Thursday, August 25, 2016

Young Justice #19

Banned, On the Run

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

The mysterious Empress makes her entrance in this cover by Todd Nauck and Lary Stucker with the colors of WildStorm FX. Empress certainly is making a splashy entrance, breaking in on Young Justice while they're hiding out in Wonder Girl's room. As always, Nauck does an excellent job of adding wonderful details to Cassie's room — posters of the Space Girls, Wendy the Werewolf Stalker and Green Lantern. But the best part is Impulse, who is actually the closest one to the shattering window, and yet he is the only one who hasn't noticed the sudden arrival of this masked girl. GameBoys really are Bart's weakness — remember that one time he completely missed out on an adventure to space with the New Titans because he forgot his GameBoy? Yeah, you'd think he'd learn. But then again, he is Impulse, which basically means he doesn't learn.

Our story begins rather oddly, with a small speck of white on a black background. We then see the speck is Secret's head, which gets larger and larger in our view. And then she begins to laugh, and out of her mouth tumble Impulse, Robin, Superboy and Wonder Girl. They fall and flail wildly in the darkness before randomly bursting into flames. The fire eventually passes, only to be replaced by ice. The four teens are frozen solid before falling onto a bunch of jagged icicles and shattering in a million pieces.

Suddenly, Robin is standing in the middle of a rainstorm, looking quite perplexed. Secret asks if he's all right, which startles him into performing a hasty backflip away from his teammate and right into Superboy, who is using his tactile telekinesis to keep the rain off him. Impulse is nearby, hanging on a tree branch by his ankle, and Wonder Girl pulls herself out of some bushes, having lost her wig on some branches. Superboy calls Secret "Spectress" and tells her to keep away from them.

Robin asks Secret what happened, and she explains that she saved the team. When their was the big explosion in the cave, she brought them all into her ... but not into the abyss, which wasn't easy for her. Wonder Girl says she would have rather taken her chances with the explosion, and Secret indignantly asks for some gratitude. Wonder Girl reluctantly says "Thanks," Impulse says "Slick," Robin says "'preciate it," and Superboy sternly says "Don't do it again."

Moments later, our heroes have taken refuge in a tree, and Robin takes a peek at the remains of their base through his binoculars. To his dismay, he sees the JLA there, surveying the damage. Superboy respectfully asks Robin, as the leader, what they should do. Impulse suggests talking to the JLA and turning themselves in. But Robin feels they are dealing with too many unanswered questions that can only be answered by them working together as a team. Secret wonders if he's just making excuses to avoid facing the JLA. Robin admits he doesn't know. But one thing he does know for sure, is they need to get out of the rain. He asks Cassie if they can go to her house, but Wonder Girl has strangely wandered away from the group. Nursing a leg injury from the fight with the Point Men, Wonder Girl begins hallucinating, imagining that Wonder Woman, her mother and Arrowette are all disappointed in her. As she collapses, the vision of Arrowette morphs into Empress, who pulls out a sword.

We then cut to the office of Senator Perkins, where Old Justice is bringing a grievance against the congressman. They have already learned of the Point Men attacking Young Justice, and they find it suspicious that a group such as the Point Men would appear right when they were bringing legal pressure against Young Justice. Perkins assures them it was just a coincidence, but Old Justice makes sure to warn Perkins that he better not be using them for a hidden agenda. But unbeknownst to the elders, a secret camera in Perkins' office is being monitored by a dark, shadowy figure and Gray Lady of Point Men. Gray Lady is worried about Old Justice's suspicions, but the figure assures her Old Justice has nothing concrete, and they don't want to let Perkins know that he's also being played. Gray Lady reports that Blank Slate and Serpenteen are tracking Young Justice, and the shadowy figure advises them to not attack the heroes unless absolutely necessary.

Cassie wakes up in her bed, believing for a moment that her recent experiences were just a dream. Then she sees her teammates, making her room the new Young Justice headquarters. Robin is working on Cassie's computer, while Secret reads a magazine and Impulse plays GameBoy. Cassie notices her leg is bandaged, and Impulse and Superboy explain that they found her with puncture marks in her skin and an X cut around the wound. Cassie remembers being bitten by Serpenteen, and she realizes that the X cut into her must have been to suck the poison out of her leg.

Robin, meanwhile, is communicating with Oracle, who says she has found a possible temporary headquarters for Young Justice. It's a hotel resort in the Catskill Mountains that has recently gone into receivership and is now completely abandoned. But it's still furnished with stocks of food, working electricity and plumbing. The only potential obstacle is security system, but Impulse should be able to dismantle it in three seconds.

So Robin tells his teammates that he's found a place where they can lie low until they get everything sorted out. Superboy asks what happened to their plan to go public with their story, and Robin assures him they'll contact Ace Atchinson again once they get settled in this new place. Impulse suggests staying in Cassie's house, proudly proclaiming that he's already caught 47 "Poxy Monsters." Cassie naturally vehemently opposes Bart's idea, saying her mom will kill her if she sees all of them in her room.

Right on cue, Helena Sandsmark comes home, only to find Serpenteen and Blank Slate on her roof. The two Point Men charge at her, and before Young Justice can respond to Helena's screams, Empress appears out of nowhere and pushes Serpenteen away from Helena. Wonder Girl, Secret, Superboy and Robin aren't far behind, smashing through Cassie's window to save her mom. Robin orders Impulse to get Mrs. Sandsmark to safety, but to his astonishment, Impulse is not at the battle scene. Turns out Bart has gotten a bit distracted trying to snatch all the Poxy Monsters (even though his Game Boy is now smoking).

Luckily, Cassie is able to grab her mom, leaving the others to battle the intruders. Robin warns Empress that Serpenteen is dangerous, but Empress cryptically says, "My wish is your command." She orders Robin to stop, and he's suddenly unable to move his feet. Empress easily bests Serpenteen in hand-to-hand combat, demonstrating an ability to vanish in a puff of smoke and reappear right behind her target. As Superboy and Secret tangle with Blank Slate, Empress brings her fight to a decisive conclusion by slicing off the tips of Serpenteen's fangs with two quick swipes of her sword.

Poor Serpenteen howls in pain at this attack, finally making a sound loud enough to pull Bart away from his video game. He rushes off to the fray, realizing that he's messed up. Cassie, meanwhile, drops her mom off at a safe location in the city, and the two have a quick, but tearful conversation about Cassie's role as a superhero. Ultimately, Helena allows Cassie to fly off and help her friends.

Back at the fight, Robin regains control of his feet and begins charging at Serpenteen. Blank Slate realizes that their simple surveillance mission has gotten completely out of hand, and he joins Serpenteen on the lawn, saying they need to leave. Superboy, Wonder Girl, Robin, Secret and Impulse all rush toward the two enemies as fast as they can. But Blank Slate teleports himself and Serpenteen away at the last second, causing the heroes of Young Justice to collide with each other in a most undignified manner. Robin says aloud that he's glad Batman didn't see this.

Once our heroes untangle themselves, they realize the mysterious sword girl is gone. Robin calls her Empress, and Cassie wonders how Robin knows her name. The Boy Wonder pompously states that he acquired this fact through keen observation, a series of logical deductions and inferences ... and the large word "EMPRESS" burned into the lawn. Superboy sarcastically notes that Robin definitely was trained by the world's greatest detective. Cassie realizes that Empress was the one who saved her in the woods, and she almost tells Robin that she thinks Arrowette is secretly Empress. But she quickly dismisses this idea as being "too obvious."

So the teens load up into the Super-Cycle and fly to the abandoned resort hotel in the Catskill Mountains, New York. To Robin's dismay, everyone immediately rushes off on their own. Wonder Girl says the place reminds her of "Dirty Dancing." Impulse becomes enamored with the junk food and the "decorative bugs." And Secret is impressed by the real beauty parlor. Only Superboy decided to stay with Robin, and they both check out the ballroom together. However, they find Old Justice there waiting for them.

This was yet another wonderful installment by David and Nauck. I'm especially impressed with Nauck right now, seeing as how Ethan Van Sciver has to take so many breaks between issues, but Nauck is able to churn out 22 awesome pages each and every month. This is his eighth consecutive month where he was the book's only penciller, and next month he's going to give us an extra long special issue. As for this issue's story, things certainly are heating up. Our team is barely hanging on together. Secret's creepiness was thrust into everyone's faces, Superboy has been acting a bit off for a few issues now, Wonder Girl is on the brink of an emotional breakdown, Robin is losing the confidence of his teammates, and Impulse is sweetly oblivious to it all. But it's a good thing we had Impulse's distraction with "Poxy Monsters," because this would have been a very intense issue otherwise. Our team is now face-to-face with Old Justice, while mysterious villains are making their moves in the darkness. And what is up with Empress?

We have three letters to the editor this month, all dealing with the issues of gun control raised in Young Justice #15. I think it was wise of Eddie Berganza to not try to respond or justify anything. He just lets the letter writers express their views.

Matthew Hertel gives praise to Peter David for taking on such a controversial issue. Matthew says most people are too afraid to touch the subject, and he's gained more respect for everyone involved in this issue.

Creed said that David always was one of his favorite writers, until this issue. Creed will not support anyone who advocates gun control, saying Germany's attempt at gun control in the 1930s only led to more violence in the '40s. Creed's letter ends with, "Good Bye DC, and Good Bye Peter."

Craig Wagner, of Portland, Ore., anticipates backlash from the NRA and firearm-loving Americans. As a Canadian living in the states, Craig is amazed at the arguments people use to defend guns, such as likening them to shovels. Craig counters that when shovels are used properly, they don't kill people; but the purpose of a gun is to kill or injure. Craig loved issue #15, calling it touching and moving, and he said it's about time someone in comics said what Cissie said about guns.

Speaking of Cissie, next time we'll see her return to the book she debuted in — Impulse!

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