An assortment of young superheroes have been transported to the otherworldly realm of Gemworld. Robin doesn’t know why he’s there, but he’s grabbing what fun there is to be had, alongside local princess Amethyst.
Elsewhere, cowgirl Ginny Hex is trying to introduce herself to Teen Lantern when Wonder Girl happens along. Cassie brings with her a flashback to a few weeks previously when, after beating a classic JLA villain, she’s visited by her grandfather Zeus.
The pendant would mean her becoming a full member of the Pantheon, with responsibility for the protection of Olympus. She turns down the gift, wanting to earn this honour.
And while I don’t doubt Cassie is earnest about wanting to prove herself worthy of a seat at Olympus’s top table, there’s probably some suspicion in there; ‘Grandpa’ is presenting as affable, but she knows godly gifts tend to come with massive catches. This way, she has time to figure out what’s really wanted of her.
I’m impressed that she faces down the notoriously mercurial king of the gods, but that she does, and without consequence… maybe Zeus is genuine about wanting a better relationship with his granddaughter.
Cassie’s tale is the meat of this issue, we don’t get much further on the Gemworld shenanigans that kicked off this book last month. We do get to see a little of how newbies Ginny Hex and Teen Lantern react to being shifted to a fantasy world, and it’s great to see the Tim Drake Robin having a few giggles after the last, oh, eight years.
It’s Cassie who’s the standout performer, though, she’s smart, tough and cool-headed. I’d not be surprised were writer Brian Michael Bendis to give all the characters a spotlight issue, though I hope he spreads them out so that the Gemworld business gets to be the main focus soon. The final page, beautifully visualised by regular illustrator Patrick Gleason and colourist Alejandro Sanchez, promises much… but then, so did last issue, with its reveal of long-lost Superboy Conner Kent, and he’s not in this one at all.
I don’t mind that, though, as we get a very engaging tale, helping banish memories of the awful New 52 Cassie Sandsmark – this version of the young heroine is so much better; I especially like that unlike ‘big sisters’ Donna and Diana these days, she’s not swinging a sword.
Gleason doesn’t draw the whole of this issue, sticking to the Gemworld scenes – Cassie’s flashback is the work of penciller Emanuela Lupacchino, inker Ray McCarthy and Sanchez, and it’s pretty darn wonderful. Lupacchino and McCarthy recapture that youthful dynamic they brought to Supergirl, so if they’re the assigned alternate art team for Young Justice, I’ll be very happy – I especially like their silver fox Zeus, his clothes flapping in the air updrafts… given that’s her grandfather, Cassie doesn’t have to worry about ageing well.
Gleason’s art is as enjoyable as ever, with the storytelling excellent and the ‘acting’ spot on. I’m looking forward to Bendis’s script allowing him to reveal Teen Lantern, though – she’s spent two issues inside an ugly green construct and we all know, from the covers, that she has an appealing design. Speaking of designs, I like Cassie’s new costume, it’s so much more teen appropriate than her last outfit – but could we have a bit of brightness on the skirt? That industrial grey is super-drab.
I do like the headphones she wears on the cover by Gleason and Sanchez, it’s a cute touch. That’s a great opening image all round, focusing on the female YJ-ers, with lovely logos and taglines.
The alternate cover by Sanford Green, showcasing the whole team, is pure delight. If Mr Green could be offered a YJ annual, that would be lovely! A shout out, too, to Josh Reed, for jolly nice lettering throughout.
This second issue from Bendis’ Wonder Comics DC imprint is a belter, full of fun and, yes, wonder. It sped by but I got my money’s worth. I think it’s safe to say Bendis, Gleason and pals have a hit on their hands.