Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Wonder Woman Plus Jesse Quick #1


Christopher Priest – Script
Mike Collins – Penciller
Tom Palmer – Inker
Gaspar – Letterer
Ian Laughlin – Colorist
Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt – Asst. Editor
Paul Kupperberg – Editor
Alisande Morales – Consulting Editor
Brian Augustyn – Plot Assistance
Johanna Draper – Research Assistant
Mark Waid – Speed Force
Wonder Woman created by William Moulton Marston

That's quite a bit of people who helped put this issue together. However, I suspect Mark Waid's name is only included because he wrote all the extensive flashbacks of Jesse Quick's past. The cover is by Collins and Palmer, and although I feel like Wonder Woman could've been drawn a little better, I do enjoy Jesse Quick here. But the most interesting part of the cover is the ninja in the background. We haven't seen those guys since Savitar was defeated in Dead Heat. But it makes sense that a few of his fanatical followers would linger around.

Our story begins with a nervous Jesse Chambers on the first day of her new job as CEO of her late father's company, Quickstart. Luckily, her day at the office is delayed by a hostage situation at a store called J.J. Lords across the street. So Jesse says her super-speed formula, 3X2(9YZ)4A, and throws on her superhero uniform. Jesse Quick soon finds herself in an elevator, face-to-face with a 12-year-old holding a gun to a 4-year-old. The older kid calls himself 2Young (I don't know how anyone was supposed to know he wanted to use the numeral 2 instead of the word Too, but that's beside the point). The elevator is surrounded by SWAT officers, and Jesse Quick finds herself too close to the boy to say her formula without having him shoot the younger kid. So she briefly exits the elevator, which buys her enough time to say her formula. Doing so caused the police to open fire, but Jesse is able to catch all the bullets and save the hostage.

Shaken by the whole ordeal, Jesse heads home to take three showers and eat a tub of ice cream in her bathrobe. Jesse is bothered by 2Young, but also her mother, the former Liberty Belle, who seemed to act like a completely different person at Johnny Quick's funeral. Jesse's mother then arrives and lectures Jesse for shirking her CEO duties. Jesse can't handle the criticism, so she runs away through her bathroom window.

But as soon as Jesse is gone, Libby Lawrence-Chambers is attacked by Savitar's old ninjas. They don't have their super speed anymore, but they are able to overwhelm the retired hero by their sheer numbers. Meanwhile, Jesse in her bathrobe is finally able to calm down on a park bench, and decides to return home when some nuns believe her to be homeless. She arrives at her apartment to find her critically wounded mother, who manages to tell Jesse that the ninjas were looking for a scroll of Savitar's.

During the Dead Heat saga, Max Mercury burned Savitar's extensive speed library. But before doing so, Jesse snatched one of the scrolls that she simply thought looked cool. (And you can see her pocket that scroll in Impulse #11.) Jesse takes her mom to the hospital and takes another look at the scroll to try to figure out why the ninjas want it. The scroll is written in ancient Greek, so Jesse throws her costume back on and pays a visit to an expert on the matter — Helena Sandsmark. Helena identifies the scroll as a petition to Hermes, the messenger god of speed. Jesse tells her how she acquired the scroll, and Helena suggests this would be case better suited for her assistant, Diana Prince. Diana seems familiar to Jesse, but she doesn't see the value in enlisting her aid in this dangerous situation.

Suddenly, a group of ninjas invade the museum. As Jesse rushes off to confront them, she is astonished by Diana's ability to keep up with her. Then Jesse realizes that Diana really is Wonder Woman, who engages in some serious ninja butt-kicking. The ninjas are soon defeated, and our heroes interrogate one of them. They learn that the ninjas want to pull their master Savitar out of the Speed Force by bringing the scroll to the Circle of Light. But before he can explain what the Circle of Light is, one ninja who still has super speed sneaks up on the heroes, knocks them out, kills the interrogated ninja, and steals the scroll. Wonder Woman chased after the ninja, but wasn't able to catch her, only being able to tell Jesse the ninja was a woman. Jesse then realizes this one ninja who still has powers is Christina, Savitar's most devoted follower.

Wonder Woman then takes Jesse to Julia and Vanessa Kapatelis to try to find out more about this scroll and Circle of Light. Jesse tells them Savitar was based in South America (which isn't true — his citadel was in the Balkan Mountains, in Europe). Anyway, while the four women eat at Taco Whiz, Vanessa determines the Circle of Light could be referring to La Luz Redondo, a tiny Dominican Republic mountain parish. So Jesse Quick and Wonder Woman run/fly to South America, with Jesse recapping the fight with Savitar on the way.

When our heroes arrive in the Dominican Republic, they find Christina has already unlocked the secret of the scroll, opening a portal to the Speed Force. Jesse quickly beats up a few ninjas and takes one of their swords, determining to use it to kill Christina for causing her father's death. Christina starts running toward the Speed Force with Jesse hot on her heels. Christina reveals that she hasn't forgiven her former master for betraying her, and she really wants to rob Savitar of his greatest ambition by pulling him out of the Speed Force. Jesse doesn't care, and moves in for the kill. But then Wonder Woman manages to get her lasso of truth around Jesse, exhorting her to calm down before doing something she'll regret. Jesse then has a series of flashbacks, showing the true cause of her frustrations.

It all started when Wally West named her the next Flash. Jesse was initially honored by this, but soon learned the whole thing was just a ruse to get Impulse to focus more. When Impulse and Max were trapped outside of Kobra's force field, this started a deep-seeded anger in Jesse toward Wally, and a strong desire to prove herself. This carried over to the conflict with Savitar, when Jesse probably got a bit carried away, and had to be saved from Christina by her father. Johnny Quick ran so fast he became one with the Speed Force, but he could have come back. And thanks to Wonder Woman's lasso, Jesse realizes for the first time that she's mad at her dad for leaving her. But she also realizes that she would have done the same had she been in his place.

Christina disappears, and Jesse crumbles into an emotional heap in Wonder Woman's arms. But Wonder Woman helps her confront her feelings and recover from the grief. And our story ends with Jesse taking Wonder Woman to visit her mother in the hospital to help her also work through the grieving process.

Even though this issue basically had no Impulse in it, I was pleasantly surprised by it. Jesse Quick definitely deserves to get some attention in the spotlight from time to time, and I was impressed at this issue's ability to pick up on a minor detail from an earlier issue and run with it. The location for confusion is a slight problem, but it doesn't negatively impact this book. Jesse and Wonder Woman each got a small taste of the other's world, and we got to learn a little more about Jesse's personal life.

There aren't any letters to the editor, naturally, so let's see if there are any new ads I can scrounge up.

The video invasion hits home! Independence Day on VHS. This was by far the biggest movie of 1996, and one that I enjoyed immensely as a kid. And I still love it today. It's just a really fun, exciting movie.

We have an apparent ultrasound of a baby in fetal position, with the caption: Better get used to being in this position again. Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 for Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis.

Open all night. No quarters needed. Arcade's Greatest Hits for Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis.

Twenty-six have been given life, and twenty-six will take it away. Mortal Kombat Trilogy for PlayStation and Nintendo 64. Yes, we have entered that awkward period where some games were being made for Super Nintendo and some were for N64.

Born in arcades. Abused. Caged. And brought to your home. Fighting Vipers for Sega Saturn.

A three-page ad for Nights Into Dreams ... fro Sega Saturn.

Spend some quality time with Michael Jordan. Like 2 1/2 hours. NBA Video on VHS.

See Jonny run. See Jonny fly. Be Jonny. Jonny Quest CD-Rom game.

Elsewhere in the DC Universe ... Batman Plus Arsenal, Supergirl Plus The Power of Shazam!, Superman Plus The Legion of Super-Heroes, and Sovereign 7 Plus The Legion of Super-Heroes, which I will be reviewing in a bit.

Old soldiers never die, they just turn into bloodthirsty mutant zombies. Final Doom on PlayStation.

Next time, we'll get back on track with the classic stuff in Impulse #21.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

DC Universe Holiday Bash #1

So I must admit, I am cheating a little with this one. I do not own DC Universe Holiday Bash #1, which was a collection of various Christmas stories, including one featuring the Flash, in which Bart Allen made a quick cameo. However, that Flash story was reprinted in 2000, in a trade paperback called DC Universe Christmas, which I do own.

Present Tense

Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn Story
Paul Ryan Pencils
Dick Giordano Inks
John Costanza Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist

Our story begins with Wally West decorating his house for a Christmas party. His last task is wrapping the present for his girlfriend, Linda Park. Linda's always been difficult to shop for since she never tells Wally what she wants. So this year, Wally bought her the world's fastest microwave, so powerful it's banned in nine states. But before he can wrap it, he overhears Linda talking to her mom on the phone, saying she knows Wally got her a great gift because she told him exactly what she wants while they were at Boone's department store. Wally then sees the microwave as a bowling ball with the name Homer engraved on it (a reference to a classic Simpsons episode), and even though the party will start in 20 minutes, he hastily throws on his Flash uniform and says he needs to go out for ice.

Flash immediately heads to Boone's and begins racking his brains to remember that conversation. But all he can recall Linda talking to him while standing in front of a hideous orange sweater that looks like the Rainbow Raider threw up on. In desperation, Flash buys a scarf, not realizing it's 100 percent cashmere, which Linda is allergic to. So he dumps the scarf in the arms of an old man standing in front of Infantino's restaurant (an homage to classic Silver Age Flash artist Carmine Infantino).

Since all the stores are closing, Flash heads back a time zone to California. Again he notices the ugly orange sweater, but decides to buy a fancy makeup set. He then realizes Linda is a broadcast journalist and has all her makeup done by the TV crew, so he gives the makeup to an old man in front of a store called Waid's (in honor of Mark Waid).

Flash continues heading west and stops at a curio chop in Hawaii, which also has the ugly sweater for sale. Instead he chooses a nifty-looking ring, only to learn it's a Mahaluan wedding band. Since Flash is nowhere near ready to get married, he dumps the ring off in the hands of another old couple and races across the Pacific. (I suspect all these people receiving Flash's presents are famous comic book creators, but I can't say for certain.)

It's now 7:15 in Keystone City, and Wally is in Hong Kong, struggling mightily to find a good present and/or to remember what Linda said she wanted. He then spots a factory outlet stocked with tons of the ugly sweaters, and he finally remembers what Linda told him. We then zip back to the party, where Linda unwraps ... the ugly sweater.

Bart and Max are at the party, and Bart looks rather shocked to see Linda open that sweater. I do like Bart's sweater, however, which is reminiscent of Jay Garrick's Flash outfit. But I'm not sure if Bart is supposed to have freckles on his face, or cookie crumbs. Anyway, Wally says he only bought the sweater to remind him and Linda of that conversation, in which Linda said, "I know you love me. What I want is for you to show it ... by listening to me." Linda is very happy to see Wally remembered this, and they share a romantic kiss under the mistletoe.

So this was a pretty fun Christmas story, but it was a Flash story that just happened to throw Bart in one panel. I would have loved a story showing Bart celebrating his first Christmas, and needing Max to explain everything to him. But this was fun, too.

Next time, Impulse will make another brief cameo in Wonder Woman Plus Jesse Quick #1.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Year in Review: 1996

I was 9 years old in 1996, and just like everyone else that year, I absolutely loved Independence Day, which nearly doubled the worldwide gross of the second-highest film, Twister, which also was pretty good. I didn't see Mission: Impossible until I was 19, and I thought it was kinda stupid. But I really enjoyed Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame (the most underrated Disney animated classic, in my opinion), the live-action 101 Dalmatians, Eddie Murphy's classic, The Nutty Professor, and, of course, the immortal Space Jam. The Academy Award went to The English Patient, which I still haven't seen. The biggest superhero movie of the year was The Phantom, which scared me a bit back then.

Sadly, 1996 was a relatively quiet year for Impulse. After appearing in 40 comics in 1995, Impulse only showed up in 28 comics in 1996. He made a quick cameo in the final issue of The New Titans and didn't join another superhero team all year. And Impulse stopped showing up in The Flash after the Dead Heat storyline wrapped up. Altogether, 1996 gave us 12 issues of Impulse (including the Annual, which featured a future, alternate version of Impulse), four issues of The Flash, three issues of the Final Night miniseries, two issues of The Ray (as an alternate future version of Bart Allen as the Flash) and one appearance in The New Titans, The Adventures of Superman, Sovereign Seven, The Legion of Super-Heroes, Green Lantern and Robin Plus Impulse. I'm also counting JLX #1, which featured the amalgam character Mercury — a combination of Impulse and Marvel's Quicksilver. So, not only did we get fewer appearances of Impulse, but quite a few of them weren't the 14-year-old Bart Allen we know and love. However, what we did get in 1996 was very good, so let's take a look at the best of what the year had to offer.

Best Comic: Impulse #10

For the second year in a row, the sadder, more sentimental issue of Impulse wins out. It's kind of funny, since the Impulse series is known for its light-hearted humor, but these more introspective issues really stand out. Impulse #10 shows us what happens to Bart when he loses his super speed. But more importantly, it shows us what happens when someone Bart cares about is critically injured. Although he constantly butts heads with Max, Bart really does love him, and that love was expressed in a beautiful, touching way in this issue. Impulse #11 was also a significant issue, as it featured the death of Johnny Quick, but Impulse #10 carried a larger emotional impact. And it gave us more insight into Bart Allen than any other issue.

Best Writer: Mark Waid

It should come as no surprise that Waid wins this award for the third consecutive time. He engineered a brilliant Flash-Impulse crossover with Dead Heat, and continued to write brilliant stories for Impulse, expertly straddling the line between humorous and emotional stories. The Impulse issues in 1996 ranged from wacky dream sequences and inter-dimensional adventures with Zatanna to everyday teenage struggles with peer pressure. And let's not forget the emotional backstory of Max Mercury, which Waid began setting up right from the start of this series. Altogether another awesome year for one of the best comic book writers of all time.

Best Artist: Humberto Ramos

Ramos claims his second straight Best Artist Award, even though he began to take on more outside projects in 1996, requiring more guest artists to work on Impulse. But Ramos continued to draw all of the covers, and the issues he did do stand out heads-and-shoulders above anything else. His facial expressions and overall goofiness were unparalleled, and his action scenes were great, as well. And his covers were some of the boldest, most colorful masterpieces I've seen.

Best Supporting Character: XS

Max Mercury won this award for 1995, and he easily could have been a repeat winner, especially with his near-fatal injury and the revelation of his backstory. I also could have thrown in Carol Bucklen, as we got to learn more about her personal life, and she gave Bart his first kiss. But I'm going to give the 1996 award to Bart's cousin, Jenni Ognats. They didn't get to spend too much time together, but it was very sweet. Bart was initially frustrated with Jenni, but gradually grew to love her. She was the only teenager on the planet who could keep up with Bart's speed, and only the second blood relative he's come in contact with (after his grandma Iris Allen). And when Bart left a message for Jenni in a saxophone, it was one of the most touching moments of the series. So XS just barely edges out Max Mercury for this year.

Best Villain: Savitar

The winner of 1995 was Kobra, who wasn't seen or heard from at all in 1996. But Savitar easily claims this award, outranking the likes of Lord Manny I and Saul Zaranec. White Lightning did return, but she actually teamed up with the Trickster for a good cause. The only other possible villain that approaches Savitar's level of villainy is the Sun-Eater, but I consider that to be more of a force of nature than a calculating, evil individual. Besides, Impulse didn't directly battle the Sun-Eater. But Impulse did directly battle Savitar, who kidnapped Max, nearly killed, stole all the speedsters' powers, and caused the death of Johnny Quick. I thought he was a fascinating villain, and one more than powerful enough to unite the entire Flash family.

So that's it for 1996. We'll now head into 1997, which will be a slightly larger year for Impulse. He still won't join a superhero team, but he'll continue to make plenty of guest appearances and take part in DC's big event of the year — Genesis. The Impulse title will also undergo its first major creative team transition, which will be a bittersweet experience.

Next time, we'll take a quick peek at DC Universe Holiday Bash #1. Even though it has a cover date of January 1997, it likely came out in time for Christmas 1996.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Impulse #20

First Base

Mark Waid Story
Humberto Ramos Pencils
Wayne Faucher/Chip Wallace Inks
Chris Eliopoulos Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt Assistant Editor
Paul Kupperberg Editor

Our cover by Ramos and Faucher is a bit of a departure from the usual Impulse covers of the time with bold, dark colors. But I enjoy the variety. A lot of white space is fun every now and then, as is breaking the fourth wall. Impulse is reading The Flash #118, which concludes the saga with the future Flash, John Fox. And Impulse has to read this issue since he doesn't appear in it. And my favorite part of this cover is the fake ad on the back of Impulse's comic: Just when you thought it was safe to go into the checkout lane ... Barcode IV. What a creative way to incorporate the barcode into the cover art.

Our story begins with Bart and Carol playing Sega while sitting upside down on the couch. But their fun comes to a quick end when Carol has to leave for piano practice. Bart complains he'll be bored if Carol leaves, so she suggests he join a club or a team. So Bart rushes off to the school to try his hand at sports. First up is basketball. However, Bart soon finds out he's at a bit of a disadvantage with his size.

Max soon arrives and drags Bart away before he's attempted to use his super speed. But Bart's insistent, and next gives football a try. But once again, the tiny teen fails miserably. So Bart heads to the track, knowing he could kick anyone's butt in a race. But he displays some rare maturity by pulling himself out. Bart then complains to Max about how he wants Bart to fit in and act like a normal kid, but he can't do that by playing in any sports. Luckily Max gets an idea, and gives Bart a baseball helmet, which he thinks is for motorcross.

So Bart heads out to his first game, playing on the same team as Preston and Carol. The first time Bart steps up to bat, he quickly swings three times and strikes out before the first pitch is thrown. Carol tries to show Bart a few pointers, and the rest of the team makes fun of her for liking Bart.

Bart then heads out to right field, and accidentally uses his super speed to make a catch that he shouldn't have been able to make. Bart excitedly tells Max he's actually having fun, but Max sternly reminds him that using his powers isn't fair to the other players. Meanwhile, Preston begins probing Carol about her relationship with Bart, asking her if she's kissed him yet. But Carol steadfastly maintains that they are just good friends and nothing more.

Later in the game, Bart catches a grounder without using his powers, and is so happy, he begins to do a celebratory dance. Carol yells at him to throw the ball, so he panics and throws the ball so fast, it goes sailing out of the park. The only one who realized what happened was Max, and Carol chews Bart out for goofing around.

On Bart's second at-bat, he once again swings long before the pitch arrives. Max tells Bart to keep his eye on the ball, which Bart does ... watching the ball all the way until it hits him right in the eye. Carol helps the dizzy Bart up, and the two get a little closer than they perhaps intended, which only inspires more ridicule from their teammates and the attention of Max.

We finally come to the bottom of the ninth inning. Bart's team is down one, has two out and the bases loaded. And it's up to poor Bart to save the day. One of his teammates suggests he takes the pitch in the head again to tie the game, but Bart says no thanks. Max tells Bart once more to keep his eye on the ball, so this time, Bart uses his super speed to run alongside the ball, study it, grab a drink, take careful aim, and then finally hit a home run. Bart's so transfixed by this, he has to be told to take his eye off the ball and run.

When he finally rounds the bases, an excited Carol jumps into Bart's arms and kisses him! The seemingly romantic moment quickly dissolves as Carol and Bart burst out into laughter, leaving their teammates to conclude that the two weirdos deserve each other. Bart asks Carol what that was about, and she says she has no idea, only that everyone kept riding her, and she just kind of lost herself. Carol asks if they can still be friends, and Bart says he can't imagine why not.

Max then approaches Bart, saying, "I see you scored." But that comment went over Bart's head. Bart then tells Max he's done with baseball, feeling sports are a little too public for him and Max. So Max says he'll buy the new Garguax Invasion game for Bart so he can plop back on the couch where he belongs.

What a fun issue! We didn't see Impulse once, and it was great. And, most importantly, this featured Bart's first kiss! However, it really was more of a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing between good friends, but ... this just may be planting a few seeds for a Bart-Carol romance. We'll have to wait a few years for that to fully develop, though.

Travis Stoffs, of Gainesville, Fla., said Impulse #17 ties with Impulse #3 for the best Impulse story. Travis, however, does complain about Zatanna wearing fishnets, saying that's a Black Canary look. But Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt tells him that this is Zatanna's current look, and Black Canary no longer wears fishnets.

Augie de Blieck Jr., of North Haledon, N.J., not only wants Bart to go on a date, but thinks it would be great to have Bart book two dates on the same night, with one of them being with Carol, naturally.

Ynot Trebyes, of Los Angeles, said he's never enjoyed a Zatanna appearance as much as in issue #17. Tony also points out how the inter dimensional travel scenes were reminiscent of Steve Ditko's Dr. Strange.

Ed Homa Jr., of Bear, Del., loves the way Humberto Ramos and Wayne Faucher draw Zatanna and asks to see her again. He also wants Impulse to meet Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Nightwing, Green Lantern, Superman, Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, Donna Troy, Atom, Elongated Man and Jesse Quick.

Stacey Hogan, of Middletown, N.J., enjoyed Impulse saying "To infinity ... and beyond!" She also jokes about Max's maid outfit at the end, saying he could probably pull it off if he shaved his legs.

Doud Ohmer, of Covington, Ky., thanks DC for bringing Zatanna out of comic book limbo, and asks to see much more of her in the future. Doud also thinks it would be a good idea for Impulse to have a major failure to get him to act more serious. Now for the few new ads:

Watch This Space breaks down all the guests at Superman's wedding. Surprisingly, there were very few comic book characters in the room, but mostly comic book creators. Appropriately, the presiding priest at the wedding was Jerry Siegel.

Batman Holo Series. All-hologram trading cards.

Well, that does it for the year 1996. Next time, I'll present my third Year in Review, presenting awards for each comic Impulse appeared in with a 1996 cover date.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Robin Plus Impulse #1

Dashing Through the Snow

Brian Augustyn and Mark Waid • Story
John Royle • Pencils
Rob Leigh • Inks
Jason Wright • Colors
John Costanza • Letters
Jordan B. Gorfinkel • Editor

Fans have been asking for this pretty much since the creation of Impulse. And now, our lovable speedster finally gets to team up with the most famous teenage superhero of all time — Robin. And even though Robin gets top billing here, this almost feels like an exclusive Impulse story since it involves his two creators: Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo, who did the cover with John Dell. Wieringo was the regular penciller on Robin at the time, and it shows. Robin looks great on this cover, but Impulse ... not so much. Keep in mind that even though Wieringo designed the character, he only drew him in a couple of issues. Most likely, this was the first time Wieringo drew Impulse since the cover of Flash #100, and sadly, he did not incorporate some of the elements Humberto Ramos introduced to the character. But that's alright, since John Royle did the pencils inside, and, while not as polished as Wieringo or Ramos, he did manage to give Impulse the more updated look.

Our story begins in Gotham City, with Robin investigating a burglary. Although we don't see him, Batman is communicating with Robin the whole time, offering tips and helping out from the background. Apparently a former Soviet Bloc super spy named Piotr Vilk has stolen some obsolete computer equipment, which has quite befuddled our young detective. But before Robin can get too far with his investigation, his rope is cut by a mysterious woman in a gold mask.

Robin's next step has him tracking Vilk down to The Pines ski resort in Virginia. So Robin decides to visit the place as Tim Drake with a couple of friends and Alfred, telling them his dad had discount tickets to the resort. Tim and Alfred quickly set up a makeshift crime lab in their hotel room, and Tim is able to spot Vilk with his binoculars. But Vilk is with another large, intimidating man and a beautiful young woman, so Alfred advises Tim to bide his time. Tim then spots some more kids arriving at the resort, one in particular with really big feet.

And, of course, the kid with big feet is Bart Allen, who is visiting The Pines with his class, including Carol and Preston. And Max Mercury is there, acting as a chaperone and encouraging Bart to behave like a normal kid. Surprisingly, Bart absolutely hates the snow and his puffy winter clothes. But he gets the chance to run a bit when Preston notices his wallet is missing. Bart vibrates out of his coat and boots, runs the few hundred miles back to Manchester, Alabama, finds Preston's wallet in his house, and brings it back, claiming to have found it in the snow all before anyone had a chance to notice Bart's winter clothes were momentarily empty. Everyone except Max, that is, who lectures Bart about protecting his secret identity and punishes him by having him carry everyone's skis.

Later, Bart happens to share a chair lift with Tim Drake. Bart has a hard time hiding his disgust (and even a little terror) of the idea of skiing, and Tim admits he's hoping for some other kind of action. But while Tim skis down the slope, Bart finds himself frozen with fear for the first time in his life. And the once proud daredevil shamefully backs away in front of his classmates.

Back at the lodge, Bart busies himself with Downhill Doom 3 on his Game Lad and tries to sound cool in front of Preston and Carol by saying the slope simply wasn't challenging enough for him. But despite his video game, Bart is able to notice Piotr Vilk suspiciously leaving the lodge at night with a briefcase. Robin also noticed Vilk's movement, and decided to follow him on cross country skis. But Robin's ski gets caught on a tree branch, alerting Vilk to Robin's position. The Russian spy pulls out a gun and begins firing at the Boy Wonder, but suddenly, Impulse arrives, catches the bullets, and says, "Relax, Red-Breast — Impulse is on the case!" Impulse frees Robin, and pulls him to safety behind a snow bank. Robin then says, "Thanks for the save ... Bart."

Bart has a wonderfully comical reaction, and Robin assures him he'll keep his identity a secret. Impulse then asks Robin if he can join him on his case, and Robin says yes. Then Impulse asks for Robin's secret identity, but he says no.

So our two heroes track Vilk and his out-of-date computer equipment to a military camp. Alfred then contacts Robin via his radio, saying he's identified Vilk's associate as one George Deegan, leader of the super-violent militia group White Heat. Alfred advises Robin stay behind and wait for Batman, but Impulse doesn't know the meaning of wait. Bart rushes in and begins beating up all the bad guys, and although Robin knows better, he can't help but act a little impulsive himself.

As the boys fight, Vilk's "girlfriend" sneaks away to quickly change into her outfit with the gold mask we saw at the beginning of this story. She joins the fight, but chews out Robin and Impulse for forcing her to blow her cover after six months of work. She introduces herself as Mystral, and points out that the only important people, Vilk and Deegan, have gotten away during the chaos. So the three heroes begin tracking Vilk once again, but this time he uses a hand grenade to bury them under an avalanche.

We then head back to the lodge, where we find out Max was out looking for Bart and Tim, but had to give up because of an incoming blizzard. And the storm has gotten so bad, even the professional rescuers decided to abandon the search. The panic unites Bart's and Tim's friends, and brings Max and Alfred together for the first time. Alfred tries to assure that Bart might be safe if he's with Tim, and Max agrees that Bart is unusually lucky, but he decides to go out looking for the boys again.

Back to the action, we see that Mystral apparently has super strength and is using it to keep our heroes from being buried by the snow. And Impulse is keeping them warm with his ... vibrational heat? At least that's what Robin said. Anyway, when Mystral tells the teens she's not strong enough to get them out of their makeshift cave, Impulse says he can save them and only didn't because no one asked. So Impulse creates a mini-vortex to tunnel the heroes to safety.

Mystral then locates Vilk via her telepathic powers, and explains that he was looking for an abandoned military base loaded with nuclear missiles in Mount Crockett. When our heroes arrive there, Robin realizes Vilk needed the old computer equipment to crack the base's outdated lock. And Mystral points out Vilk waited for a blizzard to keep the army away while he took the nukes.

So our heroes fight their way into the base, and the action gets a little silly. Impulse ties a rope between two trees to knock some guys off a snowmobile, then Mystral crashes the snowmobile into a truck carrying explosives. Then Robin pushes Impulse down a hill, so he can take out a bunch of guards while sliding on his butt. Impulse really likes it, calling it Downhill Doom IV.

This is where the plot gets a little mixed up. Vilk's associate, Deegan wanted to take all the weapons from the base to "save America from itself." But Vilk wanted to launch a nuclear strike on Russia to reunite the Soviet Union against America. Even though it seems like both their goals could be met here — they each want to unite their home countries under the threat of war — Deegan feels like Vilk used him. They easily could have just talked this out, but Vilk rashly decides to kill Deegan right before our heroes reach the control room.

Mystral takes off after Vilk, while Robin and Impulse try to prevent Vilk's nuke strike. Even though Vilk says he targeted all the missiles to land in Russia, the computer's map shows all the targets in America. Miscommunication between the writers and the artists, I guess. Anyway, Robin wasn't able to see Vilk enter in the specific digits of the code from across the room, but he is certain the password is five numbers followed by three letters and another two numbers. So Impulse begins entering every possible combination that matches that format. Robin points out he only has three and a half minutes, but Impulse says he beat Zelda in less time.

As the clock ticks down, Impulse jokes about confusing the computer with questions about love, but this only makes Robin freak out more. He says, "C'mon, Bart, everyone always says it's our generation that'll save the world — let's actually do it!!" Bart answers this melodramatic statement with an appropriate, "Um ... sure. Whatever." Sure enough, Bart saves the world with plenty of time to spare.

Impulse and Robin reunite with Mystral and take out all the remaining White Heat goons. Mystral then takes off, leaving behind her gold mask and her fake face she wore underneath it. Robin and Impulse then begin the long walk back to the lodge through the blizzard, while Impulse teases Robin for having a crush on Mystral.

This was a very fun, delightful comic book. The fans were right to clamor for a Robin-Impulse team-up — they work perfectly together! However, this issue did have a few flaws with it. The plot was overly complicated and weighed down with unnecessary details and characters, such as Deegan and even Mystral. As far as I know, Mystral never appeared again in any comic, which makes all her mystery and too-convenient powers all the more frustrating. This story would have been a lot better if it was just Robin and Impulse against Piotr Vilk. I think Brian Augustyn and Mark Waid just had too many ideas on the table and couldn't decide what to cut. And because there was so much nonsense going on with Mystral, the entire subplot of Max searching for the boys was dropped. Perhaps Augustyn was a better editor than a writer. But all in all, I really enjoyed this issue. The art was solid, the dialogue was funny, and this was the first of many wonderful Impulse-Robin adventures.

There aren't any letters to the editor (naturally), so we'll take a look at the ads:

Space Jam. Get ready to jam. Starring Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan. Also Wayne Knight, before he'd play Micro in Punisher: War Zone, and Danny DeVito, after he played the Penguin in Batman Returns. I was 9 years old in 1996, so I believe that Space Jam is the greatest movie of all time. I even own the soundtrack!

See Johnny run. See Johnny fly. Be Johnny. Johnny Quest CD-ROM game.

Jordan jams! Bugs slams! Space Jam: The Video Game on PlayStation. I sadly didn't have this game as kid, but I did get to play it a couple of times and I thought it was really cool.

He's big on action! A two-page ad for the 12-inch action figure Action Man.

Why allowance was invented. A two-page ad for Major League Baseball cards.

Play dirty! Three Dirty Dwarves on SEGA Saturn.

JLA. The world's greatest heroes together again! Grant Morrison, Howard Porter, John Dell.

Dannon Sprinkl'ins Magic Crystals yogurt. If you wanted to destroy your comic book, you could fold this page in half to see the yogurt spell the word "new."

Next time, we'll cover Impulse #20, the final Impulse appearance with a 1996 cover date.