Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Young Justice #27

Baseball Field: Myrg or "There's a Saga Born Every Minute"

Peter David Writer
Todd Nauck Pencils
Lary Stucker Inks
Jason Wright Colors
Ken Lopez Letters
Maureen McTigue Left Out
Eddie Berganza Ump

This issue's striking cover is by Nauck and Stucker with colors by Ian Hannin. This is a fun, wild and wacky image, showing exactly what happens in this issue. Young Justice is going to play a baseball game against some very large, armored aliens. I love this idea not only for the pure goofiness in it, but also the unique display of our heroes' strength and speed. This cover is up to Nauck and Stucker's usual standards, but Hannin is a colorist I'm not familiar with, and he did forget to color Impulse's goggles. Tsk, tsk!

Our story begins with Traya Smith's first day at the Elias School, and the young girl has already run into some bullies, who are making fun of Traya's name. Cissie quickly comes to Traya's defense, but the bullies try to brush Cissie off, saying her five minutes of fame from the Olympics will quickly wear off, since nobody remembers the athletes once the games end. But Traya demonstrates that some people do remember the Olympians by naming the earliest athlete she can remember, Irving Baxter, a gold medalist from 1900. She then rattles off several more names, including the first women to compete, Marie Ohnier and Mme. Brody; Zhang Shan, who won the first mixed shooting event in 1992; Flo-Jo in 1988, Nadia Comaneci in 1976 ... Finally, the bullies walk away in anger, and Cissie tells Traya that she won.

The two girls then head to their room, and find a note on the door from the principal, warning Cissie about her fan mail. When they open the door, they find the whole room covered in massive stacks of letters. Traya says people won't be forgetting about Cissie anytime soon, and Cissie realizes she should have taken her mom's advice about hiring a service to handle her mail. As she takes some letters off a stack, she causes an avalanche of letters and is buried in her mail. Traya tries to dig Cissie out, but finds that she has mysteriously vanished.

Cissie finds herself being flung through outer space until she suddenly lands in a giant baseball mitt. She gathers herself up on a baseball field, and Wonder Girl quickly comes to her side, apologizing for dragging her into this. Cissie, though, sees Young Justice preparing to play baseball against a bunch of large aliens, and she assumes she's dreaming about a sequel to "that lousy movie with What's-His-Name, the basketball player, and those cartoon guys." (Cissie is referring to Space Jam, with Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes. But it is hardly a lousy movie — in fact, it's the greatest movie ever made, and anyone who disagrees is flat-out wrong.)

Cassie assures Cissie she's not dreaming, and Secret, Superboy and Impulse are all very happy to see their former teammate again. Lobo is happy to finally have a "looker" on the team, and Empress takes issue with that comment. Cassie explains that they needed a ninth player, and the Slag captain suddenly turned to her to pick someone. Cissie popped right into Cassie's head, and the Slag used their telepath and matter transmitter machine to use Cassie's thoughts to find Cissie and bring her to the planet Myrg. Impulse explains that the Slag have conquered Myrg, but they've agreed to leave the people in peace if they're defeated in a game that, near as they can tell, is a dead ringer for baseball. Cissie shouts at her friends for choosing her over Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, or even Plastic Man. She moans aloud that even though she gave up being a superhero, she's now on an alien planet, fighting off a race of invaders. She quotes the Godfather Part III by saying, "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!"

Robin, meanwhile, is in the locker room having a bit of a meltdown. Doiby Dickles notices this, and he offers the Boy Wonder some counsel. Robin explains that he's trying to balance in his mind his normal life with normal school and girl troubles combined with this wild, high-stakes mission that has the entire population of an alien planet pinning their hopes of freedom on him. Robin admits he feels out of his comfort zone with this mission, but Doiby stops him before he completely breaks down. Doiby points out that Robin's problem is just his attitude. Doiby says that if Robin acts like he owns the place, then Myrg will be his world before he knows it.

Feeling better, Robin walks out onto the field and to his surprise, one of the Slag aliens shouts out, "Look! It's a kid in red and green tights! Let's surrender!" As the aliens begin to bow down to Robin, Superboy reminds Robin that the aliens repeated word-for-word a sarcastic joke Robin said before they arrived at Myrg. But this perplexing moment quickly comes to an end when the leader of Slag, K'rnd'g, tells his men to stand up and ignore Robin. K'rnd'g, who is wearing red and green, himself, explains that those are the colors of leadership on their home world, and the Slag are conditioned to defer to those colors at all times. K'rnd'g also springs a surprise on Young Justice, telling them that they're not only playing for the freedom of Myrg, but for Earth, as well. Everyone's a bit worried by this, but Robin assures the team they can win. Wonder Girl worries that the Slag will cheat, so Doiby suggests they cheat back — a plan that Lobo is in favor of.

So everybody puts on their custom baseball uniforms that I assume the Slag provided, and they head out to play some baseball! At pitcher, is our lovable Impulse, with Robin at second base, Wonder Girl at center field, Superboy as catcher, Secret at first base, Cissie in right field, Lobo in left field, Empress as shortstop, and Doiby at third base. The Slag have also provided the announcer and a robotic umpire. The entire planet of Myrg has come out to watch the game, with the best seats filled by the evil Prince Marieb, the executioner, and Doiby's girlfriend, Ramia. She reminds Doiby that once he wins, Marieb will leave Myrg and they can be together again.

The game finally begins, with Impulse throwing a strike that the batter didn't even see. Superboy mocks the batter, saying that was just Impulse's cut fastball. Robin and Empress cheer on Impulse to show the "high heat," and Impulse throws his second strike. Superboy asks the batter if he's planning on swinging, and K'rnd'g tells his player to anticipate Impulse's delivery. So the batter actually swings before Impulse even throws his third pitch, which Superboy called his change-up that even his nonexistent grandmother could have hit. Wonder Girl comments on how this could actually be a dull game, and when Cissie responds with sarcasm, Cassie says she can't stay mad forever. Impulse quickly strikes out the next two batters, with Superboy yawning and sipping a soda. The crowd goes wild, and even the announcer has to admit he's never seen the opposing team take such a command of the game. K'rnd'g blasts the announcer in the face with a laser, and a new announcer takes his place, talking instead about how the Slag are leading Young Justice into a false sense of security.

Cassie wonders how an alien race that's never been to Earth ended up adopting baseball as their official game, and Robin speculates that they picked it up on old broadcast waves from Earth and decided to claim it as their own. He then sends up their first hitter, Impulse. Superboy, and the Slag wonder why the pitcher is going up to bat first, and Impulse further perplexes everybody by bunting the first pitch. But then everyone realizes that Impulse quickly ran all the bases before his bunt could be fielded. The announcer calls it impressive, then gets blasted in the face again. Impulse returns to the dugout next to Cissie, who calls him a one-man team. She also notes that she's never seen Impulse so focused. Impulse slowly admits that he's been trying a lot harder since Max got sick and almost died. Cissie has met Max before, and she understands that he's more than a teacher to Bart. Her eyes fill with tears and she gives Impulse a big hug.

(OK, it's time for an annoying continuity rant. If you just look at the dialogue of this conversation, you could strongly make the case that this is actually Inertia in disguise talking to Cissie. But if you look closely at the art in the last panel, we can see Impulse's ring on his finger — the one indicator that proved "Bart" was really Thad. This ring was missing since Young Justice returned from Australia, so I assumed that was a clever, subtle way of showing that it was really Inertia who went on this outer space adventure. Turns out I was wrong. It really was Bart the whole time. And even though Max is better now, Bart is still a bit shaken up by it and is trying to work on his focus.)

The next batters for Young Justice, Lobo, Superboy and Wonder Girl, all hit home runs, driving up their lead to 4-0. Secret, though, is unsure with what to do with the bat, and she strikes out in a moment of confusion. Cissie strikes out, too, while crying out that she hates this game, and Doiby also promptly strikes out, bringing the inning to a close. Empress tries to offer Cissie some friendly encouragement, but Cissie shortly turns her down. She then turns to Cassie and asks how they could let Empress join the team. As they argue about Empress' limited experience and secretive background, a Slag batter manages to hit a pitch off Impulse. The ball sails right toward Cissie's head, and she just manages to catch it. Everybody cheers her for having great reflexes, even though she mostly got lucky.

In the Slag dugout, K'rnd'g assures his worried team that they'll make a great comeback in the ninth inning when they employ their compensators. So we skip ahead to the ninth inning, with Robin encouraging Impulse to win the game with three more strikeouts. Superboy mocks the batter for being anxious to strike out again, but to everyone's astonishment, the batter knocks Impulse's pitch out of the park to give the Slag their first score of the game. And the same thing happens with the next batter, over and over again, until the Slag take the lead with 12 runs and load the bases with no outs. Finally, Robin decides to discuss things over on the mound. Impulse says he feels like he's throwing as hard as ever, and Robin tells him he is. He kicks himself for not realizing earlier, but he now knows that the Slag's visors are enabling them to track Impulse's pitches and their gloves are speeding up their swings.

So, to counter the Slag's cheating, Robin throws a few curveballs himself. He has Doiby and Empress switch positions, and sends Impulse to right field and puts Cissie on the mound. Robin assures Impulse that this isn't anything against him, he just wants to try this plan. Cissie, however, is very worried about this plan. Robin and Superboy assure her that her arm is strong enough and her eye is good enough to place the ball where it needs to be in order to keep the hit in the park. Empress then approaches Cissie, removes her mask, and tells her that she became a hero because of the example Cissie set.

So Cissie throws the pitch in the perfect spot, low and inside. The batter hits it straight down the third base line. Empress fields the ball, collecting one out. The baserunner barrels toward her, but Empress evades him in a puff of smoke and gets the ball to Robin, who makes the second out. Another baserunner slides to take out Robin and disrupt the triple play. Robin acrobatically leaps over the runner, but his throw to first base is a bit too high. Luckily, Secret is able to stretch out to catch the ball and earn the third out. Everybody begins cheering and congratulating Cissie, except for Lobo, who's sad he didn't get to frag anybody.

But the celebration is short-lived, as K'rnd'g reminds Young Justice that the Slag still have a one point lead heading into the bottom of the ninth. And Young Justice's next three batters — Cissie, Doiby and Secret — haven't had a hit all game. Doiby's optimistic they can pull it off, but Cissie and Secret both feel the game is over.

I really enjoyed this issue. The prospect of Young Justice playing a game of baseball might be a turnoff for some people, but it really worked. It was a creative use of everybody's powers and talents, and was a lot of fun, as well. I especially liked how Impulse was used in this issue both as a pitcher and a hitter. And it was great to get Cissie involved again. Even though she's not Arrowette anymore, she still is a member of the team. In the end, I actually found myself enjoying the baseball stuff so much, I wish we could have seen more of the game instead of just skipping ahead to the end. It's also my duty to remind you of Bart's first attempt at baseball in Impulse #20. Bart is a much more polished player this time around, but the stakes are also much higher.

Our letters to the editor begin with Martin Kelly ruminating over Robin's secret identity. Martin argues that Tim Drake should be in the clear to tell his teammates who he is since it won't directly connect him to Bruce Wayne, unlike Dick Grayson. Martin also points out that Dick told the Titans who he was back in the day, meaning that Wally West most likely knows who Batman is. Martin also complains about Robin's romance with Secret, saying Robin already has enough girlfriends in his other books.

Paul Watson, of Essex, England, wonders if Baron Sin Gazz is actually Baron Blood, but Eddie Berganza says this baron is a new character. Paul loved the fight between Impulse and Tigress and felt that Superboy was very much in character by wanting to fight even without powers.

Miguel Maldonado, of Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, says the most memorable moments in Young Justice are always related to Impulse. He especially loved Tigress shouting, "I want another opponent!" Miguel also loved having the JLA show up and beat all the bad guys in 19 seconds. He asks if there's an unwritten rule for superhero teams to have an outer-space adventure, and he hopes Doiby Dickles stays on Myrg once they get there.

Brian Seidman, of New York, says he's not a big fan of Eric Battle's take on Young Justice, calling it a little too choppy, except for Impulse, who was sleek and dynamic. Brian hopes Cissie can work things out with her mom, and he even asks for a Fite 'n Maad one-shot. Now for the new ads:

Driver 2. The Wheelman is back on PlayStation 2.

Forget your driver's license ... you're gonna need a passport. Cruis'n Exotica for Nintendo 64 and GameBoy Color.

See what your stuff is worth at WizardWorld.com. This ad hearkens back to the disastrous speculator market of the '90s when everybody thought they could invest in comics. But when everybody's buying "rare" issues to sell back at a later date, nobody's going to pay out when it's time.

Freaky what you can get out of a bottle of Sprite these days.

Into video games? Want to learn all the secrets, tips, and codes so you can win every time? Then log on to: GamePro.com.

Next time, we'll sadly begin the post-Ethan Van Sciver/L.A. Williams era with Impulse #68.

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