Episode 9 Review
Young Justice: Phantoms

Zatanna takes her three proteges on a simple recovery op in Manhattan but the arrival of a second Lord of Chaos creates an elemental imbalance that threatens to destroy the universe. Meanwhile, Vandal Savage's first meeting with Klarion is recounted by a certain phantom as a remainder and Beast Boy's condition continues to decline. In "Odnu!", the balance of all lives and personal lives hangs precariously as new players enter the game.

We're in the third arc of the season already, where does the time fly? In any case, a strong and focused season continues with Zatanna in the lead role. Paying off another thread started in the canon 2020 audio play "The Prize," the fans get to finally see who Zatanna's proteges are: Thirteen, Khalid Nassour, and Mary Bromfield. Thirteen I think we all guessed. Introduced last season with some development, it's a boon to see Thirteen take a starring role and learn more about her. Already off the bat, she's with her familiar Leroy the iguana. Khalid seems a very interesting choice as a relatively new character tied to Dr. Fate in the comics. Lastly, Mary Bromfield! Long time fans will remember that there was a planned story arc in the tie-in canon comic books centered around the Shazam Family that would an introduced the Earth-16 versions of Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr., Kid Eternity, and The Wizard but it wasn't to be and the powers that be wanted the stories to shift to the season 2 Invasion era. Since then, it was revealed Mary was going to appear in an episode of Invasion but it didn't happen due to time and production constraints. However, a former hero and member of the Team, it's no surprise things didn't go so well in Mary's recent past and hopefully we'll continue to get more answers to the questions we fans have had for a decade or more. Not ready? Had to give it up? Can't even say "Shazam"? Is no one on the Team past or present spared from a great tragedy? This season is titled Phantoms after all, and the past two arcs haven't been shy about it. It stands to reason, Zatanna's will come to the surface as well in this arc.

In terms of the episode's threats, it was a surprise to see the Trogowogs. I remember them from one of the LEGO DC direct-to-video movies but don't recall if they originated from the comics or were original creations. Still, it a fun in media-res threat to introduce Zatanna and her students as well as set up their sub-plots with some constructive critiques. But primarily, we have to introduction of the Lord of Chaos Child and anchor Flaw from the comics. An enemy of Amethyst in the comics, with so little exposition, it was intriguing to see Klarion react so out of character when he senses her and the utter disdain in the last scene. Unlike Klarion's visage, Child's really does mask her sadistic streak which is on full display when the late Marvin Fargo is discovered in the jewelry store. All the more question inducing, why is Child seemingly doing a remix of "Misplaced" or is the spell she's casting on Roanoke Island even worse? The line at the beginning noting the imbalance once caused the destruction of the old universe isn't very settling. If the first being Child summoned was Klarion, who else in the evil magic community will fill the other spots and is her aim to ferment the utter annihilation of the current universe?

Another great twist and surprise, is Vandal Savage's part in the arc. Much like last season's "Evolution," we're witness to more of Vandal's back story as well as the mythos of Earth-16. It was one thing to have confirmation he didn't waste much time fathering many metahuman progeny and it was a whole other mind blown moment to finally learn how he and Klarion first met. It was a very, very intriguing mirror of how Vandal and Darkseid first met. Lot of deal making indeed. However, one simple line was the biggest shocker of all. Vandar's village was Atlantis?! What?!!! And the coolest surprise of all, the debut of Phantom Stranger!!! This was just part one of this new arc. Who knows who else Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti has waiting in the wings to show up in the upcoming episodes.

Well into May and Beast Boy looks just awful. Sleep deprived and even starting to look gaunt. It's clear he hasn't taken Saturn Girl's advice and this week's den mother Blue Devil tries to be delicate with him like Wonder Girl in a past episode. But damn delicate, how can no one have staged a dang intervention yet?! What's it going to take for everyone to take the kid's gloves off? It's heartbreaking to see Beast Boy in such dire straits. Yes, it makes sense with the main story implying a cosmic imbalance is on the horizon to show us one character's growing imbalance, the sooner he can accept what happened and heal from Conner's untimely death, the better. However, on the other end of the spectrum, the brief scene with the Light continues the background thread of the metahuman situation in Markovia as well as confirming Troia is now the current United Nations Secretary-General.

Overall, this season has been an entertaining blast to the past and building on elements that go as far back as the first season. Likewise this week, the return of Madame Xanadu was a welcome sight. No longer a con artist, it was pleasing to see she's embraced her true destiny as Kent Nelson alluded to all those dozens of episodes ago. But as she humorously notes, favors don't keep the lights on. Another fun callback was Klarion alluding to last season's "Early Warning" when Zatanna trapped him and Teekl in the Tower of Fate. This week, we learn it took him 16 days to escape! For the bean counters who love cataloging the timeline, that would mean he escaped the tower at a point between when Superboy, Jefferson Pierce, and Forager boom to the Minosyss Ring and observes Superman in a battle with Parademons on January 2 Team Year Ten in "Quiet Conversations" and when Cat Grant interviews Gretchen Goode live from the Babylonian Theater in Hollywood during an event for the world premiere of "The Great Khan" on January 20 in "Unknown Factors."

For those that thought the action and intensity wouldn't compare to the street level martial arts battles last arc, Zatanna and her proteges' battle against Klarion doesn't disappoint! Hands down, my favorite moment was when Mary takes some of Klarion's chaos energy then evokes Hercules and clocks Klarion into a wall, reducing him to a puddle! Who hasn't been chomping at the bit since season one to see Klarion get a bit of punishment? Hat tip to Rozlynn Waltz for boarding that scene. The episode also doesn't shy away from references ad callbacks but the most obscure and geekiest of all had to be the brief debut and demise of the poor security guard who turned to be Marvin Fargo. If that doesn't ring any bells, don't worry. He was a recurring supporting character in the 70s Joker comics who would randomly show up where Mr. J was. Or maybe you liked Thirteen and Leroy's banter? Well, Leroy's insistence they sit on the dragon perhaps it a nod to the comics when Thirteen could turn Leroy from an iguana into a dragon. And why not throw in the random Metropolis school bus making a cameo?

"Odnu!" builds up to a foreboding reunion between two Lords of Chaos with cosmic stakes that touches every corner of the supernatural community. An arc all about magic on a grounded animated spy show sounds ludicrous as I type this but we just had a 4 parter about Cheshire coming to terms with her own legacy. If that wasn't magic, I don't know what is. Okay, okay. Even a backwards magic spell can't undo the trauma, the pain, or the consequences that hang over the heroes in Young Justice: Phantoms, like veritable ghosts. But what keeps them fighting the good fight? Hope? Pure souls? The bonds of camaraderie that ties their paths together as one? Zatanna's little learn in the field session has turned into quite the master class in saving the world, the universe even (but don't tell the kids that).

Rating: 4.5 out of 5