Young Justice #1 Review

DC Comics Young Justice #1 Review

Young Justice is back! I was a big fan of the original Young Justice team. Peter David did an excellent job during his run on Young Justice. The original team of Tim Drake, Conner Kent, Bart Allen, and Cassie Sandsmark are some of my favorite characters. I adore all of them. These are also four characters that were badly damaged by the New 52. Tim and Cassie’s characters were ruined by the New 52 reboot. Conner was completely ravaged by the New 52. And poor Bart was flat-out left out of the New 52 reboot. So, I am beyond happy to see all of these character back and better than ever. I hope this is a continuation of DC Rebirth re-establishing DC’s pre-Flashpoint continuity.

My love for these characters and my enjoyment of the old Young Justice title means that I do have high hopes for Young Justice #1. Now, I am trying to temper my expectations since Brian Bendis is writing this issue. Bendis’ is now north of 50 and he is no longer one of the hottest top writers in the industry. Having said that, Bendis usually does a good job with teen characters and he does appear to be rejuvenated by working at DC. So, let’s hope for the best and hit this review for Young Justice #1!

Words: Brian Bendis
Art: Patrick Gleason
Colors: Alejandro Sanchez

Story Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin on Gemworld with a character talking about how there have been seven Crisis events on Earth. That each time a Crisis event happens that Earth gets changed. And everything that the Earth touches also get affected. That this has impacted Gemworld. The character begs for help from Lord Opal. We then see a blue man step from the shadows and says, “Earth.”

We shift to Metropolis. We see a cop pulling over a country girl in a pickup truck because she has a shotgun in the window. The girl steps out of the truck and introduces herself as Jinny Hex. (Jesus. This character went from zero to annoying in no time flat.)

Jinny tells the cop that she is in Metropolis to see if there is somebody who can help her with something she has found that she has stored in her pickup truck’s bed.

Suddenly, some soldiers from Gemworld appear in the sky and attack the city. The Gemworld keeps asking for Superman. (Aaaand, we immediately get these supposedly big bad villains, who I would imagine we are supposed to be taking as serious threats, spitting out some “wacky” banter.)

Jinny pulls out her shotgun and starts shooting at the Gemworld soldiers. (Yeah…this character is going to be as useless as a tit on a bull. See? A nice country reference for a country characters!) Suddenly, a real hero shows up on the scene: Robin! Tim Drake strikes a cool pose and then starts kicking ass.

We then get some more “witty” banter between bystanders and between the bad guys attacking the bystanders. (I would imagine that these bystanders being attacked by aliens trying to kill them that they would actually be scared and not be casually tossing about “witty” banter. And these villains are really hard to take seriously.)

We shift to four minutes ago. We see Tim randomly running into Cassie. The two hug. Cassie is now living Metropolis and going to college. Cassie says that she feels like she is not doing what she is supposed to be doing. Tim says that he understands.

Suddenly, the Gemworld soldiers attack. Tim hops into his Robin costume. Cassie says that she cannot go with Tim. Tim then swings into action.

We zip back to the present with Tim kicking ass on the Gemworld soldiers. Suddenly, Impulse races onto the scene. Bart starts talking a mile a minute while rescuing the various innocent bystanders. It is mostly nonsense jibber-jabber which is exactly what our boy Bart likes to do.

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During the battle, Tim asks Ginny if her shotgun is a real gun. She answers that it is. Tim then asks if the shotgun shoots real bullets. She answers that it does. (Jesus. Could Bendis make Tim sound any dumber?)

Suddenly, the Gemworld soldiers get the upper hand on Robin and Ginny. We then see Cassie appearing on the scene and start beating up the Gemworld soldiers. (This was a great entrance.)

One of the Gemworld soldiers blasts Cassie and she falls from the air. Suddenly, a Green Lantern styled construct appears and catches Cassie. There is a green construct of a mecha suit that talks and introduces itself as “Teen Lantern.” (Ugggh. Worst. Name. Ever. I look forward to this character getting killed off in whatever Heroes in Crisis II big event DC rolls out in ten to twenty years from now.)

Our heroes then regroup and strike a dramatic group pose as Impulse yells out “Young Justice is back!!!” (Yeah, it is cheesy, but I love it!) The villains regroup and say that their leader says that have made their statement. That the heroes can tell Superman that the Gemworld soldiers accept his forfeit in battle. The other Gemworld soldiers deliver some “witty” banter that this is just retreating.

The Gemworld soldiers begin to teleport away from the scene. Young Justice race after them and get teleported away along with the Gemworld soldiers.

We cut to Robin waking up and suddenly Amethyst appears in front of him with her sword drawn. She asks what Robin is doing in the House of Amethyst.

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We shift to Bart waking up in another area of Gemworld. Bart is shocked as he sees Conner Kent standing in front of him. Bart hugs Conner and asks him how he grew a beard. End of issue.

The Good: Young Justice #1 did not live up to my expectations. Having said that, there were certainly several positives to this issue. The biggest complement that I can give Young Justice #1 is that this was a fun story with an emphasis is on entertainment. This is in keeping with the rest of DC’s approach to their super their titles since Rebirth.

Are there some cheesy moments in this issue? Absolutely! But, most of the cheesy moments were purposely planned and fit the fun vibe of a title that is targeting teen readers. Bart’s dialogue is cheesy, but it is in keeping with his hyperactive motormouth character. Was the double page splash shot of the team posing while Bart yelled out that Young Justice is back totally cheesy? Definitely! And I loved it. These intentionally cheesy moments are worked perfectly with the fun and positive vibe of this issue.

I greatly appreciate that the master of decompression avoided making the reader have to read an entire four issue story arc before we got to have all the members of this team assembled and together. Thank god. Instead, Bendis wastes zero time and quickly puts together the entire team with the sole exception of Superboy. However, the final page of this issue then brings Superboy into the story. This is just fantastic.

It is so common for writers to burn the entire first story arc in slowly assembling the entire team before the reader gets to see the entire team together and in action. Young Justice #1 treats the reader to seeing the entire team minus Superboy assembled and fighting together as a team. This was such a wise move by Bendis. And I really have to compliment Bendis for going against his natural tendency of decompressed storytelling.

Young Justice #1 is certainly not a slow or dull issue. Bendis crams tons of action and fighting into this issue. Bendis also moves the story at a fast pace. There is a lot of energy as Bendis hustles this story toward the ending.

Again, I have to go out of my way to compliment Bendis when he does something out of his comfort zone. Historically, Bendis sticks to stories that are delivered in a slow and dull fashion. Thankfully, Bendis makes an effort to avoid that approach with Young Justice #1. While there may not be much in the terms of plotting and story depth the fact remains that Young Justice #1 is never boring or slow.

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Bendis also does a nice job giving each character their own dramatic entrance and glory shot. Each character gets their moment in the spotlight. These concise character introductions also help to make Young Justice #1 new reader friendly. You definitely do not have to have any prior knowledge of Young Justice in order to enjoy this issue. Everything that the reader needs to know is given to them in this issue.

Despite this issue’s numerous defects, the fact remains that I was going to love this issue just for the fact that it brought back Tim, Cassie, Bart, and Conner that we knew and loved prior to the New 52. It was just so awesome to see these characters back and better than ever in their pre-New 52 glory.

Tim and Cassie were badly damaged by the New 52. Conner’s character was completely destroyed by the New 52. And Bart Allen was completely ignored by the New 52. The wonderful continuity of these characters as members of Young Justice and then later as the new Teen Titans was completely trashed by the New 52.

Well, for fans of those four characters, Young Justice #1 is exactly what we have been waiting for for a very long time. It is awesome to see Tim, Cassie, Bart and Conner again. I hope that Bendis and DC continue to re-establish the pre-New 52 continuity of these four characters in future issues of Young Justice. I definitely look forward to what Bendis does with these characters. It should be fun.

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I also liked the appearance of Amethyst. Talk about an obscure blast from the past! Amethyst first appeared in the Legion of Super Heroes #298 in 1983. Amethyst was not a part of the story in that Legion of Super Heroes issue. Instead, Amethyst was a special insert comic book that was sold with Legion of Super Heroes #298. I vividly remember reading it and thinking that it was pretty cool.

Amethyst then got a 12 issue maxi-series in 1983. After that she got a 4 issue limited series in 1986. Then the character was not seen again until 2005 in Infinite Crisis. And then she was not seen again until the New 52 when she appeared in Sword of Sorcery in 2012. That did not last long as the title got cancelled in 2013. Amethyst then joined up with Justice League Dark.

I love niche and obscure characters from the 1980’s. So, obviously, a character like Amethyst is right up my alley. I am curious to see what Bendis has in store for her character. I am also hoping that with Rebirth we get the Amethyst from pre-New 52 rather than just the New 52 version of her character.

Bendis ends Young Justice #1 with a quality double hook ending with the appearance of a rarely seen niche character in Amethyst and the stunning return of Conner Kent. This is definitely how you end an issue in style and get the reader excited to come back for more.

Patrick Gleason delivers plenty of his usual excellent artwork. Gleason is such a talented artist and he makes sure that Young Justice #1 looks wonderful. Gleason is able to a dynamic looking issue where the action leaps off of the page. The youthful and positive vibe of the story matches nicely with Gleason’s clean style of art. Gleason also brings plenty of kinetic energy to Bendis’s fight scenes.

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The panel layouts are incredible. Gleason makes sure to make each page’s panel layout look distinctive from the other pages. The panel layouts are creative and help to create a dynamic look to this issue. The double page splash shots are powerful. All in all, Gleason makes Young Justice #1 an attractive looking issue that injects plenty of excitement and emotion into Bendis’ story.

The Bad: I had to make sure that my love for Conner, Bart, Tim, and Cassie and my excitement over these characters returning to their pre-New 52 roots did not completely color my critique of Bendis’ story. I wanted to make sure that my giddiness about these characters coming back did not make me turn a blind eye to any defects.

Even grading on a curve and taking into account that Young Justice #1 is a Wonder Comics title, which is an imprint that targets teen readers, Bendis still delivers some dumb and juvenile writing.

Young Justice #1 reads more like a kiddie title than a title targeting teen-agers. I have a 14 year-old son and he read this issue and found it to be more for readers under 13. Teen readers are intelligent and will demand more from this issue than what Bendis delivers.

Young Justice #1 is poorly plotted. And while the story has tons of action and lots of chaos going on the actual direction of the story feels lackadaisical. Yes, there is tons of fighting, but at the very end of the issue what actually happened in this issue? Some Gemworld soldiers attacked Earth, Young Justice randomly and conveniently all arrived at the same time to fight the threat, and then they got transported to Gemworld. Not much at all. Just a single plot line and lots of fighting that tended to seem pointless.

Bendis starts the issue off with a two page scene in the Gemworld. This scene is where Bendis installs the only real plot-line of this issue. And this one plot-line involving Gemworld and Earth is rather half-assed and roughly sketched out.

We then get a three pages dedication to introducing Ginny Hex. This is a dull entrance for this character. Next is a three pages of the Gemworld soldiers attacking earth. Then we get two pages of Tim Drake making his appearance and joining the fight.

At this point, we are now ten pages into the issue and the story is feeling extremely shallow. Yes, we have gotten some action, but the fact remains that we are ten pages into the issue and absolutely nothing of substance has actually happened.

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We then get a two page flashback scene with Tim and Cassie. I enjoyed this scene because of my attachment to these two characters. But, for readers who do not have a long history with these two characters this scene is a bit dull.

Bendis then delivers two more pages of completely random fighting. We then get three pages of Impulse arriving on the scene and some more fighting. Then we get two more pages of totally random fighting. Then we get two pages of Wonder Girl joining the fight. Followed by one page of Teen Lantern joining the fight. Then one page of utterly random fighting

We then get a two page splash shot of the team striking a pose. Then we get two pages of the Gemworld soldiers retreating and Young Justice getting teleported away, too.

So, here we are twenty-seven pages into the issue. There are only three pages left. And what exactly has Bendis given the reader in terms of content? A ton of truly pointless fighting, superficial introductions of all the team members, and…that’s it. Oh, yeah, we also have gotten a nebulous plot-line about Gemworld wanting to attack Earth for some unknown reason.

Bendis then ends Young Justice #1 with a one page scene of Robin waking up with Amethyst holding a sword on him and then a two page scene of Impulse waking up and meeting Conner.

Bendis only installs a single plot-line concerning the generic and half-baked threat from Gemworld. That is it. That is simply not enough for a debut issue of a new title. Ideally, a debut issue needs to get a short-term plot-line, a medium plot-line, and a long-term plot-line installed in the debut issue.

Beyond the lack of any real plot-lines, Young Justice #1 presents an incredibly shallow read. There is very little in terms of substance to this story. Bendis delivers a ton of fighting and character introductions in order to distract the reader from the fact that nothing of substance actually happens in this issue. The fighting is completely mindless. Much of the fighting feels like filler.

The only real purpose of the fighting is to introduce all of the members of this team. It would be nice for the fighting to further some plot-lines and character development in addition to assembling the team and entertaining the reader.

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I do appreciate that Bendis assembled the team in such a fast fashion. However, the manner in which Bendis assembles the team is way too convenient. It would have been nice if Bendis has constructed a more intelligent, logical, and organic manner to bring together all of these characters. Instead, Bendis gives us a lazily slapped together introduction of the team in the most convenient way possible. It is poor world building and makes for a flimsy story. It is clear that Bendis just wanted the team together immediately and did not care about how he got to that point in the story.

The character introductions themselves are unimpressive. Each character introduction is shallow and done in the most perfunctory fashion. And this feeds into the next problem with Young Justice #1: the character work. Bendis’ character work is poor. None of the characters have much of a unique personality at all.

Bendis delivers bland character work. The characters are either generic at best or downright caricatures at worst. Bendis does the best character work with Impulse. But, that is pretty easy for Bendis. All Bendis has to do is not bother to contain his Bendis speak and let it flow unbridled. It is a good match for Bart’s personality.

Bendis’ take on Tim and Cassie is uninspired. Both characters come across as generic. There is no depth at all to either character. Then you have Teen Lantern who gets zero character work at all. Teen Lantern is just a scene prop at this point.

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Then we get to Jinny Hex who is easily the worst of all the characters in this issue. Jinny is the character that is nothing more than a caricature. It is painfully obvious that Bendis has spent his entire life in either Cleveland or Portland. The only thing Bendis knows about the South or Southerners is what he sees in movies. Jinny is a painful to read caricature. Jinny immediately grates on the reader’s nerves.

Everyone but Bart Allen and Jinny Hex gets a rather generic external voice. Bart’s external voice is Bendis’ wet dream. While Jinny Hex gets saddled with an over the top ridiculous external voice. There are also a few moments where characters like Tim Drake get Bendis speak for no reason at all that makes them sound like total morons. In the end, none of the dialogue is impressive. None of the dialogue seems well crafted. And none of the dialogue helps to develop the various personalities of the members of Young Justice.

The poor character work and dialogue combine to rob these characters of any chemistry with each other. And that is a shame. Any Young Justice title should boast incredible chemistry between these characters. This is probably what disappointed me the most about Young Justice #1.

As usual, Bendis cannot control himself and insert “witty” Bendis speak at the most inappropriate times. This only serves to either pull the reader out of the story or to get the reader to not take the story seriously. It was impossible to take the Gemworld soldiers as a serious threat at all given the “witty” banter that Bendis gave them. These villains come across as clowns.

The downside is that since the reader never takes the Gemworld soldiers seriously that means the reader never takes the entire Gemworld attacks Earth plot-line seriously. And this is awful considering that the Gemworld attacks Earth plot-line is the only plot-line that we get in this issue. But, since the Gemworld soldiers are nothing more than a joke that means the entire “threat” these villains pose as the main antagonists of this story evaporates. The result is that there are no stakes in this story. This makes the action seem even more mindless and pointless.

Overall: Young Justice #1 was fun and action packed read that showcased the return of several excellent characters in Tim Drake, Cassie Sandsmark, Conner Kent, and Bart Allen. Unfortunately, the story is shallow and a bit dumb at points. The lack of any real substance and plot-lines makes this a disappointing issue.

Having said that, Bendis has some truly excellent characters on this roster in Tim, Cassie, Conner, and Bart. Hopefully, with the team now assembled, Bendis will start work on installing some more plot-lines and fleshing out the characters more.

I would certainly recommend Young Justice #1 to fans of the original Young Justice. Yes, this issue has plenty of defects, but it is great to see Tim, Cassie, Conner, and Bart back together again.