How I Would Have Done It: New 52 Young Justice by Jerry Whitworth
Having covered Superman, Batman, and the Justice League of the new 52 previously in “How I Would Have Done It,” it’s time to look at the next generation. Of the changes made in the new 52, those to the younger heroes seems the most radical. Altering the time frame of the narrative to five years rather than ten or fifteen of the previous Silver Age-centric structure of DC Comics, a number of issues arose, most notoriously Batman and his Robins (four in five years seemed dramatically implausible). Fixes were hastily put into place, such as Batman operated in secret for several years before Superman first appeared and Red Robin may or may not have been Batman’s sidekick. Other issues arose such as Cyborg made a founding member of the Justice League and characters like Wally West, Donna Troy, Garth, Holly Robinson, Connor Hawke, Mia Dearden, Kaldur’ahm, and Stephanie Brown seemingly wiped out of existence. Lets see how the younger generation could have gone in the new 52.
Known simply as the Team and largely formed from the founding members of the Teen Titans, Batman envisioned a supplemental Justice League of America formed from the group’s proteges that would act proactively like his Outsiders and support the League in its struggles. Led by Aqualad (Kaldur’ahm), the Team is composed of Superboy, Nightwing (Dick Grayson), Troia, Miss Martian, Air Wave, Dark Flash (Wally West), Red Arrow, Mary Marvel, and Rocket. While the Team battles various threats that were traditionally fought by the Justice League including the Royal Flush Gang, the Cadre, and Doctor Light, their primary focus is Vandal Savage and the Light. A secret society largely composed of corrupt businessmen and politicians as well as supervillains, the Light operates in the shadows drawing a heroic counterpart to combat it out of necessity. In addition to these threats, the Team is also frequent to draw enemies from its Teen Titans past like Trigon, Brother Blood, H.I.V.E., Fearsome Five, Brotherhood of Evil, and Deathstroke the Terminator. When it begins to emerge that a member of the Team maybe a double agent, eyes turn to Superboy (who previously fell under the control of Lex Luthor) and trying to uncover the mole could tear the team apart. Complicating matters is the reemergence of Jericho (mute mutant son of Deathstroke) after years of being believed dead. Is Jericho friend, foe, or something in between?
Originally a glorified club for the sidekicks of the Justice League of America, the Teen Titans grew into a force that paralleled the League. Taking on many teenage heroes over the years, the group today is a means of training the next generation of heroes in the real world. Lead by Cyborg and supported by Raven, Beast Boy, Starfire, Captain Marvel, Jr., Tempest, Arsenal, Battalion (Jackson King), Bumblebee, and Guardian (Mal Duncan), the team trains and oversees Red Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, Aquagirl, Speedy, Golden Eagle, Molecule, Offspring, Cyclone, Thunder, Lightning, Traci 13, Bombshell, Blue Beetle, Jet (Jodi Slayton), and Static. A veritable academy based out of Titans Tower, training takes place generally as a small group under a senior advisor who often have specific purposes in mind, notably honing or teaching skills (infiltrating enemy bases undetected, traveling to alien worlds who ask for help in crises, containing metahuman prison breaks, tracking down a criminal that has evaded authorities, etc). However, these mission-based exercises hasn’t stopped the teens from attracting their own set of enemies including Red X, Harm, Brainiac 8, Control Freak, Titans Tomorrow, Mumbo, and the Terror Titans. Inspired by these new Titans, H.I.V.E. has formed its own academy for the purpose of wiping out the Teen Titans and establishing an extensive mercenary network. A student that quickly rises to the top is Rose Wilson, daughter of Deathstroke and longtime friend to the Teen Titans, under the name of the Ravager (a codename used by her brother Grant before he died because of H.I.V.E.).
In a bid to create genetically-modified humans as obedient soldiers, clandestine government agency International Operations tested its elite covert operations unit Team 7 by exposing them to an experimental chemical called “Gen-Factor” in hopes it would generate superhuman abilities. While being successful, the process proved traumatic to some of the group (driving them mad, committing suicide, or attacking teammates) while the rest continued to operate as a unit for a time before faking their deaths and escaping I.O. Years later, I.O. would track down the children of Team 7 and also treat them with Gen-Factor to unleash their abilities, turning them into soldiers. One group, identified as Gen¹³, learned of I.O.’s plans and escaped. Now, hunted by the government and mentored by former-Team 7 member John Lynch, the teens evade I.O.’s attempts to capture them while actively combating the agency’s diabolical plans. Opposing the heroes is I.O.’s team of super-powered teen operatives DV8 led by Ivana Baiul (who headed up the department that targeted Team 7’s children). When a mission brings Gen¹³ to Metropolis, who will win when Supergirl tries to bring the group to justice?
During a class trip to Hudson Nuclear Power Plant, jock Ronnie Raymond and geek Jason Rusch were forced into being lab partners who had to write a report together on the facility. As the class met with Martin Stein, Nobel-prize winning physicist who designed and headed the plant, the eco-terrorist group the Coalition infiltrated the structure in hopes of triggering a nuclear disaster. Stein would end up giving his life to clear out the plant but Raymond and Rusch, who hid when trouble arose, were caught in a nuclear reaction Stein limited to within the facility. The two youths would survive, now able to combine to form Firestorm, the Nuclear Man, capable of unleashing nuclear fire and altering the very makeup of nonliving matter. Further, Stein survives as some disembodied entity able to communicate with the youths but incapable of interacting with the world. Returning to New York City, the boys become embroiled in battle after battle with emerging supervillains like Multiplex, Killer Frost, Plastique, and many more. Though, the hero would obtain a great deal of notoriety combating the cult Kobra alongside Checkmate and Suicide Squad when, because the two groups had to maintain their identities out of the public spotlight, Firestorm appeared to take them down single-handedly. Now with the Justice League of America approaching Firestorm for group membership, the pressure is on and with Rusch developing his own life with friends Mick Wong and Gehenna and Raymond earning a football scholarship to Hudson University, the future of Firestorm seems bleak. When it emerged Stein could transform into Firestorm without the pair, it appeared their problem resolved itself until the godlike power drives Stein insane. When humanity’s only hope is for Rusch and Raymond to reclaim the Firestorm matrix, can they resolve their differences to save the day? And should they succeed, what will they do when their power draws the attention of dread despot Darkseid of Apokolips?
Virgil Hawkins was just a typical kid growing up in Dakota City until he was pulled into a gang battle at school. When the police arrived, they dosed the kids in the brawl with tear gas. However, one canister of the gas was replaced with the chemical Gen-Factor in a bid by the mysterious Dharma to generate empowered soldiers to save humanity. Virgil, along with many of the youths involved, would develop extraordinary powers and abilities (the event referred as the “Big Bang”). Now with the capability to manipulate electromagnetism, Virgil became Static and battled “Bang Babies” (those empowered in the Big Bang) that broke the law, notably the Meta-Breed, Holocaust, and Madelyn Spaulding. Static would also run afoul of billionaire Edwin Alva, nemesis of the cybernetic hero Hardware, when Static battled his son Edwin Alva, Jr. who became the villainous Omnifarious (resulting in Alva, Jr. turning to stone). The hero would team with friend Rick Stone, who developed super-intelligence and technopathy becoming the heroic Gear, and would reform Adam Evans, the Rubberband Man, who dated Virgil’s sister Sharon. Virgil would even start dating his longtime crush Frieda Goren before the hero began being pulled apart by two worlds. The Blood Syndicate, a gang of Bang Babies who used their abilities to help people, invited Static to join their ranks. However, they were hesitant to accept Gear because of the color of his skin and Static soon learned he didn’t agree with their extreme methods. These methods would draw the attention of the Shadow Cabinet who sought to take the group down. Will Static pick a side in this conflict or will there be a third option when the Teen Titans pay him a visit?
Archaeologist Daniel Garrett uncovers a scarab in a subterranean chamber during a dig in Egypt only for rival archaeologist Conrad Carapax to appear attempting to murder Garrett and take the treasure for himself. In the ensuing struggle, Carapax falls into a pit and Garrett is fatally wounded by a gunshot. Able to return to civilization before expiring, the scarab is given to Garrett’s only living relative, nephew Ted Kord. A self-made billionaire and technological genius, Kord discovered the scarab to be of alien technology and reverse-engineered elements of it using the findings to become a superhero (believing humanity to be unprepared for such a leap in advancement, becoming a hero his way to use it to better mankind). Serving with the Justice League of America and becoming good friends with time-traveling hero Booster Gold, Kord would give his life in uncovering corruption in the government agency Checkmate under the malevolent Maxwell Lord. When Lord sent a team to recover Kord’s scarab, they detonated an explosive Kord intended to destroy the alien object. Instead, it activated the device having it seek a suitable host finding Jaime Reyes in El Paso, Texas. Inheriting the mantle of Blue Beetle, Reyes becomes a hero but draws the attention of the Reach who lost contact with the unit several thousand years ago. Further, Carapax (who survived his encounter with Garrett despite becoming a paraplegic from the experience) managed to steal Kord’s findings to construct an oversized battle suit and seeks Reyes to improve upon the suit’s design. In addition to the Reach and Carapax, Blue Beetle has to face Lord (still seeking the scarab for himself), the Madmen (Kord’s nemeses who believe Reyes to be their old foe), La Dama (local crime lord who uncovers Reyes’ secret), and Black Beetle (mysterious Reach scarab-user with a hatred for Blue Beetle). Fortunately, Reyes is helped out by Booster Gold (who became the youth’s mentor), Guy Gardner (assigned by the Guardians to observe Reyes), Peacemaker (Checkmate agent seeking Lord), Green Beetle (former Reach agent freed by Reyes), Alpha Centurion (Metropolis hero who represents the Virimiru, an offshoot of the Reach), and Traci 13 (Reyes’ girlfriend).
Inspired by the Justice Society of America, a group of teen heroes banded together under the direction of Power Girl to form Infinity, Inc. This new team is made up of Jade, Obsidian, Silver Scarab, Atom Smasher, Northwind, Brainwave, Wildcat (Holly Robinson), Damage, Ray, and Citizen Steel. The group takes well to the hero game, combating the likes of Helix, Injustice, Unlimited, and even fought alongside the Justice Society in the Ultra War against Vulcan, Son of Fire, Ultra-Humanite, and an assemblage of the Society’s foes. The team becomes split when it is embroiled in a civil war in Kahndaq led by Black Adam against the tyrannical government. Will Infinity, Inc. find a way to reconcile or will they become outlaws standing beside Black Adam? When the Justice Society is brought into the conflict, who will be on whose side?
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