Independence Day Part One | Episode 01
Aired: November 26, 2010
1. Gotham City, July 4th, 12:00 EDT
2. Star City, July 4th, 9:01 PDT
3. Pearl Harbor, July 4th, 6:02 HST
4. Central City, July 4th, 11:03 CDT
5. Washington D.C., July 4th, 14:00 EDT
Heroes: Batman, Robin, Speedy, Green Arrow, Aquaman, Aqualad, Flash, Kid Flash, Justice League, Martian Manhunter, Red Tornado, Superman, Zatara, Guardian, and Superboy
Villains: Mr. Freeze, Icicle Junior, Killer Frost, Captain Cold, and Dr. Desmond
Supporting: Project Cadmus, Dubbilex, and Dr. Spence
Beasts: Genomorphs, G-Trolls, G-Gnome, Genomorph 0777, and Genomorph 0424
Objects: Cold Gun, Utility Belt, Trick Arrows, Water-Bearers, Washington Monument, and Zeta-Tube
Places: Earth 16, Gotham City, Star City, Pearl Harbor, Central City, Washington D.C., White House, and Hall of Justice
Written By: Greg Weisman
Directed By: Jay Oliva
Review By Yojimbo
Perhaps "Spectacular" isn't a word producer Greg Weisman wants to hear. But there are a few more adjectives associated with Spider-Man that best describe the movie format of the Young Justice pilot "Independence Day,": Amazing and Sensational! Phil Bourassa, lead character designer, the whole art team, and Moi Animation Studio delivered beautiful, big budget quality animation reminiscent of the quality from the DC Universe movie and DC Showcase shorts lines. The script provides a fascinating view into the minds of Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti, and the rest of the staff involved in the production of this new animated series. Although this is the origin story of a new superhero team, it isn't a conventional one. The various characters are keeping secrets and lying or misleading others, while several mysteries surface and remain unsolved by the movie's end. In this new age of superheroism, a cold war of superpowers is silently escalating towards an unwritten end. Set to begin airing on January 7, 2011 at 7 p.m. Eastern on Cartoon Network, Young Justice is well on its way to hit sensation.
According to the series' official synopsis: In Young Justice, being a teenager means proving yourself over and over - to peers, parents, teachers, mentors and, ultimately, to yourself. But what if you're not just a normal teenager? What if you're a teenage super hero? How much harder will it be to prove yourself in a world of super powers, super villains and super secrets? Are you ready to come of age in such a world? Are you ready for life or death rites of passage? Are you ready to join the ranks of the great heroes and prove you're worthy of the Justice League? That's exactly what the members of Young Justice - Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash, Superboy, Miss Martian and Artemis [who isn't set to appear until Episode 6] - will found out...whether they have what it takes to be a proven hero.
Young Justice is a tale of both the formation of the Young Justice team but a journey to a new animated DC Comics universe called Earth-16 (perhaps a more proper title, but just not as catchy). The architects behind this are Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti.
Greg Weisman is best known for his work on Disney animated series, Gargoyles, and the recently canceled-before-its-time series, The Spectacular Spider-Man. But he is also a comic book writer and waded around in various DC animated series, such as another canceled-before-its-time series called Legion of Superheroes (where's those DVDs, Warner Home Video?), Batman: The Brave and The Bold, The Batman, and DC Showcase: Green Arrow. Infamous for his immense attention to detail, Weisman seems to linger between genius and madman said to currently have a 139 page timeline for Young Justice and a 330 page timeline for Gargoyles.
Brandon Vietti is an animation pro whose worked on various incarnations of Batman and universes since the 2000's, directing on The Batman, Superman/Doomsday, Legion of Superheroes, Batman: The Brave and The Bold, Batman: Under the Red Hood and doing storyboard art for The Batman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern: First Flight. Accumulating years of experience with the DC Comics lore and wearing many hats behind the scenes, Vietti seemed like the perfect match to co-produce Young Justice with Weisman.
The movie begins on 12 noon on Independence Day, hence the episode title and setting the short-term theme, in Gotham City. One by one, we are introduced to our star characters, Robin, Aqualad, and Kid Flash with their mentors. They are all on the verge of becoming official members of the Justice League. However, Speedy becomes the singular voice of dissent and quits when the League doesn't give him what he wants badly: respect. While the League goes off to fight the Big Bad of the week, Wotan, the trio investigates another case, Project Cadmus. They discover a secret world of bio-engineered weapons, among them a clone of Superman. All the while, the audience is treated through various genres: action, suspense, humor, horror, and mystery. It seems like all that was missing was a 5 star musical! Robin, Aqualad, and Kid Flash are able to turn Superboy to their side and fight their way out of Cadmus just as the Justice League arrives. Rather than kowtow to their mentors' admonishments, they declare their worthiness. Ever thinking five steps ahead of anyone, Batman decides to consolidate them into a new black ops sub-unit of the League called Young Justice. Meanwhile, the puppet masters behind Cadmus, The Light are intrigued by the interference of three teenage sidekicks...er...partners and proceed to adapt their sinister plot.
Like the most recent animated series, Batman: The Brave and The Bold, Young Justice manages to establish itself with a broad appeal to various audiences. A comic geek dad can sit down with his 14 year old son and 12 year old daughter, both who've lived off television their whole life without knowing the grand splendor of reading nor comic books, and all will enjoy this movie pilot. The dad can blink twice at all the comic book references, the son can be entertained by the best of what a TV-PG rated cable animated series can present, and the daughter can shield her eyes until Miss Martian finally appears at the end and makes almost everyone weak at the knees. It's valid to criticize this pilot for having an abundant amount of male characters, but looking ahead in the long term, Miss Martian, Artemis, and the various guest stars should provide a measurable balance for those ready to blast this series as another He-Man Woman Haters Club show.
The most unique aspect I took away from this movie was the series opts to debut on Chapter 6, instead of the Prologue. And while we await the next chapter, fans wonder how much of the past will be dredged up either by choice or armed laser pistol. With its stand-alone narrative and long-term arcs, Young Justice stands to be the next hit in the DC Animated Multiverse. Young Justice returns on Friday, January 7th, 2011 at 7 p.m. (Eastern) on Cartoon Network.
If you're looking for a watered down review, here's a few points that stood out the most for me, someone who's watched DC animation since Batman: The Animated Series in the early 1990s and isn't a serious comic book reader: