Young Justice #1 Review: Great Fun But Where’s Superboy?

Young Justice #1 Cover A by Patrick Gleason. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, drawn by Patrick Gleason. Published by DC Comics. January 9, 2018

Young Justice #1

Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Patrick Gleason (Artist), Alejandro Sanchez (Colours), DC Lettering (Letters)
DC Comics
9 January 2019

Gemworld has, for years, been affected by the tide of events afflicting Earth. But the denizens of the blue marble are unaware of this, blissfully living their lives while Gemworld suffers. The rulers of Gemworld will stand for it no longer—they demand retribution.

Young Justice #1 Cover D by Yasmine Putri. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, drawn by Patrick Gleason. Published by DC Comics. January 9, 2018

On Earth, Jinny Hex has been pulled over by a Metropolis policeman for a busted tail-light. This is an ignominious start to her new life in the city Superman calls home. It only gets worse when a horde of aliens attack the city, demanding Earth’s champion, Superman, meet them in battle. Fortunately for Metropolis, Jinny has a gun and knows how to use it. Plus, Gotham hero Robin just happens to be in town. And there’s Wonder Girl. Oh, Impulse is here, too. And who’s this new Lantern? All we need is Superboy and Young Justice will be complete. Wait, where is Superboy?

With the new season of Young Justice: Outsiders now released on the DC Universe streaming platform, DC Comics has released new Young Justice material, including a comic series tie-in to the TV show and a new Young Justice comic series from the DC Wonder Comics imprint aimed at young readers.

I enjoyed reading this first issue. I haven’t read the original series, but I’m familiar with the characters, which made this book easy to read. It’s bright and colourful, like one would expect of a book aimed at young audiences, which makes for a fun reading experience. It’s also packed with humour, almost on every page—such a breath of fresh air from the general darkness that seems to have become the norm in comics-land.

A chunk of the humour is produced by Tim Drake/Robin, which is interesting, because the Bat-Family can often be gloomy. The Robins have been known for their humour, but Tim is positively hilarious here, which seems a tad out of character. Impulse is probably the most eccentric character in this cast and might take some getting used to, if one isn’t already accustomed to him. He is quite funny though, so I’ll give him that.

Young Justice #1 Cover E by Jorge Jimenez. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, drawn by Patrick Gleason. Published by DC Comics. January 9, 2018
Blink and you’ll miss him.

For Superboy fans, this issue will be a bit disappointing because, well, he’s not here, folks. There’s a gorgeous variant cover featuring Superboy in that distracted boyfriend/girlfriend meme everyone loved in 2018, but, in the actual comic? Not really there. However, all signs point to Superboy joining the team in the next issue so everyone can rejoice.

I’m fascinated by Wonder Girl in this book, and I can’t wait to read more about her. Cassie Sandsmark has a secret, one that affects her ability to be the superhero she is known to be. Cassie initially avoids joining the conflict in Metropolis despite the danger to the citizens, but eventually realises she has no choice but to help out. I’m so glad that whatever her secret is, writer Brian Michael Bendis didn’t use it as an excuse to keep her out of the battle completely. I find it so frustrating when female characters are kept away from the action for “reasons,” and was afraid of that happening in this book. Fortunately, Wonder Girl has a hand in saving the day.

Young Justice #1 Cover F by Evan Shaneri. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, drawn by Patrick Gleason. Published by DC Comics. January 9, 2018

Jinny Hex is a new character created for this series, and she’s a great addition to the DC canon. Jinny is quirky and funny, and is excellent in a fight, all the qualities we love in a hero. Plus, more female characters being added to the roster is exactly what we need.

However, I can’t help but wonder if DC have squandered a golden opportunity to create a character from a marginalised community. Young readers have more than enough cis white straight able-bodied male characters. How about we create some new ones from the rest 90% of the world? As of now, the only person of colour on the team is Teen Lantern, which feels like tokenism. Though she already sounds like a fun character, we know nothing about her, except that she is very new to the superhero business. It should be fun to see how Teen Lantern evolves over the next few issues—her handiness was definitely required in this book—but Young Justice, as it stands in this issue, is overwhelmingly white. For a series this big to just have one POC is so disingenuous. Do better, DC.

Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised by the lack of POC in this series, considering the original cover for this issue didn’t even feature any of the female characters. What a way to launch a new series! Thankfully, that was rectified, and we got a more well-rounded cover, but that the original all-male cover was even green-lit is a serious concern.

Patrick Gleason’s art is gorgeous and well-suited to the comic’s intended readership. The colours by Alejandro Sanchez are beautiful and perfectly highlight the characters’ personalities. The costumes look amazing, and the action flows well throughout. There’s one page divided into 12 panels where Robin fights the Gemworld villains, which I loved. The layout is great for following the action, but it is also hilarious. It may just be one of my favourite comic pages ever.

There’s plenty to love in this first issue of Young Justice, and I can’t wait to read more. The story is already headed in an interesting direction, plus there’s the possibility of Gemworld being developed further, which should be fascinating. One hopes for more POC and queer characters, but there isn’t much room as of now. If the creators can rectify that in upcoming issues, this series could be just what we need in 2019.

Louis Skye

Louis Skye

A writer at heart with a fondness for well-told stories, Louis Skye is always looking for a way to escape the planet, whether through comic books, films, television, books, or video games. E always has an eye out for the subversive and champions diversity in media. Louis' podcast, Stereo Geeks, is available on all major platforms. Pronouns: E/ Er/ Eir