Monday, December 12, 2016

Young Justice #25

Gold Standard

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

This month's quarter cover in space is by Todd, Lary and the colors of WildStorm FX. This is a really fun cover. And, yes, this really is our heroes out in space — not a virtual reality, not a dream. They do go clear up, out of our solar system, and Impulse is naturally the most excited to get out there and experience it, while it's up to Superboy and Wonder Girl to make sure he doesn't get too far away. One interesting note is that Impulse and Superboy's space suits pretty much looks like their normal uniforms, but with gloves and helmets added. Wonder Girl gets a complete redesign, though, which I guess is necessary, since her current uniform is just a jacket over a belly shirt.

Our story picks up in the Australian Summer Olympics, on the day of the big archery event. But before we get to that, Cissie shares a tender moment with her mother. Bonnie is devastated that Cissie believed even for a moment that she would have attacked her teammate, Tina Thomas. Bonnie explains that she'd never hurt a teammate, nor would she do anything to take out Cissie's competition because she has so much confidence in her. With tears in her eyes, Bonnie says, "Nothing can stop you from being the best. Not even me." The mother and daughter hug it out, and Bonnie tells Cissie that her mother also drove her nuts. They then head to the archery field, where the kids of Young Justice are already waiting for them in the stands.

Once again, our heroes are able to secure some great seats, but this time they're stuck in front of some rowdy Zandia fans. Kon and Bart are ready to "pop" the jerks, but Robin lectures them on the freedom of speech and tells them to leave those guys alone. But one of them soon spills his drink all over Robin, blames him for it, and tells Robin to buy him a new drink. So Robin gives Kon and Bart permission, who quickly and gleefully take on the Zandians. I'm not sure how much damage Kon actually did without his powers or Cadmus gear, but Bart ended the fight by using his super speed to take the three guys under the bleachers and tie them up with their big "Zandia Rules" banner.

Cissie and her deaf teammate, Natalie, line up to represent America with Tina sidelined with her broken arm. Their biggest competition is the three archers from Zandia, Merlyn, Turk and Tigress. Merlyn and Cissie engage in some pre-competition trash talk, and Bonnie vows to watch the Zandians like a hawk.

While waiting for the match to begin, our heroes' conversation turns toward Empress, with Bart bringing up the theory that Cissie is Empress. Cassie admits she's thought the same thing, but Robin thinks it's unlikely. Not only does Empress have powers Cissie didn't have, but her body language is completely different. Robin also tells his teammates that they shouldn't stress over Empress' secret identity since she's been only a help, not a threat. Besides, trying to learn who she is would involve a complicated, lengthy investigation of compiling a list of all potential suspects and slowly eliminating people from that list. Suddenly, they hear a voice saying, "Well, well ... let's sit here, Empress — next to our little friends."

Everyone turns to see Agent Donald Fite speaking to his daughter, Anita. And everyone — even Bart — immediately realizes this means Anita is Empress. Fite explains that he's always called his daughter Empress since she was so bossy as a baby. He tells Young Justice that he's glad everything worked out for their blonde friend, and he leaves to go to the bathroom. Anita covers her face in embarrassment and says she'll kill her father while all our heroes stare at her.

We then cut to Salvador Dali Elementary School, where Red Tornado and his wife, Kathy Sutton, are meeting with the principal, Mrs. Marshank. Kathy is still in a wheelchair after her adopted daughter, Traya, was brainwashed into pushing her out the window of their high-rise apartment building, but Kathy hopes to be back on her in a couple of months. Unfortunately, Mrs. Marshank is reporting that Traya has been acting up in school. Red and Kathy assume this is because of that horrible incident with the Hugga-Tuggee-Thugees, but the principal says there's another reason behind Traya's behavior. She gave the girl an intelligence test, and when she shows the results to her parents, Red Tornado says these scores would make even Brainiac green with envy. Mrs. Marshank says that Traya is embarrassed by her genius, and mostly bored with school. She says that while Traya is welcome to stay if she likes, this school isn't equipped with a program to suit her needs. Marshank suggests they look for a private school that would offer her a scholarship.

Back in Australia, our heroes have surrounded Anita and are working out all the pieces. Cassie realizes that her weapons were in her bag. And Robin theorizes that Anita's dad in unaware of her secret identity. Anita begs them not to tell her dad, saying he'll kill her. Bart says he thought Anita was going to kill her dad, and she says it'll be a double homicide. Cassie thanks Anita for saving her in the woods, and Kon thanks her for bailing him out just yesterday. Anita tries to thank them and tell them she's a big fan of Young Justice, but she mixes up all her words. And before anyone can ask her any more questions, the archery competition finally begins.

Cissie gets off to a great start, but Bonnie is worried about Merlyn, believing it'll take her daughter a few years to catch up to the villain's level. As Bonnie lights another cigarette, she scans the crowd and spots a suspicious woman holding an umbrella, even though there's not a cloud in the sky. Bonnie quickly realizes that the woman is the villain Huntress, and she's aiming her spear-gun umbrella right at Cissie. Pulling out her old skills as the original Miss Arrowette, Bonnie hurtles her lighter at Huntress, which ignites her hair and sends the spear right into Merlyn's arm.

Huntress runs out onto the field with her hair on fire, and Bonnie puts it out with a big Gatorade bucket. Security quickly takes Huntress and her daughter, Tigress, away, while Tigress (aka Artemis) yells at her mother for cheating for her. (This Artemis, combined with some characteristics from Cissie, was the Artemis from the Young Justice animated series.) Merlyn is taken off on a stretcher, and he yells at Huntress for poisoning her arrow. Cassie is shocked that she's actually cheering on Cissie's mom, Kon says she's still got it, and Bart excitedly says they don't even know what "it" is. Fite returns from the bathroom, wondering what he just missed. Bonnie shares one more tender moment with Cissie, telling her that even though she's a rotten mother, there are worse ones around. And, long story short, Cissie ends up winning the gold medal. Natalie takes silver, and Zandia's Turk settles for bronze.

We then take a bit of a break in the narrative. Everyone goes home, Superboy gets his powers back, Empress officially joins the team, and Impulse is replaced with Inertia, although nobody notices. (Todd Nauck is always very good at drawing Impulse with his ring on. In this issue, Bart was wearing his ring while at Australia. But after this break, Impulse does not have the ring on his finger.) Even though the old cave at Happy Harbor, Rhode Island, should be up and running now, Young Justice seems to have made the abandoned resort in the Catskills Mountains their new permanent headquarters. And our story picks up again with Doiby Dickles coming to the resort to get some alone time, not realizing that this was the same spot that started the whole Sins of Youth event.

Superboy, back in his usual uniform, and Impulse are the first to greet Doiby, followed quickly by the rest of the team. They're all happy to see him, but Doiby says he was looking to get away from "supertypes" and adventures so he wouldn't be reminded of his princess on the planet Myrg. Superboy says Old Justice or the JSA should be happy to reunite Doiby with his lost love, but Doiby doesn't want to bother them. Secret enthusiastically offers their help, Impulse instantly supports this idea, and Superboy cheers at the prospect of a road trip. Anita thinks it'd be exciting to go to another planet, and when Superboy asks Robin, he tries to say, "Okay, hold it!" But Impulse hears him say, "Okay," and he takes that as permission granted. Robin stops him, explaining that the Super-Cycle, which has apparently been acting weird lately, can't take them to Myrg since it can't travel faster than light speed. Doiby agrees, saying they need a proper space ship for this voyage.

Suddenly, a delivery truck arrives at the resort, and Impulse begins cheering that the present he asked Ali Ben Styne for has finally arrived. Robin begins to panic, as Cassie and Secret wonder who Ali Ben Styne is and what Bart could have asked for. They all head outside to see one enormous crate from Fedeus Ex Machina Shipping. Superboy opens it up, to reveal a large spaceship covered in millions of packing peanuts. Impulse jumps on top of it, shouting, "Bart Trek! I rule!!! Never surrender! Never give up!" Robin says even he can tell when fate has taken a hand, so they all load up and take off for Myrg.

Doiby acts as pilot, saying the ship has very simple controls and he knows the coordinates to Myrg like the back of his hand. Impulse sits in the co-pilot's chair, playing on a Nintendo 64. Cassie talks to Anita, asking if she knows Cissie. Anita says she doesn't, but her journey to becoming a superhero started when she witnessed Cissie taking out a criminal in a mall back in Young Justice #16. (And you can actually see Anita in the crowd if you re-read that issue.) Their conversation is interrupted when Robin begins shouting.

Doiby neglected to tell the others that Myrg has been invaded by a hostile force until they got halfway there. Robin naturally freaks out about this, since what he thought was a simple trip to outer space has now turned into a very dangerous situation. Robin explains that to fend off an entire invading race, they'd need at least one more powerhouse on the team, preferably an absolute destroying machine. Secret suddenly tells everybody that a really interesting kid just showed up outside, looking for a fight. Secret told him they might be heading into a fight right now, so she let him in through the cargo bay. Robin asks, "Is it me, or is she starting to think like Impulse?" Impulse calls this a great move and gives Suzie two thumbs up, and Superboy tells Robin it's not just him. And Secret's really interesting friend turns out to be none other than the Top Teen himself, Lobo.

This was another rock solid issue of Young Justice. I love how so many plot threads are coming together — going all the way back to issue #2! The scenes with Bonnie and Cissie were simply beautiful, resolving a conflict that began in the pages of Impulse before Young Justice even began. But while the final day in Australia was fun, I was surprised by how quickly that whole thing with Zandia was resolved. It seems like this mysterious Baron figure should have made a brief appearance here.

In other comics, it might feel like a ripoff to have Empress' identity revealed so quickly. Or for Impulse's spaceship to basically come right out of nowhere precisely in the exact moment when Young Justice wanted a spaceship. But this is a humorous series, and Peter David expertly worked in these jokes to great effect. Keeping in the tradition of Young Justice, we got an issue with nice, sweet emotional moments, great continuity building, and plenty of humor. This was also somewhat of a ground-breaking issue in that it not only put the team into outer space for the first time, but it also saw the official entrance of Empress to the team, and the unofficial entrance of Lobo.

I am most surprised and impressed with the Impulse/Inertia bit. When Superboy was replaced with Match, that was a pretty important plot line for Young Justice, so the clues for this swap were a bit more apparent. But Impulse being replaced by Inertia won't have as big an impact on Young Justice, so the clues here are going to be much more subdued. So those not reading Impulse won't even notice, and I'm fine with that. Inertia isn't trying to take down Young Justice — yet — he's just trying to impersonate Bart, and so far is doing a perfect job of it. The only clue we have here is his missing ring. It also makes sense that Inertia would know all about Bart's present from Ali Ben Styn because Inertia carefully studied every moment of Bart's life. I think the next couple of issues of Young Justice will make it a bit more apparent that Impulse is not the Bart we know and love. Ultimately, though, I do feel bad that Young Justice had to deal with two separate characters being replaced by their evil clones in the same year.

Our letters to the editor begins with Scot W. Myers, of Charleston, S.C., saying he really hopes Empress does turn out to be Cissie. He also praises Peter David for being able to work in dramatic tension — with Secret's creepiness and Robin's identity — and use it for the basis of the book's unique humor.

Robert Kowalski, of Detroit, loved the "all-new, all-different" Young Justice, and how Cissie reviewed those new members. He also speculates on other superheroes competing in the Olympics, such as Wally West in the racing events. And Robert hopes to never see Klarion or Li'l Lobo again.

Paul Tapner wrote a letter full of a bunch of "huh"s and "heh"s, I guess to show that he was laughing. He does end the letter by saying he hopes to see more of Cissie and her mom. Now for the ads:

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Up next: The shattering conclusion to Mercury Falling in Impulse #66!

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