'Young Justice: Outsiders': How Khary Payton Balances Aquaman and Black Lightning
When Young Justice was originally cancelled over five years ago, voice actor Khary Payton was one of its biggest champions in the campaign to revive the series, even going so far as to anger Warner Bros. in his attempts.
But now that the series has returned, Payton has gone back to the recording booth — only he's not spending most of his time as Kaldur'ahm, the new Aquaman and leader of the Justice League. Instead, Payton is mostly giving live to Black Lightning, who is taking on a more prominent role in the animated DC Comics series.
Payton spoke with ComicBook.com about his return to the series, revealing his feelings about Aquaman's lesser role in Young Justice: Outsiders and how he's gotten into the groove of playing Jefferson Pierce.
"The first thing that happened to me just emotionally coming back was, I was so excited to get back to playing Kaldur, and he's much more of a supporting character this time around, and it's all about Lightning," Payton admitted. "Once we got into Jefferson's story and Lightning's whole reason for wanting to quick and coming back to right a wrong in his mind."
Payton revealed that his minor role in the second season finale inspired showrunners Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti to flesh out Black Lightning's role in the revival.
"I'm still stunned that I've been given two characters that are so incredibly complex and multilayered and I just really got lucky because in the last episode, I think, of Season 2. I think I had maybe two lines as Black Lightning in Season 2, and Greg kind of liked it. He was like, 'You know what? Let's go run with you as Lightning this time around.' It was because of those two kinds of just off-handed lines that Black Lightning had in Season 2, all those years ago, it got Greg thinking that he wanted to focus on Black Lightning for [Young Justice: Outsiders]," Payton said.
But even though Kaldur has been put on the back burner, Payton is praising the new direction of the series because of the focus on Lightning.
"I mean, as far as characters are concerned, you can go a whole career not getting characters as amazing and layered and beautifully written as Black Lightning and Kaldur," Payton said. "I get them in the same show. It's awesome."
Young Justice: Outsiders will return from its midseason break sometime this summer. The first 13 episodes are now streaming on DC Universe.
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