Welcome to the 2021 A to Z Challenge! My theme this year is DC Comics. And that’s mostly because of my undying affection for the comic book characters and stories that I grew up reading in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. So stay tuned all month to (maybe) learn a little something about 26 corners of the DC Multiverse.
Y is for Young Justice. Has to be.
Young Justice began as a team-up book for Superboy (Conner Kent), Robin (Timothy Drake), and Impulse (Bart Allen) back in the late 90s. Their team quickly added Wonder Girl (Cassie Sandsmark), Arrowette (Cissie King-Jones), and Secret (whose identity is… secret).
I’m not sure why they decided to call the book Young Justice instead of Teen Titans. At the time, the most recent Teen Titans series had little to do with the classic team of Titans that included Nightwing, Starfire, Cyborg, Kid Flash, etc. And eventually, Young Justice evolved into a new team of Teen Titans. But it took a while to get there.
The title ran for several years. But I hardly picked it up back then.
However, I feel it’s important to mention the roots of Young Justice. Because without that comic book series, there may never have been one of the greatest animated television shows of all time. I am, of course, speaking of Young Justice.
Young Justice (the TV series) began its life on Cartoon Network. It was criminally canceled after only two seasons, mostly because the toy line was not selling like the powers that be would have liked. And since the producers sort of counted on toy sales to provide funding to continue production… no more episodes.
I’m very happy to say that the series returned for a third season after reruns gained momentum on Netflix and fans basically demanded more from the series. The short-lived DC Universe streaming service aired the third season last year, promising a fourth season to come. But since DC Universe no longer exists as a streaming service, Young Justice‘s first three seasons can now be found on HBO Max and the fourth season is still coming. At some point.
The origin for the TV series is a little different than the comics. You have the sidekicks of Batman, Green Arrow, the Flash, and Aquaman being given a chance to take a look inside the Justice League’s Hall of Justice. But they’re disappointed to find out they aren’t actually invited to be part of the league. Speedy, Green Arrow’s protégé, takes things so badly that he quits. He walks out, claiming he’s too old to be a sidekick any more.
The other three sidekicks (Robin, Kid Flash, and Aqualad) take it upon themselves to help put out a fire at the nearby Cadmus Labs facility while the real Justice League is handling a major crisis somewhere. While these three are at Cadmus they discover some shady goings on under the surface. 52 stories under the surface.
That’s where they discover Project Kr, the Superman cloning experiment. They free the clone who would become known as Superboy. And a new team is born. More members join throughout the first season including Miss Martian (Martian Manhunters “niece”), Artemis (Green Arrow’s new protégé), and eventually Zatanna (who we’ll learn more about tomorrow).
The second season took a five year time jump with a lot of blanks that needed to be filled in. But we also got introduced to a lot of new characters, too. In that five years we missed, Robin became Nightwing and a new Robin (Tim Drake) joined the team. We also got a Lagoon Boy, a Blue Beetle (who would play a huge role in the overall story of the season), a Wonder Girl, a Batgirl, and a few others I’m sure I’m missing.
I don’t want to give away any of the spoilery pertinents of the series because I want you to watch it. It is brilliantly written, brilliantly animated, and brilliantly performed by the entire voice cast. If you have access to HBO Max, binge all three seasons. I promise it’s worth it. I would go so far as to say that Young Justice is the best portrayal of the DC Universe ever seen on either the big or small screens. I’m sure that would be debatable for some, but I stand by the statement.
Have you seen Young Justice? If not, did I convince you to give it a look? I can try harder if I need to. Let me know your thoughts down in the comments!