After a long swim and a deep dive beneath the ocean waves, we return from Atlantis for a breath of fresh air… on New Genesis! That’s right folks. We go from deep sea to deep, deep space for this next arc as Young Justice: Phantoms starts to finally answer some of the questions they’ve laid on us all season long.
We get some much needed answers, while also seeing the threads of even greater mysteries to come. There is also a pretty fantastic nod to fans of Green Lantern: the Animated Series that I’ll be sure to gush over when we get there. Definitely wasn’t expecting it.
Things to Know (Series Spoilers)
First and foremost, the thing to know about this arc of Young Justice: Phantoms is that it takes place on the homeworld of the New Gods: New Genesis, and more specifically in their capital city of Supertown. The New Gods are quite literally exactly what their name implies. They are immortal beings blessed with the power of the old gods slain by their leader High Father (Mark Rolston) and his brother Darkseid (Michael-Leon Wooley), the evil ruler of Apokolips.
After eons of battle, the New Gods and the Apokoliptans signed a treaty with one another and the leaders exchanged their first-born sons as a sign of good faith. The treaty barred any direct battle between the two sister worlds and brought a tenuous peace as High Father sought to bring light and benevolence to the universe and Darkseid continued his search for the fabled “anti-life equation.”
One member of the Outsiders, Forager (Jason Spisak), is an insectoid/”bug” from New Genesis’ lower caste that lived on the planet’s surface before joining the team. Forager must be protected at all cost. We love him. He would join the Outsiders with Violet Harper (Zehra Fazal) and Brion Markov (Troy Baker) during the previous year’s missions in Markovia and develop a strong bond with what he calls his “Earth Hive.” His involvement is, at first, seen to be a liability by the New Gods, but he quickly proves not just his own worth but that of his entire people.
Violet Harper, is actually the consciousness from a New Genesian technology called “the Mother Box” that has merged with a human form. She contains some of Darkseid’s anti-life equation, and thus makes her a target for the vengeful New God, but she is not alone. Victor Stone (Zeno Robinson), after an accident with an Apokoliptan device called a “Father Box” is permanently altered into the heroic Cyborg. With the both of them having connections to New God technology, we’re told they often talk and spend time together when not on missions with the Team or Outsiders. Both were nearly captured by Granny Goodness (Deborah Strang) when the Outsiders attempted to remove her from Markovia the year before, but were able to overcome.
Part of Granny’s plan was to use her technology to create more meta-humans, people with powers, and then traffic them off-planet to aid in Darkseid’s proxy war with New Genesis. This is still an issue, despite efforts from the Justice League, Team, Outsiders, and even the Green Lantern Corps. We know Granny is still active and on Earth, but what her devious plan is now will have to wait to be revealed.
The Green Lantern Corps. are essentially the universe’s space cops. The immortal Guardians of the Universe created a battery that was powered by will. Rings choose their wearers and grant them immeasurable power to fight evil and protect the innocents across the universe. Earth has more Green Lanterns than any other planet in the universe. The most famous of which, Hal Jordan (Josh Keaton), once made his way deep into space with an AI that he and his friends would name Aya (Grey Griffin) and did battle against the universe consuming Anti-Monitor. On their journey they would meet an enraged young man with a red power ring, Razor (Jason Spisak), who would eventually fall in love with Aya. When she was lost to them, he swore he would never give up on finding her.
Last, but certainly not least, is Rocket (Denise Boutte). Raquel Ervin is a heroine from Dakota City who first inspired Icon to suit up as a hero and became his sidekick. Over the years she and her partner would be inducted into the Justice League and the Team respectively before Rocket would eventually graduate to the League herself. She has an autistic son named Amistad (Kurtis J. Mansfield) that she cares deeply for with her ex-husband. After years with the Team and the Justice League, Rocket would eventually lead the charge to elect Black Lightning as the new leader in the League.
And that brings us up to date I believe. If you missed the recap and review for the previous 4-episode arc, you can catch the in-depth analysis here. You definitely don’t want to miss out on anything so far this season, and we go over every little detail. Now that we’re all caught up, let’s get into the newest episodes on our adventure.
SPOILER WARNING: If you haven’t watched episodes 4:18-21 we’re about to get into literally everything, so consider yourself warned. Without further ado; let’s begin.
S4E18: “Beyond the Grip of the Gods!”
“Beyond the Grip of the Gods!” kicks off in Dakota City where Raquel is packing up Amistad’s things in a to-go bag. He continues to play with his toys and fusses over wanting a cookie and his wool hat, refusing to leave for his father’s without it. Even going so far as to throw a tantrum in his mother’s arms before leaving. Eventually, after getting both his black and white cookie and his hat, the two ride on the subway to Amistad’s father, Noble Davis’ (Phil Morris) apartment. He insults an elderly woman and panics when the train doesn’t stop at its usual place. It’s clear that Raquel is struggling to cope with the outbursts, and she clearly has other things on her mind.
They arrive at Noble’s apartment and there is an immediate shift in the boy’s behavior. He’s happy and excited to be there. His father has set out his son’s toys, wheels up, and is clearly much more in control of the situation. He tries to talk to Raquel about a coming conference at their son’s school, but she dismisses it as unimportant because they “don’t get him at that school.” He disagrees, but there isn’t time to argue.
Shortly after, we cut to Rocket as she, the original Flash: Jay Garrick (Geoff Pierson), and Forager all begin their descent to the planet of New Genesis. Jay can see that Raquel is preoccupied, and tries to ease her tensions. Despite his advanced age, this is technically his first mission as a member of the Justice League, and it’s clear he thinks things will go well. He remarks, “It’s nice to be the new kid for a change.” His optimism practically radiates off of him, and he projects an air of contentedness. Geoff nails this character.
We then learn that the Leaguers are there for a summit with the New Gods and Green Lantern Corps in an attempt to sign a treaty of their own. Forager questions how useful he will be on this mission as he hasn’t ever been allowed to go to Supertown before and he hasn’t been home in over a year since he joined the Outsiders. Orion (Ben Diskin) welcomes the group to the planet, at first forgetting to have Mother Box translate for him, before instructing them to follow Light Ray (Nolan North) to their landing site. Forager is clearly uneasy about the mission and his return home.
As the team descends through the atmosphere, we’re treated to some amazing cosmic visuals as Light Ray and the Javelin zip and soar around Supertown. Jack Kirby would be proud.
Hey Eternals, THIS is how you do Jack Kirby. Take notes.
Upon landing, the team is introduced to Light Ray, High Father and High Mother (Denise Boutte), and their adopted son Orion. Raquel questions Orion’s title of Dog of War. The introductions are cut together with shots of a maintenance team loading and unloading crystals in some kind of large factory-esque facility with Captain Celestia keeping watch. Forager expresses his honor at being in the presence of the leaders of the New Gods, and High Father admits that it is high time his people are welcomed in the opulent city. Meanwhile, one of the unloaded crates appears to contain… another bug! It darts around the factory, hiding. What could this be? A purple Forager?! The Forager (Nika Futterman) opens several containers until it finds a strange piece of glowing machinery.
The New Gods and the Justice Leaguers make their way across the city as Orion explains the Green Lanterns will arrive the next day. Orion inspects Rocket’s tech and briefly suggests that it should be held for study before Garrick explains how foolhardy that mentality is. Rocket is clearly not happy with the situation as High Mother tells her son that she is an honored guest. He rescinds his request as they continue to their quarters. Returning to the facility, the purple Forager is spotted by Celestia who alerts Orion to the thief’s presence.
Meanwhile across the expanse of space on Apokolips, we see what few civilians exist on this hellscape. In a bar a man professes that the Apokoliptans outnumber the New Genesians 1000/1 and they could even overthrow Darkseid. He is kicked out, but a woman approaches him outside. The two make their way to a hidden location as we cut back to New Genesis. Rocket offers to show Orion how her tech works in person, jabbing slightly at his request to hold and study it. He begrudgingly accepts her help and opens a boom tube to the factory. They arrive as the purple Forager dives off the edge of the floating city and into a lake below. Orion is impressed, remarking that the calculations required to achieve this are “worthy of Mother Box.”
That is some high praise.
Unable to use Mother Box to track the Forager, Rocket opts for the direct approach and bubbles the two of them to go beneath the lake’s surface. Orion immediately starts banging on the walls of the bubble and demanding to be let out. Mother Box chimes melodically as Rocket agrees, confused. Orion takes several deep breaths as he calms down. Rocket’s suspicions of Orion continue to mount. What is with this guy?
Meanwhile on another plane of existence, Superboy (Nolan North) runs and leaps from one rocky floating island to the next. He still carries Ghosty with him, but now he’s started seeing Lex Luthor (Mark Rolston). His clone father and creator. The nefarious man poses question after question to Superboy as he falls further and further away from himself mentally. “Who are you?” “Why?” His responses are increasingly distant. “I am the Superboy.” “A geno-morph.” “A clone made from the DNA of the Superman.” “Made to replace him should he ever perish or turn from the Light.” The hallucinatory Lex praises his pseudo-son.
Back in Supertown, the New Gods and Leaguers view footage from the heist. Forager confirms that the culprit is a capable female. Light Ray questions why Forager is there at all, and surprisingly Orion defends him. We learn that the female Forager made off with a device called a Ruction Cell. The device is an ancient piece of New God technology that was stored away due to its hazardous nature. The Forager would have had no way of knowing this. The New Gods suggest searching hives near the lake, but Forager again explains that the thief is from the Mountain hive. He notes her markings as proof. Orion makes a comment about Forager’s being useful, but this doesn’t bolster his spirits. Forager still feels unwelcome and uneasy in the city of the New Gods, and it’s clear they feel the same way.
Back on Apokolips, the resistance member leads a young woman to their hideout. Once there, the man changes shape to reveal he is actually Ma’alefa’ak (Ben Diskin). He reveals that she is a traitor and sends the woman to be “re-educated” implying heavily that she is going to be tortured or worse. She screams in terror as she is dragged away by parademons. He is then summoned by one of Darkseid’s minions. They exit through a boom tube where Ma’alefa’ak hopes to be rewarded for his hard work.
We rejoin the female Forager down on the surface of New Genesis. She has made her way back to her hive with the Ruction Cell which she shows is capable of powering up the crystals in their cave. They see it as a great prize and something that can power the entire village. They’re not technically wrong about that. She gives the cell to two young Larva (Nika Futterman and Jason Spisak) as the New Gods and Justice League arrive. They don’t want to lose their valuable new asset.
Orion tells the others that Mother Box is unable to scan the hive through the radiation emitted by the Ruction Cell, confirming at the very least that it is inside. Garrick and Light Ray offer to search the hive at super speed, but Orion again stops them to explain that it is against the rules of High Father to enter without permission. The female Forager emerges with what appears to be her hive’s matriarch as well as several other Foragers and the groups begin a dialogue. Orion asks that the Ruction Cell be returned, but the bugs all play dumb to what he’s talking about. The bugs even quip about the inherent racism of the New Gods saying things like, “Do not all bugs look alike to New Gods?”
While the bugs play dumb and the larva keep watch, somehow Ma’alefa’ak has arrived on New Genesis. He becomes intangible and slips something inside the Ruction Cell causing it to start sparking and giving off even more radiation than before. Back outside the two groups continue to argue, not knowing the situation has become considerably more dangerous. Forager goes to the female Forager and starts their own dialogue. The lady Forager doesn’t trust the New Gods. They always insist that their technology is “too advanced for bugs.”
Forager explains that they are telling the truth though. He doesn’t want to see her hive destroyed, and he appeals to her sense of place and purpose within the hive. Before Orion is about to charge in, lady Forager agrees to take them to the Cell’s location. Inside, the Larvae have started running through the tunnels with the new tech. The Cell is sparking and clearly becoming more unstable by the moment.
We then jump into s strange dreamlike sequence with Superboy. He’s taken the place of Superman and is saving the daily planet in his white CADMUS suit before returning to Lex Luthor’s new spire in Metropolis. We learn that in his mind, Superboy has killed Batman and the rest of the Justice League. Lex then beckons him to let go of Ghosty. He is still in the strange otherworldly dimension. His mind is going.
On Apokolips, the king himself waits as Ma’alefa’ak arrives. He immediately asks for what was promised to him, but Darkseid’s guard explains there is still more to be done to be worthy in the eyes of the God king. Ma’alefa’ak begrudgingly agrees. Mantis (Andrew Kishino), a soldier bug from New Genesis, walks out with a large cube device being called the “Kaiser Thrall.” Darkseid’s minion then beckons that someone else reveal themselves and we see the time sphere from Mars appear before them. Inside a Black Kryptonian waits patiently. The bug and the Martian are told to follow his orders as though they are those of Darkseid himself. Then Ma’alefa’ak will receive his boon from Darkseid. The three enter the time sphere and the Kryptonian reveals himself to be Lor-Zod (Phil Morris).
Dun dun duuuuuuuuun!
Back in the mountain hive on New Genesis, the Ruction Cell is becoming increasingly unstable. The Larvae play with the cell not knowing how dangerous it is. Orion finds them first and is accidentally blasted with some of the energy. Before Rocket can intervene, the dog of war has already struck and knocked the device away from the younglings. The female Forager is appalled by Orion’s behavior. Orion is beyond caring about that though. He has lost all sense of holding back and tries to pummel the Ruction Cell.
Rocket bubbles the Cell and Orion separately. The Cell continues to spark and shoot out small blasts, threatening to break Rocket’s bubble. Meanwhile Orion is losing it. Inside his own bubble he smashes against the construct with everything he has. Screaming wildly as he throws punch after punch into the sphere. Garrick is able to get the Larvae to safety as Light Ray explains that Orion is severely claustrophobic. The Ruction Cell explodes, shattering its bubble and sending everyone back. Orion, now free, lunges at Rocket. His eyes fully red like his father and rage boiling over. Light Ray intervenes with Mother Box as she chimes melodically. Orion is calmed and quickly apologizes. He is ashamed of himself, but has no words to express the depth of his pain.
Back in Supertown, Metron takes the damaged cell into the Mobius Dimension where it can be kept safe indefinitely. Orion mourns his loss of control during the mission and Rocket sees how heavily all of this weighs on him. She has her doubts about him. Garrick and Forager talk as friends as they observe. Garrick congratulates Forager’s insight and quick thinking during the mission, but Rocket feels like she froze up when the moment came. She worries about the negotiations tomorrow remarking she’ll be, “negotiating with a monster.”
Harsh, Rocket. Harsh.
Returning to Superboy in the otherworldly plane, we see that he is holding M’gann instead of Ghosty. Lex is telling him to shed the weight. Let go of the burden. As he struggles with this, another person begins speaking to him in response. Someone new. Superboy looks up to see another ghostly figure in the space with him. He is shocked at first, but the more the figure talks and explains, the more calmed he is. We see Lex’s figure fade away as this new being explains Superboy is experiencing hallucinations from “Zone Sickness.” The figure offers to help teach Superboy how to survive here before introducing himself. “I am Dru Zod (Phil Morris). General Dru Zod.” We pan out to see them both standing across from each other as the location’s name is finally revealed… the Phantom Zone!
The credits role as Superman and Black Lighting are going over possible candidates for Justice League reserve members. Superman tells Black Lightning that they should attempt to coordinate as much as they can with global powers. “Russia has more Rocket Reds, and China has… whatever it is they’re not telling us they have.” It’s clear that Superman is worried about the fate of more than just Earth as well. He talks about readying Mars and Thanagar and possibly New Genesis and Oa as well if Rocket’s negotiations go well. He worries about Markovia and how they could undermine everything they’ve been working toward.
As the episode fades to black we are shown the memorial for actor Rene Auberjonois: a fantastic actor and voice to several characters throughout DC’s cartoon history including Mark Desmond/Blockbuster on Young Justice. He will be sorely missed, and not just because he was also Odo on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Final Thoughts: 8/10 Making Jack Kirby proud
“Beyond the Grip of the Gods!” was a great intro to this four-episode arc. We’re introduced to a lot of characters and high-concept Jack Kirby craziness, but it doesn’t feel overwhelming. Especially after the long exposition dumps of the previous arc, this was a welcome change of pace.
Visually, New Genesis is stunning. All of the cosmic backgrounds and the actual look of Supertown would make Kirby proud. Everything is colorful and the saturation is cranked up. Things look truly otherworldly. Fourth Worldly if you will. Apokolips stands in perfect contrast where the only colors are red, orange, gold, and grey. It genuinely feels like going from Heaven to Hell. Darkseid himself doesn’t even have to speak. He just stands there menacingly and that’s all you really need.
While I have started to get a little fatigued with Superboy’s journey through the vastness, visually, the writers know when to change things up. The long hallucination with Lex and how he believes he’s killed the Justice League are haunting. When he snaps back to meet a new, and wholly unfamiliar, face things change dramatically. The revelation that he’s been stuck in the Phantom Zone all season long was solid and I can’t wait to see where they plan to go with this.
The New Gods themselves are all unique and interesting when juxtaposed to some of the more familiar Justice Leaguers. Everyone has a distinct personality and way of doing things. The pomp of the New Gods when set beside Rocket’s directness and Garrick’s easy-going nature make for a lot of interesting conversations and situations for the characters to navigate.
Plus now we’re finally getting some answers to the bigger mysteries that this season has been meticulously plotting out, and that is just so satisfying.
S4E19: “Encounter Upon the Razor’s Edge!”
“Encounter Upon the Razor’s Edge!” opens with Kid Flash (Jason Marsden) darting in and out of Bio-ship as Chameleon Boy (Dee Bradley Baker) and Saturn Girl (Kari Wahlgren) wait for him to assemble a device to aid in their mission. Bart suddenly stops, saying he could finish in a jiffy, but he wants answers. As a fellow time traveller, he is a “free-radical” just like them. He won’t turn another screw without answers.
Meanwhile, Lor-Zod, Mantis, and Ma’alefa’ak arrive on New Genesis in Lor’s timesphere. They are out of sync with normal time, making them untraceable by the Legion of Superheroes and undetectable by the New Gods. Ma’alefa’ak takes a page from Bart’s book and refuses to advance without some explanation from Zod as to what their mission is and why.
We return from the opening credits to see Green Lanterns Tomar Re (Dee Bradley Baker) and Kilowog (Kevin Michael Richardson) as they make their way down to New Genesis. The visuals here are fantastic, and we get to see that New Genesis is a jewel even from thousands of miles away. Kilowog is not optimistic. As they make their way their rings alert them to a distress signal nearby. In an asteroid belt a member of the Blue Lantern Corps appears unconscious and fading fast. Kilowog recognizes the ring wearer immediately as an old friend and ally, Razer (Jason Spisak).
I’m going to step out of the scene-by-scene recap for a moment here to express my unbridled joy at seeing this character. While never previously part of the Young Justice canon, Razer was a main character on Green Lantern: the Animated Series alongside Hal Jordan and Kilowog. The showrunners for that series wrote this episode, and the creators of Young Justice have gone on record to say that Green Lantern is “canon-adjacent.” Essentially, the events of Green Lantern: the Animated Series happened in some form or fashion in the continuity of Young Justice’s Earth-16. That is glorious, and I love it.
High Father be praised!
Returning to the recap, Tomar and Kilowog awaken the young ring bearer and are told in no uncertain terms that his ring has no power, because he no longer has any hope.
In the opulent city of Supertown, Orion and Vykin (Kevin Michael Richardson) welcome Rocket and Garrick to the negotiations. Rocket is clearly surprised and happy to see her old friend Vykin, and confesses she had been dreading the negotiations with “the Dog of War.” Her friend insists that there is more to him than meets the eye. Tomar Re enters and explains that Kilowog will be there after attending to some “personal business.” Outside, Kilowog chastises his old friend for having not gotten in touch for over four years. He insists that Razer tell him what happened.
Razer explains that after their last meeting he was presented with a blue power ring; a ring of hope. At the time, Razer was still a Red Lantern, but the blue ring allowed him to remove the rage powered weapon. Rather than let it go however, Razor chose to hold on to the red ring so that another person wouldn’t have to endure the pain that it brings.
Suddenly, as if summoned, the New God Metron (Phil LaMarr) appeared and offered to hold the red ring. He could store it in the Mobius Dimension and return it to him at any point should he have need of it again. Taking the blue ring, Razer made his way out into space in search of Aya. Over the years since he was met with many promising clues, but all turned up dead ends. His hope had faded, and thus so had the power of his ring. With his hope extinguished, he had come back to New Genesis to retrieve his red ring from Metron thinking that rage would be the only way to continue his quest.
Razer just can’t catch a break, man.
While the summit is beginning and the Lanterns are catching up, the Foragers are taking in the sights around Supertown. Purple Forager questions why Red Forager is missing the summit. He has no doubts in Rocket and Garrick’s ability to handle the negotiations, and more importantly, he would rather spend his time with her. The two bugs trill and hold hands, sharing an embrace. Be still my heart, Forager has a lady! Huzzah!
Back on Earth, Kid Flash has gathered a cornucopia of snacks as the Legionnaires explain their mission. We finally get to see behind the curtain, and it does not disappoint. Chameleon Boy and Saturn Girl start with a Kryptonian history lesson of sorts. Before the planet was destroyed, the Kryptonians used a pocket dimension called “the Phantom Zone” as a penal colony. Criminals would be tried and sentenced there to serve their time away from the rest of the population. When the planet was destroyed, they were essentially trapped there. This was obviously never meant to be the case. In the Legionnaires’ original timeline a Phantom Zone Projector wasn’t found for over 1000 years after Krypton’s destruction. The United Planets, essentially the future version of multi-world UN, elect to free the prisoners for their long overdue paroles.
We then cut to Lor Zod telling the next portion of the same story to Mantis and Ma’alefa’ak on-board the timesphere. Lor’s mother, Ursa Zod (Vanessa Marshall), was pregnant with him when she and his father were imprisoned, and thus he was left unable to develop until she was released. The United Planets, aware of Kryptonian physiology, settled the parolees on Daxam, a former Kryptonian colony orbiting a red sun. General Zod would spend the next 15 years slowly migrating his people to a new planet under a yellow sun where their birthright, their incredible powers, would be able to grow and flourish. Zod and his followers then rebelled against the United Planets.
Returning to the Legionnaires’ narration, they call Zod and his followers a menace. Thankfully, the newly formed Legion of Superheroes were able to stop them before they could seize control of the galaxy. Inspired by Superboy in the 21st century, the group banded together to fight the fascist tyranny that Zod would have imposed on the civilians. They used the Phantom Zone Projector to imprison them in the pocket dimension again. Everyone but Lor Zod. As a minor, he couldn’t be considered responsible.
Lor explains that he grew to hate the house of El. Jor-El, Superman’s father, and Zor-El, his uncle, were the ones responsible for his parents being sent to the Phantom Zone in the first place. Knowing the Legion was inspired by Superboy, Con-El, he grew to hate them too. He would try time after time to steal the Phantom Zone projector, eventually forcing the Legion to destroy it. Forever damning his parents to the Phantom Zone. Finally, he was able to steal the last remaining sample of kryptonite and a time sphere allowing him to escape to the past and try to prevent the creation of the Legion of Superheroes.
Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy, and Phantom Girl were hot on Lor’s tail when he escaped to the past and were exposed to large amounts of chroniton radiation. This radiation would make them immune to any changes in the timestream. When they awoke, their time had been altered dramatically. Lor had killed Superboy in the past, and thus the Legion was never formed and General Zod ruled the galaxy. The Legionnaires gave chase in another stolen timesphere in hopes of correcting this aberration. Bart is very understanding of their plight, having experienced something similar himself. His expression dips as he continues snacking.
“Been there. Irradiated by that.”
We return to Supertown where Razer has gone to meet with Metron in his tower. The New God bursts forth from a boom tube shortly after the Lantern’s arrival. His tone is almost mocking as he and Razer speak. The downtrodden ringbearer asks for his red ring to be returned, and Metron agrees, looking down on him from his floating Moebius Chair. He then adds that he will only do so in exchange for Razer’s blue ring. This catches him off-guard as we cut back to the Justice Leaguers and the negotiations.
Rocket asks what the New Gods intend to do about Darkseid’s obvious ploys on Earth, but is met with a surprising answer. “Nothing.” Vykin then explains that they are unable to be directly involved in combat with Darkseid or his forces. Any conflict would result in nullifying their treaty and a tenuous peace between the two. Rocket looks to the Green Lanterns to back her up or at least mediate between the other two parties.
Orion questions the Corps’ willingness to question or combat Darkseid considering they freed Mantis and the Furies after only six months. Kilowog defends the releases because technically they were only accomplices and their ringleader, Granny Goodness, escaped. Orion then asks the question that every comicbook fan has been asking for decades, “Why are there so many Green Lanterns from Earth?”
Kilowog fumbles through a response about the “messed up conditions” on Earth before Rocket continues. There’s work to be done after all. Turning to Tomar Re, she asks that the Corps and the New Gods step up with off-world trafficking. She says they are “hemorrhaging” meta-humans and it seems they aren’t doing anything about it. Tomar acknowledges the request, but is very dismissive of the likelihood anything will come of it. They already have a whole galaxy to patrol and can’t prioritize Earth’s problems. Rocket goes to argue back, but is interrupted by a phone call from Noble back on Earth. She exits the chamber as we cut back to Lor and the others.
Lor was able to locate the one point in history, prior to the event that inspired the creation of the Legion where he knew he would be able to find and kill Superboy. The Legionnaires were able to prevent Lor from assassinating Superboy at the UN the year prior when he made his existence public knowledge, but this only rewrote history around the group again. This time, the Legionnaires could only shadow Superboy in hopes that they could keep Lor at bay long enough to capture him, but then Mars happened.
Lor, using his timesphere to remain out of sync with time, followed Superboy to Mars where he would destroy the Zeta-tube and the communication satellite. He then caused the cave in that forced the Legionnaires to reveal themselves to Miss Martian. They weren’t able to stop the genebomb laced with kryptonite before it killed him and their partner Phantom Girl. Ma’alefa’ak congratulates Lor for his killing of Superboy, actually thanking him for it.
Ma’alefa’ak you MONSTER!
Back in Supertown Rocket takes the call with Noble outside. He has had the conference at Amistad’s school, and he seems very positive about it. At first Raquel appears dismissive, forgetting herself for a moment under the immense pressure she feels at the summit. Noble explains that the school is going to provide a one-on-one aide for Amistad in the classroom to help with his outbursts and improve his learning overall. He’s very positive and almost excited with how well this seems to be working out. Raquel on the other hand sees this as a possible negative. She worries that their son will be ostracized even further because of the aide. Nobile insists that the important thing is to help their son, and this is the best way to do that. Raquel says she will “consider it,” before explaining it’s all she can give right now.
Looking over Supertown from Metron’s room, Metron returns from the Mobius Dimension with the Red Lantern ring. Razer reluctantly swaps the rings and is surprised when the red ring doesn’t immediately ignite when it reaches his hand. Metron then explains the true nature of his deal with the ringbearer. Metron manipulated Razer into giving up the red ring so that he could study it at his leisure then proceeded to plant false clues for Razer to follow in order to more quickly kill his hope. This would force him to return and ask for the red ring back allowing him to study the blue ring. He says all of this to anger Razer, and is quite successful, activating the red ring and transforming him into a Red Lantern once again.
The enraged young man proceeds to blast Metron with wave after wave of increasingly powerful red energy. The blasts send debris flying to the city below… where the Foragers are having their date! Metron’s chair keeps him protected as it collects data on the red ring from each mounting attack. Raquel hears the explosions from across the city and ends her call with Noble to respond. Razer, meanwhile has started chasing Metron across the city as fast as he can. He is even able to pierce Metron’s shield in a blast that levels the city’s statues of High Father and High Mother. Purple Forager pushes red Forager out of the way of the falling rubble only to be trapped under it herself.
Razer sees this and forces himself to calm down. He asks Metron to return his blue ring, but the New God stubbornly refuses sending a bolt of electricity into the boy. Razer recalls what Metron said about his potential and overpowers the blast. The blue ring shatters its small container and adorns Razer’s other hand imbuing him with the power of both rage AND hope. Surprised, Metron demands the rings back, but Razer responds in kind by blasting him through a boom tube into the New God’s Mobius Dimension.
I cheered. Razer FTW!
The multi-ringbearer descends and uses his blue ring to heal purple Forager before apologizing for his actions. He uses both rings to repair the statues, opting to add two Foragers with them. Orion quips that it is not the same as Kilowog congratulates his old friend on his accomplishment. He even suggests that Razer get himself a green ring and work on getting rainbow powers. The friends hug before Razer departs back into deep space to continue his mission. He will find his lost love, Aya, and now he has his rage and his hope to fuel him.
Lor continues his story to Mantis and Ma’alefa’ak, explaining that despite having achieved his victory in the future, he knew there was still a Phantom Zone Projector in that time on New Genesis, so all he had to do was find it and he could free his family 1000 years sooner. The Legionnaires were stranded in the present when Lor destroyed their timesphere, so they had to turn to Bio-ship for help. They reveal that they already went to Superman in hopes he could serve as a replacement for Superboy and inspre the creation of the Legion before coming to Bart, the only expert on temporal mechanics in this time period.
After killing Superboy, Lor went to Darkseid for help in claiming the Phantom Zone Projector making a similar deal to the one the New God had already made with Vandal Savage not long before. Though he couldn’t interfere directly, Darkseid could offer resources: Ma’alefa’ak, Mantis, and the Kaizer-Thrall. The three of them and the Thrall would get into Metron’s Mobius Dimension, steal the projector, and then conquer the galaxy with General Zod.
Satisfied with the Legionnaires’ explanation, Bart zips inside Bio-ship before emerging in his suit. He reveals he has been building a cosmic treadmill for the Martian vessel so that they can use her to travel through time like a timeship!
The credits role as we see a cake with candles denoting “102.” The Foragers sing a jaunty happy birthday song celebrating Jay Garrick’s birthday. Rocket and the bugs cheer as Jay blows out the candles. It’s a very wholesome moment in an otherwise action-packed and dense episode.
Final Thoughts: 9/10 Razer FTW (willing to admit bias here)
I love the fact that this episode was written by the creators of Green Lantern: the Animated Series and it gave them the chance to continue their story where it was cut so brutally short. Being no strangers to cancellation, Weisman and Vietti did them a solid. Now, not only is Green Lantern: the Animated Series canon(adjacent), but there’s a hope that they might get the chance to give some of their characters and storylines a fitting end. I love it so much it hurts a little.
Getting Lor-Zod’s backstory, and thus explanations for so many of the mysteries of the season so far, was satisfying and intriguing. We finally understand what has been going on with this strange time-traveller and why the Legion of Superheroes is after him. The visuals during the collective flashbacks from him and the Legionnaires stands in stark contrast to the bright and colorful visuals of Earth and New Genesis.
The negotiation scenes are interesting ways to establish the characters and their personalities. Even familiar faces can surprise you, and this is subtle theme of the episode. Learning to accept who you are and what you’re capable of alone is interesting, and seeing it played out through Razer was such a treat.
S4E20: “Forbidden Secrets of Civilizations Past!”
“Forbidden Secrets of Civilizations Past!” opens in Supertown with Orion asking Celestia if there has been any word from Metron after having been blasted into the Mobius Dimension by Razer the day before. There is none. Rocket approaches and she and Orion have a private conversation. She tries to clear the air with the Dog of War and asks for a fresh start. Orion agrees and walks away promptly. Once out of sight, Orion suddenly boards Lor-Zod’s timeshpere and we see that this is actually Ma’alefa’ak in disguise. He now knows exactly what they need to locate the Phantom Zone projector.
The malevolent Martian explains that Metron stored a device called a “Ruction Cell” in his vault in the Mobius Dimension two days prior. He was able to read Rocket’s mind during their short conversation. He also notes Rocket’s continued distrust of Darkseid’s progeny. Lor is surprised to hear that Orion is the son of Darkseid, questioning why he would allow such disloyalty before giving Ma’alefa’ak a tracer linked to the Kaizer Thrall. With their time and destination ready, the band of evil-doers makes for the past.
We return to the day purple Forager stole the Ruction Cell and hid it in the hive with the two larvae. While Orion and the Justice Leaguers converse outside with the bugs, Ma’alefa’ak becomes intangible and inserts the tracer device into the Ruction Cell. We saw this before, but now we know it wasn’t them trying to force an overload, but rather a much more insidious plan. Knowing Metron will place the cell in his vault, all they have to do now is wait for the Kaizer Thrall to provide coordinates for them. A few hours later, their patience is rewarded as High Father gives the cell to Metron to handle. Once he has boom tubed away, Lor activates the Kaizer Thrall, blasting them across spacetime into the Mobius Dimension. The usual quick flash of light is replaced by multi-colored copies all expanding and retracting until they land in their intended destination.
Returning to Earth we join Gar (Greg Cipes) as he enters Dinah/Black Canary’s (Vanessa Marshall) office for his required psych evaluation. He starts off very dismissive of the whole thing claiming he understands why he has to be there, but still admitting he feels forced by the League’s requirements. Dinah explains she just needs to check a few boxes to clear him for active duty again. Gar is haggard with deep dark circles under his eyes. His hair is messy and his clothes are unwashed. He’s clearly not well just from looking at him, and Dinah is no slouch.
She starts off asking him how he’s been sleeping. Gar deflects, saying it was “hard at first,” but he’s better now. Dinah then moves on to Gar’s leaving Space Trek 3016. Gar says he was simply “prioritizing.” He didn’t want to grow up and be an actor. Dinah continues to make quick checks on her clipboard, saying she understands. She asks about his relationships, and Gar is quick to say that he knows he owes a lot of apologies. “I’ve got some great friends. I think they’ll let me off the hook.” Dinah continues to go along with the responses before asking about Conner’s death. Gar admits the event hit him hard. He’s still grieving, but coping. He claims he feels much better. The two sit in silence for a moment; Gar still trying to hide his feelings, and Dinah obviously seeing through every ploy.
“All good?” “Yup. All good.”
Back on New Genesis, the negotiations have resumed. They are not going well. Rocket mentions that “after this morning” she hoped things would have improved, but Orion doesn’t understand as he wasn’t the one Rocket spoke to and offered an olive branch. He then brings up how the League has not given any consideration to their “request.” New Genesis has asked that Halo and Cyborg be given to them to study and keep safe. As they are hybrids of New God technology, it is unsafe and unwise to allow them to stay with primitive Earthlings, of course. Rocket and the others clearly are not on board with this. Vykin offers to take only Halo, as she possesses some of the anti-life equation that Darkseid covets and would thus be a target for his forces. Rocket, again, disagrees. Before Vykin can argue the point further, Orion takes the request off the table. Vykin is clearly surprised by this. This understanding is out of character for the Dog of War.
With tensions high and progress slow, Big Bear (Bill Fagerbakke) breaks through the massive double-doors to greet his Earth friends. Hugs and jubilant hellos are exchanged before Bear offers his condolences for Superboy. The mood changes in the room yet again as happy greetings turn to melancholy mourning. All in attendance offer their condolences as well, but Tomar Re offers up even more. He explains that Krypton was in his space sector when its sun exploded. He had long been friends with Jor-El and Zor-El, and he mourned their loss. He has carried the regret of his failure to save Krypton and the House of El ever since.
We then return to Superboy as he travels with Ghosty and General Zod across the vastness of the Phantom Zone. Zod seems surprisingly friendly and open to Superboy as he attempts to help him regain his memories and understand where he truly is. He explains that the Phantom Zone is a vast and empty place. Having a companion to keep one’s mind focused is key to keeping the “Zone sickness” at bay. He notes that Superboy has already encountered a “devourer,” but there are far worse things here yet.
The two finally come across what appears to be a structure comprised of several floating asteroids pushed together, and Zod beckons Superboy to follow him. Zod announces his return and reveals that there are several other Kryptonians there waiting for him. A woman emerges from the structure before beckoning to the others that they should show respect to their guest. She then take a knee and bows to her leader, her general, her husband.
The Kaizer Thrall deactivates as Lor and the others land inside Metron’s Mobius Dimension. The journey is clearly much more rough than their usual jumps through time and space. They take a few moments to compose themselves before exiting the timesphere. Lor follows the tracer’s signal to a group of tall towers laden with green boxes full of various pieces of technology and other artifacts. They observe as Metron stores the Ruction Cell and departs. Mantis notes that it could take them weeks to search all of the containers in the Infinity Vault, to which Lor simply responds, “Get started.” As they begin, a swirling mass of red mist slowly moves in from across the void unnoticed.
Turn around! Turn around; it’s right there. It’s gonna get you!
Back on Earth, Dinah asks about Gar’s relationship with Perdita. Gar admits that he was in the wrong and will need to call her to patch things up and apologize. Dinah offers her phone to let Gar make the call then and there, but again he deflects. He claims their make-up calls can get “pretty hot.” An understanding chuckle escapes from Dinah before she circles back and asks about Gar’s using sleeping pills. He claims he isn’t using them anymore. Doesn’t need them anymore. Dinah asks if he would mind taking a drug test as a formality, but Gar quickly responds saying he only just stopped taking them and would likely still fail. This is the moment that Dinah uses to start asking the hard questions.
If there are still drugs in his system, should now be the time to return to the Outsiders? Gar argues that he is managing his symptoms, but Dinah is quick to question whether it’s for the short of long term. Short term fixes like pills and distancing can help at first, but they keep one from being able to fully deal with their traumas. She asks what Gar’s long-term solution is, and he states that it is to get back with the Outsiders. Dinah asks why this is the thing that he needs. He took himself off mission rotation. She surmises that the real reason is because he doesn’t want someone else telling him that he can’t. Taking it away from him. Gar gets angry and says that they can’t take the Outsiders away from him. They’re his squad… and he can’t lose them.
This is where the walls finally start to come down. Dinah asks again about Conner’s death, and Gar remarks that Conner is with Wally now. “I’m sure they’re doing great.” Dinah knows that this is bigger than just Conner, so she pushes forward. Gar then angrily exclaims that he knows he is the reason Conner died and he’s accepted it. Dinah’s expression shifts from its calm demeanor to one of concern for her young comrade.
At the conference on New Genesis, Orion is eager to get back to business, but Big Bear has more pleasantries to discuss. He has heard that Forager has found a lady. Forager admits he has feelings for his new companion and he has been weighing whether or not to stay with her on New Genesis. Rocket is particularly surprised to hear this, as it has only been two days, but Vykin explains that bugs experience accelerated courtship compared to most species. Bear and Garrick wax about their loves, Dreamer and Joan until Kilowog’s ring loudly announces that it has begun waste recycling. Kilowog was so bored he shit himself, ladies and gentlemen. Rocket is disgusted, but Orion sees it as being no different than all of the other pointless conversations thus far.
Back in the Phantom Zone, Zod introduces Superboy to his lifemate, Ursa (Vanessa Marshall). He is able to communicate with her telepathically and tells her that they are “slow playing this one.” Ursa asks him about the girl he is carrying, and Superboy mentions he doesn’t know her name or species; only that she was near him when he woke up and she has yet to regain consciousness. Ursa is surprised by this because in the Phantom Zone all you are is consciousness. She mentions that if “Ghosty” was unconscious when she arrived she may never wake up. Still, she offers to care for her as that is what a family is for. The mention of family triggers several flashes of memory in Superboy’s mind. He sees all of his friends on Earth and his proposal to M’gann. It feels like the two are trying to manipulate Superboy to some nefarious end, but at the same time they also seem to have his well-being in mind.
In Metron’s Infinity Vault, Lor, Mantis, and Ma’alefa’ak all continue their search. They have yet to locate the projector, but Lor does find a strange green eye of some kind that he thinks may be useful so he pockets it before continuing. Suddenly, the trio is surrounded by the red mist causing them all to cry out in pain. Ma’alefa’ak uses his mental abilities to force the mist back long enough for them to escape back to the timesphere. Once inside, Lor explains that the mist is likely a baby Sun Eater which is why it was briefly susceptible to Ma’alefa’ak’s brain blast. The three of them will have to wait and avoid the creature if they are to succeed in their mission.
On Earth, Dinah has set aside her checklist which turns out to be a blank sheet of paper on her clipboard, and asks Gar how he killed Conner. Gar, visibly upset, explains that he knew his friend was in a weakened state and how he should have been the one to go after the gene bomb. “But it was the kryptonite that killed him. Did you know about that?” “No.”
What follows is a quick back and forth where Dinah masterfully deconstructs the events of Conner’s death before springing into the other losses in Gar’s past that have led to this moment. Gar insists that he could’ve gone after the bomb. Dinah asks about the Martians and if Gar could’ve taken the bomb into the lava. She asks if M’gann is responsible too. Afterall, she let Conner go and stay with the bomb too. Gar immediately absolves his friend of any possible blame. “She loved Conner.” “And you didn’t?”
Dinah reminds Gar that they had spoken the year before about another friend they lost, Brion Markov. While not dead, he is definitely lost to them now. She asks if he feels responsible. As his squad leader and his friend Gar feels like he should’ve seen the signs; should’ve seen it coming. Dinah asks about Wally and if Gar feels responsible for his death too. “I could’ve gone with Miss Martian to the North Pole.” She then asks about his adoptive mother, Rita Farr. “I should’ve been with her on that last Doom Patrol mission!” A mission that took the lives of nearly every member of the Doom Patrol until Robotman’s head was found and revived. She then asks about Gar’s birth mother. “I should have stopped Queen Bee!”
Gar starts to cry and attempts to shield his face as Dinah speaks. She reminds him that he was only eight years old when Queen Bee took his mother from him. The Justice League and the Team still haven’t stopped Queen Bee, so what could a child do? Gar breaks down. He doesn’t know exactly what he would have done differently, but they “needed me to be better.” Gar’s head in his hands, Dinah explains that sometimes we can do everything right and bad things can still happen. We don’t have control over everything, and sometimes for superheroes that is especially hard to grapple with. Gar finally looks up, tears streaming down his face, and admits that he needs help. Now, real healing can begin.
I’m not crying. YOU’RE crying!
With Beast Boy on the mend we return to New Genesis and the Infinity Vault. After a full day of searching and three escapes from the Sun Eater, the trio is no closer to finding the Phantom Zone Projector. Lor stubbornly insists that they continue when suddenly Metron arrives. He doesn’t see the trio as he makes his way through the vault to where he has kept Razer’s Red Lantern ring. It dons on Lor that they can use Metron to find their prize. They already know that Razer will blast him back into the vault after reclaiming his ring, so all they have to do is wait. Once the New God flies back in through his boom tube, Lor attacks, separating the New God from his Mobius Chair and activating the Kaizer Thrall to trap him. Metron screams in pain as he and his throne are blasted by the Thrall. Lor threatens the New God with continued agony unless he leads them to the Phantom Zone Projector.
In the Phantom Zone, Zod continues to show Superboy how he and the others have made a life for themselves. Zod explains that “will” is everything in the Zone. To interact with anything or speak whether it be verbally or telepathically is all up their power of will. Things then take a bit of a turn, and Zod claims that their providence and survival there is due to their “superior will.” The other Kryptonians of Zod’s settlement are guiding in an asteroid to become part of their structure.
One of the other Kryptonians, Faora (Denise Boutte), leads them all in a chant as they continue to build on their growing structure. “‘Think’ is the word of Zod. ‘Work’ is the word of Zod. ‘Will’ is the word of Zod. Heed, heed the word of Zod.” Each lyric is in time with when and how the stones should be placed, and the group all begins to follow and join in a chorus as they proceed. Superboy looks on, calmly, taking in the serenity of their chant and their company.
“Live for the House of Zod. Push for the House of Zod. Brace for the House of Zod. Build, build the House of Zod.” The Kryptonians continue to build as Superboy’s mind slips back to memories of erecting his wedding altar on Mars. He thinks of his Martian family-to-be and his friends that were there with him that day. He remembers the sense of togetherness. Family.
“Guard for the House of Zod. Fight for the House of Zod. Win for the House of Zod. Save, save the House of Zod!” The chant continues as he remembers standing with M’gann under the archway and their last embrace together. When he comes to, he still can’t remember who she is, but he knows she is important. Or at least the feeling is. Zod offers Superboy a place in his kingdom, in the House of Zod, or he can venture out into the wilds of the Phantom Zone alone. After a moment’s thought, Superboy takes the knee and bows to Zod.
We return to the nefarious trio in the Mobius Dimension where they have kept Metron tortured for hours under the power of the Kaizer Thrall. Lor talks down to the New God, saying he need only turn over the projector to end his suffering. The tone of his voice and the look on his face speak volumes about his attitude towards anything he sees as an obstacle or inferior. He truly is his father’s son. Ma’alefa’ak telepathically questions whether they should continue. “He’s immortal. He can wait you out.” Despite that being the harshest truth ever spat, Lor tells the Martian to keep an eye out for the Sun Eater. Jokingly, Ma’alefa’ak speaks aloud, “Whatever you say, Kryptonian.”
Metron stirs and agrees to give them what they seek. Metron walks the trio to where his Kryptonian artifacts are store, gesturing to a sigil on the outside of several containers. “The seal of Krypton marks your prize.” He then opens the box as instructed revealing its contents to be a large fragment of kryptonite. Lor immediately recoils as his powers begin to fail him. Ma’alefa’ak attempts to threaten Metron, but the New God simply snaps his fingers and the Sun Eater appears to attack them and free the Mobius Chair. “What are the threats of mortals to a New God?” Thinking his infant Sun Eater will take care of them, Metron simply leaves. He appears in the negotiation all where the ambassadors are all still arguing. He quickly informs them that they will need to follow him if the universe is to survive.
As the Sun Eater attacks, Lor is in a bad way. Ma’alefa’ak is unable to concentrate long enough to let out another psychic burst and falls unconscious. The only one of the three able to stay up is Mantis. He wants to prove he is just as useful as the others. He tosses the Kaizer Thrall into the timesphere before grabbing the others. He seals the door behind them preventing the Sun Eater from following before quickly activating the ship and jumping backward in time. They land one day earlier and he quickly sets about finding the projector. Metron pointed out the seal of Krypton, so Mantis has a good idea of where he can look to find it and it doesn’t take him very long. He raises the Kryptonian device above his head in triumph.
The credits role as we see purple Forager looking at the gleaming statues of High Mother, High Father, and the Foragers. We hear red Forager reciting a passage from Romeo and Juliet but he has replaced all the names with Forager. It is incredibly sweet, but carries with it a level of melancholy foreshadowing of what is to come.
Final Thoughts: 8.5-9/10 Now we have all the answers.
Lor proves to be a most cunning villain in this episode. He’s clever and quick-witted, but also a bit one-track. He’s singularly devoted to his mission, and truly does not care what happens to anyone else as long as he is able to succeed. Watching the nefarious trio as they dart through time and into the Mobius Dimension was fun to watch.
The negotiations during this episode were a mixed-bag of emotions. “Birthdays, love affairs…” It’s a lot, but it all feels emotionally grounded in who each of the characters are. Everyone plays off of each other and its interesting to see how they all react to different things.
Superboy and Zod in the Phantom Zone was particularly interesting. Watching Conner slowly fall under Zod’s spell and be bewitched into the kingdom to serve the tyrant is heartbreaking, but there is also a sense that Zod genuinely wants to help the young man. He wants to help and be helped on his own mission to return to the physical world.
Especially after the previous episode, seeing Metron continue to get wrecked feels good. He is almost always portrayed as a bit pompous and sure of himself. Always thinking he is 10 steps ahead of everyone around him. Seeing him get knocked down a peg was actually nice. It humbled the New God a bit.
Gar’s therapy session with Dinah has to be the highlight of the episode. We’ve waited all season long to see Gar finally admit he needs help, and the way Dinah is able to bring it out of him if perfect. The soft piano melody throughout the scene adds the perfect emphasis to everything. Beast Boy has been through the ringer since he was eight years old, and there is a lot of trauma there to sort through. Now, at long last, he can start to heal.
S4E21: “Odyssey of Death!”
The finale of the New Genesis arc, “Odyssey of Death!” opens in Bayou Bartholomew, LA where Madame Xanadu (Cree Summer) is attempting to locate Superboy’s spirit and help him reach peace. Death almost seems to hang in the twilight air as the powerful sorceress rows her small raft into the middle of the swamp. She sees the spirits of the deceased float past in the waters below, but Conner’s spirit is nowhere to be found. She struggles for a moment to get a signal on her cell phone before she is able to make a call. Zatanna (Lacey Chabert) answers and is very understanding. She knows what she saw when she touched that schoolbus, and she has another person who might be able to help.
Across the country, Zatanna waits with Dr. Fate atop his tower to exchange the Helm of Nabu. Nabu (Kevin Michael Richardson) doesn’t seem to want to cooperate with the request, but Zatanna is confident she can change his mind. She dons the helm from her father and becomes Dr. Fate.
We join Kid Flash and the Legionnaires aboard Bio-ship as they travel through subspace to reach New Genesis. Saturn Girl admits that she doesn’t really have a plan and they’ll have to make it up as they go. No matter what, they have to destroy the Phantom Zone Projector.
Small chance of success? Certainty of death? What are we waiting for?
Mantis returns to the trio’s timesphere with the Phantom Zone Projector in-hand and commands the Kaizer Thrall to get them out of Metron’s Mobius Dimension. The Apokoliptan tech is more than happy to accommodate. As they leave, time moves forward to the next day when Metron returns with Orion and the others from the negotiations. Metron immediately informs them all that the trio is gone and they have absconded with the projector. Rocket is outraged, but Metron stops her. He informs the group that he is able to track the jumps made by Lor’s timesphere and unless they have one of their own there is not time for explanation.
Lor, Mantis, and Ma’alefa’ak re-emerge in normal space and time on New Genesis the day before. Lor is able to absorb the yellow sun’s energy and regain his powers before they are found. Mantis reveals that he has stolen the projector, and Lor admits he underestimated them. It is then revealed that Mantis’ jump damaged the timesphere rendering it inoperable. Time now being a commodity they have very little of, they must activate the Phantom Zone Projector as soon as possible. This poses another problem; the device has no charge. Once again, Mantis proves his worth by offering to take them somewhere that could charge the projector.
Mantis pullin’ his weight this episode.
Metron and the others arrive at the damaged timesphere after the trio have abandonned it for Mantis’ power source. Metron confirms the timesphere is inoperable. Orion deduces that they will attempt to activate the Phantom Zone Projector quickly as they no longer have the luxury of time. Rocket questions why they wouldn’t have activated it right then and there before asking the most important question: “What is the projector for?”
We jump over to some of our more lighthearted Supertownians as they look up at their statues. Purple Forager can see there is heaviness in red Forager, and she knows exactly why. She then offers to come with him and join red Forager’s “Earth hive” with him. Red Forager is astonished by her willingness to give up her home on New Genesis, but also incredibly thankful and happy that his love will be joining him on his adventures. The two of them are excited about the life they plan to have together.
Metron bursts in, ruining the moment, and exclaims that they must act quickly to prevent an incursion from the Phantom Zone. Rocket, still having not been informed on what the projector does or what the Phantom Zone is, comically questions the New God. “The Phantom what now?”
Meanwhile in the Phantom Zone, Zod remarks how powerful Superboy is, noting that he is keeping pace with one of Zod’s strongest followers. Ursa looks concerned, but Zod quickly moves to calm her. He explains that the Zone sickness had taken Superboy deep, but there is still much he could teach them of home. They don’t know.
Back in Supertown, Metron has finally broken down and explained the details of the danger to the Leaguers and the Green Lanterns. Rocket questions why Metron would willingly keep a prison full of Kryptonians indefinitely. They would have been the worst offenders that Krypton had to offer, according to Tomar Re, and if released they would all have the powers of Superman! VERY BAD THING! Orion chastises him as well before Metron is able to explain further. There are multiple possible places to charge the projector on New Genesis, so High Father and the New Gods will protect them. There are also two potential sources on the planet that the Leaguers, Orion, Big Bear and his team as Infinity Man, and the Green Lanterns will have to defend.
Obviously, Lor and company choose one of the locations on the surface: a large boiling lake crater. The lake apparently give off radiation as it boils, and the trio are using the energy to charge the Phantom Zone Projector. Mantis complains that it’s taking too long.
Tell me about it, right?
The projector loudly announces that it has reached “minimum functional charge” before it floats out to the middle of the lake to absorb energy more quickly. Lor holds onto the device like his life depends on it. Moments later, Orion and Rocket arrive via boom tube and they quickly spot the young Kryptonian. The radiation from the lake prevents Mother Box from contacting the others, and Rocket worries this may cause problems for Orion. Orion admits that it will be difficult, but he can cope. This moment of trust and vulnerability does not go unnoticed by Rocket as they make their descent.
Lor sees them as they make their way down to the lake and orders the others to protect the projector. Ma’alefa’ak makes the first move and psychically attacks Rocket and Orion with a brain blast. The two heroes stop, hovering over the lake as the Martian assaults them with their memories. On the ground, Garrick is hit by a blast from the Kaizer Thrall and brought to his knees in pain. The Foragers attempt to help but are beaten back by Mantis. Tomar Re moves to attack Lor directly using his ring, but the young Kryptonian is able to dispatch the ringbearer’s constructs with ease. The projector announces that it has reached full charge, and Lor commands it to release his father, General Dru-Zod.
From within the Phantom Zone, Zod and the others see the retrieval window open. They all look on in jubilation for a moment until Non, one of Zod’s followers, attempts to leap through but is repelled back down. It is not his time yet.
Inches from freedom but unable to reach it.
Outside, the Foragers split up to tackle rescuing Garrick and fighting Mantis while Rocket and Orion are locked in mental combat with Ma’alefa’ak. Rocket is taken back to the night when she bubbled Orion before retrieving the Ruction Cell. This time however, rather than compel her to release him, Lightray encourages her to keep the Dog of War trapped. Her fear builds and tensions mount as the red-eyed New God pummels the inside of her construct for his freedom.
Tomar continues his attempted assault on Lor. The two blast back and forth in a forceful aerial battle, but they quickly stop when the bubbling lake beneath them turns red and a deep bellow erupts as the ground beneath them begins to shift. Tomar realizes before any of the rest what is happening, and his horror is apparent immediately. The lake is actually in the mouth of an ancient Promethean. They’ve awakened an Old God!
A geyser of Source energy erupts from the awakened giant, blasting up into the atmosphere. Tomar’s ring warns him that the atmosphere will ignite if the energy is not vented off or contained. Tomar has already lost one world. He will not allow what happened on Krypton to happen to New Genesis. He creates an enormous funnel to vent the energy out into space, but this allows Lor an opportunity to get back to the Phantom Zone Projector. As he reaches it, the projector announces that it has locked-on to Zod’s DNA signature.
A beam of light descends on General Zod as he is slowly pulled up toward the retrieval window. He tries to grab Ursa and bring her with him, but the beam rejects her immediately. She lands on the rocky ground below and looks up at her love as he promises to find a way to bring her out with him. He promises to bring all of them out. Not understanding what’s happening, Superboy leaps up and is able to grab onto Zod’s arm. He attempts to pull him back down to the others. Zod first tries to explain that he wants to go. His words are quick and filled with desperation. Very quickly though he realizes that the beam has not rejected Superboy like it did Ursa. He wasn’t sent there by the Kryptonians!
Tomar continues to try to vent the Source energy from the Promethean out into space as the Old God starts to settle back a bit. Meanwhile, purple Forager is able to attack the Kaizer Thrall and free Garrick, telling him to seal the “hole in the sky.” He speeds off, and there is a brief moment of victory until purple Forager is blasted by a second eruption from the Kaizer Thrall.
In Rocket and Orion’s minds, Rocket remembers that Lightray was the one who told her about Orion’s claustrophobia. She realizes that this is all Ma’alefa’ak trying to manipulate them and she uses her will power to overcome. She lowers the bubble around the enraged Orion, and before he can strike her she says, “I see you, Orion.” She expounds that his battle with the darkness inside him is what makes him a hero. The two snap out of the Martian’s mental trap and Orion blasts him out of the sky.
Mantis and red Forager battle in the nearby trees. The hulking soldier-bug is able to pin two of Forager’s four arms and reminds him that he was told never to return to New Genesis. Forager responds by being an absolute badass. “This was before Forager trained with Nightwing.” A swift kick in the ass later and Mantis is on the ground unconscious.
Garrick isn’t sure exactly how he would go about closing a hole in the sky, but he knows exactly how to make sure no one can use it. He uses his super speed to create a twister around the portal, blocking anyone from getting close. Lor tries to shoot Garrick with his heat vision, but the 102 year old is still quite spritely and is able to easily avoid the blasts.
Zod desperately tries to free himself from Superboy’s grasp. The winds from Garrick’s speed tornado spilling into the Zone and buffeting them as they climb. His hands stretch out as far as they go, as if to grab at the corporeal world.
Meanwhile, red Forager rushes to purple Forager’s aid. He, too, is blasted by the evil cube’s beams sending him to the ground beside his love. Purple Forager reaches out to him, and her hand is able to break from the Thrall’s effect. High above, Tomar’s ring indicates that the Source energy is nearly fully redirected. Hearing this, Lor moves from the projector and attacks the ringbearer. Tomar creates a shield behind himself, but he is unable to maintain the integrity of the funnel and the shield at the same time. He refuses to allow another planet to die. He abandons the shield, allowing Lor’s heat vision to tear through his chest, in order to maintain the funnel long enough. He smiles as his ring begins to slip from his finger and it reveals the energy has been fully diverted.
Tomar just can’t survive anywhere in the multiverse.
Lor’s moment of victory is cut short as Rocket and Orion assault the young Kryptonian. Rocket bubbles the the two of them, allowing Orion to go into a rage and savagely beat the young man into the bubble’s walls. It is truly satisfying to watch the bad guys get whooped on for a minute after all the hardship they’ve forced on everyone all season long.
Tomar’s ring quickly finds its new bearer in purple Forager, still in the grips of the Kaizer Thrall. A hologram of Tomar appears and leads her through the Green Lantern oath. As she recites the words, power swells within her and her uniform takes shape around her. Once fully materialized, GL Forager blasts the Kaizer Thrall and frees red Forager.
HIgh, high above, unbeknownst to anyone, Kid Flash and the Legionnaires aboard a camouflaged Bio-ship take aim at the Phantom Zone Projector. As they fire on the device, Saturn Girl psychically reaches out into the Phantom Zone. To her shock and horror, she feels the presence of Phantom Girl and Superboy. The realization dawns on her just as the blast makes contact. She is able to tell her fellow Legionnaire to wake up just in time and we see her FINALLY open her eyes. The tractor beam dies causing Zod and Superboy to plummet back to the rocks below. Zod is furious. Superboy is confused.
Rocket looks on utterly bewildered as Lor, in a rage, escapes her construct bubble and rockets into Bio-ship where he vanishes from sight. Inside, he quickly overpowers Saturn Girl and threatens to kill her as Ma’alefa’ak slips in beside him. Chameleon Boy and Kid Flash are powerless to stop them in this moment. Bio-ship flies away, still completely cloaked, disappearing into space.
Edge of your seat stuff right here.
Rocket and Orion make their way back down to the ground where they meet up with the Foragers, one now wearing Tomar’s ring, and the realization sets in. They recover Tomar’s body as Kilowog and the others arrive. Kilowog mourns the loss of his friend. Even without sound, his devastation is clear. He has lost another of his closest friends to the job.
The episode begins to wrap up with each of the main characters saying their goodbyes. Metron absconds with the damaged timesphere and stores it in the Infinity Vault for study. Meanwhile back in Supertown, Vykin and Kilowog confirm that the negotiations have proven to be a success and Garrick can the others can consider the treaty signed. With a rogue Kryptonian time-traveller and a Martian still on the loose, it will take all of them. Kilowog assures the aged speedster that the Corps is already on the lookout. They don’t take lightly to the killing of one of their own.
Vykin explains that Mantis will be tried on New Genesis for his crimes and the Kaizer Thrall will be taken to Oa for study. It apparently contains some kind of sentience similar to other New God technology, but they aren’t sure what to make of it yet. Not far away the Foragers say their goodbyes. Forager can’t ask the newly minted Green Lantern not to go on her amazing adventure across the galaxy, but instead proposes a long distance relationship. GL Forager happily agrees saying her new ring should make it possible to visit Earth. Their time on New Genesis together ends as Forager gives his love a copy of his favorite book: the Complete Works of William Shakespeare. He has circled passages that remind him of her, and it is the cutest thing I’ve seen on this show. We love Forager.
Rocket admits to Orion that she is glad she met him, and he responds in kind. Orion tells her that she has unique challenges, but that she will hopefully learn to make them into her strengths. The two smile briefly together as the Leaguers all board the Javelin to return home. Rocket reflects on Orion’s parting words and on her experiences on New Genesis during her long voyage home. When she arrives back on Earth, she immediately returns to Noble’s apartment and happily announces her return to their son. She hugs him tight on the couch as he eats a black and white cookie in wool hat and tells him that she “sees him.”
Jay returns home to find his house empty. Where could Bart have gone? Little does he know Kid Flash has been on his own Odyssey across the stars. Meanwhile, in the Tower of Fate, Dr. Fate has assembled all of the most powerful magic users on the planet in an attempt to locate the imperilled soul of Conner Kent. Despite their combined power, they fail spectacularly and immediately. Zatanna questions how this is possible before the answer dawns on her. Superboy isn’t dead at all! And if that’s the case…
“I don’t need magic to find him. I need a detective.”
The credits role as our Forager looks out at the night sky, staring into the beauty of a full moon. GL Forager recites a sonnet from the book he gave to her about love. Just like before all of the names have been replaced with Forager, and it’s very cute, but at the same time there is a weight and melancholy that we understand. They’ve been separated by a vast distance, a sea of stars, but their love lives on in their hearts.
Final Thoughts: 9/10 An epic battle through and against time.
“Odyssey of Death!” serves as a great finale to this arc and a perfect setup to the next in a way that several previous haven’t quite managed. Things feel much more final and dire here. Everything for the last 21 episodes has culminated in this battle for the Phantom Zone Projector and its subsequent destruction.
Tomar’s death, while expected, feels every bit as impactful. He refused to fail another world, even with his dying breath. That’s a proper Green Lantern right there. Plus, seeing purple Forager become the new Green Lantern in his place was just unexpectedly wonderful. It does pull her away from red Forager, but I’m hoping that she, like Razer, will make a few returns as the series continues.
Rocket and Orion’s journey to friendship and comradery has been an interesting watch. I didn’t expect it to parallel her challenges with her son, Amistad, but I think the writers used this to their advantage and told a unique story for the two of them. Orion is more than just a “dog of war,” and Rocket is more understanding than she realized.
What will Lor and Ma’alefa’ak do now that the Phantom Zone Projector has been destroyed? Phantom Girl is finally awake. Can she get herself and Conner out of the Phantom Zone? Will Zod and his followers force her to help them escape? How will Zatanna and the others find Conner if they don’t have a way into the Phantom Zone themselves? So many new questions. Questions only a detective can answer
The New Genesis arc of Young Justice: Phantoms was fun and interesting. The portrayal of the New Gods and their homeworld was truly alien and unique. We’ve seen some version of these people and places for decades, but I think even the king himself would be proud of what the team accomplished here.
Lor-Zod’s plan and finally learning what he and all of the others have actually been doing all season long was a welcome revelation. That alongside learning the true location of Superboy and his condition were things we’ve been waiting for since we first learned he was still alive.
With all of these answers we also have a slew of new questions as we head into the final five episodes of this season. I, personally, can’t wait to see how everything comes together. New episodes are released every Wednesday on HBOMax, and we’ll meet back here at the conclusion of the next arc to recap and review every little bit of it. Til then, stay whelmed and I’ll see you soon.
I’ve worked my whole life to become a comic book illustrator, writer, and stand-up comedian. Batman and Captain Benjamin Sisko helped put a good head on my shoulders. I spent most of my childhood saving Hyrule and the Mushroom Kingdom and seeing the Justice League save all of creation time and time again. I live in Johnson City, TN with my wife Kary and daughter Laila enjoying the beautiful mountain scenery and occasional show. Three puppies round out the family and take up the rest of the time that isn’t spent debating which Wes Anderson or Studio Ghibli movie to watch. I spend an inordinate amount of time binge watching SVU, Futurama, and Letterkenny, and when I’m not watching I’m listening to “My Brother, My Brother, and Me” or playing the occasional game of D&D. If there’s a nerdy endeavor out there, I’ve probably at least tried it.