Young Justice Is More Than Just Heroics in Part Two of Phantoms
When Young Justice: Phantoms returned for the second half, I was looking forward to finally seeing what was going on with the three Legionnaires. Little did I expect what was going to end up happening throughout the new episodes. We’re all used to lots of action and heroics with some romance and drama mixed in as the seasons have passed. This half of the season is still picking up after the first half (and thankfully explaining some about why the Legion of Super-Heroes are in the past), but is also addressing a number of various social topics as well.
It had been revealed a while back that Kaldur was gay. He has been dating Wyynde for a while as well. (The name for the character was confusing as it’s also the name of a friend of Arion’s in the past and it’s not exactly common sounding. I read the Arion comics growing up and remembered the name from there.) Having a gay character is not new to the series, but for a long time, Kaldur was really the only member of the group bringing diversity.
In episode one, we get to see a little of Violet as their personal life is explored. There really doesn’t seem to be much going on other than this first issue for her so far, but given the cast size at this point, it’s hard to spend a lot of time with too many characters given the 13 half-hour episode limit. They do make the most of their time with Violet’s trip to see Gabrielle’s mother and discusses things relating to their heritage and Islam. Violet also expresses in the credits that they feel like they are actually non-binary. Given that the Halo side of the equation isn’t human, gender may be foreign even being in the body of someone assigned female at birth. I would like to see more of this and see how Violet socializes and interacts with the rest of the team after this revelation.
The next comes when La’gaan is shown with a new romantic partner and she’s pregnant. This by itself is no big deal given that Miss Martian went back to Superboy. The real surprise is when you find out that La’gaan isn’t just in a relationship with her, but also with another male character. The three of them are in a polyamorous relationship, something not usually shown in super-hero cartoons. I guess being aired on HBO Max gives them a lot more leeway to explore topics that might not go as well in some venues. Any alternative to monogamy often gets belittled along with any more open sexual situations. Some people condemn poly or open relationships as a level of sexual deviancy which couldn’t be further from the truth. Situations like this need to be presented more in a positive view as this one is and normalized as much as any monogamous relationship.
Next, we move on to Rocket who has been in the opening credits but hasn’t really been used in the story this season. With her return, you get to see more of her son and her ex. The son isn’t the normal, happy, well-adjusted boy that most stories would present. The first sign that something is up is when he needs to have all of his toy cars sitting with the wheels up. He has a fit about needing to have a specific hat for the trip to his father’s home and also makes a comment on the subway about how the thinks a woman there stinks. When they get to their destination, the father already has the toy cars set out for him with the wheels up. Amistad is apparently autistic. While Rocket is on a space mission, her ex is working with the school to get someone to help work with Amistad as he doesn’t handle social situations and learning with the other kids well. I’m waiting to see how they address this more. Just revealing him to be on the spectrum is not enough. This issue is a lot deeper than the other topics like showing that certain types of sexual orientations, sexual identities, and relationships exist. I hope they do more about how to handle his needs and not just drop it at the point of showing that he’s different. Most people probably don’t understand autism well and this would be a good opportunity to explore it.
While there is much more character development, we do still need the heroics. Saturn Girl and Chameleon Boy finally reach out to some of the modern heroes after seeing Phantom Girl die along with Superboy. It turns out that Conner is the inspiration for the Legion in this universe and they were there to try to stop Lor-Zod from destroying the Legion by killing Conner and therefore, their inspiration to form. Well, it turns out that Tinya and Conner are actually in the Phantom Zone. I’m assuming she phased them in there to save him even though in the comics, she is from Bgztl and has nothing to do with the Phantom Zone. We don’t know much though since she has been unconscious the whole time since Conner woke up there. Toss in some politics both in Atlantis and on New Genesis and we’re really rounding out a season that we’re only half way through so far. The last episode had a nice surprise in reintroducing Razer from the CGI Green Lantern cartoon. He was always an interesting character and seeing him as a Blue Lantern when we first find him was a definite surprise. Having him wield both the blue and red rings in the end makes for a really interesting story that I hope they continue it as he heads off in search of Aya.
I’ve enjoyed the Young Justice cartoons from the start and while the first half of the season was a bit slow and boring, the second half is really picking up. There are a lot of things going on that I can’t wait to see unfold and plenty of time for more story arcs to be introduced. Part two of this series is definitely worth checking out.