Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Animation Observation-Young Justice: Welcome to Happy Harbor

'Welcome to Happy Harbor' has the distinction of not only being the first episode to air after the two-part pilot but also for having the longest title in the whole series. After the action packed, mile a minute pace of 'Independence Day' and 'Fireworks', this episode is more relaxed and serves as a vehicle for us to understand some of the characters (Particularly the newly introduced Miss Martian) a bit better. Onto the review...

The episode opens at night in Star City as some weapons smugglers are ambushed by Speedy who apparently never picked his dopey looking hat off the ground because he's fighting without it this time. As he starts to take out the bad guys, the trio of Aqualad, Kid Flash and Robin show up to help out a little and gloat about their new base of operations. 

Their giddiness is almost a bit hilarious because they sound like second graders who just finished making their first tree house. Hell, they're doing it before all the bad guys are out of commission too. I was almost shocked that Robin wasn't gunned down in a hail of bullets as he mentions to Speedy how the TV in the cave gets the Spice channel.
But Speedy still isn't interested, insisting that he'll do things his way without any approval or involvement from anyone else.
"Your Junior Justice League is a joke," he sneers. "Something to keep you busy...and in your place."
"Your lack of a dopey hat only makes you look slightly ridiculous now!"

Returning from the opening credits we see Robin and Kid Flash use the Zeta tubes to arrive at the cave to meet up with Aqualad, Superboy and Miss Martian. What are Zeta tubes? Think of them sort of like the transporter on Star Trek except they can only transport from one tube to another. They quickly race outside the cave to meet the approaching Red Tornado. 

Red Tornado is an android who creates...tornadoes. He uses them to get around and to fight his enemies. There, nothing complicated about that, is there?
The team ask if he has a mission for them but Tornado informs them that mission assignments are the job of Batman and that they will be tested soon enough.
"For the time being, simply enjoy each other's company."

"Talk to the hand for the auditory input devices on this cranial unit have ceased receiving sound waves."

Two seconds after I heard Red Tornado speak, I knew that this was the voice of HARDAC from the Batman:The Animated Series episode 'Heart of Steel'. Reminder, I had not seen that episode in years prior to this. 

Feeling like this might be a trick, Miss Martian tires to read his mind but since he's a machine (Inorganic), it's not possible. Kid Flash then begins to flirt with Miss Martian because as the season goes on we'll discover that he'll go for anything that's female and above the age of consent. 

"Step aside, Boy Wonder. I'm the one who hit puberty last month!"

Miss Martian volunteers to give them a tour of the cave as her and Superboy live there but Superboy is in no mood to play tour-guide. In fact, up until now he hasn't said a word.
During the quick tour (All we see is the front and rear entrance to the cave which makes up the entire mountain) we find out that it was hollowed out by Superman and Green Lantern but decommissioned after it's location became compromised. 

Before we can exposit any more, Miss Martian flies off to the kitchen to retrieve her burnt cookies from the oven which Kid Flash starts to eat as he has a fast metabolism due to his powers and thus could probably eat a whole Chinese buffet and still have the munchies worse than any hippie. It's also here that we start to learn about the secret identities; Kid Flash is actually Wally West, Aqualad is Kaldur'ahm (Kaldur for short) and Miss Martian's real name is M'gann M'orzz, or Megan Morse.
"It's an Earth name...and I'm on Earth now," she explains with the kind of ditzy tone that you would expect from someone like your blonde younger sister.

It's also revealed that while Robin can parade around in civilian clothing, he must wear sunglasses and not reveal his secret identity to anyone as Batman has forbidden this.
That...I would have a problem with if I was on the team. Face it, everyone's secrets are out in the open but we can't get so much as a first name out of the Boy Wonder? For the sake of clarity, Robin is Dick Grayson and it is implied that Wally does know this not-so-secret.
More or less, Batman's telling Robin: "Trust these people with your lives...but not with your name."

Robin is furious that Kid Flash reveals the secret of his Value Village sunglasses

M'gaan then reads Superboy's mind and tells him telepathically that she'll find him an Earth name too but he screams at her to get out of his head. She speaks into everyone's mind but stops when Aqualad informs her that using her powers like that is a big invasion of privacy. Besides, I doubt she wants to know what Wally's thinking right now as he munches on her cookies.
"Also, Cadmus' creepy little psychic G-Gnomes left a bad taste in his brain," he explains, referring to Superboy.

M'Gaan is sorry but Superboy is upset and more or less tells her to piss off. OK, all he says is, "Just...stay...OUT!" but it's pretty much the same thing. With the mood now awkward in the room, M'Gaan decides to whip out her annoying catchphrase which will cause many fans of the show to grit their teeth and wish her a painful death.
"Hel-lo, Megan!"
Get used to that...because that catchphrase which sounds like something that should have died in 1998 is going to be featured at least once in every episode she's featured in. And yet...there's a very good reason why she uses it. Remember this, it will be important later and I am not joking about that.

She leads the group to the hanger where she reveals her Martian bio-ship, which at the moment looks like a giant suppository. However we discover that it responds to her telepathic commands and becomes an impressive little vessel that they decide to go for a joyride in.
...and after.

As they cruise Wally ties to flirt subtly and fails miserably while Kaldur speaks with a sulking Superboy.
"I can guess what you're thinking: You overreacted and you don't know how to apologize. Just say 'sorry'."
Remember, Superboy was given a telepathic education, so he knows a lot about the world around him but he doesn't know a lot about life.
He can probably bench-press a tank or tell you how fast a nuclear missile travels but what does he know about social interaction or making a funny one-liner?

M'gaan feels that Superboy doesn't seem to like her but is quickly reminded by Wally that it's not best to try to have a private conversation two meters away from someone with super-hearing so strong he can hear a mosquito fart. 
Robin quickly changes the subject and asks to see some "Martian shapeshifting".

I think Robin's creepy smile is actually the more scary thing about this picture...

M'Gaan complies by enforcing Rule 63 of the Internet and transforming into female versions of Robin and Kid Flash.
"Impressive...but you're not exactly going to fool anyone with those," Robin says, holding out his hands to grab a pair of invisible boobs. Hell, I can't remember the last time a cartoon acknowledged that, yes, women have boobies.
So while she does have some cool powers, we discover that she can't move through solid objects (Density shifting) like a ghost, unlike her uncle. This leads Robin to reveal that unlike The Flash, Wally can't vibrate his molecules through a wall. 
"When [Wally] tries it, bloody nose," laughs Robin. 
I get the impression that Wally can handle humiliation and being the butt of the joke but when it's around women, he really can't stand it.

Red Tornado informs them that an alert has been triggered at the local power plant and suggests they investigate covertly. M'gaan cloaks the ship (It's stolen Romulan technology) as they approach. However before they can set down to investigate, a tornado approaches them and the ship is quickly caught up in it.

They make their way out of it before Wally vomits his burnt cookies all over the cockpit and land to investigate. Before anyone can ask what the hell is going on, Robin sneaks off inside the power plant to do battle with Mister Twister, a red robotic looking evil-doer who can create twisters. Sound familiar?

Everybody's wondering where Robin went except for Superboy, who clearly doesn't give a shit right now

I'm a bit surprised that for all his "secret identity" thing, Robin's willing to go into danger wearing nothing but regular clothes and sunglasses. And he's getting his ass kicked as usual until the rest of the gang comes in to assist with the humiliation. 
They get tossed around easily as Twister taunts them about being children which really upsets Robin which I find ironic considering he is the youngest of the group.

Mr. Twiser-He'll blow you...away. 
He'll blow you away.

They make their way outside and when M'gaan finds herself unable to read Twister's mind, she concludes that he is actually Red Tornado in disguise. 
"How many androids do you know that can make tornadoes?"
They put the pieces together; Tornado sent them here, previously mentioned that they would be "tested" and they can feel Speedy's words stinging in their ears. Even Aqualad is pissed off about this and calls Twister out on it. 

However things change when Twister forms a thundercloud and begins attacking them with lightening bolts. Realizing that the threat is for real, M'gaan positions the invisible bio-ship in between themselves and Twister who can't see them now. This actually confused me because...well...wouldn't they appear on the other side? A cloaking device would hide you if you were inside the ship but they're just on the other side of it. Twister should be able to see them no problem. 
"Those stupid Martians were never able to unlock the full power of our technology."

However Twister just promises them next time he'll show no mercy and goes off to do whatever tornado making androids do...mainly destroy shit.

The once annoyed Superboy is now extremely angry, saying that M'gaan tricked them into thinking Twister was Red Tornado. While the others come to her defence, calling it a rookie mistake, they are now dismissive of her.
"Hit the showers, we'll take it from here," says Wally. And you know he wants her out of the way because any other time, he'd be following up that statement with offers to join M'gaan while she bathes.

'Roid rage!!!

"I was just trying to be part of the team..." she says softly to Aqualad.
Dejected, all Aqualad can say is, "I'm not sure we really have a team," before he leaves with the others to stop Twister. 

And speaking of Twister, he's more or less destroying Happy Harbor...which from the view we have looks like four buildings, and a pier. Not exactly 'Man of Steel' level of city destruction but I suppose everyone has to take baby steps.
Our heroes however are tired of baby steps and they arrive to try and end this and look somewhat competent in the process. 

Heading back to the mountain, M'gaan tries to get Red Tornado to help but he'd rather focus on the fact that they're facing someone who is similar to him. This prompts M'gaan to once again whip out her catchphrase. Seriously, it's only been said three times this episode but that's three times too many

Back at the pier our heroes are barely holding their ground as Twister can generate cyclones to throw them off balance, move away explosives and toss them around to do the destruction for him. 
Before anything worse can happen, Red Tornado shows up and dismisses the young heroes back to the cave.
"Three episodes in and you still need saving? You guys suck."

After tossing some cyclones at each other, Twister destroys a nearby boat which disables Red Tornado. As he lays on the ground, Twister unleashes some wires from his fingertips and plants them on Tornado, saying how reprogramming him won't take long. All looks lost until-

Yes, it turns out that M'gaan contacted the group telepathically earlier and let them know what was going on and devised a plan. The cyclone that M'gaan threw was actually Wally spinning around really fast, giving Superboy and Aqualad the opportunity to finally land some punches on Twister, ripping him apart.  

As he crashes to the ground, the body of Twister opens up and a man emerges. He doesn't say much but he's voiced by John DeLancie, who was Q on Star Trek: The Next Generation. However, M'gaan hated his appearances on Star Trek: Voyager and quickly crushes him with a boulder much to the horror of everyone else. 

You thought I was joking about that part didn't you?

However it's quickly revealed that M'gaan knew what she was doing as the pilot himself was actually an android as well. Wally examines the wreckage and picks up a robotic eye, declaring it a souvenir. He'll be doing that a lot, get used to it. His gimmick was either that or saying "Are you fo' REAL!?" every five minutes.

It seems though that through the other functioning eye of the pilot, someone is watching. It turns out to be the man the pilot android was based on and a guy who looks like Tony Stark. 
"Even failure can be instructive," says Evil Tony Stark. "And I'd say we learned quite a lot today."
"Don't I look evil with my evil looking moustache? I'm evil, by the way."

That night back at Mount Justice, Tornado mentions that the android was designed to either sabotage or destroy him but that was not the reason why he didn't interfere.
"I do not believe it is my job to solve your problems for you. Nor should you solve mine for me."
He orders the team to close the matter of Mister Twister and goes off to do whatever tornado making androids do in their off hours. Your guess is as good as mine as far as what that is.

The episode ends with Robin, Aqualad and Kid Flash deciding that while it may be a rocky start, this team may end up being able to save the world some day and Superboy apologizes to Miss Martian. 


Best bit of dialogue:
Kid Flash (Seeing Robin pull out his utility belt from his jacket sleeve): You brought your utility belt!?
Robin: Never leave home without it! First thing Batman taught me.
Kid Flash: Yeah, right after never go to the bathroom without it.

Like I said, after an exciting pilot, it was necessary that we use this episode to get to know our heroes a bit more. Superboy is still coming to terms with living life as normal as he can; Miss Martian is a bit too eager to please and spouts annoying catchphrases but has potential; Aqualad needs to believe that this team can work; Robin needs to learn to communicate a plan with his team; Kid Flash desperately wants to get laid. I could go on and on.

Final score for 'Welcome to Happy Harbor' is 7 out of 10. Like I said, a good episode that also leaves the door open for a potential new enemy in Evil Tony Stark who we will be seeing sooner or later. Also, is he working with the Light we saw in the previous episode?
 It also shows that while our team isn't quite ready for prime-time, they're on their way even though they have a lot to work on.
Also I liked that, like Mister Twister, I fell for M'gaan's plan with her pretending to be Tornado. 

While I'm not big on giving away spoilers, this one is so minor it probably doesn't count but I think I should mention it. Young Justice is about a team of young superheroes, but at no point in any episode will they be referred to as 'Young Justice' nor are those two words ever used together. They'll simply be known as 'The Team'. It's rather interesting because somewhere in the first two episodes you were expecting the writers to shoehorn it in somewhere but they didn't and they never will.

So, the Team has shown they can handle danger off the clock, but how will things go when their first real mission comes along and they have to quickly decide who is in charge so they can pass blame onto that leader? Come back next time as they enter 'Drop Zone'

"So...wanna hit the showers together?"

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