Featured Screen Shot
Harm: Mediocrity such as this is never far from Harm!
31st October -- There been a break in at New York City’s Met, but Detective Jim Daniels is incredulous that only one object, the “Sword of Beowulf”, an ancient Anglo-saxon sword held in a claw-like scabbard, has been stolen. The curator of the exhibit tells the detective about the mythical powers of the sword which he says can only be unlocked by a person “pure of heart” who says a special phrase in Old English. The thief, who repeatedly refers to himself as “Harm” in the third person, is still in the building (“Still, Harm should be grateful. Harm did need the words”). The sword’s scabbard opens upon Harm’s recitation of the phrase and he draws out the sword. An orange light passes from the Sword to Harm and lodges where his heart should be. A stunned curator asks how Harm could possible be “Pure of Heart”, but is reminded that the myth didn’t specify “pure good”, just “pure”.
At Mount Justice, Megan (Miss Martian) has invited the Team to the Happy Harbour High-School Halloween dance. Wally (Kid Flash) is already in costume and flirting with Megan, but he is oblivious to the fact that she and Conner (Superboy) are a couple. Captain Marvel, who has been hanging around the Team a lot, shows up under the mistaken belief that Megan’s invitation also extended to him. He eventually catches on that he wasn’t invited and teleports out saying he’s going trick-or-treating on his own (Marvel is actually a 10-year old in an adult’s body, but the Team don’t know that). Zatanna and Artemis teleport in just before Marvel leaves and Zatanna instantly spots that Conner and Megan are acting like a couple. Artemis tries to laugh off her observation, but walks away when she realises that Zatanna is correct. Artemis had held a secret crush for Conner and is surprised/depressed by the news he is dating Megan. Artemis doesn’t want to go to the dance anymore so Zatanna suggests a girls night out fighting crime instead.
Conner, Superboy, and Wally hit the Halloween dance and, to Conner’s frustration, find that the majority of the other students are actually dressed as members of the Justice League. They are greeted by Wendy, Karen, and Mal, but their other friend Marvin is worried about reports of a Martian Invasion which keeps appearing on the student’s mobile phones. Their teacher, Lucas Carr, scoffs at the idea and points out that the Martian Manhunter is a member of the Justice League. The party has been going a while when the lights suddenly go out. The students then get another wave of Martian invasion alerts. Mr Carr again tells them its a cliché, but he is interrupted by an announcement over the speakers. The voice claims to be from the Department of Homeland Security and tells everybody to stay inside the building. Wally is just about to call the Cave when Conner spots the prankster with his infra-red vision.
Robin and Aqualad are absent from the party as they are back at base with Red Tornado, Batman, and the visiting Red Arrow debating the Sportsmaster’s claim to have a mole inside the Team. Aqualad believes Sportsmaster was just trying to sow dissent, but Red Arrow isn’t convinced and says that Artemis has lied about being Green Arrow’s niece. Aqualad is surprised, but Batman cuts off Robin before he can reveal Artemis’ true parentage. Batman is more concerned about Superboy, who may still possess programming from his time in Cadmus that even he isn’t ware of. However, Aqualad says he fought “side-by-side” with each of them and again refuses to believe that any of them are traitors.
Zatanna and Artemis hit Manhattan on the back of two of the Team’s motor-bikes. Their patrol takes them past the Museum where the police are still out in force. Artemis refuses to talk about Conner and Megan and insists she just needs something to hit. The opportunity presents itself then they stop a mugging, a grocery store robbery, and an attack on a young woman by four men. However, Harm is watching their crime fighting from the rooftops. He is in turn watched by a pale, silent girl. Harm finally introduces himself to Zatanna and Artemis by blowing-up their parked bikes and then advancing on them out of the flames. “Harm isn’t impressed” by Artemis’s arrows or Zatanna’s magic, but he intends to study them before fighting the Justice League proper. Zatanna spots the pale girl beckoning them from an alleyway so she and Artemis beat a strategic withdrawal. They follow the girl to the roof tops, but she is always just out of reach and the only word is ever says is “secret.”
Secret vanishes just as Harm catches up with Artemis and Zatanna. They delay him with ice for a few seconds, but Harm is relentless. Artemis challenges Harm to a fight without their weapons, but she in unable to land a single blow on him. Harm monologues during the fight and infuriates Artemis by criticizing her lack of focus (“It struggles with inner demons. It can’t fight Harm while fighting itself. Harm doesn’t battle his demons, Harm embraces them.”). He continues twittering on about the sacrifices he’s made to become pure enough to wield the Sword of Beowulf, but that just gives girls time to evade him and escape with the reappeared Secret. She directs them to a place they think it’s a random location, but Harm reveals that they have actually found his home. He attacks them again and the last thing that Artemis sees before she passes out is Harm and the Secret standing over her.
Back in Happy Harbour, Marvin stops three of the younger students from leaving the dance by telling them he’s been told to keep them inside for their own protection. Marvin is the prankster behind the invasion message, but it is his turn to be pranked when Wally runs up to him screaming “The Martian’s are coming! The Martian’s are coming!” A giant spectral things from another world with glowing green eyes then appears behind Wally. Conner makes a show of hurrying Marvin inside away from danger while he holds off the invader. It throws Conner around with its telekinesis prompting Marvin runs screaming into the dance hall. He tells everybody that he was behind the prank and then tries to convince them that Martians have really invaded. However, he’s left confounded and confused when Conner and Wally reappear as if nothing had happened.
When Artemis regains consciousness she finds that she is tied to chair and that Harm is talking to her. A television shows Zatanna tied to a chair in another room with a cross-bow pointed her. Harm threatens Zatanna unless Artemis tells him her secrets. He demands to know how they found his house, but Harm swears that he has no partner when Artemis mentions the Secret. While Harm is distracted, Secret removes Zatanna’s gag so she can use a spell to free herself from the ropes. Zatanna is in a little girl’s bedroom and finds a photograph showing harm and Secret as apparently loving siblings. Zatanna asks Secret about her connection to Harm, but the only thing she says, the only thing she ever says, is “secret”. Harm has finally noticed that Zatanna is free, but he falls for her illusion while she is freeing Artemis. Harm then gets his first fleeing glimpse of Secret as he follows the three girls to the kitchen door. Artemis then covers their escape by setting of an explosion which engulfs the entire ground floor of the house.
Zatanna and Artemis are surprised to find a small grave in the house’s back garden. It is marked by fresh flowers and a rough plank of wood on which is carved “Greta Hayes. Beloved sister.” The two girls step back in fright when the translucent image of the Secret rises out of the grave. It is now clear that Secret is the ghost of Greta Hayes, the sister of the villain that has been chasing them. She nods to acknowledge her identity and produces an image of her brother’s dagger when asked how she died. Harm finds them and challenges them to stay away from “Harm’s holy place.” Artemis accuses him of killing his own sister, but Harm is unrepentant. Greta was the only thing good in his life, but to make himself pure – pure evil so that he could wield the Sword of Beowulf – he had to purge that goodness from his heart and in Harm’s twisted mind that meant killing Greta.
Harm is taken aback when Secret/Greta rises from the grave again. He accuses Zatanna of conjuring another illusion, but she points out that she didn’t speak. Secret advances slowly towards Harm and he tries to tell them that he isn’t sorry. Secret walks through his flailing stabs and reaches into his chest to extract light that the Sword of Beowulf had given him. Whether the act is literal or symbolic is not clear, but Harm’s wavering at Greta’s reappearance demonstrates that his heart not as pure as he had thought. The Sword knows this and suddenly goes heavily in Harms hand. He looses grip on the Sword and it is pulled back into its grotesque scabbard. Without the sword Harm is a very easy target for Artemis’ violent righteous indication. With Harm unconscious, the Secret returns to her rest. Zatanna tells her that “We won’t forget you Greta” and that they will make sure she gets a proper burial.
Artemis questions how anybody could murder a relative and she’s about to mention her own family, but stops herself. Zatanna warns her that “secret’s don’t stay buried”, but Artemis clams up again and says she “doesn’t have any secrets.” They then notice a gap in the fence through which it is possible to see a sign on a showing the word “secret”, the very last thing that Greta ever saw and the only word she could say after death.
- This episode takes place on the night of All-Hallow’s Eve — Halloween — October 31st.
- Captain Marvel’s teleport code is 15.
- Kid Flash’s wrist is still in plaster due to the injury he received in “Alpha Male”.
- The New York zeta-beam point is hidden being a billboard for The Silver Blade.
- The Martian Manhunter has a few hundred nieces and nephews. He and Miss Martian first met five months ago after she stowed away on his last trip to Earth (note that this conflicts with the origin that Miss Martian told the team in [cred ref="young-justice-vol-2|6"] where she ways she won a contest to become his sidekick.
- Artemis carries extra-strings for her bow. Logical one might think, but not something we’ve really seen before in a comic book archer.
The theme of this episode is secrets and there are a lot of them to go around. In no specific order:
- Megan and Conner’s relationship.
- Captain Marvel’s true age
- Artemis’s crush on Superboy.
- Artemis’s parentage and secret identity.
- The existence of a mole on the team.
- The new that the Martian stories are just a prank
- Miss Martian lying about how she was selected to be the Manhunter’s sidekick.
- Harm’s murder of his sister
- Robin’s secret identity. The one Team member with an identity he can’t tell the others is one of those who doesn’t go to the High School dance.
- Secret Meeting: Did the rest of the Team know that Aqualad was talking to Red Arrow and Batman.
- Artemis: Female vampire.
- Kid Flash: The Michael J. Fox werewolf from Teen Wolf.
- Superboy: The Mummy.
- Miss Martian: There is plenty going on here. Kid Flash first asks if she’s going as My Favourite Martian, a 1960s sitcom about a martian living secretly on Earth. Her actual costume is as a zombie bride (although being a DC series they could justify it as a Silver Banshee allusion). Later when she scares Marvin the human she uses a scary version of Marvin the Martian from the 1948 Haredevil Hare cartoon and a monster cry which may be Godzilla’s roar.
- Zatanna: Is unsurprisingly a witch.
There are quite a few costumes at the part. Almost all of them are variations of the Justice League and/or their allies. The ones that caught my eye were:
- Wonderful Wizard of Oz versions of a Scarecrow and Dorothy.
- Male version of Harley Quinn
- A Hawkwoman who looks suspiciously close to Justice League Unlimited‘s Hawkgirl
- Bobble-head Red Tornado
- Shaggy from Scooby Doo
- Mal Duncan as “Superman, done right” – it’s actually Conner’s original comic book costume
- Karen Beecher as Bumblebee – her comic book costume and an allusion to the name of the school’s cheer-leading trope,
- The Flaming C – Conan O’Brien’s alter ego who has been patching into Young Justice clips before
The Martian Invasion
The hoax of a Martian Invasion is an allusion to a War of the Worlds radio play that was broadcast on Halloween 1938. HG Well’s book about a Martian invasion of London was adapted for an American setting by famed movie director Orson Wells. A master storyteller, Orson Wells used the format of radio and people’s familiarity with it to present a fictionalised invasion through news bulletins and reports. The tactic worked so well that less attentive listeners and those tuning in late bought into the scenario entirely. This led to reports of people telephoning their local radio stations or police departments for verification. The level of national panic if often overplayed, but the myth of it has entered the popular psyche. It is that same sort of manipulation of people’s perceptions, now via social media, that Marvin uses in this story.
The Sword of Beowulf
Beowulf was the subject of an 8th century Anglo-Saxon epic which tells of his defeat of the the monster Grendel and his mother. The story was adapted as a CGI film in 2007 by Robert Zemeckis and Beowulf was voiced by Ray Winstone.
There are several swords in Beowulf which could be the sword refered to her. The first is the sword Hrunting which is given Beowulf so that he might fight the Grendel. However, the sword’s magic fails and Beowulf is forced to kill Grendel with his bear hands. It was described as “a rare and ancient sword” and that it had been “tempered in blood”. Later when Beowulf is fighting Grendel’s mother he picks up another sword, Nagling, which had been forged by giants:
Then the golden hilt, the ancient work of giants, was given into the hands of the old warrior, the grey-haired battle-chief; after the fall of the devils it came into the possession of the lord of the Danes, a work of marvellous smiths; and when the cruel-hearted creature, God’s adversary, guilty of murder, and his mother, too, forsook this world, it passed into the possession of the best of earthly kings between the seas, of those who dealt out treasures in the Danish kingdom.
However, that sword’s power also fails during Beowulf’s last fight with the dragon and it shatters on the monster’s armour like skin. Whether “the Sword of Beowulf” is Nrunting or a reforged Nagling isn’t clear.
- The Met – The art museum shown in this episode isn’t specifically identified by name, but a Manhattan art museum with a grand neo-classical facade can only be the Metropolitan Museum of Art on 5th Avenue. Although, in a DC Universe a Metropolitan Museum not in Metropolis does get a little confusing.
- Detective Jim Daniels – the police man who is talking to the museum curator in the tag sequence is called Detective Daniels and if given he name Jim Daniels in the credits. I’m not familiar with a particular DC reference – beyond a rich-kid in an old Superman Christmas story with the same name. But, the actor James McDaniel did place a policeman in the police drama NYPD Blue.
- Up until now Captain Marvel has been voiced by Rob Lowe, but for this episode he’s succeeded by his younger brother Chad Lowe. Chad has previously voiced Cosmic Boy in the Superman animated series.
- The Silver Blade. Artemis and Zatanna ride the bikes out of a teleport-tube hidden behind a vintage billboard advertising an old movie called The Silver Blade. Silverblade was a 1987 DC comic book series about a washed-up actor called Jon Lord who has the ability to turn into any of the amazing movie heroes he’s ever played. The series is named after his signature role as the swashbuckling Silverblade.
- Zatanna is riding a red motorcycle which would probably be Superboy’s bike, but I suppose he doesn’t need it how he’s got the Supercycle.
- The shop across the street from Harm’s house, the shop that Secret took her name from, is Abel’s House of Secrets. Abel (of brothers Cain and Able fame) was the host of a horror anthology called the House of Secrets in much the same manner as the Crypt Keeper was the host of Tales from the Crypt.
- The kitchen explosion/ambush and Harm’s almost expletive.
- The language used around Greta’s grave is oddly muted (shades of Standard and Practices). Zatanna asks Greta “How did you die?” and is shown Harm’s dagger. Artemis says to Harm “you did this to your own sister”. Likewise, she calls the act “it” or “that”, never “killed” or “murdered”.
- Something is up with Miss Martian’s origin. In Young Justice (vol. 2) #5 (Aug 2011) the Team sat around the campfire and related their origin stories to each other. Miss Martian told a tale about winning an Olympic style contest in order to be chosen as the Martian Manhunter’s worthy sidekick. However, its straight out said here that she stowed away on the Manhunter’s space craft to Earth. What is the full truth and how does his play into her insecurity about White Martians?
Artemis and Zatanna’s girl’s night-out crime fighting turns into a surprisingly dark ghost story that is off-set by the light-hearted Halloween Dance antics back in Happy Harbour. What is impressive is that this is virtually an all-girls episode. Conner and Wally are just foils for Megan in the Happy Harbour sequences and Aqualad and Robin are locked in the conference with Batman. Its therefore interesting to give them such a boy villain to fight. The entire “I’m pure evil” stance makes Harm appear the most immature character in the episode (he definitely needs to lay off on the animé influences). The plot almost comes down to the two acting grown-up girls fighting the silly immature-boy.
A lot of us old Young Justice fans from the 2000s comic-book series remember the Greta Hayes character with affection. Peter David’s original treatment of the characters was to write them as a little younger, perhaps a little broader than shown here. You can think of the original Young Justice series as being the inspiration for both the Teen Titans and Young Justice cartoons. The tone and artistic-style of the comic book was translated into the Teen Titans cartoon whilst the characters and milieu became the YJ cartoon itself. Secret served the character role that Megan does – the naive, slightly vulnerable girl character opposite the headstrong, tomboy girl character (clichés, but the same breakdown can be applied to the guys in any cartoon/comic). The manner of Secret’s transition to the screen is surprising, but it works brilliantly.
If I was to nitpick I’d say that this episode was let down in a couple of places by the framing/animation on the action sequences. For example, Harm’s first attack on Zatanna and Artemis just feels oddly static. However, that is only nitpicking, the combination of the Secret/Harm and the focus on Zatanna/Artemis otherwise makes this a great episode.
|Character Site||The Captain's Justice League Homepage||Jason Kirk||3.5/5|