Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #6

The Subs Part Two

Geoff Johns – Writer
Lee Moder – Penciller
Dan Davis – Inks
Tom McCraw – Colors
Heroic Age – Seps
Bill Oakley – Letters
Mike Carlin – Editor
Courtney Whitmore created by Johns & Moder

Three cheers for our red, white and blue-skinned aliens on this month's cover, courtesy of Lee Moder, Dan Davis, and Richard and Tanya Horie! Well, I can't quite give three cheers to this pretty bad-looking cover. I mean, everyone just looks awful. It's almost as if Moder is intentionally doing everything he can to ruin this fun story for me. Fortunately, the art isn't quite bad enough to make me overlook the great humor of this cover. I love Impulse saying, "I hate when that happens!" as if he's turned into an alien on a regular basis.

Our story picks up where last issue left off, with the Star-Spangled Kid and Impulse being turned into aliens just like on the cover, except now their hair has disappeared, exposing tall, pointy heads. Superboy grabs the aliens' ray gun and dismantles it with his tactile telekinesis before any one else can be turned into an alien. But Robin lectures Superboy, saying they probably could have used that device to turn their friends back to humans. Before the heroes can get any answers out of the aliens, they all teleport away.

Impulse thinks being turned into an alien is "sorta cool," and the Star-Spangled Kid chews him out, saying she was supposed to have a date later that night. Robin picks up the pieces of the damaged ray gun, and Red Tornado realizes something bad must have happened to Wonder Girl, Arrowette and Secret, who have been M.I.A. all day. Courtney's friend Mary offers to help repair the ray gun, while Courtney continues shouting at Impulse, saying she doesn't want to be an alien for the rest of her life. Impulse sheepishly admits that Max would probably be mad to see he had lost his secret identity. Superboy then adds insult to injury by noticing the Star-Spangled Kid has braces, and she retaliates by making fun of his earring. Fortunately, the adults of the group are able to calm everyone down. Red Tornado offers to take the strongest members, Superboy and the Star-Spangled Kid, into the swamp to search for the girls, while S.T.R.I.P.E. will take Robin, Impulse and Mary to his lab to work on the ray gun.

Robin, Impulse and Mary load up into the Super-Cycle and follow Pat Dugan back to his secret lab underneath his suburban house. Impulse thinks this is pretty cool, too, but Robin has to point out that this lab doesn't have anything the Batcave doesn't. Pat, Mary and Robin begin putting the alien's device back together, and it's Mary who figures out how to reverse the gun's polarity, which should turn their friends back to normal.

Impulse, however, quickly becomes bored after looking through all of Pat's junk. And suddenly, he becomes violent, and starts throwing things at the others. Robin asks if that DNA charge went right to his brain, and Impulse replies with an evil grin, "Actually ... it just did!" The evil alien Impulse quickly knocks out Pat and Mary, and grabs the ray gun. Robin has pulled out his bow staff, and Impulse mocks him, saying he has unlimited access to the Speed Force and can zap Robin 1,000 times before he even thinks about using his staff. Robin, however, grins, and says, "Let's go, pal."

The power team of Red Tornado, Superboy and the Star-Spangled Kid quickly find the spaceship in the swamp. However, the Star-Spangled Kid turns evil and attacks Superboy. She's soon joined by evil alien versions of Arrowette and Wonder Girl (which explains where they were all last issue). The three aliens are joined by a couple more, and they manage to subdue Superboy and Red Tornado, then blast Kon with their ray gun.

Back in Pat's basement, Mary's alterations to the ray gun appear to have failed, as the evil alien Impulse has bested Robin, and transformed all four of them into aliens, praising the planet Laroo. Pat gets in S.T.R.I.P.E. and Impulse, Robin and Mary hop in the Super-Cycle, and they all fly off to the swamp to meet up at the spaceship.

On the ship, the aliens realize they couldn't transform Red Tornado, so they place his hands in a device, which I assume blocks his powers, and lead him to a prison cell alongside Secret. She couldn't be transformed, either, and was placed in a glass container. The Laroonians preemptively begin celebrating their conquest of Earth, and even open up the auction of the planet to other aliens. The other four transformed heroes are welcomed on the ship, but Impulse immediately blows their cover by sneezing all over Mary's face. He says some makeup got in his nose, and when Mary wipes her face, some blue makeup comes off. The Laroonians realize they've been tricked, and move to attack the imposters. Luckily, Impulse is too fast for them.

In no time at all, our heroes are all turned back to human, and Red Tornado and Secret are released. But the Laroonians are masters of retreat, and they quickly open a door beneath all the heroes, which drops them out on the ground, while the spaceship takes off into the sky. Even though most of our heroes can fly, they probably couldn't have caught the ship even if they wanted to.

Arrowette makes a new rule for Young Justice — no more swamps. Wonder Girl cheerfully introduces herself to the Star-Spangled Kid, and compliments her costume. Courtney, however, openly mocks Cassie's outfit. Robin offers Courtney a spot on the team, and Impulse wants S.T.R.I.P.E. to join, as well. Superboy just wants more girls on the team. However, Courtney respectfully turns them down, saying she's already busy with the Justice Society of America. Before they leave, Red Tornado gives Pat a file that shows Merry the Gimmick Girl is still alive, which comes as a big surprise to the former Golden Age hero.

And the last couple of pages set up the next villain of this series, but we don't really care about that. All in all, this wasn't too bad of an issue, despite the unsavory artwork. The fake-out with Impulse and Robin didn't work that well, since we never had any reason to think that the ray gun had not been reversed. So we pretty much knew right away that evil alien Impulse was going to blast Robin, be perplexed when nothing happened, which would then give Robin an opening to grab the gun and fix Impulse. But there were still some funny moments — especially between Bart and Courtney. I really would like more Young Justice to meet more teen heroes.

But now, I must make a very geeky, nit-picky complaint. Red Tornado did not learn that Merry the Gimmick Girl was alive until after Secret went missing and Arrowette decided to stop being a superhero. So Secret and Arrowette should not have been in these two issues of Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. Or, we can pretend that this story happened after Secret was rescued and Cissie somehow decided to have another go at being Arrowette. But that's pretty unlikely. The most logical timing for this story is to be before all the stuff happened with Arrowette and Secret. And that mention of Merry the Gimmick Girl should have been dropped. It's really odd that Geoff Johns knew about Merry and Old Justice, but he chose to ignore the larger story lines with Arrowette and Secret. I know he wanted to show Pat Dugan's connection to Old Justice, and, naturally, when Young Justice makes a guest appearance, you want all six of them. But in this instance, Johns could not have his cake and eat it, too.

None of the letters in Stars and Stamps mention Impulse or Young Justice, and none of the ads are new. So I'll see you next time, with another Young Justice cameo in Impulse #56.

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