Young Justice Book Two (2018)
Reprints Young Justice #8-17, Young Justice 80-Page Giant #1, Young Justice in No Man’s Land #1, Supergirl #36-37, and Young Justice Secret Files #1
Written by Peter David, Chuck Dixon, Scott Beatty, Beau Smith, Jay Faerber, Lary Stucker, and Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Todd Nauck, Leonard Kirk, Angel Unzueta, Coy Turnbull, Andy Kuhn, Justiniano, Sergio Cariello, Tommy Lee Edwards, Ryan Sook, Keron Grant, and Dietrich Smith
Woo boy! Young Justice has not turned out to be what I expected it would be. And this is not a good thing. I have always bristled at most superhero books with comedy, save the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League run. It takes a deft touch to balance humor and superheroics so that the stakes of the conflict don’t devolve into silliness. This is why Deadpool and Harley Quinn have just never appealed to me despite multiple attempts to read runs by different creative teams. Peter David chose to lean into the humor of a teen superhero book for better or worse.
This second book is a medley of stories and arcs that has Peter David sharing the writing chores with several other people and serving up a crossover with his other title Supergirl. Chuck Dixon starts things off with a follow up to his Bloodlines Robin annual by bringing back his creations from that issue, the Psyba-Rats. This trio of genetically-altered teens is an example of some real 1990s cringe and a showcase of how poorly older men write teen characters. The dialogue doesn’t feel real and, as a result, reads as forced. That’s followed by a silly two-parter about Teletubbies analogs that are a product of cult of Shiva.
From there, we transition into the Supergirl crossover that has multiple issues. The first is that the story is embedded in the lore David was building in Supergirl’s comic so it an unfamiliar reader is bound to be lost. The villain of this arc is Dante, a disco-themed demon that completely forgettable and awful. The one element of this arc I enjoyed was the Red Tornado subplot. Tornado is an android that has a long history with the Justice League, and in Young Justice Book One, he became the mentor/chaperone for the team.
In this book, Red Tornado gets caught up in a custody battle over his adopted daughter Traya. Because he’s a machine, the courts want to rule that he does not have those rights, but Tornado edges closer and closer to defying the law until he completely crosses the line. I almost wish Peter David had written a Red Tornado mini-series or ongoing, but it’s this work that I found most interesting. I am a sucker for those examinations of what makes one human-like in Star Trek: TNG with Data. David has some experience in this type of writing from his epic run on Marvel’s Hulk, where he entirely psychologically dissected that character and rebuilt him as a fully dimensional being.
There’s a brief interlude that has the original trio, Robin, Superboy, and Impulse trekking to Gotham City during the No Man’s Land storyline in Batman, yet another confusing point for anyone who doesn’t know what was happening with that massive arc. The rest of the collection is focused on building up the Sins of Youth story that kicks off in Book Three by introducing Old Justice, a team of Golden Age sidekicks who are now elderly and advocating against letting minors fight crime. This is spurred on by Arrowette’s attempted murder of a criminal that has become an issue of congressional inquiry. This is where things begin to interesting, but the story is cut off by a one-shot that has Young Justice fighting Bedlam, the genie from the origin story of the team.
I can’t say I was impressed with most of this book as it feels unimportant. There’s not a lot of things happening to these characters that feels as if it matters and will carry forward. Because the three “stars” all had their own solo books and Wonder Girl was featured over in Wonder Woman, I wonder how much editorial informed David’s ability to tell stories about them. We’re two deep out of five total, so here’s hoping things get better.