Friday, December 18, 2015

The Flash #148

Chain Lightning, Chapter Four: Undertow

Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn, Story
Paul Pelletier, Pencils
Vince Russell, Inks
Gaspar, Letters
Tom McCraw, Colors
Frank Berrios, Asst. Editor
Joey Cavalieri, Editor

Our cover by Steve Lightle follows the standard Chain Lightning pattern with the Flash running alongside various speedsters. This time, we do know all of them. From left, we have Wally's daughter Iris from the future (aka Kid Flash), John Fox and XS. It is nice that they had this consistency throughout the event, but I am getting kind of bored of it after four issues. Plus, I really wish Paul Pelletier could be doing the covers, since I enjoy his artwork so much.

What Has Gone Before: Cobalt Blue — aka Malcolm Thawne, twisted twin brother of Flash's predecessor, Barry Allen — has sworn vengeance against all Flashes past and present. Using a magic gem of incalculable power passed from generation to generation, Thawne's own descendants will target Flashes for the next thousand years — unless Wally West and his allies can move through time to stop them. According to the gem's mystic prophecy, its sinister sorcery will consume two Flashes before finally murdering Barry Allen before his time. Already, one such Flash has been possessed ... but who will be the other ... ?

We pick up right where we left off last issue, with Wally and Professor Zoom in an intense standoff to  steal the gem from its last known location, the clutches of President Thaddeus Thawne (Bart's other grandfather). Zoom and Flash have a very fast battle, so fast, in fact, that nobody else can see them moving. Zoom vibrates his hand through Wally's side, slicing him up, but Wally knocks Zoom out with a light-speed punch. Wally then mimics Zoom's vibrating hand technique to destroy the Cobalt Blue gem in President Thawne's hand, and takes Zoom away before anyone notices. President Thawne doesn't understand why the gem suddenly exploded, and his followers assume he intentionally destroyed it, and they seem to turn on him. Meanwhile, Wally takes Zoom back to his time and throws him back in his cell.

Back in 1999, Wally's girlfriend, Angela, is revived by a couple of fellow officers. They show her that Malcolm Thawne is now in a vegetative state, and Angela says the last thing she saw before blacking out was Jay Garrick lunging at the villain. One of the cops says that if that's the case, then they're going to have to bring Jay in, even though he is a superhero.

We get another montage of the various Flashes running throughout time to help other Flashes battle other Cobalt Blues. Wally visits the Tornado Twins, Don and Dawn Allen (Bart's dad and aunt), but find they've already been visited by Kid Flash and given shards of the Cobalt Blue gem. They try to keep Kid Flash's identity a secret from Wally, but it seems like he already knows she's his daughter.

We then check in with Impulse, who has finally reunited with his cousin, XS, who appears to be locked in a battle with another Cobalt Blue. Bart lunges at the young man dressed in blue and black, and begins to pound him into a paste before Jenni shoves him off the poor kid. Turns out, he wasn't Cobalt Blue at all, but a hero named Blazerr, who was trying out for the Legion of Super-Heroes. In Bart's defense, Blazerr does have the exact same look and power set of Cobalt Blue. But none of the Legionnaires are too happy with Bart's rude interruption.

Wally races along the edge of the Speed Force, where he sees that all the Cobalt Blues are accounted for, except one, who just so happens to be in the one time period Wally didn't want to visit — Barry Allen's time in the mid-30th century. So Wally heals his wound from the fight with Professor Zoom, and reluctantly races off to save his former mentor, knowing how hard it'll be to see him so soon before his death.

Since Brainiac 5 isn't around to vouch for him, Impulse is rudely booted out of the Legion of Super-Hero Headquarters. Bart tells Jenni that she's not safe, explaining all about the Cobalt Blues. But Jenni tells him she learned that the Cobalt Blue gem was destroyed shortly after she was born, meaning they're free from danger in this era. Kid Flash arrives just then, looking to recruit XS to help warn the other Flashes, and Bart complains that there's always someone "horning in on" his missions.

Kid Flash gives Impulse and XS each a shard, telling them to travel through time, but, per Wally's instructions, they are to avoid Barry Allen's time. Bart wonders why they should listen to Wally, and Jenni argues that they should help their grandpa. Kid Flash protests, but Bart shoves the two of them all the way to the Cosmic Treadmill in the Flash Museum, where he takes the three of them back to Barry's time.

The teenagers arrive around the same time as Wally, and their simple argument has grown into a full-scale fight. Wally becomes enraged and almost attacks them before he realizes the shard of the gem he's holding is feeding him hatred. He throws his shard down and tries to get the kids to drop their shards, but he's suddenly hit by a stampede of speedsters. And leading this charge is the possessed Jay Garrick.

All the Flashes and speedsters are now under the control of Malcolm Thawne, who explains that the gem is a conduit for now just his hatred, but also his soul. And before this story even started, Malcolm put a part of his soul in Jay, subtly influencing him to suggest the idea of distributing the shards to the other speedsters. The possessed Flashes all beat the snot out of Wally, and Malcolm gloats that Wally is outnumbered 25-to-1. But then a voice tells Malcolm to count again. And that voice belongs to none other than Barry Allen himself.

This story is big, complicated, and totally awesome. Jay Garrick is possessed! All the Flashes are under control! And Barry Allen is back! Yeah, some parts of the story have gone a bit long and repetitive, but it is still a lot of fun to see all the different versions of the Flash. And it was very nice to have Impulse reunited with XS, as well as being reminded of the Legion's eternal hatred of Bart. It's all in good fun, though.

I only have the digital copy of this issue, so that's it for today. Next time, we'll get another fun guest star in Impulse #48.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Young Justice 80-Page Giant #1

First Memory

Written by Peter David
Art by Justiano with Cabin Boy, Andy Lanning and Kevin Conrad
Color by Jason Wright and Digital Chameleon
Lettering by Comicraft
Cover by Humberto Ramos & Wayne Faucher
Cover color by Richard and Tanya Horie
Edited by Eddie Berganza with Alisande Morales

It's always nice to see Humberto Ramos return to an Impulse-related project. But this cover is not his best work. The focus is on Red Tornado, as it should be, but he's an emotionless android, making his face quite boring. An easily overlooked detail is the purple energy surrounding Red, which we last saw with Bedlam during World Without Grown-Ups. On the side, we have three of the various dreams Young Justice find themselves in. Unfortunately, Ramos didn't seem to coordinate very well with the respective artists for each story, as there are numerous inconsistencies between the cover and the inside pages, most notably Arrowette wielding a gun. But I am glad that Impulse's story made it to the cover, even though he and Wonder Girl look completely different inside.

As is the norm with these 80-page giants, this issue is split into seven 10-page stories. The main story, First Memory, is split into two parts, which bookend the five separate "dreams." So without further ado, let's dive in!

Our story is narrated by the large, purple entity/genie that possessed Matthew Stuart and turned him into Bedlam. For simplicity's sake, I will refer to the entity as Bedlam, although it technically doesn't have a name. Bedlam begins his tale by asking us to think our first memories. He shows several examples, including a young girl wearing a Flash T-shirt at the Haly Circus. But Bedlam doesn't have a first memory. He has always existed from the dawn of time. He just needed to be defined and given form and substance, which happened when an Atlantean sorcerer tapped into Bedlam's primal energy. But that sorcerer was defeated by Arion, who imprisoned Bedlam in a crystal chamber, which eventually made it's way to Matthew Stuart on his 13th birthday.

Bedlam gives a very quick recap of World Without Grown-Ups, and explains that Matthew, the human vessel, was defeated, but the energy of Bedlam remained. Weakened from the battle, Bedlam sought to hide himself from the heroes. His fascination with human sentience kept him close, despite his jealousy of their emotions and imagination. Luckily for Bedlam, he found a nearby solution that gave him the best of both worlds — the offline Red Tornado. As an android, Red Tornado provided the sentience Bedlam craved without any of the painful emotion.

But Bedlam's presence within the machine caused it to begin to dream. First of electric sheep, then humanity. These dreams grew into a desire of awareness, which Bedlam granted, reactivating Red Tornado and making him more human than before. When Red Tornado was with his daughter, Traya, on Halloween, Young Justice inadvertently caused Mr. Mxyzptlk to change the world. But Bedlam protected Red Tornado and Traya from this reality-altering event, making them two of the few people who recognized the changed world.

A few days later, Red Tornado was attacked by Harm — an assault that reminded him he was just a machine. Red Tornado began to grow cold and distant after that, only going through the motions with Young Justice. This feeling was increased tenfold by the attack from the Psyba-Rats. And now Red Tornado's disinterest in humanity has made Young Justice quite concerned.

The kids brought in Traya and her mother, Kathy, while suggesting that Red Tornado take some time off to spend it with his family. But the android brushes them off and goes back to watching the cave's monitors. Superboy angrily lashes out at "Reddy," saying none of them know what's inside him anymore. Secret says she knows what's inside him, saying she noticed a purple energy in him when she went looking for the bomb Harm put in him.

Robin demands to know why Secret didn't mention this earlier, but she didn't think it was unusual. To redeem herself, Secret re-enters Red Tornado and finds Bedlam, ordering him to get out. Bedlam complies, but he erupts from the android with a blast. Having used his long rest to recover and scheme, Bedlam immediately attacks Young Justice, capturing them in a whirlwind inspired by Red Tornado. To gain more strength to remake the world in his image, Bedlam forces the words "And suddenly ... " into the teens' minds. Those two simple words were carefully chosen for their potential to trigger ideas, notions and imagination Bedlam could feed off of. And suddenly ...

The Totally O.K. Corral

Beau Smith Writer
Sergio Cariello Pencils
Keith Champagne Inker
Pam Rambo Colors
Jack Morelli Letters

The kids of Young Justice "blonk" into the wild west, where Robin is the marshal and Superboy is his  slow-speaking sidekick. Both of them are confused about their new location, costumes, and compulsion to talk in old west slang. A toothless old man warns Robin of the arrival of a band of robbers called the Clantons, and Impulse, who's in jail for some reason, asks to be released to help out. Robin agrees, and Superboy arms him with a paddleball.

Meanwhile, Wonder Girl is out shoeing a horse when she sees the Clantons come storming in. They immediately try to hang an old man, but Arrowette (who's basically a white Native American) shoots an arrow through the noose. Some of the Clantons begin terrorizing the school house, but the teacher, Secret, scares them away. The boys meet up with the girls in the street and agree to team up to kick the Clantons out of town, forming Young Frontier Justice.

Our heroes approach the bad guys, and Robin tells the sidewinders to throw down their guns real slow and follow them to jail or they'll end up siftin' sunshine through their guts. The Clantons naturally refuse to surrender and draw their weapons. Robin knocks away one gun with his batarang, and Impulse takes away the rest.

Wonder Girl smashes a couple of guys' heads into each other, and Secret sends two of them up in a dusty whirlwind, which surprises her for some reason. Arrowette pins four of them to the rocks with her arrows, and Superboy ties up six of them with a random steel girder (there sure are a lot of Clantons). Impulse uses his paddleball to terrorize one guy ... and ... strip him down to his underwear? Robin knocks out the final two with a cattle prod, and before our heroes can figure out what's going on, or even what they're saying, they all "bloink" away. And suddenly ...

My Gun Is (Super) Quick

Jay Faerber – Writer
Tommy Lee Edwards – Artist
Melissa Edwards – Colorist
John Workman – Letterer

Bart finds himself in a suit, in an office, with a beautiful woman declaring him the best private eye in the city. Bart admits she's boring him, and he asks where they are, what year it is, and what happened to the color. The woman assumes this is an example of Mr. Allen's famous wit, while Bart frantically begins searching for Robin and Superboy. The woman continues to try to seduce Bart, which would be an uncomfortable situation, but luckily it's interrupted by someone screaming.

Turns out the scream came from Wonder Girl, who is horrified to find herself wearing a dress and working as Bart's secretary. Bart doesn't see what the problem is with this, and the impatient woman finally gets direct with Bart. She introduces herself as Mrs. Eva Wattington, and says she saw her husband kill his brother last night. Eva is afraid to go to the police because she thinks her husband will kill her before his brother's body can be found. Bart wishes he could press a reset button, and reluctantly agrees to help Eva, even though he's worried it'll take long.

So Bart rides with Eva in her slow car to her house, where he's supposed to protect her. But all Bart cares about is whether the place has a PlayChannel 65 or a PlayStation (I find it odd that they used one fake video game name and one real name). Wonder Girl, meanwhile, actually does the detective work by visiting the alley where the murder allegedly took place. She can't find any blood at the scene, but she does come across a clue pretty quickly.

Eva continues to try to seduce the bored and oblivious Bart. Before things can get two awkward once again, Eva's husband comes marching in, accompanied by his two henchmen, Robin and Superboy. Mr. Wattington pulls a gun on Bart, who quickly snatches it away, lecturing the man that while the old-time guns may be silly-looking, they can still hurt people. So Mr. Wattington orders Robin and Superboy to attack, and they reluctantly obey. Bart quickly ties up Robin and begins wrestling with Superboy when Wonder Girl suddenly comes crashing through the window.

Cassie explains that she met a very nice wino in the alley, who sleeps there every night and attested that there was no murder there last night. So Cassie tracked down Wattington's brother, Donald, and found him alive and well on vacation. Bart's still confused by this convoluted plot, so Wonder Girl elaborates. Eva was trying to trick her rich husband into thinking she was having an affair with Bart so that they'd kill each other, leaving her with all the money.

Mr. Wattington thanks Bart for saving his life, and congratulates him for being every bit the detective he claims to be. Bart shakes his hand, and says, "No problemo," even though Wattington had just tried to kill him a minute ago. Cassie flips out over this, saying she deserves the credit for cracking the case and doing all the work. And suddenly ...

We enter an old silent film about Nosferatu and "wampirs." But it only involves the girls and none of the boys, so we'll skip it. And suddenly ...

Rock 'em Sock 'em ... Robot?

Lary Stucker Writer/Inker
Keron Grant Pencils
Felix Serrano Colors
Jack Morelli Letters

Arrowette finds herself the lord of a spaceship, and is informed her giant robot, the X-J23, has been sent to destroy Earth, and the traitor is ready for his execution. When Arrowette learns the traitor is Robin, she insists on carrying out the execution personally. She also tries to recall the robot, but it's too late. The X-J23 begins wreaking havoc, and Superboy is recruited by the army to stop it, which he thinks is way more fun than being a hired thug. For some reason, Wonder Girl, who is now Joe Joe the Circus Monkey, is inside the X-J23, but she's unable to stop it. We then catch up with Impulse, who shares Superboy's enthusiasm for this new dream.

However, Impulse suddenly becomes distracted by a puppy. Robin, meanwhile, tries to escape Arrowette's prison, but he's electrocuted. Fortunately, Secret arrives to save him. For some reason, she's a cat, but even more perplexingly, she doesn't know what cats are. But she is glad to not be battling wampirs anymore, and Robin suggests she become knock-out gas to take down the first person to enter his cell. And that person is Arrowette. Secret apologizes for knocking out her teammate, and Robin scoops her up as the three of take off in an escape pod.

Robin, Arrowette and Secret land in proximity to the battle between Superboy and the X-J23. Superboy finds that his tactile telekinesis has been amped up to the point where he can send out powerful energy blasts. And he's not the only one. Robin, Arrowette, and Secret all attack the giant robot with energy blasts, but nothing really happens. Wonder Girl finally gives up trying to stop the machine and pops out to join the others.

Impulse finally arrives and excitedly shows off his puppy, which is actually a small dragon. But then Impulse pulls water on the dragon, causing it to grow to enormous size, big enough to take down the X-J23. Once the day is saved, the dragon shrinks back down, and Impulse asks if they think Red Tornado will let him keep his puppy. And suddenly ...

Our Justice at War

Story: Peter J. Tomasi
Pencils: Dietrich Smith
Inks: Jaime Mendoza & Sean Parsons
Letters: Albert de Guzman
Colors: Matt Webb

It's December 16, 1944, in Lanzerath, Belgium, and we open with an American soldier named George  Poulos. George is a huge superhero fan, reading All-Star Comics and wearing a Flash T-shirt underneath his uniform. When he spots three figures approaching his bunker, he challenges them with his own special password by asking them to name a member of the Justice Society of America. Naturally, the three figures are Superboy, Robin and Impulse, and they manage to answer the question correctly, albeit awkwardly.

The boys are welcomed into the bunker, which is full of wounded soldiers. Superboy and Robin are shocked to see the soldiers aren't much older than they are, and Impulse, who's not very good at history, thinks they're in Iraq during the Gulf War, despite the swirling snow. George explains that all the commanding officers have been killed, so he's in charge, even though he's just a private first class. And to make matters worse, this little band of soldiers has no way of getting the wounded to safety.

They soon fall under attack, and Robin has Impulse pull the wounded out of firing range. Then he, Superboy and Impulse directly engage the German forces. Robin takes on a couple with his R-shaped batarangs, and Impulse knocks out a handful before deciding to focus on the tanks. Bart pulls the soldiers out of the three tanks, and Superboy lifts them up to hurl back at the enemy.

Unfortunately, one German grenade gets past the boys, and George dives on it to protect his wounded comrades. As George bleeds out in the snow, he jokes that his Flash shirt didn't make him fast enough, but maybe a Spectre or Doctor Fate shirt would have helped. Robin then focuses his efforts on organizing a retreat, sending Superboy to find some trucks and having Impulse gather up all the wounded.

They load all the soldiers into a truck, and Superboy flies it away, with George awkwardly wedged between him and the truck. Impulse pulls a second truck behind him in his slipstream. George comments on how beautiful it is up in the air (even though all he should be able to see is the underside of the truck) and before our heroes can save him, George appears to die. And suddenly ...

The entity known as Bedlam feels he has captured enough power from the imaginations of Young Justice, so he spits the heroes out of his tornado while he grows in size and rips off the top of the cave. The Super-Cycle catches the teenagers, and Bedlam continues to grow in size and power, preparing to remake the world in his image. Red Tornado embraces his family, and Traya cries out that she doesn't want to be without her daddy.

Red Tornado then flies up to Bedlam and says something interesting. He argues that the young ones had the opportunity to live their dreams but he didn't. (I would consider these "dreams" to be more like the random dreams you get when you fall asleep, not real aspirations, but whatever.) Red Tornado demands that Bedlam turn him into a human so that he can die with his loved ones as one of them. Bedlam grants his wish, turning Red Tornado into a bald white man. Bedlam watches closely as Red embraces his family, and suddenly ...

Bedlam finds himself fascinated with this creature, this android who was outside of humanity but so attached to humanity that he chose to spend his final moments. Bedlam begins to question himself, and for the first time in his endless eternity, he speaks, wondering aloud what it must be like to be human. And for the first time, Bedlam begins to imagine something, which then became reality.

A large purple whirlwind surrounds Bedlam, and everyone just manages to get away on the Super-Cycle. The genie feels himself slipping away as the winds intensify, ultimately leading to a large explosion. The world rearranges itself. The cave is repaired. Red Tornado is an android again. And where Bedlam was, a baby boy lies in his place. Arrowette picks up the infant with purple eyes, and Bedlam feels his thoughts float away. But he embraces this change, calling it a reward. And he closes his story by tying it back to the beginning with his talk of first memories. Bedlam now has a first memory — that of being born.

That was a pretty serious ending for what was mostly a pretty goofy comic. Without a doubt, the framing narrative of Bedlam and Red Tornado was by far the best part of this issue. I loved how Peter David fully explained how Red Tornado was activated once again and how he avoided the changes caused by Mr. Mxyzptlk. These weren't huge problems for me, but it is really nice to get answers to them all the same. The entity of Bedlam is a really confusing, vague concept, and it is very easy to make him even more confusing if you think too much about it. But I felt like it worked well enough for this story.

What didn't work, surprisingly, were all the "dreams" the kids were thrown into. In theory, this comic should have been a smash hit, showing our lovable heroes in completely different and random scenarios with unique art and writing styles. But the art was generally poor across the board, and none of the dreams really stood out. And the inconsistencies really got to me. How come some of the characters were omitted from some dreams? And why were they compelled to act a certain way in some dreams, but had more freedom in others? Plus, I never knew whose dream we were in at a given time. Did Bart dream of himself becoming a private eye, or was that Wonder Girl's dream/nightmare of watching him take all the credit for her hard work? This issue had so much potential, but didn't live up to it.

There aren't any letters to the editor or new ads of note, so I'll see you next time, when we return to Chain Lightning in The Flash #148.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Young Justice #8

The Uninvited Geeks

Guest Writer: Chuck Dixon
Pencils: Todd Nauck & Coy Turnbull
Inks: Lary Stucker & Jaime Mendoza
Colors: Jason Wright
Letters: Ken Lopez
Assistant Editor: Frank Berrios
Editor: Eddie Berganza

Razorsharp cuts in on Superboy and Secret in this cover by Todd Nauck and Lary Stucker with the colors of Patrick Martin. It's nice to focus on just a couple of characters every now and then, but Superboy and Secret don't play any more of a significant role in this issue than any other character. We have seen Razorsharp once before, albeit very briefly. She was a member of the short-lived reality TV group Blood Pack, of which Impulse was a big fan. But when their phone call got cut off, Impulse became angry and called them "reverbs." And I'm still not sure what that means. But none of that matters in this issue.

Our story begins with Red Tornado at the monitor station in the Young Justice cave. But the feed is hijacked by what he calls a "moronic television program." But when the excited blond young man on the screen starts speaking directly to Red Tornado, he assumes this is an example of the boys' inappropriate humor, and he tries to take it down. But as he types on the keyboard, Red Tornado is electrocuted and shuts down. And editor's note says, "The villain Harm short-circuited Red in ish #5. This is the kind of repeated behavior that could lead into another plot line if we're not careful. See Young Justice 80-Page Giant #1 on sale." And we'll get to that next time.

Once Red Tornado is knocked out, Razorsharp enters the cave with a black kid named Hackman. The guy in the TV is called Channelman, and together they are the Psyba-Rats, hired by a mysterious client to hack the Young Justice computers. But the Psyba-Rats aren't alone. Arrowette has been in the gym, growing bored with her archery practice. Channelman finds Arrowette, and she thinks he's a prank from Impulse or Superboy, but not Robin, who wouldn't do something this lame. Channelman tells Razorsharp where Arrowette is, and the two girls soon launch into an intense fight.

The boys (and Secret, but no Wonder Girl) come back from some sort of mission, but Robin can't open the door to the cave. Impulse tells him to "jiggle it," which draw's Robin's ire and Secret's sympathy. Superboy suggests contacting Red Tornado, but he's not responding. After complaining for a bit, Robin has Impulse check all the other entrances. Superboy wants to simply tear the door down, but Robin says the door is too expensive to replace. Impulse reports that all the other doors are sealed, as well, and Robin realizes that Superboy's so desperate to get inside because he forgot to set the VCR to record "Wendy the Werewolf Stalker." (There are a couple of archaic references here, so let me explain. VCRs played VHS tapes and could be used to record TV shows, although it was a clunky, complicated process. And "Wendy the Werewolf Stalker" is a reference to a popular '90s show called "Buffy the Vampire Slayer.") Anyway, Robin finally comes up with a useful idea, and has Impulse vibrate through the door. Impulse kicks himself for not thinking of that, and Superboy demands he make it quick.

Meanwhile, Arrowette defeats Razorsharp with a gas arrow. She tells the intruder to be thankful she used a little respiratory irritant instead of a puke arrow. But while Arrowette gloats, Hackman sneaks up behind her and knocks her out with a taser. Channelman then alerts the Psyba-Rats of the arrival of Impulse, who is having too much fun keeping Superboy locked outside. For entry to the cave, Impulse demands control of the game programs for a week. When Superboy and Robin protest, Impulse ups it to two weeks.

Robin and Superboy then get into a big argument over how stupid Wend the Werewolf Stalker is, and Superboy says they should have installed a VCR into the Super-Cycle. Secret gets tired of the boys' fighting, so she decides to find a way inside on her own. Impulse, seemingly of his own volition, decides to start looking around the cave. But he does so rather sloppily, completely missing Razorsharp and Hackman, who are simply ducking behind a couch.

Impulse does find the shorted out Red Tornado, which he reports to Robin. The terrified Psyba-Rats, meanwhile, ask Channelman to find a weakness for the "human blur" they know is bound to find them eventually. So Channelman, who makes himself look vaguely like Sonic the Hedgehog, uses the cave's holographic projection system to create Vance Carnage from "Terminal Odyssey." Vance, wielding a sword and a gun, calls Impulse "mutant scum" and prepares to attack. But Bart calls the video game character his role model, and the source of his carpal tunnel pain. And Impulse gleefully battles the hologram, saying he'll race it to level 12.

We then check in with Arrowette, who is duct-taped to a pillar in the storage room. Her pride is hurt more than anything, knowing the guys are going to laugh at her for being defeated on her first night on watch duty. She manages to pull a small knife out of her boot in an attempt to free herself, when Secret comes pouring out of the vent. But nothing gets by Channelman, who turns on the fans to push Secret back into the vents, while Hackman resumes pilfering Young Justice's data.

When Robin loses contact with Impulse and Secret, Superboy's patience runs out and he smashes in the door, despite Robin's protests. Hackman finishes the job, having transferred all the files to three floppy discs (another reference to ancient, obsolete technology). Arrowette frees herself in time to shoot an arrow through the floppies, and she is soon joined by Superboy and Robin.

To everyone's surprise, Robin recognizes Razorsharp and tells the others she's not a bad guy. Arrowette complains that Razorsharp almost turned her into sushi, and Superboy offers to look at her wounds. Impulse, meanwhile, is sad that his immersive video game has suddenly ended. The Psyba-Rats begin apologizing profusely, saying they didn't know it was Young Justice when they took the job. But Superboy chews them out for not asking a lot of questions. To prove they aren't bad guys, Hackman brings Red Tornado back online.

So Robin finally starts asking questions, and we finally start getting answers. Razorsharp explains that they were hired anonymously over the Internet to transmit all files related to Magellan Imports. Robin recognizes this as one of the companies controlled by Blockbuster, who is currently causing Nightwing trouble in Blüdhaven. So Young Justice works with the Psyba-Rats to send Blockbuster a virus that destroys his computers and gives him a stupid little cartoon of them laughing at him.

This issue is kind of a mess. Chuck Dixon doesn't have the best handle on these characters, and I hated how the Psyba-Rats were so ignorant and so willing to be straight-up bad guys until the very end. And it is pretty sad to bring in Blockbuster (whom Impulse fought in Impulse #8) and only have him smash a keyboard. The art was also messy, randomly switching between Todd Nauck's crisp, detailed work and Coy Turnbull's sloppy, inconsistent style. I would have preferred to have Turnbull all the way through rather than constantly swap back and forth between two contrasting styles.

Michael C. Lorah, of State College, Penn., enjoyed Young Justice #3, saying Mr. Mxyzptlk was the perfect villain for the boys. He's also interested in learning more about Red Tornado's family. asks why Young Justice costs $2.50 an issue, which was a bit more expensive than other comics at the time. Eddie Berganza doesn't have a good answer for this, but does point out how Young Justice is printed on the sleeker paper. Ironically, though, this issue was printed on the rougher, newspaper-like paper.

Jay McIntyre, of Colmar, Penn., suggests they name the letter column Scales of Justice. He also points out that "Superboy isn't any more patient than Impulse; he just takes time off to strut his stuff." And Jay asks for Terra to join the team, and for the General to fight Young Justice.

Doud Ohmer, of Covington, Ky., says Young Justice is on pace to match the old Teen Titans in popularity due to its great storytelling and art.

David Lusk asks for Mary Marvel to join the team and for a Young Justice/Titans crossover. He then goes into a lengthy diatribe about Harm and how his parents need to stop him. Now for the new ads:

"Welcome Arctic Shatter. Cold in a bottle, here to save your game." Powerade.

"After flying back from Planet TMR-IC, nothing washes the bugs out of my teeth better than Sprite."

The Mod Squad. Starring Claire Danes, Omar Epps and Giovanni Ribisi.

Konami XXL Sports Series on PlayStation and Nintendo 64. Featuring Jaromir Jagr of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Glen Rice of the Charlotte Hornets. Jagr is a national hero in the Czech Republic, a country I spent two years living in. Rice was an All-Star in the 1997-98 season, his last with the Hornets before being traded to the Lakers in March 1999.

WSL Roller Jam on TNN.

Joe Kubert's World of Cartooning.

Use your special power.

Next time, we'll see the lingering effects of the Psyba-Rats' attack on Red Tornado in Young Justice 80-Page Giant #1.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Impulse #47

Lessons in Fear

William Messner-Loebs Writer
Craig Rousseau Penciller
Barb Kaalberg Inker
Janice Chiang Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
VLM Separator
Superman created by Siegel & Shuster
L.A. Williams Editor
Impulse created by Waid & Wieringo

This is the first issue of Impulse that didn't have the same editing team as The Flash. When Paul Kupperberg left, L.A. Williams either left or was kicked off The Flash, but he got to hold on to Impulse by himself. But despite the difference in editors, Impulse will continue to make occasional guest appearances in The Flash. Now if only we could get Wally to show up in Impulse once in a while ...

But who needs the Flash when you've got Superman! This month's cover by Craig Rousseau and Wayne Faucher gives us Superman in one of his most quintessential poses — rescuing a cat from a tree. And a jealous Impulse provides a perfectly humorous juxtaposition.

Our story begins with Manchester once again covered in snow (unlike the cover). For a town in the South where it never snows, it sure seems to snow quite a bit in Manchester, Alabama. Anyway, Impulse has been tracking down the Tigers gang that shot Max Mercury back on Halloween, because for some reason, Max decided not to bring those punks to justice. Luckily, Bart is being the responsible one this time, and he was tipped off about the Tigers' plan to ambush some school kids today. So Bart set himself up in a secluded location, armed with a pair of binoculars and plenty of junk food to last the one hour, 38 minutes and 24 seconds he's been waiting.

We then see school counselor Jasper Pierson walking home, lost in thought. Apparently a bunch of school kids have been joining a group called the Supermen of America. This sounds good and well, but Jasper wishes he could start a dialogue with this group to make sure they don't have any hidden agendas. Jasper's so worked up about this, he almost gets hit by a car. But the car was lifted up into the air at the last second.

At the home of Max, Helen and Bart, poor Helen is left to shovel the driveway by herself since Max said he needed to leave on a "secret assignment" and Bart is still waiting for the gang to show up. But just as Helen gets started with the chore, two thin beams of heat hit the driveway and melt all the snow away.

We head back to Impulse, who is growing impatient with the molasses-like pace of time. It has now been one hour, 39 minutes and seven seconds. Finally, the Tigers gang shows up. But to Bart's surprise, all of them are wearing blue sweaters and berets with the Supermen of America logo, including the punks involved in Max's shooting, Steelboy and Raffles.

Unfortunately, Impulse is too far away to hear the gang discuss how they're using the Supermen of America to cover their criminal activity. And Impulse can't figure out how to get close enough to listen in without revealing himself. When Evil Eye shows up, Bart realizes he has no choice and has to hear what they're talking about. So he quickly runs through his options. If he runs straight down there, all the snow will kick up and he'll be spotted. But if he runs fast enough, he might be able to melt the snow ...

But before Impulse can enact his plan, someone places a hand on his shoulder and says, "Son ... " Bart freaks out and runs right past the gang, and keeps on running and running, trying to get away from this stranger. Bart realizes he's being chased by someone quite fast, and suddenly, he's stopped by Superman himself. Bart wonders where all the snow went, and Superman tells him that they're in the Gobi Desert — on the other side of the world.

Superman apologizes for startling Impulse, saying he saw the teen speedster crouching down and thought he could use his help. Bart asks him what he was doing in Manchester in the first place, and Superman says he's decided to really use his powers to help people by basically being a hero nonstop. As they talk, Superman quickly excuses himself to take care of some land mine trouble in Burundi. Just as soon as he gets back, Superman leaves to help the Titans, and we get a quick shot of Nightwing and Jesse Quick.

Bart spends most of his time in the Gobi Desert impatiently tapping his foot and whistling, but Superman does eventually return to explain that he's decided he doesn't have the right to pick and choose anymore. From now on, he's going to do whatever it takes to help everyone in need all the time. Bart understands where Superman's coming from, saying his recent interactions with John Fox and the Chain Lightning saga have shown him he needs to be more responsible. But Superman ditches Impulse once again, and he decides to head back home, hoping he didn't miss anything with the gang.

Meanwhile, Roland, who has also joined the Supermen of America, is inviting Evil Eye to join him at the Monster Ice Skate Rally. But Evil Eye is desperate to join the Tigers gang — despite what happened on Halloween — and he shoves Roland away. Roland is hurt and confused at this action from his friend, but Evil Eye was actually trying to protect Roland from the gang, which is trying to use Evil Eye to help them exploit other members of the Supermen of America.

Steelboy and Raffles come across Evil Eye and Roland, and they prepare to rough Roland up a bit. Impulse arrives in the nick of time, and the bullies claim they weren't doing anything and that Roland fell by accident. Impulse surprisingly gets pretty tough with them, saying, "Well, I'm here now. The accident's over." The bullies say they aren't scared, but they do leave anyway, reminding Impulse that everything they do is on Superman's say-so. And they walk past a window that says, "Coming Soon ... ago ... Van Sciver" — a reference to the upcoming creative team, Todd Dezago and Ethan Van Sciver.

Impulse lingers behind with Roland, who asks him if those bullies are really working with Superman. Impulse isn't sure, so Roland says he should ask Superman. When Impulse says it's not that easy, Roland suggests asking someone who really knows him. So Impulse decides to go ask his best friend who has the closest connection to Superman — Superboy.

Bart surprises Superboy, who yells at him for sneaking up on people like Superman's been doing lately. After admitting he found Superboy by going everywhere he could be until he blundered across him, Impulse asks his friend about Superman. Superboy says no one can fall off a curb lately without getting a face full of Big Blue. Impulse figures Superman just wants to help more, but Superboy thinks he's going too far. He tells Impulse that Superman has set up a 24-hour monitor station at the Fortress of Solitude, on which we see quick glimpses of Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Captain Marvel.

Superboy speculates that Superman has stopped eating and sleeping, and says things have gotten pretty intense. Impulse suggests they try to talk to Superman, and as soon as he says that, Superman suddenly appears behind the two boys and menacingly asks what they want to talk about. Both immediately chicken out and says everything's swell and peachy. So Superman takes off, telling the two to get back to work.

A thoughtful Bart returns home and comes across Max, who defensively tells Bart he can't tell him about his recent trip. But Bart's not interested in that. He instead asks Max why they even bother leading normal lives. Bart tells Max all about his encounter with Superman and he wonders if he should follow suit — setting up a monitoring station in the basement with a supply of a hundred thousand pizzas and chili dogs, and circling the globe doing good.

Max admits that is a good idea in theory, but then he flips it around on Bart. Max asks Bart how he felt growing up in the virtual reality, and Bart says he felt safe, but he knew he was missing out on the real world. So Max asks Bart what would happen if they took his plan to the extreme and built a giant virtual reality for everyone, seeing as that's the only way to really protect people. The confused Bart asks if their job isn't to protect people. Max says their job is to help people live the lives they want, but not to rule through fear. And Max concludes his talk by helping Bart realize that he was a little scared of Superman this afternoon.

Later, the Tigers gang head down to Pete's to intimidate Gamal into paying them protection money. As usual, it takes Gamal a while to figure out what they're talking about. But when the punks pull out their baseball bats, Gamal gets the message. Luckily, someone is there to stand up for Gamal — the unlikely hero, Jasper Pierson. Jasper explains that Superman saved his life recently, and he's trying to follow his example. But his actions only make the gang angrier, and one of them pulls out a knife. Evil Eye sees this, and realizes (once again) that he's hanging with the wrong crowd. He tries to fight off the bullies, and when a window is smashed, Superman arrives to put an end to the commotion.

One of the idiots swings a bat at Superman, and he crushes the weapon like a toothpick. Another actually pulls out a gun, and Impulse suddenly arrives to take it away, assuming (or hoping) that it was the same gun that shot Max. Impulse helps Superman take the Tigers away, leaving a frightened Evil Eye behind.

I'll admit I wasn't a huge fan of this issue. Superman's first cameo in this series came at a rather dark time for him, as his new attitude put him at odds with everyone from the JLA to the Metropolis police. So that aspect of this issue instantly became a bit of a downer. But I'm even more troubled by the Tigers gang, Evil Eye and Max. Why didn't Max bring the kid who shot him to justice? I know he was embarrassed by his flub, but that punk is a menace to society and needs to be taught that he can't go around shooting people! Max even could have simply testified against him as Max Crandall to protect his secret identity. And this can't be an instance where Max leaves it up to Bart to tie up all the loose ends. It wasn't Bart's fault Max got shot — it was his own, therefore he should have apprehended the criminal as soon as he was able. And as for Evil Eye, I guess the best word to describe my feelings is disappointed. I'm not entirely surprised he went crawling back to that gang. You'd think that the events of Halloween would be enough to scare him straight, but he's a confused, desperate kid in a rough situation. Truly a tragic character.

All the letters in Impulsive Reactions are via DC Online, so we just get goofy screen names this time.

Galadrie says Impulse #43 was one of the best issues in a while, but does complain about Gamal, saying we either need to know more about him and have a reason to care about him, or we simply need to see less of him. And I kind of agree with Galadrie. William Messner-Loebs just had a hard time getting Gamal off the ground. He never gave him a last name or named the country he's from, making it that much harder to connect to him.

Dew 1976 wants to know when Bart and Carol are going to hook up, but L.A. Williams reminds Dew that Bart is really only 3 years old and still not interested in dating.

Selinacatx simply asks why Bart's eyes are yellow, and L.A. really doesn't have an answer.

Dusty points out that there is a real Manchester, Alabama, but it's nothing like the one in the comics. L.A. says they treat it like they do New York. It's based on a real place, but is peppered with lots of fictional aspects. In later interviews, Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn admitted they chose the name Manchester without realizing it was also the name of an actual town. They just wanted a random, average city in Alabama. Now for the new ads:

Find the golden wrapped Pop-Tarts and you might find yourself in a Pop-Tarts commercial.

Hang out with your heroes! Sports Illustrated for Kids now on video. Featured are Brett Favre, Mia Hamm, Grant Hill, Steve Young, Venus Williams and Derek Jeter.

Today's special: Laughs! Looney Tunes and Animaniacs on Kids' WB!

Don't eat the winning Oreo — showing off is much tastier.

Power Rangers Lost Galaxy. I have no idea what this iteration was all about. I had already bowed out of the Power Rangers by this point.

Turn Saturday morning upside down with Lunchables!

Animorphs: The Invasion Begins. I read the first few Animorph books, and did enjoy them. But the TV show never held my attention. And then the books became really repetitive.

Next time, Impulse and his friends will get some guest stars and face a familiar foe (sort of) in Young Justice #8.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Flash #147

Chain Lightning, Chapter Three: Shooting the Rapids

Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn, Story
Paul Pelletier, Pencils
Vince Russell, Inks
Gaspar, Letters
Tom McCraw, Colors
Frank Berrios, Assistant Editor
Joey Cavalieri, Editor

When editor Paul Kupperberg left, he took L.A. Williams with him, giving The Flash a sort of "whitewash" on the editorial front right in the middle of a big event. But I'm sure Waid, Augustyn and company handled this transition just fine. Our cover is by Steve Lightle once again, keeping to the trend of Chain Lightning. In the foreground is Eobard Thawne, aka Professor Zoom, running alongside a shocked Impulse, the current Flash, Wally West, and some future robotic Flash. The cover looks pretty nice, but I still would have preferred to have Pelletier draw it — I really like his style.

This issue begins with a recap page that I'm sure will do a much better job than I ever could, so here's what it says.

What Has Gone Before: Malcolm Thawne — twisted twin brother of Flash's predecessor, Barry Allen — has sworn vengeance against all Flashes past and present using a fiery gem of frightening and unpredictable power. According to its mystic prophecy, the gem's sinister magic will span the next thousand years and doom the entire Allen legacy, consuming two Flashes before finally slaying Barry Allen during his time in the 30th century.

To prevent tragedy, Flash has sent himself, Jay Garrick, Max Mercury, Impulse, and Jesse Quick through time to save all future Flashes from the Allen-Thawne feud and to spread the message of danger.

In order to defeat the Cobalt Blue of the 25th century, however, Flash must first face another threat: the psychotic Professor Zoom, Barry Allen's archenemy ...

And that takes us right to Wally's encounter with Eobard Thawne. But to Wally's surprise, Eobard has been recruited by the police to help them battle the Cobalt Blue of this era, who is actually Chardaq Allen. Chardaq was the Flash, but he lost his powers during a battle with Savitrix. Later, he began studying the Cobalt Gem in an attempt to better understand the Allen-Thawne feud. But Chardaq got too close and was consumed by the gem's power and hatred, vowing revenge against all Allens, even though he is one, himself.

Chardaq's son, Simogyn, works for the police, and he believed they could recruit Professor Zoom and keep him in line by monitoring Eobard's thoughts telepathically. Wally tries to warn them that this is a stupid idea since Eobard can move faster than thought. And before he can stop him, Eobard grabs ahold of the Cobalt Gem.

We then check in with Jay Garrick, who is in the not-too-distant future with Wally's daughter, Iris. They easily defeat the Cobalt Blue of that era, and Jay takes Iris to the Flash Museum to show her how to use the Cosmic Treadmill. He gives her a large shard of the Cobalt Gem, saying it'll help her find other Flashes throughout time, and that she should break the shard into smaller pieces to give to them. With Iris all set on her mission, Jay returns home to the 1990s.

Back in the 25th century, Eobard can't quite take the gem from Chardaq, although he does see a vision of the centuries of the Thawnes' anger toward the Allens. Wally takes advantage of this enraged Professor Zoom, and he tricks him into going after Simogyn Allen. Just as Wally hoped, Chardaq's love for his son overcame the gem's hatred, freeing him from its grasp. Wally instructs the police not to touch the gem, then he notices with dismay that Eobard has taken off. Flash follows Professor Zoom to the Flash Museum, but is too late to stop him from using the Cosmic Treadmill. Wally sees that Eobard traveled into the future, and he decides to follow him.

Meanwhile, Max Mercury teams up with Sela Allen to rescue a young boy who accidentally touched the Cobalt Gem. Sela is a being of pure speed energy since her body is in a comatose state, still recovering after being ravaged by Cobalt Blue. Since she can't hold a shard of the gem, Max leaves her behind, wishing her luck and promising to meet her again.

We then see how Impulse is doing with the hilariously enormous Thondor Allen. Thondor explains that he's "horizontally challenged" because he's a fifth-generation Jupiter colonist, and all of them have evolved to this size because of the heavier gravity. Thondor also admits he's terrified of Cobalt Blue, who is actually 10 different people in this era. But fearless Impulse quickly takes out the 10 enemies by shoving Thondor into them like a large bowling ball.

Bart's plan worked, knocking out all the Cobalt Blues, but it did get Thondor wedged into a wall. Bart tries to pull Thondor out, who tells Bart he really is impulsive. Bart says everyone tells him that, but he doesn't get it. They're then joined by the Flash of the year 2591, who came to warn them of Cobalt Blue, but sees he arrived a little late. Impulse asks him to pry Thondor free, while he heads off to find his cousin, Jenni Ognats.

We then get a quick montage of Jesse Quick, Jace Allen, John Fox and other Flashes traveling to different eras and battling different Cobalt Blues. Back in the present day, Malcolm Thawne is preparing to escape the Speed Force prison Wally put him in. Malcolm is just about to attack Wally's girlfriend, Angela Margolin, when Jay arrives in the nick of time and takes the brunt of the blast from the blue flames. Angela is knocked down, and as she loses consciousness, she sees a furious Jay reach out to attack Malcolm.

The final scene of this issue is a word-for-word repeat of the closing scene of The Flash Secret Files and Origins #1 from way back when. Wally has followed Professor Zoom to the year 2980, where Bart's other grandpa, President Thaddeus Thawne, has just killed Bart's dad and aunt, the Tornado Twins, Don and Dawn Allen. In a strange, secret ceremony, President Thawne and his followers celebrate the end of the Allen line and the reconstitution of the Cobalt Gem. Wally spots Eobard preparing to steal the gem, and he realizes that Eobard saw this is the gem's final destination — an era without any other speedsters to provide competition. So Wally prepares to stop Eobard, worried about the ensuing fight.

This is a pretty epic story. There's a lot going on and it can be pretty confusing, but it still is pretty awesome all the same. Most of the fun simply is seeing different versions of the Flash. On a whole, this story is a bit intense and serious. Luckily, we have Impulse to provide the comic relief, and his two pages with Thondor Allen were wonderful. I wish we had about 37 more adventures of the tiny Impulse with the massive Thondor.

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

He's saving the world ... like it or not! Anarky.

Batman Nosferatu. For the city's ruling class, the laughing man sees death, and only the bat can stop it.

The Justice Society of America PVC set.

Can Alex Elder run away from his troubles? Inquisitive minds want to know ... Crimson by Brian Augustyn and Humberto Ramos. I haven't read this series yet, but I guess I should since it's by two Impulse creators.

Krypton. Galactus. 'Nuff said! Superman/Fantastic Four.

Next time, we'll wrap up April 1999 with Impulse #47.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Young Justice #7


Peter David, Writer
Todd Nauck, Pencils
Lary Stucker, Inks
Jason Wright, Colors
Digital Chameleon, Seps
Ken Lopez, Letters
Frank Berrios, Assistant Editor
Eddie Berganza, Dean
This issue's cover featuring the clash of the moms is by Todd & Lary with the colors of Patrick Martin.

It is a pretty fun cover, especially with the apt disclaimer, "Note: Mommies inside are actually smaller, but they do wale on each other." And the moms in question are Wonder Girl's mom and Arrowette's mom. So, without further ado, let's find out why they're waling on each other.

Our story begins with the team out on a campout. They have pizza, soda, popcorn, potato chips and cookies ... but no fire. Robin tries to explain that their generator if far more efficient because it's non-polluting and doesn't pose a threat of forest fires. But Robin can't even convince himself with this logic, and he admits a campout without a fire is no fun at all. So Robin asks Bart to find some firewood, and Bart dumps a big pile on Robin's head before he can finish asking.

The teens excitedly begin building their fire, and Superboy and Robin both express their amazement that Arrowette's and Wonder Girl's moms allowed them to go on a co-ed campout. The two girls are bit uncomfortable, but both insist their moms didn't give them any problems at all about the campout. The boys don't notice anything suspicious about their girls' behavior, and they turn the conversation to wondering how the first Young Justice parent/teacher conference is going. Bart predicts "it's probably a lot of dull yakking."

But Bart couldn't have been more wrong, because right at that moment, Arrowette's mom is slamming Wonder Girl's mom into a big cake decorated with the symbols of Robin, Superboy and Impulse. Max Mercury can only stand to the side and say he should have realized that when Arrowette's mother said she'd been released from psychiatric observation, she meant she'd released herself. Red Tornado politely asks Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Sandsmark if they've concluded their altercation because he does have a full agenda he'd like to get to.

However, the two mommies have only begun to fight. Helena Sandsmark wipes the cake off her eyes, then flings some in Bonnie King-Jones' face and leaps on top of her. Dubbilex, representing Superboy, asks Max if they should separate the brawling women. But Max says one thing he's learned in his long life is the only worthwhile things you can bring to a catfight are popcorn and a drink. The mommies collide with the food table, destroying all the appetizers, sandwiches, punch and the melon balls Red Tornado worked so hard. The women continue fighting out into the cave's entrance, where they encounter the late-arriving Nightwing, who separates them, and says they're both lucky that Batman was too busy to attend the conference. Nightwing then asks for an explanation, and Red Tornado begins to fill him in.

Back at the campout, the kids are using Arrowette's arrows to roast hot dogs over the fire. Arrowette, or rather, Cissie, insists that everyone use their first names — with the exception of Robin, who is apparently under strict orders from Batman to maintain his secret identity even among his teammates. Cissie also suggests they play truth or dare, but Robin's hesitant. Bart, however, perks up at the talk of a game and asks where the goggles are, or the joystick or controller or whatever. Cissie says this is a game without visuals, which starts to put Bart to sleep. Cissie elaborates, saying they either have to answer a question truthfully or do a dare, and Bart regains his excitement, demanding to go first.

So Cissie asks Bart "truth or dare." He enthusiastically requests "dare," but Cissie struggles initially, and tries to get Bart to choose "truth" instead. When that fails, Cissie admits to Robin that there's no fun in daring Impulse to do something, because he's do anything without thinking like always. Luckily, Robin is able to come up with a suitable dare for Bart — stay quiet for five minutes in a row. This seems like an awful long time for Bart, but he's determined to do it. So Bart sits down, and crosses his legs nice and neat. Then he fidgets. Then Superboy leans in close and says, "Hey, Imp, nice hair." Bart immediately responds with, "Hey, thanks, I don't even know what I was thinking when I ... shaved it." And everybody laughs at poor Bart.

Bart tells Kid that was a cheap shot, and he demands another turn, but everybody wants to move on. Secret volunteers to go next, and Wonder Girl asks her "truth or dare." Secret chooses "truth," so Cassie asks her to talk about her first time. Superboy tells Cassie to leave Secret alone, but Secret says she's fine discussing her first time, although she doesn't know what Cassie means. Everybody glares at Cassie, who says she just wanted to know about the first time Secret kissed a guy and says, "Geez, guys ease up! What'd'ja think I was gonna say?"

So Secret tells the story of the first kiss she can remember. One night, at the D.E.O., a young man snuck into her room and tried to kiss her — she thinks. But then he looked into Secret's eyes and suddenly started screaming. He wouldn't stop screaming and had to be taken away in an ambulance. Secret then asks her teammates if that time counts, but all she gets in return are horrified stares.

Back at the cave, Red Tornado tells Nightwing how the fight got started. Helena and Bonnie seemed to despise each other the minute they met, but things really turned south when Bonnie launched into a tirade about merchandising rights. As Bonnie demands that they make an equal number of Arrowette action figures as those of Robin, Superboy and Impulse, Todd Nauck shows us some really fun Young Justice merchandise that I really wish I had. In addition to the action figures, there's a line of plush dolls, T-shirts, cereal, video games, lunch boxes, and even a comic with the cover of Young Justice #6.

Helena was outraged to see that Bonnie is more concerned with toys than her daughter's safety, and she chewed her out for living vicariously through Cissie. When Helena pointed out that Bonnie didn't even know Cissie recently had an arrow thrown through her shoulder, Bonnie snapped and slammed Helena's face into the cake. And that brings us to where this issue began.

Nightwing reminds all the parents/mentors that they're supposed to talk about the kids, not act like kids. Bonnie tells Nightwing he doesn't know what it's like, since he's not Robin's father. Nightwing responds by saying each time he goes to sleep, he's haunted by the screams of those he didn't save. Having effectively shut up everyone, Nightwing then gets everyone back to business.

Close to the campout, a couple of drunk hunters try to shoot a fawn, but Impulse deflects the bullets and Secret scares the hunters off by transforming into a gigantic, monstrous deer. Bart and Secret return to the campfire and Robin asks who was tromping around out there. Bart says it was some hunters who've decided to take up cross-country sprinting. Superboy gives Bart a high-five, then asks Robin "truth or dare." Robin chooses "dare," so Superboy asks him to take off his mask. Robin dramatically stands over the fire, then removes his mask, causing everyone to gasp.

Back at the cave, order has been restored, and Red Tornado can finally deliver his appraisal of the team. He reports that the team is bonding well, and the boys are getting along with the girls. There is some harmless flirtation from Superboy, Robin is either too serious-minded or otherwise involved to get into that, and Impulse simply appears oblivious. Max says, "That's m'boy," to hear Bart still isn't interested in girls. Red Tornado says he'll give the mentors regular updates and he asks for the same from them.

Dubbilex asks Red if he'll accompany the teens on missions, and he says he'll take it on a case-by-case basis. For easily handled situations, he'll hold back and observe the team learn and grow. But Helena points out that even "easily handled situations" can quickly spiral out of control, and Max agrees, saying that counts double whenever Impulse is involved. Bonnie begins chewing out Helena and Max for being so controlling, saying they should let their kids do what they're passionate about. But even Bonnie's concern for her daughter is exposed before too long. Red Tornado admits this endeavor carries a great amount of risk, and he asks the mentors if they wish to withdraw their young charges.

Back at the campout, we see that Robin anticipated this exact scenario, and wore a second mask underneath just in case. Cassie teases his over-preparedness, saying he was probably potty trained by 3 months old. Cissie asks him if he would ditch the mask and superhero lifestyle if he could. Robin surprises the others by answering, "In a heartbeat." But he elaborates, by saying the only way he'd quit would be if mankind entered a happy utopia where crime and wrongdoing were abolished.

Robin turns the question around on Cissie, who says she'd ask her mother first, then do the opposite. She admits that after being pushed by her mom so much, she doesn't know how much in her head is her own or from her mom. Cassie says she'd like to swap moms, since hers hates her being a superhero. Cassie also boldly proclaims that she'll never give up being a hero, saying they're continuing the mythic era of heroism adventure that goes back millennia. She then asks Impulse if he'd be normal if he could. Bart, who's building a giant s'mores tower, gives an answer that's as goofy as it is profound: "I don't understand the question. I am normal. It's the rest of the world that's weird."

Secret says she'd give anything to be normal, admitting how jealous she is of her teammates' outside lives and families. She then reveals that Red Tornado told her how Superboy is permanently stuck at the same age, and she assumes being normal must be even more important for him. None of the others knew this about Superboy, and they start to express their concern for him. But the Kid laughs it all off with some bravado, saying he's happy to be blessed with eternal youth. Declaring himself Peter Pan, he happily flies up into the sky, crowing like a rooster. But his teammates all think he's in denial.

We return to the cave, where Red Tornado is pleased that all mentors agreed to let the kids stay in Young Justice, and he suggests they meet again in four months. Max says that Impulse told him they're on a campout tonight, but that sounds so benign, Max is almost afraid to think it's true. Helena says that's a coincidence, since Cassie is also on a campout, and Bonnie says the same about Cissie. Red Tornado tells them the girls are out camping with the boys, and the two mothers understandably freak out at the idea, immediately marching off to kill their girls.

At the campout, everyone has gone to bed except for Superboy. Staring forlornly at his shadow, Superboy watches his shadow grow up and fly away. He cries out to it, "No! No ... don't grow up! Don't leave me! If you do, I'll ... I'll really be ... be alone!" Red Tornado then arrives with the two furious mothers, and Superboy points them in the direction of the girls' tent. The moms peek in on their daughters to find them peacefully sleeping side-by-side, with the boys safely away in a separate tent. The two women, who don't agree on much, decide to wait to talk to their daughters in the morning, and both wish they had a camera to capture the cute scene. Once they leave, the alone Superboy quotes Peter Pan: "To die ... would be a great adventure."

This was another great issue of Young Justice. It was nice to spend some quiet time with the kids and get to know them better — and their mentors/parents, as well. I loved Impulse's turn at the truth or dare game, and Secret's awkward and ominous response. The ending with Superboy was poignant and captivating. We've never seen this side of him before, and I really would like to see a story where all of Superboy's friends are in their 20s but he's still 16. Unfortunately, that never will happen, since everybody else is also more or less stuck at the same age forever. The Young Justice animated series sort of addressed this idea, but it never really felt like a big deal since Superboy already looked like he was 18 years old to begin with.

As fun as this issue was, I do have a couple of frustrations. I loved Arrowette's idea of using their first names while on the campout. But I wish they would have taken it a step further and dressed in normal civilian clothes, as well. And I'll never understand the obsession with protecting Robin's secret identity. I understand this was a company-wide thing, but there really is no point in Robin insisting on wearing a mask at all times around his teammates. My final frustration with this issue is the hunting scene. It was unnecessary and just a bit too political for the tone of this book.

Laurie Fletchner, of Bridgeport, Conn., said Young Justice #1,000,000 was better than the first two issues of the series, and called the protagonists of that tale the 853rd Century's answer to the Three Stooges. Laurie also enjoyed Young Justice #3 since it didn't have any of the boys say "kewl" once. She points out how the boys are still rough around the edges, as evidenced by Superboy standing up for Robin when he didn't need or want anyone to stand up for him. Laurie points out that Impulse was just following Superboy's lead, and that Bart is much less mature than his teammates.

Michael A. McCullough, of Selbyville, Del., also said issue #1,000,000 was better than the first two issues, especially liking Toy Wonder's story that combined elements of Knightfall and Zero Hour. Michael also speculates that the frozen original member they found was a deactivated Red Tornado since Impulse couldn't detect any brain activity.

Mark Haden Frazer, of Oconomowoc, Wisc., wants Peter David to be in charge of every major DC event. Mark says the one panel with the Millennium Chicken was better than the majority of the crossover nonsense they've been bombarded with the past 12 years. I'll agree that it was better than Genesis, and maybe better than Final Night. But not Zero Hour. That one was actually pretty decent.

There aren't any new ads, so I'll leave you until next time, when we return to Chain Lightning with The Flash #147.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Flash 80-Page Giant #2

The World's Oldest Teens

Truly the Titans' trippiest tale, told by:
Tom Peyer, Writer
Kieron Dwyer, Penciller
Hilary Barta, Inker
Rick Taylor, Colorist
Tim Harkins, Letters
Special thanks to Mark Waid!
For Bob Haney and Nick Cardy ... consummate creators of comics.
Book separations by Digital Chameleon
Cover by Mike Wieringo and Norm Rapmund with color by Patrick Martin
Edited by Joey Cavalieri with Frank Berrios

It is great to see Wieringo come back to The Flash, even if it is only for a cover. Unfortunately, he didn't draw his co-creation, Impulse, this time, although this cover does fit well with the theme of this book. Like other 80-page giants, this issue contains seven separate 10-page stories. But what makes this issue unique, is that all the stories focus on a different part of Wally West's life, told in chronological order. So the cover gives us the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick, the future Kid Flash, Wally's daughter, Iris, and the original Teen Titans, starring Wally as Kid Flash. The only thing I'd change on this cover would be swapping Kid Flash with the Teen Titans to put those three images in order.

The first story, by Brian Augustyn, focuses on a 13-year-old Wally (back when he still wore a replica of Barry Allen's costume) having an early adventure with Jay Garrick. It's a nice little tale, but it takes place long before Impulse showed up, so we'll skip it. Bart Allen does, however, make a brief appearance in the second story, chronicling an early Teen Titans adventure.

One day, at the Teen Titans' secret headquarters, Robin, Aqualad, Wonder Girl and Kid Flash received a priority S.O.S. from Baldwinsville, U.S.A. The letter, signed by 300 teenagers, begs the Titans to come help them, but doesn't say what their problem is. Aqualad thinks the message is a fake, but Robin's convinced the letter is sincere, based on the current teenage slang used in it. And by current, I mean the early 1960s.

So the Titans hop in their helicopter and fly over to Baldwinsville, where they are greeted by an old lady saying, "Thank Ringo you're here!" The Titans wonder who this granny is and why she's taking a Beatle's name in vain. But the old lady, accompanied by an old man, claims they're really teenagers who suddenly turned old last Friday during a mysterious blackout at the drive-in. Aqualad says the story "sounds like bilge water," but Robin is willing to give the old folks a chance. To prove they're really teenagers, Robin asks the old man who "slaps skins for Basil and the Beefeaters." The old man correctly identifies "Basher" Binghamton, and Kid Flash notes that no one over 21 knows the Basher.

So the Titans agree to take the case, and start by visiting Baldwinsville Gas & Electric. A worker there tells them that Friday's blackout was preceded by a strange power surge at the manor of an old, harmless scientist named Ezekiel Methuselah. Robin says they'd "better make the Methuselah scene," and the worker says he trusts the Titans despite their youth and "unfathomable jargon." Kid Flash says, "Your faith chokes us up, Daddy-o! Color us determined!"

Not long after, at the Methuselah Manor, Robin rings the doorbell, which is answered by a large, green monster. Suddenly, the Teen Titans turn into old people, and the monster begins attacking Kid Flash.

Chapter Two

Kid Flash recognizes the monster as "The Mammal from Beyond Earth" — the same movie all the Baldwinsville teens were watching last Friday. The Titans struggle to fight the monster in their now much-older bodies, and Aqualad, who's never seen the movie, asks Robin how it was defeated. Unfortunately, the movie ended with the beast collapsing from a broken heart.

However, Kid Flash is able to land a couple of blows on the monster, which reveals it to be a robot. This gives the Titans the confidence to destroy the machine, but they're left exhausted after the ordeal. A red-headed teenager then approaches our heroes, and introduces himself as Methuselah junior, now.  He explains that he discovered that people carry an invisible aura with many undiscovered properties. Among these are particles Methuselah calls youthons — submicroscopic electric fountains of vitality, which diminish over time, causing the condition of old age.

After decades of study, Methuselah developed a youthon-absorber, which he hid in his monster robot to steal all the youth from the teenagers at the drive-in. Methuselah digs through the rubble of his robot to pull out his device, which he aims at the Titans, saying he'll drain their remaining youthons and age them to dust. Kid Flash courageously charges forward, and even becomes younger, as he grabs Methuselah's device and destroys it. The absorber backfires, and all the youthons leave Methuselah, reverting him back to an old man and making all the teenagers young again.

The Teen Titans head back to a party celebrating the restoration of Baldwinsville's teenagers, and Kid Flash explains how he saved the day. When Methuselah mentioned auras, Kid Flash's newfound aged wisdom kicked in, and he figured out how to use his super speed to accelerate the youthons he had left and become young enough to stop Methuselah.

We then see that Wally has been telling this story to Bart while racing through the desert. Wally brags about this incredible accomplishment from when he was Bart's age, but Bart notes several flaws with Wally's story. First, there is no such thing as youthons. Second, Wally wasn't born yet when people talked like that. But, Bart ultimately did enjoy the tale and asks to hear it again.

The next story, by Christopher Priest, features Wally shortly after becoming the Flash. He was still pretty reckless at that age, believing he could go on two separate dates simultaneously. But he began shirking his responsibilities with Justice League Europe, so the Teen Titans set up an elaborate ruse to help Wally get his priorities in order.

That story is followed by a complicated tale from William Messner-Loebs. Captain Cold and Golden Glider make an attempt to go straight, and Wally helps line them up on a government mission to take down a drug cartel. But the government decided the drug lord they went after is a valuable asset, so they tried to kill Cold, Glider, and the Flash. It's all very confusing, but it does have a pretty cool moment of Wally basically freezing time during the middle of an explosion.

And that leads us to Impulse's second and final appearance in this book.

The Answer

Mark J. Kiewlak, Writer
Paul Ryan, Penciller
Joe Rubenstien, Inker
Steve Dutro, Letterer
Noelle Giddings, Colorist

Wally has finally worked up the courage to propose to his longtime girlfriend, Linda Park, and she said yes. But that night, Wally can't sleep, suddenly finding himself paralyzed by fear. He tries to keep himself busy by reading books on marriage and filling out wedding invitations. But it's no use. Wally is still restless as ever, unable to sleep next to his fiancee, and unwilling to leave her side to go out on patrol. Finally, Wally concludes he needs to talk to someone.

Interestingly, Wally's first phone call is to Max Mercury. However, Max and Helen went out to dinner, and Bart answered the phone. Before Wally can finish saying, "Bart, is that you?" Bart arrives at Wally's side, already wearing his Impulse uniform. Wally is surprised that Max left him home alone, but Bart says he was playing video games with Carol. Bart then spots Wally's wedding invitations, and takes it upon himself to hand-deliver them all right away.

Flipping through Wally's copy of Marriage for Dummies, Bart asks his cousin why he's getting married to Linda, pointing out that they already live together and everything. Wally says it's more romantic that way, and admits it's hard to explain. Bart plops himself upside down on Wally's couch and asks if he should get married someday. Wally can only say, "We'll see." Bart then heads home, telling Wally to let him know how his marriage turns out.

Wally is happy to have Bart out of his hair, but he's still no closer to resolving his dilemma. So he calls up Jay Garrick, who's been married to his wife, Joan, for 50 years. Wally asks Jay if he ever felt like there was so much more to give his wife, but for some reason he was afraid. Jay tells Wally he still feels that way, and that he should feel that way. But Wally insists that's not fair to Linda, saying after everything she's been through, she deserves to have it all. Jay tells Wally to accept his shortcomings, acknowledge he's trying, and vow to try harder the next time. But this fails to comfort Wally, who thinks such an attitude is easy after 50 years of marriage.

Wally then realizes that he's afraid to begin a lifetime with Linda, because he dreads the ending, with one of them dying. Wally tries to stop worrying about the future, and decides to head out as the Flash to prevent people from dying in the present. In the next few hours, he saves 137 lives, but he's still as anxious as ever. So he heads up to the JLA Watchtower on the moon.

Wally talks to Kyle Rayner about his deceased girlfriend, asking if he really loved her with all his heart, or if he always held something back because he was afraid he might lose her someday. Kyle struggles to answer, saying he had only just started dating his girlfriend when she was killed, and he didn't have time to start developing such thoughts. Wally apologizes for bringing up painful memories and teleports back down to Earth.

Still as troubled as ever, Wally runs around saving a few more people before resigning himself to head back home. But on his way, he hears one more 911 call and decides to check it out. It takes him two seconds to get there, but he's already too late. An old woman died, leaving her longtime husband at her side. Flash is very sorry for the widower, but to his surprise, the man has found peace in his wife's passing. He tells Flash that he and his wife shared all that two people can share and never wasted a moment of their marriage. And his wife, who's name was Hope, told her husband right before she died that there was nothing to be afraid of for either of them.

Wally and the old man talk for a while longer, and Wally finally finds the answer to his problem. He now knows that he is strong enough to face his ultimate fear of losing Linda. Wally gets home just in time to watch Linda wake up, who asks Wally why he's crying, to which he responds, "Because I love you, Linda."

The next story follows Wally's daughter, Iris, the Kid Flash of the near future. Iris meets Iowa Bowin, great-grandson of Isaac Bowin, the Golden Age Flash villain known as the Fiddler. However, Iowa is determined to not follow in his family's criminal footsteps, and Iris helps him become a hero.

Our final story, by Tom Peyer, features XS exploring the ruins of the Flash Museum. The robotic curators of the museum speculate on Wally West's death, determining that he was strapped to a massive boomerang and hurled out of existence. But Jenni Ognats finds hope in this, saying that boomerangs always come back.

This was a pretty fun comic book. I liked how the separate stories stuck to a theme and how we got to see so many different aspects of Wally's life. Some of the stories fell a bit flat, especially the two future ones, but as a whole, this was a good issue. Impulse played a very small role, but I did like how he showed up in one goofy story and one sweet story.

There aren't any letters to the editor, but there are a few new ads.

A red bowling ball with the letters: IYDKYDG. This stands for If You Don't Know You Don't Go, and turned out to be a mysterious Coca-Cola ad campaign targeted toward tech-savvy teens.

An alliance this powerful isn't forged overnight. Batman & Superman: World's Finest.

Now the future can be in your hands! Legion of Super-Heroes PVC figures.

You drive a tank. You destroy major cities. You rescue beautiful women. Welcome to the world of BattleTanx. For Nintendo 64.

Order a subscription and receive an erasable memo board absolutely free. Ironically, this order form does not list The Flash. It does have Young Justice, though.

It's a strange world. Let's keep it that way. Planetary.

An obituary for Bob Kane, written by Jenette Kahn, president and editor-in-chief of DC Comics. Kane, who died Nov. 3, 1998, at age 83, was for years credited as the sole creator of Batman. But recently, more people are beginning to acknowledge the writer of those early Batman comics, Bill Finger. Kahn's obituary is rather kind and straightforward, but now that he's been dead a while, more people are willing to talk about Kane's unsavory characteristics.

Hanging with the Gen 13 gang would give anyone hallucinations ... but are the things Lynch is seeing really happening?

For America! For democracy! For tomorrow! The Justice Society returns!

Sprite presents and Obey Your Thirst production. A refreshing commercial series. "Voltron." Featuring hip hop artists coming' together as one to put a stop to the player haters of the culture.

Next time, we'll finally find out what that parent-teacher conference is all about in Young Justice #7.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Impulse: Bart Saves the Universe

Christopher Priest Writer
Jason Johnson Penciller
Edwin Rosell Inker
Willie Schubert Type Design
Bad @$$ Color & Separations
Page 31 borrowed from All Star Comics #7 by Gardner Fox with Sheldon Mayer
Impulse created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo
Publication design by Kim Grzybek

So here is a special, 48-page one-shot (with no ads!) all about Impulse. Here's what the back of the book says: "During Zero Hour, Extant tried to reshape the universe in his own image. It took all the world's heroes to stop him. Now he's back to try again ... and this time, only Impulse stands in his way. Things don't look good for the universe."

Our cover shows a glorious gold statue of Impulse holding the entire universe on his shoulders. His monument is surrounded by all the heroes who co-star in this adventure — the JLA, JSA, Linear Man and Flash family. It is a really neat image, unfortunately hampered by Bart's deformed face. Jason Johnson has a very loose, wild style that mostly works for Impulse. But every now and then, an image gets away from him. Unfortunately, one of those goofs popped up on the main character's face on the cover.

Our story begins in 1941 with a younger Max Mercury battling the time-traveling villain, Extant. Unfortunately, things are not going well for Max. Extant causes the roof they're standing on to age and crumble, then he warps the time around Max to effectively take away his speed. In a shocking display of brutality, Extant uses a shattered bottle to slice Max's throat. We then see that he has already defeated the Justice Society of America.

Right on cue, a couple of time police, the Linear Men, arrive. Rip Hunter and Liri Lee very easily defeat Extant and imprison him at Vanishing Point. Liri wants to go back further in time to prevent the battle, but Rip says they can't risk changing the time stream by being spotted by the JSA. He notes that the heroes will recover from their injuries just fine, and the building Extant aged is scheduled for demolition anyway. So the only real damage Extant seems to have caused was the killing of a couple of bystanders, which Rip agrees they should prevent by going back 10 minutes. But neither of the Linear Men noticed the injured Max Mercury on the rooftop. Max tries to warn them, saying they're doing exactly what Extant wants, but he's too weak to make himself heard.

Today, Impulse is shadowing Batman — and he's even brought along his own magnifying glass to help out the world's greatest detective. For some reason, Impulse decides to stay just out of Batman's sight, but Batman figures out pretty quickly that Bart is standing right behind him. Instead of turning around and confronting the teen speedster, Batman begins talking aloud about how detectives always take into account the position of the moon and direction the wind is blowing. Batman says a detective should know to dull down the chrome and lens on his magnifying glass so it's not so reflective. And he'd also know that rubber boots give off a distinct odor after running at high speeds.

Bart hastily ditches the magnifying glass and examines his shoes. Batman then addresses Impulse, still without turning around. He says that since he's still alive, he knows the figure behind him isn't a hostile, and he rules out the Flash, who wouldn't insult Batman's intelligence by sneaking up on him. Therefore, Batman concludes that Impulse is behind him, either studying him or attempting an ill-advised prank. Batman doesn't care which is true, but all that matters is that Impulse is gone for good before he turns around.

So Impulse ditches the Dark Knight, and tries instead tries to help Superman battle a few bad guys. The Man of Steel appreciates Bart's effort, but tells him that he's mostly just getting in the way. So Impulse visits Wonder Woman and Green Lantern, who give him similar messages. Bart throws on a scuba tank to help out Aquaman, who also doesn't want him, and Arsenal is not impressed with Bart's attempt to fire seven arrows at once. Somehow, Bart manages to sit on the Mobius Chair, which Metron doesn't like one bit, and Martian Manhunter is not pleased when Bart comes calling at his private residence. And the Spectre is so annoyed, he spooks Bart off with a vision of his own tombstone, which reads, "Here lies Bart Allen who was very stupid."

Later, Bart and Carol are visiting the Flash Museum for some reason. A depressed Bart is sitting on the statue of his grandpa, Barry Allen, which says he lived from 1957 to 1991. Carol tells Bart that she knows he's upset that the museum has so little about him, but she says these things take time, reminding Bart that he is only four years old. They walk past the Cosmic Treadmill and into the Impulse room, where a couple of visitors wonder what an Impulse is. Carol tells Bart she knows he'll get his chance to save the world and fill ten museums with his great deeds. She then heads off to get some ice cream, leaving Bart to gaze at one of the few relics in his room — the guitar he played with Jenni at the high school dance.

Suddenly, an injured Rip Hunter appears in the room, shattering the exhibit's glass. Rip tells Bart that only he can save the universe. He says everything Bart knows is going to change, but he alone is exempt from the changes in the time stream. Rip tells Bart to travel back to 1941, September 7th, at Gotham Square at 8 o'clock to stop him before he wins. And before he can explain more, Rip vanishes a flash of green light, leaving a perplexed Bart surrounded by a big mess.

Bart soon finds himself in trouble with both Max and Wally, and is grounded from the TV and video games. Wally is mad at Bart for bugging his fellow JLA members, and he doesn't believe Bart's story about a spaceman smashing up the Flash museum. Wally complains that his phone's been ringing off the hook lately about Bart's behavior, but both Max and Helen say that being connected to Bart comes along with being the Flash. And Max actually believes Bart's story, saying he knows the boy well enough to know he wouldn't make up a story like that. But Max does agree to punish Bart for harassing the other heroes.

Max brings Bart his dinner in his room, and tells him that both he and Wally really do like him. Max tells Bart that he reminds him of his old horse, Lightning, that was stubborn, skittish, ran like a rabbit, and was always where she wasn't supposed to be. And they shot Lightning. Max tells Bart that having all the gifts in the world means nothing without the discipline to use them, and he advises the teen to give some thought to growing up.

Bart wakes up the next morning by falling out of the bed. He groggily walks into the bathroom, and is stunned to see a beautiful, naked woman shaving her legs in it. She screams, and Bart rushes outside. He rubs the sleep out of his eyes, then concludes this must be Max's new girlfriend. So Bart vibrates back in through the wall, but is immediately attacked by the woman's husband, a very large and very angry man. The woman calls her husband off, concluding that Bart is just a harmless kid, perhaps a bit slow, who somehow snuck all his clothes into their closet. The woman is wearing a towel now, but it does little to contain her cleavage, which Bart is quite captivated by. He stares at her for quite some time, and when she asks if he can talk, he takes a minute to say, "Sometimes." And that, on page 17, is the first spoken word by Bart in this comic.

And so, Bart throws on his Impulse outfit and rushes over to Carol's house, and oddly plops himself in her bed. He tells her he's having a nightmare where Max is gone, but he got to see a naked woman, which was actually kinda cool. But Carol has no idea who this strange kid in her bed is, so Bart says, "Never mind. Wrong house."

He then takes off, looking for Wally, which actually turned out a bit harder than Bart thought. After looking up every Wally West in every phone book, he finally found the real one living with some woman named Angela in a small apartment in Central City instead of Keystone City. Bart begins talking too quickly again and not making much sense, and when Wally asks what he wants, Bart blurts out, "A cheeseburger." Wally slams the door on him, but Bart vibrates through the wall and does a slightly better job of explaining his predicament and says he wants to go home. When says his name is Bart Allen, Wally concludes he must be related to his uncle Barry, so he decides to drive Bart over there.

Bart initially faints when he sees his deceased grandfather, but when he recovers, he does a familiar face — his grandma Iris. He quickly tells her about his nightmare where Max was gone, Wally didn't know him and Grandpa Barry was still ... blond. When Bart realizes he's still in the nightmare, he tactfully uses the word blond instead of alive. Bart says everything's changed and they have to back to Gotham Square in 1948 (even though he means 1941). Bart asks the two Flashes to race over to the Cosmic Treadmill with him, but neither one of them is the Flash. And Bart only confuses them more by poorly explaining that they are both supposed to be the Flash. So Bart runs over to the Flash Museum himself, only to find a vacant parking lot in its place.

Feeling completely defeated, Bart actually tries to kill himself in Barry's oven. But Barry pulls him out, saying he actually believes Bart's story. He asks Bart to start over at the beginning. Suddenly, the injured Max Mercury appears in Barry's kitchen, telling Bart that either he stops Extant or the universe dies. Apparently Extant took the time to brag about his entire plan to the dying Max, so Max can now conveniently explain everything to Bart (and the reader).

Extant tried to remake the universe in his image during Zero Hour, but he was betrayed by Parallax, the former Green Lantern Hal Jordan. Extant was defeated that day, but now he has attained his revenge. Knowing the Linear Men would undo any changes he made to the past, Extant decided to trick them into thinking he made a change. The whole battle with the Justice Society of America was just a distraction to cover up the natural death of a physicist named Garnet Edwards. The Linear Men mistakingly believed Extant killed Edwards so they saved his life, doing exactly what Extant wanted.

Extant later went on to create a powerful doomsday weapon that was tested in outer space. But it proved more powerful than anticipated, and nearly destroyed the moon, halting its orbit for a fraction of a second. This resulted in an infinitesimal slowing of the Earth's orbit around the sun, which changed the planet's relative position exponentially over the following decades. This altered things just enough so that Abin Sur's crippled spacecraft hit Earth's atmosphere at too steep an angle and was destroyed, meaning he never gave the Green Lantern ring to Hal Jordan, who never became Parallax.

The changes also resulted in Superman's rocket landing in Uganda instead of Kansas, turning the Man of Steel into some sort of crazed villain. And Barry Allen missed his fateful lightning bolt by a fraction of a second, preventing the entire Flash family of Wally, the Tornado Twins, Impulse and XS from ever existing.

Max has been telling this whole story while trying to not succumb to the massive gash in his throat. Bart has been listening, but also spinning on his head on the couch. Max explains that Bart is a living time anomaly because Barry was displaced in the future when he sired Bart's parents, and now Bart is further displaced in time by coming back to the 20th century. So far, this has kept Bart aware of the changes in the time stream and immune of Extant's powers, making him the only person who can save the universe.

Finally, after all that talking and explaining, Barry suggests they take Max to the hospital, since he has been bleeding out on Barry's armchair for the past few minutes. But Max says there's no time for that, and explains one final detail — that he "leaped" forward in time to follow Rip Hunter to deliver his message. Max begins to struggle breathing, and Bart finally notices that his beloved guardian is in any peril. Bart rushes to Max's side, who tells Bart it's all up to him. And then Max dies.

Bart begins screaming and crying. He tries to lift Max up and get him to a medi-center, but he's too heavy. Bart shouts at Barry to not just stand there and watch Max die, but Barry tells Bart that Max is gone and wraps him up in a warm embrace. They hug and cry for a minute, and Bart vows revenge against Extant.

Later, Bart reconstructs the Cosmic Treadmill from memory, and Barry is skeptical whether this crude contraption will work. But Bart says they don't have time to worry about that, and he has to try it. So Barry wishes Bart luck on his mission, saying he looks forward to becoming the Flash and joining Bart on these adventures in the future. Bart still doesn't have the hear to tell his grandpa that he died, so he just hugs him instead and says he loves him.

Luckily, Bart's treadmill does work, but it initially sends him to the future. He's able to get things sorted out quickly, though, and arrives in the proper time of 1941, where the JSA are having a meeting discussing the plight of the war orphans around the world. Bart remains hidden in their conference room, and kind of dances around them, making goofy faces until he's discovered by Max Mercury.

Max quickly pulls Bart out the room, and Bart gives him a big hug, saying he's so glad that Max is ... brunette. Max explains that he doesn't know who Bart is, but he felt a disturbance in the time stream, which brought him to Bart. Once again, Bart does a very bad job of explaining himself. Max cuts him off by saying he's actually blond, and he suggests Bart continue his story in prison. But Bart stops him by saying Max never told him why he shot his horse. This convinces Max to hear the boy out.

Meanwhile, the most powerful member of the JSA, the Spectre, has become frozen in time. This is the work of Extant, who begins his attack with a big explosion. Max realizes this was what Bart was trying to tell him about, so he advises Bart to remain hidden. Bart says they need to find Dr. Edwards, but he doesn't know what he looks like. So Max and Bart rush out onto the street and begin checking everybody's wallet. Max sees the JSA struggling against Extant, and he decides to buy Bart a few more seconds by confronting the villain head-on.

Bart tries to stop Max, but Max tells him not to reveal too much about the future. He orders Bart to focus on his mission and let history take care of itself. Max says having all the gifts in the world means nothing without the discipline to use them, and he takes off. Bart eventually does find Garnet Edwards, while Max loses his battle with Extant. Bart spots Rip Hunter, and pushes him out of the way, allowing the falling debris to crush the physicist. Rip Hunter begins to shout at Impulse, but he's soon blasted away by Extant, who is furious at the teen for thwarting his plan.

Extant says he has spent a thousand years putting this perfect plan together, and now a mere boy has undone it. Extant says he'll kill Impulse, then make the adjustments necessary to correct his scheme. Bart tries to dodge him, but Extant lands a powerful punch on him, knocking him into some trash cans. Bart asks how he was able to do this, and Extant picks him up and tosses him into a car's windshield, explaining that he's speeding up time around Impulse to cancel out his super-speed. He says he would just age Impulse to dust, but he can't since he's a time anomaly. But Extant says that doesn't matter, and it's time to end the game.

Bart concedes that Extant has won, and he asks to just go home now. But Extant is still intent on killing Bart, who says that's not fair. In his last moments, Bart imagines Extant breaking the rules of a big rule book, complete with a picture of Max next to Rule 327: "You must be this tall to ride this villain." But then Bart's imagination turns the page to Rule 328, with a picture of Extant and the words, "This villain's powers cannot affect you directly."

This gives Bart the inspiration to not give up just yet. He manages to dodge Extant's attack, grab a hold of his cape, slide between his legs, and pull the villain down hard on his face. This knocks out Extant long enough for the Linear Men to arrive and take him away. Before the time stream is reset, Bart gets one final goodbye with Max, who has actually wrapped a bandage around his throat this time. Bart exclaims how happy he is that Max isn't blond. Max tells Bart he gets the feeling they'll be good friends one day, but for now, he doesn't want Bart to tell him any more about the future. Bart agrees, and hitches a ride back with the Linear Men.

Bart wakes up back on his bed, and he creeps downstairs to see Max, Helen and Wally angrily discussing Bart's behavior. Wally sends Bart back to his room, and Bart happily accepts the punishment, seeing that everything has returned to normal.

Later, Bart and Max visit the Flash Museum to see the new trophy in the Impulse room, the swatch from Extant's cape. Max asks Bart if he's happy now, but Bart says he wishes he could do it over, having thought of some new stuff he could have used against Extant. Max says people always think of ways they could've don't their jobs better after the fact, and Bart just needs to get used to that feeling. Bart then says his adventure did leave him with a few unanswered questions, such as why did Max shoot his horse?

And at the end, we get a list of thank yous from the writer.

Priest sez:

Thank you Mark Waid for always answering the phone
Thank you Brian Augustyn for the big plot assist
Thank you Dave von Domelen and Greg Morrow, Ph.D. for the technical assist
Thank you Grant Giandonato, Addie Blaustein, Mike "The Parademon" Chary, Elayne Wechsler-Chaput, Sidne Gail Ward, Denise L. Voskuil-Marré, Max Chittister, Jerry Franke, Rick Jones, Kevin Maroney, Marc Singer, Hosun S. Lee for the research assistance

I'm not sure why Priest needed all those people to help him research, or what exactly it was they were researching. In any case, I'm glad so many people came together to make this comic as awesome and bombastic as it is. I really love this story. It was funny, intense, action-packed, and it ended with Bart truly saving the universe from one of the biggest threats in DC. But that's not to say this comic wasn't without it's problems.

The look and feel of the book took some getting used to. Even the lettering, which rarely stands out, was a bit rougher and more casual than average comic books. Johnson style is very fun and wild, which creates opportunities for some amazing, beautiful scenes. But his style also has a high margin for error, lending to a handful of very weird and unfortunate images. If he could have tightened up his art just a bit, this comic would have been perfect art-wise.

The story is very good. I loved the idea of making Impulse a time anomaly, immune to changes in the time stream. This idea will continue to be explored later on in some more fun stories. But I do have a few problems with Priest's story. Once again, Max Mercury was used to inexplicably explain everything, including a lot of things he really shouldn't have known. Did Extant really sit and explain every last detail of Zero Hour and all the minute changes he caused? And why did Barry and Bart let Max tell this very long story before noticing all the blood pouring out of his throat? Bart was happily spinning on his head as Max was dying, then cried for a bit when he did die, then was right back to goofing off half a minute later. I know Bart is impulsive, but not that much.

I also never really felt like the world was in that much peril after Extant's plan was enacted. Yeah, there's not Flash, Green Lantern or Superman, but everybody's day-to-day life seemed pretty much the same. What, exactly, did Extant want his new reality to be like? I also wish Impulse's final confrontation with Extant would have been more satisfying. All told, Extant punched Bart once, threw him on a car, and then Bart pulled Extant down by his cape. Fight over. Universe saved. Just a bit too quick for my tastes. But overall, I loved this story. Heck, the scene with Batman alone was worth the price of admission.

So that's it for Impulse comics with a publication date of March 1999. Heading into April, we'll start with The Flash 80-Page Giant #2. I'll be moving to another state over the next couple of weeks, so it'll probably be a while before I get to that, though.