I was so excited when I first heard about DC finally bringing back Young Justice. This franchise was another of many unfortunate casualties of the New 52 debacle. My excitement was tempered a bit once I learned that Brian Bendis would be penning the new Young Justice Title. Young Justice #1 started off quite hot by selling 73,952 units. However, Young Justice has shed readers at a high rate. Young Justice #7 sold just 26,777 units. Young Justice has been an uneven read over the first seven issues. Still, I love Cassie, Conner, Tim, and Bart so much that I am going to stick it out on this title for a little bit longer. Plus, we are going to be getting some fun Multiverse stories. Longtime readers of The Revolution know that I adore the Multiverse and am a sucker for any Multiverse story. Hopefully, Young Justice #8 will be a quality read. Let’s go ahead and hit this review!
Words: Brian Bendis
Art: John Timms
Colors: Gabe Eltaeb
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin on Earth-3 in Metropolis. This is the Earth that was run by the Crime Syndicate. A mysterious person narrates how the Crime Syndicate were brutal dictators. That one day the Crime Syndicate disappeared. In the Crime Syndicate’s place rose the evil versions of Superboy, Wonder Girl, Red Robin, and Impulse.
During all of this narration, we see that the members of the evil Young Justice think that our heroes have a Multiverse map with them. We see Wonder Girl battling Amaxon Thunder (The evil version of Cassie). Amaxon Thunder brutally takes down Cassie. We see Ginny Hex and Amethyst hiding next to Ginny’s truck during this fight. Suddenly, Luthor-El (evil Superboy) shows up and attacks Amethyst. Luthor-El is the bastard son of Ultraman and Dana Luthor. Conner suddenly appears and punches out Luthor-El.
We see Impulse being chased by Speed Zone. (First, great codename! Second, this is evil New 52 Wally West.) Speed Zone wants Bart to give him the Multiverse Map. Bart says that he does not have a Multiverse Map. Bart then suddenly stops and Speed Zone goes flying past Bart and through several more states before stopping and then turning around.
We shift to Luthor-El and Amaxon Thunder punching out Conner. Luthor-El then says that he was right. That there is a Multiverse. That this is why the Crime Syndicate disappeared. Superboy then says that the villains have now let him know that he does not need to hold back. Conner races back to the villains and punches out Luthor-El and Amaxon Thunder.
We see Tim Drake watching the fight from the ground. Tim then notices someone trying to sneak up on him. Tim and the mysterious person brawl with each other. The two separate and standoff. The person reveals themselves to be Drake. (Evil version of Red Robin.) Tim is stunned that the evil version of him would just use their last name for a codename. Drake then replies that a drake is “one of the most dangerous birds. It’s who I am.” That it is a better codename than Red Robin. (A drake is a male duck. Not terribly dangerous. I’m thinking Bendis was going for the Old English usage of the word drake which meant dragon.)
Drake then pulls out a gun and fires a bunch of bullets at Tim’s head. Suddenly, Impulse arrives and pulls Tim out of the way and races away from the scene with Tim. Tim explains that the other person was an evil version of himself and that he goes by the codename “Drake.” Bart comments about the codename Drake. Tim asks if Bart knows Drake. Bart says that he does not know him. Bart then says that he has something to tell Tim later. First, Bart is going to go help Amethyst. Suddenly, Speed Zone grabs Bart and the two of them race off.
The mysterious narrator talks about how both Luthor-El and Drake love Amaxon Thunder. That Amaxon Thunder uses this fact to play the two men against each other in an eternal power struggle. We learn that gangs control portions of the city. That there is the Sugar and Spikes, the Ambush Bugs and the worst gang of them all: the Snapper Carrs. (Oh, this is just too fantastic! I love it! These are some great references!)
Tim then sees a member of the Snapper Carrs committing a crime in a convenience store. Tim takes down the gang member. The gang member is wearing a t-shirt with the word “snap” on it. The gang member starts snapping. Tim then hears a loud snapping sound growing from all around the convenience store. We see that the convenience store is now surrounded by members of the Snapper Carrs all snapping their fingers. (I love it!)
The mysterious narrator says that they have tried to recruit other super-powered people to stand up to the evil Young Justice and the gangs. But, nobody wants to join them in this fight. But, now that the Young Justice has arrived on Earth-3 there is hope that this person finally has people who will join them in the fight against the villains.
We see a member of the Snapper Carrs attacking Tim from behind and tasing him. Suddenly, Batwoman arrives on the scene. The members of the Snapper Carrs immediately flee the scene. Tim stands up and recognizes Batwoman as Stephanie. Tim says that he is Tim Drake from another Earth. That on his Earth he is madly in love with Stephanie. That every second he is stuck in the Multiverse feels like ten steps backward from all that he wants which is to be home with her. Tim then apologizes and says that he must sound insane.
Stephanie takes off her mask. Stephanie thinks that with the Young Justice on Earth-3 that she now knows what to do in order to take back her city. Stephanie says that Tim does not have any idea how insane things are. Stephanie says that she just found out…but before she can finish her sentence Bart speeds into the scene and punches out Stephanie.
Bart calls Tim “Drake.” Tim asks why Bart punched out Stephanie. Bart says that he thought she was an evil version. Tim says that Stephanie was not an evil version. Bart then says that what he wanted to tell Tim earlier was that Tim should use the codename “Drake.” Tim says that they can discuss the codename later once they get back to their Earth. Bart continues to call Tim by the codename “Drake.” Tim says that they need to go to the Batcave. Bart asks if there is one. Tim says he has a detective’s hunch.
We zip to Ginny Hex hiding in an alley near her truck. We see Teen Lantern (Lord. I was hoping that character was just a bad dream. Damn.) battling Hack. (Evil version of Teen Lantern.) Ginny runs back to her truck. Suddenly, Hex (Evil Ginny Hex) appears on the scene with Drake next to her. Hex pulls out her gun and asks if the trunk in Ginny’s truck is still full of goodies. Ginny says that the trunk is hers. Hex then shoots Ginny in the head. (Yes! Ginny Hex is dead! Best. Issue. Ever.) Everything goes black and we hear Hex saying that Ginny doesn’t even know what she has. End of issue.
The Good: Young Justice #8 was a fun read! Bendis whips up a huge serving of action with this issue. The story moved at a fast pace. This was definitely not a slow issue at all. Which is something I should heartily praise whenever Bendis actually delivers a story with a lively pace.
Young Justice #8 is also a well-plotted issue. Bendis employs nice scene transitions as each scene logically progresses the story forward with a purpose. There are no wasted panels in this issue. I am impressed with how tightly plotted all of the scenes are in this issue.
Honestly, Young Justice #8 was great because it put a smile on my face the entire time I was reading this issue. Bendis delivers an enjoyable superhero romp that crackles with excitement on each and every page. Young Justice #8 is what superhero comic books should be about! Cool action scenes, crazy superhero storylines, exciting characters, and interesting worlds all wrapped up in a package that is positive and fun.
It is refreshing to pick up a superhero comic book that remembers the point of the genre: Entertainment. Sure, there is absolutely a place for more adult superhero comic books. And, yes, there is also the place for more intelligent superhero comics that investigate more complex political and social issues. But, those types of superhero stories should not be the majority of superhero comic books on the market. The overwhelming majority of superhero comics should not focus on scolding me or preaching to me. They should focus on being positive and fun while delivering entertaining action and adventure stories. Bendis absolutely does that with Young Justice #8.
Bendis is able to tap into that giddy excited feeling that I used to get as a kid when I would crack open a new superhero comic. I love it anytime a current comic book can transport me back in time to those days. I know I may seem too passionate, but I want to be fair to Bendis. I never blunt my criticism when I think he does a poor job writing an issue. So, I do not want to blunt my praise of him when he does a good job with an issue.
Bendis delivers some solid world-building in Young Justice #8. Earth-3 is a fantastic setting and Bendis really brings it to life in an exciting fashion. I love all of the evil versions of Young Justice. Bendis does a great job with these characters and it all starts with their codenames. All of the codenames are fantastic.
Amaxon Thunder is a neat evil version of Cassie. I dig that Bendis has Amaxon Thunder take advantage of Drake and Luthor-El being in love with her. Amaxon Thunder playing the two men against each other keeps them both controllable and not a threat to her. Bendis definitely makes Amaxon Thunder the most Machiavellian of all the evil Young Justice characters.
Luthor-El is another great character. I love how Bendis makes Luthor-El the most physically powerful member of the evil Young Justice members, but also the most mentally weak of the bunch. Bendis has Luthor-El acting like Amaxon Thunder’s obedient puppy. Luthor-El is just so desperate for Amaxon Thunder’s approval. This makes Luthor-El come across like a pathetic stooge. This was a nice way to take the most powerful character and build in some weaknesses so he is not too perfect.
Drake is also a wonderful villain. Bendis shows the reader just how formidable of a villain that Tim Drake would be if he went down this path. Drake has a proper cocky and charismatic attitude. He may not be a physical powerhouse like the other members, but Bendis gives the reader the feeling that Drake just might be the most dangerous of all the villains.
Speed Zone did not get enough panel time for Bendis to give him an actual personality. But, I did love the codename. Plus, Speed Zone also has a cool costume. So, this character gets a thumbs up from me.
Hex also does not get enough panel time from Bendis to give her an actual personality, ether. But, Hex has a fantastic look. I love the black outfit and the eyepatch. Even though we do not know much about Hex I would gladly trade Ginny for her. Honestly, Bendis should think about giving Ginny a look more like what Hex has in this issue.
I also liked the various gangs that Bendis delivers in this issue. Taking the time to create several different gangs was a smart way to continue to flesh out the setting and give more depth to Earth-3. I love that Bendis dipped into DC’s continuity for the three gangs that he creates. I am a continuity nut so I appreciate that Bendis appears to be excited to actually use DC continuity in a fashion that he never did at Marvel.
The Sugar and Spikes gang is an homage to Sugar and Spike which was published by DC Comic from the mid-1950s and all through the 1960s. It starred a little girl toddler and a little boy toddler. It was a very Silver Age title that focused on child-friendly humor. So, this made for a nice twist to see such a goofy title associate with a murderous gang.
The Ambush Bugs are an homage to the beloved Ambush Bug. Now, I totally understand that Ambush Bug is a character that is quite polarizing. Readers either love him or hate him. Me? I love him. Ambush Bug is an absurdist character. Basically, Ambush Bug was Deadpool long before Deadpool was created. At any rate, I always love it when Ambush Bug gets a shout out in a DC comic.
The third and final gang is the Snapper Carrs. C’mon! What long-time Justice League of America fan won’t just love this homage?! When DC debuted the brand new Justice League of America in Brave and the Bold #28 in 1960, Snapper Carr was the JLA’s hip and trendy teen-age sidekick! Snapper would go on to appear in numerous JLA stories throughout the decades. Even better, Snapper Carr also has a connection to Young Justice! Snapper was basically the team’s mentor who oversaw them after Bart and Tim resigned from the team. What an excellent use of DC continuity with this homage!
The other new Earth-3 character that Bendis rolls out is Batwoman. I love that Bendis chose Stephanie Brown to be Earth-3’s Batwoman. It would have been an easier choice to use Barbara Gordon. Hell, even Cassandra Cain would have been a more likely choice for the role than Stephanie. I always feel like in a comparison between Barbara Gordon, Cassandra Cain, and Stephanie Brown, that Stephanie always comes up short. Stephanie has that reputation as being a D-list character. So, it is cool to see Bendis choosing the character with the lower profile for the role of Earth-3’s Batwoman.
Choosing Stephanie also makes sense due to her obvious connection with Tim Drake. This enables Bendis to inject far more drama and sizzle into the story than if Batwoman were Barbara or Cassandra. At any rate, I love the scene between Tim and Batwoman. Tim just immediately gushing his heart out to her is a genuinely touching moment. This is exactly what I would expect a boy Tim’s age to do upon seeing the girl he loves even if it is one from a different Earth. Tim has a lot bottled up inside of him and it was perfectly understandable for him to just open up to Batwoman in this fashion. This is some great writing by Bendis.
In fact, there was tons of great character work all throughout Young Justice #8. To be sure, Bendis narrows his focus on Tim, Conner, Bart, and Cassie. We only see Teen Lantern for a couple of panels. We only see Ginny Hex for a few panels. Amethyst is only seen for one page. And you know what? That is fine with me! Bendis focused on the only members of Young Justice that he needs to focus on. There is no doubt that Tim, Conner, Bart, and Cassie are the rightful stars of this title. The Big Four are also why most readers are even buying this new version of Young Justice.
Bendis does an excellent job writing Cassie, Conner, Tim, and Bart. Seriously. All four have well-developed personalities. Bendis also crafts some excellent dialogue. Cassie, Conner, Tim, and Bart all have unique external voices. All of this enables Bendis to generate some fantastic chemistry between the different characters in this story. The interactions between Cassie, Conner, Tim, and Bart all feel so natural.
One excellent example of this natural chemistry is the scene where Bart takes down Batwoman and proceeds to talk to Tim about the codename Drake. This scene was pure gold. And it was so natural and organic. None of the humor ever felt forced. Tim and Bart talk to each other in a manner that is consistent with both characters’ established personalities. But, even more than that, Tim and Bart have that chemistry that you only see in two old friends. Speaking of Bart, is there another character more tailor-made for Bendis’ style of dialogue than Bart Allen? I cannot think of one.
Bendis ends Young Justice #8 with a great hook ending. The reader has been wondering this entire time just exactly what Ginny Hex has inside of her trunk. Bendis teases the reader by hinting that we may finally get an answer to what is inside of the trunk. This has been a good mystery that has been simmering in the background. I am excited to learn more about this plotline.
John Timms’ art is okay. Timms’ art is a bit too rushed and lacking in details at various points in the story. I also find Timms’ art a bit too cartoonish for my taste. But, Timms’ art definitely fits the vibe and mood of Bendis’ story.
The Bad: Is Young Justice #8 a bit shallow? Sure. Bendis is not breaking new ground or reinventing the wheel. But, not every title has to be that way. Young Justice #8 is all about pure fun superhero action and adventure. I would not recommend Young Justice #8 to readers who prefer superhero comics that focus on political or social issues. I also would not recommend Young Justice #8 to readers who prefer intellectually stimulating stories.
Overall: Young Justice is an absolute blast. If you love classic superhero action and adventure stories that focus on entertainment then you definitely should check out Young Justice #8. This is a modern comic book that proudly says that superhero comic books absolutely can be fun.
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