We open with Spoiler, Steph Brown, and Drake… er, Tim Drake, having a good old teenage snog. Slurrrrrp.
And while these two sweethearts do like a bit of affection, the moment isn’t part of this issue’s narrative – it’s a cute bit of scene-setting, homaging the romance comics of old, complete with whimsical lettering from Wes Abbott. I do like a bit of whimsy.
The tale starts with Drake catching up to Spoiler in Central City, where she’s being attacked by goons working for her greatest enemy, Cluemaster – her own father.
Steph first became Spoiler when she found out that dear old dad was one of Gotham City’s top… well, one of Gotham’s super-criminals, anyway. Actually, forget that ‘super’ bit, he has no powers. He did wear a costume, though. So we can call him a costumed criminal.
His costume was pretty darn stylish for the Sixties – dig that jaunty scarf – but by the time Steph came along it was looking a tad tired. So… he kept it another 20 years and now, finally, Cluemaster has a new look to match his latest attempt to build a criminal empire! That face mask is pretty darn on trend.
Tim also has a fresh image – but no one likes it, or his new superhero name. Not Batman, not the rest of Young Justice, and certainly not Steph.
Still, that’s what he’s wearing when he arrives to help her out.
Steph tells Tim the bad guys came after her following her rescue of her dad’s henchmen from an assassin working for a rival – Cluemaster’s not the grateful type. Mind, Steph was there to curtail his criminal activity, having learnt reports of his death were exaggerated – by himself.
With Tim’s help, Steph plans to take down Cluemaster once and for all… and then make him go to family counselling.
This issue really is a lot of fun. Steph Brown is a great character, recently without a regular home in the DC line. It’s great that writers Brian Michael Bendis and David F Walker have added her to the loose grouping that is Young Justice. Other members do appear this month – Tim calls for reinforcements – but by the time they arrive, Spoiler has won the day. Still, it’s nice to see Naomi, Superboy and Jinny Hex during downtime.
As ever, Bendis and Walker fill the book with gratifying little details, such as Cluemaster’s attempts to be a good employer, an intriguing app introduced in the Red Hood series and the villain’s refusal to accept perceived poor service (hey, I have something in common with a costumed creepo!).
We also get that new underworld assassin, La Tombe, who doesn’t make the best impression, but he has a great visual in Michael Avon Oeming’s delightfully frenetic art.
While Oeming handles the flashback fight, the bulk of the issue is in the hands of the differently excellent Scott Godlewski, who really should have a series of his own by now. His compositions are strong, his characters attractive and he knows how to sell the action. Plus, he pulls off an update on the Batman ‘66 ‘climbing the building’ trope with style.
There’s another great motorbike moment on the cover, drawn by John Timms and coloured by Gabe Eltaeb, who also handles the interior. And this is the best that Drake costume has looked, so of course, this issue it’s binned by Tim as he goes back to his original Robin outfit and name.
Who wants to come to the party I’m throwing?
Apparently DC is ending Young Justice soon, which is a rotten shame, with every issue as enjoyable as this. Let’s savour it while we can.