YJLU: “Coldhearted” And “The Greatest Story Never Told”

Hey all! Welcome to the second installment of me comparing and contrasting an episode of Young Justice and an episode of Justice League or Justice League Unlimited. I’m thinking I might expand out and do the entire DCAU, thus allowing for BTAS and STAS, but for now I think I’ll stick with the teams.

Anyway, this was a difficult decision, because I knew that I wanted to do a piece on “Coldhearted,” which is about Wally West, Kid Flash, being sent on an mission to deliver a transplant heart to Queen Perdita of Latvaria. (Vandal Savage and Count Vertigo get in his way a little.) It’s one of my favorite episodes, and I was trying to decide which Flash centered Justice League or JLU episode to compare it to. There are a few good ones and the more I thought about it, none of them really fit. The one that I did want to compare it to was “The Greatest Story Never Told,” which isn’t about Flash at all! It’s about Booster Gold.

First, YJ. It’s Wally’s 16th Birthday, and he’s got plans out the butt. After his mom makes him a Ron Swanson sized breakfast, (That poor woman. I would never want to have to cook for that boy.) his dad offers to take him to the DMV, which is cute to say to someone who break the sound barrier. Wally declines, not wanting to miss the “surprise” party he’s sure the rest of the team is throwing for him. And hoping for a hookup with Megan. I love the early Wally/Megan/Connor triangle that is entirely in Wally’s head. She has no interest in him and never demonstrates any, but he’s convinced that she’s so into him. It’s a really fun through line. A shout out from Iris on the morning news and a snow day complete the best birthday ever feeling for our hero. Of course, the snow turns out to be organized by supervillains, and Artemis takes great relish in telling him that Connor and Megan are now a couple.  A credit to Wally’s characterization and this show’s depiction of teenagers in general is that this deflates him, but also, doesn’t like cause much angst. This is a crush that went wrong not losing the love of his life (ugh, season 2, the feels), also, this isn’t a guy who wallows. He’s a speedster they “keep moving forward.” Anyway, Batman shows up to crash the party and starts handing out assignments. Because Hal Jordan and John Stewart are off world, it’s all hands on deck (I kind of love the idea that the entire team = 2 lanterns btw) and Wally is excited to fight along side the Justice League. But he’s not going to, and gets his own, equally important mission. Saving Perdita and defeating Vertigo is pretty great. Also, it turns out that all of the ice villains captured in the pilot are still in Belle Reve.

“The Greatest Story Never Told” is one of those episodes of JLU that really shows that the DCAU guys had watched a lot of Buffy while they were breaking that show. It’s almost beat for beat identical to “The Zeppo,” which might be the number 1 Xander focused episode of the show. Anyway, the episode focuses on Booster Gold helping a group of scientist keep a rift in the universe from opening while the rest of the league fights off a wizard of some kind. Unlike Wally, Booster isn’t really, um, well, to call him a C-lister might be stretching it. Booster Gold is a fun character, but probably not anyone’s first choice to build an episode around. He’s a janitor who stole some tech and traveled back in time to make his fame and fortune as a super hero. It’s not really working out for him, but this episode shows him saving the day in a big way. Because the rest of the league was occupied at the time, he doesn’t get much credit, but he does get a date which is nice for him. Also he delivers a baby.

Thematically these episodes are about attention seeking and what makes for real heroism. And while it’s hard for me to like anything as much as YJ’s depiction of Wally, Booster constantly being mistaken for a Green Lantern is definitely up there as one of my favorite things in the whole AU.

Both episodes feature great action, and fun snippets of big team fights, as well as one on one stuff with Booster and Wally.

But YJ takes this one for pure resonance. So much gets set up here, and it of course deepens Wally and Artemis’s relationship, and shows his dedication to doing what’s right. (Which will eventually lead to his death…)

“Thanks Green Lantern!”

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