Young Justice #19 is here and in this issue we dive into the recent backstory of Wondergirl as she takes her turn in the spotlight.
The story of the issue is reflected in the main cover by all-star team John Timms and Gabe Eltaeb, which depicts Wondergirl literally shouting the theme and message of the issue. Wondergirl stands ready in the center of a glowing wonder logo and the visage of Zeus behind her. The art is great here and the coloring is so vibrant.
The variant cover is by Francis Manapul and is absolutely beautiful. I have to say it’s another frame worthy variant cover. It’s the Young Justice team posing for a “class picture” with Teen Lantern using her powers to operate the camera. It’s so fun and vibrant and I feel that it really captures the personalities and vibes of these very different characters.
The story in this issue is a one-shot, picking up on some Wondergirl threads that were present in the early issues of the series. Sadly for us Superman Family fans, there is a lack of Conner Kent, but that’s okay, each team member needs their time to shine. Zeus continues to try and convince Wondergirl to take her place in the Greek Pantheon. When she refuses, he sends perils to test her (as is a common hurtle for mythical Greek heroes). She recruits the rest of Young Justice to aid her.
So this is (according to solicitations) the penultimate issue of the series… and it kinda feels that way. I have to believe this arc for Wondergirl was originally planned to extend past a single issue and that Bendis has squeezed her whole arc into this story. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am. I would have loved to see this story spread out a little more, that’s for sure.
Bendis switches up his usual framing style for heavy narration, which is a useful tool if you want to cram a lot of detail into a small amount of pages. There are also SEVERAL double page spreads. One could argue that these double page spreads are to convey the epic scope of Wondergirl’s struggle, or… one could argue that it’s a little easier for an artist to draw one image to fill two pages (instead of several panels per page), if one needed to drastically reformat a story arc in a short amount of time.
Now, talking about those double page spreads, they look so great! The interior art by Scott Godlewski continues the status quo of fantastic pencils and inks, with Gabe Eltaeb doing a bang up job on colors as always. The giant mythical monsters and the previously mentioned epic scope are really well portrayed here.
I’ll end this review with some opinions and spoilers, just because I feel like the themes and messaging of this issue are worth talking about. Like I said, if you want a summary, look no further than the main cover. Wondergirl shouts at her grandfather, saying, “Zeus! It’s time to face the future!”
Much of the conflict between Wondergirl and Zeus stems from an “Old Fashioned Values VS Progressive Values” argument. Now this is struggle is clearly meant by Bendis to illustrate just that in our modern sociological/political climate. Only, in universe and in story the conflict doesn’t quite line up one to one with the real life issues Bendis wants to allude to.
Wondergirl’s issues with Zeus and the rest of the Greek Pantheon don’t stem from what the Pantheon are supposed to uphold and represent, but rather their own personalities. And this is something that a cursory knowledge of Greek Myth will tell you, the Greek gods are NOT good people, or nice people, or even likable people. They use, manipulate, and abuse. Zeus wants Wondergirl to take her place among the gods, but Wondergirl rightly suspects that despite what Zeus says, this is for his benefit, not hers.
My issue comes in at the end of the issue, where Wondergirl is handed an ultimatum. If she outright refuses to join the Pantheon, she will be barred from it and her family FOREVER, and being a teenager with a strong will and mind of her own, Wondergirl abandons that notion. She does this so she can choose her own path which lines up with the popular ideals of the 21st century.
This stood out to me because Wondergirl points out earlier in the issue that Zeus is millions of years older than her. She has such a LIMITED perspective in terms of life experience and the life she’s lived so far is microscopic compared to the lifespan she’ll end up having. Could there be a chance that she’d change her mind or feel differently about her family or duty at some point? It just seems so final, and a decision that was made so quickly
This was brash thinking. She has separated herself from a family who will be there for her long after all her friends, and the culture she currently embraces are long gone. And I’m not saying all the values she’s standing up for aren’t worth fighting for, I’m just questioning her judgement to ostracize herself from an eternally influential community which she could engage in and potentially enact change in, just so she can make a statement that’ll have maybe a century of relevance in her otherwise immortal lifespan.
Writer Brian Michael Bendis may have wanted to push a message about changing with the times, but I came away with a message about how often change occurs, how what’s old is often new again, and about using discernment in choosing methods that will effect the longest lasting change. Instead of living and reacting in the moment. That’s just my opinion though.
Despite all of that, I am very interested to see how the last issue goes, and if the characters on this team will find life in another book somewhere in the DCU. I certainly hope so!
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