Young Justice: A Polarised Fanbase

Young Justice is a great show and one of the best that’s on TV at the moment, but as usual there’s one thing that’s really buggy and doesn’t really work well with everything else. This time that’s the fandom. This show is probably a perfect example of a polarised fanbase, where it seems fans take very different things away from the show, and therefore since they’re fans they complain about a lot of things that don’t seem to mesh well. Some of those things don’t even seem to be actually happening in the show. I’m going t go through some of the bigger, more sillier, comments and complaints about the show from its fans. Not all of them since I would probably need to start an entirely new site to do that and spend all day everyday updating it. Plus looking at all the fans moaning and complaining would probably drive me insane.

It just seems like one of those shows that has so much going on that the fans have grabbed the bits that they like and are ignoring the rest, then complaining about the rest when something happens. It’s a weird dichotomy that I’ve seen in smaller scale when the show started, but now that it’s halfway through season 2 the fanbase is getting more divided on liking and hating on the little things.

OK to start with let’s explain what Young Justice actually is to those who haven’t seen the show. It’s a DC animated series made by Greg Weisman, Brandon Vietti, and many other talented people, that started in 2010. The main plot, or a simplified version at least, is that the teenage sidekicks of some of the Justice League wanted to not be treated like kid sidekicks anymore, so the League gave them the chance to be a covert ops group that go places and do things that the League’s more public presence would be a hindrance. Along the way the stumble upon a villain group called The Light that’s been organised in secret and is the villain escalation of what the League is to heroes. There’s a lot more to it, but writing up the basics of the show is like falling down the rabbit hole till it becomes so large that it’s an article of its own. Sufficed to say that given this is a Greg Weisman show the story is multilayered, there are long plot arcs that spin into bigger plot arcs, and everything’s so methodically plotted out he’s got a 200 page timeline written. That’s one of the shows greatest strengths that it’s so well thought out that everything has some meaning, that’s also one of its problems with its fans.

There are a lot of plates spinning in the air and it’s so easy just to follow one or two and forget, or just ignore, the others. There’re details that get lost or overlooked that are too subtle for some fans to pick up. So to them it can seem like nothing’s happening with plotlines or characters that they like when in fact there’s a lot going on it’s just that the show needs you to pay attention. Not to say that the series is perfect, which it isn’t because nothing’s perfect, because sometimes it pays to be a DC comics fan than a newbie, sometimes things seem a bit rushed, and some characters seem to get more focus than others. Though with that last one which characters, and whether it’s a good or bad thing, seems to depend on who your favourite characters are.

Now I’ll be going over these in more general complaints to make it easier to read for anyone who hasn’t seen the show. I’ll try to keep it to things that have been said over the course of the show and not just for what’s been said about individual episodes, though when I have to I’ll explain the relevant stuff along the way. These are all real complaints I’ve read about the series since even before the show started and ones I’ve heard more than once so I’m not picking on anyone in particular here.

The first one is the big one that all comic series must face, “it’s not like the original comics” or more accurately, “it’s not like the preferred version that only lives in my head!” Yes because of adapting stories to different mediums some things have to be changed and fans don’t really like that. In Young Justice’s case the creators actually re-imagined the entire DC Universe from the ground up, hence the 200 page timeline, so that’s going to cause a lot of changes. Although that complaint seems to have manly disappeared when DC rebooted it’s comics with the “New 52” line. So now fans are saying “why can’t the New 52 be like Young Justice?”

As an addendum to that when the Joker appeared on the show there was the usual moaning about how different he was from the previous versions. Since every cartoon appearance has an entirely different version of him I can boil the complaints down into four words, “It’s not Mark Hamill.” That’s always the common thread whenever a new Joker shows up. To go into specifics because this series has a more grounded and realistic edge, especially to its designs, this Joker was made to match that. So the fans start complaining that he’s not “fun” or “funny” and is an “emo” despite that term being so constantly glaringly misused I think it’s lost all meaning now. This version of him was much more psychotic, which has lead comparisons to Heath Ledger’s Joker, and would probably end up stabbing Harley Quinn when she annoys him rather than simply settling for just beating her up. The Joker is not meant to be a “funny” character, you’re not supposed to laugh at him unless it’s a comedy series, he just does things that make him laugh according with his own sick sense of humour. Since comedy is extremely subjective people have widely varying degrees of senses of humour.

Fans seem to latch onto their favourite characters and appear to ignore the rest, or in some cases just hate them. There’s also the fact that it’s an ensemble show, and much like Justice League/Unlimited, Avengers EMH, and Teen Titans before it the series focuses on the team more so than any one character. So we only get brief glimpses into an individual character’s life outside the team. We see Green Arrow and Artemis stopping an assassin at the beginning of one episode, we see bits of the League’s operations, as well as pieces of the characters home life, but usually not one episode is solely focused on one of those for a single character. Which tends to annoy some fans that not enough attention is being paid to their favourite character. But there’s only so much time in an episode and it’s not enough to even have episode dedicated to their favourite character since they want a series focusing on them. Which it can’t since it’s about the Team, not Robin or Aqualad, Red Arrow, Artemis, or Kid Flash.

There have been standard complaints that Batman get’s too much time spend on him and things associated with him, such as, “the batfamily gets too much air time!” What’s funny about this is that the Batfans start chiming in at times with, “Why doesn’t the Batfamily get its own episode!” or just wanting more focus on Robin, Batgirl, and/or Nightwing. So these complaints then to get null and void when fans start complaining about opposite things not happening. Batman gets some more focus because he’s Batman and there’s a reason he’s DC’s most popular character. Some fans want more of him, others want less of him, and both are annoying viewpoints to constantly hear.

Then there are the Shippers. So many characters to be shipped, so many bad combination names that sound really stupid. I don’t really follow the Shipping side of things but I can imagine how much some fans hated the beginning of season 2 when their couple wasn’t together anymore. The one thing I have noticed is complaints about the Superboy/Miss Martian couple, in particular that, “they get the majority of the screen time.” Which is only partially true. They got a lot of time devoted to them becoming/being a couple, but that was little chunks of episodes spread over the course of the show. The way some fans tell it the entire show focused on them and only them, with all the other characters never getting any screen time. Which is nonsense. Because of the larger amount of time spent on them over multiple episodes it lead fans to confuse “getting focus” with “getting all the focus” and as usual that has spiralled out of control into stupid hyperbole that bares little resemblance on reality.

In the same vein when season 1 was airing, towards the end of that, I saw this gem a few times, “no one has any character development!” That’s just so stupid and utter nonsense it suggests they haven’t even watched the show. I could list off episodes that disprove it, but I might as well save some time and just say all of them. Since all the episodes have character moments and you can really see them grown and develop over time.

Speaking of season 1 one of the subplots in it was that Superboy was a clone of Superman and that Superman actively was shocked by it to the point of not wanting anything to do with the kid. Fans weren’t happy that Superman was behaving like a human being at the sight of what’s essentially his rape child (since his DNA was taken without his consent to make a child, rape is the closest comparison I can make) showing up. Since Superboy didn’t need his help Superman could just try his best to ignore the problem and not deal with it, like most of us would do. But since Superman is ‘supposed to be perfect’ there was a lot of fan bitching that Superman dare not act like the “big blue boy scout” fans moan that he always is all the time. Cognitive dissonance thy name is Superman fans.

Moving onto another silly “they have to be perfect” one, the idea that the Justice League hasn’t taken down the Light in five years. I suppose this is due to the ‘beating the bad guys in an episode/season’ plots that are around. It’s that the League is so powerful that they should be able to take down a top secret villain group that by the end of season 1 was still mostly unknown to them, just because they’re the Justice League. That’s why Superman’s exposed Lex Luthor’s criminal dealing, or Batman taking down the League of Shadows, or Dr Fate removing all Chaos from the universe, ah, wait, none of those has happened. It’s because it’s not that easy to take down something like that down, especially since the Light isn’t the Legion of Doom and this isn’t Superfriends. They can’t just bust into their secret headquarters and cart them off to jail after destroying their mind control ray. And of course the out of show explanation is, “why do you want the major villains of the series taken down in-between seasons?”

Now comes the more serious discussion point, Miss Martian’s Mind raping. She’s a telepath, an extremely powerful one at that, and during season 2 we find out that when she wants information from a bad guy she literally rips it out of their head leaving drooling, seemingly temporary, comatose bodies in her wake. Because of the way it was handled, and some other topical political stuff I’m not going to touch on, some fans thought it was a good thing she was doing this. Since it was the fastest way to get intel and wasn’t hurting anyone but a bad guy they were fine with it. Then the other shoe dropped and she had to face the consequences when it wasn’t a bad guy and it did really hurt someone. Suddenly I saw quite a few supporters of her actions popping up around the internet. Some even suggesting it was because the producers didn’t want to do a, “look at a more interesting topic instead of going back to straddling the ‘do not cross’ moral line” and other such judgements shoved into the creators mouths. Assuming the creators had some “political leftwing agenda” ignores everything else the characters do in the series. We see ‘actions have consequences’ all the time in the show (as well as other Weisman series), we see characters do selfish and less than noble things, and we get a ‘this is what happened, make your own judgments on the morality’ view on maters with them constantly leaving things open to interpretation. So why is it this thing that makes fans forget all of that? Why should she not have to face consequences to her actions? I think some fans wanted it to say she was right in her actions, or at least morally justified and therefore in the right, even though that’s what they’re arguing against, except on the opposite side.

And finally possibly the most annoying thing the fandom is continuing to do, completely clog up Ask Greg (Weisman). Ask Greg is a site set up for fans to ask Greg Weisman questions about his various works and his opinions on pop culture, among other things, but primarily it was about his first big series, Gargoyles. However since he started working on comic based properties (such as Spectacular Spider-Man) more and more inane questions were being asked since fans could ask what things came from the comics as well as spoilers for the series. With Young Justice those inane questions increased 50 fold. The current Unanswered Question queue is at 404 questions within one month. Most of those questions fall into four categories: asking for spoilers (which includes asking which characters from the comics will be showing up), asking about things already confirmed in the show, asking for character ages, asking things that were already answered. All of which is annoying to everyone going to Ask Greg and anyone using it since it now takes longer for Greg to answer legitimate questions that can’t be answered with a Google search or five seconds of sensible thought.

So that’s all the main fandom complaints I can think of that I’ve seen around. There’s probably a lot more out there because there’s a lot of different opinions on the show and even what’s happening in the show. Especially when it reading all the comments together and they read like they’re watching different shows from each other. Not sure why that is happening more than the other comic book based shows, or if it’s a positive thing for the show or not. What I can say is that it’s another example of why fans shouldn’t have a say in the creative works. There is no pleasing all of them so don’t try to, just try to make something good and see what happens.

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About Reaf

I'm Reaf. I run the Reaf Debrief. I'm from England so I spell things with a U and a sarcastic sense of humour.

Posted on January 21, 2013, in Animation and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Honest Abe said it best.

    “You can please some of the people some of the time all of the people some of the time some of the people all of the time but you can never please all of the people all of the time.”

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  2. Part of it is that the villains rarely suffer more than minor setbacks. It’s often “Just as planned”.

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  3. Then there’s the fact that the villains could have minor disagreements. All we see is Sportscaster getting angry. It feels tacky.

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  4. The problem a lot of fanboys don’t get is that the villains can’t just keep getting a xanatos gambit. They can’t get an ulterior victory all the time. They can have it sometimes but sometimes the villains have to lose completely. None of this horseshit “oh loosing was our plan all along” or “our real plan was accomplished while you were distracted. It’s good when done in decent amounts. Otherwise it’s just

    Greg Weisman fails to understand that sometimes the villains need to loose outright. They shouldn’t do it every episode, but there needed to be more episodes like Coldhearted were the light suffers an actual blow and doesn’t get any nice compensation prize.

    Or as someone else said
    “By that, I mean that there has to be a balance between the action and exposition, with characters that one can actually like for some reason or another. Part of that also means that the heroes have to actually win over the villains with no strings attached every so often. Constantly playing the “hurr derr, losing was the villain’s plan all along” gimmick gets old fast (I despise the day they invented the term “Xanatos Gambit”).”

    In that regards Weisman’s a little clueless.

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    • I’ve gone over why the fan idiocy of “the villains always end by saying ‘Just as Planned’ and it’s terrible and wrong!!11” is just bullshit way too many times. It’s honestly completely boring having to repeat these same points over and over again.

      But here’s the short version, The Light rarely goes “just as planned” at the end of an episode. About half the episodes in season one don’t end that way and don’t have The Light winning, and in the other half a lot of the time The Light says “well we lost here, but we’re a bunch of fucking adults who run companies and empires so we’re going to be adult about this and sort this shit out.” What fans seem to think of as “Just as Planned” is actually just The Light admitting that they lost, taking stock of what they’ve lost and gained, and moving on. They’re not 80s cartoon villains, or the DCAU Lex Luthor, who will throw a tantrum like a little baby after they lose every episode. They take the hit and plan around that.

      In Downtime it looks like they’re going “Just as planned” but they’re really saying “we lost this time, but we can regroup and grab Starro another day” and guess what, we see them do just that. They lost so hard in Downtime they had to split the world in two, causing untold panic and terror, just so they could get Starro back. That’s not a “just as planned” scenario, that’s a “we fucked up, we’ll have to pull out all the stops to get it back next time.”

      Fans are mad The Light didn’t end every episode with “curse you Young Justice, we’ll get you next time!” just so you’d know The Light had lost. You just need to pay attention at the end whenever The Light show up, listen to what they actually say, and put it into the context of the rest of the show.

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  5. downtime and coldharted subvert it certainly. But there are still strings attached a lot of the time. For instance, the Light wins in Auld Acquaintance (they don’t control the league but they blackened their name on Rimbor and got the reach’s attention.) In Targets the Light wins (since they now have influence in a united Rhelasia). In Terrors the main objectives are achieved even if the breakout fails. In Revelation the Injustice League manages to trick everyone into thinking the issue was dealt with and hides the light’s existence. In Misplaced the Light gets the Starro. In Image Queen Bee has Me’gann blackmailed. Some of these are necessary for the plot but when it happens OVER AND OVER it gets irritating.

    What little victories the heroes get usually have strings attached. Coldhearted is different in that the light not only fails but one of their top agents is in jail without his diplomatic immunity. Compare gargoyles; after the first five episodes Xanatos spends a couple months in jail on minor charges. It’s not enough to knock him out of action but it bloodies his nose. The heroes might not win a knockout but it’s still satisfying to see Xanatos get inconvenienced. In the Price his attempt for immortality fails and Hudson gets under his skin. Demona pulls one over in city of stone.

    Xanatos is certainly competent and effective but he suffers enough bloody noses that he’s not TOO invincible.

    Also I never said the villains should be infighting. I’m saying the leaders can have minor disagreements (like “maybe we should proceed this way.” “I disagree.”)

    Young Justice isn’t a bad show. I enjoyed it well enough and wish Weisman success. At the same time that’s an area where it’s rather irritating.

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  6. You’re too eager to defend that Weisman has flaws in his style. He fails to understand that the heroes often need to win WITHOUT strings. Usually it’s too often that there are strings attached which makes accomplishments hollow. It also adds to the impression of the light as villain sues. You’re arguments are well argued and you make decent points, but you kind of are ignoring the fact that heroes need to win without strings and that by doing it he cheapens them.

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    • You say “Weisman has flaws in his style” because the heroes “need to win without strings” yet you’ve already cited a Weisman show that doesn’t do that, Gargoyles, so that’s not really “his style” as a conceit of this show. That conceit being “bad guys as competent as the heroes” BTW not the strings thing.

      I’m just going to throw out a list of eps where they win “without strings” even though that’s a nebulous term that you could make mean anything. Welcome to Happy Harbor, Schooled, Denial, Alpha Male, Humanity, Disordered, Secrets, Coldhearted, Performance. 9 episodes right there.

      I’d even argue Image is a win, they stopped Queen Bee’s scheme in its entirety, The Light also got some blackmail material on M’gann but as we saw in Usual Suspects all that did was help expose themselves to the Team. Usual Suspects also a win, it just ends on a cliffhanger set up for the next episode that had nothing to do with the Team’s win. Downtime was a win as we saw The Light had to use a backup plan in Misplaced to get Starro, so The Light unequivocally lost in Downtime. So this whole “villains win all the time” idea is looking very shaky given all these episodes spread out over the season.

      I think this is a bit of confirmation bias going on here, given in cartoons we’re used to bad guys always losing at the end of every episode. So when we’re shown that sometimes they are winning, or at least gaining something even though they lost, that confirmation bias makes one think it’s happening a lot more than it actually is. Just like it makes some fans think EVERY episode ended with The Light saying “just as planned” even though a lot of them didn’t.

      BTW the villains being competent and getting wins means that it’s even sweeter when the heroes do get wins of their own over The Light. Usual Suspects is damn satisfying seeing the manipulators being out foxed by the heroes.

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  7. Except that I was counting episodes where the light was in play. I didn’t count episodes like disordered since the light isn’t in it so much as Desaad doing his thing. Greg Weisman’s not a bad writer; his fans put him on a pedestal and act like any who complain are whiney nitpickers.

    Another thing is that the “better world” is a load of horseshit. Very few real villains want a better world; they care for themselves and only themselves. Oftentimes the most horrific crimes occur for petty reasons;

    In the West Memphis Three case it’s probable the stepfather of one of the boys got angry the kid defied him, murdered the kid in a rage and killed the other two to ensure silence. Kermit Alexander’s Family was butchered because a bar owner wanted to avoid a lawsuit and his hitmen hit the wrong house. In the Ryen family murder either a.) the guy wanted a car or b.) a bunch of AB hitmen got drunk and accidentally went to the wrong house for their drug hit. Clarence Ray Allen had Mary Sue Kitts killed by Lee Furrow (incidentally Furrow may well be the actual murderer of the Ryen family mentioned earlier) because she snitched on him and informed the “friends” he robbed that he had robbed them.

    Real crimes and tragedies don’t usually occur for “a better world”. They occur for base banal and petty reasons.

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    • So you wanted the Team to have more wins but the episodes where they do win don’t count because it’s not them winning against The Light, even the ones where they’re winning against The Light and their operatives/partners? With the exception of Secrets we know all the others episodes I mentioned have villains with connections to The Light. Two of those episodes had villains that are literally running The Light, Klarion and the Brain, or three if you count the Team stopping Queen Bee’s attempted take over of Qurac in Image. To me it still looks like you want episodes to end with The Light shaking their fists and saying “curse you Young Justice! We’ll get you next time!” You want the show to acknowledge their defeats in more obvious ways than just having the Team win.

      As for your second point: dude come on now. There’s 100s of “real crime” shows and none of them are kids shows and they don’t involve aliens and superpowers. Literally no DC cartoon is like what you’ve described. Real criminals are mostly idiots and they get caught because they were stupid, but I don’t want to see The Light being caught because one of them accidentally butt-dialled 911 or put their crimes up on facebook (legit things stupid criminals have done, and many times too).

      Secondly “real villains” don’t consider themselves villains. The world is a lot more grey than black and white, so strangely enough a CEO, a dictator, and the like don’t think their actions are “villainous.” They’re a group of powerful individuals who see the world falling apart and think only their way can fix it. History is full of terrible actions taken by people and groups who think their motives are “just” and “righteous” and “for the greater good.” Some of those people and groups are still called “the good guys” to this day because history has named them as such and swept away their horrible crimes.

      Thirdly don’t complain about being labelled a nitpicker and then immediately follow it up with nitpicking.

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  8. Okay. I’ll concede. Maybe I was annoyed by the loose plot threads hanging at the time.

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  9. I’ll admit that in hindsight a large part is aesthetic; I feel that good stories need SOME conclusion and what open endedness there is is “and the adventure continued.” Take Avatar the last airbender for instance. Aang and his friends can have more adventures but the main storyline (the fire nation invasion) is resolved (Ozai is defeated and imprisoned for his crimes and while there are difficulties ahead the war itself is over.). I’ve also gotten burned from a lot of modern comic storylines not really ending. Say what you will about Spiderman 2 but their Doctor Octopus had a clear story. He’s a brilliant scientist, he looses it all, goes insane, becomes evil, regains his sanity and sacrifices his life in a final act of redemption. Beginning middle end. Many tv shows when they go on and on kinda loose their magic eventually, trapped in an endless middle.

    By the way, if you have time you should watch the show Orphan Black. It’s a good story and is LGBT friendly. The final season is airing this year, so if you want you can just binge watch it all on Amazon.

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