Young Justice 1×03: “Welcome to Happy Harbor”
Originally Aired: January 21, 2011
Written By: Kevin Hopps
Directed By: Jay Oliva
Summary: While waiting for their first mission, the team has to deal with a villain with a suspiciously familiar set of powers.
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Arc Notes: Establishes the details of Mount Justice; first appearance of Megan’s Biotransport, which I assume will serve as the team’s transportation.
Debuting Characters: The bad guy in the opening credits is Brick (a Green Arrow villain, as he notes in dialogue), while Mr. Twister makes what I believe is his first animated appearance. The labcoat-ed scientist at the end of the episode is Professor T.O. Morrow, the Red Tornado’s original creator.
(Background sections will be rarer for this series due to wanting to be timely.)
Thoughts on the Episode:
Prior to the advent of decompressed storylines in comics, the third or fourth issue of any team book was usually devoted to a story like this one, where the infrastructure supporting the team is established and they deal with a minor threat. This episode carries on that tradition, as the naescent Young Justice gets familiar with the Justice League’s former headquarters and takes on Mr. Twister. The problem is that these types of stories are a necessary evil, and usually aren’t that great. This episode was no exception.
The fact that the team isn’t quite perfect from the beginning was somewhat expected – these are inexperienced heroes, after all. But the script rather smartly goes for elements of tension right away, specifically the Superboy / Miss Martian confrontations. It’s a logical place to go with Superboy – essentially a victim of telepathic rape for most of his life – as being distrusting of everyone else with telepathy. However, the other team members don’t receive much in the way of character development in an episode that you’d think would be ripe for it; other than the occasional line from Kid Flash, we don’t know much about the other three team members. I expect that we’re supposed to instinctively map past Robins onto this one, but I view that as a bit of a cheat. And, of course, Aqualad is a completely new character in both comics AND animation, a complete blank slate to the viewer.
The lack of character work leaves this episode to rely on action scenes – which, if the first 66 minutes’ worth of this series are any indication, is where the production team’s strengths lie anyway. The opening skirmish with Brick isn’t anything special, though, and while the fight against Twister is sufficiently long to get the team to show off what they can do, we already had a pilot to establish that type of thing for 80% of the current members. It’s also hurt that the eventual end of the fight is both a bit of a cheat and something we’ve seen many times before: a sex-changed twist on the J’onn Fakeout (although Megan shouldn’t have been able to generate the electricity that helped the illusion). There are some nice moments in the battle – Twister failing to fall for Robin trying the sticky bomb trick, for instance – but overall, it was pretty flat, albeit visually interesting throughout.
Speaking of which, the animation appears to have maintained the same level of quality as in the pilot, which is a good thing going forwards, and the vocal cast appears to be rounding into form nicely with the exception of Superboy’s oddly inappropriate voice. Danica McKellar (Winnie Cooper from the Wonder Years and without a doubt the world’s best-looking mathematician) as Megan does the best job here, although it is a bit too easy to paint Megan as little more than a grown-up Starfire from Teen Titans.
While this one did get some needed work in (HQ tour, getting Megan some face time to allow her to catch up with the boys in terms of development), it couldn’t shake the “placeholder” feeling throughout. I’m going to be a bit harsher here than I probably should be with this grade, but this series has high expectations.
(Also – and this is a late addition but fits with the theme – one of my only problems with producer Greg Weisman’s previous series, The Spectacular Spider-Man, was that it tended to favour overlong action sequences when its strengths were with the characters. Although it’s far too early to sound the alarm on this show based on just over an hour of action, the episode triggered those same concerns with me.)
Grade: C-. A decent little bit of characterisation with Superboy’s mistrust of Megan, but overall a fairly pedestrian episode. I have a feeling I’m going to be developing a longing for Justice League‘s two-parters before long, as the pilot did a better job of working characterisation in amidst the action.
- I know this is overthinking things, but if it became known that the mountain outside your quaint New England town was holding the Justice League, wouldn’t you move out of town, I don’t know, SECONDS LATER??? I guess the U.S. housing situation is bad on Earth-16 as well.
- My copy of this is in 1.77:1 aspect ratio – a slightly different one than Justice League’s later widescreen seasons, if memory serves. I squished the first image up above a bit to make it look more cinematic as a result.
- This was the first time we saw the full credits, and they’re pretty underwhelming (aside from that nice shot of Miss Martian in front of the moon). No spoilers from what I could detect, other than the obvious fact that Artemis is going to join the team sooner rather than later. Speedy is briefly shown in the credits, making it seem as though he’s going to make the occasional appearance, as well.
- “Mount Justice” isn’t a much better name for the HQ than the Justice Cave.
- Continuing the listing of teleporter codes, Robin is P-01 and Wally is P-03. I assume that refers to their “provisional” status.
- Continuing our theme of bad guys with Star Trek ties, he’s voiced by former Q John DeLancie.
- In news that shakes my faith in humanity, Batman: Under the Red Hood was the highest-selling DC DVD of 2010. People, it’s a Judd Winick storyline! I know you love Batman and all, but… c’mon!
- Also, don’t listen to the Wonder Woman fans who claim that her movie supposedly outsold anything released this year based on this out-of-date Wikipedia entry. The number listed there for Crisis on Two Earths, for instance, was its first week sales. Real sales figures, courtesy The World’s Finest, are here.
- Robin wearing the glasses is a nice callback to Young Justice, as Batman refused to let Tim tell the rest of the team his real name. This led to much hilarity, as well as the “Alvin Draper” alias that’s something of a running joke now.
- Similarly, the thing with Miss Martian and the cookies is of course a callback to J’onn’s cookie obsession, which we briefly talked about two Christmases ago.
- The line about Wally being unable to vibrate through walls is a lift from his comic counterpart – except that Wally vibrating through an object didn’t cause him to get a headache, but rather to cause the object to explode because he was unable to contain his kinetic energy.
- Obviously, I don’t really talk much Marvel, but Spectacular Spidey was far and away the best animated show Marvel has ever produced (although the current Avengers show isn’t bad at all), and it boggles the mind that they let Weisman slip through their fingers and go to DC Animation.
Line of the Episode: “Indeed. That was quite turbing.” Of all the gags to continue….
(Kid) Flash Line of the Episode: “Is it wrong that I think I’m hot?”
Next Young Justice: What will likely be, given recent movie casting announcements, the first and only appearance of a certain Bat-Villain in this series (complete with awesome voice actor) via the team’s first official mission in “Drop Zone.” Time to see if the weird black-ops setup makes any sense in practice.
Next Time: Mad Love, promise.