YOUNG JUSTICE: INVASION Series Finale 'Endgame' Review
"Business as usual", Nightwing quietly says to himself before taking a leave of absence in the series finale of Young Justice. Does that sentiment also hold true for the final episode? Read on for my review....death, cliffhangers and reconciliation, this finale has it all.
"While there's always the outside chance that the show could be resurrected or receive a direct-to-dvd movie, the fact remains that Young Justice is potentially ending on the biggest cliffhanger in animation history. The regular excellence this show produced week in and week out almost demands a chance to wrap up all the dangling threads."
Green Lantern:TAS and Young Justice have become something of a Saturday morning ritual for me. And while I like Green Lantern, I think I enjoy Young Justice just a little bit more as the subject matter is a little more mature. Often times, the episodes in Young Justice requires you to pay close attention or you'll miss small details that make the show even more enjoyable . However, that wasn't necessarily the case this episode as the finale opted for a frank and rapid plot progression in an effort to tie up all the loose ends from The Reach storyline. But while that arc is definitely put to rest by the time the credits roll, a whole new set of questions are raised that sadly may never be answered.
The episode opens with the intergalactic trial of the Justice League who are found guilty on all charges. Miss Martian and Superboy arrive with evidence clearing the League but the verdict has already been rendered. From here, we shift to an attack from the Young Justice team on the Reach mothership where Black Beetle is located. Aqualad, Green Beetle and Blue Beetle launch an attack on Black which also feature some of the show's trademark dialogue - "You are alone,"says Aqualad to Black Beetle who retorts, "I am sufficient." Just reading these words don't do them nearly enough justice, it's the way the voice actors deliver lines that elevate subtle exchanges such as this one onto a higher plane. As for the fight itself, it's actually a tad bit of a letdown. Black Beetle reveals a new ability, apparently he can destroy scarabs and easily dispatches the one on Green Beetle's back. However, Blue Beetle (thanks to the tried and true trope of fighting together as one) is not only able to repel this same attack but also performs it against Black Beetle, who has his scarab disintegrated. I have to admit, this one was tough to swallow. Over the course of Season Two, Black Beetle has gone toe-to-toe with Mongul and regularly dispatched the YJ team on multiple occasions with relative ease. To be taken out in mere seconds and then pushed to the side for the remaining balance of the episode was woefully inadequate for a villain that's been built up all season. It's a major hiccup but one that allows Blue to learn that Black Beetle has set a fail-safe plan in motion to destroy the Earth and thus erase all evidence of The Reach's evil tamperings.
Our heroes are unable to think of a countermeasure but it's Lex Luthor of all people who comes up with a solution, a great interpretation of his character that definitely highlights the fact that he's one of DC Comic's most layered and charismatic villains. Implementing Luthor's plan, the heroes neutralize all but one of Black Beetle's endgame threats which is located in the North Pole. Enter the speedsters, Flash (Barry Allen) and Impulse (Bart Allen) who use the kinetic friction of their super speed to neutralize The Reach's planet destabilizer. Kid Flash (Wally West) is the last to arrive on the scene (no love for Jay Garrick?) to give a final boost but as he's not as fast as the other two speedsters, he's not able to totally neutralize the energy from the Reach weapon and ends up absorbing it. The speedsters are successful but it's at the cost of Kid Flash's life. It's a sad moment but a little random as Kid Flash has pretty much been absent throughout the entire second season in favor of Impulse. If I was to guess, it seems like this death was going to be used as a mechanism to introduce the Speed Force as the way Wally fades away is uncannily similar to the way the Flash faded away in an episode of Justice League Unlimited.
However, without a third season, we'll never know if that was the plan. At the end of the episode the Green Lanterns take The Reach into custody and Lex Luthor announces his candidacy for a key position at the United Nations, perhaps a nod that a future season was going to explore the President Luthor storyline from the Superman comic books. A lot happens in the last 5 minutes of the episode - Captain Atom turns over Chairmanship of the Justice League to Black Canary, Nightwing decides to take a sabbatical after the death of Wally, the YJ team officially moves The Watchtower to operate side by side with the Justice League and we get the sudden reveal of Apokolips and Darkseid, something hinted at throughout the entire second season.
Honestly, not everything worked in this episode. The way Miss Martian and Superboy got the Justice League acquitted of their crimes ultimately made Icon look incredibly stupid and useless. How Black Beetle was dispatched was incredibly weak and anticlimactic. And while it was good to have Kid Flash back in the foreground, to have him be the hero that makes the ultimate sacrifice was just downright odd as he was limited to brief cameos in a small number of prior episodes. But there were also plenty of good development and rewards for longtime comic book fans as well - Black Lightning and Static Shock finally meet, a Jay Garrick sighting, Tim Drake and Wonder Girl become an item, Batman gets some screen time, and the final scene with our heroes ends 'Business as usual' as Nightwing puts it with Aqualad dishes out orders for future missions. There's also the incredibly fresh and invigorating dialogue that the show brings each and every episode. It was on full display in the finale. Things like The Reach referring to humans as "meat" and "infestation" will grab the attention of even the most jaded DC animation fan. Overall, this episode was a serviceable season finale but left a lot to be desired as a series finale. There were a lot of previous episodes this season that were much better than the 'Endgame'. And talk about the cliffhanger of all cliffhangers; you can't introduce a villain like Darkseid in the last 30 seconds and then go off the air forever. Leaving a few plotlines open is more forgivable for a show like Green Lantern: TAS which was in its first season but for a show like Young Justice to pull something like this is a bit of a head-scratcher. As just a fan, I'm conscious of the fact that a number of animated shows that have come before have only had a two seasons. There's no way this notion wasn't present in the minds of producers heading into the second season. While I can appreciate not planning for failure, it appears that there was no forethought whatsoever that the show could potentially need to be wrapped up. In comparison of the two series, it feels like Green Lantern was the show ending its second season and Young Justice was in its first and lindsided by network executives. While there's always the outside chance that the show could be resurrected or receive a direct-to-dvd movie, the fact remains that Young Justice is potentially ending on the biggest cliffhanger in animation history. The regular excellence this show produced week in and week out almost demands a chance to wrap up all the dangling threads.
Click here for my review of the series finale of Green Lantern: The Animated Series.
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