A Brief, Yet Long, Summary (Covering all of Season One)
Four cold-based villains are creating a ruckus in four different cities, and members of the Justice League (and their sidekicks) put a stop to it before converging on the Hall of Justice in Washington, D.C. Once at the Hall, Speedy (Roy Harper) voices his disapproval of not being shown the true headquarters of the League, the Watchtower space station, and leaves. The other three—Robin (Dick Grayson), Kid Flash (Wally West), and Aqualad (Kaldur’ahm, or Jackson Hyde if you prefer)—decide to investigate a fire at Cadmus and end up getting involved in a conspiracy that will shape their entire lives forthwith. They discover, free, do battle with, and eventually are liberated by Superboy, a clone of combined Kryptonian and Human DNA. Afterward, they’re lectured on going behind the League’s back, but they make their case that they aren’t just sidekicks, they’re heroes, and so the League allows them to become a team for special missions.
A new member of the Team—Miss Martian (M’gann M’orzz)—helps out with what they originally believe is just a training exercise, but turns out to be a genuine attempt to capture and reprogram a member of the League, Red Tornado. Soon after, the Team investigates some activity on an island and end up teaming up with Bane until he tries to betray them to Cobra. After that, the League engages Amazo—a villainous android built to take on the powers of people he encounters, including superheroes—and dismantle it for transport. The Team is given the responsibilities of being the covert transport while the League plays decoy, but Amazo is rescued and put back together by an army of robotic monkeys. Eventually, the Team takes down Amazo, with the help of Speedy (although, they don’t know that, and he’s not likely to tell them).
Speedy (now calling himself Red Arrow) rescues a doctor who has the skills to create (and stop) nanotechnology that could destroy endless buildings; knowing he can’t do it alone, he goes to the Team for help. Another new member—Artemis (Artemis Crock)—makes her debut on the Team, but Red Arrow doesn’t trust her, and with good reason: Artemis stops an assassination on the doctor, but lets the assassin go, because she has a personal relationship with her. Not long after, Dr. Fate’s civilian form, Kent Nelson, is kidnapped by Klarion. Kid Flash (of all people) puts on the Helmet of Fate and saves the day, but not before Kent is effectively killed and his spirit is bound to the helmet.
Aqualad returns to Atlantis to see if he truly belongs on the surface world, but finds that much has changed since his departure. He helps to stop a coup d’état and finds that he really does belong with the Team, but still somewhat hurt emotionally. And then, he returns to lead the team into a mission that results in all of their memories being wiped for the last six months. Thankfully, Miss Martian is able to reconstruct them, and Superboy befriends an alien device (The New Genesisphere). Soon after, Red Arrow calls in some backup in his capacity of security for a UN event, to help stop an assassin, and Sportsmaster (villain) says that there’s a mole on the Team. Later, Superboy and Miss Martian infiltrate Belle Reve Prison to stop a prison break.
Afterward, Robin and Artemis arrive at the Team’s base to find themselves involved in a battle by the “siblings” of Red Tornado (Red Inferno & Red Torpedo). Robin is captured and Artemis is left on her own, but is unsure if she’s able to really be a hero when she thinks about how her sister is a villain. She overcomes her internal battle and knocks out the two siblings, but they recover and infect Red Tornado and leave. Soon after, Captain Marvel goes with the Team to investigate some activity and ends up facing The Brain, and Superboy picks up another sidekick, a wolf he names Wolf.
The Injustice League makes a debut with an attack on Metropolis, and the Team is sent in as the group to take them out while the League stops the attacks. In the end it is shown that the Injustice League is a front organization for a more sinister group lead by Vandal Savage. The Team then decides to find Red Tornado on their own and helps to stop Red Volcano (who calls Humans “Meatbags" as only HK-47 could) from creating an extinction-level event in Yellowstone Park.
Alien invaders then come to Earth and take out most of the League. The Team tries to incorporate the aliens’ technology into their desire to fight back, but Artemis is taken out followed shortly by Aqualad. Robin leads the survivors to an assault on the alien mothership, but everyone, except the Martians, dies in the event, only for them to wake up and discover it was all an exercise. Everyone was somewhat traumatized by the event and tries to move on, but it doesn’t work. Superboy especially has some problems and encounters the Forever People in an event to help them out against Intergang.
The sword of Beowulf is stolen by Harm, but Zatanna (now a full-time member of the Team) and Artemis take him back with the help of his sister, Secret. Soon after, five sorcerers split the world into two dimensions—one with children, one with adults—and Captain Marvel’s ability to return to the child form of Billy Batson allows him to coordinate between the two. Zatanna puts on the Helmet of Fate to take out the sorcerers, but Zatara takes her place to become Dr. Fate on a permanent basis.
Kid Flash helps to save a country by transporting a heart needed for the transplant of a young queen while everyone else fights flying ice fortresses. Soon after, the Team goes to help end an invasion of Qurac by their neighbor state of Bialya and the reality of Miss Martian’s White Martian genes come out, but she hides it quickly and makes a deal with Queen Bee. Around Thanksgiving, the Justice League votes to induct new members—one of which is Red Arrow—while Superboy encounters another clone of himself at Cadmus and discovers that Lex Luthor’s DNA was used in his creation.
Artemis, Red Arrow, Aqualad, and Kis Flash take on a mission to find Sportsmaster and encounter Cheshire—Artemis’ sister—as well. Artemis lets Cheshire go so she can track her back to Sportsmaster, and it’s revealed that Sportsmaster is her father. Soon after, members of the Team infiltrate a circus—Robin’s old circus—to find out who’s been stealing technology along their tour route and they encounter Parasite. The circus owner actually remembers Robin and knows it’s him despite the disguises.
Superboy, Artemis, and Miss Martian are being blackmailed into betraying the Team, but come clean about their situations with the rest of the Team and set up Lex and the others. Meanwhile, Red Arrow—now a full member of the League—betrays the others as he was a sleeper agent. He escapes, now that he’s completed his goal, and enlists the Team to help save the League. They take back the Watchtower and free the League from the influence of mind control, but it seems as though six League members were absent for several hours without anyone knowing where they went, and everyone is left wondering just what they did during that time.
Personal Observations & Reactions
Above all else, the major factor that works in favor of my continuing to watch this series is the light humor that is associated with the characters. Wally West (Kid Flash) always seems to be a major point for humor in my eyes, but Dick Grayson (Robin) in this version is also rather light-hearted (when he wants to be). I can always count on one of these two bringing funny into the equation, especially with the almost Joker-like laugh that Robin gives when he’s doing his disappearing acts.
The overarching plot of the series is very well done, better than a lot of animated shows I’ve seen over the years, and it shows that there is a considerable amount of long-term planning taken into account. There are some twists and turns associated with the show that keep the interactions fresh and workable, but it isn’t as though every episode ends with a cliffhanger for the sake of a cliffhanger (like watching a season of 24). Sure, there are some problems with continuity—the timestamps on the dates are messed up a bit—but there’s way more good than bad in that aspect.
The long-term development of the various subplots—Superboy, Artemis, and Miss Martian—work great given that these three are the ones considered most likely to be a mole within the team, and I’ll admit that for a while, I really thought that Artemis was going to end up being said mole (especially given her family connections). A lot of creative thought was given to establishing these possible mole plots, and though they ultimately end up being just a distraction, they were very well done.
Regardless of how well the show was developed and produced, I’m rather happy that there was not just another animated show for DC characters, but that there was a team-oriented one. Sure, there have been some random teamups in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, but the animation style and characterization lacked what Young Justice brings to the screen.
This has become one of my favorite television shows in general, and absolutely one of my favorite ones based off of comics. The fact that it was created (or rather adapted) by Greg Weisman is a major plus for me, as I enjoyed his work on W.I.T.C.H. and Disney’s Gargoyles extensively. Even if someone isn’t that familiar with the younger DC superheroes specifically—or the greater DC universe in general—this show would is fantastic. The plotline, the characterization, and especially the inside jokes that are sometimes too subtle (yet hilarious, if you notice them) make this show great. The only real downside was the long break in the middle of the season, but at least it wasn’t as long as waiting to find out what happened between Seasons 3 and 4 of Battlestar Galactica.