Saturday, February 28, 2015

Adventures in the DC Universe Annual #1

Something Wicked: Event One!

Hilary J. Bader Writer
Andy Suriano Penciller
Rob Leigh Inker
John Costanza Letterer
Rick Taylor Colorist
Frank Berrios Assit. Editor
Mike Carlin Editor

This whole issue is called Something Wicked This Way Comes, and it features separate stories with Impulse, Mr. Miracle, Rose & Thorn and Superboy, all loosely connected by a prologue and epilogue with Dr. Fate. And I think the cover by John Delaney and Terry Austin illustrates this rather well. This series, Adventures in the DC Universe, was a loose comic-book adaptation of the DC Animated Universe, which at this point only consisted of Batman and Superman. Justice League was still four years away at this point, so in 1997, this was the best way to imagine what many DC characters could look like if they were animated. Around 2000, Impulse was considered as a main character for Justice League, but he was soon replaced by the Flash.

Anyway, Impulse only appears in his individual story (again, no interactions with Superboy!), so I'll only talk about Impulse's bit, especially since the overarching Dr. Fate stuff is a very loose connection at best.

Our story begins with Bart bored and home alone. We do hear Helen's voice as the outgoing message on the answering machine, which is a nice touch. It was rather easy for writers to forget that she existed. Anyway, Max, in location unknown, calls Bart to warn him not to use his super speed for anything since he feels a disturbance in the Speed Force. But Bart doesn't pay attention to the message and assumes Max was simply lecturing him to do his chores. So he quickly does the dishes, makes his bed and takes out the trash, leaving only the task of returning his library books — to Lima, Peru. I have no idea why Bart wanted to check out books from Peru. I guess he only did it because he could.

Anyway, Bart throws on his Impulse uniform and heads down to South America. He has a very strange trip, finally realizing that Max was trying to tell him about this very scenario. Suddenly, Bart is jolted by a burst of energy and collapses in the middle of a remote jungle. Bart says he's never been knocked out of the Speed Force before, which I'm pretty sure is not how it works. At least how Mark Waid has presented the Speed Force so far. It's rather difficult just to get into the Speed Force, and even more difficult to leave it. But whatever.

Bart is soon surrounded by a native tribe, but he tries to leave them so he can avoid his 20 bolivars fine. But after running a few yards, Bart again collapses in pain. He wonders if it was something he ate, but decides his usual diet of hot dogs, devil dogs and ice cream shouldn't be responsible for this phenomenon. He starts testing his limits, finding that short speed bursts are OK, as is vibrating, but once he tries to actually go somewhere, he crashes.

The leader of the tribe, who wields a staff with a Flash-like lightning bolt on it, finally manages to communicate with Impulse by grabbing his shoulders and vibrating him. Bart asks how he's suddenly able to understand the native's language, and the shaman simply says he understands the forces of existence. He further explains that things are amiss in the speed god's realm, and he advises Impulse to stay with him until it's safe. Bart thinks Max would get a kick out of the concept of a speed god, and he goes with the shaman to his hidden city in the trees.

The shaman then tells Impulse that he believes he was sent by the speed god to protect the city. He shows him a couple of explorers searching for the lost city. Impulse soon learns the men are only motivated by greed and are prepared to kill any natives they come across. So Impulse steals their map as they go to sleep, then presents a plan to the natives. He asks for a bunch of old and broken items, which he disguises as artifacts and lays out in a path to lure the looters away.

Bart's plan works perfectly, and once the looters are free of the city, he boxes them in by the river with a bunch of logs. For added measure, Impulse surreptitiously plants the "artifacts" on one of the guys, causing the other to accuse him of hoarding it all to himself. The two men get into a fight and fall into the river, which carries them over a waterfall.

The shaman thanks Impulse for his help and tells him the disturbance in the realm of the speed god has quieted. He then sends Impulse away by basically telling him never to come back. So Bart zips home and just manages to sneak inside as Max is opening the front door. Bart flips the TV on to a remarkably quick and oddly specific news report of the rescue and arrest of two men in Santo Lodoca, South America. Max tells Bart he's free to speed now if he so desires, but Bart says he just wants to veg out in front of the TV for a while.

Well, that wasn't awful. The art was awful, yes, but the story was OK. I guess we're supposed to assume that whatever Dr. Fate was dealing with in the prologue was somehow related to the disturbance in the Speed Force, but I wish that would have been laid out more clearly. And I also wish Impulse could have been doing something more interesting than protecting a hidden tribe from two idiots. But what really kills this story is the art. I understand the desire to emulate the simplistic Bruce Timm style from the DCAU, but that doesn't excuse the sloppy, almost unbearable artwork in this issue. Alright, let's just move on to the ads now.

Protecting the earth from the scum of the universe. Men in Black: The Series. I do remember this show quite well. It was OK, not great. Certainly not as great as that first movie was, but probably better than that awful second movie.

Take a break with a Kit Kat bar. You could fold this chaotic family barbecue scene together to end up with just one kid peacefully relaxing in a hammock.

Tangent Comics. The only thing you know is the names! Secret Six #1, Doom Patrol #1 and Sea Devils #1.

Built anything cool lately? Get a model kit for a penny! Revell Monogram.

Return to the excitement! Return to the adventure! Return to the Amalgam Age: The DC Comics Collection trade paperback.

Watch This Space talks a lot about the latest San Diego Comic Con, but nothing really applies to Impulse.

See Nick in 3D! Hey Arnold!, The Secret World of Alex Mack, The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, Rugrats and KABLAM! I watched and loved three of those shows (Alex Mack and Shelby Woo were for girls).

This last ad is one of my all-time favorites. It's set up like a comic for Superman: The Animated Series, and starts with Jimmy Olsen telling Perry White that Superman has just been spotted at Burger King. Superman, who's flying by the Daily Planet, turns his head and asks aloud, "I was?" Perry takes a look at Jimmy's photo and points out that his young photographer took a picture of some toys. To which Jimmy quizzically ponders over the word "toys" as if he's never heard of toys before. The comic then shows all five Superman toys that are offered with each Kids Club meal, and I actually had one of them. It was the "flying" Superman that balanced on his chin atop the Daily Planet. It bugged me because the Daily Planet had this spike that wasn't supposed to be there, and Superman's arms were ridiculously out of proportion to balance him.

Next time, Impulse will make another guest appearance in Sovereign Seven #28.

Superboy and the Ravers #14

Genesis Suicide Squad

Steve McMattsson & Karl McKesel – Writers
Paul McPelletier – Penciller
Dan McDavis – Inker
Stu McChaifetz – Computer Colorist
Kevin McCunningham – Letterer
Maureen McTigue – Asst. Editor
Mike McAvennie – Editor

Our cover by Pelletier and Davis shows the Ravers being defeated by the forces of Darkseid, and this image is only a slight exaggeration of what happens. It is nice to have a tie-in issue so directly represent the events of the main event series — even if said event is pretty crappy. Unfortunately, this issue contains a surprisingly small amount of Genesis content, as the bulk of the story is taken up by a series of flashbacks showing what each Raver was up to before Genesis began.

Our story picks up shortly after the group of 16 heroes is expelled from the Source. Superboy and the Ravers join with everybody in the big fight against all of Darkseid's minions. Superman quickly becomes impatient, saying they all need to go after Darkseid himself. So Kindred Marx basically volunteers his Ravers and teleports all the other heroes directly into Darkseid's stronghold.

The Ravers continue to fight, and Superboy takes on Kalibak one-on-one, just as is shown on the cover. Unfortunately, this is a bit of an inconsistency, as Genesis #4 showed Superboy being teleported to Darkseid's citadel and coming face-to-face with the god of Apokolips himself. Anyway, Kalibak gains the upper hand, and is about to dispose of Superboy, when suddenly the Source Wall reappears and Darkseid's massive ship disappears. (I guess we're completely skipping over the part where all the living creatures in the universe were united telepathically.)

But I do like this part. Superboy asks Metron how this is possible, and he literally says, "Deus ex machina! 'God out of the machine.' " That truly is the best way to describe the ending of Genesis. And yeah, Kindred Marx's hand-stamp tattoos vanished after the Source was restored, so he was unable to teleport all the heroes home and/or exert whatever control he could have over the heroes. But as we saw in Genesis #4, getting everybody back home was a nonissue.

There! We're finally done with this accursed event! I am surprised at how poorly this book matched the main series, especially since it was the only tie-in to be referenced in an editor's note. And I'm also sad that Impulse did not interact with Superboy in any way. But this whole, massive story has exhausted me past the point of caring. So now I'm just going to move forward and never think about this again.

Next time, we'll do something fun. We'll get to see what Impulse could have looked like in the DC Animated Universe with Adventures in the DC Universe Annual #1.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Genesis #4

Last God Standing

Ron Wagner Penciller
Joe Rubinstein Inker
John Byrne Writer
Clem Robins Letters
Noelle Giddings Colors
Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt Assistant Editor
Paul Kupperberg Editor

Our cover by Alan Davis and Mark Farmer is your standard, heroic pose of all the major players. It's not too bad, but it doesn't feel particularly special. I am glad we can see Impulse rather well, however,  hanging out down by the barcode in the left corner.

Our story begins with showing us what happened on Earth after the Source Wall shattered. We're treated to some rather disturbing images of people hanging from trees, crosses burning, children lying dead in the streets, men raping a woman and mushroom clouds popping up along the horizon. We then cut back to "beyond time, beyond space, to a place without measure, a dimension without name or number," where all our heroes are standing on Darkseid's enormous ship, gazing in horror at the destruction of the Source Wall. They're hit by a big shockwave, and everybody has a hard time not flying off the ship. Luckily, the old god Arzaz saves Impulse (and Max Mercury is able to hang on to him as well).

This calamity was apparently so great, it caused Bart's hair to momentarily turn black. But don't worry, it was back to its usual brown by the next page. Anyway, everybody freaks out when they see a weakened Spectre expelled from the Source, but Arzaz manages to calm everyone down. Steel decides to tell everybody what happened when 16 of them entered the Source. They quickly encountered a foreign energy preventing them from going deeper inside. They see the form of a man in the midst of this energy, which Flash assumed belonged to Darkseid. The 16 heroes did their best to fight forward through the Godwave, but suddenly everything went black. And page 11 of this comic is hauntingly, completely black.

Anyway, Steel finishes his story by saying the next thing they all remember is being thrown out of the Source. Everyone's worried about what Darkseid could be doing inside the heart of the Source, but Arzaz soon discovers that Darkseid is still on his ship, talking to Arzaz's dark, nameless double. Darkseid is furious that someone has snatched away his victory, but he and Nameless One begin plotting their next move.

The heroes then begin to prepare to take down Darkseid, and Metron suddenly arrives to explain that he has learned who really is at the heart of the Source — Ares, god of war. Darkseid learns this truth around the same time, and he declares Ares will be vulnerable for a moment before he completely harnesses the power of the Godwave. Arzaz begins psychically communicating with his opposite, and they come up with a plan. Superman then asks Kindred Marx to teleport the group of heroes into Darkseid's citadel, which he does, but leaves behind the rest of the Ravers for some reason. An editor's note tells us to check out Superboy and the Ravers #14, which we will do after we finish this issue.

So all the heroes appear before Darkseid and begin yelling at him, and just when we thought things were strange enough, it gets even stranger. Ares decides to take the offensive for some reason, and makes himself large enough to crush Darkseid's enormous ship in his hand. But once he does so, Darkseid activates some type of energy field that freezes Ares in place. Darkseid explains that he is now working with the heroes to stop Ares, and Arzaz and his opposite are leading the charge. But Ares has already grown too powerful, so those two old gods need the mental fortitude provided by every living creature in the universe.

For some reason, Superman thinks this is impossible, but Darkseid encourages him to have hope. So the telepaths of the group, namely Martian Manhunter and Saturn Girl, begin reaching out and connecting to other telepaths who connect to others until every living creature in the universe is united in one thought — to save the Source. Metron then uses the combined world of New Genesis and Apokolips as a lens to focus this power, and the two worlds become separated once more and Ares is apparently defeated.

In the epilogue, Metron explains to everyone that Arzaz and the Nameless One sacrificed themselves to buy their victory. But everyone is quite confused as to what actually happened, feeling like the whole experience was just a dream soon to be forgotten. Metron then offers these helpful words: "There has been a genesis. All is changed, yet all remains the same. In the span of an instant, the cosmos has been remade. The plans of gods and mortals have been undone ... yet remain unaltered." Get it? Anyway, we see that the Source Wall is back up, but the thousands of giant golden statues have been replaced with just four — Arzaz, the Nameless One, Ares, and for some reason, Darkseid. Impulse wonders how they're going to get home, and Takion apparently takes everyone back, while Donna Troy wonders why she feels so different. Metron stays behind and wonders how many alterations to reality will manifest themselves.

OK ... So that happened. I guess. Conveniently, no one will remember this event; and even more conveniently, John Byrne created the excuse he needed to further convolute Donna Troy's backstory. This event started with a simple and interesting premise: all the superheroes losing their powers. But that quickly became a nonissue. And the story devolved into a poor attempt to approach the grandiose by making everything unexplainable and unknowable. Byrne's storytelling was also rather sloppy. If I hadn't read Wonder Woman #126, I wouldn't have had any inclination that Ares was even involved in this story. I guess everyone is right to just ignore this event and pretend it never happened.

But we're not done with Genesis just yet. Next time, we'll cover Superboy and the Ravers #14.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Wonder Woman #126

Where Have All the Heroes Gone?

John Byrne Writer-Artist
Tatajana Wood Guest Colorist
Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt Assistant Editor
Paul Kupperberg Editor
Wonder Woman created by William Moulton Marston
The Demon created by Jack Kirby

The cover, designed and written by John Byrne, is a pretty fun re-creation of the front page of a newspaper. I do find it a bit odd, however, that Byrne chose to go with The Daily Planet, which usually focuses on Metropolis and Superman. I guess Gateway City doesn't have any recognizable papers. Anyway, this story blurb tells us that Wonder Woman has fallen in a recent battle with Neron (hence her absence in this Genesis storyline). Diana is now currently in a hospital, where doctors are baffled by her condition. Her body is completely fine, but her soul is damaged.

And that leads us directly into our story, with Wonder Woman in a hyperbaric chamber, while several of her friends and close acquaintances gather around. This group includes a young teenager with short blond hair, cut-off jeans and a Flash T-shirt. Her name is Cassandra Sandsmark, and she passionately declares that Wonder Woman will, and has to survive. Impulse hasn't met Cassie yet, but he will before too long.

We then cut to Mount Olympus, where Herakles brings a lifeless Zeus to the other gods. He tells them that he and Zeus went to the Source Wall to investigate the disturbance. But Herakles was ambushed by Ares, and when he finally came to, Zeus was in poor condition. Kupps tells us in an editor's note that if we want to find out what happened to Zeus, we need to check out Jack Kirby's Fourth World #8. But Impulse doesn't appear in that issue, so we'll stay blissfully in the dark on this one. Anyway, Herakles decided to leave all the fighting at the Source Wall to bring Zeus back to Mount Olympus to save his life (which did work, apparently).

We then get a bit of Earth's heroes fighting the forces of Darkseid, and take a quick peek into what the small group of heroes did inside the Source before being expelled. The new god Metron explains that the Source will protect itself the same way a body defends itself against diseases. Soon after he says this, Donna Troy and Queen Hippolyta (Wonder Woman's mother) are attacked psychologically. They both receive haunting visions. Hippolyta is tormented by a dying Wonder Woman, who claims she was betrayed by her mother. Donna is confronted by past versions of herself, including the Darkstar version Impulse teamed up with in the New Titans. These illusions are joined by the original Teen Titans (with Wally West as Kid Flash) and they mock Donna for how weak she's become and all the mistakes she's made.

And I guess that's all that really has to do with Genesis and Impulse, so we'll leave that there. This wasn't a terrible issue, although I had little to no connection with most of the story here. But it was kind of refreshing to read an issue written and drawn by the same person. I always say the fewer people who work on a comic, the better, more consistent it will be. And Byrne definitely feels more at ease here with the gods of Olympus than he does with the mega-large unfathomable threat he's trying to create in Genesis. I do think Byrne drew a rather demented-looking Impulse, though.

Next time, we'll take on the final issue of the main series, Genesis #4.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Genesis #3

Event Horizon

Ron Wagner Penciller
Joe Rubinstein Inker
John Byrne Writer
Patricia Mulvihill Colorist
Clem Robins Letterer
Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt Assistant Editor
Paul Kupperberg Editor

Our cover by Alan Davis and Mark Farmer shows all the heroes in the DC Universe slipping through Darkseid's fingers. It's a pretty nice representation of how powerful Darkseid can feel, although I have no idea why one of his eyes is flaming. I kind of always assumed he used both eyes for his omega beams — if that's what's supposed to be happening here. Anyway, if you look closely, you can see Impulse at the bottom in the middle, just below Superman.

Our story picks up with the drawing of straws at "a place which is not a place, a moment frozen in the unending flow of time" (can you see my confusion?). No mention is made of Superman's brief, yet urgent mission to the Source Wall, and the Man of Steel has apparently reversed his decision on the drawing, saying, "Done as fairly as it could be!" Anyway, the whole group heads out to the Source Wall, but not by boom tube. Instead, they teleport thanks to Kindred Marx of the Ravers.

Once at the wall, our heroes quickly encounter Darkseid, who is in some sort of ship that apparently is much too large for Ron Wagner to draw. Darkseid comes out to meet the heroes personally, and gives us our third explanation of the Godwave, which created gods in its first pass through the universe, then rebounded on itself and created demigods, or superheroes. Now, according to Darkseid, the Godwave has already passed through the Source Wall and is rapidly approaching the center of the Source. Once it does, it'll release a massive amount of energy to destroy the whole universe and create a new one. And Darkseid, naturally, wants to be there when that happens so he can harness all that power for himself.

So Darkseid retreats to his ship, leaving all his minions to fight all the heroes. As they battle, the new god Takion scoops up all the heroes who drew the short straw to enter the Source. This group includes the Flash, Donna Troy, Saturn Girl, Spark, the old god Arzaz and a few random others.

We then cut back to Gotham City, where Robin, Huntress and Catwoman have once again fallen into deep depression and have stopped fighting back the riots, even though they gave each other a beautiful encouragement speech in Genesis #2. But don't worry, they do the exact same thing here once again, resolving to keep fighting.

Back at the Source Wall, Jesse Quick complains about not knowing how to fight Darkseid's parademon troops, and Impulse makes fun of her, saying they fold pretty fast if you fight back. And Superman complains for the 3,000th time about having to adjust to his new powers. Meanwhile, the all-powerful Spectre visits Darkseid and warns him not to go into the Source. But Darkseid brushes him off, so the Spectre enters the Source himself.

And then something goes horribly wrong. Everyone feels incredible dread, and we see chaos breaking loose all across Earth, including the graphic image of a man blowing his own brains out with a shotgun. Darkseid then receives another visitor, one who declares himself as Arzaz's opposite. This nameless villain offers to help Darkseid just so long as he can keep the cosmos intact. Another terrible surge is felt from the Source and we're treated to a very strange page of a bunch of heads reacting.

Everyone starts screaming that the Source is dying, and the group of heroes who entered it are expelled just before the Source Wall collapses.

Ugh. Trying to understand this comic is exhausting. It feels like John Byrne is attempting the grandiose by being as vague and unspecific as possible. But the inability to explain or understand something does not make it more epic — it actually has the opposite effect. I'm also upset with the story's inability to keep things straight. I can forgive the main series for not matching up perfectly with the tie-ins, such as Superman, but why couldn't these creators remember they gave us the exact same scene in Gotham City in back-to-back issues? And when you factor in the lackluster art and shocking suicide scene, this rounds out to be one crappy comic.

There aren't any new ads, so I'll see you next time with another Genesis tie-in, Wonder Woman #126.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Adventures of Superman #551

Genesis for Humanity

Dan Jurgens – Guest Writer
Tom Grummett – Penciller
Denis Rodier – Inker
Albert DeGuzman – Letterer
Glenn Whitmore – Colorist
Digital Chameleon – Separator
Maureen McTigue – Assistant
Joey Cavalieri – Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Jose Shuster

This cover by Tom Grummett, Denis Rodier and Patrick Martin shows the blueprints for Superman's new containment suit and the Cyborg Superman. It is fairly interesting, though not exciting. It's also odd that this cover lacks the Genesis header that all the other tie-in issues received.

Our story picks right up where the last issue left off, with Superman battling the Cyborg at the Source Wall. As they fight, they briefly recap the Cyborg's history for people like me who haven't read very many Superman stories. Hank Henshaw was an astronaut who suffered a terrible accident and his body died. But he gained the ability to transmit his mind into machines. After Superman died, Henshaw claimed to be the original, becoming Cyborg Superman. When the real Superman returned, he got in a big fight with the Cyborg, who destroyed Coast City. Superman and Hal Jordan thought they destroyed the Cyborg, but his consciousness went out toward the Source Wall, where it took hold of a large piece of rubble broken off the Wall.

Now that the Cyborg has encountered Superman, he wants to take over his body so he can return to Earth. Obviously, Superman is opposed to this idea, so they fight and fight until Superman eventually defeats the Cyborg by fusing his mud-like body into the big hole in the Source Wall. Having killed two birds with one stone, Superman uses the mother box to boom back to Highfather and the others. Superman's initially worried that the Cyborg may have transmitted his consciousness into the mother box, but Highfather inspects it and says that is not the case. So all the heroes gather together and head out to fulfill Highfather's initial plan of stopping Darkseid from acquiring the power of the Godwave. But it seems like the Cyborg is still hanging around, possibly in Superman's suit?

I am impressed with how consistent this issue is with the previous issue of Superman. The editors of Superman in this "triangle era" really did a good job of making all the separate Superman titles feel like one weekly title. Of course, in this instance it really helps to have Dan Jurgens write both stories. But the art was also remarkably similar. Sadly, Impulse was once again relegated to the silent background role, but that's only because the bulk of this issue was taken up with the flashbacks and fight with Cyborg Superman.

And although these two Superman tie-ins were well-done and entertaining, they really don't fit in very well with the main Genesis storyline. Highfather's main plan is to take all the heroes to the Source Wall and a select few inside the Source (if I'm understanding it correctly). So this minor disturbance caused by Cyborg Superman should not have altered Highfather's plans in the slightest. It seems like a complete waste to send just Superman out there then have him come back, then return to the Source Wall with everybody. Why couldn't they all have just gone out together? Well, I do know the answer to this question. DC wanted Superman to have his own solo adventure and reset everything to the status quo for the main Genesis series so readers wouldn't have to read the Superman tie-ins if they didn't want to. But I think they still could have handled this in a more natural way.

None of the letters in Kryptograms mention Impulse (again, everyone is still obsessing over Superman's new look and powers). But we do have a new, special ad.

Born to run! The Flash. Celebrate Flash Month this September. The Flash #130 and #131, Speed Force #1 and The Flash Secret Files #1. The ad basically uses the cover for Speed Force #1, drawn by Craig Rousseau, with the exception of the addition of Impulse from the cover of Impulse #29 by Jeff Matsuda. We'll be covering all these exciting issues just as soon as Genesis ends.

Next time, we return to the main series with Genesis #3.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Superman #128

Genesis Anew

Dan Jurgens Story
Ron Frenz and Joe Rubinstein Art
John Costanza Letterer
Glenn Whitmore Colorist
Digital Chameleon Separations
Maureen McTigue Assistant Editor
Joey Cavalieri Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

The cover by Ron Frenz, Joe Rubinstein and Patrick Martin unfortunately spoils what could have been a huge surprise. The Cyborg Superman, one of the biggest bad guys during the Reign of the Supermen storyline, is alive and playing a role in this Genesis storyline. It's a fine looking cover, I just wish Cyborg Superman wasn't on it. But now that he is, it creates an expectation to have him prominently featured inside. But he really only shows up on the last page, you know, like it's supposed to be a big surprise.

Our story picks right up with the drawing of the straws to see who will take on Highfather's suicide mission into The Source. We don't see who lost (or won) this random selection process, but we do hear Superman complain rather loudly about it. Impulse enjoys the argument, teasing that the "class"should discuss the merits of drawing straws versus flipping a coin. Max is embarrassed, telling Bart this is no place for his usual flippancy.

Anyway, Superman continues his argument, saying they need to match specific powers to solve specific problems. Suddenly, Highfather feels a great disturbance in The Source, or rather at the Source Wall — the great barrier that holds back The Source at the edge of the universe. Highfather explains that the Wall is comprised of numerous long-dead Promethean giants who tried to penetrate The Source and instead became its silent guardians. And all that is being threatened by a mysterious force. So before Highfather can carry out his specific mission to deal with Darkseid and the Godwave, he needs someone to respond to this specific threat faster than thought. Since few people are faster than Impulse, he volunteers, much to the embarrassment of Max.

But Superman shuts him down, saying he's better for the job, and Max prevents Impulse from further arguing the point. So Highfather gives Superman a special mother box to keep his powers in check, and Metron sends him away with a boom tube. All the heroes remain behind in ... wherever Highfather brought them ... and discuss Superman's mission. Some, like Jesse Quick, are worried about sending him out there alone, but others are confident in his abilities.

Superman arrives at the Source Wall, which is an infinitely large stretch of golden giants regulating the release of The Source through their eyes. Superman quickly spots the problem Highfather sensed — a large hole in the Wall, releasing too much unfiltered Source power. So Superman tries to seal up the hole, but is attacked by the supposedly dead giants.

As Superman battles them, he begins to suspect the giants are being controlled by someone else. His suspicions are confirmed when the rubble from the Source Wall forms a prison around Superman. And within that prison is the assumed dead Cyborg Superman.

I really liked this tie-in issue. It fits in perfectly with Genesis, and has clean, exciting art. And as an Impulse fan, I am very happy Dan Jurgens gave him a few lines, which is infinitely better than just sitting silently in the background. I also kind of think Jurgens was subtly criticizing John Byrne through Superman with his speech about choosing specific heroes for specific problems. That's exactly what Jurgens did during Zero Hour, but in Genesis, Byrne doesn't really seem to care about who he uses.

None of the letters in the Metropolis Mailbag mention Impulse (they're all still obsessing over Superman's new look), and none of the ads are new, so I'll leave until next time, when we conclude Superman's fight with the Cyborg in The Adventures of Superman #551.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Genesis #2

Edge of Destruction

Ron Wagner Penciller
Jose Rubinstein Inker
John Byrne Writer
Patricia Mulvihill Colorist
Clem Robins Letterer
Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt Assistant Editor
Paul Kupperberg Editor

Once again, our cover is by Alan Davis and Mark Farmer, showing us the mighty Highfather summoning all the heroes. Next to Highfather's right hand is a rather small Flash. Just above him is a figure that could be Max Mercury, and above him is a very small Impulse. I think. At this point it's pretty much impossible to tell.

Our story begins with a quick recap of Genesis #1 and a repeat of the arrival of the space armada. However, nobody seems to care that Batman had something else to say last issue. Superman tells all the heroes to teleport down to Earth to see if they can do something even with their powers in flux.

On New Genesis, Highfather and the new gods speculate about where Darkseid has gone and even if he's traveled back in time to cause this mess. Suddenly, an old man appears out of nowhere and transforms into a taller, stronger man in gold armor. Highfather immediately bows down to Arzaz, calling him one of the old ones — the first gods. Arzaz explains that he's been watching countless generations go by without interfering, but now he has decided to act before the current fourth world is swept from the universe to make way for the new fifth world.

We then get a few quick glimpses of how everyone on Earth is handling all the craziness. Former Darkstar Donna Troy teams with Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, and Artemis, a top Amazon warrior, to help quell a riot. Superboy reunites with the Ravers in Hawaii, but they are all suddenly teleported away to a mysterious location. In Gotham City, a suddenly timid and unsure Robin teams with Catwoman and Huntress. They're all feeling down and depressed, but give themselves a pick-up talk and work together to fight some riots.

Meanwhile, the JLA meets with President Bill Clinton in the White House to discuss the alien invaders. Superman strongly opposes the plan to launch a nuclear strike against the armada, and he volunteers to serve as a mediator with the aliens. Since everyone's still unsure about Superman's new powers, they decide to send several other heroes with him just in case.

CNN then reports that several of Darkseid's minions — such as Kalibak and Granny Goodness — have begun attacking various points around the globe with troops of Parademons. Although Darkseid himself remains to be seen. Several groups of superheroes engage this threat, including the Teen Titans, Legion of Super-Heroes, Aquaman and Sovereign Seven.

Up in space, Superman, Green Lantern and Supergirl begin to take on the alien armada while Martian Manhunter phases into the mothership. He is shocked to see the armada is being led by the Darkstars, who claim they've tracked a blight to Earth and are prepared to destroy the entire solar system to end the scheme. Suddenly, Highfather appears before them and puts an end to all the fighting. He performs a massive mind meld to speak to all the concerned superhero parties at once.

You can just spot Impulse on the right side, awkwardly sitting in midair. Behind him are Max Mercury and Jesse Quick. Anyway, Highfather explains everything to everyone, pretty much collaborating Dr. Faulkner's analysis, but with more detail. Apparently a great world exploded ages ago, sending out a powerful wave across all creation. This wave is called the Godwave, since it created divinity and gods throughout the universe. Then when the Godwave reached the limits of reality, it bounced back on itself, making a second passage through the universe. But this time, its effects were weaker, so instead of creating more gods, it spawned the demigods, or superheroes. Highfather says the Godwave is the source of the Speed Force and Green Lantern's energy.

The problem now, Highfather explains, is that Godwave has almost contracted back to the point from which it sprang, creating a resonance that is felt across the universe, which is causing all the heroes' powers to fluctuate. When the Godwave does finally return to its point of origin, it will create a huge shockwave that will destroy the whole universe and give birth to a new one. And to make matters worse, Highfather says, Darkseid is seeking to harness the power of the Godwave and gain infinite power.

So Highfather presents a plan. He has a small amount of special mother boxes that are designed specifically to help superheroes retain their powers. This group of heroes would then penetrate the collapsing Godwave and go into The Source to stop Darkseid. But since no one's been to The Source, no one knows what will happen to them once they get there. And since they can't decide who should be a part of this suicide group, Green Lantern suggests they draw straws.

This actually wasn't a terrible issue. I especially liked the end, with Highfather explaining everything with a couple of accompanying diagram panels. This is much more preferable to a random scientist vaguely describing things. I don't understand why it was such a big deal for the JLA to just talk to the Darkstar armada — that seemed like something they should have immediately done. Or better yet, why didn't the Darkstars contact the JLA before invading Earth? I also was underwhelmed with the art once again, as well as the look at the "common" man during this scenario. But I guess that's what tie-in issues such as Impulse #30 are for.

I'm not too upset with the inclusion of Max Mercury here, since it seems like this meeting with Highfather is just a telepathic mind meld, so Max can easily still be in Dr. Morlo's basement while all this is happening. However, it did seem like Highfather physically teleported the Ravers away, so there could be a bit more to this mind meld thing. John Byrne is frustratingly vague on the details of how, when and where.

All the ads are the same, so I'll leave you until next time with another quick Impulse cameo in Superman #128.

Impulse #30

Everything Sucks

William Messner-Loebs Guest Writer
Craig Rousseau Penciller
Barbara Kaalberg Inker
Chris Eliopoulos Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt Assistant Editor
Paul Kupperberg Editor
Impulse created by Waid & Wieringo

Our cover by Jeff Matsuda and Wayne Faucher shows poor, de-powered Impulse struggling to keep up with a little kid on his tricycle. The cover is a subtle homage to 1965's The Flash #152, which shows Flash trying to catch the Trickster on a tricycle. I think it's a hilarious cover. In fact, I found it so funny, that it inspired me to start reading this series.

Let's go back a couple of years to the beginning of my comic book reading career. I officially got on board with the New 52, although I only read Action Comics digitally. After a year of that, I picked up The Flash, and became so enamored with it, I started a blog — But I eventually grew dissatisfied with the New 52 and began to crave something else. Having recently moved to Boise, Idaho, I discovered an amazing comic shop called Captain Comics. As a new reader, I found their selection a bit intimidating, so I gravitated toward the cheap "grab bags," a collection of a handful of issues in a series for a much lower price. The bag that caught my eye had six issues of Impulse for $5, starting with issue #30. I had known about Impulse for some time now, especially through the Young Justice animated series. And since he was in the Flash family, I decided to act on an impulse and pick it up. I'll admit, this first issue really confused me, but it entertained me enough to keep reading. And the more I read, the more I fell in love with this character and this series. Before too long, I bought out all the Impulse issues Captain Comics had and launched this blog. So Impulse #30 will always have a special place in my heart.

Our story begins in similar fashion to Impulse #29, with Bart stuck in boring history class. But this time, Mr. Snodgrass is singing a different tune. He's ripped off his patriotic American flag tie and begins teaching the astonished class how history is awful, pointless and full of lies. Carol is a bit creeped out by all this, but Bart has to admit this is a good time to tell Mr. Snodgrass he lost his paper on the wars of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

However, Mr. Snodgrass isn't the only teacher acting strangely. Bart's French teacher demands the class speak English; his science teacher says he'd rather talk about Bigfoot; and his geography teacher claims the earth is full of ugliness and decay. By the time Bart gets to math class, he has to speak up, asking Ms. Pingalee whether the purpose of math is to help students sharpen their reasoning abilities and such. An outraged Ms. Pingalee immediately sends Bart to the vice principal's office for defending math.

As Bart waits outside Randal Sheridan's office, he wonders whether there's any correlation between the space armada surrounding Earth, superheroes losing their powers, ordinary people losing their faith and Max's latest disappearance. Mr. Sheridan then calls Bart in, and actually congratulates him for talking back to his teacher. He tells Bart not to listen to anyone at school and go out and have fun since they'll be dead soon enough. As Bart leaves, he realizes he should be enjoying this chaotic day more. He meets up with Preston, who was being chewed out for wanting to play football, and Carol, who says she just had the strangest sex-ed class.

We check in with Helen, who's doing her best to stave off the depression affecting everybody. She's visited by her neighbor, Mr. Delphries, who asks to rummage through her ex-husband's fishing gear. Helen lets him into the garage, and admires him for not being depressed, even though his wife died three weeks ago. Helen then realizes that Mr. Delphries was suspiciously carrying a rope with him. Luckily, Helen is able to stop the old man before he hangs himself from the garage rafters.

Meanwhile, Max Mercury wakes up in the basement of one of his old villains, Dr. Morlo. If you remember, Max was poisoned while fighting Dr. Morlo back in 1947. (We didn't see the mad scientist then, he was only mentioned.) Nearly dead, Max was brought in and nursed back to health by David Claiborne, but then Max fell in love with Claiborne's wife, had an affair with her, and ran away to the future. Well now, 50 years later, Max finds himself tied to a chair with Dr. Morlo's chemical cannon aimed right at him. And the nefarious doctor, who looks remarkably young for his age, is joined by the elderly David Claiborne.

But to Morlo's surprise, Max isn't in the least bit concerned to see David again. Even though David chews him out for stealing his wife, Max calmly apologizes for what he did and points out that David's marriage with Laura had already collapsed by the time he got there. Morlo tries to help the flustered David regroup on his revenge scheme, but then Max notices that Morlo's brown beard and hair have turned white. So Morlo drinks some pink potion and turns young again, while an excited David boasts to Max that both he and Morlo will become immortals and rule the world. Once again, Max counters with calm logic, asking David how much of the potion he'd need to drink each day to stay young and whether Morlo's formula would even be compatible with his body chemistry.

We cut back to Bart, Preston and Carol walking home from school. The kids seem unaffected by the spreading doubt and depression, but some of the adults' fears have become quite ridiculous. A small group of people have lost their faith in gravity, and are fearfully clutching to the sidewalk and fire hydrants so they don't fly off into space. Bart recognizes this is a job for Impulse, so he sneaks off and slowly changes into his uniform. He doesn't have his super speed, but he does have super vision, which helps him see a couple of people trapped in a bank vault. But Bart, imagining himself as a turtle, wonders how he'll be able to save them.

Impulse runs over to the bank anyway, and learns that the trapped people used to be the most friendly and cheerful folks in the bank. But then they lost their faith in people and locked themselves inside the vault. So Impulse tries to open the vault, but accidentally shoots flames from his hand, turning the door into an impassable molten mess. Realizing the heat will fry the people inside, Impulse tries to cool the door down by waving his arms frantically. But he suddenly begins to shrink down to the size of an atom. Although he's initially disoriented, Bart finds he can take advantage of this size. Now being so small that heat is just a bunch of atoms moving real fast, Impulse catches hold of an electron, and rides it through the door. Once inside the vault, Impulse grows back to normal size, but the people who locked themselves in there say they're nearly out of air since they've spent the past two hours running around in circles and screaming. Impulse leans against the door to think, when he suddenly causes the whole thing to explode. The day is saved, and Bart decides he likes having explosive touch.

We cut back to the hostage situation at Dr. Morlo's, where the evil doctor and David have become distracted by a low-flying alien ship, which they believe belongs to the Justice League. While they panic, Max frees himself with his trusty pocket knife and disables the chemical cannon. Max also notices that Morlo's basement is full of dangerous chemicals, leaking out of their out-dated barrels — a single spark would destroy the whole neighborhood. Lacking his super speed, Max comes up with a creative plan to stop the two unstable old men. He grabs a magic marker and writes on the wall: "Beware, Morlo! Impulse is coming for you!" Max then jumps back on the chair and wraps the ropes around him so he still appears to be captured when Morlo and David come back down the stairs.

So this was a pretty crazy story to begin my Impulse reading. Impulse went through a bunch of random different powers, the stuff with Max was confusing for a first-time reader, and the rather strange story took a surprisingly dark turn with the attempted suicide in an otherwise light and funny book. But it now makes a lot more sense to me now. And I am glad this issue provided us with a look of how the events in Genesis are affecting ordinary people. I'm still not sure why none of the kids lost their faith in what they believed most, and I'm also sad this issue didn't tie in to the main series as strongly as Starman #35 did. I still place the majority of the blame for this on Paul Kupperberg and Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt. They should have either tweaked this issue or Genesis #1 to make them more consistent. William Messner-Loebs can't be held too accountable since he was still listed as a guest writer for this issue.

Kevin Dragone, of Phoenixville, Penn., is really upset Humberto Ramos leaving and hopes that Mike Wieringo can be a guest artist sometime. He asks for more Jenni and Meloni, as well as a Green Lantern/Impulse team-up. Kevin also points out how Impulse #1 began with Bart and Max moving into a new house after Bart arrived from the 30th century, and now the new creative team starts their chapter with Bart returning from the 30th century and moving into a new house with Max.

Stacey Hogan writes a very long and rambling letter, in which she basically decries Wally and Jesse for being jerks to Bart. We only had one page for letters, and it was filled up with just two long ones. Although Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt did mention in his response to Stacey's that although several people correctly guessed Max moved in with Helen, Robby Fisher, of Syracuse, N.Y., offered an interesting idea — Max is in the Speed Force and it's up to Bart to save him.

Q: What would you do if you were facing a stampede of wild dinosaurs? A: I'd eat 'em! Free inside Post Cocoa Pebbles! Cocasuarus sprinkles!

M&M's Mouthful of Minis Game. I guess you're supposed to pull out your M&M's Minis and flick them into this kid's mouth. If you get it in the mouth, you get to eat 20 Minis, and different areas of his tongue are worth various amounts of Minis. I seriously doubt a single kid on the planet had enough patience to play this game.

Brett Favre says, "Football is the greatest game in history, and math, and science." Take it from the NFL's two-time MVP, there's no better way to get geared up for class and the new season than with NFL notebooks, backpacks, jerseys, and trading cards.

The coolest fruit snacks in Gotham City! Batman & Robin fruit snacks.

Help Chester Cheetah uncover the hidden message. A-maze-ing new Chee-tos Crunchy Nacho are packed with so much nacho cheese they're ... (and if you complete the maze) Dangerously Cheesy.

See your world in a wild new way ... with 3D noggle-goggles! From Nickelodeon, in specially marked boxes of Post cereal.

Next time, we return to the main event book with Genesis #2.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Starman #35

Mr. Pip and Mr. Black

James Robinson – Writer
Steve Yeowell pg. 1-17, Tony Harris pg. 18-22 – Pencils
Wade Von Grawbadger – Inks
Gregory Wright – Colors
Oakley/N.J.Q. – Letters
Chuck Kim – Assistant Editor
Archie Goodwin – Editor

Our first Genesis tie-in brings us to a hero Impulse has had nothing to do with so far. He is Jack Knight, who is following in his father's footsteps by taking up the mantle of Starman and wielding the Cosmic Rod. On the cover, we see him battling Dr. Pip. Fortuitously, this exact scene took place during Genesis #1. So now, we get to see the whole story of this encounter.

The first half of this issue seems to be wrapping up a previous storyline that involved Batman and ... Solomon Grundy? I'm not exactly sure, but it doesn't matter. All we care about is the Genesis stuff, which happens when Dr. Pip straps himself into a bomb suit and announces his plan to destroy himself along with a 14-story apartment building. Starman is there, along with the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott, who now calls himself Sentinel for whatever reason. But suddenly, both these heroes lose their powers. And we're treated to a quick homage, showing us they're not alone.

I am happy that Impulse was chosen to appear next to Superman and Captain Marvel — the biggest of the bigs — but this image really doesn't do a good job of showing these heroes in distress. Anyway, Dr. Pip's bomb keeps counting down, and everyone starts freaking out, when the former villain known as Shade arrives and rather gruesomely disposes of Dr. Pip. I'm not sure why Shade's powers were unaffected by the Genesis events, but then again, all power fluctuations have been extremely random.

So yeah, not a whole lot to say about this issue, since Impulse only made a fleeting cameo in one panel. But I am very impressed with how well this issue ties into Genesis, while also giving itself enough space to work with the ongoing story of its own series. I think all tie-in issues should use this issue as their model. I wasn't required to read this to fully understand Genesis, but it was fun all the while to see an extended look at what was just a few panels in the main series.

There is no letters page in this issue, and even if there were, I doubt any of them would have mentioned Impulse. But we do have a few new ads:

Powerless in the grip of evil! Genesis. A four-week event hitting the DC Universe.

They've landed! Catch them tonight and all month on ... Pay Per View. Mars Attacks! Starring Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan and Danny DeVito (after he played the Penguin in Batman Returns). I remember being very confused and disturbed by this movie as a 10-year-old. I'm sure I'd enjoy it more as an adult now.

A new era in ethereal ambience. Projekt. Black tape for a blue girl.

TV's only weekly live music series. Hard Rock Live on VH1.

Journey to a lost world of adventure ... Else world's Finest. By John Francis Moore, Kieron Dwyer and Hilary Barta.

Batman: Secret Files and Origins. The Gotham night holds many secrets.

Pulp Heroes. Young romance. Supergirl Annual #2. Tales of the unexpected. Action Comics Annual #9. Strange Adventures. Green Lantern Annual #6.

These are definitely not the usual suspects. The Space Bar. A "what-done-it" mystery adventure CD-ROM by Steve Meretzky.

Next time, we'll see how Impulse is dealing with his fluctuating powers and how Manchester, Alabama, is dealing with the lingering cloud of depression in Impulse #30.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Genesis #1


Ron Wagner Penciller
Joe Rubenstein Inker
John Byrne Writer
Patricia Mulvihill Colorist
Clem Robins Letterer
Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt Assistant Editor
Paul Kupperberg Editor

It's unusual for the penciller to receive top-billing in the credits, especially when said penciller didn't even draw the cover. Alan Davis and Mark Farmer drew this cover, which shows Martian Manhunter, Superman, Green Lantern and Starman falling out of the sky. It is a rather haunting image to start off this year's DC-wide crossover.

Genesis really is DC's forgotten event. It still hasn't been converted digitally by Comixology, and I had a very hard time finding anyone on the Internet wanting to talk about it. If anyone did mention Genesis, it usually was only to say that it was not well-received. Was it really that bad? We'll find out through the course of the next 10 issues — four for the main series and six tie-ins.

Our story begins in Keystone City, which the Flash has apparently returned to after living in California for the past few weeks. Some bad guys have fired a missile at a bank, and Flash thinks this will be an easy save. But suddenly, he loses his super speed, and is forced to throw a trash can at the missile to divert its course into a parking lot. Exhausted, Flash can only watch helplessly as the bad guys get away.

We quickly find out that Flash isn't the only superhero struggling. Green Lantern, Captain Marvel and the Legion of Super-Heroes all have their powers fluctuating. But the results are random. For example, Spark has lost her electric powers and gained the ability to make objects weightless. And Superman, who already is having a tough time with his new powers, has somehow become even more powerful.

We then cut to the fused worlds of New Genesis and Apokolips, where one of the new gods, Takion, reports to his leader, Highfather, that powers are fluctuating across all creation. Highfather suspects this is the doing of Darkseid. The Justice League of America meet at their Watchtower on the moon to discuss their problems, while Batman searches for solutions in his Batcave. Meanwhile, more heroes continue to have problems with their powers at the worst possible time, including our beloved Impulse.

For some reason, Max is no longer missing, and Jesse Quick decided to come help Max and Impulse battle some clowns. But it was a good thing she showed up, since Max has lost his speed and Impulse can only ... vibrate? In any case, all heroes are struggling, even those without powers like Robin, Nightwing, Arsenal and Guy Gardner. Instead of losing their powers, they've simply lost faith in themselves.

Back on New Genesis/Apokolips, Takion scours over the Apokolips half for Darkseid, only to find the entire area mysteriously empty. On Earth, we see one of Impulse's old teammates from New Titans, Donna Troy, try to visit her former boyfriend Green Lantern. But he's busy meeting with the JLA and a smattering of other heroes, who are consulting with Dr. Kitty Faulkner of S.T.A.R. Labs. She reports a sharp decline in the Kurtzberg Field, a low-level background radiation discovered by Professor Kurtzberg in 1937. Dr. Faulkner explains that the disruption to this field could only have been caused by a front of radiation that passed by 40,000 years ago and again about 1,000 years ago. I don't know how Dr. Faulkner is supposed to know this, or why the effects of these waves of radiation are being felt now and not a thousand years ago, but she's a scientist, so whatever she says is true.

Anyway, Batman calls in on the video monitor to explain away one very small and worthless detail. Apparently Supergirl is unaffected by this because she's from a different dimension. But everyone else is subject to the power fluctuations, including Green Lantern because his ring was created by aliens in this universe. Batman also says he has more news, but he is interrupted by the sudden arrival of an alien armada closing in on Earth.

This isn't a terrible issue to start off a major crossover event. All the main players are involved and they're dealing with a strange, and widespread crisis. But I don't like the random nature of it, and I like the explanation given even less. I really could have used some graphs and charts to illustrate this crossing waves of radiation thing. Or least more discussion than two or three sentences from Dr. Faulkner and Captain Atom saying, "That makes a kind of sense." No it doesn't! It actually gets more confusing the more I think about it, so I'll just leave it right there.

I also am a bit disappointed in our editors, Paul Kupperberg and Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt. They're watching over Impulse right now, and doing a fairly decent job, as far as I can tell. But why did they allow the continuity error of Max Mercury slip through? They could have very easily told John Byrne to write out Max and thrown in a line of dialogue about Jesse helping Bart look for him. Then, to wrap everything up in a nice bow, tack on a small editor's box directing readers to Impulse #29. It would have helped so much! Also, what's the deal with Impulse "vibrating"? He already can vibrate through walls and stuff! Just take away his speed or give him flight or super strength or something that makes sense. The last thing this book needed was more confusing moments.

All right, that's enough of this strange, confusing book with uninspiring art. Let's take a look at the new ads:

Only one man can send the forces of darkness back to hell ... Kull the Conqueror. Starring Kevin Sorbo.

Freeze ... you won't find a cooler series of collectibles. Pewter figurines of Batman, Robin and, you guessed it, Mr. Freeze.

I started kicking inside my momma. And I haven't stopped since. Right now, the only thing between me and a world title is 8 yards and a goalkeeper. And my foot only listens to you. Bury it. International Superstar Soccer 64.

Give your day the brain off. Mello Yello.

Give a gift subscription, get a set of DC Universe greeting cards. Absolutely free!

Watch This Space only has one small, vague reference to Impulse. Apparently, one day a bunch of people in the office happened to be wearing Hawaiian shirts, including Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt. Man, this feature really sucked.

Next time, Impulse will make a very quick cameo in Starman #35.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Impulse #29

Conflict Resolutions

William Messner-Loebs Writer
Craig Rousseau Penciller
Barbara Kaalberg Inker
Chris Eliopoulos Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt Assistant Editor
Paul Kupperberg Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid & Mike Wieringo

This is one of my favorite covers by Jeff Matsuda and Wayne Faucher. It doesn't tell me anything about the story inside the issue, but it does make fun of the asinine Comics Code Authority that plagued the world of comic books for decades. Through the years, that CCA logo got smaller and smaller on covers until DC and Marvel eventually stopped using it altogether. Making it extra large here is a humorous way of pointing out how ridiculous the notion of printing "approved" comics really was.

But more than a funny cover, this issue is significant for introducing William Messner-Loebs to the world of Impulse. Interestingly enough, Loebs was the writer on The Flash right before Mark Waid took over. So now, here he is taking over for Waid after he left Impulse. It seems like this may have initially been considered a temporary arrangement, but at some point it became a permanent assignment. So, for all intents and purposes, Impulse #29 launches the start of the new full-time creative team.

Our story begins with Bart stuck in Mr. Snodgrass' history class, and to our poor little speedster, it seems like the teacher is speaking in slow motion. And Bart is mostly preoccupied with the argument he had with Max this morning. While Max was reading the Manchester Courier (with the headline "Arrowette A-OK!"), Bart approached him about a video game contest with the grand prize being a Might-Blaster 1700 system. But Max forbids Bart from entering the contest, saying he has an unfair advantage with his super speed.

Mr. Snodgrass brings Bart back to reality by asking him what was the source of conflict between Benjamin Franklin and his son. Bart initially thinks he's talking about the sun, so he confusedly blurts out, "Because Ben wouldn't let him play Megademon?" This brings big laughs in the class, but Mr. Snodgrass is not amused.

Meanwhile, Helen prepares to head out to work while Max tries to fix the TV. Helen tells Max that Bart probably deserves a better explanation for being banned from the video game contest, but Max insists he knows what he's doing. Helen then coldly mocks his parenting skills, and Max angrily tells her that's not fair. He apologizes again for how he handled everything with her and says they can't keep beating themselves up about it. The mail is then delivered, and one letter in particular shocks Max.

We then cut to Bart walking home from school with Carol and Preston. Bart feels like he's been placed in a guillotine, since Mr. Snodgrass wants to have another "attitude" conference with him and Max. Suddenly, a pink delivery truck for Vandelay Latex (a nice Seinfeld reference) comes speeding down the street, careening out of control. Bart wants to change into Impulse and save the truck from crashing, but he feels trapped in front of Preston, worried about exposing his secret identity. Luckily, Carol knows exactly what he's feeling, so she literally grabs Preston's face and turns it away from Bart, saying they need to run for help.

Impulse zooms into the picture and does his best to create enough wind to stop the truck before it hits a tree. Just when he thinks he's about to be smashed like a fly, the truck comes to a safe stop. But to Impulse's surprise, a masked man pops out with a machine gun. Meanwhile, Helen comes home from work, ready to apologize to Max. But Max is nowhere to be found, and his tools and mail are still on the floor.

Returning to the action, a confused Impulse finds himself facing four men with machine guns, who seem intent on killing the teenaged hero even after he saved their truck from crashing. With so many bullets flying around, Impulse actually stops to think through his options logically. If he blows all the bullets back, they'll kill the terrorists and Preston and Carol. If he tries to catch them all, that'd be too many for hands, which would also burn. If he simply dodges all the bullets, they'd go into the surrounding houses. And if he sends them up into the air, they'd just fall back down again. Finally, he comes up with sending all the bullets into the ground.

Impulse's plan mostly works, but the effort and force of the bullets does leave him momentarily stunned. Carol sees this, and yells at the men to distract them from Impulse. Unfortunately, this causes the men to start shooting at Carol. Luckily, Preston saves her by pulling her down to the ground. Impulse becomes quite upset to see the terrorists shooting at his friends, so he begins to beat up all the men. One of them welcomes the hand-to-hand combat, saying he was Navy SEAL, which Impulse thinks is an actual seal wearing a sailor outfit. Regardless, Impulse quickly takes him out as well.

With all the men knocked out or tied up, Preston and Carol investigate the back of the Vandelay truck, finding it full of toxic waste. Bart then arrives, saying he left to call the police. Carol tells him that Impulse came, the guys are illegal dumpers, and Preston saved her. But Bart notices one of the bullets grazed Preston's arm and he begins to freak out. But Preston didn't even notice it until Bart pointed it out, and actually becomes rather excited to be sporting a wound. The police then arrive, and Preston takes off to tell his dad he got shot, while a depressed Bart walks home, dreading the inevitable lecture from Max for endangering his friends. Bart's so worked up, he even wishes Max would disappear and never return.

When he gets home, Helen tells Bart that Max has, in fact, disappeared. And while Bart is taking that in, we see Max visiting a house out in the farmlands. He knocks on the door, is shocked to see who answers it, then is knocked out.

Unlike that disastrous Gross-Out issue, this issue actually feels like it was written by someone who had read a few issues of Impulse. William Messner-Loebs handles everything in a very natural, authentic way, keeping everyone true to character. It was great to see Bart in the classroom again and deal with classic teenage superhero problems. And because I know the future, I am happy to say that this issue planted a few seeds that will be reaped at a later date. I also need to give credit to Craig Rousseau. He's no longer working off Sal Buscema's breakdowns and has a terrific handle on the series and its characters. I also like how he's subtly edging toward the enormous side when it comes to Bart's hair. Wieringo made it long, Ramos made it big, and Rousseau made it enormous — which I think is great.

Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt begins the letter column by saying Impulse #25 generated so many letters that ten postal workers had to be assigned to Impulse duty for the month. (And it certainly couldn't have helped matters with last issue not having a letters page.)

Jess "The Incredible Edible Egg" Willey is quite worried about facing an Impulse series without Max Mercury, saying he should at least get a miniseries with Jesse Quick. He also wants to see Impulse team up with the future Flash John Fox.

Robert E. Grover, of Amherst, Mass., praises the book for continuing to be so well written and drawn for two years. He says he'll miss Humberto Ramos, but will be happy as long as future artists remember to give Impulse big feet. Robert also brings up Mark Waid's hiatus on The Flash and wonders whether Grant Morrison will also take over Impulse. Jason answers by saying Waid's hiatus on Impulse will be shorter than his break on The Flash, but that turned out not to be the case.

W. Travis Stoffs, of Gainesville, Fla., asks to see more of Jenni Ognats, The Ray and Christina Alexandrova (or Lady Savitar as Jason referred to her).

Kevin Agot, of Manila, Philippines, is sad to see Ramos leave, but is hopeful for the future of the series. He also brings up a couple of conspicuous cameos in the future, which I missed, but Jason confirmed as Humberto Ramos and Wayne Faucher drawing themselves into the 30th century.

Kerry Aldrich, of Fredericksburg, Va., gives a substantive list of all the great things about issue #25, but also points out an error I completely read over. Apparently Meloni incorrectly referred to Iris and Barry as Bart's aunt and uncle instead of his grandma and grandpa. Jason explains that off by saying Meloni was a bit confused after doing so much time travel in one day.

Michael Warner, of Blissfield, Mich., says issue #25 made him sad and made him smile at the same time. He says stories like this that actually provoke an honest emotional response are rare and much appreciated.

There aren't any new ads in this issue, so I'll see you next time, when I begin DC's big event of 1997 — Genesis.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Impulse Plus Gross-Out #1

Speed Freak

Len Kaminski • Words
Anthony Williams • Pencils
Andy Lanning • Inks
Pat Prentice • Letters
Noelle Giddings • Colors
Kali & Tørslünd • Flight Attendants
With thanks to Martin Griffith!

The first batch of the "Plus" issues did a good job of pairing characters that naturally fit together but for whatever reason hadn't officially met before. My favorite, naturally, was Robin Plus Impulse, although Wonder Woman Plus Jesse Quick was also very good. Well, in 1997, DC decided to take the "Plus" series in a new direction, using it as an opportunity to pair the more obscure characters from Scare Tactics with the more mainstream heroes. How well did this experiment work? Let's find out.

I really have mixed feelings on this cover, painted by Dan Brereton. On one hand, it is kind of fun to see Impulse painted, and the overall style of this cover is a fun change of pace. But on the other hand, I feel like this image is really lacking. It just seems like it ought to be better than it is. One reason probably has to do with Impulse running in mid-air. He's not jumping or anything — just hovering about a foot or so above ground, which is definitely something Impulse cannot do.

Our story begins with a helicopter transporting the large monster covered in purple scabs. Apparently these government-type soldiers picked up Gross-Out in Philadelphia and are taking him to New Mexico, which has them crossing over Alabama. Suddenly, Gross-Out wakes up in a rage, breaks his chains, and falls out of the helicopter, crashing into a swamp near Bart Allen's house. The loud crash wakes up Bart in the middle of the night, so he decides to go investigate as Impulse.

But the crash also woke up Max Mercury, who actually beats Bart to the scene, and discovers a trail of very large footprints. Bart gets very excited, thinking they belong to Bigfootz. He then starts babbling, saying Bigfootzes are extinct in the 30th century, but not in the 20th, which is still full of Nessies, Poltergeese and Yoo-foes. Bart wants to keep looking for the large creature, but Max reminds him it's a school night and takes him to bed. Meanwhile, a severed head rolls out of a box and starts speaking nonsense as it rolls down a hill. We cut back to Gross-Out, who is attacked by an alligator. He kills the alligator, but then immediately begins to weep and apologize.

Several days later, Bart and Max are out and about, and notice a lot of excitement built up around "Bogman" from articles in the National Tattler to T-shirts, balloons and Bog burgers. Max then oddly launches into a tirade about how the Indians respected the Sasquatch and gave him his privacy, but then the white man came in and turned a sacred mystery into a cheap sideshow. A bunch of helicopters and airplanes soon zoom overhead, and Max decries them as hunters, telling Bart it's no accident that creatures like the Sasquatch are extinct in the future.

So Bart gets all worked up, and puts on his Impulse uniform to stop the stupid 20th century jerks from wiping out all the really cool stuff. Impulse luckily find Gross-Out before the soldiers do, and although he is initially scared of the large monster, they both quickly realize they're friendly. Gross-Out introduces himself as Phil, and Impulse asks why he isn't hairier. But soon they're surrounded by the soldiers, who don't know who Impulse is, but decide to capture him as well. Impulse has no problem taking out most of the soldiers, but one of them wisely aims his weapon ahead of Impulse. Seeing his new friend is about to be hit, Gross-Out throws himself in front of Impulse.

Both Impulse and Gross-Out are caught in an electric blast, which leaves Impulse completely drained of energy. But Gross-Out feels fine, so he scoops up Impulse and begins running away to safety, discovering he now has super speed. Impulse tells Gross-Out to take him back to Max to figure out what happened. Unfortunately, Max has no solutions, so the lethargic Bart crashes in front of the TV while Max takes Gross-Out outside for star-gazing. Bart watches an MTV-like channel play the Tad Wellington hit, "Do the Fetus," and he begins to cry when he sees Gross-Out use his speed outside.

Gross-Out is able to offer no explanation for what happened, only saying he got turned into a monster after encountering a strange meteor. He loves having super speed, but when he sees the depressed Bart inside, he realizes he can't keep Bart's powers. Max asks him how he's going to give the speed back since he doesn't even know how he got it in the first place. But Gross-Out doesn't care. He runs back inside and grabs Bart's hand. There's a big flash of light, and, sure enough, Bart gets his super speed back.

The next day, Gross-Out decides to head out, despite Max really wanting him to stay since he shares his love of astronomy and thinks he'll be a good influence on Bart. But Gross-Out believes the soldiers searching for him will try to capture Bart and Max as well. So Bart somehow rounds up some clothes big enough for Gross-Out and loads him up with all sorts of supplies, including matches and Coca-Cola. Impulse then takes Gross-Out out of Alabama by "carrying" him in his speed stream. They then encounter the random purple severed head from earlier, which is still speaking nonsensically. Gross-Out becomes enamored with it and decides to take it with him so it won't be lonely. And Bart leaves him with these very true words: "Y'know, I gotta hand it to you, Phil. I may be faster, but when it comes to weird — no way can I keep up with you."

What just happened? Seriously. What the heck was going on in this issue? Absolutely nothing was explained, least of all who or what Gross-Out is. And wasn't the main goal of this "Plus" series to attract mainstream readers to the Scare Tactics series? But how are those mainstream readers supposed to get excited for Scare Tactics when this issue tells them nothing about it?

I also have a sneaking suspicion that Len Kaminski didn't read a single issue of Impulse before writing this story. He knew that Bart was from the 30th century, so he threw in lots of unnatural dialogue of him negatively comparing the 20th century to the 30th. Bart never does this because he barely lived in the 30th century and doesn't know a whole lot about it. Kaminski also heard that Max worked with Indians in the Wild West, so he threw in lots of unnatural dialogue with Max talking respectfully of the Sasquatch and decrying the sins of the white man. No. That's not how these characters act at all.

And there were quite a few missed opportunities presented by this issue. It would have been fun to see Helen's reaction to having a literal monster brought in her house. And if Kaminski read Impulse #6, he would have known that Manchester, Alabama, already dealt with stories of a swamp monster. And if he had read Impulse #10, he would have known that Bart has already experienced losing his powers. That's all this issue was: a missed opportunity.

Frequent fill-in artist Anthony Williams returned to Impulse, but sadly showed no improvement from his previous efforts. Instead of being a welcome and familiar art style in an unfamiliar setting, Williams' work just served as another reminder for why DC was wise to pass on him and give the series to Craig Rousseau. So when you put a bad story with bad art, you get a really bad issue. Which is a terrible shame, since Impulse Plus could have been so fun. How great would an Impulse Plus Superboy have been? Or Impulse Plus Ray, Damage or just about anybody but Gross-Out?

We also have a backup story, which has nothing to do with Impulse and everything to do with Scare Tactics. It feels quite worthless and is excruciatingly slow, which is surprising for a quick backup. But one whole page was devoted to a guy literally waiting for something to download on his slow Internet connection. It's an 11-page story that easily could have been four pages. And it's continued in Superboy Plus Slither #2! I can't wait to not read that!

We do have a letters page, which explains that there was a large demand to pair up Scare Tactics characters with mainstream heroes. All the letters are extremely weird and none of them mention Impulse, so let's just move on to the ads:

Snag a free Mitre mini soccer ball from Tang with one Tang able plus $1.75 postage and handling.

Introducing Weird Wally Watermelon. Wally wants all 7,000 of your taste buds for a little game of duck, duck, goose. New & Improved Tangy Taffy. I do remember Tangy Taffy, and I remember it to taste quite awful. Which is probably why you don't see it anymore.

Awesome! A cool 3-D image on one side ... a space age hologram on the other! Baseball cards offered through Denny's, featuring Ken Caminti of the San Diego Padres.

Another baseball card ad showing Kenny Lofton of the Atlanta Braves saying, "I feel better knowing Mike has my stolen base stats — so he can see he's not the only catcher I've embarrassed." Opposite him is Mike Piazza of the Los Angeles Dodgers saying, "Keep reading, Kenny. It'll give you something to do in the dugout after I've gunned you down." This does take me back to the innocent pre-Internet days when the best way to get player's statistics was through trading cards.

Fun for the whole family! The Adventures of Galgameth. Available only on home video prior to the Disney Channel premiere.

Two friends. One courageous adventure. Shiloh. Own it on video!

New Bronco Bright Post Fruity Pebbles colors so loud, you can dance to 'em!

Next time, we return to a much more normal Impulse #29.

Monday, February 2, 2015

JLA Secret Files and Origins #1


Writer: Grant Morrison & Mark Millar
Penciller: Howard Porter
Inker: John Dell
Letters: Ken Lopez
Colors: John Kalisz

So here is our first foray into the Secret Files and Origins world. These were extra-large issues full of Who's Who pages, timelines, interviews and a few short stories. Nothing here has anything to do with Impulse, except for a brief cameo he makes in the main story. You'll notice the Superman on the cover is the unpopular electric blue Superman. But our story today takes place before he acquired those new, annoying powers.

We start with Wally West being called back to his old home of Blue Valley. A policeman who looks suspiciously like Stan Lee briefs the Flash on the situation. Apparently the city's largest office building has been infected by a gigantic star-shaped alien. Flash is in contact with the Justice League of America via radio, giving them a play-by-play as he investigates. He sees the giant star is producing more, smaller stars that have attached themselves to the faces of the office workers and placed them in a trance. Unfortunately, Wally isn't fast enough to avoid the same fate.

Controlled by the star conqueror, Flash makes a statement to the world, saying it and all other worlds will soon be conquered. Superman, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter and Batman meet in the JLA satellite and try to formulate a plan. But before they come up with a solid strategy, they're visited by the Spectre, who forbids them to interfere. He says the American government already has plans to launch a nuclear strike at Blue Valley, which will successfully destroy the alien. The JLA is unwilling to let the entire city be destroyed, so Spectre shows them what would happen if they confronted the alien.

Apparently, the aliens spores were specifically designed to seek out super-powered beings, and in the Spectre's future, the JLA is instantly taken over. Using the world's most powerful heroes, the star conqueror is able to easily and quickly infect the rest of the superhero community and claim the entire planet within 36 hours. And, of course, our lovable Impulse falls under the infected category.

The Spectre goes on to show the JLA how they would later be instruments in conquering the whole universe, then all existence as the star conqueror masters time travel. Under that threat, the Spectre believes losing the few thousand people of Blue Valley. Batman still doesn't agree with that philosophy, and he leaves to battle the alien alone. The Spectre allows him to leave, reasoning that a non-powered hero wouldn't risk creating that doomsday scenario. So Superman asks Spectre to take away the league's powers so they can help Batman out as normal humans.

Their plan works, as none of the star spores are able to attach to their faces. Batman ultimately saves the Flash by hacking into the building's air conditioning system and freezing the alien the alien. With the Flash back under control, he finishes the job by destroying the alien's computers in the blink of an eye. With the threat neutralized and the day saved, the Spectre appears before the JLA again and restores their powers, saying he knows now the future shall be safe in the hands of the Justice League.

This was a rather interesting story, and I wish we would have spent more time in the Spectre's future. Grant Morrison is a great writer, who can sometimes get a bit too weird for me, but perhaps Mark Millar helped ground him here. Howard Porter's art, however, is not something I can get behind. In fact, I'm a bit surprised he was chosen to draw this. His style just feels a bit too sloppy for DC's biggest and best heroes.

The other stories in this issue are quite lame. The first one is the electric blue Superman insisting on undergoing pointless tests to re-apply for the Justice League. The whole exercise is a stupid excuse for Superman to show off his new powers and explain how they work in excruciating detail. The next one shows a typical day in the life of Martian Manhunter, who has set up home at the South Pole and patrols the whole southern hemisphere since the rest of the league largely ignores it. And there are a ton of Who's Who pages, a timeline, etc., etc. And it's all mildly interesting for those who don't know about these characters, which is exactly this issue's purpose.

Since I only own the digital copy of this comic, there'll be no advertisements this time. Next time, it'll be Impulse's turn to get his own "Plus" comic — Impulse Plus Gross-Out #1.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Impulse #28

Arrowette vs. The Spazz

Tom Peyer Story
Sal Buscema Breakdowns
Craig Rousseau Pencils
Barbara Kaalberg & Keith Champagne Inks
Chris Eliopoulos Letters
Tom McCraw Colors
Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt Assistant Editor
Paul Kupperberg Lovely as Ever

The editorial team still hadn't found a full-time writer to replace Mark Waid, so they once again turned to fill-in man Tom Peyer. One thing that did seem certain by this point, though, was Barbara Kaalberg would be replacing Wayne Faucher as the regular inker. Faucher, however, did continue to do the covers with Jeff Matsuda, going with a really light and goofy theme for this one. But the most significant aspect of this cover and issue is the premiere of Arrowette, who will go on to become one of the premiere teenaged heroes of the late '90s and early 2000s.

Our story begins at Reagan Junior High, where an almost stimulating lecture on tungsten is interrupted by a series of explosions and the school's boiler being forced up through the classroom's floor. Behind all this is a new villain named The Spazz. He's a very large, muscular teen with yellowish skin, braces and T-shirt that says "Filthpig." The kids in the room recognize him as "Chaz the Spazz" and are shocked to see him alive. Spazz vows vengeance on those who turned him into a monster, but he's soon trapped in a net shot at him by Arrowette.

Spazz easily breaks out of the net, so Arrowette, who's being fed instructions via radio, shoots a bubble-bath arrow into Spazz's hand. The bubbles disguised a bomb on the arrow, which buys Arrowette enough time to escape out of the classroom and take cover behind a school bus. Arrowette's "radio coach," however, is quite critical of the young hero, demanding a first-place performance from her. Arrowette sighs and unleashes her quiver on the now-rampaging Spazz.

We cut to Manchester Junior High, where a bored Bart Allen is enduring a math lesson. Suddenly, he is whisked away by Max Mercury, who explains he didn't have time to formally check Bart out of school, so he'll have to serve detention for sneaking out.

Max explains that he saw a report of a child-monster on TV, and he figured that a superhero close to the monster's age would help resolve things peacefully. Bart can't believe he got pulled out of school for something real and not a boring made-up drill, and he asks whether this means his training is complete or if he's really in a coma and dreaming all this. Max assures him that neither is the case, and they soon arrive at Reagan Junior High, which is surrounded by a wall of flames. Max is shocked to see Arrowette fighting Spazz, and he tells Impulse to save the girl, but he calls the monster. So Max reluctantly agrees to let Impulse fight Spazz for one minute.

Impulse begins rapidly punching Spazz, and says, "Hey, ugly! Your face hurt? 'Cause it's killing me!" Spazz complains that everyone's ganging up to mock him, and Max tries to assure him that no one's there to hurt him, but Impulse says he is. Max tells him to be quiet, and tries to get Spazz to calm down, but Arrowette, following the directions from her radio, fires a lotion arrow across Spazz's face to blind him. This only increases Spazz's anger, causing him to hit a gas line and create more explosions and fire. Max and Impulse kick up a dirt wall to contain the flames, and Bart is actually relieved that his one minute against Spazz is over. By the time they get the fire under control, Impulse notices Spazz has escaped, but Max insists they stay back and help the wounded, which includes Arrowette.

Max works with the police to close all the schools in the area until Spazz is dealt with, while Impulse tries to talk to Arrowette, but she's once again called away by the voice on her radio. So Impulse runs around until he finds that voice, which belongs to a chain-smoking woman hiding in a car. She introduces herself as Arrowette's mother, and explains that they've been on Spazz's trail for weeks. She gives Impulse her card with the number for the secret Arrow-phone, and she tells him her origin story. Apparently she was the original Arrowette, fighting crime alongside Green Arrow and Speedy until she had to retire early due to carpal tunnel. (Impulse probably doesn't realize that Speedy grew up to become Arsenal and leader of the New Titans.) She later got married to Bowstring Jones, and they had a daughter. But then Bowstring died after eating some bad shellfish, and his widow raised their daughter to be the new Arrowette.

Bart goes home and relates all this to Max and Helen, and remarks how odd this woman was, who talked like a sleazy salesman and treated Impulse like he was her best friend and like she hated him at the same time. Helen is quite upset at the behavior of Arrowette's mother, especially for putting a child without superpowers into dangerous situations. Max lectures Helen about idle gossip, saying Arrowette's business has nothing to do with them. The tense conversation is then interrupted when Carol calls to tell Bart to turn on the TV, which is reporting that Arrowette has been kidnapped by the Spazz.

The TV also reports that Spazz is really Chas Parmenter, once a chubby nerd at Reagan Junior High, who was apparently pushed into a vat of chemicals during a field trip to S.T.A.R. Labs and was presumed dead. Arrowette's mom then appears on TV and boasts of Arrowette's abilities, vowing she will bring the Spazz to justice. But then Spazz issues a statement through the Manchester Police, saying he'll release Arrowette only to Impulse. So Impulse and Max Mercury split up to search for Spazz house-to-house.

Meanwhile, Spazz ties Arrowette up to a chair and places her at the end of a giant mousetrap. He coats the stairs in glue, hoping to trip up Impulse, whom he claims is just like all the kids who always treated him poorly. But Spazz says he likes Arrowette, who doesn't look at him like she's better than him. Arrowette's mom has found the abandoned building Spazz is at, but she insists on coaching Arrowette through her escape plan instead of calling for help, worried about the bad publicity being rescued would bring. But her instructions to Arrowette don't get her anywhere, and the mother actually shows some worry for her daughter. Impulse soon finds the chain-smoker, and demands to know where Arrowette is. Her mom breaks down in tears and points Impulse in the right direction.

Spazz's brilliant trap ultimately failed to stop Impulse, even though he accidentally set off a bunch of fireworks and started yet another fire. But Impulse easily saves Arrowette, and Max arrives right behind him to chain up the Spazz and recommend he just sit still and listen to someone. The police arrive to take Spazz away, and Arrowette's mom, who assumes Impulse is Max's sidekick, gives Max her card. But to her surprise, Max vows to report her to child welfare for endangering her daughter.

As Max and Impulse take off, Max begins to lecture him for blindly blundering into that hostage situation without a plan and once again prevailing through dumb luck. Bart says, "Not first place, huh?" This makes Max feel pretty guilty, so he takes Bart, Helen and Carol to the fair, and Bart, wearing a Flash T-shirt, milks the situation for all its worth.

This was a pretty fun fill-in issue. Tom Peyer has demonstrated a good handle of the character of Impulse, and I think he would have been a solid replacement for Mark Waid. In this issue, he briefly touched on issues such as bullying, reckless parenting and gossip. But most importantly, he expanded Impulse's world by creating two new teenage characters. The Spazz had potential to be a good villain, but I don't think he ever was used again in a major roll. Arrowette, however, would later go on to exceed all expectations and become a major character in Young Justice. Arrowette's mom was a forgotten character from the '60s, so it's great that Peyer dug her up and found a new, interesting role for her.

Sadly, there is no letter column in this issue. I really wanted some kind of sendoff for Mark Waid, similar to what Humberto Ramos received. Oh well. Let's move on to the ads:

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Batman & Robin Pop-Tarts. Showing a Pop-Tart "bitten" in the shape of the Batman logo.

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Batman & Robin Mr. Freeze freezer bars. You could fold the ad together to reveal the release date of this horrible movie — June 20.

Stay at Best Western on the family plan and get a free Fujifilm Quicksnap Batman camera.

The Adventures of Batman & Robin. Hot heroes! Cool villains! Get them all on video!

What makes new Chee-tos Crunchy Nacho so dangerously cheesy? Fold B to A to find out — Monster nacho flavor.

Cap'n Crunch Bars. Crunchy, gooey, new-y!!

Next time, we enter September 1997, where Impulse finally starts making some guest appearances again, beginning with JLA Secret Files and Origins #1.