Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Review: Young Justice #16

It has been a crazy week and I am just finishing up the reviews from 2 Wednesdays ago today. A wee bit of vacation was snuck in there admittedly. A much needed vacation.

Young Justice #16 continues the deep dive into just what is going on with this old/new team and where the heck have some of them been all this time. Between the Superman books commenting on different universes and calling back to pre-Crisis stories to Lois Lane publicly talking about universal fracturing in her own book and the (presumed since I am not reading it) continuity reset in Death Metal, there are a lot of anomalies running around in the DCU. And for folks like me, who have lived through umpteen reboots, it is getting confusing.

Enter writer Brian Michael Bendis.

Last issue, Impulse told how he discovered the multiversal shenanigans and was able to find Conner and bring him back to reality. This issue we learn that Bart has been witness to more than that. In fact, given the lessons from Flashpoint, maybe he is the cause of all this.

I've never been a huge Impulse fan but I liked him in this issue. He clearly is worried about all he has seen and is just trying to survive. He is a sympathetic young hero here, in over his head a bit.

Add to the the solid pencil work of Scott Godlewski, who seems to be veering into the John Timms/Jorge Jimenez, hyper-style, and you have a winning book. Not many mysteries are solved here. But the enigma stew is getting thicker and more delicious.

On to the book.

Every issue might be someone's first issue.

These opening splash pages where the mystery behind some of these members is a good way to introduce new readers to the underlying theme here. It also gives Godlewski a chance to shine. That is one crazy team!

Last issue Superboy pressed Bart about what really happened when Bart found Con.

Sure Superboy was from a reality that doesn't exist anymore. But that means Bart is also twisted up in all this 'what is current reality' nonsense. And like a good friend, Conner wants to help. That is pretty cool.

A few other nice things here.

One, I like that it seems that Superboy is as fast as Impulse, if not faster. That isn't always the case with Superman and Flash.

Second, Godlewski's panel layout of the concentric circles showing the pace of this run, through different environments, is pretty clever.

But 'meep meep'? Is the Road Runner even in pop culture vernacular any more? Or will only old folks like me get what Bart is saying?

The chase is put on pause when Bart runs off and Superboy is delayed by one last monster from the STAR Labs brouhaha.

One thing Bendis does well here is show just how unnerving it must be to suddenly appear on Earth with no one remembering you in any way. This FBI agent has never heard of this Superboy. He wonders if it is Jon with a new look.

And that inset panel of Conner is a nice way to bring home that sort of uncertainty as he contemplates questioning just how much people remember.

Eventually Conner catches up with Bart who has passed out from running so much.

And then we dive into Bart's story.

I loved this two page spread, a sort of 'this is your life' panorama of Bart's life. Things have changed so much and he doesn't have anyone he can talk to about all this. (Nice placement of Max Mercury at that line since Max was often the philosopher and mentor for young speedsters. Without Max, who do you talk to?)

And I also really loved the line that of all the Supers and all the Speedsters, Con and Bart are the most odd. That is so true and I haven't heard it said that way before. Just wonderful pithy stuff from Bendis, distilling down all the continuity miasma into one line.

Like many of us, when things get stressful, the place that you can bury yourself is work.

So Bart when out and tried to just super-hero his way into not thinking about things.

Unfortunately that led to being banished into a weird dimension of non-being by the Mirror Master.

(His breaking apart into globs is a nice visual of this madness.)

And then when he escapes that place, he ends up 40 years in the future.

It is the one true Earth. But there is evidence that the young heroes were killed long ago.

In a Harley-run Arkham, things are about to get ugly.

Once more Bart breaks free.

And here is the insanity.

He basically blipped back and forth in the timeline looking for his friends until he found them.

That's like a flock of butterflies who effects need to settle down.

I like how Conner tells him he probably shouldn't have done that. Who has set up time travel rules???

Thankfully, Drake was invited to this tete-a-tete even if Bart didn't know it.

And Tim, as usual, is the level headed one.

Maybe Bart didn't break everything. Maybe something bigger is going on. Time to bring in the JLA.

But once more, some old time continuity is hinted at. Tim saying that he dreamed Young Justice camped out in a cave is, in fact, true way back in the original book. Bendis is doing a good job here weaving in bits and pieces of all these other histories and how they impact these characters.

And the art is appropriately energetic and stylized enough to be great for a young hero book.

I am wondering if all this is leading up to a new timeline. Am I ready for yet another continuity????

Overall grade: B+


Martin Gray said...

Welcome back from your vacation, did you restart the continuity of any universes? I really liked this issue, Bendis is on fire right now with his characterisations. I do worry, though, that the story won’t finally be tied up.

Anonymous said...

I was afraid Godlewski wasn't going to live up to the work of Timms, but liked his work here a lot. (I was equally afraid when Timms took over from Patrick Gleason near the start of the series, but that also worked out fine.)

The recap page is actually by Timms, and it's been reused. It was the last page of issue #12, re-used for the recap page in issues #14 and now #16. I suppose that's fair - no DC titles have recaps at all except for Bendis's, and no Marvel recap pages ever have new art on them, or barely any art at all. That Bendis, now with Walker co-writing, have spent time on monthly recaps, let alone with original art most of the time, has been much appreciated.

I really liked the multiversal plot. This was a different "solution" vs. the one used for Superboy in the last issue, but it works.

Issue #2 of Dark Nights: Death Metal was actually funny, to the disappointment of many reviewers. Much of it was written in the mold of the simultaneous horror/comedy mix of the Buffy TV series. I liked it and wouldn't mind more of it. It's so absurdly over-the-top that it's probably hard for them to write it straight.