Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Flash #146

Chain Lightning, Chapter Two: Time Like a River ...

Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn Story
Paul Pelletier Pencils
Vince Russell Inks
Gaspar Saladino Letters
Tom McCraw Colors
L.A. Williams Asst. Editor
Paul Kupperberg Editor

Our cover by Steve Lightle follows the same format as the first chapter of Chain Lightning. But this time, we have a couple future Flashes in the foreground. The girl is Sela Allen, whom we'll meet in this issue, and the guy is Jace Allen, whom we saw last issue. I'm not really a big fan of the abstract, futuristic background, but whatever.

Our story picks right up where Chapter One left off, with Jesse Quick suffering at the hands of one of the future Cobalt Blues. Jace Allen is able to help her, and together they take down Cobalt Blue (I hope you don't mind if I skip over all the pseudo-science). Jesse then tells Jace about the prophecy that the blue flame will burn for a thousand years and consume two Flashes before destroying Barry Allen in the 30th century. Jesse reveals that before all the speedsters went journeying through time, they each took a shard of Cobalt Blue's gem to help them hone in on the future heroes they need to protect. Jesse breaks her shard in two and gives the other half to Jace so he can help her warn other Flashes.

Wally arrives in the 853rd century not to warn anybody, but to recruit John Fox. On the planet Mercury, John is battling a villain of pure information called Wetware. Wally helps John defeat it, then gives him a shard of the gem. Wally hasn't told anyone where he next wants to go, but he reveals his secret to John because he knows John won't try to talk him out of it. John is surprised by Wally's choice, and worried for his safety, but just as Wally hoped, John does not attempt to dissuade him.

Max Mercury arrives in the year 2231, and he is dismayed to see that Central City has basically turned into Newark, New Jersey. Max quickly finds the current Flash, who has beaten Cobalt Blue to death. This Flash recognizes Max, saying he hasn't seen him in months, but then he realizes that Max is younger than their previous meeting. For Max, this is the first time they've met, but rather than getting caught up in the time travel paradox they've just discovered, Max demands to know why this Flash went so far with Cobalt Blue. The Flash says Cobalt Blue killed his wife and crippled his daughter. Max tells this Flash that he needs to turn himself in, and the Flash readily agrees, saying his life is over, anyway.

But while they were talking, a young boy picks up Cobalt Blue's gem, and is instantly consumed by the magic and hatred it contains. This young Cobalt Blue lashes out at the Flash, and kills him with the blue flames. The boy turns on Max, who does his best to avoid the attacks and talk the kid down, to no avail. Suddenly, the red girl from the cover appears and introduces herself as Sela Allen.

We then get a quick glance at Malcolm Thawne in the present day. He's still in Wally's vibrational prison, but he has surreptitiously gained control of his gem, which is also in the basement of the Central City police station. Returning to the main action, we see Impulse rushing into his mission, hoping that he'll get to see his beloved cousin, XS. However, poor Bart is in for a disappointment. He ends up on a city in the clouds, but instead of meeting Lando Calrissian, he finds the largest Flash you'll ever see.

Bart quickly apologizes for staring at the huge Flash, who claims his sister is even bigger than him. He calls Bart Bigfoot, and asks him to help him up, which should be pretty tough for Bart, since he's no bigger than this guy's foot. And, sadly, that is the end of Impulse's involvement in this issue.

Jay Garrick didn't go nearly as far into the future as the others, and he hopes he can find the older Wally, who shouldn't be too old to be the Flash at this point. Instead, Jay runs into Wally's teenage daughter, Iris. He buys her an ice cream cone and begins to tell her about Cobalt Blue. We then see that Wally's secret location was the 25th century to meet Cobalt Blue's most notorious descendant, Eobard Thawne, aka Professor Zoom.

This issue was mostly setup, but it was still pretty exciting. Readers of Mark Waid's Kingdom Come will recognize this Iris West (although she was just a background character in that Alex Ross epic). And I love how Bart, the smallest of them all, got paired with the largest imaginable Flash. Luckily, I know they'll have more fun next issue.

I only have the digital version of this comic, so there's no letters or ads this time. Next time, we'll take a break from Chain Lightning with a pretty amazing special — Impulse: Bart Saves the Universe.

Impulse #46

When Barry Met Bart

William Messner-Loebs Writer
Craig Rousseau Penciller
Barbara Kaalberg Inker
Janice Chiang Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
Jamison Color Separations
L.A. Williams Former Assistant Editor bidding a fond farewell to:
Paul Kupperberg Editor
Impulse create by: Waid & Wieringo

Our cover by Craig Rousseau and Wayne Faucher shows an exciting impossibility: Barry Allen is back from the dead and ready to take Impulse under his wing. It is a very exciting, psychedelic image, and I do enjoy the indignant look on Max's face, contrasted with the joy of Bart's. Although we get the same Chain Lightning border on the left side of the cover, the text accurately describes this  issue as "kinda, sorta part of Chain Lightning!"

Our story begins about a week before Chain Lightning, with Max ragging on Bart for constantly being late on patrol night. On Monday, Bart's math teacher scolds him for failing to learn last week's equations. On Tuesday, Carol calls him immature, and on Wednesday, Assistant Principal Randal Sheridan asks him if he's making the best of his time. On Thursday, Gamal is disappointed in Bart, and on Friday, Helen reminds him he needs to take out the trash before playing video games. Bart gets a break on Saturday, but on Sunday, Max repeats a familiar phrase: "I'd just like you to think before you act. Is that too much to ask?" All in all, this hasn't been a good week for Bart Allen.

And that brings us to the end of The Flash #145. Wally has told all the other speedsters about his plan to use the cosmic treadmill for them to travel through time and save their descendants from the Cobalt Blues. But before they leave, Max felt it best to take two minutes to give Helen an update, and have Bart brush up on his Allen history, via Iris' book, The Life Story of the Flash.

Helen is actually against this idea, reminding Max of some of Iris' ominous words about Bart: "He will learn a harsh lesson about life that will cost hi a friend, but give him a lifelong companion" and "his greatest challenge will be his own dark twin." Helen says she would hate to know that, and she pleads with Max to think about Bart once in a while. But Max says he can't protect Bart from his own destiny, and says he might as well learn about it now. Helen then brings up another worry — Max's health. He assures her he's healed from the gunshot, and he proves it with a small demonstration of speed in the front yard.

We then check in with Bart, who's plopped himself down on his bed, determined to breeze through his grandma's book in one minute. He wants to read the whole thing, he really does, but he just can't get past page 25 (and I don't blame him — this book is a slow read). Soon, Bart begins daydreaming. The world shifts into a living cartoon, and Bart's poster of his grandpa is replaced with one of Jay Garrick. And calling him down to breakfast is Barry Allen, himself.

A note on the fridge reminds Barry to call Hal (Jordan, that is), and Barry tells Bart how happy he is that Max agreed to let him be Bart's guardian. After having some cereal, Barry prepare some scrambled eggs for their second breakfast, and Bart contributes by squeezing some fresh orange juice. Barry offers to put some chives on Bart's eggs, but he politely declines. Bart then notices the school bus leaving without him, and he asks if he should be going to school to keep up his secret identity. Barry says he is in favor of school, but he called them while Bart was sleeping and learned that today's lessons are particularly boring, and nothing he couldn't teach Bart in about three seconds, anyway. So Barry has decided that Bart's education for today will come from his favorite video game, Blastomatic 3000.

The two speedsters immerse themselves in the game, and Barry declares it as fun as jazz music — except jazz doesn't let you blow up Arcturian invaders! Barry's having so much fun, that Bart even lets him win. Once their game is finished, the Flash signal goes off. So Bart changes the channel on their massive TV to see the Central City Bank being robbed by Captain Boomerang. So Barry and Bart grab their costume rings, and race out to the scene of the crime with their battle cry: "Let's be there!"

Bart and Barry rush down the street, past a sign that says, "Keystone City celebrates IMPULSE and the Flash (in smaller letters) Day ... Every Day!" Bart notices they're running fast enough to cause a sonic boom and are shattering the nearby windows. But Barry tells him they'll clean up the mess later, and for now, Bart should just enjoy the cool effect. Barry then shows Bart his favorite trick — running up and over a building to catch Captain Boomerang by surprise.

Barry's technique works, but Captain Boomerang turns out to be a decoy dummy with sticks of dynamite strapped to it. Luckily, Bart is able to push his grandpa out of the way of the explosion. However, the explosion unleashed hundreds of razor sharp boomerangs — a trick Barry recognizes as "The Skies of Death." But Bart is ready for this, leading Barry in creating a cross-wind to cause the boomerangs to smash into each other. Soon, all that's left of the boomerangs is sawdust, and Barry praises his grandson for his spontaneous, yet brilliant plans.

Suddenly, Barry finds himself talking to another Flash, and another, and another. All the Flashes become quite confused, and even the real one forgets who he is. This turns out to be the work of Mirror Master, who explains that even the greatest of minds collapse when confronted by his dupli-mirrors.

Before Impulse can take down Mirror Master, he is nearly struck by a bolt of lightning and is pelted by hailstones. The Weather Wizard, naturally, is behind this, and he's joined by Gorilla Grodd, White Lightning, Despero, Harm, and Dr. Alchemy, who turns the ground beneath Bart to ice. Unable to find any traction on the ice, or a nearby Zamboni, Bart decides to trick Dr. Alchemy into helping him. Bart mocks the villain and his philosopher's stone, staying he bets Dr. Alchemy can't even turn him into gold. Dr. Alchemy takes the bet, and fires a blast from his stone at Impulse. But Bart expertly dodges it, letting the blast hit the ice and turn it into gold. It's a lot easier for Bart to run on gold, so he grabs his disoriented grandpa and makes a strategic retreat, while all the villains shake their fists and shout out, "Curses!"

Back at their house, Barry admits he doesn't know how they're going to handle so many villains at once. Bart says they need a strong overall strategy, and he puts together a plan with lots of complicated graphs and charts. Bart's idea is to strike quickly, and to use the villains' strengths against them. First, they need to pinpoint the villains' location, then design their attack lines and energy flow. Bart says it's a million to one shot, but it just might work. This is all too complex for Barry, but he has faith in Bart, saying he always knew that, if just give the chance, he'd be a cunning master of tactics.

Soon, Barry and Bart find Weather Wizard, Mirror Master and Dr. Alchemy at a circus tent. Weather Wizard tries to fry Impulse with some lightning, but leads him into hitting Mirror Master's mirrors. Dr. Alchemy tries to turn Impulse into lead, but Bart's too quick again, and Alchemy ends up transforming Weather Wizard's wand, rendering it useless. Dr. Alchemy tries again, but this time Bart and Barry grab a large chunk of the shattered mirrors and use it to reflect the philosopher's stone right back at it. Dr. Alchemy's weapon is turned to gold, ironically making it worthless.

With the day saved, Bart and Barry chow down on a bunch of hamburgers, chips, soda and candy bars. Barry tells his grandson he earned the treat, but he is worried about how so many of his enemies were able to get together. Barry's question is answered by the sudden arrival of Professor Zoom, accompanied by Blockbuster and Cobalt Blue. Flash and Zoom race off in an epic fight, and it's all Impulse can do to catch up to them. Bart realizes that if they keep going at this pace, they'll join the Speed Force and be lost forever. They race past the Black Flash, and Bart manages to give Zoom a boost by pushing him in the back. That does just enough to push the Reverse-Flash over the edge and send him into the Speed Force.

Just as Barry begins to thank Bart for saving him, Bart is pulled back to the real world by Max asking him if he's finished the book. Bart returns the book to Helen, who asks if he say anything surprising or bothering in the book. Bart surprises her by saying "not really," but he does admit one weird thing. Max told Bart that reading the book would be like meeting Grandpa Barry for real, and for once, Bart has to admit that Max was right.

What a lovely little story! This is exactly the kind of thing a 13-year-old would dream up. He has the perfect guardian who lets him play video games, skip school, and form his own plans. And naturally, Bart imagines himself as the hero of the story, singe-handidly taking down just about every villain he's every encountered. It was so wacky and stupid and wonderful. And for continuity's sake, it is good that Bart didn't get to the end of the book, so he'll still be surprised when he meets his greatest challenge.

Craig Rousseau truly excels at the simplified animated style. The whole dream sequence was light, whimsical and consistent. If there ever was an Impulse animated series, I imagine it would have looked exactly like this. Ironically, the oddest part of this issue were the real life scenes, which were drawn with more detail than usual to provide the contrast.

And because I'm into these things, here are all the book on Helen's bookcase: Listen to the Sax, a book on Iowa, Views of L.A. (as always), Under a Yellow Sun by Clark Kent, Reds, The Jungle, Of Mice and Men, 1980 Alabama, World Atlas, National Geographic, Fire in the Lake, Soul of Ice, Malcolm X, Native Son, The Magic of Miles Davis, The Adventures of Teddy Q, The Color Purple, The Best of Gourmet 1997, I Ching, Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare's Sonnets, Burbur's Dreams, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Perennial Gardening, Brancus, Herb Ritt, The Rice Room, Avedon, History of Art, Children Come Home to Roost, Turtles, Guide to Birds of North America, The Grapes of Wrath, Flora and Fauna of the Northeast, L.A. Confidential, Dinotopia, Victory, On the Road, Nivlac and Space, Shade Gardening, Socrates, A Brief History of Time, Saint Barbara, Women in Comics and probably a few more I missed.

Impulsive Reactions begins with Paul Kupperberg taking over the Salute Box. Paul says that after almost two years, he's leaving Impulse, and the DCU in general, to take another job at DC. He doesn't specify what he'll exactly be doing, but he does say L.A. Williams will become the new editor on the book, and he thanks everyone he's worked with. L.A. then thanks Paul for the opportunities he's given him, and he promises readers that 1999 will be a banner year for Impulse.

Erica Henderson, of Brooklyn, N.Y., says she first discovered Impulse when her dad brought it to her when she was sick. She instantly clicked with the idea of a 30th-century teen trying to adjust to 20th-century life in Alabama. Erica does ask why Max doesn't make Bart get a haircut.

Marc. S. Tucker, of Manhattan Beach, Calif., says he was tempted to drop Impulse when the creative team shifted, but he's glad he didn't. He says Bill Loebs has a marvelously balanced sense of humorous understatement, and Craig Rousseau's art has come to match that of Humberto Ramos'.

Joe Boyle, of Budd Lake, N.J., says he likes how Bart acted impulsively enough to shave his head, adding that the wig was a nice touch. But if Impulse is going to remain bald, Joe strongly suggests they modify his costume to cover his head.

Ronald Nelson Jr., of Bronx, N.Y., calls Impulse #39 an example of great storytelling. He liked how Impulse lived up to his name, the unexpected pairing of the Trickster and Max Mercury, and Bart justifiable anger at the end.

Melanie Woden, of San Jose, Calif., was very pleased that Arrowette was brought back in Impulse #41. She asks the creators to remember that the title of the book is Impulse, not Evil Eye or Preston, and she asks for more Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt and Ethan Van Sciver. L.A. says that Van Sciver will be drawing the cover of issue #50, but he doesn't say he'll also be taking over as full-time penciller.

Dana Huber was disappointed in Impulse #42, complaining about the lack of Max Mercury, calling the main plot corny, feeling like Carol acted out of character, and generally saying the humor wasn't all there. But Dana does hope Green Cigarette returns. Now for the ads:

And to think some people collect stamps. Pokemon for GameBoy, and the Game Link cable, sold separately. I had blue version, my brother had red, and with our handy cable, we were able to collect all 150 Pokemon. And yes, there are only 150 of them.

Blasted into the endless worlds of Hypertime! Superboy. Heroes in for harsh realities! Supergirl. Apparently all DC house ads now have a background scroll of text with various heroes listed, including Impulse.

In the next century, it will take a boy to do a man's job. Batman Beyond on the Kids' WB! I never was the biggest fan of this show, but I will admit it had its moments.

We're looking for a few good aliens. Green Lantern: The New Corps.

Give a gift subscription and receive an erasable memo board. This ad (like so many others) uses a cutout of Impulse from the cover of issue #41. It's a popular cutout, since he's happily gesturing to something behind him with his thumb. An individual issue of Impulse cost $2.25, but you could get 12 issues for $19.95.

Old enemy, new allies! Superman's Nemesis: Lex Luthor and Supermen of America.

Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century. A Disney channel original movie.

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

Next time, we'll continue Chain Lightning with The Flash #146.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Young Justice #6

This issue accidentally omitted the credits page, but it seems like it was made by the usual crew. This issue does, however, include this note at the end of the letters page: A posterlike cover of our team surrounded by the infallible JLA by Todd Nauck & Lary Stucker with the hues of Patrick Martin. And it is a pretty awesome posterlike cover. Everyone looks great, although a little more serious than they usually are. But a touch of seriousness is OK every now and then.

Our story begins at 10:02 p.m., with Robin, Superboy and Impulse at a carnival, battling Despero — a classic JLA villain, who is a large, purple alien with telepathic abilities. At 10:03, Robin gets Despero out of Superboy's head by dropping a smoke pellet to distract him. Superboy then hits the alien high, while Impulse hits him low, easily defeating the villain.

But at 10:04, our heroes see that Despero wasn't defeated at all, and now he's up and holding a small child as a hostage. Despero tells Superboy to send his teammates away because he's the only one he wants — Robin is merely a mortal, and Impulse's mind is too scattered for him to comprehend. And Impulse wonders what that's supposed to mean. Meanwhile, the JLA are watching the proceedings from the Young Justice cave, and Superman wonders whether they should be there helping them. But Wonder Woman reminds him they agreed to let the boys handle the situation for 22 minutes, and they need to trust them. Superman understands that, but he doesn't understand why the boys are battling ordinary citizens. Who they think is Despero is actually a middle-aged man named Roy.

The JLA are watching the action telepathically, courtesy of the Martian Manhunter. But Arrowette and Wonder Girl aren't included in this "feed," and at 10:05, they wonder why the Justice League is standing around looking thoughtful. Arrowette is bold enough to remind the League of the conversation they were supposed to be having, but Batman glares at her, and she quickly shuts up. Superman tells Red Tornado he's happy to see him up and about once again, and Flash says they weren't expecting to see him when they first arrived at the cave.

We then get a little flashback to 9:54 p.m., when the JLA first encountered Young Justice. Superman explains that they've been keeping tabs on the kids for a while now, and Superboy is angered to learn they were being spied on. Martian Manhunter says they were just protecting their interests, and Wonder Woman reminds them that many consider them a "Junior Justice League," plus, they're using the JLA's old headquarters. Aquaman points out that the teen heroes act more adult when they're apart, but when they get together, they become more "juvenile," as Batman puts it. Green Lantern disagrees with this, but Batman quickly silences him. The Super-Cycle then begins acting up, and Impulse races over to check it out ... accompanied by the Flash.

At 9:54 p.m., Impulse has a hard time getting the Super-Cycle to calm down, and Robin says they'd better ride it to where the trouble is, since the cycle is usually sensitive to trouble that concerns them. Red Tornado points out that this "flightiness" is exactly what the JLA is concerned about, but Superboy argues that this is a chance to show them how responsible they are — a point Green Lantern agrees with. So Impulse offers a challenge — much to Robin's chagrin — 30 minutes for the six members of Young Justice to take care of the problem. Flash says they should have it wrapped up in 15 minutes or they'll have a JLA chaperone on all their assignments. Impulse says they're not toddlers, and praises Red Tornado for giving them space. So Impulse counteroffers with 22 minutes for only three Young Justice members, which only makes Robin angrier. Batman asks Robin if he's not up to the challenge, so the Boy Wonder reluctantly agrees. Superman then discreetly asks Martian Manhunter to observe the boys as they take off in the Super-Cycle.

At 10 p.m., the boys arrive at the carnival, where they see Despero causing a ruckus and complaining about his present mortal frame. At 10:01 p.m., Robin notices that Despero's shadow doesn't match his body, and he contacts Oracle to see whether they're battling the ghost of Despero. Impulse actually listens to Robin this time, but Superboy doesn't, and charges off after the villain. But the Kid is promptly ensnared in the mental attack we saw at the beginning of the issue.

At 10:06 p.m., Wonder Woman takes the opportunity to talk to Wonder Girl and ask her why she's not wearing the costume Donna Troy gave her. Wonder Girl says she's afraid of ruining the suit, and says she'll keep it safe in her closet until she's ready for it. Wonder Woman tells Cassie that right now might not be the best time for her to be in a team like this. Since she's still learning how to be a hero, Wonder Woman worries that she might pick up some bad habits from the undisciplined boys.

At 10:07, Impulse rescues the small boy who was being held hostage, while an invisible Martian Manhunter watches on. But J'onn J'onzz can't see the mental projection of Despero that the boys can. He does, however, tell Superman that no lives are currently being threatened, and the JLA can remain at the cave for now. Red Tornado is angry when he realizes Martian Manhunter is spying on the boys, and he accuses Superman of not trusting them. But Superman says what they're doing is just like passengers of an airplane trusting a pilot, but also wearing seatbelts. Wonder Girl and Arrowette then realize that Secret is nowhere to be found.

At 10:08, Superboy and Impulse are perplexed when Robin begins communicating with Oracle, who cites a report from L-Ron about Despero. We last saw L-Ron controlling Despero in Justice League Task Force way back when. Apparently, Despero is now a free floating evil essence, able to possess people's bodies. Supergirl thought she had destroyed Despero's spirit, but obviously failed. Oracle's only suggestion to Robin is to not look Despero in the eyes.

At 10:09, Robin comes up with a plan to knock out the host body, then use a smoke pellet to blind Despero. Secret suddenly pops out of Robin's smoke pellet, and Impulse quickly fills her in, saying they're battling a space ghost and they're not supposed to look in his eyes, which should be easy, since he's "like, butt-ugly." But then Impulse spots a new problem: Despero opened some animal cages to distract the heroes, unleashing lions, tigers, and bears on them. (Secret gets to say, "Oh my.") Oh, and there are elephants, too, which nobody noticed until they trampled Superboy.

At 10:10, Superboy lifts the elephants above his head, Impulse starts racing around the bears, and Robin tries to fight off the tigers with a whip. Secret finds Despero hiding in the shadows. But to her surprise, Despero is absolutely frightened to see her and runs away, screaming that he won't be taken to the abyss. At 10:11, Martian Manhunter decides to intervene when he sees the carnival strong man being chased by an escaped tiger.

At 10:12, Martian Manhunter subdues the tiger, but it turns out Despero was inside the strong man all along. He catches J'onn off guard and takes control of his body. Impulse has successfully taken down the bears by making them dizzy, and he tells them they should "just grin and bear it." But then Impulse notices Despero has suddenly gained super strength and the ability to fly, and he suggests the team goes to DEFCON 2 on this one.

At 10:13, the JLA realizes they've lost contact with Martian Manhunter, and Aquaman suggests they head out, even though the boys technically have four minutes left. Arrowette is furious at this proposal, and chews out the JLA for looking for ways to criticize the boys. She says they're just acting like normal teens, and she accuses the heroes of not knowing what it's like to be a teenager and have friends. Green Lantern is amused by this, and Flash tries to defend himself, saying he was a Teen Titan and Arrowette is oversimplifying things. Arrowette storms away, telling him to call her when he stops overcomplicating.

At 10:14, Wonder Girl finds Arrowette hyperventilating into a brown paper bag. She admits that half an hour ago, she had to resist an urge to ask for their autographs, but now she's just yelled at the world's greatest heroes. Wonder Girl praises Arrowette for her bravery, and admits she's been jealous of her from the moment she saw her. Arrowette is shocked by this, saying she was always jealous of Wonder Girl's super powers. The girls smile at each other, then reveal their real names, Cassie and Cissie, which is practically the same.

At 10:15, Superman decides he needs to head out now, but Wonder Woman stops him again, urging him to give the boys the final two minutes they were promised. Meanwhile, Despero is thoroughly pleased to be in Martian Manhunter's body, telling Superboy he doesn't need him anymore. At 10:16, Robin recognizes Despero's shadow as Martian Manhunter's, and he tells this to Impulse. Bart realizes that even if he can't see it, Despero does have a cape, which he can use to grab hold of, drag around at super speed, and toss into the air. Superboy is up there waiting for Despero, and he smashes him down into the ground with a big punch.

At 10:17, Superboy and Impulse begin pummeling on Despero, repeatedly apologizing to J'onn all the while. Robin grabs a torch and shoots some flames at Despero, which triggers J'onn's primal fear of fire. This gives the Manhunter's psyche a chance to break through and expel Despero. Secret is there waiting for Despero's soul, which she envelopes and disappears with. Although she was initially confused by his "abyss" remark, she seems to have an innate understanding of what that really means.  Secret quickly returns, and when Robin asks where Despero went, she cryptically says he doesn't want to know.

At 10:21 p.m., everyone regroups at the cave. Robin admits it took them four minutes to get back, but he points out that they did defeat Despero in the allotted time. Superman is pleased with their work, saying they handled one of the JLA's greatest foes, prevented any major injuries or deaths, and stopped one of their own from wreaking havoc while being possessed. Martian Manhunter, still recovering, asks what happened with the "cloud being." Batman asks if this "cloud being" has anything to do with the DEO business they discussed a while back, and he says he would hate to think the boys deceived him back then. Robin says he'd hate to think that, too.

But Superman is willing to overlook all that. He calls the whole thing a wash, saying the teens are still young, and youth should be able to excuse a few things. He asks Arrowette if she agrees, and she blushes deeply, which confuses Impulse. So the JLA begins to head out, with Superman granting Young Justice conditional permission to keep using the Secret Sanctuary, and he asks Red Tornado to let them know how the parent/teacher conferences go. And all the kids are panicked by the idea of these conferences.

This was another fun issue of Young Justice. Not quite as intense as the end of last one, but I think that's a good thing. Here, we had the guest stars of the JLA, a classic JLA villain, and a brief glimpse of a new side of Secret. The action, humor and art were all on par, and I particularly enjoyed the setup of each page being one minute. This would have also been an excellent setup to a 22-minute animated episode, but the animated Young Justice series we did get was far more serious than this comic book series was. Well, let's see what the letter-writers had to say about Young Justice #2.

Chris Kiser, of Bridgewater, Va., initially thought putting together DC's great teen heroes — Robin, Superboy and Impulse — was a cool idea. But he was dismayed at how goofy and jokey the first two issues were, and actually hoped the series had an Elseworlds tag on it, refusing to believe that such a silly series would be in continuity.

Joel A. Marbella called issue #2 a little pointless, and hopes the series gets better. He also suggests they named the Super-Cycle the Wheels of Justice.

Graham Akins, of Durham, England, praises the book and its creative team, and gives a rather long list of requests, including for Mary Marvel to join the team, Wonder Girl to get a better costume, and for the Super-Cycle to be called White Lightning (forgetting that Impulse has a villain of the same name).

Jeffrey Coburn, of Orleans, Vt., suggests the Super-Cycle be called the Justice Rider, and asks for Captain Marvel Jr. and Spoiler to stop by.

James Bemboom also asks for Wonder Girl to get a better costume. Eddie Berganza defends her look, saying Cassie is the first bona fide nerd superhero.

Phil Erickson loves the humor of the title and the characters, and asks for the creative team to never leave. And Phil will pretty much get his wish. This creative team will remain remarkably consistent throughout the entire run of Young Justice. Alright, let's check out the new ads:

Finally, a hero we can all look down on! Fanboy.

Join the Man of Steel on his first exciting adventure ... You could buy a reprinting of Action Comics #1 through the U.S. Postal Service, along with a special stamp.

You want the Titans? You got The Titans. The ad has a bunch of names of heroes in the background for some reason, including Impulse's. But he's not shown on the new Titans team. The Flash and Jesse Quick are, though.

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

Caution: Beware of falling gods! Next.

Give a gift subscription and receive an erasable memo board absolutely free. A single issue of Young Justice cost $2.50, but you could get 12 issues for $23.95. The subscription ad also includes Robin as a selection, but not Impulse or Superboy for some reason.

Monsters! Menace! Mayhem! It's never just an ordinary day when you're Superman's pal. Legends of the DC Universe.

Got milk? with skateboarder Tony Hawk.

Next time, we'll return to Chain Lightning with Impulse #46.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Flash #145

Chain Lightning, Chapter One: The Gathering Storm

Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn, Story
Gaspar, Letters
Tom McCraw, Colors
L.A. Williams, Asst. Editor and
Paul Kupperberg, Editor ...
... welcome the new Flash art team of
Paul Pelletier, Pencils and
Vince Russell, Inks.

We have a new art team, but the covers are still being drawn by Steve Lightle. It's a pretty standard group shot of the Flash family, but it's a strong way to indicate that we're starting a big event involving everybody. And as we move throughout Chain Lightning, we'll see this basic cover adapt and change to match the story.

Even though this is the first chapter of Chain Lightning, I feel like we're kind of jumping right into the middle of the story. But things do begin to clear up as we get going. We start by seeing Flash wielding a mystic gem belonging to a villain named Cobalt Blue. With the gem, Wally West somehow sees scores of future Flashes being attacked by future Cobalt Blues. Determined to put an end to this thousand-year killing spree, Wally decides to recruit some help.

Wally first visits the original Flash, Jay Garrick, who's battling a group of goofy villains in robot suits called Team Turmoil. The two Flashes easily defeat the criminals, and Wally tells Jay to meet him at the Central City Police Headquarters in an hour. Wally's next stop is in Philadelphia to contact Jesse Chambers. Her company, QuickStart Enterprises, is being hacked by a rival, but Wally uses his speed-lending ability to overload the outgoing computer lines and crash the rival's computers.

Wally tells Jesse Quick to also meet him in Central City, then he heads to Manchester, Alabama — in particular the Manchester Savings & Loan, which is still undergoing maintenance from the Green Cigarette fiasco. The poor bank is once again being robbed, and one of the gunmen has taken a hostage. Luckily, Max Crandall is there, but before turning into Max Mercury, he issues a warning: "Wait, take it easy. There's no need to do anything rash ... no need to resort to anything foolish. Do you understand me ... Bart?"

That's right, the hostage was our lovable Bart Allen, and Max is more worried about Bart's actions than the gunman's. Suddenly, all the civilians disappear, leaving just the robbers, Max and Bart. Max growls at Bart, but he says he didn't do anything. But now, with everybody gone, Bart begins to fight back, grabbing the gunman's nose. Wally then zooms in to formally take out the robbers, and reveals that he took all the hostages to safety. Max thanks him for helping them protect their secret identities, but Wally is more concerned with this Cobalt Blue business, saying that Bart is a potential target in this futuristic feud.

An hour later, Jay, Jesse, Max and Impulse arrive at the basement of the Central City Police Headquarters, where they find a large electric cube. Max warns Bart not to touch it, but he does anyway, and receives a big shock. But he's unharmed, and wants to do it again. Wally explains that the cube is a new trick of his — a vibrational prison for Cobalt Blue. Wally manipulates the walls to show the others the face of his prisoner, who looks just like Bart's grandpa, Barry Allen. But he's actually Barry's twin brother, Malcolm Thawne, who was stolen at birth by a lunatic doctor and grew up hating everything about Barry and the Flash.

Wally explains that Malcolm studied magic and poured all his hatred into his gem of cobalt blue, and vowed to never rest until he killed his twin brother. Wally acknowledges that Barry did sacrifice himself during the Crisis on Infinite Worlds, but he reminds everyone that Barry spent some time in the 30th century before his death. So it's still conceivable that a descendant of Thawne's could still cause Barry trouble. Plus, there's the troubling matter of a prophecy that two Flashes will be consumed before Cobalt Blue kills Barry.

Wally admits he doesn't have all the answers yet, but he proposes the speedsters do what they can in the meantime. By using Cobalt Blue's gem, Wally is able to pinpoint some of the future Flash/Cobalt Blue battles. And his plan is for all of them to travel to these battles, save the future Flashes, and then enlist their help in warning other future Flashes, forming a human chain letter.

So they all load up on the cosmic treadmill and head to different eras. Jesse Quick arrives in the year 2764, where the current Flash is Jace Allen (we saw him briefly in Speed Force #1). But Jesse arrived a little too late, as Jace's battle is already in progress. And before Jesse can help him, she is blasted from behind by this version of Cobalt Blue.

This was a pretty strong beginning of another great Flash story. First and foremost, though, I have to say I am so, so happy that Paul Pelletier has replaced Pop Mhan. I absolutely could not stand Mhan's work, and it almost baffled me that he was allowed to be the regular artist on The Flash. Pelletier is head-and-shoulders above Mhan, providing a classic, clean, consistent and exciting style. That's the way this series is supposed to look!

I laughed out loud at the joke with Bart in the bank, and I am so glad that these creators acknowledged the continuity of the bank nearly being destroyed not too long ago. I am excited to see all these future versions of the Flash, but I'm still a bit confused as to why it's so imperative for Wally and company to travel through time to warn their descendants about Cobalt Blue. I mean, they're superheroes, can't they take care of themselves? I guess the biggest worry is that Barry Allen will be killed before he can save all reality from the Anti-Monitor, but this issue didn't explicitly state that. I guess I need to read those few issues before this Chain Lightning story officially began.

Speed Reading only contains one very long letter from Alan Vickers, of Malden, Mass. He shares my general dissatisfaction with the Grant Morrison/Mark Millar run, particularly the Black Flash arc. Alan then lists several theories about Cobalt Blue, many of which are accurate. But he doesn't mention Impulse, so we'll move right along.

There aren't any new ads, so that's it for now. Next time, before we dive into Chain Lightning, we'll take a quick detour with Young Justice #6.

Friday, September 18, 2015

JLA/The Titans #3

All in the Family

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

Our cover is the final image of Jimenez's wraparound interlocking image. This cover focuses on Wonder Woman vs. Donna Troy, which is a classic, iconic fight. Sadly, the digital version of this series omits the backside of each cover, leaving me without Aquaman, Martian Manhunter and Superman. I guess I could always try to find the print version of these comics, or, better yet, the poster of this image.

Last issue in this series featured a big, epic fight between the JLA and all the former Titans on how they should handle the crisis created by Cyborg. But it turned out the fight was merely a ruse to distract Cyborg, while Batman prepared a team to head into space to deal with Cyberion's massive construct enveloping the moon. Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter Power Girl and the Marvels are going to try to pull the moon back into position, while Mr. Miracle, Big Barda, Orion, the Atom and Guy Gardner will attempt to enter the Watchtower to regain control. Oracle will coordinate disaster control efforts on Earth, while Batman has granted Nightwing 30 minutes to try to contact Cyborg and restore whatever bit of humanity he has left. Nightwing has chosen the original Teen Titans — Donna Troy, Tempest, Arsenal and Flash — along with Raven and Changeling (who had to sneak onto the team for some reason).

Raven's soul self takes Nightwing's team to the center of Cyberion, which houses Jarras Minion's old Omegadrome in some sort of energy field. Raven returns to Earth, saying she needs to prepare the circuitry on Titan Island to house Victor's soul, should the Titans successfully contact him. Unable to find a way to contact Vic, Arsenal decides to get his attention by firing an explosive arrow into the wall. This does the trick, although Changeling worries they've angered Vic, as they all find themselves separated and floating in a white emptiness.

On Titans Island, Raven asks Steel to help her prepare the CPU to receive Vic's soul, but Steel says the technology suffered too much damage during their fight. Aquaman tends to a volcano in the Atlantic Ocean, and Starfire battles with another volcano in Chicago. Terra and the Elongated Man have teamed up in New York, and Batman and Catwoman have returned to Gotham.

On the moon, Green Lantern is able to use his ring to grab half of the moon, while Wonder Woman uses the malleable substance of her invisible plane to create a massive web to secure the other half of the moon. The other heroes with them are then able to push the moon back into its orbit. Guy Gardner then begins attacking the construct, which serves as the perfect distraction for Mr. Miracle's team to sneak inside the Watchtower.

Inside the moon, Vic appears before each member of Nightwing's team individually. As they talk to him, he slowly changes his shape to appear more and more human. By the time Nightwing gives his heart-felt pep talk, Vic looks completely human. Changeling, however, takes the more direct approach, shouting at "Rust-bucket" to let go of the moon. As Changeling gives a very long speech, in which he tells Vic to either risk being destroyed by his emotions or be destroyed by the JLA, we check in on the disaster response teams around the globe. Arrowette is in New York, Mirage in Munich, Rose Wilson in Tallahassee, Robin in Metropolis, Thunder and Lightning in Bangkok, and Impulse in Seattle with Green Arrow.

Green Arrow asks Impulse if he can draw the lightning away from civilians, but Impulse figures he'd have to either be kite (a la Benjamin Franklin) or have the Duralim Rod from level nine. Damage and Secret are in Kiev, and Superboy is in San Francisco, while Changeling continues to plead with his best friend to come back to him. Eventually, Changeling's words get through to Vic, who reunites Nightwing's team. Superman notes the moon's resistance has stopped, Oracle reports that the natural disasters seem to be ending, and Raven begins to guide Vic's soul into the island's CPU. Mr. Miracle's team restores power to the Watchtower, and Nightwing's team throws around the idea of taking the Omegadrome, Cyberion's power source, back to Earth with them.

But when Vic's consciousness leaves the moon, everything begins to fall apart. All the ships, satellites and debris that comprised the massive construct separate and fall toward Earth. Superman's team busies itself with protecting the Earth from all the falling debris, and Green Lantern worries about Nightwing's stranded team, which is quickly losing the oxygen Cyberion once provided them.

Damage is able to destroy one large piece of debris, and we randomly see a scene of Lex Luthor ordering all his employees to return home to their loved ones, fearing the destruction of the planet. Terra tries to stop another large ship, but she fails. Luckily, Wonder Woman is there to help. Joker is pleased by all the chaos, and Supergirl and Stafire help Captain Marvel Jr. and Mary Marvel destroy a big ship before it hits Cairo.

An old Titan named Omen teleports up to Nightwing's team and tells them that Raven is having difficulty containing Vic's soul in the island computer. Omen offers to take the heroes back to Earth, but Changeling isn't willing to lose Vic just yet, saying they can put his soul in the Omegadrome. But the Omegadrome is in its large, unrefined state, and Omen says she can't take that back with all the other heroes. So Nightwing tells her to take it and Changeling, leaving him and the original Titans stranded in space.

Changeling's plan works, as Raven is able to direct Vic's soul into the Omegadrome. Cyborg turns gold for some reason, and finally regains consciousness. The original Titans, meanwhile, link hands and prepare for death. Suddenly, they're saved by Green Lantern, who jokes that Donna really should have returned his calls. Mr. Miracle's team uses the Watchtower's New Genesis technology to pull the rest of the falling debris away from Earth, and the day is finally saved.


Art by Mark Buckingham and Wade von Grawbadger

Everything's been cleaned up and order is once again restored to Earth, so everybody heads to Guy Gardener's Warriors bar to celebrate. Impulse is chasing Plastic Man around, asking him to do the pretzel again. Changeling tries to explain to Cyborg that the Terra he sees now isn't the traitorous Terra he remembers. Nightwing reunites with Starfire, both agreeing to be friends. And there are hints that Donna Troy and Green Lantern could give their relationship another shot.

Poor Captain Marvel Jr. is forced to apologize to Superman for his role in the fight, even though the JLA instigated that battle and never told the Titans it was just a distraction. Young Justice comes together, and Superboy wonders how they can stack up next to the ultimate team of the JLA and the family of the Titans. Superman tells him they're Young Justice and their time will come. Guy Gardner then reveals a new addition to Warriors, a statue commemorating the original Teen Titans.

Special thanks to Bob Haney, Bruno Permian, Charles Paris, Nick Cardy, Marv Wolfman, George PĂ©rez and Dan Jurgens for creating and sustaining such wonderful characters. And gratitude, too, to all the fans who have loved and supported them.

Devin & Phil

And thus ends our epic celebration of the Titans. Altogether, it was an exciting, intriguing tale, beautifully told with some of the best artwork you could hope for. This final issue did get a bit wordy and repetitive, and I felt things got a bit awkward with forcing the original Titans to be together as much as possible. I also wished Jarras Minion would have been brought in to explain and/or prepare the Omegadrome since we did see him as one of the captured Titans in the first issue. But overall, this was a great way to celebrate the history of the Titans and usher in a new chapter for the team.

Next time, we'll begin Chain Lightning in The Flash #145.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Young Justice #5

First, Do No Harm

Peter David Writer
Todd Nauck Pencils
Lary Stucker Inks
Jason Wright Colors
Digital Chameleon Seps
Ken Lopez Letters
Frank Berrios Assistant Editor
Eddie Berganza Editor

Todd Nauck and Lary Stucker give us a cover to keep out of Harm's way, and Patrick Martin kept the colors in line. On this cover, Harm has already defeated half of Young Justice. I'm glad Impulse was one of the last ones to remain standing, but this isn't exactly what happens in the issue. But it is a pretty close approximation, though.

Our story begins in the Young Justice cave, with Red Tornado sending a video letter to his adopted daughter, Traya. He tells her that he hopes their meeting on Halloween won't be a one-time occurrence. Red feels his humanity is slowly returning, and he hopes he can speak to Traya's mom in time. But Red Tornado's letter is suddenly interrupted when he is attacked from behind by Harm.

We then check in with Harm's parents, Burt and Ellen. Burt is sending Ellen to her mother's house for the weekend, while he hopes to work things out with Billy. Ellen isn't quite sure about this plan, but Burt assures her he'll handle it. So Ellen reluctantly leaves, and Burt begins to cry once she's gone.

Meantime, on the way back from Young Justice: Secret Files and Origins #1, the team is flying back on the Super-Cycle, a little worried about the fallout they'll receive from the D.E.O. But Superboy is confident the DEO doesn't want to attract any more publicity toward itself, and will probably let this event slide by. Superboy then fusses over Arrowette's still-injured shoulder, and Impulse notices that this makes Wonder Girl "kinda honked." Wonder Girl angrily tells Impulse, "I'm fine, and who asked you?" Impulse then considers Wonder Girl to be a ... dog.

The team then arrives at the cave, and Impulse is naturally the first one in. He quickly pops back out, telling everyone they've had a visitor. Inside, Impulse shows them a video playing on a loop of Harm saying, "Holy Beatles, kids! Holy Beatles, kids!" Superboy notices Red Tornado is missing, and Robin and Arrowette fear he's been taken by Harm. Secret asks what "Holy Beatles" refers to, and Robin says it's reminiscent of an old, bad TV series. But Wonder Girl says she knows exactly what Harm's referring to — a big Beatles convention currently being held at Happy Harbor's Midtown Convention Center. So Wonder Girl, Secret and Impulse head off to check out the convention center.

But the three heroes are unable to find Harm or Red Tornado. Robin orders them to keep looking, while he, Arrowette and Superboy stay behind to make sure they haven't missed anything. Of course, Robin's the only one actually doing any work — pouring over all the Beatles footage he can find — while Superboy has convinced Arrowette to shoot arrows at him until he can catch one like Harm. Robin eventually comes across one of the Beatles' most controversial interviews, in which John Lennon said the group was bigger than Jesus. Robin suddenly realizes what Harm's riddle meant, and he orders the away team to meet them at St. Swithin's Cathedral. Robin interrupts Superboy's game by catching two arrows at once, and loads Superboy and Arrowette into the Super-Cycle. On the way, Robin explains that the cathedral is holding a midnight mass in honor of the visiting Pope John Paul II (John Paul for John Lennon and Paul McCartney).

Turns out Robin was right, as Red Tornado comes smashing through a stained-glass window right during the middle of mass. The away team quickly arrives on the scene, and Impulse creates a speed vortex around Red Tornado to prevent him from kidnapping the pope. The android identifies Impulse as a "bio-form," and Impulse is worried about Red's weird and cold tone. Wonder Girl then flies the pope away to safety, but as usual, she talks too much and kind of disses the pope

Unfortunately, Wonder Girl led the pope right to Harm. She begins to fight him off, but he warns her about a bomb he planted in Red Tornado's chest. Secret moves in to protect the pontiff, while Impulse continues to battle Red Tornado. Harm easily handles Wonder Girl, saying the pope's role in this is somewhat irrelevant. Harm considers himself a super-villain in training, and the fewer superheroes he'll have to deal with when he's an adult, the better.

Before Harm can deliver the final blow, Robin, Arrowette and Superboy arrive. Harm is thrilled to be face-to-face with Robin, whom he calls the "most dangerous one of all." Wonder Girl warns the others about the bomb, and Robin orders Superboy to take care of it, saying Harm is his. So Superboy heads inside the church, where Impulse is preoccupied protecting the people in the church from the rampaging Red Tornado. Impulse tells Superboy he never realized how lucky they were to have Red Tornado on their side, and he wishes he still was. Superboy says Red will be on their side again, once they remind him who his friends are. Secret joins the fight, and feels like the boys' rough tactics aren't ideal for this situation. So she pours herself into Red Tornado's mouth.

Back up top, Robin begins his fight with Harm. The villain starts with blasting the Boy Wonder with his knockout gas, but Robin learned from Superboy's mistake, and came prepared with nose plugs. But Harm is Robin's physical superior, and he soon knocks the teen down. Meanwhile, Secret finds the bomb inside Red Tornado and has Impulse vibrate it out. Impulse comments on the bomb's excellent craftsmanship, then surprises Superboy by showing some actual thought. Instead of handing the bomb off to Superboy to smother the explosion, Impulse elects to take it to a safe place and defuse it in case it's radioactive.

Harm then prepares to throw Robin off the cathedral, but Arrowette uses a trick arrow to wrap around Robin's ankle, pull him to safety, and knock Harm off the roof. Unfortunately, Harm collides with Impulse, who was trying to defuse the bomb while running up the side of the building. Wonder Girl catches Impulse, but not the bomb, which explodes high in the air, causing relatively minor damage. Superboy catches Wonder Girl and Impulse, and he teases Impulse for his disarming skills. Impulse insists he could have disarmed the bomb with time to spare had Harm not fallen on top of him. Robin, however, notes that Harm is nowhere to be found, and he suspects he used his cape to glide away on the explosion's shockwave.

The team flies back to the cave on the Super-Cycle, with the recovering Red Tornado in tow. Robin is disgusted with his behavior during the fight, saying he shouldn't have tried to take on Harm one-on-one. When Young Justice gets back, they find Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter waiting for them, and demanding some explanations.

We then catch up with Harm, now just bratty teenager Billy returning home. His dad says he saw his exploits on TV, and he asks Billy why he's doing this. Billy says he plans on being the greatest villain of all time, but right now he's just practicing on his peers, and frankly, he's not impressed. Burt says he's not going to allow this to happen, but Billy just mocks him, saying he'll be able to escape jail. As he leaves the kitchen, Billy laughs about the notion of his dad grounding him, but suddenly, Burt fires a gun, hitting Billy on the other side of the door. Billy is shocked to find that he's bleeding, and he stumbles back into the kitchen before collapsing on the floor. Burt says he promised his wife he'd handle this, and that Billy's death would be for everybody's best. Billy begs his dad not to kill him, but Burt just moans about all the blood spilling on the linoleum. And with tears rolling down his face, Burt fires his gun once more.

Woah! Woah woah woah! What an ending! This was a fun, perfectly ordinary issue of Young Justice until those last two pages. When I first read this issue, I had to immediately buy issue #6, even though it was the middle of the night. But let's try to set that unbelievable finish aside for a second and look at this issue as a whole. I loved the Beatles riddle, and the ensuing fight with Harm and Red Tornado. I think everybody had a moment to shine, combining their unique abilities to save the day ... sort of. They're still just kids, so they naturally made some mistakes like letting the bomb go off and allowing Harm to escape. But they saved the pope and didn't let anyone else get hurt, and that's what's important. I also feel like Todd Nauck took a step forward with his art in this issue. There were so many great "money" shots — especially of Impulse. And as for Harm ... well, I can honestly say I never saw that ending coming. This series is still pretty light-hearted and goofy, but it can now include some pretty intense stuff like this, and I love it. And the good news here, is that we haven't seen the last of Harm.

The letters to the editor start with Andrew Ratcliff asking for more Red Tornado, Ace Atchinson, Fite and Maad, and a Young Justice 80-Page Giant (which did come out).

Chris Fluit, of Grand Rapids, Mich., makes the case for Static Shock to join the team, but Eddie Berganza says he's not sure what the deal with Milestone characters is. And that's not a failing on Eddie's part. Milestone's relationship with DC continues to be confusing and frustrating to this day. Just a few years ago, DC was forced to erase a Milestone character from one of the comics based on the Young Justice animated series.

David Bongo asks for Martian Manhunter's very obscure sidekick Zook to return, which kind of perplexes Eddie.

Augie de Blieck Jr., of North Haledon, N.J., talks about the wonderful balance of the core group of Superboy, Robin and Impulse. One thinks too much. One doesn't think. And the third thinks too little. Augie also hopes a girl joins the team to create a romantic tension between Superboy and Robin, while Impulse never notices. Now on to the ads:

You are Luke. So look like Luke. Star Wars: Rogue Squadron for Nintendo 64.

Now you're cooking with gas. Odd world: Abe's Exodus for PlayStation and PC.

Six students are about to find out their teachers really are from another planet. The Faculty.

Blow those alien creeps a new piehole. Assault: Retribution for PlayStation.

Bone-jarring, in-your-face, muscle-in-motion excitement where winning is survival. WSL Roller Jam on TNN.

You better watch out ... you better not fry ... Parasite Eve, Xenogears, Bushido Blade 2, Musashi, Final Fantasy Tactics, Saga Frontier and Einhander for PlayStation.

15 days of 007 on TBS.

The Faculty sweepstakes with a grand prize of the movie's poster, soundtrack and official memorabilia.

Potatoes of couch, prepare ye for a mashing. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for Nintendo 64.

Animaniacs Ten Pin Alley for PlayStation.

Next time, we'll finally conclude the epic JLA/The Titans #3.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Impulse #45

The Christmas Impulse!

William Messner-Loebs Writer
Craig Rousseau Penciller
Barb Kaalberg Inker
Janice Chiang Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
Jamison Separators
L.A. Williams Asst. Editor
Paul Kupperberg Editor ...
All wish you Happy Holidays as do
Waid & Wieringo Impulse Creators

Our cover is a fun Christmas image that has very little to do with the inside story. But, as is usually the case with Impulse, that's OK, because this cover is goofy enough to stand alone. The presents are addressed to Mikey T., Annabeth Christiana, Max, and L.A. (Our assistant editor keeps finding way to sneak his name in these books.) This cover also brings up a very interesting, unanswerable question: Is Santa Claus faster than Impulse?

Our story begins with Max Mercury slowly recovering after being shot on Halloween. The process is long and arduous for the veteran superhero, who is confined to his armchair while he heals. Max reads a copy of Newstime, which reports the destruction of the Flash Museum. But that doesn't take too long, so Max turns on the TV, and sees a news report about the Green Cigarette attempting a daring midday break-in of Manchester Savings and Loan. The Green Cigarette has a whole gang with him, and has taken several hostages. So Max reaches for crutch, determined to help out in some way.

But Max doesn't even get out of the room before he runs into an unexpected visitor — Bart's mom, Meloni. She has decided to leave her father, the evil President Thawne, for a moment to spend the holidays with her son she never sees. Meloni has brought some presents and a translator, but she doesn't need it around Max, since he learned Interlac during her last visit. Meloni offers to help Max recover, but she can't figure out where to plug in the healing ray. She then is distracted by ancient flat television — something she's only read about before. Max explains that he's watching a live broadcast of a bank robbery, and he needs to get there before Impulse shows up. But Meloni tells him he's much too old and sick for that.

We then check in on the robbery and are introduced to Green Cigarette's gang: Coffin Nails, a knife-weilding woman; Lighter, master of gravity; Matches, a woman armed with a flamethrower; Stubbs, a man armed with explosives; and Gaspar, a French kick boxer and the team's lawyer. Green Cigarette asks the bank manager for the safe combination, but the manager is confident in his new automatic security devices. Suddenly, our lovable hero arrives.

Coffin Nails throws a bunch of knives at Impulse, but he easily catches them and returns them to her, saying, "I think you dropped these, lady." Lighter boldly proclaims that no matter Impulse planned, he couldn't have anticipated a man with the power of gravity. Impulse realizes he should have had a plan, so he tries to disorient Lighter by waving up a little whirlwind. But Impulse is interrupted by an apparent earthquake.

Turns out, the bank's security walls are sliding down, but the regular walls can't handle the strain, causing the whole building to begin to collapse. Green Cigarette and his gang start working to save their hostages, pushing people out of the way of falling debris and killing live wires before anyone is electrocuted. However, the criminals are all buried beneath the rubble as a result of their heroic actions. So the people of the bank work together to save the gang, and Impulse tries to help, but the instability of the debris pretty much negates his speed.

Once the criminals are rescued, Stubbs uses a couple of grenades to create an exit for everybody. Lighter and Matches notice the vault has been sprung, but they decide not to take people's money right before Christmas. When asked if he's going to reform, Lighter says he just had a "Christmas impulse." Green Cigarette apologizes to the manager for the bank, but he tells him not to worry, saying the building was insured. The lawyer Gaspar also offered to help the manager sue the security company that installed the faulty device pro bono. Naturally, Impulse's ears perked up at the phrase "Christmas impulse," and equally naturally, Bart misinterpreted that phrase to apply directly to himself.

Bart runs home to excitedly tell Max all that happened, and he's overjoyed to find his mom there waiting for him. Meloni tells Bart how proud she is, but Bart says it was the Christmas Impulse that made everybody do the right thing. Max says he saw Bart zap through the walls without thinking — again — which set off the alarm. Bart says the walls were malfunctioning, but it doesn't matter because the Christmas Impulse will take care of everybody during the holiday season. Max thinks this is insane, but Bart keeps repeating the words, "Christmas Impulse." Max tries to explain that superheroes are needed most during the holidays because people are often desperate at this time of year and make poor decisions — but not as poor as the decisions Bart usually makes.

Meloni is furious to hear Max talk to her son this way, and she says she won't put up with that kind of behavior during the three weeks she stays here. Helen originally thought Meloni was just staying for the weekend, and she begins to yell at Max. Soon, all three adults are yelling at each other, and poor Bart, who just moments ago was super happy, can't handle all this conflict and runs away.

Bart runs to the janitor's closet at his junior high, where he's discovered by counselor Jasper Pierson. Bart's so depressed and distracted that he honestly opens up to Jasper, not even thinking about protecting his secret identity. Bart tells him that it's his fault Max was shot, how he couldn't stop the bank walls from crumbling, and how it's suddenly his fault that his mom has come to visit. Jasper says he knows Max was shot on Halloween while wearing a Max Mercury costume, and that Bart was dressed as Impulse, but the way Bart's talking makes Jasper ask if he really is Impulse. Bart struggles to answer that question, realizing he's let the cat out of the bag.

Jasper then calls Max, saying he'd like to meet with him, Helen and Meloni. Jasper explains that Bart's very upset, and he's worried with how he's handling the stress of Max's shooting, the holidays and his mom's visit. Max initially declines, but when Jasper says that Bart believes he's Impulse, Max immediately agrees to the meeting. So Max drags everybody up to the school, but before the meeting begins, Jasper tells Max that he thinks it's best if they play along with Bart's dissociative fantasy to show they value his perception of reality. Max tells Jasper he thinks he can pretend that he and Bart are secretly superheroes.

So the meeting begins, and Max tells Bart he's free to be honest and forthcoming about everything, which is a very liberating thought to Bart. But Helen starts the talking, telling Max all she's wanted was a normal life with him, but he seems to care more about super villains than her. Max admits he hasn't been fair to her, but he says he never asked for this life either. People call him the Zen Master of the Speed Force, but he really doesn't know what he's doing. Bart's astonished to hear Max admit that, but Meloni interrupts him, saying she would give anything to have had a father-figure like Max. Her real dad killed her husband and sister-in-law, and hid her own baby from her. She completely missed watching Bart grow up, and now she has to stay with her evil father, slowly trying to bend him toward good, while her son continues to grow without her.

Jasper is amazed at the commitment everybody has to playing along with Bart's fantasy, especially Meloni and her made-up language. Bart finally gets a chance to talk, and he quickly apologizes for getting Max shot. But Max says it was his own fault he got shot. Max forgot to check for a second bullet, and when it hit him, he was too embarrassed and stubborn to say anything to Bart, which is why he let him run off to the Hallow-Teen party with Young Justice.

Jasper is thrilled with the progress they made, and he suggests they end with a group hug. Luckily, the Green Cigarette interrupts that potentially awkward situation. The criminal says he was passing by the school when he had a Christmas impulse, and decided to donate all the money he's made throughout his career in crime. And he presents Jasper with a check for $50, admitting that he's never been a very successful criminal.

So Helen and Meloni head out to pick up some Thai food and bond a little bit while Bart and Max slowly walk home in the starlit night. Bart says, "Thanks for ... everything, Max." And Max suddenly gives Bart a small hug. They keep walking for a bit, and Bart asks if that was a Christmas impulse, to which Max tells him not to push it.

What a heart-warming ending! That last page was one of the best moments between Max and Bart. And it came at the end of a nice Christmas story with a fun surprise guest (Bart's mom), and a closer look at one of my favorite villains, the Green Cigarette. He is so random and goofy, and not at all a bad guy, making him the perfect foil for Impulse. And you have to love how Bart was once again able to protect his secret identity by blurting it out to the first person he saw.

Impulsive Reactions gives the This School Rules to New York City's W. Haywood Burns Elementary for Caelah Bennett's decision to forsake the life of Wall Street to dedicate herself to helping kids.

John Harvey, of Aldershot, England, said the return of Arrowette was even better than her initial appearance. John especially liked how Impulse was handled in issue #41, saying it reminded him of the Mark Waid-Humberto Ramos days. John also admitted that fill-in artists usually aren't up-to-scratch, but Ethan Van Sciver did a great job of following Craig Rousseau's style while also delivering a punch of his own.

Jeff Sullivan addressed his letter directly to Rousseau, saying he thinks his usual work is fantastic, but he loved his more animated style in Young Justice #1,000,000.  Jeff urged the artist to take a job in animation or, better yet, do an issue of Impulse where Bart daydreams of being in a cartoon. Craig responded with, "Jeff, you must be psychic! Check out our next issue, and thank you for your kind words."

Jennifer M. Contino wrote a short letter, simply thanking the creative team for bringing back Arrowette.

Matt Kersus was happy that Bart's hair finally grew back, and loved the wardrobe montage, especially the Devo costume. Now for the ads:

Catch the bug. A Bug's Life for PC and PlayStation.

It's the Bedrock Blizzard. Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles with snow sprinkles packets.

Stomp, snort, howl and win! Enter the Running Wild Sweepstakes to be written into a future issue of Impulse, plus a PlayStation, a copy of the Running Wild game, and a one-year subscription to Impulse. That grand prize sounds pretty awesome. Unfortunately, I can't find anything about the winner of this contest, but I'll keep an eye out in future issues for any suspicious cameos.

Seven issues that will blow the original universe to kingdom come. The Kingdom.

Coming in December! Staman #50, Batman: Reign of Terror, Superman 80-Page Giant #1, Plastic Man Archives, Superman: A Nation Divided, and DCU Heroes Secret Files #1.

Next time, we'll return to the team book with Young Justice #5.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

DCU Holiday Bash! III

No, Bart, There Is No Santa Claus

Mark Waid & Devin Grayson Writers
Craig Rousseau Penciller
Mike Sellers Inker
Jason Scott Jones Colorist
Clem Robins Letterer
Darren Vincenzo Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo

Our cover is by Rodolfo Damaggio and Robert Campanella, colored and separated by Patrick Martin. It's a little tough to tell, but what we're looking at is the metallic face of the super villain Shrapnel. And reflected on his face are each of the heroes who gets their own story in this 56-page special. The concept of this cover isn't bad, but the execution is a bit lacking. At least Impulse looks halfway decent.

The Impulse story from this issue (along with Robin's story) was reprinted in 2000 a trade paperback called DC Universe Christmas. It also includes the Flash's story from the first DCU Holiday Bash, as well as a fun smattering of stories dating back to 1940. And the cover is pretty fun, as it looks like wrapping paper.

So, without further ado, let's dive into our story. It's Christmas Eve, and Bart is on his best behavior, hoping to get the hottest video game of the season, Blastomatic 3000. He even tries to reign in his super-speed, so as not to risk losing the game. Max, however, feels like Bart deserves coal in his stocking.

The impatient Bart then works his way to the presents under the tree, and Max asks him what he's thinking about. Bart tells him he wants the Blastomatic 3000, and he says he's certain Santa Claus will deliver it that night. Max thinks Bart's a little old to still believe in Santa, saying that most kids Bart's age have already decided that Santa is a highly improbable myth. Bart says Santa has secret headquarters, wears a red suit and travels at super-speed — all of which are not improbable at all in Bart's world. So Max decides to take Bart on a run to try to talk some sense into him.

Max asks Bart how Santa is supposed to know who's good and bad, and Bart says Santa can read minds like Martian Manhunter. Max asks how Santa can disappear by putting his finger to his nose and winking, and Bart says Batman can vanish without the finger. Max asks how Santa can fit down the chimney, but he answers his own question by saying he can shrink like the Atom. Max then points out that nobody is as selfless as Santa Claus, but Bart contends that Superman fits the bill. Max agrees, but says that even Superman can't be everywhere at once, showing Bart the many Santas collecting donations on the street. But Bart shows how this can be done with super-speed, by appearing to be standing next to each Santa simultaneously. So Max falls to his last resort — a trip to the North Pole. But when Bart sees the barren landscape, he comes to a startling conclusion — Santa's been kidnapped!

Bart tells Max to find Santa, while he fills in for Santa by delivering presents to everybody. Bart leaves Max in the dust, throws on a baggy Santa Claus suit, and begins handing out all of his own presents from under the tree. But those quickly run out, so Bart zips over to the Battlecomm Electronics headquarters. He happens across the company's CEO, and asks if he has any copies of Blastomatic 3000 lying around. Turns out, the company does have thousands of demo discs they were planning on mailing out for free. Bart asks if he can have some to give as Christmas presents, and the CEO says he can take as many as he wants. So Bart takes them all.

The little Santa Impulse takes the sampler games far and wide, handing them to everyone he meets. People on the street, old grandmas, guards at Buckingham Palace, soldiers at war, tourists on the Great Wall of China, and even a dog. Bart takes the last one to Max and tells him how the company let him take the free promos. Max asks what a little girl in Bangladesh is going to do with a video game, and Bart sadly says he always thought it was the thought that counts.

Max consents that Bart's intentions were good, but he reminds his young ward that he once again failed to consider the consequences of his actions. Max points out that Bart gave away all his presents, and now he'll have nothing to open on Christmas. Bart thinks Max deserves some coal in his stocking, but Max does offer to take Bart shopping once the stores open after the holiday. But to their astonishment, they find a bunch of new presents under the tree waiting for them. Bart rips open a package addressed to him from Santa, which contains Blastomatic 3000. As Bart becomes consumed by his new game, and Max confusingly stares at the new presents, neither one of them notice a figure in a sleigh with reindeer flying off in the moonlight.

What a fun Christmas story! Nobody writes Impulse better than his creator, Mark Waid, and few can draw him as well as Craig Rousseau. This was a charming little story that perfectly captured the dynamic between Bart and Max while also reminding us what Christmas is all about. And I really liked the parallels between Santa Claus and superheroes that Bart brought up. I had never thought of Santa Claus in those terms, but it fits well.

Impulse doesn't appear in any of the other stories in this issue, although Robin does get his own story, and Wonder Girl makes an appearance in Wonder Woman's story. (Wonder Girl does look and act about five years too young in the story, but that's another matter altogether.) There aren't any new ads, either, so that's it for this Christmas special.

But we're not done with Christmas, yet! Next time: Impulse #45.