Set on Earth-16 in the DC Multiverse, the upcoming “Young Justice” cartoon series will introduce a new take on the band of sidekicks first introduced in the pages of the comic by the same name. Following a short presentation at the tail end of the “Batman: the Brave & the Bold” panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego last Friday, producers Brandon Vietti and Greg Weisman spoke with CBR news about the show and the revelation they were allowed to announce during the panel.
The producers were brought together by Warner Animation president Sam Register, who also serves as the show’s executive producer. “I’d just finished doing ‘Spectacular Spider-Man’ for Sony and Marvel and Disney, so Sam sort of brought me in,” Weisman recalled. Vietti was a Warner Animation vet, having directed episodes of “The Batman.” “Legion of Superheroes,” “Batman: the Brave & the Bold,” and the direct-to-video films “Superman Doomsday” and “Batman: Under the Red Hood.”
The pair said they have complete access to DC’s vast array of characters. “We’re not going to cover 100% in every episode, but nothing’s off limits,” Weisman explained.
“Superman only appeared ten years ago, for the first time, in Metropolis and the Justice League is a brand new organization,” added Vietti. “When you’re starting over like that, there are only a select number [of characters] that you have access to because there are some that just haven’t come around yet. That’s our starting point.”
Weisman, creator of Disney’s “Gargoyles,” is no stranger to serialized storytelling, but revealed the show will be main episodic. “Every episode – except for the two-part pilot – stands alone and tells a complete story, but we’ve got a lot of arcing and continuity throughout the twenty-six episodes and it builds to climaxes at various points in the season and then we’ll go out with a huge bang at the end of the season,” he said. “[There are] a lot of subplots running through episodes, but you can tune into any one episode and enjoy a story from beginning, middle and end and not have to have seen everything that comes before or everything that comes after. It’s just that you get more out of it if you have. It’s episodic, but it is sequential.” The format is similar to both “Gargoyles” and “Spectacular Spider-Man” in that respect.
“That’s how I like to work, so I’m used to it,” Weisman continued.
Having worked with characters from both major superhero comics companies, he was asked if he had a preference. “I’m a big Marvel fan, I’m a big DC fan, I have been since I was a little kid before I understood those were two separate companies and that Spider-Man wasn’t going to meet Batman,” Weisman answered. “I think that I don’t approach the characters in some general sense differently. I look at each character very carefully and approach that character the way I think is true to that character. So, the overall approach isn’t any different for Spider-Man than it is for ‘Young Justice.'” While there is a certain amount of similarity to making both shows, he also noted the differences. “The tone of the show is different and the way we’re interpreting each character is different. There’s no one character you say, ‘Yeah, that’s sort of the Spider-Man of the DC Universe.’ There’s no one-to-one thing there. It’s about taking each character, looking at that character, and trying to figure out what are the things that are core to that character – visually as well as personality and things like that.”
One new character the producers developed for the show is the new Aqualad, who also recently debuted in the DC Universe proper. “Phil Bourassa, who is our lead character designer on the show, did the original design for Aqualad and Brandon and I basically created him; Geoff [Johns]came in and really liked the character and we talked about him a lot,” Vietti recalled. Those discussions eventually led to Johns introducing the character in his “Brightest Day” series – although slightly altered from his cartoon counterpart.
“The thing to keep in mind is that we’re part of DC Multiverse – we’re Earth-16, so we’re different,” said Weisman of the obvious physical differences between the two versions of the character. Vietti called Earth-16 “a nice teenager designation” for their place in the larger DC cosmology.
At the panel, Johns allowed the producers to reveal the identity of the new Aqualad’s father. While it is still a mystery to the character, attendees at the panel learned of Black Manta’s involvement. “We were shocked that he said we could say [it],” Weisman reflected. “[It] is true across the Multiverse,” he added.
“Young Justice” is slated to air on Cartoon Network in November. Unfortunately, the producers could not offer a specific date or schedule for the show’s twenty-six episodes.