Stew’s Reviews: Dark Crisis – Young Justice

I’ve always said my favorite era across all comics is the Post-Crisis era of DC.

That’s… not really a good name for it anymore. DC used to have two eras: Pre-Crisis (the stuff that happened prior to Crisis On Infinite Earths) and Post-Crisis (guess what that meant). Then there was Flashpoint and the New 52. Then there was Rebirth. And Doomsday Clock may have been another reboot of sorts? I don’t really know.

So now, I frustratingly have to say my favorite comics era was “Late 80’s to early 2000’s DC”. And that’s just unwieldy.

But that era just had gems all over the place! I loved most of the books from that timeframe, big and small. Around the mid-2000’s, things started to change, though, as DC kind of started going out of its way to sweep those years under the rug. And some fans have never really gotten over that.

And here today in 2022 we have Dark Crisis: Young Justice to address those very sentiments!

TITLE: Dark Crisis: Young Justice

Writer and Artist: Megan Fitzmartin

Publisher: DC

Protagonists: Young Justice

Antagonists: Mickey Mxyzptlk

I don’t know what a “Dark Crisis” is. I’m not going to sit here and pretend to care. I’m sure it is YET ANOTHER Very ImportantTM DC storyline that is going to change everything forever and ever amen… or for at least the next few months. I THINK it’s the story based around the reports I remember hearing several months ago that DC was going to kill the Justice League, but the last issue of this series spoils that that certainly did not last even as long as we thought it would.

I feel like this review is going to be negative. And it’s going to make me wildly hypocritical. Or maybe it will just prove my unbiasedness by showing different arguments being applied across mediums. We will see. But first, let’s take a step back.

I’ve been seeing famous directors like Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino as of late basically decry the modern era of cinema. They talk of the yesteryear of cinema as some untouchable golden era, and to me? I don’t buy it. I think we live in the best era for movies ever. There’s more diversity, more challenging and thoughtful films being made, and the blockbusters are huge inter-connected spectacles. Streaming services have created an opening for movies that previously would have been Straight-To-DVD or itty bitty releases to get far more exposure. I definitely, in the 2020’s, watch more movies, of more genres, made for less money, and by folks of more skin tones, genders, or nationalities than I ever did before! And I think that’s great!

CONVERSELY!

I admittedly look at what Marvel and DC are doing, pretty much hate all of it, and lament about how modern comics suck and everything was better years ago. And that means I’m completely ignoring a lot of the great independent comics and what they are achieving, as well as all the new representation comics give us now.

So much like how I feel older directors are looking at the MCU cookie-cutter blockbusters they abhor and shutting themselves off to everything else modern cinema has to offer, I am looking at Marvel and DC’s constant reboots, relaunches, and lack of continuity and say “Well nuts to you, infant; I have to get rid of all this bath water!”

(Remember when I was going to review a comic book here? Good times)

ANYWAY, DCYJ is about the big Young Justice Four (Bart, Tim, Conner, and Cassie) dealing with the loss of the Justice League… when suddenly, the three boys of the team find themselves whisked away to an alternate reality taking them back to that era of DC that I loved, the era when this team formed and they were young at heart.

Cassie gets together with Cissie (the team’s original Arrowette, and BOY I wish my Mac would quit autocorrecting her name to Cassie because that is CONFUSING) and their mentor Red Tornado to look for them, while Superboy, Robin, and Impulse struggle with whether staying in this strange reminiscent world is for the better.

Ultimately, it’s all revealed to be a set-up by Mickey Mxyzptlk, the son of the May we all know and love. And he’s a fan of the heroes and wants to give them their prestige back! But the team comes together, kicks his ass via nonsense that I don’t get no matter how much I read it, and rejoins the real world in time to go fight the Dark Crisis, which every time I see that name, I just think of the Yu-Gi-Oh TCG booster set with the same moniker. Maybe they’ll pull a secret rare Vampire Lord to defeat the villain, who I’m sure is Darkseid or that Batman who has spikes over his eyes.

Have you missed characters from your youth that modern creative teams have decided not to use anymore? Then you, too, are the villain of this series!

That page just sums up so much of this series, but it’s a theme that runs throughout the six issues: if you liked comics from a certain era and wish the characters you grew up with were still relevant, YOU’RE the problem. The era you remember actually sucked and you need to grow up.

I feel like this book is taking shots at me. A lot of the reason I bailed on DC around the New 52 was that my favorite characters–Young Justice, Wally West, Kyle Rayner, the JSA–were just chucked away, so I just didn’t care as much. But this book seems to imply we fans hated the new characters introduced in their steads. I can’t speak for everyone, but that’s not true for me. I like Damien Wayne and Jonathan Kent and Wallace West and others. Jessica Cruz. Jaime Reyes. Good characters! They represented storyline progress, and THAT’S what I want.

I had a much bigger problem with DC’s return to the status quo in bringing back characters like Barry Allen and Hal Jordan–characters that had fulfilling, final arcs and were “done”–because the creative team at DC did what this book is accusing fans of its characters of doing: crapping on anything that came after their own personal golden years.

So this book, the actual last twenty years of DC comics momentum, and fans of the last FORTY years of DC comics… it’s all one big ouroboros eating the hell out of itself. It gives me a headache.

And it’s weird because it means I agree with what this book is saying, but I think it’s pointing the finger in the wrong direction.

I don’t know… this wasn’t for me. I’m not sure who it was for because if you are a fan of these characters, this book is basically telling you you are a fool. And if you aren’t a fan, why are you reading it unless you’re a completionist for these seemingly bi-monthly Great Big Event Stories?

The characterization feels off all over the place. The book spends virtually every minute of its 6 issue runtime reminding you that Bart Allen is NOT the goofball you remember anymore (which… he isn’t! That’s fair!), but it also makes Kon-El out to be a spoiled, selfish idiot who hasn’t grown up since the 90’s. You can’t have it both ways. Megan Fitzmartin clearly read all the Young Justice and Teen Titans books starring these characters, but the characterizations of Cassie and Cissie don’t resemble any version of either that ever came before this. They spend the series being catty and bitchy to each others, and as a reader, you don’t end up liking with of them for it.

And then there is this, which is my holding a page from this series up above a page from the 2010 Superboy series. We are told Conner does not know Tim and Cassie had a relationship while he was dead, but… he very clearly DID know that. They told him! And maybe during one of the frequent reboots, time got overwritten enough that the modern iteration of Conner DOESN’T know, but… then we are back to my DC Confuses Me And I Hate It problem.

I don’t know what is real anymore!

OVERALL

The art is mostly good here. I don’t love the way Braga draws Superboy, but it’s a stylistic choice, and everyone else looks great. But this book felt so much less like a natural story than it felt like the author just using characters to argue against her own strawmen. It’s not for me. And, to its credit, it’s very much trying NOT to be for me. So… yay?

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

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