Three episodes were provided prior to broadcast.
If any DC animated series has a storied existence, it’s most definitely that of Young Justice. For two seasons, it captured the hearts and minds of viewers with great characterization, intriguing covert operations, and its willingness to put adolescent superheroes in mature storylines. In other words, it was far from a Teen Titans rehash.
Then Cartoon Network cancelled it.
To this day, the specifics remain a hot topic for discussion, but the plug being pulled was largely due to a lack of toy sales, something valued higher than Nielsen ratings for this type of programming. The catch-22, however, was that there wasn’t much merchandising supporting the brand to begin with, so one could say it was inescapably doomed in that respect.
Thankfully, the DC Universe streaming service has picked up the ball and run with it years later, as Young Justice: Outsiders becomes the second series to debut on the platform. In a way, the hype and anticipation around it has been comparable to that of a long awaited movie sequel.
Most fortunate for the fanbase, producers Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti haven’t lost their touch. I say that because it feels like no time has passed, and the saga picks up relatively right where it left off. As was the case with season 2, there’s a time jump implemented after the opening titles, which I guess should be addressed right now.
To put it succinctly, Nightwing wishes to take a leave of absence from the team and a mission gone awry renders Black Lightning traumatized. After the jump forward, we find that Kaldur’ahm has graduated from Aqualad to Aquaman, Miss Martian leads Young Justice itself, and the Justice League is fractured.
Now, I don’t want to spoil much concerning this plot point, nor will I reveal who else joins Batman in his exodus, but various heroes making up both the Justice League and Young Justice can no longer stand the restrictions placed on them by Lex Luthor and the United Nations, therefore they feel it’s best to work separate from their former teammates. Though not named outright, this rogue faction will obviously go on to become the Outsiders.
When it comes to the overall plot, metahuman trafficking is the major problem being addressed. As it turns out, some very bad people are kidnapping kids off the streets and experimenting on them for their own sinister purposes. Should you be familiar with this series, you probably don’t need me to shed much LIGHT on the situation, but odds are the most vile of villains are still working in conjunction with Darkseid. If you’ll recall, he debuted in the closing moments of season 2.
At the heart of the unfolding epic is Brion Markov and his home nation of Markovia. From the look of it, that’s where a chunk of the experimentation on metas has been based, thus prompting Nightwing, Superboy, Black Lightning and Artemis to embark on a mission there.
Again, I’m not going to give out much in the way of specifics, but DC diehards need not strain themselves in figuring out we have the origin of Geo-Force on our hands. While we’re still early in the game, it’s probably not crazy to conclude he’ll play a vital part in the coming war.
Getting back to the subject of Darkseid, I will say that he’s yet to show his face again – but we are given hints to his arrival. Heck, the new opening title sequence alone virtually guarantees just that. I guess the buildup speaks to the credit of Weisman and Vietti, who know better than to lay all of their cards on the table from the start.
Right now, I’m guessing you’re wondering how the DC Universe platform acts as the X-factor of sorts. Don’t get me wrong, this animated production doesn’t go to the violent extremes of the live action Titans show or drop any F-bombs, though it’s obvious the gloves are off because the creative team no longer has to worry about Cartoon Network’s Standards and Practices. Make no mistake, you will see people die onscreen.
Additionally, it’s worth noting how the series remains heavily serialized as it was during season 2. There’s room for standalone episodes at some point, sure, and I’m not ruling any out down the line, but the first three installments seamlessly transition between each other. It’s kind of funny how a post-24 world has even affected cartoons.
Currently, my sentiment toward Young Justice: Outsiders is similar to the one I felt when the second season of the original run aired: heavily invested and intrigued, yet not entirely blown away. But once Darkseid shows up and kicks things into high gear, I suspect that could change. Still, this does have the potential to be the best season yet.
Young Justice: Outsiders has yet to knock off my socks, though the potential is there for it to one day stand alongside Justice League Unlimited in the annals of DC's proud animated history.