Episode 19 Review
Young Justice: Phantoms
The fifth arc of Young Justice: Phantoms continues as the summit between the New Gods, Justice League, and Green Lantern Corps on New Genesis isn't going well but certain things are going well for Forager. The festivities hit a pause when one of Metron's studies blows up in his face. Elsewhere, Saturn Girl and Chameleon Boy and Lor-Zod are forced the reveal more about why they're in the past. Episode 19 "Encounter Upon the Razor's Edge!" rocks Earth-16 with even more world building, revelations about our guests from the future, and a guest star that will have fans buzzing.
The delegates from the Green Lantern Corps, Kilowog and Tomar-Re near New Genesis. Kilowog shares his pessimism about the summit. They hold off to respond to a nearby emergency distress call. They revive the person in need of help only to discover it's one of Kilowog's frenemies, a young Blue Lantern named Razer. Kilowog is elated and gives him a big hug much to his chagrin then teases him about not having a fully charged ring. Razer reveals it is but it needs hope to function and he is all out of it. Orion officially welcomes Rocket and Flash to the summit. She is happy to see Vykin. He doesn't quite get why she's dreading negotiations with Orion and implores her to take a closer look. Tomar-Re arrives alone citing Kilowog dealing with "personal matters." Elsewhere on New Genesis, the Foragers have grown close to each other.
Kilowog reads Razer the riot act of not keeping in touch since they parted ways four years ago but points out his current status as a Blue Lantern rather than a Red one. Razer explains that a Blue Lantern ring found him in deepest space and he accepted it, taking it as a sign to abandon his anger. However, he couldn't release his Red Lantern ring in good conscience, otherwise it would choose another to wield it so he kept it as a grim remainder of his past. Then he met Metron by chance. He offered to keep the ring in his interdimensional vault for safekeeping. He agreed and continued his quest but all his leads turned into dead ends. He explains with no hope he flew to New Genesis to get his red ring so he could continue his quest. Razer goes to see Metron who proposes a simple exchange, the red ring for the blue ring.
The New Gods decline helping the League fight Apokolips due to a long standing truce that came at a heavy cost. Rocket asks them if they're afraid to fight but Orion ominously retorts saying they should be afraid. Vykin suggests enlisting the Green Lantern Corps to act as a neutral mediator but Orion scoffs at that notion citing how they released the Furies and Mantis only six months after the Anti-Life event on the Orphanage. Kilowog cites they were small fry and notes Granny Goodness got away thanks to the Earthlings. Rocket points out three Green Lanterns were among those Earthlings. It reminds Orion to ask why there are so many Lanterns from Earth to which Kilowog awkwardly speculates then Tomar explains how the ring chooses those with a strong love of justice and ability to overcome fear with willpower. Rocket brings up Earth's continuing struggle with the boom in metahumans but Tomar declines any extra aid in helping stop off-world trafficking since the Corps have the entire galaxy to police. Before Rocket can counter, she gets a call from Noble.
Noble reveals the school conference went well and they can get a one-on-one aide for Amistad paid by the district. Rocket is annoyed at first but then listens to the news and is concerned about Amistad being stigmatized for his condition. Noble focuses on the urgency in helping their son. She can only promise she'll consider it. Metron admits to Razer that he detected his blue ring's powers and boomed to him and manipulated him so he could study both power rings and witness its true potential later on. And to ensure Razer could seek him out, Metron was the source of the false leads. Razer naturally gets angry just as Metron wants and attacks him. The others soon witness the fight break out. Even Metron is surprised when Razer manages to dissipate his force field. To Razer's horror, his errant blasts reduce statutes of Highmother and Highfather to rubble when rain down on the Foragers. Forager checks on the injured and unconscious female Forager. Razer realizes he was a fool and demands the blue ring back. Metron zaps him instead. To his shock, the blue ring breaches containment and returns to Razer and he activates it while still having his red ring. He becomes an amalgam Lantern with the power of both Corps then punches Metron into his open Boom Tube. Kilowog tells the others his friend went to see some poozer named Metron. Vykin and Orion instantly understand the situation. Razer uses his blue ring to heal the female Forager then rebuilds the statues along with making ones of the Bugs then apologizes. He thanks the Foragers for restoring his hope then concludes he is now equal parts rage and hope. Kilowog adds he has a lot of willpower and jokes he should get a green ring and end up a Rainbow Lantern. Razer hugs Kilowog goodbye and leaves to continue quest for someone named Aya. Flash is treated to cake and a song for his 102nd birthday.
The next morning, August 27, Bart Allen is all but done assembling some sort of new time machine aboard the Bio-Ship for Saturn Girl and Chameleon Boy... however, he presses them to tell him everything. Meanwhile, Lor-Zod arrived at New Genesis with Ma'alefa'ak and Mantis in his Time Sphere but Ma'al demands to know more about the mission rather then go in blind. They explain that in the 31st century, the United Planets discovered the last known Phantom Zone Projector on New Genesis and paroled all the Kryptonians imprisoned in the Phantom Zone, Krypton's extradimensional jail, and left there after the planet met its end when its red sun exploded. Lor's mother was unaware she was 1 month pregnant with him when she was put into the Zone. Then 8 months after the parole was granted, Lor-Zod was born. The Kryptonians were settled on the planet Daxam. 15 years later, Dru-Zod smuggled his family and followers to a nearby planet orbiting a yellow sun and they gained powers like Superman. Dru-Zod tried to lead a rebellion against the United Planets for the good of the galaxy but the newly formed Legion of Super-Heroes used the Phantom Zone Projector to put them back into the Zone along with the Daxamite sympathizers. However, Lor-Zod was spared their fate because he wasn't considered culpable due to his young age.
Having been raised to hate Krypton's House of El, because Chief Scientist Jor-El and Chief Exaiminer Zor-El allegedly conspired against Dru-Zod, Lor-Zod continued to plot against the United Planets. The Legion was finally forced to destroy the Projector. Refusing to give up, moreso because Superboy inspired the Legion, Lor-Zod stole the last known sample of Kryptonite and a Time Sphere then headed into the past. Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy, and Phantom Girl were too late but luckily exposed to chronoton radiation from the Time Sphere and were spared from the rapid changes to the timeline. With Dru-Zod ruling the galaxy and the Legion no longer having existed, the trio took the last Time Sphere to the past to undo the damage done by Lor. They were able to thwart an attempt on Superboy at the United Nations following him going public but once that part of the timeline was rectified, they no longer knew where to find Lor and stuck as close to Superboy as they could but it wasn't enough on Mars. Lor decided to release his parents and fellow Kryptonians in the 21st century rather than wait until the 31st and the mission is to break into Metron's interdimensional vault and steal the Projector but he needed help. He made a pact with Darkseid similar to one Darkseid made with Vandal Savage to secure aid and the Kaizer-Thrall device. Bart agrees to finish his work and presents the Cosmic Treadmill to Saturn Girl and Chameleon Boy.
The recurring theme of accepting the truth in things and seeking help resonates within several people aside from just Rocket. Too distracted by the souring summit, her insecurities, and still being in denial, Rocket won't make a decision about supporting a one-on-one aide for Amistad. Razer is manipulated into thinking he was getting help from Metron but ends up discovering he shouldn't completely abandon his anger and past as a Red Lantern to be a Blue Lantern and accepts he is of both worlds. Both Bart Allen and Ma'alefa'ak threaten to rescind their help if they aren't told the entire truth of their new friends from the future. To complicate matters, it doesn't look like the New Gods or Green Lantern Corps are going to help the Justice League with their metahuman or Apokoliptian troubles. It seems likely that the threat posed by Lor-Zod may be the galvanizing element needed.
As if last week's reveals of Lor-Zod and Dru-Zod weren't mind blowing enough, this episode lays out the whole truth about why Lor and the Legion are in the past and why Connor Kent was targeted. And as a result, fans are exposed to some big time world building in past pertaining to Krypton. Dru-Zod and his followers staged a coup but Superman's father and uncle Jor-El and Zor-El stopped him. The mere mention and cameo of Zor-El more so opens the door for Supergirl to potentially make her debut on the show at some point. And of course the cameo of Ursa, I believe Non, and others whose house seals drew a blank with me. And in the future, we get cameos of Lightning Lad and Brainiac-5, insight into a big threat they faced in the team's early days, and answering why Lor's meddling turned the 31st century into a galactic disaster: Dru-Zod has taken over the galaxy and the Legion of Super-Heroes no longer exists. The stakes for this season and the rest of the series are laid bare. With seven episodes to go, we're feeling the aster already but with so many wild cards in place: Bart helping the Legion, Lor going off script to try and free his people earlier than planned, Conner still being alive, three hero groups being present exactly where Lor is, Superman having a sliver of future knowledge, Ma'al and Mantis being paired with Lor, Metron, and more – we're on the edge of our seats as to what wild antics, twists, revelations, and angst are still in store for us.
Let's get to the great mind blowing shocker of the episode: Razer. Jason Spisak reprises the role. Kevin Michael Richardson reprises Kilowog. The episode is written by Jim Krieg and Giancarlo Volpe (very likely the small reunion the latter alluded to during an interview in September 2021). Sam Liu is one of the storyboarders. The flashbacks seemingly build on the premature ending to Green Lantern: The Animated Series. Aya is mentioned. I thought I was having a lucid dream while I was in a coma as I watched this episode unfold. There was no way this was really happening, right? But once I returned to planet Earth, I remembered yes, we did get a similar hat tip on another series that prematurely ended, Justice League Action with Aya starting to remember who she was. After calming down and brooding, okay, it all gelled. So much in the vein of the DC Showcase Green Arrow short and Catwoman: Hunted, we can take this episode's events as proof positive a version of Green Lantern: The Animated Series happens on Earth-16 after the events of Young Justice: Invasion in 2016 as Kilowog scolds Razer for not checking in in the four years since he, Hal, and Razer parted ways. Avid fans of both should immediately recall one difference in the Earth-16 version, Hal already knows Guy and John prior to meeting Razer and the Red Lanterns with Kilowog. And it finally confirms to Young Justice fans that multiple corps do indeed exist as well as a very cool revelation that two rings of different corps can be wielded at the same time and of two polar opposite emotions to boot.
Young Justice: Phantoms continues to keep fans on their collective toes and play the wild card with who can show up on the show, what connections they'll make, who they'll reference, when a Hulk quote will pop up when you least suspect it, or when they will expand Earth-16 past, present, and future. While the exposition episodes might not be everybody's bread and butter, playing that hand when there's still a good number of episodes left to stream can only mean things are going to go sideways and the season may not end like we think it will. "Encounter Upon the Razor's Edge!" walks the tightrope between drowning fans with back story and rewarding fans with solid answers for hanging on this season and even facilitating the progression of a fan favorite character from another show while maintaining Rocket as the core of this arc with her struggles with her duty as a Leaguer, acting as a diplomat, and trying to make a joint decision that could help her son for the better or worst all while the greater machinations of this season are right on her doorstep.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5