Young Justice #4: A Confusingly Laid Out Story

Young Justice #4 Cover A by Patrick Gleason. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, drawn by Patrick Gleason and John Timms. Published by DC Comics. April 4, 2019

Young Justice #4

Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Patrick Gleason (artist), Wes Abbott (letters), Josh Reed (letters), Alejandro Sanchez (colours), Alex Sinclair (colours), John Timms (artist)
DC Comics
April 3, 2019

Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld, along with Robin, Wonder Girl, Teen Lantern, and Ginny Hex, have been captured and placed in an unescapable dungeon. Fortunately, Young Justice have allies on Gemworld—Impulse and a newly found, grown-up Superboy—who might be able to save them. Can they come to the team’s rescue, or will Young Justice fall to the mercies of the Dark Lord Opal?

Young Justice #4 Cover B by Dan Mora. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, drawn by Patrick Gleason and John Timms. Published by DC Comics. April 3, 2019 - Waist-up portraits of Robin, Superboy, Wonder Girl, and Teen Lantern

As much as I loved the action and intrigue in Young Justice #4, it tries to pack in so much that it ends up feeling rushed and muddled. Unlike the previous two issues which focused on a single individual, this book tries to share Amethyst’s story while also progressing Superboy and Impulse’s arc. What we end up with is a narrative that jumps from point to point with little cohesion.

From what we see in this issue, Amethyst—who is actually Amy Winston from Earth—is well-loved and considered a hero to the people on Gemworld. On the Gem council, however, she is considered a nuisance, one who acts out willfully with little regard to how her actions affect the other Gems. Amethyst’s sole champion is the House of Turquoise, but even Turquoise agrees that Amethyst doesn’t deserve any more chances. Gemworld is clearly a seriously messed-up place if the only person calling for peace is ostracised.

This ostracization of Amethyst sets up the denouement of Young Justice #4 nicely—the dungeons that Amethyst, Robin, Ginny Hex, Wonder Girl, and Teen Lantern are trapped in suck out their will and happiness (kind of like the Dementors in the Harry Potter series), which makes it hard for them to want to escape. With nobody coming to Amethyst’s aid, it is up to Superboy and Impulse to come to the rescue. That is definitely what I want to read because I loved the team-up in the first issue of the series!

Having said that, this issue has left me with so many more questions. How did Amy get to Gemworld? How did an ordinary human become a princess on this planet? Why is she the only one who stands against the chaos on Gemworld while the other Gems simply accept it as a way of life? Also, there’s a Turquoise-Amethyst connection that is implied with one throwaway line. We need to know more! There’s so much that I needed from Young Justice #4 and I didn’t get it. This issue was set up to give us Amethyst’s story, and it didn’t follow through on its promise. I deserve to know more about Amethyst!

The see-sawing artistic styles in this series takes some getting used to but Patrick Gleason and John Timms do a magnificent job in Young Justice #4. The interiors of the Gem Castle are astounding, and only matched by the exteriors of the Opal dungeon complex—the scale is tremendous and so detailed it is breathtaking. Unfortunately, some of the character work does suffer as a result—the round-table of Gem councillors is so minimalist that one doesn’t get an inkling of what the other denizens of Gemworld look like. Was this a deliberate stylistic choice or is it a sign that this issue was too rushed?

The first four issues of Young Justice have been a rollercoaster ride—and not in a good way—with the series often feeling like it hasn’t been thought out, something I hope will change with the next few issues. I do love the characters, and the interactions between them are fun to read. There’s also some humour which is enjoyable but I feel like there needs to be more—a young adult series doesn’t necessarily have to be dark and dystopian. I’m holding out hope for a more exciting and better-structured issue next time!

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. She always has an eye out for the subversive and champions diversity in media.