Friday, February 14, 2020

Young Justice #4

Seven Crises Part 4

Brian Michael Bendis Script
Patrick Gleason & John Timms Art
Alejandro Sanchez & Alex Sinclair Colors
Wes Abbott Letters
Gleason & Sanchez Cover
Dan Mora Variant Cover
Jessica Chen & Brittany Holzherr Associate Editors
Mike Cotton Editor
Brian Cunningham Group Editor
Superboy created by Jerry Siegel.
By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family.

Our cover shows Young Justice trapped ... inside Lord Opal. It's a very strange symbolic representation of the current situation our heroes have found themselves in. I think it's a fine idea, but not executed well. A rare misstep by Gleason. Also, for whatever reason, my digital copy of this comic does not include the variant cover. But that doesn't have Impulse on it, so I won't worry about it.

Our story opens with a flashback of Amethyst being rejected by the council in her efforts eliminate Lord Opal. We then return to Superboy and Impulse, who has recovered from being electrocuted. Carnelian is confused by the arrival of Superboy's supposed wife and baby, but Impulse (calling him Skeletor) demands to ask the questions. But Conner ignores Bart's pestering and the concerned queries from his wife, choosing instead to politely ask Carnelian and his men to leave them in peace. But Conner makes a slight faux pas by referring to his property. Carnelian correctly identifies Superboy as a Kryptonian and says that if he was from here, he'd know that everything belongs to Lord Opal.

Impulse takes advantage of this new piece of information, and begins pointing to random objects on the horizon, asking Carnelian if they also belong to "Dark Opie." Conner says he's missed Bart, then gives his wife a meaningful look. She quickly runs inside, calling her baby Martha. Once she's gone, Superboy addresses Carnelian's men (much to Carnelian's displeasure), asking them to run away once he shows them why they should run away. He promises no one will know, but Bart points out that he will know. Conner patiently shushes his friend, then clarifies that no one outside of this will know, after he makes his demonstration on Carnelian.

Carnelian eagerly lunges forward, vowing to show what the power of Dark Opal can do. But Superboy takes him down with a single punch, shattering Carnelian's armor to reveal a normal human in his socks and underwear. Superboy tells Carnelian's men to take him and forget this place. They promptly take off, commenting that Superboy's actually nicer than Amethyst.

Bart says, "Dude! Dude! Dude!!" Conner asks if he's here by himself, but Bart says, "No, no, no, no, no, no ... You don't get to make the questions until you tell me where babies come from." Bart quickly rephrases, saying, "Very specifically ... where did that one come from?!" Conner's wife remerges at this point, and Bart immediately introduces himself as Conner's third-best friend. He says the Speed Force lets him run around so fast, and explains that he knew she was just about to ask him that. He wants to know everything about her and Conner, starting with their first meeting, which he hopes was cute.

Conner properly introduces Bart to Lophi, telling her that Bart is also from Earth. He then asks Bart again if he's alone, and Bart confesses he doesn't know. He briefly explains how Young Justice reformed to battle the "gem guys" in Metropolis, then "zappy, pappy, shamappy," Bart ended up here. Lophi is understandably confused by all this, and Conner can't really help her. He does, however, ask Bart exactly who was with him.

We then return to the rest of Young Justice, still trapped in their underground prison cells. A couple of the guards open up the trunk in Jinny Hex's truck and are promptly destroyed by gigantic tentacles and crab claws. Suddenly, Superboy and Impulse show up and free their friends. Robin says that maybe Bart was right. Superboy starts to say Young Justice, but Bart cuts him off, insisting that Robin should say it. But Robin is stammering and can't quite get to the words Bart's been longing to hear, instead settling on a heart-warming hug with three of his oldest friends.

The hug doesn't last nearly long enough for Bart's liking, as everybody has too many questions and not enough time to answer them. Nobody saw what happened to the guards, and Superboy and Amethyst begin pushing for the team to leave as quickly as possible. We then end with another Amethyst flashback, showing how she began to suspect the rest of the Houses are working with Opal, and how she first met Robin.

That was a beautiful hug, but it seriously needed to be a full splash page. It's been years — YEARS! — since the real versions of Impulse, Superboy, Robin and Wonder Girl were all together. It's such a glorious moment — I just wanted it to be played out as massively as Bart's reunion with Conner was. Beyond that, though, this was a really fun issue. Bart is funnier than ever, dropping some all-time classic lines. And, after four issues, we've finally got the whole team together. I'll admit the Amethyst stuff is a challenge for me. I've never been interested in her, and I keep find myself growing impatient with her story, since it's pulling away from Bart's story. Oh well. Let's check out the new ads.

Shazam! in theaters April 5 and various Shazam-related graphic novels. I'm so glad we didn't get an ad for this movie on the cover like DC used to always do for its movies and shows.

They have a mission. But don't tell the Justice League. Batman and the Outsiders.

DC Nation interview with Shazam! director David F. Sandberg. Shazam! was only a modest success at the box office, but I think it was probably the best movie of the DCEU.

Next: The seventh crisis!

Friday, February 7, 2020

Young Justice #3

Seven Crises Part 3

Brian Michael Bendis Script
Patrick Gleason & Viktor Bogdanovic Art
Jonathan Glapion Inks (pgs. 12, 14-15, 18)
Alejandro Sanchez (pgs. 1-5), Chris Sotomayor (pgs. 6-16) & Hi-Fi Colors
Carlos M. Mangual & Josh Reed Letters
Gleason & Sanchez Cover
Evan "Doc" Shaner Variant Cover
Jessica Chen Associate Editor
Mike Cotton Editor
Brian Cunningham Group Editor
Superboy created by Jerry Siegel.
By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family.

This cover was originally solicited as the cover of issue #1, back when they had Impulse in an orange-and-white uniform. Oddly enough, they changed the color back to red for the other covers and all the inside pages, but forgot to change this one. But I have to say, I really don't mind the orange. It reminds me of Impulse's scouts of old and the Impulse of DC One Million. Anyway, this is a really nice cover. I love the white background and the three boys look great. Their name labels are also fairly revealing. Robin's no longer the Boy Wonder, Superboy knows half his DNA comes from Lex Luthor, and Impulse remembers being the Flash. I also absolutely love how their names are stylized in the logos from their old solo series. That is showing respect for the past.

Our variant cover is a gorgeous portrait of the whole team, leaning heavily into the "main color" idea for each character. Once again, Impulse is orange, which works perfectly in something like this. The team is a rainbow, both literally and figuratively. And Shaner is one of my favorite artists. He just has a wholesome, pleasing style. He definitely needs to draw more Young Justice.

Our story picks up where issue #1 left off, with Bart and Conner's exciting and tender reunion. After excitedly repeating each other's names for a bit, and confirming that they really are who they think they are, Bart gives Conner the biggest, sweetest hug you'll ever see in comics. Conner tries to pull away to get a better look at Bart, but Impulse refuses, insisting he's busy.

Eventually, the hug does end and the questions begin. Conner wants to know how Bart got here, and Bart wants to know how Conner got here, plus where here is. Conner's a bit surprised Bart doesn't know where he is, but Bart points out that he's spent quite a while not knowing when he is. He teases Conner for his new jacket, but Superboy stays focused. He tells Bart they're on Gemworld, which he says is "pretty great" and that he loves it "top to bottom." Bart is then shocked to realize that Conner is living as a farmer on this planet, but Conner casually says that half of him has always been a farmer. The two boys are then interrupted, and Bart angrily says they weren't done with their "big moment."

The interrupters turn out to be three of the invaders from issue #1. Their leader identifies himself as Carnelian of the royal Court of Opal, and he addresses Bart as "child of Earth," ordering him to step away from the gem farmer (Superboy). Bart confidently tell Carnelian this isn't the boss level, even though he clearly thinks it is. He tells Conner that these guys are "like, Intergang easy." Superboy appreciates Bart's reference, but he doesn't seem too keen to jump into a fight. Bart, however, is too distracted with his trash talking to pick up on that.

Carnelian tells Impulse he's trespassing and is under arrest by command of the Great Dark Lord Opal. Bart points out that Carnelian literally just invaded Earth, so Bart proclaims himself King of Earth and places Carnelian under arrest. One of Carnelian's companions calls Bart "Sparkle Boy" and accuses him of sabotaging their Court's holy mission. Bart counters by saying they sabotaged him getting his "holy butt kicked by the O.G. Superman." Bart tells Conner that Superman's doing great, even though he hasn't had any direct contact with him (that we've seen) since escaping the Speed Force.

Carnelian angrily explains that they went to Earth to confront the planet's greatest warrior and make him pay for Earth causing so much pain and suffering to Gemworld. Bart gets really excited at this part, and, ignoring Conner's protests, he begins to talk up Superboy as a legitimate, Superman-level challenge. And he sure has a lot of fun with this, winking at Conner as he says, "Oh, anonymous farmer person, I see you're wearing a Superman T-shirt. You must be a big fan!" But instead of picking up on Bart's cue to start the fight, Conner kneels down and puts his hands behind his head.

Bart is so shocked by this, he leaves himself open to an attack, and Carnelian electrocutes him with his staff. As Bart falls to the ground, writhing in pain, Carnelian proudly says they have something to bring back to Lord Opal. His companion, Topaz, points out this isn't Superman, but Carnelian believes he can dress Impulse up.

We're then treated to a flashback of how Superboy got to Gemworld. Long story short, he just happened across a random monster in the desert. S.T.A.R. Labs was on the scene, acting super shady, so Conner busted open their lab and discovered a bunch of enormous gems seemingly creating a massive pillar of crackling energy. For some reason, Superboy got too close and was transported to Gemworld.

Back in the present time, Carnelian asks Conner why that "confused, sparkling Earth boy" thought he was about to be a concern. Conner says Bart was confused by his shirt, which he claims to have bought at Opal Pavilion. But Carnelian says he was originally from Earth, and he identifies the shirt as a polyester cotton blend, which means that Conner is lying. Carnelian continues to interrogate Conner, asking if he's an "Earthen" or a Kryptonian and what he's doing here. Suddenly, a young woman holding a baby boy steps forward, asking if everything is OK. Conner introduces everyone to his wife, and Bart wakes up just enough to say, "First the beard, now this!"

Our issue ends with us finding out the rest of our heroes have been captured and imprisoned by Lord Opal. Cassie blames herself for instigating the confrontation, but Tim tells her it's no one's fault. Amethyst, however, does blame Wonder Girl, saying reality is falling apart, and she's the only one who knows or can do anything about it.

Ah. This is what I've been waiting for. I couldn't think of a more touching, heart-warming or surprising reunion. Impulse and Superboy have been through a lot together, and they certainly deserved this big, glorious moment. However, that shocking ending almost completely eclipses this joyous display of friendship and playful banter. Superboy has a wife?! And she has a baby boy with black hair and a spit curl?! We'll just have to wait to get to the bottom of that mystery.

This story is still a lot of fun, but it's really hasn't gotten around to answering many questions yet — only raising more. But the characters are delightful and the art is solid — even with the frustratingly large and rotating cast of creators on this book. I know it's going to take quite a while for us to learn more about Impulse, but in the meantime, I'll be enjoying this wild ride. But first, the new ads:

Teen Titans/Deathstroke: The Terminus Agenda. A 6-part crossover event.

Beware my power! The Green Lantern by Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp.

An interview with Super Sons: The Polarshield Project author Ridley Pearson.

Next: Amethyst: Prisoner of Gemworld!

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Young Justice #2

Seven Crises Part 2

Brian Michael Bendis Script
Patrick Gleason & Emanuela Lupacchino Art
Ray McCarthy Inks (pp 9-18)
Alejandro Sanchez Colors
Josh Reed Letters
Gleason & Sanchez Cover
Sanford Green Variant Cover
Jessica Chen Associate Editor
Mike Cotton Editor
Brian Cunningham Group Editor
Superboy created by Jerry Siegel.
By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family.

Sadly, Impulse doesn't appear in this issue — only on this variant cover. It's a bright, happy image of the whole team, even though they haven't officially come together yet. For the most part, I like this cover, but some of our heroes' faces are a little weird. Superboy looks rather smarmy, Bart's new buck teeth are a little too prominent for my liking, and since when did Jinny Hex start wearing lipstick?

This issue shows us what happened to the rest of Young Justice when they arrived on Gemworld. Robin was able to quickly convince Amethyst that he's a good guy, and she even let him ride her winged unicorn (or alicorn, if you prefer). Jinny, Teen Lantern and Wonder Girl all ended up in the same place, and we're treated to a flashback of Cassie beating up Despero (either Cassie's a lot stronger now, or Despero's a lot weaker).

Anyway, Cassie starts flying Jinny's truck around to try to get a sense of where they are, when they suddenly bump into Robin and Amethyst — literally. Teen Lantern cushions their crash with a bunch of pillows, but they landed right at the feet of the villainous Lord Opal.

This story is still very fun and engaging, but it's already run into the weakness of too many characters. Impulse's emotional reunion with Superboy got put on hold so we could catch up with everybody else and start to learn about Wonder Girl's backstory. And the problem is, we're going to need backstories on each of these characters, which will slow down this fast-paced story. Not that it's a bad thing to have some breathing room — I just want my Impulse, and I'm a little sad he has to share the screen with so many people.

Next: Whatever happened to Conner Kent?

The Flash Annual #2

Too Many Speedsters

Joshua Williamson – Writer
Scott Kolins – Artist
Luis Guerrero – Colorist
Wes Abbott – Letterer
Kolins & Guerrero – Cover
Andrew Marino – Assistant Editor
Paul Kaminski – Editor
Marie Javins – Group Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel Family.

Our cover shows Barry Allen battling Godspeed, while Impulse looks down from the top of a statue of Wally West. While it's true that Impulse is a guest star of this issue, he doesn't actually see his grandpa. It's a splashy, but sadly sloppy cover. I've never been a big fan of Kolins, but this one is downright messy. Barry's face is grotesque. And why are staring up Wally's big, ugly nostrils?

Our story opens with Impulse excitedly running through the streets to reunite with his family. We know this takes place before Young Justice #1, but it's unclear how much time has passed since Flash #50. One would think Bart would have ran straight to his family, but he obviously has stopped at least long enough to change his costume (except for the gloves). Perhaps it just took Bart a few days or weeks to figure out when and where he was.

In any case, Bart realizes it's been such a long time, he's worried that his family might not recognize him anymore. He also reveals that he remembers being Kid Flash and the Flash (the Fastest Man Alive). This is quite the significant development, since we have never fully known how much Bart remembers of his "previous life." Anyway, Bart reminds himself to heed the advice of Max Mercury, then runs through a house (unclear whose), but is unable to find his grandparents or Wally.

Barry, meanwhile, is caught in the middle of Heroes in Crisis and a fight with Godspeed. So we'll skip ahead to Bart's next move. He visits Max's house (hopefully still in good, ol' Manchester, Alabama), Mount Justice and Titans Tower. But he is still unable to find Max, Conner, Tim, Cassie, Jay or Jesse. Bart is so frustrated, he even uses the 30th century curse word, "sprock."

Finally, Bart does find someone — Godspeed. Bart overheard August Heart speaking to his boss, saying there are no more speedsters left for him to "collect" from. Naturally, that's suspicious enough for Bart to treat him as an enemy. He immediately begins beating up Godspeed, demanding to know who he is, and venting his frustration that he isn't Wally or the Flash. August is shocked to see that Barry has yet another sidekick (he had just barely beat up Wallace and Avery — as the story says, there are too many speedsters). August decides to "collect" from Impulse like he did the others, but Bart easily dodges his initial attack.

Suddenly, Godspeed's unseen boss tells him he's not ready for this speedster, and orders him to enter the Speed Force now. August obediently takes off, leaving a perplexed Bart behind to wonder who he was talking to. But Bart doesn't seem too bothered by that, as he doesn't attempt to chase after Godspeed. Instead, he chooses to go find some answers.

First Epilogue.

Bart figured the best place to find the answers he seeks is the Flash Museum. He realizes this world isn't like the one he left behind, as it's missing something. He stares at the giant gold statues of Wally and Barry in front of the building, saying Wally's new costume is "super cool." (Bart's completely wrong, but we won't hold that against him.) He laments not being able to talk to Wally right now, recounting the long time they spent trapped in the Speed Force together. Although it was scary, Bart was able to feel hope, knowing Wally was with him. But when Wally left during Rebirth, Bart was left alone, like he is now. And now he wants to talk to someone about what happened to the two of them.

Bart looks at Barry's statue and admits that they were never really that close, since he grandpa was so cold. But Wally wasn't like that, which is why Bart wants to talk to him. Bart then quickly checks out the inside of the museum, seeing how much has changed. But these changes can't simply be prescribed to time passing or people missing — it's something bigger than that. So Bart continues his run, telling himself that his family would never give up hope. He knows he'll eventually see Wally again, but for now, he hopes he can find his friends. Which he did, in Young Justice #1.

One interesting aspect of Joshua Williamson's run on The Flash is how often he portrays Barry Allen as basically the worst ever. It's almost as if Williamson always wanted to write Wally and can't contain his disdain for Barry, which is slightly unfortunate since Barry is the main character of his series. Granted, this issue sort of deified Wally, since at this point in Heroes in Crisis, everyone thought he was dead. Bart' relationship with Wally was downright awful in the early days, I don't think it ever reached the level of adoration he's now talking about. Unless we're to surmise that Bart and Wally grew a lot closer while they were stranded in the Speed Force between Flashpoint and Rebirth. Although I'm now wondering why Max, Jay and the others weren't in the Speed Force as well.

Anyway, this was actually a heartbreaking issue for Bart. He's finally free of the Speed Force, but he has no one to talk to. One idiotic villain to briefly fight, but that's it. On one hand, it's wonderful to see that he remembers everyone; on the other hand, it's incredibly tragic that he's being tormented with these memories. All in all, I'll say Bart was remarkably composed in light of all this. Which leads me to believe he's essentially an adult in a teenager's body. If he remembers the year he spent as a 20-year-old, including who knows how long he was in the Speed Force, then he's actually quite mature for his apparent age. Yeah, he's still fun-loving and impulsive, but deep down, he's kind of an old soul. I think. We'll see how this slowly plays out in Young Justice. Hopefully Williamson didn't say anything that caught Brian Michael Bendis off guard.

Let's check out the ads:

The collected edition of Mister Miracle, which won Eisners for best writer and best artist.

The future of the Fourth World is female. Female Furies.

DC Nation interview with Wonder Twins writer Mark Russell.

Next time, we'll return to the Young Justice series. Impulse technically didn't appear in issue #2, but I'll still give it a quick look.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Young Justice: Outsiders – "Home Fires"

Director: Vinton Hueck
Writer: Greg Weisman

It's been almost two months since the adventure on New Genesis brought Forager to Earth and put him in a team of sorts with Geo-Force and Halo. And, naturally, the Light decided the best way to confirm this news was through an overly elaborate plan: hiring Lobo (above) to kill Forager. Our heroes put up a good fight, but Lobo only leaves when Forager fakes his death. But that's the main story, we don't care about. Let's get to Bart!

On September 29, 10:00 CDT, Bart is seen hanging out with his grandma, Iris, helping her babysit her 2-year-old twins (one of whom is Bart's father, Don). The twins both have super speed, so I'd imagine Bart gets called on to babysit quite a bit. He also can't help but refer to Don as his dad and Iris as his grandma, much to Iris' chagrin. Bart plays it off as an accident, but I'm pretty sure he's doing it on purpose. He also refers to them as the "Tornado Toddlers," a tribute to their adult, comic book name, the Tornado Twins. Bart also continues the use of Dick Grayson's old slang word, "whelmed." (It's kind of nice that the show keeps calling back to old stuff, but at the same time, I think these kids would start using different words after a few years.)

Anyway, Iris is hosting a massive playdate with all the young children of Justice League members. All in all, about 20 people show up, including Aquaman's son (who mostly reads his Blue Falcon & Dynomutt comic), Red Tornado and his adopted daughter, Traya, and Lois Lane with her and Superman's son, Jon. The playdate goes off without a hitch, as none of the parents present seem to realize that Ocean Master was hiding in the house across the street, plotting to kill them all. Luckily for our heroes, though, Lady Shiva killed Orm, fearing the Justice League's retaliation after such a devastating blow.

One of Greg Weisman's weaknesses as a writer is his habit of making the heroes look like ignorant idiots until the very last episode of a season. It's nice to have intelligent villains, but it makes absolutely no sense for the Justice League to allow all their children to gather in one unprotected place. This story could have played out the exact same way, but would have been a whole lot better had we been given some indication that somebody — anybody on the good guys' side — was prepared to stop Orm if necessary. Anyway, it was fun seeing all those Easter eggs on screen, even if the show had to resort to using still images to save on animation costs (an unfortunate weakness of this season).

We still don't know much about Bart. Ostensibly, he's still living with the Garricks, although that hasn't been confirmed yet. Interestingly, it appears that Bart is not attending school. Because in this episode, on the same day, Megan and Snapper Carr carpool to school, where they work as a counselor and principal, respectively. So what does Bart do with his time? He doesn't seem to be going on very many missions at the moment. Maybe caring for two super fast toddlers requires round-the-clock presence of at least one speedster. But that's just me speculating. Sadly, we're not going to see Bart again on this show for quite a while. Luckily, though, we have plenty of comics to keep us occupied until then.

Next time, we'll see what Impulse was up to between Flash #50 and Young Justice #1.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Young Justice: Outsiders – "Away Mission"

Director: Mel Zwyer
Writer: Nicole Dubuc

About a week after the dramatic fallout on the Watchtower, we learn that Miss Martian is still keeping  the remains of The Team together. On August 4, 10:32 MDT, Bart Allen is hanging out with Jaime Reyes and Traci Thurston in what I believe to be Jaime's home in El Paso, Texas. Traci and Jaime are lying on a bed together, while Bart's sitting on the floor in front of the bed. But even though they're all together, they're each doing something different — Bart's on a tablet, Jaime's reading a comic book, and Traci's on a laptop, watching a Star Trek-inspired TV show starring Beast Boy himself.

Jaime criticizes Space Trek 3016 for not following the laws of physics, but Traci doesn't mind, implying she's more interested in Gar Logan, who no longer walks around in his weird half-monkey form and now has a fashionable new haircut. Anyway, this discussion is interrupted when all three of their phones go off, playing the theme song of Hello, Megan. Naturally, this is M'gann's less-than-subtle way of calling The Team on a mission.

Before too long, our heroes are suited up and reporting alongside Static Shock and Wonder Girl at Snapper Carr's farm in Happy Harbor. Bear, of the Forever People, has requested their help with a problem he's facing on New Genesis. Once everybody's arrived, he opens a boom tube to the other planet. Bart excitedly tells Jaime they'll get to study those space physics up close, but Jaime points out that boom tubes basically break the laws of physics, as well.

Thirteen is also real excited to go to another world, so much so, in fact, that she briefly loses control of her magical powers and accidentally causes the boom tube to open up several feet above the ground. Bart is quick to forgive her, though, falling back on his old slang word of "crash" to describe how neat it is to be on a mission in space. And Bear is thrilled to be working with heroes more enthusiastic than Superboy.

Meanwhile, Nightwing, Artemis, Superboy, Snapper, and the recently retired Black Lightning work on the farm to help Prince Brion and Halo (above) figure out their new powers. (It's a long story, but if you're reading this blog, you probably already know it.)

Back on New Genesis, Bear explains that the Bug population of the planet has been having trouble with the New Gods that live on a floating island high above them. At least that's what the Bug's claim. Bear's investigation detected the presence of Earthlings after the supposed New God attack, which is why he brought The Team here. Kid Flash says it's "moded" that Robin isn't here to play detective, but Cassie is quick to point out how Tim doesn't pick up on as many clues as you think. M'gann joins in, listing "super oblivious" to Superboy's power set, prompting Virgil to conclude that "boys are bad."

Before too long, a group of Bugs charges our heroes to attack, but a small red one named Forager steps up to protect The Team. He explains to the big green leader that he was the one who asked for Bear's help after their encounter with Orion. While the Bug's debate, Bart whispers to Jaime that the green leader seems "ticked" off, but Blue Beetle refuses to acknowledge this cheesy joke.

Bear tells the green leader that the Orion they met was an imposter, since the real Orion is currently away from New Genesis. The green leader doesn't believe him, but he eventually does agree to work with our heroes to set up an ambush for this "Orion." Miss Martian disguises herself as a Bug, ordering The Team to remain hidden in the woods. "Orion" arrives right on schedule to collect the Bugs' offering, accompanied by too grotesque monsters, which Miss Martian has identified as metahumans from Earth, wearing control devices.

As "Orion" speaks with the green leader, M'gann can tell he's using telepathy to make the Bugs angrier. She then realizes who this imposter is and transforms into her true White Martian form and demands that "Orion" explain himself. He says he can't talk here, so he flies away deeper into the woods with M'gann, who orders The Team to stay put and turns off her psychic link, so they don't know what she's doing.

Turns out the fake Orion is actually M'gann's brother, who's a radical revolutionary, trying to provoke a conflict between the Bugs and the New Gods. But our heroes only learn this because they disobeyed orders and decided to check on their leader. Kid Flash says, "Sorry, not sorry," but M'gann is actually grateful for their presence. They can hold off the metahumans, while she takes on her brother in an emotional psychic battle.

Unfortunately, the Bugs see this fighting and decide they can't trust the New Gods or the "Earthers," and try to destroy them all. Kid Flash knocks away a couple of Bugs rolling toward the battle, but he's hit from behind by the green leader. The leader also shoots down Blue Beetle from the sky, and prepares to blast him and Wonder Girl, when Forager steps up once again to save our heroes.

M'gann's psychic battle does not go well, as her brother retaliates by killing his metahuman slaves. He blames Forager for starting this and fades away, while Miss Martian stupidly stands idly by. The green leader also blames Forager for this and even banishes him from the hive. Wonder Girl and Blue Beetle says they should help Forager, so Miss Martian decides to bring him back to Earth with them. She also takes the dead bodies of the grotesque metahumans to give them a proper burial on their home planet.

This was a pretty fun episode. Sadly, it was a reminder that some of last season's main characters — Jaime and Bart — are now merely background characters. The main characters for this season are Brion, Halo and Forager. So, yeah, our guys got to go on a fun mission in space, but they really didn't do anything. Bart cracked a couple of jokes and pushed one bug out of the way. Jaime blasted his laser cannon once or twice. And that was it.

The opening scene of them in El Paso was actually the most interesting. Sadly, we don't know anything about Traci, other than she has magical powers and has been training under Zatanna. But she has formed a potentially fun trio with Jaime and Bart. I kind of like the idea of these teenagers just sitting around all day, waiting for M'gann to send them on a mission.

I will say, however, I couldn't help but wish this trip to New Genesis could have been as wonderfully wacky as Impulse's first trip there in the comics. But this show never gets as silly as the series it stole its name from. The story is still rather serious, focused, thoughtful and, at times, a little distressing. Transforming teenagers into grotesque monsters and then brutally murdering them is probably something this show never would have tried on Cartoon Network. I don't know if that's necessarily a good thing or a bad thing. I just wish we had more Bart.

Next time, we're keeping it here on this show, but once again, we'll have to skip ahead a few episodes.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Young Justice #1

Seven Crises

Brian Michael Bendis Script
Patrick Gleason Art
Alejandro Sanchez Colors
DC Lettering Letters
Gleason & Sanchez Cover
Jessica Chen Associate Editor
Mike Cotton & Andy Khouri Editors
Brian Cunningham & Mark Doyle Group Editors
Superboy created by Jerry Siegel.
By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family.

Here we are. Sixteen years after the original Young Justice series came to its tragic end, DC has finally revived the title. Not connected to the Young Justice animated series, nor a complete rebirth with a totally new cast and different tone. This is a revival of what Todd Dezago, Peter David and Todd Nauck built. And mainly because Brian Michael Bendis chose to make this series be anchored by the "big four" of Robin, Superboy, Impulse and Wonder Girl — not the angry, twisted New 52 versions of these characters, but the actual, happy pre-Flashpoint, original characters, who have somehow, someway returned to the DC universe. But we're all so overjoyed to have them back, nobody's too worried about ironing out all the details just yet.

Our main cover was originally intended to go with the third issue of this series. But a last-minute decision by one of this book's five editors gave us the full lineup for issue #1. As you can see, we have the big four accompanied by two new characters — Jinny Hex and Teen Lantern — and one nearly forgotten character, Amethyst. It is a little overwhelming to have seven characters thrown at us all at once, but it does make an exciting, colorful image. And joyful! Look at the smiles on Kon, Cassie and Bart! Can you remember the last time you saw these guys smile? Also, how appropriate is it for Bart to not be posing dramatically with his teammates in the middle of this battle, but instead capture the moment with a selfie? I've long held the belief that smartphones would be too slow for Bart in the modern era, but I guess I can forgive him using the phone for pictures. Besides, it is pretty funny.

The new Young Justice has seven team members, and the debut issue has seven covers. Sadly, not all of them prominently feature just one character like this one by Amy Reeder. This is a nice cover — I've never cared about Amethyst, but this looks decent enough. Sadly, there is a lot of wasted space, as it looks like Reeder didn't realize there wouldn't be the big Young Justice logo at the top.

Up next is our lovable Impulse by Derrick Chew. I wish I loved this cover, but I don't. It's dynamic. It's energetic. It fills up the available space. But it feels just a little too computerized. I'd prefer not to have a CGI Impulse on my comic books. He also looks a little demented. This would make a terrific Inertia, but is a bit too dangerous for Impulse. And finally, Chew gave Impulse a mishmash of Patrick Gleason's redesign and Mike Wieringo's original. As much as I love those fingerless gloves, I have to sadly accept that they are no longer part of Impulse's uniform.

Sadly, Robin and Teen Lantern had to share this Yasmine Putri cover with Wonder Girl (who did get her own variant). However, the green and the white space makes this a fantastic, artistic cover. And I don't feel too bad for Robin — he always had the Batman books more or less keeping him alive, while Superboy, Impulse and Wonder Girl all essentially faded from existence. Of course, Young Justice is bringing him back to his original Robin roots — no more of this Red Robin nonsense.

It's no surprise that one of my favorite artists, Jorge Jiménez, would create one of my favorite covers. If there's any downside, it's that this pose seriously dates this comic. For those who don't know, this is a reference to a popular meme of the time. But dated or note, I still find it hilarious. And I love how Jiménez really leaned into Superboy's new "metal" look (if you don't like it, don't worry — there is an in-story explanation for it!).

We're then treated to this glorious portrait of Wonder Girl by the incredible Doc Shaner. The angry, spiky armor of the New 52 is gone, replaced with a hip, casual outfit. But most importantly, Cassie is smiling! She's happy, laid-back and content — emotions she was not allowed to feel since Graduation Day.

Finally, we close things out with a black-and-white variant of Gleason's main cover. It's nice, still exciting and dynamic, but certainly lacking without the color. The purple, red, blue, yellow green and brown makes quite a feast for the eyes. Interestingly enough, the original solicits showed Impulse in an orange-and-white outfit. Bringing him back to the classic red was another last-minute change by one of the five editors on this book, but I kind of wish we could've seen that orange Impulse in action. It might have been pretty cool. Or not. Who knows?

Our story begins on a strange, alien world with barren landscapes and dragons in the sky. A mysterious person approaches Lord Opal of the Gemworld Courts, telling him about their planet's connection to Earth and the seven major crises it has endured, adversely affecting them, as well.

We then head to Earth, Metropolis, specifically, where we just barely see Superman flying away just as Jinny Hex is pulled over in her pickup truck. Her encounter with the police officer does not go well, especially as he's so worried about the shotgun in her cab and the mysterious contents hidden under a tarp in the back of her truck. Suddenly, Jinny finds herself having to save the cop from an ambush of seven colorful aliens, blasting off bolts of energy and spontaneously creating mounds of crystals. They claim to be representatives of the twelve kingdoms of Gemworld, and demand to battle Superman.

The cop tries to open fire on the invaders, but he quickly becomes encased in red crystal. So Jinny grabs her shotgun and gets one shot off before Robin suddenly arrives. Turns out that Tim Drake was driving a motorcycle and was almost hit by Jinny four minutes ago, when the cop pulled her over. Tim was forced onto the sidewalk, where he just happened to run into Cassie Sandsmark. They're both quite surprised to see each other in Metropolis and begin catching up. Cassie says she's working in Metropolis and will go to school in the fall. But before we can find out what's going on with Tim, the invaders show up. Tim immediately leaps into action, but Cassie is hesitant for some reason.

Maggie Sawyer, of Metropolis Special Crimes, is caught in the middle of this chaos on Shuster Circle. She and a couple of officers are surrounded by these aliens and clearly outmatched. Suddenly, everything turns red with swirly lightning streaks through it. A disembodied voice explains that he ran the cops and several civilians a little farther away from the action, but he figures better safe than sorry. The voice asks the cops if they know what's going on, but when the voice doesn't receive an immediate response, it begins to take off. And, naturally, that voice belongs to Impulse.

Bart took Sawyer and the others to a happy, sunny children's playground, while he calls for Superman, the Justice League and Harry Potter to deal with this threat. Maggie asks Bart who he is, to which he responds "IMPULSE" (in the original series font, by the way). Maggie doesn't know who that is, so Bart says "Kid Flash," which Maggie thinks he should have has said from the beginning. Bart didn't stick around to talk, as he quickly raced back to the city to save an old woman on an electric scooter. Even though the woman doesn't know who's talking to her, Bart strikes up a conversation, saying, "One minute I'm running to Canada to join Alpha —"

But Bart doesn't finish his story, becoming distracted by the growing crystals covering the city. He confesses he finds this random, senseless alien attack quite pretty, all while he continues rescuing people and pets, and wondering where Superman is. At one point, Bart wonders who he's talking to, and seems shocked when the little girl he's holding responds to him.

Robin and Jinny are holding their own, but Robin isn't too thrilled about Jinny's choice to use a lethal weapon in this fight. Cassie remains hidden in an alleyway, until one of the aliens grabs Robin by the throat. With tears in her eyes, Wonder Girl joins the battle, freeing Robin, but taking a big hit in the process. However, she's saved by Teen Lantern, who is hidden in a big robotic suit with a modulated voice.

As Jinny digs through her mysterious trunk for a futuristic laser blaster, Impulse suddenly rushes past Robin, carrying three pugs in his arms and on his head, a snake wrapped around his arm and balancing an upside down turtle with several crabs on top of it. Tim is shocked to see Bart, who only says, "It's happening! It's happening!" Tim asks what he means, but Cassie advises him to ignore Bart. As Impulse rescues Jimmy Olsen, he repeats the phrase.

Impulse begins wielding a firehose, fully admitting that he is impulsive, but he insists it's his "thing." Teen Lantern admits this is her first mission, and she asks Bart what he's talking about, which piques Cassie's curiosity enough to ask as well. Impulse responds, "Us! We! Duh ... YOUNG JUSTICE IS BACK!" And Bart falls to his knees in the front and center of a triumphant battle pose with Robin, Teen Lantern, Wonder Girl and Jinny Hex.

But as soon as Bart makes the five of them the official members of the team, the alien invaders decide they've made their statement and begin to retreat via a large, purple portal. Impulse leads the charge after the invaders, crying out "Young Justice assemble!" and "Young Justice united!" Robin apologizes for his friend getting too excited, and Cassie contests that she didn't officially agree to the formation of this new team. Teen Lantern is unsure whether she's included, promising to come up with a better name.

Robin calls Impulse crazy, but he still follows him into the portal. As do the others, with Jinny in her truck. Bart says this is exactly how things like this happen, and he declares that a need has been met. Tim astutely says, "Not without Conner!" which Bart readily agrees with.

The trip through the portal is pretty rough on our heroes, and they don't all appear in the same place together. Robin, for example, wakes up in a dark room with Amethyst holding a glowing pink sword to his neck. Impulse crashed through a bunch of vines and branches. He says, "Unless Horton is about to hear a Who, I have no idea where I am." He hears someone call his name, and promptly jumps up in a fighting pose. But his eyes go wide as he sees ... Conner! Impulse embraces Superboy, promising to explain how he got here, just as soon as Conner explains how he grew his beard.

Holy. Cow.

Young Justice didn't just come back. It blasted the doors open and stormed back at a million miles an hour, never pausing to take a breath. This was so much fun. So much color. So much action. So much emotion. What a way to launch a series.

But ... was it too much? Seven characters is a lot to keep track of. And we need a lot of background information on all seven of them. This issue raised tons and tons of questions — I think Brian Michael Bendis boasted on Twitter that it raised something like 46 questions. Is there any guarantee those will all be answered? Also, Bendis loves his dialogue. Everybody is talking nonstop, even the villains. It can be a bit overwhelming. However, it is kind of nice to have a comic that takes more than 15 minutes to read, especially since the cover price is at a fairly steep $3.99.

And as for Bart? I am quite pleased. Yes, I have a million burning questions I want to have answered. But what we did get, was incredible. Bart was impulsive, talkative, friendly, fun-loving and quite effective at pulling people and pets out of harm's way. He didn't directly engage the enemy in this issue, but I don't think we should start considering him a pacifist or anything like that. He certainly feels younger than when we last saw him as Kid Flash, but he's not acting as young as Mark Waid had him back in the '90s. He actually feels a bit more like the Impulse from the Young Justice animated series — someone who knows more than he lets on. I am curious about his Alpha Flight (almost) reference. Was he just making a joke, or is there some DC Canadian team out there that Impulse wanted to join?

After 25 years, Impulse finally got a new uniform. And it's not too bad. From the side, the mask looks pretty weird — just tacked on there. And I absolutely hate the gloves. But the streamlined look is great. It's basically one solid piece all the way down to his feet. I'm very sad that his eyes are now blue instead of yellow, but his hair looks great, his feet are big, and he's a short, skinny teenager. But most importantly was how Patrick Gleason presented Impulse. He has done more for the character than any other artist since Humberto Ramos. Gleason never lets Impulse stand still — he's constantly bouncing around in strange, goofy, awkward and adorable positions, sometimes portrayed in sideways and upside-down panels. It's incredibly frantic and perfectly fitting.

To sum things up: So far, so good. Let's close with the ads.

Our first ad is for ... Young Justice. It uses the exact same image as the main cover, with the added tagline: The ultimate heroes for a new generation! And that is a great way to describe this. These are the ultimate heroes, and they have finally been brought back for old and new readers to enjoy.

Watch her unlock the DC universe's biggest secret. Naomi. A new series from the co-creator of Miles Morales. This is followed by a six-page preview of the series, which is also part of Bendis' Wonder Comics label. I don't know why Bendis needed his own label for his various stories about teenaged heroes. It makes it sound like these comics take place in a separate continuity from the mainstream DCU, but that's not the case — as we just saw in Action Comics. Oh well. I guess Bendis just needed that much more control and recognition to be pulled away from Marvel.

The DC Nation page is an interview with Patrick Gleason and includes his concept art of Impulse, Superboy and Robin. Gleason goes through each of the designs, and I absolutely love what he said about Impulse: "The way I show Bart move on the page is different than any other Flash. Since he's faster than the human eye I decided that I can't show him running. Maybe it's crazy to emphasize those little moments where he's hopping over something or driving or falling down but I think it humanizes him even more. As any longtime fan of the comics or show would know, he's always been the heart of the team and that's what I want to show in my art." Those comments prove Gleason completely understands this character, and it shows on the page.

Next time, we'll return to Young Justice: Outsiders.