REVIEW: Young Justice: Outsiders
Young Justice has two overlapping, somewhat rabid, fan followings. First, there are those who delighted in Peter David’s energetic take on the young adult team, which led to the animated series on Cartoon Network.
In the hands of former DC assistant editor Greg Weisman, Young Justice developed a very unique voice of its own, carving an animated continuity all to itself, enjoying two seasons on cable before vanishing. Weisman, Brandon Vietti, and their team were rehired by DC Universe to produce a 26-episode third season, dubbed Young Justice: Outsiders, which aired in two sections throughout 2019.
The entire season is now a four-disc Blu-ray set from Warner Archive so if you don’t want to spend for the service, you can see what you’ve missed. We pick up some two years after season two and Meta-human trafficking is rampant, with the people turned into WMDs. Meanwhile, the UN in their infinite wisdom imposes strict guidelines that prompt many of the heroes to quit the Justice League.
The animation looks about as good as we got the first two times around along, on a par with some of the direct-to-video offerings from Warner Animation. They also took the time to rethink the looks of several characters, redesigning Arrowette, Thirteen and Spoiler.
So, who are the Outsiders? Promo art told us they would be Tigress (Stephanie Lemelin), Black Lightning (Khary Payton), Superboy (Nolan North), Katana, Geo-Force (Troy Baker), Forager (Jason Spisak), Halo (Zehra Fazal), Metamorpho and Nightwing (Jesse McCartney), a very mixed bag.
The team, which has continued to morph throughout the seasons, remains although the first episode shakes up the status quo so they’re still active as is the League and even Infinity, Inc.
Many characters have entirely different personalities, relationships, and professions from the comics so you do need to be somewhat steeped in the 2010-13 series to make sense of where things stand. For example, good old Lex Luthor is now UN Secretary-General, which explains why he’s made it tough on the JL.
There is plenty of episode to episode continuity with the usual assortment of prolonged fight scenes and explosions. Overall, though, the pacing works nicely and there are good character bits throughout the season.
The writing is also good, especially with so many previous people coming back, including, thankfully, Peter David, who continues to entertain with these heroes. His “Triptych” dwells on Aquaman and Atlantis, things he knows well. Weisman and company have mined the comics continuity with abandon, including obscure people like Bash Bashford (Troy Baker), created by Frank Robbins, Bob Brown, and Wally Wood in an issue of Superboy back in1969. Weisman even plunders other animation as he uses Queen Perdita (Ariel Winter), who he created for DC Showcase: Green Arrow and has her date Gar Logan.
Watching these, you come to appreciate how the creators judiciously took advantage of the non-commercial arena, streamlining the stories without need for mini-cliffhangers to insert commercials, along with the slightly more mature themes and approaches to the characters. Things wrap up well enough although the final episode drops a Legion Easter Egg and we now know work is proceeding on the fourth season.
The fourth disc has a Bringing Back Young Justice with Whitney Moore: five Behind-the-Scenes features – Inside the Writer’s Room, The Animation Process, Voice Recording, The Post-production Process, and Recording Doom Patrol Go! – that first appeared on the streaming service, totaling over 48 minutes.