Sunday, September 18, 2016

Young Justice: Sins of Youth Secret Files & Origins #1

Cover art by Todd Nauck and Lary Stucker. Cover colors by Digital Chameleon. This is a great cover, but it doesn't really show what's happening in Sins of Youth. Instead, it shows what we thought might have happened before Sins of Youth — a showdown between the JLA, JSA and Young Justice. Naturally, each member of Young Justice is directly confronting their mentors. Wonder Woman has Wonder Girl in her lasso, and Superboy, Robin and Impulse are being closely followed by Superman, Batman and the Flash, respectively. Secret, who doesn't have a natural adult counterpart, is double-teamed by Plastic Man and Green Lantern. Like I said, this is a great cover, but it's not particularly applicable to our story anymore.

This issue is 64 pages of wonderful information, telling us everything we'd ever want to know about the dozens of characters involved in this event, and how Klarion's spell has effected them. However, Impulse's involvement in this comic is quite limited, so I'll be doing a lot of skimming here.

Our main story focuses on the Titans, beginning with a slight continuity contradiction by showing Cameron Chase telling Arsenal that he and the Titans need to support Young Justice at their rally two days from now. The problem is, Wonder Girl announced the rally just one day before it happened, and we saw how the Titans decided to attend. Arsenal thought it could be a trap, but the others pressured him into going.

Anyway, the story jumps ahead to the aftermath of Klarion's spell and Doiby's ray gun. Damage and Argent have been turned into adults, Cyborg and Starfire have become young teenagers, but Nightwing, Arsenal, Troia and Garth remain the same. And even though we saw Jesse Quick with the Titans in Sins of Youth #1, she is nowhere to be seen here, which is sad, because I really would have loved to see what the serious, CEO Jesse would have been like as a girl.

When all the heroes scatter, the Titans head straight to S.T.A.R. Labs to look for a cure. Nightwing has a theory as to why he and the other original Teen Titans weren't affected. Long ago, Robin, Speedy, Wonder Girl, Aqualad and Kid Flash prevented a robbery of an anti-aging formula. In the process, they were all exposed to the gas, except for Wally, which is why he became younger. Nightwing believes the doctors at S.T.A.R. Labs can analyze their blood to find a cure, but before they can do so, they learn of an attack of a group of terrorists called the Wildebeests.

Leading the call to action is the adult Damage, who is now calm, composed, in complete control of his powers, and is beginning to wonder if he wants to return to being a teenager. The Titans eventually defeat the Wildebeests at the JFK International Airport, but soon learn of another attack at Grand Central Station. So they rush off to save the day again, further delaying their search for a cure. Naturally, this is all part of the Contessa's plans. Not only is she arranging things to keep the heroes busy, but she was also behind that original robbery years ago.

So this story was a bit contrived, but it is nice to see what the Titans were up to doing this whole event. And I found Damage's reaction to his new age rather interesting. Everyone immediately starts looking to return to normal, which is a natural inclination, but he's the first so far to wonder if he's actually better staying like this.

CD-TV ad

Written by Lary Stucker
Pencilled by Pascual Ferry
Inked by Rob Stull
Lettered by Comicraft
Color by Tom McCraw with separations by Digital Chameleon

This is a sweet, goofy little demonstration of Ace Atchinson's personality. At top, is Ace getting punched by Superboy's favorite rapper, Hard Kore. In the middle, Ace is cowering under the table beneath the Joker during an Arkham Asylum riot. And at the bottom, Ace prepares for an interview with Young Justice. I really like the concept of this fake ad. I just wish it was drawn a little better ...

After that ad, the issue dives into the Profile Pages, beginning with Robin. After providing a brief background on Tim Drake, his bio says that he was dismayed to see his adult self is under six feet tall, but he does learn there are advantages to being Batman instead of Robin.


Text by Todd Dezago
Pencilled by Matthew Clark
Inked by Ray Snyder
Color by Tom McCraw with separations by Digital Chameleon

Real name: Bartholomew "Bart" Allen (II)
Occupation: Student/Costumed adventurer
Base of Operations: Manchester, Alabama
Ht: 5'3"
Wt: 114 lbs.
Eyes: Yellow
Hair: Brown
First Appearance: The Flash #91 (June, 1994)

Born in the 30th century, Bart Allen was brought back to our time by his grandmother, Iris Allen (widow of Barry Allen — the Silver Age Flash!), in an attempt to cure him of a hyperaccelerated aging process. That cured (by none other than current Flash, and Bart's cousin, Wally West!), it was decided that the future was not a safe environment for Bart to grow up in and that it was best that he remain in the 21st century. Unfortunately, Bart's hyperaccelerated attention span requires that he be under the guidance and supervision of a uniquely patient individual. And so Bart — later called Impulse — was put into the care of his mentor, Max Mercury — the Zen Maser of Speed! Bart spends most of his days trying to conform to the "mind-numbingly slow" pace of "normal" life ... and Max spends most of his time keeping Bart out of trouble! Of his recent experience as an adult, Impulse's response was, "No thanks! Too much thinking!"

I'm very glad that Impulse writer Todd Dezago was brought in to write this Profile Page, which perfectly sums up the backstory of Impulse in a concise manner. I just wish that Impulse artist Ethan Van Sciver could have drawn this page. Matthew Clark's art isn't necessarily bad, it's just that Van Sciver's art is amazing! And I miss it. He's been MIA for the past three months. Anyway, one interesting note here is Impulse's height and weight. In previous Secret Files and Origins, he was listed at 5'1" and 110 lbs. Now it appears our little speedster is starting to grow up!

The next Profile Page is Superboy, which mostly recaps Superboy #74. Wonder Girl is next, which talks about how Cassie enjoys being a grown-up, and may be the perfect candidate for Young Justice's next leader. The Empress page follows that, and it doesn't offer any details on who or what she is. It does speculate that she could be a new heroic identity for Arrowette, but immediately dismisses that possibility as hopeful speculation.

We then get Cissie Jones-King, which talks about how she has retired from being Arrowette. Everywhere else I've seen her name as Cissie King-Jones, but I think Jones-King makes more sense, since her dad's last name was Jones and her mom's last name is King. Next is the Secret, which briefly details her tragic past, her brother Harm, and the D.E.O., before saying that she, too, is reluctant to return to childhood. Lagoon Boy portrays him as a fun-loving party animal, able to find enjoyment both as a teenager and an adult.

The Star-Spangled Kid talks about how Courtney is now the adult Starwoman, and her stepfather, Pat Dugan, is now the child S.T.R.I.P.E.S.Y. with his tiny robot S.T.R.I.P.E. The Junior Society of America gives us the new names for the youngest oldest super-hero team in history — Hawkbaby, Starwoman, Teen Lantern, The Star-Spangled Kid, Hourboy, Bigg Boy, Cry Baby, Kid Mid-Nite, Wildbrat, Terrific Lad, Li'l Fate, S.T.R.I.P.E.S.Y., The Golden Age Kid Flash, and Sandy, the Golden Boy and Chairman of the JSA.

We then get a very fun short story about the JLA and JSA going to the partially destroyed Young Justice cave to collect some rocket fuel the JLA may have left there back in the day. Apparently Doiby Dickles has another de-aging gun on the planet Myrg, and the JSA intends on flying there with their spaceship. But the JSA and JLA all get into a fight over this just because they're wild, rambunctious kids.

Some of the best jokes involve Aquaboy hitting on Starwoman. He boasts that he can "dive for hours without having to come up for air," which is hilariously dirty if you think about it. Wally teases the younger Jay Garrick that he better slow down or he'll break a hip, to which Jay says, "That's so funny I forgot to laugh!" Wally responds by asking if Alzheimer's is kicking in already for Jay. Kyle Rayner immediately steals that Alzheimer's line when he teases the younger Alan Scott. The two young robots, Red Tornado and Hourboy, have fun trading arms and capes. And the young Captain Marvel tries to restore order by lecturing everyone about how they should remember who they really are and stand up for truth, justice and the American way. But this speech is promptly ignored.

Eventually, the JSA gets their rocket fuel and takes off. Aquaboy asks Starwoman one last time if she wants to "get a little ... wet," but she again flatly turns him down. Wonder Woman realizes the adult Young Justice are going to be ticked at them, and Batman asks the others to not tell Robin that he was here. Aquaboy laments to Kid Flash that Starwoman left him "high and dry," and Wally tells him that they all do.

After this most amusing, and also informative story, we return to the Profile Pages, starting with JLA, Jr., which gives us the new names for these heroes — Superman Jr., Batboy, Kid Flash, Aquaboy, Li'l Steel, Green Lantern, Li'l Captain Marvel, Plastic Boy, Li'l Red Tornado, Wonder Girl and Martian Kidhunter. Up next is the the Marvel Family, which sadly doesn't mention their new status in the Sins of Youth world.

But I guess that's OK, since the next short story shows us that Mary Marvel has become an adult, while Captain Marvel Jr. is just normal teenager Freddy Freeman, unable to transform into his heroic identity for some reason. The two of them track down Klarion the Witch Boy to a museum, where they also find a youthened Captain Nazi. Klarion quickly teleports away. While Mary Marvel protects the bystanders, the depowered Freddy saves the day by electrocuting Captain Nazi. And sadly, we get no explanation as to why CM3 didn't also become an adult.

We then get The Titans Profile Page, which recaps the big story we just had in this comic. And sadly, this also fails to mention Jesse Quick, who I guess just went home before any of the age-changing occurred. Up next is Li'l Lobo, which reminds us that he made a cameo appearance as a statue in Young Justice #1,000,000. This bio doesn't explain exactly how or why Lobo was affected by Klarion's spell, but remember, the explanation of the magic/science blast did say it spread heavenward. So, I can only assume that Lobo happened to be however many light-years directly above that exact spot in Washington, D.C., and got hit by the lingering effects of the blast. I guess.

The next page goes to the Point Men, telling us a bit about all the members we've seen, except for the enormous Groundswell, who we only saw briefly during the big fight in Washington. We then have a page devoted to Young Villains — Li'l Amazo, Li'l Pengy, Mini-Maxima, Private Cold, Li'l Sphinx, Li'l Manta and Li'l Black Adam. Next is Klarion ... bum, bum, BUM ... the Witch Boy. This explains that he's primarily a villain of the demon Etrigan, but he's now teamed up with the Contessa to cause chaos and have fun. And now that he's altered the ages of the heroes, he's decided to travel the country and de-age a bunch of supervillains, as well.

And our final story shows Klarion doing just that. He interrupts Catwoman during a routine jewel heist and turns her into a little kid, then promptly disappears. And our issue ends with a final Profile Page for the Agenda. This explains that their leader, the Contessa, was once the bride of Lex Luthor. As part of her grand scheme, she has manipulated both the D.E.O. and the A.P.E.S. into discrediting Young Justice, while she simultaneously infiltrated Project Cadmus and Young Justice via Match. She genetically engineered the Point Men to assist in this plan, and has allied herself with Klarion to maximize the chaos and increase paranoia against superheroes.

I always love these Secret Files and Origins issues. A longtime collector of basketball cards, I love learning the players' (or in this case, heroes') height, weight and backstory. The highlight of this issue was the JLA/JSA fight, which gave us a great preview of what these teams will be like in their own issues. The Marvel story was frustrating since it presented what appeared to be a direct contradiction to the rules of this event without offering any explanation. And the main story with the Titans felt contrived and was a bit boring. But other than that, this was a very fun and informative comic book. And speaking of Todd Nauck's workload during this event, in addition to drawing the cover, he also drew five Profile Pages here. And as always, his work was held to his amazing high standard, which stood out in stark contrast compared to a lot of the other artists' work in this issue.

Up next is Part 4, where we begin the special one-shots, starting with Sins of Youth: JLA, Jr. #1!

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