Sunday, October 23, 2016

Young Justice #21

Young, just us too

Peter David Writer
Todd Nauck & Sunny Lee Pencils
Lary Stucker & Norm Rapmund Inks
Jason Wright Colors
Digital Chameleon Separations
Ken Lopez Letters
Maureen McTigue Assoc. Editor
Eddie Berganza Editor

Our cover by Nauck and Stucker is a re-creation of Young Justice #18. They new heroes are in almost the exact same pose as the originals, and they were matched up fairly well. In Superboy's spot is CM3 (or Captain Marvel Jr.), Batgirl instead of Robin, Flamebird for Wonder Girl and Beast Boy in place of Impulse. The only "stretch" I'd say is Lagoon Boy for Secret, but everyone else is fairly close in terms of power set and/or personality. Of course, the big twist with this cover, is that Superboy, Robin and Impulse are reading the actual comic (which is enormously huge for some reason). I do love how Impulse is inexplicably upside down, as he should often be.

Our story begins in the middle of a battle with the new Young Justice. Beast Boy, CM3 and Lagoon Boy are knocked out, leaving just Flamebird and Batgirl standing between Lobo and Klarion. Flamebird asks Batgirl for suggestions, but she's not going to get any, since this Batgirl is a mute.

Earlier, we see the original Young Justice enjoying their time off at the Catskills resort. They're all wearing a strange mixture of civilian clothes with their superhero uniforms. Bart is playing pool with Superboy and ping pong with Robin simultaneously, while Cassie talks on the phone with Cissie, filling her in on the latest developments. (Secret is nowhere to be seen.)

Cassie explains that the new Young Justice sort of formed spontaneously when those heroes learned the original Young Justice wanted to take a break. They said they'd show some solidarity by stepping up to handle monitor duty. Cissie approves of CM3 and Beast Boy, but thinks Lagoon Boy and Flamebird are lame. Cissie says that new team needs a dark and mysterious member to provide some angst. Cassie reflexively says that Cissie provided that, then immediately apologizes. Cissie forgives her, then tells Cassie about her mom wanting to take her somewhere. Cassie advises her against this, while Bart accidentally tries to play ping pong with a pool cue and pool with a ping pong racket — again.

And that's all we see of our hero, Bart Allen in this issue. But there are a few important things here we need to discuss, so let's keep going. Klarion retreats to Gotham City in an effort to avoid Lobo, but the intergalactic bounty hunter quickly finds the witch boy and demands again to be turned back into an adult. Klarion says he can't change him back without Doiby Dickles' aging gun, but Lobo thinks he's just making excuses. So Klarion tries to change him into a radish, but when nothing happens, Lobo explains that his Czarnian physiology adapts quickly to threats, and is now resisting Klarion's magic. Klarion points out that this means that it's now impossible to turn Lobo back into an adult, and Lobo realizes he's right. But the Top Teen still wants to kill the witch boy anyway.

Meanwhile, Cissie decides to go against Cassie's advice and join her mother on her mystery trip. Cissie still thinks she's being crazy, though, so Bonnie tries to encourage her by saying that people thought Isaac Newton was crazy after he was inspired by a piece of falling fruit, but if it weren't for him, we wouldn't have the fig cookie.

The new Young Justice begins battling both Klarion and Lobo, and it does not go well. Their path of destruction catches the attention of Batgirl, who steps in to help. We cut back to Bonnie and Cissie, who arrive at the Australia Games Qualifying Archery Finals. Cissie isn't sure about being an Olympic archer, and Bonnie again gives her a chance to leave. But she also points out that this is a good opportunity for her to use her talent and represent her country. So Cissie gives it a try, but the new bow is uncomfortable, and her first shot barely hits the target. Bonnie points out that Cissie never just stands and shoots arrows anymore. And when Cissie overhears some other girls making fun of her, she fires a couple of arrows while performing a somersault. The first arrow hits dead bullseye, and the second hits the first arrow perfectly and splits it in three. The other girls are amazed that Cissie pulled a "Robin Hood," and the former Arrowette begins to enjoy the idea of being an Olympian.

The fight in Gotham continues its chaotic ways, with Batgirl initially assuming that Klarion was a child victim. But Flamebird is able to sort her out, while Lobo and Klarion knock out the three boys of the team. And that brings us back to the beginning of our story. Flamebird learns that Lobo wants to be an adult again, so she decides to try reasoning with him (since nobody has been able to harm him with physical attacks). Flamebird points out that when Lobo was an adult, he was the Main Man. But being on top is boring, because most people are afraid to challenge him, and if they do, he's just fighting to maintain the status quo. But, Flamebird argues, the climb to the top is much more exciting than staying on top. And now that Lobo is a teenager, he gets to enjoy that climb to the top once more.

Lobo agrees with this logic, so he decides to thank Klarion ... by punching him in the face once more. He gives Flamebird a big kiss on the lips, then flies off on his motorcycle. Flamebird barfs as soon as Lobo's gone, and both Klarion and Batgirl disappear when nobody's looking. Batman finds Batgirl and chews her out for disobeying his orders to stay away from other metahumans. And Klarion ends up in a random field somewhere, lamenting his loneliness. But a spaceship crash lands near him, and out pops a strange and fascinating girl about Klarion's age — R'e'l, the Supergirl of the future. The two instantly fall in love, much to the dismay of Teekl.

This wasn't too bad of an issue. I don't know if DC ever intended to do anything serious with this New Young Justice team, but they were a somewhat interesting group to fill in the gap before the next big story in this series. While this issue failed to show us exactly how these heroes decided to become the replacement YJ team, it did tell us exactly how and why Lobo is stuck as a teenager. True, it is a bit convenient, but I am glad that this was addressed. And I also enjoyed the twist of him being convinced that it's a good thing to be a teenager again. Perhaps the best part of the issue, though, was the growing relationship between Cissie and her mom. Not only is joining the Olympics a natural fit for Cissie, but it's also a sweet way to bring her closer to her mom.

Todd Nauck finally got a break with this issue — sort of. He still did the heavy lifting here, drawing all the pages with New Young Justice fighting Klarion and Lobo, leaving all the quiet scenes to Sunny Lee. Unfortunately, his style stands out in stark contrast with Nauck's, and left a lot to be desired. Lee put very little detail into the background characters, which really hurt the nice gag of Bart messing up while playing pool and ping pong at the same time. Also, someone forgot to tell Lee that Robin doesn't have to wear his mask around his teammates anymore, and that it would be a good idea to show Secret hanging out with her friends.

We only have two letters to the editor, starting with Tony Shiber, of Van Lear, Ky., who gives a fairly in-depth analysis of how Superboy was able to use his tactile telekinesis to prevent being burned way back in Young Justice #11.

Laura Beshewish, of Norristown, Penn., was shocked that in Young Justice #17, Cissie told Bart she'd miss him most, but then went and kissed Robin. Laura just knew that Arrowette and Impulse were going to get together, and believed that they should have had the parting kiss. Eddie Berganza notes that one kiss does not a relationship make. Now for the new ads:

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At full strength, Superman might be able to beat a Predator. But with no super-powers? Superman vs. Predator.

Next time, we'll begin the epic event, Mercury Falling in Impulse #62.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Impulse #61

The Sidekick Swap

G. Johns 's da Guest Writer
Mshindo I. & E. Battle ♥ da Guest Pencillers
R. Ramos 's Guest Inking
J. Chiang 's Letters
Colorist R. Taylor ♥'s Jamison Separations
Randy Newman ♥'s L.A.

This issue's cover by "Stars" Van Sciver and "S.T.R.I.P.E." Faucher. This issue's credits were carved into a tree trunk, hence the hearts (which I hope show up for everybody). Anyway, this is a really fun cover with Impulse riding S.T.R.I.P.E. upside down and Max nervously poking his head out the window. Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. are perfect guest stars for Impulse, and if a guest writer was necessary, then Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. writer Geoff Johns is the best choice. I am glad that Ethan Van Sciver has returned at least to do this cover, but his presence is sorely missed on this series. He hasn't done an issue since Impulse #57.

Our story begins with Max dragging Impulse out to Blue Valley, Nebraska, on a Saturday. Bart wanted to go see Ratman 2001 with Preston for the fifth time. But Max says this is a great chance to learn from someone who was around when teenaged heroes first appeared — and he's not talking about Old Justice, whom he considers a "bunch of bitter sidekicks" who've taught Impulse more than enough. Max, who is working up quite a sweat on this run, tells Bart that he needs to learn more about his legacy, particularly that of Kid Flash's legacy, since Bart recently sort of met Wally as Kid Flash during Sins of Youth.

Just as Bart starts to complain about being called Kid Flash all the time, the Star-Spangled Kid makes a dramatic arrival and calls Bart "Kid Flash." She then asks if he's gotten a haircut, but realizes she might be thinking of his adult form during their previous adventure. Impulse reminds her of the first adventure they had, where they both lost their hair and turned blue, and he asks Courtney not to tell Max. Courtney asks how Robin is doing, and Bart wonders why all the girls ask him how Robin is.

Max Mercury and Pat Dugan become reacquainted — apparently they haven't seen each other since 1943 with the Seven Soldiers. Both of them experience some sort of time warp, which is why they're (relatively) young still. But the teenagers interrupt the old-timers' reminiscing by complaining once again that it's Saturday. Pat says superheroes don't get weekends off. Max encourages him to have patience, but Pat says Courtney doesn't know the meaning of the word. Max vows to teach it to Courtney, and he immediately grabs her and rushes her off to her lesson, leaving Bart and Pat to begin theirs.

Pat explains that he used to partner with one of the world's first teenage heroes, the original Star-Spangled Kid. Now he's with the current Star-Spangled Kid in Blue Valley, which is still best known for being the home of Kid Flash because of the tremendous legacy he left behind. Pat talks about how Wally acquired his powers as a teenager and had to learn how to adapt to them, whereas Bart was born with them and had to learn how to adapt to reality. But Bart quickly gets bored with this history lesson, and begins fiddling around with Pat's suit, accidentally triggering his launching fist, which destroys Blue Valley's famous Kid Flash billboard.

Meanwhile, Max takes Courtney to the Justice Society of America headquarters in New York City, running past newspapers that say, "Catwoman's prison cat fight," "Superman under siege" and, most importantly to us, "Fog Prince loose!" Max asks Wildcat for a JSA assignment, but Wildcat says it's been a slow day, and all he has for the two of them is reports of a ghost at the Silversmith Gentlemen's Club. The old men at the club are very old fashioned, and they prohibit Courtney from entering, since she's a girl. Courtney literally kicks the door in, and Max lectures her for not asking to enter in a more courteous way. They quickly spot the source of the disturbances — the Gentleman Ghost, who I guess was involved in Day of Judgment (not like Impulse was).

Back at Blue Valley, Impulse and Pat make a quick pit stop at his garage, while Impulse suggests they head to a zoo, arcade, or better yet, the movie theater to see Ratman 2001. Bart answers Courtney's phone that she left behind, and has a quick talk with her friend Mary, who also asks how Robin is doing, much to Bart's chagrin. Pat tells him they're going to repair the billboard they destroyed, and in his excitement, Bart accidentally spills some paint on the remains of the villain named Paintball. Pat thought he and Courtney had defeated that paint-based villain, but apparently all it takes to revive him is to have his goggles come into contact with some paint. Paintball quickly reforms himself and sticks Pat to the wall and Bart to the floor.

In New York, amidst a slew of Ghostbuster jokes, Courtney tries to battle the Gentleman Ghost, but her attacks keep flying through him. Max tries to help, but he's overcome with exhaustion. The Ghost explains that after Day of Judgment, the powers that be appointed him to stay on Earth to ignite heart attacks in old, rich men ... for some reason. The battle goes from bad to worse, with Gentlemen Ghost grabbing Max by the throat, saying he still needs to fill his quota for the week.

In Nebraska, Impulse easily frees himself from Paintball's trap, but instead of pulling Pat off the wall, he decides to jump into the S.T.R.I.P.E. suit himself. Pat warns Bart that he won't be able to do anything in there since the whole system is based on virtual reality, but Pat soon realizes that this won't be a problem for Bart. Sure enough, Impulse considers the insides of the robot to be "home sweet home," and he instantly begins pushing the machine to its limits by attacking Paintball and freeing Pat. Eventually Paintball is defeated with ordinary paint thinner, and Bart says, "Whoa, he melted. Wicked. As in witch."

The other battle also comes to a quick end, as Courtney finally figures out that her energy-based "shooting stars" can damage the Gentleman Ghost. The specter doesn't like being harmed, so he just teleports away, saying he'll look for another club with less distractions. The old men at this club, however, are still mad at Courtney for barging inside and basically destroying the place. But Max angrily defends Courtney, prompting her to remind him of the lesson he was trying to teach her.

Just as soon as Bart and Pat finish rebuilding the Kid Flash billboard, Max returns with Courtney. Both Max and Pat consider their lessons to have failed, and they each tell their old friend that he has his hands full. Courtney, however, had a fun time, saying she's never seen a ghost before, and she'd like to do this swap thing again. Max quietly says he'd do another swap the day he grows a second head. Bart quickly rushes Max out of there, saying there's still a chance he and Preston can catch the 7 o'clock showing.

As the two speedsters take off, we see that Bart has left a small note on the billboard: "Wally, thanx for going first! Bar Impulse." Max does his best to keep up with Bart and not let him see how hard a time he has with running. He resolves he can't put off his next appointment with Dr. Morlo, who is currently working on Max's problem in his lab. Morlo is not happy with the results he's seen so far, and as he works, a dark, sinister creature lurks on the screen of one of his monitors.

This issue was a bit of a disappointment. Maybe it's because I'm tired of getting filler issues in Impulse. Maybe it's because I'm mad that this was labeled as a "Day of Judgment Follow-Up" that actually had nothing to do with Day of Judgment. (It actually had more to do with Sins of Youth, if anything.) But I think the biggest reason I'm disappointed in this issue comes down to the Gentleman Ghost. Traditionally, in a superhero swap story, you'd have each hero battle the other's usual villains. This worked with Impulse fighting Paintball. We've seen Paintball on the early covers of Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E., and watching Bart have fun inside the S.T.R.I.P.E. suit was great. But the Gentleman Ghost is not an Impulse villain. He only made one very brief cameo in Impulse #54. So it makes no sense to bring him in here (and to defeat him in a really lame way, too). Ideally, Courtney and Max would have gone to Manchester, Alabama, to battle someone Impulse has actually faced before. Granted, I don't know exactly who this should be — obviously not Inertia — but maybe someone like the Spazz or White Lightning could have returned?

And, of course, the art added to the disappointment factor. Two pencillers is never an ideal situation, and I think there's a reason why Mshindo never became a big name in comics. He kept having Bart bite his lip and make really weird, annoying faces throughout the whole issue. But I will give him credit for showing Max's fatigue while running. And I will also credit Geoff Johns for making sure to tie everything in nicely to what has previously happened in Impulse and what will happen next. So really, this wasn't an awful issue by any means. It just could have been a lot better.

Impulse Reactions begins with Jack Purcell, of Northampton, Mass., saying Impulse keeps getting better and better with Todd Dezago and Ethan Van Sciver. Jack loved Impulse #57 because it reminded him what a great character Plastic Man can be, and he asks for more interactions between him and Impulse.

Tamiko Campbell, of Bronx, N.Y., praised Impulse's ability to pull in other DC characters (like Plastic Man) and allow them to branch out in new ways.

Bart Allen (that's what he said his name was!) asks for an issue that guest stars some VERY old characters — Sugar and Spike, Scribbly and Ma Hunkle.

Craig Rousseau writes: "Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the Christmas issue! Todd and Ethan are making Impulse so good these days, it jumps right to the top of my monthly pile of books!" L.A. Williams thanks the former Impulse penciller for his praise, and encourages readers to check out his work on Batman Beyond.

Captain E. Nemo said issue #57 was the second best issue after Impulse #50. He loved the idea of Plastic Man finding someone else annoying and obnoxious.

Dark Vengeance loved Mr. Mxyzptlk's plan to ruin Superman's reputation with the Santandroid. He also asks what Bart's going to name his new dog, and L.A. brings that question to the readers.

Steve Premo said he loved reading issue #57 to his kids since it showed Bart still believes in Santa Claus and did nothing to imply that Santa doesn't exist. Steve's kids loved how Plastic Man struggled to pronounce Mxyzptlk, and he suggests the dog be named Primo.

Faries Odom, of Malden, Mass., called issue #57 a good read with lots going on, and perfect for children and teenagers.

Brian J. McNamara, of Amherst, Mass., said his 5th and 6th graders at Wildwood Elementary loved the Christmas issue. Several children loved how Impulse believes in Santa, and others especially liked the happy ending. Brian enjoyed comparing it to the comics he read as a child in the 1950s.

Electric Peter Tork loved how Woozy Winks was given a chance to be useful.

Erik Johnson simply praises the creators and says he looks forward to each new issue, and identifies one of L.A. Williams' quotes.

Jon Hart, of Kansas City, Mo., identifies another quote and says he enjoys the book.

Eduardo A. Santillan Marcus, of Rosario, Argentina, called issue #57 the best Christmas story of the year, perhaps the decade. He almost died laughing at Plastic Man, Woozy and Mxy. His only request is that Impulse meet Lobo someday. L.A. notes that Impulse will be meeting Lobo in Young Justice very soon.

Nuriko is glad to have some happiness on the book ahead of the upcoming intense storyline, Mercury Falling. But before we can get there, let's check out this month's new ads:

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DC Kids Combo Deal. Order any two titles for only $29.95 and receive this free erasable memo board and pen. Individual issues of Impulse cost $2.25 at this time. This subscription ad includes Impulse and Superboy, but sadly, not Young Justice or The Flash.

Best Western Summer Adventures. Stay at a hotel and get a free disposable camera, 10-minute phone card and a comic book.

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Be a Dark Knight. Batman with a chocolate milk mustache. Got milk?

Next time, we have to take one more quick diversion before starting Mercury Falling, with Young Justice #21.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Young Justice #20

Time Out

Story – Peter David
Art – Todd Nauck & Lary Stucker
Color – Jason Wright
Seps – Digital Chameleon
Letters – Ken Lopez
Associate Editor – Maureen McTigue
Editor – Eddie Berganza

It's a big wheel skid li'l Lobo style in this cover by Nauck & Stucker and the colors by those fine folks at WildStorm FX. This is a really fun with the teenage Lobo, his Wink 281 shirt and his awesome bike spraying some mud in poor Impulse's face. Technically, Young Justice don't meet Lobo in this issue, but Lobo does meet Klarion. I also enjoy the gag of Wonder Girl lifting up the cover to brag about her new look, which we did technically see already in the Sins of Youth Secret Files issue, but I guess there were a significant amount of readers who didn't pick that one up.

Our story picks right up where we left off in Sins of Youth, with everybody still up in Alaska following the crazy, exciting battle against Klarion and Agenda. Our heroes are soon joined by the United States military, the D.E.O. and the A.P.E.S. All the superheroes are busy rounding up the last few Agenda troopers and scientists, locking them in cages created by Green Lantern. Apparently Dan the Dyna-Mite and the Cyclone Twins had a successful trip to Washington, which prompted this large cleanup crew.

Wonder Girl checks on the now powerless Superboy, who is trying to see the positive side to his new predicament. He reminds Cassie of how she said they shouldn't be defined by their powers, so Kon sees this as a great opportunity to redefine himself. However, the captive Amanda Spence overhears this and openly mocks Superboy for losing both his girlfriend and his superpowers in the last day or so. She laughs and laughs, and all Superboy can do is quietly cry. Wonder Girl gets fed up with this and calmly walks over to Spence to whisper something sinister in her ear. (By zooming in as close as I can on my iPad, I can just make out the words, "Bang! Zoom! To the moon! If you ...") But whatever Wonder Girl did say, it sure shut up Spence real quick. Superboy is shocked to see his adversary so spooked, and he asks Cassie what she said, but she only tells him it was "girl talk."

We then find Klarion and Teekl inside a porn theater, enjoying "The Bare Witch Project." A couple of ushers tell him to leave, so he turns them into dancing concession mascots, singing about going to the lobby. Klarion confesses to Teekl that turning all the heroes and villains into kids just emphasized to him how alone he is, and how he longs for the companionship of someone his own age. But Klarion's reflective thoughts are quickly interrupted by Lobo ramming his bike through the theater screen. Lobo promises to break Klarion in half, make him turn him into an adult again, and then break the Witch Boy into another half. Klarion sends Teekl to attack Lobo, but he easily knocks her away, telling Klarion to prepare for 15 rounds with the Top Teen.

Back in Alaska, Impulse is kicking Lagoon Boy's butt in a snowball fight because none of the kids have anything to do while all the top government officials (including Senator Perkins) are having a private discussion with the JLA and Old Justice. Robin is spying on this meeting with his binoculars, but he can't make out what anyone is saying. Impulse volunteers his services, claiming to have read a book on lip reading. So Robin reluctantly hands over his binoculars, while Wonder Girl complains about not being invited to this conference. Lagoon Boy says Superman asked them to wait there, but Cassie doesn't care until Robin says Batman told them to.

Impulse begins his report, quoting Senator Perkins as saying, "Face forks ... Young Justice is a public relegations nightmarv." Robin realizes he means, "Face facts ... Young Justice is a public relations nightmare." And it carries on like this for a bit, with Impulse coming fairly close and Robin making out what was actually said. Impulse thought Superman was talking about Nintendo, when he actually was referring to the Agenda. Bart sees the D.E.O. say, "You scrunched up gripping the moist ghoul," when he actually was talking about grabbing the mist girl, aka Secret. The conversation gets pretty heated, as Impulse reports seeing the words, "mother father," "the sun on the beach" and Aquaman telling Perkins he'll "stick his umbrella in his three-day-old laundry." Robin has no clue of what to make that last one. Bart is shocked to see Wonder Woman say "the Mars rover scoops the pizza crust." By this time, Robin is sick and tired of Bart's deteriorating commentary, and he yanks the binoculars toward him with the strap still around Bart's neck. But Bart calmly and cooly vibrates his neck out of the strap.

This is one of my favorite displays of a casual use of super speed. Bart doesn't mind that Robin grabbed the binoculars away from him, and instead of lifting the strap over his head, he happily vibrates only his neck. Why? Just because he can. It's these little details that make Todd Nauck's art so great.

Anyway, Robin spots Batman, who very clearly tells Robin to put down the binoculars. Secret says Batman scares her, and all the others are shocked to learn that Secret is scared of anyone. Robin then sees that the secret meeting has ended and everyone is walking toward them. The Star-Spangled Kid mocks Impulse for his "scoops the pizza crust" line, and tells her not to blame the messenger.

We then cut to a family court file room, where the mysterious Empress has snuck inside to delete the computer files of Cissie King-Jones and burn the hard copy of a folder labeled Jones-King. (This is another frustration in the debate over Cissie's last name. On the same page, one panel says King-Jones and another panel says Jones-King. Which one is it?) Anyway, Empress is spotted by a security guard, but she takes out the lights, knocks out the guard, and gets away.

Back in Alaska, Senator Perkins and Congressman Zuckerman are holding a meeting in the Agenda conference room with Young Justice and Red Tornado, Cameron Chase of the D.E.O., Agents Fite and Maad of A.P.E.S., and Dan and Merry of Old Justice. Perkins reports that Dan made an impassioned plea to tell him the Agenda had been playing them all against each other this whole time.

Maad is still mad at Young Justice for destroying their Mount Rushmore headquarters, but Red Tornado points out this only happened because the A.P.E.S. had kidnapped Secret. Robin adds that they might have been able to rescue her quietly had Match not sabotaged the entire operation. Merry says Young Justice could have gone through the proper channels or to the JLA, but Robin says they wanted to rescue their teammate immediately. Wonder Girl adds that going through the "channels" would have alerted the A.P.E.S., and they might not have ever been able to see Secret again.

Perkins finds it hard to believe the A.P.E.S. or D.E.O. would take such action against a human child. but Chase and Maad quickly assert that Secret is not a human or a child. Superboy angrily points out how they don't care about Secret's rights, but Chase says Secret is officially dead. Perkins says she's obviously not dead since he's looking right at her. Chase says Perkins needs to study the records, and Maad states that an A.P.E.S. scientist is still in shock because of what Secret did to him. But the senator is able to silence both of them and move on to the next topic, Arrowette.

Zuckerman rips into Arrowette's shocking lapse of judgment, but Red Tornado defends her, saying she has taken responsibility for her mistake by leaving the team. The android then turns this around on the congressman, saying perhaps more politicians should resign after their own serious lapses in moral judgment. Merry and Dan both point out how prosecuting a contrite minor would be incredibly damaging to both Zuckerman's and Perkins' political careers. Red Tornado, with angry, glowing yellow eyes, sternly advises the politicians to leave Arrowette in peace.

Speaking of Cissie, we see her surprised to find her mom visiting her at her boarding school. Bonnie has brought an old photo album with her to show Cissie a picture of when she was 2 years old and able to spot a bird nest five houses away in a 60-foot tree. Bonnie then shows a photo of Cissie when she was 3, playing with darts and repeatedly hitting the bullseye. Bonnie reminds Cissie of how she said her mom doesn't have any pictures of her out of her costume. Cissie doesn't understand what her mom is trying to prove, so Bonnie starts to leave, explaining that Cissie always had a God-given talent, and she just wanted to help her daughter find the purpose for her gift. Bonnie says that she's upset that she made Cissie unhappy in her pursuit. She tells Cissie that she'll be waiting for her in her car from 6 to 7 p.m. Bonnie would like to take Cissie somewhere to show her something, but she's letting her daughter decide whether she wants to go with her. After Bonnie leaves, Cissie slowly picks up the photo album, and begins to smile.

We then head out to the temporary Young Justice headquarters in the Catskill Mountains. Batman finds Robin perched in a tree, and he tells him that Perkins and Zuckerman have officially sent all questions about Young Justice and teen heroes into committee, where it will die a slow, painful death. Robins quotes a new poll showing 80% of American favor taking no action against superheroes of any age, largely thanks to the reporting of Ace Atchison. Batman tells Robin that the Young Justice cave has been repaired, but Robin says they'd like to stay at the abandoned resort for a little longer and take a break from being superheroes. Robin reveals that he discovered the resort is owned by Wayne Enterprises, which explains why Oracle sent him there. Robin surmises that Batman convinced the JLA to cut Young Justice some slack after Superman spotted them in the woods 10 seconds after the explosion. Batman says it only took Superman five seconds to find the teen heroes and make sure they were alright. Robin thanks Batman for working behind the scenes to smooth the way, and Batman praises his sidekick for demonstrating that he really was trained by the world's greatest detective.

But Robin asks a personal favor from Batman, saying he wants to be up front with his teammates. Batman instantly denies this, saying he'd consider Robin an imposter if he revealed his secret identity to Young Justice. Robin reminds Batman of how he trusted him when he was a teenager, and he asks why Batman won't trust him now. But Batman turns this around, asking why Robin doesn't trust him now, as an adult. Conceding defeat, Robin begins to sadly walk away, until Batman decides to work out a compromise. Robin can show his teammates his face, but he can't give them his real name. Robin turns to thank his mentor, but Batman has already vanished into the trees.

With Young Justice taking a break, a new Young Justice takes their spot in the cave. Flamebird, Beast Boy, Captain Marvel Jr. and Lagoon Boy have teamed up to assess the threat of the kid-sized Lobo wreaking havoc through the streets. The comic also gives us the outline of Batgirl, saying she can't be in the cave since she never leaves Gotham, but if readers want a complete picture of the new team, they can cut out an image of Batgirl in the next issue and paste it in this one on the outline of her. (I wonder if anyone actually did that.)

Back in the Catskills, Wonder Girl shows off her new look with no wig, jeans, and a better jacket. Robin asks what happened to her miniskirt, and Cassie says that was her "What was I thinking?" phase. Robin then shocks the team by removing his mask to expose his blue eyes. Superboy immediately gives Wonder Girl $10, explaining that they had a bet that Robin only wore his mask to conceal his terminal zits. Secret thinks Robin looks very handsome without his mask, and she asks what they should call him when he's not Robin. The name he gives is Alvin Draper, which Superboy instantly calls fake. He reasons that no kid would go by Alvin, saying they'd choose Al or Vinnie, since Alvin is a name for a chipmunk or a dork. Besides, Superboy argues, Robin looks more like a Mark or a Tommy. Robin laughs him off, saying former choreographer and political activist Alvin Ailey would take issue with Kon's logic, but he says they can call him Mark, Al or Tommy Dork if they want.

Everybody finally realizes that Bart isn't with them. Instead, he has decided to work some more on his lip-reading skills by observing his teammates from afar with Robin's binoculars. Bart sees that first Robin said they should call him Mike, then Al, and then ... Timmy Drake? Bart wonders what kinds of a stupid name Timmy Drake is, and he figures he must have gotten it wrong, resolving to call Robin "Al" from now on.

This issue really could be called the epilogue of Sins of Youth. It was necessary to literally sit everybody down to discuss what happened, what's going to happen moving forward, and clear up any lingering questions from the past adventure. But as boring as it is to sit around and talk in a conference room, Peter David found plenty of ways to inject some humor into this issue, primarily through Impulse's poor job of lip reading. And let's not forget the emotional subplot of Cissie and her mom, which is moving in a very sweet and tender direction. The only thing I think this issue could have done better was to explain how and why this new Young Justice group came together.

And Todd Nauck is such a trooper. You'd think he would take this issue off after having such a heavy workload during Sins of Youth. But, no. He did each page in this issue, as well, and I am glad for it. It was necessary to have Nauck handle the final wrap-up of Sins of Youth. I do kind of wish that the Sins of Youth issues counted in the regular Young Justice numbering, because if you read this issue #20 right after #19, you'd be pretty confused.

Hey, here's something we haven't done in a while ... letters to the editor! Matt Natsis writes that he began as a Batman reader, then Robin became his favorite character, which led to him picking up Young Justice, which immediately hooked him. Speaking of Young Justice #16, Matt says Old Justice could become the most dangerous villains Young Justice has faced yet.

Michael C Lorah asks why Red Tornado's face was covered on the cover of issue #16. Eddie Berganza explains that they were parodying an old JLE cover, which may be true, but I have not seen a Justice League Europe cover that put a logo on top of a character's face. Michael also praises the direction of Cissie's story, while laughing at her cleavage comment, which was legitimately hilarious. He also criticizes the mandate to have all Batman characters be urban legends, and he subtly blames DC for making bad stuff happen to the younger heroes in order to favor the more marketable adult heroes. Now let's get to the ads!

Having a marionette sit next to him was one thing, but having a marionette sit next to him and ask for a cocoa butter rub, well that was another. At least part of you is comfortable. Arizona Jean Co.

The extreme taste of Tang now comes in a pouch.

Shape your life. Honeycomb.

77 ways to say no to weed & still be cool. I won't go through all 77 ways, but they are full of beautifully dated phrases, like, "Maybe in the next millennium," "Get it? Got it? Good" and "See ya, wouldn't wanna be ya."

Destroy all you want. We'll make more. Star Wars Episode I: Jedi Power Battles for PlayStation.

Whatever you do to get up for the game, stay up. Powerade.

Interrogation. Conversation. Combat. Shadow Watch.

Fe, fi, fo, fut, I smell the blood of an Englishman. Be he alive or be he dead, I'll grind his bones to make my bread. Nightmare Creatures II on PlayStation.

Jackie Chan Stuntmaster on PlayStation.

In the Dark Ages, one's choice of colors reflected his personal style of madness, mayhem and mass destruction. It still does. New colors for Nintendo 64.

Superman with a milk mustache, asking, "Want bones of steel?" Got milk?

Next time, Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. will guest star (forgive the pun) in Impulse #61.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Flash #161

Honeymoon in Vegas

Pat McGreal, Story
Paul Pelletier, Pencils
Doug Hazlewood, Inks
Gaspar, Letters
Tom McCraw, Colors
Joey Cavalieri, Editor

Steve Lightle gives us a fun homage to the Golden Age with this cover that is actually one of the best he's done on The Flash. I've criticized him quite a bit, but here, I'm going to compliment him for capturing the look and feel of the old comics from the 1940s. Anyway, shown here with Jay and his bride, Joan, are several members of the Justice Society of America — Green Lantern, Wildcat, Hourman, Dr. Mid-Nite and Atom.

Our story begins in the Flash Museum, where Impulse, Max Mercury, Jesse Quick and Jay Garrick are in full costume and just ... hanging out, I guess, for some reason. They talk about Wally and Linda finally getting to enjoy their honeymoon, which prompts Jay to mention his own frantic, and not very romantic honeymoon.

It doesn't take much prodding for Jay to launch into the full story, which compromises most of this issue. In 1947, Jay decided to take Joan to Las Vegas on their honeymoon (not the Niagara Falls like Bart guessed he was going to say). But instead of spending a quiet and romantic evening with Joan (who was drawn very sexily in this issue, I might add), Jay ended up getting dragged into and adventure with JSA, a corrupt casino owner, Jay's three greatest villains — Shade, Thinker and Fiddler — and, of course, his three bumbling sidekicks — Blinky, Winky and Noddy. (Back in the Golden Age, sidekicks came in two varieties: either the Robin-like child adventurer, or the plump, bumbling buffoon for comic relief. Green Lantern had Doiby Dickles, Plastic Man had Woozy Winks, and Flash had Blinky, Winky and Noddy.)

And, that's really all I have to say about this issue. Jay naturally saved the day, but ended up being too tired to spend any quality time with Joan. Max and Jesse were shocked to learn that Jay essentially slept through his wedding night, but all Bart wanted to know about was what happened to the big bag of money that the casino owner was trying to get away with. Turns out, it literally fell into the laps of the Three Dimwits, who decided to spend it on a trip to Cuba.

This was a fun, light-hearted celebration of the Golden Age. And I think it was a good idea to do something like this during these transitional issues between Mark Waid and Geoff Johns. Instead of trying to start a new story with Wally, fill-in writer Pat McGreal put the focus on the original Flash, who always could use a little more attention. Sadly, though, this issue marks the beginning of a long drought of Impulse in The Flash. Whereas Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn loved to incorporate all the characters of the Flash family, Geoff Johns will spend the majority of his run focusing exclusively on Wally. Luckily, Impulse still has plenty of issues of Young Justice to appear in.

Speaking of which, next time we'll take a look at some of the aftermath of Sins of Youth in Young Justice #20.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Flash #160

Brian Augustyn, Writer
Scott Kolins, Pencils
Jon Holdredge, Inker
Gaspar, Letters
Tom McCraw, Colors
Joey Cavalieri, Editor

Steve Lightle provided this cover of a happy picture of Wally and Linda riddled with bullet holes. This does give us a good idea of what the story's about — Wally and Linda are happily married, but someone is not. And for Lightle's standards, this is a halfway decent piece of art. Could be better, sure, but I'll take what I can get.

Our story begins with a news report about the wedding of Wally West and Linda Park. This news channel had a talented photographer with a super telephoto lens that was able to get a really good shot of the wedding and all its famous guests.

And that's the only glimpse we get of Bart Allen in this issue — him in his boring brown suit and weird ponytail. So, let's quickly run through this, shall we? Wally and Linda finally get to enjoy their honeymoon in Paris, which was rudely interrupted when Wally was suddenly turned into a 13-year-old boy (although this issue sadly fails to mention Sins of Youth). Of course, you know it can't ever be that easy for the Flash. His romantic evening with his newlywed wife is interrupted by the attack of a strange mechanical airship.

Wally quickly fights off the attackers, then whisks Linda back home to plan a new honeymoon location with his travel agent. But at their new destination, in Hawaii, the couple are attacked once again. And so the whole process keeps repeating itself. Wherever Wally and Linda book their vacation, they're attacked by large, strange machines. Finally, they decide to allow themselves to be captured so they can figure out who's been chasing them all around the world.

Turns out, a familiar foe was behind all this, Kobra. He suddenly remembered Linda after Abra Kadabra's spell wore off, and remembered how Linda played a key role in stopping him all the way back in Flash #100. Flash easily defeats Kobra once more, then takes Linda back to the travel agency in one final attempt at salvaging their honeymoon. But they find out his travel agent was actually another familiar foe in disguise — Lady Flash, whom we last saw with Savitar during the Dead Heat crossover.

Lady Flash had been informing Kobra of each of Wally's honeymoon destinations so that Kobra would kill Linda and Christine could have Wally all to herself. Wally easily defeats her, however, by using his new ability to steal her speed. And finally, FINALLY, Wally and Linda are able to enjoy a nice, relaxing honeymoon on a deserted island.

This was a pretty fun issue. It was nice to have some old villains return, as well as seeing Wally and Linda actually get to catch a break for once. This issue is one of the handful of transitional Flash issues between the Mark Waid/Brian Augustyn/Paul Pelletier run and before the Geoff Johns/Scott Kolins run. So it was kind of neat to get another preview of Kolins' work. I'm not the biggest fan of his style, but he is rather detailed and consistent, which is more than you can say about many other artists out there.

So, this concludes our review of Impulse-related issues with a May 2000 cover date. Heading into June, we'll start by finding out what the other speedsters were doing during Wally's honeymoon in The Flash #161.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Young Justice: Sins of Youth #2

Sins of Youth: The Stunning Conclusion

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 cover is a perfect mirror image of the first Sins of Youth issue — a fact I just barely discovered by comparing the two covers side-by-side.

The only missing character here is Secret. But when you think about the past few issues of Young Justice, Secret has kind of been off doing her own thing, or being kidnapped. So I guess you could say the Big Three of Young Justice has become the Big Four since Wonder Girl has become an indispensable member of the team. Still, though, if Wieringo could have found a way to squeeze in Secret, then these two covers would be perfect.

Our story begins with Lois Lane reporting on the whole situation, including interviews with Arsenal, Jesse Quick, Supergirl, Beast Boy and Flamebird. This indicates that the Titans have finally finished fighting Agenda's Wildebeest hordes, but it also raises the question of how Jesse and Supergirl avoided the age-changing excitement. We got an explanation for Arsenal's immunity, and Beast Boy and Flamebird were not seen at that fateful rally. Lois continues her report, mentioning her failed attempt to interview Impulse, and detailing the trail of destruction caused by the teenage versions of Black Adam and Amazo.

Watching this report from a bar is the adult Tim Drake, who has decided to have a drink with his dad, Jack. They talk about all the negative publicity the young heroes have been receiving, and they both think everyone should be giving the teenagers more credit for trying to make the world a better place. Jack tells Tim that he reminds him of his son, and Tim is thrilled to hear his dad only has good things to say about him. Tim then tries his first taste of beer and instantly spits it out all over his dad. The embarrassed child-adult then makes a hasty retreat, regrouping with the young Bruce, who notes the smell of alcohol on Tim's breath. Tim assures Bruce he didn't actually drink any beer, and they load up into the Batmobile to meet up with everybody else at the ruins of the Young Justice cave.

We then head to the cave, where all the kid heroes are goofing off and making a big mess, while the few adults among them try to hold on to some sense of order. Wally and Jay are running circles around Bart, while others are playing video games, trying to get around the V-chip in the TV, giving each other wedgies, etc., etc. Doiby Dickles tells Starwoman to gather up all the child heroes so he can restore their ages with his new ray gun. She attempts to do so, complaining about the whole idea of young heroes. Impulse helps her out, advising her not to make a hasty judgment, and Starwoman laughs about being lectured on decision-making by Impulse. She then realizes for the first time that the Superboys and Wonder Girls are all missing.

But nobody else seems to care about the missing heroes, and Doiby decides to hit the kids with his gun anyway. And ... nothing happens. Batboy theorizes that they'll need to replicate the combination of science and magic that transformed them in the first place, and Robin agrees, saying they need the help of Klarion the Witch Boy.

Klarion, meanwhile, is hot on the trail of Secret and Deadboy, who has possessed the body of Klarion's beloved familiar, Teekl. Secret suggests taking Deadboy and Teekl "between" to an area Klarion won't be able to reach them, but they're too late. The Witch Boy catches up with them and decides to attack with the latest kids fad, Poxy Monsters. These little monsters start coming to life, popping off kids' GameBoys, trading cards and movie theaters. (The best one is a giant blue Pikachu-like creature that shouts, "Peekaboooo!!") Deadboy is glad they're not being chased by the Power Rangers, and Secret tells him to shut up.

Meanwhile, Diana, Cassie and Kon are in chains at the Agenda headquarters in Alaska, while Clark (also chained up) receives medical attention from some doctors. Kon is enraged to see the woman who killed his former girlfriend, Tana. He breaks free and swoops down to attack, only to discover that this woman, Amanda Spence, is a hologram. Kon then regains his composure a bit, hijacks a computer, and sends out a message to all the other heroes, giving them the coordinates of the Agenda HQ. But his call is interrupted by the arrival of the Point Men.

The Grey Lady later reports to the Contessa that they managed to subdue Kon, but not until after he got a message out. She also admits to her boss that something's been bothering her since she battled the Superboys in Metropolis. Remember that quick, strange part where it seemed like Grey Lady recognized somebody in the crowd? Well, it wasn't just someone she knew — it was her, at least what she looked like before she was changed into a winged gargoyle monster. The Contessa explains that all of the Point Men are clones, planted with the memories and personalities of the people they were cloned from. She coldly says the Point Men were always a temporary, disposable measure to fill the superhero gap until some real heroes were acquired. The Grey Lady is devastated by this revelation, but the Contessa just brushes her off.

We then find out that while the Red Tornado did receive Kon's distress call, he wasn't able to mobilize any of the heroes, since they were all off battling Klarion's Poxy Monsters and teenage super villains. Steel, who stayed behind trying to pick up his hammer, delivers one of the most self-aware lines of the series: "Weird transformations ... mob scenes of heroes ... everything coming unglued ... why does stuff like this seem to happen every fifth week or so?" (And in case you're wondering, yes, Sins of Youth was a classic DC fifth-week event, except for this conclusion, which came out two weeks later.)

So we head out to the big fight scene and are treated to an awesome two-page spread. Jay Garrick is fighting a big yellow blob monster, Starwoman is taking on Black Adam, Martian Manhunter and Green Lantern have ganged up on Amazo, Aquaman battles Black Manta, Wally fights Captain Cold, Maxima is going around kissing all the boys she can, Sphinx has taken out Plastic Boy with knock-knock jokes and just about everyone else is busy with random Poxy Monsters. But most interesting of all is the sudden reappearance of Empress, who is fighting the Penguin. Impulse sees her and wonders whether she really is Arrowette.

Klarion ... bum, bum, BUM ... the Witch Boy is watching all this from afar, joking that he hasn't had this much fun since he gave Jim Jones his Kool-Aid recipe (that's a pretty dark joke, even for Klarion). The Contessa contacts him via hologram, and Klarion reports the kidnapping of Teekl, saying his separation from her is making it harder to keep his powers focused. The Contessa dismisses this and teleports Klarion to her office, where she informs him of impending attack of Agenda's Alaska headquarters. She orders Klarion to send all his monsters and villains there, threatening to put him in his room permanently if he disobeys. So Klarion reluctantly agrees, and teleports all his troops to Alaska, leaving our bewildered heroes behind.

While, at the moment, in a place that is no place, Teekl finally manages to shake Deadboy loose. But Secret was prepared for this, and knocks out the cat with a nightmarish psychic attack. The trio return to the real world, at the entrance of the Young Justice cave. Deadboy wonders where everybody is, and right on cue, all the heroes come rushing in, trampling poor Teekl in the process. Secret asks what they should do about Teekl, and Deadboy offers a rather dirty joke: "Let's go bum money. After all, no one can resist a girl with a sad puss."

Red Tornado plays Kon's message for everybody, and Robin suggests Dan the Dyna-Mite head to Washington to talk to Senator Perkins. But Dan isn't ready to admit that everything Old Justice said was wrong, insisting that they did make some valid points. He points out the childish behavior of all the heroes as kids, but Impulse makes an important distinction, saying Young Justice were kids as heroes. Starwoman asks if they were that bad as kids, and Merry the Gimmick Girl says they were actually pretty good. Dan finally seems to get the idea, and he calls over the Cyclone Twins. Hearing the twins mentioned, Plastic Boy jokes about activating their twin powers to harness the power of water and turn into the shape of a pail. He turns into a pail and is promptly kicked by Aquaboy, which inspires another, slightly darker, joke: "Hey! 'Aquababy' just kicked the bucket! Whoa! Déjà vu!" Robin says they'd better head out before the jokes get any worse, but first he has a job for Red Tornado. The android calls him the boss, and Tim has a little moment, realizing that he is currently the leader of all the most powerful superheroes on Earth.

Back at the Agenda HQ, the scientists have begun performing tests on the Superboys and Wonder Girls, admitting that they goaded Kon into lashing out at them so they could get a reading on his increased tactile telekinesis. We then see that the Grey Lady has told the rest of the Point Men that they're disposable clones, and they naturally have become somewhat reluctant to continue following Agenda's orders. Cassie tells them that even though they're clones, they're still individuals that can think and feel and follow their own desires.

Our heroes then arrive at Alaska, showing Klarion that they have Teekl restrained to a Green Lantern cross. Secret tells Klarion to combine his powers with Doiby Dickles' weapon to restore everyone to their normal ages or she will kill Teekl. Klarion tries to blast Secret, but as he said earlier, his powers are waning without his familiar by his side. Starwoman quietly asks Robin whether Secret is bluffing about killing Teekl, and all Robin can say is, "It's a secret." Seeing she means business, Klarion begins to cry, and agrees to do whatever they say as long as they don't hurt Teekl. His team of villains and monsters are shocked he'd surrender so easily, but he snaps at them, saying none of them matter — only Teekl matters.

But before Klarion can get to work, he's blasted from behind by an adult version of himself. The Contessa arrives via hologram to explain that the teacup Klarion used back when this whole adventure began was actually a DNA scanner. And since Klarion is a magical being, Agenda had no problem growing his clone so quickly to create Klarion ... bum, bum, BUM ... the Witch Man. The two Klarions instantly begin attacking each other, and all the heroes and villains begin fighting each other, as well. And the fighting begins just as Red Tornado arrives with Ace Atchison and a camera man.

Meanwhile, inside, the Point Men, encouraged by Cassie's words, have decided to fully rebel against Agenda. They start taking out the Agenda troops and rescue the four captive heroes. When Clark asks why they're helping them, Short Cut tells him it's a long story and he should go read the miniseries, which completely confuses Clark and Kon. We then return to the action outside, with Bart doing his best to keep Wally and Jay under control.

When Wally comments on a "totally hot" babe in a miniskirt, Bart dubs him "Kid Flesh." Jay loves this joke, but Wally puts him down for sucking up to the adult Impulse. Captain Marvel, who's fighting Black Adam, sees Amazo heading for Merry and he warns somebody to stop the android. Plastic Boy forms a giant slingshot to launch Lagoon Man, but he totally misses. Luckily, Starwoman is there to blast Amazo away, further strengthening her bond with Merry. Secret tells Deadboy to possess the comatose Teekl, and he begins to rush over to the Witch Boy, who has momentarily been knocked out by the Witch Man. The adult Klarion then turns his attention toward our heroes, turning Wildcat, Black Canary and Martian Manhunter into infants. He tries to blast Teekl as well, but Robin knocks him down with a kick. Klarion is finally reunited with his familiar after Deadboy leaves the cat. And the recharged Witch Boy leads an attack against his adult clone.

We cut back inside, where our heroes and the Point Men are battling the seemingly limitless Agenda troops. But when Kon finds the real Amanda Spence, he prepares to actually kill her this time by lifting a huge piece of rubble over his head. Cassie quickly intervenes, reminding Kon of what he did when Arrowette was in this exact same situation. She reminds him that Arrowette walked away from her identity — her name — and she asks Superboy if he's prepared to give up what his name stands for. After a moment's thought, Kon tosses the rubble aside, which causes Spence to laugh. Kon suddenly lifts Spence over his head and quickly slams her down, stopping just an inch above the ground. He says that since he has to live knowing the life he and Tana could have had, then Spence gets to live knowing the death she could have had.

Outside, Klarion the Witch Man is defeated, and Robin begins speculating on how they can bring him into custody. But the Witch Boy refuses that option and incinerates his adult clone, saying he will not suffer that witch to live. He then says he's tired of being lied to and used, and that he wants to go find a new game to play. Secret sternly reminds him of the deal they made, but he tries to back out of it. Teekl, however, catches a glimpse of Secret's eyes and encourages Klarion to uphold his end of the bargain. So the Witch Boy reluctantly agrees, noting, however, that he'll either change back everyone or no one. The Contessa learns of the fall of Agenda's Alaska headquarters, but she's content to cut her losses on that front, noting that it was worth the price to acquire Kryptonian and Amazonian DNA.

All our heroes, meanwhile have gathered inside and are ready to return to their normal ages ... except for Secret. She says she doesn't every want to return to the childlike feeling of helplessness and being hurt by other people. She appeals to Kon, asking why he'd want to be a teenager again after finally getting what he's always wanted. Kon says he wants the Superboy name to mean something as much as the Superman name does, and he thanks Cassie for reminding him of that. Amanda Spence, in chains, says she would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those "blasted grownups." Robin tells Secret that her feelings she wants to avoid don't go away whether you're an adult or a teen. But he says it's easier to handle that "hurt" with the support of friends. Secret asks if Robin promises to always be there for her, and he says, "Absolutely." But Merry and Doiby both get a bad feeling about that promise.

With everything finally in order, Klarion and Doiby combine their powers, and this time it works. The teenage Impulse shouts out, "They did it!" Superboy cheers, "We're back to normal!" And Secret sadly says, "Whoopee." Wonder Girl wraps up Superboy in a big hug and starts to tell him something, but to everyone's surprise, Kon screams out in pain. He asks Klarion why he took away his powers, but the Witch Boy says he merely kept to his word and that "everyone on Earth has been restored to their regular selves." Klarion then teleports away, while Batman notes the odd phrasing of "on Earth."

Ace then begins an interview with Wonder Girl and Merry, asking for the main takeaway from this adventure. Do young people need protection? Are old people out of touch? Impulse quickly interjects, asking if this is the part with the moral because he always loves this part. Cassie pushes Bart away, while Merry tells Ace she's reminded of the Latin proverb: "The sins of youth are paid for in old age." Wonder Girl expands on that, saying the youth can be guided by the old, and the old by the young, and everyone, no matter what age, has a lot to learn. Merry says, "Some more than others" as Impulse and Plastic Man photobomb the interview.

We return to Washington, D.C., where an old man is watching this interview with his grandson. They're about to have a nice moment of growth and reflection, but they're interrupted by the sudden appearance of a teenage Lobo. Wearing a Wink 281 shirt and riding a space motorcycle, he claims he'll find and frag whoever turned the Main Man into the Top Tot.

OK. Let's take a deep breath.



It's over. Perhaps my favorite comic book event of all time has come to it's glorious, action-packed ending. Sins of Youth exemplified everything that was great about the Peter David-Todd Nauck Young Justice run. Great humor, great action, strong emotional moments and intellectual philosophies to think about all while exploring the unique relationship between multiple generations of superheroes and having a real fun time while doing it. And to say that Nauck knocked it out of the park (forgive the pun) is a huge understatement. I really consider his artwork in this series to be a masterpiece.

Sins of Youth worked surprisingly well for a 12-issue event involving so many different characters and creators. I thoroughly enjoyed each of the one-shots, except, ironically, the one's for Batman and Superman, the two most popular DC characters of all time. But everything else had pretty decent writing and artwork, and fit into the continuity of the main story fairly well. There were a couple of minor things here and there that slipped through the cracks — most notably the Titans and Marvel family — but nothing major to complain about.

If I could have asked for one thing, it would have been a larger role for Robin and Impulse. Sins of Youth is a Superboy story as much as a Young Justice story. And I think it only would have been fair to tie in Impulse #60 and Robin #76 in addition to Superboy #74. The story doesn't suffer because of this, but I think it would have made everything bigger and better, especially moving forward. Future issues of Young Justice and Superboy will deal with the fallout of Sins of Youth, but Impulse won't really.

You can find the complete collection of Sins of Youth on Comixology, but I must warn you the issues are out of order in that system. If you're lucky, you can still find the original print copies of these issues (I got mine from eBay). Or, you can try to find the trade paperback, which features an original cover by Mike Wieringo.

I don't have this trade yet, so I'm borrowing this image from, which has helped me a lot in filling my collection. Interestingly enough, this is one of only two trade paperbacks for the David-Nauck Young Justice. The first one was called A League of Their Own, which collected the first seven issues of the series and reused the cover for Young Justice #6. Perhaps DC could one day put together some sort of omnibus or absolute edition of this remarkable series.

Well, as sad as it is, it's now time to move on. Next time, we'll see Wally West finally get to enjoy his honeymoon in The Flash #160.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Sins of Youth: The Secret & Deadboy #1

"Looking for Trouble ..."

Todd Dezago wrote it!
Michael Avon Oeming drew it!
Jason Baumgartner inked it!
Bill Oakley lettered it!
Pat Garrahy colored it!
Digital Chameleon separated it!
Maureen McTigue associated it!
Eddie Berganza eddied it!

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

I really like the design of Deadboy. There's something really creepy about a bald, pale kid. But then you see the lower case d on his chest, and you start to laugh. The adult Secret also looks pretty good. She is showing off her belly now, but no cleavage, which is a good thing.

Our story begins with Secret and Deadboy tracking Klarion ... bum, bum, BUM ... the Witch Boy by following the trail of chaos he's left in his wake. And even though these two heroes are literally able to see a green trail in the air, they really don't need that, since lots of weird things are happening everywhere Klarion was, such as inanimate objects coming to life and walking around. But when Deadboy sees a bully picking on some kids, he insists on stepping in and putting the bully in his place. Secret gets annoyed by Deadboy's impulsive behavior, even saying that he's just like Impulse. But then she wonders if all kids are like this, including herself, and she only now notices since she's an adult.

Eventually, she manages to get Deadboy focused on the task at hand, and she begins to live up to the responsibility of being an adult in charge. They follow Klarion's path to a circus, and Secret gets them there through a type of teleportation she calls "smoke jumping." (I've never seen her use this ability before, so it might be a new skill acquired from becoming an adult.) Klarion has brought all his regressed villains to the circus — Amazo, Captain Cold, Sphinx, Black Adam, Maxima, Penguin and Black Manta. But the young villains don't do anything other than enjoy the circus.

Secret and Deadboy engage Klarion and Teekl in a silent, invisible battle. Secret sucks Klarion into the abyss (a process she also calls "smoke jumping") but Klarion easily escapes, saying he's already been there. Eventually, Secret and Deadboy realize they can't beat Klarion, so they decide to kidnap Teekl. Deadboy possesses the cat, jumps into Secret's arms and they "smoke jump" away. And this causes the Witch Boy to freak out.

CDTV News Top Story

This is Ace Atchison reporting for CDTV News, bringing you the latest coverage on the current "Sins of Youth."

We've tracked down the individual behind the chaos: Klarion the Witch Boy.

KLARION: Excuse, Ace. That's Klarion ... bum, bum, BUM ... the Witch Boy. You understand, it grants importance to the title that I'm due.

ACE: Sure. So, tell me, Klarion ... uh ... bum, bum, BUM ... the Witch Boy, how are you responsible for what's happening in America today?

KLARION: Magic, Ace. I've made the adult heroes young, the older heroes younger, and have even sought out their enemies and done the same.

ACE: But you had help, sorta. Doiby Dickles from Old Justice used a gun that turned back some of the effects of your magic. That's why the teen heroes became adults too, right?

KLARION: Any help I receive is from my fabulous feline, Teekl. I do not know what I would do without her.

So that interview obviously took place before the end of this issue. And I'm really surprised, disappointed even, that Klarion didn't turn Ace Atchison into a kid. Oh well, let's talk about this issue, written by the creator of Secret, Todd Dezago. Unfortunately, Dezago hasn't done much with Secret since her creation, and I kind of think Peter David took the character in a slightly different direction. For example, Dezago spent some time diving into Secret's memories and fears, but he didn't say one word about her brother, Harm, who killed her. Dezago also spent a lot of time on this new "smoke jump" power, which he may have always wanted Secret to have. But the problem is we've never seen her do this before, and I think it makes her too powerful, anyway. Why does she need to add teleportation to her already large skill set?

The art for this issue was, quite frankly, insane. Very loose and wild and flat-out weird. It did work at some parts of the story, like when Klarion's chaos magic was causing ordinary objects to become alive and weird. But for the most part, I think this issue would have benefitted from more restrained, consistent art.

Next time, we finally end this epic event. The big wrap-up!!! Young villains, young and old heroes, and a berserk Superboy, Sr.! Young Justice: Sins of Youth #2.

But before we get to that, let's provide a brief recap of what everyone's been doing the past 11 issues.

Part 1: Young Justice reconciles with Old Justice, who realize they were being manipulated the whole time. But the Contessa's alliance with Klarion turned a would-be superhero rally into a scene of chaos, swapping everyone's ages.

Part 2: Superboy confront Match and helps reclaim Cadmus from Agenda's control. Superboy is turned into an adult, but his girlfriend is killed by Agenda.

Part 3: The Titans attempt to search for a cure with S.T.A.R. Labs, but the Contessa keeps them busy by sending out hordes of Wildebeests to attack various cities throughout the country. Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr. track Klarion to a museum, but just miss him, instead battling the younger Captain Nazi.

Part 4: The adult Anarky helps the teenage JLA escape Agenda and get to the Watchtower. The heroes briefly visit Shazam, who can't help them, then meet up with the JSA and Young Justice at the ruins of the Young Justice cave. They all decide to split up and approach the problem from as many angles as possible.

Part 5: Aquaman retrieves a mystical staff that could restore everyone's ages, but its evil powers would corrupt whoever wielded it, so he destroys the staff.

Part 6: Batman and Robin visit Zatanna to allegedly ask her to help them find Klarion. But when they find her, she just tries and fails to restore their ages, and neither of them ask her to try to locate the Witch Boy.

Part 7: Impulse and Flash attempt to improve the media's portrayal of superheroes by giving as many interviews as possible. Unfortunately, the speedsters miss most of the interviews due to interference from Agenda, several random super villains and a handful of natural disasters.

Part 8: The JSA and Doiby Dickles successfully retrieve another age-changing gun from the planet Myrg.

Part 9: The young Superman is injured in a fight against the Point Men and Match. Since the adult Superboy doesn't want any civilians to be caught in the crossfire, he agrees to surrender to Agenda if they give Superman the help he needs.

Part 10: Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl come close to completing a deal with the god Apollo to restore their ages, but when they learn that Superboy has been captured by Agenda, they also decide to surrender to them, hoping to be able to rescue their teammate.

Part 11: Secret and Deadman locate Klarion and separate him from his precious cat and familiar, Teekl.

Got all that? Good.