Review: Young Justice “Before the Dawn”

Oh, thank God Young Justice is back! You have no idea how much I’ve missed you! Like Green Lantern, Young Justice has returned from its hiatus with the…I suppose resolution to the previous episode, “Darkest.” The problem with that is Young Justice doesn’t really do resolutions as it tends to just amp up the already fully loaded storylines and arcs it has going. I’ll explain myself in a bit.

Previously, double agent Aqualad and Tigress (the glamour-disguised Artemis) destroyed Mount Justice and captured Blue Beetle, Impulse, and Beast Boy, taking them to The Light’s partners, The Reach. All of this in an effort to find out The Light’s involvement in the invasion of Earth and why so many teens have been kidnapped. “Before the Dawn” revolves around the rescue effort by the remaining members of Young Justice to get their people back, yet it manages to add more layers to some of its characters while moving the plot forward. The typical Young Justice M.O.

Kaldur, now mingling with The Reach’s scientists, learns that their reasons for kidnapping teenagers is to study and harness the meta gene. Pretty much the means by which superpowers emerge from certain humans and DC’s way of saying “mutant” without actually having to say the word. The Reach plan to weaponize it, hopefully finding a way to transfer the gene to others of their kind or make it an additional weapon to their arsenal-based technology – the scarabs. This is why they specifically wanted Blue Beetle amongst all the other members of Young Justice. Jaime has their technology and they want it back.

Elsewhere, Batgirl, Robin, and Bumblebee allow themselves to be captured with a group of teens including the mystery blonde who’s never named in the episode but is, in fact, Stephanie Brown according to IMDB, so Nightwing, Miss Martian and Wonder Girl can track them to The Reach’s underwater science vessel. What follows is an episode-long rescue attempt. And it is marvelous! Like most episodes of Young Justice, the animation is amazing as each hero gets their moment to deliver some punishment to The Reach’s enforcer, Black Beetle. But Black Beetle isn’t so easily taken down as he manages to give as good as he gets and more. One of the things I admire most about Young Justice is the creation of villains who are just as smart, if not smarter, than the heroes and present an actual threat. Black Beetle may be a giant weapon, but he isn’t an idiot, so of course he doesn’t go down easy or at all. Similarly, The Reach and The Light are masters of misdirection. Though they’re planning an all out invasion, their methods are less overt as they make a play to invade Earth via more “friendly” means.

Like many of the show’s episode titles, “Before the Dawn” can refer to a couple of things. One is Miss Martian discovering Kaldur’s true allegiance. With emotions running high amongst the heroes over the “death” of Artemis and Lagoon Boy’s capture, M’gann isn’t exactly operating with a level head. Running into Kaldur mid-rescue, M’gann angrily invades his mind where we’re privy to not only flashes from previous episodes, but also some fill-in-the-blanks as to when Kaldur and Nightwing set their plan in motion. Though it’s sort of “Yay!” moment that she knows, the damage done to Aqualad is, as of yet, unknown. This leads to the second meaning of the episode, M’gann realizing that she may be going too far with her psychic abilities. We’ve seen the foundation laid in Season 1 and her attempt, at some point, to wipe Connor’s mind led to their break-up, but only now do the consequences of her actions seem to hit home. In the aftermath of the rescue, even with Lagoon Boy safe, she’s not quite sure what to do with herself.

Thirdly, and most surprising, is the reveal of Blue Beetle’s importance to the main story arc. Since the beginning of the second season, Young Justice has been slowly building and layering Jaime Reyes, though we only now learn why. Turns out, Blue Beetle, at least the scarab and possibly Jaime, are part of the reason why Impulse traveled back in time. Blue Beetle is instrumental in the desolate future from which Bart comes from. It’s probably why Bart has been spending so much time with Jaime and it makes his speech to him in “Satisfaction” far more significant. The opening of the episode is the horrifying origin of how Jaime ended up with the scarab and pretty much explains why Ted Kord is dead. Given that Jaime has no mentor to guide him, his constant resistance to the scarab’s violent tendencies are entirely based on Jaime’s moral center, something that can be corrupted under the right circumstances. Bart, in his own way, is trying to prevent that from happening by being both a friend and a harbinger of his possible future.

Geek Rant: Okay, I know Nightwing is supposed to be “The Batman” of Young Justice, but could you please give him something more to do other than stay on the ship? Hell, Batgirl was giving more order than he was…to him! All I’m saying is that Nightwing needs to have a “Big Damn Hero” moment soon because he’s Nightwing, for cryin’ out loud!

DC Nation Short: Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld complete with Sailor Moon anime transformation!

Favorite Moments:

  • The entire rescue effort
  • The animation on Miss Martian when she rescues Beast Boy and Impulse
  • Also not named, but present, was Virgil Hawkins! Static Shock!
  • Tim Curry as G. Gordon Godfrey. ‘Nuff said.

About the author

Samantha Cross

Sam is a self-described "sponge for information" soaking up little tidbits here and there that make her the perfect partner on pub trivia night! Hailing from the beautiful Pacific Northwest, she indulges her nerdy and geeky qualities by hanging out at the local comic book shop, reading anything she can find, and voicing her opinion whether you welcome it or not. An archivist and historian, she will research any and all things and will throw down if you want to quote Monty Python, Mel Brooks, or The Simpsons!

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