Young Justice has returned this week. Before progressing, I should probably clarify, as there are a few things titled “Young Justice” that have recently come out. This Young Justice refers to the comic, not the third season of the phenomenal cartoon, Young Justice: Outsiders. Also, this refers to the comic book Young Justice, not the digital comic Young Justice that is a tie-in to the previously mentioned cartoon. Not saying that if you’re a fan of the show you shouldn’t stick around. Just setting expectations. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…
YOUNG JUSTICE IS BACK!!!
Many years ago, Jacob introduced me to a little comic called Young Justice. The original was written by Peter David and drawn by Todd Nauck. I was a fan of Tim Drake (Robin), was familiar with Superboy, so I gave it a look. The comic was fun and goofy, but still had a lot of heart in it. I recommend that you find copies of it. (There are currently three volumes in print, and we covered Book One a while back in the podcast.)
It is with this history that I looked towards this new edition of Young Justice with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation. Yes, Brian Bendis is a good writer. Yes, I have enjoyed Patrick Gleason’s art. But, it’s that same feeling one gets when anything they’ve previously enjoyed gets rebooted. You would love for it to be good so that you have new things from a franchise you enjoy, but you’ve been burned in the past. Sometimes burned by it being blatant cash grab. Sometimes it forces you to realize that you’ve gotten older, and are no longer in the target demographic. With these thoughts and feelings, I dove into the comic.
There are really two general ways to start a new team book. One, someone could spend some time, an issue or six, going around and recruiting heroes to form a team to take on a threat or do a job. Also, you have a threat or issue that needs dealing with, and the heroes just show up to deal with it. This can also be done in one to six issues. Though with this, the longer you draw it out, the less impact it will have. Young Justice goes with the latter, having a big threat, and introduces all seven characters on the cover in this first issue.
The issue opens with some shadowy figures on Gemworld, talking about how there is a place called Earth, and it has had seven crises, and each one of them have somehow impacted Gemworld and frankly, they’re tired of it. So, they go to Earth to talk to Superman, and a big fight breaks out. Over the course of this issue, each of the team members are introduced, along with a lot of questions. Let’s do a rundown of each of them.
First, there’s Jinny Hex. Don’t really know much about her. It can probably be assumed she’s the great-granddaughter of Jonah Hex. At one point, Robin notices that she is using a real gun and asks her to use something a little less lethal. She then pulls out some space stun gun. Where did she get that? When she got pulled over by a cop in Metropolis, she was really hesitant about a cop looking under the tarp in her car. The ray gun was back there, but there was also a crate that did show fairly prominently in frame. I wonder if anything was in there.
Next there is Tim Drake. Robin. Well, one of them. An original member of Young Justice. You should be familiar with him. Not real certain what he’s doing in Metropolis. Also, I’m not entirely caught up on all of the Batman books, so, I’m not certain if there was a point where he switched back to Robin from Red Robin. There was a point to him being Red Robin instead of Robin, so I hope that they have a compelling in story reason for changing him back to Robin.
Tim happens to run into Cassie Sandsmark, Wonder Girl, randomly in Metropolis. Honestly, this is the first I’ve seen her in New52 universe, having not read the New52 Teen Titans book. (Remember, Rebirth is still technically the New52 continuity, though some minor adjustments have been done within storylines, like Superman Reborn.) Apparently, her father is a son of Zeus, thus making her Zeus’ granddaughter, and loosely connected to Wonder Woman. She’s in Metropolis because she has and idea that living in Superman’s city will decrease stress. Something has happened to her that she doesn’t want to tell Tim about that is causing her to hesitate to jump back into the super hero business.
Next, we meet Bart Allen. Impulse, or Kid Flash. He’s just really excited about what is happening. And what is happening is that Young Justice is reforming. Tim makes a comment about not without Connor. Being that I’ve not read the New52 Teen Titans, I also haven’t seen Connor, so I’m not entirely certain what’s been going on. After reading a Wikipedia article on it, I’m still not certain what exactly has been going on, or more importantly, what matters for this story. Either way, Bart seems to be Bart.
Next, there’s Teen Lantern. A young Green Lantern. No idea what her backstory is. Although, I can’t believe it actually took them this long to use the wordplay of “Teen Lantern.” She just shows up and helps the group in the fight with the people from Gemworld.
I know I mentioned that we saw all seven characters on the cover, but I’m going to leave what Superboy and Amethyst are doing in this issue out, because I don’t want to spoil everything. I will say that I had similar feelings to the final page that I had in the DC Universe Special, when Barry and Wally finally re-unite. It left me feeling all warm and fuzzy, but more importantly, wanting more.
There are a lot of questions that I eagerly want answers for. Among those being why is Tim Drake Robin again? I feel like there does need to be a decent reason for this happening. With Damian Wayne being Robin, Tim Drake had broken out onto his own and been Red Robin. If there isn’t a logical, decent reason for him to be Robin again, that’s going to feel like a bit of a step back for the character and disappointing.
Yes, there is also the question of when Bart says that “Young Justice is back,” that has to mean that there was a Young Justice previously. While that statement is true in the real world, that statement has potential to wreck some havoc on continuity. From what I’m reading, in New52, Superboy had new origin that started in Teen Titans #1. He never knew any of them before that, and there hasn’t been a Young Justice since that. But also, he was never Connor. He was Kon-El. A while back in the Titans Tomorrow story, a Tim from the future tells him to apologize to Connor, but Tim doesn’t know who that is, though the name sounds familiar to him.
While it’s okay to have questions that remain unanswered, continuity is probably something that you should establish pretty quickly. If you’re going to retcon something, then do it, tell us what has changed, and move on with your story. It’ll be fine.
Really, if you don’t have a history with these characters, you’ll likely enjoy this also. You probably won’t be distracted by the continuity questions. Brian Bendis’ writing is up to its usual standards. The dialogue seemed fairly natural, as natural as it can be in this situation. It didn’t seem to be overly snappy. No one was firing quick lines that didn’t make any sense. To introduce so many characters, and be able to at least establish the beginnings of characterization is quite a thing. Yes, Teen Lantern doesn’t get much in this issue, but just by what is there, I can tell that she’s probably knew to all of this, and definitely hasn’t really interacted with many other heroes, if any. I would question if she’s even had much interaction with the Corps.
When Patrick Gleason was announced as the artist, I was thrilled. I had liked everything I had seen him draw previously, most notably his run on Batman and Robin. The art in here is a little different. Looking back over it, I can’t quite put my finger on what’s different. Maybe slightly more detailed. Maybe thinner lines on the inking. Maybe it’s the brighter colors by Alejandro Sanchez. Either way, it’s still pretty good.
Those are my thoughts on this debut issue of Young Justice. I felt it was a good start to the new series, and Bendis’ Wonder Comics imprint as a whole. I look forward to issue #2 to see how they handle the questions and continuity issues.