Young Justice has yet to hit its stride. There have been hints of Brian Bendis having a major direction that can bring readers in. Unfortunately Bendis kicked off his run by going straight into exploring Amethyst and GemWorld. Being a new character we haven’t had the chance to properly develop Amethyst beyond her origin. This has also hurt the rest of the team’s development as Bendis has yet to take time to show us the complete team and what their dynamic is. Now that we’ve reached the fifth issue Bendis needs to dive fully into developing Young Justice as a team rather than focusing completely on GemWorld. Let’s find out if that can happen with Young Justice #5.
Writer: Brian Bendis
Artists: John Timms, Kris Anka and Evan “Doc Shaner
Colorist: Gabe Eltaeb
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: After taking out Dark Lord Opal’s soldiers Young Justice decides to leave before Opal finds them.
While leaving the castle the members of Young Justice take the time to have some small talk.
That talk is cut short as Dark Lord Opal attacks the team. Opal says he was aware of the team’s presence and takes out a piece of kryptonite that immediately weakens Superboy.
Flashing back to two days ago Tim Drake and Stephanie Brown are making out on top of a car outside of the Hall of Justice. Stephanie playfully forces Tim to admit that they ran away together rather than going to college. Tim mentions that they are trying to investigate something.
As they continue talking Stephanie gets a text message from her father (Cluemaster) and reveals to Tim that he wants to “connect” with her. Tim asks Stephanie what she wants to do. Stephanie says she wants a normal father but yet here she is thinking she needs to stop a crime after getting the text message.
Before they can finish talking Zatanna shows up, apologizing that she can’t let them in the Hall of Justice after a recent incident with the Wonder Twins. Tim reveals that the reason he called Zatanna was because they wanted her help after he and Stephanie recent experiences with alternate realities and timelines.
Zatanna understands that Tim is worried that after what he’s seen he is worried someone is messing with him. Tim and Stephanie state they are more concerned that their brains have been tampered with.
Listening to this Zatanna uses her magic to tap into Tim’s mind. Zatanna is able to unlock Tim’s true memories of his time with the original Young Justice team.
Stephanie catches Tim as he collapses from feedback of all his memories coming back. Tim tells Stephanie he just remembered a whole life with his Young Justice teammates. Zatanna suggests they call Madame Xandu and Batman to figure out what Tim saw.
Back in the present Robin asks Opal how he got his hands on kryptonite. Opal states that since they are trespassing in his kingdom everything that is theirs is now his, including the entire House of Amethyst.
Superboy offers to make Opal a deal. Opal asks what that deal would be. Before hearing the deal Impulse steals the kryptonite and runs it to the other side of the world.
Opal is completely caught off guard. This opening allows Young Justice to fight Opal on even ground. As the fight goes on Amethyst realizes what is tearing apart reality is Opal’s power.
Flashing back to two days ago Tim comes out of the Hall of Justice in his Robin gear. Tim reveals to Stephanie all about his memories about Young Justice, mentioning Stephanie was also a member. Tim says he wants to go talk to Superman about Conner Kent, who he now remembers as being his best friend.
Stephanie tells Tim that she needs to talk to her dad. Tim understands and tells her to take the car. He goes on to state that since Superman and Batman are not answering his calls he is going to Metropolis to investigate who Conner Kent really is. Tim and Stephanie then agree to meet back up in three days.
Stephanie tells Tim she loves him. Tim is caught off guard at first but quickly tells Stephanie that he is madly in love with her. He goes on to state that she was also in his recovered memories.
Tim and Stephanie kiss. They then promise to meet up in two days instead of three. End of issue.
The Good: Young Justice #5 is exactly the issue that this series needed to get on track. A series like Young Justice or Teen Titans are at their best when they are focused on the members of the team and their dynamic. Even though Young Justice #5 focused in on Tim Drake, Bendis provided enough context to still make Tim’s story about establishing this version of the team.
Having the entire Young Justice team together from the beginning was a refreshing change of pace for this series. Now that Bendis has got them all together we can see how this version of the Young Justice interacts and works together. Even the short bit of the team’s early back and forth at the beginning of Young Justice #5 was effective in just building the team dynamic. This is where Brian Bendis witty dialogue shines as these characters are all made for what his strength as a writer are.
Establishing the chemistry within the team made the fight with Dark Lord Opal that happened in the second half of Young Justice #5 have a greater importance. From Impulse stealing the kryptonite from Opal to how the team was able to dominate the villain, it all worked. Now that we are invested in seeing this team fighting together it made the way they fought together even more effective. The more Bendis has this version of Young Justice interacting with each other as a complete team, rather than two or three seperate mini-teams, the stronger this series will be.
Where Bendis writing shined the most in Young Justice #5 was in the flashback sequence starring Tim Drake and Stephanie Brown. Bendis immediately captured the magic of the relationship these two have. All of their dialogue came across naturally with there banter making it clear Tim and Stephanie are in loving long-term relationship. Seeing how supportive they were with each other also showed how they are each other’s lightning rods, making the promise they made at the end of Young Justice #5 stronger.
At the same time, Bendis did a great job in developing a sub-plot that can bring Stephanie into the Young Justice fold in the future. Her relationship with her father, the Crime Master, can give the Young Justice team a completely different, grounded challenge. That would be a great shift after this GemWorld story arc and give the opportunity to see how Stephanie as Spoiler works within a team of her peers.
From here Bendis was also able to use James Tynion’s run on Detective Comics to explain why Tim was in Metropolis when Young Justice started. The reason we were given used Tim’s recent experiences perfectly. Especially given that Tim has met an older, villainous version of himself, it is only understandable that he would have questions about his memories possibly being altered.
In using the continuity Tynion established Bendis was able to properly re-establish why Tim, Conner, Bart and Cassie friendship is back to their pre-Flashpoint status. The friendship between these four, especially Tim and Conner, was completely eliminated in the post-Flashpoint DC Universe. With Conner going through so many changes from when he was best friends with Tim, it’ll be very interesting to see how their friendship develops in future story arcs.
Also, now with both Tim Drake and Bart Allen having the memories of the original Young Justice this creates a new dynamic for the team. This puts into question of how the dynamic with the team will shift since Conner and Cassie are still in the dark about their original past. What that means for the future of these characters is strong hook for the early life of this series.
For there assigned portion of Young Justice #5 John Timms, Kris Anka and Evan “Doc” Shaner all hit on the look this series should have. There was a vibrant look the entire issue from Timms action sequence to Anka drawing an emotional impactful flashback involving Tim and Stephanie. Timms’ artwork when the Young Justice team was moving was particularly well done as he got across what their respective power sets are in a short window.
The Bad: The GemWorld story continues to be a miss. The biggest problem with this story is that it happened to soon in the life of Young Justice. We never got time to get invested in the new members of Young Justice. Amethyst, Teen Lantern and Jinny Hex were all thrusted in a major universe shaking story without proper development. More of their character moments alongside Robin, Wonder Girl, Superboy and Impulse would hit more effectively if Bendis started the series with quick stories that allowed the team to grow.
And it says a lot that the most interesting part of Young Justice #5 was the character centric flashback involving Tim Drake and Stephanie Brown. The dynamic with the team is where Young Justice will shine the most. Once Bendis properly develops everyone on the team as individuals and teammates will stories like this GemWorld arc truly standout as special rather than a swing and a miss.
Though John Timms, Kris Anka and Evan “Doc” Shaner delivered good artwork there styles did not match. Young Justice #5 would’ve looked stronger if only one of these artists handled the entire issue.
Overall: Young Justice #5 is the best issue Brian Bendis has written thus far in the young life of this series. As long as Bendis can focus in on more character driven issues rather than high concept stories Young Justice can easily climb to being one of DC Comics best titles. Bendis just needs to wrap up this dull GemWorld story arc before starting to make the climb.
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