Monday, April 23, 2018

Young Heroes in Love #4 (1997)


Young Heroes in Love #4 (September, 1997)
"Cry Me a River of Nigh-Irresistible Beams!"
Writer - Dan Raspler
Guest Penciller - Mike Manley
Inkers - Keith Champagne & Ande Parks
Letters - Bill Oakley & N.J.Q.
Colorist - Scott Baumann
Assistant Editor - Ali Morales
Editor - Dan Thorsland
Cover Price: $1.75

What say we do one more day with the Young Heroes?

I swear, you guys... without that #Action100 thing looming over me, it's almost as though I've got too much freedom here on the site.  I think I've become a fella who needs that kinda direction... too many choices lead me to, well... doing nothing!  And that ain't good.

So, uh... one more day with the Young Heroes!

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We pick up right where we left off last issue... a weepy Hard Drive storms away from Superman and the Young Heroes (in a very "Romance Comics" pose)... leading to Superman suggesting that perhaps Hard Drive isn't the best choice to lead their fledgling superhero team... which, of course, might be exactly what Monstergirl wanted to hear.  Worth noting that Superman looks like a very smiley Jay Leno when "breaking the bad news".  Hard to take him seriously, Electric Blue notwithstanding.


Suddenly... a tiny voice rings out, and we meet Zip-Kid!  She's sort of like the Wasp... without the wings.  She asks Superman not to be so hard on Hard Drive, because, as it turns out, Hard Drive's best friend had been kidnapped by a Giant Mummy... and seeing this Giant Mummy, just triggered an extreme reaction in him.  Sounds perfectly legit!  Superman strokes his gigantic chin for a moment to consider this... and decides that maybe Hard Drive deserves another chance.  He tells the kids to try and set an example... and flies off.


Once big blue is out of the picture, the Young Heroes set to questioning Zip-Kid.  Turns out she was lying about Hard Drive's "best friend" (duh), and that she is more or less just a fan of the team.


After the meet 'n greet, Bonfire and Frostbite break off from the group to head over to Hard Drive to make sure he's okay.  Thunderhead wants to "go with", but Bonfire tells him to hang back.  Along the way, she reveals to Frostbite that she was able to read his "heat-signature invisible-ink message" from last issue... which, of course, was the point all along.  Turns out the message was preeeeeetty filthy... which might just be the way to her heart, because she can't stop thinking about him either.  They briefly discuss their "connection", then Bonfire breaks off to check on Hard Drive...


... who is rather displeased that she has gone against his "suggestion" of suitors.  He "suggests" again that she be with Thunderhead.  Moments later, they return to the group... and Hard Drive gets his first eye-ful of Zip-Kid.  They all decide to return to HQ.


Back at HQ, Monstergirl is still petitioning to have Hard Drive removed as leader.  The first ear she bends belongs to Bonfire, who feels like she's really overreacting.  This is important for a couple of reasons... first, Monstergirl's true colors are beginning to surface... and second, it's made perfectly clear that Bonfire has no memory of Hard Drive's threats.


Elsewhere Thunderhead and Junior are at the soda machine... and the latter is shocked and perplexed that the most beautiful girl he'd ever seen is just his size!  Thunderhead suggests he "go for it"... which is pretty good advice considering how rare it is to find a four-inch tall woman.


In the living room, Hard Drive is giving Zip-Kid the nickel tour of the facilities.  He is totally oblivious to the fact that his team is discussing his Superman-emotional-freakout like three feet away.  Monstergirl is still politicking... but nobody seems overly concerned.


Bonfire enters the room, drawing Frostbite's attention... then, she walks right past (or is it "passed"?  I never have to worry about grammar when I talk) him and over to Thunderhead.  This really bugs him... and he stomps off.


Speaking of stomping off, Monstergirl... tired of having her concerns fall on deaf (or disinterested) ears, heads off to confront Hard Drive.  She walks in on Zip-Kid turning down membership to the Young Heroes (seems like Hard Drive might not be the best recruiter).  After Zip-Kid zips off, M-G confronts H-D... she plays it off, however, as though Superman was in the wrong.


We shift scenes to Junior and Zip-Kid getting to know one another.  He makes it pretty clear that he's interested... and suggests she maybe go full-time with the Young Heroes.  She declines again... because she doesn't think her boyfriend would be cool with it.  Record scratch... or something.


Back in Hard Drive's room, Monstergirl has left... and he is now joined by Frostbite, who is asking a whole lot of questions.  I mentioned it yesterday, but Frostbite definitely knows something is up.  Hard Drive doesn't take the questioning as intrusive... and just looks happy to have somebody interested in his story.


Back in the living room, Junior blurts out his smoothest line yet... giving Zip-Kid props for having the guts to lie to Superman.  This, of course, makes Zip-Kid realize that she did, in fact, lie to Superman!  She freaks out, and grows to her normal size.


The Young Heroes gather around and comfort her, knowing that she only did what she did in order to help them out of a jam.  All the Young Heroes gather... except Junior, who keeps calling out from the table.  It's here that we learn that Junior... has no powers... he's just a four-inch tall boy!


Off-Ramp asks if he can shrink any smaller... a comment that Junior definitely doesn't appreciate.  He asks if it's time for him to spill his "secret origin", to which Off-Ramp suggests sharing only "a few panels worth" of it... which is pretty great.  Turns out Junior was in an accident at a Pharma company... and was shrunk.  Easy peasy.  He then storms off threatening to quit the team.


Frostbite goes after him to try and talk him down... he follows Junior around a corner to find... Thunderhead and Bonfire gettin' it on.  Now it's Frostbite's turn to storm out!


--

Well, this is one damn charming series, ain't it?

Let's get my one complaint out of the way.  The art is a bit uneven.  Looking at the credits, we have multiple inkers... and even multiple letterers.  I wonder if there might've been a time crunch on this one... especially considering that the next issue will be a Genesis tie-in, which might've been getting more attention from the creative team and editorial.  We go from some very Madan-looking pages to... some overly-angular, rushed looking art.  Almost felt as though I was reading an issue of X-Men Unlimited... except that the story was actually worth reading.

Anyhoo, today we meet Zip-Kid... and learn that Junior cannot size-shift.  I guess the clues were there all along (if we were looking for them)... I mean, Junior has never increased his size yet.  Hell, first time we saw him, his mother was dropping him off for his "superhero meeting", and he was even tiny for the car-ride in.  It's an interesting concept for sure, and it's cool to consider that he has zero metahuman powers... so, he's just a regular human... who happens to be the size of a G.I. Joe.

Zip-Kid is a pretty neat character... not too keen on her design, though that might be due to the art.  She's drawn to look, I dunno, kinda middle-aged.  Maybe it's the retro-style facemask... but she doesn't seem as teen-agery as the rest of the team.  Looks like she should be leading a Jazzercise class or something.  Though, again... that might just be the fill-in art.  Or maybe I'm projecting Janine from Ghostbusters onto her.

I don't know about you... but I'm actually starting to feel bad for Hard Drive.  I mentioned yesterday that it's been around twenty years since I last picked this up... so, this might as well be a brand new book for me.  I don't remember where this is going... though, I'm expecting a pretty big reveal to explain why he is the way that he is.  He definitely has control issues... and seems to like any attention he's given.  He's a real odd duck.

A whole lotta "storming out" this time around.  I don't know if this is a commentary on the old romance comics where lovesick fools go from swooning to storming in no time flat... but it's pretty funny either way.  From Hard Drive, to Monstergirl, to Junior, to Frostbite... and probably Zip-Kid, if the Young Heroes didn't gather 'round... there was a whole lotta stormin' goin' on!

Now... let's look at "Who's Zoomin' Who?"

Bonfire is still with Thunderhead... though, she has a connection with Frostbite.  Frostbite knows that she has the same feelings he does, but doesn't know (at least it isn't clear) that Hard Drive is manipulating her with his "power of suggestion" to remain with Thunderhead.

Monstergirl is still "with" Hard Drive.  She tries to help him through his Superman-freak-out... though, is also politicking to have him removed from his leadership position due to the Superman-freak-out with everyone else on the team.  This is something that Hard Drive is either too aloof or too oblivious to realize.

Junior is suddenly smitten with Zip-Kid... unfortunately for him, she's taken.  We don't really see Roadshow this time around, so I can't comment on how Off-Ramp feels about his ride this time around.

Our ending was... I dunno... not as much of a cliffhanger as I think it was meant to be.  I mean, it shouldn't be that surprising to see Bonfire and Thunderhead gettin' it on, right?  I mean, even Junior looks shocked... and for all he knows, Bonfire and Thunderhead are a legitimate couple.  Frostbite too... not sure he should have been quite this surprised, considering earlier in the issue she gave him the (heh!) cold shoulder.

Overall... another fine issue, hampered slightly by some intermittently rushed art.  Still worth grabbing if you happen across it!

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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Young Heroes in Love #3 (1997)


Young Heroes in Love #3 (August, 1997)
"Two Hearts Beat as One Giant Undead Guy!"
Writer/Co-Creator - Dan Raspler
Penciller/Co-Creator - Dev Madan
Inker - Keith Champagne
Letterer - Bill Oakley
Colorist - Scott Baumann
Assistant Editor - Ali Morales
Editor - Dan Thorsland
Cover Price: $1.75

Had such a great time revisiting the Young Heroes yesterday... figure we'll go two in a row!

--


We open with Thunderhead and Frostbite hanging the Young Heroes' first trophy... the massive sword of that giant Mummy they defeated last issue.  Bonfire looks on to make sure they're hanging it straight... when in reality, she's just checking out their butts.  Hard Drive enters the room... and so, Frostbite leaves.  Hmm.  Anyhoo, he informs the kids that trophy swords are customarily hung straight up and down... lotsa phallic imagery and commentary to start, folks!


With Hard Drive and Frostbite gone, Bonfire saunters over to Thunderhead... and they make out.  Not before she admits to being something of a superhero fangirl... which makes her current situation something of a dream come true.


We rejoin Hard Drive as he visits with a clearly annoyed Frostbite. Frostbite looks to be designing a giant ice sculpture.  H-D asks how he's adjusting... which Frostbite kinda brushes off.  It's here that Hard Drive reveals that he can become a nervous wreck around new people... which is something we might just be revisiting, this very issue.


We shift over to the living room where Monstergirl, Junior, and Off-Ramp are chatting about the nonsense that the giant Mummy from last issue was blathering on about.  Junior's kinda freaked out, but Monstergirl is taking it in stride.  Off-Ramp is kind of aloof and suggests that the Mummy was just kvetching about a woman.  Elsewhere, Frostbite continues to sculpt.


Bonfire and Thunderhead enter, and before long the subject of the chat is changed to ranking superhero costumes.  Junior suggests that Thunderhead took a cue from Superman's new (at the time) Electric Blue costume when he designed his own. Thunderhead is adamant that that's not the case.  All the while, Frostbite sculpts.



They posit a few theories on why Superman is now displaying new powers... did he always have electric powers and was just hiding them?  Did something happen to him?  The girls are just happy that the change also marked the loss of Superman's mullet (though, that had been gone for a little while at that point).  Frostbite... still sculpts.


Junior offers that Green Lantern currently has the best costume going... this would be the Kyle Rayner "crab mask" Green Lantern, which I'm happy to see that I'm not the only one who has any affection for.  Bonfire digs the Flash... and likes that his suit went from cloth to being "shiny".  This leads to a discussion of Jay Garrick's helmet and how different that looked.  This really allows Bonfire to drop some Golden-Age knowledge on her teammates, further illustrating her superhero fandom.  Oh yeah, and Frostbite is still sculptin'.


Hard Drive enters the room while Bonfire is giving the team the low-down on why the Golden-Age Green Lantern wore a red shirt, and suggests they all pop down to Frostbite's room and make him feel more welcome.  And so they do.  Inside, they check out his ice sculpture... which, Bonfire can tell has a secret "heat signature" message embedded in it.  She looks intrigued... but cannot explore that emotion, because the giant Mummy sword has vanished!


The team gathers in the living room to plan their next move... all the while, Hard Drive is blaming himself for not making sure that the "job was done" last time.  The team, quick to forgive him, brushes off his concern.  They hop into Roadshow, and port back to the Army Base.  Only... they're not the first heroes on the scene!


The Young Heroes meet up with Superman just after he wallops the Mummy into a hole.  Hard Drive insists that they'll take care of everything... Superman isn't so sure.  He believes there might be something about the  Mummy making it impossible to destroy physically.  As a confident Hard Drive leads his team into battle, Monstergirl remains behind to make Superman an offer.


Superman appreciates M-G's offer of joining the Young Heroes, but turns her down anyway... after all, he's Superman... he's got a whole slew of responsibilities, and maybe doesn't want to add "babysitting" to the list.  As this is going on, Frostbite makes short work of the Mummy... encasing it in ice.  Superman is a little confused, but impressed none the less.


As the dust settles, Hard Drive tells Monstergirl that he's going to ask Superman to join the team.  She tells him that's a great idea... but he should wait until everyone's watching before popping the question.  Hmm...


And so, Hard Drive... in front of his entire team... asks Superman to join.  Once again, Superman declines the offer.  At this point, Hard Drive gets in Superman's face and proceeds to shout at him!


We close out with a teary-eyed Hard Drive running away.


--

Another fun issue of Young Heroes!

I always look at these early issues of a new series where Superman (or Spider-Man in Marvel's case) show up as the publisher "giving their blessing" to a new property.  It was really cool to have Superman here... especially considering that Raspler and Madan "played the ball where it lay" and used Electric Blue.  I suppose they could've just as easily used any other DC heavy-hitter and had a similar result... but they used Electric Blue, and I think that's pretty cool.

This issue was a really good way for us to get a little "surface level" characterization.  Nothing all that deep... yet; just a few idiosyncrasies... but it all works so well.  We learn that Bonfire is a superhero fangirl... and that Hard Drive gets antsy around new people... things that can (and will) be used against (or to control) them.

It's also made pretty clear that there's more than meets the eye about Frostbite.  He definitely knows something... and he's already making overtures toward Bonfire with his heat-signature invisible ink.  It's been about twenty-years since I've read this... so, I don't remember at all what his ice sculpture "said" to Bonfire.  I am pretty psyched to find out (again) though.

That brings us to our "Who's Zoomin' Who?" bit:

Bonfire is still "with" Thunderhead due to Hard Drive's "power of suggestion".  She's a massive superhero fangirl whose life's dream was to be part of a superhero team... something she's not likely to do anything to possibly mess up.  At the same time, however, there's a definite "spark" between her and Frostbite... and we get the sneaking suspicion that Frostbite knows what's up.

Monstergirl is still "with" Hard Drive... and is probably closer to him (ie. knows more about him) than anybody else on the team.  Hard Drive is quick to reveal his personality quirks, as evidenced by what he told Frostbite... so, we'd have to imagine Monstergirl is aware of his social anxiety as well.

At the end of this issue... she totally sets him up.  This is the second issue in a row where she kinda "plays" him.  Was she aware that he'd have a meltdown in front of Superman?  Is she trying to kill his credibility so she might take over leading the team?  I feel like the answers to both questions are "Yes".

Oh, and Off-Ramp is still very much in love with his car.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Overall... man... such a fun series.  I'm tellin' ya... this isn't one that'll break the bank, but it might be a bit of a hunt.  It's definitely a worthwhile hunt though... so, if you do happen across a random issue, do yourself a favor and snag it!

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Young Heroes in Love #2 (1997)


Young Heroes in Love #2 (July, 1997)
"Look Before You Leap into the Telekinetic Proto-Bomb!"
Writer - Dan Raspler
Penciller - Dev Madan
Inker - Keith Champagne
Letterer - Bill Oakley
Colorist - Scott Baumann
Associate Editor - Ruben Diaz
Editor - Frank Pittarese
Cover Price: $1.75

Wow, it's been over a year... closer to a year and a half, since we discussed the first issue of Young Heroes in Love!  Time is such a cruel S.O.B.!  This issue might be a bit of a toughie without the proper context, so... I don't always do this, but I'd recommend checking out that discussion if you're unfamiliar with this team/property.

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It's been awhile since we read it, but at the end of last issue... Bonfire and Thunderhead agreed to go out on patrol together, and that is where we open.  They are atop a tall building, and Thunderhead comments that he could jump all the way to the ground without hurting himself.  Bonfire isn't so sure, and wants him to prove it.  At hems and haws a bit... however, as he is rather smitten with the red-head, he goes ahead and takes the plunge.


Back at Young Heroes HQ, Hard Drive and Monstergirl are discussing and debating how to debut the team.  Hard Drive thinks they're ready to show themselves off to the public straight away, while MG thinks it would be best to wait.  Off to the side, tiny Junior overhears the conversation... and is quite bothered over what their motivations for putting the team together in the first place might be.  He also overhears them discuss finding a "minor threat" via the news wire to take advantage of.


We shift over to Off-Ramp's garage, where he's puttering with Roadshow.  He is soon joined by Thunderhead, who spills all the beans about his night out with Bonfire.


Speaking of Bonfire, we rejoin her as she enters a darkened locker room.  Inside, Frostbite is waiting... and testing his ability to "read" people by their heat signatures.  He makes it clear that he's noticed there is a spark between the two of them, but Bonfire plays dumb.  Remember, Hard Drive used his "power of suggestion" to pair her with Thunderhead last issue.


Back at the garage, Monstergirl requests Off-Ramp check into the newswires for trouble... only, she doesn't tell him to look for a "minor threat"... she's looking for "serious trouble".  She also... mayyybe makes a pass at Thunderhead?


Back in the locker room, Junior pops his tiny head in.  He begins telling Bonfire and Frostbite what he'd overheard during Hard Drive and Monstergirl's conversation... however, before he can go into any detail, Hard Drive himself shows up.  He asks Junior for a moment of his time... and uses his "power of suggestion" to keep the little bugger quiet.


We rejoin Off-Ramp who is "navigating" for trouble, which, as we learned last issue, pretty much means he's lounging around smoking a cigarette.  He finally comes across something worthy of the Young Heroes' attention, and heads off to inform Hard Drive.  As luck would have it, the JLA are currently off-planet... so this falls on the shoulders of our new team!  Or, ya know... the JSA, the Teen Titans, the Outsiders, Hero Hotline... were the Darkstars still a thing in 1997?  Okay, I'm splitting hairs... this looks like a job for, the Young Heroes!


They load up into Roadshow and FAAASH! upstate to an Army Base where... a giant (cool-looking) Mummy is running amok!


Hard Drive begins issuing commands... and the team proves that they've got what it takes to get the job done.  There's some really cool use of Off-Ramp's portals here... reminiscent of the video game, well, Portal (which wouldn't come out for a decade!).


The battle ends with Hard Drive stood before the Mummy... as it is sucked into, what Thunderhead refers to as, "some Mummy dimension".  Well, can't argue with that.


After getting some "face time" on the local news, the Young Heroes head back to HQ.  We close out with Monstergirl visiting Hard Drive in his room... apologizing for doubting his vision... and then they make out.  In our final panel, however, she give the camera a bit of a "dirty look".  Hmm...


--

Another super-fun issue of Young Heroes.

Before exploring the various love-rhombuses... let's get my one kinda "ehh" bit out of the way.  We see Junior overhear the conversation between Hard Drive and Monstergirl... and I just don't see what the big deal about that was.  It's treated like Junior just heard them admit to secretly being supervillains or something, when it was really just a debate about the team's readiness.

I feel like if you have a team with, for all intents and purposes, two leaders... you're going to have discussions like this with regularity.  I feel like their compromise was a good one as well... find a "minor threat", give the team some "field experience", soak up the press and public goodwill.  Sounds good to me!

I reread that scene a few times to see if Hard Drive used his "power of suggestion" on Monstergirl in order to get his way... but he didn't... and that wouldn't have made any sense anyway, since she wound up telling Off-Ramp something completely different.

Speaking of the "power of suggestion", let's take a look at who's zoomin' who on the Young Heroes.

We have Bonfire... who clearly shares a connection and attraction with Frostbite.  Hard Drive enforces that she be paired with Thunderhead.

Thunderhead is clearly smitten with Bonfire... however, Monstergirl might have some interest in him.  All the while, MG is knockin' boots with Hard Drive.

Off-Ramp is still passionately in love with his car.  And, that's okay.  Junior's all by his lonesome... buuuuut, that might change pretty soon.

Onto the action!  I feel like the fight scene with the Mummy was pretty good!  It's definitely just a back-drop for all of the romantic and backstabby intrigue, but it was quite well done.  The team comes together, saves the day... and thanks to the art, looks great in the process!

Overall... this is a great book.  The characterization is wonderful... it's hard not to fall in love with this cast... even the rat-bastards among them.  The art is also great.  I mentioned last issue that this feels like a blend of Batman: The Animated Series and Darwyn Cooke... and I still feel that way.  This series is most definitely worth tracking down.

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