Multiversity: Teen Justice #1 review

The first issue of Multiversity: Teen Justice picks up on an idea that was sort of introduced in Grant Morrison’s Multiversity. In Earth-11 the “Amazonians of Themyscira imposed their law on the whole world and changed it forever… inspiring generations of women to take the lead in creating the future.” We follow Teen Justice as they unravel the intentions behind H. I. V. E.’s and the Church of Blood’s latest schemings.

I feel like it’s important to note that apart from taking place on Earth 11, Multiversity: Teen Justice has nothing to do with Grant Morrison’s Multiversity. I am pretty enticed by the idea that other Earths from Grant Morrison’s Multiversity could see their own stand-alone stories with this first issue being a great start to hopefully lots of other artists and writers expanding on the many Earths laid out in that original comic.



This issue starts off really strong as the “ability to stay swimming in a sea of anonymity” is perfectly mirrored by the panel bustling with cars and shadowed-over anonymous bodies. The play on words of “suffocating bottleneck” conjures this image of a city whose breathing is constricted by the “claustrophobia of big apple crowds”. The people inside leave the city choking and gasping for air and the air quality looks polluted in each grimy panel. That is, till the Teen Justice team arrives and immediately introduces this world to a variety of colors and actions that just pop right out of the page!

This contrast between the drab world that Gigi sees and the colorful world that the superheroes see is the focal point of the first issue. Gigi’s perspective not only hints the reader into what is happening behind the scenes but also manages to immediately humanize the character. I really love that when Gigi and the superheroes’ worlds collide and Gigi’s instinct to do good, to try to make the world a better place, is recognized by Teen Justice (and rewarded by a brand new backpack), yet does nothing to change the course on which she’s headed. The reason I love this so much is because it’s a really honest depiction of the struggles of poverty. Gigi isn’t just a supervillain who seeks to control the planet, she’s someone that is willing to try out something called the “Church of Blood” (not a very enticing church name in my opinion) just because it offers a bite to eat and a place to sleep. Though Superheroes are often fighting against villains who take advantage of people suffering from poverty, it’s really satisfying to see the potential superheroes can have to inspire others to fight alongside them. Which is why it’s so important to me that Gigi managed to get in a good hit against the H. I. V. E. attackers and I really hope Gigi is given a redemptive arc by the end of the mini-series!

You might already be able to tell that I’m pretty invested already by the fact that I can’t wait to see Gigi’s development. Gigi’s character is only one half of the coin though and I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the overall incredibly entertaining cast of characters that comprise Teen Justice. Though they serve as a point of comparison to Gigi’s difficult life they are by no means perfect themselves. The writing by Ivan Cohen and Danny Lore has the exposition fit seamlessly within the dialogue of a group that is plagued with mistrust. Members hide information from each other, are resentful of some being part of multiple leagues or taking on a leaderly position within the group and these insecurities flesh out the characters without making it feel like the writers are wasting your time.



I can imagine that some people might feel like one scene in particular is unnecessary and ‘time wastey’. They might point to the seemingly pointless setting of the sports game they’re in towards the end of the comic. However I would say that, not only does the issue address this criticism through Robin, who points out that a field hockey game isn’t exactly saving the world, but the way that characters react to this out-of-place sports game really helps the reader understand the emotions of the group, its weaknesses and insecurities. From the very start of the sports game, Robin is being asked what happened to her hair which immediately allows us to understand that this game is taking place in the morning but also right after Robin and Supergirl went on their stake-out. It makes sense that the team would try to do activities that help strengthen their teamwork and a sports game also helps them get all warmed up before they go off to fight crime and solve mysteries. I love the irony of this sport being used as a team building exercise that eventually blows up in their faces and threatens to break up the team. The call to justice, to fight crime, becomes the only thread that still holds them together despite all their insecurities. And for anyone who still has doubts, can we not just admit that it’s also just fun to see superheroes do human things like sports?

Especially when the artist Marco Filia is able to make a simple game of field-hockey feel as action-packed as any other fight scene. Every fight scene in this comic feels so alive like they actually choreographed it using real people first before drawing it out. Whenever an enemy is barreling their way towards someone there is a depth to the panel that adds to the intensity, making any impact seem devastating.

These two panels alone serve as a really cool introduction to the whole team, making them seem calm and collected as they fight together in perfect coordination. These two panels are also a great contrast to the sports game I was talking about and reinforces the idea that the team can only find unity when faced with a common enemy.

The enemies in question are a bit weak to me though. I did enjoy Thunder and Lightning, especially with the colors of Enrica Eren Angioli, as their powers felt distinct and provided the comic with some great visuals. The lightning striking Ronin and Supergirl shocking them to their bony core reminds us of their power to withstand attacks like this while also demonstrating just how powerful that attack was. Apart from them the villains they fight don’t really look that interesting visually especially when compared to how vibrant and distinct most of the superheroes look. (By most, I mean everyone but Troy’s bland outfit, though he is redeemed by his adorable awkwardness whenever anywhere near Raven) Even Thunder and Lightning, who I enjoyed seeing in action, don’t really look that distinct from Troy so I’m not super excited about the idea of those three fighting any time soon.

Spoiler
The final reveal that Sinestra is at the head of the Church of Blood (with Kilowog by her side) doesn’t really do much for me. I’m glad that they are gonna have some more distinct villains but especially when talking about her final line, I was pretty underwhelmed. The common saying of “(X person) doesn’t know the meaning of (X word)” doesn’t even really work with fear. Like, don’t you explicitly want to strike fear into your enemies? Isn’t Sinestro a supervillain that has the innate understanding of people’s fears? There are so many words that could’ve replaced fear in this tired cliché of a phrase.

Recommended if…

  • You enjoy diving into characters and their insecurities
  • The action-packed fight scenes caught your eye
  • Humanizing henchmen has your heartstrings ready to be pulled

Overall

Ultimately, I do understand that this is just the introduction and that the villains can be fleshed out later while their plot is being unraveled by Teen Justice. Gigi’s arc could also really help us see more of the world from the villain’s side and the focal point of this issue remains intact. Even though there are some problems here and there, this mini-series definitely has me invested and I’m excited to see what happens next!

Score: 7.5/10


Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.