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Young Justice #51

Posted: Sunday, November 17, 2002
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Peter David
Artists: Todd Nauck (p), Lary Stucker, Jaime Mendoza & Andrew Pepoy (i)

Publisher: DC

Plot:
The book opens with the villains who were acting to protect Zandia from the host of teenage super-heroes who descended on their island, standing down, as Lady Zand the head honcho of the island has arrived on the scene to tell everyone Agua Sin Gaaz is dead, and as such everyone can go back home, as the villain they've come to bring to justice is no more. However, Lady Zand quickly discovers that super-heroes are always itching for a fight, and that if someone tells them to bugger off, they become quite stubborn about leaving when they feel it's the right time to go home. What follows is a big, old fashioned brawl that has all the teenage heroes that traveled to this island, having it out with Lady Zand, who we discover is able to draw upon the land itself, to increase her power & size, so in effect the heroes end up fighting with the very ground beneath their feet. Meanwhile the Empress and her group are busy exploring the secret headquarters of Agua Sin Gaaz, when Secret is targeted by a device that rips a gapping hole in her. We then see a couple of bright lights emerge from this hole, and these lights travel into a couple of mystery chambers that contain an unexpected surprise for Empress. Back with the battle we see Robin & Wonder Girl come up with a plan that allows them to defeat Lady Zand, and then the group decides it's time to go home.

Comments:
Since I went and made a fuss about last issue only giving us half the ending I was expecting it to, I have to confess that this issue Peter David steps up to the plate to provide us with the missing half. Basically this issue gives us all the interaction that I felt was missing from last issue, and Peter David is dealing from a position of strength on this issue, as his character interaction has always been a primary reason why I'm glad to see his name in the credit box. The issue is littered with fun nods of the head, god awful puns, and some truly funny visual gags. I mean where else could one find a group of super-heroes deciding the best way to defeat a villain is to simply pile on top of her, and hope that the sheer weight of numbers would be enough to secure them a victory. One also has to smile at the scene that shows us the super-villains have decided to sit back and enjoy the show, as the expanded cast of Young Justice battles Lady Zand. There's also a cute little victory, as we see the Ray gets to cut loose, as we see Young Justice get a chance to show that they can pull it together when the chips are down. Now in the end I imagine next issue the cast will be whittled back down to the regulars, but these past two issues have been an enjoyable peek at what Peter David can do when he's given even more toys to play with.

This issue also offers up some pretty serious minded material, as when the book's not focused on the big brawl, it's looking at the aftermath of the Empress' fight with her parents' killer. Last issue ended with the surprise revelation that it was Cissie's mother behind the Arrowette mask, and this issue we see the woman brings up the idea that she killed a man, and yet she finds herself quite disturbed by the fact that she actually drew some enjoyment from her murderous action, which in turn gives her better insight into why her daughter decided to retire from the super hero lifestyle. This issue also offers up an even better look at the idea that Secret is seriously messed up, as we see the young woman/spirit falls victim to a booby trap that had been left behind, and we learn that she lied to Empress when she said that once a spirit entered her, it could never return, as this issue has the trap setting free a couple souls that had passed on. We also get an interesting little cliffhanger, as the Empress makes a surprise discovery in the heart of the villain's lair, and when the final page hits, we're left with a fairly impressive "what the heck" finish, and one has to wonder how this discovery will impact the Empress' place in the group. Then again with Young Justice nearing its final issue, I guess now would be the time for Peter David to start dealing with the characters who aren't joining the "new" Teen Titans.

With the news of Young Justice's cancellation coming out earlier this week, one of the first things I noticed was that Todd Nauck wasn't lined up to be the artist for either of the relaunched titles, and this in turn has me a bit concerned, as Todd Nauck has a style that leads itself to a book featuring a younger cast, and with Impulse, Superboy, and now Young Justice getting the ax, the only DC title that jumps to mind as a good fit for his art would be Robin, and Pete Woods looks to be firmly entrenched as that book's regular artist. Still, I guess I shouldn't look too far ahead, as I still don't know when this book's final issue will hit, and Todd Nauck has proven himself to be a solid monthly artist, so I imagine he'll find himself a new book to call home in short order. His work on this latest arc has nicely demonstrated the idea that he can clearly detail action that centers around dozens of characters, as there's some great crowd shots in this issue, and the action is never confusing. This alone should put him at the top of the list when it comes to working on a team book. I also have to make mention of this issue's cover as I can't tell you how much fun it is to pull out those George Pérez Crisis covers, and compare the two, as Todd Nauck offers up some cute substitutions (Lagoon Boy replaces Aquaman, new Ray replaces the old Ray, Superboy replaces Superman).

Final Word:
“Are you ready to rumble?” is the perfect catch phrase to describe this issue, as while the pages detailing situation with Empress leads to a fairly impressive surprise finish, most of the issue is handed over to the expanded cast of Young Justice, as they decide to fight with Lady Zand. This big battle does allow Peter David to show off his sense of humor, as the battle is littered with cute observations, amusing visual gags, and the interaction between the various characters displays a strong tongue in cheek quality to it, as in spite of the threat that Lady Zand provides, I was left with the sense that we were supposed to be having fun with this little tussle. I mean any comic where the heroes form a dog pile on top of the villain is one that you can't take too seriously. Now I must confess I found the villain's weakness to light made things a bit too easy, and I have to wonder how Robin figured this little detail out, but the encounter was fun while it lasted, and it's probably for the best that it ended when it did. This was an entertaining diversion, and the last page does set up a pretty interesting situation.



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