Young Justice Endgame
March 16, 2013
I’m writing this review while the episode is still fresh in my mind. I’ve known for several weeks that Cartoon Network was cancelling this program at the end of this season, but I didn’t realize until today that this week was that last episode. As hard as I worked to find evidence to the contrary, everything I was able to find online says that yes — this is it. Even the title says so. I hope that they get to work on finally putting out inclusive DVD/blu-ray collections, because this show was truly a wonderful thing to experience, particularly as a comic fan still smarting from DC’s reboot of 2011. So now an excellent program has come and gone, only to be replaced by a Teen Titans cartoon that I will not be watching.
So how did I feel about this end to one of the few television shows that I genuinely look forward to? This cutting off of a recollection to the Saturday Morning Cartoons of my youth? I feel…like the writers weren’t planning for this to be the Last Episode Ever when they wrote it. It was an excellent season finale, but (as you will see during the summary) it led into a new season…that will not exist. Oops.
At the beginning of our episode, our captive Justice League members have been found guilty of the intergalactic war crimes that they’ve been framed for. Just afterward, however, Miss Martian, Superboy, and some heroes that I’m not familiar with arrive with new evidence – a recorded confession that they got last time of the Light explaining their evil plot to get the League out of the way by having them be tried and executed for crimes they didn’t commit. The tribunal agrees to listen to them and admits that their evidence is compelling, but they say that it’s just not enough to have a motive and confession. They need more. So Miss Martian and Superboy give them more…sort of. They convince them that they’d be getting more by simply upholding the ideals of Truth and Justice (but not the American Way, strictly speaking. These are space aliens, after all). Eventually they convince the tribunal to let the League go and are quite pleased for it. They’re needed at home, after all.
Back near Earth, a few members of the team have infiltrated the Reach’s ship, planning to take out Black Beetle and solve that problem. After Green Beetle is taken down, Jaime proves once again that working with your scarab as partners works much better than being its slave (just in case any of you ever find yourselves with ancient alien tech fused to your spine). He manages to destroy Black Beetle’s scarab, finally taking him out of the game for good. Although his teammates want to celebrate their victory, Jaime quickly rains on their parade by explaining that Black Beetle had already put into play a plan to erase all evidence of the Reach’s breach of intergalactic law (you know, by invading/attempting to take over the Earth) by destroying the planet itself.
We learn that he planned to do this by disrupting the Earth’s magnetic fields (don’t ask. Comic book science is weird. If you want to destroy a planet, use a big magnet, right?) and he’s set up a series of twenty drones to do so. Fighting each one is like fighting a Beetle warrior, thanks to their defense systems. Fortunately, Lex Luthor of all people has come up with a virus that will take out Reach technology. All they have to do is get it to each drone and they will shut down, restoring the Earth’s magnetic field to normal. So the heroes are split up into twenty teams of two and off they go on their mission. They’re successful and all twenty drones are shut down before they can do any damage. Something isn’t right, though. The Earth’s magnetic field isn’t stabilizing like it should. It turns out that they miscalculated and there is actually a twenty-first drone as well.
The Flash and Impulse go off to stop the last drone, but they’re too late. The drone has gathered the energy it needs and the big magnet crystal thing is self-sustaining, now, making Luthor’s virus completely useless. Instead, they must use their superspeed to generate enough kinetic energy to shut the crystal down that way. They’re doing okay, but they can’t generate quite the energy that they need to siphon the energy from the crystal. Again, comic book science is weird. So Kid Flash rushes off to help them. This gives the boost they need, but Wally can’t run as fast as Flash or Impulse. The energy is hitting him and…somehow that makes him dissolve? They aren’t really clear on how that happened, just that he ceases to exist.
The heroic sacrifice to save the world is a trope in comics and has been for years. The earliest example of note in the superhero genre that I can think of was Supergirl’s death during the 1980s even, Crisis on Infinite Earths. Although Wally had not been a really major player on the show for most of the season, since he and Artemis tried to retire during a five year time jump between seasons, the scenes that follow his death (of Flash telling Artemis that Wally loved her, of her weeping among her friends, telling his parents what happened) was painful and well done. Very tragic. She learns that Impulse has agreed to take up the Kid Flash mantel in Wally’s honor and decides to resume her superhero activities as Tigress, since Artemis was Wally’s partner and she needs some distance while she mourns him.
Nightwing also decides that he needs a break, in the face of losing his best friend and one of the team’s founding members (Fun fact: In the comics, Kid Flash, Robin, and Aqualad were the founding members of the Teen Titans – the group on which Young Justice is based. Wonder Girl and Speedy joined the team later). So among shifts in power and saying goodbye to friends, this seems like a nice, wistful way to wrap up a series…right?
Well, it would have been if it weren’t for the last scene. Vandal Savage makes an announcement to the planet where the Justice League was being held captive that he wants no funny business with anyone invading his planet or he’ll take action. Then he goes to Apokolips (it’s about as pleasant as it sounds…personified incarnations of absolute corruption and evil are in charge) and makes a deal with Darkseid (one of Superman’s more notorious villains). We will never find out what this deal is. We will never find out if he blows up anyone with the war world because they tried to invade the Earth. We will never know any of these burning questions because they ended the series on a cliff hanger. Why? I can’t say why. All I can do is ask…why couldn’t this show be renewed?