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Young Justice: Outsiders Does X-Men's Story Better Than X-Men

Aquaman in Young Justice Outsiders and X-Men Comic Cyclops

Young Justice: Outsiders is realizing the classic idea of the X-Men far better than the modern X-Men comic books. When it comes to young superheroes protecting a world that hates and fears them, the Outsiders are completely outclassing Marvel's mutants.

When the X-Men first appeared in 1963, the team consisted of five mutant teenagers and their mentor, Professor Charles Xavier. The educational aspect of the team was highly emphasized, with the X-Men operating out of a special school when they weren't protecting the world, trying to prove that not all mutants were bad. This aspect of the X-Men concept became less important over time, decaying to the point that Xavier's School For Gifted Youngsters only seemed to have one student at a time during the height of the series' popularity in the 1980s and 1990s. This coincided with many of the X-Men comics becoming more about fight scenes and extreme artwork than exploring the characters.

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Related: Young Justice Season 3 Teases One Of The Missing Comic Outsiders

Young Justice: Outsiders developed the same idea as the original X-Men comics by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, but emphasized its young characters' personalities and the slice-of-life aspects of their lives over cliche action scenes. Episode 20, "Quiet Conversations", is a prime example of this. While the action of the episode is focused upon Superboy, Forager, and Black Lightning searching the cosmos for the New God Metron, most of "Quiet Conversations" is devoted to other subplots involving the personal lives of the team. These storylines range from Halo running away from home; Aquaman acclimating a water-breathing, metahuman teenager to life under the sea; Geo-Force coping with his conflicting feelings about his new life and his significant other, and Ms. Martian (in her secret identity of guidance counselor Megan Morse) helping troubled teen Harper Row confront the truth about her abusive father.

Young Justice Harper Row and Megan Morse counseling session

Young Justice has also done a better job of exploring the idea of superpowers as a metaphor for discrimination than the most recent crop of X-Men comics. The chief plot of Young Justice season 3 has seen the Justice League struggling to fight the trafficking of metahuman teenagers, despite increasing regulation limiting their ability to act directly. This leads to the creation of the Outsiders - a team of teenage superheroes who tackle the dual tasks of directly confronting slave-traders the Justice League can't touch legally while humanizing metahuman teens in the public eye, thereby portraying them as useful members of society rather than an inhuman menace to be controlled.

The latest episode of Young Justice: Outsiders also showcases how the series is better than the new X-Men revival in addressing real-world social issues and presenting a diverse cast of characters. The first issue of the X-Men reboot primarily focused on five white, heterosexual mutants and concerned itself with explaining the new magical mutant homeland of Krakoan. Young Justice season 3, by contrast, centers around a genderqueer alien-human hybrid and the final sequence of "Quiet Conversations" reveals that Aquaman is now in a romantic relationship with another young Atlantean man. This, coupled with the Outsiders' mission, seems far more in line with what Kirby and Lee intended the X-Men to be than Jonathan Hickman's reboot in the comics.

Next: Young Justice Tackles Superhero Registration Better Than Civil War

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