Revenge of the Lame-o Plot Device
Credits: Dan Raspler (writer), Dev Madan (penciler), Keith Champagne (inker), Bill Oakley (letterer), Noelle Giddings (colorist)
Thunderhead discovers a manga Young Heroes comic, which amuses every member of team except Junior, who’s left out of the book. Later, after a group of autistic adults and a day care center mysteriously disappear, the Young Heroes speak to an elementary school to calm their fears. Except for Junior, who’s kind of forgotten by the rest of the team. Junior briefly ponders if “with little power comes little responsibility” but thinks better of it. Taking matters into his own hands, Junior teams up with his policeman friend Roger Wong to aid the official investigation. They soon learn the culprit identifies himself as the Birthday Boy, and discern his M.O. is to abduct people who can’t identify him. Junior correctly predicts his next target -- the local school for the blind.
Monstergirl is hiding her ability to fly around as a bird from her teammates. The motivation behind her secrecy is yet to be revealed.
Off-Ramp visits an old angler and has a conversation about fishing that apparently parallels his views on adventuring. Maybe. There’s no obvious reason for this scene, to be honest.
Junior, aside from having his ego bruised by the Young Heroes’ manga, unfortunately learns that…
Zip-Kid accepted her boyfriend’s proposal. The obnoxious jerk is going to get the girl over the shy, nice guy. That never happens in real life. Zip-Kid, after announcing her engagement, asks to speak to Thunderhead in private, but we’re not privy to their conversation this issue.
Frostbite meets evil child genius Ricky Renquist, who’s court-ordered to attend a normal school, for the first time. He isn’t impressed.
And, for some reason, A Mysterious Dog wanders around until it reaches the outside of the Young Heroes’ headquarters.
This is one of the strongest issues yet, and it’s perhaps the first to balance evenly the personal subplots with the action-adventure storyline. The opening manga scene might seem like a gratuitous use of the first four pages, but it works because it’s genuinely funny and sets up the inferiority complex that motivates Junior for the rest of the issue. (And, seriously, the fake manga is great. My favorite strip is the hilarious “Crisis OK” -- perhaps the best Crisis parody ever in three panels.) The introduction of Birthday Boy is another inspired choice by Raspler and Madan. At this point, we only know that he’s kidnapping people and returning them with strapped-on party hats, but he has potential to be the Silver Age Batman villain that time forgot. His design also predates the debut of that creepy Burger King mascot by a good five years.