Saturday, February 25, 2012

Young Justice #13 - April 2012

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"...And The Penalty" by Greg Weisman, Christopher Jones, and Dan Davis.

It's Young Justice Saturday!

Hey there again, everyone, Shrine Correspondent Andy Luckett here with a review of Young Justice issue 13, "…And the Penalty." At the end of last issue, we had learned the dark origin of this version of Clayface, and the YJ team was battling him in the Gotham City sewers. As we pick up things this month, Aqualad is reflecting on how his recent daydreaming about Atlantis and Tula allowed Clayface to ambush the team.


We pick up this issue not with Clayface and a perplexed Talia, but instead we see:
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Upon realizing his mistake, Aqualad (AKA Kalder'Ahm) is able to rally himself and the team to bring the hammer down on the former Matt Hagen, immobilizing him. Or so they think. Clayface quickly regains his form and smacks the team down, leaving without finishing them off (classic supervillain mistake, but lucky for the team). As they gather their wits, Batman radios Kalder to ask if they have encountered Clayface, whom they were only supposed to observe and follow, not engage. Kid Flash, never one to respect a private conversation, asks Aqualad to ask Batman where Artemis is, since she is not on the current mission.

A couple of days before, after the funeral of former Dr. Fate Kent Nelson, Artemis was arrested (which is unknown to the rest of the team). As she waits to be booked in a Star City jail, she is seated next to Icicle Jr., the son of the original frosty villain. Turns out the two went to school together, but Artemis wants to know what he's been up to since he went public as a supervillain. He obliges. And as you may have guessed, Artemis wasn't really in any trouble with the law, the Justice League was merely using her as a plant to uncover information from Icicle Jr. (if not other criminals). After she's sprung, she tells her "uncle" Green Arrow what she found out, but warns him that she joined the team "to be a hero--not a snitch!":
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Back in Gotham City, the slightly battered and filth-covered team regroups in Miss Martian's bishop. Superboy, KF, Miss Martian and Robin want a rematch with Clayface, but Aqualad is off in his own world again. Cut to the Batcave, where Batman is analyzing a sample of Clayface's flesh; theorizing that a "morphic field" generated by the substance gives Hagen the ability to shape shift and regrow dismembered body parts. He figures out that a taser set to the right frequency could disrupt Clayface's patterns and render him harmless temporarily.

Meanwhile, the team has tracked Clayface to an abandoned warehouse (pretty much every other building in some parts of Gotham) and they attempt to take him on again. But Hagen, having gained quite a bit of mastery over his powers, tricks each member by impersonating another, a la The Thing
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By battle's end, even Aqualad is down for the count. This time, however, Clayface isn't walking away, he's moving in for the kill. Kalder has time to think about how his distracted mind has led his friends into danger again, but he realizes that if this is to be his death, his only regret is leaving Tula in Atlantis. Thankfully, Batman smashes the skylight and drops in to save everyone's bacon. He uses the special taser, which easily melts Clayface into a non-threatening puddle.
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Back at YJ headquarters in Happy Harbor, Batman confronts Kalder about his absentmindedness. At first denying it, Kalder quickly admits that his thoughts have lately been drifting more and more to Atlantis. Batman tells him that he must be all in with the team, and if he is not, he needs to go in search of what he is missing. Kalder, as expected, decides he must go back to visit Atlantis:
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To be continued!


If that last scene between Aqualad and Batman sounds familiar, it was used originally to open the TV episode "Downtime" in which Kalder went back to Atlantis and fought alongside the Aqua-family against Black Manta. Another example of the comic finding ways to tell stories that fit into the cracks of time between episodes. And this issue gave us a bit more insight into Aqualad's thoughts at this point in Young Justice continuity. The trip to Atlantis may have been something of a turning point for Kalder, since by visiting he was able to resolve his feelings for Tula, fight alongside his mentors again and help save his home. But for this issue he is still a little inexperienced, making big mistakes like underestimating Clayface and allowing the other members to make plans without his input. He does get a couple of cool moments though, such as cutting off a Clayface arm to free himself using a hard-water machete.

On the whole, I enjoyed this Clayface story. The details of Matt Hagen's transformation into Clayface were interesting and different from both the DC Universe and Batman: The Animated Series versions (even if Clayface's visual design is pretty much unchanged from BTAS, but hey, it's a great design). And the subplot about Artemis' use as a jailhouse stool pigeon are intriguing too. Just what kind of information are the Justice League trying to obtain from little fish like Icicle Jr.? I have a feeling this plotline may tie into the episode "Terrors", in which Superboy and Miss Martian went undercover inside Belle Reve Penitentiary.

I've noticed that since Greg Weisman has picked up scripting duties on this book (he's one of the creators and showrunners of the show), the continuity has been based around earlier events than those happening on the show. By going back and filling in the events untold by the TV show, it makes the broader story much more dense. Whether that's good or bad is probably a matter of taste, but it is somewhat engaging to connect the dots from episode to episode. So we'll see next month what Weisman and the team have in store.

1 comment:

Joseph Brian Scott said...

Good recap! From what you've shown us of it, I really like this book. I'm gonna start buying it. As an older reader (45), it appeals to me very much; harkens back to a simpler, more condensed age of comics writing. It's smart, quickly paced, full of incident, yet not overly-sexualized or gruesomely violent.