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The Phoenix Gate

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Comments for the week ending January 17, 2021

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I actually found a place to read it!

One thing I really like about this is, there's no joke fear. Usually, when it comes to 'worst fear' episodes, there'll always be someone - usually either the pre-established comic relief, or else the big tough macho character - whose fear is something like fluffy bunnies, or evil candy, or something, and it's almost always disappointing, especially if the show's already gone and hinted at or outright established what that character is anxious about. But here, everyone has a real fear! It's also interesting how they're not exactly nightmares per se, but sources of anxiety, imposter syndrome, reasons why the character thinks they're not living up to what they should be.

Matthew did a good rundown of all the fears, but I want to hone in on the side anxieties, the ones that only get a line or two, because I think they're really telling as nuance. Wally's anxieties over his hunger, for one - I think it's interesting to do with him specifically, because now that I've read the comic it makes total sense that he'd have internal stress over that. I've been reading a bit about diet culture in America lately, and one of the things that pops up is this really harmful idea that the body, and the desires people have - desires that on a fundamental level are there to keep us alive - is an enemy to be conquered and temptations to be fought down. The idea that, even when someone fits into the pretty narrow mold of what an ideal, healthy body is, they'll still be judged for 'overindulging', or for being a glutton - even when (as in Wally's case) they NEED to eat that much to be able to keep going. Even when someone is doing everything else right, they're still bombarded with the idea that it's bad to take care of their own needs. And, on another angle, Wally having that kind of horror hunger, where he can eat and eat and still feel empty, feel like he's starving even when he's had meals that would satisfy anyone else, sounds genuinely pretty disconcerting. Stress over not having enough food is a really basic, primal anxiety, so it's interesting to see that in him.

Dick's anxieties that the others will leave him behind because he's younger is also fascinating to me, because - while it's not something that gets talked about aloud on the show - it's clearly something he's thinking about and trying to avert nearly all the time he's onscreen. I've heard people treat his joking, quipping, messing with people as a sign of immaturity - and to some extent, they're right, in that he IS thirteen and his sense of humor is likewise a thirteen year old's - but the reason he's doing it has always seemed to me to be the opposite. He isn't trying to present himself like he's immature, he's trying to present himself like he's smarter, like he's always on top of the situation, always ready with a line that'll deflate the enemy and make them seem ridiculous, not joking because he doesn't realize how serious the situation is but because he knows EXACTLY how serious it is and still thinks he - and his friends - are above it. Nearly all of how he conducts himself is trying to make the others forget that he's two years or more younger than them, and most of the time I think it works. It's even in his costuming - his cape isn't quite as dramatic as Batman's, but the change it makes to his silhouette makes a big difference. One of the things I always notice in Homefront is how he loses his cape sometime when he and Artemis are swimming around, and how - especially at the end, when he's reporting to Batman - just how much smaller he looks without it.

I already talked a bit about Kaldur's sensory overload issues, so I won't go much into them here, but I do think there's something to be said for how Kaldur considers them a failure of control on his part. It's similar to Wally's hunger - the fear that your body is not under your control, and that your knee-jerk reflexes and aversions and wants will happen with or without your permission, is a very primal one for people.

Of course, M'gann's fear is hindered a bit because they can't make the 'white Martian' reveal this early, but I do think, from a Watsonian perspective, it's interesting that even in her own mind she won't acknowledge it. This is a formative anxiety for her, she's being psychically blasted with fear and insecurity, and even still she's just at "I have things that are... personal. Things I don't necessarily want everyone to know." That's a LOT of repression.

And Superboy... honestly I think that it's explained pretty clearly right there on the page. I do think that his bit about the G-Nomes is interesting, but more from a headcanon/what could have been perspective? Before S3 aired, I remember there was an ask about what everyone would major in in college, and Superboy was down as History. Of course, that seems to have changed - I believe there's one saying he'd be into mechanical engineering now - but I always thought it'd be interesting if he WAS into history academia. Because studying history is less about knowing the exact days everything happened, and in what order, and more digging into the unknown, the cause and effect. I could definitely see Conner entering college, picking history courses because he assumes he'll be able to blow through them with his implanted knowledge (and leave himself more time for missions), and then realizing that the history he got from Cadmus was the lens on history that Lex Luthor wanted him to have. That the reasons he thought everyone was motivated by aren't necessarily correct, and that leading him to want to interrogate everything he thought he knew, to keep on rooting Luthor out of his head.

All in all, for being such a short comic, there's actually quite a lot of character detail to dig into. That it's a comic helps too - I don't know about you, but the internal monologues in the cartoon episodes tend to feel out of place to me. Usually it's not too bad, but it means you can't do a lot of stories where the main emotional thrust hinges on everyone's thought processes. A comic, though, fits them in a lot better. I also hope that this isn't the last we see of Psycho-Pirate - worst fear episodes really are one of my favorite plots to run, because they give you so much character insight, and we could use one for the new kids. Or heck, even for some of the old guard - by now, all their worst fears have certainly changed, so it'd be great to see what their new ones are.

Karrin Blue

D. TAINA - That depends on how much I can afford.
Todd Jensen

Matthew/Karrin Blue> You both are still talking about the Young Justice story for FCBD 2011 right?

Yeah like I said it's in Young Justice Book One "Early Missions".


Karrin> It is unfortunate that they didn't include that comic with the others at DC Universe (soon to be DC Infinite). That being said there are "ahem" other sites where you can find it. That's what I had to do in order to read it.
Remember, young or old, rich or poor, friend or foe. We're all in this together

Todd Jensen: How much are you willing to spend on a new computer?
D. Taína
"The story is told -- though who can say if it be true?" -Shari

Honestly I'm really glad Kaldur's fear had to do with sensory overload. Normally, that's the sort of thing I'd headcanon in, out of my own experiences, but having it be on-the-page canon and of equal importance to him as everyone else's fears is really cool.

That aside, I really wish that comic would be made available online. I'm glad someone's posted a synopsis on the wiki, but there's really nothing like reading it yourself.

Karrin Blue

MASTERDRAMON - My current computer and printer both go back to 2008. The desktop is a Compac Presario PC/Windows Vista Home Premium. The printer is a "Compact, Network Laser Printer" HQ 1200.

As for the ideal price range, I'd say around four to five hundred dollars.

Todd Jensen

Got my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine yesterday...woke up with my arm feeling sore but otherwise quite dandy! Fingers crossed it becomes more widely available to the folks in this room sooner rather than later.

Todd: Can you tell us the model of your current computer and your printer, and how old both of them are (if you know)? The model number will usually be an alphanumeric sequence printed somewhere prominently on the side of the machine.

And do you have an idea of what your ideal price range for your replacement is?

As with others, it's been a long time since I've purchased a new desktop computer (I've been using laptops for the past 12ish years), but I'd be happy to at least attempt some advice.

Masterdramon - [kmc12009 at mymail dot pomona dot edu]
"Straighten up, and give me the life I deserve already! SPOIL ME WITH LUXURY, DARNNIT!!!" - Lady Aqua

TODD> Already pre-ordered them! But thanks for the link.
Greg Bishansky

Sorry for the double post, but I thought this link might appeal to the room:


Todd Jensen

MATTHEW - Well, thanks, and I hope you get your own computer problems solved as well.
Todd Jensen

Thanks Todd now as for your computer, unfortunately I don't know much about desktops as I've been using laptops for the past 10 years or so. And considering my own computer problems there's much I need to learn as well.
Remember, young or old, rich or poor, friend or foe. We're all in this together

Nevermind about the spoiler concealing.:-(

The original trades may or may not have had the FCBD, but I regret not buying them just the same.

I did get all issues and the FCBD one when it came out, just you know doing my best to support the series. Done it for other comics too (especially Spider-Girl by Tom DeFalco and of course Gargoyles).

Plus once I have the trades in these cases I like to donate the original issues to the library and such. Clearing up a bit of space, giving the library or thrift store products to make a little money off, getting a handful of comics in a more public location and free advertising for the comic store:-) (One of them has stickers with the shop address and phone number.

Yes there is a second reprint. Volume 1 came out in 2019 as Young Justice Book One Early Missions. 2 is coming out in May unless there's a delay.

And according to the description the FCBD story is included in V1.

I will of course get the trades and donate the series, only thing is I'd probably be holding onto the FCBD issue if only cause I'm a Batman The Brave and the Bold fan as well.

Got all season sets, the crossover movie with Scooby Doo, the mini figures from McDonalds (also have the YJ ones) which basically had three tiny figures a pack and both comic tie in series.

The FCBD story is pretty good. The story being titled "Let Me Tell You About Bruce Wayne".

Basically Batman and Flash are working to stop Firefly and Heatwave while some friends of Bruce are gossiping about his absence at a charity party and why he isn't showing up.

Basically they speculate the usual airhead playboy stuff only for Alfred to show up in his place with a blank check for them to fill out with the amount of money needed for him.

And yeah Alfred of course delivers a nice burn [SPILER]That Bruce likes to make his donations in private and that his friends would know that:-).[/SPOILER]


Sorry for the double post, but I'd like to thank you, Matthew, for another review. This story I don't recall either, but I suspect that it wasn't included in the Young Justice trade paperbacks (which was how I read the comics). I think you did a good job, though, as ever.
Todd Jensen

Please excuse an off-topic question, but I need to buy a new desktop computer soon, to replace my old one (which is increasingly becoming unable to keep up with the latest upgrades on the Internet), and I'd like some advice on what's the best option. It'll need access to the Internet and to print things out.
Todd Jensen

Well this awkward, I actually missed a comic. "Face Your Fears" as published on Free Comic Book Day. But in my defense it doesn't show up in DC Universe, but I still missed it even when using the wiki to see where everything takes place.

This issue takes place back in July so this predates Artemis' introduction so it only involves the first five members as they take on Psycho-Pirate while he's in the middle of a theft and are forced to confront their own fears. Now the "face your fears" plot is a pretty common one, especially in children's media. Generally the story involves the characters having to come face to face with what they fear and by the end of things have overcome their fears and become stronger for it. Unusual in this case though is that while we see Wally snap out of his own fear trance, he neutralizes Psycho-Pirate before the others can do the same. And so everyone still has to deal with their own individual fears instead of having everything wrapped up neatly by the end. Something that will be explored further down the line.

The fears each member faces are pretty telling not only on their personalities but how they're fears can change depending on what's happened in their recent lives. For instance, M'Gann worries about being an outsider on Earth and faces the disillusionment over the fact that Earth isn't like the Earth she's seen on TV. We know that there's an even deeper fear hiding away in the back of her mind but thing that scares her is being unable to stop reading the minds of others, which makes sense when you consider that Superboy had recently snapped at her for telepathically speaking to him. Superboy also carries the obvious fear of not being Superman, but briefly mentioned is a concern about the information the G-Gnomes fed him. We'll see where both points take him.

Kaldur's fear is a bit more unexpected, for characters who take up the mantle of leadership it's a bit of a cliche that in cartoons for those characters to fear not being a good enough leader, whatever that may mean. Instead what he focuses on is the rush of sensation for when he walks on land, being overwhelmed by smells carried in the air, no longer feeling the weightlessness of the water, in fact he wonders whether land-dwellers feel similarly when they drown. This kind of fear seems mundane but people have mundane fears all the time. Robin fears being no longer needed by Batman and that no one would take him seriously because of his young age. But the thing he mentions first is that he has fears, the fact that Batman's apprentice, a member of the Flying Graysons is afraid in the first place.

And then there's Wally, the narrator of the story. He carries the most concerns out of all of them: fearing he's not fast enough to be Flash's sidekick, that his mentor, his uncle never wanted him as a partner, that everyone thinks he's a joke and that even without his speed he'll just keep eating and eating. And the sad thing is that several of these fears are founded. Despite his interpretation on how he got his powers and how excited Barry was, well he was anything but that. And as seen in the last comic, he isn't as fast as fast as the Flash, and he his friends (or Robin and Artemis) do snark at him. But as his vision also reveals, Robin revealed his secret identity to him, something only a true friend will do. And he may not be as fast as the Flash but he was fast enough to catch a falling vial of plutonium. And that same super hunger, or super metabolism helps snap him out of that trance.

Some Final Thoughts: Briefly shown in Kaldur's segment is the Team watching "The Flaming C." This is in reference to a superhero created by Conan O'Brien. I thought that the ship used by Atomic Skull and Psycho-Pirate looked familiar, like I had seen it in some sci-fi before. Turns out it was modeled from the runabouts from Star Trek. Guess Gargoyles wasn't the only show to shout out that series.

DC Profiles:
Psycho-Pirate was an interesting choice for the comic, when you think about villains and having heroes face their fears the immediate choice would be someone like Scarecrow, but once again we how they're willing to use more obscure characters. His Medusa Mask allows him to manipulate his victim's emotions, which allows him to fulfill the role needed for the plot. Interestingly, he's an important figure in the crossover event "Crisis on Infinite Earths" where he's bounced around serving the machinations of both the Monitor and the Anti-Monitor, and is also one of the few involved that remembers everything that happened there.

Favorite Lines:

Psycho-Pirate: I think it apropos, don't you? The Psycho-Pirate plundering plutonium!
Kid Flash: Maybe he should change his name to 'Alliteration-Doofus' instead of Psycho-Pirate!

Kid Flash: Let's see you try anything funny your Medusa Mask is all covered in mud!
Psycho-Pirate: Can't see!
Kid Flash: That's the point you psycho...pirate.

Remember, young or old, rich or poor, friend or foe. We're all in this together

Nice article and straight to the point. Also, take a look at my post about Use Xpadder. It is the Best Gaming Emulators. It is very interesting.
Download Xpadder Controller - [foxrobert045 at gmail dot com]

Thanks Todd, always appreciated.
Remember, young or old, rich or poor, friend or foe. We're all in this together.

MATTHEW - Thanks for your latest review. I can't even recall that story in the comics, which reveals again how much I'd forgotten of them. Some insightful commentary, once again.
Todd Jensen

Time to check in with the other heroes and catch up with Kobra in issues 16 and 17, "Common Denominators" and "Uncommon Denominators."
The first issue mostly acts as a set up for the action in the second but it does show something that the series hasn't shown a lot of lately, and that's the younger heroes working alongside their mentors and demonstrating what each can learn from the other. For instance; while Batman stops one cultist from committing suicide so he can interrogate him, Robin looks into the ID of the victim. Green Arrow instructs Artemis on dealing with large groups of opponents and she shows him why it's a good idea to have redundant (and less obvious) trackers, Flash is teaching his nephew about proper detective skills and Wally is showing off that science brain of his by identifying foreign pollens (and pointing out the gigantic boot-print his uncle missed).

The second issue is all about the action as our heroes battle once again against Lord Naga-Naga and his minions and in an interesting reversal the older heroes tackle the side threat leaving the proteges to take on the big bad himself. And for extra irony both groups have to fight a gigantic cobra creature. There's a bit of development when it comes to Wally, first despite not knowing really anything about magic does recognize the importance of the dagger and rather than try to end the threat in an obvious way, opts to be a distraction while Artemis takes him down. And that's not even mentioning that his and Artemis' sniping is more playful than mean-spirited...

Some Final Thoughts: Of course a snake worshipping cult would be located in an abandoned New Age temple, I wasn't born when the New Age mysticism popped up in the 70's and 80's but even I know about it's decline. I actually wonder how many are left. One fun thing about reading comics like these is the fact that their advertisement acts as these fascinating time capsules, like how they advertise for tv shows like Green Lantern: The Animated Series. If they only knew that Cartoon Network would torpedo them.

The dagger used during the ritual looked familiar and then I realized it looks like one used in the film "Conan the Barbarian" rather appropriate since both involve a snake cult. I like that it's implied that Robin doing the disappearing act on his friends from Batman as we see the Caped Crusader doing just that to Flash.

DC Profiles: Jeffrey Burr and his twin Jason have both carried the title of leader of Kobra. The cult itself ties heavily into Hinduism as they believe their leader is destined to usher in the age of chaos, the Kali Yuga. Fun fact his title used to be the more accurate Lord Naja Naja which is the scientific name for the Indian Cobra, rather than Naga Naga which just means "snake-snake."

Favorite Lines:

Green Arrow: GPS tracker. Armed and activated.
Artemis: Uh...Discovered and deactivated.
Green Arrow: Dang.

Kid Flash: You're having another CSI moment, aren't you?
Flash: Kid, I was CSI before anyone knew what CSI stood for.

Green Arrow: Well handle the serpent. You kids protect the hostage.
Kid Flash: "Kids?" We're not kids.
Artemis: Says Kid Flash.

Flash: Well, that was easy enough...
Green Arrow: Buddy, don't jinx it!
Flash: Sorry! My bad!

Kid Flash: Okay Kobramort, let's dance!

Remember, young or old, rich or poor, friend or foe. We're all in this together.

Todd Jensen> Just in the event we need to tone down the Off-topic stuff: https://gunnerkrigg.proboards.com/user/6216

My account page on the Gunnerkrigg Court forum if you have one yourself or plan to.


ANTIYONDER - Thanks for the information. It'll be interesting to see what it's like. (I wonder how they'll translate Marigold saying "unicorn" in fancy print to explain her feats to the small screen - assuming they try adapting that part of the strip.)
Todd Jensen

A Couple of short responses.

Matthew> Read your response and looking forward to the review.

Todd Jensen> Not a response, but as you mentioned reading Phoebe and Her Unicorn, there apparently is a cartoon planned for Nickelodeon (at least they secured the rights for it). Not sure how it will perform, but looking forward to seeing what it's like (especially if Dana has a say in the casting).


Something Karrin brought up last week that I'd like to comment on is the complexities between Artemis and her mother Paula. About whether Paula might be living vicariously through her daughter and neither one one them used to the idea of being an attentive mother or daughter. But one thing that I saw was from Artemis' intro in the comics and Paula mentioning that the letters Artemis sent were the only things that kept her going in prison. I think it's important to remember that a good chunk of their lives together has been through letters sent rather than face to face interaction.

I doubt Belle Reeve allows for visiting hours and even if it did Lawrence doesn't seem like the type to drop his daughter off to see her mother. So for the first time in a long time the two are really living together and are both in unfamiliar situations. But as was previously mentioned, they wrote to each other every week which shows the genuine need they both have for a family, and for Artemis this will be explored further in season 3. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Remember, young or old, rich or poor, friend or foe. We're all in this together.

(#1)Number one with a bullet but always first over all!
Vinnie - [thomaspeano at yahoo dot com]
Deplorable and loving it!