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Young Justice Phantoms Premiere Review: Whelmed with Feelings

Dan and Ethan sit down to discuss everything that went down in the Season 4 premiere of Young Justice!

Young Justice is back folks! Season 4 had a surprise debut during this year’s DC FanDome event. Dan and Ethan are here to review it so strap in for a look at Young Justice Season 4, Ep. 1 “Inhospitable” and Ep. 2 “Needful”. In the premiere, Superboy, Miss Martian, and Beast Boy take a trip to Mars, where political machinations are underway that could spell doom for Martian society.

Dan: ARE YOU KIDDING ME YOUNG JUSTICE IS BACK BABY!

Ethan: Yeah buddy! I’ve been so pumped for this since it was announced.

Dan: What are your feelings about Young Justice, Ethan?

Ethan: Oh it’s just great isn’t it? Getting to see so many of the younger heroes of the DC Universe get the spotlight is a treat and I was heartbroken after the cancellation at the end of Season 2. So you can imagine how happy I was when Season 3 was commissioned years later. I was prepped for it to be a victory lap, a chance to close off the open threads and say goodbye to these characters. Instead what we got was just the beginning of an even bigger story that’s now being brought into focus with Season 4. How about you Dan, what are your thoughts on Young Justice?

Dan: I wasn’t able to watch the first season as it was on, I think Jake was the one who told me I needed to watch it actually. But since the first episode I saw, I have been in love. I am a huge Jackson Hyde fan if you didn’t know. Young Justice is, for me, the place that Jackson was able to develop and become what he is today! So I cannot say enough good things about this show. Most of my roommates in college and I watched this show on repeat so I am a die hard fan. After it was cancelled…my heart was a bit broken for a long time.

Life on Mars?

Ethan: So the Mars politics in this episode are really interesting. We’ve got on one side the Red Martian leadership dealing with the death of their King and wanting to extend a hand of friendship to Earth so that they’ll have allies against the impending threat of Apokolips. Then you also have the Green and White Martians blaming each other for the death of their King, while both harbor a deep mistrust of Earthlings.

This all comes to a head at the end of Ep. 1 when, as the Zeta Tube that will connect Mars with Earth is activated and Martian Manhunter is stepping through to test it out, it explodes. Luckily, J’onn survives but Mars is now cut-off from Justice League support. M’Comm, brother of Miss Martian is arrested for the crime but there’s no evidence to back this up. 

While Conner and Garfield are approached by the Red Martians for help in solving the death of their King, M’Comm, now freed, meets with DeSaad, agent of Darkseid, and is given a virus bomb that would kill every Red and Green Martian in two days. It’s safe to say this ain’t good folks. Dan, what were your thoughts on how these first two episodes of the season handled the politicking going on in Martian society?

Dan: So before I get into the politics of the whole thing, I need to comment on the designs of the Martians in this show. They truly look alien, which is to say they look a bit terrifying and otherworldly which I super love. I would kill to see them in live-action at some point. One of the first series I read all of growing up was Grant Morrison and Mark Waid’s run on JLA, which featured the White Martians who looked very different under artist Mike S. Miller’s pencil. This show seems to be mashing that up with a bit of Riley Rossmo’s designs from his Martian Manhunter run with Steve Orlando, but with their own unique features. The look, it’s very good.

We typically also don’t see a ton of Mars as a fully functioning society as we do here (other than Orlando and Rossmo’s run which you should read). So seeing the different social classes they have, their traditions, and professions on Mars is such an interesting world to explore. Even if they are all at each other’s throats.

For the topic of race that is covered in these episodes, I cannot comment directly on it comfortably. I am a white man and I can only really see these things from my perspective. It was really drives home that biologically everyone is the same and everything on top of that is a social construct. It’s a point they are not coy about and it’s well ingrained into the plot so it didn’t feel super hamfisted in there. It is handled a lot better here than in the comics before it in my opinion. Not sure if its the best but it’s something. I’m curious to see where it all goes.

True Romance

Dan: Young Justice has spent 4 years carefully balancing so many storylines with multiple groups and different characters. There have been so many dynamics that have been built between characters. Not many have been as strong as Superboy and Miss Martian. Their love has grown since they first met in the first season. Two absolute outsiders on a team of people who were all looking for a place to belong. One not from Earth looking to become more accustomed to the ways of her uncle’s new world and learn what it means to be “human”. The other is Cadmus’ experiment at creating a human, one with both alien and human DNA from two of the opposite ends of the spectrum of the world with Lex Luthor and Superman living inside his blood. 

Now I will admit I have no close connection to either character outside of this show. Sure, Superboy in his leather jacket is maybe the best costume period but beyond that…they aren’t my favorites. But here? Getting to see them dance with one another in Mars’ Sacred River was actually a truly touching moment. I have rewatched the scene a few times because it’s not something you get in a lot of superhero media. These human moments of total vulnerability are absolutely magic to me. We often get to see characters punching baddies and saving the planet but having moments of true emotional exchanges are my bread and butter.

After the ceremony of receiving “The Gift of Love”, they share the moment of dancing in the air above the river as they reminisce. They talk about how they have known each other for 10 years and how they have grown to love one another so much. I couldn’t help but get a little misty-eyed but I kept coming back to this scene. It’s only now that I realize why, these are moments that I never thought I would see. When Young Justice was canceled on Cartoon Network, I felt that the era of DC cartoons being so emotionally driven and impactful had ended. But now I am seeing these two preparing for marriage. For such a long time, I never thought I’d see them again. DC consciously has been doing shows with weight, heart, and moments like this that will keep me tuning in each and every week. (Warner, if you are reading this, please send tissues for the wedding?)

Ethan: Yeah, I think you’ve hit on my exact thoughts regarding Conner and Megan’s relationship so perfectly I don’t have much else to add. Getting to see it grow over the past… decade (I feel old) has been a true delight. I just think they’re neat.

Let the Credits Roll

Ethan: For anyone who may have missed the fascinating voiceovers that play over the credits to each episode let me give you a quick breakdown of what happens. The first focuses on Violet in what seems to be a counseling session with Black Canary. In it, they are reevaluating what is important to them, and whether they consider themself Muslim. The second is a voicemail from Garfield’s girlfriend, Queen Perdita. She’s missing him while he’s on Mars but acknowledges that they are both incredibly busy at the moment, between her work helping Markovian refugees arriving in her country and Gar’s work with the Outsiders.

I think these end-credits scenes, voiceovers, have the chance to be something really special for Young Justice. It allows us the time to dig into the thoughts of a certain character on themselves or someone else. Already in Ep. 1, we’ve got Violet, and the show itself, addressing one of the biggest criticisms of Season 3 with their relationship to Gabrielle Doau, the person whose body Violet now lives in. I’m not the right person to speak on how well it handles this, but I was glad to see the show right out the gate deal with this complicated situation. What are your thoughts on these small character insights Dan?

Dan: The reason I wanted us to talk about this is because of these small moments that we are getting more insight into these characters. I wanted to focus on the first of the two episodes because it was really important to me. Black Lighting has put a focus on mental health for every team including the Justice League so Meghan and Black Canary are doing check-in sessions with members. I do not think this exists as a thing in any other series. 

I know comics have had “therapy” issues and things like that but a member of a team making mental health a priority for its members is something that is so valuable in my opinion. Seeing heroes discuss their mental health could be something that makes someone seek it out themselves. Sure, that may sound silly to some, but you really do not know where people find that small push in life to take a chance at helping themselves. Things like this have always put Young Justice a step ahead of the rest for me. 

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