When you’ve got a show like Young Justice coming back as Young Justice: Outsiders after a cancellation, you know writers want the show to reach its full potential.
Fans who stayed with the series since its 2010 launch know showrunners are onto something with the concept, and this felt unfulfilled with such a short run. So when the series got cancelled in 2013, a lot of fans clamoured for the heroes to return for another season. And when a recently-cancelled show still gets consistently-high ratings on a streaming platform (in this case, Netflix), you know it’s worth a renewal. A few years later, we get Young Justice: Outsiders. And it starts the story off with a powerful premiere that immediately sets the stakes.
Young Justice: Outsiders premiered on DC Universe last January 4 with not one, not two, but a three (!) episodes. This immediately slashes three out of 26 episodes slated for this season. According to the release calendar, 10 more episodes will have aired on January 25, 2019. The series then takes a mid-season break to air the other 13 episodes this June 2019.
Young Justice: Outsiders – The Premise So Far
Season 2 already set up the concept of a black-ops team dealing with… a ton of trouble. Season 1 helped form the team and their bonds, which slowly established them as “more than” sidekicks. And when Young Justice: Invasion set itself on the backdrop of an alien invasion, you know there’s a lot at stake. Invasion happened five years after the first season, introducing a lot of changes to the line-ups of the core Justice League, the Team, and the world in general. And when the Team settles the score with the Reach and other global threats, the story ended with a lot of consequences.
Outside takes all of these, and raises the stakes even more. We now have teenagers and kids being abducted for metahuman trafficking. Not only that, but nefarious entities have begun using metahumans as weapons of war. And with the Justice League and the Team having a shake-up in the roster, everything else spelled trouble for everyone else.
The first three episodes easily catapult trouble for the Team to maximum proportions. Stakes have been raised in Season 2, but this takes the cake. Previews for Outsiders already came out in the last quarter of 2018. These range from trailers to full clips of the actual first episode. These did well enough to generate hype, and they’ve garnered enough attention to get everyone interested and back on track with Young Justice.
So when a clip showed Black Lightning accidentally killing a 14 year-old metahuman, you know writers have set a hard limit for the age bar. This show no longer catered to kids. And outside the writing, the two-year timeskip from Season 2 seemed appropriate enough for characters to “grow” with the audience.
Recap sections of the article contains spoilers from the first three episodes. If you’re allergic, better skip these parts for now.
Recap, Part 1: The World After Invasion
The premise for the premiere starts off very simple. It’s two years since our heroes defeated the Reach, but it’s not exactly happily-ever-after. The metahuman trafficking of children has reached planets across the galaxy, with the Justice League powerless to do anything with the whole world watching them.
Aquaman (Kaldur’ahm) finds himself a part of the Justice League. However, the world makes it painfully difficult for the League to operate, courtesy of policies from the United Nations. With Lex Luthor hamstringing their efforts, even humanitarian efforts become “questioned.” A lot of fans may notice these as part of the aftermath of Season 2’s adventures, and it’s clever writing to escalate old plot threads. This gives old fans and newcomers something to mull over.
And even the more political storytelling comes into play quite heavily. Besides the United Nations, G. Gordon Godfrey hasn’t stopped attacking the League on television. Meanwhile, Beast Boy has declared solidarity on commercials on metahuman trafficking. Batman and other superheroes have decided to quit the League and the Team to become vigilantes.
Black Lightning also quits the League, but because of a separate incident. As fans may recall from the premiere, Black Lightning got involved in an incident on Rann involving Ana, a dying trafficking victim.
Recap, Part 2: Setting the Stakes
Recent events around the world don’t make it easy dealing with metahuman trafficking, either. The nation of Markovia has decided to invest in putting a stop to metahuman trafficking, this is especially when their king and queen’s daughter got kidnapped by traffickers. Their untimely assassination had placed Baron DeLamb as regent until Gregor, the king and queen’s son, becomes of age. Meanwhile, Gregor’s younger brother, Brion, wants to form a metahuman team to end the trafficking.
Nightwing brings in former team members Tigress, Superboy, and newly-resigned Leaguer Black Lightning for a mission to infiltrate Markovia. The team seeks to gain information on Bedlam, the metahuman trafficking syndicate. However, Dick’s journey assembling this team shows how much the series has grown during its “absence.”
Tigress now lives with Roy Harper (Clone-Roy/Red Arrow) under new identities, as well as a child. Conner Kent and Miss Martian surprise fans with a proposal every shipper can rejoice or reject. Black Lightning goes to see his kids and ex-wife, dead set on quitting heroics after his last mission. These small highlights show everyone building a life while the show was away. This served as a good way to put perspective for how long this show has been gone. Not only that, but there’s a lot of thought built into the world’s growth.
Recap, Part 3: Escalation Begins
Nightwing builds his team on murky waters. The Justice League have just announced said resignation because of international restrictions, while Markovia declares these same vigilantes unwelcome in their nation. And while the king celebrates in the pre-coronation party, Nightwing’s team infiltrate the country.
Superboy and Black Lightning try to save captive meta-children in Markovia, but faces the threat of Count Vertigo and the mutated brother of Ana, calling himself Plasmus. Superboy gets briefly captured by the Count, but Tigress and Black Lightning soon come to his rescue. This happens after Tigress rescues a girl from Bedlam, only to awaken with new powers.
Meanwhile, Brion seeks the help of Dr. Ecks to activate his meta-gene, but is soon horrified to see the metahuman trafficking lab in their very nation. Count Vertigo knocks out the prince, and Dr. Jace activates Brion’s meta-gene.
Dick soon discovers Dr. Jace activated Brion’s meta-gene to oppose Baron DeLamb, who is in fact Baron Bedlam – as in the leader of Bedlam, the metahuman trafficking syndicate. DeLamb frames Brion for his own crimes, which forces Brion himself to attack his uncle in the party. Bedlam reveals himself to be a metahuman, but Superboy manages to incapacitate him. Gregor orders Bedlam arrested, and Brion banished, much to everyone’s surprise.
Plasmus returns to attack the team once more, but is soon freed from Bedlam’s control. However, in a surprising twist, a bystander kills him.
The Outsiders Outside Outsiders
DC fans will find themselves familiar with the Outsiders as a team outside Young Justice. In the comics, Batman forms the Outsiders as there are boundaries the Justice League couldn’t cross as a public team. It seems very Batman for the Caped Crusader to have a black ops team to handle threats the Justice League couldn’t face because of international consequences. After all, not all of the League’s adventures and people-saving sit well with states, countries, and policies all over the world.
DC fans Ade, Temujin, and RJ offer insights on the Outsiders both as a comic book team and in the show. In Young Justice, Batman resigns from the Justice League and takes other Leaguers with him. We’re under the assumption that Batman has already formed his team of Outsiders. And given Dick’s little skirmish in Markovia, it’s very likely Batman himself will recruit them into his team.
In the comics, things take a similar route. When Lucius Fox gets kidnapped by Baron Bedlam in Markovia, Batman finds the Justice League ordered to stay out of trouble. So Batman decides to form a team of his own. One of the king’s sons still become Geo-Force (Brion), and he also finds a metahuman with light-based powers, whom he names Halo. In the comics, his team of Outsiders face villains such as Cryonic Man, the Fearsome Five, and Agent Orange.
The Outsiders team in the comics is composed of Looker, Halo, Katana, Geo-Force, Metamorpho, Black Lightning, and Batman. Whether the Young Justice version of Outsiders will have the same team has yet to be seen.
What Happens Next?
In terms of Young Justice, both Geo-Force and Halo get “activated” in the Markovia incursion. Batman also resigns from the Justice League. Only these events have been adapted from the comics in some form of fashion. Then again, we have 23 more episodes to see where everything goes.
It’s also difficult to check whether Young Justice will directly take in elements from the Outsiders comics. After all, the series itself takes a lot of cues from Teen Titans, Justice League, and even a bit of Outsiders with its “black-ops” motif. It’s safe to assume Young Justice will have its unique take on the Outsiders concept, which makes it all the more exciting to check out.
Outsiders, obviously, has decided to keep the record of having several plot threads running throughout this season. Time will tell if these episodes give us closure for everything that’s been laid out. The first three episodes of this season has given fans a lot to unpack. They certainly deserve a second watch to process everything that’s been introduced. And if you got that Stormwatch reference, you know we’re in for one hell of a ride.
What do you think of the Young Justice: Outsiders premiere?