Remember when Legion Of Superheroes came on TV and it was trying to be a mix of a pint size Teen Titans or Justice League series but it didn’t work? Imagine if it was done right and done by the guy who did Gargoyles, there you have Young Justice:
Young Justice is an American animated television series created by Brandon Vietti and Greg Weisman for Cartoon Network. Despite its title, it is not a direct adaptation of Peter David, Todd Dezago and Todd Nauck’s Young Justice comic series, but rather an adaptation of the entire DC Universe with a focus on young superheroes.
The series follows the lives of teenage heroes and sidekicks who are members of a fictional covert operation group referred to simply as The Team. The Team is essentially a young counterpart to the famous adult team, the Justice League. The main setting is a fictional universe apart from the previous DCAU and other continuities (designated at one point as Earth-16,) during a time period in which superheroes are a relatively recent phenomenon.
The pilot episode (later re-broadcast as the opening two episodes of season 1) aired a month prior to the debut of the regular series and introduced four characters: Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash, and Speedy. It established their desire for greater recognition and respect, namely, a promotion from sidekicks to full-fledged superheroes. Met with opposition from their respective mentors in the Justice League, Batman, Aquaman, Flash, and Green Arrow, the protégés react in different ways. Speedy resigns from being Green Arrow’s partner and begins calling himself Red Arrow. The others seek to persuade their mentors of their worth by secretly taking on a Justice League mission to investigate the Cadmus building. During their infiltration of Cadmus’ headquarters, the three heroes find a clone of Superman named Superboy. After the discovery, the team finds out Cadmus is creating living weapons called Genomorphs. The episode deals with this revelation, the origin of Superboy, and how this relates to a mysterious group of people called the Light. In the end, Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash, and Superboy negotiate with Batman to organize a covert operations team as a practical contrast to the Justice League, whose celebrity status makes it difficult to maintain secrecy or initiate stealth operations. After consulting with his colleagues, Batman establishes Young Justice in a secret cave located inside a former Justice League headquarters, Mount Justice, a hollowed-out mountain. Here the teens are trained by Black Canary, given missions by Batman and are watched over by Red Tornado until episode twelve when this job is passed over to rotating Justice League members. Miss Martian makes an appearance at the end of the episode and joins as the fifth member.
The “Invasion” of the second season title refers to the potential invasion of Earth by the Light’s partners, the Reach, who are trying to control Jaime Reyes (Blue Beetle).
This is exactly what Legion Of Superheroes should’ve been, a series that should’ve not just appealed to the kids but also adults and not be afraid to go for more mature storylines and more epic action and testing the limits of what can be done with animation in television and this show definitely is that and more.
There’s so much about this show to admire, starting with the voice cast. Once again, they cast these roles pitch perfectly, you would never think that Jesse McCartney of all people would nail the voice of Robin down as well as he does here, at least it’s better than playing Theodore in the Alvin & The Chipmunks movies for the rest of his life. You’ve also got Khary Payton, the voice of Cyborg in Teen Titans, as Aqualad, Jason Spisak as Wally West, Danica McKellar as Miss Martian, Stephanie Lemelin as Artemis, Nolan North as Super Boy, such a strong voice cast for the main characters and then you also have Bruce Greenwood back as Batman, reprising from Batman: Under The Red Hood, Rob Lowe as Captain Marvel, George Eads as The Flash, Alan Tudyk as Green Arrow, Nolan North as Superman, Maggie Q as Wonder Woman, this is a really strong solid voice cast they have here.
The animation is also really good too, it doesn’t look any different than what you see from a DC Universe animated movie and for a TV series, it looks impressive.
The scripts are all nicely written too, you not only get Greg Weisman, Brandon Vetti, and Peter David to write many of the scripts, they take a lot of writers from TV that you would never expect to write a good script for a show like this, hell, one of the writers wrote for Major Dad for god’s sake. And she actually wrote many solid episodes of the show.
The only real downside is that the show only ran for two seasons and it got cancelled for the stupidest of reasons ever, you thought Animaniacs getting cancelled because more adults were watching it than kids was stupid, get a load of this:
Cartoon Network executives did not want girls watching the programs because “they don’t buy toys,” and wanted more boys watching. This led to a widely held belief that the show was cancelled due to too many girls watching; however, Greg Weisman denied that the show’s female viewership was a factor in its cancellation. And not only that, the show’s funding was based on a toy deal with Mattel. The toys were not selling enough so Mattel cancelled the toy line, pulling the funding for the show. With no sources of income large enough to replace the money from Mattel, the show was not picked up for a third season.
First of all, fuck that sexist bullshit. Seriously, they axed a show because girls were watching it more than boys, what kind of stupid decision making was that. Second, how the hell were toys not selling for this show. To quote Brian Doyle-Murray in Wayne’s World, “kids know dick,” you put a superhero toy in front of them or give them one for Christmas, they would take it easily with no hesitation whatsoever. But hey, I guess they have to make their money back somehow.
I think the real reason why this got cancelled along with the next show we’ll talk about was because of the timeslot, this was airing on DC Nation, which got a primetime slot early in its’ run but then when they were putting new shows together, they moved the entire block to Saturday mornings in 2012 and had no advertising for it after that like they were trying to hide it or they felt embarrassed by it.
And of course, when they cancelled a beloved show, people got pissed and for many years, petitions and campaigns went out to save the series but Cartoon Network never budged and WB Animation moved on from the series….until recently.
Yep, Young Justice was just given the revival button recently as WB Animation is putting the series back into production with Weisman and Vetti returning to bring the series back although they haven’t said who is going to air it. Bottom line, more Young Justice is coming.
And really, it should continue, there are so many interesting stories that can still be told with these characters and those first two seasons proved why. If you haven’t gotten around to Young Justice yet, you are doing yourself the biggest disservice you could possibly do. Catch up now before the new stuff comes our way.