Wednesday, December 21, 2011
The Demon Rises
I normally don't review the "Young Justice" comic book, but maybe that will change. What I really wanted to do is talk about this issue, and how much I loved it. At the same time, I'm going to discuss why I only like but don't love the "Young Justice" animated series.
Let me get this out of the way, on every technical level "Young Justice" is a very well produced show. The writing is great, the animation is gorgeous, the voice acting is top notch, and the direction is beautiful. It's a very solid production. It's produced by one of my favorite writers and producers and a close friend. And yet, with this show, for me anyway, there is a pretty big disconnect. It took me a very, very long time to figure out what that disconnect was, and why it hasn't sucked me in like "Gargoyles," "Spectacular Spider-Man," and even the second season of "W.I.T.C.H." did.
For me, the problem is that we really only get one point of view, and that's the point of view of The Team. Now, I know they're the stars, and there's nothing wrong with that, but it's still the only perspective we get. On "Gargoyles," "Spectacular Spider-Man," and "W.I.T.C.H." we got to see much more of the world the characters inhabited, and the perspectives of other characters and factions. And in the case of "Gargoyles" and "W.I.T.C.H." those were also ensemble shows.
On "Young Justice," we're eighteen episodes in and the villains are still a complete mystery to us. Sure we know who the members of The Light are, but what else do we know? The answer is not much. We knew much more about the Green Goblin in "Spectacular Spider-Man" in his first appearance alone than we do about The Light this far in the game. And the Goblin's identity wouldn't even be revealed to us for another seventeen episodes. We knew a ton about Demona and Xanatos at this point in "Gargoyles" even with her background still being a mystery. By this point in "W.I.T.C.H." we knew Nerissa pretty well too.
My favorite episodes of "Young Justice" are "Humanity" and "Secrets" because they did what I feel the rest of the series is missing. "Humanity" gave us things from the perspective of T.O. Morrow and Red Volcano. "Secrets" showed us things from Harm's perspective, granted we saw it through the prism of Artemis, Zatanna, and Secret, but it was there.
Now, I recognize and understand that the single perspective is a conscious creative choice, and by the time the season is over, I'll most likely understand and appreciate why that choice was made. That is my hope, and I trust this creative team to deliver in the end. But right now, it's a creative choice that's not working for me based on my own preferences.
On that note, I thought #11 of the "Young Justice" tie-in was great. It gave us not just Robin's perspective, but also Batman's, Alfred's, Ra's al Ghul's and Talia's! We knew who everyone was, and what they wanted to do, what motivated them. Had this been the first time I saw Ra's al Ghul, the issue would have told me everything I needed to know about him. Talia was interesting, with just a few lines of dialogue we saw the conflict between her love for Batman and her loyalty to her father. The scene in Ra's al Ghul's lair when he comes out of his Lazarus Pit was classic al Ghul material.
I also really enjoyed the cut to Kent Nelson's funeral, and we could see how his death affected everyone, particularly Wally, while setting up something with Artemis that looks interesting too. I am really anticipating the next issue, and I say this as a guy who has never read a DC comic book in my life.
In short, this issue summed up everything I like to see in Greg Weisman's work, and why I am a fan of his. I really wish this had been an animated episode of the show. Again, I don't mean to be so rough on the show, I do like it. But, it comes down to a stylistic preference, and this issue of the comic delivered on my preferences in way the show mostly hasn't.