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.

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