Young Justice "Cornered" Review: Despero Measures

Young Justice S02E11: "Cornered"

After last week’s plot- and action-heavy outing, it was natural for Young Justice to take a bit of a breather, to showcase the ramifcations of the events of the past couple of episodes. And I like that the show does this—actions should have consequences in narratives—but "Cornered" was mostly a dull slugfest.

Despero is not a character I’ve ever particularly enjoyed, and his incarnation here—a growling, non-speaking, roaming space gladiator—was about as engaging as I’ve made it sound. He arrived on Earth due to the League’s expanding galactic presence, to prove himself tougher than the mightiest champions, but had to settle for Zatanna, Captain Marvel, Conner, M’gann, Malcolm, and Karen at the Hall of Justice. He punched, they punched, he uses his psionic third eye, and the Hall got destroyed.

It was so boring.

A large part of the problem is that Despero has no personality whatsoever. He’s a brute who fights and leaves the talking to his robot, L-Ron. It would've been one thing if there was some witty banter between the heroes and Despero and L-Ron, but everyone sort of ignored each other. Despero didn’t speak, and the heroes more or less ignored L-Ron, who was quite funny, but the robot’s schtick could only go so far without anything to bounce it off of.

The fight did afford a bit of character work. Malcolm, frustrated with being placed in an abandoned warehouse in Blüdhaven, of all places, following the destruction of Mount Justice, tried to move in with Karen, but she continued to shut him down. Poor guy. But he also donned Guardian’s outfit to buy everyone some time during the fight, in keeping with the character’s pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths history. It was the highlight of the A-plot since Mal’s bombastic parody of a superhero was genuinely amusing, and it was nice to see Malcolm finally do something.

M’gann was forced to deal with the fallout of her psychic assault on Kaldur as she resisted using her abilities on Despero. She was understandably slow to use that ability, but she does have other powers that might’ve been useful in the fight. It was mostly place-setting for a bigger emotional moment about this particular plot, as it resulted in her taking up residence in J’onn’s Chicago apartment instead of the warehouse. Conner, of course, noticed all this, and the episode ended with the two of them about to talk.

While all this was going on, Black Canary was debriefing/counselling the teens recovered from the raid on the Reach’s undersea lab. There wasn't much going on with that arc, but I appreciate the throughline of Canary as counselor; it nudged along the Jaime-as-the-destoryer-of-Earth plot, as he wants the League to do whatever it can to get the scarab literally off his back. Like Bart said, this course of action may be what triggers all the badness, but we’ll see how it goes.

If there’s one thing I did really enjoy, it was the Reach ambassador’s consistent undermining of the League in the light of both political institutions and the media (well, G. Gordon Godfrey, anyway). Last week, commenter @opalemeraldcat questioned why the the League just didn’t tell the truth about the Reach and this week we saw how that’s no longer an option. The League’s been keeping things, including the Watchtower and the team, hush-hush from the governments of the world, and the Reach ambassador (voiced with diplomatic slipperiness by Phil LaMarr) has been more than happy to make all this known. He even took down Despero’s forcefield and then took Despero into custody. He is a public relations master.

So the fallout from the first big confrontation with the Reach is being felt. I just hope that the impulse to stage largely pointless fights doesn’t continue to get in the way of the more interesting aspects of the series.


Notes & Quotes


DC Nation Short: Part two of the Amethyst story involved our hero being sent on her quest and having a quick crisis of confidence before dispatching a spider, sent by Dark Opal, with a green pepper. It was fine, nothing too awful or awesome. The serialized nature of the short sort of works against it, but it’s unlikely we’d ever see a half-hour version of this character, so we’ll see how it goes.

– The Reach exposed Virgil to "little static shocks." We see what you did there, show. It also seems that you're going to continue to draw out the full awakening of his abilities. Static fans are going to have to be patient a little while longer, it seems.

– I really fail to see how no one knew about the Watchtower. Is it in some sort of weird orbit that avoids any and all other satellites or space stations? Even by comic book logic standards, it’s a real stretch.

– "Magicism is cheating!" So Zatanna’s spells aren’t allowed, but Captain Marvel’s abilities are okay?


What'd you think of this week's episode?

Comments (34)
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– "Magicism is cheating!" So Zatanna's spells aren't allowed, but Captain Marvel's abilities are okay?"

They are not ok. That´s why, in my point of view, Despero didn´t kill Billy Batson. He didn´t consider the boy a worthy oponent.
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Not knowing about the Watchtower kind of flabbergasted me since the Watchtower was the League's first big headquarters, though it alienates them from the rest of Earth. Apparently this universe is slightly away from Justice League, especially since Virgil has his powers in Justice League but not here in Young Justice.

I guess I really need to catch up on what is going on with Young Justice. I've missed most of the episodes past episode 8, so I'm kind of lost with all the betrayals and destruction that is now occurring.
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If you are talking about the Justice League animated series then yes Young Justice is in another universe.
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Wonder Woman flies an invisible jet, Wayne Enterprise owns probably half the government satellites in orbit, and the League magicians have the ability to hide/disguise things in public. There's more than one way to hide the Watchtower. Plus they had a very public Hall of Justice, so it was a huge front for the public. It's hard to look for something when you don't know it exist.
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That's great. In-narrative explanation now, please. ;)
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I thought the episode was good as always, but I wasn't feeling the same excitement I got with the previous episodes. That's probably thanks to the haitus (Well done CN!). I really hope we get some focuse on Wally in the upcoming episodes, I'm really starting to miss that boy....
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Captain Marvel cheating yes Despero didn't know the source of the power after he changed into Billy Despero stasis him. SO he's not interested in fighting Magics. The fight was pointless Captain Marvel really? Nightwing could have done better. The fight is more for the younger fans what is important is whats happening around it.

Reach got major PR points today and they discredited the league not only with the watchtower but that the founding members of the league are intergalactic criminals on trial. A fact that was hidden from the public to maintain that the league is perfect. (the league has an Image of being perfect and now the reach is nibbling or breaking that with half-truths.

Intro of static shock quite interesting I didn't even notice him in the last episode; I notice a guy in the last part where capt. atom and Marvel was trying to break through the cage there was an African American character who had lightning bolts who was that? (whoops already answered.)

Mgan is feeling guilty.

Blue beetle confession

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We are going to see M'gan and Conner to leave the team after confronting Nightwing. They feel that they were not trusted with truth aboout Aqualad and Artemis.
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It's hard to take the moral high ground when you're lobotomizing people and making Full Blown leaguers not notice (the interrogation room). Also lobotomizing a friend.

As for Connor: covering up the lobotomizing
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This comment has been removed.
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I reference the final note I think either Despero didn't know Captain Marvel used magic or he figured his magic gave him simple enough powers that he would allow it. Given time Zatanna can do a wide variety of creative things, Captain Marvel on the other hand only gets super strength and the ability to fly (apparently wisdom as well but that's not shown very often) making him much more manageable.
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I think I'm mad @ bumblebee for not being straight w Mal. Either cut him loose, or get with it lady!
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Also, I find it weird they gave M'gan curtains (tho very sweet of them) but she doesn't change cloths.
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They gave her curtains for a semblance of privacy. She was the only female that was supposed to stay there since Bumblebee had her own apartment.
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I want more Wally & Artemis!
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Same, I miss them :/
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Who was the black guy superhero trying to take down the force field?......STATIC SHOCK!!!!!!! cant wait to see more of him
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thanks
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No that was Black Lightning.
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lol, I know. he was super random
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The magic being cheating line was directed to Zatanna probably because she was an obvious magic user. L-Ron was likely unaware that Captain Marvel's powers were derived from Magic. It was nice to see an older Billy Batson, now in his teens.

Interesting though is that in the show, if he calls down the lightning while holding someone he is still changed back even if the lightning strikes that person. This is different from the comics and from his appearance in Justice League Unlimited where if the lightning hits the person he is holding, he does not transform because the lightning does not hit him.

Good to see that Miss Martians actions are being looked at in a real way. She is being forced to take a look at the path she has taken. For so long she fought off her White Martian heritage and now she is coming to the realization that she has begun giving in to that nature. And at the end Superboy is there for her, even if just as a friend. She can discuss her feelings with him more than she can with Lagoon Boy who may not know all her secrets.
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The return to tv of Static made my day
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i thought the episode was amazing i really enjoyed the young hero's getting beat down by the giant alien trying to prove it's physical fighting abilities to the earthlings after all i kind of enjoyed the volmerbility of the league with out there leaders and as far as the alien not talking i loved every second of it because these aliens talking and looking stupid at the same time dosen't make sense to me he kind of reminded me off the hulk a lot but overall the episode was good i liked it espeacially since i haven't seen a new episode in like 4 months so yeah.
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Seeing Malcolm do something was impressive, on this show he's always been just... around, for no reason at all and now he's stepped up, but wasn't impressive in any particular way except for his bravery and cunning choice.

If magic is cheating, then isn't Captain Marvel's lightning going to affect Despero in some way? It seemed pretty cheap to have Ol' Shazamer pull that move and not work at all - it bested Superman in Kingdom Come, IIRC. I also thought in the moment that Marvel's abilities were cheating, but since they're feats of strength and ability rather than direct magic attacks, it got a pass from me - Despero is a huge cheat to begin with since he's another overgrown, underthought '60s DC villain.

I keep being surprised that Virgil isn't voiced like on his show, especially with half that series' actors - Phil Lamarr and Kevin Michael Richardson - appearing in this episode. It was surprising at how much bitterness this Virgil conveyed at and towards Black Canary here.

The Watchtower might be in a higher orbit or have stealth technology, doesn't seem like a stretch to me.

Anyway, an ok episode but the big fight stuff at the center was the weakest aspect.

No mention of the 2nd DC Nation Short, which was another Amethyst of Gemworld that really could have used another minute or so of exposition and action? And that for the 2nd week in a row, both DC Nation Shorts were girl-centric?
More+
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And it pretty seriously scarred Supes in Justice League Unlimited, too. Really, I'm just annoyed we didn't more Rob Lowe. I really enjoy his work on this show.

Stealth tech? Sure. Except is seems visible every time we see it. It's a nit being picked.

And...um...check the first note in the Notes & Quotes section...for the DC Nation short...?
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We get Chad Lowe, isn't that good enough?

We see it because we're the audience? No, that's too cheap, even for a cartoon. I'll stick with the "It's in a higher orbit" argument then.

You added that after I posted, right? That was NOT there when I read this article before, of this I swear. Anyway, uh, yeah, that analysis is spot on.
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I'm glad I am not the only one who felt Despero A plot was dull and uninteresting. It was such a shame, because the other plots in the episode was more interesting. BB trying to stop his dark future, Miss M's dealing with her abuse of her telepathy, and Justice League and Reach debates. Should be interesting to see if Megan tells Conner about Nightwing and Aqulad's plan. There may be a conflict between the Boy of Steel and the former Boy Wonder.
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You can feel the Weisman in this plot by now. I can't wait until they reveal David Xanatos has been in charge of the Reach's tactical maneuvers the entire time.
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Eh. I always gave Michael Reaves more credit for Gargoyles' plotting than Weisman. But I'm weird.
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"Magicism is cheat!"

Actually, I can kind of see where he's coming from. Even Superman has no defense against magic... someone can say "NRUT OTNI A GORF!" and turn Superman into a frog. Fight over.

When reality is your sandbox, you have a severe advantage.
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I don't know why Captain Atom didn't drop the "Why were you abducting children" bit to the Reach Ambassador when it became clear he was giving away all of their secrets in front of that other guy. That other guy, who was so opposed to "young operatives"

I mean, they have actual proof... kids that were tortured.
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Plus, I feel like the reason he didn't want to bring it up is that they're trying to keep the fact that they have the kids a secret. Atom knew Canary was working her psychology voodoo and probably wanted to see what she would come up with before playing that card against the Reach ambassador. For all the Reach knows, the League returned the kids home without looking into the reason for their abductions very deeply.
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A great point, but the episode did address why they didn't use it when The Reach (or was it the UN ambassador?) asked for evidence that wasn't from children who were fans? Still, not even to try is weak writing.
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Who would believe the kids? The League has lied about a covert ops team and a giant headquarters floating in space. Any witnesses they put forth would just look like they were trying to smear the Reach, who have been nothing but up front and courteous.
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I suppose it's too complicated for a "kids' show" to get into the fact that alien-looking aliens with a lot of power might be offset by racism when compared to human-looking kids.
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