likable. Robin calls attention to obvious flaws in the English language, and seeing Kid Flash show his complete lack of game will keep you smiling. Further, the shameless regular exposure of the abs of steel with which Superboy is blessed will appeal to a wide range of audience members.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Justice" is strongly encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.