Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Young Justice #38

Stuff Happens

Peter David – Writes
Todd Nauck – Pencils
Lary Stucker – Inks
Ken Lopez – Letters
Jason Wright – Colors
Digital Chameleon – Seps
Tom Palmer, Jr. – Assistant Edits
Eddie Berganza – Edits

This is the one and only Young Justice cover not drawn by Todd Nauck (I guess he was too busy with the Our Worlds at War special). Walt Simonson gives us a "Jokerized" Superboy, with everybody barfing behind him. I don't know why they're all barfing — is he stinky? And Wonder Girl getting a spoon ready seems excessive. But one thing I do know is that actually isn't Superboy. It's his evil clone, Match, who has been "Jokerized" because this is an official tie-in of DC's next big event, Joker: Last Laugh. I find it odd that DC immediately jumped into a big Joker event just as soon as the dust settled on Our Worlds at War. Luckily, though, this issue is kind of a reluctant, minimal tie-in.

Our story begins with Bart Allen returning to the Young Justice headquarters at the Catskill resort. It's been a little while since he initially quit, but not long enough for them to repair the whole in the roof Lobo created just before they went off to the war. Robin, Empress, Secret, Wonder Girl and Cissie are all hanging out, eating pizza and junk food when Bart walks in to grab some things he forgot last time. Empress reminds everyone that she knew Bart would come back, and Wonder Girl immediately starts telling Bart that he can't just up and quit the team. Bart insists that he doesn't want to be Impulse anymore, but Cassie believes he really wants his teammates to convince him to stay, otherwise, she argues, he would have just gathered his possessions at super speed and zoomed away without anyone seeing him.

Bart simply says he's trying to get used to a new lifestyle, but Anita coldly says he's full of it. Secret scolds her for not being nice, but Anita is insulted by Bart quitting the team. She explains that she can respect Cissie's reasons for giving up being Arrowette, but with Bart, she feels being shaken by the war isn't a valid reason. Cissie asks to be left out of this conversation, and Bart says he's glad to have her support his decision. But to his shock, Cissie says she doesn't agree with Bart. She explains that she had lots of reasons for quitting, but a fear of being killed was not one of them. Cissie believes that if you're afraid of dying, then you risk being afraid of living, which is where she thinks Bart's head is right now. Bart gives Cissie a sad, painful look of betrayal, and tries to explain how it's different when you actually see yourself die. But Bart decides not to labor the point and just starts walking away.

As Bart walks Robin, he tells him he's not going to kiss him on the way out, and Cassie pleads with Robin to convince Bart to stay. Robin looks at her for a moment, then stands up and tells Bart he's leaving with him. Everyone is shocked by this — two founding members of Young Justice, including their leader, are gone, just like that. Robin explains that he was a leader that wasn't trusted, a leader tarnished with guilt by association with Batman. He says there's a lot of things in life that don't make sense right now, and this group is one of the biggest. Until he gets things sorted out, his contribution is diminished.

Cassie apologizes for what happened on Apokolips, and she urges Robin to at least wait for Superboy to show up, knowing that he'll apologize, too. Robin says it's not about that, and Cassie calls him a liar. Robin points out how odd it is to be called a liar immediately after being told he is trusted. He says the war taught him that life's too short for the kind of grief he got from Young Justice. Cassie angrily says, "Fine. Go. Get out. Quit. See if I care." And she stops Robin from saying he doesn't want there to be any hard feelings. Cissie and Empress are glaring at Robin, but Secret is openly weeping. Robin tries to approach her, but she says she's glad Spoiler will get more time with him, and sends him away. So Robin and Impulse officially quit Young Justice, leaving behind four emotionally distressed teenage girls.

The girls are so emotional, that the arrival of the Jokerized Match doesn't even faze them. Match's mind has been warped by the Joker gas, and he's much more silly than diabolical this time. In fact, he's downright harmless. Which is good for the girls, because they're so distracted, they believe Match is the real Superboy trying to pull an elaborate stunt to cheer them up. But the real Superboy is having a heart-to-heart with Supergirl on the Statue of Liberty.

Cassie calls up Red Tornado to tell him that Robin has also quit the team, and the android says he's not entirely surprised. He does point out, though, that he might have been able to forestall Robin's decision had he not been asked to keep his distance from the team to let them "recover." Regardless, Red Tornado had seen the seams of Young Justice coming apart even before the war, so he made arrangements for them to have a new leader. He didn't want to take charge of the team himself, since that could make the teens feel like they were "running back to Daddy." Instead, he asked Snapper Carr to fill this role.

Meanwhile, Anita goes to check on the mysterious pilot who saved them from Young Justice. It's Lobo ... sort of. Except this Lobo is small and skinny and has yellow eyes instead of red. (He will later be named Slobo, so for clarity's sake, I'll came him that now.) Since piloting Young Justice back home, Slobo has holed up in one of the resort's rooms and trashed it in a bout of self-pity and malaise.   He tells Anita that he's disgusted with his own cowardice, explaining that when the original Lobo was killed by Parademons, every drop of his blood grew into a new Lobo. This massive army of rapidly aging Lobos initially sought revenge on the Parademons, then would eventually turn on each other until only one Lobo would remain, who would grow to adulthood and become just like the original Lobo before he was turned into a kid.

But Slobo was a genetic outlier, the only non-identical clone, much smaller and weaker than the rest. Recognizing this, Slobo snuck onto Impulse's ship, The Max, found some clothes and completed the repairs. Even though he saved Young Justice, he feels like a failure since he ran away from a fight. He remembers being Lobo and laughing death in the face, but now, crippled by fear, he doesn't feel worthy of the name Lobo.

Match then launches an overly elaborate and ridiculous death trap for Wonder Girl, trying to start a gas light and trick her into striking a match to light the candles for his "romantic" dinner of uncooked spaghetti and raw meat. Cassie still thinks this is the real Superboy goofing off, so she begins yelling at him and crying at him and wondering why she even loved him. Match becomes overwhelmed with emotions and flies away. The real Superboy arrives to find Cassie crying. He follows Supergirl's advice and tells Cassie he cherishes their relationship and apologizes if he hurt her. Cassie immediately gives Kon a big hug and asks him to forget everything she said earlier and just go back to the way things were before. Kon's a bit confused by this, but he agrees. Secret, however, is still distraught. Kneeling by the Super-Cycle, she begs Robin to return, promising to not be evil if he just comes back.

I'm really sad that this issue had to be a part of the Joker: Last Laugh crossover, mainly because of the cover it gave us. The subplot with Match was rather inconsequential and the only source of humor in the story. But when two founding members quit the team, we deserve a much stronger cover. Anyway, I wasn't surprised to see Robin quitting the team, given how everyone had been treating him. And to show just how mad he is at Superboy, Robin made sure to leave while Kon was away. Poor Bart, though, was met with unexpected harshness from his friends. I get that they're emotional teenage girls, and they all briefly got their hopes up that Bart was coming back to the team, but still! They were pretty mean to him! But Bart handled it well, I thought. He could have gone into more detail about what it felt like to die vicariously, or he could have told them about how he lost his girlfriend, Carol. But that only would have made everyone even more upset than they already were.

I'm completely ambivalent about Snapper Carr coming out of nowhere to join the team for basically no reason. But I am fascinated with the concept and character of Slobo (although I wish he had a more creative name). However, for better and worse (mostly worse), we're going to be skipping a handful of issues of Young Justice now that Impulse is off the team. This makes complete sense from an in-story perspective, but from a marketing perspective, this move spells death for a character who was already suffering with low sales numbers. Impulse hasn't shown up in The Flash in more than a year, and now that he's not in Young Justice, his exposure is confined to just his own series ... where he's not Impulse anymore ... This is the beginning of the end.

Our letters to the editor begin with Jason Smith talking about Young Justice #34, which Impulse didn't appear in. He compliments the creative team of Peter David, Todd Nauck and Lary Stucker for staying together for so long and still keeping fresh. Jason also wonders where Red Tornado has been lately.

Hunion Joe simply asks for Firestorm to join the team. Eddie Berganza opens up this question to the readers: Should they bring back Impulse and Robin, or just add new members?

We only have two letters this month because of a big promo for Joker: Last Laugh tie-ins. So let's check out the new ads:

Nintendo GameCube. Born to play.

Starburst. Twelve chances to improve your aim.

Good vs. or Evil. The Mummy Returns for PlayStation 2 and Game Boy Color.

Just Very Cool. JVC DVD player with a contest to win a trip to the premier of The Lord of the Rings in New Zealand.

The action is real but the actors are not. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.

The meek shall inherit the Earth but not Dominaria. Magic: The Gathering.

Every story has a beginning. Smallville. (I never watched this show, considering it "Superman for girls" and I still stand by that. But a character named Bart Allen allegedly showed up in a few episodes, so I'll try to review them when we get there.)

Boxing Fever for Game Boy Advance.

Hey, Kids! Comics! talks all about Smallville. (Seriously, why have a show about Superman where he's not Superman?)

Get digitized into an EA Sports video game! Contest through CornNuts.

Arctic Thunder for PlayStation 2.

He's your little brother. Don't do anything you wouldn't want him doing. Family. My anti-drug.

Luigi's Mansion for GameCube.

Take control. Think. Don't smoke.

You can't kill what you can't catch. Spy Hunter for PlayStation 2.

Higher weight, lower reps. CapriSun Big Pouch.

Got chocolate milk? with biker Mat Hoffman.

Next time, Bart's still out of the race as the world continues to go Joker crazy in Impulse #79.

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