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“True Colors” gets a bit literal as we get a multi-colored Beetle throwdown when a covert mission goes way off plan. Meanwhile, interpersonal relations among the Light go to hell, and Aqualad’s situation somehow manages to get even worse. Plot threads continue to develop and a couple new faces arrive to liven things up even more this episode.
The Reach are continuing their textbook style “friendly alien invasion” plans, offering a solution to world hunger through a partnership with Lexcorps. More than likely, there’s an unknown catch involved, so Nightwing sends in Alpha Team to investigate. Alpha Team consists of the team’s freshmen class this time around. as Robin leads Blue Beetle, Impulse, and Arsenal to investigate.
This is the first we really get to see Arsenal, the original Roy Harper’s new identity. Arsenal is an identity that Roy has used quite a bit in comics, far more than the Red Arrow identity. But this version of Arsenal, with the cybernetic arm, is a short-lived one stemming from a very unpopular turn DC took with the character. It’s interesting that the show has decided to put their own spin on it, and thankfully, it’s already far superior to how it developed in the comics. Arsenal works really well here in the role of the freshmen class’ hothead.
Overall, Alpha Team has a nice little dynamic. Robin as the serious leader, Blue Beetle as the loyal soldier, Impulse is the goofball, and Arsenal as the aforementioned hothead. It is a little disappointing that Wonder Girl didn’t get included, though. She’s another one of the younger members of the team, and her presence would’ve made it less of a boys club.
Their covert op predictably goes wrong, because what fun is it when everything goes exactly as planned? So enter the Black Beetle. I’m still not a fan of this character. He just strikes me as a terribly boring villain, which really stands out when so many other characters in this show are so much more interesting and developed. Black Beetle really has nothing going on beyond his role as evil thug. This episode does little to change that even as we get a look at his appearance beneath the armor. What do we see? Well, it looks like he’s just a member of the Reach’s race. That’s kind of boring too.
But then the show throws us a curveball with a completely new character, the Green Beetle. I’m surprised to see an entirely new character show up like this. The closest the show has come before was with Aqualad and Artemis, both of whom were more like heavily reimagined characters than entirely new ones; this Green Beetle is a show creation. His name, which I’ve seen spelled as Ba’az O’om, is a play off Barsoom, the name of Mars in John Carter mythology, and that is a nice touch for a new Martian character. It remains to see how he will play into things, though. He comes off initially as benevolent, but we don’t know the details of what alternative he’s offering Blue Beetle. Interestingly, we also don’t know what he really looks like beneath that armor. Is there a reason he never shed it? It would be interesting if he turned out to be a White Martian under there. But either way, his potential interactions with Miss Martiain could be pretty good.
Meanwhile, Sportsmaster finally decides its time to do something about the apparent death of his daughter Artemis. Here’s one of the things I get a kick of about this show. The strongest family drama, where the importance of family and those connections plays into things, is pretty much all on the villains’ side. Sportsmaster and Black Manta are terrible human beings, but as far as fathers go, they actually seem to love their kids in their own strained ways. Both are now trying to deal with the belief that Aqualad killed Artemis and that Miss Martian lobotomized Aqualad. And that’s one of the best things going on in the show now.
Of course, the Light isn’t going to just let Sportsmaster go after Black Manta. This leads to the arrival of a characters fans have been waiting to see since this show began. Deathstroke is here to replace Sportsmaster as the Light’s enforcer, which is a nice twist when arguably Sportsmaster was originally cast in this role because the showrunners felt it was too soon after the Teen Titans series to use Deathstroke as a main villain again. It’s hard to judge this take on the character, though. He’s only around briefly in a non-speaking role. And he has a ridiculous ponytail.
A few little things made this episode pretty fun as well. Jonathan Kent showing up is a nice little surprise. Aqualad’s rehabilitation by Psimon can only lead to terrible things. Vandal Savage’s mention of fatherhood has me crossing my fingers for a Scandal Savage appearance someday. And Impulse manages to be just short of annoying, staying within entertaining territory.
“True Colors” certainly succeeds at stirring things up even more for characters of the show. The inclusions of Green Beetle and Deathstroke will certainly have ramifications. It’s also great to finally see Arsenal in action along with the rest of the younger characters -- with the disappointing exception of Wonder Girl. It’s a shame that Black Beetle remains such an uncompelling villain, especially when there is a wealth of far more interesting villains around.