Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Young Justice: Sins of Youth #2


Sins of Youth: The Stunning Conclusion

Peter David Writer
Todd Nauck Penciller
Lary Stucker Inker
Jason Wright Colorist
Ken Lopez Letterer
Maureen McTigue Associate Editor
Eddie Berganza Editor

Cover by Mike Wieringo & Terry Austin. Colors by Tanya & Richard Horie. Special thanks to Kimberly & Matt B. The Klarion Icon was designed by Sean Taggart.

This cover is a perfect mirror image of the first Sins of Youth issue — a fact I just barely discovered by comparing the two covers side-by-side.


The only missing character here is Secret. But when you think about the past few issues of Young Justice, Secret has kind of been off doing her own thing, or being kidnapped. So I guess you could say the Big Three of Young Justice has become the Big Four since Wonder Girl has become an indispensable member of the team. Still, though, if Wieringo could have found a way to squeeze in Secret, then these two covers would be perfect.

Our story begins with Lois Lane reporting on the whole situation, including interviews with Arsenal, Jesse Quick, Supergirl, Beast Boy and Flamebird. This indicates that the Titans have finally finished fighting Agenda's Wildebeest hordes, but it also raises the question of how Jesse and Supergirl avoided the age-changing excitement. We got an explanation for Arsenal's immunity, and Beast Boy and Flamebird were not seen at that fateful rally. Lois continues her report, mentioning her failed attempt to interview Impulse, and detailing the trail of destruction caused by the teenage versions of Black Adam and Amazo.

Watching this report from a bar is the adult Tim Drake, who has decided to have a drink with his dad, Jack. They talk about all the negative publicity the young heroes have been receiving, and they both think everyone should be giving the teenagers more credit for trying to make the world a better place. Jack tells Tim that he reminds him of his son, and Tim is thrilled to hear his dad only has good things to say about him. Tim then tries his first taste of beer and instantly spits it out all over his dad. The embarrassed child-adult then makes a hasty retreat, regrouping with the young Bruce, who notes the smell of alcohol on Tim's breath. Tim assures Bruce he didn't actually drink any beer, and they load up into the Batmobile to meet up with everybody else at the ruins of the Young Justice cave.

We then head to the cave, where all the kid heroes are goofing off and making a big mess, while the few adults among them try to hold on to some sense of order. Wally and Jay are running circles around Bart, while others are playing video games, trying to get around the V-chip in the TV, giving each other wedgies, etc., etc. Doiby Dickles tells Starwoman to gather up all the child heroes so he can restore their ages with his new ray gun. She attempts to do so, complaining about the whole idea of young heroes. Impulse helps her out, advising her not to make a hasty judgment, and Starwoman laughs about being lectured on decision-making by Impulse. She then realizes for the first time that the Superboys and Wonder Girls are all missing.

But nobody else seems to care about the missing heroes, and Doiby decides to hit the kids with his gun anyway. And ... nothing happens. Batboy theorizes that they'll need to replicate the combination of science and magic that transformed them in the first place, and Robin agrees, saying they need the help of Klarion the Witch Boy.

Klarion, meanwhile, is hot on the trail of Secret and Deadboy, who has possessed the body of Klarion's beloved familiar, Teekl. Secret suggests taking Deadboy and Teekl "between" to an area Klarion won't be able to reach them, but they're too late. The Witch Boy catches up with them and decides to attack with the latest kids fad, Poxy Monsters. These little monsters start coming to life, popping off kids' GameBoys, trading cards and movie theaters. (The best one is a giant blue Pikachu-like creature that shouts, "Peekaboooo!!") Deadboy is glad they're not being chased by the Power Rangers, and Secret tells him to shut up.

Meanwhile, Diana, Cassie and Kon are in chains at the Agenda headquarters in Alaska, while Clark (also chained up) receives medical attention from some doctors. Kon is enraged to see the woman who killed his former girlfriend, Tana. He breaks free and swoops down to attack, only to discover that this woman, Amanda Spence, is a hologram. Kon then regains his composure a bit, hijacks a computer, and sends out a message to all the other heroes, giving them the coordinates of the Agenda HQ. But his call is interrupted by the arrival of the Point Men.

The Grey Lady later reports to the Contessa that they managed to subdue Kon, but not until after he got a message out. She also admits to her boss that something's been bothering her since she battled the Superboys in Metropolis. Remember that quick, strange part where it seemed like Grey Lady recognized somebody in the crowd? Well, it wasn't just someone she knew — it was her, at least what she looked like before she was changed into a winged gargoyle monster. The Contessa explains that all of the Point Men are clones, planted with the memories and personalities of the people they were cloned from. She coldly says the Point Men were always a temporary, disposable measure to fill the superhero gap until some real heroes were acquired. The Grey Lady is devastated by this revelation, but the Contessa just brushes her off.

We then find out that while the Red Tornado did receive Kon's distress call, he wasn't able to mobilize any of the heroes, since they were all off battling Klarion's Poxy Monsters and teenage super villains. Steel, who stayed behind trying to pick up his hammer, delivers one of the most self-aware lines of the series: "Weird transformations ... mob scenes of heroes ... everything coming unglued ... why does stuff like this seem to happen every fifth week or so?" (And in case you're wondering, yes, Sins of Youth was a classic DC fifth-week event, except for this conclusion, which came out two weeks later.)

So we head out to the big fight scene and are treated to an awesome two-page spread. Jay Garrick is fighting a big yellow blob monster, Starwoman is taking on Black Adam, Martian Manhunter and Green Lantern have ganged up on Amazo, Aquaman battles Black Manta, Wally fights Captain Cold, Maxima is going around kissing all the boys she can, Sphinx has taken out Plastic Boy with knock-knock jokes and just about everyone else is busy with random Poxy Monsters. But most interesting of all is the sudden reappearance of Empress, who is fighting the Penguin. Impulse sees her and wonders whether she really is Arrowette.

Klarion ... bum, bum, BUM ... the Witch Boy is watching all this from afar, joking that he hasn't had this much fun since he gave Jim Jones his Kool-Aid recipe (that's a pretty dark joke, even for Klarion). The Contessa contacts him via hologram, and Klarion reports the kidnapping of Teekl, saying his separation from her is making it harder to keep his powers focused. The Contessa dismisses this and teleports Klarion to her office, where she informs him of impending attack of Agenda's Alaska headquarters. She orders Klarion to send all his monsters and villains there, threatening to put him in his room permanently if he disobeys. So Klarion reluctantly agrees, and teleports all his troops to Alaska, leaving our bewildered heroes behind.

While, at the moment, in a place that is no place, Teekl finally manages to shake Deadboy loose. But Secret was prepared for this, and knocks out the cat with a nightmarish psychic attack. The trio return to the real world, at the entrance of the Young Justice cave. Deadboy wonders where everybody is, and right on cue, all the heroes come rushing in, trampling poor Teekl in the process. Secret asks what they should do about Teekl, and Deadboy offers a rather dirty joke: "Let's go bum money. After all, no one can resist a girl with a sad puss."

Red Tornado plays Kon's message for everybody, and Robin suggests Dan the Dyna-Mite head to Washington to talk to Senator Perkins. But Dan isn't ready to admit that everything Old Justice said was wrong, insisting that they did make some valid points. He points out the childish behavior of all the heroes as kids, but Impulse makes an important distinction, saying Young Justice were kids as heroes. Starwoman asks if they were that bad as kids, and Merry the Gimmick Girl says they were actually pretty good. Dan finally seems to get the idea, and he calls over the Cyclone Twins. Hearing the twins mentioned, Plastic Boy jokes about activating their twin powers to harness the power of water and turn into the shape of a pail. He turns into a pail and is promptly kicked by Aquaboy, which inspires another, slightly darker, joke: "Hey! 'Aquababy' just kicked the bucket! Whoa! Déjà vu!" Robin says they'd better head out before the jokes get any worse, but first he has a job for Red Tornado. The android calls him the boss, and Tim has a little moment, realizing that he is currently the leader of all the most powerful superheroes on Earth.

Back at the Agenda HQ, the scientists have begun performing tests on the Superboys and Wonder Girls, admitting that they goaded Kon into lashing out at them so they could get a reading on his increased tactile telekinesis. We then see that the Grey Lady has told the rest of the Point Men that they're disposable clones, and they naturally have become somewhat reluctant to continue following Agenda's orders. Cassie tells them that even though they're clones, they're still individuals that can think and feel and follow their own desires.

Our heroes then arrive at Alaska, showing Klarion that they have Teekl restrained to a Green Lantern cross. Secret tells Klarion to combine his powers with Doiby Dickles' weapon to restore everyone to their normal ages or she will kill Teekl. Klarion tries to blast Secret, but as he said earlier, his powers are waning without his familiar by his side. Starwoman quietly asks Robin whether Secret is bluffing about killing Teekl, and all Robin can say is, "It's a secret." Seeing she means business, Klarion begins to cry, and agrees to do whatever they say as long as they don't hurt Teekl. His team of villains and monsters are shocked he'd surrender so easily, but he snaps at them, saying none of them matter — only Teekl matters.

But before Klarion can get to work, he's blasted from behind by an adult version of himself. The Contessa arrives via hologram to explain that the teacup Klarion used back when this whole adventure began was actually a DNA scanner. And since Klarion is a magical being, Agenda had no problem growing his clone so quickly to create Klarion ... bum, bum, BUM ... the Witch Man. The two Klarions instantly begin attacking each other, and all the heroes and villains begin fighting each other, as well. And the fighting begins just as Red Tornado arrives with Ace Atchison and a camera man.

Meanwhile, inside, the Point Men, encouraged by Cassie's words, have decided to fully rebel against Agenda. They start taking out the Agenda troops and rescue the four captive heroes. When Clark asks why they're helping them, Short Cut tells him it's a long story and he should go read the miniseries, which completely confuses Clark and Kon. We then return to the action outside, with Bart doing his best to keep Wally and Jay under control.


When Wally comments on a "totally hot" babe in a miniskirt, Bart dubs him "Kid Flesh." Jay loves this joke, but Wally puts him down for sucking up to the adult Impulse. Captain Marvel, who's fighting Black Adam, sees Amazo heading for Merry and he warns somebody to stop the android. Plastic Boy forms a giant slingshot to launch Lagoon Man, but he totally misses. Luckily, Starwoman is there to blast Amazo away, further strengthening her bond with Merry. Secret tells Deadboy to possess the comatose Teekl, and he begins to rush over to the Witch Boy, who has momentarily been knocked out by the Witch Man. The adult Klarion then turns his attention toward our heroes, turning Wildcat, Black Canary and Martian Manhunter into infants. He tries to blast Teekl as well, but Robin knocks him down with a kick. Klarion is finally reunited with his familiar after Deadboy leaves the cat. And the recharged Witch Boy leads an attack against his adult clone.

We cut back inside, where our heroes and the Point Men are battling the seemingly limitless Agenda troops. But when Kon finds the real Amanda Spence, he prepares to actually kill her this time by lifting a huge piece of rubble over his head. Cassie quickly intervenes, reminding Kon of what he did when Arrowette was in this exact same situation. She reminds him that Arrowette walked away from her identity — her name — and she asks Superboy if he's prepared to give up what his name stands for. After a moment's thought, Kon tosses the rubble aside, which causes Spence to laugh. Kon suddenly lifts Spence over his head and quickly slams her down, stopping just an inch above the ground. He says that since he has to live knowing the life he and Tana could have had, then Spence gets to live knowing the death she could have had.

Outside, Klarion the Witch Man is defeated, and Robin begins speculating on how they can bring him into custody. But the Witch Boy refuses that option and incinerates his adult clone, saying he will not suffer that witch to live. He then says he's tired of being lied to and used, and that he wants to go find a new game to play. Secret sternly reminds him of the deal they made, but he tries to back out of it. Teekl, however, catches a glimpse of Secret's eyes and encourages Klarion to uphold his end of the bargain. So the Witch Boy reluctantly agrees, noting, however, that he'll either change back everyone or no one. The Contessa learns of the fall of Agenda's Alaska headquarters, but she's content to cut her losses on that front, noting that it was worth the price to acquire Kryptonian and Amazonian DNA.

All our heroes, meanwhile have gathered inside and are ready to return to their normal ages ... except for Secret. She says she doesn't every want to return to the childlike feeling of helplessness and being hurt by other people. She appeals to Kon, asking why he'd want to be a teenager again after finally getting what he's always wanted. Kon says he wants the Superboy name to mean something as much as the Superman name does, and he thanks Cassie for reminding him of that. Amanda Spence, in chains, says she would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those "blasted grownups." Robin tells Secret that her feelings she wants to avoid don't go away whether you're an adult or a teen. But he says it's easier to handle that "hurt" with the support of friends. Secret asks if Robin promises to always be there for her, and he says, "Absolutely." But Merry and Doiby both get a bad feeling about that promise.

With everything finally in order, Klarion and Doiby combine their powers, and this time it works. The teenage Impulse shouts out, "They did it!" Superboy cheers, "We're back to normal!" And Secret sadly says, "Whoopee." Wonder Girl wraps up Superboy in a big hug and starts to tell him something, but to everyone's surprise, Kon screams out in pain. He asks Klarion why he took away his powers, but the Witch Boy says he merely kept to his word and that "everyone on Earth has been restored to their regular selves." Klarion then teleports away, while Batman notes the odd phrasing of "on Earth."

Ace then begins an interview with Wonder Girl and Merry, asking for the main takeaway from this adventure. Do young people need protection? Are old people out of touch? Impulse quickly interjects, asking if this is the part with the moral because he always loves this part. Cassie pushes Bart away, while Merry tells Ace she's reminded of the Latin proverb: "The sins of youth are paid for in old age." Wonder Girl expands on that, saying the youth can be guided by the old, and the old by the young, and everyone, no matter what age, has a lot to learn. Merry says, "Some more than others" as Impulse and Plastic Man photobomb the interview.

We return to Washington, D.C., where an old man is watching this interview with his grandson. They're about to have a nice moment of growth and reflection, but they're interrupted by the sudden appearance of a teenage Lobo. Wearing a Wink 281 shirt and riding a space motorcycle, he claims he'll find and frag whoever turned the Main Man into the Top Tot.


OK. Let's take a deep breath.

Inhale.

Exhale.

It's over. Perhaps my favorite comic book event of all time has come to its glorious, action-packed ending. Sins of Youth exemplified everything that was great about the Peter David-Todd Nauck Young Justice run. Great humor, great action, strong emotional moments and intellectual philosophies to think about all while exploring the unique relationship between multiple generations of superheroes and having a real fun time while doing it. And to say that Nauck knocked it out of the park (forgive the pun) is a huge understatement. I really consider his artwork in this series to be a masterpiece.

Sins of Youth worked surprisingly well for a 12-issue event involving so many different characters and creators. I thoroughly enjoyed each of the one-shots, except, ironically, the one's for Batman and Superman, the two most popular DC characters of all time. But everything else had pretty decent writing and artwork, and fit into the continuity of the main story fairly well. There were a couple of minor things here and there that slipped through the cracks — most notably the Titans and Marvel family — but nothing major to complain about.

If I could have asked for one thing, it would have been a larger role for Robin and Impulse. Sins of Youth is a Superboy story as much as a Young Justice story. And I think it only would have been fair to tie in Impulse #60 and Robin #76 in addition to Superboy #74. The story doesn't suffer because of this, but I think it would have made everything bigger and better, especially moving forward. Future issues of Young Justice and Superboy will deal with the fallout of Sins of Youth, but Impulse won't really.

You can find the complete collection of Sins of Youth on Comixology, but I must warn you the issues are out of order in that system. If you're lucky, you can still find the original print copies of these issues (I got mine from eBay). Or, you can try to find the trade paperback, which features an original cover by Mike Wieringo.


I don't have this trade yet, so I'm borrowing this image from MyComicShop.com, which has helped me a lot in filling my collection. Interestingly enough, this is one of only two trade paperbacks for the David-Nauck Young Justice. The first one was called A League of Their Own, which collected the first seven issues of the series and reused the cover for Young Justice #6. Perhaps DC could one day put together some sort of omnibus or absolute edition of this remarkable series.

Well, as sad as it is, it's now time to move on. Next time, we'll see Wally West finally get to enjoy his honeymoon in The Flash #160.

2 comments:

  1. I think you mean the trade has an original cover by Mike Wieringo

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    1. Thanks for the catch! Fixing it now.

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