I’ll admit that after Justice League Unlimited ended, I haven’t been as diligent on keeping up with animated adaptations of my favorite superheroes. I know there have been some really good shows that I’ve completely missed out on like Spectacular Spider-Man and Batman: Brave and the Bold, but I just haven’t had the motivation to sit down and watch them. When recently given the chance to check out a handful of episodes of Warner Brothers’ new Young Justice animated series, I couldn’t say no. After finally getting to watch some of the show on DVD, I’m glad to report that Young Justice has a new fan.
Young Justice: Season One, Vol. 2
Directed by Michael Chang and Jay Olivia
Written by Various
Though I missed out on the first four episodes of the show, I didn’t feel lost at all when I started watching this collection of episodes 5-8. Each of the stories stands on its own, while there are some overarching plots that run in the background. It’s a smart writing decision, and not only allows newcomers like myself to feel like we’re not left behind, but it also gives viewers who continually stand by Young Justice a payoff. Well, I imagine it will when all the plots come to fruition at some point down the line. The show has a new design aesthetic that strays from the comfortable Timm Universe, and finds itself utilizing a more realistic approach. It definitely draws your eye in, and I actually love the character designs and the crispness of each figure. The cartoon really has its own personality, and it shows through wonderfully in the animation.
The episodes in this collection do a great job of showcasing the individual members of the team, while also giving the people watching an idea of the team dynamic that’s still being worked out between all these kids. Having appearances from the older generation of heroes is important, and seeing what the various elder statesmen of the Justice League think of the formation of this team provides some interesting depth that separates Young Justice from its predecessors. Watching how Superboy has to come to terms with how little Superman wants to do with him, and seeing how Robin deals with the fact that Batman puts more faith in Aqualad to lead the team not only strengthens the characterization of the younger heroes, but it also shows a side of the mentors that we seen in animation before.
Once I sat down to watch, I couldn’t pull myself away, and time just flew by. I was completely immersed in Young Justice. A great deal of that not only has to do with how well crafted each episode was, but with the strong voice acting. A personal voice-acting favorite of mine Nolan North was immediately recognizable as Superman and Superboy. If you’re familiar with Superboy’s origins, it makes perfect sense to have the same actor voice both characters. Nolan’s Superman is akin to the same reserved Boy Scout that we’ve been seeing in animated shows for years, but his Superboy is perfectly full of angst and thinks he knows it all. It’s a nice dichotomy, and North brings the same great work he does in video games like Uncharted. Bruce Greenwood returns to voice Batman, and continues his great take on the character he started in Under the Red Hood (though the two properties are unrelated). Of course, all of the teen heroes are voiced wonderfully, but Khary Payton’s Aqualad is a true stand out.
I don’t know why it took me so long to get into another animated series after the conclusion of Justice League Unlimited. Perhaps I just didn’t think any other property could live up to the high standard set by that phenomenal show. Even though it’s not quite there yet, Young Justice is off to a good start in living up to what came before. It might be a little unfair to compare Young Justice to JLU, but like the cast, it’s a modern take on the classic heroes, and so far I’m impressed. I look forward to catching more of these adventures, and hope the show is able to keep up the good work started here.
Young Justice: Season One, Vol. 2 is available on DVD right now.