REVIEW: ‘Young Justice: Phantoms,’ Episodes 1 and 2

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Young Justice: Phantoms

Young Justice: Phantoms is the fourth season of the HBO Max Original animated series created by Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti. The first two episodes of Phantoms, “Inhospitable” and “Needful,” premiered after this year’s DC FanDome. One year after the finale of Young Justice: Outsiders, Superboy (Nolan North) and Miss Martian (Danica McKellar) travel to Mars to celebrate their marriage along with Beast Boy (Greg Cipes) and Martian Manhunter (Kevin Michael Richardson). However, they face new challenges in the form of Mars’ lifelong caste system and a mysterious plot to sew discord amongst Mars’ various citizens.

Young Justice has been on the air for a little over ten years, and in all that time, it has proven to be one of the best takes on the DC Universe. A large part of that is due to how the series has balanced elements of action and drama and how it forged bonds of romance and friendship between its main characters. Superboy and Miss Martian have had one of the longest-lasting relationships on the show, with its ups and downs. Marriage only seems like the next step for both of them. Keeping in line with the legacy aspect, the opening sequence also features the original Young Justice cast and showcases how much they’ve grown in the space of ten years.

North and McKellar’s performances are the cherry on top. They’ve lived with these characters for ten years, which brings emotional weight to scenes like Superboy meeting Miss Martian’s parents and a conversation at the beginning of “Inhospitable” about where their relationship is going. If you’ve been with the show since its inception, you’ll definitely love these scenes.

The rest of the cast delivers excellent performances, especially Cipes as Beast Boy. While this isn’t his first time playing the shapeshifting hero, this is a version of Beast Boy who has become more of a leader thanks to the events of Outsiders and is a bit more mature than the versions seen in Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go! In addition, other DC alums have roles in the episodes, including Cipes’ Teen Titans castmate Hynden Walch as Miss Martian’s sister and Carl Lumbly as her father.

On the story side, the episodes deal with life on Mars, specifically the caste system, which consists of the Green Martians, Red Martians, and the White Martians. The White Martians are regarded as outsiders by the Green Martians, which makes things tense as Miss Martian is the product of a marriage between a White Martian and Green Martian. Complicating matters is the murder of Mars’ former king, which led to the tensions between the various caste systems. Superboy and Beast Boy also have to learn to communicate mentally on a planet where everyone is psychic. And further complicating things, their abilities aren’t as dependable in Mars’ atmosphere. DC fans will also see a fan-favorite superhero team, whose presence raises even more questions, which is fitting given that secrets are a large part of the show’s DNA.

The show is a visual treat thanks to the art design of Phil Bourassa and the work of Studio Mir. Bourassa’s designs truly bring an alien flair to Mars—for all of their different skin colors, the Martians are spindly limbed creatures who tower over everyone else. In addition, Miss Martian receives a redesign herself, growing out her hair and keeping her White Martian skin. And Studio Mir, best known for their work on Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, bring a fluid motion to the episodes and the character movements. Beast Boy’s transformations are a great example; he stretches like taffy while becoming a different animal, often growing or shrinking in size.

Young Justice: Phantoms is a premiere ten years in the making, as two of the original cast members make a huge life decision and Earth-16 continues to expand. I’ve loved this series since its premiere, and I’m glad that, four seasons in, it continues to balance superhero action with genuine growth for its characters.

The first two episodes of Young Justice: Phantoms are currently available to stream on HBO Max, with new episodes premiering every Thursday.


Young Justice: Phantoms, Episodes 1 & 2
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

Young Justice: Phantoms is a premiere ten years in the making, as two of the original cast members make a huge life decision and Earth-16 continues to expand. I’ve loved this series since its premiere, and I’m glad that, four seasons in, it continues to balance superhero action with genuine growth for its characters.