Friday, December 18, 2015

The Flash #148

Chain Lightning, Chapter Four: Undertow

Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn, Story
Paul Pelletier, Pencils
Vince Russell, Inks
Gaspar, Letters
Tom McCraw, Colors
Frank Berrios, Asst. Editor
Joey Cavalieri, Editor

Our cover by Steve Lightle follows the standard Chain Lightning pattern with the Flash running alongside various speedsters. This time, we do know all of them. From left, we have Wally's daughter Iris from the future (aka Kid Flash), John Fox and XS. It is nice that they had this consistency throughout the event, but I am getting kind of bored of it after four issues. Plus, I really wish Paul Pelletier could be doing the covers, since I enjoy his artwork so much.

What Has Gone Before: Cobalt Blue — aka Malcolm Thawne, twisted twin brother of Flash's predecessor, Barry Allen — has sworn vengeance against all Flashes past and present. Using a magic gem of incalculable power passed from generation to generation, Thawne's own descendants will target Flashes for the next thousand years — unless Wally West and his allies can move through time to stop them. According to the gem's mystic prophecy, its sinister sorcery will consume two Flashes before finally murdering Barry Allen before his time. Already, one such Flash has been possessed ... but who will be the other ... ?

We pick up right where we left off last issue, with Wally and Professor Zoom in an intense standoff to  steal the gem from its last known location, the clutches of President Thaddeus Thawne (Bart's other grandfather). Zoom and Flash have a very fast battle, so fast, in fact, that nobody else can see them moving. Zoom vibrates his hand through Wally's side, slicing him up, but Wally knocks Zoom out with a light-speed punch. Wally then mimics Zoom's vibrating hand technique to destroy the Cobalt Blue gem in President Thawne's hand, and takes Zoom away before anyone notices. President Thawne doesn't understand why the gem suddenly exploded, and his followers assume he intentionally destroyed it, and they seem to turn on him. Meanwhile, Wally takes Zoom back to his time and throws him back in his cell.

Back in 1999, Wally's girlfriend, Angela, is revived by a couple of fellow officers. They show her that Malcolm Thawne is now in a vegetative state, and Angela says the last thing she saw before blacking out was Jay Garrick lunging at the villain. One of the cops says that if that's the case, then they're going to have to bring Jay in, even though he is a superhero.

We get another montage of the various Flashes running throughout time to help other Flashes battle other Cobalt Blues. Wally visits the Tornado Twins, Don and Dawn Allen (Bart's dad and aunt), but find they've already been visited by Kid Flash and given shards of the Cobalt Blue gem. They try to keep Kid Flash's identity a secret from Wally, but it seems like he already knows she's his daughter.

We then check in with Impulse, who has finally reunited with his cousin, XS, who appears to be locked in a battle with another Cobalt Blue. Bart lunges at the young man dressed in blue and black, and begins to pound him into a paste before Jenni shoves him off the poor kid. Turns out, he wasn't Cobalt Blue at all, but a hero named Blazerr, who was trying out for the Legion of Super-Heroes. In Bart's defense, Blazerr does have the exact same look and power set of Cobalt Blue. But none of the Legionnaires are too happy with Bart's rude interruption.

Wally races along the edge of the Speed Force, where he sees that all the Cobalt Blues are accounted for, except one, who just so happens to be in the one time period Wally didn't want to visit — Barry Allen's time in the mid-30th century. So Wally heals his wound from the fight with Professor Zoom, and reluctantly races off to save his former mentor, knowing how hard it'll be to see him so soon before his death.

Since Brainiac 5 isn't around to vouch for him, Impulse is rudely booted out of the Legion of Super-Hero Headquarters. Bart tells Jenni that she's not safe, explaining all about the Cobalt Blues. But Jenni tells him she learned that the Cobalt Blue gem was destroyed shortly after she was born, meaning they're free from danger in this era. Kid Flash arrives just then, looking to recruit XS to help warn the other Flashes, and Bart complains that there's always someone "horning in on" his missions.

Kid Flash gives Impulse and XS each a shard, telling them to travel through time, but, per Wally's instructions, they are to avoid Barry Allen's time. Bart wonders why they should listen to Wally, and Jenni argues that they should help their grandpa. Kid Flash protests, but Bart shoves the two of them all the way to the Cosmic Treadmill in the Flash Museum, where he takes the three of them back to Barry's time.

The teenagers arrive around the same time as Wally, and their simple argument has grown into a full-scale fight. Wally becomes enraged and almost attacks them before he realizes the shard of the gem he's holding is feeding him hatred. He throws his shard down and tries to get the kids to drop their shards, but he's suddenly hit by a stampede of speedsters. And leading this charge is the possessed Jay Garrick.

All the Flashes and speedsters are now under the control of Malcolm Thawne, who explains that the gem is a conduit for now just his hatred, but also his soul. And before this story even started, Malcolm put a part of his soul in Jay, subtly influencing him to suggest the idea of distributing the shards to the other speedsters. The possessed Flashes all beat the snot out of Wally, and Malcolm gloats that Wally is outnumbered 25-to-1. But then a voice tells Malcolm to count again. And that voice belongs to none other than Barry Allen himself.

This story is big, complicated, and totally awesome. Jay Garrick is possessed! All the Flashes are under control! And Barry Allen is back! Yeah, some parts of the story have gone a bit long and repetitive, but it is still a lot of fun to see all the different versions of the Flash. And it was very nice to have Impulse reunited with XS, as well as being reminded of the Legion's eternal hatred of Bart. It's all in good fun, though.

I only have the digital copy of this issue, so that's it for today. Next time, we'll get another fun guest star in Impulse #48.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Young Justice 80-Page Giant #1

First Memory

Written by Peter David
Art by Justiano with Cabin Boy, Andy Lanning and Kevin Conrad
Color by Jason Wright and Digital Chameleon
Lettering by Comicraft
Cover by Humberto Ramos & Wayne Faucher
Cover color by Richard and Tanya Horie
Edited by Eddie Berganza with Alisande Morales

It's always nice to see Humberto Ramos return to an Impulse-related project. But this cover is not his best work. The focus is on Red Tornado, as it should be, but he's an emotionless android, making his face quite boring. An easily overlooked detail is the purple energy surrounding Red, which we last saw with Bedlam during World Without Grown-Ups. On the side, we have three of the various dreams Young Justice find themselves in. Unfortunately, Ramos didn't seem to coordinate very well with the respective artists for each story, as there are numerous inconsistencies between the cover and the inside pages, most notably Arrowette wielding a gun. But I am glad that Impulse's story made it to the cover, even though he and Wonder Girl look completely different inside.

As is the norm with these 80-page giants, this issue is split into seven 10-page stories. The main story, First Memory, is split into two parts, which bookend the five separate "dreams." So without further ado, let's dive in!

Our story is narrated by the large, purple entity/genie that possessed Matthew Stuart and turned him into Bedlam. For simplicity's sake, I will refer to the entity as Bedlam, although it technically doesn't have a name. Bedlam begins his tale by asking us to think our first memories. He shows several examples, including a young girl wearing a Flash T-shirt at the Haly Circus. But Bedlam doesn't have a first memory. He has always existed from the dawn of time. He just needed to be defined and given form and substance, which happened when an Atlantean sorcerer tapped into Bedlam's primal energy. But that sorcerer was defeated by Arion, who imprisoned Bedlam in a crystal chamber, which eventually made it's way to Matthew Stuart on his 13th birthday.

Bedlam gives a very quick recap of World Without Grown-Ups, and explains that Matthew, the human vessel, was defeated, but the energy of Bedlam remained. Weakened from the battle, Bedlam sought to hide himself from the heroes. His fascination with human sentience kept him close, despite his jealousy of their emotions and imagination. Luckily for Bedlam, he found a nearby solution that gave him the best of both worlds — the offline Red Tornado. As an android, Red Tornado provided the sentience Bedlam craved without any of the painful emotion.

But Bedlam's presence within the machine caused it to begin to dream. First of electric sheep, then humanity. These dreams grew into a desire of awareness, which Bedlam granted, reactivating Red Tornado and making him more human than before. When Red Tornado was with his daughter, Traya, on Halloween, Young Justice inadvertently caused Mr. Mxyzptlk to change the world. But Bedlam protected Red Tornado and Traya from this reality-altering event, making them two of the few people who recognized the changed world.

A few days later, Red Tornado was attacked by Harm — an assault that reminded him he was just a machine. Red Tornado began to grow cold and distant after that, only going through the motions with Young Justice. This feeling was increased tenfold by the attack from the Psyba-Rats. And now Red Tornado's disinterest in humanity has made Young Justice quite concerned.

The kids brought in Traya and her mother, Kathy, while suggesting that Red Tornado take some time off to spend it with his family. But the android brushes them off and goes back to watching the cave's monitors. Superboy angrily lashes out at "Reddy," saying none of them know what's inside him anymore. Secret says she knows what's inside him, saying she noticed a purple energy in him when she went looking for the bomb Harm put in him.

Robin demands to know why Secret didn't mention this earlier, but she didn't think it was unusual. To redeem herself, Secret re-enters Red Tornado and finds Bedlam, ordering him to get out. Bedlam complies, but he erupts from the android with a blast. Having used his long rest to recover and scheme, Bedlam immediately attacks Young Justice, capturing them in a whirlwind inspired by Red Tornado. To gain more strength to remake the world in his image, Bedlam forces the words "And suddenly ... " into the teens' minds. Those two simple words were carefully chosen for their potential to trigger ideas, notions and imagination Bedlam could feed off of. And suddenly ...

The Totally O.K. Corral

Beau Smith Writer
Sergio Cariello Pencils
Keith Champagne Inker
Pam Rambo Colors
Jack Morelli Letters

The kids of Young Justice "blonk" into the wild west, where Robin is the marshal and Superboy is his  slow-speaking sidekick. Both of them are confused about their new location, costumes, and compulsion to talk in old west slang. A toothless old man warns Robin of the arrival of a band of robbers called the Clantons, and Impulse, who's in jail for some reason, asks to be released to help out. Robin agrees, and Superboy arms him with a paddleball.

Meanwhile, Wonder Girl is out shoeing a horse when she sees the Clantons come storming in. They immediately try to hang an old man, but Arrowette (who's basically a white Native American) shoots an arrow through the noose. Some of the Clantons begin terrorizing the school house, but the teacher, Secret, scares them away. The boys meet up with the girls in the street and agree to team up to kick the Clantons out of town, forming Young Frontier Justice.

Our heroes approach the bad guys, and Robin tells the sidewinders to throw down their guns real slow and follow them to jail or they'll end up siftin' sunshine through their guts. The Clantons naturally refuse to surrender and draw their weapons. Robin knocks away one gun with his batarang, and Impulse takes away the rest.

Wonder Girl smashes a couple of guys' heads into each other, and Secret sends two of them up in a dusty whirlwind, which surprises her for some reason. Arrowette pins four of them to the rocks with her arrows, and Superboy ties up six of them with a random steel girder (there sure are a lot of Clantons). Impulse uses his paddleball to terrorize one guy ... and ... strip him down to his underwear? Robin knocks out the final two with a cattle prod, and before our heroes can figure out what's going on, or even what they're saying, they all "bloink" away. And suddenly ...

My Gun Is (Super) Quick

Jay Faerber – Writer
Tommy Lee Edwards – Artist
Melissa Edwards – Colorist
John Workman – Letterer

Bart finds himself in a suit, in an office, with a beautiful woman declaring him the best private eye in the city. Bart admits she's boring him, and he asks where they are, what year it is, and what happened to the color. The woman assumes this is an example of Mr. Allen's famous wit, while Bart frantically begins searching for Robin and Superboy. The woman continues to try to seduce Bart, which would be an uncomfortable situation, but luckily it's interrupted by someone screaming.

Turns out the scream came from Wonder Girl, who is horrified to find herself wearing a dress and working as Bart's secretary. Bart doesn't see what the problem is with this, and the impatient woman finally gets direct with Bart. She introduces herself as Mrs. Eva Wattington, and says she saw her husband kill his brother last night. Eva is afraid to go to the police because she thinks her husband will kill her before his brother's body can be found. Bart wishes he could press a reset button, and reluctantly agrees to help Eva, even though he's worried it'll take long.

So Bart rides with Eva in her slow car to her house, where he's supposed to protect her. But all Bart cares about is whether the place has a PlayChannel 65 or a PlayStation (I find it odd that they used one fake video game name and one real name). Wonder Girl, meanwhile, actually does the detective work by visiting the alley where the murder allegedly took place. She can't find any blood at the scene, but she does come across a clue pretty quickly.

Eva continues to try to seduce the bored and oblivious Bart. Before things can get two awkward once again, Eva's husband comes marching in, accompanied by his two henchmen, Robin and Superboy. Mr. Wattington pulls a gun on Bart, who quickly snatches it away, lecturing the man that while the old-time guns may be silly-looking, they can still hurt people. So Mr. Wattington orders Robin and Superboy to attack, and they reluctantly obey. Bart quickly ties up Robin and begins wrestling with Superboy when Wonder Girl suddenly comes crashing through the window.

Cassie explains that she met a very nice wino in the alley, who sleeps there every night and attested that there was no murder there last night. So Cassie tracked down Wattington's brother, Donald, and found him alive and well on vacation. Bart's still confused by this convoluted plot, so Wonder Girl elaborates. Eva was trying to trick her rich husband into thinking she was having an affair with Bart so that they'd kill each other, leaving her with all the money.

Mr. Wattington thanks Bart for saving his life, and congratulates him for being every bit the detective he claims to be. Bart shakes his hand, and says, "No problemo," even though Wattington had just tried to kill him a minute ago. Cassie flips out over this, saying she deserves the credit for cracking the case and doing all the work. And suddenly ...

We enter an old silent film about Nosferatu and "wampirs." But it only involves the girls and none of the boys, so we'll skip it. And suddenly ...

Rock 'em Sock 'em ... Robot?

Lary Stucker Writer/Inker
Keron Grant Pencils
Felix Serrano Colors
Jack Morelli Letters

Arrowette finds herself the lord of a spaceship, and is informed her giant robot, the X-J23, has been sent to destroy Earth, and the traitor is ready for his execution. When Arrowette learns the traitor is Robin, she insists on carrying out the execution personally. She also tries to recall the robot, but it's too late. The X-J23 begins wreaking havoc, and Superboy is recruited by the army to stop it, which he thinks is way more fun than being a hired thug. For some reason, Wonder Girl, who is now Joe Joe the Circus Monkey, is inside the X-J23, but she's unable to stop it. We then catch up with Impulse, who shares Superboy's enthusiasm for this new dream.

However, Impulse suddenly becomes distracted by a puppy. Robin, meanwhile, tries to escape Arrowette's prison, but he's electrocuted. Fortunately, Secret arrives to save him. For some reason, she's a cat, but even more perplexingly, she doesn't know what cats are. But she is glad to not be battling wampirs anymore, and Robin suggests she become knock-out gas to take down the first person to enter his cell. And that person is Arrowette. Secret apologizes for knocking out her teammate, and Robin scoops her up as the three of take off in an escape pod.

Robin, Arrowette and Secret land in proximity to the battle between Superboy and the X-J23. Superboy finds that his tactile telekinesis has been amped up to the point where he can send out powerful energy blasts. And he's not the only one. Robin, Arrowette, and Secret all attack the giant robot with energy blasts, but nothing really happens. Wonder Girl finally gives up trying to stop the machine and pops out to join the others.

Impulse finally arrives and excitedly shows off his puppy, which is actually a small dragon. But then Impulse pulls water on the dragon, causing it to grow to enormous size, big enough to take down the X-J23. Once the day is saved, the dragon shrinks back down, and Impulse asks if they think Red Tornado will let him keep his puppy. And suddenly ...

Our Justice at War

Story: Peter J. Tomasi
Pencils: Dietrich Smith
Inks: Jaime Mendoza & Sean Parsons
Letters: Albert de Guzman
Colors: Matt Webb

It's December 16, 1944, in Lanzerath, Belgium, and we open with an American soldier named George  Poulos. George is a huge superhero fan, reading All-Star Comics and wearing a Flash T-shirt underneath his uniform. When he spots three figures approaching his bunker, he challenges them with his own special password by asking them to name a member of the Justice Society of America. Naturally, the three figures are Superboy, Robin and Impulse, and they manage to answer the question correctly, albeit awkwardly.

The boys are welcomed into the bunker, which is full of wounded soldiers. Superboy and Robin are shocked to see the soldiers aren't much older than they are, and Impulse, who's not very good at history, thinks they're in Iraq during the Gulf War, despite the swirling snow. George explains that all the commanding officers have been killed, so he's in charge, even though he's just a private first class. And to make matters worse, this little band of soldiers has no way of getting the wounded to safety.

They soon fall under attack, and Robin has Impulse pull the wounded out of firing range. Then he, Superboy and Impulse directly engage the German forces. Robin takes on a couple with his R-shaped batarangs, and Impulse knocks out a handful before deciding to focus on the tanks. Bart pulls the soldiers out of the three tanks, and Superboy lifts them up to hurl back at the enemy.

Unfortunately, one German grenade gets past the boys, and George dives on it to protect his wounded comrades. As George bleeds out in the snow, he jokes that his Flash shirt didn't make him fast enough, but maybe a Spectre or Doctor Fate shirt would have helped. Robin then focuses his efforts on organizing a retreat, sending Superboy to find some trucks and having Impulse gather up all the wounded.

They load all the soldiers into a truck, and Superboy flies it away, with George awkwardly wedged between him and the truck. Impulse pulls a second truck behind him in his slipstream. George comments on how beautiful it is up in the air (even though all he should be able to see is the underside of the truck) and before our heroes can save him, George appears to die. And suddenly ...

The entity known as Bedlam feels he has captured enough power from the imaginations of Young Justice, so he spits the heroes out of his tornado while he grows in size and rips off the top of the cave. The Super-Cycle catches the teenagers, and Bedlam continues to grow in size and power, preparing to remake the world in his image. Red Tornado embraces his family, and Traya cries out that she doesn't want to be without her daddy.

Red Tornado then flies up to Bedlam and says something interesting. He argues that the young ones had the opportunity to live their dreams but he didn't. (I would consider these "dreams" to be more like the random dreams you get when you fall asleep, not real aspirations, but whatever.) Red Tornado demands that Bedlam turn him into a human so that he can die with his loved ones as one of them. Bedlam grants his wish, turning Red Tornado into a bald white man. Bedlam watches closely as Red embraces his family, and suddenly ...

Bedlam finds himself fascinated with this creature, this android who was outside of humanity but so attached to humanity that he chose to spend his final moments. Bedlam begins to question himself, and for the first time in his endless eternity, he speaks, wondering aloud what it must be like to be human. And for the first time, Bedlam begins to imagine something, which then became reality.

A large purple whirlwind surrounds Bedlam, and everyone just manages to get away on the Super-Cycle. The genie feels himself slipping away as the winds intensify, ultimately leading to a large explosion. The world rearranges itself. The cave is repaired. Red Tornado is an android again. And where Bedlam was, a baby boy lies in his place. Arrowette picks up the infant with purple eyes, and Bedlam feels his thoughts float away. But he embraces this change, calling it a reward. And he closes his story by tying it back to the beginning with his talk of first memories. Bedlam now has a first memory — that of being born.

That was a pretty serious ending for what was mostly a pretty goofy comic. Without a doubt, the framing narrative of Bedlam and Red Tornado was by far the best part of this issue. I loved how Peter David fully explained how Red Tornado was activated once again and how he avoided the changes caused by Mr. Mxyzptlk. These weren't huge problems for me, but it is really nice to get answers to them all the same. The entity of Bedlam is a really confusing, vague concept, and it is very easy to make him even more confusing if you think too much about it. But I felt like it worked well enough for this story.

What didn't work, surprisingly, were all the "dreams" the kids were thrown into. In theory, this comic should have been a smash hit, showing our lovable heroes in completely different and random scenarios with unique art and writing styles. But the art was generally poor across the board, and none of the dreams really stood out. And the inconsistencies really got to me. How come some of the characters were omitted from some dreams? And why were they compelled to act a certain way in some dreams, but had more freedom in others? Plus, I never knew whose dream we were in at a given time. Did Bart dream of himself becoming a private eye, or was that Wonder Girl's dream/nightmare of watching him take all the credit for her hard work? This issue had so much potential, but didn't live up to it.

There aren't any letters to the editor or new ads of note, so I'll see you next time, when we return to Chain Lightning in The Flash #148.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Young Justice #8

The Uninvited Geeks

Guest Writer: Chuck Dixon
Pencils: Todd Nauck & Coy Turnbull
Inks: Lary Stucker & Jaime Mendoza
Colors: Jason Wright
Letters: Ken Lopez
Assistant Editor: Frank Berrios
Editor: Eddie Berganza

Razorsharp cuts in on Superboy and Secret in this cover by Todd Nauck and Lary Stucker with the colors of Patrick Martin. It's nice to focus on just a couple of characters every now and then, but Superboy and Secret don't play any more of a significant role in this issue than any other character. We have seen Razorsharp once before, albeit very briefly. She was a member of the short-lived reality TV group Blood Pack, of which Impulse was a big fan. But when their phone call got cut off, Impulse became angry and called them "reverbs." And I'm still not sure what that means. But none of that matters in this issue.

Our story begins with Red Tornado at the monitor station in the Young Justice cave. But the feed is hijacked by what he calls a "moronic television program." But when the excited blond young man on the screen starts speaking directly to Red Tornado, he assumes this is an example of the boys' inappropriate humor, and he tries to take it down. But as he types on the keyboard, Red Tornado is electrocuted and shuts down. And editor's note says, "The villain Harm short-circuited Red in ish #5. This is the kind of repeated behavior that could lead into another plot line if we're not careful. See Young Justice 80-Page Giant #1 on sale." And we'll get to that next time.

Once Red Tornado is knocked out, Razorsharp enters the cave with a black kid named Hackman. The guy in the TV is called Channelman, and together they are the Psyba-Rats, hired by a mysterious client to hack the Young Justice computers. But the Psyba-Rats aren't alone. Arrowette has been in the gym, growing bored with her archery practice. Channelman finds Arrowette, and she thinks he's a prank from Impulse or Superboy, but not Robin, who wouldn't do something this lame. Channelman tells Razorsharp where Arrowette is, and the two girls soon launch into an intense fight.

The boys (and Secret, but no Wonder Girl) come back from some sort of mission, but Robin can't open the door to the cave. Impulse tells him to "jiggle it," which draw's Robin's ire and Secret's sympathy. Superboy suggests contacting Red Tornado, but he's not responding. After complaining for a bit, Robin has Impulse check all the other entrances. Superboy wants to simply tear the door down, but Robin says the door is too expensive to replace. Impulse reports that all the other doors are sealed, as well, and Robin realizes that Superboy's so desperate to get inside because he forgot to set the VCR to record "Wendy the Werewolf Stalker." (There are a couple of archaic references here, so let me explain. VCRs played VHS tapes and could be used to record TV shows, although it was a clunky, complicated process. And "Wendy the Werewolf Stalker" is a reference to a popular '90s show called "Buffy the Vampire Slayer.") Anyway, Robin finally comes up with a useful idea, and has Impulse vibrate through the door. Impulse kicks himself for not thinking of that, and Superboy demands he make it quick.

Meanwhile, Arrowette defeats Razorsharp with a gas arrow. She tells the intruder to be thankful she used a little respiratory irritant instead of a puke arrow. But while Arrowette gloats, Hackman sneaks up behind her and knocks her out with a taser. Channelman then alerts the Psyba-Rats of the arrival of Impulse, who is having too much fun keeping Superboy locked outside. For entry to the cave, Impulse demands control of the game programs for a week. When Superboy and Robin protest, Impulse ups it to two weeks.

Robin and Superboy then get into a big argument over how stupid Wend the Werewolf Stalker is, and Superboy says they should have installed a VCR into the Super-Cycle. Secret gets tired of the boys' fighting, so she decides to find a way inside on her own. Impulse, seemingly of his own volition, decides to start looking around the cave. But he does so rather sloppily, completely missing Razorsharp and Hackman, who are simply ducking behind a couch.

Impulse does find the shorted out Red Tornado, which he reports to Robin. The terrified Psyba-Rats, meanwhile, ask Channelman to find a weakness for the "human blur" they know is bound to find them eventually. So Channelman, who makes himself look vaguely like Sonic the Hedgehog, uses the cave's holographic projection system to create Vance Carnage from "Terminal Odyssey." Vance, wielding a sword and a gun, calls Impulse "mutant scum" and prepares to attack. But Bart calls the video game character his role model, and the source of his carpal tunnel pain. And Impulse gleefully battles the hologram, saying he'll race it to level 12.

We then check in with Arrowette, who is duct-taped to a pillar in the storage room. Her pride is hurt more than anything, knowing the guys are going to laugh at her for being defeated on her first night on watch duty. She manages to pull a small knife out of her boot in an attempt to free herself, when Secret comes pouring out of the vent. But nothing gets by Channelman, who turns on the fans to push Secret back into the vents, while Hackman resumes pilfering Young Justice's data.

When Robin loses contact with Impulse and Secret, Superboy's patience runs out and he smashes in the door, despite Robin's protests. Hackman finishes the job, having transferred all the files to three floppy discs (another reference to ancient, obsolete technology). Arrowette frees herself in time to shoot an arrow through the floppies, and she is soon joined by Superboy and Robin.

To everyone's surprise, Robin recognizes Razorsharp and tells the others she's not a bad guy. Arrowette complains that Razorsharp almost turned her into sushi, and Superboy offers to look at her wounds. Impulse, meanwhile, is sad that his immersive video game has suddenly ended. The Psyba-Rats begin apologizing profusely, saying they didn't know it was Young Justice when they took the job. But Superboy chews them out for not asking a lot of questions. To prove they aren't bad guys, Hackman brings Red Tornado back online.

So Robin finally starts asking questions, and we finally start getting answers. Razorsharp explains that they were hired anonymously over the Internet to transmit all files related to Magellan Imports. Robin recognizes this as one of the companies controlled by Blockbuster, who is currently causing Nightwing trouble in Bl├╝dhaven. So Young Justice works with the Psyba-Rats to send Blockbuster a virus that destroys his computers and gives him a stupid little cartoon of them laughing at him.

This issue is kind of a mess. Chuck Dixon doesn't have the best handle on these characters, and I hated how the Psyba-Rats were so ignorant and so willing to be straight-up bad guys until the very end. And it is pretty sad to bring in Blockbuster (whom Impulse fought in Impulse #8) and only have him smash a keyboard. The art was also messy, randomly switching between Todd Nauck's crisp, detailed work and Coy Turnbull's sloppy, inconsistent style. I would have preferred to have Turnbull all the way through rather than constantly swap back and forth between two contrasting styles.

Michael C. Lorah, of State College, Penn., enjoyed Young Justice #3, saying Mr. Mxyzptlk was the perfect villain for the boys. He's also interested in learning more about Red Tornado's family. asks why Young Justice costs $2.50 an issue, which was a bit more expensive than other comics at the time. Eddie Berganza doesn't have a good answer for this, but does point out how Young Justice is printed on the sleeker paper. Ironically, though, this issue was printed on the rougher, newspaper-like paper.

Jay McIntyre, of Colmar, Penn., suggests they name the letter column Scales of Justice. He also points out that "Superboy isn't any more patient than Impulse; he just takes time off to strut his stuff." And Jay asks for Terra to join the team, and for the General to fight Young Justice.

Doud Ohmer, of Covington, Ky., says Young Justice is on pace to match the old Teen Titans in popularity due to its great storytelling and art.

David Lusk asks for Mary Marvel to join the team and for a Young Justice/Titans crossover. He then goes into a lengthy diatribe about Harm and how his parents need to stop him. Now for the new ads:

"Welcome Arctic Shatter. Cold in a bottle, here to save your game." Powerade.

"After flying back from Planet TMR-IC, nothing washes the bugs out of my teeth better than Sprite."

The Mod Squad. Starring Claire Danes, Omar Epps and Giovanni Ribisi.

Konami XXL Sports Series on PlayStation and Nintendo 64. Featuring Jaromir Jagr of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Glen Rice of the Charlotte Hornets. Jagr is a national hero in the Czech Republic, a country I spent two years living in. Rice was an All-Star in the 1997-98 season, his last with the Hornets before being traded to the Lakers in March 1999.

WSL Roller Jam on TNN.

Joe Kubert's World of Cartooning.

Use your special power.

Next time, we'll see the lingering effects of the Psyba-Rats' attack on Red Tornado in Young Justice 80-Page Giant #1.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Impulse #47

Lessons in Fear

William Messner-Loebs Writer
Craig Rousseau Penciller
Barb Kaalberg Inker
Janice Chiang Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
VLM Separator
Superman created by Siegel & Shuster
L.A. Williams Editor
Impulse created by Waid & Wieringo

This is the first issue of Impulse that didn't have the same editing team as The Flash. When Paul Kupperberg left, L.A. Williams either left or was kicked off The Flash, but he got to hold on to Impulse by himself. But despite the difference in editors, Impulse will continue to make occasional guest appearances in The Flash. Now if only we could get Wally to show up in Impulse once in a while ...

But who needs the Flash when you've got Superman! This month's cover by Craig Rousseau and Wayne Faucher gives us Superman in one of his most quintessential poses — rescuing a cat from a tree. And a jealous Impulse provides a perfectly humorous juxtaposition.

Our story begins with Manchester once again covered in snow (unlike the cover). For a town in the South where it never snows, it sure seems to snow quite a bit in Manchester, Alabama. Anyway, Impulse has been tracking down the Tigers gang that shot Max Mercury back on Halloween, because for some reason, Max decided not to bring those punks to justice. Luckily, Bart is being the responsible one this time, and he was tipped off about the Tigers' plan to ambush some school kids today. So Bart set himself up in a secluded location, armed with a pair of binoculars and plenty of junk food to last the one hour, 38 minutes and 24 seconds he's been waiting.

We then see school counselor Jasper Pierson walking home, lost in thought. Apparently a bunch of school kids have been joining a group called the Supermen of America. This sounds good and well, but Jasper wishes he could start a dialogue with this group to make sure they don't have any hidden agendas. Jasper's so worked up about this, he almost gets hit by a car. But the car was lifted up into the air at the last second.

At the home of Max, Helen and Bart, poor Helen is left to shovel the driveway by herself since Max said he needed to leave on a "secret assignment" and Bart is still waiting for the gang to show up. But just as Helen gets started with the chore, two thin beams of heat hit the driveway and melt all the snow away.

We head back to Impulse, who is growing impatient with the molasses-like pace of time. It has now been one hour, 39 minutes and seven seconds. Finally, the Tigers gang shows up. But to Bart's surprise, all of them are wearing blue sweaters and berets with the Supermen of America logo, including the punks involved in Max's shooting, Steelboy and Raffles.

Unfortunately, Impulse is too far away to hear the gang discuss how they're using the Supermen of America to cover their criminal activity. And Impulse can't figure out how to get close enough to listen in without revealing himself. When Evil Eye shows up, Bart realizes he has no choice and has to hear what they're talking about. So he quickly runs through his options. If he runs straight down there, all the snow will kick up and he'll be spotted. But if he runs fast enough, he might be able to melt the snow ...

But before Impulse can enact his plan, someone places a hand on his shoulder and says, "Son ... " Bart freaks out and runs right past the gang, and keeps on running and running, trying to get away from this stranger. Bart realizes he's being chased by someone quite fast, and suddenly, he's stopped by Superman himself. Bart wonders where all the snow went, and Superman tells him that they're in the Gobi Desert — on the other side of the world.

Superman apologizes for startling Impulse, saying he saw the teen speedster crouching down and thought he could use his help. Bart asks him what he was doing in Manchester in the first place, and Superman says he's decided to really use his powers to help people by basically being a hero nonstop. As they talk, Superman quickly excuses himself to take care of some land mine trouble in Burundi. Just as soon as he gets back, Superman leaves to help the Titans, and we get a quick shot of Nightwing and Jesse Quick.

Bart spends most of his time in the Gobi Desert impatiently tapping his foot and whistling, but Superman does eventually return to explain that he's decided he doesn't have the right to pick and choose anymore. From now on, he's going to do whatever it takes to help everyone in need all the time. Bart understands where Superman's coming from, saying his recent interactions with John Fox and the Chain Lightning saga have shown him he needs to be more responsible. But Superman ditches Impulse once again, and he decides to head back home, hoping he didn't miss anything with the gang.

Meanwhile, Roland, who has also joined the Supermen of America, is inviting Evil Eye to join him at the Monster Ice Skate Rally. But Evil Eye is desperate to join the Tigers gang — despite what happened on Halloween — and he shoves Roland away. Roland is hurt and confused at this action from his friend, but Evil Eye was actually trying to protect Roland from the gang, which is trying to use Evil Eye to help them exploit other members of the Supermen of America.

Steelboy and Raffles come across Evil Eye and Roland, and they prepare to rough Roland up a bit. Impulse arrives in the nick of time, and the bullies claim they weren't doing anything and that Roland fell by accident. Impulse surprisingly gets pretty tough with them, saying, "Well, I'm here now. The accident's over." The bullies say they aren't scared, but they do leave anyway, reminding Impulse that everything they do is on Superman's say-so. And they walk past a window that says, "Coming Soon ... ago ... Van Sciver" — a reference to the upcoming creative team, Todd Dezago and Ethan Van Sciver.

Impulse lingers behind with Roland, who asks him if those bullies are really working with Superman. Impulse isn't sure, so Roland says he should ask Superman. When Impulse says it's not that easy, Roland suggests asking someone who really knows him. So Impulse decides to go ask his best friend who has the closest connection to Superman — Superboy.

Bart surprises Superboy, who yells at him for sneaking up on people like Superman's been doing lately. After admitting he found Superboy by going everywhere he could be until he blundered across him, Impulse asks his friend about Superman. Superboy says no one can fall off a curb lately without getting a face full of Big Blue. Impulse figures Superman just wants to help more, but Superboy thinks he's going too far. He tells Impulse that Superman has set up a 24-hour monitor station at the Fortress of Solitude, on which we see quick glimpses of Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Captain Marvel.

Superboy speculates that Superman has stopped eating and sleeping, and says things have gotten pretty intense. Impulse suggests they try to talk to Superman, and as soon as he says that, Superman suddenly appears behind the two boys and menacingly asks what they want to talk about. Both immediately chicken out and says everything's swell and peachy. So Superman takes off, telling the two to get back to work.

A thoughtful Bart returns home and comes across Max, who defensively tells Bart he can't tell him about his recent trip. But Bart's not interested in that. He instead asks Max why they even bother leading normal lives. Bart tells Max all about his encounter with Superman and he wonders if he should follow suit — setting up a monitoring station in the basement with a supply of a hundred thousand pizzas and chili dogs, and circling the globe doing good.

Max admits that is a good idea in theory, but then he flips it around on Bart. Max asks Bart how he felt growing up in the virtual reality, and Bart says he felt safe, but he knew he was missing out on the real world. So Max asks Bart what would happen if they took his plan to the extreme and built a giant virtual reality for everyone, seeing as that's the only way to really protect people. The confused Bart asks if their job isn't to protect people. Max says their job is to help people live the lives they want, but not to rule through fear. And Max concludes his talk by helping Bart realize that he was a little scared of Superman this afternoon.

Later, the Tigers gang head down to Pete's to intimidate Gamal into paying them protection money. As usual, it takes Gamal a while to figure out what they're talking about. But when the punks pull out their baseball bats, Gamal gets the message. Luckily, someone is there to stand up for Gamal — the unlikely hero, Jasper Pierson. Jasper explains that Superman saved his life recently, and he's trying to follow his example. But his actions only make the gang angrier, and one of them pulls out a knife. Evil Eye sees this, and realizes (once again) that he's hanging with the wrong crowd. He tries to fight off the bullies, and when a window is smashed, Superman arrives to put an end to the commotion.

One of the idiots swings a bat at Superman, and he crushes the weapon like a toothpick. Another actually pulls out a gun, and Impulse suddenly arrives to take it away, assuming (or hoping) that it was the same gun that shot Max. Impulse helps Superman take the Tigers away, leaving a frightened Evil Eye behind.

I'll admit I wasn't a huge fan of this issue. Superman's first cameo in this series came at a rather dark time for him, as his new attitude put him at odds with everyone from the JLA to the Metropolis police. So that aspect of this issue instantly became a bit of a downer. But I'm even more troubled by the Tigers gang, Evil Eye and Max. Why didn't Max bring the kid who shot him to justice? I know he was embarrassed by his flub, but that punk is a menace to society and needs to be taught that he can't go around shooting people! Max even could have simply testified against him as Max Crandall to protect his secret identity. And this can't be an instance where Max leaves it up to Bart to tie up all the loose ends. It wasn't Bart's fault Max got shot — it was his own, therefore he should have apprehended the criminal as soon as he was able. And as for Evil Eye, I guess the best word to describe my feelings is disappointed. I'm not entirely surprised he went crawling back to that gang. You'd think that the events of Halloween would be enough to scare him straight, but he's a confused, desperate kid in a rough situation. Truly a tragic character.

All the letters in Impulsive Reactions are via DC Online, so we just get goofy screen names this time.

Galadrie says Impulse #43 was one of the best issues in a while, but does complain about Gamal, saying we either need to know more about him and have a reason to care about him, or we simply need to see less of him. And I kind of agree with Galadrie. William Messner-Loebs just had a hard time getting Gamal off the ground. He never gave him a last name or named the country he's from, making it that much harder to connect to him.

Dew 1976 wants to know when Bart and Carol are going to hook up, but L.A. Williams reminds Dew that Bart is really only 3 years old and still not interested in dating.

Selinacatx simply asks why Bart's eyes are yellow, and L.A. really doesn't have an answer.

Dusty points out that there is a real Manchester, Alabama, but it's nothing like the one in the comics. L.A. says they treat it like they do New York. It's based on a real place, but is peppered with lots of fictional aspects. In later interviews, Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn admitted they chose the name Manchester without realizing it was also the name of an actual town. They just wanted a random, average city in Alabama. Now for the new ads:

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

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Don't eat the winning Oreo — showing off is much tastier.

Power Rangers Lost Galaxy. I have no idea what this iteration was all about. I had already bowed out of the Power Rangers by this point.

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Animorphs: The Invasion Begins. I read the first few Animorph books, and did enjoy them. But the TV show never held my attention. And then the books became really repetitive.

Next time, Impulse and his friends will get some guest stars and face a familiar foe (sort of) in Young Justice #8.