With DC getting a relaunch with characters getting a makeover, we decided to take a look at the other time Warner Bros. decided to change things up with the Teen Titans in the form of the second volume of the Young Justice animated series.
Synopsis (from Warner Bros.)
Animated DC Universe cartoon series for a new generation starring ROBIN, AQUALAD, KID FLASH, SUPERBOY, MISS MARTIAN and ARTEMIS . Combined these six teenage heroes are YOUNG JUSTICE the JUSTICE LEAGUE’s secret weapon against the forces of evil. Based out of THE CAVE, the teen heroes will take on under-the-radar missions that would be impossible for the League proper (with its incandescent star-power) to handle covertly. In addition, these kids are in constant training to take their place alongside the great heroes. RED TORNADO will be their supervisor; BLACK CANARY will be in charge of their training, and BATMAN will hand out their assignments. And of course, Young Justice will push their missions, often turning a simple assignment from Batman into something much larger, often discovering that what they’ve been tasked to do is just the tip of the iceberg.
What really works in this series is that this is a team that is familiar and yet unfamiliar to fans and new viewers alike. Characters like Artemis and Aqualad are the two that are the most altered from their comic book counterparts, and yet each fits well in this new imagining. This volume contains episodes 5 – 9 that aired on the Cartoon Network, and it is episode eight, “Downtime” where viewers get to see where this new Aqualad comes from and where the other Atlantean heroes (Aquaman, Garth, Aquagirl) have been placed. The way the series is put together all of the changes work, and work quite well.
In fact, when the initial backlash over the reimagining occurred, people probably didn’t see the big picture of what was to come a year later in the pages of DC Comics. It is interesting to see some of the concepts in Young Justice (Barry as flash, the piping and armor alterations of the costumes) appear in the New 52. Watching the series now seems like it is more closely related to the comics than it was before.
The biggest problem in our household watching this series wasn’t that we weren’t interested, it was simply on too early for us to see it on a weekly basis (5:00 PM CST). This weekend, the family sat down to watch the collected episodes, and even though my oldest son (age four) had seen the first episode at some point, he sat through and asked all the right questions during the remaining three. I will admit that initially I didn’t have any interest in this series when it debuted, but it surprised me, and now it looks like we’ll be picking up the rest of the episodes sooner rather than later.
The animation style in this series is more in line with the style found in the direct-to-DVD movies Warner Bros. has been putting out, than the animation style in either the Batman : The Brave and The Bold, or the upcoming Green Lantern Animated Series. It makes the series feel a bit more grown up, and thus should appeal to teens and young adults (and even older adults). The writing is smart, and from what I’ve seen in these four short episodes, there is a general continuity that flows between each episode.
The voice acting in these episodes is good too. Each of the central characters is brought to life by their respective actors, and even the guest stars, like Kelly Hu as Artemis’ mother bring a high level of professionalism to the episodes. That being said, it does become a bit annoying when multiple characters are played a single actor, and the actor doesn’t really have the range to play two different characters. It happened a couple of times in this collection, and while my son didn’t pick up on it, it did make my ears perk up.
BOTTOM LINE: PICK IT UP
If you don’t have the Cartoon Network in your area (or you won’t pay for it), picking up the series in volumes like this makes sense. The action and animation style is great, the stories are well told and each episode contains solid character development. Young Justice: Volume 2 is available on DVD now, and earns 4 out of 5 Stars.