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Stew’s Young Justice Retrospective: Season 1, Episodes 1 & 2

October 23, 2023 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Young Justice 1-01 Image Credit: Warner Bros. Animation

Stealing Jokes From 1999: A Young Justice Retrospective, S1 E1-2

Well, my Buffy The Vampire Slayer retrospective as a first time watcher seems to be going along pretty well. Why not start another show?

My intention was originally to wait until I was done with Buffy before starting anything else, but then I realized two things:

First, content is still king, and I am quickly about to hit my wall on pre-written material.

And secondly, my wife got a two month HBO Max free trial, giving me access back to this show I kept meaning to get through but then never actually did.

You see, I have always been a huge fan of the original Young Justice comic; it’s low-key one of my favorite series runs ever. Peter David and Todd Nauck created such a dang fun storyline with a series of sidekicks and other young heroes. The book was a bit silly, but that was on purpose. David was a great comedic writer when he wanted to be, and Nauck’s art fit the writing perfectly..

I am relatively sure this series, while fun, will not be as glorious goofy as the book, but who cares? I’ve heard nothing but good things. Apparently this series’ cancellation caused a lot of consternation, and it eventually got renewed. We have, it seems, four full seasons as of now. Though I have no idea if they will keep it up.

And hey, in two months, I probably won’t even get through the four seasons we have, so this retrospective series may eventually hit an indefinite pause, though… I hope not. Hopefully I can get several episodes watched and written a week for a while here. But we’ll only know by diving in, so…

Episode 1

Image Credit: Warner Bros. Animation

The series starts off on Independence Day (with an episode called “Independence Day”, obviously) with a slew of pairings of heroes and sidekicks tackling the threats of various ice-themed villains. Batman and Robin down Mr. Freeze. Green Arrow and Speedy nock out Icicle Junior. Aquaman and Aqualad fell Killer Frost. The Flash and Kid Flash defeat Captain Cold. It’s all very thematic!

(fun fact: That “nock out” up there was originally a typo, and then when I was editing this, I realized what a GREAT one it is, so I left it alone)

During these fracases (fracii?), all of the sidekicks seem to be in a particular hurry to be somewhere else rather than fighting these blustery bad guys. And then we see why: all of them gather at the Hall Of Justice in Washington DC. The sidekicks are being granted entry into the Justice League’s base for the first time!

An adoring crowd gathers around the heroes, not entirely sure who the sidekicks are, giving us this exchange from disembodied voices:

Voice: It’s The Flash and… what’s his name?

Voice: That’s Speedy!

Voice: No, Speedy is Green Arrow’s sidekick.

Voice: Well that makes no sense.

Haha, fair enough! Speedy’s name IS nonsense.

We also get Robin dwelling on the terms “underwhelmed” and “overwhelmed”, as he ponders why no one is ever just “whelmed”, and that seems to be his shtick for a while, but here’s the thing: the writers didn’t even come up with that! That’s a joke from 10 Things I Hate About You! They just pulled it off a decade later.

The JLA lets the kids in and gives them access, but it’s only to the basic areas, as the sidekicks hilariously point out that tourists can see where they have access to from glass panels above.

Speedy notes that he knows the Hall Of Justice is a sham, and that the JLA’s REAL base is The Watchtower on the moon, and Batman is NOT best pleased at Green Arrow for Speedy knowing that. Speedy gets all pissy and, I guess, quits his job as sidekick? He just walks out.

Superman appears on the video monitor to call in an explosion and fire at Project Cadmus, but then Zatara calls in a bigger emergency, so Batman goes “Eh, the firefighters can handle this”, and the Justice League head out to handle Zatara’s call. The sidekicks decide they didn’t want to just have a playdate, so they head off to see if they can help at Cadmus.

TURNS OUT the firefighters CAN’T handle it, and the teens save two scientists from dying, though they do not work well together in doing so. And I guess one aspect of this show is that Robin makes a haunting little laughing noise when he is about to strike from the shadows? I hope that doesn’t get as old as I am sure it will. It’s also a weird trait; I assumed this was Tim, but that feels more Damien in nature.

Though I’m not sure Damien existed when this series debuted.

When the kids get inside, they learn Cadmus has a whole mysterious underground lair.

Robin bypasses some security doors, and his bypass is a computer system that turns frustrated red Robin faces into smiling green Robin faces. So I have NO idea which Robin this is. That’s a weird trait. Inside, they find some giant beasties with little beasties riding them.

We cut to Guardian and a lab dude named Dr. Desmond, which as far as cool names go, comes WAY after Dr. Doom, Dr. Strange, and Dr. Bong. They have those little beasties, too, and they are called genomes. Desmond uses them to mind control Guardian…

Also, Guardian sounds EXACTLY like Speedy, and there is a good reason for that: he is the same voice actor! Come on, my man! Change your voice up a bit! You are a voice ACTOR. Act with your voice!

If I was new to DC, I’d think it was supposed to be a story point that Speedy ran off to become Guardian in a few minutes’ time.

The sidekicks head down to look into something they saw info on–Project Kr–and it is, of course, on sub-level 52. Oh DC. You and your love of that number, right?

Guardian shows up and seems to want to resolve things peacefully, but then is genome beastie turns on and drives him nuts. The kids escape down to Project Kr.

Once inside, they discover it is Superboy, the clone of Superman! They set him free, but he’s got THREE genome guys with him, so they make him kick the kids’ butts. Aqualad is clearly the heavy hitter of the initial three (Robin, Kid Flash, and him), but he is downed by Superboy, too.

After he knocked them all for a loop, Superboy lets Desmond in to deal with them…

Episode 1

Image Credit: Warner Bros. Animation

With the teen heroes imprisoned, Dr. Desmond puts in a call to The Light, a seemingly evil organization whose members are hidden by, you know, bright light. They order him to clone the kids, place them under control, and then destroy the originals.

While the kids are trapped in cages like Superboy’s, someone wakes them up with a telepathic communication. They notice Superboy is watching them and start talking to him. It seems like he is a nice guy, just confused. Desmond and Guardian come in to deal with the kids, and Superboy’s genome controls him to go out himself back in his pod.

Desmond starts torturing the kids to get their… blood? DNA? bile? I don’t know. Some kind of not-quite-red liquid. Aqualad whispers out to Superboy, asking him what Superman would do.


Superman would NOT go back to his pod! So Superboy comes back to help them get free while Robin keeps making whelmed jokes. At least 10 Things I Hate About You knew to knock this shit off early with a one-and-done.

Monsters attack, and Superboy clearly has massive rage issues, so at least at the start here, he is very little like the Kon-El we know and love. He also can’t fly; he just jumps high and then falls. Oh, and no heat vision, but I missed that from earlier.

The telepathic voice that woke the teens up earlier is back to guide Superboy to get them all to safety.

Desmond realizes it will be VERY bad for him if there sidekicks escape with Superboy, so he excuses himself from Guardian to go get something called Project Blockbuster.

The heroes are surrounded by genomes, but Dubbilex shows up and says he was the telepathic voice trying to help them. He wants Superboy to succeed so the world can see that clones can be heroes. Guardian’s genome just… peaces out, allowing him to wake up from Desmond’s control.

Desmond shows up with a potion and drinks it, becoming Blockbuster! He just tosses Guardian into a wall and then starts fighting the heroes. He opens up a hole in the ceiling, allowing everyone to get to the main Cadmus building. After absolutely whooping the kids’ asses for a bit, Robin realizes this is a Boss Fight and has to be won by tactics involving the setting instead of basic fighting. They knock down some pillars, burying BlockDesmond.

The JLA show up after the fight is over. They take DesmondBuster into custody. Superman is CLEARLY put off by Superboy and just doesn’t want anything to do with him. So THAT’S a thing Superman Would Do, so I’ll mark that under my tattoo, I guess.

Batman scolds the kids for disobeying, but they Big Dick Energy back at him. I notice for the very first time that Aqualad has webbed hands! Have they been like that the whole time?!

The Justice Leaguers give the kids Mount Justice as a headquarters, with Red Tornado to lead them, Black Canary to train them, and Batman as their, like, mission giver guy. Martian Manhunter introduces his niece, Miss Martian, to break up this Oscar Meyer party.

As a finale, we see The Light discussing the events, and they have PLANS!

article topics :

Young Justice, Rob Stewart