When Mount Justice comes under attack by the Red Tornado’s malevolent ‘siblings,’ Artemis and Robin are on their own to save the day without super powers. We learn a bit more about Artemis as she faces her final baptism by fire. A lot happens in this episode – all this and more in “Homefront.”
We open on Artemis waking up for her first day of school at Gotham Academy. We see the Bruce Lee poster on one side of the room and the Alice in Wonderland on the other, and the empty bed that must surely belong to her sister Cheshire. In flashback we see Jade/Cheshire as she leaves the family, and in the present we see Mom, an Asian woman in a wheelchair mentioned as being in prison – is this the Huntress?
At Gotham Academy, just as at Happy Harbor High School, we are hit with many fun Easter eggs in the way of students. There’s Dick Grayson of course out of his Robin guise. He chats up a red headed Barbara, probably Batgirl/Oracle, and Artemis’ student liaison is the blonde Bette, probably the original Bat-Girl/Flamebird. Nice shout outs, and hints of what is to come in the second season.
It should be noted that Gotham Academy is Happy Harbor High however, nice uniforms and rich kids, someone must have pulled some strings to get Artemis in. The fact that Dick seems to know her, and even sneaks a stealth selfie with her, suggests a Wayne connection. Green Arrow gets her on The Team, Batman gets her in school – the Justice League has a lot invested in this potential double agent and daughter of super-villains. It’s a lot of pressure on her, no wonder she’s having trouble fitting in.
Artemis is not only our number one suspect for The Light’s mole, but she’s an enigma and a wild card. She’s also an amalgam of a couple different comic characters – Tigress and Arrowette. Tigress is the daughter of the Sportsmaster and the Huntress, a member of Injustice Unlimited, where ironically she was romantically linked to the second Icicle.
Also ironic about the comics version of Artemis Crock AKA the Tigress is that her mother, the Huntress, was originally a heroine named the Tigress before switching sides. Artemis’ grandmother was the original Tigress who bedeviled Zatara – a Justice Leaguer here on Earth-16 – back in the Golden Age.
That’s just one half of Artemis. The other inspiration for this composite crusader is Arrowette, daughter of Miss Arrowette. Falling into much the same cast as the Harlequin to the Golden Age Green Lantern, Bonnie King as Miss Arrowette plays sometimes-friend sometimes-foe to Green Arrow, and even briefly dates Oliver Queen. She eventually retires from ‘the game,’ marries, and has a daughter.
After the sudden death of her husband, Bonnie sinks the insurance money into training their daughter Suzanne Cissie King-Jones to be a superhero. Following in her mother’s (and father’s, who was also briefly King’s sidekick) footsteps, Cissie becomes Arrowette, and later joins the DC Universe version of Young Justice. Never wanting to be a super-heroine in the first place, she later retires. Mix Arrowette and Tigress together and you get our Artemis.
In the episode, Aqualad tells Red Tornado of his suspicions about there being a mole, the Superboy/Miss Martian romance continues from the end of last episode, we’re reminded that ‘Sphere‘ is still around, and Ronin not so subtlety lets on he knows Artemis’ real background. We also learn a few things about Earth-16 continuity, that Green Arrow and Black Canary are dating, and that Red Tornado gave up monitor duty once he started playing ‘den mother’ to The Team.
When Robin and Artemis Zeta Beam to the cave headquarters, they find Mount Justice under siege. The attack comes from a woman with fire elemental powers and a man with water elemental powers, both looking and sounding a bit like Red Tornado, who have incapacitated the rest of the team. They threaten to kill the others unless Robin and Artemis surrender.
This Die Hard with robots scenario is a character revealing exercise just as many “Young Justice” episodes are world-building tasks. We get real insight into Robin with his one sentence answer when Artemis asks him why he’s so calm – “I’ve been doing this since I was nine.” You really don’t know whether to hug him or slap Batman. And of course this is the triumphant turning point for Artemis where she gets her loyalties and her courage straight. We now know whose side she’s really on now.
Delving more into the past of this Earth-16 continuity, the two intruders are Red Torpedo and Red Inferno, the Red Tornado’s older brother and sister. As programmed by T.O. Morrow, these two were originally programmed to infiltrate the Justice Society, just as Red Tornado himself later did, and destroy them once a member.
On Earth-16, just as in our world, the Red Torpedo was Jim Lockhart, but his robot in disguise programming was too crude to play out Morrow’s plans. Red Inferno on the other hand was Danette Reilly, also known as Firebrand. Her programming was more sophisticated and heroic, she never betrayed the Society either, and sacrificed herself to save the original Flash from the Dragon King during World War II. In this world, these two are similar to the Sleeper Manhunters of Millennium as we weren’t even aware they were robots. How Morrow’s originals came back to life and to attack Mount Justice is something else altogether.
Here the Red Torpedo and the Red Inferno, resembling Red Tornado’s basic humanoid form but not looking all that human, control water and fire respectively, and are silent on their deadly mission. In the end, they are stopped, but the Red Tornado has vanished. To be continued!