Young Justice: Phantoms Asks Important Questions About the Origin of Atlantis

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This Young Justice Phantoms review contains spoilers.

Young Justice Season 4 Episode 10

Young Justice continues its ignominious probable sendoff with another episode that tells a far more interesting story than it shows. The pacing of each episode is so odd that I’m certain this is it for the series; the storytelling choices they’re making have me convinced it’s probably for the best.

The sequences the show selected to animate this week include a fairly rote but capably directed magical fight sequence between Klarion the Witch Boy, the Child, Flaw, and eventually Etrigan, making his debut on the show at the behest of The Phantom Stranger and Zatanna’s magical crew. The Lords of Chaos have revoked Klarion’s Earth pass due to his apparent subservience to bastard agent of order Vandal Savage, and The Child is there to help him discorporate. The battle ends with Klarion teleporting away after The Child flipped a substantial part of the Delmarva peninsula at him.

There are also a few sequences on Baby Bioship, where J’onn, M’gann, and M’ree are only a week out from Earth. These contain a nice moment of catharsis between the sisters, as well as an unexplained space bound school bus, and long periods of sitting quietly. We also check in on Beast Boy, who is, like so many of us, scrolling through his phone in bed.

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The sequence Young Justice chose not to animate is the entire history of Atlantis, from its founding by Vandal Savage’s grandson Arion, through the birth of Homo magi and Homo meta, the offspring of Savage with magical and superhuman abilities (respectively), through the city-state’s conquering of the Atlantean continent, up to its sinking at the hands of Klarion and Vandal. Klarion wanted Atlantis sunk for funsies.

Savage wanted it done with the expectation that some of its residents would gain the ability to breathe underwater and thus give him dominion over the 75% of the planet covered by water. This is, now that I’ve typed it out, an extremely stupid plan, but it’s dumb in a very comic book-y way that I am very forgiving of.

What I can’t really forgive is the fact that Young Justice: Phantoms keeps spending the more interesting half of so many episodes animated like a motion comic, while giving us scene after scene of Beast Boy in bed, or Miss Martian with her hands folded in her lap. I understand the compelling need, in today’s world, for realistic representations of the grieving process. But I’d argue that burning several minutes across several episodes showing us a super-strong shapeshifting telepath staring off into space or a funny animal boy scrolling through Twitter misses a fundamental part of the appeal of these characters. And to do so seemingly at the expense (both financial and time) of showing us the founding, conquering, and destruction of the most important mythical location in the DCU by its greatest tyrant and the obnoxious shit who’s also a fundamental galactic force, is completely inexcusable. 

PHANTOM PREMONITIONS

  • Savage’s “first” immortal grandson is Arion of Atlantis, and Savage lineage aside, here he’s pretty much who he is in the comics as created by Paul Kupperberg and legendary Star Wars comic artist Jan Duursema. He was a ruler of Atlantis, a skilled magician, and an operative of the Lords of Order.
  • “That whole Earth-17 fiasco” implies, if my map of the multiverse is correct, that a Klarion the Witch Boy created the Atomic Knights.
  • I know “sanctum sanctorum” is technically Latin and free for everyone to use, but that’s typically used in comics as a proper noun referring to Doctor Strange ’s house on Bleeker Street, not Jason Blood’s hime.
  • Speaking of Blood, Etrigan the Demon is one of the ideas that came pouring out of Jack Kirby in his too brief tenure in the DCU. He’s a character with a shockingly high ratio of good runs in the comics, starting with Kirby in the 70s; a run by Grendel creator Matt Wagner in the 80s; a legendary run by Garth Ennis and John McRea in the 90s; and a spot on one of the underrated gems of the New 52, Demon Knights by Paul Cornell and Diogenes Neves.
  • Etrigan is one of the rhyming demons of Hell, and I’m always a little disappointed when they don’t follow through with that in an appearance.
  • In addition to all his Atlantean kids AND his metahuman kids, Vandal Savage also apparently counts Nabu, the magical Egyptian entity who inhabits Dr. Fate’s helmet, as one of his offspring.
  • Most of what Savage evacuates from Earth to Warworld in the credits scene isn’t too Easter egg-ey, but I can’t find anything on “psybacks”. If you know, sound off in the comments!

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