The original run of YOUNG JUSTICE in the late 90s was founded on a definite sense of fun. It featured Superboy, Robin and Impulse as the core team who were very quickly joined by Wonder Girl, Arrowette and the created for the series character Secret, as a bunch of teen superheroes learning the trade with their sort of babysitter/guardian the Red Tornado. The membership of the team changed as time went on, as is the nature of team books, but the sense of fun and good natured anarchy was always there for the most part.
And every now and then, there’d be an issue like this one where something serious raised it’s head.
For background, Traya (Red Tornado’s adopted daughter) and Cissie (who had quit her role as Arrowette) both attend a girls’ boarding school where Traya – despite being incredibly intelligent – isn’t well liked by some of the girls, Phyllis and Ellen in particular.
The issue starts with Ellen’s parents being killed by a suicide bomber in Bialya; they were aid workers and caught up in a random attack. When the news breaks and the girls find out that Traya is Bialyan, they attack her during a gym class because knee jerk reactions are always a good thing, right? When Ellen goes missing that night, Cissie calls in Young Justice to look for her, but the other girls kidnap Traya and Cissie in order to terrorise Traya.
Thankfully Superboy arrives before too much damage is done, and Wonder Girl finds Ellen who had just left to find some headspace and work things through on her own. The damage is done, though, and Traya decides to leave, with Red Tornado arriving to take her home the next morning. The school wants to give Traya something of a send off but, inspired by her teacher’s own experience as a Japanese-American interred as a child in the World War II camps in America, Traya decides to stay, just as Wonder Girl returns with Ellen.
And some of them live happily for a while, I guess.
It’s a mostly nicely handled tale of rejecting bigotry and racism based simply on where someone is from and full marks to the team for doing that in a comic that, as I said, was mostly about fun and adventure. It’s a shame Traya – who is portrayed as intelligent throughout – suddenly loses some of those smarts on that last page (she can’t say the word “expelled”? She doesn’t get the relevance of the hat even though she was the one who knew what was written on the Liberty Bell?) so that Ellen can have her moment of redemption, but other than that I think this works.