DCAU #394: Junior

IN THIS ONE... Edwin Alva's son becomes a supervillain.

CREDITS: Written by Dwayne McDuffie; directed by James Tucker.

REVIEW: A story of disappointed fathers and frustrated sons, Junior contrasts the Hawkins family relationship to secret-ish villain's Edwin Alva's. Where Virgil's dad is worried that his son has become a flake who shirks responsibility (unaware that he's taken on one of the greatest responsibilities of all), the other is abusively disappointed in Edwin Jr. despite the kid being something of a genius. The parenting styles certainly don't produce the same results. When Jr. finds a way to control the mutagenic properties of his father's gas, giving himself a host of different powers at the ready, he doesn't attack his father's illegal operations (weapons smuggling on his own fleet, that's not too smart Alva) out of a sense of justice, but just to get attention. He's destructive for destruction's sake.

On the flip side, Virgil's dad may have trust issues, but he respects his son and after a good talk with Sharon - who's had her brother's back of late - admits his son deserve his independence and some leeway too after the death of his mother. In fact, Virgil may be dealing with it better than he is, the first time we've seen that kind of vulnerability from him, and certainly the source of his worry. So when "Omnifarious" gives himself x-ray vision and discovers Virgil's secret identity, Virgil vows to tell his dad before he finds out some other way. But he never gets a chance to, nor a need to, after his father explains his feelings. That's a good way to get out of it, and yet, I'm sad Mr. Hawkins wasn't told. I would have liked to see their dynamic then.

And of course, the minute Virgil's identity was exposed, it was a foregone conclusion something bad would happen to Omnifarious. He overdoses on mutagen and his molecular structure breaks down until he turns into a statue, the very thing Alva said would have made a better legacy than his son. Bit on the nose, but it solves Virgil's problem. Always the way in superhero stories. For a second, you did think Virgil saving him from his father's forces with a powerful EMP blast (wow, cool, did he learn that after his short circuit in Winds of Change?) might cause him to keep the secret, but no. At least it wasn't a foregone conclusion.

IN THE COMICS: The reference to quantum vapor echoes the comics' quantum juice. Omnifarious is original to the animated show.

SOUNDS LIKE: Matt Ballard, who also voices Carmen Dillo, played Junior.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - Sometimes a bit obvious, the episode nevertheless has a strong them and advances Virgil's family story.

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