Sunday, November 23, 2014

Green Lantern #81

Funeral for a Hero

Ron März – Writer
Darryl Banks – Pencils
Romeo Tanghal – Inks
Pamela Rambo – Color
Chris Eliopoulos – Letters
Eddie Berganza – Associate
Kevin Dooley – Funeral Director

I suppose this is a rather solemn cover, but it doesn't really do much for me. I guess that's because I'm not a big Green Lantern fan. But I think they could have done something that was solemn and more inspiring, as well. Maybe a statue of Hal Jordan?

So apparently Hal Jordan's death at the end of Final Night was conclusive enough for all the heroes of Earth to hold a funeral for him. After all, he did go out as a hero, destroying the Sun-Eater and restoring the sun to its former glory. So the current Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner, constructed a cathedral in Coast City and invited everyone who's anyone to attend.

Impulse sat on a row with Max Mercury, Jesse Quick, Wally West and Linda Park. Donna Troy, now retired from being a superhero, was there, but sadly, I couldn't spot any of the other New Titans Impulse used to hang with. Superboy was there with Superman and Steel, and Robin, who felt compelled to bring his bow staff to a funeral, was there with Batman and Nightwing. But Batman still can't forgive Hal for what he did during Zero Hour, so he withdrew himself from the crowd, forcing Nightwing and Robin to join him in the shadows. Impulse was well-behaved during the funeral, so he didn't really have a chance to interact with Superboy, Robin, or the Legion of Super-heroes.

Superman directed the proceedings, and the first people to speak were former Green Lanterns Guy Gardner and John Stewart. Black Canary then spoke on behalf of the late Green Arrow, Oliver Queen, who was good friends with Hal. Then Wally spoke on behalf of the late Barry Allen, who was also good friends with Hal. Carol Ferris, Hal's former girlfriend, gave a tearful address, then Kyle Rayner closed the ceremony. The original Green Lantern, Alan Scott, created a green flame to burn eternally for Hal. And Swamp Thing created a beautiful garden to surround a statue of Hal made by Kyle. Then, at the very end, Batman says he finally forgives Hal.

My digital copy of this comic also includes a new adventure of Hal Jordan, which is mostly a flashback to his origin, reprinting pages from 1960. It was pretty neat, but again, I'm more interested in the Flash family and Impulse, so I don't have a lot to say about this issue.

Next time, Impulse finally meets Robin in Robin Plus Impulse #1!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Impulse #19

A Game of Spew

Mark Waid Co-Plotter
Tom Peyer Guest Co-Plotter & Script
Humberto Ramos Penciller
Wayne Faucher Inker
Chris Eliopoulos Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt Assistant Editor
Paul Kupperberg Editor

This cover barytes and Faucher shows a seemingly impossible situation. Someone at school knows Bart is Impulse! And that someone is using a special Impulse issue of Teen Beat (More Impulse than your heart can handle!) to deliver this message. Well, as we'll soon find out, this is an impossible situation. And the cover, while it is well-done and pretty fun, is a bit of a cheat.

Our story begins with Max making Bart go to bed at 8 p.m. since it usually takes him four hours to fall asleep. Bart whines and complains, and Max asks whether Robin whines at Batman this much, and Bart says Robin gets to stay up late. (I imagine this issue was supposed to come out after the Robin Plus Impulse special, but as I said previously, that book was delayed because several pages of the artwork were lost in an IRA bombing.)

Bart then reluctantly begins to get ready for bed — at super-speed, which makes a big mess in the bathroom. Max yells at him to brush his teeth at normal speed, and Bart apologizes, even offering to clean up the bathroom at normal speed. But Max sees through his diversionary tactic and tells him to clean it in the morning. So Bart finally begrudgingly gets into bed, which he equates to a coffin. Bart tosses and turns and kicks off his sheets for what feels like a long time, but has only been one second.

Bart then remembers an angry Max telling him to count sheep. So Bart tries it, but the sheep he imagines quickly turn into evil robot sheep, so he pretends to beat them up by punching his pillow. Max hears the noise, so he checks on Bart, who quickly pretends to be asleep. We then have a great page with 48 panels of Bart slowly falling asleep. But the poor kid doesn't finally drift off until 2:05 a.m.

We then enter Bart's dream, where he finds himself at a video game store managed by Assistant Principal Randal Sheridan. The games are on sale for three cents each, but Bart's never heard of the titles, and Mr. Sheridan says Bart needs to pass a physical. Suddenly, the video game in Bart's hand starts glowing, and Impulse finds himself surrounded by the Legion of Super-heroes, who appear the way Bart imagined them based on Jenni Ognats' descriptions. Impulse asks them where XS is, but they don't tell him, instead saying they don't want Impulse in the Legion and that he's the speedster nobody wanted.

Impulse screams, but then is suddenly scooped up by XS. As she runs on the beach of a tropical paradise, she asks Impulse where he wants to go, and he says, "Anywhere with you!" Suddenly, Impulse is in the Flash's arms, who chews him out for sounding whiny. He says he never whined as Kid Flash, and neither did Robin. Flash also says he never let anyone carry him around, and he sets Impulse down, saying he needs to pass a physical.

Impulse runs away and falls off a cliff, landing back in the video game store. Mr. Sheridan, now in pajamas and in bed, says he knows Impulse is Bart, and he tells him to hurry up and play the game so he can go back to sleep. So Impulse puts in the slow-loading Max Mercury game, but the Max in the game picks up a controller that controls Impulse. Impulse bounces around like Pinocchio on strings, and Max soon says he's won the game.

Impulse then suddenly acquires a cape, and says, "My super-fast hearing detects a job for Impulse Man!" And Impulse Man flies off to Washington, D.C., where the presidential satellite is plummeting to the earth. Impulse Man catches it and saves Bill Clinton, who wants Impulse Man to take off his mask so he can give him a medal. But Max comes out of nowhere to drag Impulse away, saying he's spent his whole life and $12,047 to make him a normal boy, while President Clinton sadly says that Impulse should have passed his physical. Max then drags Impulse to a cave filled with giant bottles containing all the other failed Impulses.

Bart screams again and suddenly finds himself taking a bath in the middle of class. Mr. Sheridan tells Bart to read page 34,903 to the class, which says, "I know your secret!" Impulse refuses to read the page, so Mr. Sheridan has the class pledge allegiance to "Bart Allen and Impulse who are one and the same indivisible ..." Max then appears and tells Bart to tell the class he's not Impulse. When Bart does so, Mr. Sheridan says he's the only one, and he's too slow to stop a class full of Impulses. As everyone runs around making a mess, Max tells Bart he needs to learn to control his impulses.

Suddenly, Max is a very old man surrounded by stacks of newspapers. He very slowly asks Bart to fix him some of that gross stuff you have to be really old to want to eat. So an older, fatter, smoking Bart hands Max a bowl of octopus leg. He turns on the TV, which says a bank robbery was stopped by Bart Allen, aka Max Mercury Jr. Max says Bart turned out to be a good boy, but then he spills his octopus slop. Bart complains that he has to clean it at normal speed, and he wishes Max were younger.

Suddenly, Bart is back to his normal age and Max is little boy. Max begs Bart to let him go to bed since he has to wake up early and act normal all day. But Bart happily denies the little Max's request, saying he wants him to stay up and stop whining.

Bart then wakes up, feeling completely refreshed and ready for anything. But then he sees that it's still 2 in the morning and he's only been asleep for 30 seconds.

This was a really fun and sweet issue of Impulse. It perfectly captured the chaotic nature of dreams and the innocence of Bart Allen. And I'm so glad Humberto Ramos did the art here. I love the way he draws Bart screaming, which happens quite a bit in this issue. And with Tom Peyer, the usual writer on Legion of Super-heroes, handling the script and dialogue, we got to see Bart use the word "grife" a bit more. Apparently, "grife" is a swear word in the 30th century, so it makes sense that Bart wouldn't have said it much until after he's had a few encounters with XS and the Legion.

Kevin Dragone, of Phoenixville, Penn., says Impulse #16 was a very sad issue. He hopes Max and Helen spend some quality time together, and asks if Bart will ever date Carol and whether Impulse will team up with Robin.

Ed Homa Jr., of Bear, Del., was happy to have Humberto Ramos back for issue #16, and he requests for Mike Wieringo or Mike Parobeck to the be regular fill-in artist. Sadly, Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt has to say that Parobeck recently died of diabetes just short of his 31st birthday.

Mark J. Kiewlak, of Nanticoke, Penn., praises Mark Waid for having the guts to spend the majority of an issue on a domestic, character-driven flashback. He also praises editor Brian Augustyn for having the courage to give up his steady job to pursue his freelance writing dream.

C.H. Reynard, of Montclair, Va., says Humberto Ramos' art is the best he's seen in 10 years of collecting comics. He also asks for Impulse to cross over with Robin or Superboy.

Jeff DeMos, of New York, loved the role-reversal of Impulse teaching his mentor about personal responsibility. He also asks whether Helen might have super speed, and he compares Waid's accurate portrayal of teenage life to the movie Welcome to the Dollhouse.

Derrick Lang, of Cincinnati, Ohio, simply begs for a White Lightning miniseries, but Hernandez-Rosenblatt basically says that's never going to happen.

Mary Catelli, of Berlin, Conn., was happy that issue #16 didn't romanticize what Max did, showing he needs to take responsibility for his actions. She also asks for more Trickster in the DC Universe. Now for the ads:

The cost of Final Night ... will be remembered forever. Green Lantern. Issue #81 by Marz, Banks, and Tanghal.

The Amalgam Age of comics. The stories that twisted two universes ... into one. This trade paperback includes the Impulse-Quicksilver character, Mercury.

Subscribe to the world's mightiest heroes! One issue of Impulse normally cost $1.75, but you could get 12 issues for $15.

Watch This Space talks about more DC-Marvel crossovers, more DC-Milestone crossovers, and the Sci-Fi channel re-airing episodes of the 1990 Flash TV series. They also admit they mistakingly listed Patrick Ewing's height as 6-foot-7 instead of 7-feet.

Next time, we'll begin December 1996 with a bit of an epilogue to Final Night in Green Lantern #81.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Final Night #4

The Final Knight

Karl Kesel .. Writer
Stuart Immonen .. Penciller
Jose Marzan Jr. .. Inker
Trish Mulvihill .. Colorist
Gaspar .. Letterer
Ali Morales .. Assistant Ed.
Dan Thorsland .. Editor

The cover by Immonen and Marzan actually shows Impulse for once! Unfortunately, Impulse is nowhere to be found inside this issue, not even lurking in the background. But he's not alone. Half the characters on this cover only appear on the cover, including Aquaman, Superboy, Martian Manhunter, and Mr. Miracle, who presented the first (failed) plan to take down the Sun-Eater. I wonder if this was a late editorial decision. It's almost as if DC realized at the last second that a bunch of popular characters played no role in this conclusion, so they hastily threw them on the cover.

Our story picks right up where Legion of Super-heroes #86 left off, with Lex Luthor and Brainiac 5 presenting their latest plan. Unable to prevent the sun from going hyper-nova, they have decided to try to contain the blast by placing a massive force field around the sun. Luthor designed a force-field generator, and Flash assembled half a million of them in twelve hours, while other speedsters made continuous supply runs. I guess that includes Impulse, but nobody specifically said his name.

Luthor plans to have Green Lantern pilot Dusk's ship to put the devices in place, but Lantern suddenly disappears right there and then. So Superman volunteers to take his place, but first he stops to write a goodbye note to Lois Lane. He takes so long writing this note, that Ferro has enough time to sneak into Dusk's ship and take off before anybody can stop him.

Suddenly, Green Lantern returns with Parallax, the former Green Lantern Hal Jordan, who destroyed all existence in Zero Hour. But this time, Parallax wants to save the earth. He explains that he can get rid of the Sun-Eater, heal the sun, and moderate the energy so Earth warms up safely. Batman protests, but Superman accepts, and Parallax takes off to save the day. First, he rescues the idiot Ferro right before he dies. Then Parallax dispels the Sun-Eater and restores the sun to its former glory by reciting the Green Lantern's oath. And in an intentionally ambiguous ending, it almost appears as if Parallax died while doing this. Almost.

Well, that was a pretty convenient ending. At the end of the day, it didn't matter what any of the heroes did, because the most powerful being in the universe came in at the last second to do everything himself. At least Zero Hour required a handful of heroes to stop Parallax. But here, all the heroes spent most of the time sitting around in a dark laboratory, throwing out suggestions that never went anywhere. And if this was supposed to be a sweet redemption tale about Hal Jordan, then why wasn't he even mentioned in the first three issues of this miniseries? All in all, I consider Final Night and underwhelming crossover event.

Next time, we get back to basics with Impulse #19.

Legion of Super-heroes #86

Heart of Iron

Your guides to the 20th century:
Tom Peyer – Writer/Co-Plotter
Tom McCraw – Co-Plotter/Colorist
Lee Moder – Penciller
Ron Boyd – Inker
Pat Brousseau – Letterer
Ruben Diaz – Associate Editor
KC Carlson – Editor

The cover is by Alan Davis, Mark Farmer and Patrick Martin. It shows the hero Ferro, who can turn his skin into iron, riding a bomb into the sun. This is paying homage to the original Ferro Lad, who died in a similar manner in 1967. But this is 1996 with a new Legion of Super-heroes and new circumstances. However, Ferro does not actually dive into the sun in this issue. He wants to, but doesn't get to.

As you may or may not know, the Legion of Super-heroes is team of teenagers from the 30th century. Bart's cousin, Jenni Ognats aka XS, is a member of the team, which was stranded in the 20th century during the whole Sun-Eater attack. But Jenni was able to return to the future thanks to the future Flash, John Fox, and the cosmic treadmill. But the rest of her teammates are still here, mostly complaining about being stuck in 1996 and whining about how cold it is. I guess they do help out a few people here and there, but the majority of this issue serves to annoy me. Impulse will later have some direct adventures with them, but for now, he's relegated to the background of a flashback.

The interesting part of the issue comes at the end, when Ferro presents a plan to Brainiac 5 and Lex Luthor. You see, Ferro doesn't want any of the major heroes like Superman to risk their lives, so he volunteers himself for a suicide mission to deliver a bomb to the Sun-Eater. He even drew a little sketch that looks just like the cover. But Brainiac 5 and Luthor dismiss Ferro's idea, choosing instead to contain the hyper-nova with a force field. Luthor wants Green Lantern to set it up, but he mysteriously disappears at that very moment. So Superman volunteers, but Ferro's death wish isn't satiated.

I guess this would have been an OK issue if I were a Legion fan, but I'm not, so it came off as rather boring. I'm also not exactly sure why Ferro was so insistent that he kill himself. I think this was a case of the writers being too excited to re-create history, and their unbridled excitement came across as an usual eagerness for Ferro to end his own life.

None of the letters in Legion Outpost mention Impulse, or even XS for that matter, so we'll head straight to the ads:

Skittles. Taste the rainbow. I could be mistaken, but I believe this may have been one of the first time's Skittles used that slogan. And they've kept it going for 20 years.

There's a Cap'n Crunch one-page comic, wherein the Cap'n uses his delicious cereal to motivate three kids to cross a dangerous rope bridge.

CD-ROM comic books burst onto the scene! Featuring animation from the classic 1960s DC Saturday morning cartoons.

If you can't meet the pros in person, we'll send them to your door. Dynamic Forces New York Comic Convention.

It's the ultimate Halloween party. And you're invited. Batman: The Long Halloween. Jeph Loeb. Tim Sale. This is a classic that is required reading for any and every comic book fan.

Night time has come. Night Force. Marv Wolfman, Brent Anderson, Will Blyberg.

Subscribe to the world's mightiest heroes! A normal issue of Legion of Super-heroes cost $2.25, but you could get 12 issues for $21, plus the annual for free.

Watch This Space talks a bit about the DC Versus Marvel trade paperback, which included Mercury, the cross of Impulse and Quicksilver. But most of the editor's column is taken up with a sad note about the sudden passing of 30-year-old artist Mike Parobeck. Apparently he was killed by complication due to diabetes. He was the penciller of Impulse Annual #1, an issue I really didn't care for. But Parobeck was better-known for his work on the comic adaptation of Batman: The Animated Series.

Same time. Same place. Different dimensions. Sliders. Fridays on Fox.

Prepare to fly. Nights: Into Dreams ... Sega Saturn.

Next time, we conclude DC big event of 1996 with The Final Night #4.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Final Night #3

Chapter 3: Keeping Hope Alive

Karl Kesel • Writer
Stuart Immonen • Penciller
Jose Marzan Jr. • Inker
Patricia Mulvihll • Colors
Gaspar • Letters
Ali Morales • Asst. Editor
Dan Thorsland • Editor

This cover by Immonen and Marzan shows Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel flying away from scores of body bags. It's a rather haunting image, painting a much graver picture than anything we see inside this issue.

We skipped issue #2, but trust me, we didn't miss much. In issue #3, we find out it's been three days since the Sun-Eater covered the sun. Most of the heroes are busy trying to prevent riots from breaking out around the world and provide supplies to people in need. Meanwhile, a select few are holed up in S.T.A.R. Labs, working on a permanent solution under Lex Luthor and Brainiac 5. And, if you look closely, you can just make out Impulse lurking in the background.

Brainiac 5 and Luthor discover the sun is trying to fend off the Sun-Eater, in a sense, and is in danger of going hyper-nova, which would destroy Earth. But our heroes still aren't any closer to finding a solution. Oh, and the Phantom Stranger spends his time taking Dusk around the world to show her that humanity hasn't given up, or something inspirational like that.

This was a rather dull issue for what's supposed to be DC's big crossover event of 1996. Yeah, every character imaginable is there, but none of them are doing anything interesting. Maybe I'd like this story more if Impulse had something to do, but it really feels like Karl Kesel's story was only long enough for two or three issues, so there's a lot of stalling going on to stretch it to four issues. And the art is really lackluster. Jose Marzan Jr. is normally a better inker than this, so perhaps a lot of this blotchiness can be blamed on the coloring.

Next time, we'll check out one of the Final Night tie-in issues that happens to draw Impulse in the background — Legion of Super-Heroes #86.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Final Night #1

Chapter One: Dusk

Kar Kesel ... Writer
Stuart Immonen ... Penciller
Jose Marzan Jr. ... Inker
Lee Loughridge .. Colorist
Gaspar ... Letterer
Ali Morales ... Asst. Editor
Dan Thorsland ... Editor

The cover by Immonen and Marzan shows the biggest, most powerful DC characters — Batman, Flash, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and Martian Manhunter — standing on Clark Kent's place of employment, The Daily Planet. It's an OK cover, but it seems to suffer from some of the crude computerized coloring that plagued this era.

Our story begins with Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes being alerted to an approaching alien spacecraft, which just happens to land in Metropolis. The alien introduces herself as Dusk and delivers a dire warning: the Sun-Eater is coming! She explains that a gigantic alien is on its way to devour the sun and destroy the solar system. So Superman summons every superhero imaginable to figure out a way to stop this upcoming threat.

And that brief glimpse of Impulse swinging his legs back and forth is all we see of him in this issue. The first plan the heroes come up with is to have Mr. Miracle create a large boom tube to teleport the Sun-Eater away. But that fails. Then all the energy-based heroes combine their powers to creates a second sun in an effort to lure away the Sun-Eater, but that fails, too. Soon, the Sun-Eater envelops the sun, casting the Earth in frigid darkness. And Lex Luthor decides to end his tropical vacation to help the heroes save the world.

So that's not a terrible beginning to a big event book. Putting the sun at risk certainly is a large enough threat to unite all of DC's heroes, but unfortunately, only a select few can actually do something about it. It's a similar problem that faced Zero Hour, but unlike Zero Hour, Final Night so far isn't providing any random fighting opportunities for all the land-bound heroes like Impulse.

I only have the digital copy of this series, so there won't be any ads here.

Impulse doesn't appear in the next issue, so we'll skip ahead to The Final Night #3.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Impulse #18

Virtually Wasted

Martin Pasko Guest Writer
Anthony Williams Guest Penciller
Wayne Faucher Inker
Chris Eliopoulos Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt Assistant Editor
Paul Kupperberg Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid & Mike Wieringo

Sadly it's time for another guest-creator issue of Impulse. But, as always, we have a nice cover by Humberto Ramos and Wayne Faucher. Unfortunately, this is a very misleading cover. Impulse sadly does not go into space ... yet. And the colorist made Bart's hair too light and his eyes blue, instead of yellow. But, this cover is notable for being the first in the series to show Bart not wearing his Impulse uniform.

Our story begins with a hallucinating teenager walking off the top of a tall building. Luckily, the news was right on top of this, giving Impulse a chance to rush over and catch the kid with a small whirlwind. Impulse sticks around to listen to the police, and he learns that there was a similar case not too long ago of a hallucinating teen showing no signs of taking any drugs.

Bart runs home, changes into his New York Yankees jersey, and finds Max preparing to spend a weekend alone at a log cabin. I guess Max knows he can leave Bart alone for a few days after he got by just fine when Max was kidnapped by Savitar. Bart thinks Max is still mad about the maid outfit prank during his adventure with Zatanna, but I suspect Max is trying to figure out what to do after telling Helen he's really her father. Anyway, Bart warns Max to avoid poison ivy, but Max assures him he can take care of himself. As soon as he leaves, Bart begins planning a party.

We then head to a sketchy part of town, where a shady man named Saul Zaranec is strong-arming a 17-year-old genius named Walter Traeger into providing him with some kind of high-tech implants. Walt warns him that there is a glitch in the transmitter not allowing subjects to exit the program and he needs more time to test the devices. But Zaranec accuses him of stalling and sends him on his way. Privately, Zaranec reveals to his henchmen that he's already got men to build more implants, he just needs Walt to provide the prototypes. And if Walt doesn't deliver in the next 24 hours, they will eliminate him.

The next day, Bart takes a field trip to The Dean Acheson Space Flight Center. (Dean Acheson was the Secretary of State under President Harry S. Truman.) Bart's class gets to see the astronaut training area, and Bart is most interested in watching a man experience the sensation of weightlessness while just sitting in an ordinary room. Walt Traeger then introduces himself and explains that the man Bart was watching was using his virtual reality program. Unlike conventional VR programs that require cables and headsets, Walt's technology utilizes a small implant, imbedded under the skin near the temple to transmit images directly into the trainee's brain.

We then check in with Zaranec, and find out that Walt has apparently sabotaged the equipment he gave him, making it impossible for Zaranec to replicate it. He does still have half a dozen implants, but he sends his goons to visit Walt personally to take all of Walt's equipment and take Walt out of the picture.

Meanwhile, Bart is bored after beating level 12 of Galactus Viper. So he decides to prank call Max at the cabin, but finds Max has set his machine to "announce only" specifically so Bart couldn't harass him with annoying messages. I guess Max knew that if there was a real emergency, then Bart would just run over there. Anyway, Bart gets so mad he throws the phone out the window, shattering the glass. Bart then decides to take a quick jog, which happens to take him right past Walt Traeger driving by. So Bart decides to follow him, suspecting he might be behind the cases of the hallucinating teens.

Walt arrives at his boathouse to find Zaranec's men tearing up the place. Luckily, Impulse isn't far behind, able to disarm and scare away the men. Impulse also saves Walt's computer and helps him clean up, while Walt tells his brief life story. Apparently he graduated from high school at 8, got his doctorate before his driver's license, and has been living on his own since him mom died a couple of months ago. But he'll turn 18 next month, way before social services gets to his case file. Walt also explains that Saul Zaranec's father used to own Z Corp, a flight simulator manufacturer. But after Zaranec's dad died, the company couldn't keep up with the improvements made in virtual reality and went bankrupt. So Zaranec started dealing amphetamines to employees at the Acheson Space Center, and one of his customers told him about Walt's implants. Soon, Walt found himself being forced to go into business with Zaranec to create high-tech hallucinogens.

While Walt and Bart talk and clean, neither of them realize that Zaranec's men have regrouped and decided to turn Walt's own technology against him. They've loaded the implants in a high-tech rifle in an attempt to shoot the device into Walt's temple from a distance. But the fist shot hits Impulse instead, who falls off the boat and into the lake. The second shot misses Walt entirely, but knocks a hanging plant on his head, which knocks him out. Zaranec's goons believe they tagged Walt with the implant, and they carry him away.

Impulse groggily pulls himself out of the lake, feeling like an anchor and wondering why he isn't bleeding if he was shot in the head. Impulse sees Zaranec's men drive away with Walt, and he begins to follow them. But just then, the goons activate the implant, believing it's in Walt's head. Suddenly, Bart finds himself flying through space in an astronaut suit, just like on the cover. When Walt fails to react, the henchmen decide to ramp up the hallucination, causing Impulse to believe he's encountered a UFO carrying several deceased rock stars, including Elvis Presley, John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix. Impulse then realizes he's in a hallucination, so he vibrates the implant out of his head.

By the time Impulse recovers, Zaranec's men have given up on tormenting Walt with the implant and have decided to just shoot him and dump his body in a cave. Zaranec himself arrived at the cave to do the job, but Impulse got there just in time. Using the stalagmites and stalactites as weapons, Impulse disarms and knocks out the bad guys and save Walt, who also turns himself in for his role in the whole mess.

Bart goes home and acts all cool when Max gets back, saying he almost missed him. Bart then says, "But that whole move with that virtual reality guy was stoopid buddies, yo?" I don't know if that is supposed to be 30th century slang or 1996 slang, and Max doesn't know either, groaning that the language has been reinvented in the two days he's been gone. Bart then notices Max covered in rashes from poison ivy and teases him the rest of the night.

I didn't care too much for this issue. It certainly dealt with an interesting idea, but the whole story was too convoluted and required too much convenient happenstance. And while I appreciate the effort to make Walt closer to Bart's age, I felt like Pasko put too much on Walt's plate. It's not enough to make him the smartest 17-year-old on Earth, who has created this amazing technology, but he also has to be an orphan? And his relationship with Zaranec was far too complicated, especially for stand-alone, throw-away characters. It reminds me a lot of Gridlock, except this time there was a teenager involved.

R.J. Spassov, of Bolivar, Ohio, actually expresses some disappointment in Mark Waid, wanting him to delve deeper into the topic of religion. R.J. says it would have been nice to see Bart actually investigate some different views, as long as the issue didn't turn into a tirade for or against organized religion.

Phillip Cosand, of Bothell, Wash., speculates that Bart must be close to 16, and he says he'd like to see a story of Bart learning how to drive. Editor Paul Kupperberg says that would be fun, but he fails to correct Phillip by saying Bart is closer to 14 years old.

Doud Ohmer, of Covington, Ky., wonders why Helen Claiborne didn't inherit any super speed from Max Mercury, but he is excited to see how she reacts to the news that Max is her dad. Doud also enjoyed seeing Trickster and White Lightning team up, and hopes the Trickster makes more appearances in Impulse or The Flash.

Paul D. Petrovic, of Canton, Ohio, says he enjoyed Impulse #14, but he warns that if Humberto Ramos permanently leaves, he will drop the book.

Tony Favo, of Grovedale, Australia, applauds Mark Waid for waiting a year to reintroduce White Lightning and sticking to his plot lines instead of succumbing to the "Bad Girl" popularity. Tony also asks if John Fox (the future Flash) will appear in Impulse, but Kupperberg says he'll be too busy.

PL Kenny, of Deckerville, Mich., praises issues #13 and #14, enjoying the moments with Roland and Carol. PL is also happy that Mark Waid was able to handle religion without falling into offensive clichés.

Laurie Flechner, of Bridgeport, Conn., praises Ramos' cartoonish art and Waid's stellar dialogue. She also wants Impulse to meet the Sovereign Seven again, and hopes for more scenes with Helen, Carol and Preston. Now on to the ads:

Retro name. New attitude. Teen Titans. By Dan Jurgens and George Pérez.

Explore the Heart of Darkness computer game sampler. Free! With two wrappers from Gummi Savers.

Nick in the Afternoon. The Return of Stick Stickly. I do vaguely remember this popsicle stick hosting the brief segments between cartoons.

The new animated series Superman comes to Kids' WB! this fall. This Superman show was actually very good, and I'll eventually get around to reviewing it on my other blog.

DC OverPower card game. Batman and Superman.

Coming to life this summer ... The Adventures of Pinocchio trading cards.

Watch This Space tells a rather interesting story about the publication delay in Robin Plus. (For some reason they don't say Robin Plus Impulse, but that's what it is.) Apparently penciller John Royle was trying to photocopy several pages of the comic in Manchester, England, when he got caught in an IRA bombing. John made it out OK, but three pages were lost, which he had to re-draw from scratch.

Red K. It'll rock Superman's world. Superman: Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite.

Next time, we'll head to November 1996 to take part in DC's big event of the year — Final Night.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Ray #27

Time and Tempest Book III: Requiem

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 Ray rapidly aging and disintegrating. This is a rather striking image, and it almost happens in the issue, but not quite.

If you can remember back to The Ray #25, you'll recall that in the year 2016, an adult Bart Allen, now the Flash, grew frustrated with Ray for being a big jerk and knocked him out. Unfortunately, Bart also left Ray's door open, which enabled some of his business rivals to come in and shoot him in the head. But what we didn't know then, was that Ray's energy was transported a few thousand years into the future to Warworld, which is inhabited by the survivors of Earth's demise, locked in never-ending conflict. Ray was brought there by the mysterious Tempest, who wants him to end the fighting, but he's not even sure where to begin.

After some fighting, and an unexplained and unnecessary transformation of Ray back into a 19-year-old, he meets Turon, the son of Tempest. He reveals that Tempest, who is the daughter of Captain Atom and Maxima, has been lying to Ray the whole time. Apparently she has been perpetuating the war and wants to absorb Ray's power.

So Ray uses himself as bait, visiting Tempest and allowing her to suck away his power. This causes Ray to rapidly age and shrivel up, similar to what we see on the cover, but it also creates an opening for Turon to attack his evil mother. Ray then recovers, becomes a 40-year-old again, and absorbs Tempest's energy, killing her once and for all. Ray then returns to his body in 2016 and finally dies in front of Flash, Triumph, and his girlfriend Gaelon.

We then return to 1996, where 19-year-old Ray is reunited with his father, who he thought was dead. And the story continues in a decidedly non-Impulse direction, so I'll just end it here.

I was disappointed by this issue. After The Ray #25 spent so much time developing this adult Bart, I was really excited to see him again. But he didn't do anything in this issue, which overall, felt rather worthless. I mean, who cares about the future version of Ray traveling even further in the future to defeat some vague villain? I sure don't.

There aren't any letters to the editor in this issue, but there are a couple of new ads:

Protector of the earth? Alpha Centurion. Story by Barbara Kesel and Stuart Immonen. Art by Dean Zachary, Wade Von Grawbadger, and Pam Eklund.

Watch This Space talks about New York Knicks center Patrick Ewing visiting the DC offices to promote the greatest movie of all time, Space Jam. Unfortunately, DC incorrectly listed Ewing's height as 6-foot-7, when he is a full 7-feet tall. But DC did announce a comic adaptation of that most wonderful movie, so I need to see if I can track that down. Watch This Space also announces a series of cross-overs with the Legion of Super-heroes, including Impulse.

Who says protecting the universe ain't no party? Superboy and The Ravers. By K. Kesel, Mattsson, Pelletier, and Davis.

Sex, bugs, rock 'n roll. Joe's Apartment.

Next time, we head to October 1996 for Impulse #18.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Impulse #17

Quicker Than the Eye

Mark Waid Story
Humberto Ramos Pencils
Wayne Faucher Inks
Chris Eliopoulos Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt – Assistant Editor
Paul Kupperberg – Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo

This is another great cover by Ramos and Faucher, which shows our lovable Impulse being pulled out of Zatanna's hat. I love everything about this cover, except for Zatanna's brown hair. Everyone knows her hair is black! But the important thing is this cover announces a rather high-profile guest-star in Impulse. And, as our editors kindly remind us, this is not the first time Impulse has met Zatanna. They teamed up in The Adventures of Superman #522, helping Superman rebuild Metropolis. Actually, Zatanna just showed up at the end and brought the whole city back to normal with her magic, completely negating the work Impulse and the other heroes had done the whole day.

Our story begins with Bart waiting for Max to get ready for Zatanna's one and only show in Manchester. Bart feels like Max is being a turtle, so he rushes off to the arcade. But Max arrives before he can put the quarter in the machine, and the two head backstage to meet Zatanna. Max is an old family friend, having known Zatanna's father, Zatara, and helped Zatanna defeat Dr. Light not too long ago. Zatanna thinks Bart is adorable, and she asks him to be her assistant for the night. Max thinks putting Bart on a stage would open the flood gates, but Zatanna brushes him off. Bart is naturally very excited by the whole thing, and he even begins talking backwards to mimic Zatanna's spell-casting ability.

Zatanna's show gets off to a rough start, though. Zatanna introduces a trick called Poseidon's Coffin, which involves her being put in a straightjacket and submerged in a tank of water. But Bart puts on the straightjacket and performs the trick himself before Zatanna can finish introducing it. The rest of the show continues in this pattern, with Bart doing everything before Zatanna and messing things up. Finally, Zatanna gets so frustrated, she shouts, "Trab —teg tsol!"

The crowd cheers at the disappearance of Bart, believing it to be part of the act. But Max knows better, and all Zatanna can do is shrug, and cast a spell to teleport herself to Bart's location. It probably would've been easier for her to cast a spell to bring Bart back, but then we wouldn't have this fun adventure that follows.

Bart finds himself in a magical realm with floating castles and giant warriors. They tell him he's in the Realm of Kroz, and that he's not welcome there. They attack him with their massive maces, which shred Bart's civilian clothes, leaving his Impulse uniform underneath. Bart begins to play with the giants, causing them to attack each other. He then heads off toward the floating castle, believing he's in a video game.

Zatanna arrives just in time to see Bart run off, and when she tries to follow him, she discovers her magic doesn't work in this realm. She is then captured by the giants, who take her to the evil wizard Kroz. She tries to tell him she and Impulse arrived by accident, and Impulse thinks it's all a game, but Kroz believes they're his enemies, and he sends his minions out to destroy Impulse. But Impulse easily and gleefully defeats all the monsters, mummies, giants and assassins.

Impulse then arrives at Kroz's chambers, and, wielding a large samurai sword, quotes Buzz Lightyear with a "To infinity ... and beyond!" Bart has fun fighting with Kroz, and asks him if he's from Legend of Magda. Zatanna tries to help by casting her spells, but none of them work. She notices that Kroz is beginning to anticipate Impulse's patterns and speed, so she tries to warn him and accidentally says, "Trab — wols nwod!"

Impulse then freezes in midair, and Kroz silences Zatanna before she can give him back his speed. Kroz prepares one final blast from his magic staff, but Impulse reveals he was faking it and dodges the blast in time. The spell bounces off a mirror behind Impulse and strikes Kroz, slowly disintegrating him.

Zatanna asks Bart how they're supposed to get home if her powers really don't work, and Bart chides her for not playing enough video games. He grabs Kroz's staff and tests it out by summoning a bunch of video games, Max in a maid's outfit, and a whole bunch of bunnies. Zatanna finally yanks the staff away from him and uses the staff to return them home.

Bart's disappointed to see the staff doesn't work in this world, and he offers to help Zatanna clean up. She strongly refuses his help, and he thanks her for the game. The exasperated Zatanna almost transforms Bart into something, but restrains herself and pushes him away, right toward a very upset Max still in the maid's outfit.

This was a really fun, back-to-basics goofy Impulse adventure. Which is necessary coming off the more serious story of Max being Helen's father. And it was wonderful to have Humberto Ramos doing the art, since his great expressions and timing helps the comedy shine. Well, maybe timing isn't the right word for a comic book, but perhaps pacing? Anyway, it was great, whatever he did.

The letters column begins with an editor's note thanking Anthony Williams for filling in for Ramos. I personally wasn't too crazy about Williams' work, but he apparently pleased DC enough to become the go-to fill-in artist for Impulse.

Blake M. Petit, of Thibodaux, La., praises Mark Waid for discussing the topic of religion, and he wonders what exactly the Trickster is up to in Impulse #14. Blake also falls just short of criticizing Anthony Williams' art, mostly lamenting the fact that Humberto Ramos is taking so many breaks.

John Shaver, of Ankeny, Iowa, calls Impulse a really cool book and thanks the creators for bringing back White Lightning.

Jeff DeMos, of New York, got a bit philosophical about the religious nature of issue #14, drawing parallels to Bart wanting Max to tell him what to believe in and so many people in real life who just follow the crowd.

Ed Homa Jr., of Claymont, Del., says he would have liked to see Mike Parobeck or Mike Wieringo be the fill-in artist, but also says Williams did a good job. Ed also likes the idea of Trickster and White Lightning forming a rogues gallery for Impulse.

Doud Ohmer, of Covington, Ky., hopes that Trickster teams up with Impulse to bring down Lord Manny, Blotto and White Lightning. He also wants Bart to go on a date with Carol.

Mike Harris, of Belleville, Ontario, calls Impulse the coolest comic around and says he loves the interactions between Bart and Max and how Bart helps all the kids around him. Mike also requests team-ups with Green Lantern and the Ray. Now for the ads:

Home is where the hostages are. House Arrest. Starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Pollak.

You can earn prizes or cash. Olympia Sales Club.

CHOMP! The Video Game. A CD-ROM based on Gummi Savers.

Alaska. A missing father. A desperate search. An unforgettable adventure.

The Superman Batman Adventures on USA Network.

Legends of the Dead Earth. Aquaman Annual #2. By Peter David, Ed Hannigan, and Steve Mitchell.

Watch This Space talks mostly about Kingdom Come, detailing a book-signing tour for Alex Ross and Mark Waid.

New low fare to the third dimension. Virtual Boy.

Next time, we return to the far future of 2016 to catch one final glimpse of adult Bart Allen in The Ray #27.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

JLX #1

A League of Their Own!

Gerard Jones & Mark Waid Writers
Howard Porter Penciller
John Dell Inker
Chris Eliopoulos Letterer
Gloria Vasquez & Heroic Age Colorist and Separations
Ali Morales Ass't. Ed.
Brian Augustyn & Ruben Diaz Editors
Special thanks to Chris Duffy

This is the byproduct of the great DC Versus Marvel/Marvel Versus DC event of 1996. After several of the top heroes of each company battled each other to an indecisive conclusion, DC and Marvel created a handful of standalone comics taking place in the Amalgam Universe, which combined DC characters with their Marvel counterparts. With JLX #1 — a combination of Justice League and the X-Men — we have Aquaman combined with Namor the Sub-Mariner, Cyclops with Ray, Nightcrawler with Creeper, and our lovable Impulse paired with Quicksilver (who recently had a great part in X-Men: Days of Future's Past). This Impulse/Quicksilver character is named Mercury, and although it's not explicitly stated in this issue, I've seen websites name him Pietro Allen. I like how his design is basically the normal Impulse look with a simple color swap — it shows just how great that original Mike Wieringo design is.

Our story starts with a chaotic battle over the waters of the North Atlantic. Apparently Mariner had been framed of some great crime and imprisoned by the Judgment League Avengers. After being rescued by his fellow mutants — a splinter group now calling themselves JLX — they get into a big fight with their former teammates. Mercury is kept busy catching all of Hawkeye's trick arrows before they disable their cruiser. But Captain Marvel bashes the cruiser, preventing Mercury from catching one arrow, which knocks out Runaway.

Finally, Angel-Hawk decides to put an end to the fighting by faking a broken back with the help of the mysterious Mr. X. When all the heroes see one of their own so badly injured, they decide to call off the fighting for now. The Judgment League Avengers take off, vowing to recapture Mariner if his guilt can be proven.

The JLX jump into the cruiser with Mr. X to resume their mission to find the ancestral home of mutantkind. Mr. X warns them that Captain Marvel damaged the hull, which means submerging could kill them all, but they all agree that no risk is too great. Mr. X uses his telepathy to probe Mariner's mind to find the location of Atlantis, and all the heroes brace themselves for their dangerous mission. Mercury, in particular, is quite impatient, seeking any distraction to take his mind off his recent failure with the Flash.

The damaged cruiser nearly falls apart, but it manages to get JLX to the domed city of Atlantis. Once inside, the heroes find all the civilians mysteriously missing. Suddenly, they're attacked by Will Magnus and his army of sentinels. The fight goes poorly for JLX, until Mr. X transforms into a large green alien to chase away Magnus and his robots. Mercury asks X what kind of vitamins he's been taking, but X reveals himself to be J'onn J'onzz, the last survivor of the Skrulls. Mercury wants to chase after Magnus, but J'onn says their priority should be finding the lost citizens of Atlantis.

Wow. What a wild and crazy story. And intentionally so, if I'm not mistaken. Everything was so wacky and over-the-top, it kind of felt like they were making fun of the melodrama that so often prevails in the Marvel comics of this time. It certainly seems like the creators of this comic had a fun time making it, pretending this was part of a much-larger, long-established universe. They created a fake letters page, and sprinkled in tons of editorial references to comics that don't exist. For example, Mercury wasn't fast enough to save Flash from Professor Kang in Flash and The Scarlet Witch #10.

It was kind of boring that Impulse was combined with another speedster, which didn't give him any new powers. But he did have a new "emo" attitude, which was pretty fun. Overall, I'd say I did enjoy this issue. It had a pretty fun and wacky concept, and thankfully didn't take itself seriously. We will see one more of these Amalgam comics, but sadly, Mercury will play a very small role in it. Now on to the ads:

Bag one of these cool Sega Game Gear Games and score $5.00 back from Honeycomb! Now on marked boxes of Honeycomb and these other Post cereals, you'll find a rebate offer good for $5 back when you mail it in with a proof of purchase from any of these exciting Sega Game Gear Games.

A new breed of Gothic. Paradise Lost. Draconian Times. Featuring the first single "Enchantment."

Primus. Tales from the punchbowl. Enhanced CD.

Take a look-see. The Bottle Rockets. The Brooklyn Side. And Dog's Eye View. Happy Nowhere. At Sam Goody and Musicland.

Super hot deals. Loud Lucy. Breathe. And Poe Hello. Also at Sam Goody and Musicland.

Vampire: The Dark Ages role playing game.

From the jaws of defeat ... DC Versus Marvel Issue #4. David, Jurgens, Castellini, Rubinstein, Neary.

Do you have what it takes to be a superhero?! D.W. Bradley's CyberMage: Darklight Awakening. Available on PC CD-ROM.

Next time, we get back on track by heading to September 1996 for Impulse #17.