WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Young Justice: Phantoms, streaming now on HBO Max.
Young Justice enjoys a wide range of characters across an equally wide range of personalities, and that means that not all the heroes of the show are not out-and-out heroes. Motivations are complex and ever-shifting, and the latest story arc in the series proved that more than any other. Mary Marvel may have started out the season as the young mentor to Zatanna trying to do the right thing, but the midseason finale sees her primed to become a supervillain.
But just how did such an evolution take place, and how great is the threat to come? A look back at where the show has been and where it's going may just reveal that the Team is about to face one of their most powerful threats yet.
Introduced in the latest season's arc with the episode "Odnu," Mary Bromfield worked dutifully as one of Zatanna's new magical students. Alongside Thirteen and Khalid, Mary harnessed her magical potential to a variety of effects. In stark contrast to her colleagues, however, Mary's training focused more on how to hold back than on how to let loose. Her alter ego, known in the comics as Mary Marvel and Young Justice as Sergeant Marvel, is a powerful godlike being on par with Shazam. When she utters Shazam's name, it transforms her into the divine being, but as viewers learned throughout the latest arc, her frequent transformations took their toll on Mary's sense of humanity.
Her training with Zatanna focused on tapping into other sources of magical power while retaining her mortality, but in the episode "Kaerb Ym Traeh!" she goes too far. Faced against Child, herself still fueled by the power of the Lords of Chaos, Mary pulled magical energy from her fallen allies in order to hold off the threat of Child. In the aftermath of the battle, Zatanna's horror at Mary threatening her teammates' lives spurred a confrontation between the two where Mary stormed off, seemingly leaving Zatanna's tutelage and the team altogether. In a fit of tears, and with the voice of Granny Goodness cooing to her, the episode ended with Mary giving in to her desire to whisper "Shazam" and transform once more. And what she becomes can't be good for the Team.
The Justice League member Shazam was shown to be one of the most powerful members of the team, with strength, speed and durability all comparable to Superman himself. In sharing in Shazam's power, Mary could be a physically imposing force unlike most any the young heroes have faced. But what makes Mary even deadlier than Shazam is both her inhumanity and her recent magical training from Zatanna.
Whereas Shazam often fought with the mentality of a child and proved to be the voice of reason talking Mary back toward her sense of humanity, an unleashed Sergeant Marvel would not exercise any such restraint. Not only would her punches not be pulled but her recent training also shows that she could further amplify her power even further than that of Shazam herself. Fueled by Khalid and Thirteen, she managed to take on a Lord of Chaos directly, and that was while still fettering herself from her full divine abilities. The implications as to just how powerful she may be could be the exact reason Granny Goodness shows such interest in her in the first place.
Goodness' forte is in corruption, and it does not take more than a gentle chiding voice to corrupt Mary. The role of Goodness, her master Darkseid and the aims of those of Apokolips, in general, seem to play a major role in the series. Season 3 ended with a climactic showdown between Goodness and Beast Boy that left a long-lasting psychic effect on the young hero still resonating through the current arc.
With Mary, the Team may just have to face one of their own members who was not so successful in turning away from that corruption. There have been betrayals among their allies throughout the series before, such as Roy Harper's brainwashing in the first season or Aqualad's duplicity in the second, but never before has the Team had to face one of their own fully embracing their corruption. This could put them in opposition with a goddess, and as divided as they are at the moment, they may not have the firepower to stop her.
To see Mary Marvel's transformation, Young Justice is streaming now on HBO Max.
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