Young Justice has always excelled in being the standout practitioner for topics that many animated superhero shows won’t touch – Grief is a part of life. It infects all of us. Unfortunately, while many people come out of it relevantly fine, others fall into a dark pit and struggle to free themselves. Young Justice has dealt with this, and we have nothing but high praise for the writers for going that extra step to include real-life situations.
While the newest season of Young Justice has centred on several topics, grief is the universal theme. It begins at the end of the first character arc; M’Gann, Conner and Garfield. After many situations on Miss Martian’s home planet of Mars, an explosion seemingly kills Superboy, much to the devastation of M’Gann, Gar and their extended family and friends.
As time passes, Conner’s family struggles to come to grips with what happened. His brother, Clark, sister-in-law, Lois and adoptive parents, Martha and Jonathan, has to break the news to young Jonny. The toddler doesn’t understand that his uncle isn’t coming home.
The grief continues on M’gann’s side of the family, with her adoptive brother, Garfield, slowly slipping into depression. Gar’s depression sinks deeper. It becomes difficult for the Outsiders. Eventually, Gar neglects everything he holds close. His friends. What remains of his family? Work. His team. His relationship with Queen Perdita. He begins to self-medicate on sleeping pills when he can’t sleep.
Cassie Strikes Back, And M’Gann Learns Something Is Amiss
With struggling and wallowing in his grief, Wonder Girl, Cassie Sandsmark steps up as the team leader. However, it gets to the point where she can’t take it anymore. She and the other Outsiders confront Gar, but they can’t get through to him.
Eventually, a worried Forager goes to M’Gann and tells her what has happened. She’s shocked at her little brother’s behaviour and decides to confront him. When she can’t get through to him, she makes a statement by staging an intervention with the Outsiders and Robotman (Cliff Steel), a longtime friend of Gar’s late adoptive mother (and godmother), Rita Farr.
Robotman reminds Gar of when he got help after his mother died. Cliff also drives home how Gar helped him after the Doom Petrol was killed, as he wanted to die as they did. With Gar’s help, he realised he was revived for a reason.
Gar rejects the invention. M’Gann steps in and says he has a compulsory counselling session with Black Canary. Gar is unimpressed but complies.
Grief Doesn’t Just Consume Gar
M’Gann struggles in the aftermath of her soon-to-be husband’s death. However, unlike Gar, she copes but only just. Her sister, Em’ree, moves in with her upon their return to Earth.
Elsewhere, Zatanna still battles with losing her father, Giovanni, to Doctor Fate when she was a teenager. During this time, the audience discovers a large portion of Zatanna, and John’s backstory is aligned with grief.
Zatara’s wife, Sindella, died of cancer when Zatanna was young. Zatara had to deal with being a single parent on his own. His grief pushes him to take on the Doctor Fate helmet, leaving his daughter orphaned.
Even years after making his decision, Giovanni has to live with it. However, after a mission conducted by Zatanna, a deal is struck with Nabu, where each member of her group takes on the helmet of Fate. This allows Zatara to spend time with his daughter.
Discovering Who You Are
Violet Harper goes through a coming-of-age story of her own. After her experiences with Brion and having kissed Harper Row, she is unsure what she is. After talking with the mother of the original owner of her body, Gabrielle Daou, Violet decides she is no longer a “she.” She decides to come out as non-binary, and the preferred nouns are now “They” and “Them.” Good on them for coming into their own.
Another person who struggles to find themselves is Mary Bromfield, who was once known as Sergeant Marvel. Mary was forced to suppress her persona after she became lustful for power. This prompted Zatanna to evict her from the Sentinels of Magic. Moreover, this was because she was stealing her teammates’ abilities. She also points out that Mary had come to think the same way Nabu did.
Knowing something had to be done, Zatanna came up with the idea of rotating Nabu’s hosts. While Fate accepted the idea, Mary did not. Mary refused her teacher’s help and wanted to be sent home.