Monday, November 21, 2016

Young Justice #24

When the Bow Breaks ...

Peter David Same Ol' Writer
Eric Battle Guest Penciller
Lary Stucker Ol' Inker
Jason Wright Ol' Colorist
Ken Lopez Ol' Letterer
Maureen McTigue Ol' Associate
Eddie Berganza Ol' Editor

This issue's award-winning cover is by Nauck, Stucker and WildStorm's colors. It makes sense to have Robin win the gold, Wonder Girl the silver and Superboy the bronze — they are the leaders of the team in that order. Impulse, who's every bit as important to the team as anyone else, falls under a category all on his own. But I'm not entirely sure exactly why he's holding an abnormally large goldfish. He doesn't even seem to know why he's holding it. Maybe I'm thinking too hard about this cover, and I should just enjoy the goofy joke.

Our story begins with star archer Tina Thomas walking around outside at night — completely alone for some reason — and reviewing her upcoming day of self-promotion. She's suddenly assaulted, and all we see is a pair of dice and a female figure running off into the night, leaving Tina with a broken arm.

Several time zones away, we see that the Brain and Monsieur Mallah are working with a shadowy figure named Baron Sin Gaaz. Apparently the Brain has agreed to tear apart the U.S. archery team in exchange for the Baron to grow a new body for him. But the Baron decides to demonstrate that he's the one calling the shots, and via video chat, he drinks several vials of what appear to be fetuses of the Brain and Mallah. This disgusts the two villains in Australia, and the Baron tells them they can both be easily replaced, and he'll only fulfill his end of the bargain if Zandia wins the Olympics.

We then check in on our heroes, beginning Day 2 as spectators. Of course, they're still enraged to see that Zandia is allowed to compete, and Bart asks Robin if they should tell the JLA about this. Robin says he's already contacted them, but for now, the Zandians haven't done anything criminal ... yet. Cassie identifies all the villains, calling them a "who's who of bad guys" — their coach is Deadline, Merlyn is the lead archer, the second archer is Tigress and the third is Turk, Merlyn's protégé. (I have to disagree with Cassie. That is not a "who's who of bad guys." These are C-list villains. Merlyn might be a B-lister, thanks to the Arrow TV show.)

Kon reports that Monsieur Mallah is coaching Black Thorn on their gymnastics team, and Overthrow is doing shot put, javelin and hammer. But Robin points out something even more troubling — Cissie and her mom are being escorted away from the archery field by security. Bonnie is shouting that she and Cissie had nothing to do with Tina Thomas, and Cissie says they should be investigating the team of villains. Robin asks Secret to trail them and make sure nobody sees her, so she pours out of the binoculars and a guy behind Robin chews him out for smoking in the stands.

Secret follows Bonnie and Cissie into the security room, where the guards explain that they believe Bonnie attempted to hire someone to assault Tina, but when Bonnie couldn't get anyone to do the job, she did it herself. Bonnie says this is ridiculous, but, sadly, Cissie believes it might be true. For some reason, this investigation has been handed over to Agent Donald Fite, even though he's on vacation. With Bonnie, Cissie and the archery coach in the room, Fite reveals the only evidence against Bonnie,  Ace Atchison's video of Bonnie speaking to Merlyn yesterday.

There's no sound on the video, and Bonnie claims she was threatening Merlyn to stay away from her daughter. Fite points out that Merlyn was seen by 30 people at a reception last night, but nobody knows where Bonnie was. She says she was keeping to herself in order to not make a nuisance of herself to Cissie. The archery coach explains to Cissie that until Bonnie's name is cleared, the games committee won't allow her to compete. Everybody leaves the room, but Fite remains behind and tells Secret she can come out of hiding. Secret's surprised that Fite knew she was there, but she's more mad that he's ruining Cissie's dreams. But Fite says he actually believes Bonnie is innocent, even though he has no concrete evidence to support that.

Bonnie and Cissie are hounded by the press once they step outside, so Bart whips up a mini-whirlwind to give them an escape route. Instead of joining Robin and Cassie to meet up with Cissie, Kon chooses to investigate a different lead by himself. Robin seems worried by this, and Kon assures him he's not Match again. But Robin says he's just concerned that Kon feels he has something to prove since he's still missing his powers. (Turns out I was wrong about Cadmus giving him his powers back. I guess they just gave him some equipment to allow him to fly.) Kon says he's still Superboy with or without powers, and he takes off.

So Robin and Cassie meet with Bonnie and Cissie in her dorm room. Cissie's roommate, Natalie, has been put in a different room out of concerns Cissie might be a negative influence on her younger teammate. Cissie is putting all the blame of this on her mother, who insists that she'd never abuse a teammate, no matter how much she didn't like her. Cissie coldly replies that her mom would only abuse her daughter, and Bonnie calls that a cheap shot. Cassie actually takes Bonnie's side, which makes Cissie cry and say all this bad luck is karma for that horrible night in the woods. Robin finally starts coming up with a plan, suggesting they find someone who can read lips to confirm that Bonnie wasn't trying to hire Merlyn on the video tape.

We then catch up with Superboy, who went to the Zandia athletes' house to interrogate the archery team. Naturally, the villains don't like this, and Merlyn fires an arrow at Superboy, which he blocks with a stupid gold Superman shield that pops up on his wrist. But Merlyn's second shot, a vibro-shock arrow, does hit Superboy, and causes enormous pain to the powerless teen.

Meanwhile, Cissie has enlisted Natalie's help in clearing her mom's name. The deaf archer is a natural at reading lips, and in front of Agent Fite and the games committee head, Mr. Tompkins, Natalie reports that Bonnie did, in fact, threaten Merlyn. Natalie reads that Bonnie said if Merlyn hurts anyone on the team, she'll rip off his ... Luckily, Bonnie covers Natalie's eyes before she finishes the sentence. Mr. Tompkins agrees to allow Cissie to compete in the Games tomorrow once Bonnie and Natalie pass polygraph tests.

We return to the action, where Superboy is getting his butt kicked by the three archers. Empress suddenly shows up and begins slicing arrows with her swords. Merlyn calls this "cute," and Impulse shouts out, "You think that's cute? Check us out! We're just plain adorable!" Impulse is joined by Robin, Secret and Wonder Girl. But all the villains from Zandia join in the fight to even the odds. Well, actually the odds turn in the villains' favor once Hazard rolls her dice and a nearby bolt of lightning knocks our heroes down.

But Young Justice is quickly back on their feet, and even in the midst of the battle, one of the villains has to compliment Robin on his gymnastic skills. Superboy finds himself in Monsieur Mallah's grasp, and he shouts, "Get your paws off me, you damned dirty ape!" Mallah says, "Oh, as if I'd never heard that one before ..." and he's promptly knocked down by Wonder Girl. Impulse, meanwhile, is tormenting Tigress. Once he catches all her arrows, she cries out, "I want another opponent!!!" So Empress knocks her out from behind, and Impulse asks if there's anything else they can do for her.

Secret takes on potentially the most powerful villain of the group, Hazard, by going into her body through her mouth and nose. Secret learns that Hazard has psionic powers that she uses with her dice to affect the probabilities against her enemies. So Secret takes control of Hazard and throws the dice to create an improbable misfortune against the villains. This is manifested by the sudden arrival of the entire Justice League of America — Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Aquaman, Green Lantern and Flash.

Nineteen seconds later, all the villains are defeated, the JLA has taken off and Empress has disappeared. (In the shadows, we see two mice that resemble Pinky and the Brain standing on the villain Brain.) Hazard tries to reach for her dice, but she's stopped by Tina Thomas, who identifies the villain as the woman who broke her arm. Later, Mr. Tompkins contacts the Baron, saying that he's convinced the committee that Hazard was acting alone and all the violence at the Zandians' house was in self-defense, so only Hazard will be disqualified from the Olympics. Mr. Tompkins asks if he's done enough to ensure his little girl can live again, and the Baron holds up a human fetus, saying, "We shall see ... which way the tide turns."

This was an odd issue. After last issue, I assumed we'd get a fun, light-hearted story showing the villains genuinely wanting to compete in the Olympics, but being unable to prevent themselves from cheating. Instead, we find out this whole scandal is to serve a new, mysterious and super creepy villain named the Baron. And that just feels disappointingly mundane. I know this is a paradoxical statement, but all comic books suffer from an abundance of convoluted villain plots, and I was hoping that Young Justice would provide us another reprieve from that. Oh well. There were still some fun moments throughout. But I am surprised that Peter David completely missed out on a joke that had the perfect setup. Remember when Bart thought he could read lips and was horrible at it? In this issue, they needed someone to read lips. Why didn't we get just one panel of Bart offering to do it, then being humorously shot down?

Apparently Todd Nauck took this issue off to get married, which is a reasonable excuse. However, the art we ended up with was a mess. I'm really tired of Eric Battle now. His work seems to have grown worse with each subsequent issue we've covered. The biggest problem here were the action scenes. I could never tell what was going on. Plus, all the characters had a couple of moments where they looked really ugly. I think Battle got a little stretched out having to do this issue immediately after Impulse #64.

The letters to the editor begins with Keith Dallas, of Vancouver, British Columbia, saying that Impulse should know that Robin is "Timmy Drake" because he met him way back in Robin Plus Impulse. Keith also asks what happened to the gift Impulse requested in Young Justice #2. Eddie Berganza explains that Bart didn't figure out Robin's secret identity because he doesn't have an attention span.

Grant and Andrew write that Lagoon Boy needs to be a Young Justice regular, as well as the rest of the New Young Justice team. They also believe Robin's identity should be easy to figure out based on the events in No Man's Land.

Russ Anderson says that Sins of Youth was a lot better than he expected. He loved the humor, the connection to the Superboy series, and the development of the various relationships on the team: Impulse and Arrowette, Robin and Secret, and Superboy and Wonder Girl. Russ also hopes to see more Old Justice in the future. Berganza says that Sins of Youth was originally meant to only link Young Justice to Robin, Impulse and Superboy, but after David developed the storyline with Karl Kesel, it grew into the DC-wide event it was. Ironically, I think Sins of Youth didn't connect to Robin and Impulse nearly as well as it did to Superboy.

The new ads for this issue is by far the most annoying advertisement I've seen in a comic book. Right in the middle of the book is eight pages of slick paper, rudely interrupting the fight between Superboy and Merlyn. Four of these pages are the DC Comics Young Heroes Fall Fashion 2000 by Heather Elizaldi, Paul Pope and Lee Loughridge. It tries to be like a comic book ... I guess ... but it mostly just tells you what's in style, such as this gem: "Pants are slimming down and are also trimmed with leather, furry fabrics and metallic hardware."

Great as press-on nails. Rice Krispies Treats.

L2 Jeans.

Are you getting enough? Six Flags.


Krypton is dead — but its greatest city lives on! The Bottle City of Kandor.

Up next is Mercury Falling Part Four in Impulse #65.

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