If you’re curious about who Teen Lantern is and how she joined Young Justice, this is the issue that finally offers some answers. But while most of the issue focuses on Teen Lantern, there’s enough progress in the overall story that developing her origin doesn’t feel like a total diversion from the main plotline.
After the Young Justice team helped Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld, save her planet from Dark Opal, the courts of Gemworld banished Amethyst as a troublemaker and sent her back to Earth with Young Justice. At least, that’s what they said they would do. In reality, worried about Amethyst meddling in the future, the court sent the team world-hopping in the multiverse with no way to return home. Dr. Fate tried to help them but made a mistake that sent them to Earth-3, a planet dominated by evil doppelgangers of our world’s heroes.
Issue #9 opens with a flashback introducing us to a girl named Keli in La Paz, Bolivia. She and her friend Marcos are scavenging for junk they can sell when they see what appears to be a Green Lantern in serious trouble. Not being stupid, Keli and Marcos run. Later, though, Keli worries about the Lantern and goes back to see if he needs help. The art through this sequence is beautifully done. The street scenes include enough detail like cracks in the walls, damage to the stucco exteriors, and uneven streets and sidewalks to show us that Keli and her companion live in a rundown area, yet not so much as to be distracting. And when Keli shares a discovery with Marco, his surprise, and then his dismay and concern, reinforce the dialogue. One entire page has no dialogue yet clearly conveys Keli’s dread when she sneaks out at night to find the wounded Lantern.
The use of color in this scene underscores the socio-economic differences between Keli’s neighborhood in La Paz and Earth-3. The faded colors of Andre Lima Arraujo’s La Paz add to the rundown look of Keli’s neighborhood. This is a low-tech area without a lot of resources. The buildings are simple and faded, though the warmer colors used on the people make them stand out against their surroundings, as Keli and her friend Marco stand out in their initiative and drive. This neighborhood’s strength lies in its people. In contrast, John Timms’s Earth-3 has rich colors, tall, detailed buildings, and, of course, a high-tech Batcave.
If you’re thinking the Lantern gives Keli a ring that makes her a GL, as I expected he would, you’ve jumped to the conclusion writer Brian Michael Bendis probably intended us to. What happens between Keli and the Lantern is a clever twist on the Lantern origin stories we know, and instead of clarifying Teen Lantern’s powers, it deepens the mystery.
When the story cuts to the present, we see Teen Lantern in action with Young Justice on Earth-3. She also has a doppelganger there, a girl called Hack. I love the way their dialogue plays off their mutual resemblances, but the most fun part of action scenes with Lanterns is the constructs they create. I especially like the giant hand Keli uses to cushion Hack’s fall. It shows us she can be compassionate even when she might rather not be. The battle scenes and the flashbacks to her life in La Paz show us the type of person she is without having to spell it out for us.
While the story nicely showcases Keli and moves the plot forward, it doesn’t show us as much as I would like about the rest of the team. Conner and Cassie are MIA in this issue. One of the two tiny, red figures in the panel above could be either of them, but the figures are unidentifiable. The last issue focused on them and on Tim and Bart, with only small scenes set aside for Jinny Hex, Teen Lantern, and Amethyst, but we did see the entire team. I missed the intercutting of viewpoints this time around. The story would have worked just as well if there were three or four fewer panels devoted to the origin, and we had at least a glimpse of Cassie and Conner, too.
- You’ve been curious about Teen Lantern or Earth-3 Batwoman
- You want to see if the team finally has a way home
- You enjoy origin stories
This is an interesting installment in the multiversal odyssey arc in spite of some problems. I wasn’t happy about the complete absence of two YJ members, but the portrayal of Teen Lantern and the interaction with Earth-3 villains and Batwoman still made for a solid, entertaining story.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.