Episode 12 Review
Young Justice: Phantoms
The conflict with Child explodes into an all-out global crisis and there is little our heroes can do to stop her from ushering a new age of chaos. Zatara recounts his life to Nabu, emphasizing how one moment of inspiration set him on the path of self-sacrifice for the greater good, as he prepares for a definitive assault against Child. The downward spiral of Garfield's personal and hero lives spills onto his work life and... it surely has become darkest before dawn on both fronts. Can the seemingly unstoppable Child and Flaw be defeated or will Earth meet its end? Can Garfield climb out of his depression before the point of no return? In "Og Htrof Dna Reuqnoc!", good luck is definitely something our heroes are going to need a lot of if they're to save the world and themselves.
"Og Htrof Dna Reuqnoc!" has the trappings of a penultimate episode on paper, but the actual product is far from that thanks to the crazy revelation about that Metropolis Elementary school bus and a long awaited origin story of Zatara. And if Teekl's violent death wasn't enough to visualize the stakes, it gets much more real with the destruction of the Tower of Fate and permanent damage is dealt to done to the Helmet of Fate. Even with all hands on deck, the Justice League, the Team, and the Outsiders can only perform mop up duty as Child and Flaw teleport from locale to locale leaving a fairly apocalyptic column of fire in their wake. And when Dr. Fate, Zatanna, and the Sentinels finally catch up to Child and Flaw, their combined magic doesn't even make a scratch! When Zatara first put on the Helmet of Fate, he knew he was sacrificing himself for the greater good. It looks like he's resigned himself to do it again but for the final time since the other Lords of Order seem to be content to sit it out on their cosmic butts.
I admit I was skeptical last episode was the last we would see of Klarion. But boy, I did not see what was coming. In one of the greatest twists of the series, it turns out Klarion uses the recurring Metropolis Elementary school bus as a new anchor and traverses space and time, teleporting to backwards and forwards in the timeline trying to find heroes to help him with his current plight. So all those times we saw the bus after "Schooled," they were time traveling with Klarion!!! And to boot, the credits confirm we've got at least two obscure DC characters in that bus. There's Charlie Daggett, the bus driver from Superboy #137 (April 1967) and Penny Randall from Teen Titans #2 (April 1966). If anyone's keeping score, we see the lead up to the school bus crew's first appearance in season one's "Schooled" on August 3, Team Year Zero in Metropolis, season three's "Private Security" on August 1, Team Year Eight on the Pacific Coast Highway, in season one's "Revelation" on October 1, Team Year Zero in Star City, a new cameo on February 28, Team Year Nine outside Bibbos in Metropolis, in season one's "Misplaced" on November 5, Team Year Zero in Dakota City twice, expanding on a quick cameo in season two's "Endgame" on June 20, Team Year Six in Star City, a new cameo on May Six, Team Year Eleven (yeah, a time skip quickie) on Apokolips, and lastly, their appearances in this arc on May 14 in space with Baby and May 13 in Harlem.
Last week, the reveal of Nabu being the narrator who was talking to Zatara on the mental plane tipped us off that Zatara was taking over this week. But boy, what a treat to learn his origin story. Sorry to those who thought they would be seeing Vandal Savage as Attilla the Hun or Blackbeard. In an inspirational yet tragic exercise in how it's all connected, Zatara was a stage magician who was yearning to do more and it's the public debut of Superman and seeing it through the eyes of his young daughter that spurs him to become a hero. Stopping bank robbers wasn't enough though and he ends up being mentored by none other than Kent Nelson. However, he was away more and more from his family, a necessary sacrifice for the greater good. The status of Zatanna's mother, Sindella, has been a lingering question since season one and unfortunately, the answer is gut wrenching. She died of cancer. On Kent's suggestion, Zatara joins the Justice League and finds himself no longer alone. Still, he has to cut back on his stage performances with Zatanna. And lastly, we see the events of "Misplaced" from his point of view. He once again made the sacrifice, but this time to save his daughter. Ten years later, Zatara is resolute on making one more sacrifice and manages to get Nabu to agree to her his life story. Unlike the past flashbacks, this week serves to directly augment the main story and set the stage for the finale of Young Justice: Phantoms's third arc.
When Young Justice: Phantoms premiered, it looked like something was going on in Garfield Logan's personal life. He and Perdita were on some kind of break from each other. He wasn't taking her calls. Couldn't even watch her on TV. Then came the death of Conner Kent. Then his hero life declined as he stopped going on Outsider missions and starting abusing sleep aids. Now, the third aspect of Garfield has suffered. Unable to play Tork on Space Trek 3016, Garfield is sidelined due to his lack of focus and zeal on the set. Last season, Garfield's recurring appearances led to a big role in the back half as the founder and leader of a public team of teen superheroes. Here's hoping it's the same here and something beautiful finally transpires and not the opposite, ending in a tragic crash and burn.
Aside from clearing up and recapping the magic school bus's zany time travel shenanigans, hat's off to the nod to Fleischer's Superman short film "The Mechanical Monsters" when the Zatara family is watching Superman on TV. Such a treat to have all eras of DC being acknowledged on this show! And it turns out one of the Space Trek cameramen is Johnny Drew, an obscure 70s supporting character on Supergirl's run on Adventure Comics when she was working in San Francisco as Linda Danvers at a Galaxy Broadcasting affiliate.
"Og Htrof Dna Reuqnoc!", Child's reign of terror is on full display and any hope for putting a stop to it is in short order but it appears Zatara's 22 year old hero's journey is reaching its conclusion at the same time and he's aiming to restore the balance between chaos and order even at the cost of his own life as he is all too familiar with taking on burdens and sacrificing for the greater good. In concurrent fashion, Garfield Logan's many lives continue to crash down around him.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5