By Ken Tucker
Updated November 27, 2010 at 05:05 AM EST

Young Justice made its debut on Friday night with an hour-long edition on the Cartoon Network. It was a clever concept that was pretty well executed: above-average animation; intriguingly different takes on a few familiar characters; and the promise of even better editions to come.

The debut centered on Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash, and Superboy. (I liked the way Speedy quit early on, disgusted at the lack of respect he was being shown by Green Arrow and other adult super-heroes — it was an unexpected move for a new series to use.) The plot concerned the Cadmus Project, busy manufacturing naughty genomes and using stolen Superman-DNA to hatch Superboy.

I was less engaged by the long battles between the Young Justice crew and the hulking, bashing Blockbuster creatures than I was by the introduction of, and interaction between, the teen heroes. Young Justice is not a TV version of the DC Comics series of the same title. It takes place, its producers say, on Earth-16, a separate entity from the comics continuity. If you’re looking for comic-book parallels, the show is more a cross between Teen Titans and Young Justice… with its own little twists.

By the end of the hour, other members had been introduced, including Miss Martian, niece of Martian Manhunter — with more to come. There was some snappy dialogue between the youthful crew (“Don’t call us sidekicks” is practically the show’s motto) and the Justice League, with Batman and other grown-ups grudgingly accepting the inevitability of this group of adolescent upstarts. Young Justice will be used, we were told, as a sort of covert-ops organization to handle assignments and super-villain intrusions, with Red Tornado as the kids’ supervisor and Black Canary in charge of “training” (hormones, man your battle-stations!).

All in all: fun and smart. And on a night with no new Smallville, a good dose of super-hero action. Young Justice will commence further adventures in January.

Did you watch? What did you think?