The intensity of Heroes in Crisis and Batman: Damned make it easy to forget that DC does fun shit, too. That’s not to say those books aren’t fun, but it is to say that neither of them leaves you feeling hopeful about superhumanity. That’s fine, but if you’re anything like this writer, you need something to mitigate the invasive pessimism both stories evoke. Luckily, Brian Michael Bendis intervenes with his fun, energetic Young Justice series. It came out this week and you should buy the shit out of it.
Young Justice #1 is frantic and unrestrained, a foray into the light-hearted side of DC that crackles with unabashed zeal. Bendis excels at facilitating immediate immersion; the dialogue, dynamics, and destructive tendencies of his characters are absurdly entertaining–more so than they have any right to be.
Pitted against warriors from Gemworld, the superpowered youngsters unite to fight Metropolis’s latest threat and do some mid-battle bonding while they’re at it. That’s certainly a positive considering the entire book is a fight.
Tim Drake, an underused Robin, gets most of the attention, tailed only by Impulse (Kid Flash). Bendis introduces both through action rather than exposition, a cardinal rule of good storytelling. Seriously, the guy rocks at what he does. And both characters are an absolute blast to read and follow.
Patrick Gleason, one of DC’s best artists, puts his talents to good use here. Saying that he effectively captures the zany, fast-paced action we expect from books like this is criminally understating things. The book positively pops with energy it can hardly contain, which occasionally works against it. Luckily, Gleason dials it back when necessary. Bendis does not. He channels his excitement through Kid Flash, having him shout lines such as, “Young Justice is back!” He’s definitely the life of the book. He counters the down-to-business attitude his peers adopt with quips reminiscent of Spider-Man.
There’s so much happening in such little space that it’s often too crowded to properly attribute actions to their respective characters. Regardless, it’s obvious that Bendis had fun kicking off this story, and his enthusiasm makes for a better book. It’s difficult to pick apart comics of this caliber because they’re so well-structured and executed. I definitely had to work at balancing my criticisms because the comic reader in me was delighted by what he read.
Young Justice #1 is the no-holds-barred joyride DC fans need. It establishes dynamics quickly and has great fun with everything that it is. Vaguely imperfect, it needs more plot development, but a first issue isn’t going to show its hand so readily. Bendis and Gleason have a hit on their hands. Hopefully, you’ll hop aboard.