Young Justice #1 a Gorgeous, Lazy Mess

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Young Justice 1

When DC rebranded it's teen sidekick group as Young Justice (as opposed to Teen Titans, which is really what the group was), it became a fan favorite. All the action of the Teen Titans comics with the mix of humor that made it something apart from that, unique to itself. Consisting primarily of Robin II (Tim Drake), Superboy (Conner Kent, the clone from Reign of the Supermen), Wonder Girl (Cassandra Sandsmark), and Impulse (Bart Allen), the group soon expanded to include many other young characters, all with distinct personalities and fan followings.

This week, the group is reunited as DC's Wonder Comics imprint debuts with YOUNG JUSTICE #1. It is not clear if Wonder Comics occurs in the regular DC Rebirth continuity, but there are no indications that it does not. The story begins on Gemworld, where a minion of Dark Opal has learned that the Gemworld is tied to Earth, and that the many "Crises" that have beleagued that world have, by virtue of their inseverable connection, also impacted Gemworld. So Lord Opal decides to send an emmisary team to Earth to confront their champion, Superman, because...why not?

So they appear over Metropolis, just about the time a young girl fresh into town from Dripping Springs, Texas in a beat-up pickup truck. She's pulled over for a busted tail light, but also happens to be carrying something powerful and mysterious in her truck bed. Her name? Jinny Hex, and there can be no doubt that she's the granddaughter (or great-granddaughter) of Jonah Hex, apparently having inherited his beat up hat and one of Kitty Pryde's old X-Men uniforms.

As the Gemworlders perform an accidental comedy routine, we find out that Robin is also in Metropolis -- and he just happens to, at that moment, right near where Jinny is being pulled over, see Cassie on the sidewalk. Holy coincidences, Batman! Before they can properly catch up, the action has begun, and Robin leaps in without her help, as she is reluctant to use her powers for some reason.

Wonder Girl does join in the battle, however (she may as well, she had her costume on anyway under her jacket), as does Impulse and a someone who calls herself Teen Lantern. (Teen Lantern never existed, but there was a deafening hew-and-cry during the original YJ run for such a character to be created for the team; apparently Brian Michael Bendis paid attention and is servicing those fans.)

The YJ team beat the Gemworlders into a retreat, and follow them through their dimensional portal, where they are separated, putting Robin into a face-to-face with Princess Amethyst, while Bart is on a desolate plain where he just happens to bump into Superboy.

The artwork in this issue from Patrick Gleason is a mixed bag. Some of the shots are simply breathtaking. The arrival of Wonder Girl inhe battle, for instance. And that double-page spread showing the whole team in action is a real keeper. In other places, though, it seems rushed and sketchy, or in the Impulse scenes, cartoonish.

But the real problem I have with this story is the writing. Specifically, the reliance on coincidence. The team wasn't drawn together by forces other than Bendis himself. They just all happened to be in the same city, on the same block, at the same moment they were needed. Does that strike anyone else as being just a little too convenient? "Hey, how are you going to get the band back together?" "Oh, they'll fight an alien invasion." "Great! And that will bring them together?" "Nah, we're just gonna drop them on the stage and start the action."

Action is certainly packed into the issue, but I don't know how much mileage this vehicle is going to get. There are few writers out there who can so easily blend superheroic drama and humor as could Peter David, even despite Bendis's track record of successes and the grumblings if disgruntled readers he's left in his wake.

I'm willing to give this team a shot for old time's sake, and I'll keep my optimism high. But that optimism is going to be tempered with caution. A stronger start would have made for a stronger foundation in my eyes.

3.5 / 5.0