This month sees the Young Justice team doing clean up after a major attack on Metropolis. The story spins right out of the pages of Action Comics’ Metropolis Doom arc and generally gives readers a look at the core four and their mentors.
For the most part, the story follows the members of Young Justice and Yolanda –a young woman volunteering with her dad– as they help with the fall out after a major attack on Metropolis. We come into the story after the attack is over, but the characters make plenty of references to what happened, and there is an editor’s note directing readers to where they can find the preceding story. Still, for those not reading Action Comics, the setting and situation can feel a little confusing going in. It certainly threw me off.
This kind of set up is frustrating because I know the team had intended on visiting the Hall of Justice and Superman, and I wanted to actually see that happen in this book. To have that part of the adventure happen in a different title feels unfair to what the book had promised and the readers. While the issue does try to provide context, if you’re not going to go read Action Comics it feels a lot like one of those catch up episodes of 90’s cartoons where there’s a lot of summary with a sort of story that connects it all, but makes you feel left out if you haven’t caught every episode.
Despite my reservations about how the plot around the team was set up, I do feel like Bendis and Walker found a good way to introduce readers to what’s going on. Instead of directly following the team, the story opens up with Yolanda and her dad as they’re on the way to help with clean up. Yolanda acts as a fresh pair of eyes we as readers get to see the team through.
I found her arc to be the most successful part of this issue. The story generally tries to follow her as she helps her dad cook food for the first responders, gives out water, talks with the heroes, and finally chooses to do her own volunteer work by becoming an intern at the Hall of Justice. It’s a nice arc that’s inspiring in a way that shows we can all do something to help. I really wish the issue would have focused it’s entire framing around her point of view, and used it to look into the lives of the team that way. It seemed like that’s where this issue was going when it started, and it tried to end on that note, but it got lost in the middle as the story drifts away from her to focus on team members.
Something else that was really effective were the scenes of cleanup shown through the story. Scott Godlewski does a great job of creating a setting that really feels like the aftermath of a disaster or focused attack. It’s easy to feel the scope of the destruction as often scenes will show the city in background, or even trees and unbroken concrete surrounding the area of devastation. Within the area, there’s debris, barriers, emergency vehicles, and various overturned cars and trucks that the heroes and emergency personal work with. It also feels populated, there are firemen and police officers in the background, as well as civilians for the various team members to help out.
I mentioned that the story leans into looking at the Young Justice members. It really just focuses on the “core four” Bart, Cassie, Conner, and Tim and their interactions with their mentors. The rest of the team really only shows up in the background or to add commentary here or there.
It’s, Cassie and Bart who get the most attention here. Both have some quality one on one time with their mentors, where they’re encouraged and cheered on. Wonder Woman tells Cassie she’s born to lead the team, while Flash gives Bart advice to stop focusing so much on the past and live in the present.
Tim and Conner’s time is a little different. Tim is also pulled aside by Batman, though we don’t get to hear the conversation. Instead it’s done in a series of silent panels where Godlewski uses Bruce and Tim’s body language, along with Bart and Conner’s expressions to show the gist of what’s being said. It boils down to a shoulder pat and forlorn looking Tim as he walks away, and I’m not sure it’s what I really wanted out of their interaction. It felt more surface level and almost stereotypical than the other conversations did.
Instead of giving readers a moment between Conner and Clark, Conner gives Tim and Bart a summary of what they’d talked about in Action Comics. This also is something I’d rather have seen included in Young Justice, especially since previously a pretty big deal was made out of Conner’s past and him going to visit Superman. But the story does take time to reaffirm Bart and Conner’s relationship, which I did think worked really well.
My problem with these break out moments with the mentors, is that they don’t feel earned, not within the context of Young Justice at least. First of all, the book banks on the fact that readers have gone and read Action Comics to understand the team’s previous adventure and see everyone working together. Secondly, we haven’t seen enough of the relationship between characters like Cassie and Diana or Bart and Barry to feel the weight these conversations want to have. It’s okay to rely on some outside context, but these foundations also need to be built within the book and story being told in it. Not all readers will be familiar with these characters or willing to go pick up outside reading. And while in the multiverse jumping arc we got to see versions of the heroes the team calls mentors, we haven’t seen the ones this team works with at all up until this point. The conversations are well done, but there’s just simply not enough context within the bounds of the book to account for them.
The story –at least regarding the Young Justice team– ends in much the same place as the last few have, with the team splitting off to go their own ways again. It leaves me wondering where this book is going, and to be honest I’m not sure the book knows that either. I had thought that the plot was moving towards furthering the answers behind the team, Bart, and Conner, but I don’t know if that’s still the case. Barry tells Bart to start focusing on the now, and Conner leaves to sort things out with Clark, with an editor’s note pointing readers back towards Action Comics if they want to know more. Now more than ever, this book really feels like it’s just spinning it’s wheels, waiting on something else to happen to push it forward.
- Stories that have an outsider’s POV are interesting to you
- It’s past time the Core Four got some attention from their mentors
- You’ve been reading Action Comics
Young Justice #17 isn’t a bad issue, but it relies heavily on outside information for context which can make it alienating for some readers. It does feature an interesting outside point of view character and gives her a solid arc. It also takes time to showcase interactions between the core team members and while those moments are nice, they also don’t feel earned and do little to advance the story. Generally, the issue feels more like a coda to Action Comics instead of a Young Justice book, leaving me wondering if anything that happened will be relevant going forward.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.