I’ve never hidden my love of comic books from anyone. At one point, before everything went all dark and grim (thanks Geoff Johns, for making sure everything in the DC universe is super gloomy), comic books used to be all about fun. And there was one comic that embodied that fun for me.
Superboy, Robin, and Impulse. DC Comics handed this project to Peter David and let him run with it. For those of you who may not have heard of him, Peter David is one of the greatest comic book writers of all time. His run on the Incredible Hulk is still considered to be the standard. He put X-Factor on the map. He even made Supergirl relevant (the shapeshifter Earthborn Angel one). This guy, in the comic book world, could do no wrong. And when he got his hands on these three characters…..
Robin, Superboy, and Impulse were the original core of Young Justice. The comic read more like friends hanging out and having a good time rather than them being a super-team. That’s the beauty of this series. These were friends who stuck with each other because they wanted to be with each other. They make wisecracks and even have inside jokes.
The riff on Robin being trained by the World’s Greatest Detective and Superboy constantly talking about his tactile telekinesis were two of several ongoing jokes in the series. Peter David always kept the tone light this way. This doesn’t mean Young Justice only dealt with humor. More often than not, the comic examined incredibly complex issues.
Issues like growing up. Teenagers are in that unique in-between state. They are expected to act like adults and kids at the same time. A good amount of the first 20 or 30 issues circled around this theme.
Most of the series circled around the concept of death. What does it mean to die? How should we face death? How should we react to murder? Why do people have to die? I’ve never seen a comic explore this issue so bravely. Each character wrestled with it in their own way. A lot of times, they were unable to deal with the issue and made serious mistakes that led to hurting each other… like friends do.
Mistakes were made by all of them. One of the heroes, Arrowette, almost killed someone in cold blood. She admitted her mistake and quit being a hero because she couldn’t deal with the pressure. The storyarc carried through the series, as Arrowette grew to be someone different; a different kind of hero who inspired others by using her natural talents to make the world a better place.
Why do I love Young Justice? Peter David didn’t just write a comic. He wrote about the human experience in all its stages and facets, all through the eyes of a group of friends who found each other. They loved. They laughed. They grew. They feared. They struggled. They died. As the reader, I was there through it all. I watched Superboy and Wonder Girl’s love blossom from a mere crush to something that should have lasted. I saw Robin struggle with his own identity.. was he nothing more than Batman’s shadow or was he something more? I experienced Impulse grow from a child to a man. I witnessed Lobo come to terms with his own mortality. I was there through it all… I was there….
Oh yeah… and the cape. Chicks dig the cape.
Sadly, DC hasn’t released Young Justice in graphic novel form. What’s worse, Young Justice was sacrificed so Geoff Johns could write his super angst-filled Teen Titans, where Wondergirl, Impulse, Robin, and Superboy were all at each other’s throats because they didn’t know how to cope with death. They were forced to become Titans so they could have supervision… yep.
We had a masterpiece created by Peter David which explored everything to do with humanity. And Geoff Johns came and threw it all away because he wanted to re-create Teen Titans….
You guys wonder why I can’t stand that guy as a writer?
I still miss Young Justice. At least I can still re-read them. If you have the chance, you should pick them up. Believe me, you will not regret it.
(note: All images used are owned and copyrighted by DC comics)