YOUNG JUSTICE: OUTSIDERS Creators Bring New Characters, Concepts To Revival

Young Justice: Outsiders
Credit: DC Universe

With the new year, DC will be releasing the much-anticipated animated show Young Justice: Outsiders on the new DC Universe streaming service.

For fans of DC’s Young Justice franchise, the release has been a long time coming. Despite being one of the more popular DC animated series, the Young Justice TV show was canceled after only two seasons on Cartoon Network. But after fan outcry and the release of a video game, the series is returning with what technically serves as the series’ third season.  

Young Justice: Outsiders, which debuts on January 4th, features the return of the principal voice cast and the original creative team for a new batch of 26 episodes that will debut on the fledgling DC Universe service. The proprietary streaming service features DC movies, comic books and original content, including the recently launched live action series Titans. Next up will be the live-action series Doom Patrol, which is expected to debut February 15th, followed by Swamp Thing and Harley Quinn later in 2019. 

Fans will also get a new prequel comic book leading into the new show. Written by producer Greg Weisman, the two-part digital comic book bridges the gap between seasons two and three and will be released online January 2 and 3. 

With the Young Justice: Outsiders comic book and TV show both coming next week, Newsarama talked to producers Weisman and Brandon Vietti and art director/character designer Phil Bourassa about what fans can expect from the new season — with a particular focus on the new version of the Jack Kirby character Forager.

Newsarama: Phil, Greg and Brandon, what is different about this “Outsiders” season as the show debuts soon on the DC Universe streaming service?

Brandon Vietti: One of the things I think we’re excited about is bringing in some new characters. In our first two seasons, we focused on what you might call sidekicks of the Justice League, who were dead set on becoming heroes themselves. And we sort of followed their stories as they grew up over the course of several years.

In our new season, the third season, Young Justice: Outsiders, we’re following a different group of young heroes that don’t really know that they want to be heroes or villains. They’re very much lost in a world of scary meta-gene heroes and villains that we’ve watched grow through the first two seasons, and this is the world that they’re growing up in. 

So we’ve got our first and second season characters sort of mentoring this new group of young characters who don’t know if they want to be heroes or villains. 

So they’re sort of “outsiders.”

That’s what guided our choices throughout the third season, is following characters that are discovering who they are. And they’ve got familiar characters from season one and two to guide them as they grow.

Credit: DC Universe

Nrama: We’ve seen what you’ve done in the first couple seasons with comic book characters while also establishing your own tone and continuity. Are you still pulling from comic books for the Outsiders season?

Greg Weisman: When we’re adapting a character, both in terms of personality and visually, we try to get to the core of the character, what’s iconic about that character [in the comic books where they’ve appeared]. 

From a story standpoint, we are always liberally borrowing stories from all the decades of DC comics. 

This season specifically, we’re using a lot of stuff from the Mike Barr/Jim Aparo run on Batman and the Outsiders. 

We hope that we’re true to the core of these characters. We may change details here and there, and we’ve got to fit it into the universe that we’ve already established through our first two seasons and the comic books and the video game, etcetera. 

But we try to be as honest as possible with what matters most to these characters, and like I said, we are definitely borrowing story ideas from all over, but specifically from Batman and the Outsiders.

Phillip Bourassa: We try to be faithful to the traditions as much as possible and then adapt it into this world and this continuity that we’ve created. The rules, over the years, have been pretty well established.

But again, they’re not our characters, so we’re trying to be respectful of the tradition from whence they come. 

That’s the key element to adapting any material that is from another medium or from another creators or, in this case, a lineage of creators. So that’s always paramount.

We try to take the core elements of the characters, the important themes and the important visual cues and kind of adapt it into this world that we’ve created.

Credit: DC Entertainment

Nrama: We’ve seen a trailers and images of some of the new surprise characters who will be debuting this season, like Geo-Force, Forager and Halo. And there are characters who have graduated into adult-level status, including Kaldur’ahm becoming Aquaman and Bart Allen becoming Kid Flash. But out of all the things we’ve seen in trailers and online, are there any of the new characters that you want to make sure to highlight? 

Vietti: One of the characters I think we’re all really excited about that we’re introducing this year is the character Forager. 

In the comics, Forager looked very different than the character we’re presenting on screen. He’s an important character. He’s got a very different look and feel about him. He’s a very big contrast to our team line-ups from the first two seasons.

This character is from New Genesis. He was originally designed by Jack Kirby. And we’ve had characters from New Genesis and technology from New Genesis and Apokolips in our show before, so it’s nice to bring in a hero from the Fourth World and include him in our line-up and give him a very different look that Phil came up with.

Bourassa: Forager is a lot of fun. We had some back-and-forth trying to figure out what we were going to do with him and, again, we were trying to be faithful to the traditions.

But in this case, what I love the most about what we ultimately came up with is just that he has this sort of buoyant charm. He’s a kind of cute character visually, and that’s a lot of fun in our show, because there’s a lot of serious — we have a serious tone to a lot of the storylines. And a lot of the backstory and stuff like that, we delve into some dark territory psychologically with certain characters. 

So it’s nice to have some fun with some visuals and have a character that’s just inherently charming. For a bug, he’s really cuddly and cute. You know what I mean? 

So that’s a lot of fun. It provided an opportunity to get various silhouettes in there. He’s just a lot of fun to draw and work on. These guys came up with some really great story stuff for him. And the character was just fully fleshed out.

Credit: DC Universe

Weisman: Jack’s work always describes him as a bug, yet visually, he looks very human. So we just decided to lean into the bug thing. 

But you know, Forager in the comics had a red helmet, so we gave our Forager a red helmet. So we’re trying still to honor the core of what came through. And we felt that the bug-ness of Forager was an important aspect of what Kirby did, so visually, we just leaned in that direction. And we did the same thing with dialogue.

Our wonderful voice actor Jason Spisak added a lot to it. 

Bourassa: He really did.

Weisman: Our voice cast always does. I think the four of us came up with an example of the perfect marriage of what this medium is capable of with the visuals and the writing and the dialogue, and then these wonderful actors that we have on our team. 

Nrama: Then to finish up, is there anything else you want fans to know about what’s coming up in Young Justice: Outsiders?

Weisman: We’re really excited to have the fans finally get a look at it. We’ve been working on this for two-and-a-half years now, or something like that. We’ve been wanting to do a third season since before the second season ended, so we’re just really glad we’re in countdown phase here and we’re so close to the fans actually getting to see it. I think we’re going to blow some minds here. I hope we’re right. 

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