I started taking a look at SINS OF YOUTH in Tuesday's column. Today we'll take a look at the last few titles.
SINS OF YOUTH: SECRET FILES is probably overpriced for what my expectations are of it. You get one main story that goes for about 22 pages about the Teen Titans. If you're a fan of theirs - in all their incarnations - you'll probably go for this. It is neat to see Norm Breyfogle drawing half the story, too. For a person who made his mark as a Batman artist, he sure has done a lot of diverse superhero stuff since. (Mike Miller draws the other half and does a fine job with the modern team. Jay Faerber writes the story.)
The real reason to buy this book, though, is for the pretty pinups. I admit it - that's why I bought it. The stories are a nice bonus, but I like to see the various artists do interpretations of the characters. Included here are Michael Avon Oeming, Todd Nauck, Tom Grummett, Justiniano, Sunny Lee, Terry Dodson, Matt Haley, and more. Todd Nauck does the majority of the pieces.
A couple of short stories round out the package. The two-pager by Jim Alexander and Cully Hamner is especially cute. Two others are drawn by up-and-comers Carlos Barberi and Sunny Lee.
KID FLASH & IMPULSE: I don't know what it is, but it seems like a Flash comic is always a good excuse for a clever plot. Mark Waid has an innate ability to interweave the character bits together with the grand plot. When you're dealing with a character whose speed is quickness, then you're opening up a whole book on science fiction stories.
That's part of the reason I liked this issue, in particular. It's got a great mix of the plot and the characterization I've talked about this entire column. Dwayne McDuffie does a great job with that. Furthermore, this isn't another book attempting to set things right and ultimately failing. They're not trying to reverse their ages back to their proper states. Heck, Impulse lets loose a line at one point that that's the JLA's job and that they'll get it done.
This book focuses more on the public relations issues the kids have and how to fix them. It also means that McDuffie feels the urge to throw in a bunch of one-liners about media figures. I shouldn't be surprised to discover that only the elements of the media that aren't decidedly leftist get picked on here. I'd hate to think McDuffie is so delusional that he thinks the media is right wing biased, but it takes all types, I suppose.
Heck, even the Bill Gates gag falls flat, and I'm not a big fan of his.
JLA JR.: It may not be Humberto Ramos, but it's the next best thing drawing this book. The artist here is Carlo Barberi, best known for winning a Wizard contest last year to draw their cover. I don't know what his relation to Ramos is - kid brother, studio mate, artistic admirer - but the rendering similarities are uncanny. This isn't a bad thing, by the way. It's a look only enhanced by one-time Ramos inker, Wayne Faucher, doing the inking here, too. (He's joined by Jean Vlasco.)
Barberi draws some of the best and most cartoony kid superheroes of the week. Some of it even resembles some of Todd Nauck's artwork, which is a nice style to go for in a YOUNG JUSTICE-centered event.
Written by "Danny" Curtis Jonhson, this is the start of the event. It gets us from the events at the Washington rally to the start of the rest of the books. The heroes gather at the Watchtower and then go to Shazam's cave and the Young Justice HQ. They figure out what they're doing, and then scatter across the rest of the event. Along the way, though, there are some hilarious bits of business between the now immature JLA members, most notably with Batman. (I laughed out loud when he said, "Who's the Batman?")
Pat Garrahy does a good job coloring in this detailed mess, making good use of gradients and shadowing on the characters' faces. Dave Lanphear and Clem Robins provide the lettering, which looks to be an uneven attempt to imitate L. Lois Buhalis or Tom Orzechowski. The letterforms are right, but they're just not steady enough.
In the meantime, this is the most fun the JLA has been since Keith Giffen left the title.
STARWOMAN & THE JSA JR.: I don't read the regular JSA title, so most of the character relationships in this book are probably lost on me. Nevertheless, it's an entertaining book, and who'd have thunk it? Starwoman ends up being the best looking of the transformed children!
Geoff Johns, the regular STARS AND S.T.R.I.P.E. writer, does the honors here, and does a pretty good job in making Star out to be the next Starman. The style is the same and the look is in line. His comedic timing is pretty darned good.
(With all of these humorous, character-based stories we're getting in this event, you have to wonder why DC doesn't try to put something like this together regularly. We haven't had such a good time with a bunch of heroes in a book since Giffen and DeMatteis' JLA days.)
Drew Johnson pencils his way through this one, in a style somewhat reminiscent of Adam Hughes. Since Hughes rarely draws full stories, I'm all for this. It's good-looking stuff, helped out by inkers Rich Faber and Rodney Ramos. Who'da thunk it? Star turns out to be the sexiest teenager-turned-adult of the crossover. Heck, it's almost a shame she has to regress back to childhood. =(
Joe Rosas falls in line with the upbeat story by providing his characteristic bright colors.
YOUNG JUSTICE: SINS OF YOUTH #2 ties it all up. Well, not really. There are still a few holdover plotlines to keep SUPERBOY and YOUNG JUSTICE going, and maybe a thing or two left to be discussed in WONDER WOMAN. But this is the book that reverses the changes made two weeks ago. Peter David writes and Todd Nauck draws the issue, which never takes itself too seriously, which constantly finds new ways to be amusing, and which makes for a darn fun read.
The jokes come fast and furious. You've got some slapstick and some puns. Some of the situations are outright parodies or satires, and some are in-jokes. For example: While being chased by some Pokemon rip-offs, Deadboy shouts, "Well, at least it's not the Power Rangers. They really got on my ner-" only to be cut off by Secret: "Oh, shut up!" Todd Nauck was (and maybe still is) a huge Power Rangers fan. Part of the reason he left NEWMEN in his days with Extreme Studios was so he could draw the Power Rangers comic book that Rob Liefeld had licensed. There were even pictures of Todd meeting the cast of the series at the movie premiere in one of the letters columns. I can't help but think that this is PAD's gentle nudge at Todd. Very cute.
In any case, the final book doesn't disappoint. It's not a big let down from a big build-up. I think that that's partially because you were never set up to believe some big dramatic ending was coming. This whole crossover event was planned as something light-hearted. The characterizations came before the plot.
Todd Nauck's art does not ever suffer one bit from having to draw two bonus-sized books within two weeks of each other. He draws a great cast of junior heroes and I'm almost sorry to see them go. The most amazing thing is that he's not skipping a beat. Nauck will draw the next issue of YOUNG JUSTICE, too. No rest for the weary, I suppose. Most artists would need a fill-in issue at about this time to catch up on deadlines.
NEXT WEEK (WITH AN APOLOGY)
I had promised to look at the new PREVIEWS magalog in this column. Unfortunately, time and space have necessitated moving that to next week. So stop back this Tuesday for a look at what's coming up in PREVIEWS, as well as some reviews of this week's latest comics. See you then!