Monday, February 8, 2016

Young Justice

Howdy. There's a lot of spaces between these articles lately isn't there? Yeah, sorry about that. It's been rough over here as I have been focusing most of my attention on getting a job that pays money so I can continue buying movies both bad and good. The depression that always seems to find me this time of year doesn't really help, but one must soldier on. On that note, do you know who else has had a rough go of things? Young Justice.

You know, that animated series that everyone but the people who had it on their network loved.

To say that I am a fan of the entity known as Young Justice would be a massive understatement. I tried contributing towards them getting a new season through crowdfunding, have signed numerous petitions to bring it back, recommended nearly everyone I know to watch it or buy products related to it, and I totally ship Miss Martian with Superboy in a way that I'm not sure can be properly measured with human measuring tools.

Suck it, haters. Suck it until it has lost all taste & meaning...just like you.
I'll get to that too, later on, but right now we're going to talk about the history a bit of this concept. Now, clearly, this series is inspired by the Teen Titans comics...but not entirely. You see, there was actually a period when there were o Teen Titans books being pushed by DC Comics and we instead had a different teenage superhero team. They were called Young Justice and initially were comprised of the three most high profile teen heroes at DC: Robin, Impulse, and Superboy. Robin was Tim Drake, the third kid to don the mantle and he had skills as a detective that matched Batman's own. Impulse was Barry Allen's grandson from the future who had a popular comic and was quite silly, which was a part of his appeal to young readers. He didn't take himself too seriously. Then we've got Superboy, who may be the most complicated one to talk about. Why? Because he happened due to Superman dying.

Yes, there was a time when a hero dying was an event rather than being a minor thing done to hype an event.
In the aftermath of Superman dying, four men rose up wearing his symbol and there was a massively built-up mystery over whether one of them was actually Superman in returned form, whether via reincarnation or possession or even cybernetics. It turned out that none of them were, but it was still an entertaining mystery and it introduced a very popular young hero who then carried a solo series of his own for a really long time. I happened to be going into my preteen adolescence at the time, so I found myself drawn to these new books like Generation X and Superboy, as they depicted younger heroes who I had more in common with. Superboy was a cocky, arrogant, leather jacket wearing, smart-ass who was cloned from the DNA of Superman and one other person: Lex Luthor. Oh yeah. Don't get mad if I spoiled that for you, spoilers are a given at this point. Anyway, he went through a lot in his series, but it still had a fun overall tone to it much like the team book he ended up in. So, how did three teenagers turn into this show?

And how did Superboy get away with that speedo? Seriously, yikes.
Well, over the course of the series the team expanded to include other young heroes like Wonder Girl, Arrowette, Slobo, The Secret, Empress, and Captain Marvel Jr. Hell, even Beast Boy ended up with them. It was, and still is, a beloved series that many people count among their favourite books published by DC. It ended due to an event, which led into the main cast being folded into a new Teen Titans book, but the fans never forgot it. I never forgot it. So, when the new show was announced by Cartoon Network featuring not just the title of the book, but also what looked like the main three members I was really psyched. I, like many fans, still felt raw over Teen Titans ending as an animated series and saw this as natural way to fill that void. Now, I should clarify something: the characters in Young Justice (the show) are not the same versions featured in the comics. Tim Drake isn't Robin, Impulse isn't Kid Flash, and Superboy is cocky or arrogant. That being said, the pilot for it had me hooked immediately.

They gave us a better four person superhero team in a cartoon pilot than Fox could on the big screen.
Our main cast initially are three sidekicks: Aqualad, Robin, and Kid Flash. Along with Speedy, they're all invited to join the Justice League...sort of. They're not really allowed into the club, so much as they are allowed into the next best thing. Speedy gets offended by this though, saying they're earned their place on the League and he refuses to settle for simply being a sidekick any longer. He quits and this leaves the other three to question whether he's correct. They end up hearing of a fire at Cadmus Labs and decide to intervene but end up coming across something more, as it turns out Cadmus are cloning alien lifeforms to use as slave labour and have even grown their very own Superboy to use a a weapon against Superman. They bust up the operation, make friends with the freshly awakened clone of Superman, and are allowed to stay together as group operating more under the radar. And the pilot's close they're introduced to a HQ of their own and a new teammate, Miss Martian, the apparent niece of Martian Manhunter.

She's just a teensy bit cuter than her uncle.
It's a good start for the series, giving us a solid origin for the team and introductions to the main cast and their place in the world with their various mentors. There's real drama and some very deep subject matter touched upon, especially in regards to the ethics of cloning. There are even callbacks for comic fans, as Cadmus was where Superboy operated from mostly in the comics and we see cast members Guardian and Dubbilex pop up as part of his overall introduction. Soon after we got Artemis added to the roster, a new protege for Green Arrow, and they were given Red Tornado to act as their adviser, which mirrors the Young Justice comic where he also acted as a mentor to them. Over the course of the first season, we had tons of character growth happen as the team got to know one another better and relationships grew and developed. The biggest relationship being, of course, the bond between Miss Martian and Superboy.

Which didn't exist in the comics, as they acted nothing like these versions there.
Yeah, for some reason I can't seem to get my head around, a lot of people hated this pairing. I understand shipping and the desire to imagine two characters together. I'm a well-versed shipper myself. I have written about my ships over on Tumblr with all the other beautiful crazy people. I've been shipping Jason Voorhees and Sadako Yamamura together for years and I'm apparently not the only one. Why do people hate the idea that these got together? Well, the simple answer is that they probably like one and not so much the other. Me personally though, I loved the growth of them and how they fell in love in a very natural way. They're both people with difficult backgrounds. He was built to be a weapon, she comes from a race (the White Martians) that are seen as evil heartless things. They both try to be better than their perception of what they were meant to be. The revelation that Connor (Superboy) knew she was a big gnarly looking White Martian but didn't think of her as a monster was one of the most powerful moments to come out of the entire series. It spoke about not judging based on appearance and about the power prejudice has over people and how it can cause people, especially young people, to hate themselves based on factors that are not in their control.

Thanks to all the porn I end up watching to review for you people, I can't help but wonder how a handjob in her natural form would feel. I need to go bleach my entire being now.
This entire situation reminded me of what it was like to grow up in an environment where people despise you based on the colour of your skin. It may be one of the reasons it hit me so deeply, but it's not the entire reason. See, these are two young people who are damaged. They don't feel like they can be who they are, her because of her appearance and genetics...him because he fears he's nothing more than a monster only good for destroying things. But, in each other, they found understanding and a bond that made them both feel like they could be more than those things. They didn't complete one another, but they did create something special together that allowed them both to grow into stronger people. It's something that I, and many others, had to do alone but I cannot begrudge them in needing someone to help shoulder that burden. Others have tried with me over the years, but I have found that it's only when I am forced to carry it alone that I truly grow for the better.

Still trying to figure out how I got so handsome though.
The series is full of intrigue as the overarching story builds to a massive payoff in the finale, with the Justice League being mind-controlled and the young heroes having to save them. Over the course of the season the team meets new young heroes and old heroes, they expand their roster and we see how their pasts still haunt them. Artemis' relationship with her family is one of the most interesting and compelling subplots followed in the entirety of the show. The characters quickly grew a loyal fanbase and the show had its audience that it needed to keep going. And keep going did, albeit with some slight changes. But there were significant issues as well. All of that will be talked more though as we continue our journey into the world of Young Justice next time. That's right, I've leaving you on a "to be continued". I'm such a bastard like that, right? Truth is though, this was just too big of a subject for me to cover in one go. To truly do it justice, it needs more than one page of discussion. I hope I'll see you back later this week when we talk about what happened next and talk about some details I glanced over here. Later days, bleeders.

I might have neglected a few details. Like how Conan O'Brien became a superhero.


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