Sunday, October 16, 2016

Young Justice #20

Time Out

Story – Peter David
Art – Todd Nauck & Lary Stucker
Color – Jason Wright
Seps – Digital Chameleon
Letters – Ken Lopez
Associate Editor – Maureen McTigue
Editor – Eddie Berganza

It's a big wheel skid li'l Lobo style in this cover by Nauck & Stucker and the colors by those fine folks at WildStorm FX. This is a really fun with the teenage Lobo, his Wink 281 shirt and his awesome bike spraying some mud in poor Impulse's face. Technically, Young Justice don't meet Lobo in this issue, but Lobo does meet Klarion. I also enjoy the gag of Wonder Girl lifting up the cover to brag about her new look, which we did technically see already in the Sins of Youth Secret Files issue, but I guess there were a significant amount of readers who didn't pick that one up.

Our story picks right up where we left off in Sins of Youth, with everybody still up in Alaska following the crazy, exciting battle against Klarion and Agenda. Our heroes are soon joined by the United States military, the D.E.O. and the A.P.E.S. All the superheroes are busy rounding up the last few Agenda troopers and scientists, locking them in cages created by Green Lantern. Apparently Dan the Dyna-Mite and the Cyclone Twins had a successful trip to Washington, which prompted this large cleanup crew.

Wonder Girl checks on the now powerless Superboy, who is trying to see the positive side to his new predicament. He reminds Cassie of how she said they shouldn't be defined by their powers, so Kon sees this as a great opportunity to redefine himself. However, the captive Amanda Spence overhears this and openly mocks Superboy for losing both his girlfriend and his superpowers in the last day or so. She laughs and laughs, and all Superboy can do is quietly cry. Wonder Girl gets fed up with this and calmly walks over to Spence to whisper something sinister in her ear. (By zooming in as close as I can on my iPad, I can just make out the words, "Bang! Zoom! To the moon! If you ...") But whatever Wonder Girl did say, it sure shut up Spence real quick. Superboy is shocked to see his adversary so spooked, and he asks Cassie what she said, but she only tells him it was "girl talk."

We then find Klarion and Teekl inside a porn theater, enjoying "The Bare Witch Project." A couple of ushers tell him to leave, so he turns them into dancing concession mascots, singing about going to the lobby. Klarion confesses to Teekl that turning all the heroes and villains into kids just emphasized to him how alone he is, and how he longs for the companionship of someone his own age. But Klarion's reflective thoughts are quickly interrupted by Lobo ramming his bike through the theater screen. Lobo promises to break Klarion in half, make him turn him into an adult again, and then break the Witch Boy into another half. Klarion sends Teekl to attack Lobo, but he easily knocks her away, telling Klarion to prepare for 15 rounds with the Top Teen.

Back in Alaska, Impulse is kicking Lagoon Boy's butt in a snowball fight because none of the kids have anything to do while all the top government officials (including Senator Perkins) are having a private discussion with the JLA and Old Justice. Robin is spying on this meeting with his binoculars, but he can't make out what anyone is saying. Impulse volunteers his services, claiming to have read a book on lip reading. So Robin reluctantly hands over his binoculars, while Wonder Girl complains about not being invited to this conference. Lagoon Boy says Superman asked them to wait there, but Cassie doesn't care until Robin says Batman told them to.

Impulse begins his report, quoting Senator Perkins as saying, "Face forks ... Young Justice is a public relegations nightmarv." Robin realizes he means, "Face facts ... Young Justice is a public relations nightmare." And it carries on like this for a bit, with Impulse coming fairly close and Robin making out what was actually said. Impulse thought Superman was talking about Nintendo, when he actually was referring to the Agenda. Bart sees the D.E.O. say, "You scrunched up gripping the moist ghoul," when he actually was talking about grabbing the mist girl, aka Secret. The conversation gets pretty heated, as Impulse reports seeing the words, "mother father," "the sun on the beach" and Aquaman telling Perkins he'll "stick his umbrella in his three-day-old laundry." Robin has no clue of what to make that last one. Bart is shocked to see Wonder Woman say "the Mars rover scoops the pizza crust." By this time, Robin is sick and tired of Bart's deteriorating commentary, and he yanks the binoculars toward him with the strap still around Bart's neck. But Bart calmly and cooly vibrates his neck out of the strap.

This is one of my favorite displays of a casual use of super speed. Bart doesn't mind that Robin grabbed the binoculars away from him, and instead of lifting the strap over his head, he happily vibrates only his neck. Why? Just because he can. It's these little details that make Todd Nauck's art so great.

Anyway, Robin spots Batman, who very clearly tells Robin to put down the binoculars. Secret says Batman scares her, and all the others are shocked to learn that Secret is scared of anyone. Robin then sees that the secret meeting has ended and everyone is walking toward them. The Star-Spangled Kid mocks Impulse for his "scoops the pizza crust" line, and tells her not to blame the messenger.

We then cut to a family court file room, where the mysterious Empress has snuck inside to delete the computer files of Cissie King-Jones and burn the hard copy of a folder labeled Jones-King. (This is another frustration in the debate over Cissie's last name. On the same page, one panel says King-Jones and another panel says Jones-King. Which one is it?) Anyway, Empress is spotted by a security guard, but she takes out the lights, knocks out the guard, and gets away.

Back in Alaska, Senator Perkins and Congressman Zuckerman are holding a meeting in the Agenda conference room with Young Justice and Red Tornado, Cameron Chase of the D.E.O., Agents Fite and Maad of A.P.E.S., and Dan and Merry of Old Justice. Perkins reports that Dan made an impassioned plea to tell him the Agenda had been playing them all against each other this whole time.

Maad is still mad at Young Justice for destroying their Mount Rushmore headquarters, but Red Tornado points out this only happened because the A.P.E.S. had kidnapped Secret. Robin adds that they might have been able to rescue her quietly had Match not sabotaged the entire operation. Merry says Young Justice could have gone through the proper channels or to the JLA, but Robin says they wanted to rescue their teammate immediately. Wonder Girl adds that going through the "channels" would have alerted the A.P.E.S., and they might not have ever been able to see Secret again.

Perkins finds it hard to believe the A.P.E.S. or D.E.O. would take such action against a human child. but Chase and Maad quickly assert that Secret is not a human or a child. Superboy angrily points out how they don't care about Secret's rights, but Chase says Secret is officially dead. Perkins says she's obviously not dead since he's looking right at her. Chase says Perkins needs to study the records, and Maad states that an A.P.E.S. scientist is still in shock because of what Secret did to him. But the senator is able to silence both of them and move on to the next topic, Arrowette.

Zuckerman rips into Arrowette's shocking lapse of judgment, but Red Tornado defends her, saying she has taken responsibility for her mistake by leaving the team. The android then turns this around on the congressman, saying perhaps more politicians should resign after their own serious lapses in moral judgment. Merry and Dan both point out how prosecuting a contrite minor would be incredibly damaging to both Zuckerman's and Perkins' political careers. Red Tornado, with angry, glowing yellow eyes, sternly advises the politicians to leave Arrowette in peace.

Speaking of Cissie, we see her surprised to find her mom visiting her at her boarding school. Bonnie has brought an old photo album with her to show Cissie a picture of when she was 2 years old and able to spot a bird nest five houses away in a 60-foot tree. Bonnie then shows a photo of Cissie when she was 3, playing with darts and repeatedly hitting the bullseye. Bonnie reminds Cissie of how she said her mom doesn't have any pictures of her out of her costume. Cissie doesn't understand what her mom is trying to prove, so Bonnie starts to leave, explaining that Cissie always had a God-given talent, and she just wanted to help her daughter find the purpose for her gift. Bonnie says that she's upset that she made Cissie unhappy in her pursuit. She tells Cissie that she'll be waiting for her in her car from 6 to 7 p.m. Bonnie would like to take Cissie somewhere to show her something, but she's letting her daughter decide whether she wants to go with her. After Bonnie leaves, Cissie slowly picks up the photo album, and begins to smile.

We then head out to the temporary Young Justice headquarters in the Catskill Mountains. Batman finds Robin perched in a tree, and he tells him that Perkins and Zuckerman have officially sent all questions about Young Justice and teen heroes into committee, where it will die a slow, painful death. Robins quotes a new poll showing 80% of American favor taking no action against superheroes of any age, largely thanks to the reporting of Ace Atchison. Batman tells Robin that the Young Justice cave has been repaired, but Robin says they'd like to stay at the abandoned resort for a little longer and take a break from being superheroes. Robin reveals that he discovered the resort is owned by Wayne Enterprises, which explains why Oracle sent him there. Robin surmises that Batman convinced the JLA to cut Young Justice some slack after Superman spotted them in the woods 10 seconds after the explosion. Batman says it only took Superman five seconds to find the teen heroes and make sure they were alright. Robin thanks Batman for working behind the scenes to smooth the way, and Batman praises his sidekick for demonstrating that he really was trained by the world's greatest detective.

But Robin asks a personal favor from Batman, saying he wants to be up front with his teammates. Batman instantly denies this, saying he'd consider Robin an imposter if he revealed his secret identity to Young Justice. Robin reminds Batman of how he trusted him when he was a teenager, and he asks why Batman won't trust him now. But Batman turns this around, asking why Robin doesn't trust him now, as an adult. Conceding defeat, Robin begins to sadly walk away, until Batman decides to work out a compromise. Robin can show his teammates his face, but he can't give them his real name. Robin turns to thank his mentor, but Batman has already vanished into the trees.

With Young Justice taking a break, a new Young Justice takes their spot in the cave. Flamebird, Beast Boy, Captain Marvel Jr. and Lagoon Boy have teamed up to assess the threat of the kid-sized Lobo wreaking havoc through the streets. The comic also gives us the outline of Batgirl, saying she can't be in the cave since she never leaves Gotham, but if readers want a complete picture of the new team, they can cut out an image of Batgirl in the next issue and paste it in this one on the outline of her. (I wonder if anyone actually did that.)

Back in the Catskills, Wonder Girl shows off her new look with no wig, jeans, and a better jacket. Robin asks what happened to her miniskirt, and Cassie says that was her "What was I thinking?" phase. Robin then shocks the team by removing his mask to expose his blue eyes. Superboy immediately gives Wonder Girl $10, explaining that they had a bet that Robin only wore his mask to conceal his terminal zits. Secret thinks Robin looks very handsome without his mask, and she asks what they should call him when he's not Robin. The name he gives is Alvin Draper, which Superboy instantly calls fake. He reasons that no kid would go by Alvin, saying they'd choose Al or Vinnie, since Alvin is a name for a chipmunk or a dork. Besides, Superboy argues, Robin looks more like a Mark or a Tommy. Robin laughs him off, saying former choreographer and political activist Alvin Ailey would take issue with Kon's logic, but he says they can call him Mark, Al or Tommy Dork if they want.

Everybody finally realizes that Bart isn't with them. Instead, he has decided to work some more on his lip-reading skills by observing his teammates from afar with Robin's binoculars. Bart sees that first Robin said they should call him Mike, then Al, and then ... Timmy Drake? Bart wonders what kinds of a stupid name Timmy Drake is, and he figures he must have gotten it wrong, resolving to call Robin "Al" from now on.

This issue really could be called the epilogue of Sins of Youth. It was necessary to literally sit everybody down to discuss what happened, what's going to happen moving forward, and clear up any lingering questions from the past adventure. But as boring as it is to sit around and talk in a conference room, Peter David found plenty of ways to inject some humor into this issue, primarily through Impulse's poor job of lip reading. And let's not forget the emotional subplot of Cissie and her mom, which is moving in a very sweet and tender direction. The only thing I think this issue could have done better was to explain how and why this new Young Justice group came together.

And Todd Nauck is such a trooper. You'd think he would take this issue off after having such a heavy workload during Sins of Youth. But, no. He did each page in this issue, as well, and I am glad for it. It was necessary to have Nauck handle the final wrap-up of Sins of Youth. I do kind of wish that the Sins of Youth issues counted in the regular Young Justice numbering, because if you read this issue #20 right after #19, you'd be pretty confused.

Hey, here's something we haven't done in a while ... letters to the editor! Matt Natsis writes that he began as a Batman reader, then Robin became his favorite character, which led to him picking up Young Justice, which immediately hooked him. Speaking of Young Justice #16, Matt says Old Justice could become the most dangerous villains Young Justice has faced yet.

Michael C Lorah asks why Red Tornado's face was covered on the cover of issue #16. Eddie Berganza explains that they were parodying an old JLE cover, which may be true, but I have not seen a Justice League Europe cover that put a logo on top of a character's face. Michael also praises the direction of Cissie's story, while laughing at her cleavage comment, which was legitimately hilarious. He also criticizes the mandate to have all Batman characters be urban legends, and he subtly blames DC for making bad stuff happen to the younger heroes in order to favor the more marketable adult heroes. Now let's get to the ads!

Having a marionette sit next to him was one thing, but having a marionette sit next to him and ask for a cocoa butter rub, well that was another. At least part of you is comfortable. Arizona Jean Co.

The extreme taste of Tang now comes in a pouch.

Shape your life. Honeycomb.

77 ways to say no to weed & still be cool. I won't go through all 77 ways, but they are full of beautifully dated phrases, like, "Maybe in the next millennium," "Get it? Got it? Good" and "See ya, wouldn't wanna be ya."

Destroy all you want. We'll make more. Star Wars Episode I: Jedi Power Battles for PlayStation.

Whatever you do to get up for the game, stay up. Powerade.

Interrogation. Conversation. Combat. Shadow Watch.

Fe, fi, fo, fut, I smell the blood of an Englishman. Be he alive or be he dead, I'll grind his bones to make my bread. Nightmare Creatures II on PlayStation.

Jackie Chan Stuntmaster on PlayStation.

In the Dark Ages, one's choice of colors reflected his personal style of madness, mayhem and mass destruction. It still does. New colors for Nintendo 64.

Superman with a milk mustache, asking, "Want bones of steel?" Got milk?

Next time, Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. will guest star (forgive the pun) in Impulse #61.

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