We finally reach the end of the season. All the plans, all the conspiracies, all the twists and turns have been building up to this. I must admit that I’m also rather relived to have gotten through all these reviews. Keeping up — even with the hiatus – has been tough at times. Coming soon: our reviews of Young Justice: Invasion.
Featured Screen Shot
- Vandal Savage
- 50,000 years of life and nothing ever troubled me as the founding of the Justice League. Dedicated to maintaining society’s calcified status quo, the League would protect mankind from disaster, crime, tragedy of any kind. Had you never heard of the survival of the fittest? In essence, you heroes sought to protect humanity from its own glorious evolution!
Synopsis "Auld Acquaintance"
Previously in “Usual Suspects”: The Light, a collation of super-villains led by Vandal Savage, has been orchestrating a grand conspiracy against the Justice League. The League’s sidekicks, who have been organised into their own covert Team, have frustrated the Light’s plans at several junctures, but have been hamstrung by the knowledge that one them is leaking information to their enemies. Superboy, Miss Martian, and Artemis were all fated by the villains, but ultimately sided with their team-mates. The villain’s real mole was revealed after the League knelt before Vandal Savage. It was only then that Red Arrow’s mind cleared and he realised that he, the most gung-ho mole hunter, was actually the Light’s sleeper agent.
Dec 31st. Washington DC. Roy Harper, alias Red Arrow, is running for his life in a darkened subway tunnel. He barely dodges an arrow that flies out of the darkness, but is thrown backwards by a grenade arrow before he can return fire. The smoke covers the approach of a scarlet speedster and an orange/green suited superhuman who leaves Red Arrow bloodied. An approaching train covers him as he slips away from them into another tunnel. Its only then that Roy’s pursuers are revealed as Green Arrow, Aquaman, and the Flash.
Aqualad and the Team are returning to Mount Justice after the previous day’s victories against the Light’s henchmen (“Usual Suspects”). However, they still do not who is leaking information about them. Batman stuns them with the news that Red Arrow is the traitor. He and Red Tornado explain how the Roy Harper they knew is actually a Project Cadmus clone created shortly after the real Roy Harper became Green Arrow’s sidekick. He was programmed with a drive to join the Justice League and then betray them to Vandal Savage. Batman claims that they stopped Savage’s plan and that Roy is now an armed fugitive. Batman stresses that the hunt for Roy is now the League’s responsibility.
Over the telepathic link, Aqualad tells his Team that they are nevertheless going after Roy themselves. The Red Tornado, who had remained behind after Batman returned to the Watchtower, appears to suffer some sort of malfunction just as he approaches Aqualad. He completely powers down and Zatanna senses a low-level mystic buzz from him – similar to one she was getting from Batman. Robin also remembers Batman uncharacteristically referring to the Team as “the kids”. Kid Flash then notices that Red Tornado was carrying one of the bio-tech chips they confiscated from the Light. Aqualad concludes that “something is clearly not right”. He orders Robin, Kid Flash, Zatanna, and Rocket to get Red Tornado back online while he rest of them find Roy.
Robin says that the Tornado’s problem is hardware, not software. That reminds Zatanna of the alternative human-like “John Smith” body which the Tornado had built for himself (“Insecurity”). They then download the Tornado’s consciousness from the stalled body into the new one. The Tornado suddenly awakens and shouts a warning to the Team just as Black Canary arrives in the Cave. Her sonic attack rips Red’s new body in two, but the Team take her down with Robin’s knockout gas and one of Rocket’s force bubbles. Red Tornado warns them that Canary was just the start and that they must abandon the Cave. The escape in the Super-Cycle just as the teleporter announces the arrival of Icon, Doctor Fate, and Captain Marvel.
Aqualad tells Artemis, Superboy, and Miss Martian that Roy set up a series of weapons caches after he went solo. They are heading towards one of those. Aqualad kicks open the door to find Roy aiming an arrow at his chest. He tells Roy that they have not come to harm him, but they do want answers. Roy demands proof of Aqualad’s identity so Aqualad tells him that it was Tula who broke his heart (“Downtime”). They leave together and Aqualad tells Roy what they were told about him by Batman. He confirms that he was a sleeper agent programmed to serve the Light, they ordered him to divert suspicion from himself on to Artemis, Miss Martian, and Superboy. He apologies and then drops the bomb-shell that Batman didn’t stop him from betraying the League.
The Super-Cycle then catches up with the Bioship and the two squads compare notes. The entire League is now under the complete mental domination of Vandal Savage. The control is achieved via Starro-Tech devices which bond with a target’s nervous system. The technology is a blend of nano-technology, alien bio-tech, and techno-sorcery that has been able to over come four types of alien, super-humans, and even the Tornado’s android body. However, the Tornado was aware of his own takeover as it happened and created a subroutine that would shut his body down should be attempt to infect anybody else (i.e., Aqualad). Roy is no longer enslaved as Starro-Tech was never used to control him, just old-fashioned mental conditioning that ended after its commands were completed.
Black Canary, Red Tornado (in his original body), and Red Arrow beam back to the Watchtower. Canary explains to Vandal Savage that she was able to reinfect Red Tornado, and then infect Red Arrow and the entire Team. However, Savage tells them that Starro-Tech actually turns a person into a puppet with Klarion pulling the strings. They always know exactly who is and is not infected. Green Lantern Hal Jordan chains them while Savage attaches new Starro-Tech chips to them and monologues about why he and like-minded villains collaborated re-establish the old order of the survival of the fittest. Meanwhile, the Team have covertly entering the Watchtower through an undefended corridor are hidden from Savage as the Tornado was able to wirelessly disable the Watchtower’s internal security systems.
The Team splits up into small groups which that target each of the controlled Leaguers. They engage the heroes in battle and then hold the still or otherwise ambush them by stealth. Once the target’s defences are down the teens place a “Cure-Tech” device on the controlled hero. These were reverse engineered from Starro-Tech by the Team’s allies in Atlantis and elsewhere, but don’t work as fast as the originals. They free the target and prevent reinfection, but also renders the target unconscious for a protracted period. Canary, Tornado, and Red Arrow has been inoculated and there playing dumb to spy on Savage. They are able to quickly neutralise Hal Jordan, but Superman’s returning team turns the tide against them. Savage then orders the Team killed and not captured.
Captain Marvel, Doctor Fate, and Icon return via the Hall’s cargo teleporter. Miss Martian manages to take Fate down on the first go, but it takes a second go by Rocket to tag Icon and Zatanna tricks Captain Marvel into reverting to Billy Batson. Zatanna tries to free Zatara, her father, from Doctor Fate’s control, but the Helm of Fate’s magical defences frustrate her efforts even with Fate unconscious. Artemis and Kid Flash have more problems with the Flash, Aquaman, and Green Arrow. The only thing in their favour is that the Starro-Tech slows their mentors actions and Klarion’s experience with their powers is limited. Aqualad arrives evacuates hanger deck into outer-space. The Leaguers are swept off their feet allowing Kid Flash to Cure-Tech them at super-speed.
Robin and Wolf are fighting Hawkwoman in the garden while Rocket has Wonder Woman trapped in a force bubble. The Sphere has Green Lantern John Stewart pinned down. Miss Martian uses her greater telepathic power allows her to scramble the Martian Manhunter’s mind. Superman knocks her out and punches Superboy through several floors. Robin is having no greater luck against Batman. Superboy and Robin then decide to team-up. Superboy helps Robin stun Batman with a cannon-ball manoeuvre. Robin then takes Superman down with kryptonite while Superboy holds him still.
Vandal Savage recognises their defeat and tells Klarion that it is “time to go”. They might be able to win, but at the cost of destroying the League and the Watchtower. And the Light’s long-term plans still needs the Justice League – whether they are in control of them or not. The Team rush onto the Command Deck just as Savage and Klarion teleport out. The League’s computer then sounds that it has passed midnight and that a new year has started. “Auld Lang Syne” plays as Kid Flash finally kisses Artemis, Miss Martian kisses Superboy, Zatanna plants one on Robin, and even Rocket gets in on the act by giving Aqualad a peck on the cheek. After he has recovered, Superman congratulates Superboy and finally reveals his own secret identity to Conner.
Aqualad, Robin, and Red Arrow meet with the League’s leaders to discuss what they have learnt. Red Arrow swears that he will find the real Roy Harper. However, the Light are already removing the cryogenically frozen Match and original Roy from Cadmus’s secret store rooms. Green Arrow and Black Canary leave to help Red Arrow build a new life, but Aqualad and Robin stays with Batman and the others. They explain that the entire League was under Savage’s control for little over a day. They can account for the movements of all the Leaguers except for a sixteen-hour window where the Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern John Stewart, Wonder Woman, Hawkwoman, Superman, and Batman vanished. Batman is left pondering “Sixteen hours! What did we do?”
- This episode takes place on December 31st, New Years Eve.
- The Starro-Tech process takes 0.16 nano-seconds.
- Six Justice Leaguers – Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern John Stewart, Wonder Woman, Hawkwoman, Superman, and Batman – were missing for sixteen hours whilst under the Light’s control.
- The Light kidnapped the original Roy Harper, alias Speedy, shortly after he became Green Arrow’s sidekick and kept him cryogenically frozen at Cadmus. A replacement was cloned and programmed to betray the Justice League. That replacement Roy Harper refused to join the team and eventually took the costumed identity of Red Arrow.
- Really, the Justice League main computer doesn’t have a better sound processor than that?
The first season of Young Justice comes to an end with a spectacular finale which basically comes down to the Team versus the Justice League. The individual fights aren’t what you might expect. The Team aren’t trying to crush their mentors, just distract them long enough to administer the Cure-Tech inoculation. I think I share Robin’s incredulity that a single infection vector could take over four different flavours of alien, the League’s superhumans, androids, and even a Lord of Order. I’m also surprised that they were able to find a counter-measure so fast – and off-screen to boot. Nevertheless, these plot devices don’t distract from the story and barely even make it into fridge-logic territory.
The meta-plot for this season is also brought to a close as the Light fail to take over the League and their mole is exposed. The exposition is delivered in a rapid and no-nonsense pace that neither slows the episode down nor goes by too fast that you can’t understand it. Vandal Savage’s explanation that the Light’s goals were Darwinian only stretches so far. There is a larger game at play here, the missing Leaguers and why the Light still need the Justice League around.