Young Justice #2
Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Patrick Gleason (Artist), Emanuela Lupacchino (Artist), Ray McCarthy (Artist), Alejandro Sanchez (Colours), Josh Reed (Letters)
6 February, 2019
Gemworld is in turmoil. The Emerald family have come to Prince Moonstone with a proposition—kill Princess Amethyst, de-facto ruler of Gemworld, and ally with Opal. Moonstone never has the opportunity to consider it, since Princess Amethyst is already attacking him and his cohorts, and she has Robin of Earth as her ally.
In another part of Gemworld, Jinny Hex and Teen Lantern are trying to get their bearings when they are found by Wonder Girl. Jinny, who has never done any superhero-ing before, is super-confused and wants answers, or else she’s going to have to start shooting at people. It doesn’t help that she has never heard of Wonder Girl. Wait, she doesn’t know Wonder Girl?
Apparently, this isn’t a new problem for the young Amazonian hero. Only recently, Wonder Girl was fighting a demon who didn’t know who she was, and worse still, all the people witnessing her heroics thought she was Zatanna! As if that wasn’t bad enough, Wonder Girl’s grandfather, Zeus turned up, handing her an all-powerful medallion. But what had she done to earn it? With Zeus being surprisingly mum on the important stuff (typical Zeus), Wonder Girl has to choose her path. But is it the right one?
I adored the first issue of Young Justice and could not wait for this second book. But Young Justice #2 is quite different from its opening installment, which is very jarring to read. Whereas the first issue focused on the various characters coming together as a team to fight a common enemy, Young Justice #2 changes tack, turning its attention to an individual. It doesn’t quite work.
Part of the problem in the change of direction is how it is executed. There is no segue between the current events on Gemworld and Cassie’s meeting with Zeus a few weeks ago—the story jumps from Jinny wondering who Wonder Girl is to the demon attacking Wonder Girl and saying he doesn’t know who she is. I’m assuming it’s played for laughs, but it comes across as corny. There isn’t much humour in Young Justice #2, which is really disappointing, because the first issue was a laugh-a-minute and I loved it. Here, the humour is toned down to the point of being a regular DC book. If I didn’t want humour, I’d read a Batman comic.
Having said that, Cassie Sandsmark is intriguing, and I am genuinely curious to find out the secret of that pendant. It’s still rare for superhero comics to have much nuance in their handling of the politics of power; they usually divide power-havers into those who do good and those who do evil, but why and how they got said power is usually not a matter of concern. It’s rarer still for female characters to be afforded more power than they already have, and they’re usually overly humble about it, and give long speeches about their lack of worthiness. Cassie has no doubt about her worth, but she wants this power on her own terms, not handed to her by someone she doesn’t know very well, even if they are related—no-strings-attached power, as it were.
The art is different in Young Justice #2, with Patrick Gleason being joined by fellow artists Emanuela Lupacchino and Ray McCarthy. It’s beautiful and detailed, but it’s not the same as the first issue, where the art was drop-dead gorgeous. Even the colours are slightly more muted in this installment when they were so vibrant in the first issue—how is that even possible when Alejandro Sanchez did the colouring in both books?
I feel like Young Justice #2 struggled without its team. The dynamics were off and thus the plot development, the mysteries, and the dialogue weren’t as strong as in the first issue. As a whole, Young Justice #2 doesn’t feel as organic as its predecessor did, and if this is the format the series is going to follow, I doubt it will be able to regain the excitement of the opening issue.
Though Cassie Sandsmark is a well-rounded and fascinating character, this book has not done her, or her team, justice. I really want to love Young Justice—the characters are brilliant and so much fun, and the story has so much potential—but I don’t like the format that the series seems to be adopting. Team books are few and far between and the whole point of Young Justice was a fun romp with a cool bunch of teenage superheroes, not individual books about teen angst. I sincerely hope that Young Justice #2 is an anomaly, and that following issues will be more in the style of the first book.