Spoiler Warning: Major spoilers ahead for the first two seasons of Young Justice.
“Young Justice” fans rejoiced when a new season was confirmed to be in production. Warner Bros. Animation appeared to listen to the online chatter, especially after the second season hit Netflix earlier this year, and decided to bring back the acclaimed cartoon, which ran from 2011 to 2013 on Cartoon Network.
Details of when and where it’ll air have yet to be divulged, but rest assured, when they emerge, fans will be making demands for what they want to see, especially after that cliffhanger the last season ended on. Loyalists are already biting their fingernails as to what the plot could possibly revolve around, as well as the new faces that’ll show up as they work with the Justice League. After dissecting what season 3 could bring, CBR decided to take a trip down memory lane, reliving some of the show’s epic moments in its two seasons thus far.
15. Welcome to the Watchtower
The season 2 finale, “Endgame,” was a thoroughly compelling episode that wrapped up quite a few plot arcs while kickstarting new ones. Following their repulsion of a sinister plot from the insectoid alien invaders called The Reach, the Young Justice team was officially acknowledged with a degree of seniority, affirmed when Batman informed Aqualad that his unit would be working alongside the members of the Justice League and operating out of the secretive Watchtower.
This orbiting satellite is one of the biggest emblems of the League and is their true headquarters, which is used to monitor Earth and other space sectors. It teleports Leaguers to the planet to quell any threats, so for the team to be upgraded from the recently destroyed Mount Justice base to this is a huge achievement. Aqualad immediately began divvying up assignments with Superboy, Miss Martian and Beast Boy sent to Mars to aid Green Beetle; Tigress (formerly Artemis), Kid Flash (Bart Allen), Bumblebee and Guardian were assigned to Lex Luthor; with everyone else following Batgirl’s lead on Vandal Savage. Contrary to what Nightwing, who went on hiatus, said when he saw the work being distributed, in the new season it won’t be business as usual due to this graduation.
14. Justice League: Not Guilty
Season 2’s “Invasion” angle kicked off with a bang in “Happy New Year.” Following the machinations of Savage and Klarion into brainwashing the Justice League at the end of season 1, it was revealed that six Leaguers launched an attack in Rann’s sector of space on the planet, Rimbor, during 16 hours that went unaccounted for while under Savage’s manipulation. These Leaguers were Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (John Stewart), Martian Manhunter and Hawkwoman.
Icon defended the League when summoned for their trial but pleading their case was to no avail as the tribunal was corrupt and already geared for a guilty verdict through bribery. However, Superboy, Miss Martian and Adam Strange arrived just after the verdict was passed and presented evidence of the brainwashing. This reconvened the judges who hinted they would be swayed only with bribes, but the heroes persuaded them to take the path of righteousness to build the perception of being a council that was fair and unbiased. They agreed, as this would help bring in more cases and provide more opportunities to swindle people by soliciting bribes. It was an unconventional appeal, but the team’s wiles worked and the Justice Leaguers were freed in “Endgame.”
13. Superboy: Little Brother
When the six perpetrators from the Justice League were prepping to head off for trial, some of the mentors had to bid adieu to their proteges. Batman did so to Nightwing, Robin (Tim Drake) and Batgirl (Barbara Gordon); Wonder Woman said goodbye to Wonder Girl; and Martian Manhunter did the same with Miss Martian. The most touching moment, though, was when Superman vowed that the seniors would return, and acknowledged Superboy (Kon-El) as “little brother,” trusting him and his companions to watch over Earth in their absence, alongside the other Leaguers.
This farewell saw him place his hand on Superboy’s shoulder, not even in the manner of a sibling, but more as an equal: something the youngster was craving since he met his genetic predecessor. Their relationship wasn’t the best on the show as originally, Superman uncharacteristically displayed a deadbeat dad syndrome, rarely mentoring Superboy, so this scene went a long way and made up in spades to add connective tissue to them. It was an endearing moment that even trumped the sentimentality when Superman, with a Clark Kent-warmth rarely seen, accepted Superboy’s identity as Conner Kent.
12. Speedy Quits
In the series premiere, “Independence Day,” Greg Weisman and his team didn’t hold back on the drama. Speedy (Roy Harper) was very different in personality to his mentor, Green Arrow (Oliver Queen), despite both having the same objective of justice. Speedy was fiery, short-tempered and hated being called a sidekick. He was all about the business end of things and driven by the motivation of joining the Justice League. After he and Green Arrow took out Icicle Jr. in Star City, they went to the Hall of Justice, where Speedy felt the time had come to become a full-fledged Leaguer.
However, things didn’t pan out and the young archer grew infuriated as he felt they were being treated like kids with a “glorified backstage pass.” After the seniors told him he needed to have patience, he felt disrespected, revealing that Green Arrow slipped up and told him about the clandestine Watchtower. He quit after his teammates failed to back him up and stormed out en route to becoming Red Arrow; admonishing Aqualad, Kid Flash and Robin along the way, unaware that he wasn’t the real Roy and that he was in fact, a clone.
11. Artemis & Wally’s First Kiss
Artemis was brought onto the team as a replacement for Speedy, who as Red Arrow refused to come back when he saw her as his substitute. She was given the identity of Green Arrow’s niece to mask the hardships she endured, stemming from her villainous family tree: her father being the mercenary Sportsmaster, her sister the assassin Cheshire, and her mother a retired and crippled Huntress. Despite her background and snarky attitude, she fit right in as a loyal and dedicated member who quickly gained Aqualad’s trust.
She and Wally West were often at odds with each other but Wally never shied away from showing his feelings of affection for her, which she never took seriously due to the comical and nonchalant nature of the speedster. Eventually, she’d begin to warm up to him as he proved selfless in the field and because of how he always looked out for her. Things came to a romantic head when the youngsters freed the League from the clutches of Savage, recovering the Watchtower, and as the New Year struck in the season 1 finale, “Auld Acquaintance,” he picked her up and planted the first kiss on her, beginning their relationship.
10. The Flash Family In Action
In “Bloodlines,” (scribed by former “YJ” comic writer, Peter David) Bart Allen, a.k.a. Impulse, arrived from the future to prevent Barry Allen’s death and the ensuing post-apocalyptic state of the world in 2056. In the present, he caused havoc at Mount Justice until apprehended by Nightwing’s squad, who later verified his claim of being Barry’s grandson. Bart eventually escaped and made a beeline for Central City, which resulted in a humorous meeting between him, Barry and Iris Allen over at the Garricks, who were celebrating their 70th marriage anniversary.
Bart, impulsive and reckless, managed to spoil that Iris was carrying twins and the commotion was settled when Wally arrived, summoned by Nightwing, to attend to the situation. However, things escalated when Barry went after the rampaging villain, Neutron, who was under the control of The Reach. Impulse joined the Flash and they barely defeated Neutron, aided by the other speedsters: Wally as Kid Flash and Jay Garrick. The subdued villain was revealed to be the person who helped Impulse time-travel to atone for ruining the world, although the episode’s end showed that the future still remained bleak. That said, seeing all four speedsters work together was a moment DC fans won’t forget.
9. The Shrine For The Fallen
In season 2’s “Satisfaction,” one of the key scenes focused on Tim, Beast Boy, Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes) and Bart in the grotto of Mount Justice looking on at holographic homages of fallen comrades such as Artemis, who was perceived dead at that time. The other holographs would send fanboys into rapture as they depicted the Jason Todd iteration of Robin, killed by Joker in the comics, as well as Ted Kord, the previous Blue Beetle, killed by Max Lord in the books.
The other tribute was that of Tula, a.k.a. Aquagirl, who sacrificed herself between seasons as shown in the “Young Justice: Legacy” video game when The Light tried to unleash a mystical behemoth, Tiamat. Her death helped push Aqualad into leaving the team to go undercover against their enemies and influenced Wally and Artemis to retire and live a normal life. While only Tula’s death was fleshed out as canon in the “YJ” pantheon, it’s clear that each death resonated with the youngsters. Jamie revealed that the League made sure the shrine wasn’t more monumental so as to not glorify death in the line of duty, although Jaime felt that they didn’t want to advertise their mortality.
8. Superboy’s Addiction
Drug addiction and substance abuse are pretty heavy topics to discuss but a cartoon that caught the eyes of so many teens and young adults could be the right platform to highlight these issues. “YJ” took this gamble with Superboy in season 1. He found out that he was a hybrid clone of Superman and Lex Luthor, which is why he didn’t have the full range of Kryptonian powers. Luthor, instead, offered him “shields” which were patches that he could stick on, suppressing his human DNA for an hour to max out on flight, heat vision, and x-ray vision; becoming more like Superman.
Superboy used them to fight his unstable clone, Match, who was fully Kryptonian in DNA, and his addiction built in episodes like “Agendas,” “Performance” and “Usual Suspects.” Superboy eventually developed shield-rage (a la steroids) where his emotional instability and arrogance turned into full-on aggression, rendering him a danger to opponents and even his own teammates. Luthor tried to assert control by supplying more when his current batch expired, but Superboy refused after realizing the toll it was taking on himself and his friends. Kon-El eventually confessed to his teammates about using, ending a rollercoaster trip that felt very relatable and very real.
7. The Original Speedy Found
Speedy’s story is best described as a clone saga, having been abducted by CADMUS while a clone was sent back out to Green Arrow early in the sidekick’s career. This clone was the one who walked away and became Red Arrow, striking out on his own but eventually falling back into the team. Under Green Arrow’s watch, he became a Leaguer, only to find out The Light was using him to incapacitate the heroes and take control of the Watchtower. After overcoming this, he found out that he was a clone and began an obsessive search for the real Roy.
A relationship and baby with Cheshire brought him back from the brink later on, with information over his original emerging. While the League appeared to give up hope, Red Arrow and Cheshire searched and found Roy cryogenically frozen, bringing months of hard labor to fruition. Upon recovering, Roy thanked Red for finding him but lashed out at his mentor for abandoning the search. The original escaped from the hospital to go after Lex Luthor as part of his journey in becoming the bitter, one-armed Arsenal. He and Red would end up working with everyone to foil The Reach’s endgame.
6. Aqualad Double-Agent Reveal
In order to learn more about the villainous grouped called The Light, Aqualad switched sides and infiltrated as a lieutenant in Black Manta (his father)’s army, where he’d gain access to valuable intel on his enemies. He played up the role early on when Aquaman, Superboy and Lagoon Boy showed up at one of his bases, none of them knowing he was undercover and working for Nightwing. He fended off his former comrades in explosive fashion, tricking audiences into believing he really went to the dark side. In a subsequent encounter to take out a satellite that bridged communications between Earth and Mars, he put his water blade through Artemis, apparently killing her.
This was a shocking moment but what ensued was even more diabolical, in a good way. He ended up meeting Nightwing, Wally and Artemis, who faked her death to go undercover with Aqualad as his right-hand, called Tigress. Fans thought he really did go rogue because of the grief over losing the person he loved, Tula, as well as his hidden lineage with Manta. This twist was a huge relief for all who fell in love with the character.
5. Miss Martian Topples Aqualad
Superboy and Miss Martian (now seen on the “Supergirl” series)’s relationship went from cute to one that was distant in the second season. They weren’t in a relationship anymore, with Superboy showing signs of jealousy towards her new romance with Lagoon Boy. What led Superboy to ending things with her was how she proceeded to harness her mental powers, moving away from being responsible and caring to a more serious and cold tone. As she became experienced and adept at using her skills, he saw that she grew unafraid in using extreme measures to extract information. He realized she barely showed remorse afterwards and expressed disapproval at her methods.
Eventually, she’d encounter Aqualad on a raid just after he investigated The Reach’s experiments on the meta-gene, and looking to exact revenge for Artemis, she used her mind-blast on him, unlocking all his memories and learning the truth about the ruse with Tigress. However, this clash rendered Aqualad catatonic and showed just how powerful, and potentially lethal, she had become. She wasn’t the happy go-lucky gal anymore and she had to scramble to repair his mind amid a family squabble where Sportsmaster and Cheshire launched a simultaneous attack on Manta’s ship to avenge Artemis.
4. The Light Revealed
In season 1’s “Revelation,” the Injustice League came to the fore to torment the heroes by using Kobra-Venom (developed from Bane’s venom and the Blockbuster formula) on mystically and radioactively enhanced plants to attack Metropolis, Gotham City, Star City, Paris, and Taipei. The gang included Joker, Wotan, Poison Ivy, Atomic Skull, Ultra-Humanite, Count Vertigo, and Black Adam. One day later, they hijacked satellite feeds, demanding a $10B ransom. Eventually, the team and the Leaguers teamed up to disable the central control system transmitting to plants globally, with Aqualad also temporarily becoming Doctor Fate (by wearing the Helmet of Nabu) to defeat the megalomaniacs.
What ensued at the end of the episode was an even bigger curveball as Savage emerged at an undisclosed location and conveyed satisfaction at how the plant creatures were used as weapons. He praised his squad’s plan of using the Injustice League as scapegoats, thus throwing the heroes off track and allowing the real masterminds to operate in impunity. The other members working in secrecy as The Light were revealed to be Queen Bee, Ocean Master (replaced by Manta later on), Ra’s al Ghul, Lex Luthor, Klarion and Brain.
3. The Five-Year Time Jump
When season 2 began, fans were blown away by how much the complexity of the series changed since overcoming Vandal’s siege on the Watchtower. The team had new faces with some graduating to become full-fledged members of the Justice League. The maturity of the show increased with all parties working together, cohesively, like equals. Dick Grayson was no longer Robin, adopting the Nightwing persona, with the Robin mantle moving from the deceased Jason Todd to Tim, now inducted into as a member of the team. Dick turned down induction into the League though, along with Superboy and Miss Martian, who were no longer an item.
Zatanna and Rocket accepted their offers, with Aqualad going undercover, and Wally and Artemis forging a life together outside the crimefighting realm. The show’s evolution was highly apparent not just because everyone looked five years old, but also because it could be felt in the conversations, the mannerisms and the way everyone went about their missions. Also, seeing fresh heroes such as Wonder Girl, Lagoon Boy, Blue Beetle, Batgirl, Beast Boy, Bumblebee, Guardian and of course, Static, left fans in their glee over how the lesser names in DC Comics were being given airtime. It was a progressive move to expand the character base, which surprisingly didn’t affect the intricate plot.
2. Savage’s Partnership With Darkseid
Vandal Savage proved to be the biggest thorn in the side of both teams of heroes. He failed in attempts to clone the rest of Aqualad’s squad and saw plans for Kobra-Venom-enhanced creatures squashed, but he was all about the numbers game as he succeeded in brainwashing the League, taking control of the Watchtower and causing intergalactic disarray.
He then goaded Mongul into attacking Earth as part of a plot to betray unsuspecting partners, The Reach, who wanted Mongul to refrain from entering territory they saw as their own. While Savage played everyone against each other, distracting the heroes, he ended up commandeering Mongul’s main weapon, the Warworld: a spaceship very similar to the Death Star from “Star Wars,” which could obliterate planets in mere seconds. After the League was freed in their trial, Savage used the weapon to threaten Rimbor and anyone who wanted retribution on him or Earth for his actions. He eventually piloted it to Apokolips in the closing scene of “Endgame” where he arrived to shake Darkseid’s hand while stating, “business as usual.” This is one dangling plot thread and stunning cliffhanger that fans can’t wait to see expanded upon.
1. Wally’s Death
Wally’s transition into a mature Kid Flash was a major highlight of the five-year time jump. His relationship with Artemis tempered him and they eventually retired after Tula’s death. Apart from the arrival of Bart and the clone saga with Roy, he had to deal with Artemis’ new undercover mission with Aqualad. He eventually joined his old teammates against The Light, becoming part of the strike-force against the magnetic field disruptors The Reach had placed around Earth.
After taking out his assigned disruptor, he kissed Artemis before speeding to the North Pole upon hearing that the combined speed trails created by Barry and Bart weren’t enough to halt the destructive chrysalis mode of the weapon. He joined the duo, adding his kinetic energy to theirs. However, his slower top-speed led to energy being siphoned off the chrysalis, striking him rather than the trio’s speed trails, causing Wally to become increasingly intangible upon absorbing each hit. He disappeared entirely as the chrysalis’ energy dissipated, much to the grief of everyone, especially Artemis who received his final message of love through Barry. Bart became the new Kid Flash while Artemis kept her Tigress persona in his honor, encapsulating the series’ heart and soul.
Thoughts on our picks? If you’ve got more, let us know in the comments!
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