Episode 24 Review
Young Justice: Phantoms
The final arc of Young Justice: Phantoms has reached its midway mark. Zatanna, Nightwing, Tigress, Rocket, and Aquaman fail to retrieve Superboy and are found out by Dru-Zod and his followers. Elsewhere, Miss Martian finds out about Superboy through the Justice League when Prince J'emm of M'arzz introduces Phantom Girl to the Justice League and thanks to the boy in the Kaizer-Thrall, Danny Chase. Along with Green Lantern Forager and Orion's aid, they attempt to find Superboy themselves. However, Lor-Zod and Ma'alefa'ak tricked Phantom Girl into revealing their op and turn the tables on the heroes, leading to the galaxy threatening return of Zod.
On September 11, Lor-Zod visits Oa's galactic science prison under the guise of a Daxamite. He inquires about the Kaizer-Thrall with probationary Green Lantern Tomar-Tu. Kilowog nearly intervenes when Tu's identity scan lags but no criminal record comes up. Tu only shares the public record that the Kaizer was released and was en route to its planet of origin: Earth. Lor-Zod leaves then tells Tu he knew his father, a Lantern of impressive skill and willpower, and hopes he follows in his footsteps. Unaware of the truth, Tu happily thanks Lor-Zod.
Two days later, the Team converges on Dru-Zod's fort in the Phantom Zone. Nightwing cautions everyone to remember that the Kryptonian criminals have no superpowers from a yellow sun but they've been in the Zone for decades and know the ropes. They wait for Conner to be alone then approach him. Conner sees Nightwing and remembers talking to him before the mission to the Orphanage the year before. Conner thinks the Zone Sickness is back and making him hallucinate. Zatanna tries to convince him they're real and came to take him home. Dru-Zod and the others appear and surround them, interested in how they can leave the Zone. Dru confirms they can see them all, too. Conner remembers the day the Team took a photo in the Hall of Justice just before Red Arrow joined the Justice League formally then recalls when Dru told him in the Zone they have nothing but each other. Dru boasts to the Team he was keeping Conner around as bait and always expected another attempt to retrieve him. Nightwing assures him they're all friends but Conner states he is lying. Dru is insulted about being played. Kaldur'ahm makes telepathic contact with Conner and tries to convince him he is living with criminals and implores him to remember who he is and what they all meant to each other. Conner states he is broken but Kaldur reminds him he knows that can be fixed by M'gaan. Conner remembers their first mission in Bialya then dancing with her on M'arzz at the Sacred River and hallucinating her in the Zone. He is afraid of hurting her. Kaldur doesn't believe he could. Conner states he killed Superman to the others' shock.
They inform Conner that Superman is still alive and Zatanna and Nightwing just saw him. Dru-Zod asks if Krypton was really destroyed. Kaldur confirms it was destroyed over 40 years ago. Dru points out their sentences have long been served. Kaldur suggests they could set up a probationary court and consider each of their cases individually. Dru is amiable to that and asks they be released as a show of good faith. It is met with silence. He realizes they fear their power under a yellow sun and not much as changed. He refuses to let them leave the Zone then orders Conner to get them. Rocket puts up a force bubble but Conner simply walks through it. Kaldur yells at Conner to stop. He remembers when Kaldur told him that when they first met at Project Cadmus. The Team doesn't fare well against the Kryptonians and their weapons go through them. Kaldur manages to make the first hit by catching Jax-Ur's punch and electrocuting him. He instructs Zatanna to use her magic directly on them and tells the others to focus on their opponents in hand-to-hand combat only. Dru orders Conner to prove he still serves the House of Zod. He attacks Kaldur. The Team is defeated. Nightwing tries to use Kryptonite but it was no effect. He has Zatanna to cast a glamour spell. They slip away.
Meanwhile, on the Watchtower, Miss Martian arrives after being summoned by Black Lightning and Aquaman. She instantly recognizes the Green Lantern present as the Forager that Forager told her about. Green Lantern is eager to see him but defers to the business at hand and introduces the Kaizer-Thrall. Lightning asks Miss Martian to establish communication with the living human brain inside it. She does and confirms the brain belongs to an 11 year old meta-human boy and his name is Danny Chase. They are horrified to learn Danny was abducted, tested, meta-activated, and trafficked to Apokolips where Desaad cut his brain out and put it in the Kaizer-Thrall. She realizes he also has multi-dimensional abilities that are killing him. Danny requests to talk to them face-to-face. She sets up a psychic link and meet Danny on the mental plane. They express remorse but Danny assures them it's not their fault. Lightning pledges to do everything in their power to help him. They are interrupted when the League computer intercepts a message for Miss Martian. She accepts it and a live transmission with Prince J'emm J'axx of M'arzz comes in. To her shock, J'emm reveals he has reason to believe that Conner Kent may still be alive. Superman arrives and the Watchtower is taken out of the protection of the Zeta Shield. J'emm and Phantom Girl zeta to the Watchtower from M'arzz. J'emm introduces her, warns she hasn't fully opened up her mind but believes her, then sets up a psychic link. Phantom Girl quickly explains she tried to save Conner from the Gene Bomb but while trying to phase him, they were transported to a buffer dimension called the Phantom Zone where she was left unconscious and where he fell under the influence of dangerous Kryptonian criminals named Zod. She asks Miss Martian for her help. Superman uses his x-ray vision to look through Phantom Girl's bandage and sees her Legion flight ring. He cryptically tells everyone he believes her.
In Subspace, aboard the Bio-Ship, Lor-Zod contemplates something. It is enough for Ma'alefa'ak to notice. Lor-Zod reveals there was a third teammate with Chameleon Boy and Saturn Girl and he doesn't like not knowing where she is or what she's up to. He wants to hack the ring and listen in on her. Ma'alefa'ak proposes a simpler solution. He shapeshifts into Chameleon Boy and puts on the ring. On the Watchtower, they are unable to locate Kid Flash, Nightwing, or Zatanna. Superman decides to be direct and asks Phantom Girl if she has been able to reach her friends. She is shocked he knows about them and admits she hasn't been able to reach them which is extremely concerning but was why she went to the League for help. Lightning wants to know what's going on but Superman refuses to tell them. Miss Martian assesses that Conner is alive, injured and so troubled he wouldn't leave the Zone with Phantom Girl. She immediately agrees to go with her. Lightning cautions her but she is adamant. Phantom Girl is unsure because she phased to the Zone by accident. She recalls the Phantom Zone Projector on New Genesis but Green Lantern informs her it was destroyed. Phantom Girl decides to try and phase with Miss Martian but they end up in Bgtzl, her home dimension, amid a dangerous storm. Miss Martian links with her psychically to help her focus on Conner and the Zone but they end up back on the Watchtower. She apologizes to Miss Martian for failing.
Miss Martian is distraught but Danny tells her something intriguing. She sets up a new psychic link. Danny reveals he knows the location of the Phantom Zone. Back on New Genesis, he was able o lock on its unique transdimensional frequency when a portal was opened. However, he can only guide them there. Phantom Girl can't make use of the intel as her powers are organic in nature. Black Lightning suggests using a Mother Box. Danny perks up and reasons he could since he has linked with Father Boxes in the past and they're basically the same. Lightning agrees except they are less evil. Despite the good news, Miss Martian is concerned Danny will kill himself helping her. He is sure he can do it one last time to help them as they are going to help him. Aquaman points out the problem, they don't have a Mother Box. Orion arrives at the Watchtower to help per the treaty between the New Gods and Justice League. Orion brings up the inherent danger of opening a Boom Tube to the Zone and reveals he had Mother Box locate Trombus, an uninhabited planet under a red sun with an acceptable atomsphere. That way if any criminals emerge, they will have gain any powers. Lightning thanks him. Orion suggests Rocket will be extremely useful with her force bubbles but Miss Martian reveals she has not been able to contact her, Zatanna, Nightwing, Tigress, and Kaldur. Lightning asks Aquaman to hold down the fort. Lighting tells J'emm it is isn't his fight but J'emm quickly states he will help because M'arzz is forever in Conner's debt. Green Lantern states any friend of Forager is a friend of hers. Lightning thanks them for the help. Phantom Girl is relieved to get a hail from Chameleon Boy on her ring. Saturn girl comes on and confirms they escaped from Lor-Zod on Bio-Ship. Superman asks her if Kid Flash is with them. Kid Flash replies. Superman asks him if Nightwing and Zatanna are with them. He is confused and asks if they are working the op, too. Phantom informs her comrades Conner is alive and they're going to Trombus to open a portal to the Phantom Zone to rescue him. Chameleon Boy tells her they will meet up with her there.
On Trombus, Superman feels his power drain away. Lightning is confident of their numbers. Orion connects his Mother Box to the Kaizer-Thrall. A Boom Tube is opened. On the other side, it appears outside Dru-Zod's fort. Dru instantly recognizes it. Conner points out it could lead anywhere but Dru still sees it as an exit. Ursa agrees to go with him. He orders her, Faora, and Conner to come with him. Kru-El inquires about the other forts. Dru decides they will assemble only when he confirms it is safe on the other side and orders no one else to enter the Boom Tube after them. Miss Martian scans and locates Conner. Conner is scared and won't go through the Boom Tube. Miss Martian wants to go through. Ma'alefa'ak sneaks up on them and commandeers the Kaizer-Thrall. It attacks the heroes and cripples them with its fractualizing beams. Lor-Zod drags an unconscious Kid Flash to the site. Dru orders Conner to follow him. The Team spies the situation from a vantage point above the fort. They agree they need to plug up the Boom Tube. Dru, Ursa, Faora, and Conner arrive on Trombus. Conner immediately succumbs to this prior injuries and collapses. Lor-Zod addresses Dru and Faora in Kryptonese as his parents. Dru is pleased. Elsewhere, Teekl II sleeps on an arm rest of Warworld's control chair.
In the standard Young Justice fashion, the worst sequence of events that could happen in the season's final mission happens. There's very little to take solace in other than no one got killed. Though the way the cold open turned out, it tipped its hat about how this episode would land for our heroes. Lor-Zod turns out to be an even bigger bastard bringing up the late Tomar-Re to his son Tomar-Tu and Kilowog was right there but didn't recognize him. For the sake of pacing, I thought it was the right choice to skip from the rescue team entering the bus' portal right to them spying on the Kryptonians at their fort rather than spend some time on them exploring the Phantom Zone. But as I suspected last week and how Nightwing jinxes it this week, they are no match for the Kryptonians in the Zone. Plus, Dru-Zod now knows Superman is alive and knows about Kryptonite. Good one, Dick. And to make matters worse, the Legion Flight Ring doesn't really have a safeguard for telepathic shapeshifters which gives Lor-Zod and Ma'alefa'ak the opening to use the Trombus mission to their advantage, culminating in the arrival of Dru-Zod, Ursa Zod, and Faora Hu-Ul in the real world.
Despite the negatives going for our heroes, there was at least the fortuitous happenstance in the episode was Miss Martian being consulted for the Kaizer-Thrall just as Prince J'emm introduces Phantom Girl to the gang then along with Superman to verify Phantom Girl and Orion's help, thanks the newly agreed upon treaty, they found an alternate way to the Phantom Zone though unfortunately unaware of what the rest of the original Team is up to and vice versa. It also also a nice bout of camaraderie to see Orion come to their aid, J'emm to quickly pledge his aid and state M'arzz was forever in the debt of Conner Kent, and for Green Lantern Forager to also quickly pledge to help. As bleak as things are at the end of the episode, things are lining up for a comeback. The team in the Phantom Zone is poised to do some classic Team saboteur work with blocking up the Boom Tube. Conner, although hesitant to go to Miss Martian, happens to drop right near her. If love is all you need, the proximity hints things could come to a head with her making telepathic contact and helping him heal. We've seen Lor-Zod only dragging Kid Flash out. Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy, and Bio-Ship might just get their shot like Lor-Zod proposed to make them cooperate. We've seen that Green Lantern Forager can fight through the Kaizer-Thrall's attack. If she can do it again and if Miss Martian can reestablish Danny, he could in theory neutralize all the villains. And as for the villains, we know the only real threat is Ma'alefa'ak whom a restored Saturn Girl, Miss Martian, or Kaizer could take on. The Kryptonians have no power under the red sun and have just their hand to hand fighting skills. And we have a wild card in the Light. As I previously theorized, Vandal may not be so hot on a third party entering the conflict with Darkseid. And in "Rescue and Search," Klarion learned about what was going on from Zatanna after the botched plan in the Tower of Fate. And this episode happens to end with Teekl sleeping on the chair in Warworld. Warworld, where Vandal is and Klarion is never too far from Teekl. He could very well be informing Vandal. Perhaps we may well see Vandal decide to intervene and blow up Trombus, a bout of chaos Klarion would love to watch.
The recurring theme of phantoms in season 4 continues to rear its ugly head even as the finale draws near. In this case, the spectre of season 3 looms as those at the Watchtower discover the horrific fate of a trafficked meta-teen who wasn't saved. Danny Chase was brutalized by Desaad, has his brain removed and implanted in an Apokoliptian weapon, the Kaizer-Thrall, and lastly every use of the multi-dimensional ability is like a ticking time bomb and brings him closer to death's door. Another phantom is having to keep secrets despite it blowing up in past seasons. In this case, Superman has to keep what he knows about the Legion of Super-Heroes a secret from Black Lightning and everyone else to protect the time stream. And of course, how exactly will Miss Martian react to the others keeping her out of their mission?
The cold open also had some interesting blink and miss moments. A Green Lantern flies across the screen. This Lantern is seemingly Malet Dasim from the comics who the prosecutor Galet Dasim from Young Justice: Invasion was based on. And in the background, it appears Kilowog was talking to one of the Guardians of the Universe. Conner's various memory recalls continue to prove to be some great full circle moments and a testament to the sprawling continuity of the show. When Nightwing first approaches Conner, he remembers their conversation in season 3's "Terminus" before everyone set out for the Orphanage. Then when Conner realizes everyone is real, he recalls the origin of the Team photo from "Usual Suspects" that was unknown to us, the audience, until this episode then contrasted with Dru's statement that those in the Zone only had each other from the latter half of Kaldur'ahm's arc. Speaking of, Kaldur'ahm makes a very brief but strong allusion to quell Conner's doubt, he was in a similar situation to Conner but M'gaan fixed him. Well, she did brain blast him and cause the damage but she and Artemis fixed him up in season 2's "Complications" so it plays. And likewise, Conner remembers the mind scape battle against Psimon in season 1's "Bereft," dancing in mid-air with M'gaan in "Needful" and hallucinating her and killing Superman in "Emergency Dive." Then when Kaldur shouts at him to stop, a great callback to "Fireworks" when he first met Conner at Project Cadmus. Another nice subtle season 2 nod was the Watchtower moving out of the range of the Zeta Shield. On a side note, it's amazing to see the A-designations are up to a whopping 52 at this point with the inclusion of J'emm, Phantom Girl, and Orion. Trombus, what an amusing deep cut that was. Harking from the Superboy comics, Trombus was home to the Hyper-Family, a not-so-good family of beings who get Superman-like powers from the red sun. While the sun named in the episode, Gamma Crucis, is an actual red giant. It was also cute of Orion to play it cool when he suggested Rocket join the mission to Trombus. Arguably the coolest deep cut of the episode was the introduction of Danny Chase, a Teen Titans member who first showed up in the New Teen Titans Annual #3 in late 1987.
The final arc of Young Justice: Phantoms has reached its midpoint and in natural fashion gets darkest before dawn where the villains have gained the upper hand and the heroes have little going for them. But if anything is certain, our protagonists have lady luck on their side when it counts the most and them pulling off a comeback win should very much be in the cards. However, the end credits scene seems to connote the Light may well be a wild card in this season's finale and clearing the board by destroying an uninhabited planet along with many irritants could very well drive up the stakes. Two episodes remain as we remain on the edge of our seats wondering how this will all end. Or even end well, that is...
Rating: 4 out of 5