First 3 Episodes Review
Young Justice: Outsiders
After almost six years, the day is almost upon us. On March 16, 2013, the season finale of Young Justice: Invasion aired amid a bittersweet air as both it and Green Lantern: The Animated Series were not renewed for the now defunct DC Nation Saturday morning block. The tie-in comic had ended nearly a month ago. Then after much delay, cancellations, and uncertainty, the tie-in video game Young Justice: Legacy released on November 19, 2013 and told an important story set in the time skip between the two seasons. Pitches were made to continue the series but none were accepted. Fans were treated to some more bits of information about what could have been a season three until Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti decided to hold their tongue and instead emphasized the purchase of what little official merchandise there was and later to show their support of the series on Netflix. On November 7, 2016, something amazing and unexpected happened. Season three was announced. Fans rejoiced and celebrated. The series that was gone too soon was granted a second life. Now with two days to go before the first half of Young Justice: Outsiders begins streaming, the anticipation is more than palpable! And to sweeten the pot, the comic was also revived for a two chapter one-shot digital comic set in the time skip between Invasion and Outsiders.
Young Justice: Outsiders revolves around the Team taking on a meta-human trafficking and the genetic arms race that has spanned Earth and the galaxy thanks to the Light and Darkseid's machinations. First world nations, third world nations, rogue nations, corporations, and aliens all weaponize the metagene for their own gain. It's been two years since Wally West's death and instead of returning to the Team for active duty, Nightwing has been apparently leading a small black ops team to uncover a metahuman trafficking ring. Artemis Crock is still grieving and trying to move on with her life. Superboy, Miss Martian, Static, Kid Flash, Robin, Wonder Girl, Spoiler, Blue Beetle, Thirteen, Arrowette, Arsenal, and Beast Boy make up the Team so far as we know currently. Aqualad has taken on the mantle of Aquaman from King Orin and has also became the new leader of the Justice League. The Justice League has expanded its ranks yet again but even that is not enough. They find themselves stretched thin and a victim of international politics thanks to Lex Luthor being the current United Nations secretary.
Outsiders has been advertised as an exploration of the world built over the first two seasons through the eyes of characters who aren't sidekicks and aren't born to be heroes. A different group of kids who were developing powers and didn't know what they wanted to do in life, and how they see this world. In the scope of the first three episodes of Outsiders, Brion Markov, prince of Markovia, fills this role. Still deeply motivated by the disappearance of his sister Tara, he comes to believe something daring must be done to save his country. Except, he was a prince who studied abroad. He wasn't Batman's partner. He never put on a mask and fought crime. But he quickly becomes wrapped up in the world of Young Justice with one big choice to try and activate his metagene. Very much like how Superboy was introduced in the series premiere, the first three episodes brilliantly executes the introduction of Markov, his motivations, his arc, and his meeting of several heroes.
A lot of new characters have been spotlighted in the build up to the season premiere like Spoiler, a skilled martial artist, who first appeared as a target of the Reach in Invasion, Thirteen, a practitioner of magic, Arrowette, a new archer, who's father was saved by Green Arrow and Artemis in season one, Forager, an alien from New Genesis, or the shape shifting Metamorpho. Unfortunately, the first three episodes don't focus on the majority of these new heroes. What I imagine will be a sticking point on the first day of the season, the Team as we know it hardly factors into the opening three episodes. But it doesn't do the series a disservice either. There's a lot of story going on and it doesn't require the Team, yet. You won't even miss them. The focus is primarily on Nightwing's mission, the introduction of Brion Markov, and one of what I assume will be many metahuman trafficking rings. And if you remember any of the missions from past seasons, the one in the season opener will indeed go sideways.
Growing up is a big part of the season (and the series) and is very apparent from the start. Aqualad now Aquaman and a leader within the Justice League is just the start. Speaking of leaders, expect there to be a new leader presiding over the Team. Relationships among some of the characters will change in the first episode "Princes All". One of which... there will be some serious feels! There's even a new relationship that I'm very sure no one saw coming. But one may be seriously strained by a very big bombshell in "Princes All" and just overall, you may run out of gasps by the end of the episode. For those that loved searching episodes for DC name characters, the first three episodes are definitely full of them. You won't be disappointed. Especially one I'm sure fans have wanted for a very long time to appear on the series. Expect bombshells and tragedies. And two random episode cold opens, one with a random DC character debuting, too. But it connects to the overall story.
Being on a streaming service, Young Justice is no longer beholden to a network's Broadcast Standards and Practices. But rest assured, that doesn't mean the crew has gone crazy with power and littered the show with swearing, sex, heightened violence and gore. No. But there are moments in the three opening episodes that utilizes the new landscape of a more PG-13 show in an important manner. It's not done just to be done. It's important to the story arc and what's happening. The previous seasons definitely delved into it but were shackled by what could be shown. With a storyline about trafficking human lives, it's no surprise that death will be prevalent. In a similar manner, the three act structure of an episode is essentially the same as it was in past seasons. But now that there isn't any commercial breaks and the streaming service lends itself to the binging trend, watching the first three episodes of Outsiders back to back felt very comparable to when Cartoon Network first previewed the series by airing the 'movie version' of "Independence Day" and "Fireworks." A very tight, interlinked 3 parter can be enjoyed, processed, analyzed, and discussed in a day. It was a really great feeling not having to wait a week for the next episode.
Overall, it's like the series never ended in 2013 and never lost its stride. If you were in a malaise about Outsiders not being anything like the past two seasons, that it might have lost its magic, not enough of the old crew has returned, or too much time has passed... don't worry anymore. It will knock your socks off and then some. You'll be back on the edge of your seats. You'll be back to wondering why no one isn't just whelmed. You'll have a Pavlovian response to that timestamp SFX. The animation from DR Movie and Digital emation is top notch. Greg Weisman, Brandon Vietti, Phil Bourassa, returning directors Christopher Berekely and Mel Zwyer and everyone else have simply nailed it.
The first 13 episodes of Young Justice Outsiders will stream over the course of January. Three new episodes each will stream on January 4, 11, 18 and four episodes on January 25. The season will then go on hiatus and continue in June. DC's Whitney Moore hosts five 10 minute "Making of Young Justice: Outsiders Documentary Series" segments that start releasing on January 8 during DC Daily.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5