Monday, February 15, 2016

Young Justice: Invasion

Hello and welcome back to the show! Last time on Dragon Ball Me we took at look at Young Justice's first season but we didn't go too deeply into all the episodes, as that would make this a massive series of articles rather than just one really long one I broke up into three parts. Actually...would you guys like to see me go over the entire series, episode by episode? There's an idea. We'll see what happens, but please let me know if that's something you'd all dig.

"Maybe then he'll get out more than one article in a week."

Ouch, Wally. Ouch. Moving on from that burn, remember how I kept treating Young Justice's first season like a series unto it's own? Well, that's because it sort of was, in a way. The story of Invasion picks up five years later, meaning there are five years worth of events that have now transpired in the lives of our favourite teenage heroes. Dynamics have changed, members have come and gone, we're even on the third Robin and it shown that Jason Todd has died when we see his memorial in the HQ. A lot went down. Before we dive too far into all of that, we're going to go over a few things I didn't get too deeply into before.

And by that, I mean "holy shit there was a lot I should've gone over better."
My biggest crime is probably not talking about those two ladies up there. That is Rocket and Zatanna, two truly jawsome female heroes who were added to the team in the first season and really were great additions. I feel like more should've been done with both of them, honestly, but then I also wish we'd gotten a comic series to fill in that five year gap so maybe they'd get the character development they deserved. Not saying they had no character, just that I wanted more of them. Especially Rocket, who is a character from the often mishandled by DC Comics Milestone line of books. In a nutshell, they were comics about superheroes who were more chocolate than vanilla, if you catch my drift. I loved those comics too. Those characters and their stories were great and we got a pretty good animated version of some of them previously.

I think you might have heard of it. Call it a hunch.
Zatanna has a really good character arc on the show though, along with the emotional weight of dealing with her father sacrificing himself to bring Dr. Fate back. Rocket really did need more focus though, as I feel like she became a bit of an afterthought with so many other characters already there. Again, if we'd gotten more stories about those five missing years, it's quite likely we could've seen her used to her full potential and maybe even got some more Milestone nods. Having her and Icon pop up just made me want to see the Blood Syndicate and Hardware get featured at some point. I would love to see Boogieman and Beast Boy hanging out together.

A green boy and his giant wererat buddy. Nothing wrong with that.
But we're not here to just complain about what could've been, we're here to talk what was. After the thrilling conclusion to Young Justice's first season, we're tossed five years into the future where aliens have decided to make Earth the new go-to spot. Also, the mind-controlled members of the Justice League sorta caused a intergalactic incident and are unavailable to assist our team. Yep, that seems to be some heavy foreshadowing of bad things. In the five year gap we've also gotten ourselves a much larger team. Characters who were minor or simple cameos in the first season are now full-fledged members with people like Lagoon Boy and Bumblebee running with them now. And hey, Beast Boy is here too, giving us the pay-off for Miss Martian saving his life with that blood transfusion. It's a pretty cool way to both explain his powers in this reality and to tie them together in a sibling-like relationship. Speaking of relationships, there have been some massive changes.

Such as M'gann deciding she likes sushi now.
Yeah, Miss Martian and Superboy broke up in the gap, as it turns out she's been going overboard on the whole "ripping shit from people's minds" and Connor isn't very fond of that, being that he began life being mentally forced to do things against his will. So, it probably goes without saying that there's some clear tension between these three. On the other end of the spectrum though, something that was heavily hinted at is now official: Artemis and Kid Flash are living happily together after retiring from the lifestyle. Before that makes you too happy, we've gotta talk about Aqualad. It seems some shit went down, he found out Black Manta is his father, and his badguy switch was flipped. Now he's less stoic and more surly.

He's so dark and brooding now that his angst has angst.
Now, again, i shouldn't have to warn you but there are heavy spoilers. If you haven't seen Invasion, you might want to go watch it before I go any further. We good? Alright, so Blue Beetle is a main character this season. You know, the Jamie Reyes teenage kid who has a suit of alien armour version. And with him comes that Reach, his major enemies in the comics. They're a race of aliens who come to planets preaching peace while stealthily taking said planets over. All of the stuff that's happened? It's been build-up towards them arriving. And the big reveal from the end of last season that Red Arrow was the mole? It's also tied into this, as he was cloned from the real Roy for the express purpose of betraying everyone so the Reach could later come fuck shit up. It's all layered together. This is why a bunch of aliens are on Earth playing around and screwing with human teenagers' DNA.

Which results in new characters being brought in that are thinly veiled tributes to Superfriends characters. Jawsome.
This gives us the YJ version of Static, Apache Chief, Samurai, and El Dorado, which just makes my inner fanboy all warm and fuzzy. And the whole Aqualad thing comes to a head when he blows up the old HQ and Artemis gets shanked by him after being pulled out of retirement. DUN-DUN-DUNNNN! But here's the really big spoiler: she's not really dead. You see, Nightwing and Aqualad have been working from the shadows together to take down The Light from the inside. As such, they brought in Wally and Artemis to help out with the plan by having her "die" and Kaldur gain a new recruit called Tigress (inspired by her mother's old costumed identity, Huntress). It's a lot of twists right out of the gate, but it reflects the pace of this season. Where the first season was more focused on the team dynamic and how they grew closer together, this season is about a secret war they're fighting against invading enemies. It doesn't really take much time to slow down at any point, so the excitement level is quite high. This is reflected in the much larger cast, who don't spend time getting acquainted as they already did that in those five years we missed.

I really wish we could look back at those five years. I need to know if Wolf ever found a girlfriend.
They also introduced characters like Impulse, who came back in time to stop some bad things from happening. Mainly, Blue Beetle becoming controlled by the Reach. The two grow a bond together as friends through Impulse wanting to keep an eye on him though, which feels like the creators trying to do their own Ted Kord/Booster Gold dynamic, which works really well. I hoped to see more of it in the next season but...well, you know. Throughout this season we got to see old favourites grow up and change, new characters get highlighted, and see old story threads getting tied up. Like the original Speedy being found, for example. He was in stasis and hasn't aged...but is missing his arm because they took it when cloning him. This results in him being more bitter and a bit darker, yet still wanting to be a hero. The stuff with Miss Martian being too free with her mental powers gets followed up on too, as she learns of Aqualad's ruse when she nearly makes him brain-dead.

Oops...
Things do get better though. She repairs his mind, everyone gets reunited as a group, and the Reach get defeated. But a heavy cost is paid when, while trying to stop a disaster with their speed powers, one speedster seems to fade right out of existence. Wally West, Kid Flash, seemingly dies while saving everyone in a scene that clearly is paying homage to Crisis on Infinite Earths, when Barry Allen sacrificed himself. It's an emotional conclusion that left a lot of fans devastated. We also got a great teaser for the next season as we see Darkseid and Apokolips, clearly showing us that qa much more sinister threat awaits our team.

THE RISE OF THE RECEDING HAIRLINES!
While I don't feel like Invasion is as strong as the first season, there's a lot to love here. We got a ton of action, focus on characters beyond the starters, and some really emotional stories. The episode where Sportsmaster and Cheshire go against their own people to avenge Artemis is a personal favourite. Seeing Sportsmaster and Deathstroke battle it out was truly amazing. Let's really give the YJ creators some credit for making a rather forgotten villain like the Sportsmaster into a complete badass who we honestly believe can stand against Deathstroke. And seeing Artemis break down after Wally's apparent death? Oh, wow, I am still emotionally distraught over that. My biggest complaint about Invasion though? That we didn't get more.

Okay, maybe not more characters. We had plenty of those.
When I say more, I mean a few things. I wanted more episodes, sure, but not in this season. I wanted another season. A lot of people wanted another season. I also wanted more peeks in the five year gap, more character interaction like we got in the first season, and more of the core team coming back together after Wally's death. I still want those things and refuse to give up hope that we might someday get them. Young Justice was a great animated series that really brought in young fans and old fans alike. We ate this show up...so why did it end? That is a question we'll be delving into next time as we come to the end of our journey. Now that I'm feeling better I'll probably even get it up this week too! Later days, bleeders.

Hell, I didn't even talk about how cool it was to see Lobo. Shit.

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