Comic Book Review – Young Justice Book Five

Young Justice Book Five (2020)
Reprints Young Justice #33 – 43, Young Justice Our Worlds At War #1, Impulse #77, Superboy #91
Written by Peter David (with Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Todd DeZago & Joe Kelly)
Art by Todd Nauck (with Pascual Ferry & Carlo Barberi)

With the publication of this volume, it was billed as the end of Young Justice…except it doesn’t reprint issues 44 through 55. I’m hoping that is an oversight because, as little as I have enjoyed reading through this series, I would like to finish it up in an official collection. If there aren’t signs of a sixth volume, I may just review those last few as an unofficial set. As I said, I haven’t enjoyed this read through as much as I anticipated because of the emphasis on comedy over drama. It’s good to have both, but Peter David certainly leans into the former over the latter. 

For the first time, it seems the series wasn’t forced to divert itself due to a company-wide crossover too severely. They do participate in the cleverly constructed Our Worlds at War storyline, one of the better DC events of the 2000s, and there is a brief aside that touches on the Joker: Last Laugh event (a pretty dumb non-event). Overall this is much more centered on the development of relationships between characters. The book’s first two-parter allows David to poke a little fun at Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a tv series about a werewolf hunter. Cissie King (formerly Arrowette) makes a guest appearance, and her Young Justice friends show up, and would you know it? A real werewolf appears on the set.

The crossover with Our Worlds at War kicks in and covers about four issues plus tie-ins with Impulse and Superboy’s solo series. I don’t think you could get a good sense of what the crossover is about by reading these issues. The teens are placed in a medic position to keep them off the frontlines, so we only see the events’ aftermath. Steel (John Henry Irons) is killed during the event, and we only see his body after the fact. There are nods to Lex Luthor being president at this time in the DCU, but overall these stories feel very distant from the core story arc. There’s an annoying fakeout death of Impulse that is resolved almost as soon as they manipulate us. I do think the Superboy story is a pretty good stand-alone, framed as letters and journal entries from people who experience the alien invasion.

After that, the series slides into some decent one-offs. The aforementioned Joker tie-in happens right after Our Worlds at War. Some time is spent with Snapper Carr, former JLA mascot, who has been made a chaperone for the team. Many of the stories continue to center on Cissie King, who is now attending a private school with Traya, the Red Tornado’s adopted daughter. There’s a dubious Christmas issue that is told in rhyme with little illustrations. It was clever but also felt like more filler.

They continue to tease out the Secret’s origins with a guest spot from The Spectre (newly given to Hal Jordan), who shows her that it was her evil brother’s fault that she ended up this way. There’s still the matter of Darkseid’s notion that she will become a force of great evil. The Ray pops up for a guest appearance in an issue with the team fighting a demon-possessed car.

My feelings about Young Justice remain the same. Peter David touches a little more on the drama but still keeps things light. Compared to the cartoon series and Bendis reboot and Geoff Johns’s Teen Titans series that spun out of this, Young Justice really pales, in my opinion. I think David is attempting to evoke an air of the Silver Age with his silliness, but it’s just not to my taste.

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