Vinny digs into what makes the first season of Young Justice so unique.
It is no secret that DC Universe is really starting to pick up steam. Check out that article and within you’ll find some thoughts on the ethos of the streaming service and Young Justice itself. While some of those ideas drove the success of the series, there are even more details that took Young Justice into the stratosphere during season one.
*Some Spoilers Ahead*
The Art of Adaptation
One of the biggest strengths of the first season of Young Justice was its ability to re-tell stories without directly adapting them. Playing off the basic premise that superheroes have existed for a long while and continued to thrive, different characters could be plugged into spots without shifting them too far off of base. While we get Dick Grayson and Wally West, we also get Conner Kent. The roles are proven, but these variations bring new life to familiar premises. This is perhaps best exemplified with the appearance of Garth relatively early in the show. While Kaldur’ahm’s position is never threatened by the comic book Aqualad, his introduction feels appropriate and positions Garth to take on a role similar to that of his Tempest days. They tell a different story, but make sure that the classic pieces are all in play. Young Justice is a narrative of possibilities.
This is enriched by its structure.
Building a Better Show
One of the most frequent comments concerning Young Justice is that its early episode are a bit simple.
From its first episode, Young Justice is building something, it just doesn’t do it the way most serialized shows do. It does it the way comics often do. Well, at least the way they should. Every episode, I’m counting the pilot as both halves, tells a standalone story. Slowly and methodically, these individual tales develop the characters, relationships and even technologies of the show.
I know. Duh.
But with this structure, they are able to do so without ever stopping the action. Every episode of Young Justice season one is exciting and yes, they do have their fair share of expository dialogue, but it is broken up enough to not bore the audience. The small chunks of exposition build on each other and when they finally lead to a big moment, it all feels very organic. This technique also for some of the more fantastic reveals to take an even greater effect. The whole world of Young Justice feels very real while weaving a distinctly super-powered narrative.
The Ending is the Beginning
I don’t want to give too much away, especially if this encourages some new viewers to check out the show, but Young Justice takes an unexpected left turn as season 2 begins. It is a genuine surprise, but it functions because of all of the groundwork subtlety laid during the first season. Young Justice is a show that simply doesn’t appear as smart as it is… until it becomes undeniable at the end of the first season.
That’s how it should be.
Comics and television alike should entertain while they develop something deeper. It is a lesson that a lot writers in both mediums should take note from. Thankfully, Young Justice isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.