Created by Brandon Vietti and Greg Weisman, Young Justice is a DC Comics animated series that aired for two seasons on Cartoon Network from 2011 to 2013. Not based on the comic series of the same name, the show presented the adventures of a team of young heroes (Don't call them "sidekicks"!) set its own distinct universe separate from the other DC Comics TV series. While using teenage main characters could have led to a series best suited for children, the realistic characters and smartly plotted stories make Young Justice accessible for all.
As the Justice League goes off on a tough mission, Robin, Aqualad, and Kid Flash are sent to handle what should be a simple fire outbreak at Project Cadmus. While there, they discover a clone of Superman has been developed. Known as Superboy, he has some of the same powers as Superman, though not at the same level. He doesn't possess the ability to fly nor x-ray and heat vision. Seeing their potential, a junior varsity Justice League is formed. Batman will determine their assignments, Black Canary will provide training, and Red Tornado will supervise them. Miss Martian also becomes a team member but Speedy refuses, insulted that he can't join the League.
In Episode Six, "The Infiltrator," Artemis, an archer like Speedy, who now goes by Red Archer, is added to the team. She's introduced as Green Arrow's niece, but the audience soon learns she isn't. There may be a mole within the group, and Artemis is suspected, which is too coincidental to be a possibility since the audience is just meeting her. Along the way Zantanna and Rocket are added to the group.
Behind the scenes throughout the season, there's a nefarious organization known as The Light whose members are kept hidden. They are involved in a number of the criminal activities the team investigates. In addition, there a number of familiar DC villains that appear, such as Bane, Sportsmaster, Amazo, Clayface, Black Manta, the League of Shadows, Lex Luther, and the Joker. The writers deliver a great wrap up to the season-long arc, revealing the mole and the plans of those in control. I was delighted I didn't figure it out, and it sets up where Young Justice could go in the next season.
Aside from the exciting adventures, the characters are what make the series compelling. They deal with the emotional upheaval any other teenagers would. Superboy has to deal with an absent father because Superman doesn't know how to deal with him so he avoids him as best he can. They also have to deal with emotion like young love, as two of the boys are attracted to Miss Martian, and envy as some wonder why Aqualad gets to lead the team, especially when he falters.
It's great to see some diversity in the group and they don't draw attention to it. For example, it's not clear that Artemis is Asian until her mother is introduced. On the other hand, an explanation of Aqualad's background would have been welcome because he looks of African descent, but with Atlanteans living underwater it's not clear how he would have a darker skin tone. No doubt there's someone in his family history, and is a story worth telling.
The complete series has previously been released on DVD, and Young Justice now comes to Blu-ray by way of the Warner Archive Collection. For some reason, they don't identify it as the first season of the show. The video has been given a 1080p/ MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio of 1.78. The colors are vivid and blacks are rich. The image delivers the animators' intended detail. There is minor aliasing and banding, but nothing that distracts from the presentation. The audio is available in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. Though not immersive, the stereo track offers clear dialogue that blends well with the effects and score, but it certainly leaves you wanting more since the intensity of the sound doesn't match the action.
Young Justice is highly recommended. Can't wait for the second season, called Young Justice: Invasion, to be added to the Warner Archive Collection.