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DC Nation’s intrepid animated series, ‘Young Justice’ (2011), opened its second season April 28, 2012 at 10:30 a.m. EST with “Happy New Year.” However, if you ask me, it could have been alternatively titled “Happy New Cast.”
Season two begins with a time skip of five years into the future from the end of season one. At the end of season one, Superboy (Nolan North) and Miss Martian (Danica McKellar) were a couple, Kid Flash (Jason Spisak) and Artemis (Stephanie Lemelin) were a couple, Aqualad (Khary Payton) led the team, and Robin and Zatanna were starting to get closer.
Batman (Bruce Greenwood) organized their task force while Black Canary (Vanessa Marshall), Red Tornado (Jeff Bennett), and Captain Marvel (Chad Lowe) served as their mentors. The time skip tosses everything in the wind without any initial explanation.
In five years’ time, Robin, a.k.a. Dick Grayson, has become Nightwing and runs the Young Justice team, which has expanded significantly. Wonder Girl (Mae Whitman) and Batgirl (Alyson Stoner) are sent to help a political figure on whom Lobo, the main man bounty hunter himself, has accepted a contract. After a brief scuffle, Lobo reveals that the man he is chasing is actually an alien inside an android body and blasts off into space with his victim in tow.
Wonder Girl and Batgirl return to the Watchtower to discuss what happened with members of the Justice League. They find out that a scientist from Star Labs encountered that same race of alien that Lobo abducted. He was accidentally teleported to their planet where one of their scientists was trying to locate a colony of his people who were hiding on Earth in secret. These aliens have stolen technology, so the teams break up and go after them.
Robin, the cowl now worn by Tim Drake, Lagoon Boy (Yuri Lowenthal), and Blue Beetle stumble upon a gigantic colony of the aliens who immediately evacuate after they are discovered. However, the team is able to find a small group of people the aliens kidnapped to imitate with androids, though they are not sure why these people were chosen just yet. The next episode previews the other team’s journey to the aliens’ home planet to figure out why they were hiding out on earth and what their plans were.
If you recall in my last review, I am not a fan of ‘Young Justice’ for its many problems with sloppy characterization and frustrating subplots. However, I decided to give the show a second chance with the season opener, and while it removed all the problems I had with annoying characters, it still managed to drop the ball.
To make things simple, the time skip is just too abrupt. The episode opened with an almost entirely new team. Superboy and Miss Martian were present, but they are no longer dating, and the show does not bother telling us why just yet. There is no sign of Kid Flash, Artemis, Red Arrow, or Aqualad.
They are not even referenced. Granted, this appears to be a two-part season opener, but there are so many questions that are completely ignored in order to pursue new plot threads and new characters. It runs full speed ahead, and the result may be disorienting for many fans, at least in my opinion.
The expression “look before you leap” should be in play here, and yet, it isn’t. The show spent an entire season building up the characters and relationships between them ad nauseum in season one, then drops them in favor of a new cast at the beginning of the second. It feels sloppy and confusing, if viewed as a stand-alone episode. It forces fans to reserve judgment until the second episode premieres in case it clears up the initial questions we have about the team expansion and the change in its leadership.
It is certainly not the worst of season openers. The action is still solid, the voice acting is excellent, and the animation is nothing short of gorgeous. However, it is not enough to save ‘Young Justice’ from a whiplash-inducing introduction to the new season.
Episode two of season two will premiere next Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Hopefully, questions will be answered, and fears will be put to rest. Stay tuned.