Thursday, September 22, 2016

Sins of Youth: Batboy and Robin #1

Big Magic

Chuck Dixon • Story
Cary Nord • Pencils
Mark Lipka • Inks
Noelle Giddings • Colors
Sean Konot • Letters
Eddie Berganza & Matt Idelson • Stunt Coordinators
Batman created by Bob Kane

Cover by Mike Wieringo & Terry Austin. Colors by Tanya & Richard Horie. All these covers have the same design and the same high level of quality. I feel bad that I don't have much to say about them, but that's just how it goes, I guess. I'm not exactly sure why the Batboy costume has a mask completely covering Bruce's face, but it does look pretty cool. Maybe it's to help distinguish him from his normal Batman form. Ironically, the bulk of this issue has Bruce dressed like Robin and Tim as Batman.

This issue also doesn't have Impulse in it, so this will be another quick synopsis. Bruce and Tim have returned to Gotham City and, in an effort to maintain the illusion of normalcy, have put on each other's uniforms. But kid Bruce is a bit bigger than Tim was, so the Robin outfit is tight on him. Tim is nervous about driving the Batmobile for the first time, but he quickly grows to love it. And poor Alfred has to lie down after seeing these age-swapped heroes.

Bruce says they need to find Klarion the Witch Boy, and he suggests they ask Zatanna to help them. Some highlights along the way include Tim awkwardly calling Jim Gordon "Commissioner" instead of just "Jim," and Tim having a nice discussion with Bruce, where he admits he has never considered growing up to be Batman. He still plans on fighting crime throughout his life, just not necessarily as the Dark Knight. Oh, and Klarion turns the Penguin into a kid.

To make a long story short, Tim and Bruce rescue Zatanna from a couple of very random villains. She then tries to restore them to their normal ages, but all she can manage is to change their costume back to what they were on the cover, saying Klarion's magic is too powerful for her. Oddly enough, neither Batboy nor Robin tells Zatanna that their ages were changed by a combination of magic and science. Nor do they ask her to help them locate Klarion, which was their plan all along. They just ... leave.

CDTV News Top Story

This is Ace Atchison reporting for CDTV news, bringing you the latest coverage on Sins of Youth. And let me tell you, Gotham City blows! We've been here for just a couple of hours, and so far we've had most of our equipment stolen, our van is missing and we've been attacked twice. The last one could have been fatal, if not for some huge Batguy and a very serious kid who was with him. They showed up at the last minute to kick some much deserved bad-guy butt. This means the urban legends are true about a Batman in this city, but I can't prove it because our video cameras were TAKEN!!!!

All I can say is that he's nicer than has been said. It's his kid sidekick who gives me the creeps.

So If you can avoid Gotham City, do it. Good goth music, but THAT IS IT!

In other news:
– Zatanna says for her next trick, "kcehc tuo ym wen noitca erugif."
– Waynetech mini-CD system not compatible with LexCorp Music's new Big Boom Tube Boxes.

Sadly, this was the weakest installment of Sins of Youth so far. The art wasn't that great, and the story was really meandering. It was kind of fun to see Tim struggle with being an adult, but the kid Bruce didn't act different at all. Batboy was a lot more entertaining in JLA Jr. #1. Oh well. We're bound to have a few hiccups in such a large story with so many different creators involved. The fact that duds like this are the exception and not the rule is a testament to the awesomeness of this event.

Next time, Part 7: The speedsters do a world press conference to clear up the current Young Justice mess, and you are there! Sins of Youth: Kid Flash & Impulse #1!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Sins of Youth: Aquaboy & Lagoon Man #1

Turning Back the Tides of Time

Ben Raab – Writer
Sunny Lee – Penciller
Lary Stucker & Norm Rapmund – Inkers
Ken Lopez – Letterer
Tom McCraw – Colorist
Maureen McTigue – Associate Editor
Eddie Berganza – Editor

Cover by Mike Wieringo & Terry Austin. Colors by Tanya & Richard Horie. These standard covers are very straightforward, leaving very little to be said about them. Lagoon Man is an incredibly massive beast, who now has a tail for some reason. Aquaboy, the most girl crazy of the youthened heroes, smartly appears just a bit older and taller than the rest of the shrunken JLA members. This makes his constant oggling of women and inappropriate jokes a little more palatable.

Speaking of inappropriate jokes, our story begins with a great one. Surrounded by six beautiful women on a beach, Aquaboy asks if any of them like sushi. One of them leans in close, and says she just loves it raw. Of course, the boyfriends of these women are none too happy with this scene, but Aquaboy has the massive Lagoon Man to protect him.

(Before I forget, I should note that Impulse technically doesn't appear in this issue. My weak justification for reviewing this is that Impulse does appear on the cover. But mainly, I just want to hit every Sins of Youth issue, even if it's just a quick one, like this will be.)

It is interesting to note that Aquaboy is the first adult-turned-teen who is actually happier with his new age. He tells Lagoon Man that for the first time in his life, he feels like a normal person, not weighed down by the burdens of being a head of state. He uses the word "complete" to describe how he feels, but sadly acknowledges that this is only temporary. Lagoon Man is simply thrilled by the freedom granted from being an adult.

Of course, their fun and games can't last forever. A mermaid washes ashore, telling Aquaboy that his old enemy, Black Manta, has acquired a very power ancient artifact and is using it to wreak havoc on an underwater city. So, long story short, Aquaboy, Lagoon Man, and a few other people take down Black Manta and acquire the mystic staff. Aquaboy realizes he could use this staff to return himself and all the other superheroes back to their right ages, but he's warned that he can only use the staff once before its power corrupts him. So the King of Atlantis selflessly uses the staff to repair all the damage caused by Black Manta. He then snaps the staff in half, so no one can be corrupted by it in the future, and he and Lagoon Man swim off, looking for another solution.

We then get a quick epilogue of Klarion ... bum, bum, BUM ... the Witch Boy visiting Black Manta in his prison cell. Klarion has put on a jacket decorated with goldfish for the occasion, and even has a cute little air bubble around Teekl's head. The Witch Boy takes out Black Manta's guards and transforms the super villain into a teenager.

CDTV Top Story

This is Ace Atchison reporting for CDTV news, bringing you the latest coverage on the current "Youth Movement" or what some are now calling the "Sins of Youth."

Young Justice's "Justice for All" superhero march turned out to be a disaster for all. It blew up (literally) into a major free-for-all, and this reporter is trying to track the fiasco, because it looks like the adults have been turned into kids and the kids are now adults. A sucky situation indeed!

The heroes all busted out in different directions. The government Point Men were on the JLA's tail but lost them. But now CDTV has heard a kid and his giant monster are jamming' off the Santa Monica Beach area, and, you know, where there's a party, Ace Atchinson is there first!

In other news:
– Frontstreet Boys upset and suing Ace Atchinson for earlier comments made about them by him.
– OutofSync — mad that Ace didn't mention them — are suing as well.

So there you have it. This event is officially called the Sins of Youth both inside and outside the comic world. It's always a weird, exciting moment to see characters use the story's actual name, like, "This is a real Crisis!" I guess it helps keep things organized. Anyway, I have little to no knowledge on Aquaman, so I didn't know or care about half this issue. But overall, it was still a fun read, complimented with some decent art that fit the tone of the story. I was kind of surprised that nobody talked about Aquaman getting his hand back, but I guess that's a fairly obvious observation that doesn't require any discussion.

Next time, Part 6: Reports say everything is normal here, but what can you believe in from a city whose heroes are only urban myths? And check out Zatanna's appearance here! Sins of Youth: Batboy and Robin #1.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Sins of Youth: JLA Jr. #1

You Gotta Be Kidding!

Written by "Danny" Curtis Johnson
Pencils by Carlo "Carlito" Barberi
Inks by Wayne "Wayne" Faucher & Juan "Tito" Vlasco
Colors by Pat "Patty" Garrahy
Letters by Dave "Davey" Lanphear & Clem "Clem" Robins
Edits by Minnie Mo McTigue & Eddie "el Nene" Berganza

Cover by Mike Wieringo & Terry Austin. Colors by Tanya & Richard Horie.

Now we're into the full swing of things. The rest of the covers and issues of this event will follow the same format. On this cover, Wieringo wisely gave the focus to the members of the JLA who will not be appearing in other issues — Plastic Man, Red Tornado, Steel, Martian Manhunter and Green Lantern. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Aquaman will get their turn later on. This cover also sets the precedent of altering the small images on the bottom. Since Red Tornado is in the main image, his small picture has been replaced with Lagoon Boy.

The bulk of this story takes place before that short JLA/JSA story in the Secret Files issue, which was a little disorienting initially. So we pick up in Washington, D.C., right after everyone has been transformed, and is chaotically trying to split up and regroup at the Young Justice cave. Doiby Dickles is blaming himself for making things worse; Merry the Gimmick the Girl is trying to console him; the media is trying to sort everything out, erroneously reporting that a group of heroes clashed with government agents and that Superboy started the fighting; Senator Perkins is trying to restore order and get rid of the reporters; and Klarion the Witch Boy gladly welcomes chaos, his old friend.

The JLA has grouped together by some trees, and Wally immediately starts asking a bunch of questions that no one can answer: How'd they become kids, who're those other super-people who suddenly showed up (Point Men), and where'd Young Justice go. Superman suggests they find those "super-goons" and kick their until butts until they're changed back. Wonder Woman astutely notes that they don't know who transformed them, and maybe they shouldn't be fighting anyone until they can figure out what's going on. All Batman cares about is that nobody sees him.

Superman tells Batman that if he was so worried about being seen, then he shouldn't have jumped out after that "weird little kid" (Klarion). Batman says he thinks Deadman made him do that, but Superman says he's just making excuses. He also starts a running gag of calling Batman "Bats," which he hates. Meanwhile, Captain Marvel occupies himself by messing with Steel's armor, and Green Lantern, an artist by trade, literally changes his costume every single panel.

Wonder Woman begins to speculate that that weird little kid may have been some sort of sorcerer, but Captain Marvel interrupts her by tugging on her lasso and saying a bunch of people are looking at them funny. The people think that Superman is Superboy and his teammates are Young Justice instead of the JLA. Aquaman tries to explain the situation to them, but he's soon blasted from behind by the Agenda troopers. Soon, the JLA is surrounded by troopers and the Point Men, but they're rescued by the adult Anarky, who uses a couple of well-placed smoke bombs to cover their escape.

Batman angrily claims that he was just about to do the same thing, which Superman highly doubts. But Batman does begin reasoning out their next move, saying they won't be able to get to the meeting place with the Point Men trailing them like this, so he suggests they go to the Watchtower. Wally points out that the nearest teleport pad is in the D.E.O. building, and there's no way they could get in there in with "everyone and their grandmother" hunting them. Anarky once again comes to the rescue, saying he's been developing a teleport pad, but would need a few more codes to adjust it to send the team to the Watchtower.

Since they have no other option, the JLA retreats to Anarky's base, and Steel makes the adjustments to send the team to their base base on the Moon. Steel also makes sure that this is a one-time teleportation only, so that Anarky won't be able to go to the Watchtower at a later date. But once the JLA arrives in their base, the security system is triggered and begins to detain the heroes. Apparently the key parameters they used to have the Watchtower identify them were their size, mass and voices. One would think that the shape-shifting Martian Manhunter would be able to turn himself into an adult to turn off the defense mechanism, but the computer is smart enough to tailor its attacks to each intruder, and it surrounds J'onn with a ring of fire. So it's up to Batman to evade all the obstacles and punch in the manual override. And he can't help but brag a bit when he accomplishes this.

The heroes get a brief moment to relax and regroup. Steel adjusts his armor, Captain Marvel begins tying Plastic Man in a bunch of knots, and the rest get the monitor board on to see that, sadly, the media seems to be milking this story for all its worth. But one reporter, Ace Atchinson, is providing a fair report, asking how much of the truth they aren't hearing, and suggesting that they listen to the kids to learn what they need. Green Lantern says they just need a few more reporters like him to spread the truth, and Wally sarcastically says he'll just interview every reporter in the country at super-speed. Red Tornado tells Wally that's not a bad idea, but there's no guarantee he'll be believed as long as people think they're part of Young Justice. The android argues that their priority should be to return to normal so they can be in a better position to help the real kids.

Martian Manhunter begins a telepathic search for Klarion the Witch Boy, who is currently in a cave, reaching back in time for the android Amazo. However, Amazo emerges as a teenager, which Klarion hadn't intended, but speculates is a residual side effect of all the chaotic forces he's been throwing around today. Klarion then notices J'onn's presence, and psychically repels him. The young Martian Manhunter was a bit shaken by this, but he did manage to confirm that it was Klarion who de-aged them, and that Klarion is working with somebody else.

Aquaman, who is busy looking at pictures of Power Girl and Fire, suggests they "just chill until the bad guys reveal themselves." Superman hates this idea, saying they also need to worry about their home cities like Metropolis and Gotham. Wally reminds everyone that he's supposed to be on his honeymoon right now, and he tersely tells Superman he's free to "go babysit" his city while the rest of them "actually work on the problem." Wonder Woman prevents Superman and Flash from attacking each other and all of them realize that their emotions have changed to match their younger bodies. Green Lantern cries out that he'd rather be a monkey, a caveman, a potted plant, anything but a teenager again. Steel jokes that Kyle is only two or three years younger.

Wonder Woman returns to her magic theory, asking if anyone has a sorcerer handy. Captain Marvel tells everyone he knows a wizard, but many of his teammates doubt this, especially Wally, who says the "squirt" would claim he knew an electric pocket monster just to get attention. But, once again, since nobody has any better options, they all decide to follow Captain Marvel's lead. He takes them down to Shazam's cave, where the wizard opens with a lesson on the Seven Deadly Sins of Man. Batman is linked with Injustice, Green Lantern is Laziness, Aquaman is Selfishness, Flash is Hatred, Plastic Man is Greed, Red Tornado is Envy, and Superman is Pride. Naturally, none of these youthened heroes take this message well.

When they do get to speak with Shazam, the wizard explains that he is unable to help them since their ages were altered by a strange combination of magic and science. Shazam advises them to meet up with the other heroes at the Young Justice cave, then disappears. Wally criticizes "Wonder Chick" for this stupid idea. She says it wasn't her idea, she just said it sounded workable. Wally says that's the same as it being her idea in the first place, which launches a classic back-and-forth of "Is not!" and "Is too!" Naturally, Wally is too fast for Wonder Woman to keep up with all his "Is too!"s.

Superman gets fed up with everything, and he flies off to Metropolis, which makes Captain Marvel start to cry. Batman says Superman had a good point, so Wally mocks him, asking if he's worried about his mommy and daddy back in Gotham. Batman flips out and almost attacks Wally, but Martian Manhunter stops them, who realizes they'll never be able to solve this problem in their emotional condition. Finally, at the urging of Red Tornado, they all head to the Young Justice cave, catching us up to the Secret Files story.

After the brief (and hilarious) fight between the JLA and JSA, the adults of Young Justice show up and restore order. They all agree that they should approach their problem from as many different angles as possible. Aquaman says says he'll check out the high technology and old magic in Atlantis, and Lagoon Boy plans on having some fun with his king in their new ages. Wonder Girl and Wonder Woman plan on trying the gods of Olympus. Red Tornado says they also need to deal with the matter of public perception, so Wally brings back the idea he initially suggested sarcastically. He and "Impulse-Man" could go get the word out. Impulse agrees with this idea, but he calls Wally "Kid," which he doesn't like.

Superboy says Superman shouldn't have taken off so impetuously, but he did have a good point. Superboy will head to Metropolis to keep their enemies believing things are business as usual, and he advises Batman and Robin to go to Gotham. Doiby heads off to the planet Myrg with the JSA to try to repair his aging gun, and Secret says she'll take Deadman with her to track down Klarion the Witch Boy. Red Tornado volunteers to remain at the cave and coordinate everything. He says they don't have time to wait for the Titans, so everybody rushes off toward their own adventures.

CDTV News Top Story:

This is Ace Atchison reporting for CDTV News, continuing the latest coverage on the current "Youth Movement."

We're her live from Washington, D.C., where Young Justice has called for a superhero "Justice for All" march, to defend themselves against the crimes that they believe they have been wrongly accused of. It looks like anyone who's anybody in the superhero community is here to hear their case: the JLA, Titans, the JSA, plus a lot of other heroes.

Wait ... some government officials have come to greet the heroes and ... what's this? Superboy is turning against his teammates, saying that all the accusations are true and that Young Justice is dangerous! But wait! Another Superboy has shown up, and a major fight is starting!

Hey, who's the little kid in the suit waving his hands around? Some showy figure is jumping on him! Heck is breaking loose, people! There's smoke all around, it's hard to know what's going on. All we can make out is loud zappy, zappy sounds.

The smoke is clearing ... and what the ... ?! Is it me or did all the adults get turned young, and the kids are now adults?! We'll be right back ...

This was another fun installment in this Sins of Youth event. It's so wild and silly and simply wonderful. What can I say? I love seeing the Justice League as kids. This reminds me a lot of the Justice League Unlimited episode, "Kid Stuff," although that was on a much smaller scope — only turning Superman, Batman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman into kids. And everything else was completely different, so that's where the comparison ends. But the root of the idea, turning adults into kids, is always an amusing concept, in my opinion.

The art was handled wonderfully by newcomer Carlo Barberi, who also drew the JLA/JSA story in the Secret Files issue. Barberi has a fun, light-hearted style that works perfectly for a story of this nature. I see hints of Humberto Ramos, a splash of Craig Rousseau, and just a smidge of Todd Nauck in his work (in fact, I even like Barberi's Klarion more than Nauck's — not quite as chubby). Later, we will see how Barberi's style will help him become the next penciller on Impulse after Ethan Van Sciver leaves.

This story did a good job of providing enough information for anyone who might have missed a previous issue or two, but there were a few continuity problems I noticed. However, these are small quibbles in the grand scheme of this story. But I do have to ask, what was everyone else doing before they met up at the cave? We know that Wonder Girl and Superboy were at Cadmus, the Titans were at S.T.A.R. Labs, Mary Marvel and Freddy Freeman tracked down Klarion to a museum ... and that's it. Specifically, I want to know what Robin and Impulse were doing, since they're now two of the most responsible superheroes on the planet. Oh well. Like I said, it doesn't really matter that much.

Up next is Part 5: The JLA has tried to get its act together by separating, but Aquaboy and friend are more interested in catching rays and babes than finding a solution to their problems. It's good to be the king! Sins of Youth: Aquaboy/Lagoon Man #1.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Young Justice: Sins of Youth Secret Files & Origins #1

Cover art by Todd Nauck and Lary Stucker. Cover colors by Digital Chameleon. This is a great cover, but it doesn't really show what's happening in Sins of Youth. Instead, it shows what we thought might have happened before Sins of Youth — a showdown between the JLA, JSA and Young Justice. Naturally, each member of Young Justice is directly confronting their mentors. Wonder Woman has Wonder Girl in her lasso, and Superboy, Robin and Impulse are being closely followed by Superman, Batman and the Flash, respectively. Secret, who doesn't have a natural adult counterpart, is double-teamed by Plastic Man and Green Lantern. Like I said, this is a great cover, but it's not particularly applicable to our story anymore.

This issue is 64 pages of wonderful information, telling us everything we'd ever want to know about the dozens of characters involved in this event, and how Klarion's spell has effected them. However, Impulse's involvement in this comic is quite limited, so I'll be doing a lot of skimming here.

Our main story focuses on the Titans, beginning with a slight continuity contradiction by showing Cameron Chase telling Arsenal that he and the Titans need to support Young Justice at their rally two days from now. The problem is, Wonder Girl announced the rally just one day before it happened, and we saw how the Titans decided to attend. Arsenal thought it could be a trap, but the others pressured him into going.

Anyway, the story jumps ahead to the aftermath of Klarion's spell and Doiby's ray gun. Damage and Argent have been turned into adults, Cyborg and Starfire have become young teenagers, but Nightwing, Arsenal, Troia and Garth remain the same. And even though we saw Jesse Quick with the Titans in Sins of Youth #1, she is nowhere to be seen here, which is sad, because I really would have loved to see what the serious, CEO Jesse would have been like as a girl.

When all the heroes scatter, the Titans head straight to S.T.A.R. Labs to look for a cure. Nightwing has a theory as to why he and the other original Teen Titans weren't affected. Long ago, Robin, Speedy, Wonder Girl, Aqualad and Kid Flash prevented a robbery of an anti-aging formula. In the process, they were all exposed to the gas, except for Wally, which is why he became younger. Nightwing believes the doctors at S.T.A.R. Labs can analyze their blood to find a cure, but before they can do so, they learn of an attack of a group of terrorists called the Wildebeests.

Leading the call to action is the adult Damage, who is now calm, composed, in complete control of his powers, and is beginning to wonder if he wants to return to being a teenager. The Titans eventually defeat the Wildebeests at the JFK International Airport, but soon learn of another attack at Grand Central Station. So they rush off to save the day again, further delaying their search for a cure. Naturally, this is all part of the Contessa's plans. Not only is she arranging things to keep the heroes busy, but she was also behind that original robbery years ago.

So this story was a bit contrived, but it is nice to see what the Titans were up to doing this whole event. And I found Damage's reaction to his new age rather interesting. Everyone immediately starts looking to return to normal, which is a natural inclination, but he's the first so far to wonder if he's actually better staying like this.

CD-TV ad

Written by Lary Stucker
Pencilled by Pascual Ferry
Inked by Rob Stull
Lettered by Comicraft
Color by Tom McCraw with separations by Digital Chameleon

This is a sweet, goofy little demonstration of Ace Atchinson's personality. At top, is Ace getting punched by Superboy's favorite rapper, Hard Kore. In the middle, Ace is cowering under the table beneath the Joker during an Arkham Asylum riot. And at the bottom, Ace prepares for an interview with Young Justice. I really like the concept of this fake ad. I just wish it was drawn a little better ...

After that ad, the issue dives into the Profile Pages, beginning with Robin. After providing a brief background on Tim Drake, his bio says that he was dismayed to see his adult self is under six feet tall, but he does learn there are advantages to being Batman instead of Robin.


Text by Todd Dezago
Pencilled by Matthew Clark
Inked by Ray Snyder
Color by Tom McCraw with separations by Digital Chameleon

Real name: Bartholomew "Bart" Allen (II)
Occupation: Student/Costumed adventurer
Base of Operations: Manchester, Alabama
Ht: 5'3"
Wt: 114 lbs.
Eyes: Yellow
Hair: Brown
First Appearance: The Flash #91 (June, 1994)

Born in the 30th century, Bart Allen was brought back to our time by his grandmother, Iris Allen (widow of Barry Allen — the Silver Age Flash!), in an attempt to cure him of a hyperaccelerated aging process. That cured (by none other than current Flash, and Bart's cousin, Wally West!), it was decided that the future was not a safe environment for Bart to grow up in and that it was best that he remain in the 21st century. Unfortunately, Bart's hyperaccelerated attention span requires that he be under the guidance and supervision of a uniquely patient individual. And so Bart — later called Impulse — was put into the care of his mentor, Max Mercury — the Zen Maser of Speed! Bart spends most of his days trying to conform to the "mind-numbingly slow" pace of "normal" life ... and Max spends most of his time keeping Bart out of trouble! Of his recent experience as an adult, Impulse's response was, "No thanks! Too much thinking!"

I'm very glad that Impulse writer Todd Dezago was brought in to write this Profile Page, which perfectly sums up the backstory of Impulse in a concise manner. I just wish that Impulse artist Ethan Van Sciver could have drawn this page. Matthew Clark's art isn't necessarily bad, it's just that Van Sciver's art is amazing! And I miss it. He's been MIA for the past three months. Anyway, one interesting note here is Impulse's height and weight. In previous Secret Files and Origins, he was listed at 5'1" and 110 lbs. Now it appears our little speedster is starting to grow up!

The next Profile Page is Superboy, which mostly recaps Superboy #74. Wonder Girl is next, which talks about how Cassie enjoys being a grown-up, and may be the perfect candidate for Young Justice's next leader. The Empress page follows that, and it doesn't offer any details on who or what she is. It does speculate that she could be a new heroic identity for Arrowette, but immediately dismisses that possibility as hopeful speculation.

We then get Cissie Jones-King, which talks about how she has retired from being Arrowette. Everywhere else I've seen her name as Cissie King-Jones, but I think Jones-King makes more sense, since her dad's last name was Jones and her mom's last name is King. Next is the Secret, which briefly details her tragic past, her brother Harm, and the D.E.O., before saying that she, too, is reluctant to return to childhood. Lagoon Boy portrays him as a fun-loving party animal, able to find enjoyment both as a teenager and an adult.

The Star-Spangled Kid talks about how Courtney is now the adult Starwoman, and her stepfather, Pat Dugan, is now the child S.T.R.I.P.E.S.Y. with his tiny robot S.T.R.I.P.E. The Junior Society of America gives us the new names for the youngest oldest super-hero team in history — Hawkbaby, Starwoman, Teen Lantern, The Star-Spangled Kid, Hourboy, Bigg Boy, Cry Baby, Kid Mid-Nite, Wildbrat, Terrific Lad, Li'l Fate, S.T.R.I.P.E.S.Y., The Golden Age Kid Flash, and Sandy, the Golden Boy and Chairman of the JSA.

We then get a very fun short story about the JLA and JSA going to the partially destroyed Young Justice cave to collect some rocket fuel the JLA may have left there back in the day. Apparently Doiby Dickles has another de-aging gun on the planet Myrg, and the JSA intends on flying there with their spaceship. But the JSA and JLA all get into a fight over this just because they're wild, rambunctious kids.

Some of the best jokes involve Aquaboy hitting on Starwoman. He boasts that he can "dive for hours without having to come up for air," which is hilariously dirty if you think about it. Wally teases the younger Jay Garrick that he better slow down or he'll break a hip, to which Jay says, "That's so funny I forgot to laugh!" Wally responds by asking if Alzheimer's is kicking in already for Jay. Kyle Rayner immediately steals that Alzheimer's line when he teases the younger Alan Scott. The two young robots, Red Tornado and Hourboy, have fun trading arms and capes. And the young Captain Marvel tries to restore order by lecturing everyone about how they should remember who they really are and stand up for truth, justice and the American way. But this speech is promptly ignored.

Eventually, the JSA gets their rocket fuel and takes off. Aquaboy asks Starwoman one last time if she wants to "get a little ... wet," but she again flatly turns him down. Wonder Woman realizes the adult Young Justice are going to be ticked at them, and Batman asks the others to not tell Robin that he was here. Aquaboy laments to Kid Flash that Starwoman left him "high and dry," and Wally tells him that they all do.

After this most amusing, and also informative story, we return to the Profile Pages, starting with JLA, Jr., which gives us the new names for these heroes — Superman Jr., Batboy, Kid Flash, Aquaboy, Li'l Steel, Green Lantern, Li'l Captain Marvel, Plastic Boy, Li'l Red Tornado, Wonder Girl and Martian Kidhunter. Up next is the the Marvel Family, which sadly doesn't mention their new status in the Sins of Youth world.

But I guess that's OK, since the next short story shows us that Mary Marvel has become an adult, while Captain Marvel Jr. is just normal teenager Freddy Freeman, unable to transform into his heroic identity for some reason. The two of them track down Klarion the Witch Boy to a museum, where they also find a youthened Captain Nazi. Klarion quickly teleports away. While Mary Marvel protects the bystanders, the depowered Freddy saves the day by electrocuting Captain Nazi. And sadly, we get no explanation as to why CM3 didn't also become an adult.

We then get The Titans Profile Page, which recaps the big story we just had in this comic. And sadly, this also fails to mention Jesse Quick, who I guess just went home before any of the age-changing occurred. Up next is Li'l Lobo, which reminds us that he made a cameo appearance as a statue in Young Justice #1,000,000. This bio doesn't explain exactly how or why Lobo was affected by Klarion's spell, but remember, the explanation of the magic/science blast did say it spread heavenward. So, I can only assume that Lobo happened to be however many light-years directly above that exact spot in Washington, D.C., and got hit by the lingering effects of the blast. I guess.

The next page goes to the Point Men, telling us a bit about all the members we've seen, except for the enormous Groundswell, who we only saw briefly during the big fight in Washington. We then have a page devoted to Young Villains — Li'l Amazo, Li'l Pengy, Mini-Maxima, Private Cold, Li'l Sphinx, Li'l Manta and Li'l Black Adam. Next is Klarion ... bum, bum, BUM ... the Witch Boy. This explains that he's primarily a villain of the demon Etrigan, but he's now teamed up with the Contessa to cause chaos and have fun. And now that he's altered the ages of the heroes, he's decided to travel the country and de-age a bunch of supervillains, as well.

And our final story shows Klarion doing just that. He interrupts Catwoman during a routine jewel heist and turns her into a little kid, then promptly disappears. And our issue ends with a final Profile Page for the Agenda. This explains that their leader, the Contessa, was once the bride of Lex Luthor. As part of her grand scheme, she has manipulated both the D.E.O. and the A.P.E.S. into discrediting Young Justice, while she simultaneously infiltrated Project Cadmus and Young Justice via Match. She genetically engineered the Point Men to assist in this plan, and has allied herself with Klarion to maximize the chaos and increase paranoia against superheroes.

I always love these Secret Files and Origins issues. A longtime collector of basketball cards, I love learning the players' (or in this case, heroes') height, weight and backstory. The highlight of this issue was the JLA/JSA fight, which gave us a great preview of what these teams will be like in their own issues. The Marvel story was frustrating since it presented what appeared to be a direct contradiction to the rules of this event without offering any explanation. And the main story with the Titans felt contrived and was a bit boring. But other than that, this was a very fun and informative comic book. And speaking of Todd Nauck's workload during this event, in addition to drawing the cover, he also drew five Profile Pages here. And as always, his work was held to his amazing high standard, which stood out in stark contrast compared to a lot of the other artists' work in this issue.

Up next is Part 4, where we begin the special one-shots, starting with Sins of Youth: JLA, Jr. #1!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Superboy #74

Game, Set & Match!

Karl Kesel Write-ist
Tom Grummett Draw-er
Keith Champagne Ink Draw-er
Buzz Setzer Uses All 64 Crayons
Comicraft Still Learning Joined Up Writing
Mike McAvennie Makes Us Stay Behind After Class
Jack Kirby Principal

Oddly enough, all of the Sins of Youth issues were their own standalone stories, except for this one. I don't mind this, but I do think it would have been fair to have done the same with Robin and Impulse, as well. Anyway, our cover shows Superboy battling his evil clone, Match (Superboy is the one without the jacket). In the background is the adult Wonder Girl and a bunch of people associated with Cadmus and the world of Superboy that we don't care that much about. (Sorry, Cadmus fans!)

Our story picks up immediately where Sins of Youth #1 left off, with all our heroes standing around, staring at their new bodies. All except Superboy, of course, who is still 16, and is actually upset by it.

But Superboy's indignation doesn't last long, as he very quickly doubles over in immense pain. Klarion ... bum, bum, BUM ... the Witch Boy is absolutely thrilled by this chaotic scene, noting that this result is even better than what the Contessa asked for. Doiby Dickles feels responsible for messing things up more with his ray gun, but Merry tries to assure him they'll be able to fix this if they find the right gimmick. The army of troopers in black armor keeps the media away from the heroes, while the teenage Deadman tries to take on Klarion head on. But Klarion just teleports away. The adult Secret — the only hero who can see Deadman — tells the teenager to calm down and that they will find Klarion.

Wonder Girl tends to Superboy, who says it feels like he's being torn apart from the inside. Match then realizes that he's lost his telepathic link with the Gene-Gnome, which must mean that the Agenda has lost control of Cadmus, so he quickly flies off to help his fellow villains. The Point Men also quickly teleport away, and the teenage Superman suddenly decides that now is the best time to challenge Impulse to a race. Impulse ignores this, and instead tries to calmly talk down the troopers, who are still trying to arrest all the heroes. Impulse tells them to slow down, and that there's been a misunderstanding. And for a moment, it seems like the troopers are willing to talk. But Superboy tells everybody not to trust the troopers, since he recognizes them as Agenda clones. Merry the Gimmick Girl says she's sick of being manipulated by the Agenda, and teen Wally West says, "Then what're we waiting for? Hit 'em fast ... and hit 'em hard!"

So everybody's back to fighting once again. Robin quickly emerges as the leader, and once the Agenda clones are scattered, Robin orders everyone to retreat, make sure they're not followed, and to regroup at the JLA cave. Superboy asks Superman how he's doing, and he says he feels a little weaker than normal, but is definitely doing better than Superboy, who has another painful spasm during their conversation. Superboy says he needs to get back to Cadmus to stop Match and see if the scientists there can do anything for him. Wonder Girl flies the Kid there, while the media begins to report that the young superheroes and their mentors viciously attacked a group of unknown soldiers that were trying to keep the peace.

The Contessa watches all this from afar, and is pleased with the results. Her plan has hit a few snags, but her contingency preparations are working nicely, and her ultimate goal of discrediting all the superheroes is still working perfectly. Her Agenda troops from Cadmus beg her to send in the Point Men to help them retake the cloning facility, but Contessa refuses, saying she has other plans for the Point Men.

Wonder Girl and Superboy arrive at Cadmus shortly after Match, and they get into a big fight. Wonder Girl takes a couple of big hits early on, and Superboy isn't much use in his weakened state. But a crazed Cadmus scientist unleashes a gas that instantly disintegrates all Agenda clones, so Match makes a hasty retreat. With the battle won — in horrifying fashion — Superboy is finally taken the medical facilities and examined by a doctor.

Dr. Serling looks at Superboy and confirms that he is being torn apart on a genetic level, and she doesn't even know where to begin to save Superboy's life. Everyone nervously waits outside, but before too long, an adult Superboy walks through the door. Serling explains that the aging force he was hit with was at war with his cellular structure that kept him stuck at 16. But the doctor managed to alter Kon's DNA to enable him to age like his teammates did. And just like the rest of Young Justice, Superboy instantly became an adult and his clothes magically changed to fit his new body. But the story ends on a shocking, tragic note, as one of the Agenda agents who had lingered behind suddenly kills a young woman Superboy had literally known his entire life.

So there were a few odd things with this issue. First of all, I find it odd that the Sins of Youth event spilled over into one and only one issue of an on-going series. It was also odd to have such a heavy, serious ending in this very silly and light-hearted event. Maybe Peter David could have pulled off a nice balance between the serious and the silly, but Karl Kesel gave us a very abrupt tonal shift, that did work for me. And this comic really glossed over the whole bit of Superboy transforming into a man. Maybe the doctor's sudden discovery was supposed to come off as suspicious, or maybe this was a plot point established in previous issues. I don't know, I haven't read them yet.

But there was some good stuff here, too. I liked Robin becoming the de facto leader of all the heroes, and Impulse trying to be the voice of reason and slow everyone down. And as a whole, I think the whole story of Match replacing Superboy worked out well because we got so many clues throughout the issues of Young Justice. They weren't obnoxious, obvious clues, but they did raise enough suspicion that when the truth was revealed, everything fell neatly into place.

Next time, Part 3 — Young Justice: Sins of Youth Secret Files & Origins #1!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Young Justice: Sins of Youth #1

Justice for All

Peter David Writer
Todd Nauck Penciller
Lary Stucker Inker
Jason Wright Colorist
Ken Lopez Letterer
Maureen McTigue Associate Editor
Eddie Berganza Editor

Cover by Mike Wieringo & Terry Austin. Colors by Tanya & Richard Horie. Special thanks to Kimberly & Matt B. The Klarion Icon was designed by Sean Taggart.

This is it! The biggest Young Justice event during its five-year run, taking a majority of the DC Universe on a wild tour through the silliness and awesomeness of Young Justice. And the awesomeness starts with this cover, drawn by Impulse co-creator Mike Wieringo! It's great to see Wieringo draw Impulse again (for the first time in about five years), but I'm a little sad that Impulse was drawn so small.

This sideways cover with the ample amount of white space will become the standard for most of the Sins of Youth comics. It is nice to have something very different to stand out from all other comics and indicate to readers that this is going to be a very different kind of story. Still, though, I'm not the biggest fan of sideways covers, and I kind of wish they just would have made them vertical like normal. On the bottom of most of these covers is the same seven images taken from other covers, showing adult versions of Impulse, Superboy, Secret, the Star-Spangled Kid, Wonder Girl and Robin, as well as the juvenile version of Red Tornado. So, without further ado, let's dive right in to this big story!

We pick up right where we last left off in Young Justice, with our teenage heroes exploring their new temporary headquarters — an abandoned resort in New York's Catskill Mountains. But it doesn't take long before Robin urgently calls out to Wonder Girl to join him in the ballroom. Wonder Girl delivers the message to Impulse, who was busily snarfing down some potato chips. He wonders if the team is having an emergency dance, and he calls down Secret, who was checking out the beauty salon. Soon, the whole team is down in the ballroom, facing off against Old Justice, who appear prepared for a fight.

Superboy leaps forward to attack, but he soon stops when he sees his teammates aren't following him. Wonder Girl and Robin are both hesitant with the idea of battling the elderly, but Impulse says Max is older than all of them put together and could probably take on Young Justice no sweat. But Wonder Girl is still worried about breaking their bones. Perhaps the most feeble member of Old Justice, Thorndyke, grows irritated by this talk, and he pops a couple of pills he had concealed in his cane. Superboy jokes that the old-timer got so worked up he needed to take his heart medication, but Thorndyke quickly grows into a large man, strong enough to send Superboy flying with a powerful punch.

Impulse immediately strikes back by kicking Thorndyke in the chin, and Robin orders the rest of the team to attack, but to use caution. Robin is quickly caught in a net by the Cyclone Twins, and when Impulse tries to free him, Merry the Gimmick Girl takes him out with a bunch of gas-filled marbles. Dan the Dynamite blasts Wonder Girl and Superboy with the energy produced from his power rings, and Doiby Dickles sucks up Secret into a special vacuum. Impulse manages to disperse the gas by spinning his arms around, but enough of the gas made his brain just foggy enough that Merry is able to get a special spring around him that he's unable to vibrate out of. Robin manages to escape his net and knock down the Cyclone Twins, but he's soon targeted by Dan. So Superboy rather ruthlessly decides to drop the room's chandelier on Dan.

Thorndyke manages to push Dan out of the way, but he finds himself trapped under the chandelier with his pills beginning to wear off. Merry tells Dan to blast the chandelier off him, but his rings need more time to recharge. Luckily, Wonder Girl is able to pull the chandelier off Thorndyke, and she chastises him for whining so much. She then tosses the chandelier at Doiby's vacuum, which frees Secret.

Suddenly, the fight is interrupted by the blinding flash of the camera of reporter Ace Atchinson, who is overjoyed to witness this fight firsthand. He asks Dan the Dynamite who threw the first punch, and Dan tries to deflect the question, but all the members of Young Justice point out that Thorndyke started the fight by punching Superboy. Of course, with his pills worn off, Thorndyke is now a feeble old man, being held up by the Cyclone Twins. Ace naturally questions this story, and Dan immediately jumps on this moment of hesitation, saying it's obviously absurd. But Merry is shocked by this blatant lie, and Doiby agrees, saying bad guys lie and heroes tell the truth. So Doiby explains to Ace that Thorndyke was jazzed up on some pills, did start the fight, and then was saved by Wonder Girl.

One of the Cyclone Twins tells Ace that they just wanted to talk to Young Justice, but things got out of hand. Ace says that as seniors, it should have been their responsibility to make sure things don't get out of hand, and Merry agrees with him, saying they wanted to have the kids surrender, so they could peacefully discuss things. Superboy interrupts her, loudly complaining that nobody wants to hear their side of the story. Wonder Girl then speaks up, and delivers an eloquent speech about how so many adults in the world are now terrified of teenagers, considering them dangerous or helpless, and blaming their misdeeds on music lyrics or Marilyn Manson or something. (To better understand Wonder Girl's viewpoint, keep in mind that this comic came out less than a year after the Columbine High School shootings.) Wonder Girl accuses adults of treating teenagers while expecting them to act like adults, and she boldly tells them that they're not the enemy, nor are they babies to be protected. She ends her speech by saying they need less protecting and more being listened to.

All this was broadcast live, and watched intently by the Star-Spangled Kid, the teen vigilante Anarky, Billy and Mary Batson, the Titans, and the Contessa, the woman behind all of this. And she happens to be entertaining a very interesting guest, who insists on being called Klarion ... bum bum BUM ... the Witch Boy! Contessa doesn't feel like adding this dramatic musical sting to his name, but she's desperate enough to keep Klarion happy that she reluctantly agrees to do it.

We return to the Catskills resort, where Ace has given our heroes a quick break before resuming the interview. Wonder Girl is quite panicked about continuing to handle the bulk of the speaking, but Superboy assures her she's doing great, and Impulse says, "Even I almost believe you!" Robin also tells Wonder Girl she's handling this perfectly, but he has to once again deny the team's request that he make a public statement. Superboy is the most angered by this, and he begins chewing out the "Batboy" before Secret sternly tells him to shut up.

As Young Justice gets ready to appear on TV again, Old Justice is dealing with some inner turmoil. Merry the Gimmick Girl chews out Thorndyke for starting the fight, and Dan for lying to the reporter. Doiby begins to wonder about the merits of their plan, noting several odd coincidences that have been happening lately. Dan doesn't buy the idea that someone else has been calling the shots all along, but the Cyclone Twins also believe it's possible that they are being used.

It's now showtime, with Wonder Girl telling the entire Young Justice story, and Impulse providing some hand-drawn visual aids after quickly reading a book called, "How to Draw Comics the DC Way" (coincidently, his drawing style is very similar to Todd Nauck's). Wonder Girl begins by addressing the story that was brought up on the Senate floor. She admits that one of their team members, an archer, did track down Richard Pulilo. Wonder Girl explains that Pulilo had murdered an innocent woman, and in the heat of battle, the archer did almost kill him, but another team member prevented it. Wonder Girl also notes that had the police caught up with Pulilo, there likely would have been a shootout leaving him and possibly some policemen dead. Wonder Girl argues that Pulilo still being alive is a testament to Young Justice, not a condemnation. And since the archer has retired from active duty, she has demonstrated an ethical standard most civilians don't share.

Wonder Girl then moves on the Mount Rushmore incident. She explains that another one of their team members was kidnapped by the All Purpose Espionage Squad, and was being held against her will despite not committing any crimes. So Young Justice rescued their team member, but the A.P.E.S. headquarters was hidden inside Mount Rushmore, so when the team defended itself against the A.P.E.S., part of the memorial was damaged. And Wonder Girl says they are sorry about that, but at the end of the day, Mount Rushmore is cold, unfeeling stone, whereas Secret is a real person made of flesh and blood ... and ... smoke.

We then cut to some audience reactions, seeing that Freddy Freeman and Mary Batson (Captain Marvel Jr. and Mary Marvel, respectively) support Young Justice, while Billy Batson (who spends a lot of his time as the adult Captain Marvel) doesn't like how they're trying to spin their assaults and destruction of monuments into a story of adults vs. teens. The Star-Spangled Kid is incensed by this, turning and shouting at Jay Garrick and Alan Scott (the original Green Lantern) that their "whole generation bites!" And Anarky sees this as another example of the government harassing anyone who talks back.

Wonder Girl continues her speech, now telling about the arrival of the Point Men, which led to the destruction of the Young Justice headquarters and brought the JLA down on the team "like a ton of bricks." And according to Wonder Girl, this last bit hurt them the most. We see the JLA watching from the Watchtower, and Wonder Woman proudly comments on Wonder Girl's eloquence. Aquaman detects a bit of bias from the Amazon, which Red Tornado acknowledges, but he also agrees with Wonder Woman. Superman says if anyone's going to be biased, it's going to be Red Tornado, and the android responds by saying if anyone's going to be interested in truth and justice, it's going to be Superman.

Wonder Girl tells the camera that the recent media frenzy has made Young Justice feel like criminals, and Impulse draws a cute picture of them all wearing old-school prison clothes. But this picture was one too many for Wonder Girl, who angrily rips it away. She continues her speech, by saying she hasn't seen one story that has cut them any slack. They feel like people can't wait to tear them down, saying anyone who's young and super-powered can't be trusted. Wonder Girl says something needs to be done about this attitude, so Ace asks her what she has in mind. Thinking on her feet, Wonder Girl suggests a justice for all rally. Since Washington, D.C., is the center of the controversy, Wonder Girl proposes they all meet tomorrow at 6 p.m. on the Great Lawn. And she invites all adult heroes to attend. Merry steps forward, promising that Old Justice will be there to make sure no injustices occur.

The interview concludes with Merry the Gimmick Girl and Wonder Girl shaking hands, while Impulse excitedly pops up between them, shouting, "Hey, Max! I'm on TV!" Max, who is at Dr. Morlo's running some more tests, asks Morlo to change the channel to "The Price is Right." Meanwhile, Wonder Girl begins to chew Impulse out, not realizing that they're still on the air.

At the Titans headquarters, Damage leads the rallying call that they should attend the rally. Arsenal offers the lone dissenting opinion, saying this rally could be a trap, but he gives in to the rest of the team. Billy also says this whole thing sounds suspicious, and Mary accuses him of acting like a grown up. Wonder Girl asks Superboy how she did, and he answers by giving her a big kiss.

We then check in on the Contessa and Klarion ... bum bum BUM ... the Witch Boy! The two are sitting down to tea, with Klarion's cat and familiar, Teekl, joining in by transforming into a strange half cat/half woman. The Contessa explains that her goal is to cause chaos and confusion — the very things that superheroes are ill-prepared to battle. Klarion says he's quite familiar with chaos and confusion, but he wonders why they're targeting Young Justice. Contessa says it's because they're easier targets, and she's playing off the recent paranoia of adults being frightened by teenagers and the Columbine mentality. Klarion catches on, seeing the greater fear that metahuman teens can strike into the hearts of adults. In other words, they're planning on getting at the older heroes by attacking the younger heroes. And the Contessa notes that the more youthful heroes they have, with fewer adults to oversee the situation, the better things will be for the two of them. Klarion happily accepts, calling this a glorious challenge for Klarion ... bum bum BUM ... the Witch Boy!

The media then descends on Senator Neptune Perkins, who merely comments that the JLA coming down on Young Justice "like a ton of bricks" should tell you something. He quickly retreats to his office, only to find Aquaman there waiting for him. The King of Atlantis explains that the Justice League is not against Young Justice, despite what the teens believe. The JLA was just rethinking the need of one-to-one supervision, but they had no intention of disbanding the team. And now that they've learned of Secret's kidnapping, the JLA is looking for answers. Perkins says Secret was a national security hazard, and presents a tremendous potential for danger. Aquaman doesn't like this excuse, and he makes sure to intimidate the senator a bit before tossing him a copy of the United States Constitution, telling him to read up on how no one can be imprisoned without due process. Perkins still objects, and Aquaman says the JLA will support Secret and Young Justice tomorrow at the rally.

We return to the abandoned resort, where Old Justice and Young Justice have come together to whip up a buffet meal to share. Robin asks Dan how they were able to find them so quickly, and Dan says that Old Justice was originally contacted by a woman named Amanda Spence. She said she believed in their cause, and had a way to keep tabs on Young Justice. The next thing they knew, Old Justice began receiving telepathic images of what YJ were up to. This is how they were able to alert the media to go to Mount Rushmore before it exploded. Dan says that they've recently stopped hearing from their telepathic source, and all the teens are predictably uneasy at the idea of someone reading their minds. Impulse notices that Superboy seems most disturbed by this, but the Kid tries to brush it off as a hard story to believe. The Cyclone Twins assure them that they have no reason to lie, and they look forward to straightening everything out at Washington tomorrow.

Tomorrow rapidly approaches, and Ace Atchinson is on the scene, excitedly reporting the arrival of each hero. First up is the JLA, followed immediately by the JSA. Captain Marvel Jr. and Mary Marvel then fly in, and both of them are surprised when the Big Red Cheese himself joins the crowd. Up next is the Titans, S.T.R.I.P.E., Steel, Supergirl, Anarky and Lagoon Boy (all of whom were called the wrong name by Ace). Cissie is watching this unfold with a bunch of girls at her boarding school, and one of them excitedly wonders aloud what it'd be like to be one of those heroes. Naturally, this comment depresses the former Arrowette a bit.

Robin finds Batman hiding on the roof of a nearby building, and he admits to his mentor that he's upset at having to stay out of the limelight. Deadman arrives unseen, sensing that some big magic is brewing. Alan Scott asks Courtney Whitmore if she still thinks his generation "bites," and she reluctantly admits that maybe not all of them do. Finally, Young Justice and Old Justice make their grand entrance, coming in on the Super-Cycle and a flying car.

But as soon as Young Justice lands, Senator Perkins is on top of them, saying they have organized an illegal assemblage, and they're still wanted for questioning in several serious matters. Wonder Girl happily says they have arrived precisely to answer those questions. But Superboy suddenly interrupts her, shouting that everything the media says is true and the teens in Young Justice are all crazy. Everyone is shocked by this, while Superboy continues his tirade, saying they should all be locked up and he'll cooperate with the government to make sure the team is shut down.

Robin is the first to figure it out, realizing that the whole time Superboy hasn't been acting himself — hitting Red Tornado, challenging him — he's actually been someone else. Cissie also realizes this from watching on TV, remembering how startled Superboy was when she said, "I don't know you," because he thought she realized he wasn't really Superboy. Robin tells this to Batman, explaining that Superboy once told him he was cloned. Right on cue, the real Superboy comes zooming in, definitively proving that since Arrowette left Young Justice, the "Superboy" with the team was actually his clone, Match.

Superboy immediately tackles Match, but they're soon pulled apart by Superman and Green Lantern. Martian Manhunter conducts a quick mental scan and confirms which one is the imposter. Amidst all the chaos, Senator Perkins tries to get the police to arrest all the heroes, but they refuse, sarcastically saying they'll just pull out some kryptonite from their sock. Luckily for Perkins, a group of people who are willing and able to battle these heroes arrives — the Point Men, leading a large army of flying troopers in black armor. And so, a big fight breaks out, with plenty of enemies available for our huge collection of heroes.

Klarion quietly slips into the middle of the battlefield, and the only one who notices him is Deadman. He tries to possess Klarion's body, but the boy is protected by a mystic shield. So Deadman hops into Batman's body, and takes off to stop the witch boy. However, Klarion sees him coming a mile away, and is easily able to knock him out with a spell. He then turns around and casts a much larger spell that transforms the adult heroes into young children. Not only are the JLA and JSA the size of kindergartners wearing oversized costumes, but they also are acting like the little kids they've turned into. Jay Garrick and Wally West are especially cute, challenging each other to a race right in the middle of this intense battle.

Robin quickly swoops in and kicks Klarion, while a bewildered Old Justice looks on. Merry says she doesn't have any gimmicks for this, but Doiby surprisingly says he might, and he sticks his arm deep into his small bowler hat. The Point Men, meanwhile, are having a field day with the scared and confused children heroes. Aquaman gets the best line here, telling the meanies to stay away since he's a "king and stuff." The Titans weren't hit by Klarion's spell, so they try to protect the kid heroes, but are unprepared for Short Cut's teleporting, which redirects their energy blasts right on top of them. Damage tries to take them out with a large energy blast of his own, but as usual, he ends up hurting his teammates as much as he helps.

Continuing his fight with Klarion, Robin just manages to dodge a spell, while Klarion threatens to turn him into a dead embryo. Dan the Dynamite is shocked to see Doiby pull a large laser gun from his hat, and Doiby only says cryptically that his hat was a present from "her." Doiby then calls out to Young Justice to get all the kids together in one spot and then vamoose. So Wonder Girl corrals all the flying tykes, Impulse chases down the two Flashes, and the Star-Spangled Kid and Lagoon Boy help gather up the rest into a cage Secret has made.

Cyborg, Supergirl and the Marvels provide cover from the shock troopers pulse cannons, but suddenly the Gray Lady calls in an as-yet-unseen member of Point Men, Groundswell, a gigantic being made of rock and dirt. Donna Troy and Anarky battle Blockade and Serpenteen, and Superboy continues with fight against Match. Superboy realizes that Match is working with the Agenda, the group that imprisoned him and took over Cadmus. Match mocks the Kid for being so slow to figure it out, and he uses his unique power of energy blasts to send Superboy down to the gathering area with Young Justice and all the kid heroes.

Doiby is tired of waiting, so he activates his gun, which should age up the JLA and JSA back to adults. At the same time, Teekl transforms into an enormous tiger, and frightens Robin enough into backflipping into that gathering area and covering himself with some smoke bombs. Secret tries to tell him about Doiby's plan, but it's too late. Doiby fires his gun, but Klarion sees this and tries to counter with a spell of his own. In one blinding moment, magic and super-science intersect, unleashing all manner of possibilities in one blinding eruption of light and power, which flies in all directions, including heavenward ...

And when the smoke finally clears, we see that nearly everyone has been transformed (but this time their costumes changed with them). The results: JSA are all kids, except for Courtney, who's now an adult; the JLA are all teenagers; and Young Justice are all adults, except for Superboy, who is still the same age, and is actually upset by that.

Our story ends with a story from CDTV News "You're only gonna hear it here!"

This is Ace Atchinson reporting for CDTV News. I'll be bringing you the latest coverage on the current "Youth Movement."

This story began with Young Justice's run-in with the law after a couple of incidents that included hiding a little Secret from the government; covering for their member Arrowette, who's gotten "tougher" on crime; and the team's destruction of Mount Rushmore. Now they want to set the record straight and have organized this "Just for All" super-hero march today!

The government and a team of old fogey, appropriately named Old Justice, think the kids aren't all right, but this reporter thinks there's more to this story than meets the eye. There may be forces at work that want the teen heroes done away with. I'm here to hear their side of the story.

In other news:

— The Space Girls threaten to do solo albums!

— The Latin invasion continues with La Encantadora!

This news story is followed by The Countdown, which is a handy reading order for the 12 issues of Sins of Youth.

Yes! We're here! This is quite possibly my favorite DC comics event of all time, and a big reason why I fell in love with Young Justice in the first place. This story is so fun and wacky and wild and wonderful. It has great action, humor, topical questions, a great continuation of Young Justice continuity, and just about every conceivable cameo you could ever hope for. On the surface, this is just a silly story about our heroes' ages being swapped. But at its root, this story is asking serious questions about how much can adults trust teenagers in a post-Columbine world.

But even more impressive than Peter David's brilliant script is Todd Nauck unbelievable ability to draw everything he did here. Let's look at what he had to do here. This issue was 38 pages, chock-full of almost every imaginable DC character, all getting together in big fight scenes. And then Nauck had to draw all these heroes at different ages in different costumes. And let's not forget Impulse's fun sketches, which required Nauck to draw in a slightly different style than everything else. Despite all these demands, everything looks amazing. Nauck's work does not appear to have compromised at all for this. Now to increase the level of difficulty, consider that Nauck will also do a bunch of pages in the Secret Files issue, and end everything with another 38-page special that came out just two weeks after the first one. I seriously have no idea how he pulled this off.

Well, I think that's all the praise I should heap on one issue. I'll see you next time with Part 2 of our series, Superboy #74!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Impulse #60

What Would the Flash Do?

Dwayne McDuffie Guest Writer
Eric Battle Guest Penciller
Prentis Rollins Inker
Jason Scott Jones Colorist
Jamison Separator
Janice Chiang Letterer
L.A. Williams Editor
Impulse created by Waid and Wieringo

This issue's cover by Impulse: Bart Saves the Universe's Jason Johnson and Wonder Girls: Sins of Youth's Chris Ivy. And just like Bart Saves the Universe, this cover has a frantic, wild style, combined with lots of little details around the edges. The odd border around this cover gives the impression of something significant for this story, but I don't think it's anything more than Johnson's doodling. The only thing on the cover that seems to matter for this story is the imprint on Impulse's boot, which is a nice touch. Johnson, however, did mess up Impulse's gloves — making them full-fingered instead of the cool-for-the-90s fingerless gloves. It's also worth noting that Jason Johnson joins the short list of people who have drawn an Impulse cover — Humberto Ramos, Craig Rousseau, Jeff Matsuda and Ethan Van Sciver.

We open to find Bart hanging out in someone's backyard with Ayana and Roland. Ayana drags Bart into a shed, telling Roland to wait outside since she has something private to show Bart. Our oblivious hero agrees, but he does wish he had a Girl/English Dictionary to decipher Ayana's clues. In the dark shed, Ayana hands Bart a Wint-o-Green Life Preservers candy, and shows him that when you bite down hard on them, they make sparks in the dark. Ayana then tries to smoothly transition this into making a different kind of spark with Bart. But Bart suddenly dashes out of the shed before the kissing can begin, leaving Ayana to hope that Bart doesn't tell Mike about this (since Mike had previously been her other participant in this "sparks in the dark" experiment). Of course, Bart was completely oblivious to all this, and focused only on one thing — getting as many of those candies as possible.

But in this latest distraction, Impulse completely misses a robbery at Fambly Jewelry, where the teenaged thief has somehow managed to put the store's safe into his pocket. He introduces himself as Pocket Pal to the police, and explains that his pocket is "just a little bigger on the inside than it is on the outside." He demonstrates this by pulling out a bazooka, which he uses to blast a big hole in the wall. Before the cops can pull themselves out of the rubble, Pocket Pal pulls out a motorcycle and zooms away.

We then cut to Manchester Junior High, where it's time for the midterm science exhibition. While waiting their turn, Roland tells his friends about how his dad would go streaking during college. And we get a very odd image of Bart imagining himself running around naked. Anyway, when it's Bart's turn to demonstrate his science experiment, he pulls out his big bag of Wint-o-Greens and a sledgehammer. He attempts to give an official-sounding speech with a fake British accent, then asks for the lights to be turned off. However, the auditorium still isn't dark enough to Bart's liking because of the emergency lights. So Bart literally cuts the power to the building, then puts on an impressive display by smashing the mints.

After the power's restored, Bart is sent to Randal Sheridan's office, which now lists him as the Assistant Vice-Principal, a title that seems redundant. Anyway, we see that Mr. Sheridan has stacks and stacks of files detailing Bart's misdeeds, including burning the ant farm with a magnifying glass and trying to flush a sleeping bag down a toilet. After shouting at Bart for a bit, Mr. Sheridan says he won't call in Bart's Uncle Max this time, and he warns the boy to try to think before he acts.

Bart is then accosted in the hall by an overly anxious hall monitor named Deke. Turns out he was one of the bullies in Impulse #13, but has since turned his life around by joining the Supermen of America (the actual group, not the corrupt posers we saw in Impulse #47). Deke shows Bart the secret of his transformation — a bracelet that says "WWSD" for "What Would Superman Do?" Bart becomes inspired by this, and instantly heads off to an arts and crafts store to make his own bracelet. But instead of using Superman as the inspiration, Bart's bracelet asks "What Would the Flash Do?" As soon as he puts it on, Bart says he feels "gooder" already.

Later, Max is astonished to see Bart not only complete his pre-algebra homework, but also work a few problems ahead. Bart then heads out on patrol, saying he's devised a new grid system that will be more efficient than his usual haphazard style. As he takes off, promising to be back in three minutes in time for curfew, Helen tells Max how Bart also cleaned his room, turned off the TV, put away his video games and even read a book. He did forget to pick up his jacket, but Helen is still impressed. She then takes off for another date with Matt Ringer, leaving Max to quietly reflect on how he might be able to get Bart ready to take care of things on his own before he has to.

Impulse's new grid takes him to the Birmingham Zoo, where he sees Pocket Pal stealing a live lion. Impulse says he spent some extra time studying the police blotters, so he feels prepared for this battle. Pocket Pal attacks with a bunch of darts, which he says have Impulse's name on them. Bart catches each dart individually, and is surprised to see they actually don't have anything written on them. Pocket Pal says he was just looking for some fun before heading to the track to grab some cars, and he isn't really ready for a fight like this. So he pulls out a large backhoe, which he hopes will cover his escape. Impulse easily vibrates through the construction equipment, but then suddenly realizes that it's almost time for his curfew.

Pocket Pal calls Impulse a baby for having a curfew, and for a moment, Bart imagines himself beating the villain like a punching bag. But he sees his What Would Flash Do bracelet, and instead of thinking of Wally, he thinks of his Grandpa Barry, telling him to get home by 7 o'clock. So Impulse consults a pocket watch he just happened to have, then tells Pocket Pal he'll give him a whuppin' tomorrow. Pocket Pal pulls out a large laser gun, but Impulse is long gone before he gets to fire it.

Bart rushes back home, where Max asks him why he decided to leave during the middle of a battle with a super villain. Bart explains that he was two seconds away from missing curfew, but he assures Max it'll be fine, since he's already deduced where Pocket Pal will strike next. He promises to catch the villain tomorrow, after he completes his chores. Max asks what's happening to Bart, and he explains to him about his bracelet and how it'll make him always be good from now on. However, Max still feels that Bart needs to be grounded for the stunt he pulled at school that day. Bart starts to protest, but then imagines himself wearing an oversized Flash outfit, asking, WWFD? So Bart politely agrees to the punishment, then takes a bath, brushes his teeth and goes to bed.

Max confers with Helen (who came back rather quickly from her date), saying he finds the new Bart a bit creepy, and kind of like a kid from the Brady Bunch. Helen tells him to relax, saying this phase won't last long. She reminds Max of the time Bart tried to teach himself to bend spoons with his mind. That phase didn't last too long, either, although it did ruin all the family's silverware.

The next day, Impulse finds Pocket Pal at the Talladega Speedway, which is currently hosting the Lucky Cola 500. Impulse shouts out to "Pucker Pal," but is too late to prevent him from putting a race car in his pocket. Pocket Pal demonstrates that he was prepared for Impulse today by pulling out a tennis ball cannon full of live hand grenades sitting on top of a high-speed turntable. This begins launching grenades out in all directions, but to Pocket Pal's surprise, Impulse is able to protect the racers and the fans by catching every single grenade and safely dumping them in the river. Bart quickly returns, offering a fish to "Pocket Pool." As he laughs off Pocket Pal's attempts to correct his name, the villain grabs Impulse and shoves him into his pocket.

Pocket Pal gloats that his pocket contains the loot of a thousand jobs, and the only way out of that dimensional rift is a small, 4-inch hole, which he imagines that Impulse will never be able to find in a hundred years. However, Impulse is able to find the hole fairly quickly, and he sticks his arm out of it, grabs Pocket Pal, and pulls him into his own pocket.

The pocket world is full of tons of cash, a space shuttle, a Tyrannosaurus rex, Tupac Shakur, Elvis Presley, and black man in a fancy purple suit, whom I sadly cannot identify. Impulse tells Pocket Pal he's going to find out how many times he can punch him in the nose in one second, but he suddenly imagines Grandpa Barry asking what he'd do. Bart reluctantly admits that his grandpa probably wouldn't pummel the villain. But, Bart does realize that his grandpa also wouldn't ask his bracelet for moral advice, either. So Impulse beats up Pocket Pal, shoves his WWFD bracelet in his mouth, then ties him to the roof of the race car to make a daring escape from the pocket and return all the stolen loot. As Pocket Pal is taken away by the police, Impulse assures him that he's not the only one being punished tonight. Bart returns home to face his early bedtime, which feels like being in prison. But once Max turns out the lights, Bart chomps down on one last Wint-o-Green.

This was a pretty fun issue. I'm not sure why Todd Dezago didn't write this one, but Dwayne McDuffie did a pretty good job. It's always fun to have Impulse battle a teenage villain he can tease and argue with. Also, you can tell McDuffie did his research on the series, reaching way back for the obscure character Deke, as well as mentioning ongoing side stories like Max's ailing health, Helen's budding romance, and Ayana's crush on Bart. The only thing that felt out of place was Mr. Sheridan's big stack of files of Bart's misdeeds. While that's certainly a plausibility in the world of Impulse, none of the previous writers ever mentioned Bart's reputation as a notorious troublemaker (intentional or otherwise). Eric Battle's art was good, but a little uneven in places. Every now and then he had a panel that just looked off.

Impulsive Reactions begins with a thank you note to the Walker County's Chamber of Commerce for providing information on the real-life Manchester, Alabama. L.A. Williams also thanks the Birmingham Zoo and the Talladega Superspeedway — two other real-life Alabama locations that finally made their way into an issue of Impulse. And, by way of coincidence, Dwayne McDuffie's mom is from Talladega.

Michael Bregman enjoyed having one week of Young Justice appearing in their own book, Impulse and Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. He was particularly glad that the YJ cameo in Impulse #56 was more than just a few pages, but didn't take the focus away from Impulse. Michael also loved the ending with Impulse dressing up as Inertia, but then he got goosebumps realizing that Inertia could easily dress up as Impulse.

David Edward Martin loved all the visual jokes in Bart's messy room, pointing out a "My Pet Monster" doll, the whirlybat helicopter made from vacuum parts, a bank pneumatic tube cylinder, the Rosebud sled from Citizen Kane and a Batman movie mask.

D.L. Stephenson praises the art, but complains about Robin's "cloven hoof" boots. D.L. also didn't like how Secret seemed to be portrayed as a stereotypical timid girl, and D.L. felt the rapper Hard Kore was racist, calling it a "typical white male fantasy" to have Robin punch out the black gangster. L.A. responded kindly, pointing out that Secret is undergoing a metamorphosis of her own, played out in the pages of Young Justice. L.A. contends that Robin, being trained by Batman, only disliked Hard Kore because of his lyrics, not his skin color. But L.A. does agree that as an industry, they do need to works toward diversity without stereotyping.

Michael Siglain simply says issue #56 perfectly balanced the humor and the action, and he loved the gag of Impulse getting a slow lightbulb over his head.

Fingernail Man is even more simple, saying the issue was beyond cool and he really, really enjoyed it.

Mart enjoyed the Composite Superboy, but feels a guest appearance of just Superboy would have been enough. He also disproves of Helen's new boyfriend, calling him a member of the Village People. L.A. candidly points out that a Composite Superboy would not have worked if Robin was not also present.

Brent Clark says Impulse is rapidly becoming one of his favorite titles, and that he decided to go on a back-issue hunt for nearly 50 comics. He asks for more Young Justice cameos, and a Green Lantern cameo. L.A. asks if he saw the Impulse team-up in Green Lantern 80-Page Giant #2. Now for the new ads.

TopGear Pocket 2 for Game Boy Color.

Old gets young. Young gets old. Got it? Young Justice: Sins of Youth. The battle of the ages begins this March in: Young Justice: Sins of Youth #1 and #2, Superboy #74, Young Justice: Sins of Youth Secret Files #1. Plus these specials: JLA, Jr., Aquaboy/Lagoon Man, Batboy & Robin, Starwoman & The Junior Society of America, Kid Flash/Impulse, Superman, Jr./Superboy, Sr., Wonder Girls, The Secret/Deadboy.

This is going to be awesome! And we are going to cover the heck out of it!

Don't trade it for anything! Pokémon The First Movie on video and DVD, with a free Mewtwo card.

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Everything they need to know about crimefighting they learned in kindergarten! The Powerpuff Girls.

Next time, we will finally begin THE event of the year with Young Justice: Sins of Youth #1!