This article contains Young Justice: Phantoms spoilers.
Young Justice Season 4 Episode 26
Young Justice: Phantoms closed out its season in strong fashion. “Death and Rebirth” capped a string of excellent episodes with some of the best action this show has ever seen, and the back half of the season very nearly made up for how shaky the first half was.
As with all superhero media, though, the end of one story opened up multiple possibilities for the future. What Phantoms wrapped up, a theoretical Young Justice season 5 might build around. As I see it, there are three possibilities, which we’ll tackle from least to most likely.
THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES
I’m not sure if this was seeding plots for the future as much as it was closing off the Legion of Super-Heroes’ story in the 21st century. As you’ll recall, Phantom Girl, Saturn Girl, and Chameleon Lad have been hanging around The Team since the end of last season, trying to repair the timeline that had been destroyed by Lor Zod’s meddling to save his parents.
The sheer amount of Legion stuff in this episode was, for an old Legion fanboy, an absolute delight. Miss Martian snaps Superboy out of his Phantom Zone-induced fog and breaks the minds of most of the Zod clan, paving the way for a win for the good guys, and as most of the Zods are being zapped back to the Zone by a reconstituted Danny Chase, the Emerald Eye of Ekron powers up and pulls Ursa off of Earth. She reminds us that she’s pregnant as she is flown by the eye through space to a new planet: Daxam, a near-Krypton populated in the 31st century by some of the crappiest people in the universe, with all the powers of a Kryptonians, only their weakness was to lead and not kryptonite. This could be a problem.
This also closes off Lor Zod’s time loop. Rocket was saved from oblivion in the collapsing boom tube last week by falling into Metron’s storage unit, where he gave her a repaired and pre-programmed time sphere to thank her for her work and also he was doing a little experiment. It returned her to battle, but was stolen by Lor, who was yoinked back to the scene of Superboy’s apparent death. When he left the sphere to ensure his foe’s final end, the sphere disappeared and Lor Zod became the ashen outline on the Martian cave wall we saw that made us think Superboy had bought the farm.
Aside from a couple of easter eggs (Coluan super-genius Brainiac 5 swings by the present to pick his Legionnaire colleagues, and Saturn Girl tells Superboy to stay tuned to find out why he’s so important), the only other big piece of Legion lore that gets dropped in this episode is the origin of Chameleon Lad. Turns out he’s a white Martian.
Darkseid honored his deal with Ma’alefa’ak because Ma’alefa’ak did his job. And Darksied’s end of the deal was apparently a new homeworld for the white Martians, which Darkseid’s son Grayven handed him. That new planet was Durla, and in a thousand years, Ma’alefa’ak and the other white Martian’s descendents will eventually become the race that Chameleon Boy comes from.
This is probably where they leave the Legion story for now. Despite Saturn Girl’s winking To Be Continued at Conner, there’s too much other stuff that feels more immediate.
HEROES IN CRISIS
At Conner and Megan’s wedding, the socializing and chitchat revealed Black Canary’s plan. She says that if the heroes are going to help their colleagues (like Beast Boy) with their trauma, “we need more than the multi purpose room at the rec center. We need a Sanctuary.”
Heroes in Crisis was a 2018 comic by Tom King and Clay Mann about the regular trauma of superheroing, and how it was okay to get help, that your trauma wouldn’t define you and that you can eventually move past it. And while Superman gave that speech to the world, Wally West was accidentally killing everyone at Sanctuary, the secret treatment center for superpeople with mental health issues, because he remembered his family from before the big New 52 continuity reboot and…it’s just real bad. Tom King is a terrific writer and Clay Mann’s artwork is spectacular, but this one needed more time in the oven.
Based on how much of Beast Boy’s story this season didn’t work, I’m hoping they let this one cook for another couple of seasons. But I’m not optimistic.
SUPERMAN/BATMAN: SUPERGIRL AND COUNTDOWN
The credits had their usual run of background gags, but be sure to stick around all the way through this episode, because there’s a post-credits scene and what it shows us is unbelievably daring, in that it indicates that Young Justice will be trying to adapt not one, but two of the worst DC comic stories ever made next season.
The Light, Vandal Savage’s group of supervillains, uses Klarion at the end of the episode to teleport Warworld into the Phantom Zone and snap up every Kryptonian, storing them in suspended animation. Savage and the Ultra Humanite discuss how little they needed to pay Darkseid for that privilege – one Kryptonian, and Ma’alefa’ak, in exchange for an army of their own, to be released when they need it.
That Kryptonian they paid turns out to be Kara Zor El: Supergirl. She, along with Mary Marvel, is introduced as the new Female Furies on Apokolips in the post-credits scene. We’ve already covered how atrocious the source material is for Mary’s story, but the basis for the Supergirl story is almost as bad: the second arc of an absolutely dreadful Superman/Batman series from 2004. Jeph Loeb, who had not yet graduated to being racist on the set of Marvel TV, paired with Michael Turner, by all accounts a lovely man who drew every woman to look like a dehydrated balloon animal, to make a story about Darkseid trying to capture the new-to-Earth Supergirl and turn her into one of his Furies. This story was then adapted into arguably the worst DC animated feature, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse.
This is an incredibly daring move by the Young Justice team. These two stories are so awful that they’re irredeemable: pairing them together will absolutely not fix either, and the show runs the risk of making something horribly offensive and nonsensical. Or they could alter it enough to make the end result palatable.
What’s so intriguing about this decision, which they’re almost certainly going to follow through on if there is a next season, is that the floor set by the source material is UNBELIEVABLY low – I cannot possibly describe in words how bad these comics were, and in person or live video would consist mostly of me waving my hands around like a maniac, along with a smattering of light curse words, followed by an exhausted sigh and a flop back into my chair.
However, the ceiling on this is really high. Young Justice: Phantoms pulled off a tough feat. This season finale was excellent, and it was built on a very shaky foundation. If they can do the same with Supergirl and Mary’s shaky stories, they might just be geniuses.