Friday, November 11, 2016

Young Justice #23

Down Under Where

Peter David Writer
Todd Nauck Penciller
Lary Stucker Inker
Ken Lopez Letters
Jason Wright Colors
Digital Chameleon Separations
Maureen McTigue First Alternate
Eddie Berganza Captain

This month's study of Arrowette and the mysterious Empress is by Mr. Nauck and the Mr. Terry Austin with the colors of WildStorm FX. I've got to admit, this is the first Young Justice cover in a long time that just doesn't do anything for me. Arrowette and Empress look decent enough, and this cover perpetuates the theory that Arrowette secretly is Empress, which certainly was a fun theory to throw around. But everybody in the middle looks really bored and out of it. And what are they supposed to be in, the Olympic rings? It just doesn't work for me. But hey, after 23-plus issues, it's understandable to have one or two that just doesn't click.

Our story begins with Wonder Girl screaming bloody murder. Turns out, she's just excited about Cissie's big news. But nobody else knows this, and they all come rushing in from various points in the Catskills resort to see what the emergency is. Superboy flies in, demonstrating that his powers have been restored by Cadmus (rather quickly, I'd say), and he also has a new outfit, going with a black T-shirt, blue jeans and red gloves.

Anyway, Cassie tells everybody there's no emergency, and she turns the floor over to Cissie, who says, "Well ... I'm on this team ... it's —" But Superboy interrupts her and begins cheering Cissie's return to their team. Impulse immediately throws up a banner that says "Welcome back Arrowette!" and he gives everybody party hats, noisemakers and confetti, explaining that he'd been keeping this stuff around for when Cissie finally came to her senses. But Cissie says she's not coming back to this team. After a brief moment of shock, Bart crushes his party hat, shakes his fist at the heavens and curses the Teen Titans. Cassie says it's not the Titans, so Superboy asks whether it's the JLA, JSA, the Outsiders or the Ravers (which he really hopes it's not). Those are all wrong, so Bart makes one last guess for the Creature Commandos, but Cissie finally tells them that she's on the U.S. archery team for the Summer Games in Australia.

Everybody congratulates Cissie on this accomplishment, and Cassie gives credit to Cissie's mom, Bonnie, and says she might have to rethink hating her now. Bart excitedly asks when they're going, but Robin says they're not going. Secret says they should because she didn't even know the U.S. archery team fought crime. Cissie tries to correct her, but Cassie interrupts, reminding Robin of how he told Cissie not to be a stranger. Superboy says the rest of them are going with or without Robin, but he should come because no one else can drive the Super-Cycle. So Robin finally gives in.

We then cut to the house of Donald Fite, where the A.P.E.S. agent is preparing to take a vacation with his teenage daughter, Anita. While they head off to Australia to watch the Olympics, Ishido Maad will housesit for his partner and record their favorite shows, Masterpiece Theatre and Xena. Once Donald and Anita are gone, Ishido says he needs to get a life.

We catch up to Cissie and Bonnie on the airplane headed to Australia, with Bonnie complaining about the Olympic committee making them ride coach instead of first class. Cissie says she won't let anything bother her, but then she's promptly smacked in the face by the chair in front of her. She tells the girl in front of her to stop hitting her, but she keeps doing it. Cissie angrily asks if the girl is deaf, and it turns out, she actually is. Cissie feels awful, and the girl, Natalie, is prompted by her father to apologize. Bonnie uses sign language to tell Natalie it's all right, and Cissie is shocked to see her mom knows sign language.

As they continue to talk, they quickly find out that Natalie is also on the archery team, ranked third right behind Cissie. (It's kind of odd that the archery team didn't meet up before getting on the plane, but whatever.) Natalie suddenly starts shouting and excitedly pointing out the window. A passenger yells at her for being too loud, and Bonnie chews him out for picking on a deaf girl. We then see what got Natalie so excited — Young Justice on the Super-Cycle flying right beside the airplane. Natalie's dad asks how the heroes are able to breathe at 30,000 feet in that open-air vehicle, and Cissie explains that a static bubble creates an air pocket around it. But then she realizes she put her foot in her mouth and hastily adds, "Uh ... so I've heard ..."

The passengers on the plane only saw Impulse, Secret, Superboy and Wonder Girl, as Robin had Secret create a "cloud cover" over himself. Once they're satisfied that Cissie saw them, they take off out of sight, and Secret comes off Robin. She asks if they can stay for the entire Olympics, but Robin says the hotel rooms are too expensive and all booked up anyway. Impulse says they could camp out again, and Robin agrees they can do that for one night only. He explains that some of them have secret identities that can't afford to disappear for too long without explanation. Robin makes sure everybody has their civilian clothes, and Bart starts to put his on right then and there, but Robin tells him he can wait until they land. Secret asks what she'll do, and Robin simply tells her he has it covered. As they approach the Olympic stadium, Bart says they should make that their new headquarters. Superboy sarcastically calls that a great plan, and Bart unsarcastically thanks him for the comment.

Back on the plane, our young archers notice a bit of a commotion up in first class. Turns out, it's the No. 1 archer in America, Tina Thomas, a former movie star who has a following of reporters and photographers. Cissie and Natalie sneak up to take a peek at their teammate, and Cissie is disgusted by Tina's immodest clothing. Tina spots the girls and makes a grand gesture of including them in her interview, but she still makes it all about herself. Bonnie steps in and lectures Tina on being a glory-hound. She says Cissie and Natalie are using their skills to represent America and the serve the greater good. Cissie's proud of her mom, until she obsesses over making sure the press has her name right and smugly adds that once they win the gold medal, they're going to whichever major Florida theme park wants them.

We then head to the Australia Games Council Headquarters, where the committee is objecting the inclusion of a country, saying it would turn the games into a debacle. The dark, shadowy representatives of the country say no protest was raised when they applied and the committee only began to object when their delegates arrived last night. The committee continues to protest, saying they didn't realize this country would be sending such delegates, but the dark figures, the Brain and Monsieur Mallah, basically say it's too late now, and they and their people are going to compete in the Olympics.

Cissie and Natalie get set up in their dorms at the Olympic Village, and Natalie, who can read lips, asks Cissie how she's able to excel at archery while being able to hear. Cissie says she just concentrates and focus. Natalie explains that since she can't hear anything, it's just her and the target, and the rest of the world can go hang. Cissie smiles and says she has often wanted the rest of the world to go hang.

We then meet up with a familiar face, Ace Atchinson, who is enjoying a new high after his incredible coverage of the Sins of Youth event. And it doesn't take Ace long to score his first scoop of the Olympics. Down by the archery park, Ace spots Bonnie yelling at someone who appears to be a super-villain. Ace's hunches are right, although he doesn't know the name of said villain is Merlyn. (Ace has never been too good with names in the superhero/villain community.)

Finally, the Opening Ceremony begins, and the heroes of Young Justice somehow managed to score some great seats in the stadium. Bart asks Robin why he's dyed his hair brown and is wearing sunglasses, and Robin says even though he's more relaxed with his secret identity among his friends, out in the public, he never knows who he's going to run into. Kon mocks Robin for being paranoid, but right on cue, Donald Fite arrives and instantly recognizes Superboy, and he quickly identifies Impulse by the hair. Superboy asks Fite to leave them alone for once, but the agent assures them he's on vacation here with his daughter. He introduces Anita to Young Justice, the bane of his existence, Wonder Girl, Superboy, Impulse, and, he presumes, Robin, the suburban legend. Our heroes all say hi, Bart compliments Anita on her braids, and Robin corrects Fite, saying he's an urban legend.

Somebody bumps into Anita and she drops her duffle bag on Cassie's lap. Cassie notes an odd tube rattling in the bag, and Anita hastily pulls the bag away from her, claiming the tube is her medication. Surprised by this behavior, Cassie recommends Anita take some of her medication now. Fite then asks Robin where their smoky friend is, and Robin says he has no idea who Fite is referring to, while he holds the binoculars Secret is hiding in. Cassie then thinks Anita looks familiar, but Anita staunchly says they've never met before.

The United States athletes then march into the stadium, and Bart says he couldn't be happier if it was him out there, and Cassie says she feels the same way. Fite asks the kids if they know someone on the team, but they all turn around and shout, "No!!!" Anita asks her dad if they can leave, but he says they still have a few more countries to go through followed by the lighting of the torch. The final country is then announced, the Republic of Zandia, which shocks Fite and Robin. None of the others have ever heard of Zandia, and Robin explains that Nightwing gave him the Titans file on it, and Zandia is a country populated entirely with criminals. (Note: Robin, Impulse and Superboy did visit Zandia in The Titans #12, but that Superboy was likely Match in disguise, which explains why Superboy doesn't know what Zandia is. And Impulse doesn't know what Zandia is because he's Impulse.)

Kon asks Robin if he's sure about Zandians being criminals, and Bart points out the delegates when they come into view. Sure enough, they're a bunch of minor super villains wearing orange and purple jumpsuits, led by Monsieur Mallah and the Brain. Mallah asks, "So tell me, Brain ... what are we going to do today?" Brain responds: "Same thing we do every day, Mallah ... try to take over the world!" Robin tells Kon he's pretty sure he's right, and Bart imagines the Joker with 17 Olympic medals around his neck. (Note: The Joker is not actually with the Zandians, although that would have been cool!)

Young Justice is still technically on vacation in their temporary headquarters in New York's Catskill Mountains (I wonder if New Young Justice is still together), but we're definitely back in the groove of things. Peter David and Todd Nauck are back on full-time duties, and the series is moving on to the next big story — finding out what the heck's going on with Arrowette and Empress. I love the exotic setting of this story that also ties in directly to real-world events. Of course, it's very frustrating that DC was never allowed to use the word "Olympics," but we all know what they mean by the "Summer Games." It also makes perfect sense for Arrowette to participate — she doesn't have any superpowers and is no longer a superhero, so there's no cheating going on here. And it is only natural that a country of super villains would force their way into the Games to try to cause trouble.

Impulse was great as usual this issue. Preparing all those party supplies for Arrowette was a genuinely sweet gesture. And Bart's hatred of the Teen Titans is somewhat justified. He was basically kicked off the New Titans when they went up into space and disbanded before returning to Earth. He later attempted to try out for the next group of Teen Titans, but was forbidden by Max. So I can understand Bart holding the smallest sense of a grudge against them — if Bart is capable of holding grudges.

The letters to the editor begin with Brian Sawtelle, of Bangor, Maine, saying Young Justice is the best comic series he's read in 13 years because of its humor and the self-discovery the heroes are going through. Brian ponders on the relationship between Robin and Secret and Spoiler and Arrowette, then he asks what the status of the Young Justice cave is, since it looked pretty bad in some issues, but suddenly seemed fine in others. Most importantly, Brian asks what Bart wanted from Sheik Ali Ben Styn "waaaaaay back" in Young Justice #2. Eddie Berganza says work is still being done on the cave, which is why the team hasn't returned there yet (even though it looked fine enough for New Young Justice), and he promises we'll see Impulse's gift in just a couple of issues.

Arief Leuvenardi, of Brisbane, Australia, loved the pun of Young Justice blowing George Washington's nose on Mount Rushmore.

Mary is very sad by the decision to replace Arrowette with Empress, calling Empress brash and mean, while praising Arrowette for her ability to take down enemies without superpowers or a special suit. Now for the new ads:

See a new side of Marvin. The all-new interactive "Marvin the Martian" in 3-D on

Hey, kids! Comics! shows off a fun Bizarro watch, talks about Creature Commandos and the upcoming Green Lantern event, Circle of Fire, in which Impulse will make a brief cameo.

Deftones White Pony featuring: Change (in the House of Flies).

Who dealt this madness? Superman Arkham.

Up next is Mercury Falling Part 3 in Impulse #64.

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