Review: Young Justice #2

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Summary

Our young heroes find themselves in a land not seen in the DC Universe in sometime: Gemworld. As Wondergirl, Teen Lantern and Jinny Hex familiarize begin to familiarize themselves with their surroundings and each other, the Twelve Royal Houses reach a decision that could change the fate of Gemworld forever. Plus, a look into what Wondergirl has been up to lately.



Positives

Wonder. Its a powerful and mysterious emotion that people rarely talk about, and one that we should talk about more. People compare it to surprise, and often describe wonder as a combination of surprise and joy, but there is something more. Wonder brings something indescribable, intangible, and transcendent. I inspires passion, curiosity, and ambition. Young Justice leads the charge in an imprint of comics that aim to capture this elusive feeling, and the big question is, Does Young Justice #2 capture the feeling of wonder?

Upon picking up the book, the first thing readers will notice is one of two covers. Both radiate a youthful innocence that few comics can pull off. Personally, I am not a fan of either cover’s art style, but I can recognize that talent that is put into them and the energies that both give off. It’ll put a smile on your face before you even open the book.



The very first page, however, contains the bleak landscape known as Gemworld. If you were picturing a fantastical, colorful, and magical land of wonder, you may be disappointed with the dark shadows cast by jagged geological formations, and a dark atmosphere despite gems growing like plants. Most of the Royal House leaders meet like any shady cabal does: around an isolated campfire under the cloak of night. I appreciate that each Royal House featured is given their own unique look and personality. Gleason and Lupacchino may be drawing upon the past here, but he did a great job bringing Gemworld to a new generation of readers. I also commend Alejandro Sanchez for his color work. I respect artists and colorists who can draw a lot of meaning through the use of black and darkness, and Sanchez does a great job of bringing out the shadiness and secrecy through the shadow-work in the first few pages.

The following scene in the Forests of Topaz provides a masterful depiction on the use of perspective. In three panels the reader can empathize with the absolutely crazy day Jinny Hex has had up to this moment, laugh as she realizes something odd and large is behind her, and then marvel at the realization that Jinny and Teen Lantern are completely and utterly lost. Teen Lantern’s construction is perhaps the best thing about this issue. It is a preeminent display in visual characterization and is simple but completely original. Gleason and Lupacchino do great work showing us this robotic construction from every angle as Jinny Hex inspects it, and one just can’t help but laugh.

The glimpse of what Cassie has been up to is really nice, especially from fans of the character. It’s a great change of pace in the middle of the book with a bright blue sky and inks from Ray McCarthy that are a ray of sunshine in this book. A ray of sunshine is Cassie’s character in a nutshell, and that shines through in this flashback, but not before revealing a few other important characteristics about this new Cassie Sandsmark as well. As we return to Gemworld, we see characters collide as Amethyst and Robin join the gang. The team is full of snarky sarcasm and witty banter between Jinny Hex, Teen Lantern, and Robin alone, so humor will not be scarce in this series. This cast of characters is going to have some fun together, and I encourage going along for the ride.



Negatives

Wondergirl’s chemistry with the other members of the team seems a bit off in this issue. Her dialogue doesn’t quite hold its own with Jinny and Tenn Lantern’s witty sarcasm, and that leads to some issues regarding the presence the character projects. Cassie is one of the most experienced members of the team and makes an excellent grounding rod for a team that could easily turn into chaos. The problem is that the amount of questions she asks in this issue diminishes some of the authority she needs to have to serve that role. The strong, independent, grounded Cassie who knows who she is appears loud and clear during the flashback scene with Zeus, but remains largely absent during the Gemworld scenes. This presents a problem for both parts of the story because the flashback appears a tad too long as a result of these two different depictions of Cassie clashing. In this instance, Bendis’s knack for decompression does not do him any favors, and it causes the reader to be confused about how to perceive Wondergirl.



Verdict

Despite some characterization issues, Young Justice #2 is full of intrigue, touching character moments, and witty humor. Pick this one up soon, or you’ll be wondering why you didn’t sooner.
 
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Review – Young Justice #2: The Temptation of Wonder Girl
Posted on February 6, 2019 by Ray Goldfield0 Comments
Reading Time: 2 minutes
Young Justice #2 variant cover, via DC Comics.Young Justice #2 – Brian Michael Bendis, Writer; Patrick Gleason, Artist; Emanuela Lupacchino, Penciller; Ray McCarthy, Inker; Alejandro Sanchez, Colorist
Ratings:
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: It Appears Original Cassie Is Back? Yay!
Ray: Two issues in, it’s very clear that Young Justice is going to be Brian Michael Bendis’ best work out of his short time at DC so far. It’s hard to remember now, but there was a time when Bendis was known in the industry as the best voice on teenage characters thanks to his extended run on Ultimate Spider-Man. Of course, that was before the industry changed and people like G. Willow Wilson and Raina Telgemeier broke onto the scene, but this series is going a long way towards recapturing that vibe. Equal parts character-driven team-up and high-octane supernatural adventure, the issue does a great job of balancing both elements. The goings-on in Gemworld has a distinct Game of Thrones vibe, with the various clans scheming to advance themselves in the wake of Dark Opal’s coup. Many are even planning to turn over the deposed Princess Amethyst – but she’s found herself allies in the form of Tim Drake and Co. While Tim briefly shows up with Amethyst, and Bart Allen and Conner Kent are surprisingly absent entirely, it’s the girls who take the spotlight this issue.
Wonder Girl is probably one of the most troubled characters in DC’s stable – while she was never killed off like Superboy and Impulse, her characterization has been wonky since Geoff Johns left (some might say since Peter David left). Here, she’s spot-on as the awkward average-girl hero she began as. Her interactions with the unpredictable Ginny Hex and Teen Lantern are a lot of fun, but she really shines in a flashback segment drawn by Emanuela Lupacchino. Dealing with her complex relationship with her manipulative grandfather Zeus and a magical artifact she’s supposedly destined to wield, it starts to explain her wonky powers last issue – but also firmly establishes her as a compelling and relatable character trying to find her own way. If I have one complaint about this issue, it’s that plot is very much taking a backseat. Villain Dark Opal only appears towards the end, and we don’t get any closer to answers about Superboy’s reappearance. But if all issues are this entertaining, Bendis can take his time.


War on Gemworld, via DC Comics.
Corrina: It seems if your superhero name is “Wonder Girl,” your publication history is bound to be needlessly complicated, and that goes for Cassie as much as it does for Donna Troy. The new 52 Cassie only superficially resembled the previous characterization.
But now she’s back and she’s a ton of fun in Young Justice #2. This series definitely has the sense of energy and joy missing from any of Bendis’ other DC work. (I would love for Superman to have this vibe). The pacing is great, it handles the jumps in narration well, and integrates Cassie’s conversation with Zeus nicely too. (Also, Zeus is kinda hilarious.)
Emanuela Lupacchino’s art is lovely, her gift for facial expressions and action combines to create characters who look gorgeous but never overly sexualized. It’s a great fit for this series and this issue overall is a terrific follow up to #1.
 
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COMIC BOOKS
Young Justice #2 review: Path of Wonder
Gemworld! Jinny Hex! Robin on a unicorn!

By
Ritesh Babu
on
February 6, 2019


Young Justice (2019-) #2

Brian Bendis
Price: Check on Amazon



“I’m done letting guys like you tell me what I’m supposed to be.”
Wonder Comics’ vision is self-explanatory. One grasps what it is immediately upon looking at any image that promotes the new imprint. Young heroes of the DC Universe finding their place in the world with a sense of wonder in their eyes and a grin on their face. Superhero comics are built on that wonder, that impressive awe we all had when we first encountered the genre and its icons. It’s the kind of thing that gets harder to replicate as time goes on, but when you’re dealing with young characters who’re living these heightened lives in the heightened realm of the DC Universe, it’s a lot easier to bring it out. Their lens and perspective will not be that of an assured adult, it’s something different. Their struggles are more varied, they’re experiencing so much beyond just the superhero persona they inhabit that it’s ripe for digging into story. And that’s what Brian Michael Bendis has excelled with over the years, writing the defining Ultimate Spider-Man with Peter Parker and later Miles Morales. The latter has now even made the leap to the movie screen and represents the great power of representation and diversity in fiction. With a track record like that, it just makes sense that when moved to DC, he’s let loose on the teen superhero corner of the universe. It’s one of his niches and he’s found great success with it.
And thus we have Young Justice, the flagship title of Wonder Comics. The debut issue was a fervent and kinetic mission statement fueled by sheer euphoric power. Bart Allen was very much the heart and soul of the issue, espousing the core ethos of not only the book but the line as a whole. The conclusion to the first issue saw the entire team of young heroes dropped into Gemworld and #2 picks up right from that, as the characters reel from their trip inside and try to journey through this unfamiliar realm. It’s a fairly decompressed story built around touching character moments with lush artwork and colors by Gleason and Sanchez, which is what one expects. However, this issue introduces a new element to the mixture. Each issue from here on out, in this arc dubbed ‘Seven Crises’ (a fascinating choice), will feature an individual flashback segment that chronicles the past of the various members in the team. And each segment has a special guest artist brought in to serve the story being told. A lot of these characters have been away for a while and their backstories and histories are murky, to say the least, and thus the choice is a smart one.

This issue’s segment focuses on Wonder Girl, Cassie Sandsmark, as we learn where she’s been emotionally and what her driving conflicts and goals are at the moment. Guest artist Emmanuela Lupacchino joins the book for this special story, bringing great flair and energy that fits perfectly with what’s been established for the book while also being its own unique entity. It’s a decision that really pays off, as Sanchez’s colors go remarkably well with Lupacchino’s artwork, much like with Gleason’s and he helps unite the entire book with a lush, rich aesthetic. Every color pops off the page as Sanchez manages to balance the darker sequences without undercutting the bombastic and bright moments. There’s a lovely sheen and texture to the entire book, brought out through the color which makes for some standout storytelling. It’s distinct enough that you can look at a page and immediately know it’s Sanchez on colors.
Cassie’s story sees her meeting Zeus (though it’s a flashback taking place before his death in Wonder Woman) who has come to meet her on Earth for the very first time. It’s an unusual situation, as Zeus tries to display warmth and form a bond with Cassie, only eliciting suspicion from her. He then reveals that her role is to be the heir to the gods, ultimately becoming one of the pantheon and he hands her a special necklace that’s meant to be be hers. It’s absolute power and he gives it to her, telling what she needs to be. But Cassie is shocked, asking why she’s being given such power and what she’s ever even done to earn it. Turning down Zeus, she tells him he can keep the power and that she’s done listening to men like him telling her what she needs to be and when. She will follow her own path and be her own person, in her own time and if her destiny is what Zeus tells her it is, it’ll come to pass eventually. The decision irks Zeus and he vanishes into the wind, while Cassie grins with pride.
This is a key moment and it continues to build out the vision outlined for Wonder Comics. These are kids with their own wishes, needs and goals, they are not to be told who or what they are. They hope to find that out themselves, in their own way, without an adult handing that supposedly absolute truth down to them. It’s why, if you’ll notice, all the antagonists are adults, with adult mindsets, steeped in old tradition and ideology. And it’s why the chief antagonist of the story is Dark Lord Opal of Gemworld, a realm of old tradition that binds youth and serves the old in power. These aren’t arbitrary decisions, the setting and setup serve the core content and thematics of the book. It’s not merely window dressing, as some may easily assume. It’s why Amethyst, the outsider and upstart youth of Gemworld, has to be there. It’s why she has a purpose on the team.


Meanwhile other heroes, such as Jinny Hex, are much more lost. Wrestling with similar struggles as the others, as all young people do, she finds herself uncertain, anxious and lost, quite literally, in a world she does not know. She simply has no idea and she’s just winging everything while figuring stuff out bit by bit. And that’s very much her story, as she’s someone who chanced upon a box full of superhero memorabilia, which is the legacy of her ancestor Jonah and is trying to figure things out. There’s definitely a lot of Greatest American Hero in her and her simple reactions to everything, drawn by Gleason who excels at expression, body language and character work, are a delight to witness. Josh Reed’s lettering is also key here, as he brings a real charged personality to the book. He bridges Bendis’s text and Gleason and Lupacchino’s art, landing every bit of dialogue with great flair and readability while also accentuating everything great about the artwork on the page.

Collecting themselves after their crash, most of our heroes soon begin to journey across Gemworld. With Robin and Amethyst on a unicorn and Wonder Girl, Teen Lantern and Jinny Hex in a car, they venture out and end up running into one another. Regrouping and catching up, they make quick introductions and banter, before Dark Lord Opal emerges ominously, concluding this chapter of the Seven Crises saga.
Young Justice #2 builds on the exuberant spirit of the book while adding new layers for some of its core characters. Cassie Sandsmark gets a touching spotlight in here that cuts to the heart of not only what this book is, but what the line it represents is as well. Bendis, Gleason, Lupacchino and Reed present another joyous installment in the rebirth of the ultimate teen hero team of DC Comics. If you’re a fan of legacy in the DC Universe, this is absolutely the title to be reading. Gemworld, Jinny Hex and Robin on a unicorn, what more could you ask for?


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