Young Justice: Phantoms Episode 24 is action-packed, intense, and emotional. So, in a word, it has all the qualities that make Young Justice a great show. “Zenith and Abyss” takes place on two fronts, as Nightwing (Jesse McCartney) and the original Young Justice team infiltrate the Phantom Zone to save Superboy (Nolan North). However, Superboy is fully under the thrall of General Zod (Phil Morris), not to mention that Zod has a highly-trained army of Kryptonian soldiers at his command. Meanwhile, Phantom Girl (Kari Wahlgren) seeks the help of Miss Martian (Danica McKellar) and the Justice League to re-enter the Zone.
While “Ego and Superego” focused more on picking up loose threads from Young Justice: Outsiders, “Zenith and Abyss” returns to the Superboy rescue mission and how it won’t be as easy as the heroes hope. Previous episodes have shown how Zod exerts his influence on his followers, similar to how a cult works. Combined with the Zone’s mental toll on its inhabitants, Superboy isn’t in his right mind, which means that his friends and family will have to work hard to reach him. It also shows in North’s performance, as he voices Conner similar to how he first appeared on Young Justice—less human emotion and more cold obedience.
Speaking of the past, writer Akira “Mark” Fujita takes the chance to pepper the episode with flashbacks from past episodes, specifically Superboy’s life. This is an excellent way of continuing Phantoms‘ trend of examining the ten-year history of Young Justice, as Superboy’s history is shown in detail. Not only that, the series brings in the people who matter most to Superboy—his brother Superman, his friends (specifically Nightwing and Aquaman), and his wife. In fact, Phantom Girl even says that Miss Martian’s psychic powers might be the key to saving Superboy, which would be the perfect way to bring the season full circle since it started with Superboy and Miss Martian’s marriage on Mars.
And speaking of emotional moments, the episode also reveals the tragedy behind the Apokoliptan weapon known as Kaizer-Thrall. It turns out that the soul of a human boy, Danny Chase (Jason Marsden), is trapped within. But it also shows how you can defy the expectations that people place upon you, as Danny is willing to help find Superboy rather than live life as a sentient torture machine. In the original comics, Danny was a rather annoying character, even attempting to force his way onto the Teen Titans. To have a story that the audience can actually emphasize with him is a testament to Fujita’s talents as a writer. It’s also proof that adaptations can improve upon the source material.
Director Christina Sotta brings a variety of environments to life in this episode, including the ghostly void of the Phantom Zone and the planet Thrombus, whose blood-red hue is due to the rays of its red sun. She also stages an impressive fight scene between Nightwing’s team and the Kryptonian criminals. Not only can Nightwing and friends not hit the Kryptonian criminals thanks to their ghostly forms, but Zod and his allies have had years to fortify their minds. Not to mention that they’re also trained soldiers. Combined with Superboy’s knowledge of their powers, Young Justice is hopelessly outnumbered. However, Lor-Zod proves to be just as skilled as his father, taking advantage of the Justice League’s plan to open up the Zone.
Young Justice: Phantoms Episode 24 sets the stage for an intense finale while highlighting everything that makes the series great. There are only two more episodes left, and the battle isn’t just against General Zod and his army of Kryptonian criminals; it’s also for Superboy’s soul. And knowing how this series operates, fans will experience hope and heartbreak in equal measure.
New episodes of Young Justice: Phantoms are available to stream on HBO Max on Thursdays.
Young Justice: Phantoms, Episode 24 - "Zenith and Abyss"
- Rating - 9/109/10
Young Justice: Phantoms Episode 24 sets the stage for an intense finale while highlighting everything that makes the series great.
Collier “CJ” Jennings is a freelance reporter and film critic living in Seattle. He uses his love of comics and film/TV to craft reviews and essays on genre projects. He is also a host on Into the Spider-Cast.