Young Justice #4 (1999)

Young Justice #4 (January, 1999)

“Harm’s Way”
Writer – Peter David
Pencils – Todd Nauck
Inks – Larry Stucker
Colors – Jason Wright
Separations – Digital Chameleon
Letters – Kenny Lopez
Asst Editor – Frank Berrios
Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.50

You ever really love a comic book… and then, for whatever reason find yourself incapable of going back to it.  To me, that’s Young Justice.  This was perhaps my favorite book overall as it was coming out, however, each and every time I’ve tried to revisit it… I can’t make it more than a couple of issues (or pages) before dropping out.  Can’t really explain it.  Maybe it reminds me of a time in my life that I wish I could go back to… maybe it takes me back to a time I’m glad I can’t go back to.

Maybe it’s how DC treated all of these characters in the years that followed.  These characters, the ones I couldn’t get enough of… are just so incredibly different these days.  Could it be that their contemporary depictions have affected the way in which I enjoy their past incarnations?  I suppose that it’s possible.  I’m currently going through the same type of thing with the X-Men books of old.  Those characters simply don’t exist anymore… and sadly, for the most part, neither do any of the characters featured in today’s discussion of Young Justice #4 by one of my all-time favorite writers, the maestro himself, Peter David.

We open on a wounded Arrowette.  She has been skewered by an arrow up around her shoulder.  She tries to stay on her feet, however, collapses either from the pain or the shock of it all.  Her assailant is a painted-faced man called Harm.  He mocks her a bit before walking away… sparing her life.  There is a sudden flash of light, and Arrowette finds herself in the headlights of a flying vessel.

Meanwhile, at the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain a young thief calling herself Tora attempts to flee with her latest bounty.  The young speedster, Impulse chases her down… and almost beats her down with his awesome puns.

Wouldn’t be a PAD book without ’em

Miss Tora attempts to head to higher ground by use of her whip… after all, what kind of cat burglar would she be without a whip… Unfortunately for her, instead of latching onto a building, or low-flying plane, she snags herself a Superboy… or, more accurately, a Superboy snags her.

Suddenly, there is a low-flying plane… and by low-flying, I mean plummeting into the super crowded sea of humanity below.  The Boy of Steel heads off to deal with the threat, however, this means he must let Tora free.  No worries though, just as she inhales some sweet freedom, she gets wonked in the face by an errant Batarang.  She is easy pickin’s for Impulse, and before you can say Caballero she’s taken into custody.

The three Young Justice-ers (?) reconnoiter and are celebrating their victory when Agents (Donald) Fite ‘n’ (Ishido) Maad of A.P.E.S.*  (*All-Purpose Enforcement Squad, think S.H.I.E.L.D. but with a silly name) approach.  They are on the trail of the “Bottle Girl”… readers following Young Justice know that they are talking about Secret, a girl who turns into mist.

Fite ‘n’ Maad, masters of blending in.

The boys play dumb and whistle for their Super-Cycle transport to bring them home.  As they head, they discover that the back seat is covered in blood.  But whose… and why? (Remember them headlights from earlier…eh? eh?).

Meanwhile at a schoolyard, Wonder Girl is beating down some bullies.  Yeah… this is the same busty blonde Wonder Girl we all know as a member of the Teen Titans right now.  Call me crazy, but I like her better here.

Yes… it’s a wig.

She celebrates her victory by picking up a stray cat, who promptly scratches her.  As she licks her wounds (literally), the Bottle Girl herself, Secret appears.  Secret, being naive to the ways of the world wants to be Wonder Girl’s friend, but Cassie ain’t having it.  Secret lets it slip that she’s friends with Robin, Superboy, and Impulse… well, that’s all Cassie needed to hear.  Her hopeless crush on ol’ Kon-El overpowers her, and she decides she won’t only be Secret’s friend… she’ll be her best friend.

That evening at Casa Harm, we observe Harm’s parents having a discussion on how scared they are of their own son.  Harm has a history of inflicting… well, Harm on them, his father especially, having slashed his jugular somewhat recently.  Harm overhears and is positively ticked by the sheer horror he’s imposed on the folks that raised him.

Back at the Young Justice cave hideout (I believe they’re currently shacking up in the old Justice League and later Doom Patrol digs out in Happy Harbor) the boys meet with their “scoutmaster” Red Tornado.  He reveals that he used the Super-Cycle to pick up the wounded Arrowette, and takes the boys to see her.

Impulse is able to vibrate the arrow out of the young lady’s shoulder without causing any further damage.  As Robin applies some wrap to her wound she tells the story of her run in with Harm.  She fired an arrow at him, which he caught (!) and threw back into her shoulder.

Well, that’s all Superboy needed to hear (ya see, he’s kinda got a thing for Cissie… and yes, having a Cassie and a Cissie on the same team was pretty confusing).

Back with Cassie and Secret… they find themselves being chased by a black vehicle that appears to be equipped with Doc Ock’s octopus arms.  Cassie gets snared, it is revealed that Harm is the driver, and we receive some hints that he may be in cahoots with the Church of Brother Blood.

Superboy is quickly on the scene.  He quickly rescues Cassie, and they share a sweet yet awkward junior-high school moment.  Harm ain’t done, however.  He unsheathes his sword and challenges Kon to a fight.

Kon catches his blade, and is surprised to discover that the sword is equipped with a toxic gas hose which squirts him right in the mouth.  Harm makes short work of the two tangible Titans young superhero-types and is perhaps ready to perform a killing blow, when off in the distance he hears police sirens.  Shortly, Fite ‘n’ Maad are on the scene, and Harm (and the kids) are nowhere to be found.

Back at the YJ Cave, the newly-formed team checks their status.  In a cute bit, Cassie thinks Kon is showing concern for her, when in fact he was talking to Arrowette.  Before we leave, Secret gets all Raven, and tells them she is the cause of their assemblage… for there is a threat looming on the horizon.

Loved it.  Abso-freaking-lutely loved it!

Man, this was such a great series.  This is the kind of thing, that with the right amount of marketing could have been huge for DC.  For so much of this series’ life, it appeared to be an afterthought.  I don’t remember it getting all that much press, and I remember the guy at the comic shop always thinking the title Young Justice was stupid.

This was fun indicative of the old regime at DC Comics.  Sometime around… well, 2003 or so, the DC Universe underwent something of a darkening.  I feel that Young Justice is kind of the line of demarcation between the older brighter DC and the newer darker DC, because this series would be replaced in 2003 by the third volume of Teen Titans, written by Geoff Johns… which, don’t get me wrong… was, more often than not, amazing.  It was just… darker.  I mean, the opening story featured Impulse getting kneecapped by Deathstroke the Terminator.  They were not screwing around with Teen Titans.

This was harmless (nyuk nyuk) fun.  The type of story that flies in contrast with the super serious, overly concerned with (relative) realism, and politically motivated stories comics usually find themselves full of.  Peter David is one of my favorite writers of all time… in fact, he usually temporarily becomes my undisputed favorite writer any time I read his work.  The artwork of Todd Nauck is pitch perfect for these characters and this kind of story.  It is one of the more perfect marriages I’ve witnessed as it relates to a comic book creative team.

It goes without saying you should check this one out… Hell, check out the entire run if you can.  It’s a super fun ride the whole way through, and I actually (sadly) mourned when it was replaced.  I’ll have to give this series another attempt at a reread… it’s just so good!

Interesting Ads:

Yikes… the rings, man… the riiiiiings…
Given the ridiculous amounts of money I wasted around this time…
I somehow side-stepped this disaster.

0 thoughts on “Young Justice #4 (1999)

  • Reggie Hemingway

    This, I never read–I was twenty-four at the time and much more into wasting money at bars than on kids' fare like comic books…though truthfully, even if I was buying lots of comics (I was getting some, come on now) I probably wouldn't have gotten this because I have always disliked Impulse. I think it's the hair. I love Motorcycle Jacket Superboy but could never brook Impulse. The Young Justice cartoon, though, was awesome!

    • Impulse is an acquired taste to be sure… At the time I read this, I believe I had just indulged in my first DVD player… and like any dope with disposable income, I started buying overpriced anime DVD's… Impulse's design (hair included… and especially) was pretty "anime" to me, which may be why he never bothered me.

      I've still yet to actually sit down and watch the cartoon… I'm not sure my brain is powerful enough to have more than one version of the team floating around in it!


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