Saturday, June 10, 2017

Young Justice #35

War Torn

Peter David Writer
Todd Nauck Pencils
Andy Lanning & Lary Stucker Inks
Jason Wright Colors
Digital Chameleon Separations
Tom Palmer Jr. Assistant Ed.
Eddie Berganza Editor

President Luthor wants you to know that this month's cover is by Todd Nauck and Andy Lanning with the colors of Ian Hannin. I wish Lary Stucker would have inked this. I think Lanning went a bit too thick on the shadows. Otherwise, this is a pretty powerful cover. A rare somber moment for Young Justice, being drafted into war and saluting the president, even though he's a super villain. But hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. I also think the order our heroes are standing in is significant. Robin is still the leader, but Superboy and Wonder Girl are also vying for that top spot. Impulse and Secret are just kind of there, Empress is brand new, Lobo isn't an official member yet, and Cissie has officially left the team, but is still around. Let's find out what's up with her red, non-Arrowette outfit.

Our story begins with Cassie visiting Cissie at her home, trying to convince her to resume her Arrowette identity and help fight in what the news channels are calling "Our Worlds at War." Cissie's school closed up temporarily, and Cassie's school was actually destroyed, with some of Cassie's friends being killed. Cassie explains that Red Tornado has ordered Young Justice to meet at the Catskill resort hotel this evening, presumably to tell them President Luthor's plans to have Young Justice fight side-by-side with the JLA. Cissie doubts that one girl with a bow can make a difference, but Cassie insists she can. She returns the bow and arrows Cissie gave her when she gave up being Arrowette, but this only makes Cissie think that Cassie views her as a coward. So she pulls her friend out to the backyard, stands her in front of an archery target, and places an apple not on Cassie head, but in her mouth.

We then cut to a startling image of Superman holding Superboy's dead body in his arms, surrounded by almost every DC hero you could ever think of (except Impulse). Superboy quickly jumps up to tell everyone that he's not dead, but he realizes he's all alone, standing on the sign that says "Welcome to Topeka, KS. Population ... 0." Kon hears somebody calling for help, and he sees its Wonder Girl with the lower half of her body blown away. He's suddenly attacked by a bunch of zombie clones of himself who remind him that he, too, is a clone, so it doesn't matter if he's killed.

Superboy is awakened from his nightmare by Secret announcing the arrival of Red Tornado. Kon asks the android if he's forgotten about Young Justice, and he responds that he's been busy assisting his wife with her physical therapy, but he has stepped in when needed. He looks at Secret as he says that last part, and she nervously asks to change the subject.

We cut to the home of Donald and Anita Fite, where Anita has decided that she needs to tell her dad she's Empress before she heads out to war. But as she begins to talk, Donald reveals he's known about her secret identity the whole time. And although they did just happen to run into Young Justice in Australia, he did make sure to call his daughter "Empress" in front of them because he preferred the idea of Anita fighting crime in a team setting rather than going off alone. Anita hugs her dad for being so understanding. Impulse then knocks on the door, and awkwardly asks Agent Fite if "Anita might want to ... y'know ... hang out. Not that this has anything to do with the end of the world or anyth—" Anita cuts him off, saying her dad already knows about her secret identity. Bart says, "That's a relief. I was having a hard time covering." Anita charitably says she didn't notice, then hops in Bart's arms as he rushes her off to their meeting with Red Tornado.

Back at Cissie's house, the gold medal archer has drawn her bow, explaining to Cassie that if she applies just the right amount of pressure, she'll be able to send the arrow through the apple but not into her throat. Cassie panics and ducks down at the last second, but Cissie was aiming for just above her head the whole time. Cissie doesn't blame her friend for cowering out, explaining that she, too, believes there's a chance she'd make a mistake. Not necessarily in her archery skills, but in letting out her violent side if she resumed her Arrowette identity. Cassie insists that she's a heroine, but Cissie angrily says she's spent her whole live allowing her mother to define her, and she's not going to let anyone else do that, even her best friend.

Cassie says it was stupid of her to try to look at one positive of this war as being able to fight alongside her friend again. Cissie says that's almost as stupid as when Cassie wished that she'd play baseball with her to save an alien world. She yells at Cassie for consistently bringing up the Arrowette topic whenever they see each other, and she criticizes her friend for failing to accept her decision. Cassie says she's being asked to accept the fact that Cissie is going to be hiding instead of helping defend the planet. As Cassie flies away, she wishes her friend to have a nice life ... for however long the human race might have. Wonder Girl meets up with Robin in the Super-Cycle, and he says he suspected Cissie wouldn't join them. Cassie asks why people can't be who they want them to be, and why do they feel guilty when they want people to be those things. Robin says that's one thing he doesn't know, even though he's been trained by the world's greatest detective.

We finally get everyone together at the Catskills resort, and Red Tornado addresses the team, congratulating them all for not getting killed in his absence. He asks Robin and Secret if there have been any more incidents, and Secret angrily says everything's fine. Superboy asks what they're talking about, but Secret insists it's nothing and Robin puts a finger over his mouth to indicate to Kon to stop talking. Red Tornado notes the addition of Empress and asks if she was subjected to any background checks or standardized tests to determine if she's a right fit for the team. Impulse says, "Nah. We just let her in." And Red Tornado says he's relieved that nothing has changed.

Red Tornado then asks about the "homicidal maniac" he's heard is now on the roster, and Wonder Girl explains that Lobo isn't exactly a member — he just shows up occasionally for no discernible reason. Robin says they haven't seen Lobo in a while, and he thinks he might not come back. Right on cue, Lobo smashes through the ceiling on his Spacehog while battling a pink alien. Much to Superboy's despair, Lobo also destroys the pool table while demanding the alien pay him. Wonder Girl and Superboy pull Lobo off the alien, and Red Tornado asks him if he's a freelance assassin or an Imperiex advance scout. The alien says he'll be whoever they want him to be, and Red Tornado says that's apparently sufficient to qualify him for Young Justice membership.

The alien then begrudgingly hands Lobo a big wad of cash and meekly adds that he must have imagined those extra cards. As the alien leaves, Lobo explains that he was just a refugee, displaced by Imperiex. Lobo enjoys taking advantage of alien refugees and says he loves war.
Robin: "War. Hunh. Good God."
Wonder Girl: "What is it good for?"
Impulse: "Absolutely nothing."
Secret: "Say it again."
Superboy: "That's a cool song."
Secret: "There's a song?"
Superboy tries to explain this, but only ends up confusing Secret more, while Lobo happily counts his money and wonders what comes after "eleventy million."

Red Tornado gets the conversation back on track by reminding everybody of the approaching threat of Imperiex and revealing that he knows all about their adventure with the Linear Men. He mentions the instability in Pokolistan that was likely headed to war before the threat of Imperiex, and Superboy  excitedly asks if their mission is to go there to preserve the peace. But it's not. Red Tornado speaks about the planet Apokolips appearing in Earth's orbit, with no one really sure whose side it's on. Impulse eagerly says they're ready to tell Apokolips it's "our way or the highway." But that's not their mission, either. So Robin and Wonder Girl come right out and ask what they are supposed to do. Before Red Tornado reveals their mission, he reminds them that the JLA is not in charge. This is a global situation, and as such, President Luthor is in charge, and he has expressed doubts about drafting minors into war, regardless of their superpowers. Superboy worriedly asks if this means they're supposed to sit this out, but Red Tornado says they've been assigned to the Paradocs unit.

Everybody stares at each other for a moment, and Impulse thinks of himself as a dunce. Then they all simultaneously ask, "The what?" (except for Lobo, who is still busy loving his money). Red Tornado explains that there will be lots of injuries and casualties in this war, and the Paradocs is the premiere medical unit to handle this. Young Justice will have the job of going into hotspots to retrieve fallen warriors and bring them back to the Paradocs to be treated. Impulse, Wonder Girl and Superboy all angrily complain about being sidelined and told to sit at the kid's table. Robin tries to calm them down, but it's ultimately Secret who does the job, giving an impassioned speech about the families of these downed heroes. Superboy (correctly) interprets this as Secret implying that he's cold and heartless because he doesn't have a family. Everything starts escalating until Traya arrives.

Red Tornado's adopted daughter had been swimming in the resort's pool, but heard all the shouting and decided to come check it out. She approaches Robin, saying she was worried about her dad heading off to this war, but he told her that Young Justice is going to be working with the doctors to help him and all the other daddies when they get hurt. Traya asks if this is true, so Robin turns to his team to see what they say. Impulse, Wonder Girl and Superboy look a bit ashamed at their behavior, and Superboy leans down to assure Traya that they will be there to help the injured fighters. The little girl gives Superboy a big hug in gratitude, but once she's gone, Impulse teases Kon for making a new girlfriend.

Red Tornado asks Lobo if he'll be joining Young Justice, but Empress explains to him that he wouldn't be interested in this mission since they won't actually be fighting anyone. She tells him he's a destroyer, not a rescuer, so he should just go destroy something on his own. Lobo agrees with her and flies off on his Spacehog. Red Tornado is pleased by this and instructs the team to take both the Super-Cycle and Impulse's spaceship to the Paradocs unit above Metropolis. Bart finally reveals that his ship has a name, "The Max," which Cassie thinks is a good name. Suddenly, Lobo returns, saying he thinks Empress actually really wants him to stay and was trying to use reverse psychology on him. So for her sake, Lobo has decided to join this mission after all, ignoring all of Empress' protests.

Everybody puts on their special armbands, loads up into The Max and flies up to the Paradocs in the giant Space Ark to report to Doctor Kitty Faulkner. The doctor tells Young Justice they already have some casualties and need to retrieve a few members of the JLA. She labels the teens her premier S&R team, which Impulse thinks means Superboy and Robin team, but Wonder Girl knows means Search and Rescue team. Robin asks if they'll be carrying any medical personnel with them, and Dr. Faulkner says they are stretched pretty thin personnel-wise, but she can assign one technician to the team. Faulkner explains that this technician is knowledgable in all first aid techniques and has already demonstrated her skills in her short time on the Paradocs. Apparently she was thoroughly trained by her mother and has some familiarity with metahumans. Dr. Faulkner then introduces Young Justice to ... Cissie King-Jones.

I really like this plan for Young Justice to be the medics in this war. They're not strong enough to make much of dent in the fight against Imperiex, but they are strong enough to slip in and out of the field of battle to rescue the wounded. It was great having Red Tornado back again, and I thought the discussion/argument the team had was natural and true to character. I also like how Cissie found a way to be a part of the war without becoming Arrowette. However, the timing feels a bit off. Cassie went straight from her house to the meeting with Young Justice, then to the Paradocs, where Cissie was there waiting for them, having already proven her medical skills. At the very least, I have to say that Cissie had already volunteered and been accepted to join the Paradocs before Cassie even knocked on her door. And if that was the case, then why didn't Cissie just tell her friend that yes, she is going to help in the war, but not as Arrowette?

The letters to the editor begin with Justin Asbell praising Young Justice #31 for featuring the most entertaining of heroes, Impulse. He loved how Impulse daydreamed of fighting Extant again, whom he defeated in Bart Saves the Universe. Justin also wants Lobo to stay on the team, the Point Men to get a miniseries, Arrowette to spend time with Connor Hawke, Young Justice to have a crossover with the Legionnaires and Titans, and for Stars, S.T.R.I.P.E. and Steel to make a guest appearance.

Paul Dale Roberts, of Elk Grove, Calif., says issue #31 reminded him of the mimes at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. He also called the wordless issue excellent, saying Impulse and Superboy took the whole show.

Mark-El said issue #31 was a good exercise in depriving yourself of one sense to boost what you notice with other senses. In this case, omitting the distraction of text showed off the great work of Nauck and Stucker's art.

Tony Escobar Jr., of Houston, says he just read the entire Young Justice series and praises Peter David for keeping all the characters true to their individual titles. He says the series is a reminder that kids are supposed to have fun and be drawn like kids. Now for the ads:

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You grow about 15% taller during your teen years. Wanna play? got milk? with Kevin Garnett. In 2001, Garnett was named to his fourth All-Star team, averaging 22 points, 11 rebounds and five assists per game for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Next time, we'll take a very quick look at Nightwing: Our Worlds at War #1.

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