Reviewing Young Justice
Reviewing Young Justice, a cartoon about teenage superheroes
Published February 23, 2011
No longer are superheroes limited to the confines of printed pictures and words. Today, movies like The Dark Knight have become well-known among comic book fans and non-fans alike. Other superhero films such as Green Lantern and Thor are poised to become successful blockbusters in the summer of 2011.
Unfortunately, TV shows like Young Justice, a Cartoon Network series which officially premiered on Jan. 7th, 2011, are not nearly as popular. Animated shows such as this one are rarely known to those outside of the comic book fanbase. Many people believe that an animated show must target only to children, but this show is one of many disproving that assumption. In fact, Young Justice is specifically targeted towards teenagers, according to show writer Franco Aureliani in an interview with Comic Book Resources. Here’s why you should give it a shot.
The first two episodes of Young Justice were aired early on Nov. 26, 2010 as a preview for what was to come in January. These two episodes introduced the Justice League, a team of superheroes like Batman and Superman, but the League are not the stars of the show. Instead, the superheroes’ teenage sidekicks are the focus of Young Justice. The sidekicks, tired of being overshadowed by their mentors in the Justice League, form their own teenage superhero team and fight crime together. The young sidekicks Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash, Artemis, Miss Martian and Superboy are set to be the six leads for season one. Those who want to see interaction between the teenagers and the older Justice League, however, will not be disappointed. Adult Justice League members Red Tornado and Batman in particular can be expected to play significant roles in future episodes, based on the pilot.
The show’s tone has a good balance between comedy and drama, which is a reflection of the creators’ professed appeal to an older audience. Several funny lines delivered by Kid Flash are balanced by some serious teenage whining by Speedy in the first episode. Superboy also appears to be looking ahead to a particularly angsty future, as the end of the second episode reveals.
The introduction of a multi-episode story arc also appeals to an older audience, as it adds depth and complexity to a show that could very easily fall back into a mere “adventure of the week” TV series with no continuity whatsoever. So far the creators of the show have done well by introducing a captivating storyline so that older fans can anxiously wait for the next episode to air.
The voice acting is also decent, for the most part. Jason Spisak captures the lighthearted essence of Kid Flash well. Fans of the cartoons Justice League and Batman: The Brave and the Bold can look forward to hearing Phil LaMarr and Alan Tudyk as the voices of Aquaman and Green Arrow. Interestingly, Nolan North plays both Superman and his clone Superboy, but manages to keep each voice distinct from the other.
Not every character in the pilot was perfect. Green Arrow’s sidekick Speedy was perhaps the most irritating character in the first episode, whining and complaining for most of his screen time and doing little to advance the plot. Luckily it appears that he will not be returning as a regular character in the first season.
Unlike Teen Titans, another teenage superhero show that ran for three seasons beginning in 2003, Young Justice noticeably aims for an older audience with more mature storylines.
The first few episodes of Young Justice do a very good job introducing the personalities of the characters in the show and developing the relationships between them. The seeds of a season-long story arc are planted well in the first few episodes of this extremely promising series.
A high school audience may easily enjoy this show, as it is filled with all the drama, comedy, sexual tension and explosions that a teenager needs. Bored on a Friday night? Turn on Cartoon Network at 7 p.m. and give Young Justice a chance. It might surprise you.