Young Justice: The New Class by Jerry Whitworth
As Young Justice entered its second season, Invasion, five years have passed since the first’s finale and members have moved on as new heroes have risen to make up the next generation of the Team. Some of these members were speculated to be joining in the earlier article Young Justice: We Want You! With Wonder Girl and Blue Beetle already discussed in detail in that piece (with the caveat the Wonder Girl chosen was Cassie Sandsmark), we’ll focus on the heroes we didn’t see coming.
With Dick Grayson moving on, becoming the hero Nightwing and new control for the Team, another youth has stepped into his former role in Tim Drake. The base character in the comics was an ingenious, affluent youth that deduced the identity of Batman and Robin at the age of nine and after seeing Batman beginning to go over the edge in wake of the demise of his second Robin Jason Todd at the hands of the Joker, he was forced to approach the hero about his behavior (realizing the role of Robin was a balance that kept Batman from sliding into the darkness). After the death of Tim’s mother and his father Jack left a paraplegic, Batman accepted Tim as his new Robin. Years later, Jack would be killed as part of a convoluted and maniacal plot for the Atom’s ex-wife to reclaim her heroic husband in Identity Crisis where Bruce Wayne adopted Tim as his son afterward. Tim would go on to be a founding member and leader of Young Justice as well as the Teen Titans. When Batman was believed killed by Darkseid during Final Crisis, Tim felt his mentor was somehow otherwise displaced and started a search for him under the new identity of Red Robin (an identity adopted from Jason Todd who briefly adventured as such after returning as the Red Hood) while Dick Grayson became the new Batman and Batman’s son with Talia Head in Damian took on the vacant role of Robin.
The daughter of Gotham City police commissioner James Gordon, Barbara Gordon attended the private institution Gotham Academy alongside Dick Grayson, Artemis Crock (Robin and Artemis, respectfully), and Bette Kane. Acting in a cameo capacity during the first season, Barbara appears as Batgirl for Young Justice: Invasion through as yet specified circumstances. In the comics, Barbara has either been the biological daughter of Jim Gordon or his niece adopted as his daughter. She started out as an attempt by the creators behind the Batman television series in the 1960s who wanted to add diversity to the series to attain renewed interest (with children getting another hero and their fathers getting some eye candy). To coincide with this, DC Comics added Batgirl to the Batman family (a Golden Age Bat-Girl previously existed, the sidekick to Batwoman, who were created to allay fears that the Dynamic Duo were a gay couple). Her introduction was a hit with comic fans (but her appearance in the television series couldn’t save it), appearing frequently since. Barbara was a major part of the controversial story Batman: The Killing Joke where she was shot, stripped, photographed, and left paralyzed by the Joker (the photos of Barbara forced on Jim Gordon who was stripped, bound, and gagged in an attempt to drive him insane). The heroine would return as the wheelchair bound Oracle, the computer hacker who acted as the information broker for the Justice League of America and Batman’s comrades (though she’s been seen helping largely Earth’s heroes in general) and the founder/leader of the Birds of Prey.
Son of former television star Marie Logan (whose role in the series Hello Megan! inspired Miss Martian’s civilian identity), Garfield Logan lived with his mother on a wildlife reserve on the border of Bialya and Qurac where the pair tended to animals largely injured by the ongoing conflict between the neighboring countries. When Marie and Gar were caught up in a plot by Queen Bee to acquire Qurac, Gar is gravely injured and Miss Martian, who is able to alter her blood type, offers a blood transfusion to save his life. This transfusion inevitably turned Gar’s skin green and gave him the capability to turn into any animal, where the pair refer to each other as siblings after. Little is known as to how Gar became a hero and joined the Team, but it’s implied his mother was killed (likely by Queen Bee who threatened their safety for Miss Martian to act as her agent only to be double-crossed). In the comics, Gar is the son of biologists who accompanied his parents in an expedition into the African country of Upper Lamumba only to be bitten by a green monkey and contract a rare, life threatening disease in Sakutia. In desperation, Gar is given an experimental serum that saves his life only for him to turn green and able to transform into any animal. Through a series of unfortunate events in his life including the loss of his parents, Gar eventually ends up as a member of the Doom Patrol and is adopted by its member Elasti-Girl and their ally Mento (where after years of courting each other led to their marriage). When the heroic group is apparently murdered, Mento becomes a widower and Gar, unable to cope with his adopted father, moves away and eventually joins the Teen Titans. He has generally been associated with the group since.
A resident of Poseidonis and student at the Conservatory of Sorcery, La’gaan studied magic alongside Lori Lemaris, Blubber, King Sha’ark, and Topo and came into conflict with the so-called Purists, a group of Atlanteans that believe that citizens that have more fish-like features than human are impure and should be exiled from their society. This group was led by Ocean-Master who hoped to create a civil war and conquer the kingdom but was stopped by the Team, Garth, Tula, Ronal, and La’gaan and his classmates. At some point after Tula’s death and Aqualad’s defection to Black Manta during the five year gap, La’gaan became Aquaman’s protege and joined the Team. In the comics, Lagoon Boy is an outsider to Atlantis invited as part of an initiative by Aquaman to become inclusive for the various intelligent beings of the oceans (despite objections of the more humanoid Atlanteans) who comes to the country and befriends fellow outsiders Blubber and Sheeva to form the Landlubbers. Later, Lagoon Boy becomes an infrequent ally to Young Justice and would join Titans East where he’s severely injured and has been comatose since.
A cheerleader for the Bumblebees at Happy Harbor High School, Karen Beecher attends the school alongside Conner Kent, Megan Morse (Superboy and Miss Martian, respectively), Mal Duncan, Wendy Harris, and Marvin White. Little is known how Karen made the transition to the heroine Bumblebee during the five year gap save she became the lab assistant and protege to the Atom. In the comics, Karen was the girlfriend of Teen Titans member Mal Duncan and a scientist who designed a suit to become the Bumblebee, eventually joining the group herself but later she and Mal retired and married (occasionally returning when needed). For the event Infinite Crisis, the pair became involved in a conflict in a rift in space which resulted in disastrous effects on their bodies, with Bumblebee stuck at a height of six inches where the duo would join the Doom Patrol. She would divorce Mal and at times work with the Doom Patrol and Teen Titans.
A student at Happy Harbor High School alongside Conner Kent, Megan Morse (Superboy and Miss Martian, respectively), Karen Beecher, Wendy Harris, and Marvin White, Mal Duncan would become a coordinator for the Team where Nightwing gives the group missions and breaks them up into units as Mal operates the command center and offers intel, communicates between the units, and is able to summon reinforcements should the need arise. In the comics, Mal Duncan was drafted into the Teen Titans after assisting them in a mission donning the exoskeleton and shield of the Guardian and taking on the hero’s mantle. During his tenure as a superhero, Mal has taken on various identities such as Hornblower, Herald, Vox, and his own name (rivaling Marvel Comics’ Hank Pym in the frequency and number of identity changes). He would marry fellow Titan Bumblebee and the pair retired, heeding the call as heroes when the need arose. For the event Infinite Crisis, the pair became involved in a conflict in a rift in space which resulted in disastrous effects on their bodies, with Mal turned into a cyborg, merged permanently with his Gabriel’s Horn where the duo would join the Doom Patrol. After they divorced, Mal has not been seen since.