Young Romance #1: Short Stories & Plugs

Six short blurb stories form a quick anthology gimmick to tie into that lurvely holiday and plug books.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Young Romance is the name of old-school romantical comics from back in the day, and DC is trotting out the name again to wrap around a collection of quick-hit stories about various lovelorn corners of the New 52. They are basically just kind of rushed pieces that end with shout-outs to other books, but it's a cute concept. Plus, Superman and Wonder Woman dating is a big deal, so why not cash in?

The first story is a Catwoman story from Ann Nocenti and Emanuela Lupacchino, which is basically Selina Kyle lamenting a botched heist and remembering the first time she met Batman – finding him to be a sexy bully. The art's not bad, but there's something about Nocenti's style that just doesn't gel for me. The only word I can think of is 'guileless.' Catwoman feels like it should be all about subtlety and subversiveness, but Selina's heart seems like it's always on her sleeve. True, it's perhaps excessively apparent here due to only having eight pages to cram in a story, but it's still too straightforward to me. Oh, and Batman will show up in Catwoman #18!

The second story is a decent little Aquaman nugget from Cecil Castellucci and Inaki Miranda. It's really an old-fashioned tale about a woman in love with a man who was lost at sea, but who waited her whole life for his safe return anyway. The story is told through letters and postcards that Aquaman has in his lighthouse, which Mera reads and becomes enamored with, leading to a mild parallel with herself and her handsome sea king. It's nice. And it's not even plugging something in Aquaman, making it refreshing here.

Part three is a Batgirl story from Ray Fawkes, the guy who was going to fill in for Gail Simone in the brief period where she was fired from the title, before being rehired. That's gotta be weird. It's basically elevating a car thief with a mohawk and a heart of gold named Ricky to a legitimate love interest for Barbara Gordon – or at least Batgirl. She shuts him down, but can't deny there's some electricity there. The art from Julius Gopez is always a little angular and awkward in its positioning. It's decent, but also a little off-putting. But hey, Ricky gets his chance in Batgirl #17!

Part the fourth is an Apollo/Midnighter section called "Seoul Brothers," from Peter Milligan and Simon Bisley. Bisley's art is very dark, which fits for a story about a guy who's basically a murderous Batman. However, the focus is more on Apollo as he tries to hunt Midnighter down in Korea to convince him to give their relationship a trie, while the dark hero-ish guy shuts him down, because he's not about letting emotions interfere with the work. Lovelorn jerks! And check out upcoming issues of Stormwatch!

The fifth entry is a sad little story from regular Nightwing writer Kyle Higgins, with Sanford Greene on the exaggerated, maybe-a-little-too-cutesy art, although if you can't do cutesy in a Young Romance comic, when can you? Dick Grayson gets dumped over the phone by a girl he's stood up for the fifth time due to his secret work, but he runs into a cute bodyguard woman named Ursa Major, with an adorable little bear footprint over her eye and a polar bear hoodie and a bear-shaped backpack for her weapons. She's very precious, but also cagey. She hears him getting dumped, invites him out for Chinese after their shared fight, after which he asks her to meet him again for pizza the next night. He dutifully shows up, and she dutifully doesn't. There's no specific plug at the end of this one, either, but you have to think that Higgins will bring Ursa back for something soon.

The last story features the big guns, Supes and Wondy, on a date in Tuscany at a fancy place suggested by Diana's cousin Eros. "Eros? As in the god of – ?" "Demigod, but yes." As the two bare their souls to each other, the Mantic Sisters (in disguise as the evening's live musicians)  try to hypnotize Superman into killing Wonder Woman for her bracelets and lasso. They've even got Eros under their thrall, but it doesn't last long, thanks to truth-lasso action. Andy Diggle's story is decent, if the dialogue is sometimes overly forced. Again, eight pages. Robson Rocha's art is solid as well, although everybody's eyes look to be glazed over as if they're all in some kind of stoner haze. But hey! Even More Complications Arise In This Couple's Young Romance In The Pages Of Superman #19!

So, overall, Young Romance #1 is a cute gimmick with a couple of touching stories, but with little resonance. If you're in the mood for it, read it. If not, you're likely not missing anything.