Friday, August 7, 2020

Review: Young Justice #17

Young Justice #17 came out this week and continued an interesting little run where the team is still trying to figure out where they are and who they are in this new continuity. Nothing says that as elegantly as the cover where we see three of the members in mirror images sporting their old continuity costumes and their current ones.

This issue has a strong them about mentoring and legacy and leading by example. There is a running theme of a young 'normal' girl from Metropolis doing her part in the aftermath of the Legion of Doom attack on the city. She is doing her part and she is seeing what her contemporaries ... the member of Young Justice ... are doing as well. More importantly, we see several of the legacy members of the team interacting with their mentors: Cassie with Diana,  Bart and Barry, etc.

For me, this book has, since its inception, been a sort of throwback. There is a joy in this book even as the heroes struggle with some major identity issues. These are heroes doing heroic things because it is the right thing to do. And there is that sort of exuberance in the characters that I miss in the more dour proceedings in many comics these days. Writers Brian Michael Bendis and David Walker continue to give us the right mix of fun adventuring while adding the pain of growing up.

The art by Scott Godlewski continues to shine. This is an issue without much action. Instead there are these emotional moments where the tone must be set by expression and body position. In fact there is a panel of Diana in here which sort of floored me.

If I have one complaint it is that the books still seem to be reeling from the multitude of major events happening. This issue takes place before House Of Kent which is now several months in. And that means this book's timeline is delayed and off. But this is a minor complaint.

On to the book.
We start with Yolanda, a young girl whose father runs a food truck, heading to the epicenter of the Legion of Doom battle to do their part. The heroes will do heavy lifting. The emergency crews will work the site. And Yolanda will walk around handing out water.

In Metropolis, everyone chips in.

I love that. It's that simple. This isn't Gotham. This is Superman's city. And he has inspired.

(Having the school district named after Curt Swan is another nice touch.)
As Yolanda wanders around, we skip in and out of the heroes clean up efforts.

Diana has a nice conversation with Cassie discussing family politics and what they each have been up to.

But I love that Diana tells Cassie that she is the leader of the team. (Diana then implies that in fact she is the leader of the Trinity, sporting an expression so earnest I almost welled.) Cassie might deny it but she is the rock of this team.

Also, small things like Superboy floating upside down shows how much fun Godlewski is having.
This is immediately followed by Jinny kind of being smitten with Wonder Woman. It is a funny moment which lightens us after Diana's weighty moment.

And Jinny, you speak for all of us.
While we know in Action Comics that Superman has completely accepted Conner and believes him and wants to help, this is before that. You can see that Conner is a little worried about how Superman will react. His being half Lex adds to that.

One thing Bendis/Walker have done well is show just how out of joint Conner feels in this new world. I like these moments of doubt as they make sense.
But again, this slightly heavier moment is lightened immediately when Bart shows Conner footage of Superboy punching Lex across the mug.

Just like that the potentially glum Superboy is all hugs and laughing again. It is what we rely on friends for. Helping us get through the rough patches however they can help us.
While we get some up close moments with Diana and other legacy heroes, the Batman/Drake interaction is shown from a distance and silently. The Bats certainly have their way. And you can put whatever sentiment you think Batman is saying there in and it would work.

Did he say 'good work chum'?
Did he say 'step down, you're fired'?

Godlewski's work is vague enough to make almost any interaction work.
The final up close interaction is Barry and Bart.

Barry says he has worried too much about the past and the future. Bart should enjoy the now.

Crisis after crisis will happen. It's part of being heroes.

But the now, it passes.

People should enjoy the now.

Just tremendous. Advice worth listening to.
And Yolanda?

She drinks it all in.

In a nice riff on the theme of the issue, she hears that Drake doesn't have powers but he still is there. Everyone should do what they can. That last panel of Yolanda steeling herself, or perhaps feeling a surge of inspiration is powerful. More great work by Godlewski, especially the lack of background. Yolanda has been transported in her mind here, lost in her own thoughts. You'll have to read the issue to see what she does next.

Outside of the brief mind reset I needed to slot this issue into the current timeline, I thoroughly enjoyed this issue. It is almost a stand alone, teaching us about the characters and giving us some big themes to thing about.

Loving this book!

Overall grade: B+

1 comment:

Martin Gray said...

What a terrific issue. I didn’t find the timeline business distracting, as it wasn’t crossing over with anything and, there was no ‘one hour ago’ and ‘six years from now’ stuff! The characterisation was splendido. Now, when do we get to see Empress and The Secret?