There are some superhero teams that just about everybody knows—your Justice Leagues and your Teen Titans, you know the ones—and then there are the ones that are a little less well known, like the Outsiders, Secret Six or Shadowpact. Their lack of celebrity doesn't make them any less important, of course, but you're probably less likely to find yourself striking up conversations with people on the street about them. And then, there are the ones that somehow sit right in the middle between the two extremes—teams that you've definitely heard of for one reason or another but might not know what they are or where they came from.
Teams like Young Justice.
Now, if you're a DC Universe subscriber or just a fan of DC animation in general, chances are you've seen the Young Justice TV show, and that may or may not be why the name sounds familiar to you. But I'm not talking about the Young Justice cartoon, I'm talking about the YOUNG JUSTICE comic, which, coincidentally, just so happened to drop a brand-new issue #1 this week by none other than Brian Michael Bendis and Patrick Gleason.
It might be a little confusing, but the truth is the Young Justice comic, and the team that stars in it, is actually an entirely separate entity from its animated counterpart. There are some member overlaps and some clear influences shared between the two, but they're actually completely unique to one another.
The comic is something of a modern classic, but it’s one you might not recognize. It originally ran from 1998 to 2003 and focused on Tim Drake, Conner Kent, Bart Allen and Cassie Sandsmark, alongside some lesser known heroes like Greta Hayes (aka Secret) and Cissie King-Jones (aka Arrowette), forming a team for the DC Universe's youngest generation of heroes.
Now, if you're thinking, "Wait, isn't that just like the Teen Titans?"—the answer is yes! Young Justice actually fit perfectly into the line of succession found within the Teen Titans teams. The team name was dropped in 2003 not because Young Justice disbanded, but because the core members went on to become the new incarnation of the Teen Titans after the appropriately titled crossover event, TITANS/YOUNG JUSTICE: GRADUATION DAY.
But now, in the Rebirth era, we've got a new new group of Teen Titans led by Damian Wayne, leaving the Young Justice niche wide open and ready for a long-awaited revamp. That's where YOUNG JUSTICE #1 comes in, bringing the familiar faces of the original team members—Tim, Cassie, Bart and Conner—back together for the first time since the dawn of the New 52.
Tim's spent the majority of his time post-Rebirth over in DETECTIVE COMICS, while Bart only recently came back into the picture over in THE FLASH—you'll want to read FLASH WAR for that story. Both Cassie and Conner are pretty major returns making their first Rebirth appearances right here in this debut issue—so don't worry, you don't have to catch up with anything they've been up to just yet. In fact, you don't need to catch up with anyone to jump into this story. It stands completely on its own…but you certainly can go pick up a trade or two just to bolster your background knowledge, if you want to.
That's really the beauty of the Young Justice spirit, and what made them such a beloved force in the early 2000s. The team comes from just about every corner of the DCU at large and they're all deeply connected to some of the richest and most impactful continuity the universe has to offer, but they're all experiencing it and dealing with it in a whole new way. It's the perfect way to ease into the bigger picture without immediately jumping into the deep end and without having to go back and dig through back issues or old stories to build a foundation. And besides, what better way to learn more about Batman than through a Robin, or about Wonder Woman than through her former sidekick?
Of course, the Young Justice team itself is just fun, even without the appeal of their mentors. They may not always be the best at what they do, but they're more than happy to keep trying, and isn't that what really matters in the end?
You can jump into this long-awaited new chapter of the Young Justice legacy this week with Young Justice #1, and catch the long awaited third season of the other Young Justice over on DC Universe right now. No matter how you slice it, it's a great time to be a Young Justice fan.
Meg Downey covers movies, TV and comics for DCComics.com, and writes about Batman each month in her column, "Gotham Gazette." She's also a regular contributor to the Couch Club, our weekly television column. Follow her on Twitter at @rustypolished.