Seven episodes in to Cartoon Network’s Young Justice and I’m...not convinced.
I’m always excited to hear another DC animated series is being produced and Young Justice was no exception. The concept was exciting; teen heroes acting as a covert ops team for the Justice League? Very cool. Other than that and knowing the series takes place on Earth-16, I went in pretty fresh to the premiere.
And then there was that pesky premiere.
Don’t get me wrong, it was fun, much different from the Teen Titans cartoon, but the entire time all I kept saying to myself, “where the hell are the girls?” Lots of people have complained about this already, I know. And truly, I understand the argument that the teen teams traditionally began with just the male characters. But when it comes to a cartoon you’re basing on Earth-16 that’s not supposed to be an adaptation of any particular comic book, why stand on tradition?
Earth-16 is one of several largely unexamined worlds in the Multiverse. Honestly, Earth-16 is so messed up already, they could have done anything they wanted with it. It was home to the Super Sons and the home of Chris Kent as stated in the DC Comic Countdown, but other than that, not much history there. Earth-16 is basically Young Justice's playground to build. Here, the heroes are relatively new and looked at like movie stars, hence the need for the covert team.
Let’s look at that team, shall we? Aqualad, Robin, Kid Flash, Superboy, Miss Martian and Artemis (who was introduced even later than M’gann). Aqualad is serving as the leader of the team, not Robin, who has the most experience. Instead of the new Aqualad from the comics, Jackson Hyde, we get another new one here (who is also the son of Black Manta), Kaldur’ahm (though they share a lot of similarities). Robin is Dick Grayson, yet acts like some strange hybrid of all three Robins, with the computer/detective skills of Tim Drake, the fun-loving attitude of early Dick Grayson, and the recklessness and impulsive action of Jason Todd. Kid Flash is Wally West, who might actually be the most true-to-comics character in the show. Superboy will apparently become known as Conner Kent but as of right now is too grumpy to pick a name or talk to Superman for more than two minutes.
Now onto the females. I love M’gann (Miss Martian), I really do, but if they keep having her slap her forehead and say, “HELLO M’GANN!!” I will probably scream. Scatch that, I have screamed because of her already, when they made her bake cookies for “the boys.” Really? Ok, she wants to make friends, so she does something nice for them. But baking cookies? SHE’S A MARTIAN! She’s new to Earth. I know J’onn loves Chocos but don’t expect me to believe Martians are big bakers. M’gann didn’t know reading the minds of your friends was wrong, why would she know baking is an Earth custom for getting on their good side? And the fact that the male team members’ first reaction was to romance their new teammate wasn’t a good first impression for me as a viewer either. They’re teenagers, they have hormones, but they’re also supposed to be professional. [Newsarama Note: It also bugs your humble editor that she suddenly has telekinesis. When you already have telepathy, invisibility, intangibility, ocular force beams, super strength, flight, and shape shifting, do you really need to add another power to the set?]
Artemis’ identity is still a mystery. She’s not Arrowette and not the female Speedy, though she’s said to be an existing, yet somewhat obscure DC character. She was originally introduced as Green Arrow’s niece but original Speedy revealed to us that she’s not. She’s certainly not Wonder Woman’s Artemis and she also doesn’t appear to be the Female Furies’ Artemiz. There’s a possibility she’s the third Tigress, named Artemis Crock. In the DCU, that would make her the daughter of the original Huntress (the second Tigress, Paula Brooks) and Sportsmaster, who we’ve already seen in Young Justice. Artemis appeared in Young Justice #24, “When the Bow Breaks,” along with Arrowette and Green Arrow’s enemy, Merlyn. Except for the part of her being half-Vietnamese, it fits and well, they’ve proved they’re willing to stretch things for this show. (Thanks to our resident Comic Book Historian Alan Kistler for an assist on this tricky identification.)
As an aside, I must mention McDonalds is offering Young Justice toys with their Happy Meals now. Know who’s not included? Any of the female characters. Yeah...
While I would have loved to see more female team members, the two females on the team right now are sort of taking the roles of two other teen heroes. M’gann is friendly and likable (and alien for that matter) like Starfire and Artemis is dark and moody like Raven. In that regard I can understand the reasoning to not double-up on similar personalities. So what about Wonder Girl? Well, there was some legal issue with using Cassie that prevented the creators from including her originally but she’s supposed to make an appearance eventually.
Other Young Justice or Teen Titans members I would have loved to see on the team? Beast Boy, Secret (although writer Peter David has hinted he might introduce her to the series in the episodes he's writing), Flamebird, Batgirl and The Ray. Since Young Justice isn’t supposed to be an adaptation of the comic series but simply of the young heroes in the DC universe, it would have been easy to place anyone in the roles. Stepping outside the Young Justice crew and looking at the Teen Titans, they could have used Donna Troy, Ravager, Kid Devil, Cyborg or hell, even Damian Wayne. Now THAT would make for interesting television. Of course, if the series continues, there's nothing saying they can't expand the roster in the future.
What do you think of the show so far? Is Young Justice doing it for you or is all this Earth-16 stuff a little too confusing? Which character are you missing the most? Hit us up on Twitter and let us know!Read all of Jill's past Hey, That's My Cape! columns by clicking here!