I was left with many questions after I finished reading Young Justice #1. Yet one question overshadowed them all; Who was this book written for?
It is impossible to pinpoint an intended audience for this series. The original Young Justice comic by Peter David and Todd Nauck was aimed at elementary school age readers and the cheerful, brightly-colored cover of this comic makes it look like it is aimed at a similar audience. Yet this new Young Justice is rated T+ for 15 and up.
It should also be noted that this book has nothing to do with the animated series Young Justice. Perhaps not coincidentally, the long-awaited third season of this show finally aired less than a week ago on the DC Universe streaming service. (To further confuse things, there is also a new Young Justice comic that ties-in to the show, but it is only available to DC Universe subscribers.)
New readers will be completely lost as this issue doesn’t give any background for most of its cast. Old cowhands like your humble critic will be completely lost because what few details we get completely contradict the appearances of these characters in other books.
The plot of the issue involves how Gemworld (an alternate dimension and setting of the classic Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld series) has apparently been corrupted by the continuing rebooting of the DC Universe every time there is a Crisis. Lord Opal (the chief villain of the old Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld series) learns this and travels to Metropolis, which he starts destroying in a bid to draw-out Superman, who he needs to speak with, for some reason that is not explained. His invasion is stopped by a bunch of teenage vigilantes, who just happen to be there in Metropolis and hijinks ensue.
This is fairly typical of Brian Michael Bendis, who is famed for his decompressed style of storytelling where nothing much happens for several issues before a big information dump somewhere in Issue #5 or the penultimate chapter of the trade-paperback. Given that, I’m not sure who will be more hamstrung by their efforts to read this book – new readers who don’t appreciate the significance of Bart “Impulse” Allen showing up or experienced readers who will wonder just how in the nine hells Tim Drake knows who Impulse is!
Patrick Gleason seems to be as confused by all of this as the audience, turning in artwork that seems half-complete and under-inked in some panels yet over-shaded in others. There is no sense of the joy that suffused Gleason’s more recent work on Superman – only bedlam. The washed-out palette utilized by Alejandro Sanchez doesn’t help matters.
In the end, there is nothing to recommend Young Justice #1. This book is not worth your money or your consideration. Those seeking a good Young Justice comic book would do well to invest it in a DC Universe subscription and check out the excellent new Young Justice comic by Greg Weisman and Christopher Jones instead.