Review: Young Justice (vol. 2) #12 by Greg Weisman & Luciano Vecchio

Young Justice (vol. 2) #12
The Pendulum

Written by: Greg Weisman
Art by: Luciano Vecchio
Colored by: Zac Atkinson
Lettering 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

I normally do two reviews a week, mostly because of time constraints. But my reviews were done early this week, so I was glad to have time to do a third.  I really couldn’t decide what to review. There were some bigger books this week that I read and could have done (Amazing Spider-Man and Ultimate Spider-Man for instance), but at the end of the day, I really wanted to give some exposure to a great book that most people aren’t reading. So Young Justice got the nod!

Summary (contains spoilers): This comic starts with Young Justice hunting for Clayface in the sewers of Gotham City. Aqualad is a little distracted thinking he might have been better off staying in Atlantis with Tula instead of here in the sewers. This actually works really well, as in the episode “Downtime” which takes place right after this issue (even though it aired just about ten months ago) sees Aqualad return to Atlantis.

From there, the issue keeps taking small steps backwards. We find out that Clayface started rampaging in the Wayne Foundation a few hours ago. Batman and Robin were on the scene, but were defeated and Clayface took to the sewers:

This transitions to the night before, where we see one of Ra’s assassins trying to destroy Clayface after he used a Lazarus Pit. Ra’s recognizes that Clayface was one of his Shadows, a man named Matthew Hagen. And that Talia was the one who put him in a Lazarus Pit.

We flashback further to find out that Talia and Hagen had been dating after Batman rejected her. Ra’s definitely does not approve of this relationship, feeling that the only proper match for her is Batman. After some arguing, Ra’s reluctantly gives his concent. Talia rushes to tell Hagen, only to find out that he’s dying of cancer. He asks her to put him in the Lazarus Pit. She agrees, though knows that it might not go well since he’s not Ra’s. As we find out earlier, it definitely did not.

We flashback again to see the night Bruce Wayne rejects Talia, sending her into Hagen’s arms:

We are brought back to the present and find out that Clayface’s rampage in Gotham is exactly one year after Bruce rejected Talia. Batman tells the team that they are not to fight Clayface, just to find him while he prepares a way to defeat him. The issue ends with Clayface ambushing them.

Review: In a total coincidence, I read this book right after reading Batman #5 this week. Young Justice basically told this story Memento-style, taking us backwards in increments to understand Clayface’s origin, not to mention Talia’s connection with Batman. Kind of odd that both used really unusual narrative devices. And then Nightwing was fighting demons, and Amazing Spider-Man was fighting against the clock to figure out why New York would be in rubble in twelve hours. All in all, it was a very strange week of comics. Great comics, with a lot of cool and unexpected ideas. I really have felt so much energy and excitement coming from the comic industry lately, it’s hard not to get excited each week about every book I read.

The last few issues, the team has kind of taken the back burner to Captain Atom, Batman and Robin, and now Clayface, but I think that’s a real good use of this comic help expand the Young Justice universe. The problem with this is that since Cartoon Network has suh a gap between new episodes, I really miss seeing more Aqualad, Miss Martian and Kid Flash, who haven’t quite gotten as much focus in the comic as Artemis, Superboy, and Robin. But that really is more of a fault of the cartoon and Cartoon Network than this comic, so I can’t hold it against them. And the comic has done a great job of giving us little flashes of Aqualad’s back story (in fact this issue starts with one), but they feel like teases. I really like this version of the character.

Another thing that annoys me some about this series is that the issues are synced so well to episodes, but they are so far behind. This issue takes place between the episodes  “Denial” and “Downtime” which aired last February and March. This would be even worse if not for Cartoon Network airing episodes at such a slow pace. I can’t wait to see the comics that deal with the aftermath of some of the big crises of the last few episodes, but that might not be for a while.

Talia and Clayface’s story was a really good one. I kind of expected last issue’s Ra’s story to be a one off, but it’s cool to see that it has much bigger ramifications on the characters and story. I can’t wait to see what happens next issue when YJ goes after Clayface.  I did think this was a really cool way to introduce Clayface to this continuity. His story is tied tightly to Batman’s, and this makes for a much more compelling villian to me. This version of Matt Hagen is much different from the comic version, which is fine. I always forget how many different Clayfaces there were in the DC Universe over the years.

And I definitely want to know what’s going on with Artemis. Her being under arrest at the last issue was a pretty big shock (since she’s shown up in episodes that take place after this story), but we were left hanging on getting some answers on what’s going on there.

I actually feel kind of bad to say this, but the biggest problem with these kinds of all ages books is that most of the art all looks the same. When reviewing this book, I was genuinely surprised to see that it was done by a guest artist, Luciano Vecchio. To be honest, it looked no different at all than any other issue of the series. Nice to have that consistency, but at the same time, I would have loved to see a completely different take on this book and these characters. I like that kind of risk from comic companies and creators.

That is not me knocking Luciano Vecchio’s work. The art on this issue was solid, and Clayface looked awesome throughout the comic.

It just would have been cool to see something different, that’s all.

Young Justice is very well written, especially for a comic that is adapted from an animated series. It’s not afraid to take some narrative risks, and it fills in a lot of gaps the cartoon has left. It’s a shame that this book does not get much more attention. Most people might not even realize this, but Batman Beyond and Young Justice have been “same day digital releases” for much longer than any of DC’s other books. While the new 52 got all the hype, DC’s strong all ages line has been putting out some seriously good comics. I have been counting down the days until Batman Beyond returns (FEBRUARY 1) and Young Justice continues to impress me.

If you are a fan of the animated series, or the terrific Peter David/Todd Nauck Young Justice series, you really should check out this book. If you are not a fan of either of those things….well why did you even read this review??? Check them out and then buy this book too!

Final Score: 8.0: Young Justice continues to surprise me. A really well written animated series tie in with some fun narrative experiments. Greg Weisman shows as much love for the comic as he does for his brilliant animated work.

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