Squishy They Were, and Golden-Eyed
Credits: Dan Raspler (writer), Dev Madan & Chris Jones (pencilers), Keith Champagne & Sal Buscema (inkers), Bill Oakley (letterer), Noelle Giddings (colorist)
The Young Heroes are attacked by Bonfire’s dog, which reveals itself as the alien shapechanger Harnarnar of the Farfarminiflatch (I assume this is a phonetic reference to something, but I can’t figure out what it is). Harnarnar makes another shocking revelation -- he’s Monstergirl’s uncle. Realizing that the team is outmatched, Off-Ramp teleports into the cosmos and recruits an old friend. With the aid of the snooty Palanquin, who can also create holes in space (and as we learn in this issue, reality itself), the team defeats Harnarnar. Harnarnar is impressed by Monstergirl’s performance, notably her ability to trick others into doing her work, and spares her life. Later, because this is the final regular issue of the series, a few more dangling subplots have to be resolved…
The Governor of Connecticut invites the team to his inauguration party. While attending the soiree, they discover that the new governor is none other than their former leader Hard Drive. Explaining that his new devotion to politics has cured his mental condition (huh?), he’s confident that he can now scrupulously use his powers to stop corruption within the system.
Monstergirl realizes that her alien nature is the cause of her erratic behavior. (Somehow, it also explains her sexual escapades with most of the team’s male members.) She decides to use her deviousness for “good” and join Hard Drive’s cabinet.
Bonfire begins to see Thunderhead’s previous behavior in a different light, following Monstergirl’s revelation that she impersonated Bonfire and seduced him. She also meets one of her idols at the inaugural party, Lois Lane. If anyone knows why exactly Lois is drawn as a sixty-year-old woman with graying hair, please let me know.
Junior consoles Zip-Kid following the death of her fiancé. The story never officially pairs them together as a couple, though. Unlike…
Off-Ramp and Frostbite, who rather abruptly begin a romance. Over the course of two issues, Off-Ramp has suddenly realized he’s bisexual, Frostbite’s revealed he’s always been bisexual, and we’re told that Bonfire’s relationship with Frostbite, the major romantic coupling of the entire series, has been based on her merely “thinking” she cared about him, but not really.
And, with the exception of the DC One Million issue, that concludes Young Heroes in Love. In hindsight, we saw a lot more lust than “love” over the book’s run, but the title has largely lived up to its promise to focus on the soap opera more than the superhero drama. Unfortunately, the abrupt cancellation leads to numerous rushed resolutions to the various plot threads, making the final issue a mixed bag.
The justification of Monstergirl’s odd behavior is hand-waved away with a simple explanation that goes no deeper than “she’s an alien…uh, a horny alien, that’s it.” Hard Drive returns with an amusing coda to his story, but it’s obviously been tacked on for the sake of closure. The Bonfire and Frostbite romance ends with no drama whatsoever, as Bonfire seems perfectly okay with moving on to Thunderhead while her soulmate leaves her for another man…one of her best friends, at that. The lazy dismissal of Bonfire and Frostbite’s relationship, after the months of build-up that repeatedly illustrated that their innate attraction to one another was so strong that even a telepath couldn’t keep them apart, also strains all credibility. Unless Raspler had plans to reveal that Frostbite could somehow make anyone wildly attracted to him with his elf powers, it’s hard to buy these romantic plotlines. And given that this is a book all about the romance, it’s right there in the title, that’s a noticeable problem.
One highlight of this issue is the addition of Sal Buscema as a fill-in inker. He adds so much depth and texture to the inks, it’s a shame he wasn’t around for the entire series. His bold line works perfectly in the “Adventures” style, adding a weight to the pencils that should’ve silenced any critics who thought the art was too cartoony or simplistic. I’m not sure if a more traditional inking style could’ve kept the series around for too much longer, (I think the mishmash of story content and art, along with the lack of identifiable stars doomed this book pretty much from the start), but I personally would’ve been more inclined to give the book a shot if every issue looked like this one.