By: Andrew R. Robinson (writer)
The Story: Someone call the doctor, because this Black Canary’s a total quack!
The Review: If I took away one lesson from both my years as a teenager and my years teaching them, it’s that kids of that age tend to resist and resent counseling the most, yet they stand most to profit from it. By the time you’ve reached adulthood, you’ll have (hopefully) realized that whatever issues you’re going through, you’re far from the first, and ninety-five percent of the time, it’ll work out alright in the end. Teens don’t have that kind of helpful perspective.
And no one is better equipped to lend that perspective to YJ after last episode’s fiasco than Black Canary. While a respected Leaguer, she doesn’t have an iconic aura that can turn people skittish around her, and so comes off very inclusive and approachable. Her advice is practical, sensitive, salty, and wise; she never oversteps her bounds or coddles her charges. As someone who’s done similar work with teens, I approve nearly all her responses to the team’s worries.
For example, when Aqualad expresses his feeling of inadequacy as leader and tries to resign, Canary does absolutely the right thing by asking him who he feels should replace him. Also appropriate is her telling Miss Martian to stop feeling sorry and start amping up her training so her overwhelming powers become a non-issue. Less convincing is her calling out of Wally and Artemis’ feelings for each other, which feels less like analysis and more like matchmaking.
One of the more revelatory sessions lies with Robin, who, contrary to his eagerness to lead in early episodes, talks about how rattled and disturbed he felt in that very role last episode. As Batman’s protégé, he learned the art of leadership from the very best, and he certainly did right by his mentor when push came to shove. But he also learned he has no intention of emulating his mentor’s tactical coldness, making this his first step to his future as Nightwing.
Where is Superboy during all this? Playing hooky with Sphere, which has just evolved into the sentient flying vehicle original Young Justice fans know and love as the Super-Cycle. No sooner does Connor take it for a first ride (Wolf panting happily in the front seat) does he suddenly run into New Genesis’ Forever People, the more obscure of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World creations.
Fortunately, we don’t waste time with the usual “battle of misunderstanding” trope. The F.P. prove their foresight as New Gods by trusting Superboy immediately and giving deference to him as their “host” on Earth. Their goal: figuring how Fourth World tech got in our “barbarian” hands. In the process, Robinson shows off his Kirby expertise by incorporating a quite a lot of Forever People continuity with admirable accuracy (not the least of which is their ability to merge into the invincible Infinity-Man by touching their mother box and shouting “Taaru!”).
It’s a fun outing for Superboy, who’s finally gaining a bit of the outgoingness that made him so likable in his comics incarnation. But more than that, the whole experience of rubbing shoulders with higher beings who have the wisdom to trust each other gets Superboy to open up later to Canary about his guilt of feeling at peace in the middle of a “crisis” that claimed his friends’ lives because for the first time, he finally felt what it was like to be Superman.
Conclusion: The episode effectively deals with the fallout of last episode’s grim events, while simultaneously delivering a fun, significant, engaging plot. Good work on all fronts.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – I must admit, Batman’s martyred sigh when he discovers Superboy’s earpiece on the ground is very endearing.
– You got to love Big Bear’s switch from a growled, “Let’s keep this simple: that belongs to us; give it back,” to a thoroughly enthused, “Apologies! The Forever People embrace you as a friend, ally, and worthy warrior!”
– The moment Super-Cycle integrates with Infinity-Man to provide a control mechanism for Superboy to manipulate what is essentially a Fourth World Gundam? This is the stuff kids’ dreams are made of.