REVIEW: ‘Young Justice: Phantoms,’ Episode 9 – “Odnu!”

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Young Justice Phantoms Episode 9 - But Why Tho

Young Justice: Phantoms Episode 9 begins a new story arc for the series, which puts the focus on magician Zatanna Zatara (Lacey Chabert). “Odnu!” sees Zatanna acting as a teacher to a trio of young magicians: Mary Bromfield (Erika Ishii), gifted with the power to tap into the magic of the gods; Khalid Nassour (Usman Ally), an elemental mage; and Traci Thirteen (Lauren Tom), who can manipulate the ley lines in cities themselves. Zatanna and her students are drawn to a grisly crime committed by one of the Lords of Chaos (Ishii), which also draws the attention of Klarion the Witch Boy (Thom Adcox). Flashbacks reveal how Vandal Savage (David Kaye) first met Klarion and drew him into the Light.

Zatanna has always been one of my favorite characters in the DC Universe, so I was definitely more than happy to see an arc focused around her. Teaching others magic is the perfect avenue for her, as she’s always had one foot in the superhero world and the other in the world of magic thanks to her father Giovanni. Writer Jake Baumgart uses this as a way to introduce audience members to the magical characters of the DC Universe. I hope that this arc shows DC Comics how to utilize her in future titles. And Chabert taps into Zatanna’s innate charm for her performance, with her instruction gently guiding her students toward the right goal instead of berating them for any mistakes they make.

The episode is also chock full of DC characters who are magical in nature. Most DC fans will probably know Mary as the adopted sister of Billy Batson, aka Shazam; Khalid took up the mantle of Doctor Fate; Traci was first introduced in Young Justice: Outsiders as the girlfriend of Jaime Reyes/Blue Beetle. I do wish that an actor of Egyptian descent would have voiced Khalid, as he’s Egyptian-American. Other magical characters such as the mystic Madame Xanadu (Cree Summer) and the enigmatic Phantom Stranger (D.B. Woodside) also make an appearance throughout the episode, hinting at the gravity of things to come. I appreciate that each arc of the series so far is delving into a different corner of the DC Universe; Superboy and Miss Martian’s arc tackled life on Mars, Tigress’ arc dealt with the League of Shadows, and now Zatanna’s arc is handling magic.

That shift in magical elements allows director Christina Sotta to stage some of the most gruesome scenes that have been on Young Justice to date. And I do mean gruesome: a body is literally turned inside out, displaying its organs, and the Savage-focused flashbacks show him repeatedly dying (and resurrecting) at Klarion’s hands. Not only does this push the boundaries of the show’s TV-14 ratings, but it also fits with the Lords of Chaos’ desire to spread destruction wherever they go. And with the flashbacks stretching back to Vandal Savage’s origins, one has to wonder how exactly he managed to get Klarion on his side. Adcox’s performance as Klarion also showcases how twisted the Lord of Chaos is. It’s a far cry from his performance as the brainy yet big-hearted Lexington in Gargoyles—another animated series that sprung from the mind of co-showrunner Greg Weisman.

Young Justice: Phantoms Episode 9 puts its focus on Zatanna for the next story arc, and delves headfirst into the magical corners of the DC Universe. I’m certain that we will continue to see more magical characters in future episodes, as well as heightened stakes since the fate of the universe is literally in the balance.

New episodes of Young Justice: Phantoms are available to stream on HBO Max on Thursdays.


Young Justice: Phantoms Episode 9
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

Young Justice: Phantoms Episode 9 puts its focus on Zatanna for the next story arc, and delves headfirst into the magical corners of the DC Universe. I’m certain that we will continue to see more magical characters in future episodes, as well as heightened stakes since the fate of the universe is literally in the balance.

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