Publisher: DC Comics
Writers: Kevin Hops and Greg Weisman | Artist: Christopher Jones
Publication Date: November 15, 2011
The short: Young Justice remains an entertaining supplement to the cartoon and an intriguing title in and of itself.
Young Justice is that rare complementary tie-in that works both as an informative supplement and as a distinct work, which is to say, it’s that rare complementary tie-in that works like it’s supposed to: as a complementary tie-in. While it’s possible to watch the show without reading the comic, the comic does do a lot of stuff with the characters (and particularly Artemis, whose history and relationship with her family has been explored in greater and more explicit depth than so far in the show) and with the premise that the show cannot or has not yet done. That isn’t to say that the show is lesser for it, because it isn’t, and of the two the show is very much the superior, but certain constraints put on the show–due to time, the budget, network requirements, censorship requirements, the show’s strict focus on the team–don’t necessarily apply to the comic so they’re able to flesh out characters like, say, Captain Atom or explore Artemis’ past (as they haven’t in the show so as to preserve some ambiguity and drama).
This latest issue caps off the storyline introduced in Young Justice #9 and where Young Justice #9 was more of a character piece, this issue is all about the action. With the team searching for the evidence they need to clear Captain Nathaniel Adams’ name, they draw the attention and the ire of a number of men, men who won’t hesitate to kill anyone who tries to find out the truth of what happened to General Lemar. The action is quick and intense, and that the lack of network control allows for Hops and Weisman to confirm characters are dead and Jones to pencil the bodies makes for a sort of subdued urgency. Characters can and do die, and while our heroes may be immune (for now) from death by virtue of being, well, the heroes, Hops and Weisman are able to stitch in an underlying note of uncertainty that amps up the dramatic tension as the story goes into the last act.
It might be a more action-oriented issue, but the characters still shine. Superboy’s unease at the injury dealt him carries throughout the issue (and culminates with a single deeply satisfying panel), each of the characters use their own unique abilities in battle, and Christopher Jones continues to sprinkle the artwork with little details like Kaldur’s smart phone’s wallpaper, details that serve both to flesh out the characters and fit the book more firmly in the show’s continuity.
Christopher Jones’ artwork is a big draw for the book. It fits with the show’s style, but it stands out on its own in a way a number of DC’s other cartoon tie-in books don’t. Other books mimic the aesthetics of the shows they’re based upon, but for Young Justice, Jones doesn’t mimic but adapt. A sense of motion, an impression of energy and presence, is pervasive throughout the issue, and a number of panels, particularly the climactic confrontation, are kinetic. His actual compositions are very straightforward and his layouts are often simple; this is absolutely not a bad thing. Jones uses these often basic layouts to streamline the action and experiment with perspective in a fashion that supports the script while also expanding visually upon it.
But this issue does suffer some so far as the pacing is concerned. The dialogue is great, the action strong, but the page limitations and the relentless action mean YJ #10 is lacking in the quiet moments, the reflective beats, which the show uses to such great effect, so some of the character stuff does fall flat or come across as rushed. And like many mysteries, at the climax it relies too much on off-screen discoveries and expository dialogue to pull the final confrontation and denouement off. This particular storyline could have done with another issue, to be honest!
It’s still enjoyable, though, and if you’re a fan of the show, I do recommend picking up Young Justice, both this issue and the ones that came before it. If you aren’t watching the show, well, you really ought to! Then come back and give this comic a try, why not.