Young Justice: Outsiders Review: DC Universe’s Revival Is More Adult And Packed With Superheroes

young justice outsiders dc universe
(Image credit: Image courtesy of WBTV)

Young Justice is finally returning to the small screen, on a platform few could have possibly predicted when the show first went off the air back in 2013. For a long time, fans had little reason to hope that the show could come back and pay off on the end of Season 2. Fortunately, DC Universe provided the perfect platform for the show to return, called Young Justice: Outsiders for its long-awaited third season. The show won't be exactly what it was, will feature some twists that definitely wouldn't have happened on Cartoon Network, and there will be no shortage of superheroes.

Young Justice: Outsiders kicks off with a quick refresher of where the show ended things at the conclusion of Season 2, in the aftermath of Wally West's disappearance, the departure of Dick Grayson from the team as Nightwing, and the fight continuing, with Barbara Gordon as Batgirl stepping up to help Kaldur lead. The series premiere doesn't linger in the past, however, and after a time jump to advance the story and raise some big questions, the action picks up again.

The show doesn't waste any time in establishing that the world is no easier to navigate for superheroes -- young and seasoned alike -- than it was in earlier seasons. Metahuman traffickers have been targeting kids all over the world with the goal of finding and activating them to take advantage of their superpowers. The superpowered youngsters will become weapons in an intergalactic arms race that could take them to the far reaches of the galaxy and pit them against the Justice League themselves, to great disaster for one hero.

As if the kidnappings and metahuman trafficking across the galaxy weren't difficult enough for the heroes of Young Justice: Outsiders, they also face a ruling body that doesn't make their efforts to help people all that easy, with Lex Luthor complicating things as ever. Dissension within the ranks of the League doesn't help, and the youngest of Young Justice don't necessarily get the priority.

Luckily, Nightwing -- although without his blue symbol -- is on the case, with the help of an ally known as Oracle, who may or may not be somebody fans already know. Dick leads a team on a mission to uncover a mysterious organization that has been leading metahuman trafficking. There are plenty of familiar faces in the first episodes of Young Justice: Outsiders as well as some promising newcomers that Arrow-verse fans will recognize from their live-action counterparts.

The result of all these factors is that Young Justice: Outsiders is an extension of what Young Justice fans got in the first two seasons, but it won't necessarily feel like business as usual. Just as the original members of the team have grown up (and a lot of original fans grew up), Young Justice has become more adult, and there was more than one twist in the first few episodes that went far enough beyond what would have aired on Cartoon Network that I was genuinely shocked.

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That's not to say that Young Justice: Outsiders is an animated version of DC Universe's first original series, Titans. Spoiler alert for Young Justice: Outsiders: Beast Boy does not maul anybody to death, Robin doesn't brutally beat anybody into bloody submission, and Dick Grayson doesn't drop any F-bombs about Batman (or anybody else, for that matter). These simply aren't the exact same kids fans said goodbye to at the end of Season 2, and releasing on DC Universe means going for some more mature subject matter. Still, youngsters should be able to watch.

Co-showrunners Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti have set the stage for Young Justice: Outsiders to deliver more of what fans have been waiting for all these years while still introducing new characters. I don't want to spoil her identity or her powers, but one newcomer that crosses paths with Artemis has the potential to be a fan-favorite after her very first episode. The younger team added some new faces to its ranks, as did the Justice League. Outsiders isn't going to simply retread old Young Justice ground.

That said, if I have one notable criticism of Young Justice: Outsiders, it has to be that Season 3 doesn't spend time setting up the universe for newcomers who discovered the show for the first time on DC Universe. Longtime fans will certainly appreciate Outsiders getting right into the action; folks who didn't catch the first two seasons and haven't spent the last handful of years crossing their fingers for a third season might be more than a little lost. Still, I'd argue that it would be worth sticking it out even if you're not 100% sure who everybody is right off the bat.

The early episodes raise some questions that we can only hope will be answered sooner rather than later in Season 3, and I'm not even referring to leftover questions such as what really happened to Wally West and how the second Robin (presumably Jason Todd) died between the first and second seasons. If you didn't keep up with showrunner interviews in the past month, you'll likely be more than a little curious about Kaldur's promotion from Aqualad to Aquaman.

Another question regards the identity of Oracle. Now, anybody who cares enough about DC Comics to subscribe to DC Universe probably has a pretty good guess about the person acting as Oracle, but Young Justice: Outsiders leaves a lot of room to wonder about Oracle. As a longtime fan of the character, my fingers are definitely crossed that Outsiders finds a fresh way to tell her origin story. Just because Outsiders can seemingly get darker on DC Universe doesn't mean we need to see another Killing Joke!

Only time will tell how Young Justice: Outsiders will manage to juggle all of its many heroes as well as all the villains that are on the way, based on the content of an early trailer. The first few episodes set up a few different plots that are big enough to keep just about everybody busy. Viewers will get a heavy dose of Nightwing to begin with, which should make fans who felt he didn't get enough screentime in Season 2 happy.

All things considered, Young Justice: Outsiders is poised to be a compelling and wild ride more than worthy of becoming DC Universe's second original series and first original animated series. I'm already hoping that, if a Season 4 happens, we don't have to wait another 5+ years!

Young Justice premieres on Friday, January 4 on DC Universe, with episodes continuing to release on a weekly basis. You can also catch Titans on the platform, if you haven't already. For some non-superhero viewing options, be sure to swing by our midseason TV premiere schedule.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).