‘Young Justice’ Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 21: ‘Image’
How do you do, fellow teens? Because you demanded it, Young Justice is returning for a third season in 2017, and that means that there's no better time to get caught up on the first two seasons. Elle Collins, who has seen the entire show and likes it a lot, and Chris Sims, who hated the pilot and never went back, are sitting down to watch the entire series before it makes its triumphant return.
This week, a little bit distractible but never too retractable, she’s really quite attractable — okay a lot distractible! Hello, Megan! "Image" was written by Nicole Dubuc, directed by Jay Oliva, and originally aired on March 17, 2012.
Chris Sims: First off, I think we need to tell our readers that we're changing the format a little bit: Instead of doing two episodes per column, we're going to be focusing on one episode from here on out, and I am so glad that we started with this amazing piece of truly bizarre television. I mean, where do we even start with this episode? Do I hit the broad strokes or just go right into the part where Superboy and Miss Martian are making out while Miss Martian is shapeshifted to look like Black Canary?
Once that's dealt with, the team gets this week's mission and we embark on Cameopalooza 2012: It seems that tensions are flaring up between Qurac and Bialya, owing mostly to the fact that Qurac's president, Rumaan Harjavti, has suddenly decided to open their borders and "reunite" with Bialya, which has a baseless "historic" claim to their land and people. Batman suspects that this is all a plot by Queen Bee, and he's right. The question is, how is she controlling Harjavti's mind from all the way in another country?
The kids — minus Aqualad — head off to find the answer, but get sidetracked almost immediately when they stumble on a some trouble at nature preserve headed up by an American scientist and former actress named Marie Logan, who's living on the compound with her son Garfield.
After fighting off the Bialyan soldiers, the kids stick around, and it's revealed that Miss Martian is a huge fan of Dr. Logan's from her time on a short-lived sitcom called Hello, Megan! Hmmmmm!
When Garfield is injured in a retaliatory strike, Megan gives him a transfusion of her own Martian blood to save his life, and the rest of the team discovers that their Megan has patterned herself on the TV version — where Marie Logan's character even had a boyfriend named Conner.
And if that wasn't creepy enough, Psimon — the psychic who's been dominating Harjavti's mind on behalf of Queen Bee — reveals that she's not what she appears. She's not even a Green Martian like her supposed "uncle," the Martian Manhunter. She's a White Martian, with a far more monstrous appearance and, as we know from the comics, a bad reputation for being villains.
Elle, I loved this episode.
Elle Collins: This is such a great episode. First of all, Megan's conflict between who she wants to be and how she's afraid others will see her is very resonant to a lot of people who aren't Martians at all, but may sometimes feel like it.
Chris: Yeah, the best moment in terms of character is definitely when she tells the rest of the team that she really is "Megan," because that's how she sees herself. It's not a deception, it's a reflection of her true self that her physical form doesn't match. That's really relatable and keeps her very sympathetic, even as she's holding something back from the others.
Elle: Absolutely. And Psimon focusing on her physical form and telling her everyone will reject her for it really gets him across as a truly detestable villain, so you don't feel bad when Megan mentally destroys him.
Chris: Megan going full Beast Mode to just wreck Psimon feels like something that's been building for a while, particularly in Nicole Dubuc's episodes. Of the four she's written, three have focused on Miss Martian as a spotlight character, and we've seen her introducing Bialya (in "Bereft") and Megan's overwhelming power (in "Failsafe") too. Even if I don't like those episodes as distinct units, it's nice to see them building to something.
Elle: Don't worry Chris, J'onn J'onzz says that roleplaying as other people you know for sexy purposes is totally normal and common on Mars, and nobody ever gets hurt. So it's fine.
Chris: I mean, I guess I agree? I just wasn't expecting Young Justice to be the show that took shapeshifting to its logically sexy conclusion. And like, I definitely did not expect the Martian Manhunter to come out hard against kinkshaming.
Elle: I felt bad for Black Canary in this whole scenario. You totally understand why she'd feel violated, and she has every right to, but having to be the one who explains that to Megan isn't going to make her feel any better. Also, Oliver Queen thinking it's hilarious is 100% in character, even if I'm not actually sure Batman needed to invite him to this meeting.
Chris: I'm pretty sure Batman didn't need to invite Red Tornado over for this, either. "Hey, one of your students is doing some sexy role-playing of you, so we made sure your boyfriend and this sad robot were here to find out about it, too." Batman, for a founding member of the Justice League you are very bad at group dynamics.
Also, Manhunter referring to it as a "common game on Mars" makes Mars sound way weirder than I ever picked up on in the comics. It's just a 24/7 shapeshifted makeout fest. Or… however long Martian days and weeks are, I guess.
Elle: Oh yeah, Mars is definitely kink central. You know as soon as Dinah went to talk to Megan, Ollie asked J'onn, "So what other games are common on Mars?"
Chris: In all honesty, it's also pretty weird that they had this caught on tape rather than just having Green Arrow and Black Canary walk in on it while it was happening, because even once everything's explained, we still have to deal with Batman sitting down to watch the tapes and then going "Reddy! Get in here! You gotta see this, dogg."
Elle: I bet there must be a metric ton of fanfiction centering around this common Martian game. "You know I'd do anything for you, Conner." "Megan, just this once... be Aqualad."
Chris: No apology necessary, but perhaps we should move on.
Unless I'm misremembering, Qurac, Bialya, and Rumaan Harjavti were all introduced in the '80s in Justice League International — and I'm pretty sure this version of Queen Bee was, too. But is it just me, or is it kind of weird to call her "Queen Bee" in this context?
Elle: It's super-weird. I do like when they specifically say that Queen Bee can enthrall "most men and some women." Young Justice, low key acknowledging the existence of queer people.
Chris: I suppose that the Queen Bee that inspired this version never actually had a civilian name, and normally I'm all for leaning into the goofiness of superhero names, but I'm still kind of surprised that they didn't go with one. "Zazzala" may have been an alien, but it who's to say it couldn't be a Bialyan name, too?
Elle: Maybe "Bee" is a Bialyan name? Maybe it's short for "Beetricia"?
Chris: There was a retconned version named Beatriz, so I suppose that's as good a possibility as anything else. But I love how quickly this mission turns from, "International intrigue and geopolitical upheaval!" to, "Let's go on a field trip to this farm for the day."
Elle: I guess they felt like they wanted to simultaneously do the "Hello Megan" reveal and set up Beast Boy's origin, and this was the best way to get there. Sorry, I guess that was a spoiler. I don't mean to imply that animal-loving kid Garfield Logan getting a blood transfusion from a shape-shifting alien is necessarily going to lead anywhere.
Chris: Oh man, can we talk about how much I loved Megan's "I can shape-shift my blood!?" reveal? Like, it's already the blood of a shapeshifter, you could pretty easily just have her hope that it can adapt to match Gar's rare blood type. You don't need to have her consciously change her own with shapeshifting, which sounds completely cuckoo bananas! I love it.
Elle: Especially the way she just stands there and concentrates for a minute while her eyes glow red, and then she's like, "I did it! I'm O-Negative now!"
Chris: I love the implication here, that — since now he has Martian shape-shifter blood — Young Justice's version of Beast Boy could prrrrobably just turn into whatever, but sticks with animals because he just really likes animals.
Elle: I don't remember if that's ever discussed when he inevitably shows back up, but it's definitely a valid theory.
Chris: Moving beyond the idea that blood transfusion can fix literally any medical problem that you have in a comic, I think it's now time for us to talk about the wonder, the majesty, the sheer delight that is… Hello, Megan!
Elle: It's so perfect. The theme song's production could sound a little more like a sitcom theme, but otherwise it's suitably terrible.
Chris: It's great, and there are so many obscure DC Cameos showing up! Megan herself is, of course, Marie Logan — Beast Boy's mom — but the rest of the cast is pulled from the comics, too. Paul Sloane, who plays Conner, is the method actor who became the second Two-Face in the '50s, and Megan's cheerleader friend is Rita Farr, who would retire from acting when she became Elasti-Girl of the Doom Patrol. Which, incidentally, is who she was when she adopted young Garfield Logan, so it's nice that there's a family connection there.
Elle: In the Young Justice universe, the Two Face biopic is made for basic cable, and the best they can get for the lead is the former male lead of a terrible teen sitcom. This makes a lot of sense. Always nice to see Rita Farr though, even if she doesn't get to do much here.
Chris: There's more, too: Two of the older characters are played by Jonathan Lord and Sandra Stanyon, a couple of deep cuts from Cary Bates and Gene Colan's Silverblade, an obscure and bizarre 12-issue miniseries from 1987.
Elle: I don't even know what you're talking about now, and I'm usually pretty good on obscure DC stuff. This show's dedication to Easter eggs is ridiculous.
Chris: Told you it was obscure. I honestly think that might be every "major" actor in the DC Universe, with the exception of Curt Nolland, the Burt Reynolds stand-in that Killer Frost was in love with in an early issue of Firestorm.
Elle: There's Basil Karlo, but he's more of a vintage horror star.
Chris: Simon Trent, too. So what do we think of Megan at the end of this episode? Conner asks her point-blank what she really looks like, and instead of revealing her White Martian form to her teammates, she instead just claims that — like Martian Manhunter — she's really bald and doesn't have freckles.
Elle: I understand why she didn't come all the way clean, but I think ultimately she needs to. But maybe not to a whole group all at once, and in front of civilians. That was a big ask.
Chris: It's a tricky situation. I appreciate that Young Justice didn't go the Power Rangers route of just having someone get over their greatest fear in a single episode — part of the theme here is that M'gann likes "Megan" because she solves all her problems in 22 minutes, which isn't the way it works even in her own superhero reality — but I'm also invested enough to say "Megan, no! Be honest!" out loud to the TV while I'm watching.
Elle: I like how the episode starts with Megan kissing Superboy while wearing someone else's face, and then we come to understand that that's the only way she's ever kissed him. But Superboy's best friends in the world are a giant wolf and a metal ball, so it's possible he's more open minded than she realizes.
Chris: I mentioned it before, but as much as Megan's being "dishonest" with the team here, I really do like her hard distinction that the Miss Martian we know — the one in the Sailor Scout fuku who bops herself on the head when she forgets things — really is the "true" M'gann M'orzz. The idea that her physical form is instantly and practically mutable means that she gets to choose who she is, and her reluctance to reveal her "default" form to people who are pretty much stuck in their physical bodies is really understandable. It makes me wonder about how someone like Billy Batson, who also has the ability to change shape into his idealized self, would react to finding out the truth.
Elle: I never made that connection, but it would be an interesting scene to see. Obviously this stuff is going to come up again, but I honestly don't remember exactly how it's resolved, so I'm particularly curious to follow that thread through the series again.
Next week, Superboy returns to Project Cadmus to investigate the rumor of a second Superman clone in "Agendas."