Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The New Titans #122

 

Syndicate Rites!

Marv Wolfman Writer
Finn Harris Artist
Albert DeGuzman Letterer
Chris Matthys Colorist
Keri Kowalski Asst. Editor
Pat Garrahy Editor
Special thanks to Lois Krabbe
The New Titans created by Wolfman & Peréz

The second part of the Crimelord-Syndicate War unfortunately also suffers from horrible art. I don't know if that was because this crossover was rushed, or if this stem from Pat Garrahy's inability to keep a consistent art team — Finn Harris takes over this issue after William Rosado drew just five issues of the book. Whatever the reason, this art is unpalatable. Just look at this mess of a cover. Everyone looks wrong — especially one of my favorites, Minion. And to make matters worse, Impulse is nowhere to be found. However, it might be preferable to not have Impulse at all rather than have a grotesque version of him.

Deathstroke #48 ended with the Titans being inexplicably beaten by the Syndicate. Instead of explaining how such powerful heroes could be knocked out, this issue begins with all the Titans being captured except for Deathstroke and Darkstar. Deathstroke, who had been flying around with a stupid propeller-backpack, is blasted out of the air and dies in Darkstars arms. She then goes nuts on the Syndicate, but they get her to stop attacking by threatening to kill the Titans.

We then cut to S.T.A.R. Labs in San Francisco, where Green Lantern and Jarras Minion are visiting Mirage in a hospital bed. If I'm not mistaken, she suffered a miscarriage during the Forever Evil story line that Impulse was not a part of. Anyway, Lantern and Jarras are soon summoned to the other side of the country to meet Sargent Steel at the Titans headquarters in New Jersey. Steel introduces them to their newest team member, Rose Wilson Worth, the daughter of Deathstroke. Steel then immediately sends Lantern and Jarras to Dallas to help out the rest of the Titans. I feel bad for these two, who pretty much wasted all day flying back and forth across America. I'm sure the personal introduction of Rose could have waited until after the Crimelord-Syndicate War.

Anyway, we see that Deathstroke suddenly and mysteriously comes back to life a few moments after dying, and he immediately takes off to rescue the Titans, who are being held in a force field. Impulse sums up my feelings about this art.


Luckily, Damage is able to free them with a large blast, which Deathstroke unluckily got caught in, and he dies for the second time in the past five minutes. When he's asked how he came back to life, he quotes Monty Python with a simple, "I got better." As the Titans attempt to escape, the Syndicate sends in their big guns — giant robots called Cybernaughts.

Green Lantern and Minion show up just in time to battle the robots, and Impulse uses his speed to draw the robots' fire away from the team, but he ends up causing a lot of collateral damage with this tactic. The Titans are quickly overwhelmed by the Cybernaughts, and soon Green Lantern, Darkstar and Supergirl are knocked out. Damage begins to panic, saying their most powerful member have been taken out, but Impulse reminds him that they're pretty good, too. Suddenly, a strange little ship arrives, which Impulse believes to be help. Instead, the ship is carrying Crimelord's Force-Troops — Coven, Slagg, Deadzone, Powerhouse, Bolt, Sudden Death and Mammoth.

This story had tons of potential, but the art just killed it. The action scenes are so chaotic, I can't tell what's going on at all. I have to rely exclusively on the dialogue, and even that is unreliable. At one point, Damage thinks, "They got Bart and Roy!" But two panels later, we see Bart is perfectly fine. I don't know what to make of it. I honestly can't wait for this crossover to end, which is a shame, since I really like the idea of the Titans having crossovers with Darkstars and Deathstroke.

For some reason, the letters to the editor page is missing, so we'll head straight to the ads.

Year One. They were legends from the beginning. Catwoman Annual #2 by Gorfinkel, Balent & Hodgkins.

Xombi. Discover the meaning of magic. Monthly from Milestone.

Fear the dark no more. Primal Force. A monthly journey into the dark corners of the DC Universe. Seagle - Choles - Kaalberg ... Covers by Haley & Simmons.

Strangers in a strange land ... Sovereign Seven. Chris Claremont. Dwayne Turner.

On the verge of greatness. Discover these two bands at their beginnings. Here are their debut albums on sale now. Korn. Elastica. Available at all Musicland/Sam Goody stores nationwide.

Next time, we'll take a break from this disappointing Crimelord-Syndicate War and find out once and for all exactly how Impulse joined the Titans in The New Titans Annual #11.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Deathstroke #48


Third Strike

Marv Wolfman Writer
Sergio & Octavio Cariello Pencils
Will Blyberg Inks
Chris Matthys Colors
John Costanza Letters
Keri Kowalski Asst. Editor
Pat Garrahy Editor
Deathstroke created by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez

The cover is by Sergio Cariello, and in theory, it's a great cover. All the Titans and Deathstroke charging at us on a moonlit night. But in practice, it fails miserably. Everybody looks off — especially Terra, whose breasts have grown far too large for the outfit she's wearing.

This issue is divided into a bunch of short chapters — Chapter Ten: Rose, Chapter Eleven: Steel, Chapter Twelve: Crimelord, Chapter Thirteen: Baran, Chapter Fourteen: Vigilante, Chapter 15: Steel, Chapter Seventeen: Wintergreen and Chapter Eighteen: Deathstroke — The New Titans! I'm not sure why they skipped Chapter Sixteen, but they did. Anyway, we'll be focusing mainly on the last chapter, but there are a few key details before that.

Slade Wilson learns that his estranged wife, Sweet Lili has died (in Deathstroke: The Hunted #45) and that Rose is his daughter. Slade is too busy being an assassin/anti-hero to care for a teenage daughter he's never met, so he arranges with Sargent Steel to have Rose join the Titans. But before that can happen, Steel sends Deathstroke and the Titans off to Dallas to take down the terrorist Crimelord, who apparently has obtained some Soviet nuclear missiles. Meanwhile, for reasons unknown even to the Crimelord, the Syndicate is destroying all his operations around the country.

In Dallas, Deathstroke teams up with Arsenal, Supergirl, Darkstar, Damage, Terra and Impulse, who naturally wants to scout ahead of everybody else. Arsenal orders him to wait for the rest of the team, and since he's talking to him over a radio, he asks, "Do you copy?" Impulse answers with "Whadda ya want me to copy?" When Arsenal gets mad, Impulse asks, "Jeez, who shrank your undies this morning?"

Deathstroke then straps on a stupid propeller-thing to his back so he can fly around next to Darkstar. They then find a giant spaceship, which Darkstar identifies as a Syndicate freighter. She explains that the Syndicate is behind half the crime in the galaxy and the Darkstars have been tracking them down for months. Our heroes don't know what the Syndicate's connection to Crimelord is, but they decide to shift their plans to prevent the freighter from leaving. A huge fight ensues, and Deathstroke and Darkstar become separated from the group. They blow up a huge tank, and once the explosion clears, they find that the rest of the Titans have been knocked out.



I believe Marv Wolfman started building up to this Crimelord/Syndicate war for months, if not a year in advance. Everything would probably make more sense had I been reading Deathstroke, The Darkstars and The New Titans. But as Impulse's role in this matter has been rather limited, and so is my knowledge. I am quite upset that such heavy-hitters as Impulse, Damage and Supergirl were taken out so quickly, but I hope the next installment in this story will help explain this.

None of the letters in Deathstrokes mention Impulse, so we'll head straight to the ads.

Star Trek: The Ashes of Eden. On the Klingon frontier is a secret weapon. Possess it, you will be immortal, invincible, unconquerable. Starfleet believes that James Kirk has gone rogue, that he now controls the weapon. To stop him, they will use any means necessary. William Shatner with Judith & Garfield Stevens, Steve Erwin, Jimmy Palmiotti. DC graphic novel adapting the pocket books novel.

Ron Lim spreads his wings in Hawkman. Taking flight in April.

Up next, The New Titans #122: Part 2 of the 4-part "The Crimelord/Syndicate War." Supergirl officially joins the Titans as the team accompanies Deathstroke on a mission to stop the warfare between the Crimelord's forces and the alien Syndicate.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Darkstars #31


Loose Ends!

Michael Jan Friedman Writer
Mike Collins Penciller
Ken Branch Inker
Bob Pinaha Letterer
Linda Medley Colorist
Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt Armagetto Blaster
Paul Kupperberg Ol' Pucker Lips
Darkstars created by Michael Jan Friedman & Larry Stroman

Our cover by Collins shows one of DC's most powerful and most prominent villains, Darkseid. He's holding a torn piece of a Darkstar uniform in his hand, and he looks really cool and menacing as always. I just wish there wasn't this huge promo to the subplot of Colos — whoever he is. If that was a separate backup story, that'd be one thing. But it's not, and I think it doesn't deserve that much real estate on the cover, especially when you got someone like Darkseid to fill it up.

This story starts with John Stewart leading a group of Darkstars to Apokolips to find a missing fugitive. Remember, at this time, Kyle Rayner was the only Green Lantern, so guys like John Stewart had to find work elsewhere. Well, anyway, John's quest takes him to the dreaded Armagetto District, where Darkseid himself lives. And you'd never guess who he meets! That's right, most of this issue is a big fight between John and Darkseid, and John doesn't stand a chance. Turns out, Darkseid really was just curious as to how much punishment a Darkstar can take. Once he found that out, he gave John the fugitive and let him go.

There are a number of subplots going on at the same time, including Colos and the enslaved Jenuwynians, but the only one we care about involves Donna Troy and the Titans. Donna's friend, Annie Bonelli needs a place to live for whatever reason, so Donna offered up the New Titans headquarters in New Jersey to Annie and her two young boys. As they move in, they are startled to see their boxes suddenly disappear. But just as Donna suspected, Impulse got a little excited and did all the unpacking himself. Impulse is particularly fond of the boys' Flash action figure, and he asks when they'll make one of him.


And that's all the Impulse we get here. The last two pages of the issue deal with the Crimelord-Syndicate war, which we'll see a lot more of soon. The Syndicate is an alien force that is upset with how the war has been going. So in this issue, they killed the guy in charge and replaced him with an even bigger, tougher guy. I'm sure we'll learn more about them in the upcoming issues. As for Crimelord, we haven't seen him yet, but we have seen plenty of his terrorist group. They were the first mission for Impulse and the New Titans, and they've been a constant threat through all of Marv Wolfman's books, as they framed Deathstroke for the assassination of several senators.

None of the letters in Mugla Mail mention Impulse, and none of the ads are new, so I'll leave you until next time, when the Crimelord-Syndicate war goes into high gear in Deathstroke #48.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Damage #13


Picking Up the Pieces Chapter One

Words: Tom "Look at this Mess" Joyner
Pencils: Bill "Whatta You Mean It's Broke?" Marimon
Inks: Dan "Wasn't Me, Man!" Hillsman
Letters: Bob "Hey, I Just Fill in the Balloons!" Pinaha
Colors: Buzz "It Was Already Broken When I Saw It!" Setzer
Edits: Jim "Just Sweep It into a Pile" Spivey

This month's cover was pencilled by Bill Marimon, inked by Don Hillsman, colored by Daniel Vozzo, and color separated by Rob Schwager. And the part of Damage was played by The Beaver. It's a pretty intense and emotional cover, especially once you realize Damage is standing behind the grave of his girlfriend, Mandra Darrow, who died in Damage #10. But then the logic of the cover begins to break down when you realize Damage is standing behind Mandra's grave. Who does that? I think a simple adjustment could have fixed this.

Anyway, now that Damage's Fragments story line is finished, and the New Titans' Forever Evil story line is done, the gang is all back together, with the addition of Supergirl. And Arsenal has decided to hold a little training exercise for Damage's benefit.


Damage dodges a blast from Darkstar, then gives Impulse a hard kick to the chest, saying he knows Impulse always comes in from the same side. As the fight progresses, Damage gets angrier and more violent, and he actually hurts his teammates. The sparring session is immediately called off, and Damage uses this opportunity to chew out everybody in sight.

Damage calls Arsenal a parole officer, and says Terra treats him like a walking zit and Darkstar treats him like a baby brother. He tells Impulse that he knows the real world is like a slow motion video game to him, but Damage says he has a life and sometimes doesn't feel like playing. Damage then storms off in an angsty huff, and Supergirl asks if he's always like that. Darkstar says no, but there is some truth to what he said. Impulse disagrees, saying Damage's words weren't true at all, and he takes off. Terra tries to call Impulse back, but Arsenal tells her to let him go, knowing he'll get over it.

And that's the end of Impulse's involvement in this issue. But the rest of the story is rather sweet, as Green Lantern takes Damage to the funeral of his girlfriend. As is the rule with all comic book funerals, this one took place in the rain. Naturally, this rainy funeral is also full of plenty of tension, as most of Mandra's family isn't happy to see Damage, having blamed him for her death. And Damage is still quite upset at Green Lantern, until Kyle tells Grant that his girlfriend was also recently killed, and he wasn't able to attend her funeral. So the story ends on a rather tender, heart-breaking moment.

We didn't get a whole lot of Impulse here, but I did like what I saw. Bart's best friend on the team was Grant, and Bart really had a hard time seeing him snap like that. But Arsenal is right — Bart will bounce back from this quicker than anyone. Although I can't help feeling like their friendship is now permanently strained. We won't see the two of them hanging out very much after this. I also have to credit Bill Marimon for drawing Impulse a bit skinnier and more like Humberto Ramos. The days of Impulse being a short body builder are almost over.

Since the letters in Damage Assessments deal with Damage #10, we actually have a couple of references to Impulse this time.

Mary Catelli asks if the Titans have a way to find out who's been looking at what in their computer. And Jim Spivey answers, "Well, the Titans did have a way to check up on Grant — his name's Impulse."

H.M. West, of Chillicothe, Ohio, asks for an Impulse/Damage crossover with the new Impulse title, and Spivey says they were working on such a crossover, but realized it might be a bit more difficult after Damage's outburst in this issue. And I'm sad to say that we never got an Impulse/Damage crossover. Well, enough mourning over the lost friendship of Bart and Grant, and on to the ads.

A struggle for sound supremacy. You have a few extra dollars and here's two great CDs. What does one do? That's easy. Get them both. After all, they're on sale. Mike Watt, Ball-Hog or Tugboat? Chris Duarte Group, Texas Sugar Strat Magic. Available at all Musicland/Sam Goody stores nationwide.

Black Lightning. Buried by his past. By Isabella and Newell.

You'll never see prices like these again! A DC subscription ad with a bit of honesty. Damage #10 only cost $1.95, but issue #13 was $2.25. But with a subscription, you could get 12 issues of Damage for $19.40.

Where will comics' brightest stars be this May? On DC Comics Online! If you have a computer and a modem, order your free DC Comics Online starter kit with no obligation.

Death. Learn about it the hard way or read ... The Big Book of Death. 67 true tales of mortality by Bronwyn Carlton and a host of artists.

Next time, we begin the Crimelord-Syndicate war in Darkstars #31.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Impulse #2


Crossfire

Mark Waid Story
Humberto Ramos Pencils
Wayne Faucher Inks
Chris Eliopoulos Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
Alisande Morales Assistant Editor
Ruben Diaz Associate Editor
Brian Augustyn Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo

The cover is by Ramos and Faucher, and I actually kind of like it more than the cover of Impulse #1. There's a lot more going on here, and we got a better, more-straight-ahead look at Impulse. It also reminds me of Flash #92. That cover was simply Bart Allen running out of an explosion, but this is a fully realized Impulse coming out of a blast. He's been around for about a year now, and has a fully developed look and personality.

Our story begins right where Impulse #1 left off, with Bart in a dark room, surrounded by tons of men with guns and their laser sights pointing right at him.


The men start shooting, but suddenly realize Impulse is gone. One of them asks where he went, and Impulse answers him, saying, "I'm all over the place." Impulse then realizes that the men can see in the dark and he can't, so he grabs one of their night vision goggles, which he thinks is pretty cool. The men again try to shoot Impulse and frantically try to block the exit, but Impulse borrows a line from Rorschach of Watchmen, saying, "You losers have this all wrong. I'm not trapped in here with you. You're trapped in here with me! Yee-HAH!" Impulse quickly beats up all the men, causing most of them to shoot each other. They were all wearing bullet-proof armor, so it's likely that casualties were minimal.

Impulse then vibrates out the wall and runs home, telling Max everything that happened and how he vibrated through all the bullets. They then review everything they know. This morning, Impulse saw some guys secretly testing a missile by destroying a hover tank, similar to the one that will be demonstrated on Saturday by Richard Nordstrom. When Bart went back to where he saw the missile, he found a warehouse with more missiles, meaning someone is trying to kill Nordstrom. Max decides to put on his superhero outfit and check out the warehouse himself. He reminds Bart to rewrite his personal history assignment, but Bart falls sound asleep on the couch.

The next morning, at Manchester Junior High, Bart only realizes Max tore up his assignment when the teacher tells the class to hand it in. Bart quickly sneaks to a desk farther away from the teacher, and, hiding behind a copy of NBA Jam, he writes a new personal history at super speed. The teacher is curious as to why Bart's paper is so warm, and she criticizes his sloppy handwriting. Then she reads what Bart wrote, and immediately sends him to the assistant principal's office.

The assistant principal, Randal Sheridan, turns out to be a laid-back guy, who insists on letting the kids call him Randy. He reads from Bart's assignment, in which he describes himself as a monster hunter from the planet Korbal, destroying 10 lightning beasts a day and working as a rookie space pilot with the Science Police. Randy thinks Bart is very creative and has a future in video games. But he tells Bart that Mrs. Dalrymple doesn't share that opinion, so he advises him to re-write the assignment extra dry for her.

After school, Bart immediately puts on his Impulse outfit and waits for Max to return from an afternoon jog with some of the women from the neighborhood. Max tells Bart that the warehouse has been stripped clean now, and Bart begins to panic, since Nordstrom's test is just one day away now. Max suggests he tell Nordstrom himself, so Bart does exactly that.

Nordstrom, meanwhile, is talking to some of his associates about how the future of his company, Technodyne, depends on the successful demonstration of the hover tank. If it goes wrong, half the workers in the county could lose their jobs. Impulse then arrives and tells Nordstrom all about the secret missile tests. Nordstrom says only one other person could have the design of the hover tank, and he hands Impulse a copy of Technodyne's 1994 annual report to see if he can identify the missile manufacturer. Impulse quickly recognizes the picture of Martin Beaumont. Nordstrom says Beaumont stole company secrets to start his own company, so it makes sense that he would be behind an attempt to destroy the hover tank.

Beaumont, meanwhile, has been spying on Nordstrom from afar. And when he sees Impulse talking to Nordstrom, he decides to target a missile to match Impulse's vibratory patterns. As Impulse starts running away from the missile, Beaumont's men come driving in toward Nordstrom with machine guns blazing. Impulse manages to catch all the bullets to save Nordstrom, then disappears in a flash. Beaumont's men wonder aloud where Impulse went, and he suddenly pops up on top of their car, saying he's hitchhiking. The missile then hits and destroys the car, but it looks like everybody got out in time.

Beaumont then tries to escape in his truck, but Impulse catches him and pulls him out. Nordstrom calls the cops, and Impulse says he needs to take off. Nordstrom asks him if he has another case, but Impulse says he actually has homework. So Nordstrom hands him his card and offers to help Impulse with anything he needs.

So Bart returns home, makes himself a giant sandwich, and begins working on his personal history for the third time. He has to ask Max where he's from and how old he is. Max says Keystone City and 15 (even though he said he was 14 last issue). Bart complains that Superboy doesn't have to keep his identity secret, which I find interesting since Bart only met him briefly during Zero Hour. I'd have thought Bart would have used one of the New Titans as an example, like Damage, for instance.

Anyway, Max says he wants Bart to be grounded in the real world, and he needs to have his head screwed on straight for the years to come. Bart begins to panic when he learns he'll be spending years with Max, and he begins to repeatedly ask Max what his plans for him are. But Max refuses to answer, and leaves Bart to his assignment. So Bart sighs and begins writing about how he's a 15-year-old from Keystone City ... liberated from the dungeons of Mercury ...

So this completes the two-part adventure to kick off the Impulse series. I have to say the actual adventure part, with Nordstrom and Beaumont, was the weakest part of the story. There was lots of explosions and fighting, and great scenes of Bart taunting the bad guys, but we never really got a chance to care about Nordstrom or Beaumont. And as far as I know, that's the last we'll see of either of them. On one hand, it is a shame, since Nordstrom offered to fill that necessary role of a scientist ally to a superhero. But on the other hand, it just would have felt awkward for Bart to be friends with the head of a major company like that.

The best parts of this two-part story were the establishing scenes of Bart's relationship to Max and his life at school. Bart and Max make a great comedic team, and Mark Waid perfectly re-creates the drama of junior high. And Humberto Ramos' pencils are just awesome. Unlike so many artists from this era, Ramos is able to actually draw teenagers that look like teenagers.

This series is still too new for any letters to the editor, so let's check out the new ads.

Year One. They were legends from the beginning. The New Titans Annual #11 by Wolfman, Land, Blyberg, Champagne & Sellers. The Ray Annual #1 by Priest, O. Jimenez & Wallace.

Discover the DC Universe through the eyes of a newcomer ... Cascade. Witness the birth of an explosive new team from Chris Claremont and Dwayne Turner. Sovereign Seven.

Next time, we begin to cover comics with a publication date of June 1995. After basically sitting out the past two months, Impulse returns to regular rotation in the New Titans universe, beginning with Damage #13.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Flash #101


Going the Distance

The Flash team of
Mark Waid, Story
Jose Marzan, Jr., Inks
Gaspar, Letterer
Tom McCraw, Colorist
Alisande Morales • Assistant Editor
Ruben Diaz • Associate Editor
And Brian Augustyn, Editor proudly welcomes
Oscar Jimenez, Penciller!

This is the first Flash issue I've done where Mike Wieringo did not do the cover, and it shows. I am glad that the new penciller, Oscar Jimenez, got to do it so we could know what the inside pages would look like. But I consider Jimenez to be just a step below Wieringo, and maybe half a step below Salvador Larrocca.

Our story begins with the cleanup of Keystone City after the battle with Kobra. This takes place before Impulse #1, so Bart is still around to help with the rebuilding. We see Wally first rebuild a synagog, and he has a brief conversation with Max Mercury about his trip to the Speed Force and his increased power. Max warns him that he's no longer on the top rung, but at the bottom of a whole new ladder. Wally then pays a quick visit to his girlfriend, Linda, who surprises Wally by calling him a god. After his new burst of power, Linda is quite frightened and intimidated by Wally since he can do things she can't even comprehend.

Just as he helped rebuild Metropolis, Bart decides to try his hand at masonry again. I'd like to think he did a better job of laying the bricks evenly, but this time, he did it too fast, and the mortar didn't have a chance to set up. The whole wall quickly collapses, and Bart is whisked away by a speedster. Believing it to be Wally, Bart immediately begins yelling and cussing him out, only to see that it was Jesse Quick, back to wearing her old costume. She calls Wally a puppeteer, and he arrives right on cue, only to get the cold shoulder from the two younger speedsters.

Wally pulls Jesse aside and apologizes for lying to her, saying his ultimate goal was to make Bart act more responsible. Bart then zooms by them, rolling a big concrete tube down the street by running on the top of it backwards. Jesse admits that Wally's plan did work for a bit, but now that everything's back to normal, Bart has reverted back to his more carefree ways.

Bart begins welding steel beams at the top of a building, and in his rush, he almost knocks Wally off. Wally chews him out for not being more careful, and says he thought Bart should have learned that lesson after he was nearly killed by Kobra. Bart simply answers, "I got better." Wally then tries to apologize to Bart for lying, but he can't stop himself from criticizing Bart even during an apology. The two glare at each other for a bit, and Wally admits that their mentor-student relationship isn't working. Bart says he isn't listening, so Wally decides to go talk to Iris, who has suddenly disappeared.

As Wally hunts for her, he decides to try vibrating through objects — something he's never really been able to do. This time, he accomplishes it, but anything he vibrates through instantly explodes. Wally eventually finds Iris standing outside the home of her adoptive father, Ira West. Ever the Looney Tunes fan, Iris is wearing a Sylvester and Tweety shirt today, and is afraid to shock her elderly father with the news that she isn't dead. After talking to Wally, she decides to hold off on talking to her father for a while.

In the meantime, Iris has decided to remove herself from the Flash family and live in isolation for fear of revealing something from the future. She tells Wally she only spent the past two weeks with him because she was worried that he wouldn't come back. But now that he is back, she knows what will happen and doesn't want to risk changing anything. Wally offers to try to take her back to the 30th century, but she doesn't want to risk that, either. As she walks away, Wally asks about Bart, and Iris says Max will take him in. She knows this is Bart's destiny, and she doesn't dare stand in the way of his path of greatness. With that, Iris leaves, saying she'll probably write a book about her life with Barry Allen. And unknown to her, Ira did see her through his window.

Wally returns to rebuilding the city, and through some experimentation, he learns he can lend his speed to objects already in motion. This inspires him to reconnect with Linda by running with her. With his new power, she is able to keep up with him and experience what it's like to be the Flash.

This was a nice, house-cleaning issue that is necessary to help decompress after big events like Terminal Velocity. I liked the theme of repair. Flash needed to repair his city and his relationships with Jesse, Bart and Linda. However, I do wish this issue could have come out before Impulse #1. I also likewise wish we could have seen Wally tell Bart that he has to go live with Max. Heck, I would have loved an entire issue devoted to this conversation and the move to Manchester.

In Speed Reading, B. Varkentine, of San Jose, Calif., says he was happy to see Bart finally get it through his thick skull that sometimes a plan of attack is required. He also speculates that Bart will not return to the 30th century since he and Iris are both wanted by the Science Police.

Jeff DeMos, of New York City, N.Y., notes that Bart's VR impulsiveness and arrogance is becoming overshadowed by our sympathy for a young man who doesn't know what trees and flowers are. Jeff says that Bart's obnoxiousness is defensive, and underneath is a scared kid.

Joey Marchese, of Clark, N.J., speculates that this series was renamed from The Flash to simply Flash in order to imply that anyone else could be a Flash. If you'll note, now that Terminal Velocity is over, the series is again called The Flash, which I think signifies that Wally West is the one and only Flash. Joey also says that Impulse and Jesse Quick make a good team, but Jesse wouldn't be able to handle a solo title on her own.

William Brackeen, of Jonesboro, Ark., quotes Advance Comics as saying Jesse will be a supporting character on Impulse. But this rumor was false, as Brian Augustyn points out in his reply.

There aren't any new ads in this issue, so we'll end our journey here and reconvene for Impulse #2.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Blood Pack #3


Episode Three: Viva Las Vegas!

Written by Charles Moore
Photography by Christopher Taylor
Lighting by Andy Lanning
Video by Scott Baumann
Credits by Chris Eliopoulos
Directed by Edward S. Berganza
A Jeremy Baxter Production

The cover by Taylor and Lanning shows a random Darkstar battling Jade, daughter of Alan Scott, the first Green Lantern, and Sparx, member of the Blood Pack. And watching from some video screen is three of the New Titans: Arsenal, Impulse and Supergirl. Impulse and Supergirl haven't had any interaction before this, but they will soon in the upcoming issues of New Titans.

I'm not a big fan of this cover. Sure, it has plenty of action, but it's rather nonsensical. I can't tell where anyone is or what the deal is with that video showing the Titans. And why are the Titans so shocked and disgusted? It's like they've never seen any violence before. The one backhanded compliment I can give to this cover is it gives you a perfect idea of what's inside this issue.

Blood Pack is a reality TV show of superheroes, and the Blood Pack comics series was a four-issue miniseries. Since this is part three, I am quite confused by everything. I don't know anybody on the team, what they've done or what they're trying to do. Taylor's art also does a poor job of clearly conveying action. So my synopsis will be somewhat lacking.

The Blood Pack are at some sort of convention in Las Vegas. The Darkstar from the cover shows up, and, to my surprise, nobody seems to know what a Darkstar is. So they fight for a bit, until he finally convinces them that he's one of the good guys and that their TV producers are actually evil. A big fight ensues, and the Blood Pack escapes in a plane. They decide to call the New Titans for help, and Impulse is naturally a big fan of the show and wants to help them. Arsenal, however, is a bit skeptical and wants some more information. But before Blood Pack can elaborate, the call is cut off, and Impulse calls them reverbs.


I'm not sure if the word reverb is supposed to be early '90s slang or 30th century slang. Either way, it's a very weird thing to say, as is that Blood Pack shirt-thing Bart's wearing. Anyway, we find out that the evil producers cut off the signal. And the issue ends, taking Blood Pack away from Impulse forever, which is a real shame, since Impulse's fascination with TV and video games would have made him a great Blood Pack fanboy or groupie. I would have liked more interactions with Impulse and Blood Pack.

There aren't any letters to the editor, and that's probably because this is a miniseries. So let's head straight to the ads.

ReBoot trading cards. I never had any of these cards as a kid, but I did enjoy the show, which was one of the first computer-generated cartoons, which we mistakingly called 3-D back then. ReBoot is also significant to DC, since one of the writers on the show, Dan DiDio, later became one of DC's top executives.

Hey Aerosmith x-pert! You ain't never heard 'em like this! 12 smoking' Aero-classics. One scorching' box. I enjoy my fair share of Aerosmith, but their entire music catalog would be a bit much for me.

Year One. They were legends from the beginning. Man of Steel Annual #4 by Simonson, Leon & Janke. Robin Annual #4 by Dixon, Armstrong & Campanella.

Next time, we get back on track with The Flash #101.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Primal Force #7


Lessons

Steven T. Seagle ... Script
Nick Choles & Greg Larocque ... Finished Pencils
Barbara Kaalberg ... Inks
Clem Robbins ... Letters
Tom Ziuko ... Colors
Jim Spivey ... Edits

The cover is by Matt Haley and Tom Simmons, and I don't think it's very impressive. But it is exciting to see so many big names, even if they are drawn rather poorly. In the middle is the star of this issue, Jack O'Lantern, surrounded by Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Hawkman and the Azrael Batman, filling in for Bruce Wayne after Bane broke his back. Another complaint I have with this cover is that it's rather misleading. None of these characters meet Jack O'Lantern in this issue, let alone join Primal Force. They're all just used as teaching examples for Jack O'Lantern.

Primal Force is a rather obscure, short-lived group that was started in the wake of Zero Hour. They're so obscure, in fact, that I only know one member of the team, the android Red Tornado, who would later be a member of the Justice League. But this issue focuses on Jack O'Lantern, Irishman Liam McHugh, who apparently had a near-death experience last issue.

Our story begins with Liam waking up in a pool of water, where he is visited by the mystical Water Woman. In light of his recent failure, Liam considers giving up being a hero, so the Water Woman uses a series of flashbacks to teach him how to be a great hero. She shows him the death and return of Superman, the courage of Wonder Woman in light of losing her powers, and the bad example set by the Azrael Batman. With Hawkman, the Water Woman showed the importance of Primal Force, as Hawkman failed to adequately eliminate the threat of one of Primal Force's villains. And with Green Lantern, Water Woman showed an episode in his life we've already seen before in Green Lantern #59.


On the surface, this is a rather random issue of Green Lantern to highlight, but it was one of my favorites, and Water Woman had a good reason for using it. She showed Liam how Kyle Rayner was able to successfully balance his life between being an artist, a solo hero, a team member and a boyfriend. It was a pretty nice lesson, but Impulse was only incidentally involved, so I don't have much else to say.

None of the letters to the editor mention Impulse, so let's head straight to the ads.

Mad Season. Above. Layne Staely, Mike McCready, Barrett Martin, Baker.

Abandoned dreams. Decimated worlds. A violated peace. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Friedman, Purcell, Pallot.

He's already lost ten years of his life. He's got no more time to waste. Triumph. The quest for justice begins in April. Priest, Miller, Stokes.

How much action can you handle every week! A Superman subscription form.

Kiss of Death. David Caruso, Samuel L. Jackson (before he became Nick Fury) and Nicolas Cage (before he became Ghost Rider).

Evil comes when you call his name. Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh.

Next time, Impulse will make another small appearance on a rather obscure team book in Blood Pack #3.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Impulse #1


The Single Synapse Theory

Mark Waid • Story
Humberto Ramos • Pencils
Wayne Faucher • Inks
Tom McCraw • Colors
Chris Eliopoulos • Letters
Alisande Morales • Ass't. Editor
Ruben Diaz • Assoc. Editor
Brian Augustyn • The Dad
Impulse created by Mark Waid & Mike Wieringo

It's finally here! Impulse has his own series! And it all begins with a bright and colorful cover by Ramos and Faucher. I am so glad that the inside artist is the cover artist. And I'm even more glad that Ramos found a way to make Impulse actually look like a teenager. Up till now, all artists drew Impulse like a short body builder, either forgetting or being unable to draw what a normal teenager looks like. Teens, especially runners, are skinny. But as Ramos shows here, it is possible to give some muscles to a character and still keep that character looking young and lean. For an Impulse solo series to work, it was critical that he looked and acted like a teenager. And Ramos completely nailed it.

In an ideal world, this issue would have come out after Flash #101, which wraps up Terminal Velocity and explains what they decided to do with Bart. As it stands, though, this issue opens not in Keystone City, but Manchester, Alabama. Bart had heard the South was slow, but on his first day there, he was able to find something fun — a top secret test involving a hover tank and a vibroseek missile. The missile was locked on the tank's speed, but when Bart went zooming by, he pulled it off course.

After toying with it for a bit, Bart ditches the missile by vibrating through the tank, causing the missile to hit its target and explode. All the scientists running the test come rushing out to the scene of the explosion, completely flummoxed by what just happened and worried that they weren't going to make their Saturday deadline. Bart then runs up, takes a peek at a guy's watch, notes the time — 7:59 a.m. — and takes off, leaving all the men speechless.

Bart then shows up at Manchester Junior High School right as the 8 o'clock bell rings, and as the new kid, instantly becomes the focus of attention of the ninth grade. Some kids think he has weird hair, some think he has great hair, and others think he's simply a geek. Bart's completely oblivious to this, as he's trying to adjust to a traditional school setting in the 20th century. Unfortunately, it seems no one has taught him how it works, as he opens his first notebook sideways. The kid sitting in front of him turns it the right way for Bart and introduces himself as Preston. He asks Bart where he's from, and when Bart says Keystone City, Preston asks if he's ever met the Flash. Bart says, "Sure," but Preston doesn't believe him.

As the class drags on, Bart becomes increasingly bored, and we get a fun pictogram thought-bubble of Bart imagining himself behind prison bars. The teacher quickly notices Bart isn't paying attention so she asks him what she was talking about. Bart answers literally, repeating everything that had happened in the class, including how many kids raised their hands to answer the question and which hand they raised. The teacher lectures him for back talking, and then assigns the class to write their personal history. As is the case in every junior high class, every student immediately asks how long they have to write, to which the teacher sighs and says, "As long as it needs to be."

Poor Bart once again encounters a device he's had no experience with — a pencil. Some kids make fun of him for looking for an "on" switch, but he learns how to write by leaning over Preston's shoulder and watching him. So Bart starts writing his personal history, and is completely honest. He talks all about his grandpa, Barry Allen, and how he was born in the 30th century and raised in a virtual reality program. Those who have read Flash #92 already know all this, but one neat panel shows us our first glimpse of what that virtual reality world was like for Bart. It includes a computer menu that says, "Name: Bart Allen; Crono Age: 2; VR Age: 19; Physical Age: 8; Mental Age: 14." So Bart's age has pretty much been all over the place since the day he was born and will continue to be his entire existence.

Bart continues his personal history, telling all about how he was brought to the past and met the Flash, who saved his life and helped train him. Bart admits he could have been more grateful, but writes, "Wally played me like a ... a ... like whatever you guys play in this era ..." Bart says he thought he was going to be Flash Mark IV, but then Wally "went and didn't die. Which meant nobody knew what to do with me." Bart wanted to stay with his grandma, Iris, but it didn't work out. Instead, Wally used his connections in the government and the Justice League's computer expert, Oracle, to get some identification papers for Bart and send him down to Manchester with Max Mercury.

Speaking of Max, he is most displeased with Bart's paper and rips it up as soon as he reads it. This devastates Bart, who claims he worked on it for two weeks. But Max reminds him he only spent an hour on it, and it only felt like two weeks. Bart says he was just trying to do the assignment, but Max says he needs to make keep his identity secret, which means he needs to stick to the story of being a normal 14-year-old living with his uncle, Max Crandall.

As they get settled in their new house, and Bart does all the unpacking at super speed, Max explains that he chose Alabama because its peaceful, relaxed and has wide open spaces — a perfect place to teach Bart about power and patience. Max also tells Bart he's not with Wally because he has his own problems to work out. Bart complains that he is so bored without any holovision, VR or omnicoms.

Max settles in to read the Manchester Herald, which contains a story about an experimental hover tank to be demonstrated this Saturday. Bart tells Max about his adventure he had before school, and he realizes that he was on the opposite side of town of the company, Technodyne, which will hold the demonstration. Believing that someone else was testing warheads against the tank, Bart decides to throw on his Impulse outfit and do some investigating.

We then cut to the same scientists from the morning test, and after analyzing their surveillance footage, they discover it was Impulse who disrupted their missile. None of them know who Impulse is or what he was doing, but they decide to prepare for his arrival. And not too long after, Impulse enters the factory, exploring every nook and cranny. He easily defeats a couple of guards, then decides to enter a room with a big "Do Not Enter" sign on it. But that door leads to a trap, and Impulse finds himself in a dark room, surrounded by a bunch of armed men.

Ah, what a nice, fun issue to start the series. Yes, a lot of time was spent setting things up and explaining to any newcomers exactly who Impulse is. But as someone who has read all the comics with Impulse before this, I never felt bored. I was happy to see the little details Ramos added to Bart's back story, and it was great seeing him re-create important moments with the slimmed down Bart with big hands, feet and hair. Impulse always had long hair, but now the hands and especially the feet are an essential element to Impulse's character. And it's very fitting, since most 14-year-old boys have big hands and feet.

Ramos also introduced another very important element of Impulse — the pictogram thought bubbles. It's almost like Bart is thinking too fast to actually form words. In any rate, the thought bubbles will become something of a trademark of Bart's, used to great effect in the funniest of moments. And similar to Sal Larrocca, but in a more cartoony way, Ramos is able to convey a multitude of emotions on Bart's face. I particularly enjoyed the scenes of Bart trying to appease Max. And it's even better when Bart is moving so fast it looks like there are five or six of him in the room.

All in all, this was an amazing start to an amazing series. Ramos has instantly proven himself as the perfect artist for this story, and we all know and trust Waid to deliver fun, exciting and humorous writing. And wonderfully, every main issue of Impulse is available digitally (a couple of annuals and special issues are still missing). I highly recommend that you take advantage of this to follow this run with me. We'll have plenty of laughs, action, emotion, crossovers and guest appearances along the way.

Since this is the first issue, there aren't any letters to the editor. Instead, Brian Augustyn wrote his own letter, explaining how this series came to be. He says Mark Waid originally came up with the idea of using Barry Allen's unnamed grandson several years before Bart was introduced. But Waid wanted the grandson to be an adult in order to serve as an evil "second Barry." He eventually made some adjustments and wrote The Return of Barry Allen. As soon as he  finished that, Waid began working on Terminal Velocity, which had the perfect opening to actually bring in Barry's grandson.

Augustyn also explains that Waid chose the fictional city of Manchester, Alabama, since he himself was born in Hueytown, Alabama. In reality, there is a small township in Alabama named Manchester, but DC didn't learn this for a few years. To help get the setting right, one of Waid's old friends, Nick Patterson, took a bunch of pictures of Birmingham, Alabama, and sent them to Humberto Ramos, who is from Mexico City and not particularly familiar with the area.

There aren't any new ads in this issue that I haven't already covered, so I'll wrap things up here. Next time, we'll begin May 1995, starting with Impulse making a guest appearance in Primal Force #7.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Flash #100


Terminal Velocity: Overdrive The Quick and the Dead

The long anticipated centennial celebration, presented by:
Mark Waid, Writer
Salvador Larrocca, Penciller (pgs. 1-17, 22, 34)
Sergio Borjas, Inker (pgs. 1-17, 22, 34)
Carlos Pacheco, Layouts (pgs. 18-21, 23-33, 35-38)
Oscar Jimenez, Finished Penciller (pgs. 18-21, 23-33, 35-38)
Jose Marzan, Jr., Inker (pgs. 18-21, 23-33, 35-38)
Tom McCraw, Colorist
Gaspar, Letterer
Ali Morales, Asst. Editor
Ruben Diaz, Assoc. Editor
Brian Augustyn, Editor

The cover is by Mike Wieringo and Jose Marzan Jr. From left, we have Impulse, beat up, but on his feet, Max Mercury, somehow reunited with everybody, Linda Park, at wit's end with the disappearance of her boyfriend, and Jay Garrick, who had sat out the past couple of issues to recover his energy. Our heroes are surrounding a crumbling statue of Wally West in the midst of the destruction caused by Kobra. It's a really cool and colorful cover. And there's an alternate cover with a black background and big silver letters saying, "The Quick and the Dead," with a small red Flash figure in front. You really can't go wrong with either one, but my favorite has Impulse on it.

Our story begins with our heroes in a rather desperate situation. Linda, Pied Piper and Iris Allen are huddled around Bart Allen, who is still knocked out after getting blasted with a flamethrower and falling off a building. And Keystone City lies in ruins thanks to the earthquake Kobra has caused to power his forces across the nation. Iris, who knows a thing or two about speedsters, explains that Bart's heat-shield aura and vibrations protected him from the worst of Kobra's attack, but it'll still take a few hours before Bart is fully healed. So Linda turns to Hartley Rathaway to construct a device to take down Kobra.

We then see Kobra initiate Project Morpheus, which uses a satellite to send limitless power to his sleeper agents across America. And we see these Kobra soldiers battling Batman and Robin in Gotham City and Steel in Washington, D.C. Five minutes later, Hartley has a functioning sonic wave transformer that amplifies Bart's vibrations. The injured Bart is still determined to prove he's not a failure, and he gives Hartley's machine enough power to destroy Kobra's base. But only the building falls down, leaving the essential machinery surviving.

Meanwhile, Jay Garrick has been evacuating a collapsing hospital. But he soon collapses from exhaustion. The injured Jesse Quick helps him, and, using a crutch to stay steady, heads out toward the battlefield. And we see that Kobra's forces are battling Hawkman in Chicago and Green Lantern in New York.

Kobra and his men emerge from their collapsed building very angry. They quickly knock out Bart again and destroy Hartley's machine. Jesse then arrives and takes out a few Kobra goons. Linda picks up one of their guns and vows to go after Kobra herself, saying, "Wally's not the only one going out in a blaze of glory tonight ..."

We then cut out to the edge of the city, where Kobra's force field is preventing anyone from entering or leaving the city. The National Guard has shown up, led by General Augustyn (possibly named after editor Brian Augustyn). Max Mercury finally gets an idea, vibrating the ground enough to create a large tunnel under the force field. As dozens of people use the tunnel to escape, Max rushes through it to rejoin our heroes.

Linda, meanwhile, is in the middle of a big shootout with Kobra's forces. But Hartley gets knocked out, and Jesse falls soon after, leaving an increasingly deranged Linda alone. Kobra then triggers the final earthquake, and teleports all his forces away while he stays behind to take care of Linda personally. Meanwhile, Kobra's goons continue to wreak havoc across the nation, even overwhelming Superman in Metropolis with sheer numbers.

It doesn't take long for Kobra to disarm and corner Linda. And as he moves in for the kill, lightning strikes in the background. Linda's Flash ring begins to glow, as do Jay, Jesse and Bart. Suddenly, in a burst of light, Wally appears in front of Linda. He's pure energy once again, but is able to quickly punch Kobra so hard and fast that he goes flying out the city. Max catches Kobra, and removes his teleportation belt before he can escape. Wally doesn't say anything to Linda and rushes past Jesse, healing her leg, and heads straight for Kobra's machine. Wally destroys it in a fiery explosion and is seen no more.

Linda begins screaming for Wally, but Max holds her back, saying there's no sign of Wally. Bart asks what they did see, and Max speculates that they either hallucinated Wally's return or perhaps he was given one last moment to set things right. We then see all the Kobra goons lose their power and are quickly defeated by the various heroes across the nation.

Jesse tells the others how her leg was healed, and Bart confirms that he felt like they were bathed in some energy, or tapped into something primal. As the speedsters discuss what happened and what they should do without Wally, Linda is overcome with grief and runs away from the group. And she runs right into Wally, who gives her a big kiss. He then explains that he did go to the Speed Force and gained new powers that will take him some time to fully understand. He describes the experience like looking at the face of God, and Linda asks him why he left heaven. Wally simply says, "You weren't there."

Whew! Speed Reading begins with a note from Brian Augustyn telling us to take a deep, cleansing breath, and I definitely needed to after reading this issue. What an amazing ride Terminal Velocity was. This story is historically significant for introducing the concept of the Speed Force into the Flash mythology. And even if you set that aspect aside, it was still an amazing, exciting story involving the Flash family. And this was very important for the development of Bart's character, too. He has now proven that he can be trusted enough to have some solo adventures — with some supervision, of course.

As a whole, Terminal Velocity works very well. Of course, I do have my few little nitpicks. Mainly, I was sad that Argus and Johnny Quick didn't return for the finale since they were fairly important earlier in the story. I also got lost a few times with the action in this issue, which I mostly blame on the three different pencillers required to get this extra-long comic out on time. But I absolutely loved everything else, including the cameos by members of the Justice League. It was everything I'd expect from a #100 issue.

Brian's Blab-O-Mat mainly just thanks everyone who's worked on Terminal Velocity, and he calls it some of the best writing Mark Waid has done in his career. Augustyn then announces that Oscar Jimenez will be the new penciller but the rest of the team will remain the same.

B. Varkentine, of San Jose, Calif., says he enjoyed watching Impulse's lesson with the other speedsters, and he asks that Waid will be the writer on the new Impulse series.

Sadly, that was the only letter to mention Impulse, as these letters came out after issue #97, which had very little Impulse in it. There was a lot of love and excitement for Max Mercury, and a lot of displeasure and worry about Jesse Quick becoming the new Flash. Now on to the ads.

Superman #100. The Death of Clark Kent. Smashing Beyond! Jurgens, Breeding and Rubinstein.

More power than you can imagine ... more power than he can control. Damage. Tom Joyner, Bill Marimon, Don Hillsman.

Next time, it's finally here! After 10 months and appearances in 30 issues, Impulse finally has his own title! Join me for one of the most significant moments in Bart Allen's history with Impulse #1!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Adventures of Superman #522


City of Hope: An Editorial by Perry White

Karl Kesel – Writer
Stuart Immomen – Penciller
José Marzan Jr. – Inker
Glenn Whitmore – Colorist
Albert T. DeGuzman – Letterer
Chris Duffy – Assistant
Mike Carlin – Promoted from the Mailroom
Superman created by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster

Our cover was constructed by editor Mike Carlin placing his three arms (now you know!) on the heads of penciller Stuart Immonen, inker José Marzan Jr., and colorist Glenn Whitmore, while cover editor Curtis King telepathically channeled the artistic information to color separator Android Images. Complicated, isn't it?

Yes, it sure is. In fact, it may have been a bit too complicated, since somewhere lost in the shuffle was the fact that the mysterious Bloodwynd didn't appear in this issue. I only know him from the Death of Superman storyline, which only serves to play up the mysteries of Bloodwynd. But everyone else here does show up in the issue, and I'm pretty familiar with all of them — Guardian, Maxima, Impulse, Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel and Guy Gardner.

So apparently just before Zero Hour, a completely unrelated event destroyed the city of Metropolis. When Zero Hour was all wrapped up, Metropolis quickly returned to its former glory. But nobody bothered explaining how that happened until now. The editor of the Daily Planet, Perry White, noticed a lot of people were sending in letters, asking how the city went from ruins to being completely restored overnight. A valid question, I must say. Well, Perry finally had enough with his inbox being clogged with this pesky question and decided to answer the question himself.

Perry's editorial begins with the arrival of Superman and all the heroes we saw on the cover, minus Bloodwynd. Before they can assess the damage of the city, Superman learns of a hostage situation taking place at the one building that mysteriously wasn't destroyed. The "terrorists" (for lack of a better word) are normally good people who just fell into desperate times after their homes were destroyed and their jobs were lost. When Impulse hears they have guns, he quickly disarms them, not waiting to hear they also had a drug that could temporarily transform them into demonic monsters. So they naturally all took the drug as soon as they found their guns had disappeared.

All the heroes team up to quickly subdue the monsters without causing too much harm, then send them away to a hospital. They then turn their attention toward rebuilding Metropolis, which Captain Marvel and Impulse think is a good idea.


Superman curbs Impulse's enthusiasm, and they decide to limit themselves to repairing damaged buildings along the blast zone's rim and erecting some temporary shelters for the homeless. The heroes work all day, and do a pretty good job, except for Impulse's hasty brick work. They all prepare to go home for the night, when Zatanna suddenly shows up out of nowhere with a plan to restore Metropolis completely.

Using Martian Manhunter as a telepathic conduit, Zatanna rebuilds the city in a few seconds using the memories of Superman and Perry White (J'onn had to grow an extra arm to place a hand on everybody's head). Impulse and Captain Marvel laugh at Zatanna's stupid-sounding backwards talk, and Wonder Woman chastises the two of them for being immature.

So that was a pretty fun, though random story. I guess it makes sense that Superman would recruit Impulse right after Zero Hour, since he seemed to be pretty impressed by his powers. And as fun as it was seeing all the heroes fight a handful of monsters and rebuild the city, it all felt completely pointless once Zatanna showed up. She completely negated their entire day's work in less than a minute, begging to question why she didn't arrive earlier. You'd think the destruction of Metropolis would be pretty big news around the world, and someone with her power would surely want to go help out sooner than later, right? Oh well. Any excuse to use Impulse as a guest star is good for me — even if this was the wildest-looking Impulse I've seen so far.

The letter page, Kryptograms, naturally doesn't mention Impulse, so I'll move on to the ads.

French Toast clothing. If you were willing to cut a large chunk out of your cover, you could have sent in an application form to win a chance to be a French Toast model.

Who says chivalry is dead? The Spoiler returns in Robin #16. Chuck Dixon, Phil Jimenez, Stewart Johnson, Scott Hanna.

Year One. They were legends from the beginning. DC Comics annuals.

The Three Faces of Argus. Super-hero. FBI agent. Mobster. The Flash isn't the only hero watching over Central City. Written by Wheatley & Gross. Art by Hester, Faucher & Wallace. A six-issue miniseries. I just realized that Argus has been conspicuously absent from the latter half of Terminal Velocity. I also thought the Flash lived in Keystone City instead of Central City in this time period.

The future of the Blood Syndicate revealed. Blood Syndicate #25. 48-page Milestone special. Fully painted color.

Animaniacs presents World Domination?! The Wackiness starts in March. Ongoing monthly. From DC Comics. We see Yakko, Wakko and Dot bursting through a Pinky and the Brain poster, with Yakko saying, "Hey! Whose comic is this anyway?"

Exciting stories ... & great savings ... when you subscribe to DC Comics. This ad uses a rather lackluster image of the Flash, but it does have an exciting piece of information — Impulse is listed among the titles available for $15 for 12 issues.

Chris Claremont. Dwayne Turner. Sovereign Seven. A new team coming to Earth this May.

It will take you a million lightyears from home. But will it bring you back? Stargate for Super Nintendo, Genesis, Game Gear and Game Boy.

Impulse doesn't appear in New Titans this month, since he's allegedly busy following Damage in issues that have already come out. So next time, I'll conclude Terminal Velocity in Flash #100.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Flash #99


Terminal Velocity Redline: Ultimate Rush

Mark Waid – Story
Carlos Pacheco & Sal Larrocca – Pencils
Jose Marzan, Jr. – Inks
Kevin Cunningham – Letterer
Tom McCraw – Colorist
Ruben Diaz – Associate Editor
Alisande Morales – Asst. Ed.
Brian Augustyn – Editor

The cover is by Mike Wieringo and Jose Marzan Jr. It definitely is an explosive cover, but for some reason, I'm not totally in love with it. I think that's because I'm not a big fan of the target-crosshairs bit. Although it is pretty neat to see Flash is moving 800 miles per second.

Continuing from Flash #98, we rejoin the Flash and Jesse Quick separated from Impulse and Max Mercury by Kobra's force field. As Bart tries to break through, he and Jesse realize that Wally was playing them. By pretending to choose Jesse, Wally was hoping Bart would get more serious. Max tries to explain to Bart how desperate Wally was, but Bart still thinks he's a jerk.


We then cut to Linda Park, Iris West and the Pied Piper, who have commandeered a news van to track down Kobra. Linda explains that not all earthquakes are on the west coast, and there are actually some major fault lines in the midwest. (Having grown up in Utah, I always new the state was in danger of an earthquake, so I find it surprising that Mark Waid needed to explain this.) Linda deduces the truth, which is Kobra's final power plant is geothermal. Kobra learns that Linda is approaching him, so he has a soldier teleport directly in the van, but luckily Iris slams on the brakes to cause the goon to go flying through the windshield.

Linda then gets on the radio to tell Wally they've found Kobra, and she asks her boyfriend to join them so they can take him down together. But this only upsets Wally. Piper, meanwhile, has a breakthrough with Kobra's technology, and he successfully prevents the super villain from teleporting away. So Kobra retreats to a rooftop and arms a large laser gun, which further panics Wally, since everything is now playing out exactly in the vision of the future he saw, which ended with the death of Linda.

Wally rushes forward, willing to sacrifice himself to save Linda from the laser. But Jesse pushes Wally out of the way at the last second, and the laser slices open her leg. As Kobra keeps firing, Wally realizes the laser is calibrated to track his speed. So he lures the laser blasts away from Linda, willing to run faster than the speed of light, which would send him on a one-way trip to the Speed Force.

Suddenly, Bart appears at Wally's side. He was able to overcome his anger long enough to vibrate through the force field, and he decided to try to confuse Kobra's laser by adding his speed to Wally's. Bart's plan works, and Kobra's laser gun's circuits are fried. Bart prepares himself to be lectured by Wally, but for once, he has nothing to criticize, and says he's actually proud of Bart. But then they see that Kobra's gun had enough juice left for one more blast, which is heading right toward Linda.

Wally runs at his top speed to save Linda, which he does, but running too fast has caused his body to become pure energy again. As he feels himself being sucked into the Speed Force, Wally uses Johnny Quick's formula to stretch out his final second with Linda. He grasps her hand, which is wearing his Flash ring, and his life flashes before his eyes. And in a burst of light, Wally disappears.

Linda is left in a state of shock, but a suddenly serious and angry Bart tells her that Wally wanted him to wear the lightning, and as long as he's around, the Flash will live on. Bart then charges Kobra, calling him a ratbag. He easily takes out the remaining Kobra goons, telling Kobra that he's no pushover just because he's a kid. But Kobra gets the best of Bart, blasting him with a flamethrower. Engulfed in flames, Bart falls off the roof and lands at the feet of his screaming grandmother, Iris.

Kobra then gloats that one should never send a boy to do a man's job, and he triggers an earthquake, which will give his plant enough power to make his forces around the nation unstoppable.

Wow. Now that is how you write the penultimate issue of an epic story arc. Max Mercury is still trapped outside of Keystone City, Jesse Quick is seriously injured, Wally West has disappeared, and just when it seemed like brave little Impulse was going to save the day, he got hit with a flamethrower in the face and fell off a building. But before that, Bart was more heroic than he'd ever been before. Seeking to avenge the Flash and prove to everyone — including Kobra — that he's a competent hero, Bart became pretty badass. But still not as focused as he could have been. I think he could have avoided the flamethrower had he not been so intent on yelling at Kobra. But, it is natural for Bart to make that kind of mistake.

I also need to do a quick shoutout to the art. Larroca needed help on the pencils in this issue, but I honestly couldn't tell you which pages he drew and which ones Pacheco did. The only difference I noticed was that Wally suddenly had five-o'clock shadow, but that was consistently carried through on each page. It helps that Marzan inked the whole thing himself, but the main credit really goes to the editors who were able to find multiple artists whose styles didn't clash too much. That is an attribute that many current comic creators sadly don't care about anymore.

In Speed Reading, Harry Simon, of Las Vegas, Nev., says that Impulse is rapidly becoming one of his favorite characters, and he requests a Mark Waid Impulse limited series to be drawn by Carlos Pacheco. He then asks exactly how Bart and Wally are related, then complains about Bart not understanding Wally's reference to pro wrestling.

Brian Augustyn explains that just because Bart doesn't know what pro wrestling is, it doesn't mean that pro wrestling doesn't exist in the 30th century. Bart just has a limited world view. Brian also attempts to tackle Bart's relation to Wally, pointing out that the two of them aren't related by blood, only by marriage, and even then that's a stretch. Brian ultimately says that "Wally and Bart are second cousins by marriage, adoption, cloning and two-way time-travel. Sort of." The way I see it, though, Wally and Bart are first cousins once removed, as I detailed in my review of Flash #93. But whatever. Surprisingly, Brian didn't say anything about Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos starting an Impulse ongoing monthly, which will start one month from now. I guess he figured that was already common knowledge by then.

Stuart Brynien, of Brooklyn, N.Y., says he's still not sure about Bart. He does admit he's an interesting character, seeing what he's capable of doing while acting impulsively, and the mischief and mayhem he can cause makes him even more appealing. But Stuart wonders whether Wally is ready to have a sidekick. But then Stuart kind of changes his mind again, conceding that Bart partnering with Wally brings him full circle, since Wally was Barry's sidekick. Stuart points out that Wally sees too much of himself in Bart, which brings a grittiness to their relationship that should make for some mighty interesting reading in the months ahead.

Now for the two new ads we haven't already seen this month.

No more Mr. Nice Guy. Hardware #25. A 48-page Milestone special. Fully painted color.

School's in! Now sit down and read! Justice League Task Force. Monthly by Priest, Velluto, Albrecht.

Next time, we begin April 1995, with Impulse making a guest appearance in The Adventures of Superman #522.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The New Titans #119


Forever Evil I of III Chapter One: Dark Titans

Marv Wolfman Writer
William Rosado Penciller
Keith Champagne Inker
Albert DeGuzman Letterer
Chi Colorist
Keri Kowalski Asst. Editor
Pat Garrahy Editor
Titans originally created by Marv Wolfman & George Pérez

The cover by Rosado shows Deathwing threatening Mirage. I don't know much about Deathwing beyond him being the father of Mirage's unborn child. And the fact that he works for/is possessed by Raven right now. If you look closely, you can see Raven and her other minions in the shadows, which is pretty neat. But I wish they could have avoided the speech bubbles, especially since they required a TM behind every name.

Long before DC's recent epic Forever Evil crossover, there was a small, three-part Forever Evil storyline in The New Titans. It focuses on Raven trying to spread the seed of Trigon to other metahumans. But Impulse isn't involved in this story, so I won't go into much detail. In fact, the only bit of Impulse we see here, is a scene we've already seen in Damage #8.

Troubled by what Psimon insinuated about his past, Damage has decided to leave the Titans for a while to figure out where he came from. Arsenal is dead-set against this idea, and a shouting match ensues. Damage then storms out the room, and Impulse tries to call Grant back. But he won't listen, and leaves anyway. So Arsenal asks Impulse to keep an eye on him, and let him know the Titans will help him once he's calmed down. Impulse says, "Hey, no problemo," and he takes off.


And that's the last we see of Bart this issue. The rest of the story gives some time to Donna Troy, Kyle Rayner and Roy Harper. But the most important development is that Raven captures Mirage at the end of the issue.

Impulse is going to sit out the next two issues of The New Titans, because he apparently will be too busy following Damage around in his book. This is rather unfortunate, since Impulse was a major character in The New Titans ever since he joined, having single-handedly saved the team several times. But this marks the beginning of the end of the New Titans. Marv Wolfman was rather unhappy to have characters like Impulse and Damage forced on him, and as soon as he could, he began telling stories that focused mainly on his characters, like Raven and Changeling. I understand and respect that artistic need, but I am sad Impulse won't be heavily involved in New Titans anymore.

The letters page opens with a note from Pat Garrahy that, for once, isn't negative at all. He merely informs us that Supergirl will be involved in the Forever Evil storyline.

Gary Halpin, of Co. Clare, Ireland, said he enjoyed issue #116 in part because Impulse wasn't as annoying as he usually is.

Charles Skaggs, of Columbus, Ohio, said he loved seeing Impulse's reaction to getting hurt. Charles said Impulse sees everything as a game and this particular "reality check" was long in coming. Charles ends his letter by saying Impulse is definitely one of the best things about this book.

Now for the ads.

A fallen angel rises ... Azrael. Dennis O'Neil, Barry Kitson, James Pascoe.

The end is near. Don't miss it. Final episode! Tales from the Crypt.

Next, Flash #99: Part 5 of the 6-part "Terminal Velocity." Targeted by laser fire, Flash must outrace the light speed beams to save Linda's life, knowing that doing so will cost him his humanity and cause him to vanish forever. And if the Fastest Man Alive is lost, there may be no one to stop Kobra from destroying Keystone City.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Deathstroke: The Hunted #45


Deathstroke the Hunted Part IV of IV The Road to Salvation ... First Goes through Hell!

Marv Wolfman Writer
Sergio Cariello Penciller
Will Blyberg Inker
John Costanza Letterer
Chris Matthys Colorist
Keri Kowalski Asst. Editor
Pat Garrahy Editor

The cover shows Deathstroke's sword being torn apart by green chains — a sure sign that Green Lantern is involved. It is a rather striking image, and a bit symbolic of Deathstroke's own capture in the issue. However, I am a little disappointed that this cover doesn't show off the big Titans crossover that happens inside.

I first encountered Deathstroke as the main villain of the Teen Titans cartoon. But for some reason, they refused to say Deathstroke on the show, only referring to him by his first name, Slade. In 1995, Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke the Terminator, was a full-on anti-hero, who was mysteriously immortal. And since he was being written by Marv Wolfman, Deathstroke and the New Titans had a handful of shared story lines. We saw how Crimelord assassinated a senator in The New Titans a few issues ago, and that story mostly played out in Deathstroke, where Slade was framed for the murder and then spent five issues being hunted by just about everyone. That brings us here, where the Titans have finally become involved, tasked with bringing Deathstroke to justice.

Deathstroke first battles Impulse, acknowledging that the kid has clue what he's doing or why, but Deathstroke is prepared to cripple him if needed. (Keep that idea in the back of your mind.) Impulse, meanwhile, is making fun of Deathstroke, calling him a joker and hawk eye, saying he's practically standing still and Deathstroke still can't hit him. But Impulse is so busy trying to come up with clever one-liners that he doesn't pay enough attention to where he's going, and Deathstroke takes him out by aiming ahead of the teen speedster.


Impulse is then knocked out for the entirety of the issue. Deathstroke next battles Darkstar before being surrounded by Arsenal, Damage, Mirage and Terra. Finally, Green Lantern arrives to chain up Deathstroke, and break his sword, putting an end to the fight. It's only then that Impulse recovers enough to stand there and watch Deathstroke get captured.

There's also a subplot involving Deathstroke's daughter, Rose Wilson. She apparently has been kidnapped by some villain named Ravager. Luckily, Rose's mom, Sweet-Lily, comes to save her, which she does, but she dies in the process. So Rose's only family left is now her fugitive father, who has just been taken into captivity.

Had I been reading Deathstroke, I probably would have been more shocked and amazed by the death of Sweet-Lili. And perhaps the capture of Deathstroke, too. But I have no emotional ties to the characters, and found it fitting that the Titans would be able to overwhelm Deathstroke here. I am sad the Impulse bit didn't last longer, but I was surprised to see Deathstroke consider crippling Impulse — something that will, in fact, happen in about 10 years.

The letter column, Deathstrokes, naturally does not mention Impulse, so let's move on to the new ads.

Prepare for the coming. Clive Barker's Lord of Illusions. Starring Scott Bakula, Kevin J. O'Connor and Famke Janssen before she became Jean Grey in the X-Men movies. There was also a contest associated with this movie to win a trip for two to Las Vegas.

Whodunnit? Lobo P.I. A two-fisted five-parter! Alan Grant, Val Semekis, John Dell.

Suffering, laughing, working. Killing. Dying. The ordinary people of Gotham City. And the Batman. Gotham Nights II. Ostrander, Mitchell, Giordano.

Lightning strikes ... monthly! Beginning in January. The Power of Shazam! Ordway, Krause, Manley.

Up next is The New Titans #119: Part 1 of the 3-part "Forever Evil": Raven has gathered her Brotherhood of Evil for the final battle with the Titans, and backed by the demonic power of the Children of Trigon, the team seems certain to fall before the threat of the evil ex-Titans.