With members like Superboy, Wonder Girl, and Teen Lantern, Young Justice have some heavy hitters, but one obscure Justice Leaguer destroyed them.
Spoiler Warning for Young Justice #20 by Brian Michael Bendis, David Walker, Scott Godlewski, Gabe Eltaeb, and Wes Abbott!
The Justice League is one of the most powerful superhero teams of all time. Between heroes like Superman, Wonder Woman, and Shazam there are few threats that the League can’t take head-on. What makes the League so remarkable though, is that even their relatively obscure members can be just as dangerous as the more famous characters. While their younger counterparts, Young Justice might have some heavy hitters too, they still can’t match the adults, as evidenced by a recent fight. In Young Justice #20, the entire team barely holds up against Red Tornado.
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Young Justice’s final issue sees the team finding a new home in the former JSA Headquarters, Mount Justice. As the team of young heroes explores their new command center, they come across a startling discovery, the deactivated body of Red Tornado. The teens gawk at the android as Robin explains that Red tornado once trained the young heroes. While Teen Lantern gushes over the former Justice League hero, he awakens and recognizes Young Justice not as his proteges, but as intruders. With a blast of red wind, Tornado blows Superboy and Wonder Girl away. He easily dodges a double team attack by Robin and Spoiler… leaving only Red Tornado’s biggest fan, Teen Lantern.
The young hero is reluctant to hurt someone she idolizes so much, but Red Tornado shows no signs of stopping his rampage. Teen Lantern takes a hit from Tornado’s wind. Realizing she needs to do something, Teen Lantern unleashes her Green Lantern energy, completely dismantling Red Tornado and ending the fight. Later, after the team has had time to settle into their new home, readers are treated to one last image of this incarnation of the team. Superboy roasts marshmallows with Impulse, Robin cuddles Spoiler, and Teen Lantern flies side by side with Red Tornado, implying the team fixed him up after their fight.
Fans of the animated incarnation of Young Justice will no doubt remember the pivotal role that Red Tornado and Mount Justice played to that team. What makes this issue odd is that neither Red Tornado nor Mount Justice played nearly the same role for any version of the comic team. Red Tornado was an advisor to them, but that was a limited role. Robin even makes fun of this contradiction when he says of Red Tornado, “Back in the day (don’t ask me which day), Red Tornado was in charge of training us.”
While this last issue is sure to please those who discovered the team through the animated series, it ends up feeling rushed. The last handful of issues have all felt that way, as though the creative team behind the book was just as surprised about its cancellation as comic fans were. One notable symptom of this was Tim Drake changing his codename back to Robin off-panel, with no build-up. Ending with a fight against Red Tornado feels like a symptom of this. If this happened in the series’ middle, it could work as a fun reference to the animated series, but as a finale for the comic, it falls flat. This final issue seems to set up a new status quo for the team, and it’s crushing that readers won’t get to see that. Fans can only hope that Young Justice #20 is only a short break for the team and not a long hibernation.
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