Friday, September 12, 2014

The Flash #108

Dead Heat First Lap: Flatfooted

Mark Waid • Story
Oscar Jimenez • Pencils
Jose Marzan, Jr. • Inks
Gaspar • Letterer
Tom McCraw • Colorist
Alisande Morales • Asst. Editor
Brian Augustyn • Editor

We've got a pretty cool cover by Jimenez and Marzan. These are the same type of ninjas that terrorized Impulse and XS at the end of Impulse #9. It's nice to have the Flash back in a high-stakes adventure. And this cover portrays the intensity of a story called Dead Heat.

Our story begins one year ago, at the dark and scary castle we saw Max Mercury being held captive at. A group of creepy guys in blue robes perform a dark ritual and summon down a bolt of lightning, which kills one of them. Suddenly a large naked man with long hair appears and begins laughing maniacally.

Today, we see that Impulse and XS weren't the only speedsters who lost their powers. Jay Garrick drops a vase he thought he could catch — not a huge deal, but worrisome. Jesse Quick has a worse time, though. While out on a date, their car is hijacked. She speaks her speed formula — 3x2(9yz)4a — and chases after the thieves, but loses her speed mid-pursuit and is shot in the arm. But the most tragic example involves a couple of Russian speedsters I've never heard of before. Apparently they're running a high-end delivery service, and one of them decided to run a package up the side of a skyscraper. Halfway up, he lost his speed and fell to his death.

We then cut to Wally West enjoying a nice lunch with Linda Park at an outdoor cafe. They're having a good time until they bring up the topic of marriage. After a few awkward moments of silence, Wally is happy to suddenly be attacked by ninjas. But it turns out these ninjas also have super speed. After fighting for a bit, one of the ninjas gets away. Wally manages to knock one out, and is suddenly joined by Jay and Jesse.

Jay and Jesse tell Wally they lost their speed, and they believe that Wally has become so mainlined with the Speed Force that he has inadvertently stolen all the available energy. And to demonstrate how serious their predicament is, Jay shows Wally a remarkably up-to-date newspaper reporting the death of the Russian speedster.

We then cut to a quiet diner, where Iris West is meeting with Johnny Quick. Iris urges him to believe in the Speed Force, as someone's life is currently on the line. She hesitates to reveal any more information, saying only that all the speedsters are on the cusp of another major turning point. Johnny says he'll keep an eye out, but refuses to put the Speed Force above his formula. But as he tries to run away, he finds his formula has failed him for the first time.

Meanwhile, Wally's captive ninja has come to, opening up the possibility for interrogation. Wally takes the ninja to the top of a building and holds him over the edge by his ankle. The ninja reveals his master is Savitar, the lord of speed, who has "stripped the unworthy of their swiftness ... transferring it instead into Thunderbolts Agents." The ninja begins to gloat, saying Savitar will soon eliminate the "true students of speed." But suddenly, the ninja rapidly ages and his bones turns to dust in Wally's hands. Wally tells all this to the others, and that Bart Allen and Max Mercury are in danger, as well. Linda tries to call Max, but gets no response.

We then cut to a scene of Max before Impulse #9. Max is chained up and hanging upside down in the dark scary castle, being beaten by the large man we saw appear supernaturally in the beginning of this issue. The man, who can only be Savitar, accuses Max of spreading the speed and allowing others to join their little circle. Savitar says he wants to kill Max, but can't, since Max was the one who showed him "the face of God." So Savitar orders his ninjas to kill Max. And as we saw in Impulse #8, Max was able to free himself from the chains and defeat the ninjas.

Wally decides to use his new power of lending speed to others to take Linda, Jay and Jesse to Manchester to check on Bart and Max. Wally hopes Max can explain who Savitar is, and, more importantly, that Bart's secret identity has kept him safe. But it hasn't, as we end with the same image Impulse #9, with Impulse and XS surrounded by Savitar's ninjas.

The letters in Speed Reading are about The Flash #105, so we're lucky to have a few mentions of Impulse.

Chris Karnes, of Naperville, Ill., says the Impulse appearance was a nice surprise, and helped mirror the original Flash #105, which had Barry and Wally team up to fight the first Mirror Master. Chris also wants to see more interaction between Bart and Linda, believing that Bart's unnecessary use of powers would irritate her.

Chip Chandler, of Pampa, Texas, requests that Bart be used to usher in the Legion of Super-Heroes, which literally just happened with the introduction of XS.

Charles Skaggs, of Columbus, Ohio, says Impulse was a welcome sight, and he hopes Bart and Wally find a way to work out their differences.

Doud Ohmer, of Covington, Ky., says Bart needs to continue to show up in The Flash every once in a while. He also wants Wally to get along better with Bart, believing the two of them could be an unstoppable force.

Jason Perkins says he enjoyed the scenes of Impulse and Linda, and enjoys Mark Waid so much, he has decided to mow extra lawns to add Impulse to his pull list.

There are only two new ads here, and that's only if you count a different Mallrats ad. It's designed to look like a comic book cover, saying, "Supehero anatomy! Topless fortune telling! Bunny bashing! An more!"

Mad TV. It looks like a hypnotist, saying, "You will watch Mad TV!" over and over again.

Before we can continue to The Flash #109 for part two of Dead Heat, I'm going to wrap up the year of 1995 — Impulse's first full year in comics — with my Year in Review. I'll hand out awards for the best issue, writer, artist, supporting character and villain. It'll be a fun way to look back on how far this character has come.

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