Trapped somewhere on Gem world, the new Young Justice work together to find a way out. Elsewhere, Superboy and Impulse’s reunion continues, while elsewhere still, Amethyst’s positioning as royalty comes under scrutiny.
You know what you’re going to get from Brian Michael Bendis every time you see his name in the writing credits. You know what you’re going to get from Patrick Gleason, too. The expectations on one of those creators is always consistent, innovative, dynamic, and fun.
The other guy, well… that’s not as cut and dry.
This issue is fun. Nobody’s disputing how prolific Bendis is and how distinct his voice is. The man loves to write dialogue. As was a hallmark on his New Avengers work, or any of his work for that matter, Bendis has a knack for having characters and discussions test the limits.
This suits a character like Impulse perfectly. Bart’s a great fit for Bendis’s style. He carries the spirit of creator Mark Waid and turns his personality up past 11. He has a good handle on Superboy as well, for the purposes of this story at least. He’s not NOT Superboy, and that’s fine. He writes great humor and he writes good heart-warming scenes. The team interactions and their warmth for each other feels true. You really do get caught up in their happiness to be reunited in this issue. It’s a little infectious.
But it all feels disjointed, and because there’s so much going on it’s hard to pinpoint where everything starts to fall apart. The scenes of Amethyst and the council are way too wordy and not all that interesting. They’re also a little too unclear as to when they’re taking place.
The new characters are interesting; I’m sure we’ll see more of them, but they’re not given much to do or say in this issue. For a writer like Bendis who shoves lines of rapid-fire dialogue in to every panel, it’s a bit of a letdown that some of those words couldn’t find their way into the mouths of Jinny Hex or Teen Lantern.
Wes Abbott seems to have a field day with the copious word count though. Able to play with distinct speech styles, he’s forced to get creative with placement. He does his best to ensure you can still follow the comic visually without getting completely derailed by all the speech bubbles. The apprenticeship he’s completed on DC’s digital-first titles such as Batman ’66 and Injustice holds him in good stead to carry himself with distinction here.
That goes double for colorists Alejandro Sanchez and Alex Sinclair. Embracing the fun and scope of this issue, the two bring majesty and awe to the Gem world setting and imbue the action with a sense of adventure and loads of kinetic energy. This is a colorful book, as it should be, and the two lean into this with superb results.
John Timms makes up one half of the illustrative part of the art team and the artist brings some of the manic behavior of his work on Harley Quinn to try and liven up the scenes in the Gem World high council chambers. Hats off to his backgrounds and settings — they’re specifically something to admire.
But the real star of the book is Patrick Gleason. Although he has such a fantastic rapport with Pete Tomasi, as displayed on Batman and Robin, he proves there isn’t a writing style he can’t gel with.
Battling through Bendis’s verbose “word balloons as far as the eye can see” approach, Gleason still turns in standout art work. The comedic timing and sincere character interaction are only elevated by the artists’ guiding hand.
He gives each of Impulse, Robin, and Superboy a distinct visual personality and character through body language and facial expressions. His layout choices and storytelling ability are a perfect fit for the youthful energy of the book to the point where it’s unfair to the next penciller who follows him once he decides to exit the book.
Like I said earlier, the expectation on one of Bendis and Gleason is always consistent, innovative, dynamic, and fun. Can you guess which of those two that best describes?
(Psssst… it’s Gleason!)