Young Justice had a lot to live up to when it premiered. Not only were fans expecting the show to have the same top-notch quality as what had come before (such as Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series), but the show would have to live up to the quality of that previous animated series about teen sidekicks, Teen Titans. Fortunately, Young Justice more than lived up the hype, creating two amazing seasons of content before being canceled.
However, everyone knows that the best heroes never stay dead forever. This was true of Young Justice as well, with the series being renewed for a third season that will debut through a DC digital service sometime in 2018. Given this excellent news, many fans of the show have been re-watching those first two seasons on Netflix to get ready for the next season. And while there are many wonderful plot details that you only notice the second time around, the truth is that there are still plenty of well-hidden Easter eggs throughout that many fans overlook entirely.
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15 Superboy being on floor 52
One really fun Young Justice Easter egg occurs very early in the series. In the episode “Independence Day”, Aqualad, Robin, and Kid Flash go to investigate the mysterious Cadmus organization. They find that the facility is much bigger than they imagined, and they eventually find Superboy on sublevel 52.
Of course, “52” is a number that means a lot to fans of DC comics. It was the name of an amazing maxiseries of comics published in 2006 and 2007 that explored what would happen in a world in which Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman were all retired. Eventually, “52” was the number given to the multiverse dimensions in DC Comics.
Most infamously, “The New 52” was the branding for the post-Flashpoint reality reset in the comics, one which made all of DC's heroes younger and all of DC's fans angrier. Fortunately, these real-life scandals don't affect Superboy— he's already carrying enough baggage.
14 Inception between commercials
Sometimes, the best Easter eggs are actually foreshadowing for some greater plot development. That is exactly what happens with “Targets”, the tenth episode of Young Justice's first season. At one point in the episode, we see the villain Sportsmaster taunt the hero Red Arrow by comparing him to a “broken arrow” right before a commercial break. At the time, it seems like a pretty lame insult, but it ends up being so much more.
We later find out that “broken arrow” is a code phrase that Sportsmaster uses to give Red Arrow new commands. This works because Red Arrow is actually a Cadmus-created clone, and Cadmus had a number of such code phrases built into his mind.
During the commercial break, Sportsmaster is actually getting vital information from Red Arrow, who is unwittingly a sleeper agent within the Young Justice team. However, viewers won't discover any of this until much later.
13 Shape-shifting secrets
One of the most bubbly members of the team is Miss Martian. She is a relatively young Martian who claims to be the niece of fellow green alien and Justice League hero Martian Manhunter. Secretly, though, both her personality and her abilities as a shape-shifter hide a dark secret: she is not actually a green Martian but a grotesque-looking White Martian, who are the ancient enemies of the green Martians and formidable foes of the Justice League.
In the episode “Bereft”, our young heroes are dealing with a pretty standard sci-fi premise: their memories have been wiped. Miss Martian volunteers to use her powers to probe their collective minds and help restore their memories. Later, she and the others help rescue a kidnapped Superboy, and she helps him restore his memories.
In the torrent of memories onscreen, eagle-eyed viewers can actually spot her true White Martian form, as well as a scene from “Hello, Megan” - the fictional TV show on which she modeled her personality on Earth.
12 Teen Titans homage
Obviously, the Young Justice show is going to contain a number of Easter eggs and references to the comic book adventures in series such as Teen Titans. Sometimes, these references are more subtle than others, including the makeup of the initial team that investigates Cadmus in the first episode. The team that investigates is Robin, Kid Flash, and Aqualad, which will definitely strike a chord for Teen Titans comics buffs!
In the DC Comics issue Brave and the Bold #54, this exact team faces off against the unfortunately-named villain Mister Twister. As expected, the team beat the bad guy and freed the teenagers that he was holding captive. Because of how well they worked together, they decided to form the Teen Titans, and the rest is history!
Thus, this exact team going to Cadmus and rescuing Superboy is a great callback to the adventure that brought together our favorite teen heroes for the first time.
11 Justice League membership card secrets
One of the aspects of superhero life that fans usually don't dwell on is the idea of membership cards. It's tough to imagine when these would be necessary. For one thing, once someone sees a character like Superman flying around and using super-strength, it's doubtful they'd check his ID. And most of these heroes don't seem to have pockets, anyway.
However, the Young Justice episode “Usual Suspects” makes a big deal out of the Justice League giving new members their membership cards, and these cards have a fun reference hidden on them!
In most of the shots, it's difficult for us to see exactly what is on the cards. However, in a close-up shot we can see The Atom holding his membership card up backwards. The font of that membership card looks exactly like the episode title cards from the Justice League cartoon.
As Easter eggs go, it's very brief, but makes for an awesome callback for longtime fans of the DC Animated Universe.
10 Arrowette Cameo
Despite sharing a name, there are a number of differences between the Young Justice cartoon and the comic of the same name. However, this didn't keep the animated team from sneaking in some fun comic references from time to time.
One occurs in the episode “Insecurity,” in which we see Green Arrow and Artemis rescue a man from the villainous Black Spider while her daughter looks on. The daughter is Cissie King-Jones, and though she doesn't have much to do in this episode, she is a major player in the Young Justice comics!
In those comics, she is the hero Arrowette; someone who was forced into the hero life by her overbearing mother, who once operated as Miss Arrowette. She has some adventures on her own and eventually joins Young Justice, but her time is cut short when she nearly kills a person who murdered her therapist and she walks away from the hero life. She does, however, find prominence as an Olympic athlete, and she continues to be a friend and advisor to the hero community.
9 Bizarro Homage
While there's a lot to be said for really in-depth Easter eggs, some of the very best ones are quiet visual references to other moments in superhero history. This occurs in the Young Justice episode “Agendas,” in which Superboy and the team go up against Match, another Superman clone attempt by Cadmus. The team eventually prevails, but not before Match gives us one of our cooler visuals.
Match ends up burning a backwards “S” into his own chest. For DC Comics fans, this serves as a reference to two classic villains. One of them is Bizarro, whose backwards “S” helps symbolize the backwards nature of his language in which “good” means “bad” and so on. The backwards “S” may also represent Superboy Prime, a Superboy from a different reality, who ends up being a galactic-level threat in the comics.
8 "Hello, Megan" in "Image" is filled with references
As mentioned earlier, Miss Martian bases much of her personality, appearance, and speech on a classic, fictional sitcom that she loves called “Hello, Megan”. While we see glimpses of this show in other episodes, the episode “Image” gives us a prolonged look at the sitcom.
For people with a deep knowledge of both DC Comics history and the Young Justice creative team, this fictional sitcom is a treasure trove of Easter eggs!
It starts with the creators of the fictional show, Greg Vietti and Brandon Weisman. These names are obviously swapped versions of the Young Justice producers Brandon Vietti and Greg Weisman. The actor Marie Logan is the biological mother of Beast Boy in the comics, while Rita Farr is his adoptive mother and the superhero known as Elasti-girl. Actor Paul Sloane was once hired to portray Two-Face in the comics and ended up similarly scarred, while the characters Sandra Stanyon and Jonathan Lord are named after characters from Silverblade, a comic created by Weisman's buddy, Cary Bates.
7 Kid Flash comic reference
When it comes to characters, Kid Flash represented a special challenge for the Young Justice writers. Specifically, they had to nail his personality (the resident class clown and heart of the team) without making him look like a carbon copy of The Flash on Justice League, who performed a very similar function. To their credit, the writers made Kid Flash feel vibrant and new, and they never wasted an opportunity for fun Easter eggs with him. One of the best instances of this occurred in the episode “Coldhearted”.
The episode involves Kid Flash getting a very special mission from the Justice League: to deliver a donor heart from Boston to Seattle. Initially, the young hero is disappointed that his team-up with the League is just a delivery errand, but he eventually realizes how challenging it will be, especially when he must confront Vandal Savage.
As it turns out, this adventure is a callback to Flash #1 from 1987, in which Kid Flash must deliver a heart from New York to Seattle and similarly ends up battling Vandal Savage. Overall, it's a great homage that proves how much the Young Justice writers love DC Comics.
6 Interlac Planetarium
Season two of Young Justice was surprising for fans in many ways. For starters, it shook the show up with a years-long time jump and some new additions to the team. Second, it started really ramping up the kinds of bad guys that our heroes must fight. This was very evident in the episode “Happy New Year,” in which our heroes struggle with Lobo - an alien that has gone toe-to-toe with Superman and is responsible for killing the rest of his entire race!
When we first see Lobo, though, he's pretty difficult to understand. This is intentional, though, as the “alien” language he is speaking is called Interlac. This is a language developed by DC Comics, and it has a few different applications. It was originally created as an alien language for comics featuring the Legion of Superheroes, and it has been used to represent the alien language of the Guardians of the Universe.
In truth, the “language” just swaps English letters with Latin replacements to create something that looks exotic on the page, and this episode finally let us hear what it sounds like!
5 Things Come Full Circle
One of the most controversial elements of Young Justice was the big time jump between the end of season one and the beginning of season two. In fact, a whopping five years have passed, and it has resulted in some major changes.
For instance, young Robin has grown into Nightwing, and the team has new members such as Beast Boy and Blue Beetle. For all of this change and all of this time-jumping, though, the series sneakily manages to end exactly where it began!
The final episode of the series, appropriately titled “Endgame”, takes place across two days: July 4th and July 5th. These are also the two days that the two-part pilot episodes (“Independence Day” and “Fireworks”) took place on.
There is also some nice parallel structure with the first episodes, as those focused on the sidekicks' disappointment that they were not granted access to the true Justice League headquarters. In the final episode, though, they are welcome to the Justice League Watchtower headquarters as equals.
4 Hidden Batman Beyond Music
Most of the Easter eggs hidden inside Young Justice episodes are visual in nature. After all, it's a cartoon, and one of the best ways to hide things is by placing cool references in the background. Every now and then, however, there is an awesome Easter egg that you can notice with your eyes closed, which is exactly what happened in the episode “The Hunt.”
If you listen very carefully during this episode, you can hear some familiar music. This is because the score recycles some guitar riffs from “Terrific Trio Vs. Rocketeers,” which was used in the Batman Beyond episode “Heroes”. Don't call this homage a rip-off, though: Dynamite Music Partners produced the music for each episode, and they were likely just having some fun and throwing in something for the die hard DC Animated Universe fans to appreciate.
This is a rich history, as Batman Beyond often appropriated music from shows that came before it, most notably Batman: The Animated Series.
3 Black Mercy reference
Sometimes, all it takes to create an awesome Easter egg is a single word. This was certainly the case in the Young Justice episode “War”, which featured the team going up against the alien villain Mongul. Now, Mongul is one of those Superman-level threats, so you'd expect he would make short work of our good guys. Instead, he spares their lives and often mentions the “mercy” that he is offering.
While this sounds like something out of “Supervillain Monologue 101,” it's actually a clever reference to one of the most famous comics ever created. Superman Annual #11 featured a story by Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons, two fellows who also worked on a little-known comic called Watchmen.
The tale focuses on Mongul fighting Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman using an alien parasite that sucks the life from them while placing their minds in a fantasy based on their deepest desires. This parasite is called “Black Mercy” and is what the Young Justice creative team is slyly referencing.
2 Superfriends references
In the episode “Runaways”, Blue Beetle must track down some runaway teenagers that all have superpowers. While this is a familiar enough concept for superhero fans, DC put their own spin on it by portraying these characters as unique, diverse, and easy to relate to. And, for DC fans of a certain age, the way they were drawn was sure to bring back memories!
The modern DC Animated Universe is typically traced back to Batman: The Animated Series, a show whose success would eventually spawn shows for Superman, the Justice League, Young Justice, and more. However, the seeds of these shows go back to Superfriends, an ABC cartoon that lasted from 1973 to 1986.
Several runaways in this episode are homages to characters from that show: Asami Koizumi is a female version of Samurai (and is even nicknamed “Sam”), while Virgil Hawkins helped evoke Black Vulcan. Tye Longshadow stood in for Apache Chief while Eduardo Dorado Jr. stood in for El Dorado. These characters all had similar appearances and powers to those original Superfriends characters!
1 JSA Cameo
One of the neatest things about being a DC fan is falling down the rabbit hole of rich history. For instance, with its upcoming movie, it's easy to be a fan of the Justice League, but that veteran super team was not the world's first super team. Instead, that honor goes to the Justice Society of America. And the Young Justice team are clearly fans, as they snuck references to this team into the episode “Cornered.”
The episode itself is pretty simple, featuring the young team trying their might against the alien menace Despero. They are fighting in the Hall of Justice, which is mostly an excuse for a lot of really cool-looking animated sets to get some serious battle damage.
In one scene, Despero throws Captain Marvel through a display that is filled with costumes. On closer examination, these are the costumes of several JSA members, including Wildcat, Sandman, and the original Flash and Green Lantern. While these heroes' heyday was during the Golden Age of comics, this episode reminds us that their spirit lives on!
Be sure to tune into the third season in 2018, and let us know your favorite Young Justice Easter egg in the comments!