Cover art for Young Justice #40, by Todd Nauck and Lary Stucker.
|First appearance||Young Justice: The Secret #1 (June 1998)|
|Created by||Todd DeZago (writer)
Todd Nauck and Lary Stucker (artist)
|Base(s)||Justice League Cave; Catskill Mountain Hotel|
|Member(s)||Captain Marvel Jr.
Young Justice is a fictional DC Comics superhero team consisting of teenaged heroes. The team first appeared in Young Justice: The Secret (June 1998) before graduating to their ongoing monthly series. Artist Todd Nauck and Lary Stucker illustrated almost all of the comics featuring the group; Todd DeZago wrote their early adventures, and their ongoing series was written almost entirely by Peter David.
The team was formed at a time when DC's usual teen hero group, the Teen Titans, had become adults and changed their name to the Titans. Like the original Teen Titans, Young Justice was centered around three previously established teen heroes: Superboy, Robin and Impulse, but grew to encompass most teenaged heroes in the DC Universe.
Robin, Superboy, and Impulse first join together in a one-shot, part of the "GirlFrenzy" Fifth week event, called Young Justice: The Secret, written by Todd DeZago, where they first encounter the mysterious superheroine Secret and free her from captivity of the DEO (Department of Extranormal Operations). They next appear together in the Justice League miniseries, World Without Grown-Ups, also written by DeZago, in which a magical being, commanded by new child villain Bedlam, moves all adults to an alternate world. This is when they first stumble upon the abandoned Justice League Cave in Happy Harbor (formerly called "The Secret Sanctuary"), which would later become their headquarters, re-christened the "Justice Cave." After managing to thwart Bedlam's adolescent paradise, the three boys agree that they were effective as a team and should officially band together as their own group.
When the ongoing title begins in September 1998, the three heroes have formed a clubhouse in the Cave. However, in the first issue, they awaken the android superhero Red Tornado from a self-imposed dormancy; Red Tornado would remain a supporting character in the title, acting as a mentor/chaperone to the foundling team, feeling that his interaction with the boisterous teens will help salvage what he felt was left of his humanity. In issue 4, the group doubles in number with the addition of three teen superheroines: the second Wonder Girl (Cassandra Sandsmark), struggling to make her mark as a serious crimefighter, the ethereal and mysterious Secret (Greta Hayes, but nicknamed "Suzie" throughout most of the series), and Arrowette (Cissie King-Jones), attempting to humiliate her estranged domineering mother, the retired Miss Arrowette, by outshining her own brief super-heroic career. The stern and calculating Robin and the cocky and brazen Superboy occasionally compete for leadership; Robin is the one most commonly deferred to, though routinely teased by the others for what they consider his over-pragmatic nature, initially refusing to share his face or his true identity with any of them; a slightly jealous Wonder Girl overcomes her initial distaste for Arrowette and the two quickly become close friends; Wonder Girl's schoolgirl crush on Superboy slowly begins to develop into genuine feelings shared between the two of them for one another; the team as a whole usually find the ability to trust in Impulse in spite of his whimsical character, yielding mixed results in various adventures; Secret, amnesiac to her true identity and past history, is accepted for her innocent nature and forms a kinship with Wonder Girl and Arrowette, and later on in the series she develops a crush on Robin.
In their earliest adventures, the team mostly faced threats of varying severity; from the Mighty Endowed, an archaeologist named Nina Dowd ("N. Dowd") who was transformed into a top-heavy feline figure too well endowed to support her own weight, to the deadly Harm. This man was an aspiring super-villain bent on battling and killing young metahumans for "practice," later revealed to be Secret's adopted brother in her previous life. Harm was responsible for her death and subsequent transfiguration. Young Justice discovers and "adopts" the Super-Cycle, a sentient vehicle capable of flight from New Genesis which they come to rely as their primary means of transportation. They are also persistently badgered by APES (All Purpose Enforcement Squad) Agents Donald Fite and Ishido Maad (loosely coined as "Fite n' Maad"). Writer Peter David, in a column about jokes he was not allowed to do, revealed that he had considered naming the two "Nuck" and "Futz", but had been overruled by DC editors who did not like the combination "Nuck'n'Futz". These men are acting on behalf of the Department of Extranormal Operations. They are seeking to recapture Secret; instead she leads a revolt that frees all of their other captives.
Red Tornado faces losing custody of his adoptive daughter, Traya. He flees the state with her, placing the team in a legal predicament because they assisted him. Traya is eventually returned to her mother after she is awakened from her coma by Secret, while Red Tornado is temporarily impounded. Arrowette suffers the murder of a close friend at her school and nearly kills the attacker. This places the team in further trouble with the government. It helps stir an already-ensuing media blitz aimed at all young super-heroes turning public sway towards the opinion that all teenage heroes are too reckless and more of an endangerment to society than a protection. This situation is further exacerbated when Young Justice, in an attempt to free Secret who had been taken captive by the DEO, inadvertently defaces Mount Rushmore. These events quickly give rise to building tensions between Young Justice and their adult counterparts in the Justice League, and a rising amount of petitioning in Washington against "underage" crime-fighters, spurred by the newly formed team of Golden Age sidekicks, Old Justice. Remorseful over her lack of restraint, and feeling burnt-out on a life that was mostly forced on her by her mother in the first place, Cissie retires as Arrowette and quits the team in the midst of these events, much to the dismay of her best friend Wonder Girl (who would go on to continually pester Cissie for some time later about rejoining the team). In the midst of these events, unbeknownst to the team, Superboy is taken captive and detained by the villainous Agenda, while his villainous counterpart, Match, is implanted within the team. Shortly after, they meet and are aided by a mysterious new heroine, the enigmatic Empress, later revealed to be Anita Fite, daughter of Donald Fite, one of the agents who had previously plagued the team up through this point. The team soon becomes targeted by a federally-operated group of metahumans known as the Pointmen, and is forced to flee their headquarters in Happy Harbor, now officially wanted by the government.
Sins of Youth
These developments spin off into one of the series' key events, Young Justice: Sins of Youth fifth week event in March 2000 (takes place between Young Justice issues #19 and 20), as the team's troubles come to a head when all members of Young Justice, the Justice League, the Justice Society, the Titans, and several other costumed heroes are, in a catastrophic chain of events involving Klarion the Witch-Boy, are either aged to adulthood or de-aged to adolescence, thanks to the machinations of the Agenda, headed by former wife of Lex Luthor, Contessa Erica Alexandra Del Portenza, who had been manipulating events from the beginning in an attempt to discredit all costumed super-heroes, young and old alike, by targeting Young Justice and the teen heroes as the weakest link in the chain. During this crisis, as the heroes scatter to find a reversal to Klarion's magicks, the DCU is given a glimpse of the quality of heroism that may one day arise from its youngest generation of super-heroes (much to the surprise of many within the super-heroic community, as well as a few members of Young Justice themselves), as well as a glimpse of its senior generations in their teen years or younger. Also during the event, or as indirect results of the event, Superboy's girlfriend Tana Moon is brutally murdered by an agent of the Agenda, marking a turning point in the Kid of Steel's life, Wonder Girl began to bloom into her role as a hero, even abandoning her wig. Jack Knight (Starman), impressed with the competence and intelligence he witnessed in the then-adult Courtney Whitmore, the second Star-Spangled Kid, would later pass his Cosmic Rod and the Starman mantle on to Courtney, spurring the precocious heroine to later become Stargirl. It also marked the transition between the original six and the new cast, with Empress joining right after this storyline and a newly de-aged Lobo, or Li'l Lobo, being created by it.
In the aftermath of these events, negative public opinion against the young crime-fighters subsides, and the team reconciles with their friends and mentors in the Justice League and with the government. Superboy temporarily loses his powers, but regains his ability to age normally (as a result from an earlier story arc in his own title, Kon-El was permanently suspended in age as a 16-year old). The team re-locates its headquarters to an abandoned hotel in the Catskills and takes a temporary leave of absence to recuperate, allowing for a substitute team consisting of Beast Boy, Flamebird, Batgirl, Captain Marvel Junior, and Lagoon Boy to fill in for one issue, as they intervene in a battle royale between Klarion and Li'l Lobo.
When Cissie is selected to represent the United States in the archery games for the 2000 Summer Olympics at the encouragement of her mother, the team accompanies her to Australia and thwarts an effort to sabotage the games by the criminal nation of Zandia. Cissie, a natural-born marksman, wins the gold medal for the US, effectively gaining her celebrity status without the need of her heroic identity. They team up once again with Empress, finally learning her true identity, much to Anita's chagrin. Young Justice quickly warms up to the young mystic and welcomes her within their ranks, though Cissie initially rejects Anita out of resentment towards feeling replaced.
The team later make an expedition to outer space at the behest of Doiby Dickles, former sidekick to Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott, and former member of Old Justice, to free his previous homeworld Myrg from invading forces. In this adventure they encounter Li'l Lobo once again, who agrees to join them for the expectation of violence. Robin begrudgingly allows Young Justice to accept Lobo's help in this instance, primarily out of a desire for any chance of evening their odds for success. After liberating Myrg and returning home (after yet another brief excursion to New Genesis, in which Secret meets and unwittingly strikes up a rapport with the despotic Darkseid), Lobo continues to exercise his presence with Young Justice and participating in their adventures for no real reason that anyone within the group can discern; he is never officially accepted as a member. He develops an attraction for Empress; a mildly interested but mostly apathetic Anita obliges to go on a date with him at one point.
Our Worlds at War
During 2001's "Our Worlds at War" event, the universe is faced with the dual threat of impending annihilation at the hands of Imperiex and conquest/enslavement at the hands of Brainiac 13. Many tenuous alliances are formed, particularly between then-US President Lex Luthor and the Justice League, not to mention Earth and the dark world Apokolips. In the midst of intergalactic war, Young Justice is drafted into the combat strictly for search and rescue purposes. As a result of the aftermath of the JLA: Tower of Babel storyline, in which Batman had been revealed to be keeping extensive and invasive dossiers on his teammates in the Justice League for purposes of neutralizing and subduing in the event of any of them going rogue, similar suspicions of Robin had begun to circulate amongst his teammates in Young Justice. When the team crash lands and is left stranded on Apokolips after Superboy took control of their shuttle in an attempt to rescue Steel from the Black Racer, tensions explode between Superboy and Robin and those suspicions are brought to light as Superboy, Wonder Girl, Impulse, and Cissie all express concerns regarding trust- although Secret reaffirms her faith in Robin while Empress acknowledges Batman's reasons for developing the strategies, with Lobo dismissing it as impossible for anyone to take him out-, effectively leaving the team divided. The group agree to put the matter aside for the time being as they attempt to get off of Apokolips.
The team quickly begins drawing enemy fire; Impulse is left shaken and temporarily traumatized when one of his super-speed "scouts" (vibrational "clones" Impulse learned to make of himself that could function independly for short time periods) is killed in the line of fire, giving the lackadaisical hero a harsh confrontation with his own mortality; Li'l Lobo is all but annihilated by Parademons, ultimately finished off by the Black Racer. The rest of the team is taken captive and put into the care of Granny Goodness, where she and her Female Furies subject them to various cruel forms of mental torture. Secret is taken to confer with Darkseid, who had taken an interest in the powerful, yet naive young heroine the last time they had met. Secret, who had recently began to learn more about her powers and her connections with the afterlife and who had consequently began to ponder her true nature, is informed by Darkseid that she is "evil." Young Justice eventually breaks free from Granny's captivity and lashes out at their tormentors before making another desperate attempt at escape. Due to Li'l Lobo's ability to replicate clones of himself for every drop of his blood spilled, the team is aided by an army of Lobo clones who are unleashed on the Apokoliptian forces, as they lash out against everyone and everything around them before turning on each other and killing one another off to the last surviving Lobo. The team finally makes good their escape from Apokolips in the midst of the chaos, with the help of one additional genetically inferior teenage Lobo that had remained hidden from the fight in their spaceship. Ashamed of his perceived inferiority and cowardice, this less imposing, less threatening Lobo renames himself "Slo-Bo." The team, who had been listed as missing in action for some time finally return to Earth safely a few days after the Imperiex War had finally ended, collectively and individually jarred by their wartime experience.
In the aftermath of this adventure, for the first time frightened for his life, Impulse decides to quit the team, retiring from his super-hero life altogether. He is joined by Robin, who decides to sever ties with the team out of hurt feelings inflicted by teammates that he feels no longer trust him. After the loss of two founding members, they are joined by former Justice League mascot Snapper Carr, who agrees to assume Red Tornado's mentoring position; with his own unique form of counsel, Snapper attempts to help the remaining members get their feet back on the ground. To re-bolster their ranks, the team soon recruits the older Ray as its newest member. Meanwhile, in an effort to help Secret come to terms with her tragic past and assuage her concerns over what she considers her "true nature," Snapper arranges for Suzie to be taken in by the Spectre Hal Jordan in a mentoring capacity. The full details of her life and death are brought to light, as well as her role as a "gatekeeper" between the realm of the dead and the living. She is never shown divulging the information of her origin to her teammates, though she does supply them with her true name, Greta Hayes.
World Without Young Justice
All four series featuring Young Justice characters take part in the "World Without Young Justice" crossover in April 2002. The five-part story arc features old Young Justice opponent Bedlam from "World Without Grown-Ups" returning and once again recreating the world to suit his will. In this new reality, Young Justice consists of distorted, and in some cases amoral, parodies of their proper selves. Reunited with Bart Allen and Tim Drake, Young Justice manages to defeat Bedlam once again and restore reality to its rightful state.
With Young Justice once again in full force, the team decides to take a vote on who should become team leader, due to the feeling that despite Robin's return, they question whether or not he deserves the position of leader, particularly in light of having quit the team so abruptly. In the end, Wonder Girl, having blossomed into a competent, level-headed heroine since her more awkward days hiding under her wig and goggles, and also having stuck with the team through thick and thin since close to its beginning, wins the election, and is given full blessings from former leader, Robin. Though Robin loses his leadership position, he continues to act as the team's chief tactical mind, similar to Batman's role with the JLA.
Wonder Girl assumes responsibility just in time to lead Young Justice to its next challenge. When Empress's father is kidnapped and murdered by her super-villain grandfather, Agua Sin Gaaz, a prominent and powerful resident of the nation of Zandia, populated primarily with criminals, Young Justice assembles a legion of young heroes from across the DCU to assist in Sin Gaaz's apprehension, including Stargirl, Jakeem Thunder, Lagoon Boy, Kid Devil, and dozens of others. The assault on Zandia is met with an equally staggering assemblage of villains, resulting in an all-out battle royale. Empress confronts Sin Gaaz, but the villain is defeated and murdered by Arrowette - not Cissie, but her mother, Bonnie King-Jones, passing off as her own daughter. After Sin Gaaz's demise, Empress is left in the care of two newborn infants suddenly created in his lab - the reincarnations of Anita's own deceased parents.
The final storyline of the series witnesses the building subplot of Secret's dark side coming to light. As Young Justice prepares to boost its image and expand by agreeing to star in a new reality show, Secret learns that her father is to soon be sentenced to death for the murder of her brother, Harm. She pleas for her teammates help in breaking him out of jail. When they refuse and later condemn her after freeing her father anyway, a betrayed Secret erupts in a fit of anger, violently attacks her friends, and agrees to leave Earth for Apokolips with Darkseid, at last giving in to his offer of tutelage. With Secret now in service to one of humanity's greatest adversaries, and now totally in control of her vast power linking her to the abyss, the team apprehensively prepares to face their former friend. Impulse confesses his fear over his own lack of regard for his own life; Empress, now left to care for two newborn infants faces the possibility that her career as a super-hero may be over; Slo-Bo, with his physically inferior body, is slowly beginning to degrade; Cissie at last establishes peace with her mother; and Superboy and Wonder Girl finally confess their feelings for one another. When Secret finally attacks in a final confrontation condemning her friends for failing her, Robin admits their failings and appeals to Secret's reason and inner goodness. Upon breaking down in tears and giving up the people she had previously consumed, Secret is confronted and scorned by an angered Darkseid. Slo-Bo attempts to attack the New God but is seemingly obliterated by a shot of Darkseid's Omega Effect. Darkseid then uses his Omega Effect to strip Secret of her immortality and her power, rendering her "normal" as punishment for her betrayal; ironically, all Secret really yearned for all along. The last page reveals that Slo-Bo, rather than being killed by Darkseid, was instead flung into the far future, where he is (consciously) imprisoned as a statue in the Young Justice of the 853rd Century's cave headquarters.
The team is next seen in the Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day mini-series. A casual business meeting with a potential money source and the Titans goes awry when the two teams are attacked by an android (see Indigo) from the future, leaving Empress, Argent, Cyborg and Jesse Quick hospitalized. The Ray is absent, but unmentioned. Upon further pursuance of the situation, the unwitting android activates a dormant Superman replicate android that had been left in the care of STAR Labs. The Superman android turns out to be hostile, and the resulting clash leads to the deaths of long-time Titans Lilith and Donna Troy (who, unknown to the Titans and Young Justice, was resurrected by the Titans of Myth), leaving both teams devastated. Wonder Girl, enraged at being unable to save either of them and particularly saddened by the loss of her friend and predecessor, has come to see herself and Young Justice ineffective as heroes, and turns away from her teammates. Young Justice finally dissolves. The kids, choosing to shoulder the weight of the responsibility for the fiasco, drop out of communication with one another until Wonder Girl, Robin, Superboy, and Impulse are brought back together by Cyborg, Starfire, and Beast Boy to form the new Teen Titans.
Meanwhile Ray joins the new Freedom Fighters, while Snapper Car joins Checkmate. Secret, without powers retires from the superhero world to attend school with Cissie and Wonder Girl. Empress also goes into semi-retirement but would occasionally re-don her costume during the Infinite Crisis, and during a brief team-up with Supergirl. She apparently came out of retirement in Final Crisis, joining Mas y Menos and Sparx in forming a Teen Titans spin-off known as the "League of Titans". The League is easily defeated by Mirror Master and Arthur Light, and are last seen recuperating at the Hall of Justice. Red Tornado meanwhile later rejoins the Justice League. After over a year of inactivity, Lagoon Boy is recruited by Cyborg for his new Titans East roster, only to be severely injured and rendered comatose on the team's first training exercise. The Super-Cycle meanwhile has disappeared without a trace.
A short Young Justice story is added into Teen Titans #50, where Wonder Girl and Robin remembering their old Young Justice days, and in particular the newly deceased Bart Allen. The pair would share stories about how Bart would impulsively make mistakes such as causing an international incident in Gorilla City, failing to realize his teammates were badly-made robots and publishing the team's secret identities in a Young Justice comic book.
In the Wonder Girl Mini Series, the then living remaining core members of Young Justice, consisting of Wonder Girl, Robin, Empress, and Arrowette (Secret was absent due to her powers being gone and Superboy and Kid Flash had not yet been resurrected), along with Hercules, teamed up to defeat Granny Goodness and her Female Furies.
In the first six issues of Adventure Comics (collected in Superboy: The Boy of Steel), Wonder Girl, Red Robin (Tim Drake), and Kid Flash come together in Smallville to offer Superboy support after an incident with Lex Luthor.
A second, unrelated Young Justice title was launched by DC in 2011 as part of DC's kid-friendly all-ages line (which features comics based on popular cartoons such as Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Ben 10). Issue #0 was written by TV series writers Greg Weisman and Kevin Hopps. Issues 1-6 and the 2011 Free Comic Book Day Special were written by Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani. As of issue #7 TV series writers Greg Weisman and Kevin Hopps resumed writing the series. Mike Norton provided the art for issues 0-4 and the 2011 Free Comic Book Day Special, while Christopher Jones became the new artist as of issue #5. The series is set on Earth-16 in the DC Multiverse, and follows the continuity of the Young Justice animated series. It features a team consisting of Superboy, Aqualad, Artemis, Robin, Miss Martian and Kid Flash, and follows the teens in between their missions from the Justice League that they are shown embarking on in the television series. Though it is set in a separate continuity from the original series, issues #5 and #6 of the title feature the kids on a camping trip in homage to issue #7 of the original series, which featured a similar storyline.[original research?]
In other media
On November 26, 2010, the Young Justice animated television series pilot aired on Cartoon Network (in the United States), featuring teenage superhero sidekicks who are members of a fictional covert operation "B-Team" under the authority of the fully fledged members of the Justice League, intended to deal with situations where the Justice League could not take action due to their more visible nature. Two seasons of the show have been produced. Despite its title, the show is not an adaptation of the Young Justice series of comics, but rather, an adaptation of the entire DC Universe with a focus on young superheroes. The television series is based on a concept of a cross between Teen Titans and Young Justice (not an adaptation of solely one or the other), drawing influences from the 1960s Teen Titans run and the 1990s Young Justice run, in addition to the recent Teen Titans and Young Justice comics. The line-up reflects the variety of sources on which the show is based: The team includes a version of Superboy, the Dick Grayson incarnation of Robin, the Wally West incarnation of Kid Flash, Miss Martian, Artemis, and a newly created version of Aqualad; later in the first season they also introduced members Zatanna and Rocket and even Red Arrow joined the team for a couple episodes. Other members have been added at the start of Season 2, such as Tim Drake as Robin III, Wonder Girl, Lagoon Boy, Batgirl, Guardian, Beast Boy, Bumblebee, Red Arrow's clone, Arsenal, Impulse/Kid Flash II and Blue Beetle. Aqualad was the leader in season 1, Nightwing took over as leader until Aqualad returned from his undercover mission and resumed his duties as leader. Nightwing later left the team after Wally's death in the series finale. Artemis also takes on the name of "Tigress" after Wally dies in the series finale. Robin II and Aquagirl were both revealed to be members of the Team during the five-year gap between season 1 & 2 and were killed under mysterious circumstances. Tempest, Sergeant Marvel, Lieutenant Marvel, and Troia all joined the team between seasons 1 & 2 and left before season 2. At the end of "The Hunt", Arsenal was kicked off the Team for endangering his teammates. At the end of the series finale, Static joins the Team.
The 1,000,000 issue of the series was a part of the "DC One Million" storyline, which was a top votegetter for the Comics Buyer's Guide Fan Award for Favorite Story for 1999. Said story involved Justice Legion T, an 853rd Century trio of young heroes: Robin the Toy Wonder (a robotic Robin), Superboy OMAC (One Millionth Actual Clone, a play on the classic OMAC character) and Impulse (a Speed Force-influenced energy being, presumably either personified by the spirits of previous persons who used the heroic name, or else the living embodiment of random thoughts lost in the Speed Force, but most probably a time misplaced Scout of the original Impulse).
Trade paperbacks and compilations
- Young Justice: A League of their Own – Young Justice #1–7, Young Justice Secret Files #1
- Young Justice: Sins of Youth - Young Justice: Sins of Youth #1-2, Young Justice: Sins of Youth Secret Files #1, Superboy #74, Sins of Youth: Batboy & Robin #1, Sins of Youth: Lagoon Man & Aqualad #1, Sins of Youth: JLA, Jr. #1, Sins of Youth: Kid Flash & Impulse #1, Sins of Youth: Starwoman & JSA, Jr. #1, Sins of Youth: Superman, Jr./Superboy, Sr. #1, Sins of Youth: Wonder Girls #1, Sins of Youth: Secret & Deadboy #1
- DC Comics Presents: Young Justice #1 –JLA: World Without Grown-Ups #1-2
- DC Comics Presents: Young Justice #2 –Young Justice Secret Files, Young Justice in No Man's Land, and Young Justice: The Secret.
- DC Comics Presents: Young Justice #3 –Secret Origins 80-Page Giant, Young Justice #7
- Wallace, Dan (2008). "Empress". In Dougall, Alastair. The DC Comics Encyclopedia. New York: Dorling Kindersley. p. 115. ISBN 0-7566-4119-5. OCLC 213309017
- "Young Justice" #25 (November 2000)
- "DC Comics Solicitations for June 2011". Comic Book Resources. 2011-03-14. Retrieved 2011-03-24.
- Weisman, Greg (2011-08-29). "ASK GREG & YJ UPDATE". Ask Greg. Retrieved 2011-09-11.
- DC Animated Showcase: Greg Weisman Interview, Part 1 on YouTube
- Weisman, Greg (2010-07-27). = 12354 "Laura 'ad astra' Sack writes...". Ask Greg. Retrieved 2010-07-29.
- "NYCC 2010: Young Justice Animated". Titanstower.com. 2010-10-11. Retrieved 2010-11-03.
- Weisman, Greg (2011-03-07). = 888 "YOUNG JUSTICE Episode #8 ("Downtime") Credits". Ask Greg. Retrieved 2011-03-08.
- "DC Universe: The Source". Dcu.blog.dccomics.com. Retrieved 2010-12-28.
- "DC Comics Solicitations for November 2010". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 2010-12-28.