Sunday, June 19, 2016

Young Justice #16


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

This cover is reserved for our elderly heroes. Todd and Lary provided the cookies. WildStorm FX provided milk and color. It is a very fun cover, showing the contrast between Young and Old Justice. I especially like the confused Impulse dropping in upside down for no reason at all. But I don't know why Red Tornado's face is covered. It seems like Nauck had room to drop him down just a little bit. I also need to point out that even though Secret is on the cover, she does not appear in this issue.

As the title of this story says, we are dealing with the aftermath of last issue. After that nightmare in the forest, Superboy apparently found Arrowette in a catatonic state. Not knowing what else to do, Superboy took Cissie to Cassie's house, where the poor girl promptly curled up in a fetal position on her best friend's bed. And no matter what Superboy says — even wild dreams of meeting Leonardo DiCaprio — Cissie remains non responsive.

As a quick aside, Cassie's bedroom is a treasure trove for geeks like me. On her walls are posters of the Frontstreet Boys, Space Girls, Wendy the Werewolf Stalker and Dalton's Creek. And scattered throughout are Flash comics, a Flash pillow, pictures of Flash, Green Lantern, Superman and (embarrassingly) Superboy. Not to mention the stuffed animals of a blue Pikachu, Superman and Ambush Bug, a Martian Manhunter action figure, and a little blue box (CD case?) of something called Toshi's Station (for you Star Wars geeks out there).

Anyway, Cassie failed to tell her mom about the guests in her room, which quickly becomes a problem when Helena Sandsmark gets a phone call from Cissie's mom, Bonnie King-Jones. Cassie tells her mom she's studying, and does her best to keep her out of her room, but Helena forces her way in since Bonnie is going ballistic on the phone, looking for her missing daughter. Helena tells Bonnie that Cissie is not in Cassie's room, but Bonnie has correctly guessed the location of her daughter. She tells Helena to look harder by checking under the bed and such. Helena has correctly guessed that Bonnie is wearing her old mask again, which always makes her a bit more unhinged. She urges Bonnie to calm down and promises to call if she hears anything about Cissie, never realizing that Cissie and Superboy are hiding on the ceiling just above her. Helena hangs up the phone, gives Cassie a big hug, and leaves her to her "studying."

We then cut to Washington, D.C., where Senator Neptune Perkins is leading a meeting, which he begins by reading a statement from the man Arrowette almost killed, Richard Pulilio. Richard gave a fairly accurate account of the incident — although he did present Superboy much more sinister than he actually was. When Perkins finishes reading this statement, he motions to form a subcommittee to immediately evaluate the existence of Young Justice, saying these teen heroes are proving to be a bigger menace than those they propose to stop. Perkins' fellow senators agree, and Perkins relays the news to an old man named Dan, who excitedly promises to have his people at the Capitol later that afternoon.

Now let us check in on our favorite detective team, Robin and Impulse. Wait ... what?

That's right, with the three others hiding in Cassie's room, Robin and Impulse have decided to go searching for Secret. Robin does most (if not all) of the detective work, while Impulse mostly gets bored. Eventually, Impulse wears through Robin's patience, and the Boy Wonder grabs Bart's head, shoves a magnifying glass to his eye, and says, "Quiet. Look. Learn." Robin points out two sets of footprints, one larger than the other. The small set of footprints carry the same brand name that Agent Ishida Maad wears.

Robin's next clue is even more exciting — a bizarre-looking fiber snagged on a tree that looks like a part of Secret that got detached from her somehow. Before Robin can stop him, Impulse touches the fabric, which immediately evaporates. Robin bemoans losing their best clue, but Impulse points out the fact that the fabric evaporated proves that it belonged to Secret. Robin can't argue with that, and he puts their two clues together: Secret was captured by the A.P.E.S.

Meanwhile, Red Tornado is in the Young Justice cave, watching news reports of Senator Perkins' subcommittee. Noting the odd timing of this, Red pulls out the card Old Justice gave him, wondering if they are somehow involved. Suddenly, a hologram of an old woman in costume appears on the card. She introduces herself as Merry the Gimmick Girl, which surprises Red Tornado, since she is officially listed as dead on their records. Merry brushes this off with a reference to the famous Mark Twain quote, and tells the android that he was released from jail partly out of need, but mostly at the urging of Old Justice. Merry says they're taking on Young Justice, and she warns Red Tornado that if he sides with Old Justice, things will look good for him in the courts. But if he sides against them, then he can pretty much kiss his parental rights goodbye.

Impulse and Robin arrive at the cave shortly after Red's warning. Impulse excitedly tells Red Tornado about his and Robin's detective work, talking so fast that all his words are blurred together. Red asks Impulse to slow down, but he doesn't, going on to say that they need to attack A.P.E.S. headquarters. This angers Red Tornado, who shouts, "Bart, shut up!" He tells the two boys they are to do nothing about Secret until he gets things sorted out. But Bart wonders what "things" he's referring to.

We then see that Kon and Cassie have decided to try restoring Cissie back to her normal, happy self by taking her to the natural habitat of the teenage girl — the mall. Cassie grabs some fries and a Soder, but Kon's not too sure if this was such a good idea. While Cassie maintains that the mall is Cissie's regular environment, Kon contends that being Arrowette is regular for her. The two debate for a while about being normal people and having career aspirations outside of the superhero world, when suddenly, slowly, Cissie grabs a fry and takes a bite. Finally, she speaks, saying, "I'm going to have to be a super-villain."

Cissie explains that she committed a villainous act by trying to kill that man. Despite Cassie's protests, Cissie insists on resigning herself to the life of a villain — not winning anymore, not having friends, and having to wear a tight, skimpy black outfit that shows off her cleavage. Cissie then moans that she'll have to get cleavage. Kon can't stop himself from laughing out loud at this ridiculous comment. Cassie tries to stop him, but she soon starts laughing, too. But Cissie is still upset, and bitterly mocks their laughter.

Meanwhile, Cassie's mom has entered her room to deliver some laundry. Naturally, Helena is upset to find her daughter has snuck away when she claimed to be studying. But Helena becomes much more upset when she opens Cassie's closet and finds Arrowette's gear tumbling out.

We then head back to Washington, where Senator Perkins and Congressman Zuckerman are holding a press conference to announce the formation of a subcommittee to examine the actions of Young Justice and determine if legislation needs to be passed against them. Zuckerman lists the roster of Young Justice — Superboy, Wonder Girl, Impulse, Arrowette, and a mysterious boy they haven't been able to get a photo of. (This is back when the idea of Batman and Robin being urban myths was in full force.) Interestingly, Zuckerman did not mention Secret or Red Tornado.

A flying car arrives on the steps of the Capitol, and Perkins proudly introduces Old Justice — Dan the Dyna-Mite, Merry the Gimmick Girl, the Cyclones, Mr. Doiby Dickles and Second Sweep. One of the reporters in attendance is an old friend we haven't seen for a while, Ace Atchinson, who openly mocks the age of Old Justice. Doiby Dickles angrily grabs Ace's collar and lectures him on being respectful around ladies, and says his friends are worth a hundred of the slimy reporters. Ace apologizes, and Dan asks everyone to excuse Doiby's behavior, saying until recently, he was royalty on another world. Upon returning to Earth, Doiby has had a hard time seeing the aged treated like jokes and shunted aside. Dan then explains that he and the rest of Old Justice are there to support Senator Perkins' efforts to protect America from Young Justice.

Back at the mall, Cassie and Kon have gone to the bathroom, unwisely leaving the distraught Cissie by herself. As she wanders around, a man runs past her, holding a bunch of stolen Beanie Babies in his arms. A security guard in hot pursuit explains that those Beanie Babies have been retired and are worth a fortune. (This was certainly true in 2000, but just a few years later, these cute little stuffed animals would be rendered virtually worthless.) The guard asks Cissie to stop the thief from reaching the elevator, but Cissie lets him go. The guard yells at Cissie for not helping, and references Spider-Man by saying she better hope this thief doesn't go on to kill somebody's uncle or mother or something.

At first, the idea of having her mother killed is appealing to Cissie. But then she thinks about how Cassie would react if her mother were killed. So Cissie decides to help, leaping on top of the thief's elevator as it descends. The man pulls out a gun and fires several shots through the roof of the elevator. Cissie does a backflip off the elevator, lands in front of it as the doors open, and knocks the man out with a strong kick to his face as soon as he exits. Kon and Cassie notice the commotion, and come out to congratulate their friend. Among the crowd are some small boys who now want to flip and kick like Cissie, and a mysterious teenage girl we'll be meeting before too long. Kon scoops up Cissie and flies her away before people start taking pictures, and Cassie tells her friend she's back to normal. But the look on Cissie's face indicates she is still far from normal.

Back at the Capitol, the subcommittee's meeting is in full swing, beginning with a statement from Old Justice. Dan the Dyna-Mite argues against giving minors too much power, referencing child actors whose lives fell in shambles when they were older. And he briefly goes over the backgrounds of Old Justice to illustrate the harm that befell them because they became superheroes at too young of an age. Merry the Gimmick Girl suffered a mental breakdown. Second Sweep began his career as one of the Minute Men under the original Hour Man, but his career as an adult hero led to disaster and a jail sentence. The Cyclones started out as the Cyclone Kids under Ms. Cyclone's mother, the original Red Tornado (who was little more than a large, clumsy woman wearing a bucket on her head). The Cyclones eventually married, but Ms. Cyclone's face was badly burned during one adventure, which destroyed her acting career.

Doiby Dickles was already an adult when he started adventuring with the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott. But Dan says that Doiby is uniquely suited to testify against Young Justice because he can compare them to the old Justice Society of America. Dan finally gets to himself, saying he started out as a sidekick to a hero named TNT, and that he was a member of the Young All-Stars. What Dan doesn't mention, however, is that Senator Perkins was also a member of the Young All-Stars as Neptune Perkins.

Robin, Impulse and Red Tornado watch all this from the cave, and are quite dismayed that Old Justice's statement was met with rousing applause from the lawmakers. Red Tornado promises that he will inquire about Secret's whereabouts through the proper channels, but in the meantime, he insists that all Young Justice activities be placed on hold. Impulse objects, so Red turns to Robin, who begrudgingly accepts the android's order. But once Red Tornado leaves the room, Impulse asks Robin if they're going after Secret, and Robin says yes.

Cassie, Kon and Cissie return to Cassie's room and find Helena waiting for them, angrily holding Arrowette's bow in her hand. To everyone's surprise, Cissie grabs the bow, snaps it in half with her foot, and says it isn't hers anymore.

Things are starting to heat up. Robin and Impulse are planning a dangerous rescue mission for Secret, the opposite of Young Justice (appropriately named Old Justice) is turning the government against them, Red Tornado seemingly has stopped supporting them, and Arrowette has quite possibly ended her career as a superhero. Nauck's art really shined in this issue, giving us tons of Easter eggs in Cassie's room, and a fun look back at a bunch of Golden Age heroes. There wasn't a whole lot of humor here, but Cissie saying, "I'll have to get cleavage" is one of the funniest lines this series has ever had. And as tragic as it is to lose Arrowette, I really do enjoy the maturity of this story. Still, though, if Cissie really felt bad about almost killing someone, shouldn't she turn herself in to the police for attempted murder?

The letters to the editor begin with Meghan Martinez praising Young Justice #11, saying she enjoyed seeing the kids in their street clothes. But Meghan shares my complaint that it was weird seeing Cassie keep her black wig on while disguised as a civilian and swimming in the pool. Eddie Berganza  responds by hinting that Cassie will soon be losing the wig — as we've slowly been seeing over the past couple of issues.

Sarah Beach, of Los Angeles, liked the idea of Young Justice outmaneuvering the A.P.E.S. to rescue Red Tornado. She also liked watching Bart try to sneak up on Robin by the pool, and says that such a trip-up is only going to make Bart try it more often. Sarah does complain that Suzie is too ordinary of a name for Secret.

Mark A. Brown, of Cornwall, Ontario, says his favorites are Superboy, Secret and Impulse, since he revels in his insanity. Mark says he'd like to see Superboy date Wonder Girl, but mostly he's upset with Superboy lighting himself on fire in issue #11. Mark says Superboy is vulnerable to heat and fire, and describes in painful detail how that little stunt should have killed the Kid. Berganza responds by appealing to the readers, asking if they goofed. I wish one of them would have mentioned Superboy's tactile telekinesis, which probably could have protected him from the flames. Now for the ads:

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Next time, we'll go back to battling aliens in Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #6.

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