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It’s vendetta time in “Complications.” Black Manta loses patience with Miss Martian for what she did to Kaldur’ahm at the same time as Sportsmaster and Cheshire make their move to avenge Artemis’ supposed death. It’s an exciting mix of action and drama, which really just feels redundant to say anymore. This is Young Justice: Invasion. When is that not the case?
Picking up where The Fix” left off a few weeks ago, we return to the ocean to where Black Manta has been keeping Miss Martian captive in order for her to repair the damage she did to his son’s mind. But as it turns out, she has already done so and is now working with Kaldur and Artemis to figure a way out of this situation that doesn’t involve her death and their exposure as double agents. Complicating everything -- as the episode’s title references -- is the arrival of Sportsmaster and Cheshire.
As much as I do love this episode, I’m disappointed to have the restoration of Kaldur’s mind glossed over. “The Fix” was probably the weakest episode of the entire series for how little it took advantage of rebuilding Kaldur’s fractured psyche. There we were with Miss Martian actually sorting through Kaldur’s memories, and still, we’re left in the dark about how Aquagirl died and everything else that put Kaldur on the path he has been on in this season. I held onto some hope that a later episode would revisit this and actually explore his memories a little. “Complications” dashes those hopes, though. It’s a real shame, and I’m left with hoping that one of the remaining episodes finds another way of showing us Aquagirl’s fate.
The big treat here for me is that Kaldur and Artemis are my two favorite characters. I could say it’s partially because they are two characters who don’t really get any exposure outside of this series, but these days almost none of the cast can be found in the pages of DC Comics in any substantial way. The only real exceptions are Nightwing and Blue Beetle. And Superboy, mostly in name only.
I could probably complain about how convenient it is for Sportsmaster and Cheshire to show up to cause chaos at the most opportune time for our heroes. But there’s a certain amont of story convenience you just have to accept in most fiction. This is so minor, and the results are more than entertaining enough to make it all forgivable. As I’ve said in prior reviews, I love how the most intriguing and substantial family drama in the series comes largely from the villains. I actually feel pretty bad for Black Manta, who genuinely seems to love Kaldur without realizing that Kaldur’s betraying him. It’s actually one of the storyline payoffs I’ve been most looking forward to in this season. And the strained affections inherent to the family of Sportsmaster, Cheshire and Artemis are always great to see on display.
I was prepared to be frustrated with the show dragging out the misunderstanding of Artemis death once her family showed up. Seriously, I was ready to start yelling at the screen for someone to just tell them who Tigress is. It’s just how I usually see these kinds of stories go. It didn’t happen here, though. Right away, you have Miss Martian trying to explain, and that explanation is only postponed for a little bit to allow for some fun action. Before the miscommunication could become frustrating rather than entertaining, the episode moves on. It’s great not to see this overplayed for once.
And man, I’ve got to talk about Sportsmaster. I’ve wanted to for awhile, and this episode is the perfect opportunity. It really is a testament to this show’s excellence that Sportsmaster is such a credible threat and interesting character. See, Sportsmaster is actually a relatively obscure comic book villain. He dates way, way back to an era when comics were probably at their campiest, as you can probably tell from his name. Look him up, and you’ll see his abilities described as being “a master of all sports.” What is that? Can that even be a thing? Yet here he is in an episode where he goes toe-to-toe with both Black Manta and Deathstroke, and it is freaking awesome. And while he’s far from being Father of the Year, it’s hard not to love his relationship with his daughters. There’s that twisted pride he has in Artemis when he learns of how she’s working behind Black Manta’s back, and he insists that he’s only trying to avenge her to protect his reputation a little too much to be completely believed.
The side story this time is basically just the aftermath of last week’s episode, when Blue Beetle turned on the team. As nice as it is to see Nightwing going into detective mode and seeing all of the clues at the scene that don’t back up the story Blue Beetle tells him, this whole thing stops short of being satisfying. Nightwing obviously suspects Blue Beetle hasn’t told him the truth, but we don’t see him figure out what the truth actually is until Blue Beetle basically comes right out and says it. Also, we know that Arsenal should still be at large after fleeing the fight, but Nightwing’s investigation doesn’t turn him up. We don’t even see a big deal made of how the entire team, besides Nightwing, has been taken off the board now. All in all, this part of the episode is more of a tidy little aftermath to last week’s than it’s own little story.
There are only four episodes left to go and a lot left to do. With the Nightwing basically being the sole member of the team left standing at the moment, will we finally get to have Wally West return to action? Where has Red Arrow been since the rise of Arsenal? Are we ever going to see how Aquagirl actually died? Is that memorial for a dead Robin going to get addressed at all? Who the hell is Rocket’s fiance anyway? And are we seriously going to go through this entire alien-centric season without an appearance from Starfire?
“Complications” continues to bring this season closer to its end. Last episode resolved the ongoing drama between Guardian and Bumblebee. This one wraps up the dilemma of Artemis’ criminal family believing she had been killed all while putting Kaldur back in play and completing Blue Beetle’s turn to the Reach. Plus, we get a ton of great action. Sportsmaster vs. Black Manta. Cheshire vs. Tigress. Sportsmaster vs. Tigress. Deathstroke vs. Sportsmaster! Besides Nightwing’s investigation turning out to be a bit weak, I don’t know what more I could have asked of this episode.