Young Justice: Phantoms Doesn’t Capitalize on Last Week’s Big Reveal

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This Young Justice: Phantoms review contains spoilers.

Young Justice Season 4 Episode 5

I’m a little bit concerned by how much the newest season of Young Justice is dragging. We’re about a fifth of the way through and it’s still not at all clear what this season’s story is, and while we’ve had some nice character moments (for Tigress now, after four episodes on Mars with Beast Boy, Miss Martian, and Superboy), there’s not enough happening to feel like the time investment has been justified. 

I’m also slightly worried about the show’s budget. The first three minutes of this week were basically a motion comic. If it was a storytelling choice, I can maybe deal with it – the episode starts with Tigress finding out about Conner’s death, so I can maybe see the stiff immobility of the action reflecting her inner pain. But it’s happened a couple of times so far this season, and coupled with spending four episodes not animating anybody’s mouths, I’m not thrilled. 

Once people start moving around normally, the episode moves from frustrating to mostly okay. The team (here consisting of Artemis, Will Harper, Roy Harper, and the new Arrowette) is faced with two potential defectors from the League of Shadows: Scandal Savage, daughter of Vandal; and Onyx, someone who claims Scandal is a mole being planted there by the League.

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They don’t know who to trust, so both get brought in, and their caravan is attacked by League assassins. What ensues is a pretty fun fight sequence, particularly with Will as he uses his trusty clipboard and pen to collapse a couple of assassin windpipes and do some light stabbing. Artemis moves in and out of flashback, remembering her childhood with Cheshire and Sportsmaster, when Jade was the only one to stand up for her against their father’s abuse.

Meanwhile, Cheshire is heading back to Infinity Island to confront the League of Shadows to kill the League to cancel their contract on her. She gets her ass beat by Sensei, and her and Talia exchange some quips about being terrible parents before Cheshire runs off. 

Artemis brings Scandal and Onyx to Will’s office, and asks Orphan, Spoiler and Terra – three Young Justice members with personal experience with the Light (Orphan was raised in the League, Terra was their spy, and Spoiler’s father, Cluemaster, is a member of the Light) to weigh in on the truthfulness of both stories. Ultimately, they decide neither one is actually trustworthy, but they’ll take a chance on both. 

And then, the episode ends on Jade showing up at Artemis’ house, following Artemis’ call. Jade is clearly depressed and maybe roundabout suicidal dealing with guilt from leaving Lian – we can tell this from the fight sequence. But it’s still not really clear where this season is going. Hopefully it gets better soon.

PHANTOM PREMONITIONS

  • A lot of good League of Shadows stuff this week, including the first named appearance of Damian Wayne, the second best Robin. He had appeared once before as an unnamed baby in Talia’s arms, but here she says who he is to Cheshire.
  • We also see Sensei again, and despite his very Uncle Iroh appearance, he’s a much older character. He’s Talia’s grandfather, introduced by Neal Adams in 1968’s Strange Adventures #215. He is not Ra’s’ father in the show’s continuity, though. He’s just an old martial arts master.
  • Onyx is an older character than you’d think. She first appeared in a Green Arrow backup story, pre-Crisis, in Detective Comics #546, created by Joey Cavalieri and Jerome Moore. She popped in and out of the GA backups until Crisis hit, and then disappeared for 15 years, finally resurfacing in an issue of Wonder Woman, and then as Batman double agent Orpheus’ bodyguard in his fight with the Gotham underworld. She’s a nice pull by the show.
  • This is the first time we’ve seen Cassandra Savage allude to her comics code name, Scandal. Technically, I don’t think we know comics Scandal’s real name, but the two bear strong resemblances in power sets and general attitude across media, so it’s a safe bet that they’re the same. Also, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow introduced a Cassandra Savage first, but it was in The Bad Season We Don’t Talk About. Anyway, comics Scandal was introduced as an antihero on Gail Simone and Dale Eaglesham’s not-Suicide Squad, Secret Six, and became very popular as one of DC’s major out lesbian heroes. She’s a lot of fun in a very fun comic, go read it.
  • Artemis’ eulogy for Conner was the “it is a far, far better thing that I do now” bit from the end of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. You might also recognize this eulogy from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – this was the “antique” book Spock gave Kirk for his birthday.

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