Writer: Peter David
Artists: Todd Nauck (p), Lary Stucker (i)
The book opens by showing us that the leader of Zandia is fully aware that Young Justice has gathered an army of heroes to come after Baron Sin Gaaz, and she's not exactly pleased by this news. We then look in on the greatly expanded lineup of Young Justice, as we move around looking at the various personality conflicts, and the cute moments of interaction between the cast as they prepare to invade Zandia. We then see the entire group is loaded aboard Young Justice's ship and they are off to bring Baron Sin Gaaz to justice. However we see that Baron Sin Gaaz has prepared a welcoming committee in the form of an army of undead zombies, but our heroes have come up with a plan of their own as Lagoon Boy has taken a play from Aquaman's play book, by using a pod of whales to create a massive tidal wave to wash the beaches clean. As the team descends upon Zandia, we see an army of super-villains comprise the second line of defenses protecting Baron Sin Gaaz, but Empress is able to slip past, and soon she finds herself facing her parent's killer. However, Baron Sin Gaaz proves to be too powerful for Anita to handle alone, but she finds herself getting a helping hand from a surprising ally.
This issue wasn't the full-blown battle of superpowers that one is likely to enter this issue expecting to see, but it does provide an excuse for Peter David to unleash his sense of humor, and this issue offers up several genuinely funny moments. It's clear that Peter David took the time to study the characters he decided to include in the expanded cast, as this issue acts as a fun display of powers, from Sweet Sixteen's pheromone manipulation, to the rescue effort by one of the Wonder Twins. One also has to love the scene where the army reacts to Wonder Girl's orders after the team land on Zandia. There's also the fun little side comments that litter the issue, as we see almost every character gets at least one line, and most of the dialogue is a cute reflection of their various personalities. The one thing this issue doesn't do however is offer up offer up a real ending to the conflict, as while the situation with Baron Sin Gaaz is dealt with, the issue ends with the rest of the team locked in combat with an army of super-villains, and while most will probably back down when they hear about Baron Sin Gaaz's death, Devastation's bout with Wonder Girl looks like it's a battle to the death.
Peter David is also quite good when it comes to slipping in the more serious minded material, as there's a great little super-villain exchange in the opening pages of this issue between Baron Sin Gaaz, and the woman who runs the island of Zandia. There's also a nice bit of tension developing between Robin & Secret, with this issue's guest appearance by the Spoiler acting as a nice method of playing up the Secret's darker mood. There's also a great surprise involving Arrowette, that's nicely hinted at with a scene earlier in the book, as Robin casts his investigative mind her way, but I must confess the final page revelation caught me completely off guard. However, the big showdown between Empress and Baron Sin Gaaz is easily the most exciting section of this issue, as Peter David doesn't shy away from presenting the idea that Anita's anger simply isn't enough to give her an edge over her more powerful opponent. One also has to enjoy the idea that Baron Sin Gaaz is the type of villain who relishes his ability to commit evil acts, as the scene where he's whispering his intentions in Anita's ear does a great job playing up his villainous nature. The final scene with Arrowette is also a very powerful moment.
While I'm sure most wouldn't admit this fact, I suspect inside most comic artists there a little George Pérez itching to get out, and when a writer comes up with a story that involves an army of heroes charging into battle, I imagine this one or two page spread is the one that they look forward to the most. This issue Todd Nauck gets to do one better, as in addition to the various crowd shots of the gathered heroes, he's also given an army of super-villains to come charging back the other way, and this in turn allows him to deliver an absolutely wonderful one-page spread on page twenty-two, where the two sides meet. There's also page twenty-seven, where we see the heroes look to be turning the tide of the combat in their favor, and the sheer intensity of the combat in the closing pages, as we see Empress doing battle with the man who killed both her parents. The art on this closing sequence also does a great job on the money shot as we discover why Baron Sin Gaaz suddenly halted his villainous ranting. One also has to love how utterly evil a member of Young Justice appears when Baron Sin Gaaz tumbles into the vat of chemicals that will presumably break down his genetic code.
The issue does seem to run out of pages before it runs out of story, as while Empress' struggle with Baron Sin Gaaz gets a powerful resolution, the rest of the action is kind of left hanging when that final page hits. Still, this issue is thirty-eight pages of fun interaction between a huge cast of characters, many of whom I'm delighted to see again, even if it's only for a couple panels. This issue also delivers some great little moments, from the scene between Impulse & Wonder Girl, to the even more effective scene where Robin lets Wonder Girl know that it's okay to feel overwhelmed by the demands of leadership. However, it's the interaction among the dozens of characters in this issue that make it a delightful read, as Peter David offers up some hilarious moments, with most of them dealing with the idea that a collection of characters this large are not going to instantly become a cohesive fighting unit. The final page shocker is also very nicely done, as I didn't even suspect there was something different about that character.
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