Young Justice: Phantoms "Odnu!" Review

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After two intoxicating arcs featuring Miss Martian, Superboy, and Tigress respectively, it’s now time for a gripping storyline surrounding Zatanna and her proteges! In the past three seasons, we’ve seen Zatanna grow from being a neophyte of the world of magic to a highly skilled magician who’s now training three young magic-users. However, their worlds are about to be turned upside down as a new powerful threat has emerged, along with the return of old enemies. The stakes have been raised, and it’s now up to the entrancing enchantress and her young associates to save the day before all hope is lost.

“Odnu!” kicks off with a mysterious voice narrating about the balance of chaos and order, heavily hinting at a major theme within this arc. The episode then dives into a training exercise with Zatanna and her three apprentices, Traci Thurston, Khalid Nassour, and Mary Bromfield. Despite being fairly successful in their task, Zatanna still gives her students critiques on how to improve their performances, even if one of her proteges, Mary, was once the esteemed superhero, Lieutenant Marvel. However, a sudden disturbance makes the foursome visit an old friend of theirs via flying carousel animals similar to Disney’s Mary Poppins.

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On the more villainous side of things, Klarion the Witch Boy, who’s usually quite composed despite his childlike personality, is taken aback by the new arrival of this mysterious magical force. The being of chaos is so stupefied that he leaves a virtual summit with the Light, much to all of their surprise and confusion. This ominous disruption in the world of magic suddenly takes the form of a large creature that’s made up of the material from the Star of Atlantis. Another being, who transforms into an eerie child, then calls it to her side and uses the beast, who is christened Flaw, to begin committing horrific acts starting on an innocent, yet unfortunate security guard. Whoever these two may be, they're certainly going to be a handful for our heroes and even maybe a few villains as well.

Elsewhere, in regards to the realm of non-magic users, the newest addition to the roster of den mothers, Blue Devil, attempts to cheer up one of the more despondent members of the Outsiders. Beast Boy, who's still in a major funk after the supposed demise of Superboy, is still avoiding missions with his team and continues to sadly lay around in his room mourning the loss of his surrogate older brother. Despite attempting to cheer him up, Blue Devil is unsuccessful in getting the Outsiders’ leader out of his state of depression as he makes a trip to the pharmacy to find something to help him sleep better. Will our favorite green shapeshifter ever truly be back to his old self someday?

In a side story, we also get a further look into Vandal Savage and Klarion's history together. We learn that Klarion destroyed the meta-village that Vandal first set up, and after hundreds of attempts of trying to kill Savage, the two reach some sort of understanding... for now, at least. Hopefully we'll learn more about it in the coming episodes. We also learn that the episode's narration is done by the ever cool and mysterious Phantom Stranger; we can't wait to see what more lies in store with him.

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This episode was most definitely a great way to start such an enrapturing arc, there's a lot to talk about in regards to what was done really well. First, the inclusion of new and returning characters like Khalid Nassour, who inevitably becomes one of the many incarnations of Doctor Fate, was super interesting to see. The introduction of Nassour and Mary Bromfield, who was teased a bit in the past by the show's creators, worked really well as the show gave us a good understanding of their pasts and where they stood right now as apprentices to the amazing Zatanna. The duo's personalities feel really well-defined too, and they're not the only new additions to the show's ever-expanding cast that shined bright like a diamond!

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Not only did the introduction of Child and Flaw raise our intrigue, but they were also genuinely horrifying and brought a real element of horror to the episode. Child perfectly embodies the well-known trope of the “creepy child” who dresses fancifully and talks in a slow, mysterious manner, while Flaw is a hulking abomination that has a childlike smile in the middle of their “face” to counteract their imposing frame. While their appearances and demeanors are unnerving, the actions they commit in this episode are extremely appalling as a poor security guard is ripped apart in a way that's similar to someone you'd see in an HP Lovecraft novel. This is most likely the tip of the iceberg in how malevolent these two are.

While the magical elements to “Odnu!” were spellbinding, the more down-to-earth and humane scenes also didn't feel out of place and gave this episode a more grounded feeling. Seeing where Beast Boy was during all of this was certifiably heartbreaking, you really feel the heartache in his voice whenever he talks. The sadness is palpable in Greg Cipes’ performance as you know that he misses Superboy, the closest thing he had to an older brother, more than life itself. The other characters utilized like Blue Devil and Mist was also nice as the two haven't received much attention until now, and it was interesting to dig into how they were feeling and trying to aid Beast Boy during his time of great crisis.

Furthermore, what makes this episode stand out when compared to the prior eight was its macabre, unearthly tone. There's a peculiar sense of something going on throughout the episode and when each character notices this, a sense of lurid dread comes over them whether it's Zatanna or Klarion. The lighting and coloring in most scenes is also quite dark too, very few eye-catching pastels are used to symbolize that everything in this episode will be a bit more grim than what we're used to. Whereas the first arc leaned more into the science fiction aspects of the show and the second arc leaned into both the espionage and familial elements of Young Justice, “Odnu!” really does feel like a radically dark departure from what we've seen so far in Phantoms.

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To conclude this review, the ninth episode of Young Justice: Phantoms was a brilliantly-written episode that really embraces the supernatural aspects of the show. The highlights on the new characters were put-together gracefully, and our heroes’ latest adversaries will definitely send shivers down our spines in future episodes. The more practical and realistic scenes showcasing one's depression at the loss of a loved one were sensible showcases too, keeping the audience down-to-earth will help the show stay balanced. Most importantly though, the episode in general leaves us wanting more and eager to see what happens next in the upcoming three episodes that'll be in Zatanna’s arc. 

What did you think of the episode? How do you think this third arc of Young Justice: Phantoms will turn out? Let us know in the comments and via our Twitter!

Author: Connor T. DavenportEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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