Brian Michael Bendis is a treasure. I read all of the Miles Morales comics and sporadically some of his other work, including his new material for DC. Bendis brings such a great voice to his characters, especially teenagers. It is so authentic. Even though they have incredible powers, I never doubt they are kids. It only makes sense that Bendis is writing Young Justice.
Young Justice is part of a new imprint from DC that Bendis has creative control over, Wonder Comics. The plan, according to Bendis is for this new line to mix some old characters and titles with some brand new ones. It’s kind of the YA section for DC readers. This isn’t a jibe either, my dealer and I often talk about how comics have become almost inaccessible to younger readers, not least of which is the portrayal of characters and storylines. With Bendis in charge creatively, Wonder Comics (I really hope so too) has a chance to be more successful than other recent attempts to get younger readers.
Back to the first issue of Young Justice. It is one of the titles with a familiar title and characters. We haven’t see YJ since The New 52, but it lived on in animation. Like its predecessors, the new cast includes teenage avatars for many of the iconic heroes of the DC Universe. There is Tim Drake/Robin as the junior Batman, Impulse as the junior Flash, and Superboy as the junior Superman. However, we get someone new in Jinny Hex, or relatively new. She did make an appearance in November. We also get introduced to Teen Lantern.
Having two new characters is exciting, especially when it comes to Bendis. Mixing established characters with his creations is one of his greatest strengths. In this introduction to Young Justice, we get an encapsulation of what Wonder Comics is all about, new and old coming together in a fresh way. In this first issue, we get the introductions, but the rest of the story is waiting to be told. The overall plot, your standard world invasion, is our first arc. The personal challenges and development, another Bendis strength, is also introduced. Suffice it to say a group of teenagers is going to have some issues.
Patrick Gleason was a perfect choice for Young Justice as well. He captures a youthful look for the characters that doesn’t make them look like simplified versions of the adult counterparts. He also brings a sense of faster movement, not just with Impulse, that can only be associated with youth. When not fighting the invaders, the body language and actions look like teenagers. The best example of this is when Wonder Girl opts out of fighting. She pulls her hoody closer and shrinks back into the shadows, desperate not to be seen. Everyone who has ever felt self-conscious or self-doubt can identify with what she is going through.
Young Justice #1 is a fast-paced and well crafted introduction to a new team of heroes and a new imprint from DC. If all of Wonder Comics is this strong, DC isn’t paying Bendis nearly enough.