Sunday, May 22, 2016

Young Justice #14

Like Heck, You Say or Crossovers are Heck!

Peter David Hecka Writer
Todd Nauck Hecka Pencils
Lary Stucker Hecka Inks
Jason Wright Hecka Colors
Digital Chameleon Hecka Seps
Ken Lopez Hecka Letters
Maureen McTigue Hecka Associate
Eddie Berganza Going to Heck

It's Harm in your face by Todd Nauck & Lary Stucker with some WildStorm colors! This cover certainly doesn't hold back the big surprise of this issue. Luckily, though, there will be a pretty big surprise associated with Harm we'll get to enjoy. Altogether, this is a fun and exciting cover. Although, I am a little confused as to why Impulse is thinking of a zebra. Is it just because Harm is (mostly) black-and-white now? Or is there a deeper meaning I'm missing?

Our story begins with Secret making her way back to the only home she's ever known, the Young Justice cave. She's still pretty shaken after her experience in the hospital, and now she's afraid to be alone. She searches for her friends, especially Robin, whose name she repeats several times. Interestingly, we see that someone has put up a Hugga-Tugga-Thugees poster on the wall next to the portrait of the original Justice League of America.

Secret isn't able to find anyone, and she visits the swimming pool, thinking about how just a few days ago they were all playing in the pool like normal kids. She wonders if she was ever normal, and as she stares at her reflection in the water, she sees herself being electrocuted. Secret hastily turns away from the image, deciding she doesn't want to remember these horrifying memories. As she does so, her hand freezes and turns to ice. For the first time ever, Secret feels cold. And she becomes more frightened than she was before.

We then check in with the rest of Young Justice, who are flying past an unnamed town in the Super-Cycle. A volcano has spontaneously appeared in the middle of the town and is spewing lava all over the place. Arrowette says, "Well, that can't be good!" Impulse notes that Superboy usually says that, and it's kind of becoming their slogan now. Robin orders Impulse to contain the lava while Superboy and Wonder Girl dig a trench to catch the overflowing lava. Everything in the town is appropriately themed for this disaster, with big advertisements for devil's food cake, hot sauce, the hottest comic books for sale, and the movies Volcano and Armageddon. And, is that Snapper Car down there?

Impulse contains the lava with a high-speed air cushion, and he notes the similarities between this and Young Justice's most recent adventure with Supergirl. But as Impulse astutely observes, "But dis ain't Dis ... I mean, this ain't this ... Dis ... I ... this ... aw, never mind." Superboy and Wonder Girl get to work on the trench, and nobody seems to notice the demons emerging from the volcano. After a few minutes, Impulse reports to Robin that the lava seems to have a mind of its own, and he can't contain it much longer. So Robin has Arrowette shoot three liquid nitrogen arrows into the heart of the volcano. This works perfectly, and soon the volcano is frozen and the town is saved. The kids fly home, tired and covered in ash. Sadly, they pass another town, Blue Point, that they weren't able to save and is completely covered in lava. Superboy pessimistically notes that for every town they do save, there's a hundred more they don't.

We then cut to Chicago, where Red Tornado is approached with an offer from the mayor's office: help protect the city from an invasion of demons in exchange for a full pardon. Red Tornado accepts the deal, and when the guard fumbles with the keys to his cell, Red simply blasts the door off, demonstrating that he could have escaped at any time. The android also says he would have helped the mayor even without the pardon, but since the deal has been made, he will accept it. So, Red Tornado is finally free, without the help of the A.P.E.S. or Old Justice. He flies into the sky and is quickly surrounded by a bunch of demons that look similar to the ones from Dante's Inferno, but are slightly different.

Young Justice returns to the cave, and Impulse begins shouting for Tornado, Traya and Secret. Arrowette jokingly shouts for Cubby and Annette, which I assume is a Mickey Mouse Club reference, which seems a bit old for her. Robin calls up Red Tornado, who simply says now is not a good time to talk. Wonder Girl heads to the lockers to clean all the ash off herself, and she actually takes off her wig and goggles. But Cassie immediately screams once she enters the locker room, and Impulse is naturally the first to arrive.

The sight that made Cassie scream is Secret covered in ice all the way up to her head. Impulse initially thinks it's an ice sculpture of Secret, but Wonder Girl says this must be the same effect that caused Supergirl's flame wings to freeze (which Supergirl told everyone about, apparently). The rest of the team arrives, and Arrowette asks Robin what they should do. Robin can only stammer out an "I don't know," and Superboy rips into him, saying a leader doesn't get to say that. In his panicked state, Robin lashes out at Superboy, saying he'll deck him if he doesn't shut up. Before Secret's head is covered by the ice, she speaks ominously about Hell freezing over and the coming of the abyss. But soon she's completely engulfed by the ice, and all Robin can think to say is to get her to the sauna. Suddenly, Secret begins cracking, and an old foe, Harm, emerges from the ice.

While Red Tornado has his hands full with demons and volcanoes in Chicago, Harm explains to Young Justice that they haven't seen him in a while since he's been suffering from a slight case of death. Harm says the only way he could have returned was if Hell froze over, which it just did. He pulls out a flaming sword, and fires a large blast at our heroes. Superboy protects his teammates by bearing the brunt of the blast, but it takes a lot out of him. Robin tells Wonder Girl to get him to safety (which I think is a big mistake to send away one of your heavy hitters while battling such a powerful enemy).

Robin, Arrowette and Impulse move in to attack, and Impulse quickly gets on Harm's back and pummels him with punches. Harm calls Impulse's little fists cute, and to demonstrate that he is, in fact, dead, he runs his sword through himself to get at Impulse.

Impulse is shocked to see that Harm actually cut his arm on that attack. Arrowette fires three arrows at the villain, but he slices them all with his sword. Secret, now a scattered vapor in the room, begins pulling herself together to help her friends. As she does so, she also pulls together all those memories she desperately tried to bury.

Harm takes the fight out into the main room, where he begins wailing on Wonder Girl and Superboy. Luckily, Secret returns to full strength and fills the room, telling Harm she remembers him. Harm also remembers Secret, saying the last tim they fought, he didn't get a good look at her. Impulse feels like a dunce, and even Arrowette and Robin are confused by this revelation. Secret calls Harm Billy and demands to know how he could kill her, his sister. Everyone is shocked by this, but Harm smugly explains that a sacrifice was required, although in hindsight, he feels he should have sacrificed their father. Secret then goes ballistic and lifts Harm out of the cave, blasting him out to a nearby mountain.

Secret and Harm battle in the snow, with Harm blasting her with his flame sword and pushing aside her words that siblings are supposed to love each other. Superboy and Wonder Girl are first to arrive, ramming into Harm from both sides. The others are right behind them on the Super-Cycle, which hits Harm with a big blast from its cannon. But Secret gets in the final blow. Still on fire, she rams herself into the mountain's snow pack, saying this time, she and Billy will die together. Harm and Secret are buried in an avalanche, and Robin orders the team to stand by at the ready, saying the snow won't hold those two for long.

After waiting a long time (eight hours according to Superboy), Impulse begs Robin to give him something to do, saying his foot's asleep, and his legs and his hair ... So Robin gives the word, and Impulse looks all over the avalanche, but is unable to find a trace of Harm or Secret. Arrowette asks what they should do, and once again, Robin has to utter those three evil words, "I don't know." But Robin follows that up by saying Secret is one of them, and they'll find her, no matter what. And at the end of this issue, we see that somehow, inexplicably, Secret has fallen into the hands of agents Fite 'n Maad.

This was a pretty awesome issue. Young Justice's greatest villain returned, and we finally learned the chilling origin story of Secret. The issue served as a great tie-in to the Day of Judgment crossover, and it never felt like the main story of this series was sacrificed to accommodate it. Red Tornado's situation was resolved (although a bit conveniently), and we got some great character moments from our team. I liked how Robin snapped at Superboy — it helped humanize him and show the intensity of the situation. And Wonder Girl spent most the issue fighting without her wig or goggles — a sign of things to come. And Impulse was his usual, lovable self.

I guess I can now finally talk about the episode of the Young Justice animated series that features Secret and Harm. It's called "Secrets," and is appropriately written by Peter David. In it, Artemis and Zatanna battle Harm, and are aided by the ghost of his dead sister, who can only say the word "secret." The episode did a great job with Harm, who is every bit as chilling and smug as he is in the comics. But I'm really sad that Secret was reduced to a one-note role. I could say that something is better than nothing, but I feel that Secret is a critical part of the Young Justice story — every bit as important as Robin, Superboy or Impulse. So I almost consider it insulting to see what the show did with her.

The letters column accidentally reprinted two letters from last month. But it also includes two new letters, starting with Doud Ohmer, of Covington, Ky., who liked seeing the Psyba-Rats in Young Justice #8, but felt like Chuck Dixon could have done a better job with the story. He was also annoyed at how easily Red Tornado was defeated.

Michael C Lorah, of State College, Penn., enjoyed Dixon's story and loved Impulse's advice to "jiggle it," calling it hysterical and practical, since that usually does do the job. But Michael wasn't a fan of the differing art styles between Nauck and Coy Turnbull, saying it would have been better if Turnbull just did the whole issue. Time now for the new ads:

They'll mess with your mind. Star Wars Pit Droids.

It's not the size of your Howitzer, it's what you do with it. Tiny Tank for PlayStation.

Apokolips Pow! Superman & Savage Dragon: Metropolis.

Anyone want a little brother? ... he's totally housebroken. Mission Hill on The WB.

L2 Levi's at Sears, Goody's, Kohl's and Mervyn's.

Next time, we'll begin the month of December 1999 with Action Comics #760.

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