Ye Olde Dragon here, bringing you my very first review of a Blu-ray release from our friends at Warner Archives. Earlier this year, the first season of YOUNG JUSTICE was released on Blu-ray through Warner Archives, where previously, it had been released in two sets on DVD through Warner Home Video.
Before I get into the review, there are two things that I would like to clarify, as this is my first Blu-ray review.
First, a few weeks back, Warner Archives released a very brief video on YouTube in regards to the production of their Blu-ray discs. They wanted to assure their customers that unlike their video on demand DVD titles, which are recorded on CD-R discs, their Blu-rays are pressed using the best Blu-ray media.
Secondly, I won’t be utilizing any screen captures in this review as I do not have a Blu-ray drive compatible with my computer. I’m afraid that you’ll just have to take my word as to the quality of the video. I was also informed that WB Animation frowns upon the posting of screen grabs.
Four teenage ‘junior’ superhero partners (don’t call them sidekicks), Robin, Aqualad, Speedy and Kid Flash are brought to the Hall of Justice in Washington DC to get their first look at the Justice League headquarters by their senior partners – Batman, Aquaman, Green Arrow and The Flash respectively.
Things go south, when Speedy leaves – angered by the denial of access to the JL satellite – and the other three are left behind while their mentors attend a Justice League meeting. Once alone, they decide to go check out a seemingly run-of-the-mill emergency at Project: Cadmus – a genetic research facility. Within the maze of laboratories, while avoiding capture, they discover a teenaged clone of Superman and release him. Once they escape, they meet up with the League and are brought to the former mountain headquarters of the League in Happy Harbor, Rhode Island where they are joined by The Martian Manhunter‘s niece, Miss Martian and Green Arrow’s new protégé, Artemis. They are told that they will comprise a team of young heroes to handle lesser, covert missions that would be impossible to accomplish with the higher visibility of their adult counterparts as well as prepare them for one day taking their place alongside their mentors. Supervised by the Red Tornado and trained by Black Canary, they’re given their assignments by Batman. That pretty much is a basic summation of the first three episodes.
With that, the popular and critically acclaimed animated series began in earnest on Cartoon Network.
The rest of the first season dealt with The Team (as they were referred to by themselves and The League), getting to know each other and uncovering the plans of a villainous cabal known as The Light, headed up by the immortal villain Vandal Savage. The season ends with The Team, now bolstered with a few more young heroes, freeing the Justice League from Savage’s mind control. There is something of a cliffhanger, however, as it is discovered that six Justice Leaguers* – Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (John Stewart), Hawkgirl and Martian Manhunter went missing for sixteen hours, before being freed.
* – Interesting note – These are six of the seven FOUNDING Leaguers from the Bruce Timm Era’s JUSTICE LEAGUE and JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED. They left Flash out of that grouping because of something coming in Season Two (INVASION).
As I stated earlier, this is the first Blu-ray review I’m doing and as such I can safely say that the quality of video and audio is top-notch. The discs are standard BD and not BD-R, so there are no worries about degradation.
The menus are simple, consisting of a function bar and a basic graphic featuring the six main characters and are the same for both discs, with the bar consisting of three functions:
Play All – Fairly self-explanatory, and always a welcome feature.
Subtitles – Choice of on or off, in English only.
Episode Selection – Again, self-explanatory. Choose from among the 13 episodes on each disc.
Naturally, the menu bar is available during the viewing of each episode, by using the pop-up menu function available on most Blu-Ray players.
There are no extras or special features on either disc.
The packaging is very basic. It’s the standard translucent Blu-Ray clamshell. It has a spindle for each disc, which is always a plus in my book as it helps reduce the risk of scratching.
Unlike all of my previous reviews, which were all for movies, this is the first TV series package I’ve reviewed. This means there is no standard “one sheet” poster art to utilize. But as it is animation – and DC Comics animation at that – it’s certainly easy enough to produce new art and it is certainly eye-catching.
The two discs themselves are individually labeled and do feature an image of a single character, as opposed to the standard Warner Archive “generic” design.
The series itself is, in a word – awesome! It’s some of the best that Warner Bros. Animation has ever done. At first, I was concerned by the fact that it clearly was not part of the previously established continuity of the so-called DC Animated Universe – also dubbed the “Timmverse“, named for Bruce Timm – the driving force behind those great shows. My fears were quickly put to rest though as a result of the great animation and the outstanding writing that Wolf this brand-new world together and was a continuity unto itself that I would (and still do) endorsed and believe in. I certainly wish that DC Comics had adopted this universe as the basis of their New 52 continuity.
The story line as a whole is wonderful. Each episode can hold its own, but there is always an element of an underlying arc, some reaching into the second (and sadly final) season. There’s even one story element that sets up what surely would have been the story arc for the never-to-be-made season three. It shows that there was definitely a far reaching plan in mind when the series was created and I – and every other fan of the show – was greatly saddened when this audience and critically acclaimed series was canceled with little to no explanation, other then the basic reason that the show’s licensed merchandise didn’t sell well enough to justify its continued existence.
As for the Blu-Ray release, it’s certainly a vast improvement over previous DVD compilations, in that it’s nice that it’s one complete set as opposed to multiple volumes – be it the most recent set of two volumes, or the prior three or four different groupings, though in fairness, that strategy was probably necessitated by the first season’s erratic airing schedule.
As always, I’m always a sucker for special features and was disappointed that there wasn’t any, but (spoilers) it would seem we will have some in the forthcoming Blu-Ray release of season two, which I will be reviewing soon as soon as it’s made available to me.
I hereby give the Warner Archive release of YOUNG JUSTICE: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON Blu-ray four out of five “Jaggies“.
You should definitely pick this up.