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Young Justice #54

Posted: Wednesday, February 12, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Peter David
Artists: Todd Nauck (p), Lary Stucker (i)

Publisher: DC

Plot:
The book opens with Young Justice reacting to the idea that Darkseid has just arrived in the headquarters, and Wonder Girl has to make a desperate effort to reign in the members of the group who foolishly want to engage the insanely powerful ruler of Apokolips in combat. After Darkseid offers Secret sanctuary for herself & her father on Apokolips, and Secret accepts this offer, we see Young Justice are unable to stop this trio from entering a boom tube & vanishing. However several days later we see Secret returns to Earth, and it would appear in her time away she's developed a serious mad on for anyone who ever ticked her off while she was a member of Young Justice. To the end we see her descend upon the D.E.O. headquarters where she draws the entire staff of this organization into herself. She then continues on to the A.P.E.S. base where she performs this same trick, and then she travels to Gotham City where she tracks down the Spoiler. Now by this point Young Justice have been made aware of the threat, but Robin is too late to save Stephanie from being drawn into Secret. As the issue ends we see Robin has decided the only way they are going to be able to stop Secret is to get help from her mother, by given the woman is locked up in a institution, this spark of hope looks positively dim.

Comments:
Peter David looks to be gearing up toward a fairly impressive finish on this title, as we see Secret has graduated from being a troubled young woman, into a full fledged threat capable of endangering the entire planet. Now in all the time that she's been a member of this team, Secret has never really fit in all that well, as there was always the feeling that there was a darker side lurking just below the surface. On the other hand, the book also made an effort to show that she wasn't outright evil either, as her back-story had a nice tragic element to it, and there were several moment where it appeared that she was winning the fight against her darker side. Still in a book that draws a great deal of its appeal from Peter David's sense of humor, Secret has always looked to be the square peg in this cast, as whenever the character seemed to be fitting into the book's lighthearted tone, Peter David would insert a moment that acted to remind us that she wasn't all that nice. This issue plays off the idea that during Young Justice's visit to Apokolips, Darkseid expressed a interest in Secret, and we see this interest has resulted in Secret's transformation into what is likely to be the greatest threat this team has ever faced.

This issue also manages to get across the feeling that we are nearing the final issue, as we see various running subplots are being resolved, and while Secret is the main event, we also get a nice secondary plot that act to remove another member of this book's cast who won't be joining the cast of the New Titans series. Now when he was first brought into the group I must confess I wasn't fully convinced that Lobo was a good match for the group, as the character seemed to be an extremely poor fit in such a lighthearted title, as it that would actively curtail the very character traits that earned the character his fan-base, with the main element being the over-the-top violence. However Peter David made the character work extraordinarily well within the confines of this series, and while Slo-Bo wasn't as much fun, I have to say that I was genuinely saddened by the discovery that this character is effectively dying. It's been a fun run, and I have to say that Peter David deserves full marks for his use of this character. Now this leaves Snapper Carr, Ray, Red Tornado, Arrowette & Empress on the chopping block, and with one issue to do the deed, I imagine next issue is going to be quite impressive when it comes to shaking up the status quo.

While it sounds like Peter David will have a few projects to keep himself busy in the aftermath of this book's cancellation, I'm a bit concerned where Todd Nauck is going to call home. Now he's a proven monthly artist with a high energy style that would lend itself quite nicely to the right title, so I can't imagine he'll have any trouble finding a new project, and if he does then there something seriously wrong with the system. His work on this issue nicely plays up the idea that Secret has become a threat, as the final pages of her vendetta against everyone who has done her wrong has a nice chilling quality to it, with the scene where the Spoiler has her encounter being particularly effective. The art also does a wonderful job on the more amusing aspects of the material, as the panel where Bart is pestering Wonder Girl during her conversation with Robin has itself a nice reaction shot, and the series of panels where Slo-Bo discovers he doesn't have any sense of morality was rather cute. The panel design for the flashback material also makes use of a rather simple, but nonetheless pretty effective trick, as we see all the material set in the present has the standard panels, while the rest have the rounded corners.

Final Word:
This is basically the classic scenario of a member of a team of heroes going bad, and the team has to go into battle against one of their own. However while the situation is familiar, Peter David does a pretty solid job of keeping the book quite entertaining, as how can one not love any book that opens with Darkseid extending an invitation to this fallen hero, and then the subsequent return of this same hero looks to threaten the entire planet. Since this is the final arc of this title, I imagine Peter David will have free reign to make some major changes to the cast members of this title who aren't hooking up with the New Titans, and this issue gives us a pretty good example of this freedom, as we see Slo-Bo leaves the book, and it would appear that this is likely the last we'll ever see of the character. It's also great to see the team up against such an impressive threat, as Secret looks like she is going to be a serious contender, and here's hoping the final issue is double-sized.



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