Friday, September 4, 2020

Review: Young Justice #18

Young Justice #18 came out this week and was something of a rest issue for this book although taking a good look at the relationship of Spoiler and Tim Drake, a couple I like seeing together. For me, I have been a Stephanie Brown fan forever, loving her time as Batgirl written by Bryan Q. Miller. So seeing her close off part of her past and rekindle her romance with Tim is wonderful.

But this book was just announced to be canceled in the near future and with so much of 'how and why are the key members back in this universe' still unanswered, even a Drake/Spoiler issue feels like space that could have been devoted to the main storylines. Of course, this issue might have been read many months before the decision to cancel was made.

One of the bigger complaints I hear about this book is that it has seemed to meander a bit, always hinting at a bigger, universal story but never quite getting there. I am sad to see that it is being canceled before writer Brian Michael Bendis crosses the finish line. Because I have enjoyed this book. I like all these characters and how Bendis handles them. And I hope that the book ending doesn't mean this team is ending. Come on DC! Give us a special now and then.

The art is an interesting mix by Michael Avon Oeming and Scott Godlewski. Oeming pencils a fight scene at the beginning which is a flashback and brings a sort of 'Batman the Animated Series' energy to the fight with great panels showing the brawl. The remainder is drawn by series regular Scott Godlewski who grounds us more in the feel of this book and also gives us a great melee scene as well.

On to the book.

We get a nice splash page of our heroes re-igniting their romance. And the blurb which acknowledges that Steph was Robin for a hot second made me smile. 

And then we get the hint that Spoiler isn't peaceful. She has her own axe to grind.

Drake arrives in Central City in the aftermath of Spoiler having beaten up any number of criminals.

I did like how Drake is able to convince the henchman to say who he works for through a bit of threatened violence. It is especially funny given the henchman's initial blase attitude.

That's funny.

We see how Spoiler's investigation into Cluemaster's whereabouts led her to Central City. 

There she was involved in an odd fight where she wanted to fight Cluemaster's gang to get more information but ultimately has to save them from La Tombe, as assassin sent there by one of Cluemaster's enemy.

I loved this sequence as drawn by Michael Avon Oeming. We see how someone small like Spoiler has to flit in and out against a Bane-like bruiser like La Tombe as well as the gang which occasionally also step in to get a shot in.

Also love the sound effects - wack, smack, crack? The rhyme has to be intentional.

And remember, this was supposed to be Spoiler beating up these goons for info. She doesn't want them dead. But she doesn't want to be looked on as if she was helping her father.

So I liked how she knocked out this overly complimentary gang member. And calling her Baby Cluemaster?? Again, pretty funny.

With the flashback done, we switch back to Scott Godlewski on art and Spoiler and Drake heading to Cluemaster's new HQ.

It is clear that Steph really isn't in a good headspace as she and Drake head off. He reminds her that they can call in all of Young Justice but she says she needs to do this on her own. 

When she isn't looking, he puts out word to the team. 

I like how while these are going out we hear Cluemaster's rant against being a parent in an age where kids think they know all the answers.

At the headquarters, Drake is taken out quickly leading to the throwdown we have all wanted to see.

But surprisingly, Steph starts by saying she wants to go to family counseling. 

Awww ...

And Drake isn't really that out.

Here he uses the Cluemaster's own uniform against the villain, shattering a smoke grenade still on the villain's chest with a batarang.

Again, I had to smile at this. Maybe even chuckle.

There's nothing left but the wetworks as we see Spoiler dismantle Cluemaster in a physical brawl. Another beautiful beatdown shown artistically.

But just when it seems like Steph might cross a line and do something horrible, she is pulled back from the abyss by the arriving Young Justice team.

Let's face it. This team is her family now.

In fact, for most of the members, this team is family.

Nothing left but the wrap-up.

Drake is Robin again (something must have happened somewhere else). He and Steph are kissing. The team are having a nice lunch.

But then, Cassie shows up ... and she needs the team's help.

I suppose giving Drake and Steph some serious center stage time is a good thing to do given there isn't much time or another place to showcase them. And I liked this issue as it gave some closure to Steph while giving us some fun moments as well. (Seriously, that bomb going off on Cluemaster's chest made me guffaw.) Add to that the very slick art and this was a satisfying read.

It is shame we won't get a lot more of this. And I do hope that as readers we get some closure about the mystery of the team's return.

Overall grade: B


Anonymous said...

Damian just gave up being Robin in the Teen Titans Annual - he handed Batman his 'R' badge. But there's been no mention of Tim becoming Robin again outside of this panel in Young Justice.

There will be a story featuring Steph and Cassandra Cain in the upcoming Batman: Joker War special later this month. Some black & white preview pages show Cass in what looks like her old Batgirl outfit, Steph still as Spoiler (ninja-masked version) but now wearing a bat symbol, while Barbara appears to be working as Oracle. Will this be a hoax? An imaginary tale?

Glad you've been finding worthwhile material to blog about!


Martin Gray said...

Top review. I forget who pointed it out - perhaps the excellent Rob Staeger on Twitter - but maybe that mysterious scene last issue, when Batman was having a word with Tim in the background of a page, was the Caped Crusader asking him to be his Robin again.

I thought we pretty much had the reason Young Justice is back sorted via the Conner and Bart spotlights... multiversal shenanigans. OK, we didn’t get an issue about Tim and his memories, but I assume it’s all part and parcel of the same thing, we do know he was involved in the Mr Oz/Mxy/Dr Manhattan shenanigans.

I do hope Wonder Comics isn’t going away before Supergirl can get there!

Anonymous said...

Martha remembers Conner. (If forget if that happened in Action or Superman).

Moreover, Iris remembered Bart over in the Flash, and that was written by Joshua Williamson.

So, it's not purely a Bendis conceit.

There was an earlier issue where Tim and Steph visited Zatanna at the Hall of Justice, and she elicited memories from Tim, but not Steph. It all came rushing back to him. Not, as I recall, the "why" of it, but just that there was a prior life with all of his teammates.

Why didn't it work on Steph? I think Bendis has said the "Bat Office" has plans for her, so he must have had some constraints and are letting them handle all of that.

Future Tim already showed Steph and Cass images of an alternate history (from his timeline I think?) where they were both Batgirls and also I think where Steph was a Robin.That happened in some long Tynion arc from a few years ago. Tim meant it to demoralize them into thinking that in this universe they are failures, but it only served to inspire them that they could achieve full Batness.


Daxam1978 said...

Just read no.17 & 18
Really enjoyed them!
Gonna miss this title (& SHAZAM too)
No.17 was one of my favourite issues in the series, just awesome dialogue.

William Ashley Vaughan said...

I enjoyed the dialogue too. None of Bendis' usual overused tics. I suspect that Bendis just plotted this one and let his co-writer, David Walker, handle the dialogue.