Saturday, September 17, 2016

Superboy #74

Game, Set & Match!

Karl Kesel Write-ist
Tom Grummett Draw-er
Keith Champagne Ink Draw-er
Buzz Setzer Uses All 64 Crayons
Comicraft Still Learning Joined Up Writing
Mike McAvennie Makes Us Stay Behind After Class
Jack Kirby Principal

Oddly enough, all of the Sins of Youth issues were their own standalone stories, except for this one. I don't mind this, but I do think it would have been fair to have done the same with Robin and Impulse, as well. Anyway, our cover shows Superboy battling his evil clone, Match (Superboy is the one without the jacket). In the background is the adult Wonder Girl and a bunch of people associated with Cadmus and the world of Superboy that we don't care that much about. (Sorry, Cadmus fans!)

Our story picks up immediately where Sins of Youth #1 left off, with all our heroes standing around, staring at their new bodies. All except Superboy, of course, who is still 16, and is actually upset by it.

But Superboy's indignation doesn't last long, as he very quickly doubles over in immense pain. Klarion ... bum, bum, BUM ... the Witch Boy is absolutely thrilled by this chaotic scene, noting that this result is even better than what the Contessa asked for. Doiby Dickles feels responsible for messing things up more with his ray gun, but Merry tries to assure him they'll be able to fix this if they find the right gimmick. The army of troopers in black armor keeps the media away from the heroes, while the teenage Deadman tries to take on Klarion head on. But Klarion just teleports away. The adult Secret — the only hero who can see Deadman — tells the teenager to calm down and that they will find Klarion.

Wonder Girl tends to Superboy, who says it feels like he's being torn apart from the inside. Match then realizes that he's lost his telepathic link with the Gene-Gnome, which must mean that the Agenda has lost control of Cadmus, so he quickly flies off to help his fellow villains. The Point Men also quickly teleport away, and the teenage Superman suddenly decides that now is the best time to challenge Impulse to a race. Impulse ignores this, and instead tries to calmly talk down the troopers, who are still trying to arrest all the heroes. Impulse tells them to slow down, and that there's been a misunderstanding. And for a moment, it seems like the troopers are willing to talk. But Superboy tells everybody not to trust the troopers, since he recognizes them as Agenda clones. Merry the Gimmick Girl says she's sick of being manipulated by the Agenda, and teen Wally West says, "Then what're we waiting for? Hit 'em fast ... and hit 'em hard!"

So everybody's back to fighting once again. Robin quickly emerges as the leader, and once the Agenda clones are scattered, Robin orders everyone to retreat, make sure they're not followed, and to regroup at the JLA cave. Superboy asks Superman how he's doing, and he says he feels a little weaker than normal, but is definitely doing better than Superboy, who has another painful spasm during their conversation. Superboy says he needs to get back to Cadmus to stop Match and see if the scientists there can do anything for him. Wonder Girl flies the Kid there, while the media begins to report that the young superheroes and their mentors viciously attacked a group of unknown soldiers that were trying to keep the peace.

The Contessa watches all this from afar, and is pleased with the results. Her plan has hit a few snags, but her contingency preparations are working nicely, and her ultimate goal of discrediting all the superheroes is still working perfectly. Her Agenda troops from Cadmus beg her to send in the Point Men to help them retake the cloning facility, but Contessa refuses, saying she has other plans for the Point Men.

Wonder Girl and Superboy arrive at Cadmus shortly after Match, and they get into a big fight. Wonder Girl takes a couple of big hits early on, and Superboy isn't much use in his weakened state. But a crazed Cadmus scientist unleashes a gas that instantly disintegrates all Agenda clones, so Match makes a hasty retreat. With the battle won — in horrifying fashion — Superboy is finally taken the medical facilities and examined by a doctor.

Dr. Serling looks at Superboy and confirms that he is being torn apart on a genetic level, and she doesn't even know where to begin to save Superboy's life. Everyone nervously waits outside, but before too long, an adult Superboy walks through the door. Serling explains that the aging force he was hit with was at war with his cellular structure that kept him stuck at 16. But the doctor managed to alter Kon's DNA to enable him to age like his teammates did. And just like the rest of Young Justice, Superboy instantly became an adult and his clothes magically changed to fit his new body. But the story ends on a shocking, tragic note, as one of the Agenda agents who had lingered behind suddenly kills a young woman Superboy had literally known his entire life.

So there were a few odd things with this issue. First of all, I find it odd that the Sins of Youth event spilled over into one and only one issue of an on-going series. It was also odd to have such a heavy, serious ending in this very silly and light-hearted event. Maybe Peter David could have pulled off a nice balance between the serious and the silly, but Karl Kesel gave us a very abrupt tonal shift, that did work for me. And this comic really glossed over the whole bit of Superboy transforming into a man. Maybe the doctor's sudden discovery was supposed to come off as suspicious, or maybe this was a plot point established in previous issues. I don't know, I haven't read them yet.

But there was some good stuff here, too. I liked Robin becoming the de facto leader of all the heroes, and Impulse trying to be the voice of reason and slow everyone down. And as a whole, I think the whole story of Match replacing Superboy worked out well because we got so many clues throughout the issues of Young Justice. They weren't obnoxious, obvious clues, but they did raise enough suspicion that when the truth was revealed, everything fell neatly into place.

Next time, Part 3 — Young Justice: Sins of Youth Secret Files & Origins #1!

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