Young Justice #1 Is A Fun Yet Flawed Debut

by Tony Thornley

I was raised on Young Justice. Even before the characters joined together and began using that moniker, I was hooked to comics with the adventures of Superboy, Tim Drake and Bart Allen and later Young Justice introduced me to Cassie Sandsmark and the Secret. So to say I was excited for a return of the concept might be an understatement.

Brian Michael Bendis, Patrick Gleason, Alejandro Sanchez, and DC Lettering bring us this return. It was a book I definitely had fun with, but it wasn’t perfect.

[**Spoilers ahead!]

Just as Jinny Hex shows up in Metropolis to try to track down Superman, the city finds itself invaded by Gemworld. Luckily, Jinny isn’t the only hero to show up coincidentally at the same time, as Tim Drake, Cassie Sandsmark and Bart Allen are all in town, as is a new young hero calling herself Teen Lantern. Though they turn back the invaders, the quintet is sucked into Gemworld and split up, with Robin meeting Amethyst, and Impulse coming face to face with SUPERBOY!

On a personal note, I made a happy noise to see Conner Kent back after around 7 years away. All other things aside, that moment was perfectly done, and everything else in the book telegraphed that moment wonderfully. Bendis nailed it there and I’m glad for it.

As to the rest of the book, there was highs and lows. For the highs, the plot was instantly engaging, and the idea of Gemworld being separated from the DCU by its repeated crises is a very good hook. Jinny and Teen Lantern are both interesting characters (though we barely got a glimpse of the latter), and Tim was portrayed perfectly.

On the low side, we have the portrayal of Cassie and Bart. For Cassie, it was great to see her back to her pre-Flashpoint self, but the “hidden compartmentalized trauma” plot point is often a cliche, especially with young female characters, and it doesn’t appear to be much more than that here. As for Impulse, he made almost no sense here, his dialogue filled with hyperactive rambling, rather than the impulsive and impatient teen hero of old. Now it IS only the first issue, so Bendis could easily find his footing with both characters, and I hope he does quickly.

Even with that, Bendis remembers that these characters are beloved not because of their iconic status, but because of who they are as characters. Even in costume, they’re not just Robin, Wonder Girl and Impulse. They’re Tim, Cassie, and Bart and that makes the issue shine.

Where the issue shines the most though is in the art. I’ve always been a fan of Gleason, but something about working with Bendis has kicked his work into the next level. It’s positively gorgeous and full of energy, which both Gleason and Sanchez deserve a lot of credit for. If anyone has any hesitation about this issue given what I said in the previous paragraph, I can recommend this issue on the art alone.

Despite some low points (which really weren’t negatives), it’s good to have this team and these characters back. Any fan of DC’s younger heroes should pick this up.

Young Justice #1 is available now from DC Comics.

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