Last month the Young Justice team geared up (again) to head off to stop Dr. Glory and Star Labs. Meanwhile, Conner and Warlord came face to face with the Green Manaleeshi wielding a sword made of kryptonite. With all the pieces together, will the group make it in time to rescue their friend?
If there’s anything I can say about this issue of Young Justice it’s that at last, the plot starts to unfold. After spending four issues in Oregon collecting team members and talking about making a plan the team finally arrives in New Mexico and faces off against Dr. Glory.
The issue is a quick read, with the majority of its pages given over to two fights: the Young Justice team versus a bunch of intergalactic monsters, and Conner vs some lizard people and the Green Manaleeshi. The fights are fun, and structured mostly in double page spreads –this issue has five back to back– so they feel exciting and large in scope.
Timms and Oeming trade out on art duties again this issue and do a great job handling the fights on Earth and in Skartaris. The fights are broken up with engaging paneling, which is something Timm’s does incredibly well. His panels are broken up in ways that are both unique and easy to follow. My favorite part of the fight is the page where Bart moves to try and figure out where Conner is. The whole thing is a spiral as Bart moves from one spot to another trying to get to the bottom of what’s happened to his friend. There’s little text on the page, but Timm’s uses both the paneling and art to show Bart’s whole adventure, from his disdain of Dr. Glory to sneaking in more friends to help save Conner. It’s dynamic and just a lot of fun to read.
While the team’s fight with the monsters Dr. Glory summons is fun, the real plot progression this issue unfolds on Skartaris. It turns out Dr. Glory didn’t send Conner just anywhere back in issue #10, she had a plan for revenge. While I like seeing pieces come together, I also can’t help but wonder at this supposed revenge scheme, earlier it seemed she was surprised by his return and when confronted, simply tricked him into sending himself anywhere but Earth. It’s a small quibble, but it’s one of those refrigerator door questions that hits you an hour after you’ve read the book and makes you wonder.
Something that does frustrate me about this title is the ever growing character roster. Bendis and Walker take another four pages to introduce Spoiler, Sideways, Aqualad, and Arrowette at the start of this issue. This totals the Young Justice team –including Conner– to 16 teens and one space monkey. And honestly? I don’t understand why it took all these mostly super powered heroes to take down Dr. Glory.
Nothing about this arc has convinced me the team needed to be this big, or that all of these characters absolutely had to be here. Yes, it’s obvious from this issue that they face quite the threat, but it’s no worse than anything they faced in Gemworld or travelling through the multiverse. More than that, there is no evidence to me or the team prior to this issue that they would need so much backup. Sure, Tim wanted to call in the Justice League earlier, but again why? Beyond the ‘letting the adults handle this’ excuse that was later forgotten, there’s really no reason given to assume this threat is anything bigger than one scientist who’s gone off the deep end. Despite the fact that the team is up against “Star Labs” it’s really Dr. Glory acting all on her own. No one would have any idea that she’d be able to summon extra-dimensional monsters. If anything they might assume she’d have some armed guards.
Plus, the characters still don’t have any time to feel like themselves. There are a few who have more personality than the others, like Bart and Conner, but unless Bendis is planning to keep all of these kids together for the rest of his run I don’t understand why they all had to be here now just to be set pieces? In this case I’d rather Bendis honor the characters and respect the fans that are here to read about them, or simply not include them at all. So far it’s done little to help this arc, and it’s not fair to anyone wanting to read about these characters to simply have them as window dressing on a story that doesn’t require them be there.
Next, is the pacing. It reads incredibly fast since most of it is a fight, and about half of the overall page count is dedicated to double page spreads. With so much of this arc puffed up with filler content, I was hoping to see the story progress further so it was frustrating to see so much of this issue not do that. We’re finally at the confrontation between the team and Dr. Glory, and I want some answers, not four more pages of introductions, and then most of the others dedicated to a fight. Bendis is five issues in to this Star Labs story, which is plenty of time to convince readers of the threat Dr. Glory should pose, the danger Conner is in, and the need for all these characters. This issue should have felt like the culmination of everything, and instead it left me going “That’s it? I have to wait another month for the answers?” If this issue had happened a few earlier, and the events of the past four had been squished down, then I wouldn’t be as upset with this issue. It’s not bad on it’s own, it’s just come far too late to do much damage control.
There were a few other odds and ends that bugged me that while minor, are messy and confusing enough they built up into things I legitimately have to take issue with. To start, the last issue ended with the new team claiming they were the real Young Justice. This issue clearly shows them being gathered together by Bart, with little to no idea that Young Justice is even back together. So what was the point of that last page in issue #13? Why not just have spent some time last issue with Bart collecting the new team? It’s like Bendis just wanted a cool scene at the end of the last issue –much like he did at the end of issue #12— and didn’t really care about how it might confuse readers. Second, if Stephanie was just in Gotham fighting Cluemaster then why couldn’t Tim get a hold of her four issues ago? Why make such a big deal of not being able to contact anyone in the first place? Add that to my earlier quibble about Dr. Glory’s plan, and this whole Star Labs story starts to feel messier than it was already. The lack of continuity or real explanation for these problems makes me wonder how well thought out a lot of these points were and if some of this has been dragged out a little too long.
If I’m complaining a lot or giving this series a particularly hard time it’s because I expect more from it. The first couple arcs were so much fun and the story has shown a lot of promise regarding the core team of characters and I want to enjoy what’s going on now. I love a fun book as much as the next person, but what I really want out of a title is something that can blend fun and solid storytelling and character work together and right now Young Justice is missing the mark on everything but fun. It’s pages are bloated with too many characters and ideas, and not enough streamlining to help anything that happens feel satisfying.
- You prefer action over plot
- A lot of characters in one setting doesn’t bother you
- You’ve been curious to see what Dr. Glory’s been up to
Set by itself this issue of Young Justice is exciting, fun, and pushes the story forward. However, the moment it’s put in the context of the rest of the series it starts to fray. There are too many characters with little effort put into making them live and breathe, and the plot feels a bit lost even as it moves forward into providing answers to the questions it’s been dangling for months now. Young Justice has the potential to be at the top of my pull list, but at this point I’m ready for this arc about Dr. Glory to be over and the team onto other adventures.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.