Interview: Young Justice's Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti Talk Grief, Character Arcs and More

Happy Whelmed Wednesday everyone! Last Friday, team members Ariel Horn and Melissa K. had the opportunity to sit down with Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti and ask them a few questions about Young Justice: Phantoms. While there's tons we want to know about the new season, we hope you enjoy a few select insights to some burning questions we had. 

YJTV: We have been loving the smaller arcs this season, and I know the fandom does too. Do you find that smaller arcs allow you to include more detailed stories that otherwise there might not have been time to do? Sort of like how the tie-in comics would have several issues pertaining to a specific villain or problem, or fleshing out relationships between more secondary characters?

Brandon Vietti: Certainly, by focusing on one character in an arc, you can dive into one particular story in more detail and get more nuances in there, more twists and turns, and I certainly think that’s more rewarding for us and the writing, and hopefully more rewarding for our audiences as well. It also gave our season a unique character on its own. One of the things I’m most proud of is that we’ve found a way to give each season its own character and its own vibe. We’re always trying to evolve the show and make things feel fresh and new, but at the same time, honor everything we’ve done before and make it feel like the same show, but with a slightly different presentation. It helps from a production standpoint as well, if we can design a bunch of characters and locations that can last throughout four episodes is better than just doing that for one episode and onto the next episode with a whole new bunch of designs, so from a production standpoint too, we can get a little more mileage out of our designs and it's helpful for our artists too.

YJTV: It was great seeing M’gann and Conner go to Mars, and see just how thriving their society is. In terms of M’gann’s other siblings, do they resent her for just being A’ashenn, for leaving, or for everything she did on Earth after she left (becoming a hero and being with Conner)? Or is it a combination of factors?

Greg Weisman: There are over twenty of them, so I don’t think there’s one answer that’ll answer all twenty. There’s a combination of factors in there, I think that there’s an element of fear, and they’ve all built lives as G’arrunns, and some may be more religious and so the interspecies nature of their relationship may be problematic to some. There’s the out there way of M’gann walking around town as both as an A’ashenn and an A’ashenn presenting as a human. There are angers that go back years about her leaving, maybe about her relationships with those before she left. Over the years, we introduced M’Comm in season three and Em’Ree in season four, and as time goes on, we may introduce more if we get more episodes. Those are some of the issues though involved with it.

YJTV: We both really love Artemis and Jade, and just from this first episode we are so ecstatic to see where this will go, and a bit nervous of course! We’re very curious to know about Artemis’ path forward. She has arguably been through a lot, from way back in Season 1 when she was trying to prove that she could be a hero despite her family, all the way to this season where she has now lost Conner, who she considered a brother, just after seemingly having reached a point where she had moved on from Wally, and was finding her way back with a good job, a steady work-life-superhero balance, and a boyfriend. We’ve already seen how this is affecting her (and we loved the desaturated scenes after she found out, really drove the point home) - and we’re sure we’ll continue to see things develop, but we were wondering how you decided to approach Artemis’ grief in terms of finally wanting to bring Jade back home after all?

Greg Weisman: I think that obviously Artemis’s grief works on multiple levels that she’s even aware of and spoke to which is that on one hand, she lost Conner who’s like a brother to her and she was close to him. That’s grief in itself, but let’s get real, seeing this happen and knowing how M’gann must feel, this has got to bring up a lot of Wally stuff. This was going to be hard and painful for her, and the great thing about twenty-five year old Artemis as opposed to fifteen year old Artemis is there’s a lot of self-awareness there. She’s learned that one thing that got her through her grief is not focus inward, but focus outward. How can I help other people? What can I do to help other people? And goes beyond what her mom said with “hitting bad guys over the head with a bo staff”, which I imagine has a sense of satisfaction, but that’s not the point. That turns her focus, as she has this big hole in her life with Wally, which we’ve seen a day in her life before and after Conner’s death. She’s begun to successfully create a new life for her, but his death creates a new hole and opens up a new wound, but there’s another wound that’s still open and she’s like “I can’t fix those two, I can’t bring Conner back to life and I can’t bring Wally  back to life, but maybe I can bring Jade back into my life”. Whether or not she’ll succeed is not up to her, but whether or not she tries is up to her, so that’s at least what you’re seeing. So you’ll be seeing her try to bring Jade back into her life, and then we’ll just have to see what happens.

YJTV: Paula has been quite the character through the seasons, and we must admit we were surprised to see that she knew quite a lot more than she was letting on about Jade’s precarious situation. Knowing what she knew, it’s jarring to see that she seems so convinced that Jade is beyond saving, especially since she is a former villain and would know it’s not an easy road to travel. What do you think is her conviction in regards to Jade’s lost cause?

Brandon Vietti: I don’t know if we really written all the specifics out for ourselves, I do imagine there are parallels between lives there that a mother seeing the worst of herself in her daughter must be a terrible thing to deal with and there’s got to be some tension there for her and dealing with what path Jade has taken for herself

Greg Weisman: I think that Paula is cynical, that those are the lessons her life taught her and that she loves to present herself as “Hi, I’m the cautionary tale”. She feels that given that Jade has that remarkable opportunity from her point of view of having a husband and a house in Star City and a normal life, she looks at herself and is like ``don't do what I did”, and Jade didn’t take that cautionary tale. Paula says that Jade’s unsalvageable, and that doesn’t necessarily mean that Paula is right nor that she believes that deep down, it’s very possible that she needs to tell herself that, but beyond that, I think I’ll keep my mouth shut because we’ve got three more episodes in this arc. 

Brandon Vietti: It’s interesting how even with Artemis, she doesn’t want her in the hero game because so much bad befell her in the high stakes game she played, and clearly Jade is not and she sees more hope in Artemis. Clearly there’s a lot of tension there within herself and struggling with her own past, and how her daughters have taken similar paths, but in different directions, it’s still something that’s in front of her everyday and she has to live with that and relate with that. The tension within her is interesting to put on-screen, and especially as Artemis has come face-to-face with that and how it expands their relationship. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some of our questions, Greg and Brandon! You can catch the first batch of new Young Justice: Phantoms episodes airing on Thursdays until 12/30 on HBO Max, with the second half of the season continuing in Spring 2022. 

Ariel Horn
Author: Ariel HornWebsite: https://youngjustice.tvEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Lead Writer
About the Author
Ariel is's lead writer. She has been obsessed with the show since its early days, and looks forward to cover this exciting new season with everyone. May hope burn bright!

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