[Correction: in the original post, we said that Phil Lamarr had hoped to voice Darkseid in subsequent seasons of “Young Justice.” However, it was Khary Payton who wanted to provide the voice of the evil New God.]
“These guys are two of the best guys to act against in the booth,” Aqualad voice actor Khary Payton says of his “Young Justice” colleagues Phil Lamarr and Dee Bradley Baker during a panel moderated by series writer Greg Weisman. Payton, who also voiced Cyborg, was joined by “Young Justice” comic artist Christopher Jones, voice actor Dee Bradley Baker, and the inestimable Phil Lamarr as they told stories about working on the recently-cancelled Cartoon Network series during Denver Comic Con.
****Spoilers to follow****
First off, the “Young Justice” audience, while affectionate towards the assembled performers on stage, was noticeably hostile towards “Teen Titans Go,” and other animated programming they perceived as somehow responsible for the ratings-challenged series’ departure from Cartoon Network. When Greg Wiseman mentioned “Titans” during the panel, a boo swelled from the back of the audience to the front. A little commentary here: just because a thing you love is going away, there’s no reason to hate the thing that’s in its place.
Hey, want to know how Phil Lamarr got the voice of Aquaman? Well, after auditioning for Aqualad (and losing out to Khary Payton), the show’s creators went back to Lamarr for the King of Atlantis after the actor they did choose for Aqualad established the cadence and style of Atlantean English.
Speaking of surprise casting, Dee Bradley Baker (who has a list of animation credits as long as the panel) got the role of Desaad after almost no preparation. Weisman described getting chills after Baker was given an impromptu offer to take the role, wandering off for a few minutes, then coming back with a fully-formed take on Darkseid’s henchman.
Speaking of Darkseid, Khary Payton, responding to a question about the cancellation of “Young Justice,” says that he was personally disappointed given that the villain had just been introduced into Earth-16 and he really wanted to voice the character. Comic artist Christopher Jones says that he was likewise disappointed at not getting the opportunity to bring the character to the comic. Wiseman added that some fans were disappointed by the Darkseid reveal, some of them complaining that the show was left on a cliffhanger. He counters that the series was left open-ended, with the main threat of the Reach and the Light dealt with, but that the cast of heroes were primarily left safe (he says that some fans might not understand the definition of a cliffhanger).
Looking back at the death of Wally West, Weisman joked that he was concerned throughout the series that they’d telegraphed the death of the young Flash too much. When a fan asked if the writers planned to bring the character back, Weisman declined to answer, saying that who knows what would happen to the show going forward, and revealing who would or wouldn’t come back would constitute a spoiler.
When a fan stood up asking what they could do to keep shows like “Young Justice” alive, Weisman offered that beyond forcing all of the Nielsen homes out there to watch the show in reruns, if you love the show, support the merchandise. He reminded the audience that there’s a trade coming out this summer as well as the official soundtrack for the series. Plus, this fall, the “Young Justice: Legacy” game is coming out for the 3DS and Wii. Buy the merch, and that can keep the show on the radar of the money people at DC and Warner Bros.
Weisman says a large part of the “Young Justice” budget was its toy sales and those were miserable from the perspective of Warner Bros. Ratings and ad revenue are really only a small part of what factors into modern animation. “Honestly, they don’t care if no one watches the show as long as the toys sell,” Lamarr added.