Saturday, September 23, 2017

Robin #101

World Without Young Justice Part 3: Redone by the Vandal(s) of Time

A Lewis/R. Woods/Schubert/Giddings/DigiCham/Wright/Idelson Production
With special thanks to Esther Newlin

Our cover by Humberto Ramos and Wayne Faucher shows this reality's version of Robin, Stephanie Brown, with her reflection showing the Robin we all know and love, Tim Drake. Like all these World Without covers, I love the concept ... just not the execution. All the characters on these covers are too blocky and angular for my liking. Oh well.

Our story is essentially split in two parts, with the first half taking place in the normal world and (I assume) wrapping up some loose ends from Robin #100. But we're only interested in the second half, which abruptly changes to the new reality Bedlam created.

Tim Drake is a normal, skinny teenager, who has been kidnapped by a brainwashed cult called Priestoids. As they lead Tim into a large, diabolical machine, he wishes he had studied judo or something to be able to fight his way out. Luckily, he is rescued by Batman and a female Robin. And even though Tim can't fight, he reveals he is still smart by telling Robin how to destroy the machine, which releases all the Priestoids from the mind control.

We later learn that Tim is happily living with both his parents, and he has correctly deduced that Batman is Bruce Wayne and Robin is Stephanie Brown. He finds himself wondering if he could be a Robin like her, figuring he could pick up the physical aspect through some training, but doubting he'd have the necessary motivation, as he hasn't experienced any major trauma in his life.

While eating out with his parents, he spots an Impulse scout zipping by. This is the sixth one Tim's seen today, and it takes him a minute to remember what he's called — Impact? Pulsar? Impulse. When he gets home that night, he sees another scout put something in a tree in his front yard, so Tim decides to go check it out. He finds one of the spherical cameras that Bedlam is using to monitor his progress of altering reality, and Tim actually briefly sees Matthew Stuart in the lens of the camera. Tim decides to examine the camera closer in the garage, but as he walks toward it, he notices the resolution on the lens gets worse. When he turns around and walks in the opposite direction, the image becomes crisper. So Tim throws his common sense out the window and keeps walking in that direction to try to figure out what it is he's seeing.

The further Tim walks, the more reality warps around him until he's essentially walking in a living cartoon world. He also sees a few more Impulse scouts zoom by, and he realizes that none of them are the genuine Impulse. Tim then comes across a few Impulse scouts that look old and withered. Suddenly, Bart calls out "—YOU?" Tim looks up and expresses relief at seeing Kid Flash. Bart says, "No. Tim, it's me — Impulse!" Tim asks Impulse how he knows him, and Bart says, "C'mon, Boy Wonder, I don't feel like kiddin' around."

Bart tells Tim about Bedlam and how he's using his scouts to alter reality. Tim is vaguely familiar with the name Bedlam, and he asks Impulse if he can control his scouts. Bart says he can't, although he probably could reabsorb them, but he's hesitant to do so. Tim feels like he's living in a dream, where everything is nonsensical, yet still sort of makes sense in its own way. So he decides to play the part of Robin and asks Impulse to lead him back the way he came to meet Bedlam. Tim begins sneaking around Bedlam's base, turns a corner, and shouts out, "—YOU?!"

This issue wasn't too bad. I just wish we had more time in the alternate reality. For one thing, it was difficult to determine what Tim knew from the altered world and what he was remembering from the real world. Like when he addressed Bart as Kid Flash. The most interesting part to me, though was what immediately followed — Bart calling Tim by his real name. "Officially" none of the members of Young Justice know who Robin is. But Bart get to know Tim right before he met Robin on their ski trip way back when. Maybe Bart has always secretly known Robin's identity, but just decided play along with everyone else out of respect for Robin. Or maybe the writer just made a mistake.

Next time, we'll hit World Without Young Justice Part 4 in Superboy #99.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Impulse #85

World Without Young Justice Part 2: Glimpses of You

Todd Dezago Writer
Carlo Barberi Penciller
Walden Wong Inker
Janice Chiang Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
Digital Chameleon Separator
Joey Cavalieri Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo

This issue's cover: A reflection of things past, in more ways than one, thanks to Humberto Ramos and Wayne Faucher! It's also a reflection of things to come, as Bart Allen will officially become Kid Flash before too long. This is a good cover, but not particularly great. Bart looks fine enough, but the image doesn't really jump out at me. Maybe the biggest problem is the computer-generated water, which becomes more distracting the more I look at it.

Our story begins at the abandoned Funland amusement park, where we hear a big "WHAM!" followed by the appearance of several of Impulse's scouts, racing off in all directions. We see that the real Impulse is being held in a purple box that is repeatedly whacked with a giant hammer. Each time the hammer hits, a scout pops out of Impulse. Bart is very discombobulated, and it takes him a moment to full take in his surroundings — a vast purple expanse filled with toys, video games and junk food. Bart is unable to vibrate through the purple box, nor can he prevent more scouts from being produced. As he looks around, he finally spots the culprit behind this: Bedlam.

Matthew Stuart is pleased that Impulse finally remembers him, as he believes he was completely forgotten for the past two years he spent in a coma. (Even though it has been two years since their first fight, Impulse, Robin and Superboy haven't aged a day since.) Matthew explains to Bart that he now possesses all the power of Bedlam, free of the genie's influence. And this time, he's prepared a better plan to destroy Young Justice. When he learned about Impulse's new power, he decided to exploit it to change history and create a new reality without Young Justice. Matthew's already created a thousand Impulse scouts, and has placed them all under his control.

Bart tries to point out that Young Justice didn't forget about Matthew — they just left him in the care of the D.E.O., who assured them Matthew would be OK. But Matthew has turned his attention away from Impulse and toward his TVs to monitor the progress of the scouts, which are retrieving seemingly insignificant items from the past to reshape reality. Matthew is also happy to watch the other members of Young Justice change — Secret becoming Billy, Wonder Girl becoming a glutton, and Empress and Arrowette giving in to their dark tendencies. Matthew doesn't seem to understand exactly how these changes occurred, but he's happy with them all the same. He does admit, however, that getting rid of his arch enemies — Impulse, Robin and Superboy — has been a little trickier.

We then see that Matthew doesn't quite have complete control over Impulse's scouts. One of them was sent back to steal Impulse's first costume, but he was worried about altering his own history and instead retrieved a Kid Flash costume from Wally West. Matthew chews out the scout for being stupid, gives him a blast of power to make him more obedient, then tosses the Kid Flash outfit onto a big pile of junk.

Meanwhile, an increasingly frustrated Bart laments the fact that he's not smart like Robin, Wonder Girl or even Superboy. As the hammer continues to pound more scouts out of him, Bart begins ramming the side of the cube in desperation. Eventually, he manages to knock the cube over and take it away from the giant hammer. Now free to think clearly, Bart can only come up with one option — to create a scout on his own. But he hasn't done that (willingly) since he was on Apokolips. But Bart manages to fight through his fear and create a scout outside his prison cube. He tells the scout to find out how Bedlam got these powers and everything that he's doing with them. The scout obeys and disappears with a "zwiiipop."

Impulse's scout returns less than two seconds later and slides through the cube to merge with Bart, showing him what he learned. Bart is treated to a brief history of Bedlam, starting with when he first corrupted Matthew Stuart and Impulse defeated him by constantly saying "reset." The genie then burrowed into Red Tornado before lashing out in Young Justice 80-Page Giant #1. That adventure ended with Red Tornado convincing Bedlam to turn himself into a human infant. But what nobody realized was that the power of Bedlam found its way back to its last vessel — the comatose Matthew Stuart. Matt eventually woke up, once again possessing near-infinite power, but this time without the genie controlling him.

Matt turns his attention from his monitors to mock Impulse and yell at him some more. He works himself up into a little rage, reliving his last defeat, and he reaches through the cube prison to punch Bart in the face. Bart doesn't understand how Matt could do that, and he impatiently explains that he designed the magical prison to only keep Impulse in. He places the cube back under the giant hammer, then returns to his monitors to admire the reality-altering efforts of Impulse's scouts.

As Bart tries to think of an escape plan, his thoughts turn to Wally, and his eye catches the old Kid Flash costume. Acting on a theory, Bart creates another scout and has him him fetch the costume. Conveniently, Wally's old uniform fits Bart like a glove. Next, Bart asks the scout to come into the cube to serve as the "Impulse" being held captive. To Bart's delight, he finds that he's able to leave the cube since he's now "Kid Flash." He tells the scout to stay in the cube for a while, as he heads off to get the rest of Young Justice. Praising himself for coming up with such a genius plan, Bart races off into the night. As he begins to wonder how he'll be able to recognize his altered teammates, he apparently recognizes someone who causes him to stop and shout out, "... YOU?!?"

I enjoyed this issue. It's great to have Bedlam back, and it's even better to have Impulse at the center of a big crossover. I was always wary of Bart's ability to create time-traveling scouts, and it makes perfect sense that one of his greatest villains would exploit this ability. It was also fun to watch Bart work out an escape, and I like to think that Bart's subconscious sparked the escape by guiding the scout to take a Kid Flash uniform instead of an Impulse uniform.

I do wonder why Matt showed up in his hospital gown last issue but was wearing his Bedlam outfit in this issue. I also wish that we could have seen some of the specific changes that Bedlam caused with Impulse's scouts. Maybe it was a specific artifact that they took that changed Wonder Girl's powers. Maybe show how the absence of Superboy led to Arrowette giving in to her dark side. And I think there was room to briefly show these things in this issue. There seemed to be quite a bit of repetition that could have been trimmed down.

And although I do enjoy the abrupt nature of this storyline, I think the last issue of Impulse could have helped set this up a little bit. After Max disappeared, the logical thing for Bart to do would have been to create a scout to go back to the time of Max's disappearance to try to see what happened. Naturally, Bart would have been hesitant to create his first scout since Apokolips, and it would have been nice if we had a quick conversation about this. I also don't think it would have been too much to throw in one of Bart's scouts running by in the background toward the end of the issue.

Impulsive Reactions begins with Retri asking when Impulse is going to get a serious villain to fight.

Havk provides a quick rundown of Impulse's "Rogues Gallery." White Lightning hasn't provided much of a threat, as Bart is always able to snap out of her trances. Havk suggests putting her on a team of villains. Evil Eye is no longer a villain. Glory Shredder can be easily defeated if Bart just takes away all his guns. Green Cigarette might die in a week due to lung cancer, according to Havk. Morlo is no longer a villain. Keller only has robots and isn't much of a threat. "The fog guy" was easily defeated by Inertia. So, Havk, concludes, the only serious foe Bart has is Inertia, who outsmarted Impulse in the long run and very easily could have defeated Bart and Max, but stopped himself. Havk also sees a bright side in Max's disappearance — maybe now Bart won't have to deal with his "hand-me-down" villains.

Morgan the Raider points out that the Impulse solicitations in Previews have indicated that Max is "hitting the road." Morgan is fine with Jay Garrick becoming Bart's new guardian, but only for the short term, saying Max should never leave this book.

Corndog7 mentions a message board where Todd Dezago apparently revealed that DC had given him permission to kill Max Mercury, but he chose not to ... yet. Corndog7 naturally became very worried by the word "yet" and has good reason to believe Max has been killed off for good now.

Rupert Giles believes Max is fine, citing issues of The Flash that mentioned Max being alive in the future.

Imp also brings up the time the Legionnaires visited Impulse, and they talked about having met Max in the future, as well.

Andy Oliver, of Upminster, England, liked Impulse #80 for getting back to single-issue stories after months of crossovers. He says Impulse works best on a more human level, which issue #80 demonstrated. Andy was surprised when Carol was sent away, but he liked the character development it granted Bart. He says White Lightning should become very old very fast, but for some reason, he enjoys her. Andy asks for more recurring villains, suggesting some forgotten Flash rogues, such as Colonel Computron or the Turtle. Now for the new ads:

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Next time, we head to Robin #101 for Part 3 of World Without Young Justice.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Young Justice #44

World Without Young Justice Part 1: The World What Once We Knew

P. David Writer
T. Nauck Penciller
L. Stucker Inker
K. Lopez Letterer
J. Wright Colorist
D. Chameleon Separations
T. Palmer, Jr. Assistant Editor
E. Berganza Editor

This issue's part of the World Without Young Justice event cover is by Humberto Ramos, Wayne Faucher and colorist Ian Hannin. Ramos was one of the artists on World Without Grown-Ups, so it makes sense to bring him back to do the covers of the third and final act of the story against Bedlam. Unfortunately, Ramos went very loose with his style here, to the point of looking sloppy. I liked what he did on the early issues of Impulse. I like what he's currently doing on Marvel's Champions. But I do not like this cover. I will admit it's a cool concept, though, with Bedlam pulling the puppet strings of Young Justice. I just don't like the execution. It's also worth noting that Slobo/Lobo is not involved in this story at all, which is a shame.

Our story begins with 18-year-old Jason Todd nervously following a newspaper ad to the Young Justice headquarters in a run-down apartment building. Upon entering, he is immediately given a donut by an obese, wine-guzzling Wonder Girl; a dark, cleavage-showing Arrowette; and a male Secret (Billy instead of his sister Greta). Jason tells Young Justice he thinks he's supposed to be dead. He explains that his parents run the Big Ring Circus, and he's caught them working with Killer Croc. When his parents found out Jason knows their secret, his trapeze mysteriously broke. Luckily, he landed on the fat lady, then ran away, fearing for his life.

Wonder Girl is offended by this crack at the fat lady, and she's even more offended by Jason's refusal to drink her wine, calling it an insult to her god, Dionysus. Secret tries to calm Cassie down, but he's distracted by the sudden appearance of a 13-year-old boy in a hospital gown (we recognize him as Matthew Stuart, the vessel of Bedlam during World Without Grown-Ups). Billy is the only one who can see Matt, but Cissie decides to fire an arrow at the invisible intruder, anyway. The arrow flies right through Matt's chest to no effect. He gives our "heroes" an evil grin and disappears. Jason slipped out during the confusion, and Billy is the only one willing to go after him.

We then cut to the aforementioned circus, where Jason Todd's parents are arguing over his fate. Jason's dad wants to be lenient, but his stepmom insists on killing him. She visits the car of the Voodoo Princess, where Anita lies, wearing only a live boa constructor. Anita had been dating Jason, but she's more than willing to kill him to protect the circus and the crimes it conceals.

Meanwhile, Secret has caught up to Jason. The frightened gymnast tries to ward Secret away with a crucifix around his neck, but Billy explains that doesn't work on him. He explains to Jason that the police won't believe his story about his parents working with Killer Croc, and he urges the young man to cut Wonder Girl some slack. Suddenly, Jason doubles over in pain, as Anita begins a voodoo ritual with a doll wearing Jason's matching crucifix necklace. Anita stabs the doll with a dagger, causing Jason to scream out. Billy enters Jason's body and almost saves him from Anita's spell. But the Voodoo Princess was able to sense this and decided to hasten the process by simply burning the doll.

Jason becomes engulfed in blue flames that force Billy out of him. Billy tries once again to save Jason, but his corpse is quickly burned to a crisp. Matthew has appeared before Billy again, and when asked what he wants, he simply replies, "It's just ... an impulse thing." The boy laughs and disappears again, so Billy decides to return to Young Justice headquarters. Cissie and Cassie are currently playing video games (and Cissie mentions her mother's suicide). Billy tells them how their client was killed, and he believes it was the work of a magic user at Big Ring Circus. So his teammates agree to follow him to the circus to mete out some justice.

In the dead of night, Arrowette opens fire on the circus with a large, machine-gun-like device that fires flaming arrows. As the circus people tend to the spreading fire, Wonder Girl releases all the elephants and lions, which begin rampaging in the chaos. But one person who's not bothered by this is Anita, who is now wearing a skimpy bikini outfit and asking Cassie for some of her wine. Billy instantly recognizes Anita as Jason's killer, but Cassie has bonded with Anita over her wine, so she tells Billy not to kill her. She also points out that the stampeding elephants did kill Jason's parents, which she feels is enough justice for one night.

Suddenly, one of Impulse's golden energy scouts shows up and delivers a dire message: "This isn't right! It has to be stopped! It's my fault! All my fault! He made me do it! I thought I could outsmart him! You're not Young Justice ... find them! I have to find them! Help me! Help me solve this ... this crisis ... before it's too late! Hellllp meeeeeeeee ..." As the Impulse scout talked, he grew fainter, then a sickly black before suddenly disappearing with a "pap" sound. Our "heroes," however, were completely unmoved by this and decide to all go out for Chinese food.

And thus begins our first (and only) proper crossover between Young Justice, Robin, Superboy and Impulse. Sins of Youth came close, but only the Superboy title had a proper tie-in issue. I'm a little surprised that it took 44 issues for this to happen, but part of the blame may be on Robin's longtime writer Chuck Dixon, who left the book after issue #100, one month before this crossover began. Perhaps Dixon was opposed to crossovers beyond the Batman titles and DC was just waiting for him to leave to do this. I'm just speculating here, but it makes a lot of sense from a financial and a story-telling perspective to do the occasional crossover between all the solo titles of the company's most popular sidekicks and their shared group title.

Anyway, I like the abrupt nature of this story. We're immediately thrown into the middle of it, left to slowly pick up clues along the way. And the setting for this mystery is a rare treat — an in-continuity Elseworlds tale. We get to see what Secret would be like if Billy had died instead of Greta, what Wonder Girl would be like if she had the power of a god other than Zeus, and what Arrowette would be like had she given in to her darker side (remember how she was worried she'd have to become a villain dressed in black and showing off her cleavage?). And the best part of all this is that Impulse is at the center of all these changes. It actually reminds me a lot of a much larger event in 2011 called Flashpoint.

I also found the emphasis on Jason Todd to be quite interesting. Jason was the second Robin, replacing Dick Grayson after he became Nightwing. In 1988, readers voted for Jason to die, and he stayed dead until 2005. But as we see here, DC began tossing around the idea of bringing Jason back to life a couple of years before that. The high-profile Hush storyline — that brought up the serious possibility of Jason being alive — came out a year after this issue.

Our letters to the editor begin with Brian Seidman, of Oxford, Ohio, asking if Santa Claus really was killed in Young Justice #40. He liked how the cover showed the new team and the story featured the "classic" team. Brian asks for the cover to be made into a poster and for the original members of Young Justice to return for the 50th issue.

Matt is not happy with the additions of the Ray and Snapper Carr, asking instead for Impulse and Robin to return. He says he loves the work of Peter David and Todd Nauck, but without two of his favorite characters, the stories just aren't as interesting.

AmethystSerenity also asks for Robin and Impulse to return, saying they were the reason she picked up Young Justice in the first place, and that Superboy is too annoying when he tries to act like the leader. Now for the new ads:

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Crash is going small in a huge way. Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure for Game Boy Advance.

Next time, find out how Bart is behind all the changes in Impulse #85.

Monday, September 4, 2017

JSA #35

Stealing Thunder Part 3 of 5: Lightning Storm

David Goyer & Geoff Johns Writers
Leonard Kirk Penciller
Keith Champagne Inker
John Kalisz Colors
Heroic Age Separations
Ken Lopez Letterer
Morgan Dontanville Assistant Ed.
Peter Tomasi Editor

Our cover by Rags Morales shows three of the strongest heroes in the DCU — Superman, Wonder Woman and Firestorm — under the control of the Thunderbolt genie, which is subsequently under the control of the Ultra-Humanite. It's a pretty haunting image, although it does make me wonder where Batman is in this story. But on the other hand, it is kind of refreshing to read a story like this that involves virtually every imaginable DC character except for Batman. He already has enough on his plate.

Our story begins with a handy recap page for novices like me. Apparently Johnny Thunder, one of the original members of the Justice Society of America, had grown old and developed Alzheimer's. He placed his magic genie in a pen, then gave it to Jay Garrick. Not realizing the power of this pen, Jay gave it to young Jakeem Williams, who later learned the pen's secret and became the hero Jakeem Thunder. But six months ago, the Ultra-Humanite took over Johnny Thunder's body and tricked Jakeem into giving him control of the genie.

So now we're in the world where Ultra-Humanite reigns supreme and has most of Earth's superheroes and villains under his control thanks to a device planted on the back of their necks. Jakeem is one of the few free heroes who have finally figured out how to destroy those mind control devices, and are leading an attack to rescue their friends.

We pick up where last issue left off, with a very large assembly of mind-controlled metahumans racing toward our heroes — Jakeem, Sand, Icicle, Captain Marvel, Powergirl, the Crimson Avenger and Hourman. Naturally, the speedsters of the group — Flash, Jesse Quick, Jay Garrick and Impulse — are the first to reach the heroes. But Icicle was prepared for them and managed to put up a perfect, bubble-free wall of ice that was virtually invisible. The speedsters crashed into the ice headfirst and were all knocked out.

And they stay knocked out for the rest of the issue, which mostly involves this small band of heroes fighting a whole bunch of other heroes and villains. Luckily, the mind-controlled ones are essentially puppets, and therefore much weaker than they'd normally be. So it's actually not much of a challenge for these JSA guys to defeat the other heroes and free them from Ultra-Humanite's control. The issue ends with the Ultra-Humanite himself appearing with a large gorilla army for some reason.

Once again, I don't have too much to say about this issue. The neat thing about it is how it includes so many different characters. The challenge, though, is making sure all of those characters have something to do. While the fighting went on page after page, I couldn't help but think that those four speedsters should have revived by now. In any case, it was nice to have all of them together again, even if it was only for two panels.

Next time, we'll start another five-part story about another all-powerful genie creating another alternate reality (I'm sure it was a complete coincidence) with World Without Young Justice.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Impulse #84

In the Line of Fire

Todd Dezago Writer
Carlo Barberi Penciller
Juan Vlasco Inker
Janice Chiang Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
Digital Chameleon Separator
Joey Cavalieri Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo

This issue's cover: Carlo Barberi and Wayne Faucher and the Flash! This is an homage to Jay Garrick's first appearance in 1940's Flash Comics #1. And although it is well drawn, I'm not sure why Jay is so young here. Since the message is that Bart's new mentor is going to be Jay, I think Barberi should have drawn Jay the way he looks now — old. Also, if you look closely, you'll notice the woman's shadow is on a brick wall that does not match the computer-generated brick wall around here. But most important is Bart's face. He doesn't look too happy about this. And he shouldn't be. In fact, I'm not happy about this, either. But I'll try to save my thoughts till the end.

Our story begins one week after Max Mercury was mysteriously pulled into the Speed Force against his will. And at the moment, Bart is angrily running away from Wally West.

We then head back seven minutes ago, to see what has angered Bart. It all started at an impromptu family meeting at the home of Jay and Joan Garrick in Keystone City. Wally is there with his wife, Linda, and so is Bart's grandma, Iris, who is now apparently taking care of the Weather Wizard's infant son (don't ask). Bart and Helen are also there, but they've been asked to wait in the other room because the Garricks didn't want to add to their stress. The Garricks tell the others that Joan has been diagnosed with a rare case of acute leukemia. And apparently there's only one doctor in the world, Dr. Lateris at the Cantele Institute in Denver, that can provide Joan the treatments she needs. So the Garricks have decided to move to Colorado, hoping Joan will be better in a few months.

Wally regretfully says he was hoping that Jay and Joan could become Bart's new guardians, since they have yet to find a trace of Max and Bart still needs an experienced speedster to watch over him. Jay kindly turns Wally down, saying he and Joan will be too busy with the move and her treatments. But Joan refuses to use that as an excuse. She sees that Bart needs help, and she insists on helping him.

So Wally calls in Helen and Bart. Predictably, Bart is not happy with the news. He says he loves Jay and Joan, but he is not going to leave Helen or his home in Manchester. Bart insists that Max will come back soon and until then, he'll be fine living with Helen. Wally tries to tell Bart that he needs super-speed supervision, but Bart deeply resents that Wally made this decision without letting him have any input. Iris tries to calm Bart down, but he won't hear it and runs away. Jay offers to go after Bart, but Wally says it's his responsibility.

That brings us back to the opening scene, and now Wally has caught up with Bart. Running alongside him, Wally criticizes the teen for immaturely running away from a conversation. Bart says that wasn't a conversation, but an order. Wally says maybe they could have a conversation if Bart was less impulsive. Bart says he's already heard that lecture from Max, telling Wally, "For someone who's s'posed to be so fast, you're not very good at keeping up, are you?" He yells at Wally for never trying to talk with him, but always talking at him.

Their argument is put on hold, though, as the two speedsters come across the scene of an accident. A truck has crashed into a tree, and on the other side of the road, a car with a family inside has gone off into a lake. The driver of the truck is alright and is trying to help the sinking family. Bart and Wally quickly form a plan and work quite well together, with Wally diving down and bringing up the family members one a time and Bart taking them to shore, where the truck driver starts giving them CPR.

In no time at all, the family is saved and an ambulance and police car have shown up. Bart praises the truck driver for saving the family's young boy by giving him mouth-to-mouth, but Wally smells alcohol on the man's breath. He quickly checks the truck and finds two empty bottles of whiskey. The man admits he had been drinking and caused the accident. The police take him away, which Bart thinks isn't fair, since he saved the the kid's life. Wally says he was a nice guy who tried to do the right thing after the fact, and he can only hope the court takes that into account.

The speedsters continue their cross-country run, with Wally saying he didn't want to have to decide where Bart lives. Bart tells Wally he's not the boss of him, and when Wally starts to say he knows how Bart feels, Bart asks him if he really knows what it's like to be bossed around. Wally was so wrapped up in the argument that he didn't notice Bart had led him to his childhood home in Blue Valley, Nebraska. Bart tells Wally that he had heard stories from his grandma about how Wally was a lot like Bart as a kid, and how he was constantly bullied by his dad.

This does help Wally remember that feeling of helplessness, and he finally apologizes to Bart for not giving him enough credit and making unfair decisions about him. But he still thinks the best plan is for Bart to live with Jay and Joan. Bart remembers Max suggesting he and Bart move away to give Helen more space to be with her boyfriend, Matt Ringer. (In a bizarre artistic mistake, Bart's memory shows Max talking to his mom, Meloni, instead of himself.) So Bart agrees to move in with Jay and Joan until Max gets back. Wally thanks Bart and says he hopes they can have more healthy conversations in the future. As they run back home, Wally asks Bart where he got the line "For someone who's supposed to be so fast, you're not very good at keeping up, are you?" Bart admits Superboy said it once to him, and he liked being able to use it on Wally.

So Bart returns to Manchester, Alabama, to give his farewells to Preston, Mike, Wade and Rolly. They're all devastated to lose another friend so soon after Carol's sudden departure. Bart tries to assure them that he'll be back as soon as his uncle returns, but they don't think that'll happen anytime soon. Rolly presents Bart with a box filled with some comics and other mementos. Evil Eye suddenly shows up on his bike, and Preston tries to send him away before he says anything rude. But Evil Eye says he just wants to say goodbye to Bart, too. He pats Bart on the back while slipping a paper into his box, saying they've gotten to know quite a bit about each other over the years.

Bart then walks home with Preston, who bemoans that the three musketeers — him, Bart and Carol — are now completely broken up. Bart starts to say that he'll be able to come back and see Preston whenever he wants, but then he remembers with his secret identity, he wouldn't be able to quickly travel from Colorado to Alabama whenever he likes. He ponders over Preston's words that as the three musketeers they had no secrets between them, so he starts to tell Preston that he's Impulse. But he can't quite get the words out and just lets his friend walk away.

Later, Helen is tearfully making sure Bart has all his things packed and reminding him that he's responsible for Dox — not Joan and Jay. As she begins to cry, Bart grabs her a box of tissues and promises to occasionally zip back for a hug. They share a tender embrace, with Bart saying he'll come back as soon as Max does. Bart then shows up at the doorstep of the Garricks' new home in Denver, dressed in his best clothes. With a big smile on his face, he says, "Hi, Uncle Jay, Aunt Joan — I'm home!" Joan warmly says, "Yes, Dear ... you certainly are."


I hate this. I absolutely hate this. We've spent so much time building up the supporting cast in Manchester, Alabama. And now we're just throwing it all away for no good reason. And what makes this even worse is how it was handled. Wally was unfathomably rude in this whole thing. After hearing that Joan Garrick had cancer, he should not have even mentioned his original plan of sending Bart to live with the Garricks. He should have immediately begun to look for an alternative. Helen's been doing a great job of raising Bart, and who's to say that she'd want to stop doing that if and when she got married? She could move in with Matt and Mike, and Bart and Mike would essentially become brothers in one big family full of potentially interesting dynamics. And since Bart still could use some guidance from a veteran speedster, then Jay, Wally and Jesse could take turns coming down to give Bart some training on the weekends. It's not like Bart demands constant supervision. Hasn't he proven that he's become a little bit more responsible now? And why didn't Helen or anybody else stand up for Bart here? He's getting a terrible in this, and I think I'm more angry about it than Bart was!

Impulsive Reactions begins with Joey Cavalieri saying he just got off the phone with Todd Dezago after discussing the plot for the upcoming issues of Impulse. I wonder if he knew at this point the series was close to cancellation.

Brentac says that he loved Impulse #81 even though "a whole lot of nothing happened." He welcomed a break from the main plot line and called Captain Saturn awesome, although he admitted he didn't want to see him again.

Speedy Smurph suggests that Inertia could come back holding Carol's hand, either in reality or a nightmare of Bart's. Speedy says Carlo Barberi is the best artist on Impulse and Tom McCraw is the best colorist. He also thought Captain Saturn was funny, but annoying.

Havk thought it was nice to have a one-shot to break up the drama, although he would have preferred to have the story focus on Bart with his friends at school. Havk hearkens back to the Mark Waid days, when Bart was the most popular kid in school.

Richard B. Weston says issue #81 needed a laughter warning. He loved how Captain Saturn was so annoying that he made Impulse look like the grownup by comparison. Richard says Bart should now know how Max feels.

Corndog7 thought it was a very clever and very funny take on the Don Quixote story. Now for the new ads (Bart and his friends were once again dressed in Nautica apparel):

Bubble Tape. How much can you handle?

Ripley's Believe It or Not!

You've never seen a race this twisted before! Shrek Swamp Kart Speedway for Game Boy Advance.

A howling new Scooby-Doo movie! Scooby-Doo! and the Reluctant Werewolf.

Introducing pocket-sized figures of the entire DC Universe! DC Comics Pocket Super Heroes.

An all-new movie is in your future! Tom and Jerry: The Magic Ring.

Hey, Kids! Comics! A world without Young Justice!? They first burst onto the scene in an unforgettable tale called JLA: World Without Grown-Ups. This April, the sensational sidekicks star in the crossover called "World Without Young Justice," running through Young Justice #44, Impulse #85, Robin #101, Superboy #99, and wrapping up in May's YJ #45.
Bedlam, the instigator of the team's first adventure, is back ... and this time he's out to prevent Robin, Impulse and Superboy from ever having become a team in the first place! In their place, though, stands ... Young Justice? That's right — but this team is made up of strangely altered versions of Wonder Girl, the Secret and Arrowette! And that's only the beginning ... but you'll have to see for yourself by hitting your local comics shop in April and picking up "World Without Young Justice."

Samurai Jack: The Premiere Movie on videocassette and DVD.

A DC subscription form, only offering Batman: Gotham Adventure, Superboy and Justice League Adventures. Did they know Impulse wouldn't last another year?

Tang Tropical Tremor. Puts hair on your tongue.

Make your own fun. Lunchables Pizza.

Next time, before we begin the big Young Justice crossover, we'll take a look at the evil, mind-controlled Impulse in JSA #35.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

JSA #34

Stealing Thunder Part 2 of 5: Troublestruck

David Goyer and Geoff Johns Writers
Leonard Kirk Penciller
Keith Champagne Inker
John Kalisz Colors
Heroic Age Separations
Ken Lopez Letterer
Morgan Dontanville Assistant Editor
Peter Tomasi Editor

The cover by Rags Morales shows several heroes battling other heroes, led by the new Crimson Avenger duking it out with our very own Impulse. And if the black-and-white effect wasn't enough, the evil grin on Bart's face should be enough to tell you something's not right. I've always enjoyed Morales' work for the most part, and I like what he does with Impulse here. Sadly, Morales did not draw the inside pages, nor do the inside pages show this fight.

Impulse only appears on one panel in this issue, so we're just going to breeze on through this. Long story short, the Ultra-Humanite (an old, body-snatching villain) has somehow taken over Johnny Thunder's body and gained control of his all-powerful genie. Through a series of wishes, the Ultra-Humanite has conquered Earth and enslaved most of its metahumans, using the most powerful of them as his personal guard.

Somehow, someway, there is a small band of heroes that has managed to elude Ultra-Humanite's control for six months — Sandman, Hourman, Crimson Avenger, Power Girl, Captain Marvel, Jakeem Thunder and the villain Icicle. They have developed a way to disable the brain-control chips Ultra-Humanite has placed on all the heroes' necks, and they've decided to first free the collection of telepaths being used to monitor every inch of the globe. However, our heroes find the telepaths being protected by a fairly large gathering of some of Earth's most powerful heroes and villains.

This is a pretty interesting concept. Back in the Golden Age, Johnny Thunder was mostly used as comic relief. But if you stop and think about it, his genie really is tremendously powerful, so it's pretty cool to see what a villain would do with that power. Sadly, I don't think Goyer and Johns sufficiently explained why these particular heroes were able to avoid the Ultra-Humanite and no one else was. At the same time, though, it is kind of fun to have some lesser known heroes basically battle the entire DC Universe. So I'm torn.

Even though Impulse didn't do anything this issue, we will see him do a bit more as we close out this five-part story. But before we do that, next time we need to see what life for Bart is like without Max Mercury in Impulse #84.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Impulse #83

Double Visions Part 2

Todd Dezago Writer
Carlo Barberi Penciller
Juan Vlasco Inker
Janice Chiang Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
Digital Chameleon Separator
Joey Cavalieri Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo

This issue's cover: A new marketing technique demonstrated by Carlo Barberi and Wayne Faucher! We have Impulse in a comic shop, decorated with a few pieces of JLA merchandise, including a poster of Batman, Superman and the Flash. Every single comic in the shop is a replication of this cover, which is a pretty neat effect (although it would have been cooler and a lot harder if some of the comics were other DC titles that came out this month). I think it was really fun to have Impulse breaking the fourth wall in the background, slowly realizing that he's standing behind this issue's villain. I do feel, however, that Shanela is showing a bit too much skin here, especially since she's only supposed to be in the 10th grade.

Our story begins with Impulse already locked in a battle with Shanela. He believes he's wrapped in chains as a horde of monsters is swarming around him, but he's actually standing in an empty high school hallway.

We then cut back to yesterday, when Impulse once again was called to Manchester High to investigate another case of reported hallucinations. Once again, Bart's search comes up empty. Recognizing he doesn't possess any detective skills, Bart considers calling in Robin to help him. But then he remembers that both he and Robin are no longer members of Young Justice, which means, according to his 14-year-old boy logic, he and Robin can't help each other anymore. So Bart runs home to try to get Max to help him out again. But Max is on the phone with Jay Garrick, and he sternly tells Bart he can't help him because he's busy investigating an anomaly in the Speed Force.

As Bart dejectedly leaves Max's office, Helen tells him to take Dox for a walk, pointing out that the dog is Bart's responsibility, but she and Max are usually the ones who end up taking care of him. So Bart acts responsible and takes out his dog. As he ponders over the case of the hallucinating high schoolers, he theorizes that Dox might be able to smell something at the scene of the crime. So Bart leads Dox to the high school, hoping to make him the next Rex the Wonder Dog or Scooby Doo.

On his way, Bart meets Shantay, who asks if she can pet Dox. She says she wishes she could have a dog of her own, but her sister is allergic. Shantay also recognizes Bart as a junior high student, and Bart says he can't wait to get to high school, since it feels like he's been stuck in middle school for years. After Shantay leaves, Bart remembers her always being near the scenes of commotion at the high school, so he decides to follow her, hiding behind cars and telephone poles all the way back to Shantay's house.

Since Bart didn't see anything suspicious, he begins to consider his search a waste of time. But Shanela comes walking by, and Dox suddenly begins barking at her. She shouts at Bart and threatens to call the dog warden to take Dox away. And once again, Bart confuses Shanela with her twin sister, wondering how she suddenly appeared outside after just having walked into her house.

The next day, Shanela tries to be friendly to a group of boys she recently terrorized. She knows that Ashley, the girl she made believe had become a monster, won't be coming back to school for a while, so Shanela asks Ashley's boyfriend, Brandon, if he'd be interested in going out with her. Brandon immediately turns her down, and his friends heap on some more insults for good measure. Shanela quickly grows angry, her eyes glow green, and all the boys believe a giant demon has erupted from the basketball court.

Shantay sees this and comes running. Her eyes glow blue, causing a large cartoon fox to appear and smash the demon with a hammer. All the boys's terror changes to confusion, and they decide to walk away, leaving the twin sisters to yell at each other. But Shanela isn't interested in listening to Shantay's lecture, so she storms off, threatening her sister if she gets in her way again.

Meanwhile, back at the house, Max has begun probing the Speed Force once more. He feels a bit guilty about not telling Jay and Wally the whole story, but he figures it's best to confirm that one of the Speed Force's most devious inhabitants actually has gone missing before he sounds the alarm. As Max becomes intangible and vulnerable, a voice greets him, saying he's been waiting a while, and was beginning to think Max wasn't going to come.

Back at the high school, Shanela is spreading the rumor that all the hallucinating students were on drugs. Shantay again tries to confront her sister, and Impulse suddenly arrives, having heard about the basketball court incident via Wade's sister. Impulse runs into Shantay, not noticing Shanela right around the corner. He talks to Shantay a bit, trying to sound a more confident in his investigation than he really is. Shanela can't hold back for long, though, and she jumps out around the corner, angrily saying all her victims deserved what they got because they were a bunch of conceited jerks. Before Bart can get over the shock of learning Shantay has a twin, Shanela attacks Impulse, giving him the hallucination of monsters and chains we saw at the beginning of this issue.

Shantay shoots "acid" on Impulse's "chains," telling him that the monsters are just illusions. Impulse confirms this by running through a couple of monsters, but as the twins ramp up their psychic battle, Bart can't tells which twin is good and which one is evil. He eventually remembers that the nasty one was afraid of Dox, so he quickly runs home to grab his dog.

Dox immediately plays the hero, charging straight at Shanela. She screams out in terror, begging her sister to take away the dog illusion. But Shantay confesses that is a real dog barking at her. To add to the effect, Impulse brings in seven more dogs  to surround Shanela, who falls to her knees, begging for help. Impulse says he'll take the dogs away if Shanela promises to stop creating illusions at school and making everybody go crazy. Shanela agrees, and Impulse gets rid of the dogs, reminding the teenage girl that he can come back with even more, bigger dogs at any time, and he also has lots of powerful friends.

With the day saved, Bart runs home to tell Max and Helen all about his latest victory. To his surprise, though, Bart finds Helen waiting for him, with tears streaming down her face. She tells him she saw a horrible sight — Max being sucked into the Speed Force. Bart tries to calm her, suggesting this kind of stuff happens to Max all the time. But Helen insists this time was different. This time, Max was screaming.

Now that was an ending. Dezago's been teasing this for quite a while now, and still is withholding a lot of information — a bit too much if you ask me. Sadly, I know how this turns out, and I can say that's going to be the last we see of Max Mercury for a long time. It's also sad to say that this side story was much more interesting and significant than the main story of this issue.

The main story felt like something straight from William Messner-Loebs. An underdeveloped nameless villain defeated in an indirect, inconsequential way. It was nice watching Bart try his hand at being a detective somewhat. But the "villain" he battled barely qualifies as a villain. And she frustratingly didn't face any consequences for her actions. Look at it: Shanela traumatized dozens of her classmates, sent several to the hospital, damaged property ... and all she got was a few dogs barking at her. I much rather would have cut that story in half to give more pages to Max's mission. How about establishing a credible threat so we understand why Max has to attempt this dangerous undertaking?

Impulsive Reactions begins with SNW21 praising Impulse for its creative team and for the quick recaps at the beginning of each issue that are helpful for new readers. SNW21 is also enjoying the subplot of Roland and Evil Eye slowly figuring out that Bart is Impulse, as well as the maturity Bart showed in listening to Mike Ringer talk about his dad.

Havk thinks Bart's return to Impulse was rushed, saying the woman with the heart attack wasn't a strong enough reason. Havk is also tentative with the Roland and Evil Eye stories, saying they're cool, but again feels like they're rushed.

Brentac liked Impulse #80 mainly for Mike's transformed view of his father.

Kolbster1 predicts that Carol will come back at some point, but acknowledges that since she and Bart are still in junior high, their relationship can't really advance past where it already is.

BartAllen12 points out that Bart is young enough to develop crushes on a lot more girls.

NeoSharks predicts that Carol will return as soon as Bart is able to move on and possibly find a new girlfriend.

R3X29YZ4A wonders what happened to all the talk of Bart preparing to become the next Flash.

Tobias Christopher says this may have been Mark Waid's original plan back in 1994, but Impulse has since been passed through too many creators to guarantee that. Referencing Kingdom Come, Tobias says it looks like the next Flash will be Wally West's daughter, and that Bart will merely become an older, more mature Impulse. Now for the new ads:

The quest begins now. Galidor: Defenders of the Outer Dimension.

Where would you go? The Time Machine.

Super Mario World 2 for Game Boy Advance.

Next time, we'll begin May 2002 with a quick cameo in JSA #34.