Robin, Impulse and Superboy have been plucked from the everyday DC Universe and are fighting, as the cover says, everybody! Well, everybody who was anybody when they first got together as a junior Justice League.
Teammates Wonder Girl, Arrowette and mentor Red Tornado, meanwhile, are trying to track the three YJ founders down. Looking for transport, they head for the abandoned Titans Tower in San Francisco.
If you’ve been following this mini-series spinning out of the latest DC resetting event, Dark Crisis, you may, like me, be wondering why Wonder Girl Cassie and Arrowette Cissie are still arguing. Yes, they’re not the besties they once were, but they’ve been having this discussion since the first issue, and they’ve a job to do.
And the lads are no better. Superboy wants to stay in this pseudo-reality where he never died, which Tim finds ever so upsetting…
… while Impulse – a speedster raised in a fake world – really doesn’t want to go this route again.
Finally, Impulse works out that a mad world like this has to be the doing of certain reality-warping Fifth Dimensional imp…
… Mickey Mxyzptlk? Well, Bart was pretty much there, proving that he is indeed as smart as any of his teammates. It may seem he has the attention span of the proverbial gnat but his super-speed brain puts him up there with anybody.
Also, who’s to say ‘Mickey‘ isn’t a feint by Mr Mxyzptlk, like that time he became male and female twins? Whatever the case, Bart, Tim and Kon-El are, as Marvel’s Stupidest Tagline might have it, trapped in a world they never made. Can they stop arguing long enough to beat an all-powerful imp? Will Cassie and Cissie stop moaning at one another in time to show up and help the chaps? Might John – that’s Red Tornado on his days off – be able to calm them all down with his grown-up ways?
Don’t bet on it. Writer Meghan Fitzmartin really seems to like the angst. I don’t. Cassie, Bart and co have been through a heck of a lot in their various continuities, and grown a lot, so this constant bickering and whining isn’t convincing. Sure, it may appeal to a section of the YA set, but a book this reliant on knowledge of 20-year-old storylines isn’t going to be pulling in new readers. This issue was just one big old bag of deja vu, rehashing plot points and situations from previous chapters and making me long for the days mini-series were tight four-issue affairs.
Superboy really gets the short end of the stupid stick this issue, almost single handedly carrying the idiot ball – as a clone of Superman and Lex Luthor, he shouldn’t be buying into Master Mxyzptlk’s warped nonsense. The real Cassie has been subbed for a fake version meant to entice the boys to accept the fakery, there’s no Cissie, teammates Empress and Secret don’t rate a nod, female villains are ludicrous or useless… Master Mxyzptlk doesn’t seem to be able to deal with actual thinking women.
Perhaps that will be his undoing. As handled by original YJ writer Peter David, the girls and boys were equally adept at putting the baddies in their place. Hopefully the wrap-up issues of this series will see them get their act together and do just that. Anything but more whining.
Editor Dave Wielgosz might usefully have stepped in and tweaked the odd bit of dialogue, eg Superboy’s reaction to a sudden change of scene.
‘Am I crazy…?’ No, you’re a superhero, this kind of thing happens all the time, it’s literally how you got where you are.
I do have to give Fitzmartin credit for coming up with ‘space mites’, cosmic gremlins able to nibble away at Wonder Woman’s invisible plane (who recalls Glitch?), remembering that Nineties Atom could grow as well as shrink, and ending on a killer line.
And the art by illustrator Laura Braga and colourist Luis Guerrero and Hi-Fi continues to be sumptuous. The subtlety of the expressions almost sells the emotional histrionics, while the page-filling fight scenes look pretty great. Pat Brosseau’s letters are, as always, an asset.
I like the busy, colourful cover provided by Max Dunbar and Guerrero, Superboy’s weirdly large and awkward head apart.
Dark Crisis: Young Justice #4 is attractive wheel-spinning, a pleasant read but overall frustrating and disappointing. There’s a lot of talent here, some great characters and a multiverse to explore – why isn’t this book better?