Monday, December 31, 2018

Tiny Titans #16


By Art Baltazar Writer & Artist
& Franco Writer
Elisabeth V. Gehrlein Editor
Eddie Berganza Spanish Language Editor
Simona Martore Assistant Editor

Our cover by Baltazar pays homage to the many classic races the Flash had against Superman. Except this time it's Kid Flash vs. Supergirl. I always do a double take when I see this version of Kid Flash. His brown hair makes me think he should be Bart Allen (as well as his rivalry with Inertia), but this series has made it clear that this is Wally West. Of course, the recently revived Bart in the main DC Universe basically has red hair now, so ... yeah. Anyway, this is a cute and fun cover for a cute and fun story.

The credits page before the story begins features a one-panel gag of Inertia and Kid Flash lining up for a race. Kid Flash asks Speedy if he wants to join them, but Roy says, "Speedy's just my name, y'know."

Our story begins with Coach Lobo making our young heroes run "for an hour straight." Robin and Beast Boy can't take anymore and eventually collapse, causing Lobo to bemoan the laziness of today's youth and claim that he had to run to school uphill both ways through rain, snow, volcanoes and dolphins. He shows off his muscles to the students, asking how they think he got them. Each hero answers with a different source of super powers (and many guesses that aren't sources of super powers), but Lobo says his secret was pure exercise.

Coach Lobo decides the best way to get the Sidekick City Elementary students into shape is to have them race around the world. Most of the kids feel this is too far a distance to run, but Supergirl, Kid Flash and Inertia are excited. Inertia claims he's faster, but Kid Flash points out he's run around the world tons of times. Lobo tells the kids the first one to cross the finish line gets an "A" in gym class, and blows his whistle. All the kids take off in a cloud of dust, except Raven, who says she'll be in the library.

A group of runners quickly encounter their first obstacle: the ocean. Aqualad, Lagoon Boy and Beast Boy have no problem swimming through the water, and Robin joins them with a snorkel and can of shark spray. Batgirl, however, overcomes this obstacle with her private pink helicopter. Lobo, meanwhile, passes the time by ordering a cup of coffee and reading a Captain Marvel comic book.

Starfire, Bumblebee and the two Wonder Girls (one is Cassie, the other, I assume, is Donna) pass Bombshell on their way, and quickly become distracted by how shiny she is. But our three fastest kids, Supergirl, Inertia and Kid Flash, are still focused, making their way through the desert. They pass Mas and Menos, who ask what's going on (in Spanish). Kid Flash seems to be able to understand them and lets them join the race.


Lobo finishes his comic and heads to the finish line to await the winner. To his surprise, the first student to cross the line is Raven, who's reading a book on birds while walking, completely oblivious to the horde of racers right behind her. Just before Lobo can proclaim Raven the winner, everyone else comes rushing across the finish line, trampling their coach. Seeing Raven won, they all cheer her and lift her into the air. Raven says, "Was there ever any doubt?"




Just like the Flash/Superman races of old, this one had to end ambiguously. I personally like Inertia's chances in a race like this, but this comic is far too silly to take seriously. And that's all the fun of it. Younger readers should enjoy this story for its sheer whimsical and colorful nature, and older readers should enjoy it for all its Easter eggs.

Next time, we'll return to The Flash: Rebirth #2.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Flash: Rebirth #1


Lightning Strikes Twice

Geoff Johns Writer
Ethan Van Sciver Artist & Covers
Brian Miller of Hi-Fi, Alex Sinclair Colorists
Rob Leigh Letterer

Our main cover by Van Sciver with Moose Baumann shows Barry Allen putting on his boot. And that's it. For some reason, he's also surrounded by copious amounts of lightning. And because this is a Van Sciver piece, Barry looks like the bad guy. Frankly, I've always felt this was an overrated cover. Maybe that's because I can't stand the way Van Sciver draws boots (they always look so weird), or maybe it's the overall generic nature of all the heroes Van Sciver draws. Not only do they usually look like villains, but they all have identical body types. Compare this image to the covers Van Sciver did for Flash: The Fastest Man Alive, and you won't see any difference between his take of Barry and Bart.


Our variant cover by Van Sciver with Alex Sinclair shows Barry popping his costume out of his Flash ring. I think this is a bit more dynamic, with some nice motion to it. But I'm still unnerved by how evil and stiff Barry looks. I got this image and the next one from dc.wikia.com.


This last cover by Van Sciver with Sinclair was made for the second printing of this issue. It also shows Barry putting on his boot, but from a different angle. All the unnecessary lightning has been removed, and Barry's expression has been downgraded from evil to creepy. This cover, unfortunately, emphasizes Van Sciver's inability to draw natural-looking boots, as well as his propensity for cramming as many muscles as possible onto his figures. I'm not going to lie — Van Sciver's artwork is going to be a major challenge for me in this miniseries.

Our story begins with Eobard Thawne brutally murdering two Central City police scientists with the sharpened end of a lightning rod. He then arranges the necessary chemicals to spill on him after he summons a bolt of lightning to recreate the accident that gave Barry Allen (and Wally West) super speed. Now fully charged, Eobard claims responsibility for Barry's return, saying it's the worst thing he could do to him.

We then get a brief glimpse of a bunch of gorillas painting the Flash on a cave wall, before quickly checking in on the Rogues reading about the upcoming celebration of the return of both Central City's Flash and Kid Flash. Mirror Master says they're going to need more Rogues. Abra Kadabra begins dusting off his old Flash puppets, and Dr. Alchemy wonders if the Flash even remembers him.

In addition to the massive celebration in Central City, several superhero teams are planning parties of their own. We start with the Justice Society of America in New York, where Jay Garrick is telling his teammates that Barry inspired him to come out of retirement. At Titans Tower in New York, Wally is trying to tell his former Teen Titan teammates about his relationship with Barry, but he's interrupted by Irey and Jai fighting over a Gorilla Grodd piñata. Wally laments how difficult it is to raise his super-powered twins, saying he never thought he'd look back and say training Bart was easy.

Bart, meanwhile, is at the Teen Titans' tower in San Francisco, complaining about everyone making a big deal of the return of his grandfather. Cassie and Tim arrive to see Bart has already decorated the tower with banners welcoming himself back. Cassie tells Bart the rest of the Teen Titans are in Central City, hoping to meet the Flash. Bart angrily responds that Wally is the Flash, and Cassie points out that Bart was the Flash, too. Bart says it wasn't fun at all, and he came back from the future so everything could go back to the way it used to be, with Wally as Flash and him as Kid Flash. Tim reminds Bart that he was Wally's biggest detractor not too long ago, but Bart says Wally earned being the Flash. He knows everyone sees Barry as some sort of messiah, but he says he barely knows his grandpa. Cassie begins to mention Barry's sacrifice, but Bart asks what Barry exactly sacrificed, since he's back now. Lightning begins to emit from Bart's eyes as he finally gets to the real issue he's upset about: "Why's Barry the only one that escaped the Speed Force?"

We then head to the home of Iris West-Allen in Central City, where we see the post-Final Crisis continuity has made her about 30 years younger. Iris is telling Joan Garrick that she's too happy with the return of Barry and Bart to ask any questions, when she gets a phone call from Captain Frye. He says he knows Barry's back and asks for his help with a murder case.

The man of honor, though, is currently hiding from all his parties at the Flash Museum. Hal Jordan tracks him down, and the two have a little fun catching up, before Hal ultimately tells Barry to relax and enjoy being back in the world of the living. But Barry refuses, saying he only came to the museum to get caught up on all the villains he missed. He asks Hal to tell everyone he's going to skip all the parties, as he throws on his Flash uniform and races out the door to get back to being a superhero.

In Fallville, Iowa, two boys come across a disintegrating skeleton wearing a Black Flash uniform. As Barry runs, he remembers how his mother was murdered when he was a boy and his father was arrested, despite protesting his innocence. Suddenly, Savitar appears right in front of Barry, proclaiming his freedom from the Speed Force. Barry recognizes Savitar from the Flash Museum, and he immediately chases after him. Savitar becomes frightened by the sight of Barry and begs him to stay away. Barry reaches out and grabs Savitar, but when he touches him, Wally, Irey and Jai become surrounded in painful lightning. And Savitar begins to rapidly age in Barry's grasp. As he dies, Savitar says Barry was the beginning and now he's the end. With Barry standing dumbfounded over the disintegrating bones of Savitar, we see that Bart, Jay and Jesse are also experiencing painful lightning attacks.




I'm not sure what to make of this issue. On one hand, it's a great celebration of all things Flash. Everyone in the Flash world is here, whether in person or in the museum. And the stage is set for a rather interesting mystery. But everyone comes off as insufferably grumpy — and that's not just because of Van Sciver's artwork. Barry refuses to allow his family and friends to celebrate his return. Wally is annoyed by his kids. And Bart is mad that everyone has already pushed Wally aside (something that DC will unceremoniously do for the New 52).

I really sympathize with Bart's frustrations, but it makes me sad that Johns chose to present this as the whining of a spoiled brat. It feels like he's telling all the Wally fans to just get over it and accept this new world where Barry is the Flash again. And even now, in 2018, Barry is still the Flash in the comics, movies and TV shows, and Wally has basically been in limbo for the past decade. Anyway, Bart's main complaint in this issue was that Max Mercury hasn't returned. But the phrasing of his question was a bit odd. Bart himself escaped the Speed Force when the other speedsters gave him all their speed so he could chase after Superboy-Prime. And Wally escaped the Speed Force many times, most recently with his whole family on the night Bart died. But, the main point remains: Barry's back. What's the big deal?

Next time, we'll return to the happy world of Tiny Titans, where Inertia is alive and well.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #4


Book Four

Geoff Johns – Writer
George Pérez – Pencils
Scott Koblish – Inker
Hi-Fi – Colorist
Nick Napolitano – Letters
Adam Schlagman – Asst. Editor
Eddie Berganza – Editor
Cover: George Pérez & Tom Smith
Silver Cover: George Pérez & Hi-Fi

Our main cover features the adult Brainiac 5. But unlike the past two covers of this miniseries, we don't get small images of the other two Brainiac 5s here. Instead, we get an exciting glimpse of the figure that has been contained inside Brainiac 5's lightning rod since Justice League of America #10. I love that Pérez chose to highlight the plot of Bart Allen's return rather than displaying the other versions of Brainiac 5. I also enjoy this cover a lot more than the others Pérez did in this style, confirming my suspicion that it was the coloring job of those previous covers that I didn't like.


I do not own the variant cover of this issue (this was the lone installment I was able to find the main cover for at my local comic shop), so I took this image from MyComicShop.com. Unfortunately, I think Pérez tried to cram too much action into this tiny space. It is nice to see Bart and Jenni in action, but I can't quite tell what they're supposed to be doing amidst all this chaos.

Our story begins in the present day in Metropolis. Starman, a mentally ill Legionnaire, who was left behind in the 21st Century, enters a graveyard in Metropolis in the middle of the night and begins digging up the grave of someone named Kent. This is a crucial element of the third stage of Brainiac 5's plan. Back in the 31st Century, the battle against the Legion of Super-Villains continues in the streets of Metropolis, while the Legion Headquarters is engulfed in lightning heralding the arrival of our beloved Bart.

Bart immediately begins pounding on Superboy-Prime, mocking him for being so scared by the return of the fastest boy alive, Kid Flash. Prime retaliates with some blasts of heat vision, but he's unable to hit Bart, and is unable to prevent himself from stuttering as he says Bart got "old and dumber," became the Flash and was killed by the Rogues. Bart joyfully dodges Prime's attacks and says the Rogues tried — he guesses. Jenni is so excited to see her cousin again, she runs right through Superboy-Prime and gives Bart a big hug. Bart says it's nice to be "lightning out of a bottle" and he quotes the Genie from Disney's Aladdin about having "phenomenal cosmic power," but "itty-bitty living space." Superboy-Prime interrupts this touching reunion by shouting, "Dodge this, Impuke!" But Bart holds his ground and confidently says, "You first," as the various lightning-wielders blast Prime from behind.



With Prime momentarily immobilized, Kid Flash and XS begin racing around him to push him up with a whirlwind. Adult Brainiac 5 explains to the others what just happened, while Bart tries to answer Jenni's questions. Brainy says they have just reconstituted a part of Barry Allen's grandson. Bart tells Jenni that he "kinda" died. He starts explaining by going back to his first fight against Superboy-Prime, where Bart became entangled in the Speed Force. Brainy says Bart's aging was once again accelerated artificially at that point. Bart says he remembers the exact moment the Rogues attacked and he lost his speed. But then it was like an out-of-body experience, as the lightning pulled his spirit away, Bart saw the adult part of him die.

Adult Brainiac 5 theorizes that if he hadn't sent a team of Legionnaires back in time to bottle up Bart's youth, then regardless of the Rogues' attack, Bart would have died within a month of old age. The younger Brainiac 5s joke about how this means the adult part of Bart was like a cancer — as it is with everyone. Adult Brainy doesn't appreciate the joke, and he goes on to explain that he knew to prepare for this because Dream Girl saw a vision of Bart Allen's return and Superboy-Prime's attack.

Bart and Jenni's whirlwind manages to lift Prime up and out of the Legion Headquarters, and Bart tells Jenni he's never felt so fast before. Jenni says she also feels the surge in the Speed Force, and she asks Bart what he thinks it means. Bart hopefully suggests that Max Mercury is running right next to him. Prime shouts that when he gets his hands on Bart, he's toast. Bart retorts, "With jelly," and he and Jenni take the fight outside. Adult Brainiac 5 says Kid Flash, XS and the Legion will keep Prime unfocused for the moment, giving him time to attend to the third and final stage of his plan.

Sodam Yat hits Prime with a big blast of Green Lantern energy, and Bart follows that up with a whirlwind around Prime's head to take away his air. Prime can only whine, "S-stop, Speed J-jerks —" Bart then becomes distracted by the arrival of Superman, which he thinks is pretty cool. Superman is surprised to see Bart and asks if this is a result of time travel, but Lightning Lad explains that Brainiac 5 has apparently brought Kid Flash back from the dead. Superman then turns his attention to Prime, once again asking him what his parents would say to all the destruction he's caused. Prime says it doesn't matter, since his parents are dead. Superman says that even thought they're dead, they're still watching. Suddenly, an enormous purple fist reaches down from the sky and grabs Superman, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl. Other Legionnaires recognizes this as the Time Trapper, but they're unable to rescue their teammates before the fist disappears.

The Time Trapper took those four crucial heroes to the end of time to "witness the fall of the Superman dynasty." But nobody left behind knows that, and a magical powered hero named Kinetix attacks Superboy-Prime, demanding to know where the Time-Trapper took those four. Kid Flash tries to warn Kinetix that Prime isn't vulnerable to magic, but he's too late, and Prime kills her with a blast of heat vision. This is third Legionnaire that Prime has personally killed, and he's met with a swift, passionate response from our heroes. One of the Element Lads turns all the rocks around Prime into kryptonite, and to the surprise of Prime and Bart, the kryptonite actually hurts Prime — a lot. Prime swiftly kills Element Lad by throwing a kryptonite rock through his heart, and Cosmic King quickly heals Prime by converting the kryptonite radiation in him into yellow sunlight.

The evil sorcerer Mordru then receives a vision of the future, and he warns Prime that the Legionnaires are going to win unless he destroys Superman's Fortress of Solitude right now. So Prime immediately flies toward the North Pole, which Bart notices and calls out for everyone to follow him north. Meanwhile, the three Brainiac 5s (and a couple of other Legionnaires) are impatiently waiting for the three Legionnaires to return from the past. Adult Brainiac 5 claims they're late, but Other Brainiac 5 says the adult's internal clock is running fast because he's panicking. He tries to call the moment the time-travelers will return, but he's also too soon. But Our Brainiac 5 is able to correctly anticipate the exact moment the time sphere returns and Polar Boy presents them with a fresh strand of Lex Luthor's hair. Our Brainy asks what the hair is for, and Adult Brainy asks if he's ever read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Other Brainy decries that as a book for children, and Our Brainy complains that it's incomplete — he apparently followed it step-by-step with little success. Adult Brainy laments that his younger doppelgängers are missing the point — that with the right amount of genius and a touch of perceived insanity, science can conquer anything.

Luckily, Superboy-Prime's ego prevented him from flying straight to the Fortress, as he insisted on blasting another massive "S" into the ground with his heat vision — a fact picked up by Bart, while he and Jenni were following Prime. This diversion gives Sodam Yat time to catch up and put a helmet over Prime's eyes. Inside the Fortress, Adult Brainiac 5 explains that he had Starman bury a Kryptonian Chrysalis here a thousand years ago. He has Light Lass pull it out of the ice, and he says this is the same device that regenerated Superman after his battle with Doomsday. But whereas the chamber took only a few months to heal Superman from those wounds, in this case, the healing process has taken over a thousand years, and it still isn't complete. Adult Brainiac 5 inserts the Lex Luthor hair into the Chrysalis, saying this fresh human D.N.A. will finish the other half of the healing. But now he needs to carefully select the correct crystal to complete the process. Other Brainiac 5 insists he can choose the right one, citing his experience with Supergirl, but Adult Brainy warns "Baby Brainiac" that if he so much as taps the wrong crystal, he'll trigger a complete meltdown.

But while they were arguing, Superboy-Prime broke free from Sodam Yat and threw all the nearby heroes (including Kid Flash and XS) through the ice and into the cavern under the Fortress, causing a minor collapse that conveniently knocks out the Brainiac 5s, but leaves Polar Boy, Dawnstar and Wildfire still standing. Polar Boy heads out to hold off Prime, which he tries to do by freezing every drop of water in Prime's blood. But that doesn't slow him down long, and Prime is just about to kill Polar Boy before Sun Boy arrives in the nick of time. Inside the cavern, Dawnstar and Wildfire finally express their love for each other, which somehow sparks Dawnstar's power to find the right path and choose the correct crystal. Bart is naturally the first one to recover from being knocked out, and once he sees what's happening, he excitedly exclaims, "NO WAY."

Superboy-Prime says he'll surrender to Sun Boy and Polar Boy, but then knocks them down by clapping his hands at super speed. As he laughs at how he was "totally being sarcastic," Dawnstar and Wildfire join the fight outside. Wildfire tells Prime he's in for it now, since they just got another Superman on their team. Prime looks up and weakly says, "Not him too." And on a big, two-page spread, Conner Kent punches Prime, while telling Wildfire to call him Superboy.

Superman sees this from the end of time, and he proudly tells the Time-Trapper that even though he doesn't know how or why Superboy and Kid Flash are back, he knows that with them fighting alongside the Legions of three worlds, Superboy-Prime doesn't stand a chance. He begins attacking the Time-Trapper, and rips off his cloak while Conner rips off Prime's shirt. In a neat, split image, we see that Time-Trapper really is an older version of Superboy-Prime, and he confidently tells Superman that even though Conner is back, the Legion is destined to lose.




What a terrific issue. Bart is back and is leading the charge against one of the most powerful beings in the universe. And now his old friend, Superboy, is back! The drama of choosing the right crystal was kind of lame, but Superboy's return was still pretty exciting. And the way he was brought back makes enough sense for me — let Kryptonian technology work on him for a thousand years, then add some fresh human D.N.A. at the end to complete the process. Bart's return, though, is a little more complicated.

Ultimately, this feels like Geoff Johns wanting to have his cake and eat it, too. He wanted Bart back, but not as the adult version nobody really liked, nor as his original Impulse version that Johns never really liked. So he used some convenient comic book science to say Brainiac 5 "bottled up" Bart's youth, letting his "adult self" die. This really doesn't make any sense. And the more I think about it, the less sense it makes. It especially becomes confusing when Bart says he remembers that final battle and being killed. Does this mean he remembers the whole year he spent as a 20-year-old? Does he remember drinking alcohol and having sex and all that stuff? Is Bart essentially an adult trapped in the body of a teenager now? These are questions that will never properly be answered. And that might be primarily because Bart's sudden aging from 16 to 20 was never properly explained to begin with. So, I guess all we can really do is sit back and enjoy the ride. Kid Flash is back, for better or worse.

Despite that, this is another incredible issue in this miniseries. Tremendous artwork. Great action. And I absolutely love watching the three Brainiac 5s bicker among themselves. Now let's check out the new ads:

Nothing hits harder than vengeance! The Spirit on DVD and Blu-Ray.

War. Perfected. KillZone 3 on PlayStation 3.

The fate of the world is in your hands. Dragonball Evolution on PSP.

Do you have an eye for design? If you're an aspiring graphic designer, this is your chance ... 2009 Design Scholarship Challenge.

DC Nation talks about the upcoming Wednesday Comics, which we will be taking a peak at before too long.

A five-page preview of The Last Days of Animal Man.

Beware of the darkest waters ... Vampirates: Black Heart.

Next time, we'll begin another massive miniseries that just couldn't wait for this one to end — Flash: Rebirth #1.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #3


Book Three

Geoff Johns – Writer
George Pérez – Pencils
Scott Koblish – Inker
Hi-Fi – Colorist
Nick Napolitano – Letters
Adam Schlagman – Assoc. Editor
Eddie Berganza – Editor
Cover: George Pérez & Dave McCaig
Silver Cover: George Pérez & Hi-Fi

Our main cover features Cosmic Boy, with the two other Cosmic Boys appearing in the magnetic force fields coming from his hands. It's the same idea Pérez used with Lightning Lad on the first issue of this miniseries, and once again, the end result just feels off. Perhaps it's McCaig's coloring, perhaps it's Pérez trying something different. Whatever the case, it just doesn't look that great.


Our variant cover is a tease to a subplot we don't care that much about. Essentially, it's two Legionnaires convincing the galaxy's last surviving Green Lantern, Sodam Yat, to end his life of exile and help them battle Superboy-Prime and the Legion of Super-Villains. I suppose this is a fine cover for the cramped space Pérez had to work with.

We skipped the second issue of this 5-part miniseries, but we really didn't miss too much, as far as this blog is concerned. Basically, all we need to know is Superboy-Prime has freed all the villains of the 30th century and is leading them on an all-out assault on Metropolis. To combat this threat, the Legion of Super-Heroes has recruited two alternate versions of themselves, so we now have three separate Legions to deal with. The "main" Legion of this Earth that is coordinating everything, are all adults, while the other two Legions are still teenagers. Of those two teenage Legions, we only recognize one of them — the Legion that includes Bart's cousin, XS, and had several adventures with Impulse and later Kid Flash before being lost into a void of emptiness at the end of the Teen Titans/Legion Special. I'm going to call them "Our Legion." The "Other Legion" are also teenagers and share a lot of similarities with their counterparts, but we don't have any history with them. And I'll call the main Legion the "Adult Legion," so hopefully this doesn't become too confusing.

Anyway, let's pick up with Superboy-Prime attacking the Daily Planet in a vain effort to destroy everything connected to Superman. Our Superman from the 21st Century, attacks Prime from behind, puts him in a head lock, and covers Prime's eyes with his hand to prevent him from using his heat vision. Superman still wants to try to redeem Prime, so he begins calling him Clark and urges him to remember his supportive adoptive parents from Earth-Prime and his best friend, Laurie. Superman asks Prime to consider what they would say if they saw him acting this way. But all this only makes Prime angrier, and he manages to shoot a blast of heat vision through Superman's hand.

The fighting continues to grow more chaotic in the streets, and it seems like the Adult Legion is about to be defeated, until the Adult Brainiac 5 arrives with the two other Legions, shouting, "Long live the Legion!" Our Brainiac 5 is supportive of his adult counterpart, but the Other Brainy has a cynical view of adults and often chastises his his teenage doppelgänger for sucking up to the Adult Brainiac 5. The combined might of the three Legions is able to turn the tide of the battle for the moment, but the Adult Brainiac 5 explains that the war against Superboy-Prime is as psychological as it is physical. Bringing the three Legions together was just the first stage of his three-stage plan. For the second stage, Adult Brainiac 5 requests all the lightning wielders to follow him back to the clubhouse. For stage three, he has sent three Legionnaires back to Smallville in the 20th Century to collect a single hair from a young Lex Luthor.

The three Brainiac 5s gather at the clubhouse with all the Lightning Lads and Lasses, as well as XS, who says she has the strangest feeling of deja vu. Adult Brainiac 5 says that's to be expected, as XS wasn't born on the recently destroyed Earth-247 like her teammates, but she was born on this Earth, the keystone to the multiverse. He leads Jenni over to the Cosmic Treadmill, which is placed in front of a couple of portraits of Barry Allen and his wife, Iris, as well as two statues of the Tornado Twins, Don and Dawn Allen. Adult Brainy plays a video showing how Barry and Iris retreated to the 30th century to start a family. They had twins, Don and Dawn, who married Meloni Thawne and Jeven Ognats, respectively, giving birth to Bart Allen and Jenni Ognats.

But after Barry went back to the 20th Century and disappeared while fighting the Anti-Monitor, his greatest rival, Eobard Thawne, traveled to the 30th Century to attack the Tornado Twins. So Don and Dawn modified the Cosmic Treadmill and loaded up their families as passengers behind them as they attempted to run away to a parallel world. But Professor Zoom sabotaged the treadmill, causing an explosion that tore open the multiverse, resulting in three Legions from three different worlds being pulled together. Professor Zoom apparently had an army of "speed soldiers" with him at the time, but they were all defeated by the three Legions.

The three Brainiac 5s worked together to send everyone back to their proper world, except for the Tornado Twins and their families, who stayed hidden on Earth-247. However, Don and Dawn were killed shortly after this adventure. But Jenni and Bart remained safe and were reunited with their grandmother Iris. And Adult Brainiac 5 says that Iris watched both Bart and Jenni age to teenagers in days. Jenni is shocked by this information overload, and asks Adult Brainiac 5 why he's the only one who remembers it. Our Brainiac 5 (and Jenni's) hypothesizes that the turmoil of the event erased it from everyone's mind, but the mental capacity of an adult Brainiac 5 would somehow be able to retain this information.

The Other Brainiac 5, however, calls this story "completely illogical," pointing out that his Legion has interacted with Supergirl in the past, implying they can't be from a different world. But Adult Brainiac 5 explains that when people travel through time, they often shift into the multiverse, and actually end up on a parallel world. So even though the Legion we knew and loved during Final Night and all those adventures were interacting with our world, they were really from Earth-247. The Other Brainiac 5 asks Adult Brainy which Earth his Legion is from, and Adult Brainy says it's an Earth that is vital to this war, but he declines to elaborate. He then turns to Jenni, telling her bad things have happened to the Flash family since she last saw her cousin, and now it's time for her to help them. Adult Brainiac 5 shows Jenni his lightning rod and says all she has to do is run.

Meanwhile, the Cosmic Boys manage to take off Superboy-Prime's armor to make him vulnerable to red sunlight again. But the evil Saturn Queen managed to read the Adult Brainiac 5's mind, and she warns Prime that the Legionnaires are working to bring "him" back. Prime panics and begins stuttering, saying, "N-n-no. Not him! I won't let them bring back HIM!!" One of the Sun Boys hits Prime with some red sunlight, but Prime angrily fights through the pain and freezes Sun Boy's head, killing him. Prime tries to head for the Legion Headquarters, but he's stopped by Sodam Yat. However, the rest of the villains notice a surge of lightning emanating from the clubhouse, so they all begin working on breaking through the force field set up by the Brainiac 5s.

Inside the headquarters, Adult Brainiac 5 restores the powers of one of Lightning Lads with the "living lightning" in his lightning rod. This gives him five lightning wielders to surround XS on the treadmill and one Light Lass to control Jenni's weight. As XS runs, the Speed Force begins to break down around her and the laws of physics come into play, meaning the faster she runs, the heavier she gets. So Light Lass has to counteract that to prevent XS from becoming a singularity that will rip open the universe. As XS approaches light speed, Adult Brainiac 5 orders the five lightning wielders to pour lightning into the treadmill and the lightning rod attached to it.

Superboy-Prime breaks free of Sodam Yat's chain and begins to smash his way through the Legion's force field. As he pounds away, a voice from the lightning rod calls out, "Hello?" XS says she can hear the Speed Force reaching out for her, but the voice says, "That's not the Speed Force, Jenni — it's me." There's a big explosion of lightning on the treadmill, and Jenni falls off, exhausted from her run. Superboy-Prime finally breaks through the force field and heads toward our heroes, saying, "He's just a stupid kid! He doesn't matter!" The lightning around the treadmill begins to take a humanoid shape, saying, "Hi, guys! Man, do I feel better."

Adult Brainiac 5 tosses a ring at the lightning, and a human hand catches it, releasing the Kid Flash uniform inside. As Superboy-Prime approaches, he begs himself to not be scared now. But once he turns the corner, he can't help but scream at the sight of Bart Allen saying, "Boo."


BART IS BACK!

Almost two years after being killed as the Flash, Bart Allen has been brought back to life. But he's not that mopey 20-year-old anymore — he's the more light-hearted and fun 16-year-old Kid Flash. (Not as fun as the 14-year-old Impulse, though, but beggars can't be choosers.) It's a very exciting — and confusing — development that we'll get more into next issue. But for the main takeaway of this issue, I found it highly satisfying that Superboy-Prime completely lost his mind at the mere idea of Bart returning. Prime absolutely loathes Superboy and carries an intense hatred for all things Superman. But Prime is only truly afraid of one hero — our beloved Bart Allen. As Kid Flash, Bart handed Prime his first real defeat by carrying him off to the Speed Force. Prime was able to immediately break free of the Phantom Zone, but it took him a bit longer to escape from the Speed Force. This gave him a general fear of all speedsters, but Bart holds a special place in Prime's deepest fears. And I think that's because of the pure courage Bart demonstrated by continuing to run forward even after Jay and Wally fell away. Bart was clearly outmatched, and he wouldn't have been able to accomplish this task without the aid of Barry, Max and Johnny from the other side. But he still persisted in an act of selfless sacrifice — a courage that Prime had long ago forgotten and is now incapable of feeling. Years later, even with a massive army at his back, Prime is still haunted by the memory of Bart.

Now, we unfortunately have some retconning to address in this issue. It does make sense, though, as reality has been massively altered once again after Final Crisis (this miniseries ironically still carries the Final Crisis name, even though that event has already concluded). We are now told about what was surely a thrilling adventure with the Tornado Twins, Professor Zoom and the combined might of the three separate Legions. Although, I'm reasonably certain this event has never been depicted in the comics. If it has, and you know where it is, please let me know, because I would very much like to see it.

Anyway, the main takeaway here is that the Tornado Twins took their families to a parallel world that no longer exists. Unfortunately, this raises more questions for Bart and Jenni. Remember, originally, Bart's grandfather, Thaddeus Thawne, was President of Earthgov and the main antagonist of everything bad that happened to the Allen family. He had the Tornado Twins killed, cloned Bart, and forced his daughter, Meloni, to remain separated from her family. But if Meloni went to a parallel world, did any of that happen? How did Bart's dad die? Is Bart's mom still alive in this new reality?

Adult Brainiac 5 also delivered a very problematic line for me. He claimed that Iris Allen watched both Jenni and Bart age to teenagers in days. Originally, only Bart suffered from accelerated aging, growing to the age of 12 in two years. And it was precisely because of this aging problem that prompted Iris to take him back to the 20th century so Wally could save Bart's life. Jenni, originally, didn't display any super speed powers until she was a teenager, enabling her to grow up normally, and later join the Legion of Super-Heroes when she was ready. But if Jenni also had that accelerated aging problem, then why wasn't she also brought back to the past? How was her problem solved? Of course, the simplest explanation for this is that Brainiac 5 misspoke when he said both of them rapidly grew up (or rather, Geoff Johns made a mistake — it should be noted that George Pérez only drew Bart growing up quickly).

Setting all that aside, though, this was an incredible issue. Johns and Pérez are dealing with so many characters and alternate versions of those characters, yet have somehow managed to keep everything together as one cohesive, thrilling story. It's great for Bart Allen fans like me, but I'd imagine it's even better for long-time Legion fans. The only weakness this miniseries had was its slow release schedule, but looking back at it years later, I'm grateful to have the same art team on each issue. Now let's check out the new ads:

To hadouken or not to hadouken? Street Fighter IV for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Halo Wars for Xbox 360.

got milk? with Chris Brown.

Afro Samurai for Xbox 360.

Resistance: Retribution for PlayStation 3 and PSP.

Wondercon in San Francisco.

Dragon Ball Z Season Eight on DVD.

H.A.W.X.: High Altitude Warfare for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

The DC Nation page previews the Battle for the Cowl storyline.

Knowing. What happens when the numbers run out?

Win a trip to the premiere of Star Trek through Esurance.

Next in ... Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #4, will evil win the future? Also, you know, Kid Flash!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Teen Titans #68


Origins & Omens

Story: Sean McKeever
Pencils: Ed Benes
Inks: Rob Hunter
Color: JD Smith
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Asst. Editor: Rex Ogle
Editor: Brian Cunningham

Our cover by Eddy Barrows shows a closeup of the mysterious Kid Eternity, whom we briefly met during the chaotic buildup to Infinite Crisis. Reflected in his glasses is Red Devil, who actually lost his powers last issue to Brother Blood (yeah, he came back again). It's a fairly decent cover, but it's for the main story that we don't care about. We're only here for the backup story.

The backup story features a former Guardian of the Universe, now known as Scar, reading a gigantic blank book. This book somehow helps her review the past, present and future of the Teen Titans. Scar notes how Wonder Girl was about to go down a dark path until Cyborg reformed the Titans, perfectly balancing the team with four experienced members serving as mentors to the four newcomers, who had been holdovers from Young Justice.


Scar deems that iteration of the Teen Titans to have been the group's apex. Now, the team is anything but. They're reduced to just three members, and one of them, Red Devil, is just an ordinary boy named Eddie. Wonder Girl, Blue Beetle and Eddie meet in the basement of Titans Tower, and Cassie tries to assure the two boys that they can keep the Teen Titans alive. Eddie, however, points out how their leader Robin just quit the team, as well as Ravager and Miss Martian. Not to mention what happened to Superboy and Kid Flash.

Jaime begins to agree with Eddie on the hopelessness of their situation, so Cassie suggests they not worry about recruiting any more members at the moment. Instead, she suggests they begin searching out the Dark Side Club, which has brainwashed many of their potential recruits into killing each other in fighting pits. Eddie worries about how much he'll be able to help without his powers, but Cassie assures him she values his input and says he's still a member of the team.

So Jaime and Eddie agree to keep the team alive, and as they put their hands together in a circle and Eddie says, "Titans together," Bombshell suddenly enters the cave. She mocks them for their cheesy display of affection, but she also says she wants to join the team, claiming she doesn't have anything else to do.

We then close our story with Scar, who notes that the Teen Titans will become great again, but that will only make their inevitable fall that much greater. She views the Titans' future, showing Wonder Girl kissing Blue Beetle, battling Ravager, and possibly becoming pregnant. Scar also sees the corpse of Eddie, the empty Kid Flash uniform and the arrival of Static Shock.




As far as I can tell, most of those visions of the future don't occur. Static Shock does join the team, and Kid Flash will return, although I'm not sure why his uniform was empty in this vision. Anyway, all this issue showed me was how boring and pathetic the Teen Titans are without Tim, Kon and Bart. Those three are kind of essential to any premiere team of teenaged superheroes. Luckily, those three will be back before too long.

Next time, we'll take an important, monumental step in that direction with Legion of 3 Worlds #3.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Teen Titans #66


The New Deal Part I: Choices

Sean McKeever Writer
Eddy Barrows Pencils
Ruy Jose & Julio Ferriera Inks
Rod Reis Colors
Sal Cipriano Letters
Rex Ogle Assistant Editor
Gehrlein & Cunningham Editors

Our cover by Barrows shows a gigantic Robin acting in the "I Want You!" Uncle Sam role, surrounding by absurdly small images of former and potential Teen Titans. Robin's former girlfriend, Spoiler, is back, as well as Bombshell, the traitor we saw get killed by the Titans East — apparently she somehow survived having her throat slit open. Former Titan Speedy is here, and Klarion the Witch Boy, looking about eight years older than the Klarion who plagued our heroes during Sins of Youth. Anyway, this is a really lame cover with lots of dead space. We've seen countless versions of this recruitment-type cover, and this is one of the worst renditions I've seen.

Our story picks up with the Teen Titans after Final Crisis. The team has been reduced to four members — Robin, Wonder Girl, Blue Beetle and Red Devil (the former Kid Devil, who now appears to be going through a growth spurt and has a new costume). Wonder Girl also has a new costume — a shirt that very nearly covers her entire midriff — and she wears this new outfit to Metropolis to ask Supergirl to rejoin the team. However, Supergirl says she's already made another commitment.

So our four Titans meet up in their San Francisco tower to discuss who they should recruit to the team. Cyborg appears on their monitor and offers his two cents, although he refuses to officially return to the Teen Titans. So Red Devil uses his teleporting ability to visit all these potential recruits, but he has no luck. Speedy tells him she has her hands full dealing with Ollie, and Stargirl and Damage say they're already on a team — the Justice Society of America.

Bombshell, Spoiler, Traci Thirteen and Misfit are all just "hanging out" at Titans Tower, but none of them appear to want to join the team. Or so they say. Anyway, that night, Cassie visits Tim in his room and finds him looking at an old photograph of the two of them with Conner and Bart.


Tim really feels like they're on their own now without those two or any mentors. He asks Cassie what it means to be a Teen Titan, and she gives him an inspirational answer about being a beacon of hope to their generation. Tim's pleased by this answer, and he gives a very long-winded explanation for why he's quitting the team. It basically boils down to the fact that he's been unable to recruit any more heroes and that Batman disappeared (or died) after Final Crisis. Tim's worried about leaving Cassie, but she assures him she'll be able to lead the team without him and is fully supportive of his decision to quit. Cassie gives Tim a big hug, but her confidence fades away to sadness once Robin flies away.




This was a rather dull issue. Robin — who has been here since issue #1 — is leaving the team, but we barely felt any emotion with this massive decision. It should have been played up as a huge deal, but it just felt rather dull. I mean, Cassie didn't even give Tim a goodbye kiss. Are they done dating now?  In any case, I always like being reminded that the loss of Bart and Conner still weighs heavily on Tim's mind — as it should. And I did like the conversation of trying to find heroes with complimentary powers to build the new Teen Titans team — albeit said conversation was far too brief.

Next time, we'll skip ahead to a backup feature in Teen Titans #68.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Flash #246


This Was Your Life, Wally West Part Three: Infection

Alan Burnett Writer
Carlo Barberi Penciller
Drew Geraci & Jacob Eguren Inkers
Swands Letterer
The Hories Colorists
Gluckstern & Berganza Editors

Our cover by Freddie E. Williams II is a very strange, frenetic artistic rendition of the Flash's suit being made up of dozens of little Flashes. I give him credit for trying something new, but I don't like the finished product. I'm also sad that this cover has nothing to do with the story inside. Something like this would be a neat variant cover, but it doesn't feel fitting as the main image of the penultimate issue of this series.

Our story begins with Wally taking his family to the JLA Headquarters, where he hopes Dr. Mid-Nite can cure Linda of the poisoning she received from Queen Bee. While Roy Harper and his daughter, Lian, try to keep Jai and Irey occupied, Wally spends most of this issue sitting by Linda's bedside, recounting their long and strange relationship they've had through the years. When they officially became a couple, Linda became a sort of lightning rod for Wally, always helping him return to this world whenever he ventured too close to the Speed Force. As Wally remembers their first attempt to get married, we see the briefest of glimpses of Bart Allen, the ring boy.


But that wedding was interrupted by Abra Kadabra kidnapping Linda and erasing the memory of her from just about everyone's minds. Wally leaves out the part where Bart was the only one to remember Linda, but he does recount how he was able to travel to a parallel world to rescue her. Jai and Irey sneak into the hospital room to spend the night sleeping next to their mom, and Wally remembers his battles with Zoom and the deal he made with the Spectre to have everyone — himself included — forget he was the Flash.

The next day, Linda still hasn't improved, so Wally visits Raven to ask her to take him to the Spectre. But while Wally's gone, Queen Bee manages to kidnap Jai and Irey. And to Wally's dismay, the Spectre is unwilling to help him, proclaiming that Linda will die today.




After Bart died, DC gave Wally his own book back, and even brought in superstar Mark Waid to write the series. But Waid complained of editorial interference, and left the book before too long. What followed was a rotating cast of writers and artists merely passing time until Barry Allen returned and this Flash series would get canceled at issue #247. It's quite a shame that there wasn't a creative team able to gain any traction and tell some compelling stories with Wally and his family. There certainly was potential there, but all evidence indicates that DC refused to give this series a chance to succeed.

As such, it was nice to see former Impulse artist Barberi drawing speedsters once again. The recap of Linda's relationship with Wally was interesting, and watching the West family mourn the ailing Linda was heart-breaking. It's just really hard watching Wally slowly get shoved away to make room for Barry Allen.

Next time, we'll take a quick look at Teen Titans #66.