Monday, April 27, 2015

Adventures in the DC Universe #13

Sometime in New York City

Club ADCU presents:
Steve Vance – Vocals
John Delaney – Lead Guitar
Ron Boyd – Rhythm Guitar
Gene D'Angelo – Lighting Technician
Tim Harkins – Sound Mixer
Frank Berrios – Doorman
KC Carlson – Bouncer

Sound check!! This month's cover features Impulse, the Martian Manhunter and Green Arrow by the artists formerly known as John Delaney and Ron Boyd! This is a pretty fun cover, which shows us that although Impulse can play multiple instruments simultaneously, he really doesn't have that great of a singing voice. And while Impulse does have a fun adventure with Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow only appears in a backup story without Impulse.

Our story begins with Bart, Preston and Carol walking home from school. Preston is oddly reading the newspaper, but it contains an exciting story about a local band, the Impulsives, opening for the hit band, Sediment, in New York that very night. The band used to be called The Pulse, but decided to rename themselves in honor of Manchester's superhero. Preston wishes he didn't have to do homework and could go to New York, something he's sure Impulse would be able to do.

Bart sadly trudges home, feeling trapped by Max. But as he starts his homework, Max says he and Helen are going out to dinner and a movie and shouldn't be back till 11:30. Ask Max leaves, he warns Bart not to use super speed on his homework so the sparks from his pencil won't burn the house the down. Bart promises to be good, secretly thinking of Max as a sucker. As soon as Max is gone, Impulse makes his way toward New York City.

Impulse heads straight to the Impulsives' backstage room, and is warmly welcomed by the band. He thinks it's cool they use his name, but can't help but notice they seem a bit bummed out right before their big break. The band tells Impulse they've received an anonymous tip their manager, Theo, is involved with the mob and is stealing from them. They were hoping to use the concert to sign with a major label, but now they're worried their manager will cheat them on the contracts. But they have hired a private detective who'll meet them after the show.

Impulse says he'd like to help, but he can't stick around for too long. Just then, another band manager named Richard shows up. He says he's dropped all his clients so he can focus exclusively on the Impulsives once they fire Theo. Richard is also very excited at the potential synergy they could get with the real Impulse. He says they could start advertising Primo shoes, but Impulse says he doesn't wear that brand and doesn't want to give kids the impression they can be as fast as him if they buy the right shoes. Luckily, Impulse is able to duck out of the conversation once the concert starts.

The Impulsives put on a great show, and Impulse happily rocked out and crowd-surfed the night away. But after the show, the band comes out to see Theo has been shot and rushed out in an ambulance. The Impulsive then meet with their private detective, John Jones. After hearing the story from the band, Jones pulls Impulse aside and reveals himself to be Martian Manhunter. Impulse is very excited to work with him, but Martian Manhunter is focused on the task at hand.

After briefly recounting Impulse's history for those who don't know it, Martian Manhunter also deduces that Impulse's presence here on a school night without Max Mercury nearby, means that Bart is in New York without Max's permission or knowledge. Bart admits J'onn is right, and agrees to follow his instructions exactly so he won't call Max on him. So the two heroes team up to solve the case before Max gets home in 44 minutes.

They then learn that Theo is alive and beginning to wake up. As the band travels to the hospital, Bart and J'onn rush ahead, believing Theo's assailants will want to finish the job when they learn he survived the attack. J'onn heads to Theo's room, telling Impulse to watch over the band. Impulse doesn't like being bossed around, but he agrees.

Bart impatiently waits for the band, which is followed close behind by Richard, eagerly looking for a way to help out. But Richard's presence is an unwanted one, and he's soon removed by the police. Impulse surreptitiously frisks Richard at super speed and finds he doesn't have a gun. So even though J'onn told Bart to keep an eye on the band, he decides to follow Richard while the band goes in to visit Theo.

Turns out Bart's hunch was right, as Richard is fired on by mobsters in the hospital parking lot. Impulse catches all the bullets, and "Theo" gets up from his hospital bed and turns into Martian Manhunter. He helps Impulse stop the mobsters, then explains everything to everyone. Apparently Theo was never the mob's target. Richard, who had lost all his clients was desperate for money, got involved with the mob and tried to become the Impulsives' new manager by framing Theo.

Theo new someone was setting him up, so he hired John Jones to investigate. Martian Manhunter then went to the concert disguised as Theo to gather evidence, but was shot by the mob who believed Richard was already the band's manager. Martian Manhunter then quickly convinced the police and doctors to help carry on the ruse until the gunmen were found. The real Theo then arrives and is happily reunited with the Impulsives and talk of a contract with a major label.

Impulse quickly says his goodbyes and abruptly runs home, plopping promptly in his chair at 11:28 p.m. But then he realizes that he ran right past Max and Helen in the living room. Max then explains that the movie was terrible, so they left after 20 minutes. He tells Bart to get to work on his vocabulary homework, beginning with the word "grounded."

The backup story features Green Arrow, but no Impulse, so we'll skip it. Overall, I enjoyed this story. The art wasn't too bad, and it's always great to team up Impulse with a new, super-serious hero. Steve Vance had a good grasp on Impulse's personality, as well as his relationship with his friends and family. And while the goofiness of the story was spot on, the detective elements really fell flat. Once Martian Manhunter explains everything at the end, his role in the whole thing becomes quite questionable. Why did he need to disguise himself as Theo to look for evidence? And when he was shot, why didn't he just let the bullet pass through him, turn into his martian form, and catch the bad guys? Perhaps he intentionally drug things out to teach Bart a lesson.

None of the letters to the editor mention Impulse, but a lot of them do express excitement in an upcoming Flash story for the series. So let's take a look at the new ads this month.

Laugh your butt off! Disney's Hercules now on video! I was a little sad this movie didn't follow the original myth of Hercules closer, but it did have great music and the voice of Danny DeVito, who played the Penguin in Batman Returns a few years earlier.

Toon up your drawings! 10 free cartoon kits in marked boxes of Post cereal. I had a few of these in 1998. They were tracing pads with various body parts and facial expressions of Warner Brothers' top cartoon characters.

My hot shot had gone cold. Then the Cap'n and some crunchberries gave me a hand!! Apparently Cap'n Crunch's expert basketball advice is to pretend the hoop is your mouth and the ball is a crunchberry.

A 14-carrot movie! The Bugs Bunny Road runner Movie. This was a direct-to-video feature of classic Warner Bros. cartoons interspersed with scenes of Bugs relaxing at his mansion and reliving those moments. But the new footage painfully stood out from the cartoons with its different animation style and voice actors.

Enter the Get Tooned Cartoon Network Sweepstakes for a chance to star in your very own cartoon! There sure were a lot of contests in late '90s, especially in the books with a younger audience.

Next time, we'll take a look at a book not intended for a younger audience — Lobo #50.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Impulse #35

Time Out of Joint

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 Waid & Wieringo

I'm a bit surprised to see Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt's name in the credits, since I thought he had already left DC to attend film school. But his presence here and in the letter column isn't an unwelcome one. Anyway, our cover is by Craig Rousseau and Wayne Faucher, and it follows the great DC tradition of throwing gorillas on the covers to boost sales. But there's a twist! This time, Impulse and Max Mercury are the gorillas — or rather apes, I'm not sure they're technically gorillas, but I don't really know my primates too well.

Our story begins right where last issue left off, with Bart and Max finding themselves in an alternate reality and Max being locked in stocks for risking his life to save a dog. Luckily, Max's punishment doesn't last long. As he's released by the Safety Police, Bart complains about this new world where Dr. Julian Tremain is president, the social worker Jasper Pierson runs the school, and, worst of all, Evil Eye is more popular than Bart. So Max gently helps Bart realize there are more pressing matters than his social life.

A Safety Police officer then notices that Bart isn't wearing a veloso-meter, devices surgically attached to all children to prevent them from running too fast. He places the device on Bart's shirt to get a reading, but Bart throws it off with his super speed. Unable to understand what's happening, the officer concludes the device to be broken and leaves to get a new one. While his back is turned, Max and Bart throw on their uniforms and take off.

As Max and Impulse zoom down the side of the road, they note all the cars are powered by rockets and traveling at dangerous speeds. Bart thinks this is pretty cool, until someone crashes. Max and Impulse save the driver, and soon see the presidential escort for Tremain pass by. Bart realizes he forgot to tell Max that Tremain was scheduled to appear at his school, but suddenly, a group of hang-gliders start dropping bombs over the traffic. Impulse sucks the gliders down to Earth with a super-speed vortex, which unfortunately also creates quite a mess.

The commotion lands Bart and Max in President Tremain's office in the White House. But Max and Bart are so busy arguing about his actions on the freeway, Tremain has to remind that he's the bad guy who has just taken over the world and they should be yelling at him. He then explains that this new world they're in contains no superheroes. Gotham City is a big pit of organic goo, caused by a secret weapons malfunction, and Metropolis was wiped out 30 years when it was hit by a rocket from space (fans of Flashpoint will find that plot very familiar).

As Tremain gloats about his supreme power, his former henchman, Rob, announces the arrival of the national science advisor Professor Zoom. Tremain explains that most of the super villains of this world are government bureaucrats. But this Zoom is an unstable lunatic, who often talks too fast for anyone to understand. As Zoom tries to slow down through the use of a controller, Bart casually asks Rob how he likes his new job. Turns out, Rob was hoping to control his own city or something like that, but all he does now is open the door for people.

Zoom finally gets under control and announces he has ingeniously deduced the rebels' plans to attack Tremain at his most vulnerable points and eliminate him. A couple of soldiers then escort in the rebel leader, who turns out to be Gorilla Grodd. Suddenly, everything is enveloped in another bright flash of light.

Bart and Max find themselves wearing kilts and standing in the White House redecorated as a palace. Bart wonders what they did this time to cause a time leap, but Max suspects it may have something to do with the Speed Force. President Tremain then happily proclaims his success as a leader. His policy, he explains, is to give everyone what they want. People want to drive fast, so he gave them rocket cars. Social workers want to control everything, so Tremain gave them complete control of the schools. And James Jesse wanted to turn Gorilla City into a theme park, so Tremain gave the OK. He then pulls on Bart's hair to demonstrate how fun it is to do whatever you want. Max asks what happens when what people want comes into conflict. But Tremain's answer is cut short by a sudden attack from Grodd and his army.

Bart tries to race off to help, but Max grabs his hair, saying they probably shouldn't be protecting Tremain. So Grodd, sporting an eye patch and cigar, invades the palace unimpeded. Since Tremain can't get Max and Bart to defend him, he calls on Zoom, only to see he has sided with Grodd. But before Grodd can claim victory, there's another flash of light.

Suddenly, all the humans are now apes and the apes are turtles. Max suggests there might be an elasticity to time that seems linked to the Speed Force through them. In this new time, Zoom is back on Tremain's side and has constructed a large purple ray gun. Zoom warns Tremain that the purple ray carries a 20 percent risk of frying the atmosphere and burning the entire planet, but Tremain deems that an acceptable risk. So Zoom fires his purple ray at Grodd's spaceship, but the turtle general counters with his own purple ray. Suddenly, there's another flash of light.

The chimp Impulse now finds himself wearing ancient Egyptian attire and surrounded by pyramids. The war between Zoom and Grodd is still ongoing, and Bart tries to prevent Zoom from increasing the power of his purple ray, but he's interrupted by yet another flash of light. The ape Max and Bart are now dressed as musketeers, and Max theorizes that the fabric of time is somehow looping, interacting with the Speed Force in an attempt to repair itself.

There's another flash of light, and ape Impulse winds up back in the Devonian Age. He smells the campfire, and realizes his past self is still there. As he races toward the campfire, he sees his past self prepare to slap an oversized mosquito, and he realizes that his arrival here is how the Speed Force is healing time. So ape Bart prevents past Bart from squishing the bug, and we get our final flash of light.

Bart finds himself back at good old Manchester Junior High, where Vice Principal Randal Sheridan is falling off a chair after hanging the New Year's Dance banner. Bart quickly arranges chairs for Sheridan, Jasper Pierson, Carol and himself to fall in all too conveniently, and Bart is quite happy that everything has returned to normal. That is, until Evil Eye grabs his hair. Carol tells Bart that Evil Eye's just jealous because Bart's the most popular boy in school, but Bart is growing sick and tired of everyone tugging at his enormous hair.

Bart then sees that Tremain and Rob are now school janitors, and he heads back home to where Helen is struggling to understand this latest adventure. The best Max can come up with is that he and Bart somehow created an anomaly that caused time to try to fix itself by sending it through a series of alternate realities until it found the right one sent them back home. Just as Max expresses relief to be in a world free of insane changes, Bart proudly shows off how he shaved his own head.

This was so much fun. The wackiness was cranked up to an 11 in this issue, and I absolutely loved it. We got to see Bart as a chimpanzee, and had some fun cameos from two of Flash's most notorious villains. But the real villain here was Dr. Julian Tremain, who was delightfully casual with Max and Bart. And on top of that, we got a real neat idea with Superman's rocket destroying Metropolis. As far as I can tell, this is the first time that idea was ever tossed around in comics. And 13 years later, DC would fully realize that idea in the continuity-changing Flashpoint.

But perhaps the most influential moment of this issue, though, is the shaving of Bart's head. Lovers of Bart's big hair (myself included) mourned the loss of his goofy, enormous locks. But really, what's more impulsive than shaving your head? And to set this up, William Messner-Loebs spent the past few issues having nearly everyone find an excuse to pull Bart's hair, while Craig Rousseau seemed to draw it bigger than ever. Bart's hair will eventually grow back, and it will get pretty long again, but I don't think it'll ever be as big as it was in this issue.

Chris Brantley, of Visalia, Calif., admits he was getting a bit tired of Humberto Ramos' style and finds Craig Rousseau to be a welcome change. He also supports William Messner-Loebs replacing Mark Waid. He does feel like Helen Claiborne forgave Max too soon, and Chris suggests naming the letter column "Make it Fast!"

Rod Dimanna, of Lakewood, Colo., says Impulse is the first book he's seen in 18 years that hasn't taken a step back during a creative team shift. Rod also requests a team up with Plastic Man.

Nick Keppler asks for an animated Impulse movie or cartoon series and asks whether Jesse Quick and Max Mercury are related to the Allen family (which they're not).

Steve Burns complains a little bit about the transitory period between Waid and Ramos to Messner-Loebs and Rousseau. He also asks for Todd Nauck to be a guest artist on Impulse, saying his work on the Flash Museum in Secret Origins really stood out.

Ben Varkentine, of Seattle, proposes a theory that Messner-Loebs was so grateful to Waid for not messing up The Flash after his run, that he decided to return the favor on Impulse. Ben also echoes the requests for an Impulse animated series.

Where have all the cookies gone? Into Hershey's Cookies 'n' Creme.

Dragon Ball Z. Tree of Might. This movie was OK, but not as fun as Dead Zone. But really, all the DBZ movies kind of sucked since they contradicted events in the TV show.

Grab the bags, save the points, get the goods on lunch! Planet Lunch points.

Batman & Robin on Pay-Per View. The best part of this ad is the quote from Bill Klein of NBC-TV: "The best Batman ever!" Klein certainly has different standards for Batman movies than I do.

Win you own Lunchables toon room!

The emerald flame will never die! Green Lantern statue by William Paquet, based on designs by Gil Kane.

NBA wrapper rebound. If you sent in basketball card wrappers, you could get a poster of Shaquille O'Neal. This was just a little after Shaq starred in the horrible Steel movie. He was just starting his career with the Lakers, and was averaging 28 points per game, but wasn't winning championships yet.

Massive quake rocks Gotham. Batman Cataclysm.

One wicked weasel! Punky Skunk for PlayStation.

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Superman! And he's back on GameBoy.

Next time, we'll take another look at what Impulse could have been like in the DC Animated Universe with Adventures in the DC Universe #13.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Unlimited Access #4

Combined Forces!

The dynamic conclusion to this marvelous modern-day myth as told by ...
Karl Kesel Words
Pat Olliffe Pencils
Al Williamson Inks
Greg Wright Colors
Jim Novak Letters
Tom Brevoort Editor
Mike Carlin Consulting Editor
Bob Harras Chief
Mark Gruenwald Guiding Spirit

Our cover shows Access, the young man with the ability to travel between the universes of Marvel and DC, surrounded by several amalgam characters specifically created for this series. In the upper right corner is the combined Robin-Angel character, who was created at the end of last issue.

Our story begins right where the last issue left off. Darkseid has combined forces with Magneto and the two supervillains have issued a statement of world domination across the globe. The Justice League and Avengers finally get organized and group together, while the X-Men and DC's young heroes fly over to meet with them (Impulse caught a ride on Wonder Girl, who was also carrying Cyclops).

All the heroes agree the best plan of action is to send a small strike force of their most powerful heroes, while the rest stay back to continue battling the parademons. Access introduces his accidental creation, Redwing, the Avenging Wonder, and suggests he makes a few more amalgam heroes to give them the greatest edge against Darkseid and Magneto. So everybody agrees to it, and a strike force of strange, new heroes infiltrates Magneto's base.

Impulse has been combined with Iceman to form Quick Freeze. With him is Wonder Wasp (Wonder Girl and Wasp), Captain America Jr. (Captain Marvel Jr. and Captain America), Green Goliath (Green Lantern and Goliath), Thor-El (Superman and Thor), Jean Black (Black Canary and Jean Grey) and the aforementioned Redwing. However, our heroes arrive to find an empty room. This gives them more time to talk about and demonstrate their powers. Quick Freeze, for example, builds an ice sculpture of himself in the Thinker pose.

Suddenly, the villains attack! But somehow, Magneto and Darkseid were also able to create amalgam version of their minions. So everybody fights and fights, talking a whole lot while they do it. Quick Freeze takes on Silver-Lance, and distracts him with a ice decoy of himself. After the villain slices through the decoy, Quick Freeze says, "Oooh — I'm shaking, Lance! When it comes to ice statues, you are one cold customer! But against the real, living Quick Freeze? Okay — you've got a chance ... a snowball's chance!" Quick Freeze then pummels the villain with hundreds of snowballs, and does absolutely nothing for the rest of the issue.

Sadly, Darkseid did not combine with Magneto, which I think would have been pretty cool. Instead, Darkseid uses the chaos of the battle to approach Access and introduce him to his secret ally, a future, evil version of Access. The two version of Access fight each other and go sliding through a bunch of odd alternate realities. Finally, Access defeats his future self by merging with him. And for some reason, the good side won out and decided not to join Darkseid.

In his anger, Darkseid insults the mutants, and he and Magneto start to fight. As expected, Magneto is no match for Darkseid, who decides to slowly choke the Master of Magnetism to death. So Access hastily splits apart all the combined villains so the mutants will be able to rush to their leader's aid. When Darkseid sees everything has fallen apart, he says he's grown tired of the game and basically gives up. He tells Access that he'll be back for his power at a later date, and he takes off along with his cronies. So Access splits everybody up and sends them back home and everybody (thankfully) forgets about this whole ordeal.

This story sucked. It was a chore to read with every single character constantly referring to themselves by name and explaining their power set. And the ending was awful! Darkseid just decided to quit because ... it was time to end the issue. Although I will admit that combining Impulse with Iceman is a lot more creative than combining him with Quicksilver. Sadly, there was very little room for this Quick Freeze character, and what little we did see of him was hampered down by cheesy dialogue. And I'm also sad that Impulse didn't get to spend any time with his grandpa, Barry Allen. Apparently the Flash wasn't deemed powerful (or popular) enough to join the "A team" and was left below to fight the parademons. Well, let's move on from this subpar story and take a look at the new ads this issue brought us.

The feel-good comedy of the year. Half-Baked.

Twix. Think about it. Can a friend who asks you to share really be called a friend?

Final Fantasy Tactics for PlayStation.

Bullpen Bulletins includes Stan's Soapbox, in which Stan Lee explains that he made the Hulk green because he wanted to give him a colorful costume but instead chose colorful skin, and that Spider-Man cannot lift Thor's hammer.

East Coast Comics. It offered Flash #100 for $3, but didn't list any Impulse issues.

Next time, we'll return to the main series with Impulse #35.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Impulse #34

The Devonian Age


This issue hit the stands just in time for Christmas 1997, although the issue itself has nothing to do with Christmas. But this is still a really fun cover by Craig Rousseau and Wayne Faucher. I like Max's Flash T-shirt and the Flash wrapping paper on the barcode. I always though barcodes had to be white, so it was really cool to see that they were able to disguise it as a present. All in all, this is pretty much how I would expect Christmas morning to be in the Crandall/Claiborne/Allen household. Except for Bart wearing his Impulse uniform. But this is a cover, so he kind of has to wear it.

Our story begins with Max installing a fax machine, much to Bart's bewilderment. But Max insists this is the best way to keep in touch with the JLA, JSA, Arkham Asylum, Oracle and others. But the machine proves a bit too complicated for Max, and Bart claims it'll never work. Max wishes just once Bart would tell him he's right, but Bart decides to run off to school instead.

Bart stays after school that day to help Carol and Vice Principal Randal Sheridan hang a banner for the New Year's Dance. Mr. Sheridan stands up on a chair to reach the banner, but he's startled by counselor Jasper Pierson yelling at him for "risking those children's lives." Mr. Sheridan starts to fall, but luckily he and everyone else fall neatly into some chairs arranged by Bart at super speed. Carol remarks on their great luck by glaring at Bart, who does his best to look innocent.

Pierson begins to lecture Sheridan for using non-approved appliance to repair school property, and while Sheridan admits he should have used a ladder, he doesn't appreciate how Pierson's panicking caused him to fall. Max then arrives to take Bart away, showing him an emergency fax he received. Apparently a secret government weapons facility is under attack, so Max and Impulse take off toward the desert for Area 52.

Our heroes soon find there's only two intruders, who apparently can vibrate through walls. Impulse assumes this will be easy, and rushes toward one of the figures, saying, "Bad terrorist! Time for jail!" But the terrorist suddenly disappears and reappears behind Impulse, grabbing his hair. Impulse quickly breaks free, only to have his hair grabbed from behind again. He can't believe this terrorist is moving so fast, so he begins to speed up more and more. Max tries to tell Impulse to slow down, saying the terrorists aren't using super speed. But Bart doesn't listen, and eventually collides with Max, knocking them both out.

Impulse and Max wake up in a big glass tube, and are introduced to Dr. Julian Tremain, Master of Time and Space, and his henchman, Rob. Tremain explains that he stole secret weapons from Area 52 that will enable him to change history and make himself leader of all mankind. Bart excitedly whispers to Max that he'll just vibrate through the glass and stop Tremain. But Max warns him that something else is going on — why else would Tremain go to the trouble of bringing the two speedsters into his lab. But Impulse shrugs him off, saying all villains simply love to gloat. But when Bart vibrates through the glass, he activates Tremain's machine, and the whole room is enveloped in a bright light.

When Impulse wakes up, he finds himself facing a freaky-looking fish thing. This startles him, and he falls into a pool of water and is attacked by gigantic mosquitos. Max then arrives and calmly welcomes Bart to the Devonian Age. Bart asks if this is an age where everyone is named Devon, but Max explains it's the time when life first moved out of the sea and onto the land (about 400 million years ago). Max identifies the lungfish that spooked Bart, and says it is the most advanced vertebrate on the planet.

So Bart understands he won't be seeing any dinosaurs or cavemen on this trip to the "olden days," but he does wonder where the pyramids are. Max sarcastically remarks that he and Abe Lincoln used to hitch their horses to the pyramids, then he clearly explains that they are sitting at the very beginning of life on Earth. Bart gets pretty excited by this, and takes off to see it all, but Max stops him, saying they can't change anything. Everything they do will be magnified by hundreds of millions of years, so killing a grasshopper or promoting soil erosion could change their own time beyond recognition.

Bart carefully pulls a large mosquito out of his hair, and the two speedsters relax a bit, take off their masks, and Max begins to talk about the amazing, courageous journey of the lungfish. But Bart soon becomes bored and decides to fashion a fishing pole from a thread from his jeans and a nail from the New Year's Dance banner. Max angrily destroys Bart's pole and wraps the thread around his head, which is his way of saying "no change" means "no fishing," too. As Max storms off, Bart points out that they're changing things by making tracks and breathing air. Max angrily admits he doesn't know what to do. They run down the list of everything they can't do, including eating anything, drinking anything or building a fire. Bart trips on a rock and pulls a trilobite out of his hair, and in desperation says they might as well be dead. But Max points out they can't let themselves die because the bacteria in their corpses would devastate the flora and fauna of the area.

Having fully established what a bind they're in, Bart finally starts to wonder how they got there in the first place. So Max explains that Dr. Tremain's time machine obviously needed a power source, and he goaded Bart into provided that power by tapping into the Speed Force. Suddenly, our heroes catch the smell of roasting fish. They follow the smell to find Tremain and Rob having a cookout with lungfish, trilobite and clams. The villains invite the heroes to eat with them, and Bart tries to warn them against eating anything, but the food smells so good, and since it's already cooked, he gives in.

Even Max can't resist the allure of food, and as he sits to join them, he learns that the villains are also stranded in time. Apparently, Tremain underestimated Impulse's power, which hurled them all through an uncontrollable vortex and fried Tremain's backup machines. So now the would-be conqueror of Earth has resigned himself to a life of a gourmet fisherman on the world's first beach. Bart asks whether they have any hope of returning to their proper time, and all Tremain can give him is a slight theoretical chance — if they change the future enough, they could potentially create a reality where he doesn't create the time machine and they return home. As they watch the sun set on the Devonian Age day, Bart slaps one of the large mosquitos that've been bugging him. Suddenly, everything fades away in another bright flash of light.

Bart finds himself back in school, helping Carol and Mr. Sheridan hang a banner again. But this time, they're all wearing uniforms, and the banner says, "Welcome World-President-for-Life Tremain!" Sheridan once again stands up on a chair, and Mr. Pierson once again freaks out. But this time, Pierson has Sheridan arrested by the Safety Police and orders Bart and Carol to put on helmets and kneepads. We then see it was Evil Eye who reported Sheridan for using unauthorized equipment. All the kids in school praise Evil Eye for being safe and temperate, and he proclaims his aspirations to be captain of the Safety Police.

A confused Bart walks outside and finds Max locked in stocks next to Sheridan. Max explains that his great crime was saving a dog from being run over by a car. Apparently, in this new world, it's a crime to risk your life. Bart finally admits that Max was right about everything, and Max says hearing Bart say that isn't anywhere near as fun as he thought it'd be.

This was another fun. light-hearted issue of Impulse that this series is built upon. It's kind of nice to take a quick break from the toxic waste-dumping trial and have a simple, wacky adventure. And although Impulse's very existence has always been predicated on time travel, it was great to see him go back in time for once and start exploring with alternate timelines.

Even though he didn't technically work on this issue, former assistant editor Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt did handle the letter column one more time, signing out by saying he's getting on a plane tomorrow.

Jim Bryan praises the series for its focus on down-to-Earth moments and the art that always matches the tone of the book. He asks for more references to Southern culture, more White Lightning and a cameo from Damage.

Scott J. Mullowney describes himself as a 39-year-old who has dropped all his Marvel titles for being too angsty. He thanks the creators of Impulse for making comics fun again and something he can enjoy with his kids.

Ben Varkentine, of Seattle, asks why this series doesn't have a name for the letter column, and offers the usual praise for Impulse #30. He's happy to see Bart slowly, but surely learning, and loves how William Messner-Loebs writes Max Mercury.

Daniel Montiel says Impulse is one of the few books where he can go from laughing to serious in just a few seconds without feeling as if he violated something. He's happy with how Impulse is growing up and learning that his powers can't solve everything, and thanks DC for providing a book that will have him laughing, yet thinking about for a long time.

Kevin Dragone, of Phoenixville, Penn., asks if Savitar will return, whether one of the statues in the future Flash museum was an adult Bart as the Flash, and when Robin will team up with Impulse again. He also suggests Impulsive, Impulsive Chat and Impulsive Imports for the letter column name. Jason mostly dodged all of Kevin's questions, but he did say something big was planned for Robin and Impulse.

Julian Darius, of Moro, Ill., praises William Messner-Loebs, calling him a favorite writer ever since he made The Flash just a little less serious. Jason also echoes the kind words for Bill, saying he and Paul Kupperberg had worked with him on Wonder Woman and were very happy when the opening for Impulse worked out well with everybody's schedule. Now for the new ads:

Dragonball Z The Movie: Dead Zone. This was a favorite of mine as a kid, especially the scenes with Piccolo. What astonishes me today is how expensive this movie was in 1997. $19.98 for a dubbed VHS and $29.98 for the DVD.

JNCO takes you on a wild and educational free for all when you witness ... the ancient art of yo, demystified.

Hey sport! Check out this new, tight collection of sports apparel and accessories: shirts, shoes, caps bags and more for your life and your game. WB Sport.

She doesn't like them. She doesn't trust them. She may be one of them. Chase. Written by D. Curtis Johnson. Illustrated by J.H. Williams III and Mick Gray.

Watch This Space is full of the usual trivial garbage, highlighted by DC's circulation coordinator walking past Regis Philbin on the street. How exciting!

Next time, we'll conclude the Marvel/DC crossover with Unlimited Access #4.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Teen Titans #17

New Life

Dan Jurgen Story & Art
Phil Jimenez Guest Finisher
Gregory Wright Colorist
Comic raft Letters
Dana Kurtin Associate Editor
Eddie Berganza Editor

Our cover shows the leader of the Teen Titans, Atom, holding all the special guests of this issue in his hand. Theoretically, I guess he could do this since he now has the ability to grow to giant size as well as shrink to atom size, but this cover is more of a symbolic representation. To Impulse's right is his old friend, Damage, whom we haven't seen since the New Titans days. Most of the rest of these people don't matter too much, although I will point out Robin, Superboy, and flying right in front of Atom's face is Captain Marvel Jr., who is also part of the Unlimited Access series.

There's quite a bit going on in this issue, but very little of it involves Impulse. So let's just skip ahead to the part where Ray Palmer decides to hold open tryouts for the Teen Titans. And since this is the '90s, Ray sets up a Titans Web page to make the announcement. Ironically, though, word spreads best when a national TV news station picks up the story. Bart Allen sees the news report and thinks the tryouts will rock, but Max also saw the piece and doesn't seem too impressed. On the appointed date, a large gathering of heroes meet on the roof of a night club, and Impulse, naturally, is the first to arrive.

Impulse calls Ray "Atom Ant" and wonders why he thinks of him as a little kid. Atom doesn't know what he's talking about, but he is ready to accept Impulse on the team without an interview. However, Max Mercury suddenly arrives and forbids Impulse from joining the team, citing school, grades and homework. So Max drags Impulse away and out of the story.

I could end my recap right here, but I'll throw in a few highlights. Damage does a rather poor job of explaining his powers and his role during Zero Hour, and he unwisely tries to demonstrate his powers by blowing up the food table. This makes everyone quite upset, and they reject Damage's application. Robin arrived with hopes of applying, but upon seeing all the publicity the Teen Titans were causing, decided that Batman wouldn't approve his entry on such a high-profile team. So the Boy Wonder ducks out before even interviewing.

Atom is also willing to give Superboy a spot on the team, but it turns out Superboy only went there for the party atmosphere and to tell the Teen Titans that their teammate Risk was recently arrested. But the Titans aren't completely out of luck. They do recruit Captain Marvel Jr., along with a few other, lesser-known heroes. And Arsenal, former leader of the New Titans, is also there to lend a hand.

There's not a whole lot to say about this issue. It basically was little more than a publicity stunt — throwing in a bunch of high-profile characters to attract some attention, but ultimately sticking to the script of focusing on the relative unknowns. The excuses made by the big names were quite lame. And I was disappointed nobody mentioned the New Titans in this issue. It would have been great for Impulse to have had a little reunion with Arsenal and Damage. It's a little sad to see that Arsenal is still hanging around the Teen Titans when he is old enough to be doing something else. And poor Damage, who was once Impulse's best friend, is left out in the cold and obscurity.

I only have the digital copy of this issue, so there's no letters or ads this time. Next time, we'll return to the main series with Impulse #34.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Impulse & The Atom Double-Shot #1

Roll Back

Dan Jurgens Under the Influence
Pop Mahn Arrested for Possession
Dexter Vines Will Never Work Again
Clem Robins Hospitalized
Jason Wright Institutionalized
Dana Kurtin and Eddie Berganza Should Have Killed the Story When They Had the Chance

This issue's tiny homage to Gil Kane & Murphy Anderson's Showcase #34 cover is by Pop Mhan with colors by Snake Bite and seps by Michelle Asp. It is nice to have covers pay homage to historical covers like this every once in a while — although I'm not too keen on the execution here. Mhan's style just seems a bit sloppy to me. Also, I wouldn't be doing my duty if I didn't point out that absolutely nothing like this happens in this issue.

As I said earlier, the new batch of Teen Titans comics struggled mightily after Marv Wolfman left The New Titans. The replacement group featured a bunch of unknown or lesser known characters, led by the Atom, who was conveniently turned into a teenager during Zero Hour. In an attempt to drum up some interest for this series, DC launched a group of these Double-Shot issues, which matched up a Teen Titan with a more popular character. I find it interesting that in 1997 Impulse still wasn't a part of a superhero team, but was considered popular enough to give other books a boost.

Our story begins at Vanishing Point, a place unaffected by the normal parameters of space and time. Also a place we really haven't seen since Zero Hour. We close in on prominent time-traveler Waverider, who is stuck babysitting toddler versions of Impulse and Atom.

Liri Lee, Waverider's girlfriend and fellow time-researcher, walks in on this scene and chastises Waverider for bringing children to Vanishing Point. As Impulse shows off his speed and Atom demonstrates his size-changing abilities, Waverider explains they're not really children, and he hasn't rolled their ages back because they were infused with latent chronal energy before he even got to them. The energetic kids keep playing games — Bart wants to play Khund warriors, but Ray suggests cowboys and Indians — while Waverider and Liri Lee begin to examine the past to figure out what happened to the two heroes. To keep the toddlers out of their hair, Waverider turns one of the monitors on to some dinosaurs.

Apparently Ray Palmer had recently lost one of his teammates on a mission and attempted to use a time pool to go back to save him. But as Waverider zeroes in on the incident, little Impulse becomes bored with the dinosaurs and begins pushing every button he sees.

Waverider then sees that on the same day Ray activated his time pool, Bart Allen was on a field trip to Ivy University, chaperoned by his "uncle" Max Crandall. Bart grew quite bored of the tour and complained about not having edu-phones to teach him while he slept. As Max warned him not to talk about the future, a large explosion went off in one of the buildings. So Bart turned into Impulse and zipped over there to find the Atom having trouble with his time pool. The two heroes were then turned into toddlers, at which point Waverider arrived to try to undo the damage.

Waverider notes that Impulse is from the future and has been there recently, kind of messing up his chronal energy. And the Atom's were messed up by Extant during Zero Hour. As he discusses the situation with Liri, Impulse and Atom go riding by on a velociraptor. Liri quickly sends the dinosaurs back to their proper time before Bart can pull out even bigger ones. She disables the control to pull things out of the time stream, and turns the monitor to a Khund warrior battle from 2906.

Waverider then figures out that he's responsible for Atom and Impulse turning into toddlers. He sensed the disturbance caused by Atom's time pool, and by investigating, he made the problem worse. But as soon as he figures this out, he notices Atom and Impulse have accidentally transported themselves onto a Khund war ship.

However, the alien conquerors were no match for the energetic, super-powered toddlers. (Two of the Khunds were named K'Waid and K'Eringo in honor of Impulse's creators, Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo.) Waverider and Liri Lee pull the toddlers back by promising them ice cream, and bring them to just milliseconds before the time pool went haywire. Waverider is able to fuse the toddlers back into their teenaged bodies, and Liri recruits Max Mercury to help them out since he's also a time traveler.

Waverider unfreezes time, and Max suddenly finds himself in uniform and in front of the time pool. Before anyone can do anything, a bolt of energy shoots out from the pool and passes through Max, Impulse and the Atom. Suddenly, everything is back to normal. Bart wonder whether it was a dream, holographic illusions created by aliens, or a byproduct of the burritos he had for lunch. Ray, however, is furious to see his time pool failed, and he kicks over his computer table. Max, however, is able to cheer him up by pointing out that even more of his friends would have died without him.

As the heroes walk away, Ray wonders why he has a sudden craving for ice cream, while Bart finds himself wanting to play Khund warriors. Waverider and Liri Lee watch from a distance, happy that they were able to nullify Max's chronal energy so it would strike the others and negate the effects of the errant time pool.

We're then treated to this fun note: "The editors of this magazine apologize to any and all readers who like their comic deadly serious, filled with angst, tragedy and overwrought emotions. Not."

So this was a rather silly, yet entertaining adventure. It was fun to see Impulse more or less at his appropriate age of about 3 years old. He's not too different from his teenaged version, just a bit more hyper, I guess. Sadly, the art was a big let down for me. A lot of the people looked downright creepy, and there wasn't much of a difference between the toddlers and the teens, which is kind of essential for a story like this.

There aren't any letters to the editor, although there is a surprisingly lengthy explanation by Liri Lee, telling us more about Waverider and what exactly just happened in this issue. Now on to the new ads:

Mass Destruction. Don't just sit there ... shoot! For PlayStation, Sega Saturn and Windows 95.

Metallica. Reload. Thirteen new songs.

The fate of Cybercity rests in his hands ... and yours. Introducing Cyberswine, the interactive Multipath Movie where you control the action.

Hey, Mom, can I keep him? And we see a fat kid holding Cal Ripken Jr. on his shoulders. MLB Players Choice products are as hot as all your favorite players.

Reinforcements have arrived. Command & Conquer: Red Alert for the PlayStation game console.

Gap Pro Fleece hooded sweatshirt $48.

Next time, we'll visit the Atom again in Teen Titans #17.