Monday, May 30, 2016

Young Justice #15


Unstrung

Peter David, Writer
Todd Nauck, Pencils
Lary Stucker, Inks
Ken Lopez, Letters
Jason Wright, Colors
Maureen McTigue, Assoc. Editor
Eddie Berganza, Editor

The debut of "Black Arrow" is by Nauck & Stucker with the colors of WildStorm FX. Yes, this cover definitely lets us know that we're in for another rare dark issue of this usually light series. Arrowette does look pretty cool in her new costume, but this image of her battling (hunting?) two guys with guns is haunting.

Our story begins with those two guys, Rick and Jerry, running madly through the woods. But after a while, they realize nobody is chasing them, and they congratulate each other on dodging the cops. Jerry is glad that Rick got to show Marcey like he wanted to, but he is a bit worried that Rick left it behind. Rick apologizes for dropping it when the police showed up, and he says they'll have to leave town now, since their voices are heard on the tape.

Rick then comes across a black arrow in a tree with a note attached to it. He wonders how long it's been there, and when he reads the note, it says, "About ten seconds longer than the next one." Right on cue, the next arrow flies right between the two men, picking up the note and sticking in the tree behind them. Naturally, this arrow came from Arrowette, just like we saw on the cover. Rick and Jerry pull out their guns and begin firing wildly at the unseen archer. After a minute, they think they scared their assailant away, but another arrow flies right between Rick's legs.

The two men scramble away in a renewed panic, followed by a very angry Arrowette. She sarcastically thanks her mother for providing this "Dark Arrowette" outfit for the purpose of making more action figures. But she is glad to have something appropriate to wear while running through the forest. She retrieves her arrows, and notes the sun is going down, which is good for her since she has night goggles.

We then get a flashback to the spring dance at Cissie's boarding school. Robin insisted the whole team attend the dance, although he would be late arriving, having to check up on a few leads first. Cissie, however, feels odd to be partying so soon after Secret's disappearance. Cassie tries to cheer her up, but then she gets bummed out when Bart and Kon enter the room. Cassie knows that Kon will ask Cissie to dance and won't even acknowledge her. Kon, meanwhile, is happy to be in disguise not as a geek this time, but a cool kid with a goatee.


The boys approach the girls, and Bart introduces himself as Low Profile. Cissie says the boys look like Jay and Silent Bob, and just as Cassie feared, Kon asks Cissie to dance. However, Kon didn't specifically say Cissie's name, and she tells Cassie that Kon asked for her. Cassie is thrilled by the prospect of dancing with Superboy, and luckily, Kon has the grace to agree to the dance.

Cissie watches from the sidelines with her friend and psychologist, Marcey Money, who is the only person at the Elias School who knows Cissie's secret identity. (We met her briefly in Secret Origins 80-Page Giant #1.) Marcey compliments Cissie on being considerate enough to give Cassie the dance. After lightly teasing each other over their taste in music, Cissie notes that Marcey is no longer wearing her engagement ring. Marcey explains that she rushed into the engagement, and notes that no one should do things on impulse. Right on cue, Bart runs up on the stage and begins playing the drums before eventually being chased off by the band.

Marcey tells Cissie that her mother called the other day, but this is still a tender subject for Cissie, who hasn't had any regular contact with her since leaving for boarding school. Marcey admits that Bonnie still has a long way to go, but she tells Cissie that her mother has been making progress with her associates. Marcey suggests Cissie talk to her mother, during a therapy session if she'd like. But Cissie pushes this aside, saying she's at a party and doesn't want to discuss things that will depress her.

Back in the current time, Rick and Jerry are still running through the woods. Although it's been an hour since their encounter with Arrowette, they're still a bit jumpy. When they hear rustling in the bushes, they open fire again, this time killing a bear cub. Jerry moans, "We capped Boo Boo! We're slime, man!" Arrowette then shoots an arrow through Rick's flashlight, but she is spotted by doing this. Rick and Jerry miss the girl, but they do knock down the tree branch she was sitting on, burying Arrowette in a pile of foliage.

In another flashback, Cissie bumps into Ricky on her way to an appointment with Marcey. The previously engaged couple had just broken up, and Ricky did not take it well, to say the least. Marcey is a mess, and wants to cancel the appointment, but Cissie insists on cheering her up and helping fix her ruined makeup. Marcey admits that she felt Ricky would have shot her then and there if he had a gun on him, which is why she's an advocate of gun control. The psychologist then applies this to Cissie, saying it worries her to know a girl with so many unresolved issues is constantly running around with a bow and arrow. But Cissie assures her that she's a hero and has it covered.

Now, Arrowette kicks herself for toying with the guys and putting herself in a vulnerable position. Luckily, she spots a beehive overhead, which she knocks down with an arrow. The bees chase the men away, but Arrowette also comes under their wrath. She has to jump into a stream to avoid the bees, which she chastises for not telling the difference between the good guys and the bad guys. Arrowette softly repeats to herself that she is one of the good guys.

In the last, most recent flashback, Robin and Superboy give Cissie a ride to school in the Super-Cycle, having just completed some mission or other. To her horror, Cissie finds the school swarming with police, news stations and an ambulance. Hiding behind some trees, Cissie catches a glimpse of the victim being placed in a black body bag — her psychologist, Dr. Marcey Money.

Going into full investigation mode, Cissie manages to sneak past all the people and into the school. She hears Marcey's voice screaming out in terror, and realizes it's coming from a video tape the police found at the scene. One officer believes the perpetrator recorded the video to watch the victim begging him again, but then he dropped the camera when he fled. The cops watch as Marcey is slowly shot in each leg, and one officer admits he puked the first two times he watched it.

When Marcey is finally killed on the video tape, Cissie screams aloud, then quickly runs away from the police. She rushes through an interview with Congressman Zuckerman, who is quick to blame the murder on violent movies, music, video games and comic books. Cissie tackles Zuckerman, and shouts about gun control and how Zuckerman has consistently voted agains the issue. She says she know everyone will cry out for change after this tragedy, but nobody is going to do anything ... except for her. Cissie quickly runs away before getting in trouble for tackling a congressman, who uses this outburst to support his theory of the corrupted youth of America.

Cissie knew she'd be able to catch the murderers before the police in these woods, so she donned her Dark Arrowette outfit and quickly began her hunt. And that brings us back to the present, where Jerry is finally beginning to get second thoughts about continuing to run away. Ricky angrily tells him they're like supernovas, they'll burn out fast, but a hundred times brighter, which fails to convince Jerry. At the sight of an approaching shadow, Jerry is ready to give up, but Ricky is not, firing several shots at the figure.

Turns out the figure was the big, angry momma bear. Jerry trips backward over a log and is knocked out, while Ricky ditches his companion. Arrowette freezes the bear in place with a cryo arrow, and ties Jerry up to a tree right in front of the injured, furious beast. When Jerry comes to, Arrowette explains the situation to him, and darkly says he better hope she'll come back to untie him before the bear unfreezes.

It doesn't take long for Arrowette to catch up to Ricky. He's furious to discover he's been tormented all night by a girl, and he begins wildly firing his gun all around him once again. Suddenly an arrow pierces his left thigh, followed by another arrow in his right. Arrowette says, "Now let's see ... you shot her in one leg ... then the other ... then ... what was it again ... ?" Ricky collapses in pain and panic, and begs for mercy. He tosses his gun away and completely surrenders to Arrowette. But she draws her arrow, aims it at Ricky's heart, and says she could easily get away with this. She could bury his body out here in the woods and no one would ever know. And maybe then, Marcey's voice would stop screaming in her head. Arrowette says Marcey deserved to live, but Ricky doesn't. She then lets the arrow fly.

Suddenly, the arrow is caught by Superboy. As is usual for him, he opens with a joke, saying he knew he'd get the hang of catching arrows sooner or later. He explains that he heard the news report, and came by to see if he could help. Superboy then demonstrates an unusually high level of maturity by giving Arrowette a fitting, and beautiful analogy. He says that sometimes a pitcher will instantly regret a pitch as soon as its thrown, wishing he could call it back before he gets pounded. Superboy then hold the arrow out to Arrowette, saying they're going to pretend that it was a pitch that got away from her. And the next pitch is up to her. He asks if she wants it, or if she wants a reliever to handle it.

Arrowette refuses the arrow and walks away from Superboy, simply saying, "Not now." When she gets out to an open field, she angrily tosses aside her bow, shouting that she wants answers right now. Arrowette then falls to her knees and weeps into her hands.


Woah. Let's take a moment to let that sink in. This was easily the darkest, most serious issue of Young Justice. But it's handled with poetic beauty in a deeply emotional manner. I nearly came to tears typing up the synopsis. Arrowette's pain is so tangible, and it's so heart-breaking to see her battle that, and ultimately go down a path she doesn't want to go down. It's completely understandable why she would want to fire that final arrow. Not justifiable, but understandable. And oh so tragic.

What really made this story was the ending. This was the most heroic thing I've ever seen Superboy do. He never once condemned or accused Arrowette. He perfectly summed up the whole situation, and wisely, bravely even, gave Arrowette a second chance. It was so nice to see this side of Superboy, who is normally such a goofy, immature character. He saved the day in this issue, but it wasn't a perfect victory — he couldn't prevent Arrowette from shooting the arrow in the first place. And that is something that will haunt her in the days to come.

The only thing that would have improved this story would have been a stronger connection to the victim, Marcey Money. We only saw her once, briefly, buried in the back of an 80-page special. I wish Peter David could have spent a little bit of time establishing this character over a few issues. In any case, it is still an impactful story. And looking at the big picture, we see Young Justice as a team is now going through their first real struggle. Secret is missing and Arrowette isn't going to be the same for a while.

Now to radically shift tones, let's head over to the letters column, starting with John Izzarone, who asks a lot of questions about Young Justice meeting Lobo or a Lobo Jr. Eddie Berganza reminds him of the "li'l Lobo" statue in Young Justice #1,000,000.

Claire N. asks if Impulse saw the vision of Kali in Young Justice #9 because of his simple mind. Berganza prefers to call it a naive mind.

A person named Eats Veggie (that's what it says) breaks down the team's diverse cast of characters — Secret for the mystical side, Superboy and Wonder Girl for the super-people, Robin the leader, Impulse the goof, and Arrowette for the feminists. But this person argues the team needs some water support in the form of Lagoon Boy. Apparently this writer became hooked on the character in the No Man's Land special.

There aren't any new ads, so I'll see you next time with Impulse #55.

No comments:

Post a Comment