Young Justice "Runaways" Review: A Super Homage and a Not-so-twisty Twist

Young Justice S02E14: "Runaways"

So, what do you all want to discuss first? The Super Friends character homages or that Green Beetle was exactly what we suspected him of being all along? Let’s do the runaway Super Friends characters first since, well, what more can we say about Green Beetle other than, “What a non-twist!”

For those of you who may not know, and it’s reasonable if you don't, Super Friends was a Hanna-Barbera series about a Justice League-esque group (Superman, Batman and Robin, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman) that went through a couple of different iterations between 1973 and 1986. The show had different tones and goals across those iterations. The first season was big on the kid-friendly public service announcements (“Saving energy is important, children!”) and barely had recognizable DC villains at all. The second season saw the introduction of Black Vulcan, Samurai, El Dorado, and Apache Chief to give the series a little diversity.

The Super Friends series is sort of maligned due to its overly earnest moralizing and silly adventuring, but it’s an important part of DC media history, and “Runaways” paid homage to the characters I just mentioned. Virgil stood in for Black Vulcan, what with their similar uses of electricity-based powers; the Japanese girl, Sam (short for Asami), was our Samurai, and used an energy-projection ability to travel in a way that Samurai used a tornado to travel; Eduardo borrowed El Dorado’s teleportation abilities; and Tye Longshadow’s giant astral manifestations harkened back to Apache Chief’s ability to grow in size. The coloring of the youngsters’ clothes even mirrored that of their 1970s counterparts.

So I rather enjoyed both the character nods to an older piece of DC animated history and where they fit into the story. Virgil, Sam, Tye, and Eduardo have been background players since the Reach’s abduction of them, and having them do something, even if it was a very half-assed runaway plot, provided a welcome change of pace from the larger plot of the show. Their characterization suffered due to our lack of experience with them, but that’s pretty much par for the course for the second season of Young Justice.

As a result, their recruitment by Lex, foreshadowed in the most obvious way possible a couple of weeks ago, didn’t fill me with worry or dread like it probably should have. It just feels like more plotting and conniving. That being said, I really want to buy into the idea that Lex is beginning to work against the Reach, since one of my biggest problems with the Light and the Reach’s union has always been that I find it difficult to believe that villains with big agendas and egos—like Vandal Savage, Lex Luthor, and Ra’s al Ghul—would sacrifice those things for the Reach’s plans. So if the villains have turned against their alien masters, that’s a bit interesting. If this is just some con to get the kids on board, I’m less engaged.

But I guess we should talk about the Blue Beetle thing, eh? Turned out that Green Beetle’s little reconfiguring of the scarab last week is indeed spurring on the end of the world, as he actually allowed the scarab to take control of Jaime. It’s for the best that we were let in on the cause of Jaime’s overly violent behavior as opposed to having it strung out for a few episodes since, well, we all already saw this coming a mile away. A surprise of some sort would’ve been nice, but we’ll just have to wait and see how this contributes to the show’s endgame.

Notes & Quotes

DC Nation Short: Another installment of the Lightning and Thunder shorts. I liked the family vibe the short played up, particularly the "Black Lightning as a single parent" aspect, but it was also one of those shorts that felt like everything would play better even as an 11-minute version.

Justice League Unlimited had a similar sort of plot with the Super Friends characters in the episode “Ultimatum,” though they excluded El Dorado in favor of the more recognizable Wonder Twins. If you haven’t seen the episode, I’d advise against it until Young Justice finishes. Their arc on this series may mirror the plot of that episode.

– I had completely forgotten about Red Volcano, and what Red Volcano even looked like. In my defense, he hasn’t appeared on the show since Oct. 21, 2011.

– “Except you’re flying around free as a... beetle.”

– “Where’s Amazo’s head?!” I’m going to start shouting that at the office.

– I kept waiting for Green Beetle to transform into the Earth-16 Ma'alefa'ak, the big nemesis of the Martian Manhunter, in that last scene, but I’m starting to think he’s just a Martian with a scarab. Ah, well.

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

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