Young Justice: Thoughts on the Final Episode and My Ideas for Season 3
Young Justice is over.
For those who don’t know, Young Justice (called Young Justice: Invasion for the second season) is an Emmy Award winning animated series created by Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti for Cartoon Network. Despite its title, it is not a direct adaptation of the Young Justice comic series, but rather an adaptation of the entire DC Universe with a focus on young superheroes/sidekicks. The series follows the lives of young adult heroes and sidekicks who are members of a fictional covert operation group called “the Team” under the guidance of the Justice League. The main setting is the fictional universe of Earth-16, during a time period in which superheroes are a relatively recent phenomenon. Despite this the continuity of the series always reminded me more of the old DC universe, before it was rebooted with the New 52.
Despite being marketed to kids, I enjoyed the series immensely. It had an original plot, complex storylines and realistic interactions between characters. Sure there was only so much they could get away with since it was on Cartoon Network, but Young Justice still managed to have a dark/gritty undertone that appealed to an adult audience. I’ve heard laments about the show’s cancellation (allegedly due to poor toy sales) on the SF Signal Podcast and the DragonCon Alternate History Track Facebook group. There are still fans fighting to bring it back, but with its return doubtful, I feel no regrets about presenting my own ideas for Season 3.
Major spoiler alert! Stop reading if you don’t want the finale of Young Justice ruined.
Since there was a five year gap between Seasons 1 and 2, I am going to stick with that plot device and put Season 3 five years after the events of Season 2. Since they were in high school in Season 1 and in college in Season 2, this would put most of the characters in their early twenties. During the new five year gap their Darkseid invaded Earth (referencing the finale where Vandal Savage hands the War World over to him). Although defeated, Earth is devastated and many metahumans/New Gods died in the fighting. Batman died delivering the final blow to Darkseid and is remembered as a hero across the world. Other heroes, like Superman, have either retired or gone into exile, horrified by the destruction and the loss of so many loved ones.
Their is a lack of central authority on this future Earth. The United Nations and many governments have collapsed and anarchy is prevalent. Many metahumans and costumed vigilantes continue to work to preserve order. On one had you have men like Dick Grayson, formerly Nightwing, who struggles as police commissioner of Gotham City to fight crime while still maintaining the freedom people enjoyed before Darkseid’s invasion. Then you have the new Justice League. Superboy, Wonder Girl, Robin (Tim Drake), Impulse/Kid Flash and others (I see Kaldur’ahm in the group, but not as Aquaman. I would like to have his father, Black Manta, give his life during the war and have Kaldur’ahm take his title to honor his memory) have assumed the titles of their mentors and have adopted extreme measures to preserve order. Although not everyone agrees with summary executions of meta-criminals, people can’t deny it has produced results and many are calling for them to assume control.
Turns out the League has been listening.
Episode One begins on War World. With the Moon destroyed in the war, the War World has taken its place. It is manned by a multi-national force and acts as humanity’s only line of defense from future alien invasions. After a few moments of soldiers going along with their duties, the Justice League uses a boom tube to attack the station. After securing the weapon they broadcast to the world that they are now in control. Nations submit to the League’s authority, some out of gratitude and others because they have no choice with the League in control of the universe’s most dangerous weapon.
The episode continues with Dick being approached by Batman (Tim Drake) about him and his wife (I would like it to be Zatanna due to their previous relationship) joining the League. They are recruiting from the former superhero population to better help administer the plan. Dick isn’t happy and he lets Tim know, feeling he is disgracing the memory of their deceased mentor. After a short philosophical debate (Tim reminds Dick how Batman used fear to fight crime in Gotham) Tim leaves. While at home Dick and Zatanna discuss what happened and they are joined by their son Zachary Zatara Grayson who at first voices they should join the League. Dick tries to talk sense into him until they are attacked by some Leagers. The League is very serious about their coup and are now taking out anyone who could possibly oppose them. Zatanna gives her life to save Dick and their son. In his grief and rage, Dick vows to take down the League at any cost.
That is pretty much all I got so far. I see Dick taking on the Nightwing mantle again and raising a team of rebel superheroes to fight the League’s control. Although they would probably just call themselves “the Team”, I would like it if they somehow got called the “Outsiders” by the media. I see the Outsiders being made up of the more classic DC sidekicks facing off against the more recent young heroes of the League, although that won’t always be the case. If Blue Beetle is alive I would put him on the Outsiders so I could see the conflict develop with his former friend the Flash (Impulse/Kid Flash).
There will be plot twists, double crosses, double/triple agents and plenty of grey morality. Although the League are tyrants and act as you would expect a dictator to act, the audience will see them using their powers to help Earth rebuild itself. Meanwhile, the Outsiders will still have a good reason to fight the League, they will be forced to do bad things for the greater good. I want to make it difficult for the audience to pick the good guys from the bad. I think it will reflect the age of the characters who now have to deal with adult issues on their own without advice from their older mentors.
There will be other factions at well. I see a “Human Liberation Front” working against both the League and the Outsiders. They want to free the Earth once and for all from metahuman influence and allow humanity to succeed or fail on its own without help from “the gods”. This might be a good place to put the eternal survivor Lex Luthor, who could use the HLF to secure the power he always desired. I also would love to put Arsenal here as well. He has no love for Luthor, but he has every reason to hate the metahumans and would probably be willing to form a temporary alliance with Luthor to free the Earth from metahuman tyranny.
Then there are the aliens. I think they would be terrified of the Earth becoming the center of some metahuman empire (the New Gods are gone, they do not need to be replaced). They would likely plan to invade Earth and wipe out any threat before it is to late. I would like to work Starfire into their group, but acting as a double agent. I see her joining the Outsiders which would give us a chance to witness her relationship with Dick and its effect on his son Zach. Also I would love to see Kyle Rayner as a Green Lantern, leading the alien coalition to liberate Earth.
Then there is someone or something else. Something ancient and evil. Something that needs the Earth. Something that is manipulating the civil war between the metahumans to distract them from the true threat to existence. I see Wally West as the harbringer of this evil. Although I don’t like how superhero death has become meaningless, at the same time I never supported the desire to bring Barry Allen back from the dead to satisfy the die-hard comic book fans. So in Season 3 we learn Wally didn’t “cease” but instead traveled to some unknown corner of the multiverse. There he witnesses the destruction of several timelines as he races to find his home timeline to warn everyone of what is coming. When he does return home he tries to unite all factions to stand against the true threat to existence.
Some will probably notice I pulled from several comic series including Final Crisis, Kingdom Come and Alan Moore’s unwritten Twlight of the Superheroes. I like to remind everyone I have no relationship with Cartoon Network, DC or the creators of Young Justice. I am just a fan who is lamenting the cancellation of one of his favorite shows. I doubt my version of Season 3 will ever see the light of day (I don’t like fan fiction), but perhaps I might use the general outline if I ever write a superhero story.
Thanks for the good times Young Justice and everyone who worked on it. You made my Saturday mornings that much more enjoyable.