Review: Young Justice Vol. 3: Warriors and Warlords trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Hail and farewell, Young Justice. Though this series comes to an end with Young Justice Vol. 3: Warriors and Warlords, at least Young Justice exists again, at least the characters can be seen standing around together in the background of crossovers or etc., that some of them are already announced to be appearing post-Future State and that they’re all available for bar mitzvahs or parties.

It’s awful hard to know what’s going on at DC these days, whether writer Brian Michael Bendis is still rolling along happily or on his way out. One would like to assume that the market decides, that (much as a faithful reincorporation of Young Justice has been on my personal must-have list for decades if not anyone else’s) Young Justice was cancelled because it was simply not selling and not because of some contrary vision of the DCU. If DC’s new regime favors wholesome and all-age-friendly comics as much as it seems, Young Justice would seem like a fine fit, and maybe we can hope it’ll be back again some day (though were that imminent, I’d think the rumor mill would have already clued us in).

As for Warriors and Warlords, it has a couple touches of greatness in it enough for one to think that had Bendis' Young Justice ever gotten past its initial sub-multiversal arc, it might have really gone somewhere. I was happy enough parsing Bendis' teen-speak and seeing these characters all on the same page together, but I can acknowledge that any promises at the beginning of this series of grand revelations come to naught here; the reasons this Young Justice team has been forgotten by history are far less complicated than you might have hoped. We can’t know whether Bendis just wasn’t holding the cards he seemed to be or if Scott Snyder’s Death Metal or something else disrupted where he was headed. The bottom line is this first arc ended up a (exceptionally fun) bust, but there was some hope the next one would’ve been better.

[Review contains spoilers]

In the end, from what I understood, the grand answer to why the world doesn’t remember Superboy Conner Kent and Young Justice is not Dr. Manhattan, not Superboy-Prime or Perpetua, but rather that Conner happened to be on Gemworld at the time that a big “C” crisis happened. Ditto, even though there’s much to do about what else Impulse Bart Allen isn’t telling them and how some of this may be Bart’s fault and so on, it seems Bart was in the timestream when a crisis happened and so basically the same thing. There is no culprit, no machinations at play, nor is it overtly related to the “seven Crises” of Gemworld — nor even does any of this trigger some new storyline or mission for Young Justice. If anything, thematically, this makes concrete the idea that the teammates can best rely on one another — because one another are the only ones who really remember them — but hardly are there secrets here that require both Conner and Bart getting their own individual “revelation” issues.

One does hope Death Metal will finally clean up some of this continuity stuff, because it really is a mess — unless the issue is simply Bendis doing his own thing here. Case in point, in the final issue Teen Lantern Keli Quintela is hesitant to destroy a rampaging Red Tornado because she’s such a “big fan” of his — a Red Tornado that, as of Dark Nights: Metal, none of the Justice League seemed to know or to be acquainted with or who’d ever been released before, but Keli knows him. That’s nothing that can be attributed to a character being inside or outside time — that’s just a gaffe.

Letting alone the appearances of Zeus in this story, whom I’m pretty sure is dead as of Wonder Woman, and that Bendis' Flash Barry Allen comes to ask Impulse, “Hey, are you Kid Flash,” when Barry himself (at least as far as his own title) already has two Kid Flashes and should either not know who Bart is or recognize him as Impulse. One might also ask why, of all people, Wonder Girl wonders aloud whether Red Tornado is a “he” or an “it” given that she’s one of the people who should actually remember and was close to him (the entire Red Tornado issue is a giant waste of potentially emotional moments). I’m glad to see Red Tornado and Wonder Girl with Wonder Woman and Impulse with the Flash, and in that the book is entertaining, but it’s also a muddle.

I felt Warriors was at its strongest when it loosed itself from a lot of these things. The issue spotlighting Robin and Spoiler mostly involves those two, but there’s cut scenes of the others and they all come together in the end. It’s funny and irreverent and one gets the sense of these characters constantly dropping in on one another at opportune and inopportune moments, a mad, mad Young Justice world. More than once the stories end with the team suddenly, casually sitting around eating snacks, and I didn’t even mind Bendis' sudden about-face in Tim Drake returning to the Robin name so soon after calling himself “Drake” (which may as well have been a decision out of Bendis’s control) — the book is breezy, silly, overcrowded, and given to reversing itself unapologetically on a dime, but it’s also gloriously free of interpersonal angst. That’s a Young Justice book I can get behind.

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Young Justice Vol. 3: Warriors and Warlords

2.5

Rating

It’s debatable whether, in Young Justice Vol. 3: Warriors and Warlords, Brian Michael Bendis breaks the one immutable rule of Peter David’s Young Justice by having Cissie “Arrowette” King-Jones suit up again, and it’s still a shame no one will shed a tear for poor Lagoon Boy. The back cover of the book promises “the truth shall be revealed!” and if that’s not outright false then at least it’s not what you were hoping for. But the Young Justice characters talk all over each other for eight issues here after being silent for so long, and in the end they’re Justice League-sanctioned even if they don’t have a title of their own. I’ll take it (and Mike Grell drawing Warlord). Hopefully they’ll be back.

[Includes original and variant covers]

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3 comments:

  1. It REALLY bugs me that Vol3 is ONLY available in softcover after buying Vol 1 and 2 is Hardcover, especially as its the last volume!

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    1. They're apparently doing the same thing for the last 1-2 volumes of Bendis's Superman run. Blerg

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    2. Unlike death and taxes, I learned long ago you can't count on collections formats. And the trend is often more likely from hardcover/paperback to paperbacks-only as, like here, the comics epochs change and a new shiny event comes along and the "old" books are left in the dust. At this point I just about expect it.

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