When last we left our young heroes, they had been incapacitated by Superboy in the depths of Project Cadmus. As we open, we and Dr. Desmond encounter The Light, the organization behind Cadmus. These shimmering holographic images are unidentifiable at this point, but eventually we learn they are a powerful super-villain cartel not unlike the Secret Society of Super-Villains, a cross between the Legion of Doom and the Illuminati, if you will.
Their advice to Desmond regarding the problem in their vault? Clone them, and dispose of the originals. Cut to the opening credit sequence. The theme is short but majestic, by “Batman Beyond” composer Kristopher Carter, letting you know this is a serious superhero show. The opening montage prominently features Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad, and Superboy – so we know he switched sides at some point – and also the indirectly mentioned Miss Martian and new hybrid character Artemis.
While the show was on the air, and before The Light was revealed, there was much speculation over their identities. In the Golden Age, Starman had a recurring mad scientist foe called The Light, but the character’s obscurity made that an unlikely long shot. But also around the same time, in 1941, Superman also faced an evil scientist calling himself The Light, but only once. That same issue, Superman #13, The Light was revealed to be Lex Luthor…
The three heroes do convince Superboy to switch sides, and much of the episode is spent running from and fighting the genomorphs. The twist is that Dubbilex led the heroes here so that Superboy could in turn lead the genomorphs to freedom. Standing in the way of this plan is Desmond, who has taken a Blockbuster formula and become a big blue hulk unlike any Blockbuster I’ve seen in the comics.
All four of the young heroes mesh well as a team, despite having only met Superboy hours before. Aqualad demonstrated a couple new powers this episode as apparently he has more than human strength and can generate electricity. Sadly, even after the mind control loosens, Guardian still does nothing this episode. He’s one of my favorites, and both underused and underestimated, especially here.
Once the team defeats this Blockbuster and escapes from Cadmus, we get our first look at this world’s assembled Justice League – Superman, J’onn J’onzz, Zatara, Captain Marvel, Red Tornado, Captain Atom, beautiful redesigns of Hawkman and Hawkwoman, Wonder Woman, Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and John Stewart, Batman, Black Canary, Aquaman, Green Arrow, and the Flash, of course arriving last. I love this team, and love it even more when it gets bigger.
Once the League is clued in to everything, like disapproving parents, they are not happy. This is also the beginning of Superman’s awkward relationship with Superboy. It’s not Silver Age happy, but it is realistic. I mean, come on, how would you feel confronted with a younger clone of yourself?
When the team insists on staying together, the League dictates the terms. They will operate out of the old Secret Sanctuary, renamed Mount Justice. Red Tornado will be their mentor, Black Canary their trainer, with Batman deploying them on missions. Along with new addition, J’onn’s niece Miss Martian, they will be the JLA’s covert secret weapon – Young Justice…