Before we look at the show as a whole, some snap judgments about episodes. (longer if it warrants it)
Failsafe – Elseworlds story utilizing mind powers to hit the reset button. Watchable, but not required.
Disordered – My goodness, it’s a followup to the previous episode! I just can’t get over sometimes how much cartoons seem to value and use continuity nowadays. Anyway, this episode has a lot of tribute to Jack Kirby’s “new gods” playground that was a part of the DCU so your enjoyment of it may depend on how silly/awesome you think those stories and/or characters are. (for instance, some days I’m not a Darkseid fan) Only required if you watched the previous episode and/or really want to know the secret behind Superboy’s giant sphere.
Secrets – The Halloween episode that wants to be fun and spooky at the same time. Big “meh” as the villain “Harm” just gets to be too much at times. Skippable.
Misplaced – THIS is the episode that is pretty much an adaption of the original comic series that launched the original Young Justice (“World Without Grownups”). Also reveals a key part in the arc villains’ plans. Not to mention a lot of fun, pretty awesome, and gives Captain Marvel a great chance to shine. Comic geeks who remember the source will have to check it out. Highly recommended must see.
Coldhearted – Very by the numbers and a little predictable in its heartwarming beats (pun intended). If you like Kid Flash and/or want to like him, this episode pitches the strongest case for his audience appeal. Still, has the fridge question of “if villains can do ___, why not use ___ legitimately where they would make more money than Bill Gates?” Yes, the arc villains play a role here which makes this episode: Average must see.
Image – Miss Martian (who I love) runs this episode. And… Ok, I did like part of it. However, while I am a fan of the Martian lore in the DCU, even I admit that it is a freakin’ mess. If there was a regular series that went through and ironed out all the continuity problems and hiccups, it would probably work better but when we’re dealing with a TV show that focuses on an ensemble cast, things need to be streamlined and simplified. I know being a “white Martian” is true to MM’s comic origin, but… the show should have just stuck with MM being green and J’onn’s niece. That’s just the simplest way to put it. And the savy viewer will also catch that this is Beast Boy’s origin episode. (oh look! HIS origin was simplified and streamlined) Watchable Must see.
Agendas – So… what’s your feelings on Superboy been this season? Well here’s his episode to really try and shine. I… can sometimes find him grating – like he’s trying to be what someone THINKS Batman is, not how the Bat actually is. (that blend of gruff & stand off while still be likable) Must see for all the revelations, but heavily dependent on your reactions to SB.
Insecurity – And this is the Arrow family’s shining episode. Artemis? Red Arrow? Hope you don’t mind spending 30 min with them front and center. Look, I get not making everything saccharine and perfect amongst a group (one of the problems with some of the later Star Treks), but you can go too far the other direction. You can have conflict in groups without everyone being 50 shades of asshole and this episode (especially following so close to “Agendas”) really make the conflicts feel forced and over-the-top. Must see for the story arc, but bearable.
Performance – Robin central episode. I was a bit disappointed as the Robin in YJ is so very Tim Drake. But this episode confirms and solidifies that it is Dick Grayson under the mask. Still, hard to hate him and the heartwarming moments feel a bit more organic than they did in “Coldhearted”. Recommended.
Usual Suspects – Part 1 of the finale and it ALMOST makes all the previous forced conflicts in the season worth it. Congrats to the show runners for pulling off a twist I didn’t see coming. Won’t spoil the rest, just say: Highly recommended Must see.
Auld Acquaintance – Season finale and everything (sort of) is revealed. The season ends on a high note with lots of action. Recommended Must see.
All in all? While this show isn’t a direct successor to the Timm/Dini Justice League show, it is very much a spiritual successor. Appropriate for a show about the young heroes that will some day take over the mantles of their mentors.
How was this for a DCU nerd? Look, we comic geeks have to realize that not everything can be translated from one medium to another. Details can be fudged as long as 1) they are necessary to fudge* and 2) it maintains the spirit of the source. Yes, on a technical level, this show is MUCH more accurate to the Teen Titans comic than the Young Justice one. HOWEVER we must remember that the very popular Teen Titans cartoon that ran for 3 years (oh yeah… and is coming back!) has cemented that name in the pop culture zeitgeist with a particular style and team. Let’s face it, calling the show “Young Justice [League]” was the best move the creators could do (even if, to be more accurate, the two shows should switch titles).
This show is good, and geeks shouldn’t allow the minutiae to drive away our support of quality programming. The action is superb (still can’t believe how far that’s come since the days I started watching cartoons) and plotting isn’t too bad either. The characters are a little rough around the edges but that’s common for first seasons until the writers get a handle on them. All in all, I give season 1:
DC comic fans should definitely give the show a chance to the season end. Just keep in mind that this is in a new universe, you only have to know the basics. Fans of just quality programming or parents looking to enjoy stuff with their kids will enjoy having a show that doesn’t talk down to them. Season 2 concludes in a few weeks, I’ll see about getting around to it and we’ll see if the quality streak continues.
(I’m also hoping to start the avengers cartoon too, though probably won’t review it as I’m not as familiar with Marvel canon.)
*I am of course speaking about adaptions that make changes which are unnecessary and/or pointless. Like if they changed a character’s name. Or they put in one detail that’s irrelevant while leaving out a different detail that would be relevant to the plot. Just give it a minute, you’ll think of an example from some of the worst.