It’s impossible at this point not to respect Young Justice for its ambitious storytelling. Though Season 1 started off well with the ongoing mystery of the mole amongst the team of young heroes, Season 2 managed to outdo the previous season by establishing intertwining plots all revolving around the invasion of Earth by enemies both cosmic and domestic. With the maturity of the core team and the addition of new heroes, the scope and scale of the show expanded, but the storytelling always remained on point. The invasion in question has taken some time to come to fruition, but it speaks volumes about the writers’ abilities to manage such a slow build-up without losing any of the entertainment that comes with a cartoon about young superheroes. Some episodes may not always measure up, but the ones that hit hit hard! And while one could simply look at “Cornered” as an episode of straight up brawling, its appropriate title manages to encompass every aspect of the various plotlines without sacrificing anything pertaining to the characters. Even if it means beating them up a little bit.
Still picking up the pieces after the destruction of Mount Justice and the successful rescue of their teammates, a number of our heroes are in a state of flux either mentally or physically due to a lack of headquarters for them to regroup. With few options, the Hall of Justice becomes their temporary base of operations…until an alien warrior, Despero, appears to challenge the remaining heroes on Earth, trapping Captain Marvel, Superboy, Miss Martian, Bumblebee, Mal, and Zatanna under an energy cage. He then proceeds to pulverize them so he can take their heads as trophies. Meanwhile, at Star Labs, Black Canary questions the teens that were captured by The Reach and learns what we already know: some of these recovered teens, like Tye Longshadow and Virgil Hawkins, could or will develop super powers under the right circumstances. And speaking of The Reach, Captain Atom is at the mercy of the media as he meets with The Reach’s ambassador and the United Nations.
The bulk of the episode, Despero’s attack on the Hall of Justice, is a fantastic showcase of both team dynamics and the individual skills of our heroes. Though Captain Marvel and Superboy are mostly reduced to throwing punches, the fighting allows third tier characters like Mal and Bumblebee to shine, Mal especially. Miss Martian, however, is our primary focus. Even with all the chaos around her, M’gann still can’t get her head in the game after what she did to Kaldur and the truth she learned at his expense. Her psychic powers make her the best defense against Despero and his hypnotic third eye, but even with her teammates screaming at her to use her abilities on him, M’gann can’t do it. She’s scared of what she’s become and only when her friends really need her does she snap back into action ever so briefly.
The other, and more significant, ”battles” occurring in this episode are behind the scenes. Captain Atom’s meeting with The Reach and the UN ambassador is a political battle that he cannot win. The Reach have made the first move by presenting themselves as a peaceful alien race ready to begin negotiations with Earth. Their approach is bolstered by firebrand G. Gordon Godfrey’s sycophantic praise in contrast to his denigration of the Justice League that’s been recurring since the beginning of the season. Every moment Captain Atom is behind closed doors or in the public eye, The Reach manage to outplay him by revealing pertinent information either about the fugitive status of certain members of the Justice League, the existence of Young Justice as a covert group, and the presence of the Watchtower orbiting the planet. For all the precautions made by the League to keep Earth safe, their secrecy proves to be The Reach and The Light’s greatest weapon, publicly cornering the Justice League and painting them to be untrustworthy gods looking down from on high. It’s very similar to the Project Cadmus storyline from Justice League Unlimited, which makes me wonder why Amanda Waller hasn’t shown up yet.
Lastly, Blue Beetle struggles with the knowledge that he’s the one who’ll facilitate The Reach’s invasion, ushering in the bleak future Impulse is trying to prevent. Though it seems Jaime and Bart have an agreement not to tell Black Canary about this latest information (much to the scarab’s delight), Jaime can’t leave it alone. Even with Bart’s warning that telling the League could be the trigger for his turn, he makes the decision to tell them the truth and demands they remove the scarab, even if it costs him his life. Jaime’s internal battle is the ultimate damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t scenario and his decision not to be a pawn in The Reach’s invasion is consistent with the young hero the show has been building up. It’s an interesting contrast to Nightwing and Aqualad’s deep cover operation that requires subterfuge. Jaime has the most immediate connection to their enemy and yet he refuses to keep the information a secret. Whether or not he’ll be rewarded for his nobility remains to be seen.
DC Nation Short: More Amethyst! This time with sword-swinging, Pokémon-style fighting!
- Virgil Hawkins was tortured by The Reach with “static shocks”
- Temporary quarters at Nightwing’s home base in Blüdhaven!
- L-Ron the majordomo of Despero - “Poor sportism!”
- Captain Atom’s smile for the camera – priceless
- Mal as Guardian!
- Jaime’s recovery line when he realizes Tye doesn’t know he’s Blue Beetle
- The scarab’s murderous intentions never cease to make me laugh