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Friday, August 05, 2011

Young Justice #2 - May 2011

"Monkey Business" by Art Baltazar, Franco, and Mike Norton.

It's Young Justice Friday!

by Shrine Correspondent Andy Luckett

When we last left our story, Superboy, along with Snapper Carr, had been ambushed in the Young Justice Happy Harbor headquarters (say that five times fast) by the Joker. Superboy awakens this issue (entitled "Monkey Business", and written by Art Baltazar and Franco, with art by Mike Norton) to see the Joker setting up a very disagreeable surprise party:

Tied up in the corner, he is unable to prevent an overeager Flash from opening the giant present, only to find:

But these are no ordinary green monkeys, (ordinary by DCU standards, of course) these monkeys are outfitted with gas bombs! As the assembled heroes fight to contain the rampage, Batman releases Superboy and Snapper. After Hawkman and the Martian Manhunter take care of the gas, Joker is none to pleased to have his surprise spoiled:

After taking down Superboy and Snapper, Joker faces down Batman one-on-one, until the cavalry arrives:

After being thrown into the teleporter, Superboy notices something peculiar: his name and serial number was uttered by the computer while he was inside, but he doesn't remember hearing the names and numbers of the Leaguers as they arrived. To test this theory, he chooses the closest non-Superman member and, well...
Since the computer fails to recognize Aquaman, Superboy realizes that this scenario must be a fake! Enraged, he lays waste to the scene until the culprit is revealed:
Turns out that the G-Gnome who telepathically instructed Superboy about the world in his containment pod followed him from Cadmus and has been hanging around the headquarters to be close to Superboy, whom it "misses". I'll let Red Tornado explain the situation in more depth:
Since the G-Gnome was so closely connected to Superboy, he was able to induce such a convincing illusion that included feelings of pain and sensation. Red Tornado agrees to take the little guy back to Cadmus and Superboy learns that he hates monkeys.

To me, this storyline seemed like an odd choice. While the connection between the G-Gnome and Superboy is an interesting idea, I didn't completely buy the explanation. So the G-Gnome picked up on the psychic residue in the cave from the League's earlier battle against the Joker, and his connection to Superboy causes him to experience it as if he was there, including being unconscious, feeling pain, weight, exertion, and bleeding? It seems a bit convenient to me that the experience would be that all-encompassing that Superboy would be unable to tell fantasy from reality for so long. It does provide a good moment in which he uses his head to figure out the scene is not real, and at least that shows that Superboy is not completely all about muscle and nothing else. However, he doesn't really learn anything at the end, apart from that he "hates monkeys", so how does this experience cause him to grow as a person and a hero?

As far as Aqua-content, no other members of Young Justice (including Aqualad) appear in this issue, except for Miss Martian appearing on the last page. However, Aquaman does show along with the rest of the League. Unfortunately, he gets little to do except get thrown into the transporter by Superboy, which, while an important story point, does not make for one of the Sea King's finer moments.

The green kamikaze monkeys are a striking visual, although perhaps a bit too similar to the robotic MONQIs of Professor Ivo from the "Schooled" episode of the TV series. And the Joker is sufficiently creepy, especially the scene where he tries to stab the Martian Manhunter through the heart. Still, while there are moments of fun to be had, all things considered, this two-issue story seems more like an excuse to have the Joker guest-star and battle the JLA than it does a well-thought-out narrative highlighting the Young Justice members.


Richard said...

I don't mean to be harsh, but I really have to say this: the density of the word balloons on that last page is a total rookie mistake. Each panel (other than the second) has about twice as many words as it ought to have. The writers are only half to blame here; the editor should also have caught this.

(Pick up any Alan Moore or Grant Morrison story and count how many words they use in one panel. It's a lot less than you may think.)

It's also a rookie mistake because if your plot requires a character to deliver a big chunk of exposition at the end explaining what just happened, that plot needs further thought. It may be as simple a matter as saying to yourself "Hey, all this stuff I thought it was so important to tell the reader isn't necessary after all, and I should just lose it." Learning how to say that is a huge deal for any writer, comics or otherwise.

Joseph Brian Scott said...

Interesting observation, RAB. It reminds me of this documentary I saw on R. Crumb, and how he and his brother created their own comic strip when they were kids, but as their mental "eccentricities" worsened, the pictures in the strip became squeezed out by increasingly dense blocks of dialogue until the panels were just big word balloons filled with microscopic text. It's like that.

ari said...

Oooh RAB has an excellent point, I still thought it was alright though. My favourite part was that panel of the monkeys exploding out of the box, that's all I got from this!