If the comics can link up, I reckon the reviews can too. So what have we here, as DC’s ‘Young Justice’ titles start their first official crossover?
First off, Superboy, in which the Clone of Steel faces his biggest threat yet, the teenage powerhouse known as Grunge … for no reason I can see, unless you link his naff appearance to Nineties musical fads.
A lackey of NOWHERE puppet master Harvest (aka OddGob – have you seen that mouth?), who showed up at the end of the last Teen Titans, he’s a metamorph and immune to Superboy’s telekinesis. Never mind a tendency to talk about himself in the third person, this idiot gives Superboy enough information about himself to make speedy defeat a certainty. So much for recruiting Superboy to his nasty gang of Ravagers.
Elsewhere, NOWHERE security wallah Rose Wilson goes even more nuts than usual, thanks to the mental manipulations of another new baddie, Leash. Happily, Teen Titan Solstice is on hand to talk her down. And talk, and talk … her verbal diarrhoea is worse even than Grunge’s.
Butch strong girl Caitlin Fairchild, meanwhile, purloins a shuttle pod from STAR Labs – in order to save innocent lives, she tells the poor working stiffs she nearly kills in the process.
The issue closes with Superboy, totally knackered by the fight, in a very bad spot indeed as he’s thrown to the wolves – or rather, two more Ravagers.
This is OK, in a big daft fighty sort of way. Superboy acquits himself well, using his brains and learning to finesse his TK powers. And he begins to feel a kinship with the Teen Titans, who risked a lot to save him in their aforementioned book. A big problem is Grunge, who’s just awful – appearance, personality, dialogue, it’s all bad. I suspect someone misspelled ‘Cringe’. Equally annoying is Solstice, who witters on in a sub-Raven way. It’s like she’s in some kind of exposition contest – but she’s not the uncontested champion. That would be this gal (click on image to enlarge).
I don’t know if Tom DeFalco spent too many years writing books aimed at Marvel’s younger audience, but this really is terribly awkward, obvious stuff. Of course, as he’s scripting over regular writer Scott Lobdell’s plot it’s possibly a rush job. Still, editors should be sharpening up the more flaccid lines.
On the other hand, Superboy’s internal narration is pretty acceptable, showing him growing as a person and a hero. More of this and less of that, please.
Regular penciller RB Silva is joined by Iban Coello and they’re a pretty good match – characters have a certain smoothness without being all-out uncanny, and the action sequences shine. My favourite spans the top of pages two and three, it’s simple and effective … and too long to post here. Have a flip-through the comic, eh? It looks to be that Coello inks his own stuff, with Rob Lean handling the Silva side. Whatever, it works, while Richard and Tanya Horie emphasise the story beats with their varied palette.
The Hories get to use a garish green in one panel, for no reason I can fathom – Rose and Harvest are covered by a globby effect … presumably it’s a story detail that will be explained later.
Shane Davis, Sandra Hope and Barbara Ciardo provide the rather intense cover, showcasing Grunge’s ability to change his flesh into other materials. What you don’t get is an idea of quite how naff Grunge looks. This may be deliberate.
Over in Legion Lost, more NOWHERE men appear, attacking the time-stranded Legionnaires. And it’s not like they were having a quiet day, what with the usually placid Tyroc blasting Timber Wolf for nicking cash from drug gangs. Storming off, Timber Wolf is attacked by sword-swinging Rose Wilson – busy girl – and chubby cyborg Psykill.
Back at the hotel, Tyroc, Chameleon Girl, Gates, Tellus, Wildfire and Dawnstar face agents of NOWHERE ‘glorying’ in such names as Misbelief, Windstrom, Crush and Hammerfist. There’s a big one, a stretchy one, a windy one, a generic one … oh, hang on, they’re all generic. They fill a few pages, though, allowing the Legion to show off their power, skills and spirit.
And they allow guest artist Aaron Kuder to show just how well he can draw battle scenes. How well? Awfully. There’s one spread in particular, of Rose swooping down on Timber Wolf and his (presumably meant to be) comic relief acquaintance Oz, that’s pure comics; there’s a fabulous panel-to-panel kineticism even while he varies Rose’s poses.
Not all the pages are outstanding – Kuder seems to have rushed through the talkier scenes to get to the excitement, with Tellus and Gates, in particular, suffering.
DeFalco’s scripting again – writing the whole thing, truth be told – and there are some nasty bumps. Chameleon Girl, for example, when surprised by something she believes to be her husband, exclaims ‘Colossal Boy’ as if they’ve barely met. And the Ravagers, as I say, are a pretty limp lot.
But let’s not forget that it’s DeFalco who writes the action moments Kuder draws so well, and he does have a couple of Legionnaires hint at more things going on than we know. Again I say, come on editors, do some editing – do I have to put this phrase on tee shirts before you do something?
Regular Legion Lost artist Pete Woods and interior colourist Brad Anderson supply the cover, an effective spin on an idea we’ve seen many times.
Superboy #8 and Legion Lost #8, you may notice, have ‘The Culling Prelude’ banners slapped on ’em, but I’d say we’re pretty much already in the Legion/Superboy/Titans crossover leading to the release of new series The Ravagers (heck, the latter two titles have been crossing over since their first issues). I’m not enthused – the characters we’ve met so far are the very definition of Nineties Throwback – but so long as the individual comics contain plenty of good moments I can likely ride out the overall arc.