Review: Young Justice #9 by Kevin Hopps, Greg Weisman, and Christopher Jones

Young Justice (vol. 2) #9

Written by: Kevin Hopps and Greg Weisman
Pencilled by: Christopher Jones
Inked by:
Dan Davis
Colored by: 
Zac Atkinson
Colored by:
Dezi Sienty

Published by: DC
Cover Price: $2.99

Note : This review is for the digital version of the comic available from DC Comics on Comixology

It’s kind of strange how big the Justice League team is in the Young Justice cartoon, but how little focus they have gotten. Even the characters that are supposed to be closely tied to the team like Black Canary and Red Tornado have gotten minimal screen time. I understand the kids are the stars of the show, but we are supposed to get the impression that they are being trained by all the members of the Justice League…so well in fact that they were able to hold the Injustice Society to a stalemate.

So when I saw that this issue was about Captain Atom teaching the team about stealth and detective work, I was really looking forward to seeing how it played out.

Summary (contains spoilers): The issue starts with Captain Atom lecturing the team on the use of stealth. The team is quickly losing interest:

So Captain Atom decides to give them a mission to be able to put these principles into action. He gives them a cold case to work on from the Vietnam Era. A military Captain named Nathaniel Adam was accused of murdering General Lamar back in 1968. Adam died in prison, and it is the team’s job to prove if he was innocent or guilty.

Miss Martian disguises herself as a JAG officer and questions the judge on the case, while Robin hides in the vents to listen. The judge says that Adam murdered General Lamar because he believed Lamar led his own men into an ambush because he was providing weapons to the enemy. The judge also says that Adam killed himself in prison.

Superboy and Kid Flash pretend to be journalism students and track down Adam’s lawyer, who was another soldier that Adam had saved during the ambush. Adam admitted to confronting Lamar, but claims he was drugged and that he was not the one who murdered Lamar. He also reveals that the judge would end up marrying Adam’s wife and raising his children.

Robin and Miss Martain track down the medical examiner who said that Adam had not been drugged, but they discover that she has been murdered.

Aqualad and Artemis talk to Adam’s children. His son believes that his father was a murderer, the daughter is much less sure. This scene is sort of unnecessary, but it does set up some great characterization moments for Aqualad and Artemis, where we find out who Aqualad’s father is, and we get a great reaction shot from Artemis thinking about her own family situation:

Using a picture at the murder scene, the team tracks down the Vietnamese general who seemed to be working with Lamar, who was currently living in the states. The general is being attacked by a mysterious swordsman named Rako. The team arrives to save the general, but Rako’s sword is able to cut through Superboy’s skin.

Review: I have two major comments about this book…and I honestly am not sure if they are good or bad things, I guess it will really depend on the reader.

1) Does every story need to be two parts? It has been a little odd to me that every story they have done so far has been exactly two parts. No more. No less. At times, there is enough content to make that work, in fact this issue was a very good example of that. But at other times, it just feels like they are stretching things out. I am specifically thinking about the first two issues and the camping issues (5 and 6).

I am not sure if this is a pacing issue, or if they are trying to ensure the comic stays in pace with the cartoon, but whatever it is, it has created some real awkward and drawn out stories that I think would have been much better in just one issue.

2) This comic is required reading to watch the cartoon There are too many things going on that are only fleshed out in the comics, such as Cheshire’s identity, why Artemis claims to be Green Arrow’s niece, the identity of Aqualad’s father, and why Miss Martian says “Hello, Meghan” all the time. I think it’s good that the comic is actually relevant and not just a cheap cash in. At the same time, I think it’s a little unfair to expect people to have to buy a tie in just so they can get a lot more depth to who these characters are.

These two things are not deal breakers to me, but I can definitely see them turning some people away from the comic, or decided that it’s not even worth trying to follow the cartoon. Also in that regards, Cartoon Network has a terrible reputation for how they treat their superhero cartoons. Jjust last week, they decided to change the time of Brave and the Bold from before Young Justice to after YJ with no announcement. We have already had a massive gap between episodes of YJ, and I am really hoping that Cartoon Network will provide this show with support, especially if they want to make it a key component of their DC Nation programming block.

All of that said, this was another really good issue of Young Justice. Knowing that Captain Atom’s real name is Nathaniel Adam kind of spoils the story, but it still has been very well told and holds my attention. I was a little surprised how open they talked about murder, suicide and betrayal in this issue, but Young Justice (the show and the comic) really shows that all ages does not have to mean “written for babies.” This is a show and comic my wife and I enjoy with our five year old daughter, and we all find plenty to enjoy.

I also thought the murder mystery aspects of the story were very well done. Again, even though I know a lot of how this story plays out, Hopps and Weisman were able to make it into a very compelling comic story.

Christopher Jone’s art is fine, but I do find myself missing Todd Nauck. I don’t know why “All Ages” books have such generic looking art. I know that when I was a young comic reader, I had Mark Bagley, Ron Lim, Rob Liefeld, and Jim Lee drawing comics that appealed to me. I definitely would love to see that same kind of attention given to Young Justice.

While I do still miss Peter David and Todd Nauck’s Young Justice, this cartoon and comic have gone a long way towards filling that gap. It also has done a great job making me forget how much Winick and Johns made a mess of these characters in Graduation Day and Teen Titans. And I sincerely think that is the best compliment I can give it.

Final Score: 8.0 A real solid tie-in comic that fills in a lot of the blanks of the series. The art is a little generic, but the writing makes up for it.

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