Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Impulse #16

Running from the Past

Mark Waid Story
Humberto Ramos Pencils
Wayne Faucher Inks
Chris Eliopoulos Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
Outgoing associate and editor Ruben Diaz and Brian Augustyn welcome new kings of speed Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt and Paul Kupperberg
Impulse created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo

It is pretty sad to see the great editorial team leave, but it is wonderful to get back on track with Ramos drawing Impulse again. And we're treated to another solid cover by Ramos and Faucher, showing us that this will be a special Max Mercury issue. It's good for Impulse to take the back seat every now and then, especially when we're in Waid's competent hands.

Our story begins with a flashback. We see Max and Bart move into their Manchester house, and Bart is overly eager to unpack at super speed, but Max holds him back. Their moving boxes also had some labels — Humberto's Pencils, for one — and one called Bart's Cool Stuff. I'm not exactly what possessions Bart had with him, coming so soon after arriving from the 30th century, but that doesn't really matter. The flashback continues to show Max meeting Helen Claiborne, and Bart trying desperately to get the two dating, but Max continued to keep his distance. Until now.

We catch up with the end of Impulse #15, with Helen being abused by her ex-husband, Jim. Max slams Jim into the wall, shouting, "Take your hands off my daughter!" Bart and Helen are equally surprised by this, and Max, finding it difficult to explain, quickly runs away. Bart can't help himself from commenting on Max running faster than he's ever seen. He then realizes that he basically told Helen that Max is a superhero, and he tries to cover his tracks. But the more he says, the more he reveals, ultimately telling Helen that he, too, is a superhero.

We then get an extended flashback of Max back in 1947. While battling the evil Dr. Morlo, Max inhaled some mustard gas. He was taken to the house of Dr. David Claiborne, where he and his wife, Laura, watched after Max while he was in a nine-week coma. And even after Max wakes up, he's in such a bad shape, David has him stay in the house for a few more months until he's fully healed.

As time passes, Max begins to form a friendly relationship with Laura. He tells her about his time-traveling past, which means he has no friends or family. He points out how similar he is to Laura, who has no life outside the house and has a very distant husband. Max asks Laura if she loves David, and all she can say is, "He's my husband."

Back in 1996, Helen tells Bart that she has noticed a lot of odd behavior around him, but never gave it too much thought. Luckily, Bart is able to change the subject to Helen's abusive ex-husband. Helen insists she's fine, and says this has happened before, which is why she has a restraining order against Jim. The police arrive and take Jim away, while Helen, like Max, reflects on her past mistakes.

We return to 1948, where Max offers to take David fishing. But David, the only doctor in Manchester, says he's too busy. Max points out how often Laura is left alone while David is working, and David says Laura can handle it and that she knew what she was getting when she married him. Max asks David if he loves Laura, and all he can say is, "She's my wife."

Late one night, Max and Laura go up to the roof to gaze at the stars — the one constant in all his time-traveling. Laura tells Max she's longed wished for an escape from her loneliness. One thing leads to another, and Max and Laura make love. David walks in on them and weeps, saying, "She's my wife ..." Laura runs to David's side, and Max runs far, far away. He runs so fast, he jumps ahead to 1957.

The current-day Max is still running, still shedding bitter tears. Bart manages to catch up to him, having followed the scorched footprints — although he is a bit out of breath. Bart tells Max he let slip  the fact he and Max are superheroes, but he's willing to take responsibility. Max finally stops running and tells Bart he'll talk to Helen.

So Max sits down on a couch with Helen and tells her everything. He says when he finally got the nerve to look up Laura again, he found she had already died, but was survived by a daughter. So when the opportunity to relocate Bart came along, he chose Manchester in order to be closer to Helen. But Helen is quite upset that Max never said anything of this before, and even let her flirt with him. The distraught Helen tells Max she won't reveal his or Bart's secret identity, then she tells Max to leave.

But before he opens the door, Helen tells Max that he was the smile that occasionally appeared on her mom's face. David left Laura when Helen was very young, and Helen never remarried. She was often very sad, but every now and then would look at the stars and smile. Helen says she's glad to finally know the whole story. And this story ends with Max taking Helen outside to stargaze, while Bart watches from a distance.

Aaahh ... it's so nice to get back to the great team of Waid and Ramos. The emotion of this issue would have fallen flat in lesser hands. And it's so great to have the payoff on Max's mysterious background, which Waid has been teasing to pretty much the whole series. But, as wonderful as it was to have the focus on Max, I do have to say that I do not approve of his actions here. Under no circumstances is it appropriate to sleep with another man's wife. And running away/avoiding this problem for a lifetime, with or without time travel, is not good, either. But I applaud Mark Waid for giving us a flawed character. Max became more human with this issue, and more interesting.

Our first letter is a goodbye from Brian Augustyn, titled, "Family man loses mind — quits secure job." He basically says he's stepping down as a DC editor after eight years so he can spend more time with his two daughters. But he doesn't entirely say goodbye from DC, as he transitions into a freelance writer role, with one of his jobs co-writing The Flash with Mark Waid. I will miss Augustyn's great responses to letters, but I am looking forward to his run on The Flash.

Randall Kirby, of Ontario, Ore., simply says Impulse #12 was one of the best comics he's read in a while and he bought three issues of it.

Eric Gapstur, of Belle Plane, Iowa, said he used to be a Marvel fan until they started changing Spider-Man and Wolverine too much. So he picked up a copy of Impulse #8, and has since switched his allegiance to DC.

Adam Austen, of London, liked everything about issue #12, and wept at the departure of Jenni Ognats. He says the only bad thing about Impulse is that he has to wait 30 days for the next issue.

Melani Nazelrod, of Riverton, N.J., identifies herself as a 15-year-old girl. She calls Mark Waid an inspiration and Humberto Ramos the best and most original artist in the comic book industry. She begs for an Impulse cartoon, asks for Bart to visit Jenni in the future, and requests a Max Mercury miniseries.

Jason Domingo, of Montreal, identifies himself as a 13-year-old boy, and he says Impulse is one of the best things to have happened to his comics collection in a long time. The first thing that attracted him was Ramos' manga-style pencils, but he was also excited to see Waid writing it, since he creates realistic teenager situations. Jason expresses concern that Ramos will be pulled away from Impulse by Marvel (which is essentially what happened). Jason also asks if the character named Mercury in JLX #1 is the Amalgam version of Impulse. Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt confirms this, and I hate to admit this, but I've never heard about this. None of the comic book databases included this version of Impulse in my searches, but now as I look at the cover of this Justice League X-Men book, I see what is clearly Impulse, only with silver hair. So I apologize for the gap in my efforts to review every Bart Allen appearance in chronological order. I will acquire and review the two issues this Mercury (Pietro Allen) appears in as soon as possible. Now for the ads:

They told her to get a life. They didn't say whose. Supergirl by Peter David, Gary Frank, Cam Smith.

The world's greatest heroes. Only in their dreams! Justice League: A Midsummer's Nightmare by Mark Waid, Fabian Nicieza, Jeff Johnson, Darick Robertson, Jon Holdredge, Hanibal Rodriguez.

Gotham barely survived Contagion. Can the world bear its Legacy? Detective Comics #700 by Chuck Dixon, Graham Nolan, Scott Hanna.

A rather odd ad explaining the recently announced DC line of science fiction titles now has to be called Helix, probably for legal reasons. I don't know and I don't care.

Legends of the Dead Earth. Azrael Annual #2 and Superboy Annual #3.

The Phantom trading cards. Disappearing from shelves everywhere this summer.

Next time ... well, depending on how long it takes for JLX #1 to arrive, it could be that DC/Marvel team-up, or it could be Impulse #17.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Impulse Annual #1

Speed Force!

Steve Vance Writer
Mike Parobeck Penciller
John Nyberg Inker
Chris Eliopoulos Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
Alisande Morales Assistant Editor
Brian Augustyn Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo

Our cover is by Humberto Ramos and Wayne Faucher. Our Impulse, Bart Allen, is in blue in the top left corner, almost like a guiding spirit to the new Impulse, Trace Wyndham. Unfortunately, Trace has blond hair inside the issue, and the aliens in the bottom right corner also look a bit different and wear clothes. I guess this is what happens when you have a different art team for the cover.

Our story begins with a one-page explanation: Earth is dead. Those who once might have called it home are long scattered to the endless stars. But in that scattering, on a thousand different worlds, by a thousand different ways ... Earth's greatest legends live on.

We open on the planet Mtoncanf, where the restless Trace Wyndham is eager to board a starship and explore the cosmos. But the ruling Dargonian Empire won't let him leave. So Trace rushes past a guard and wreaks havoc in a restricted area. After causing a rather small mess, he's able to escape the aliens, only to be caught by an aging man with red hair and a white robe.

The man introduces himself as Kinnock and reveals he has super speed by zipping Trace over to his secret school miles away. He introduces Trace to his class, a bunch of teenagers with names like Zephyr, Glide, Spark, Fusion and Wisp. They're all practicing martial arts and tell Trace they've joined Kinnock in his fight against the Dragonians. But they don't fight the alien overlords directly, realizing the empire is far too mighty to defeat head-on. Instead, they focus their efforts on making Mtoncanf as inhospitable as possible for the Dragonians by sabotaging with their computers, putting sand in their food and flooding their quarters with insects. The idea is that eventually, the Dragonians will feel like Mtoncanf isn't worth the trouble and will leave. But to Trace's astonishment, Kinnock says he's been practicing his invisible resistance for four years.

Kinnock takes Trace into a secret room and shows him a gold life pod. Kinnock says Trace's parents placed him in it as a baby when their spaceship encountered an emergency and was about to explode. Trace spent years in the pod's stasis tube, growing up in its virtual reality program. Eventually, Trace's pod was picked up by a Dragonian ship headed to Mtoncanf. The aliens didn't care about the boy inside, but Kinnock kept tabs on him and brought him to his school as soon as he could.

Trace initially has a hard time accepting this story, and he tries to leave. But Kinnock prevents him, saying the Dragonians are quite riled up at the moment and would be sure to punish Trace if they saw him again. So Trace reluctantly agrees to stay with Kinnock and help with his invisible resistance, on the condition that Kinnock help him get off the planet.

So Trace begins life at the school, helping out with the gardening and cleaning, feeling all the while like he's a prisoner. Later, Trace complains about not doing any fighting in a month, but Kinnock points out he's only been there two days. Kinnock then teaches Trace how to meditate and tap into the Speed Force. It only takes Trace a minute, and as soon as he does, he runs a couple of miles in half a second. Trace is very excited to learn all about the Speed Force from Kinnock, who decides it's time to give Trace a new name. Trace suggests Flash, but Kinnock settles on Impulse.

Kinnock teaches Impulse how to vibrate through objects and tells him that he has a one-in-a-billion genetic structure that is naturally in tune with the Speed Force, which is why none of the other kids have super speed. Impulse says it's a great coincide they crossed paths, but Kinnock says it was no coincidence at all. Later that night, Kinnock prepares the teenagers for a new mission: to sabotage the Dragonians' water supply to make it taste like it was poisoned, but not to actually poison it. Impulse randomly shows up in a new outfit that I guess he made himself.

Impulse rushes over to the Dragonians' quarters to sabotage the water, but he quickly gets bored and begins exploring. Unfortunately, he's spotted by the aliens, who begin firing at him. Naturally, they all miss and inadvertently damage the power core. Kinnock quickly arrives and tells Impulse they need to pull everybody out of the building before it explodes, which they do. However, the explosion attracted the attention of all the local humans, who are quick to praise Kinnock and his crew for standing up to the Dragonians. Kinnock is unhappy with this, but Impulse sides with the people and vows to take the fight to the Dragonians directly.

So Impulse spends the next two days taking down Dragonian installations, until the aliens send in a squad of shock troopers to quell the rebellion. The troopers have no chance of hitting Impulse, but they do blast one of his friends, which serves as a wake up call for the young hero. While Kinnock treats the kid's wounds, Impulse asks him why he's stayed on this crummy planet. Kinnock says he used to travel from planet to planet, chasing bank robbers and saving kids from falling trees. But he gradually grew overwhelmed and decided to focus his efforts on one planet.

Early the next day, Kinnock awakens all the kids to tell them they're surrounded by shock troopers and now is the time to fight for their lives. So they engage in a big fight, but all the non-speedsters are quickly taken down. Kinnock begins taking the injured away to safety, while Impulse tries to hold off the entire army alone. But eventually, Impulse is overwhelmed and surrounded by dozens of missiles. There's a big explosion, and the shock troopers report to the Dragonians there are no survivors.

But don't worry, Impulse and all his buddies are still alive. Kinnock took them all underground and popped up to save Impulse at the last second. Kinnock leads them all into the mountains to rebuild their school and begin again their invisible resistance. Impulse vows to be more patient this time, and begins planning to make the Dragonians' armor itchy.

Ugh. This is why I hate annuals. I follow Impulse because I love Bart Allen, Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos. And here is an "Impulse"story without any of those people. And it costs more than regular, and has lower quality writing and artwork. And everything about this issue felt completely pointless! OK ... so here's an alternate version of Impulse in the future ... and he learns to ... not fight? Seriously, what was up with that ending? Let's happily retreat to the mountains and plan to create minor inconveniences for this "evil" alien empire, which only became antagonistic when all their buildings were being destroyed. What a complete and utter waste of a story.

There weren't any letters to the editor in this issue, so let's head straight into the few new ads.

Speed Reading! Flash: The Return of Barry Allen trade paperback. Wally thought his mentor was just about perfect ... until he came back from the dead. By Mark Waid, Greg LaRocque, and Roy Richardson. Cover by Brian Bolland. Waid originally considered introducing Bart Allen in this story, but later decided to make Bart the lovable teenager Impulse instead of an evil adult.

Experience the new DC Comics Online. One of the featured live chats involved Mark Waid, presumably to talk mostly about Kingdom Come.

Aztek: The Ultimate Man. By Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, N. Steven Harris, and Keith Champagne.

Batman/Demon and Batman: GCPD on the same page.

Legends of the Dead Earth. Detective Comics Annual #9 by Chuck Dixon, Flint Henry, and James Hodgkins.

Next time, we get back on track with Impulse #16.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Ray #25

Time and Tempest Book 1: The Pendulum

Christopher Priest – Script
Jason Armstrong – Penciller
Drew Geraci – Inker
Kevin Cunningham – Letterer
James Sinclair – Colorist
Alisande Morales – Asst. Editor
Brian Augustyn – Editor

The cover by Armstrong and Geraci shows the Ray battling the Flash. But that's not Wally West — that's our lovable Bart Allen all grown up in the far future of 2016. And Ray is all grown up, too. He's a very powerful manipulator of light we've seen briefly in Justice League Task Force. He was also one of DC's most popular teenage heroes of 1996, and several letter writers requested an Impulse-Ray team-up. And here it is ... as adults.

Our story begins in the country of Bhranka with Flash and Triumph, another old member of Justice League Task Force who's main superpower is his enormous wealth. The two heroes are in the war-torn area to try to prevent Ray from interfering in the political affairs.

The fight with Ray gets off to a bad start. Triumph tries to blast him with his power suit, but Ray reflects the energy blast right into a helicopter. Flash catches all the falling soldiers, and he gets a bloody nose from squinting so hard due to Ray's brightness. Triumph then places Ray in an electromagnetic field, but he quickly bursts free and lashes out with a stream of deadly light beams. Even though Ray is faster than Flash, he can react at super speed like Flash can. And Flash takes advantage of this by using a mirror to reflect all these light beams right back at Ray. This provides a big enough jolt to get Ray to stop fighting and start talking.

But Triumph gets in one cheap shot before the discussion can begin. So Ray sucks up all the light in the area, making it pitch black until Flash tells him to stop. When Ray brings back the light, he bathes Triumph in blue light, which freezes him on the spot. Flash defrosts Triumph and then they finally begin to talk. Ray admits he was mainly involved in the war to protect his investment in the silicon chips produced in the country. And Triumph reveals he was only involved because he wanted Ray's computer chip factory to be destroyed so he could corner the market with his own company. Bart is disgusted by how self-serving the heroes are acting, and he leaves them to dig out casualties and help restore some order to the war-torn nation.

Later that night, Bart joins Ray and his girlfriend, Gaelon, in their apartment to watch the Philadelphia 76ers play the Detroit Pistons. Ray, however, is too busy making business deals on the phone to socialize, so Bart talks to Gaelon about how big a jerk Ray is. Bart wonders why he keeps hanging out with him and Triumph, speculating it's only because the three of them are rich superheroes. Gaelon points out that Ray wants to hang out with Bart because Bart reminds him of something he lost years ago, and if it weren't for Bart's influence, Ray would be an even bigger creep today.

After the game ends, the news shows a couple of people — a teenage boy and a young woman — sitting on the ledge of a skyscraper, apparently ready to commit suicide. The boy happens to look a lot like Ray, which causes Gaelon to tense up and quickly excuse herself from the party. We then see a quick flashback of a younger Gaelon meeting the teenage Ray, who asked a favor from her. Gaelon then throws on her police uniform to make good on her promise to the time-traveling Ray. As soon as Gaelon leaves, Bart chews Ray out for treating Gaelon so poorly. Ray calls Bart a wimp and Bart punches him. Bart then admits he's in love with Gaelon, and he throws on his Flash outfit to find Gaelon and tell her himself.

Gaelon then meets up with the Ray and Black Canary from 20 years in the past. Gaelon protects them from the police and news cameras, claiming to take them to a hospital, but actually taking them to Mount Rushmore. She gives the teenaged Ray the message a slightly older version of Ray left her long ago, which contains directions to help the younger Ray get back to 1995.

The old, jerky Ray of 2016, meanwhile, is using his powers to intimidate a corrupt businessman into merging his business with Ray's. Gaelon then meets up with him and chews him out for falling so far from the great hero he was back in 1995. She said she always hoped the funny, sweet teenager was still inside Ray, but now she realizes he's gone. So she finally breaks up with Ray and tearfully runs right into Bart's arms. Bart tries to comfort her, but he moves too quickly, and kisses her. Gaelon wasn't ready for that, and walks away from Bart, leaving him feeling like an idiot.

Bart takes out his frustrations on Ray, knocking him out while he was distracted on the phone. The emotionally distraught Bart leaves the door open, not realizing he's created the perfect opportunity for Ray's business rivals to exact their revenge. Gaelon, meanwhile, meets up with Triumph to discuss the possibility of time travel. She believes she can go back to when Ray was a teenager and prevent him from becoming the big jerk he is now. Triumph is uncertain about this, so he calls over Bart, who is steadfastly against the idea. But their conversation is interrupted by an alarm going off at Ray's apartment.

While conscious, Ray is one of the most powerful men on the planet, able to convert his body into light and phase through objects. But since Bart knocked him unconscious, Ray was just an ordinary man, and was killed by an ordinary bullet. Gaelon weeps at the death of Ray, and demands even more fiercely for Triumph and Bart to help her travel back in time. Bart hesitates, but after Gaelon calls him a coward, he finally relents. So Triumph puts together a space pod for Gaelon, which Bart runs around the world a bunch of times at the speed of light, finally launching it into space. Theoretically, it should do a few laps around the sun before returning to Earth in 1995. As Bart watches Gaelon fly away to an uncertain fate, he weeps at having lost his best friend.

So this was a rather odd, yet interesting look at a potential future for Bart Allen. I suppose it was always a given that Bart would eventually grow up to become the Flash, but I find it interesting that it was The Ray that gave us the first look at this possibility. And even though this is The Ray, this particular issue felt more like Bart's issue. He's the narrator of the story and get more screen time than Ray. In his internal monologue, Bart often asked himself what Max would say about the state of things, which I liked. I also found it interesting that the adult Bart would have a reputation for being timid, indecisive and even cowardly — basically the opposite of his teenaged, impulsive self. And the good thing here is, we will get one more final glimpse of this version of Bart in The Ray #27.

There are only two letters to the editor in this issue, and neither of them mention Impulse. There is a note from Alisande Morales explaining that Brian Augustyn is quitting as an editor, and she will leave The Ray with him. However, she will continue on as an assistant editor at DC, just on different titles. Now on to the new ads.

Legends of the Dead Earth. Earth is dead. But on a thousand worlds, in a thousand ways, Earth's greatest heroes live on. Impulse Annual #1 by Steve Vance, Mike Parobeck, and John Nyberg. I will cover this issue next time.

The 21st century is here. Matrix by DC Comics.

From the first laugh to final insanity. Batman: Dark Legends.

Watch This Space again has nothing relevant to Impulse, but it did mention an effort by DC to help raise awareness about leftover land mines in Bosnia.

Among a million shadow realms lies the one true world. Its throne is his to claim ... if he can reach it alive. Nine princes in Amber.

Next time, we'll continue our trend of alternate futures with Impulse Annual #1. Bart Allen won't be there, but we'll see a new kid try to live up to the name of Impulse.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Impulse #15


Mark Waid – Story
Anthony Williams – Guest 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

This is our second straight issue without Humberto Ramos, which is nice for Anthony Williams, who was able to complete this two-part story. And nice for us, Ramos and Faucher still did the cover, which shows Lord Manny the First being struck by lightning with his trusted goon, Blotto, on the right, and our lovable Impulse on the left. Unfortunately, Blotto's hair is blond when it's supposed to be red. And note how the crucifix called the Eye of God is whited out — kinda by the lightning. I wonder if a Comics Code Authority rule prevented DC from depicting a cross on the cover, since last issue also conspicuously kept the cross off the cover.

Our story begins with Blotto using a pay phone to inform Lord Manny that he and Trickster were unsuccessful in their quest to steal the Eye of God. Blotto, who isn't known for his brains, suspects White Lightning stole the artifact. But then he tells Lord Manny that Trickster has vamoosed, leading Manny to believe Trickster has the Eye of God. The "religious" gangster says, "Nobody double-crosses a man o' th' cross ... over a cross." And he packs a gun to head to Manchester himself. But somehow, Trickster was able to quickly head back to wherever Lord Manny is to eavesdrop on this conversation.

We then check in with Bart, who is visiting the Bucklen household to pick up Carol on the way to school. Even though their toaster has been broken for some time, the family insists on continuing to use it, because, dang it, the Bucklens need their toast! Carol is very worried about the missing Eye of God, but Bobby assures her the family won't get broken up over this, even if he's fired. Bobby then runs to work, but leaves behind his briefcase and his book on scare tactics. Bart then tries to take a distracted Carol to school, but suddenly the Trickster arrives, claiming to be the toaster repairman.

Bart knows toaster repairmen don't make house calls, and he begins to suspect this guy is a rat. Trickster claims he has just the part to fix the toaster in his truck, and he heads off, grabbing Bobby's suitcase. Bart gives up on trying to encourage the zoned-out Carol, and he tells her to stay home while he follows the "toaster repairman."

Trickster starts to run away with the briefcase, but is soon smacked in the face by Impulse with a rather small speed limit sign. But Trickster is quick on his feet and picks up Impulse in a big embrace. Impulse says, "You're confusing me. That's always dangerous." Trickster then introduces himself as a good guy, and explains that he was only taking the Eye of God back to its rightful owners. He says he set everything up to make it look like White Lightning stole the artifact, while he snuck it into Bobby's case. But when Trickster opens the briefcase to prove his story, it turns out to be empty.

We then see that Carol has the cross. She found it in Bobby's case and believes he stole it in a pitiful attempt to get some money for the family. To sort through her emotions, Carol has climbed to the top of a statue. She tearfully decides to stop believing in her brother and put her faith in the legends of the  Eye of God protecting its holder from the evils of the world.

We quickly return to Trickster and Impulse, who are suddenly being fired on by Blotto with a rocket launcher. Impulse is able to pull Trickster to safety, and makes to take after Blotto, but Trickster holds him back. He explains that Blotto is merely working for Lord Manny, and if Impulse stops Blotto, then Manny will just keep sending men after him until he gets the cross. Impulse tells Trickster he thinks he knows who has the cross, but first he asks Trickster to help Bobby Bucklen keep his job. Trickster agrees, and shows Impulse Weather Wizard's old wand, and together they form a plan.

Bart then finds Carol with the Eye of God at the top of the statue, saying he ran all over town looking for her, figuring she wanted to be somewhere quiet. Carol tells Bart that Bobby stole the cross, and she begs Bart not tell anyone because the police will then put her and her sister in foster homes. Bart suggests that Bobby didn't steal the cross, but he can't figure out a way to say how he knows this without exposing his secret identity.

Carol then becomes hysterical, claiming she won't leave the tower since the Eye of God will keep her safe. After crying for a bit, Carol asks Bart to tell her what to believe in. Bart says he can't, and shares Max's words about faith being an individual decision. Bart then offers Carol a choice: Trust her brother or a piece of metal. After a brief, emotional moment, Carol hands over the cross and Bart comforts her.

We then see Bobby walking into work, fully expecting to be fired. But the Trickster, disguised as a custodian, pulls him aside and says he has a job for him. That night, Trickster presents the Eye of God to Lord Manny the First outside of town. But as soon as Lord Manny takes the cross, Trickster surreptitiously summons a bolt of lightning with Weather Wizard's wand, while Impulse zooms by to create a gust of wind. They keep doing this for a while, re-creating the scene from the cover, until Lord Manny believes the artifact is cursed. He desperately hands it off to a figure he believes to be Trickster, but is actually Bobby, who has brought the police with him.

As Manny and Blotto are arrested, Trickster explains to Impulse that it was necessary to lead the gangster to lead him to believe the cross was cursed so he won't keep sending goons after him. Impulse asks how White Lightning fits into this, but Trickster brushes him off. However, we see that one of the police officers was actually White Lightning in disguise, and in prime position to take the Eye of God.

We then cut to Peru, where the cross is returned to a small chapel by ... none other than White Lightning. She returns to Trickster hiding on a hill, who thanks her for returning the cross for him since he was the one who stole it in the first place and didn't want to risk being recognized.

Back at the Bucklen household, Bobby unveils a brand new toaster, while Carol reads about the adventure in the newspaper. Bobby explains that the university's board of directors enjoyed the press so much, they ordered Dean Simon to lay off on Bobby, granting him some impressive job security. Carol then gives her big brother a big hug, while Bart eats all their toast.

Max picks up Bart, telling him he's going to be helping Helen with her gardening. Bart teases Max for loving Helen and asks him why they aren't officially going out yet. Max says that's his business and he doesn't feel like explaining himself. When they arrive at Helen's house, they find the door kicked in and Helen being beaten by her ex-husband, a big, beefy man named Jim. Bart pulls Helen to safety, and Max shoves Jim into the wall, shouting, "Take your hands off my daughter!"

What an ending! And what an issue as a whole. It was very emotional, yet still fun and exciting. However, I really, really wish someone like Humberto Ramos or even Salvador Larroca drew this issue. Because the facial expressions were lacking here. Anthony Williams did a fairly good job — I liked a couple of scenes, especially the Impulse reflection in the toaster — but this issue could have been so much better. Anyway, it was pretty fun to see that Trickster really, truly has become a good guy. And it was surprising to see that White Lightning may have some redeeming qualities. But the best part of the issue, even better than the shocking ending, was seeing Bart be the hero without putting on his Impulse costume. The conversation he had with Carol was more important than anything he did as Impulse in this issue.

Tony Seybert, of Los Angeles, says Impulse is easily the most fun comic on the stands. He loves Ramos' art with the big eyes, big hair and big feet, and he praises Mark Waid for deftly handling Bart's somewhat convoluted origin story. Tony also wishes for XS to return to Impulse.

Chris Coleman, of Bolivar, Tenn., says he often falls out of his chair laughing at Impulse, and he loved the touching ending of Impulse #12. He praises the book for its writing and art, and rather randomly (admittedly) requests for Bart to take up ice hockey.

Victor Mosconi, of Los Alamitos, Calif., loved seeing Bart and Jenni get along and hopes she comes back to visit soon. He's interested in finding out more about Max and Helen, and he suggests the letter column be titled Impulsive Thoughts.

Eric N. Bennett, of Harrisburg, Penn., requests a new New Teen Titans book starring Impulse, Robin, Superboy, The Ray, Damage, Anima, Captain Marvel Jr., Wyldheart and Terra. He also requests for Impulse to visit the Legion of Super-Heroes and hopes that Humberto Ramos doesn't begin working at Marvel full-time. Funny Eric should say that, since that is exactly what Ramos is doing right now (as of 2014). Well, let's take a look at these ads.

Slam evil! The Phantom. Starring Billy Zane. I saw this movie when it came out, and I think I was too young for it, because it really scared me. I haven't returned to it since, but I'd imagine it would be rather cheesy now.

Like fathers ... like sons ... like hell! Hard-Traveling Heroes: The Next Generation in Green Lantern and Green Arrow.

Elsewhere in the DC Universe ... Martian Manhunter Special #1 and Arsenal Special #1.

Legends of the Dead Earth. Batman Annual #20.

Little men. Big ideas. Tough luck. The Big Book of Little Criminals.

Watch This Space talks about AIDS Walk NY and some Batman news, but nothing directly influencing Impulse.

It's a jungle out there. Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls on Pay-Per-View.

Free Adventures of Batman & Robin trading cards in boxes of Eskimo Pies and Welch's Fruit Juice Bars.

Next time, we'll catch our first glimpse of an adult Bart Allen in The Ray #25.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Impulse #14


Mark Waid – Writer
Anthony Williams Guest Penciller
Wayne Faucher – Inks
Chris Eliopoulos – Letterer
Tom McCraw – Colorist
Alisande Morales – Assistant Ed.
Brian Augustyn – Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo

Over the past year, Humberto Ramos went from an unknown artist from Mexico City to a rather popular and in-demand staple of the comics community. This opened up more opportunities for him to take on projects at Marvel and Image, but unfortunately that took him away from Impulse from time to time. This is one of those times. However, he still kept drawing the covers, which have maintained a standard of excellence since issue #7. This cover shows Impulse holding a sacred artifact. Behind him is a classic Flash villain, Trickster, a big brute named Blotto, and the now classic Impulse villain, White Lightning.

Our story begins with the Trickster, James Jesse, being strong-armed Blotto, who works for Lord Manny the First. Apparently Lord Manny was a former enforcer for Handsome Jack's gang, but an explosion killed the entire gang, leaving him as the sole survivor. And now he claims to have turned to religion, just as the Trickster did after Underworld Unleashed. Lord Manny has the brutish Blotto and another unnamed henchman force Trickster to steal a gold crucifix for him known as the Eye of God, which is believed to protect its bearer from the evils of the world. Naturally, the Eye of God is on loan in a college library in Manchester, Alabama. And White Lightning and her mother also happen to heading to Manchester.

We then check in with Bart and Max on a slow Sunday morning. Max tosses a jigsaw puzzle in the air, which Bart quickly assembles without realize there was front side with a picture on it. Max then tries the same thing with a model ship, but Bart doesn't go for it. Bart imagines blowing up a Max action figure with a firecracker, and he asks him why Preston and Carol aren't home on Sundays. Max says it's probably because they're at church, and when Bart reveals his ignorance of churches and religion, Max takes the teen on a run to discuss the concept of faith.

Max says it would be a good idea for Bart to go to church to help him "fit in as normal folk" but first, he must be exposed to the idea of a higher power. Bart suggests Overlord Rogan of Garguax Patrol, but Max explains he's talking about finding faith in a divine force, not playing a video game. So Bart asks Max to tell him what to believe in, but Max shocks him by saying it doesn't work that way. Bart suspects Max is trying to trick him, and he gets a little cynical, questioning whether there even is a god. Max explains that Bart has to decide for himself where to place his faith, whatever he believes oversees the right and wrong in the universe. Bart asks if Max is talking about the Speed Force, but Max says he believes there's something above that, and he wants Bart to think long and hard about his convictions.

We then get our first look at the home life of Carol Bucklen. Apparently her parents were killed in a car crash, perhaps recently, leaving her with her younger sister, Casey, and her older brother, Bobby, who provides for the family by working at the college library. Times are tough for the Bucklens, who can't even afford a new toaster that doesn't burn all their toast. And Bobby's boss, Dean Simon, has him working late again on account of the Eye of God exhibit. Carol actually uses some foul language cussing out Bobby's boss, and she doesn't notice a worried Bart picking her up on the way to school.

Trickster then arrives in Manchester, with Blotto by his side since Lord Manny doesn't trust him. Trickster tells Blotto about his role in Underworld Unleashed, and we see a quick flashback of Flash, Green Lantern, Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman fighting Neron. Apparently Trickster tricked the demon himself, and he's so scared of facing Neron's retaliation, James has decided to do everything he can to ensure an entry to heaven after he dies. Trickster then stays at a fancy hotel for free, convincing the management that he's Mr. Lechter Hannibal, secretary to the prime minister of England. Trickster then pretends to give the bellhop a $50 tip, but only gives him $1.

That night, which happens to be a dark and stormy night, the Trickster disguises himself as Father Gutierrez of the Chevand Order from Peru. He claims the Eye of God was stolen from his monastery, and he asks the overwhelmed Bobby Bucklen to return it. Meanwhile, Bart and Carol are checking out the artifact, and Carol says she wishes she could have it so bad things wouldn't keep happening to her. Dean Simon is furious when he learns Bobby brought in a stolen object, and he threatens to fire him. Bobby begs to keep his job, since losing it would cause the state to place his sisters in foster care.

The police then arrive at the library, explaining they got a tip from the Internet that White Lightning plans to steal the Eye of God. So Bart quickly disappears and reappears as Impulse to offer his help. Trickster then delivers a religious warning, saying the Eye must be returned to him or the ghost of Castillan will torment the unworthy. Right on cue, Blotto appears in the window wearing a white sheet and a small conquistador helmet. The only person who actually thinks he's a ghost is Impulse, who runs outside to battle the "spirt." White Lightning then makes her entrance distracting the police from Trickster, who pulls out one of Weather Wizard's old wands to ramp up the storm.

Bart quickly finds the "ghost" and creates a whirlwind to lift Blotto up into the air. Impulse notes how heavy he is and asks if he was fed Twinkies in the spirit world. Trickster then summons a lightning bolt, which knocks out the lightning's power. When Impulse notices this, he leaves the ghost, saying, "Later, Casper." Impulse rushes inside the darkened building to catch White Lightning, but Carol grabs his wrist, asking if he's Bart. Bart quickly takes off his costume and says, "It is now." Carol asks him why he ran off like that, but before he can answer, they notice the Eye of God and White Lightning are missing.

This wasn't a bad issue. It's always tough bringing in a guest penciller, but Anthony Williams did a fairly decent job. Having Impulse meet a classic Flash villain is great, as is the return of Impulse's first original villain, White Lightning. But the best part of this issue was the expansion of Carol's character. It is pretty sad that Bart's two best friends, Carol and Preston, both have pretty rough lives, but that's pretty much par for the comic book world. But it is nice that there's more to Carol than just a girl lecturing Bart for trying to be popular.

Michael Foschini, of Treviso, Italy, praises Mark Waid's and Humberto Ramos' portrayal of older people such as Johnny Quick and Max Mercury. He also compliments inker Wayne Faucher, saying other inkers don't do Ramos' pencils justice.

Doud Ohmer, of Covington, Ky., thanks the creators for keeping Jesse Quick alive and hopes they find ways to bring back Johnny and Christina, as well as give XS more to do.

Tory Favro, of Grovedale, Australia, is very happy with the respectful way Johnny Quick's death was handled, and was glad he wasn't killed by some random ninjas. Tory asks to learn more about the Speed Force and wishes that Johnny was included on the cover of Impulse #11.

Todd Maxwell, of Los Angeles, says he knew all along Johnny Quick was the only speedster who could have been killed in Dead Heat, but he does admit he didn't realize how much he liked this "unimportant character" until he was gone.

Aaron Cullers, of Miamisburg, Ohio, felt that Mark Waid made a last-ditch effort to make Johnny Quick important before killing him. He asks whether Savitar noticed Johnny joining the Speed Force, and he complains about the senseless death of Christina. Editor Brian Augustyn explains that Savitar might have felt Johnny joining the Speed Force, but he was too busy at the time to do anything about it. Brian also points out that Christina's body was never found, meaning she could come back some day.

James Hanifen, of Gibbs, Nev., asks if Max was searching for Savitar during his meditation in Impulse #5. Brian confirms this was the case. Now for the ads:

Darkseid failed. The Joker flopped. Neron fizzled. Sergio Aragonés Destroys DC.

A lost city. A man of destiny. A test of honor. The Quest: Go the Distance. Starring and directed by Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? Story by Barry Liebmann. Pictures by S.M. Taggart.

To hell and back! Artemis Requiem. By Loebs, Benes and Selogy.

Watch This Space really doesn't have any pertinent information for Impulse. It does talk a little about Sovereign Seven, but doesn't offer any new information.

Legends of the Dead Earth. Earth is dead. But on a thousand worlds, in a thousand ways, Earth's greatest heroes live on. Supergirl Annual #1, Robin Annual #5 and Green Lantern Annual #5.

Oh, my sod it's ... Earthworm Jim worming his way onto videocassette!

Next time, part two of the "Eye of God" saga. Bart finds himself tracking a robbery, participating in a sting, standing by a friend in her darkest hour and wondering about the toaster repair man. Join Mark, guest penciller Anthony, Wayne, Chris, Tom and Brian in Impulse #15.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Impulse #13

Water Rat

Mark Waid – Writer
Humberto Ramos – Pencils
Wayne Faucher – Inks
Chris Eliopoulos – Letters
Tom McCraw – Colors
Alisande Morales – Assistant Editor
Ruben Diaz – Associate Editor
Brian Augustyn – Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo

The cover by Ramos and Faucher shows Impulse saving the chubby black kid we've only known as "Tubby" at this point. It's another striking cover with bold colors, and it gets extra points from me since it portrays a scene that actually happens inside.

This issue was delayed a month as Ramos recuperated from the big Dead Heat crossover. I always hate having my comics delayed, but I am happy to see Ramos' art here instead of a guest artist's. And one fun side effect of the delay puts Impulse #13 and Flash #113 in the same month. And that "plus 100" symmetry will follow the two titles for quite some time.

Our story begins with Bart Allen's popularity soaring to new heights at Manchester Junior High. Not only has he established himself as a reckless daredevil and the kid who beat the entire school in a fight, but now he's added rock star to the list. One boy, in particular, takes notice to this recent development and begins following Bart around. This is the chubby black kid from the cover, and his name is Roland. He's derisively called Water Rat by some kids, who routinely tease him by saying he causes earthquakes and sucks other people into his gravitational pull. So someone like Roland would naturally want to be a little more like Bart.

Bart eventually notices Roland following him, and when confronted, all Roland can say is, "How do you do it?" Bart, who's rather annoyed at being so popular, has no idea what Roland's talking about. He's then approached by a couple of skateboarders who want him to attempt a dangerous chicken run — skateboarding down the side of a cliff and across the busy Highway 45. Bart declines, but then he begins to worry about Roland. Carol mistakingly believes Bart is reconsidering the stunt, and she begins to give him another stern lecture. Carol then gives Bart a heart attack by saying, "I know who you really are, Bart Allen."

Luckily, she was only talking about his tendency to show off, and not his secret identity as Impulse. Carol then confuses Bart with some colloquialisms about swimming with big fish and getting too big for his britches. Bart says he can't swim, and he even wonders which language Carol is speaking. Max tries to explains Carol's concerns to Bart and he encourages him to keep an eye on Roland.

Sure enough, Max was right. Roland attempts to skate across the highway that night, and almost gets hit by a big semi-truck, just like on the cover. Luckily, Impulse was able to save him so quickly that nobody even saw the speedster. The skateboarders start to proclaim Roland cooler than Bart, who gets excited at the prospect of taking a vacation from being Mr. Popular. But then the "cool" kids begin challenging Roland to more dangerous stunts.

First on the list is a visit to Old Man Johnson's. Apparently the old man's son was a big-time football star, so he erected a statue of his son in front of his house. The skateboarders want Roland to take the football off the statue, but he figures out the hard way that it's attached to the statue. Old Man Johnson then spots Roland and sends his dogs after him. Luckily, Impulse is able to save the day by turning on the sprinklers. The dogs and Old Man Johnson slip in the water, and the skateboarders declare Roland a hero.

This starts a troubling pattern of Roland hanging out with Deke Ralston and his rowdy crew. Roland steals a flag from the top of a flagpole, takes some underwear from the girls locker room and attempts some dangerous jumps on his bike. Impulse secretly helps Roland through all these dares, and grows increasingly frustrated with Roland's rash behavior. Bart goes home to complain to Max, who's reading the Manchester Herald with the headline: "Faucher, the man!" Bart tells Max all about Roland's impulsive behavior, and Max can only say, "Maddening, isn't it?"

At school, Roland starts to think he's hot stuff, even calling Bart the formerly most popular kid in school. Roland's new "friends" have convinced him to cross the Devil's Thrasher — a slippery, mossy log stretching over a raging river full of sharp rocks. Bart tries to talk him out of it, but Roland brushes him off as being jealous. So Bart decides to try to help Roland — but not as Impulse this time.

Bart tries to show Roland how dangerous this latest stunt is, and he tells him that his luck can't hold forever. Bart even thinks that Impulse wouldn't be able to cross that log. But Roland follows the advice of the other kids and starts to cross the log. But when he gets halfway across, he realizes how stupid this is, and that even the great Deke Ralston is too scared to attempt it. So Roland turns around to come back, but he slips and falls into the river.

Bart jumps in without thinking, only to realize that neither he nor Roland can swim. Luckily, the two boys are able to keep afloat just long enough for Bart to surreptitiously use his super speed to whip up a whirlpool to sweep them to the shore. Roland admits those kids are jerks and Bart gains a new friend.

Unfortunately, news spreads of Bart saving Roland, and he gets a big headline on the Manchester Jr. High Sentinel, which quotes him as saying, "Why don't you all just pretend I'm not here and leave me alone?" Max explains to Bart that the point of a secret identity is to draw attention away from himself, and Bart vaguely remembers Carol's words of warning about forgetting the little people in his life.

So this was a nice, slightly lighter issue of Impulse. Continuing to put Bart on the opposite end of impulsive people is always wonderful. And this issue taught a good lesson about peer pressure. And Roland is going to be a great friend of Bart's throughout the series. I do, however, have to call out the usual spot-on Tom McCraw. He made a slight mistake in Impulse #12 — forgetting to color Impulse's face in one small panel — and in this issue he made one big mistake by making Roland a white kid, then correcting the problem on the same page.

Mike Aragona, of Montreal, praises Humberto Ramos' brilliant execution of the emotion in Impulse #10. He said he really felt Bart's pain and anguish, and loved the ending of Max only saying, "Ah."

Victoria Lund, of Barnsloswick, England, calls issue #10 the best issue of Impulse so far. She says it works well as part of the Dead Heat crossover and as an individual issue, showing great insight into Bart as a normal teenager.

Jeff Clifford, of Vacaville, Calif., calls Impulse the freshest character in comics in a long time. He said he was happy to see the Russian speedster die, saying eliminating "miscellaneous speedsters" helps make the Flash family more special. He also asks for the Atom to guest star in Impulse.

Doud Ohmer, of Covington, Ky., loved how Impulse #10 showed for the first time how much Bart cares. He also lists Johnny Quick as his least favorite speedster, hoping he'll be the one to die, and he wishes XS had a bigger role.

Brian C. Grindrod, of Montreal, calls Impulse a nice diversion from all the darker comic book titles. He says Mark Waid knows exactly how to write a teenage boy and Humberto Ramos can perfectly visualize Waid's writing with his great facial expressions.

Amy Kazmirek, of Flint, Mich., compliments the intense, red cover of Impulse #10, and editor Brian Augustyn explains that Patrick Martin usually colors all the colors under the supervision of cover editor Curtis King, assistant cover editor John Wren and color expert Mark Chiarello. I don't think I'll ever understand why so many people are required to make a cover, but all the Impulse covers have looked really great lately, so I guess it's worth it.

David Winterhelt, of Pasadena, Calif., guesses/hopes that Jesse Quick will be the one to die in Dead Heat, but her dad died instead. Now on to the ads:

The world is simple. There's good. There's evil. And there's Batman: Black and White. I've read a handful of these stories and some of them are good. And some of them are ... well, let's not say evil, just not good.

Catwoman: The Catfile and Superman/Batman: Alternate Histories sharing the same page.

A blast from the past! Wonder Woman by John Byrne.

Cool. Starman. James Robinson, Tony Harris, Wade Von Grawbadger.

Watch This Space. It talks about a few random things such as Bob Kane consulting on the new Batman & Robin movie. It teases Kingdom Come by Alex Ross and Mark Waid. It also sadly announces the departure of editor Brian Augustyn, who has overseen every Flash and Impulse issue we've seen on this blog so far. He'll still stick around for a while as a freelance writer, but I will miss his humorous answers in the letter column.

Impulse doesn't make any guest appearances in May 1996, so we'll keep it here for June. Next issue: Straight from the pages of Underworld Unleashed comes the Trickster, intent on separating an ancient jeweled cross from the University exhibit that brings it to Manchester. But can he get to it before White Lightning strikes?! And what about Lord Manny the first and Blott? Join Mark, Wayne, Tom, Chris, Ali and Brian in welcoming guest penciller Anthony (Fate) Williams, who fills in for the vacationing Humberto Ramos. Anthony's doing killer work on his two issues, and Humberto returns with issue #16, so fear not, faithful ones!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Sovereign Seven #10

There Is No Sun in Gotham

By Chris Claremont & Dwayne Turner
Chris Ivy Inker
Richard Starkings and Comicraft Letters
Gloria Vasquez Colorist
Rob Schwager Separator
Chris Eades Ass't Editor
Rob Simpson Editor
Claremont & Turner Creators

This issue's cover pencilled and inked by Dwayne Turner, colored by Gloria Vasquez, separated by Kiko Taganashi, and cover-edited by Curtis King and John Wren. I'm not sure why two people are needed to edit a cover, but whatever. I also need to point out that even though we see the Bat signal here, Batman himself does not appear in this issue. A little misleading, if you ask me, but again, whatever.

So now we enter another lackluster DC project from the '90s. Chris Claremont was/is a legendary X-Men writer, but for a couple of years, he decided to try his hand at creating a new superhero team for DC. The result was Sovereign Seven — a group of seven superheroes descending from royalty. It never really took off, but did last 36 issues.

Our story begins in Massachusetts, in particular, the town of Crossroads, which is the headquarters of the Sovereign Seven. Our lovable hero, Impulse, passes through the town. To his astonishment, he is spotted by the huge guy on the cover.

The big guy's name is Reflex, and although he can't move as fast as Impulse, he can heighten his reflexes enough to keep up with him. Reflex chastises Impulse for running so fast through the town, saying he might hit somebody. Impulse insists that would never happen, and tries to touch Reflex, but he keeps dodging him. Reflex then pokes Impulse in the nose, causing him to bounce between a couple of cars on the street and go "spludge" in a snow bank.

Impulse takes this all in good humor, then realizes it's 8 o'clock and he's late for school. So he takes off, with Reflex inviting him to come visit Crossroads again. Once Impulse is out of sight, the exhausted huge man collapses on the snow bank, melting it with his enormous body heat. It took all he had to keep up with Impulse during that brief encounter.

And that's all the Impulse we get here. He was only brought in to help show off Reflex's powers, and I'm fine with that. Generally, I enjoyed the way Dwayne Turner drew Bart, but he did tend to veer toward the young side. It wasn't too long ago that everybody drew Impulse too old, but now it seems most guest artists can't draw him old enough. I guess 14 is a tough age to illustrate.

The Sovereign Seven, meanwhile, head out to Gotham City, which is under the threat of a deadly plague. They're also attacked by some thugs who have dedicated themselves to Neron, of Underworld Unleashed fame. Impulse will meet up Reflex again, but not for a while.

None of the letters to the editor mention Impulse, naturally, although I do find it odd that DC sponsored a contest for letter writers to win Sovereign Seven posters and hats. I guess they weren't getting very many letters. Now for the ads:

How do you defeat a god who won't stay dead? New Gods. The triumphant return of Darkseid! Rachel Pollack and Stefano Raffaele.

An army of villains. A deadly new enemy. Batman: Shadow of the Bat. Written by Alan Grant. Featuring artwork by Norm Breyfogle, Bret Blevins, Vince Giarrano, Barry Kitson, and Dave Taylor.

Freefall. Acceleration: 32 feet per second squared. Impact: imminent. Escape: impossible. So, why is this man smiling? Mister Miracle. By Dooley, Crespo, and Morais.

Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom on PC CD-ROM.

That's it for April 1996. The Flash dealt with the post-Dead Heat slump by bringing in a guest artist. But Impulse was simply delayed a month. So we'll pick up with Impulse #13 in May 1996.

Flash #112

Future Perfect

Mark Waid, Story
Anthony Castrillo, Guest Pencils
Hanibal Rodriguez, Inks
Tom McCraw, Colorist
Gaspar & Kevin Cunningham, Letters
Alisande Morales, Assistant Editor
Brian Augustyn, Editor

Even though we have a guest art team for this issue, the cover is still done by the usual crew of Oscar Jimenez and José Marzan Jr. It shows the future Flash we saw at the end of The Flash #111, running out from the Flash Museum. Turns out, this guy is John Fox from the 27th century, who claims to just be visiting the good year of 1996.

Our story begins with John Fox rescuing Linda Park from another villain taking the Chillblaine name. Linda is kind enough to let John stay with her, but she has also asked Hartley Rathaway, aka the Pied Piper, to stay at her house until Wally comes home.

We then head to the funeral of Johnny Quick. Even though Mark Waid's text says the Justice Society attended, Anthony Castrillo didn't draw any of them. He did, however, draw Jay Garrick, Jesse Quick, Max Mercury, Jenni Ognats, and Bart Allen, who suddenly looks 10 years old.

Johnny's ex-wife, the former Liberty Bell, is there, and she bitterly tells Jesse that she always knew playing a "costumed adventurer" would get him killed. John Fox comforts Jesse by telling her Johnny Quick will be remembered in the future, although Max infers he might be lying. But it was a nice gesture all the same. Jenni then asks John if he can help her return to the 30th century. He explains that his time travel equipment is built into his suit, but he asks for a couple of days to figure something out.

Jenni then spends the next couple of days playing video games with Bart and helping him save the school dance (in Impulse #12). When she's all done with that, she returns to Keystone City, where Jay has borrowed Barry Allen's old cosmic treadmill for John to modify. John rigs it to take Jenni back home, and although she's hesitant at first, she does run on it and vanishes into the future. Both Jay and John hope she'll return soon since she got along so well with Bart.

And that's the end of Bart's involvement in this chapter of the Flash's life. Don't worry about Wally — he didn't die, but just ended up in a future where the Flash is worshipped. And he'll be back just in time to fix the mess that John Fox has brought with him.

I only have a digital copy of this comic, so there's no letters or ads this time. Next time, we'll join Impulse in a quick cameo in Sovereign Seven #10.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Impulse #12

Sonic Youth

Mark Waid, Writer
Humberto Ramos, Pencils
Wayne Faucher, Inks
Chris Eliopoulos, Letterer
Tom McCraw, Colorist
Ali Morales, Assistant Editor
Brian Augustyn, Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo

Our cover by Ramos and Faucher shows Impulse rocking out on an electric guitar while crowd surfing. And it is perfectly awesome. My only slight nitpick here is the absence of XS, who does play a major role in this issue. But otherwise, Impulse playing the guitar is about the coolest thing ever.

Our story begins with a sexy encounter at Manchester Hotel with Lonnie Beale, lead singer of Generation Why. Apparently, Lonnie is good friends with Randall Sheridan, assistant principal at Manchester Junior High, and six months ago, Randall asked his friend to play at a school dance. But since then, Generation Why has become one of the most popular bands in Alabama. However, Lonnie assures Randall he will honor his commitment. But as soon as Lonnie hangs up the phone, a mysterious stranger enters the room and informs Lonnie he will not be playing at the dance.

Let's now check in with our heroes, Bart Allen and Jenni Ognats, fresh off their fight with Savitar.

The two are playing video games so fast the cartridges are melting. (I have no idea how the console can keep up, but whatever.) Bart and Jenni soon get bored and decide to stop, especially when Bart estimates they're spending $10,000 an hour on games. (Again, I have no idea how he was able to afford all those games in the first place. Maybe Max has accumulated a small fortune throughout all the years.) Anyway, Bart and Jenni begin talking about the new future Flash who has shown up in the place of Wally, and Jenni thinks this new guy can help her find a way back to the 30th century. This makes Bart suddenly sullen, so Jenni tries to cheer him by taking him on a field trip.

Impulse and XS visit the Rock and Roll Museum in Memphis. This was only recently discovered in Jenni's time, so she's real excited to see it new and pristine, especially an exhibit with a variety of instruments embedded in a wall. Bart points out that Jenni could visit the museum all the time if she stayed in the 20th century. An he reminds her that she wouldn't be alone — she'd have Bart, Grandma Iris and Max.

Speaking of Max, he is currently building a shelf for Helen Claiborne — the woman he'd like to avoid but can't quite stay away from. Helen is looking forward to spending some quality time with Max, but their conversation is interrupted by a rather intense phone call. Although Max was in the other room, he did hear Helen talking about court orders and how the person on the other side should leave her alone.

Later, Bart tries a different tactic, suggesting he return to the 30th century with Jenni. Bart tells Max he should be free to go since Savitar has been defeated, but Max tells Bart he never said his future had anything to do with Savitar and he's not done training him yet. Jenni then jokes that, according to historical records, Bart will be adopted by Max when he's 30, but by then he'll look as old as Max. Having been denied at every turn, Bart manages one small victory by convincing Jenni to at least attend the school dance with him.

We then head over to the Fall Rave, which has been delayed by the absence of Generation Why. Half the state and the local news have turned out to see the popular band, and Randall Sheridan is under a lot of pressure from Principal Farquhar to prevent the restless crowd from getting out of control. Bart and Jenni meet up with Preston and Carol, and Jenni asks Carol if she's listening to a universal translator through her headphones. Bart covers for Jenni by saying Universal Translator is the name of a new band. The kids then bump into Mr. Sheridan, who tells them Lonnie Beale hasn't been answering his phone and was last seen at the hotel. So Bart and Jenni decide to go retrieve the rock star themselves.

Turns out Lonnie is being held by his former, corrupt manager, the Colonel. He's trying to strong arm Lonnie into rejoining with him, but luckily, Impulse and XS soon arrive to take out the Colonel's goons. Impulse grabs a bat from one of the guys and vibrates it into the wall, then smashes a lamp over the henchman's head. XS uses her flight ring to stay out of reach and choke the other goon with a chain he was trying to use on her. The Colonel then asks Impulse and XS if they have representation, but Lonnie knocks him out. Lonnie then asks for a moment to lie down after being tortured for so long, but Impulse and XS won't let him, and rush him off to the school dance.

Lonnie suddenly appears on the stage and the crowd goes nuts. One girl in particular can't contain her excitement and tackles Lonnie into the drum set, knocking him out. Seeing the crowd on the verge of a riot, Bart and Jenni jump on the stage and grab a guitar and saxophone. Neither of them know how to play the instruments, and they start off really rough, even shattering a few windows with their awful playing. But thanks to their super speed, the two teens gradually get better and better, finishing with an amazing song that the crowd loves.

Bart and Jenni quickly exit the stage and celebrate outside. But Jenni has to turn down Bart's enthusiasm, telling him she has to go home — to where her dad and friends are. Bart asks to go with her, but she tells him his home is here with Iris, Wally and Max. She kisses Bart on the forehead and takes off toward Keystone City and the future Flash now staying in Linda's home. Randall Sheridan then finds Bart and congratulates him for saving the dance. He asks Bart where his friend went, and Bart very sadly can only say, "She had to go."

Bart then writes a letter to Jenni, telling her that Lonnie's going to be all right and all the kids in school now think Bart's a big deal. He says he hopes Jenni made it home and that she can come visit again since it was nice having someone to share stuff with. He ends the letter with a simple "Miss you." and stuffs it in Jenni's saxophone, which he vibrates into the wall at the Rock and Roll Museum.

What a heart-breaking issue of Impulse! Again! This book has become so sad and sweet lately, but I still love it. There's still plenty of humor and action here, as well as unique applications of super speed. I loved how tightly constructed this issue was, with every plot beat leading toward the ending (except for the scene with Max and Helen, which will come back in a later issue). It was also really nice to see Bart transition from hating Jenni to becoming best friends with her. I hope the two of them do get back together sometime because they really do make an amazing team.

David Taylor, of Christiansburg, Va., says XS is his favorite Legionnaire, and he absolutely loved watching her interact with Impulse. He also requests more adventures for these two cousins in the future.

Doud Ohmer, of Covington, Ky., says he enjoyed the role reversal XS presented Impulse, by making him the one to get annoyed and embarrassed for once. He also requests for XS to visit the 20th century more often.

Charles Skaggs, of Columbus, Ohio, also absolutely loved all the hijinks between Impulse and XS. He also asks for some Impulse merchandise, such as T-shirts, action figures and even an animated series.

Jeff DeMos, of New York City, enjoyed seeing Bart learn a little bit what Max has to put up with, and he asks for more time travel stories.

Joey Marchese, of Clark, N.J., praises DC for being able to maintain continuity between Impulse and Legion of Super-Heroes, and smartly handling the time-travel elements. He labels Impulse as a coming-of-age story masquerading as a humor book, and he asks how much Bart knows of the past, how he's related to Jenni and how old is he exactly. Brian Augustyn explains that Bart knows nothing of the future, only being a 2-year-old living in isolation in the 30th. Bart and Jenni are first cousins, both grandchildren of Barry Allen. And Bart is physically 14, although chronologically still 2.

There aren't any new ads this time, so I'll leave you until next time, when we finally wrap up all the loose threads from Dead Heat in The Flash #112.