Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Young Justice #37

War of the Words

Peter David Writer
Todd Nauck Pencils
Lary Stucker Inks
Ken Lopez Letters
Jason Wright Colors
Digital Chameleon Separations
Tom Palmer, Jr. Assistant Editor
Eddie Berganza Editor

This month's "Apokolips Now" cover is by Nauck, Stucker and the the colors of Ian Hannin. This is an awesomely haunting cover. Young Justice defeated, in chains, unconscious and completely at the mercy of the imposing Granny Goodness. And the Granny looks fantastic here — one of the best versions I've seen of her. Unfortunately, her costume has a lot of yellow, red and blue on it inside this issue, which really makes her less intimidating. The muted gray colors are much better suited for her.

Our story begins with Robin being held by Parademons, forced to watch as Wonder Girl is tied to a stake over a fire pit. Robin pleads with his captors to let Cassie go, and she, in turn, begs Robin to do give the villains whatever they want, hysterically crying out that she can't die yet because she still needs to take her midterms that she crammed for. But all her crying was in vain, as Wonder Girl is completely vaporized.

Above him, Superboy blames Robin for Cassie's death, reminding him that he's only on the team because of his great mind and it was his responsibility to think of a way to save them. But Superboy has chains around his neck, wrists and ankles, and even though Robin says he'll do anything they want, the Parademons pull on the chains and rip Superboy apart, splattering Robin in Kon's blood. The Parademons finally let go of Robin, and he collapses to the ground, sobbing. Granny Goodness approaches the Boy Wonder, offering to "kiss" the hurt and make it all better. Robin immediately leaps toward Granny Goodness, but is promptly smacked down and begins to mutter how he'll kill them all somehow.

We then see that all that happened in Robin's head. He is strapped to a table with a device over his head feeding him those horrific images. Next to Robin on identical tables are Empress and Superboy, Wonder Girl and Cissie (who has also somehow been captured). Robin in real life is also muttering about killing all his enemies, and Granny Goodness marvels at the resistance of Robin and his teammates. Superboy is being tortured by reliving the death of his girlfriend, Tana, and Wonder Girl is crying out in terror for her mother.

Granny Goodness is, however, worried about one of her prisoners, wondering if he's performing some sort of "subterfuge." One of Granny's Female Furies, Bernadeth, insists that is not the case, and she leads her to Impulse, who is not strapped to a table like the others, but is still curled up in a fetal position. Bart also has a different helmet on his head, which projects his thoughts on a screen. Bernadeth reports that Impulse just keeps seeing the same vivid image of himself dying over and over again. Granny finds this curious, as most youths have a limited awareness of their own mortality. Bernadeth asks what became of the "Cloud Girl," and Granny responds that her torment is the worst of all, as Lord Darkseid has taken a personal interest in her.

And we see that Secret's torment apparently involves being fed an enormous bowl of ice cream on a big, puffy pillow, surrounded by children's toys of Kalibak, Darkseid and Parademons. Secret gleefully dives in to this dessert, and asks her friend, "Mr. Doug Side" if he wants a bite. When Darkseid politely refuses, Secret then offers to share it with her friends. But Darkseid says her friends remain "indisposed" and he advises Secret to forget them. He tells Secret that she is above them and they resent and fear the darkness in her. Secret tentatively asks Darkseid if he's evil, and after pausing for a moment, he launches into a long, philosophical discussion on the concept of "evil."

Darkseid argues that only actions are "evil," deemed such by those who do not benefit from said actions. He tells Secret that Apokolips is not ruled through "evil," but by displays of strength that the weak lack. He references the power war has to expose true greatness in people. Darkseid reveals he knows Young Justice came to Apokolips to rescue Steel, but he says Steel is now gone, as has the rest of the war, but that doesn't mean Secret can't still benefit from it. He offers to take her under his wing to unlock her true potential, promising to never lie to her.

So Secret decides to test this promise. She asks him to answer directly, without the philosophy, if he is evil. Again, Darkseid pauses for a moment, but this time, he simply answers, "Yes." Secret then asks if she is evil, and Darkseid says, "Yes." Secret considers this for a moment, growing dark and angry before she ultimately turns on Darkseid in a full display of strength, shouting at him, calling him a liar. Darkseid does not tolerate this for one second, immediately blasting Secret with his Omega Beams, pushing her out the window and into a fire pit below. Darkseid watches her fall, and in disgust, simply says, "Kids."

We return to Granny Goodness' lab, where she has ordered to increase the emotional charge on the teens, who are still valiantly resisting the images. Amidst reports of an approaching, disorderly army that sometimes turns on itself, we take a look inside Empress' head. Anita sees her father being burned at a stake. With his dying breath, Donald Fite curses his daughter, which makes her so angry she decides to teach her father a lesson. In her "dream," Empress teleports to fight her father, but in real life, she also teleports out of her restraints — much to the surprise of Granny Goodness.

Empress is immediately attacked by Mad Harriet, but she's able to direct the Fury's attack to destroy Robin's bindings. Once Robin's free, he spots Granny Goodness and lunges toward her, shouting that he's going to kill her. The rest of the Furies pull Robin off their leader, but by doing so, they neglected Empress, who freed the rest of her teammates. An enraged Superboy and Wonder Girl join the fight against the Female Furies, while Cissie finds Impulse.

Everybody heads outside, with Wonder Girl carrying the comatose Impulse in her arms, and they run into Secret. Robin says they need to get out of here, but Superboy says they can't leave without Steel. Secret says Steel is gone, but she won't say how she learned that. Our heroes begin running through the streets, but soon come to a dead end and are surrounded by Granny Goodness, her Female Furies and an army of Parademons.

In an homage to Queen, the Furies mock Young Justice for having "fear on your face" and say "you're a big disgrace!" But somebody says, "We're gonna smear you bastiches all over the place!!" They all look up and see an army of teenage Lobos, wearing only pieces of Parademon armor, banging on the ground and shouting, "We will, we will, frag you! Frag you!" The Lobos swarm the villains, giving our heroes the chance to escape. Miraculously, they spot Impulse's ship hovering above them. So they all fly up to The Max, where the mysterious pilot explains that all those Lobos came from the dead Lobo's spattered drops of blood. And after they're done "fraggin' those losers," they'll probably turn on each other until there's only one left, who should be an adult by the time that happens, based on the speed the Lobos are aging. But while our heroes get to see this mysterious pilot, we won't see him until next issue.

As I said before, this issue really needed to be included with the official Our Worlds at War storyline. Even though this issue takes place after Apokolips had left Earth's orbit following the defeat of Imperiex and Brainiac 13, the war didn't end for Young Justice until they got home, and I consider this issue an essential part of the story as a whole. I'm also a little bummed that we never saw how Superboy's team got captured, but I guess we can reason that they were too distraught by Impulse's death experience to put up any kind of a fight. And poor Impulse! Forced to relive his death over and over again. We still don't know exactly how this new power works, but one thing we can say for sure is that killing one of his scouts is not a good idea.

On a whole, this was a powerful issue. Each member of Young Justice was pushed to the breaking point, especially Robin. We've never seen him lose control like this, and it was pretty unnerving. We also deepened Secret's struggles with her identity and ended with the extraordinary image of an army of Lobos (slightly weakened by the "We Will Rock You" joke). Suffice it to say, this is a major turning point for Young Justice. From here on out, everything's going to be different.

Our letters to the editor begins with Ben Winkler saying he started Young Justice with issue #5, drawn in by Robin and Superboy. He quickly found a new favorite in Impulse and now has his complete series. Ben asks to ditch Lobo, bring back Arrowette and keep the same creative team.

Augie de Blieck Jr., of North Haledon, N.J., liked the more laid-back feel with Young Justice #33. Not a lot of fighting, just teenagers having issues and talking their way through them. Augie especially loved the Impulse-Superboy conversation, calling it laugh-out-loud funny and reminiscent of a Marx Brothers routine.

Javier Ruiz, of Odessa, Texas, a 30-year-old with more than 2,000 comics in his collection, was thrilled to see somebody named Javier in the book. But he also loved the Impulse-Superboy conversation, saying he laughed so hard that he had to put the book down for a bit. Now for the new ads:

Toonami's in trouble ... and only you can save it. Lockdown.

Frosted Flakes. Get supercharged!

Fruit Gushers. Warning: Flavor may go to your head. (The warning should actually say that one or more of the gushers have already burst open before you even bought them, and they're fused together into one sticky mess.)

Other games just don't measure up. Klonoa: Empire of Dreams on Game Boy Advance.

Tales of Destiny II for PlayStation.

Pep rally, advanced. Advance Wars for Game Boy Advance.

Next time, we'll see how Impulse's accident weighs on his good friend in Superboy #92.

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