When DC canceled Young Justice, it destroyed a universe of potential

DC rejuvenated their entire comics universe in 2011 when they released their bold New 52 experiment. Although less heralded, they did the same thing for their animated universe the same year with the introduction of the Young Justice cartoon. While fans may have complained about both reboots — the loss of Bruce Timm’s long-running DC animated universe was hard to swallow at first — Young Justice’s outstanding animation, great characterization, and its fresh look at the DC universe won over almost every viewer… and then DC killed it.

• It looked so good.

No offense to Bruce Timm, but he’d be the first to admit his DC Animated Universe was heavily stylized; all the men had the same barrel chests, all the women had the same tiny waists, and everybody had tiny, skinny legs. But Young Justice not only looked like modern comic art, it was simply gorgeous. Brandon Vietti’s character designs were widely varied but perfectly encapsulated each character, whether they were be a member of Young Justice or of the Justice League. And their faces were far more expressive than Timm’s, bette exemplifying the drama that the first DCAU usually had to hint at through the voices or keep underneath the surface. Without a doubt, it’s the best-designed, best animated superhero cartoon made so far — in fact, only The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra even come close to matching Young Justice for pure visual appeal.

• The team was awesome.

It’s excessively generic to point out “the team” as one of the series’ high points — I mean, any show about Young Justice would star the team, right? But the team that ended up starring in the Young Justicecartoon is vastly different from the comic. More importantly, think about how many essentially all-new characters Young Justiceestablished to non-comics fans: Kid Flash, Artemis, Miss Martian and Aqualad. Young Justice turned these essentially unknown DC sidekicks into some of the most popular DC characters around. As for Superboy and Robin, YJ presented a streamlined, iconic take of Superboy’s post-Crisis origin that will stick in the minds of kids much, much longer than his New 52 rebirth, and by putting Aqualad in charge of the team as opposed to Robin, viewers got to see a younger, less-sure-of-himself version of Dick Grayson. Even the characters mass audiences thought they knew got an intriguing new version.

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