TV Review: Young Justice Invasion

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Being a fan of animated series on TV these days is not an easy thing. In the last few years we have been forced to suffer through the cancellations of Spectacular Spider-Man, Green Lantern the Animated Series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Avengers: Earths Mightiest Heroes and now Young Justice. The show was created from the same guys behind Spectacular Spider-Man and it is arguably one of the finest shows based on the DC characters. The second season called Invasion, promised to expand the team and have one overarching story that would go through its entirety kind of like a big comic book event. Now that its all said and done it was a pretty cool and ambitious idea that wasn’t executed that well….

Please note that there will be plenty of spoilers and that this is a review of the second season, and not the whole series.

It’s been 5 years since the Light managed to get the Justice League under their control resulting in the team of side kicks being forced to take their mentors on and save them before they can do permanent damage. Things are a lot different now than they were before, Robin (Dick Grayson) has become the teams leader as Nightwing, Zatanna and Rocket have gone on to join the JLA, Wally and Artemis have retired from their crime fighting careers and Aqualad has joined his father, Black Manta as a soldier of the Light.

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During this time Miss Martian and Super boy have broken up, Batman has taken Barbara Gordon under his tutelage as Batgirl and Tim Drake as the third Robin and Bumblebee, Wonder Girl, Lagoon Boy and Beast Boy have all joined the team as its new members. However random alien attacks on the planet Earth catch the attention of both the league and the team resulting in them both having to combat the resurgent Light organization that is moving along with its plans. What follows is a series of events in where some pretty bad things happen characters have to face their own demons and past mistakes all while dealing with an organization comprised of the most evil people ever to exist in the DC universe.

Like I said in the beginning, the show from its very premise is very ambitious and it tries to have this big event that spans an entire season. The crew behind it did have success with long story arcs that ended at different points so I thought they could pull something experimental like this off too mixed results. The issues with having this big year long storyline is that people will lose interest because the creators have to take this one single story, then find ways to stretch it out as long as possible to fill their quota.

For a good chunk of the season you’re just wondering why all of this is happening and by the time its revealed that the Reach are the bad guys you’ll probably be disappointed. The build up to this reveal has been in the works for a long damn time, even before the season started and it’s a pretty disappointing revelation. I myself didn’t know who the Reach was, why are they doing this, and why the Light is even teaming up with a race that just wants too…. Do something too us and take over the world.

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The Reach and their motivations are never properly explored and the characters used to represent them are just one dimensional characters, granted you could say the Light are also like that but at least the Light kind of has a plan (or they seemed to have one) and how can you not think that a team consisting of Lex Luthor, Vandal Savage, Ras al Ghul and Black Manta is not the greatest bad guy team up every?

However even the Light disappeared later on. They just seemed like they did nothing other than say everythings going according to plan and not much else. I still have no idea what they wanted with the Reach or what the Reach wanted with us or the planet. Maybe it would have been explained in the 3rd season that’s never happening however I believe it’s an issue of the shows writing.

One of the best things Young Justice had is that everything was connected. You constantly had too pay attention too what characters were doing and saying because all of it could come back later on be and relevant to the story. But once you have about 46 episodes like that things just get confusing and I constantly kept thinking when did that happen? When did he say that? How did he do it? It just got kind of confusing by the end and really if you don’t constantly go to the YJ Wiki or something for a constant refresher course you won’t know wtf is going on half the time.

The 5 year time skip doesn’t help things. Because then you need to read the Young Justice comic book (which is also canceled just to let you know) too see more important plot points that just get mentioned in the show itself. It could have been salvaged if each character was explored and changed during the 5 year time skip but no one really has. Nightwing is the leader now but he’s still joking around and acting like he did as Robin, Aqualad still has no personality, Wally and Artemis are virtually the same and the only characters that have changed at all are Super boy and Miss Martian.

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I will say this about Super boy and Miss Martian. They were handled perfectly this season. In the last one I found them rather one dimensional and uninteresting at first but I did genuinely like their romance and I did grow to like them by the time the first season ended. When I found out they had broken up I knew the writers were going to make some cliché excuse for that like them falling in love with other people or cheating on each other or some other cliché bullshit like that to add drama.

Turns out that Miss Martian started using her psychic powers to forcibly extract information from people’s minds, leaving them slobbering vegetables with no thoughts or any semblance of a mind. When Super boy found out about this and confronted her, she tried to do the same thing to him but it backfired. Also take into account that Superboy hates mind control and when the person he loved and trusted most did that to him it kinda broke his heart.

As the season goes on, Miss Martian sees the error of her ways and the two get back together.  So thank you creators of Young Justice for actually giving us a legitimate reason for why these two broke up instead of falling back on cliché bullshit that’s been done to death. We finally have an animated series with a romance that’s not horrible…. And now its canceled and we have 3 more seasons of Makkora…… WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWHHHHHHHHHHHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?!!

As for the new characters….. They don’t do much of anything. The problem is that the cast is so big that we never get to know anyone. We never see them bond like the old team and a lot of them don’t even talk when they appear. It feels like they put all these characters on the team just for the sake of fan service then didn’t know what the hell to do with them. Tim Drake does nothing and means nothing. Batgirl, she’s sarcastic…..? Beast Boy, pointless. Wonder girl…. Does she even have any lines in the season?! Bumblebee did we really need another African-American female stereotype that constantly says OW HELL NAW GIRL!!! Lagoon Boy needed to get a sniper round in the head.

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You’d think they’d cut down the team by having people leave, or die or something but no, they added even more characters! We get Impulse from the future, Static Shock and his friends whose names escape me, Arsenal who was pretty damn bad ass I admit but none of them are relevant to the plot except Nighwing, Artemis, Miss Martian and Aqualad. So why even do the goddamn time skip and replace the cast?! 

Why not simply have a year time skip, keep the original team that we like, develop them further instead of adding 25 new guys who barely have personalities and are completely irrelevant and just do this story with the original cast. What was the Light doing for 5 years anyway? Did their self esteem fall to absolute zero so they spent all that time watching Revenge of the Sith to remind themselves that the bad guys can win sometimes too?  So the old cast gets shafted, the new cast doesn’t matter in the overall plot at all and the motivations of the villains don’t make any sense by the end.

This whole season felt like an event in which you were reading the main book, but you needed to read the 3600 tie ins to make sense of the main book, but then you also needed to remember everything from the main book and the 3600 tie ins 100% of the time to make sense of everything, but THEN you realize 95% of the characters don’t matter and half the premise of the whole season doesn’t amount to anything by the end.

The only new character that gets any attention is Blue Beetle….. Why? Of all the people you could have chosen you just had to pick the one nobody gives a damn about. Then they tied it into this future plot line where he becomes a bad guy and the Scarab controlling him but that also doesn’t go anywhere because there’s a convenient Deux Ex Machina to make it all rainbows and sunshine by the end.

I will give the creators credit that they tried to do a comic book event in the form of a TV show. However the first season’s idea of having 30 story lines going on and they all ended at different points was actually a lot more enjoyable. It meant that something was always going on and it kept you guessing. This whole season it felt like you were watching a whole lot of nothing happening, and when something did happen you were already so bored you just didn’t give a damn anymore.

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However the season is not a total bust. The animation quality is the second best I have seen from an American studio. The fight scenes are fast, dynamic and sometimes quite brutal. I was shocked that they were actually showing people die, getting stabbed through the chest and being shot. Hell I was surprised they even said words like kill die and even showed blood. 

Young Justice Invasion is a failed experiment. It tried to something that’s never been done before but fell flat on its face. Much of the fun from the original season was stripped out and replaced by whole bunch of nothing going on for long stretches of time, characters that had no reason to even be there and a plot that got really confusing by the end.

Is it terrible? No, but its just barely saved from being like that thanks to some characters actually developing as people, some fantastic fight scenes, spectacular animation and a romance that wont instantly make you want to smash your TV into tiny pieces with a baseball bat. Many are sad that this show has been canceled, but honestly if this is where it was going to go, I say put it out of it’s misery before it gets really bad.


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