Sunday, August 30, 2015

JLA vs. The Titans #2

The Generation Gap

Devin Grayson Co-Plotter & Dialogue
Phil Jimenez Co-Plotter & Pencils
Andy Lanning Inks
Jason Wright Colors
Heroic Age Separations
Comicraft Letters
Frank Berrios Assistant Editor
Eddie Berganza Editor

The first issue of this miniseries was just called JLA/The Titans. But for issue #2, a "vs." was inserted, which shouldn't come as any surprise, since the wraparound, interconnecting covers clearly show a major fight between the two teams. And at the center of this cover/poster is Nightwing vs. Batman, the central confrontation of the whole fight. It really is an exciting, impressive image.

Our story picks right up where last one left off. Everyone and anyone who was once a member of the Titans has been kidnapped. Batman and Plastic Man found the Titans on the former Titans Island, and the entire JLA has been summoned to that location. Orion, however, is furious that Batman is showing more concern over a handful of children than the entire planet, which truly is threatened now by the arrival of a large conglomeration of spaceships that have enveloped the moon. Orion argues that they should let the Titans free themselves while they try to save the world. Batman sees Orion's point, but he still feels their best course of action is to save the hostages. As Steel starts working on the force field protecting the hostages, Batman warns the JLA that they are dealing with about 30 powerful people who hold personal significance to each of them, but could be injured or even brain-washed.

The computer holding the hostages recognizes the presence of the JLA and the threat they represent. So the computer sends out of a few more shape-shifting spheres to gather some reinforcements. Meanwhile, Nightwing, Raven and the Flash are chewing over Changeling's theory that Cyborg is behind all this. Wally does a quick check of all the other prisoners, and he reports that the only former Titan not there is Cyborg. Changeling tells them how Cyborg slowly became less and less human through the years to the point where he allowed himself to be absorbed into a cyber-alien called the Technis. Cyborg became Cyberion, providing the humanity and soul to the technology's goal of exploring and cataloging. Changeling joined Cyberion on his journeys for a while, but the further they got from home, the weirder Victor Stone became. No longer recognizing his best friend, Garfield Logan returned to Earth, while Cyberion grew and evolved until he virtually became a small planet comprised of various ships and satellites.

Raven explains that she stayed with Cyberion, even after Changeling left, in an attempt to soothe Vic's troubled soul. At some point, Jarras Minion decided to return to his pacifist ways, and he gave the Omegadrome to Cyberion as a gift. The technology of the Omegadrome increased Cyberion's power exponentially, but it drastically diminished Vic's humanity. The only command Cyberion interpreted from Vic was a desire to return to his friend, the Titans. But Cyberion was unable to distinguish between the Titans Vic personally knew and those he didn't. Cyberion even sent a probe to collect Vic himself. Raven explains that Cyberion placed all the Titans in pleasant virtual reality worlds to take care of them, while also attempting to turn the moon into a new Technis planet. At this point, Raven finally gave up trying to connect to Vic's soul and decided to warn and help the former Titans.

The free heroes find what appears to be Cyberion's energy center, which they believe still houses Vic's consciousness. Changeling is still optimistic they can save his friend, but first, they decide to save all the former Titans. While Wally searches for a way out, Nightwing and Raven begin visiting each hostage in their virtual reality to help them snap out of it. The only person not in a pleasant virtual reality is Terra, who has understandably been confused with the traitorous Terra. (The difference between the two Terras is far too confusing and lengthy for me to get into here.) Another highlight with a familiar face is Arsenal, who is in Arizona with the deceased Green Arrow. But Nightwing and Raven have little trouble pulling the hostages out of the virtual reality worlds.

Wally then finds the entrance to the prison, where the JLA are just on the other side, debating the best way to break in. Superman combines his heat vision with a blast from Big Barda, and the JLA is soon through. Flash leads the heroes to the freed hostages, and explains to Batman that Nightwing is still helping free the others. Steel comes across the central power unit, and suggests they destroy it to free the moon and save the Earth. But Wonder Woman tells him to wait until all the other former Titans are freed.

We then see Impulse in a shared virtual reality world with Prysm. Both of them were raised in virtual reality, so they feel quite at home in this strange land of abstract shapes and mythical beasts. Prysm says she was happy there, and Impulse says virtual reality rocks. But Raven soon arrives and pulls them out. Damage is honored and accepted by the original JSA in his fantasy, and Supergirl and Starfire are surrounded by their lost family members. But all of them are brought back to the real world quite easily. The last hostage is the saddest. Donna Troy's fantasy is a simple white background with just her toddler son who died. Nightwing tells her it's not real, and with tears streaming down her face, Donna says she knows.

With all the hostages freed, Orion and Big Barda begin to destroy the technological menace that threatens the planet. But Changeling begs them to stop, saying Vic's soul is still in there and they have to save it. Superman says Vic isn't alive anymore — he's just a program they need to shut down. The former Titans are shocked to see the rest of the JLA share this opinion. Green Lantern joins them, but Flash surprisingly sides with the Titans, saying they need to save Vic. As the argument intensifies and sides are being picked, Bart sheepishly hides behind Wally. But when the two sides gear up for a full-on fight, Bart actually tries to hold Wally back.

Risk is the first to attack, but he is immediately blasted by Orion. Tempest attacks Aquaman, and Green Lantern blasts Flash. The Cyberion computer then expands the cavern by creating illusions of pieces of each virtual environment it had previously created. Batman and Nightwing discuss how much power Cyberion has to pull this off, and whether he's distracted by all this commotion. The fight really starts to get out of hand, and Flash tries to get Green Lantern to stop attacking him, saying he's heard Martian Manhunter's telepathic message. But Kyle Rayner refuses to relent, calling Wally a double-crosser. Arsenal even attempts to attack Batman, but Nightwing stops him.

Meanwhile, Cyberion's probes begin collecting other heroes who once helped the Titans. This time, the spheres politely ask for help, gathering Thunder and Lightning and Chris King from San Francisco, Azrael from Virginia, Magenta from Blue Valley (who has her room decorated with crossed-out Flash posters), Harlequin, Hawk and Dove from New York, and Robin from the Secret Sanctuary in Happy Harbor, Rhode Island. Robin happened to be with Superboy when the sphere arrived, and he agreed to go with it, asking Superboy to follow him. Only one person turns down the probe's offer, Deathstroke the Terminator, who is apparently retired and hunting lions in Africa.

Back to the fight, Kyle calls Wally a self-righteous traitor, and Wally responds by calling Kyle a safe-playing wannabe. Wonder Woman takes on Donna Troy, and Mirage torments Martian Manhunter by turning into a burning image of his wife, M'yri'ah. Nightwing tries to convince Batman to call off the JLA, but he refuses. Nightwing says that Vic's damage to Earth is unintentional, and they need to focus their efforts on trying to communicate with him. But Batman insists that Victor Stone is gone, and all that remains is an automaton bent on mass destruction. Nightwing thinks Vic's attack is a clumsy call for help, and he tries to explain the special, familial bond unique to the Titans that the JLA doesn't share. Batman continues to disagree, reminding Nightwing of his oath to protect innocent lives, and points out there's no justice in sacrificing millions to save one already-dead friend.

The fighting continues, and some heroes seem seriously hurt — especially when Martian Manhunter retaliates for having his dead wife used against him. But once Batman realizes Cyberion is protecting and aiding the Titans, he has J'onn J'onzz include Nightwing in the telepathic conversation. Nightwing learns that the whole battle was just a ruse to distract Cyberion. Nightwing is still pretty mad at this, but Batman says he'll give him 30 minutes to take whatever countermeasures he wants while the JLA dismantles the CPU and the moon-based construct. So Nightwing contacts Raven, while Batman tells J'onn two teams will be heading to the moon, and he urges him to keep the fight going during that time.

Nightwing chooses a team of Donna Troy, Arsenal, Tempest and the Flash. Changeling, who's in a shape-shifting contest with Plastic Man, notices Raven gathering up heroes into her soul self. He asks Impulse to help him take on Plastic Man, so he can turn into a fly and sneak into Raven's soul self with the original Teen Titans.

Cyberion's reinforcements arrive at the island, as well as Superboy and the rest of Young Justice — Secret, Wonder Girl and Arrowette. But they're met by the JLA's reinforcements — Power Girl, Elongated Man, Mister Miracle, Mary Marvel, Black Canary, Captain Marvel and Green Arrow. But before these two new groups start to fight, Batman tells everyone to stop. Meanwhile, the Cyberion computers begin analyzing the blueprints of all the previous Titans bases — including the satellite and Liberty Island base that Impulse briefly stayed at — and combines elements from all of them to design a new Titans headquarters.

This was a very exciting, action-packed issue that unfortunately had a very weak ending. Devoting the last couple of pages to blueprints was not particularly captivating, and really killed the momentum. But what really hurt the story for me was the reveal that Batman and the JLA were staging the fight the whole time. I thought the fight was really emotional, and both sides had a valid point. But then it turned out the JLA were all just lying through their teeth, refusing to let the Titans know what they were planning until the end. And this makes all the JLA look like complete jerks. The Titans were passionately fighting for their friend's life, and they believed their mentors were diametrically opposed to them. But the most powerful heroes in the world were just toying with their former sidekicks as part of an overly elaborate plan to distract Cyberion. We had a really interesting debate going on for a while, but then the whole thing was negated once we saw that one side didn't actually support its own arguments.

But the issue as a whole was great. The fighting sequences were beautifully framed between Nightwing and Batman's intellectual debate, with the constant update on the recruits scrolling across the bottom of the page. I just wish Nightwing and the Titans could have convinced Batman and the JLA to give them a chance to save Cyborg. I would have done everything the same right up to the part where Batman reveals they've been pretending to fight all along. Instead, I would have had Nightwing or Changeling say something significant, or have Cyborg himself show some proof that he still has a soul — anything to get Batman to change his mind.

As for Impulse, he was rather quiet, but I loved the idea of having him fight Plastic Man. They have very different power sets, but very similar personalities, making this a truly intriguing matchup. Sadly, we didn't get to see too much of what happened. And I was disappointed with Impulse's virtual reality world. So he had to share a world with Prysm because they were both raised in a VR setting? Or did they naturally gravitate toward each other because they were used to virtual reality? And why did it have to be so boring? Everyone else got their heart's greatest desire brought to life — although usually in a creepy way. So it would have been fun to see what Bart wants in the bottom of his heart. Maybe it really is just random geometric shapes floating in space.

Next time, we'll lighten things up a bit with the DCU Holiday Bash #3.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Young Justice Secret Files and Origins #1

Take Back the Night

D. Curtis Johnson Reporting
Ale Garza & Cabin Boy Visuals
Tom McCraw Colors
Digital Chameleon Separations
Comicraft Readouts
Eddie Berganza Project Director
Cover by Humberto Ramos, Wayne Faucher and Digital Chameleon

It is always wonderful have Ramos back. Not only is he one of the best Impulse artists of all time, but he does a great job drawing the entire Young Justice. I think everyone looks great here, although I am a little confused as to why some of them are happy while others are serious — especially Impulse. He's never the serious one. And there is one real error on the cover — Arrowette is still wearing her old costume. I guess Ramos drew this before seeing the new design.

Even though we just had Young Justice featured in an 80-page giant that detailed all their origin stories, we're getting a full-fledged Secret Files and Origins issue. And I'm not complaining. I'm just surprised that DC devoted so many special issues to this team. As with all Secret Files and Origins issues, this 48-page special contains one main story, a "Day in the Life" feature, some "Lost Pages" a tour of the headquarters, and a bunch of profile pages. This issue is not yet available digitally, but you can find the main story in DC Comics Presents: Young Justice #2.

That 100-Page Spectacular also includes Young Justice: The Secret #1, and another story we haven't covered yet. And the cover is actually from Young Justice #19, a completely unrelated issue we also haven't covered yet. So, without further ado, let's dive in to our story.

When we last left our heroes, they were dealing with a new villain named Harm. But at Secret's beseeching, they decided to put Harm on hold and help Secret rescue some kids from the Department of Extra-normal Operations. Fortunately, it's not a school night, so nobody feels bad about sneaking around upstate New York late at night.

Superboy is growing impatient, but Wonder Girl thinks it's quite romantic to be in the wilderness under the moonlight. But Superboy brushes her off, saying he's worried about Arrowette's shoulder, which had an arrow sticking through it just an hour ago. Impulse quickly scouts ahead, and within minutes, the team arrives at the dreaded D.E.O. Wabe Facility. Secret again thanks the teens for helping someone they don't really know. Impulse says they know her better than anyone, but Secret sadly says that's because she doesn't know anyone. Robin notes that the facility looks pretty tough, but he's confident they can still sneak in.

About the same time, inside the massive base, we're introduced to two girls, Casey and Claire, staying up past their bedtime. Claire has the ability to create portals, which she is currently using to watch TV from the guards' room. The show is D.E.O.'s Greatest Fugitives 2, which is talking about Plasmus and the Clock King tonight. The girls complain that the DEO agents on the show are much better looking than the ones they contacted in real life. And even though they both chose to join the DEO, the agents constantly treat them like they're going to try to run away.

Note: It's really hard to keep these two girls straight because the creators of the comic kept mixing them up. The one I'm going to call Casey is a psychic, and she senses something is off about this place. Claire assures her she's just feeling homesick, and in no time the DEO will help them become amazing heroes with code names and costumes. But Casey has heard some bad stories about kids at the DEO, and she is particularly afraid of Dr. Charles and Major Lutwidge. Claire tries to relax her roommate by using her portals to show her how goofy those guys look when they're asleep. But Claire can't find Lutwidge or Charles in their quarters. Instead, they're in the main security area because half the base is apparently on alert.

Turns out Young Justice aren't quite as stealthy as they planned to be. Unaware of how closely they're being monitored, Robin enacts his plan, first by sending Impulse to vibrate through the walls and try to find some vans they can use for their getaway. Robin has Wonder Girl fly up to the guard tower to make sure the guard stays asleep or distracted. Secret then helps Robin up the wall, while Superboy very happily assists Arrowette. Noting the motion sensors on the ground, Robin has Arrowette shoot a line across the yard.

We then check in with Major Lutwidge and Dr. Charles, who have already identified the intruding heroes (Secret is listed as Subject 2TDNII). Charles is thrilled to be able to study some outside heroes up close, and is even more thrilled to have his suspicions confirmed about the boys hiding Secret from him. Lutwidge is worried when the teens enter an unmonitored room, but Charles has a good idea of where they're headed, and he assures the major that the kid will show up on their monitors in a couple of minutes.

Impulse reunites with everybody in the unmonitored room, and he reports that he not only found vans, but helicopters and tanks as well, but Robin says the vans will be fine. Wonder Girl also comes back, and is quite happy with how well things are going. Suddenly, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Arrow and Green Lantern appear, and they're not happy. The JLA tell Young Justice they shouldn't have come here, and Robin notes that something's wrong with them. Impulse points out that the JLA are preparing to pound the stuffing out of them, so Robin tells everyone to get out into the open and hold off the JLA until they figure out what's wrong with them. Superboy tries to create a debris barrier, but Superman instantly tears it down. The Flash starts chasing after Impulse, calling him slow. Impulse tries to get Wally to remember him, but he doesn't listen.

Wonder Woman and Green Arrow take on Wonder Girl and Arrowette, respectively, and Green Lantern creates a vacuum to suck up Secret. But just when each teen hero is captured by his or her mentor, the adult heroes turn into pink goo and disappear. Impulse says it's as if the JLA was never there, but the damage remains.

Claire and Casey then arrive, and Casey apologizes for scaring them with her illusions. The two girls only wanted to warn Young Justice that they're heading into a trap, but Casey's illusions, which were intended to be reassuring, somehow turned hostile. Claire explains that once they leave this room, they'll be seen by the DEO again. Claire used her portals to transport Casey and herself there, which gives Secret and Robin an idea.

Back in the security room, Lutwidge becomes worried when Young Justice don't reappear on their cameras. Charles tells him to be patient, and boasts of their detailed files on the kids that will prevent them from being surprised. But Charles is proved wrong when a breach is reported from the server room on the opposite side of campus. Lutwidge loads up a large assault rifle and says he'll take care of the intruders his way now.

Our teenaged heroes gather around a computer, in hopes that Robin can find a way to shut down the security for the whole facility. Instead, Robin comes across the detailed files the DEO has on each of them. And the files they see are the same files we'll get later in the issue. Robin and Arrowette are pretty horrified by all this, and Robin decides to send the files to the JLA and destroy everything he can here. But Robin needs time for all his computer hacking, so he urges everyone to begin the breakout plan now.

Claire sees Lutwidge and his men approaching them, and Casey suggests they head back to their room. Claire wants to stay and help, but Secret tells her they've done enough. Secret then takes charge, telling Wonder Girl and Arrowette to cover Robin, Impulse to count to 6 million then intercept the guards, and for Superboy to burrow a tunnel to the cells below them. But Claire offers to take Superboy down there with her portals instead.

Claire and Casey are shocked to see so many grotesque, mutated kids being kept in small cages right below them. Casey realizes she was picking up on their misery, which caused her illusions to turn hostile. Upon this shocking discovery, Casey and Claire decide to keep helping Young Justice through the end. However, Secret's plan is ruined when Impulse gets carried away counting on his fingers, and is well on his way to 12 million when Lutwidge and his men arrive at the server room. Luckily, Robin finishes his computer work just in time, and leaves behind a small bomb to distract the guards while all the heroes escape through Claire's portal.

Dr. Charles watches Young Justice tear open all the cells, and he orders Lutwidge down to the area. But Lutwidge's path is blocked by a brick wall, curtesy of Casey. Charles suspects it to be an illusion, which Lutwidge confirms by sticking his hand through it. Once Lutwidge and his men get through, our heroes are ready for them, and easily take down all the guards. Young Justice lead all the captive kids to freedom, just as Dr. Charles realizes all his files have been destroyed.

All the mutant kids are loaded into the vans Impulse found, but surprisingly, Claire and Casey decide to stay behind. Despite seeing how horribly the DEO treated their peers, these two girls still believe the DEO is the best place for them to learn how to use their powers. Even more surprising, Robin fully supports their decision, although Secret is worried the DEO could start mistreating Claire and Casey. So Wonder Girl and Superboy lift up the vans and fly everybody to safety.

We get a bit of an epilogue that shows Director Bones and Agent Chase investigating the Wabe facility six hours later. The DEO is a large, complex and unwieldy organization. While most of the DEO may be good, no one within the organization was able to recognize the corrupt branch ran by Charles and Lutwidge. And although Bones and Chase suspect corruption, they are unable to punish Charles and Lutwidge. The two scoundrels are simply transferred to another facility on the other side of the country, leaving Bones and Chase to just hope they don't do anything bad again. All the remaining kids from the Wabe facility are also relocated, and it is hinted that Casey and Claire will return as heroes sometime. But that never happens. Those girls, and all the kids that were rescued, will promptly be forgotten in the ensuing months and never mentioned again.

I have to say I'm a little disappointed in this main story. After teasing to this for so long, what we finally got felt rather lackluster. After spending so much time sneaking around, when Young Justice finally did fight the guards, it wasn't really much of a fight — ending just as quickly as it began. And we barely even saw the kids our heroes were rescuing. The victims of the story should have been the focus. It was nice that almost everyone in Young Justice had at least one moment to showcase their powers, well, except for Secret. Although she did help Robin plan things out and kind of took charge for a minute there. I did not like the way the story ended, and I really didn't like the art. So we'll have to count this as another miss in the hit-or-miss Secret Files and Origins series.

Day in the Life: "Impulse's Trip to the Justice Cave"

Writer: Joseph Illidge
Penciller: Craig Rousseau
Inker: Dexter Vines
Letterer: Clem Robins
Colors: Tom McCraw
Separations: Digital Chameleon

In Manchester, Alabama, Bart receives a Justice alert on his watch, and he resolves to get to the Young Justice headquarters before Robin so he won't kill them. On the road, Robin complains about always being the first to arrive at their meetings despite being the only one without superpowers. In Venice Beach, California, Superboy receives the alert and plans to strong-arm Robin and Impulse if they get on him for not cleaning the cave.

So Bart takes off, but forgets his GameBoy, and has to head back. He takes off a second time, and passes through Fawcett City, where he saves Billy Batson from a lightning bolt, not realizing that Billy was summoning the lightning to transform into Captain Marvel. Bart's GameBoy dies during the trip, and he stops by Guy Gardner's Warriors' restaurant in New York City for a drink. Bart complains to Guy about all the chores he has to do and how Max won't let him have any fun. Guy says he's lucky his uncle is from this universe, saying he used to have to take orders from a bunch of alien midgets.

As Bart leaves Warriors', he realizes he's hungry, so he stops by the 61 Flavors Ice Creem Store in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, the store only offers free ice cream to JLA members, but it seems Bart bought the ice cream anyway, as he later let out a huge burp. Bart then heads to Africa for some reason, and makes friends with a monkey, which hitches a ride on his shoulder for the rest of the story.

Bart then randomly heads to the lost and found section of The Slab, the island prison for supervillains. He tosses aside the Riddler's jacket and decides to take a boomerang and a cape that could have belonged to Doctor Polaris. Then Bart somehow gets lost, and even his monkey friend can't help him find his way on a map. So Bart heads to Blüdhaven, where Nightwing points him in the right direction. Finally, Bart arrives at the cave with his monkey, cape and boomerang, and Robin and Superboy are ready to kill him.

This was a delightful little two-page spread, appropriately drawn by Craig Rousseau. Pure goofiness is exactly what Impulse is all about. My favorite joke was the Captain Marvel one. Although Bart has met both Billy and Captain Marvel, I don't think it's ever been explained to him that they are the same person. And even if he knew that, it is doubtful Bart would know that Billy needed to be struck by lightning to transform. So what Bart thinks is a good deed, is actually preventing Earth's Mightiest Mortal from saving the day.

Profile Page: Impulse

Writer: Matt Brady
Pencils: Humberto Ramos
Inks: Wayne Faucher
Colors: Tom McCraw
Separations: Digital Chameleon

It's always a welcome sight to have Humberto Ramos return to Impulse, even for something as brief as this. I know that image is pretty tough to read, so I'll type it up. Keep in mind, though, that this is the DEO file on Impulse, and they don't quite know everything.

Top speed appears to be near the speed of light. Has achieved speed Wally West never approached at the same age. Appears to think only after he acts, if ever.

Real Name: Bart (last name unknown)
Occupation: Apprentice hero
Base of Operations: Manchester, Alabama
Ht: 5'1"; Wt: 110 lbs.
Eyes: Yellow  Hair: Brown
First Appearance: Flash #91 (June, 1994)
• Wally West/Flash
• Mercury, Max
Clearance: Top Secret

While the backgrounds of many speed heroes can be traced to the lineage of Barry Allen, Impulse's familial origins and early years are unknown. His earliest appearance coincided with a chronal discharge in the Keystone City region. It is unknown if the two are related. Impulse is localized in Manchester, Alabama, and supervillain activity has increased since his appearance. Of the younger heroes, Impulse stands out for his immaturity and reckless behavior — the fact that he has survived to the present is most likely due to luck than skill. Impulse has been under the guidance of Max Mercur; however, as none of his senior Flash "family members" are in Young Justice, it is unknown who is guiding Impulse in the use of his speed powers or behavior. A.P.E.S. field agents have already witnessed one occasion where Impulse recklessly used his powers with dangerous results (see reports of Fite & Maad). If apprehension becomes necessary, Velocity 9 capsules will be issued.

So you can see the DEO got quite a few details correct. (Although I'm not sure how they knew which comic book issue he first appeared in.) The other profile pages are on Robin, Superboy, Red Tornado, Secret, Wonder Girl, Arrowette, Bedlam, Old Justice (who are supposed to appear in Young Justice #10) and Rip Roar. One odd thing I noticed is that Impulse, Robin, Wonder Girl and Bedlam are all 5'1". And both Superboy and Arrowette are 5'7". I would have liked a little more variations in their heights.

The Lost Pages section shows us that Mighty Endowed has been taken to the A.P.E.S. headquarters inside Mount Rushmore. Every scientist within a 1,000-mile radius has volunteered to study the former Nina Dowd and help return her to normal. But Mighty Endowed can hypnotize anyone who stares directly at her massive chest. She attempts a daring escape, but is easily stopped by Fite 'n Maad, who call her a routine bust.

Tour of the Justice Cave

Writer: Peter David
Penciller: Todd Nauck
Inker: Lary Stucker
Letterer: Ken Lopez
Colors: Tom McCraw
Separations: Digital Chameleon

For some reason, Superboy is filming a tour of the official Young Justice headquarters, formerly the JLA's Secret Sanctuary. Superboy wants Impulse to do it, but he apparently had something else to attend to. So Superboy shows off the library, the gym, the locker rooms (and accidentally walks in on a changing Wonder Girl), and the meeting chamber. The room is a bit of a mess, with junk food and Animaniacs comics on the table, a Xema poster on the wall, as well as a Hanson poster, which Impulse has spray-painted a big "not" sign over (he really hates that band). Superboy explains that they've set up monitors to show them any major crisis around the world, and, of course, ESPN.

Superboy then shows off some statues he's made of himself, Robin and Impulse, and they are the very same statues we saw in Young Justice #1,000,000. Superboy says he'll be making statues of the girls soon enough, and we know he'll do a good job because they will last for more than 83,000 years. Superboy then shows off the lounge and kitchen, then heads up the front hallway, explaining that their location is safely hidden inside a mountain. But when he gets to the front, he finds that Impulse has decorated the main entrance with neon signs advertising the home of Impulse and his friends, Young Justice.

The final page, usually a timeline, is another DEO file written by field agent Scott Beatty. He chronicles every major adventure Young Justice has been on, starting with Robin's first meeting with Superboy. Next is Robin's first meeting with Impulse, where they stopped Piotr Vilk from launching nuclear missiles at Russia. The file then mentions how Robin, Superboy and Impulse helped the Legion of Super-Heroes defeat C.O.M.P.U.T.O., and it even talks about their adventure to the Marvel universe where the three boys and Wonder Girl were fused with other heroes. (If the DEO knows about parallel dimensions that even those involved with have forgotten, then you think the organization would be able to figure out that Bart's last name is Allen.) The timeline concludes with details on the boys defeating Bedlam, rescuing Secret (which actually happened before Bedlam), discovering the Super-Cycle and defeating Rip Roar.

So even though I wasn't the biggest fan of the main story, I do like this issue overall. Ramos and Rousseau came in to give us some nice Impulse images, and Peter David and Todd Nauck did a great job on the brief, but fun Lost Pages and Tour. I normally would be upset by the gimmicky, incomplete Profile Pages, but it works in this context, mainly because we just had an 80-Page Giant detailing all these heroes' origins. So I'm actually glad that they weren't too repetitive here.

Next time, we'll finally return to the epic crossover, JLA vs. The Titans #2.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Young Justice #4

Harm's Way

Peter David Writer
Todd Nauck Pencils
Lary Stucker Inks
Jason Wright Colors
Digital Chameleon Seps
Kenny Lopez Letters
Frank Berrios Ass't Editor
Eddie Berganza Etc.

On our cover, we see that the boys have barricaded themselves in the cave. Arrowette has fired a few arrows at them, and Wonder Girl looks ready to punch her way in. I love how terrified Impulse is and how funny the whole cover is. True, nothing like this happens in the book, but that's OK when the joke of the cover is good enough to compensate. And, in a way, this is what happens in the book, as all three of these girls do join the team. My only nits are the coloring on Arrowette's mask and the vacant looks on Secret's and Arrowette's faces. This is still early enough in Nauck's career where he sometimes gets this unfocused look in the characters' eyes. But those are very small nits for an otherwise great work of art.

Our story begins with the first truly serious moment of the series. Arrowette, in her nice new outfit, has one of her own arrow sticking through her shoulder. And she says what all the readers were thinking: "Wait a minute ... this ... this isn't ... funny ..." The poor girl then goes into shock and collapses on the ground, while her attacker mocks her odd choice of words. He also mocks her for failing to give him a challenge despite all the training she's been through. Her attacker, who refers to himself as Harm, says his research indicates that Arrowette is friends with Impulse, so he has decided to let her live so she can warn Impulse and all the teenage heroes to stay out of his way.

Arrowette tries to stop Harm from leaving, but she's too weak to stand. She's so injured that she calls herself Carrie, even though her name is Cissie, and she desperately tries to call for help. When no one comes, she starts shouting, "Fire! Fire!" Eventually something does come, a flying vehicle obscured by its bright headlights. Arrowette concludes if that's another enemy, then she is "so ended."

Meanwhile, the boys of Young Justice are actually out battling crime. Today, they're in Pamplona, Spain, during the Fiesta de San Fermin, the famous running of the bulls. An editor's note does acknowledge that the festival occurs during the summer and last issue was Halloween, and asks the reader to cut them some friggin' slack. A villain named Tora is making off with some jewels, and another editor's note acknowledges that "Tora" is a Japanese war cry and has nothing to do with bulls or Spain.

Anyway, Impulse catches up to Tora and tells her that her days of committing bull-related crimes (such as robbing Wall Street and china shops) are over, as she's going to the bullpen. Tora escapes Impulse by trying to hitch a ride on her getaway plane with her bullwhip. However, Superboy catches the whip and apologizes for not being a plane or even a bird. But Tora enacts her backup plan, and her pilot parachutes out of the plane, leaving it to crash into the crowd below. When Superboy sees this, he exclaims a current popular but unprintable teen profanity. So Kid chases after the plane, leaving Tora to escape. Luckily, there is a third, unseen member of Young Justice, who knocks out Tora with a batarang. The villain falls off a building, and is caught by a very happy Impulse.

The police congratulate the "Young Caballeros," and Impulse decides that name is better than Young Justice. Impulse and Superboy high-five each other, and since Robin only works at night, the bright sunny day suddenly becomes moonlit night. Robin tells the others that the Super-Cycle has gone missing, and Superboy criticizes Robin for not getting the bike to wait for them. Suddenly, Fite 'n' Maad show up, and demand to know where the bottle girl is. Everybody knows they're talking about Secret, but the boys all plead ignorance.

Luckily, their awkward lying doesn't have to last too long, as the Super-Cycle soon arrives to pick them up. The secret agents warn the boys that they don't know what the girl is capable of, and they demand she be returned or they'll have to take unpleasant steps. Impulse imagines the All-Purpose Enforcement Squad taking a step off a cliff, and says, "Oh, we wouldn't want thaaat ..." And with that, the Super-Cycle takes off into the sudden night. Impulse excitedly chooses some music for the ride home, but Superboy makes a horrific discovery: blood in the backseat — a lot of it.

Elsewhere, a bunch of teenage boys are being beaten up on a playground by Wonder Girl. The boys were torturing a cat, so Wonder Girl tossed them around a bit until they ran away. But when Wonder Girl tries to help the cat, it claws her arm and runs away. Wonder Girl complains that nothing ever good comes from her actions. The "bottle girl" suddenly appears and tells Wonder Girl that she thinks she's great, and introduces herself as Secret. Wonder Girl wonders why she's named after a deodorant, a reference that Secret does not get. Cutting to the chase, Secret says she was hoping they could be friends, and she could introduce Wonder Girl to her other friends — Robin, Impulse and Superboy. Wonder Girl gets quite excited at the prospect of meeting Superboy, so she readily agrees.

We then cut to a middle-aged couple, Burt and Ellen, discussing their 17-year-old son. Ellen suggests the boy needs therapy, but Burt believes that won't do any good, and their best bet is to just hope their son leaves and never comes back. Ellen accuses her husband of being afraid of his son, and Burt readily admits that, showing her a long scar on his neck — just an inch away from his jugular — that his son gave him when he was only 11. Their son, Harm, enters the kitchen to tell his parents he's heading out for the night. Burt tries to be stern and set a curfew at 11 p.m. But Harm just laughs, and reminds his parents that he is allowing them to live and they shouldn't press their luck.

We then return to Young Justice arriving at the Secret Sanctuary. Red Tornado is there to greet them, saying they have a situation on their hands. Robin speculates it's down in the medlab since there's blood all over the Super-Cycle. Red Tornado mocks Robin for being trained by the world's greatest detective (yes, even the robot teases him about that!), and he leads the boys down to the injured Arrowette. Impulse rushes to her side, and Arrowette jokes that she'd rather have the arrow stuck in her than have to deal with her mom, school authorities and shrinks.

Red Tornado explains that he's managed to stop the bleeding, and x-rays indicate no permanent damage. But removing it without causing damage will be problematic. But Impulse actually gets an idea and offers to help. Superboy is hesitant, but Robin trusts him, and Impulse is able to carefully vibrate the arrow out of the girl's shoulder. Robin bandages her up, and Impulse asks who did this. Arrowette explains that she received a letter addressed to her civilian identity, but the contents inside referred to her as Arrowette. The letter appeared to be an anonymous tip to a big crime ring, and against her better judgment, Arrowette followed that tip, which led her right to Harm. Arrowette tried to pin his cape to the wall, but he caught the arrow and threw it back at her, just as fast as Impulse could have. Arrowette says that Harm told her to warn the boys to stay out of his way, but Superboy immediately flies off to find the villain himself. Impulse says, "Boy, don't you hate it when people just take off and do whatever they feel like." Everybody stares at him, and he says, "What?! What'd I say?"

Meanwhile, Wonder Girl and Secret are merrily on their way to the Young Justice headquarters when they're spotted by Harm in his spruced-up car. Harm sends out a cable to wrap around Wonder Girl's ankle. Having studied Wonder Girl, Harm knows to keep her off balance to prevent her from using her super strength, so he slams her into an overpass and drags her down the road. Secret phases into Harm's car to try to protect her new best friend, and although Harm doesn't know who she is, he does defeat her with a blast of electricity. Superboy then shows up, and Harm is excited to finally have a challenge.

Superboy saves Wonder Girl, who quickly becomes lovestruck and tongue-tied, blurting out that she's in love and that he is her biggest fan. Secret quickly recovers and tries to warn Superboy about Harm, but she's too late. The psychotic 17-year-old attacks Superboy with a huge sword, which Superboy catches with both his hands before it slices his face. Harm then pushes a button on the sword's handle, which sprays some gas into Superboy's mouth and knocks him out. Wonder Girl tries to protect Superboy, but she's already quite beat up, and Harm easily knocks her out with a blow to the back of her head. Harm hears approaching sirens, so he takes off in his car. Secret also somehow manages to get Superboy and Wonder Girl away to safety before the police and Fite 'n' Maad show up.

Back at the cave, Superboy breaks Wonder Girl's heart by showing more concern over Arrowette than her. Impulse is busying himself with a paddle ball, and Robin is chastising Superboy for going out on his own. Superboy points out that he saved Wonder Girl's life, and says he wants to go after Harm again. But Secret says they need to forget about Harm for a little bit because first she needs their help to rescue a group of beings just like her before it's too late.

Well, the status quo has officially changed forever. The team has doubled in size as well as becoming more diverse. And on top of that, the series has taken a slight shift in tone to include some darker themes. I'll always miss the simple times of the three boys getting into harmless, hilarious hijinks, but this expanded roster and slight tone shift opens up a lot more possibilities and gives this series a meaningful, lasting depth. You can't be 100 percent goofy 100 percent of the time, or you'd end up like the Teen Titans Go! cartoon, that gradually turned me away. Young Justice has taken a big step forward, which will carry them through about 50 more wonderful issues.

And as for Impulse, even though he didn't do a whole lot in this issue, I really liked what he did. I've never seen him vibrate another object quite like that, but it makes perfect sense. Impulse is starting to grow up and expand his powers bit by bit. But just to make sure he's not growing up too much, he's seen goofing off once again at the end, oblivious to the heated discussion around him. It's that same kind of obliviousness that gave him the funniest line of the issue when he complained about Superboy's impulsive behavior.

There aren't any letters to the editor this month, so let's head straight into the ads:

The face of fighting. Tekken 3 for PlayStation.

Stand tall and shake the heavens. Xenogears for PlayStation.

Come prepared. Bushido Blade 2 and Musashi for PlayStation.

Joe Kubert's World of Cartooning correspondence courses.

Can your droid cut it? Star Wars: Droidworks.

Geektronica. Gap online store always open.

Next time, we'll continue our story in Young Justice Secret Files and Origins #1.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Impulse #44

All Hallows Gettin' Even

William Messner-Loebs Writer
Craig Rousseau Penciller
Barbara Kaalberg Inker
Janice Chiang Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
L.A. Williams Asst. Editor
Paul Kupperberg Editor
Impulse created by Waid & Wieringo

Impulse is a bit behind Young Justice, but that's OK. Halloween is a great holiday to celebrate twice. And as our cover shows, Impulse had quite a fun time trick-or-treating around the world. We'll overlook the fact that many of those countries don't celebrate Halloween, the oddity of clearly labeling each bag for its country, and the unfortunate truth that this scene does not occur in the book. But none of that matters because this is a really fun and goofy cover. And that's all that matters with Impulse.

Our story begins with a group of kids dressed like the old Justice Society of America out trick-or-treating. As they pass a bunch of bushes, none of them notice Evil Eye stealing a handful of their candy. Despite his father's protests, Evil Eye has taken to hanging with a couple of older kids, Steelboy and Raffles, in hopes of joining their gang, the Tigers. However, stealing candy from babies doesn't impress the older teens. Although they are merely thugs in a gang, they actually have sophisticated, political aspirations, drawing inspiration from leaders of Colombian drug cartels who eventually began working with the CIA and later advanced to Secretary of State. Desperate to prove he can provide the Tigers the edge they need, Evil Eye races home to steal some of his dad's and grandpa's gadgets. (In his house, we see a photograph on the wall of Dr. Morlo with the Green Cigarette.)

We then return to the trick-or-treating JSA, which has reached the home of Max Crandall and Helen Claiborne. Max, dressed as a devil, gives the children homemade popcorn balls. But the kids are horrified to receive treats that aren't safety-sealed, and they ask Max if he's a perv. Helen, dressed as a witch, offers to trade the kids their popcorn balls for $5 coupons to her dental practice. This only makes the kids angrier, and they head off to tell everybody how bad this house sucks. Max doesn't get why the kids didn't want his popcorn balls, and Helen tells him things have changed since he was a kid in the 1400s. Max reminds her he's from the 1800s, and realizes that Bart is missing out on all the fun.

Bart has propped himself awkwardly in his doorframe to play his GameBoy, and we see his door has a Superman poster on it, as well as signs that say, "Bart's Room" and "No Max Allowed!" Apparently it's Bart's first Halloween (which doesn't make any sense, but whatever). Max tries to explain how fun Halloween is, but his archaic traditions of tipping outhouses and soaping windows don't impress Bart, who doesn't even know what an outhouse is. But Helen is able to get Bart to go to his school's party by telling him that on Halloween, people can say and do stuff they keep secret the rest of the year. And when Bart realizes he can wear a costume to this party, he excitedly zips out the door. Helen and Max are initially pleased with themselves, but quickly realize what kind of costume Bart had in mind.

Sure enough, Bart rushes over to the school as Impulse with plans of freeing himself from the burden of a secret identity. Bart runs up to Preston (dressed as the Tin Man), Roland (the Riddler) and Carol (Catwoman), and says, "Hi, guys! I'm Impulse!" But Preston casually responds with, "We can see that. Hi, Bart!" And Roland compliments Bart on his costume. This confuses our poor hero until Carol points out that about five other kids are also dressed as Impulse, and they all look good.

We then head to a discount store, where a bunch of T-shirts start flying into the air, frightening the workers and customers. (And once again, "Views of L.A." makes an appearance. I'm guessing it's just a nod to L.A. Williams, but I'd really like to know if it's an actual book.) We soon find out the T-shirts were stolen by Evil Eye and the Tigers, with the help of the Transparent Weapon's invisibility device. The Tigers are thrilled by this new trick, but they soon realize that they could have stolen something more valuable than T-shirts. Since the police have already arrived, they decide to try another store that's open 24 hours. And the first place the Tigers think of is Zimm-Zamm's — a thought that terrifies Evil Eye.

We soon see why Evil Eye got so scared at this plan, because his dad, the Transparent Weapon, is currently working at Zimm-Zamm's. Butler, as he's called by his co-worker, is bragging about how his discipline has shaped his son into a straight-A student and star athlete, when Max Mercury pays him a visit. Max openly calls him Weapon, and asks if he knows anything about the recent invisible burglars. Butler is angered by Max revealing his secret identity, and he says he knows better than to commit crimes in Manchester anymore. Max believes him, and says he'll give Professor Morlo a visit. But before he leaves, a nearby parent advises Max to leave the spandex costumes to the younger kids.

Max is irritated so he doesn't notice Impulse arriving. Impulse doesn't notice Max because ... well, Impulse doesn't notice. Of course, Impulse's sudden arrival only makes Butler angrier. He asks if Impulse also came to hassle him, but when Impulse gives him a blank stare, Butler says, "You sure sure weren't just running around at random trying to find a trace of the robbers and decided to drop in here for something to eat!" Impulse responds with, "Um ... no. That would be stupid. It was the first one." Evil Eye and the Tigers then arrive, and Evil Eye uses a harmonic disruptor to slow Impulse down to an absolute stop. Butler recognizes the effects of one of his dad's devices, and when the money starts flying out of the cash register, he realizes that someone has stolen his equipment.

The Tigers start to beat him up, but Evil Eye tries to protect his dad. Butler is eventually able to pull out his keychain and press a button that deactivates his invisibility device. He's initially shocked to see his son in the gang, but he quickly resumes the fight against the Tigers. Raffles pulls out Butler's taser, but he's also able to deactivate it with his keychain and fries the kid. But while Butler is distracted with Raffles, he doesn't notice Steelboy pull out a handgun. Evil Eye tries to warn his dad, but he's too late. Luckily, Max Mercury arrives just in time to stop the bullet.

The slow ray finally wears off on Impulse, and he quickly ties up the Tigers, cheering about how everything turned out great in the end. Bart then gets a call on a wrist communicator I didn't know he had. On the other end is Superboy, telling Bart he's late for the Hallow-Teen party we saw in Young Justice #3. Bart asks Max if he can go, and Max says it's fine. But once Impulse is gone, Max reveals a gunshot wound he'd been concealing, and collapses in a pool of blood.

What a horrific way to end an issue! Max has been shot! But he apparently was too proud or angry to let Bart know. I am happy to say that this crucial detail will not be overlooked in upcoming issues. Overall, I thought this was one of Messner-Loebs' finest issues. He's really having fun with the narration boxes, almost as if he were inspired by Peter David. And I loved the focus on Evil Eye and his dad. They are becoming fully-fleshed, multi-dimensional characters, which is rather impressive for what were originally background, throwaway characters. However, I am a bit confused on the names — a constant problem with Messner-Loebs. Evil Eye's real name is Eddie Parker. His grandpa's name is Dr. Augustus Morlo. And his dad's name is Butler? Is that a first name or a last name? Is it a fake name? We don't know because Messner-Loebs never bothered to clarify it.

Craig Rousseau also took a big step in this issue toward making Bart look like a modern teen by giving him a necklace and wallet chain. He also seems to have decided on a permanent length for Bart's hair, which is sadly nowhere near as large and whimsical as it once was.

There aren't any letters to the editor this issue, so let's head straight to the ad:

Mary-Kate and Ashley take adventure to new heights in their brand new movie, Billboard Dad.

An old-fashioned newsboy holds a copy of the Daily Planet that says, "Superman is here." The New Superman Adventures for Nintendo 64 and PlayStation.

Collect all four Superheroes Hanger Backpack toys at Subway. We have Superman, the Flash, Batman, and Wonder Woman's invisible jet for some reason.

Need some space? Jim Henson's Brats of the Lost Nebula.

Saving the world before bedtime. The Powerpuff Girls. This was one of my favorite cartoons as a kid, even though it was about girls.

For the holiday season ... a story of hope. Superman: Peace on Earth.

Kids Foot Locker. Play Big. Featuring Allen Iverson's shoe, the Reebok Answer II DMX Lite. Allen Iverson was hot stuff back then. In the lockout-shortened '98-99 season, he lead the NBA with 26.8 points per game while playing for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Running Wild. You've never seen animals this fast. For PlayStation.

Decade to decade ... father to son ... the quest for justice never ends! Superman & Batman Generations.

You've never seen power like this! Green Lantern: Emerald Knights and JLA: Strength in Numbers.

Next time, with the Hallow-Teen party over, we'll see what new trouble Bart and his friends can cause in Young Justice #4.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Year in Review: 1998

What a big year 1998 was. At least for me, it was. As an 11-year-old, I got to watch my Utah Utes reach the NCAA national championship game, only to lose to the evil Kentucky. A couple of months later, my beloved Utah Jazz reached the NBA Finals for the second straight year, only to tragically lose to the evil Chicago Bulls once again. Despite the two heartbreaks, it was still a very exciting time.

In the world of film, only one movie cracked the $500 million mark, Armageddon, which I did see and enjoy. Shakespeare in Love surprisingly beat out Saving Private Ryan at the Academy Awards, and Godzilla depressed and angered everyone (although I did have quite a few Godzilla toys). On the animated side, A Bug's Life edged out Mulan and crushed its blatant rip-off, Antz. As far as superheroes go, I only consider Blade to be the year's true offering in the genre. Wikipedia counts The Mask of Zorro (which I did see and enjoy), but I don't think it's a true superhero movie. Anyway, I did not see Blade that year, since it's rated R, but I did watch it later and review it here.

For Impulse, 1998 was a huge, monumental year. He appeared in 36 comics, ranging from his usual guest appearances in The Flash, to merging with Iceman to form Quick Freeze in yet another DC/Marvel crossover. But most importantly, Impulse finally found a new superhero team to join, and one that ended up being a much better fit than the New Titans. In fact, Impulse didn't just join a team, he helped found Young Justice alongside the two most popular teenage heroes, Robin and Superboy. It opened up an exciting new chapter for Impulse, and set the stage for my absolute favorite era of the character.

Best Issue: JLA: World Without Grown-Ups

So I may be cheating a little bit here. This story was technically split into two issues, but they form together one of the most exciting and influential stories in Impulse's career. Impulse, Robin and Superboy officially formed Young Justice with this event, and in the end, Impulse played a major role in saving the Earth. All things considered, it was probably the most heroic thing he's ever done. The story was beautifully written by Todd Dezago, and Humberto Ramos made a glorious return to draw all the Kid World parts. Of course, JLA: World Without Grown-Ups wasn't a clear runaway in this category. I strongly considered Young Justice #1, which was the perfect beginning to the great series by Peter David and Todd Nauck. And I guess I'd give third place to Impulse #38, the flood issue that is perhaps the best representation of William Messner-Loebs and Craig Rousseau's run.

Best Writer: William Messner-Loebs

Mark Waid's four-year run comes to an end. Although I did end up considering him for a fifth-straight award. True, he was completely absent from the main Impulse series this year, and largely absent from The Flash, but the few stories he wrote were still very good. Especially his short story in Secret Origins 80-Page Giant. I also strongly considered Todd Dezago, who did wonderful work setting up Young Justice, and Peter David, who kicked off the main series with amazing charm and humor. But ultimately, this award belongs to William Messner-Loebs, who really put his own stamp on Impulse this year. Most of his stories were quiet, down-to-Earth lessons about human nature. Impulse often didn't save the day, technically, but he usually did learn a touching, and sometimes sad lesson about life. But that's not to say there weren't any funny moments. Messner-Loebs never betrayed the light tone of the series, always throwing in good jokes and wacky situations, perhaps best exemplified by the goofy time travel issues.

Best Artist: Craig Rousseau

Humberto Ramos' three-year run also comes to an end. But as with Waid, Ramos was also a strong candidate to repeat. He did a great job on World Without Grown-Ups, as well as the charming Secret Origin of Impulse. Todd Nauck also made a very strong debut with his Young Justice work, and Ethan Van Sciver even made a nice impression in limited action. But the award belongs to Craig Rousseau, who really came into his own in 1998. He himself has admitted his early work on Impulse wasn't that great, but he quickly got a lot better, and turned out some great stuff. Rousseau maintained the necessarily goofy look of the series and Impulse himself, complete with big hair and big feet. But Rousseau even managed to make Impulse look cool without any hair. And each issue is full of hidden gems from Impulse peeking up from behind a random panel to newspapers mentioning other big events throughout the DC Universe.

Best Supporting Character: Superboy

This is kind of a surprise winner, but after considering all the potential candidates, Superboy just rises to the top. Carol Bucklen won this award last year, and was a very strong candidate to repeat. And Max Mercury, who won this award once before, is a perpetual runner-up in this category. But I really want to give this award to Bart's best friend — someone his own age he can just goof off with. And having superpowers does help that friend better relate to Bart. In 1998, Bart became such good friends with Robin and Superboy, that they decided to form a full-fledged superhero team. Impulse does have fun with Robin, but he seems to have a bit more fun with Superboy. Their banter is always one of my favorite moments in each issue of Young Justice.

Best Villain: Bedlam

This was by far the easiest category to decide. One weakness of the Impulse series so far is it's failure to create any lasting, memorable villains. The Dunsany crime family was behind the longest source of conflict on the pages of Impulse — the toxic waste dumping trial — but they weren't particularly threatening. Dr. Julian Tremaine was fun, and Glory Shredder was interesting, but both of them quickly faded away. Mighty Endowed and Rip Roar were also very fun, but not very threatening. Bedlam, however, was quite threatening. He sent all the adults away to another world, which is a pretty monumental feat. And more importantly, he was just a kid himself. Young Justice's first main antagonist was someone their age, which really strengthens the conflict. And kind of levels the playing ground at the same time. When we're presented with a bunch of stories of kids doing great, heroic things, it only makes sense to have the occasional kid doing horrible, villainous things. And, of course, the greatest thing about Bedlam was that he was a villain custom-made to be taken down by Impulse. For the first time ever, Bart's obsession with video games helped him save the day, as he was able to repeatedly "reset" Bedlam's projections and frustrate the kid villain into submission.

Well, I guess that's it for 1998. Entering 1999, we'll see the conclusion of the exciting JLA/Titans miniseries, regular guest appearances in The Flash, a lot more Young Justice, and a creative team change on the Impulse title. But first, we'll do one more Halloween issue with Impulse #44.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

JLA/The Titans #1

One of Ours

Devin Grayson Co-Plotter & Dialogue
Phil Jimenez Co-Plotter & Pencils
Andy Lanning Inks
Jason Wright Colors
Comicraft Letters
Eddie Berganza Editor

Apparently this Jimenez cover is a wraparound, connecting with the other two parts of this miniseries to form one long, awesome poster, showing every character who's ever been a member of the Titans fighting the entire Justice League of America. Sadly, the digital version only includes the front cover of each issue. Luckily, it does include Impulse fighting Plastic Man — a truly wonderful concept. That fight won't happen until issue #2, but this is still a great cover, all things considered.

Our story starts with Starfire being chased through space by a shape-shifting metallic orb. She tries to evade it by heading to Earth, but ultimately is enveloped by the liquid metal. We then check in with Changeling and the most recent iteration of the Titans in Metropolis, where they receive word of an imminent threat heading toward the planet.

On the JLA Moon-based Watchtower, the Flash is becoming impatient with the team's installation of some New Genesis technology. Wally West tries to strike up a conversation with Green Lantern, but Kyle Rayner is still kind of messed up by their recent trip to the year 85,271. So Wally takes to star-gazing, and soon spots another metallic sphere heading their way. Everything becomes quite chaotic, as all the technology in the Watchtower instantly begins to malfunction.

Starfire then wakes up on Tamaran, surrounded by her family and the children she had with Dick Grayson. But she realizes this isn't real because Tamaran was destroyed, her parents killed, and she never had children with Nightwing. The computer system holding Starfire takes note of her comments and adjusts the virtual reality accordingly.

Back in the real world, Oracle and Batman note that technology all across Earth is also beginning to malfunction. Orion and Green Lantern head out into space to meet the strange sphere, only to see it split into a bunch of smaller spheres that head straight for Earth. The malfunctioning technology has created widespread panic and chaos across the globe, making Superman and Zauriel quite busy in Metropolis and San Francisco, respectively. And the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., discovers something hacking into their system to access files on Roy Harper.

In Gotham, Robin is out working with Huntress when he's approached by one of the machines. But after scanning him, the sphere concludes that he's a negative match and flies away, leaving the Boy Wonder feeling a bit dissed. Meanwhile, Oracle reports to Batman that a portion of her data was successfully scanned by the alien invader, but she isn't able to determine which files were leaked.

Back in space, Green Lantern and Orion are unable to destroy any of the shape-shifting machines. Two of them enters the Watchtower and begin chasing Wally and the Atom, while another targets Kyle. Ultimately, all three heroes are captured by the spheres.

On Earth, Nightwing is captured in Blüdhaven, and a sphere enters the New York home of Victor Stone, but is only able to find his grandparents, and decides to leave. S.T.A.R. Labs Orbital 4 and Oracle note a very large and ominous ship leaving the orbit of Mars and heading toward Earth. On Paradise Island, the Amazons learn that Donna Troy has also been captured while helping Wonder Woman in Boston. Terra is captured in Markovia, and in Metropolis, the spheres take Fringe, Prysm, Argent and Changeling.

Wally believes he's defeated the sphere chasing him, which he's dubbed T2. But he's soon approached by Barry Allen, and we see that Wally is indeed trapped in one of the machines, which is taking him, Atom and Green Lantern back to Earth. However, Wally's presence is felt by Raven, and her golden "soul self" emerges from the gigantic, impending ship and flies toward Earth. The JLA soon spots said ship, and discovers that it is actually made up of a bunch of other ships and is enveloping the Moon.

In Atlantis, Aquaman reports that Tempest has been captured by one of the spheres. Roy Harper is captured in Window Rock, Arizona, and Red Star, Pantha and Wildebeest are captured in St. Petersburg, Russia. Meanwhile, Batman and Plastic Man discover where all the spheres are taking their prisoners — to the former Titans Island off Manhattan. Batman orders the entire JLA to meet him there, but Orion refuses to surrender the Watchtower. He begins attacking the gigantic ship, but it responds by causing massive earthquakes across the planet. Batman tells the JLA what's happening, and they pull Orion away.

We then receive a few more reports of heroes being abducted. Fred Danvers of the Leesburg PD says Supergirl has been captured, and Cameron Chase of the D.E.O. says they've lost contact with Damage. And Max Mercury reports that even Impulse has been taken. However, Impulse did leave a clue when he was being captured, saying the morphing droid looks just like Jarras Minion's Omegadrome.

Since it's hard to read, here's what that red computer file says: "Impulse. Aka: Bart Allen. Group Affiliations: New Titans, =System Updating=. Physiology: Human (augmented). Powers/Skills Include: Hyper velocity." I think the "System Updating" line is a reference to him recently forming Young Justice.

With the capture of Impulse and Rose Wilson, Oracle and Batman are finally able to notice the pattern. Everyone who has been captured has been a member of the Titans at one point. The rest of the JLA starts heading toward Batman on Titans Island, but the malfunctioning teleporters send a few of them to India by mistake.

Wally continues his conversation with Barry in Blue Valley. But Wally knows Barry is dead, which means he's trapped in a virtual reality. He begins spinning around at super speed, and is able to free himself from his pod. Wally sees Raven standing over him, and she says they need to help Nightwing, who is confronted by an usually happy Batman. When Batman hugs Nightwing and gives him a big, goofy smile, Dick realizes this isn't real. Using a Tibetan mind trick, Nightwing somehow exits his virtual reality and enters Changeling's, where Garfield is purple for some reason and hanging out with the Doom Patrol. Nightwing convinces him this isn't real, and the two of them are soon freed.

Flash, Raven, Nightwing and Changeling begin investigating the large room they're in, which is full of pods containing all the former Titans. Even the more obscure Titans are there, such as Herald, Flamebird, Bumblebee, Omen, Mirage, Risk, Joto, Minion and Captain Marvel Jr. Wally realizes they're underground, and he wonders what's going on outside.

Outside, the rest of the JLA is finally able to gather on Titans Island. Batman explains to them that their best bet at saving the Moon and ending the technological malfunctions is to save the hostages trapped beneath them. Wally and Nightwing begin to speculate who could have done this, tossing out the names of Darkseid, Psimon and Brother Blood. But Changeling is convinced this is the work of his old friend, Victor Stone, aka Cyborg.

This was a very exciting start to a miniseries. There is so much going on at a blazingly fast pace. But I never felt overwhelmed or confused by it. The format of this issue provided the perfect method of introducing all of these characters without getting bogged down with tedious, unnatural dialogue. Just read the old Crisis on Infinite Earths to see what I mean. Every single character says who they are and how their powers work whenever they're introduced, and it gets real old real quick. But this issue used nice red computer files, like we see above with Impulse, to efficiently deliver the basic information on dozens of characters. And although Impulse didn't have anything to do here, I still appreciate this issue for remembering his brief stint on the New Titans.

Well, that does it for all the comics published with a 1998 cover date. Next time, I'll recap the year and hand out some awards.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Secret Origins 80-Page Giant #1


Story – D. Curtis Johnson
Pencils – Angel Unzueta
Inks – Jaime Mendoza
Colors – Joe Rosas
Letters – Clem Robins
Cover by Jeff Matsuda & Jon Sibal with cover color by Richard and Tanya Horie
Edited by Eddie Berganza with Maureen McTigue

Former Impulse cover artist Jeff Matsuda returns for another fun Impulse-related cover. I think he does a great job with all the main characters here, which only makes me sadder that Matsuda never drew any inside pages. But, as we'll soon see, Matsuda isn't the only familiar name to return for this 80-page special that's really 71 pages.

Our first story is actually a framing device that loosely connects all the other stories. It begins with Secret visiting the underground headquarters of Young Justice, still bearing Impulse's blue graffiti self portraits. Secret is soon approached by Red Tornado, who tells her the boys aren't in, and asks her what she's doing here. Secret says she's sort of a friend of Robin, Superboy and Impulse, but Red Tornado says they've never mentioned her. The android senses Secret has something she wants to talk about, so he offers his services as an advice vending machine, which he's been doing a lot lately. So Secret briefly recaps the story of how the boys found her and helped her fake her death to escape the Department of Extra-normal Operations.

Secret reveals that she's spent most of her time since then secretly following the boys around to try to understand how to live in the outside world. Red Tornado tells Secret she definitely picked the wrong role models in terms of finding normal, well-adjusted teenagers. Secret admits she was beginning to suspect that might be the case, as they often create more trouble for themselves than they actually solve, especially Impulse. Secret says she's surprised he even has time to acquire enemies since he's so busy getting himself in trouble. And that leads us into The Secret Origin of Impulse.

Actual Reality

Mark Waid Writer
Humberto Ramos Pencils
Wayne Faucher Inks
Chris Eliopoulos Letterer
Jason Wright Colorist
Impulse created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo

In Manchester, Alabama, Bart is rushing Carol away from some bullies he antagonized by calling one of them a big gorilla. But Bart is running too quickly and not paying attention to where he's going. Carol tries to warn him, but he ends up running down a road that's being re-paved, and crashes into a barrel of tar. Bart tries to spin away from the tar, but he only makes it worse, somehow ending up with both arms stuck in the barrel.

Carol tries to help him out, telling him to hurry before the road crew comes back from their lunch break. Bart tells her to relax, saying the bullies will catch up before then, but that only makes Carol panic more. Bart reminds her that he was just trying to help, but Carol says he thinks with his feet. She then demands to know why he acts like he's from another planet, and Bart realizes he's never properly told her his origin story.

Bart says he's not from another planet, just the 30th century. The grandson of the old Flash, Barry Allen, Bart was born with uncontrollable super speed, and had the body of a 12-year-old when he was only 2 years old. So now he's either 15 or 3, depending on how you count. Bart explains that he was raised in a virtual reality world that could keep up with him, and for the first time ever, he mentions having a friend in that world named Dox. Carol now understands why Bart treats life like a video game, and she reminds him that some activities, such as this one, do not come with a reset button.

Bart continues his story, explaining how his grandma, Iris, took him back to the 1990s so his cousin and current Flash, Wally West, could help stabilize his rapid aging. Carol sarcastically remarks on how stable Bart is, but he says it's true. After Wally helped push Bart past his limits, he could run at whatever speed he wanted and even vibrate through objects. At this, Carol encourages him to vibrate through the tar. But when he tries, he only ends up heating the tar and burning himself. And it takes a few tries for Carol to get him to stop.

We then have a very weird panel, continuity-wise. Carol asks Bart who named him Impulse, and he said it was Batman. I say this is very weird because that simply did not happen. If you go back and read the first comics, you'll see Bart named himself Impulse based on Wally's comments. In Zero Hour, Batman was the first to call him Impulse, but that was only after Bart introduced himself to Superman as Impulse. So I'm not sure why Mark Waid wrote that Batman came up with the name. Perhaps he incorrectly remembered how that scene in Zero Hour played out, or maybe he always wanted to have Batman play a key role in Impulse's origin. Whatever the case is, this one line leads to a shift in continuity, which will be prominently displayed in Impulse #50. I guess I can pretend that the continuity-altering event Genesis changed this minor detail.

Anyway, Carol suggests they ask Max Mercury for help, but Bart staunchly protests. He tells Carol that Max doesn't understand him, referencing a moment when Max wouldn't let him dry his hair in the microwave. Bart then tries to escape by spinning around again, but this time somehow ends up trapping himself and Carol in the barrel even worse than before. Carol tries to think of a way out, but the bullies soon arrive.

The big, gorilla-like bully is excited to have a custom-made punching bag in front of him, and he asks Bart if he still looks like a monkey. But Bart only makes matters worse by saying gorillas are apes, not monkeys. Luckily, Carol comes up with an idea in the nick of time, and pull a Br'er Rabbit on the bullies by begging them to punch Bart all they want as long as they don't push the barrel down the hillside.

The bullies take the bait, and toss the barrel down the hill. And just as Carol hoped, by bouncing and rolling down the hill, the barrel is torn apart, freeing her and Bart. The teen speedster quickly throws on his Impulse uniform to exact some vengeance on the bullies, which he accomplishes by sticking tar-coated construction cones on their head. Bart is quite pleased with himself, but Carol is still mad, and jumps into the steamroller to teach Impulse a lesson.

Back at the Secret Sanctuary cave, Red Tornado admits Impulse's faults, but points out that he always keeps trying until he gets it right. Secret says that a trait shared by Superboy and Robin, and she wishes she could be that strong. That leads us into Superboy's story, which does not include Impulse. So quickly, I'll just say that Superboy was clone created after Superman was killed by Doomsday, but he was an imperfect and rushed clone, hence his different and weaker powers. Also, Superboy's body can't age, leaving him stuck as a 16-year-old forever.

Secret and Red Tornado talk about how tough it is for Superboy to live up to the standard of Superman, and Secret points out that Robin also has to live up to the standards set by both Batman and Nightwing. Robin's origin story also omits Impulse, so I'll just mention how Tim Drake used his budding detective skills to determine the secret identities of Batman and Robin, and that he convinced Batman to take him on as a replacement for the late Jason Todd. This story also says Tim is almost 15 years old, which makes him the youngest member of Young Justice (if you don't count the true ages of Impulse and Superboy).

Secret still doubts whether she can be as great a hero as the three boys, but when she hears a girl calling for help outside the cave, Secret immediately rushes to her aid. The girl was climbing a tree, gotten tangled up, and was about to fall a fairly big distance. Secret is able to catch her, and the girl is thrilled to be rescued by a real superhero.

We then get the origin story of the Spoiler. Stephanie Brown's father was the villain Cluemaster, and she became a vigilante to help take him down. But Stephanie is now pregnant, putting her Spoiler days on hold, as well making it pretty much impossible to join Young Justice. A fun detail from her story are the posters on her wall of Jay and Silent Bob and Superboy.

Secret and Red Tornado's conversation turns toward the topic of role models, which leads into Wonder Girl's story (drawn by Ethan Van Sciver). Cassandra Sandsmark, wearing a Flash T-shirt, notes a boy in school drawing pictures of superheroes. So she tells him the story of Wonder Girl (herself) and how she became friends with Wonder Woman and was endowed with superpowers from Zeus himself. This story is immediately followed by The Secret Origin of Arrowette, which does include Impulse.


Tom Peyer Writer
Marty Egeland Penciller
Norm Rapmund Inker
Scott Bauman Colorist
Kurt Hathaway Letterer

Cissie King-Jones is meeting with her psychiatrist, Dr. Marcy Money, who wants to know why she became the masked crimefighter Arrowette. So Cissie starts the story right from the very beginning, when her mom, Bonnie, was just a little kid. Cissie's chain-smoking grandma, Millis, forced Bonnie to practice archery every minute of the day. Bonnie eventually made it to the Olympics, but Millie was furious when her daughter only won a bronze medal. So Bonnie gave up archery and never spoke to her mother again.

Later, though, Bonnie learned about Green Arrow and Speedy, and was inspired to see people put archery to a practical use instead of just chasing medals. So Bonnie picked up her bow again and became Miss Arrowette. But without any actual crimefighter training, Bonnie was easily defeated by the Loaded Dice gang. Luckily, Green Arrow and Speedy were able to save her.

Bonnie began dating Bernell Jones of the Star City Post-Herald, whom she nicknamed Bowstring for his thin frame. When Bonnie developed carpal-tunnel syndrome, she gave up archery and settled down with Bowstring. A year later, Cissie was born. When Cissie was five, her dad died after eating some bad shellfish. But Bonnie didn't seem too broken up, since she received a fat life insurance check (hand-delivered by Hal Jordan).

With the money from the life insurance, Bonnie heavily invested in training Cissie to be everything she couldn't be. So from the age of 5, Cissie's life became an endless string of lessons in archery, judo, kick-boxing, gymnastics, ballet, drama, voice and beauty pageants. Just as Cissie became her mother, Bonnie became hers, an obsessive chain-smoker living through her daughter.

Finally, Cissie was ready to become the new Arrowette. However, her first case was overshadowed by the death of Superman. So Bonnie spent months developing a big case to put Arrowette in the headlines. They tracked down the monster boy Spazz to Manchester, where Arrowette was aided by Impulse and Max Mercury.

But Max was disgusted by Bonnie's behavior and reported her to child welfare. Bonnie hired the best superhero lawyer out there, Jean Loring, but she still lost the case and was put under psychiatric observation, while Cissie was sent to the Elias boarding school in Pennsylvania. Cissie tells Dr. Money she wants to take her story public to punish her mother for humiliating her. But Dr. Money says her case is sealed to protect her from the criminals she put away.

The psychiatrist tells Cissie her feelings are perfectly normal, including any desires to stop being Arrowette, break off contact with her mother, or even try to get back at her mom by being a better Arrowette in her absence. To Dr. Money's dismay, Cissie perks up at that scenario. Later, Dr. Money sees Arrowette on TV, having foiled a bank robbery in a new (and better) costume. Dr. Money feels responsible for inspiring Cissie to put herself in more danger, but her code of ethics prevents her from interfering.

We come back to Secret and Red Tornado at the end, and Secret is beginning to obtain a better grasp on the concept of heroes and her place in the world. Secret reveals she initially visited the Young Justice headquarters to ask the boys to help her save some other kids being experimented on by the DEO. Red Tornado is sure they'll agree to help her, and he tells Secret she's welcome to stay and wait for them to show up. But Secret says she needs to check on a few things first, and flies away with a newfound optimism.

So much fun. I really am loving these 80-page giants, even if they're only 70 pages. Each story was solid and informative, and the framework story mostly did a great job of leading into each individual origin. It was great to see some more of Ethan Van Sciver's artwork, and it was very nice to have the creator of Arrowette, Tom Peyer, return to flesh out her background. But the real treat for me was the reunion of the original Impulse creative team. Mark Waid, Humberto Ramos, Wayne Faucher and Chris Eliopoulos were all there on Impulse #1. The colorist for that issue was Tom McCraw, who did color the Superboy story inside this issue. I wish he would have traded duties with Jason Wright, but it's alright. Waid and Ramos slipped right back into the world of Impulse as if they never left, and put together a wonderful little story. Ramos' facial expressions were magnificent as always, and Waid gave Max one of the best lines ever: "We do not dry our hair in the microwave, Bart."

Next time, we finally wrap up the monumental year of 1998 with the beginning of a three-part epic, JLA/The Titans #1.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Young Justice #3

"The Issue Before the One Where the Girls Show Up!"

Peter David Writer
Todd Nauck Penciller
Lary Stucker Inker
Ken Lopez Letterer
Jason Wright Colorist
Digital Chameleon Separator
Eddie Berganza Editor

This month Mxy plays a trick on the boys with a cover of a scene nowhere to be found in the book. Halloween haha by Todd Nauck and Lary Stucker, with Patrick Martin providing color and apples for bobbing. It is a pretty fun cover, putting our teen heroes in the too-big costumes of their mentors. And I really like that Impulse was given a rock. But this really isn't Nauck's best work, as he once again gets a little goofy on Superboy's face.

As you can probably guess, our story begins on Halloween night. But instead of starting with Young Justice, we first see a group of people in purple cloaks. After chanting some magic words, the cloaked individuals turn to their computers to tap into the "science-magic core" of the multiverse. They have five computers connected to a central printer on top of a pentagram and surrounded by plenty of candles. The incantations of the coven initially fail to bring them techno-magic spells. But one of them suggests hitting the "retry" button, which surprisingly works.

A bolt of lightning strikes the printer, knocking out all the cloaked kids. The printer sends out a page of an impish man that looks a lot like Mr. Mxyzptlk, except he has black hair, glasses, suspenders, a bow tie and a graduation cap. The two-dimensional imp becomes three-dimensional and tears himself off the page. He sees this as a wonderful opportunity to conduct research on primitive three-dimensional beings, but he reminds himself that the life of a scholar has no place for fun. As he flies off into the night, we check in on Young Justice's Hallow-Teen party.

Superboy is bragging about his tactile telekinesis as usual, and Impulse is bobbing for apples, posing in photos, sampling the dip and demanding the deejay stop playing Hanson music. Somebody asks Robin if there are 20 different kids dressed as Impulse, and Robin pleads ignorance. A cheerleader then tries to flirt with Robin, but he doesn't get what's happening. But her football player boyfriend does get what's happening, and he challenges Robin to a fight for his girl.

Robin just walks away, but this only causes the football player to loudly mock Robin with his teammates. So Superboy stands up for his friend by giving the football player an exceptionally hard high-five, and Impulse demonstrates his variation of Superboy's power — textile telekinesis — which involves removing all the football player's clothes. The nude and embarrassed bully escapes the party, catching the attention of our scholarly imp.

Meantime, in Chicago ... the Windy City ... someone is complaining about all the wind. He's answered by someone else saying, "It's the Windy City, fella! What, can'tcha read?" We then see that this particular gust of wind is caused by the Red Tornado, who is heading toward the suburb of Elk Grove Village. Once there, the android locates a young girl named, Traya, who is dressed as a witch and is trick-or-treating with some friends. Traya was Red Tornado's adopted daughter from his human life, and when he sees her, a tear actually rolls down his metallic cheek.

Back at the Hallow-Teen party, Robin astonishes his friends by not applauding them for standing up to the bully. Robin reminds them that the city asked them to host the party to provide a safe alternative to kids trick-or-treating, and they need to set an example. Plus, Robin felt insulted to see his friends act like he couldn't have handled the situation on his own. Superboy says he just doesn't want to see anyone dissing his friends. But Robin, intent on proving his maturity, lists off all his worries he's accumulated since they formed the team, such as, what happened to Mighty Endowed, how Fite 'n' Maad are able to track them so well, and what they'll do once Impulse's gift from Ali Ben Styn shows up.

Throughout this whole conversation, Impulse has been trying to get Superboy's and Robin's attention, but as usual, nobody's listening to him. Finally, Impulse grabs his friends' heads and turns them toward the party. A bunch of the kids have suddenly turned into old people, while some other kids are dancing out of control. Robin states the obvious, and Superboy teases him for being trained by the world's greatest detective. Meanwhile, the scholarly imp is floating above the chaos, taking careful notes. Apparently his alterations have increased total panic by 83 percent, and shock bordering on stupor by 11 percent.

Our heroes soon spot the imp, and Superboy flies up to him, demanding to know who he is. The imp says Superboy's simple mind couldn't begin to comprehend 5th-dimensional linguistics. But he is intrigued by Superboy's ability to fly, and he wonders whether he's susceptible to hexnology. The imp answers his own question by zapping a couple of anvils around Superboy's ankles, which cause him to come crashing down. Robin picks the Superboy's locks, and explains to the confused Kid that this imp is likely using a combination of science and magic. Robin speculates that the imp could be Mxyzptlk, but from the JLA files he's seen, Mxy has always been much older.

Impulse then attacks the imp by racing up the wall and onto the ceiling. He grabs the scholar's suspenders and rushes him into the wall, which Impulse harmlessly vibrates through, but the imp slams into hard, and is flattened like a pancake. The scholar pumps himself back up like a balloon, but before he can do anything, Robin summons the Super-Cycle with a whistle. The vehicle crashes through the wall and runs over the imp, who is beginning to become annoyed.

Back in Chicago, Traya is heading home alone when she runs into some bullies looking to steal her candy. She runs away from them, but soon trips over her broomstick. However, a gust of wind suddenly appears and scoops Traya up on her broomstick. The bullies think she's an actual witch like Sabrina (the Teenage Witch), and they cower in fear, as the little girl happily flies away in moonlit night.

We return to our heroes, who are trying to come up with a plan to stop the imp. But they're suddenly smacked by a giant purple gloved-hand. The boys' torsos are fused to the glove, essentially becoming the imp's fingers, and Superboy blames Robin for failing to come up with a plan. The scholar shouts at the boys, demanding to know why they attacked him before he could explain his scientific inquiry. Superboy tells him not to try to trick them, since they know all about Mxyzptlk's usual method of operation.

Superboy's comment confuses the imp, and Robin finally realizes what's happening. They're facing a younger Mxyzptlk, pulled from earlier in his time stream. Robin warns Superboy not to tell Mxy about his future, but Superboy decides to use this opportunity to save Superman a lot of heartache. Superboy tells Mxy that he spends his future tormenting the Man of Steel with a bunch of stupid pranks, always acting like a jokester until Superman tricks him into returning to his dimension. Mxyzptlk finds this future banal and unappealing. Impulse then asks to be turned back to normal before Mxy forgets and tries to pick his nose with one of the boys, and the imp complies. Mxy turns all the kids back to normal, as well, and he vows to never indulge in the foolishness Superboy described, only dedicating himself to science and learning.

But before Mxyzptlk can return to the 5th dimension, Robin asks him to stay behind for a moment, just to make sure that this time-altering resolution didn't mess anything up. Sure enough, Robin was right, as the whole world has been transformed into an apocalyptic wasteland, which Superboy describes as being redecorated by Tolkien. Impulse is excited to see he won't have to worry about Monday's algebra test anymore, but Robin points out that somehow Mxyzptlk's deeds in the past helped preserve the world as they know it. So Robin begs Mxyzptlk to change his mind and resolve to torment Superman in his future. But the imp doesn't like being called something that sounds like it was randomly typed, and he reiterates his decision to remain a serious scholar throughout his life.

Back in Chicago, Traya realizes the gust of wind that saved her was caused by her dad, the Red Tornado. She turns around and talks to him, saying that her mom said he wouldn't come back since he couldn't feel human anymore. Red Tornado says that is still mostly true, but he decided to pay her a visit on Halloween, since that is the day to pretend you're something you're not. As Red flies with his daughter, the world below them changes into a fiery inferno, and Red Tornado wonders why he suspects the boys are behind this.

We cut back to the boys, who have decided to try to change Mxyzptlk's mind by showing him old Three Stooges tapes. Superboy doesn't think it'll work, but Robin tells him to be patient. Impulse is totally engrossed in the films, and he asks Mxy what he thinks about the concept of humor. The scholarly imp initially describes it as juvenile and frenetic, but the more he sees of it, the more it grows on him. He begins to smile, then chuckle, then fall into a complete fit of uncontrollable laughter. The graduation cap and glasses fall off, and Mxy's hair begins to turn white.

A completely joyous Mxyzptlk begins to imitate the Three Stooges, and he pokes the projector kid in the eyes for having a goofy name, Mick Gurk. Mxy tries to poke Robin's eyes, but he deftly blocks the attack. Unfazed, Mxyzptlk thanks the boys for opening his eyes to the world of pointless stupidity. He shakes Impulse's hand, but shocks him with an electric buzzer. Superboy punches Mxy, but he happily spins around in a circle and again thanks the boys for giving him the ability to temper his great intellect with laughter. And with that, Mxyzptlk takes off, vowing to torment Superman in honor of his new friends.

The boys quickly rush outside, where they meet Red Tornado, and a Mxyzptlk-themed fair. Robin's worried that the rest of the world looks like this, but Red says the carnival is confined to the immediate area. Impulse instantly falls in love with the place, and quickly wins some stuffed animals and cotton candy, saying that Halloween is better here than it is in Manchester. (And we'll see Halloween in Manchester soon enough). Robin sighs and wonders whether Impulse and Mxyzptlk were switched at birth.

What a fun issue. Mr. Mxyzptlk is a perfect and natural choice to guest star in Young Justice. And I love the added twist of making this his first chronological appearance. Adding to the fun is the fact that Young Justice's silliness actually saved the universe. So you see, it is a good thing to be goofy every now and then. But amidst all this frivolity, we were given a brief, yet emotional moment with Red Tornado and his daughter — something that will be built upon as this series progresses.

We do have a couple of letters to the editor, although they're still too early to talk about Young Justice #1. Instead, they focus on JLA: World Without Grown-Ups and all the rumors swirling around the upcoming series.

Robert Hope-Murray, of Pokfulam Gardens, Hong Kong, is excited to see a team book with a much smaller roster than the bloated roster of the JLA. He also asks for a dream team of Robin, Superboy, Impulse, Secret, Captain Marvel Jr., Inferno and Wonder Girl. He mentions Arrowette, but thinks her mom wouldn't let her join a team.

Sarah Beach, of Los Angeles, loved seeing Robin and Superboy team up with Impulse, and speculated that they're the only ones who can come close to controlling Impulse because he thinks they're cool. Now for the ads:

Chucky gets lucky. Bride of Chucky.

If Washington rejects Bruce Wayne's plan, Gotham City is history. Batman: Road to No Man's Land.

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Give a gift subscription and receive an erasable memo board absolutely free. In 1998, an individual issue of Young Justice cost $2.50, but you could get 12 issues for $23.95. Interestingly, this subscription form includes Robin, but not Superboy or Impulse.

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0900 Field Update: Central American armies invading ... Pacific Ocean to the west ... certain defeat to the east ... better roll sixes ... Risk: The Game of Global Domination. I spent many an hour playing this game with my friends. It is a true classic.

Next time: Secret Origins 80-Page Giant #1, featuring Young Justice.