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Comic Book / Young Justice

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A League of their own.
"They're the Teen Titans."
"No, we're not."
"Oh, right! They're the Young Justice League of America!"
"No... we're young, but just us."
"Oh, okay! Young Justice!"
"No, young, just us!"
"Right! Young Justice!"
"Fine, whatever."

In 1996, riding high on the JLA (1997)'s relaunch, DC Comics attempted to relaunch Teen Titans yet again. It failed, in part due to editorial interference. Most notably, the fact that no one wanted to let the Teen Titans (1996) writer Dan Jurgens use any of the major teen heroes running around DC at the time (particularly Robin/Tim Drake, who won a fan contest to select a new member of the team — only for the Batman editors to refuse to honor the contest results, resulting in Captain Marvel Jr. being forced upon Jurgens instead.)

Ending in 1998, DC decided to launch a new replacement book, but coming up with a new name for the new teen book. Meanwhile, Robin's popularity was matched by two other teenage superheroes with ties to Justice Leaguers: Impulse and Superboy — and the trio worked as a Power Trio. Hence, Young Justice was born.

Launched out of a Fifth Week Event tie-in Girlfrenzy: Young Justice — The Secret and a Justice League mini-series World Without Grown-Ups, the series was written by Peter David and ran for 55 issues before being cancelled. The cancellation (along with cancellation of Titans (1999)) was done mainly to launch a new Teen Titans comic to complement the then-recently debuted Teen Titans cartoon series, placing the remaining members of Young Justice under the wing of veterans from the classic Wolfman Titans team.

An animated series using the Young Justice title was announced by Cartoon Network during their presentation to the network upfronts on April 21st, 2010. Ironically, the Teen Titans show was originally pitched as Young Justice.

The Young Justice team returned as the flagship title of Brian Michael Bendis' Wonder Comics imprint, with a relaunch in January 2019. The team stars the four most well-known members: Robin, Impulse, Superboy, and Wonder Girl, alongside Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld and newcomers Jinny Hex and Teen Lantern. Notably, this marks the team's return after 16 years since their dissolution. See the relevant Young Justice page for details.

Young Justice contains examples of:

  • All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Superboy refuses to go out on patrol with Impulse because he'd rather watch the televised national Cheerleading finals. Sucks to be him as that's where Impulse ends up to stop a robbery and saves the day!
  • And I Must Scream: The final fate of poor Slobo is to be frozen as a statue but still alive and aware in the headquarters of Young Justice One-Million.
  • Ascended Extra: Cissie "Arrowette" King-Jones, who Took a Level in Badass after an appearance in Impulse.
  • Balance, Speed, Strength Trio: Robin, Impulse and Superboy are considered as this, mirroring their mentors in Justice League.
  • Blessed with Suck: Mighty Endowed is most certainly blessed. She's so blessed in fact that the weight of her enormous breasts means she can't stand upright under her own power.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy:
    • The Young Justice team falls victim to brainwashing at one point. Supergirl helps snap them out of it.
    • Secret is brainwashed as well, and by Darkseid at that!
  • Breaking the Fellowship: The team suffer an emotional version of this after the reveal of Batman's files on the Justice League, as half the team- specifically Superboy, Wonder Girl, Impulse and the returned Arrowette- wonder if Robin has similar files on them (Secret affirms her faith in Robin, Empress points out that Batman would have been applauded if his files were revealed to stop the rogue Leaguers as intended and Lil' Lobo dismisses the idea that Robin could be a threat to him anyway). Even after the initial distrust of Robin is resolved, he steps down as team leader.
  • Breast Expansion:
    • In the first issue, mousy scientist Nina Dowd touched an ancient artifact and became the supervillain Mighty Endowed, with a chest just as large as that name implies.
    • Joked about with Arrowette. When she feels she is destined to become a villain, she bemoans having to get a black costume that shows off her cleavage. Particularly since she doesn't have much in the way of cleavage to show off. Later on we see an alternate universe evil, large-breasted version of her.
  • Brick Joke:
    • For saving his kingdom, Ali Ben Stein offered the boys ANYTHING they wanted. Impulse asked for... well, we never find out, until about 30-odd issues later when the team gets a spaceship, which just happens to coincide with a friend of theirs needing a lift into space.
    • A cross-title one that could be an accident...if it weren't for Grant Morrison's involvement. In the first Young Justice story, a kid gets hold of an all-powerful genie and wreaks havoc. When the team save the world and the League are congratulating them, someone says "So cool!" among the chatter. A year or so later, in a JLA (1997) story, a former superhero gets hold of an all-powerful genie and wreaks havoc. The genie here is a revealed to be a 5th-dimensional being like Mxyzptlk, and can be summoned or dismissed by saying his name backwards. His name is Lkz, making his control phrase zkl...pronounced in the comics as "so cool".
  • Captain Obvious: The series dabbed into this at times when exposition was needed to point out something not clear in comic format. Of course, whenever Young Justice did something the author thought was stupid, it got mocked.
    Robin: The kids... They've turned old! And those other kids are dancing out of control!
    Superboy: Wow. I can tell you were trained by the world's greatest detective.
  • Cat Fight:
    • Issue #7 has a cat fight between the mothers of Wonder Girl and Arrowette, much to the amusement of Impulse's normally stoic guardian, Max Mercury.
    • Secret and Spoiler were prone to fighting when the latter guest-starred, due to a Secret having a crush on Spoiler's boyfriend Robin. It becomes a lot more serious in the final arc when Secret eats Spoiler (she got better).
  • The Chains of Commanding: Robin's role as the team leader began making him uncomfortable and strained his friendships with some of the members to the breaking point, which is when he stepped down. He was much more happy as Cassie's tactician and stealthy assistant.
  • Chromatic Arrangement: The team founders form an arrangement of Superboy (blue), Robin (green) and Impulse (red). The first four girls also fit with Secret (a dusty dull tan), Wonder Girl (black), Arrowette (red) and Empress (purple).
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Impulse, being the team's (and DC's) resident Cloud Cuckoolander, gets a few moments of brief "intelligence", particularly during the issue wrapping up Sins of Youth, when he accidentally figures out Robin's real name by reading lips incorrectly. Played for Laughs of course.
  • Color-Coded Characters: The "core four" were each connected to a color they wore and sometimes filled the background of their narration boxes; Impulse was red, Superboy was blue, Robin was green, and Wonder Girl was black/yellow. In addition, Secret was associated with a dusty grey color and Empress was associated with purple and gold.
  • Comforting Comforter: Arrowette requires comfort after she has a mini breakdown when she realizes she just gave the Justice League an awesome "The Reason You Suck" Speech while Superboy and Wonder Girl worriedly watch over her.
  • Continuity Snarl: Mocked in an aside: Red Tornado says he has files on every superhero, with "nineteen on Hawkman alone".
  • Convection, Schmonvection: When Robin and Empress don't burn up in the lava fields of Apokolips, it's lampshaded that the heat from the lava should really have killed them.
  • Covers Always Lie: The covers generally have little to nothing to do with the story (the Halloween issue, for example, has Robin, Superboy, and Impulse trick-or-treating as their mentors, and the issue where the girls join up has them trying to get into a boarded up Young Justice HQ), but they are usually unrelated enough that one can get the idea that the images are simply sight-gags. Some issues do fall under this, though; one issue has the team jumping out of the A.P.E.S. headquarters (which is located in Mount Rushmore, up Abraham Lincoln's nose), with Robin shouting "It's gonna blow!" and carrying a detonator, connected to various bombs that are stuffed in Lincoln's nose. Within the comic, however, it's Superboy who defaces Mount Rushmore, and he does it to George Washington, rather than Lincoln. He also does it out of necessity (well, sort of), and does not use dynamite. Furthermore, the line about blowing Lincoln's nose is said when entering the nose, not exiting, and is just an offhand remark made in reply to Impulse's pun about them running up the nose, instead of the nose running.
  • Cover-up Purchase: In one issue, Robin mentions he was able to bury the expense of producing and shipping a Batmobile across the country in "the Batarang budget".
    Robin: It's bigger than you'd think.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Robin shows that he has inherited his mentor's propensity for preparation. When the crew went camping, a game of Truth or Dare came up. He was dared to pull his mask off... and so he did, revealing that he had a SECOND mask on underneath! Yup, you can tell he was "trained by the world's greatest detective!"
  • Crisis Crossover: In addition to relatively minor contributions to most Crisis Crossovers that went on during the series' run, Young Justice was also the center of one crossover of their own: Sins Of Youth, featuring Fountain of Youth and Overnight Age-Up applied to most of the DCU.
  • Deal with the Devil: The source of Harm's powers involved the sacrifice of his younger sister resulting in the creation of Secret.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: In one issue, numerous supervillains participate in a sports competition legally distinct from the Olympics, during which former Young Justice member Cissie King-Jones is competing as part of the U.S. Archery Team. After successfully breaking the arm of one of the U.S. Team Members (who happens to be an Alpha Bitch) and pinning the blame on Cissie's mom, they try the stunt again when Cissie is up to shoot, only for her mom to throw her lighter at the would-be perpetrator, throwing off their attempt and disqualifying the villains from the competition.
  • Electrified Bathtub: Secret was originally killed by her brother throwing an electric appliance into her bathtub.
  • Elite Agents Above the Law: The All-Purpose Enforcement Squad (A.P.E.S.) has IDs belonging to every major law enforcement agency on the planet, including the FBI, the CIA, Interpol, and Scotland Yard. They're able to walk into an archaeological site and instantly declare it government property while having full clearance to kill anyone who gets in their way. As Agent Donald Fite puts it, "We have more clearance than God."
  • Evil Twin:
    • Inverted with Slobo, the degenerated clone of Lobo who contained all of the Last Czarnian's "repressed" traits: he was intelligent, good-natured, responsible, monogamous, self-sacrificing... oh, and slowly dying from not receiving any of Lobo's superpowers.
    • Played straight with Match, who secretly replaced Superboy for several issues in order to destabilize the team from within and make sure they got bad press.
  • Fanservice: Surprisingly averted for a '90s comic. Helped by the fact that artist Todd Nauck drew the characters with the proportions of ACTUAL teenagers (as opposed to other artists working on "teen" books where they drew everyone looking like 20-something underwear models). However, played a bit more straight straight whenever a guest-artist showed up, and later on in the series as Wonder Girl ditched the terrible wig and grew a cup size. Not to mention Empress showing up naked a couple times...
  • Foul First Drink: One event saw all the teen superheroes being turned into adults while the adult superheroes were all reverted to childhood. During this time, Tim Drake (who was Robin at the time) became an adult and took advantage of the situation to visit a bar and hang out with his dad, who is unaware that it's Tim. He decides to try having a beer but immediately spits it out all over his dad.
  • Friendship Favoritism: Tim has to field some accusations of favoritism and deal with Kon and Bart fighting over his time on occasion. Evidently that's just the deal if your two best friends are Younger Than They Look failed attempts to create Tyke Bombs one of which was raised by virtual reality and the other by implanted memories as they're both still trying to sort out some social norms.
  • Freudian Trio: The original 3 members of the team form a trio (Impulse=Id, Superboy=ego, Robin=super-ego), explicitly lampshaded by Red Tornado when he agrees to mentor them.
    Superboy: Hey, how come HE gets to be "Super-Ego"? I mean, Super IS in my name, after all!
  • Fun with Acronyms: The name of the All Purpose Enforcement Squad is frequently the subject of jokes.
  • Genre Throwback: The series, with its younger cast, emphasis on wacky villains, and character based comedy, can be seen as a return to the tone of the original Silver Age Teen Titans, occasionally balanced out with the serialized drama of the Wolfman/Perez run.
  • Heroic BSoD: Arrowette goes into a nearly catatonic state after the death of her therapist, leading her to quit being a superhero.
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Mighty Endowed has hypnotic breasts as her superpower, besides the obvious.
  • I Lied: Spoiler, after suggesting to Secret that Robin has talked about Secret a lot, later admits to having lied about it. (Secret, having a crush on Robin, found the idea pleasing.)
  • Iwo Jima Pose: The tie-in to the "Our Worlds at War" event featured on its cover a few members of the team (and infamous criminal The Persuader) raising The Persuader's atomic axe in victory.
  • Heroes Unlimited: The team manages to recruit every hero under ~23 to help invade an island of supervillains.
  • Hollywood Voodoo: Lampshaded by Empress, who states her displeasure at how pop culture has depicted Vodun.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Harm is introduced impaling Arrowette with one of her own arrows, with she herself stating "But that's n-not funny."
  • Known Only by Their Nickname: Secret's real-name, Greta Hayes, isn't revealed until late in the series' run. Prior to the revelation, she goes only by Secret or Suzie, a nickname picked out for her by Cissie.
  • Landmarking the Hidden Base: A.P.E.S.'s headquarters is inside Mount Rushmore.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The characters usually refrain from outright breaking the fourth wall, but they come close to it several times.
    • In one issue, a few characters talk about their comic books being canceled. In-story, they're each talking about their favorite comic books being cancelled (this is the only mention ever of them being comic book fans, and the comic books in question are never named or described, but so what), but to the reader it's clear that they're talking about the characters' solo titles. Two of which were recently cancelled, a third was cancelled years before, and one was still going strong.
    • Another example: when Arrowette and Wonder Girl were attempting to connect to the Internet apparently using AOL, Cassie started complaining about the unreliability and slowness of the service...only to be quickly hushed by Cissie who hurriedly whispered something in her ear, prompting Cassie to smile falsely at the reader and start talking about how wonderful AOL was. Guess who'd just entered into a corporate partnership with Warner Bros. and parent company Time Warner at the time..?
  • Lens Flare Censor: When there wasn't something conveniently in the way, a lens flare was occasionally used to hide Mighty Endowed's boobs.
  • Lighter and Softer: The book took itself less seriously than Teen Titans was at the time. This served as the "light" book for DC Comics (or the whole superhero genre) as well. It had its share of grim or dark storylines, but it also had lots of Bizarro Episodes, Leaning on the Fourth Wall and Hilarity Ensues storylines. During one Crisis Crossover they spent a little time possessed by demons harrassing the NRA before moving on to a recurring villain who vaguely fit the crossover's theme, and when they were at the center of another Crisis Crossover, it involved turning all the world's adult heroes into children and vice versa, and The Men in Black who were recurring antagonists had Joke Names.
  • Luckily, My Powers Will Protect Me: Especially at the beginning of the series, Superboy explained his powers all the time. Almost always lampshaded.
    Impulse: "See?! There he goes again! Talking about his stupid powers like we don't know how they work!"
    And also....
    Superboy: "Don't worry ladies, you're safe now, thanks to my-"
    Girl: "Tactile Telekinesis!"
    Superboy: "...Oh. So, you've, uh, heard of it, huh?"
  • Magic Is Feminine: The book's magic and mystic characters were all female; Cassie Sandsmark, a demigoddess; Anita Fite, a Voodoo priestess; and Secret, a ghost. All the other characters either had no powers or had abilities of a more scientific origin.
  • Meaningful Name: Attempted by Superboy when he suggested "Victoria" as a possible name for Laser-Guided Amnesia sufferer Secret; thwarted by Wonder Girl.
  • More Diverse Sequel: The team was originally formed with Robin, Superboy, and Impulse, who were all white and male; there was even an issue which parodied the "boys club" nature of the team when they were later joined by three girls: Wonder Girl, Arrowette and Secret. Again, all white. Later member Empress was African-American and the only non-white.
  • Most Common Superpower: Parodied with Mighty Endowed, whose breasts are so large she requires men to hold her up when she stands.
  • Now or Never Kiss: Superboy and Wonder Girl finally kiss when a Darkseid-trained Secret comes roaring back to earth with revenge on her mind.
  • One-Steve Limit: Wonder Girl and Arrowette's names are "Cassie" and "Cissie" respectively, Secret gets dubbed "Suzie", and another Cassandra shows up in an issue of the series. She's usually called "Cass" though.
  • Power of Friendship: While Young Justice isn't the equals to the JLA or JSA in sheer power, their ability to work as a team and the fact that you mess with one and expect any and all past and present members to show up looking to kick your butt that makes them frightening.
  • Power Perversion Potential: When Secret manages to partially solidify to catch Superboy from being flung around, he remarks that he didn't know she could do that. Her response? "Oh, I can do all sorts of things you don't know about". Not that Secret normally made such innuendos, but the look on her face sold it as such.
  • Punny Name:
    • A.P.E.S. agents Donald Fite and Ishido Maad form a pun on "fighting mad." Originally they were to be named Nuck and Futz, but Executive Meddling squashed that joke...
    • Also, Empress' name is Anita Fite.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Agenda's six man Point Men team are recurring ineffectual adversaries of Young Justice.
  • Rotten Robotic Replacement: The team once got replaced by a team of poorly-made robotic duplicates created by Ivo Jr. Impulse lived with them for a week before he noticed that something was wrong.
    Tim: Well... they weren't that bad...
    Cassie: Tim, mine was smoking.
  • Secret Identity: Thanks to Executive Meddling, Robin was under editorial mandate to keep his real identity a secret from his friends, having been ordered to in-universe by Batman. This was because the series came out during the period when Batman was supposed to be an "urban legend" no matter how little sense it made, and this extended to his partners. This went to ridiculous extents since the team was pretty public and they had to write around this by everyone outside the team awkwardly avoiding mentioning Robin.
  • Self-Deprecation: Multiple in the first issue:
    • In one aimed at DC in general, Red Tornado says he's updated about various heroes and has 19 files on Hawkman.
    • One aimed directly at writer Peter David himself saw the Power Trio dream about being subjected to things David himself put other characters through: Superboy becoming an angel with fiery wings a la fellow Super-family member Supergirl, Robin losing a hand and replacing it with a batarang a la Aquaman's then-current Hook Hand, and Impulse having Dissociative Identity Disorder a la the Hulk.
  • Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains: Lampshaded when Arrowette fears she's turned evil.
    "I'll have to get a tight, skimpy black leather outfit that shows off my cleavage. Oh god. I'll have to get cleavage."
  • Shout-Out: This book utterly indulges with its references.
    • Perhaps the most blatant is when Snapper Carr is all but revealed to be talking on the phone with Rick Jones, who was currently starring in another Peter David written book, Captain Marvel. This is only the tip of the iceberg.
    • One notable Shout-Out goes to DC's main competitor; more specifically, to their poster boy's origin. A cop chases after a crook, shouting for someone to stop him before he gets to the elevator, and Cissie lets him pass. The cop then chastises her, hoping he doesn't shoot someone's mom...or uncle. (In case you're wondering, she ends up stopping the crook before he gets too far.)
    • Regular series artist Todd Nauck tends to cram in tons of references to Mystery Science Theater 3000. Fittingly, he was later an artist on MST3K's comic miniseries.
  • Show Within a Show: The characters often watched "Wendy the Werewolf Stalker", an expy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There's even a story where a few members of the team travel to the set and appear in the series.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Averted: the series went from boys only to 50/50 very quickly.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Secret harbors feelings towards Robin and comes off as invasive in her worst moments.
  • Stark Naked Sorcery: Empress performs a skyclad ritual to try and divine the location of who killed her father.
  • Subbing for Santa: The 40th issue has the heroes take up Santa's job of delivering Christmas presents after he sacrifices himself to save the Earth from a Khundian suicide bomber. They aren't able to deliver all the presents until well after Christmas Day has passed and the people given the presents aren't grateful due to the late deliveries and not getting what they wanted, so the young heroes hope Santa Claus is reborn to resume his gift-giving duties by next Christmas.
  • Take That!: Wonder Girl mentions to Captain Marvel Jr./CM3 that "The Marvel" would be a lousy name.
  • Tempting Fate: While on New Genesis, Empress wonders if the gang has any normal adventures, "Something involving some monstrous incarnation of evil, or something?" Who shows up? Darkseid.
  • Trapped in TV Land: The 80-Page Giant has them fighting Bedlam, who sends them through different genres of fiction— Film Noir, Spaghetti Western, Giant Mecha Anime, Silent Film Horror, etc.
  • True Companions: The team is nearly inseperable, especially the first six members. Cassie even transfers to the same school as Secret and Cissie after the latter two retire from superheroics and the "core four" (Tim, Kon, Bart, and Cassie) remain each others closest friends and stick together even after joining the Teen Titans.
  • Very Special Episode: The gun control story gets a little preachy at times, but doesn't take over the plot. A less dividing example is the episode that indirectly, but very clearly, refers to 9/11.
  • Vignette Episode: The 80-Page Giant, featuring genre-hoping, is half Trapped in TV Land, half vignette— each genre gets its own story.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Superboy and Wonder Girl left fans wondering whether they would get together. They do (only in the series' last issue, but they still do).
  • Witch with a Capital "B": Arrowette refers to an Alpha Bitch and her Girl Posse as "rhymes with witches."

Hanson sucks!