Saturday, May 17, 2014

Flash #95

Terminal Velocity Mach One: The Dead Yet Live

Mark Waid – Story
Salvador Larroca – Penciller
Jose Marzan, Jr. – Inker
Gaspar – Letterer
Gina Going – Colorist
Ruben Diaz – Associate Editor
Brian Augustyn – Editor

The cover is by Mike Wieringo and Jose Marzan Jr. I'm pretty sad that Wieringo is only doing covers at this point, but Salvador Larroca does bring some great stuff to the table. This cover, however, is a pretty fun action scene, but I am annoyed with the colorist — perhaps it was Gina Going? Anyway, whoever colored this cover forgot that Impulse has goggles (it looks like Wieringo drew space for them) and the colorist forgot that Impulse's eyes are yellow — not blue.

Our story begins with a prologue. Wally West, the Flash, is continuing his journey home to the year 1994. As he runs forward through time in his long, red underwear, he continues to see glimpses of important moments in his life — including meeting his girlfriend, Linda Park, and his cousin from the future, Bart Allen.

Flash feels something strange happening to him, but he's not sure what. He then sees a vision of his future, and he does not like what he sees one bit.

We then head to Wally's home, where Linda is talking with the original Flash, Jay Garrick, Bart, and his grandma, Iris Allen, who is wearing a Roadrunner shirt today (can't get enough Looney Tunes!). Linda is convinced that Wally is alive and will return home soon. In fact, she wants to host a welcome back party for him. Jay tries to kindly tell her that Wally really did die during Zero Hour. Bart, however, agrees that Wally is alive, and he appeals to his grandma and their knowledge from the 30th century. Bart thinks Wally still needs to stop Professor Zoom from pretending to be Barry Allen. But Iris reminds Bart that their knowledge of the past 1,000 years is not very detailed. Jay then tries to explain in detail how Wally died, but his story is interrupted by the sudden appearance of Wally himself, wearing a fresh Flash outfit.

Everybody is overjoyed to see Wally return, and as he hugs Iris, he asks if Bart hasn't destroyed the house yet. Iris responds by saying that Bart has, to her surprise, been having adventures of his own with the New Titans. Wally kisses Linda, and Bart and Jay quickly put up the party decorations. Linda senses something is wrong with Wally, but he brushes her off. He then tells Bart that he's going to take him tomorrow to attack Kobra, and Jay offers to help. Wally turns him down rather rudely, then awkwardly excuses himself to get some ice for the party. But everybody at the party noted Wally's odd behavior.

Wally spends the whole night out with the Justice League, just so he'd have an excuse to get out of the house. In the morning, he shocks Linda by refusing breakfast (he is a notoriously big eater). He then assures her once again that everything is all right, and heads off with Bart, calling himself Olivier (after Laurence Olivier, a celebrated actor from the 1940s).

Bart makes fun of Wally for running so slowly, which makes Wally quite defensive. Bart points out that Wally doesn't like him, but Wally says he really does. In fact, Wally now considers Bart to be his salvation, but he's unable to tell him that. Also, the two speedsters don't match up personality-wise since Bart reminds Wally too much of himself, another fact Wally is unable to admit to Bart. Instead, he changes the subject, saying Bart needs to get a code name if he wants to be a hero. Bart suggests Kid Flash, which makes Wally think for a moment, but then Bart says he was kidding. Bart tells Wally that he's already given him a name — repeatedly. And to illustrate his point, Bart randomly stops to kiss a beautiful woman on the street, then proclaims himself as Impulse. Wally finds this name terrifyingly accurate. He then asks Bart about his mask, and he says he made it to fit in with the other heroes during Zero Hour.

They then arrive at Kobra's base, and Impulse naturally wants to take it down brick by brick immediately. But Flash wants to carefully gather more information so he can take out Kobra early and decisively. Naturally, Impulse gets bored, so he starts attacking the Kobra soldiers, shouting, "Down with espionage! Up with carnage!" Flash reluctantly joins the battle and chews out Impulse. But Impulse thinks they'll be fine if they just move fast enough. When Flash doesn't match Impulse's speed, Impulse believes Flash has been losing his powers, which is why he's been acting so weird.

Flash ignores Impulse's worries, and leads him into the basement, where they discover a huge hydro-electric plant. Before he can wonder about its purpose, Impulse decides to destroy it by throwing some rebar into the turbine. Flash witnesses the single synapse theory in work again, as Impulse moves from thought to deed in one leap, never stopping along the way to ponder the consequences. Impulse is caught in the explosion, and to save him, Flash has to move faster than he wanted. Since he saw his future, he's been very careful to keep his speed in check, and now Impulse has ruined that.

Flash grabs Impulse and rushes him out of the base, yelling at him the whole time. He calls him stupid, saying destroying the plant won't run Kobra out of town, but will only make him mad. He says he could have fixed the future and saved Keystone City and Linda, but now Impulse has cost him that chance. Flash unceremoniously dumps Impulse in an open field, shouting, "Who pays the price for that failure, punk? You? No! Me! MEEEEEEE!!"

Flash runs home and tries to avoid Linda. But she pushes him, so he decides to tell her part of the truth. He says he had to hit a speed he'd never hit before in order to travel through time. And once he broke through every barrier, he learned that just like his uncle Barry, nobody can be that fast and still be human. Linda finally opens his bedroom door and sees that Wally's body is now comprised of pure energy.

This was a really fun story to start the epic Terminal Velocity arc, which will conclude with Flash #100. Waid's writing, as always, was great, and the art was very solid, as well. True, it would have been great to have had Wieringo pencil the whole issue, but Larroca gave us the best-looking Impulse we've seen yet. Larroca is a master at facial expressions, and it was great to see the look of shock and fear on Impulse's face quickly change to anger and annoyance after Flash ripped his head off for destroying the plant. And we got a great page of Linda running through a full gamut of emotions as Wally told her about his condition. Larroca may not be the best at action scenes, but his faces more than make up for that.

The Flash letter column is one of the best I've ever seen. It's called Speed Reading with an image of Flash quickly reading a mountain of letters. Two whole pages were dedicated to the fans' letters, with brief, yet enormously entertaining responses from Brian Augustyn. These letters were all written after Flash #92, so everybody has something to say about Bart.

Stuart Brynien, of Brooklyn, New York, wrote a very long letter, in which he was very concerned the emergence of Bart would hamper Wally's relationship with Linda. Stuart's also concerned about Wally gaining Bart as a sidekick, but he's hopeful he'll learn to like Bart. He does, however, really enjoy Bart's backstory, particularly because it showed the dangerous flip side of super speed.

P.J. Frack, of Malvern, Pennsylvania, like many other readers, referred to Bart as Kid Flash, which is understandable, since that's what it said on the cover of issue #92. P.J. has a list of questions about Bart, wondering if Bart's "coverall thing" will be his costume, if Bart will join a team of kid superheroes, if he's going to get a haircut, how Wally explained Bart to the immigration authorities, whether Bart will appear in Zero Hour, and why his eyes are yellow. This letter did remind me that we have yet to see Bart wear anything but his costume. I guess no one's had enough time to buy him some actual clothes, or maybe he just prefers wearing his futuristic "coverall thing."

Kim Jensen, of Kokkedal, Denmark, was worried after reading issue #91 to see that Don Allen's son was a teenager, when, according to Legion continuity, he shouldn't be older than 3. But to Kim's relief, issue #92 explained that Bart was really 2 years old. Kim was also frightened by the words, "Wally West has to save Bart, it's his destiny."

B. Varkentine, of San Jose, California, was really concerned with the idea that DC would kill off Wally, replace him with Bart, and start the Flash over with a new issue #1. That was a valid concern, as Mark Waid later said he wanted to lead on readers to think that exact thing.

Now for the ads. First up is NBC's Saturday schedule. Saved by the Bell: The New Class, Name Your Adventure, California Dreams, and NBA Inside Stuff. All those shows were too old for me in 1994 (I was only 7), but I did eventually become a huge fan of Inside Stuff with host Ahmad Rashad. He had a lot of people he'd call his "main man," but my friend and I believed his real main man was Dikembe Mutombo.

Taz in Escape from Mars. This game was only available on SEGA Genesis, which I didn't have, but my cousins did. So I played this game once, and I thought it sucked. I know, it's strange to think that a game about the Tasmanian Devil would suck, but it did.

The Death and Return of Superman. The Super NES Game from Sunsoft.

A Rain-Blow bubble gum promotion. If you didn't mind cutting up your comic book, you could send in a form, along with two bubble gum wrappers and $6.99 to have your name, birthday and hometown appear in an exclusive personalized comic book adventure with Batman. The ad used an image of Batman and Robin from Batman: The Animated Series swinging over Gotham City. But somebody forgot to draw the ropes they were supposed to be holding on to.

Weird Science. The woman of their dreams is now a virtual reality. They've got a PC genie who can get them anything they want. Saturdays 10 p.m./9 Central USA Network.

Next time I'll enter December 1994. Our first stop will be the continuing New Titans story, which has spilled into the pages of Green Lantern #57.

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