Review: Young Justice Vol. 2: Lost in the Multiverse hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

This would be a different Young Justice review if we didn’t know the series is due to end with issue #20, most likely the next trade. That’s a cruel, cruel turn of events; some 16 years after Peter David’s beloved series ended, Brian Michael Bendis revived the closest thing we’ve seen to the original since, only for it to be cancelled after 20 issues. Something is better than nothing, but for fans who’ve been waiting for this, to have the Wonder Comics iteration not turn out to be a true Young Justice “return” is sad indeed.

The difficulty is, Bendis has been muddling around a lot in this series, and Young Justice Vol. 2: Lost in the Multiverse is no exception. Were Young Justice’s fate more open-ended, that it’s 12 issues now with no clear direction for the team, letting alone no clear hows or whys of the team’s mere existence, wouldn’t be such a problem — by and large the point is just to see these characters having fun with one another, and Bendis offers that in spades. But knowing time is short — and not knowing whether the issue #20 conclusion was planned or came as a surprise to Bendis — makes me much less tolerant of seeming tangents when there’s so many questions still to be answered.

Bendis done fine work here — with character origins, with character relationships, with a bunch of multiversal cameos. I just wish it wasn’t the beginning of the end.

[Review contains spoilers]

Among my favorite parts in this second volume is the origin of Teen Lantern, Bolivian Keli Quintela, drawn by guest artist Andre Lima Araujo. It is at points funny, shocking, and intriguing — the satiric take on Hal Jordan getting his ring, only with an 11-year-old and a Green Lantern of questionable origin; that Keli witnesses a mob-style hit on said Lantern; and that there are bootleg lantern batteries apparently floating around South America. All of this makes me more interested in Keli, who’s thus far been something of a cipher. Not to mention that her charming conversation with the Kingdom Come Green Lantern Alan Scott and insistence on being taken seriously as a Lantern-in-training makes me all the more eager to see her interact with the often-stodgy, often-territorial Lantern Corps proper. Alas, again, the question of whether another writer will use Teen Lantern if not in Bendis' Young Justice is an unknown.

I’ve mentioned before that the Multiverse feels like a journey and not a destination for most DC writers; more often the presence of the Multiverse seems a handy cliffhanger rather than something writers use and explore in a dedicated way. In a variety of the Wonder Comics series, Bendis and company seem more inclined to actually play with these toys, and that’s well done here as well (if still mostly in cameo) — some short but detailed interaction with the aforementioned Kingdom Come characters, plus Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew.

As well, Bendis sets most of Lost in the Multiverse on Earth-3, often home to Justice League doppelgängers the Crime Syndicate and now seemingly an evil Young Justice. I have learned by now — given a villain that started in Action Comics and coincided with Naomi before making trouble for Young Justice — that items that reappear across Bendis' titles don’t tend to be accidents. This encounter on Earth-3 seems to be in the wake of Superboy Jon Kent’s kidnapping to Earth-3 as detailed in Bendis' Superman Vol. 2, and that sense of ongoing history (and that Bendis introduces a new hero on Earth-3 who demands revisiting) makes me think Bendis is leading up to a larger Earth-3 story down the road.

At least I hope so. Because, once again, I don’t see another return to Earth-3 in the eight issues Young Justice has left, and if Bendis had been planning to revisit Earth-3 in issue #21, now that opportunity is gone. Which is not to say the journey isn’t worth it — that Bendis has Robin Tim “Drake” Drake affirm late in the book that Superboy Conner Kent had not abandoned the team because “he’s my best friend” and they “love” one another is what DC Comics has been missing for the last 10 years if not longer. But if ultimately the legacy of Young Justice’s second coming is futzing around Earth-3 for almost six issues without ever explaining the “seven Crises” or what happened to this team, that won’t help but feel unsatisfactory.

Along with Araujo, Nick Derington appears to draw more of Jinny Hex’s backstory, a wonderful callback to her first appearance in Bendis and Derington’s Batman: Universe. Series artist John Timms does nicely here with a style reminiscent of the original Young Justice and Impulse artist Humberto Ramos. In big fight scenes, sometimes the art gets too chaotic, but it’s not a chronic problem and may also be an issue of too large or ill-placed sound effects.

Young Justice Vol. 2: Lost in the Multiverse ends with the team out of the Multiverse, but newly united with Wonder Comics characters from Naomi (another one for whom the cancellation of her series left more questions than answers), Dial H, and Wonder Twins, off to fight their common enemy. It’s cliffhanger-y in a way that feels sudden at the end of this book, as if the issues that followed should have been included here, though I think that’s three more issues before it’s resolved.

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Young Justice Vol. 2: Lost in the Multiverse



On a more traditional route, these events might’ve ended at about issue #9, and then #10–12 would have been the big collective fight, ending the first year of the book. We’ll see those issues in the third collection, but it’s another indication of how Young Justice seemed to be biding time that it ultimately didn’t have. Fleeting youth and all that; let’s hope it’s not another 16 years before these characters headline a book again.

[Includes original and variant covers, designs for “Drake” by Timms, cover sketches and layouts from Timms, Derington, and Araujo]


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