Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Young Justice #11

Siege Perilous

Peter David Same Ol' Writer
Angel Unzueta Guest Penciller
Jaime Mendoza Guest Inker
Lary Stucker Not Guest Inker
Jason Wright Good Not-So-Ol' Colorist
Ken Lopez Little Ol' Letterer
Maureen McTigue New Associate Editor
Eddie Berganza Same Ol' Editor
Can you find the character who had her book cancelled a while back making a cameo on the cover by Nauck, Stucker and Patrick Martin?

I'll admit I have no idea which character Berganza is referring to. I have a wild idea that it might be the female D.E.O. agent in the bottom left corner. There's like a 2 percent chance that girl is Inferno, who had her own series cancelled in 1998 after only four issues. But that's just my wild stab in the dark. Otherwise, this is a really nice cover that gives us a good idea of what's going to happen in this issue and who's all involved.

Our story opens with Red Tornado visiting his wife, Kathy Sutton, in the hospital. The doctors say it was miraculous that Kathy was able to survive the fall from her apartment. However, she's now in a coma, and they have no idea if she'll wake up in five minutes or five years. Red Tornado then tries to take Traya home, but he is stopped by a social services woman. She tells Red that since Traya's adopted mother is incapacitated and she has no other living relatives, then she has to be placed in foster care until the family court works out the details. Red Tornado vehemently protests, but the sudden arrival of Agents Fite 'n Maad convinces the android to allow this to play out in the courts.

Meantime, at the Justice Cave, the kids have somehow created an indoor pool for themselves complete with a high dive. Impulse, Arrowette, Superboy and Wonder Girl have all traded their uniforms for swimming suits, although Cassie still has her black wig on. Bart tries to get Secret to join in the fun, but she says she doesn't like water, even though she's not sure why. Cissie says it's ridiculous to keep calling her Secret. She says Robin is a normal name, and they can call Superboy Kon-El if they want, but Secret really needs a normal-sounding name, too. Superboy suggests Victoria, which Cassie initially likes until Cissie points out that he's calling her Victoria Secret.

Cissie then suggests suggests Suzie, saying it's one of her names. This confuses Bart, so explains that she hates her own name and sometimes calls herself Suzie, Carrie, Cecelia, Chi-Chi, and Ralph during one weird phase. In any case, Secret is honored to accept the personal gift of one of Cissie's names.

Predictably, Robin has decided to remain in uniform and forgo the fun in the pool. He tells the others that Red Tornado just contacted him and explained the situation with Traya. Red Tornado told Robin he doesn't need any help, but the Boy Wonder has decided to monitor the situation. As Robin talks, Bart tries to sneak up on Robin and push him in the pool, but Robin was ready for this and uses his bow staff to trip Bart into the water.

At the court in Chicago, Red Tornado (officially John Smith) gets off to a pretty bad start in his case. The judge asks Red if he's even alive, to which he replies, "Cogito ergo sum" (I think, therefore I am). But this does not please the judge, who says Red Tornado is entitled to the same rights as those to his father's '63 Chevy. The prosecution also brings up Red Tornado's recent attempt on the pope's life. The android tries to explain that he was taken over by Harm, but this only hurts his case more. Ultimately, the judge concludes that Red Tornado is nothing more than a machine, and he orders that Traya be placed in foster care.

Traya begins crying and screaming for her daddy. So Red Tornado decides to reject the court's decision and take his daughter anyway. He easily shoves aside the bailiff and takes Traya into his arms. Fite 'n Maad try to stop him, but Red blows past them and out the window. However, the A.P.E.S. were ready for this, having placed a null field around the entire courthouse. But Fite and Maad know this won't last, so they call in some reinforcements.

The disturbance at the courthouse is quickly picked up by the news, which the entire team watches on the monitors in the cave. Robin contacts Red Tornado, saying they'll be there soon to help, but Red says this is a personal matter and he doesn't want to jeopardize the team's reputation. Superboy asks Robin if they're really going to ignore this problem like they did when he disappeared recently, or if they're going to actually interfere like they did when Cissie was arrested during the whole Kali fiasco.  Robin tells Superboy the JLA expressly told them to stay away from his Hypertime adventure, but with Cissie, they didn't know the full story when they intervened. But when Cissie prods him, Robin does admit they probably still would have bailed her out even if they did know she was accused of almost knifing a toddler.

And then Bart says something rather profound (as he is prone to do once a Blue Moon): "If we only went places we were wanted, we'd never go anywhere!" Robin thinks about it for a minute, then decides to borrow a page from Superboy's book — look for a loophole. Red Tornado said he didn't want Young Justice to interfere, but he didn't say anything about their secret identities.

At the courthouse, the A.P.E.S. reinforcements arrive, and the D.E.O. angrily hangs back, believing this incident should fall under their jurisdiction. Young Justice arrives in street clothes, and Robin has Secret (Suzie) create a big distraction to help them slip in under the force field with the A.P.E.S. troops. Bart wonders what terrifying thing Suzie would turn into, and it turns out she's been watching a lot of CNN lately, and decided that a lawyer would be the scariest thing. Of course, it helps that she turned into a 20-foot tall lawyer, but her silly plan did have the desired effect.

As the teens rush in through the commotion, Agent Maad tries to use a smoke grenade to keep the civilians away from the courthouse. But Robin knocks it away with his bow staff. Once inside, Robin sends Kon to the roof to take down the force field, while he assigns Bart to find Red Tornado and tell him what's going on.

Robin, Cissie and Cassie remain behind to hold off the A.P.E.S., while Suzie visits the comatose Kathy. Suzie didn't tell the others what she intends to do, but they trust her anyway. As Suzie examines Kathy, she notes that she is hovering on the Abyss. Suzie says she's been there herself, and she wishes she could tell her friends. Suzie then removes Kathy's breathing mask and enters her body through her nose.

Bart quickly explains the plan to Red Tornado, then runs away before the android can chastise him. Using a mini-crossbow, Cissie uses some quick-freeze arrows to turn the stairs to ice as the A.P.E.S. race up them. And Robin gives them a smoke cover with some exploding marbles. The troops hastily open fire on their unseen attackers, and Bart is careful to zip by them without being spotted, while taking the time to tie their shoelaces together.

Up on the roof, Kon has a hard time finding anything to help him take down the force field without revealing himself as Superboy. But he discovers a can of gasoline, which gives him an idea. Inside, Cassie pushes a large statue to block off the A.P.E.S., which they naturally begin shooting at, despite Agents Fite's protests to preserve the work of art. Of course, Fite and Maad are able to figure out who's behind these attacks.

Most of the team reunites with Red Tornado, who angrily tells them to leave at once. Suddenly, Kon lights himself on fire and begins screaming for help. The agents fall for the trick, ordering the force field to be opened to let an air squad in to tend to the burning civilian. Robin points this out to Red Tornado, telling him to hurry and fly through that opening and then meet the team back at the cave. Red Tornado complies with this plan, shoving aside two trooper on jet packs while he escapes with Traya, not knowing whether to be grateful to the kids or to ground them.

Superboy comes crashing through the roof, wearing just his uniform since the fire burned away his street clothes. He apologizes to Robin for not being subtle, but Robin praises him for getting the job done. Unfortunately, Young Justice didn't think through an escape plan for themselves, and they're soon surrounded by Fite, Maad and all the other A.P.E.S. agents.

This was a pretty interesting issue. I rarely think about the ethical, moral and legal quandaries of an android adopting a child, and I appreciated this issue for opening up that topic. But this comic doesn't get bogged down in the philosophy of the matter, instead focusing on the relationships of the characters involved. Traya loves Red Tornado, and even though he's an android, he clearly loves her, too, and will do everything he can to protect her. The kids of Young Justice love and respect Red Tornado, and they, in turn, will do everything they can to help him, regardless of who is right or wrong in this ethical dilemma. And in the midst of this very serious topic, this issue is still pretty fun and light-hearted.

Even the great Todd Nauck had to take the occasional issue off, and luckily Angel Unzueta proved a satisfactory replacement. I wouldn't go as far as to say his art was good, but it never detracted from the story, and on the whole was quite serviceable. One fun thing Unzueta got to do was draw all the kids in their street clothes — something I wish would happen a lot more. Within the convoluted logic of Robin at this time, it makes sense that he would wear sunglasses to protect his identity (as if that made any difference). I do find it odd, however, that Cassie would keep her black wig on at all times. Perhaps Unzueta didn't realize that she actually has short, blond hair. (He should have read issue #9, where she hangs out with the team without her wig on!)

I guess I'm still sensitive from seeing Carol's bra hanging off last time, but I'm also pretty upset with how this issue sexualized the girls. Cassie and Cissie were introduced wearing extremely skimpy bikinis — their bottoms were about as thick as a pencil. Later, when they actually put some clothes on, they were still too revealing for my tastes. I mean, their shirts just barely covered their breasts. And their pants were so tight, it really makes me wonder where Cissie managed to hide all her weapons. Come one, Unzueta! These girls are minors! Put some clothes on them!

Paul Dale Roberts, of Sacramento, Calif., praised Young Justice #6, saying he had to laugh when Robin and Impulse said "lions, tigers and bears" in unison before being attacked by those very animals. He also likes the girls on the team the best, partly because they act like real girls that age.

James Maxey said issue #6 is why he likes Impulse. Other characters would stop and panic when being told that Martian Manhunter was being possessed. But Impulse didn't stop to consider this, instead jumping right in and helping save the day. And in the process, rapidly become one of James' all-time favorite characters.

Gavin J Vincent has high praise for the book and the whole team. On Impulse, Gavin said that whoever created him is brilliant since the way he acts is a trademark of any 14-year-old with super speed. Gavin says Impulse has a wicked cool design and great hair.

Shannon David Smith, of Atlanta, complains that Martian Manhunter was defeated too easily, and also asks for the current Green Arrow, Connor Hawke, to make an appearance on the book, saying his calm manner would be a nice contrast to Superboy's and Impulse's recklessness. Now for the ads:

Crisis on Infinite Earths: The Death of Supergirl! A tragedy that will stand forever as a defining moment in the DC Universe is brought to life in this limited edition cold-cast porcelain statue.

The world thought he was dead. That never stopped him before. Manhunter: The Special Edition.

Next time, we'll finally find out who that shadowy figure watching Bart is in Impulse #51.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Legends of the DC Universe #19

Manchester Monkey Business

Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt Writer
Pop Mahn Penciller
Romeo Tanghal Inker
Daniel Vozzo Colorist
Digital Chameleon Separator
L.A. Williams Zoo Keeper
It's monkey business this month on Duncan Fegredo's painted cover.

Well, just because it's a painted cover doesn't mean it's good. The proportions are all wonky — it looks like Impulse's head isn't connected to his body, and that evil gorilla has an unbelievably massive hand. But it is a fun concept, despite the poor execution. Impulse is going all Tarzan style, but instead of a vine, he's swinging on a big snake. To be technical, though, Carol is captured by a gorilla in this issue, but none of the action takes place in a jungle.

Our story begins with everybody at Manchester Junior High becoming quite annoyed with a student named Gordon Matthews. In class after class, he goes out of his to make sure everybody knows how smart he is, whether that's expounding philosophically on Charles Dickens, demonstrating mastery in chemistry, or speaking Latin fluently. (He quotes the Archpoet, "Feror ego veluti sine nauta navis ut per vias aeris vaga fertur avis" — "I am borne along like a ship without a sailor, like a wandering bird through airy ways.") But it's more than his rude and arrogant behavior that has students and teachers against Gordon. It's something they can't quite put their finger on.

We then head over to the Manchester Monkey Business School, which trains various primates for movies, television and other show biz opportunities. I don't know why such a school would be based in Alabama, but we'll go with it. Anyway, Max Mercury and Impulse are visiting the school because there was an apparent break-in. All the doors and cages were opened, but fortunately, only two chimpanzees, one orangutan and one gorilla escaped. I don't know why we don't see the police investigating this, but Max Mercury assures the school director he and Impulse will find the missing apes, while poor Bart gets swarmed by a handful of chimps.

So Max and Bart begin canvassing the town, and this is where the ugly art of Pop Mhan really becomes a detriment to the story. And unfortunately we get a handful of "maps" like this throughout the issue.

Impulse tells Max he saw 98 cats, 74 dogs, six foxes, 21 snakes and 114 squirrels, but no apes. And since Max couldn't find any either, they both decide to call it a day and go home. Bart heads over to Carol's house to study for their chemistry test with Preston, and Max begins to realize that he probably shouldn't have given up looking for the apes so quickly. Once he's alone, Max begins to meditate. Probing the surface of the Speed Force, Max discovers that the missing apes have somehow tapped into the lightning and are terrorizing Paris at super speed. This is the first instance of super-fast animals Max has heard of since the legendary 4th-century panda, Xong Tsai. Max is in costume and halfway to Paris in less time than it takes a hummingbird to flap its wings once.

Meanwhile, Bart, Carol and Preston are having a hard time studying. Among their scattered chemistry and algebra books is Views of L.A., naturally. Carol says she should have taken Gordon up on his offer to study with her, and Bart spends the next several hours actually studying and filling his head with chemistry. In fact, his head is so full of chemistry, that it takes him 10 minutes after arriving home to realize that he left his books at Carol's house.

We see that Max has caught up with the apes, but it's only the two chimpanzees and orangutan. However, while chasing them from the Netherlands to Romania, Max sees these three apes are wearing special helmets that allowed them to tap into the Speed Force.

Back with Bart, by the time he gets back to Carol's house, he finds the place trashed and Preston tied to a chair. Preston tells Bart that Gordon showed up, went nuts, kidnapped Carol and stole Preston's nachos. Luckily, Preston did see that Gordon took Carol away in a light blue van, so Bart immediately takes off to "find" Impulse, leaving his friend tied up.

Max finally catches the orangutan on the Kamchatka peninsula with a Wuhan fishing net. He ties the ape up to a tree and takes a moment to examine its helmet before pursuing the chimpanzees. Meanwhile, it takes Bart almost a minute to find a light blue van, which just happens to be parked in front of Manchester Junior High. Because he still has chemistry on his brain, Bart immediately rushes into the science lab. Turns out that was a good impulse, since that's where Gordon has taken Carol and hooked her up to a machine with the missing gorilla.

Turns out Gordon was expecting Impulse since he's placed an anti-Speed Force field around the room. Impulse asks Gordon why he's doing this, pointing out that he has a big unit test tomorrow. Gordon reveals that he knows Impulse is Bart Allen and like him, Gordon is also continuing a legacy. Gordon takes off his shirt and pushes a button on his big yellow belt, which transforms, or rather reverts him back into a gorilla. The ape from the cover of the comic announces himself as Gorbul Mammit, son of Gorilla Grodd.

Max finally catches up with the chimps over open water, which he uses to his advantage to knock them out. Meanwhile, Gorbul explains to Impulse that the gorilla he freed is going to be his wife once he transfers Carol's brainwaves to her. Gorbul then plans to become a sort of Adam and Eve with his wife to sire a race of super gorillas. But as Gorbul gloats, his bride-to-be becomes distracted and accidentally rips out the power cords to the machine, which shuts down the force field that prevented Impulse from using his speed.

Max loads the drowned-out chimps in a nearby fisherman's boat, which he quickly pulls to shore. Not wanting to perform mouth-to-mouth on the apes, he rushes over a professional, the director of the Manchester Monkey Business School. Impulse, meanwhile, frees Carol and launches into a big fight with Gorbul. Impulse throws out all the strategies and lessons he's learned from Max, Wally and Jay, and acts on pure impulse, which completely throws off Gorbul.

Impulse gives Grodd's son quite a beating before tying up the normal gorilla in some cables. Bart then checks on Carol, whom Mhan has disgustingly decided to draw with her shirt off and bra barely hanging on by a strap. Dude! She's like 14! Anyway, Gorbul pushes another button on his belt and begins to glow with a green energy. Bart thinks this is a bomb, so he pulls Carol to the ground and covers her up. But Gorbul just grabs his gorilla girlfriend and teleports away. Max then arrives to find Bart awkwardly lying on top of Carol.

Our story ends with an epilogue of sorts, showing us that the two chimpanzees Max rescued landed their own show on the WB Network, and the orangutan was hired by a Russian circus. Gorbul is enjoying some quality time with his new wife, still planning on increasing her intelligence somehow. And Grodd is reading about his son's exploits in the N.Y. Daily Probe, chastising him for thinking far too small. And eventually someone did untie Preston. Probably Carol's brother or sister we never see anymore.

This issue was a prelude to the upcoming JLApe event to be carried out in DC's annuals. For some reason, Impulse didn't get an annual in 1999, so I guess this issue kind of counts as it. Legends of the DC Universe was sort of an anthology title, with each issue focusing on a different character and featuring a different creative team. I suppose following this series would have been a fun way to keep tabs on the DC Universe as a whole, but I think I would have become frustrated with the inconsistency on a month-to-month basis. In my experience, quality begins to suffer with these types of guest-creator one-shots, as we often see in annuals, 80-page giants, and here.

As happy as I was to see Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt on this issue, I was even more dismayed to see Pop Mhan. His artwork seems to have hit an all-time low with this issue, filling each page with ugly, lazy drawings. Each character looked awful, every "map" was impossible to follow, and he really lost a lot of points with me by trying to sexualize Carol. I also want to criticize the letterer, but the one time I want a name to blame, I can't find one. But this comic was literally tough to read because of the lettering. The worst part was when Gorbul Mammit first announced his name. It was written in such a difficult to decipher, stylized font, that I have seen other websites list his name as Gorbzil.

As for the story, well, it wasn't really Hernandez-Rosenblatt's best. I suppose it was a noble pursuit to give Impulse a tie to Gorilla Grodd, but just as Todd Dezago tried in World Without Grown-Ups, this idea just doesn't work. Well, maybe the idea isn't that bad, but rather the execution. Gorbul probably could have worked as a character in Impulse's main series, giving us some more time to get to know the student Gordon Matthews first. But he's just really thrown right at us in this issue with no rhyme or reason to his actions. Why does he want a junior high student to be his wife? And if he could develop devices to allow apes to tap into the Speed Force, then why didn't he wear one of those devices himself? But this comic wasn't all bad. The narrative captions were simply wonderful. And Impulse asking the bad guy why he isn't studying for tomorrow's test is just about as funny as it gets.

Surprisingly, one of the letters to the editor actually mentions Impulse. Someone calling themselves Daredevil praised the Legends of the DC Universe Crisis on Infinite Earths special, saying it helped explain to him how Impulse came about. I haven't read this issue, but I'm assuming Daredevil is referring to how Barry Allen set up a family in the 30th century before sacrificing himself in the fight against the Anti-Monitor. Now for the few new ads:

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Next time, we'll deal with the recent tragedy in Red Tornado's family in Young Justice #11.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Superboy #65

Hyper-Tension! Epilogue: Out of Hyper-Time!

Too much happens this issue to waste time here! Suffice it to say you hold another Kesel-Grummett-Davis-Setzer-Comicrafct-Berrios-McAvennie production in your palms! (With prodigious praise to the power of Jack Kirby!) Now hurry up and turn the page!

As the excited credit box says, a lot happens in this issue. But not a whole lot happens with Impulse, the focus of this blog, so we can afford to take a little bit of time to analyze things. Our cover boldly proclaims that the greatest gallery of guest stars in the galaxy have gathered to audition to be the new Superboy. And isn't it fitting that Impulse is front and center? The two are both very powerful impulsive teenagers who basically were raised in laboratories away from society. Continuing clockwise from Impulse, we have the Metal Men, the Creeper, Inferno, Steel, Green Lantern, Odd Man, Robin, and a rather obscured Damage.

This story is the epilogue of a sprawling five-part adventure Superboy had with the Challengers of the Unknown. Apparently he was gone for so long that the folks at Cadmus started to get a bit antsy and began looking around for a new field agent to replace Superboy. Unfortunately, one of the Cadmus scientists went behind everybody's back and spread the word on the Internet, so Cadmus ended up with a lot more applicants than they bargained for.

Damage is quite eager to work at Cadmus, but he has a hard time convincing them he has his exploding powers under control. Sadly, he doesn't talk to Impulse or Green Lantern, even though they all used to be teammates. In fact, I think most people just prefer to ignore that ill-fated version of the New Titans. Anyway, most of Young Justice is there (minus Secret for some reason), but none of them are interested in working at Cadmus — they only want to find out what happened to Superboy.

As the various applicants try to convince Cadmus to hire them, there's a running gag that nobody knows this girl called Flamebird. Impulse asks Robin who she is, and he says she's kind of a superhero groupie who used to bother Nightwing. The most surprising candidate is the reformed Flash Rogue, Heat Wave. But he quickly proves his worth by discovering that Hawk and Dove are actually the villains Punch and Jewelee in disguise.

There's a brief chase scene with Punch and Jewelee taking Cadmus scientist Serling Roquette hostage. But Superboy arrives in the nick of time to save the day. But before Serling can thank the Kid, Impulse scoops him up and rushes him over to all his friends. All the candidates start to leave when they see Superboy is back safe and sound, but Cadmus decides to still name a backup for Superboy in case he has another prolonged leave of absence. And that backup is Heat Wave, but primarily so the corrupt director can use the ex-con as a scape goat if needed. The cameo-heavy issue then closes with Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman arriving to debrief Superboy on his long adventure.

This was actually a pretty fun issue, even though Young Justice really didn't do anything. There were a lot of fun cameos, and the artwork made them all look pretty good. And the story provided an organic way for the characters to introduce themselves and showcase their powers. My only complaint isn't really in this issue, but the Young Justice series. If Superboy really was missing for so long, and all his friends were worried about him, then why didn't he miss any time in the pages of Young Justice?

Next time, former Impulse editor Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt will return to write an Impulse-centric issue of Legends of the DC Universe.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Resurrection Man #27

The Ends of the Earth

Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning • Story
Butch Guice • Art
Ken Lopez • Letters
Carla Feeny • Colors
Frank Berrios • Edits

Our cover by Butch Guice unfortunately doesn't show anything that happens in this issue. It's a stark image of Resurrection Man standing in front of his grave in the rain. I suppose it's decent enough, but it has nothing to do with the story inside, nor does it convey the finality of this series.

When we last left off in this series, Impulse, Robin and Superboy joined a whole bunch of other superheroes in investigating a strange disturbance in Antarctica. This was caused by a reality-altering monster called the Warp Child. And most of the superheroes succumb to its effects.

I'm not sure what's going on with Starfire or Red Tornado, but Jesse Quick and Green Lantern appear to be translucent. Superboy is some sort of lizard monster frozen in ice, Robin is a shadow, and Impulse an old man. This reminds me of the time Psymon made Impulse think he became an old man. Anyway, as we can see, none of these heroes are properly equipped to deal with the monster's reality-warping abilities.

There are exactly three individuals who are immune to the Warp Child's powers — Resurrection Man, Vandal Savage and Immortal Man. The three form an uneasy alliance, and Vandal Savage and Immortal Man keep trying to secretly use the Warp Child for their purposes. Finally, they agree to work together, and Immortal Man seemingly sacrifices himself to get rid of the monster.

Everything returns to normal, and Vandal Savage slips away in the confusion, leaving Resurrection Man with all the other heroes. The Flash and Aquaman are also there, even though they weren't shown previously. I guess they were just late arrivals. Anyway, the story ends one week later with Resurrection Man kissing his girlfriend, Kim Rebecki. And an editor's note says, "This one's for Joe Orlando," who was a prominent DC editor in the 1960s, specializing in these type of strange, supernatural tales, and died Dec. 23, 1998.

I imagine this finale would have been a lot more meaningful had I read the previous 26 issues of this series. Until I gain that perspective, I'm left feeling rather lukewarm about the whole thing. Resurrection Man was given an obstacle only he could overcome, and Earth's mightiest, and most popular heroes were thrown into the thick of it just to illustrate this point. It's kind of an odd use for a whole bunch of cameos, but I don't necessarily disagree with it. This is Resurrection Man's story after all. I just happen to not care about it.

Next time, Impulse will make his first appearance in the pages of Superboy!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

DC One Million 80-Page Giant #1,000,000

Head Games

Chuck Dixon Writer
Drew Johnson Pencils
Rich Faber Inks
Clem Robins Letters
Buzz Setzer Colors
Book separations by Zylonol
Cover by Val Semeiks and Prentis Rollins with color by Lee Loughridge
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
Batman created by Bob Kane
Edited by Maureen McTigue

That's right, we've returned to the 853rd century one last time. And it's all for the future version of Impulse that literally did nothing in the main One Million storyline. Maybe he'll do more this time? In any case, he did sneak onto the cover with the millionth clone of Superboy sadly holding the broken-down Robin the Toy Wonder. This is your typical 80-Page Giant with seven separate 10-page stories, with its typical cover — featuring a closeup of the main character(s) with quick glimpses of three of the stories. I am glad the Young Justice Legion S was chosen, but I can't say it's a particularly good image. At least it's not terrible.

Impulse co-creator Mike Wieringo drew one story in this issue, unfortunately that story didn't include Impulse. The first two pages of this issue is a big splash image called The One Million Universe at a Glance by Phil Jimenez with Joe Rosas. It's just every single character from this universe, including Impulse, standing around in a big group. It's nice artwork, but nothing special.

Our story begins with Impulse and Superboy wondering what to do with the inert Robin, who apparently got beat up pretty good during the One Million storyline. Impulse claims Robin the Toy Wonder is now obsolete, but Superboy gets a second opinion by consulting the Eye — a large orbiting supercomputer. Impulse has apparently never heard of the Eye before, and calls it "icky" when he sees it. He also makes a bunch of lame jokes about Eye sounding like "I" and "ay ay," while wondering who the Eye's looking at.

Anyway, the Eye reports only minimal neural activity coming from Robin, and warns that retrieving his electronic consciousness will take surgical skill. Impulse misinterprets this as a go-ahead, and he "blips" into Robin's head, despite protests from Superboy and the Eye. Inside Robin's head, Impulse encounters the robot's security system — a large version of Robin that attacks Impulse with batarangs. Impulse manages to dodge most of the attacks, but things get complicated when Robin's computer reaches deep into the archives to re-create the original Batman, Nightwing, Robin, Azrael, Huntress and even Alfred. Impulse holds his own for a bit before ultimately succumbing to some sort of energy drain.

On the outside, Eye tells Superboy that Robin is feeding off Impulse's energy, and soon, Impulse will cease to be so the robotic Robin might live. Superboy says they need to save Impulse, so the Eye converts Superboy into pure energy and places him in Robin's head, telling him to appeal to Robin as a friend. Superboy is quickly caught by the giant Robin, and he shouts at him, saying that neither he nor Impulse are viruses. Superboy then warns Robin about what Batman would do when he found out Robin had killed his best friends. And this was apparently enough to wake Robin up.

With Superboy and Impulse out of Robin's head, their robotic friend apologizes for his behavior, but Superboy says they understand that he was just defending himself. Superboy fills Robin in on the outcome of the battle with Solaris, then checks in on Impulse, who seems a little sickly after the ordeal. But Impulse bounces back quickly, messing up Superboy's mohawk and teasing him for his large shoulder pads. Robin laughs at his friends, and says it's still good to be back.

So there you have it. Nothing too fancy, but I guess you can't really expect too much from a 10-page story. Still, though, I would have liked to learn a little bit more about Impulse. We've seen him jump into people's heads before, but can he do anything else? Or an even better idea for this story, why not give us the One Million versions of Secret, Arrowette and Wonder Girl? Sadly, we were left with a vague, forgettable story, appropriately accompanied by unremarkable art.

We don't have any letters or editor's notes, but we do have some new ads to check out:

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In matters such as these, security is of the utmost importance. Kellogg's Pops.

Next time, Impulse will make a small cameo in the final issue of Resurrection Man. Well, this version of Resurrection Man, anyway.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Impulse #50

First Fool's

Hey, Kids! Order now! Any item for $1.00
Todd Dezago X-ray Specs
Learn to draw "Cubby" by Ethan Van Sciver
Prentis Rollins Disappearing Ink
Rick Taylor & Digital Chameleon Magic Colors
Janice Chiang's Famous Penmanship Course
You can earn a living reading comics the L.A. way!
Waid & Wieringo & Kane's Incredible Creations

Our cover is by Ethan Van Sciver and Wayne Faucher, and it is totally awesome! It's bold, brash, dynamic and detailed. Impulse looks great (I love the look on his face), and he's accompanied by two of the most prolific characters in superhero history. It really is the perfect way to launch a new creative team on the book. The title, "Impulse ... Agent of the Bat?" is a spoof of the series Azrael: Agent of the Bat. This cover was also used as the house ad announcing the new creative team, as well as the Impulse 100-Page Spectacular, which was published in 2011 and collects issues #50 through #53.

Our story begins with a mysterious hooded figure watching a video of Bart on April 1, 1998, at 5:32 p.m. We're dealing with somebody with some pretty advanced technology here, because not only is this computer able to get some pretty great video of Bart's home life, but it seems to know every detail about Bart, Max and Helen. Anyway, the video shows Helen preparing an April Fool's joke on Bart. First, she places a rubber band around the spray nozzle on the kitchen sink. Then she sets out a plate of cookies and an empty milk carton. Max warns her she's asking for trouble, but Helen is quite excited by this prank.

Bart comes zooming in and thanks Helen for the cookies. When he sees the milk's gone, he checks the fridge, but can't find anything else to drink. So he goes to the kitchen sink to get some water, but is promptly blasted by the spray nozzle when he turns the handle. Helen laughs and laughs, and Bart angrily demands to know why she did that. She tells him not to get mad since today's April Fool's Day. Bart clarifies this by asking if you can play a trick on anybody and they can't get mad. Helen says yes, but before she can further explain the concept, Bart's hair rises into devil's horns, and he rushes off with a mischievous grin.

Bart runs to his room, where he finds a copy of Mad Magazine on his bed. He flips to an ad for a gags shop (which coincidently contains this issue's credits), and he sees the store is based in Gotham City. Deciding that it would be pretty sweet to trick Robin with a hand buzzer, Bart takes off for Gotham before Helen can stop him. And all Max can do is say, "I told you so ..."

At that moment, in Gotham City, Commissioner Gordon is overseeing a hostage situation at the very novelty warehouse Bart was planning on visiting. Oh, and since it's Gotham, it naturally is raining. In the DC Universe, it only rains in Gotham and at funerals. Anyway, Batman soon arrives, and Gordon tells him the Joker has taken 12 to 15 night shift employees as hostages, plus he has his own men disguised as the Marx brothers. Batman approaches the warehouse to talk to the Joker, but Joker insists on only communicating through a goofy, green radio with a giant smile on it. And of course, he makes Batman say "roger," so he can make the joke that Roger's not here right now.

Impulse, meanwhile, is 227 miles away, excitedly dreaming up more pranks to play on Robin involving a gag can of nuts and X-ray glasses. When Impulse arrives at the warehouse, he overhears Commissioner Gordon mention Batman. Impulse excitedly asks if Robin is with him, then he overhears a nearby TV reporter mention the Joker. Impulse then comes across the Joker's radio, which Batman has discarded, even though Joker is still talking through it. Impulse decides Batman needs the radio, and he takes off before Gordon can stop him.

Impulse races to the roof of the building, and is momentarily perplexed by a broken pipe. Batman sneaks up behind Impulse and tells him to go home. Bart gets big puppy dog eyes and meekly shows Batman that he brought his radio. Batman still refuses, so Impulse tries to make the case that his speed would be a humongous advantage. But Batman counters with a diatribe about how psychopathic the Joker is, and that he could never live with himself if he allowed anything to happen to Impulse. Bart points out that Batman lets Robin help him, but Batman says he's trained Robin.

The Joker then interrupts their discussion by telling Batman to give Impulse a chance. Impulse says he didn't push the button on the walkie-talkie, and Joker explains that he's bugged the device so he can always hear the other side. Joker then says he'll kill the hostages if he so much as sees Batman's boot enter the building. Also, the Joker proposes they use Impulse as a messenger instead of the radio, which he causes to self-destruct.

Impulse then excitedly begs Batman to let him help, and he promises he won't do anything impulsive. Batman grabs Bart's hair to get him to stop, and he gives the teen speedster very specific instructions. Impulse is to stay 20 feet away from the Joker at all times, to only tell him what is necessary, and to check in with Batman before doing anything. Impulse agrees, and Batman releases him, warning him that Joker is most likely carrying a flamethrower. Bart starts to ask how he knows this, but Batman slipped away while Bart's back was turned.

Inside, the Joker has three men guarding seven hostages in one room, while he's in a separate room with one hostage for himself. The goons are communicating to Joker via cellphones, although they are concerned the cops could be listening in on their conversation. Impulse zooms through the first room and into the Joker's room. Just as Batman said, the Joker is wielding a flamethrower, which he's pointing at his hostage. Joker addresses Impulse as Kid Flash and says he's beaten up little girls half his size, so he'd better not do anything impulsive.

Impulse starts to correct Joker, saying he's not Kid Flash, but then he remembers Batman's instructions and promptly shuts up. The Joker rambles on about making this hostage his fourth Marx brother, Zeppo or Zippo, and Bart realizes that he's standing too close to Joker, so he quickly zips away to a 20-foot distance. Joker realizes Impulse is following Batman's instructions, and he starts mocking the Dark Knight, gloating about how he killed the other Robin. Impulse remembers seeing that Robin's costume in the Batcave, and is horrified.

Joker then gives Impulse some rules of his own. First, Impulse has to do everything the Joker says. Second, Batman better not enter the warehouse or Joker will use his flamethrower to activate the sprinkler system and flood the place with his Joker Gas. As he says this, Batman comes across the broken water pipe that Impulse was staring at earlier, and he discovers the canisters of Joker Gas hooked up to the sprinkler system. Joker, meanwhile, shows Impulse his custom Jokia cellphone (instead of Nokia) and says that at any time he could just speed-dial his Marx brothers and have them shoot the other hostages.

Getting down to business, the Joker then prepares his list of demands for the fastest kid on the planet. Joker's first request is the skull of a Tyrannosaurus rex, which Impulse grabs from a museum, leaving behind a note: "I.O.U. One dinosaur head. Sincerely, Bar Impulse." Next, Bart has to fetch some piranhas, which he puts into a small fish bowl along with some bones that look a lot like a human hand.

Batman disconnects the Joker Gas and gives the canisters to the police, who wisely treat the gas like hazardous waste. Impulse then gives Batman a quick map he drew of the warehouse, which he was somehow compelled to sign "By: Ba Impulse." Batman is actually quite pleased that Impulse was able to clearly show him where the Joker, his men, and the hostages are. And Impulse is very happy to see Batman is proud of him.

Continuing the Joker's list of demands, Impulse starts taking pictures of himself with a Paularoid camera (instead of Polaroid) all around the world. Impulse poses with the Thinker statue and races past the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, stands in front of the Forbidden City in China, takes a picture with a kangaroo in Australia, and takes selfies at Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids. That's right, Impulse was taking selfies before they were cool! Impulse also grabs a baby penguin, a life preserver from the Titanic, and an order from Big Belly Burger for Joker and his men.

Joker complains about his puny Smily Meal, and Impulse says he doesn't even know why they call it fast food. The Joker is now sitting on a throne, surrounded by all the goodies Impulse has brought him, which now include a disco ball, a Dunkin' Donuts sign (which Joker has altered to say Funkin' Gonuts), a robot from Mystery Science Theater 3000, some Christmas lights, boxing gloves, a Grinch doll, and Elvis Presley's casket. Joker uses his hostage as a table, while he tries to write a poem for his next batch of demands. But Joker has a hard time concentrating with Impulse playing with a big box of noisy chattering teeth. Joker shouts at Impulse to stop playing with the teeth, so he stops and puts them away.

But one of the chattering teeth got away from Impulse and made its way into the next room, where it distracts one of the Joker's men. This gives Batman the opening he needs to pop down and quietly take out the guard. Joker continues to write his poem, which is actually just some scribbles and smiley faces, and he asks Impulse what rhymes with obnoxious, irritating, fleet-footed super-brat. Bart thinks for a moments, then says, "No it doesn't ... !" Batman, meanwhile, takes out the second Marx brother. Joker says, "If I wasn't already, I think this kid could actually drive me crazy."

The last remaining Marx brother calls Joker to tell him his two companions have disappeared. As he talks, and struggles to remember their Marx brother names, he is suddenly cut off by Batman. Joker shrugs, says it's time for Plan B, and gleefully fires his flamethrower up at the sprinklers. But to his dismay, harmless water comes pouring down in the warehouse. Batman shows up behind Joker, but he has a hard time getting near the madman, who is now going crazy with his flamethrower and uzi. Impulse asks to help, but Batman tells him to take care of the hostages and put out the fire.

Impulse begrudgingly follows Batman's orders, and as he pulls out one of the Joker's men, he notices his cellphone. Batman and Joker, meanwhile, are locked in a cat-and-mouse game, with Batman having a hard time getting a fix on Joker's voice with all the smoke, fire and sprinklers. Impulse stands in front of all the prizes he brought Joker, and we see that Elvis' casket is actually filled with weights instead of the King of Rock 'n Roll. Bart thinks about using the cellphone for a minute, then ultimately decides to push the redial button. This plan works perfectly, as Joker's ringing phone gives away his position, allowing Batman to finally end this madness once and for all.

Later, Impulse excitedly recounts their adventure with Batman on the roof, and Batman says Barry and Wally would be proud. Bart asks him to tell that to Max. Then Bart says that Wally told him that Batman named him Impulse, and Bart asks the Dark Knight what's up with that. Batman says that Wally misunderstood — that he never meant for Impulse to be his name, but a warning. Bart contemplates this for a moment, and soon realizes that he's talking to himself since Batman has once again slipped away when his back was turned.

We then return to the mysterious hooded figure who has been watching all this from a computer screen. This person concludes that Impulse was successful that day ... under Batman's guidance. So he vows to make sure Bart doesn't have any help when it's his turn.

Holy cow! Now THAT is an issue of Impulse! Two of the most iconic guest stars in Joker and Batman, two new dynamic and exciting creators, and one amazing, fun-filled adventure. We know Todd Dezago and Ethan Van Sciver. Dezago did a great job on the special leading up to Young Justice, so it's no wonder that he already has a perfect grasp on Bart's personality. Van Sciver drew Impulse in The Flash 80-Page Giant #1 and Impulse #41. Both of those stories looked great, but he's really stepped up his game now. Van Sciver's Impulse is a perfect blend of Humberto Ramos and Craig Rousseau, while fitting in a bit better with Todd Nauck. If Rousseau gave Bart big hair, Van Sciver gives him long hair that falls a little more naturally and realistic. But Bart is still pretty much a living cartoon with his massive feet and thin body. And yet he still fits in perfectly in Van Sciver's hyper-detailed, realistic world. Impulse is such a perfect contrast to Batman, it makes me sad that we can't have this every month.

The story was practically perfect, with all sorts of fun gags littered throughout. I really liked how Impulse and Batman figured out how to work together and stop the Joker in their own way. I appreciate stories that show Bart learning, but also don't take away anything from his impulsive nature. I also appreciate stand-alone stories that actually leave a few threads to be picked up later. You probably already know who the mysterious hooded figure is, but I'll keep the suspense going.

The only problem I have with this issue is Impulse's conversation with Batman at the very end. It is a nice idea that Impulse is a warning instead of a name, but Batman didn't come up with that. Bart named himself Impulse after Wally kept calling him impulsive. In Zero Hour, Bart introduced himself  as Impulse, and Batman was the first to address him as such. This strange change in continuity was introduced in Secret Origins: 80-Page Giant #1 by Mark Waid. Perhaps it was a mistake, or perhaps it was intentional. In any case, it is in continuity now. I guess I can justify it by saying both Batman and Impulse temporarily faded from existence during the continuity-altering Zero Hour, and they both probably came out of that with changed memories. Oh well.

Last issue, Impulsive Reactions gave the departing creative team a chance to say goodbye. This time, the new creative team gets to say hello.

Todd Dezago says he's been a fan of Impulse since the beginning with Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo, following the Sophomoric Speedster over to his own title. He says he's excited to work with this creative team, and he thanks the Batman editors for letting him use the Big Guy and the Clown Prince. He doesn't, however, mention his work on JLA: World Without Grown-Ups, which I find interesting. I know he could have been the writer on Young Justice, but he left over editorial differences. Perhaps this was still a sensitive subject for him at this point.

Ethan Van Sciver talks about getting his start in comics with the independent title Cyberfrog. During that time, he met Humberto Ramos at a convention, and became a fan of Impulse through the work of Ramos, Anthony Williams and Craig Rousseau. In a later interview, Van Sciver would say that he specifically targeted Impulse, seeing the declining sales numbers, and he sent in some samples of Impulse to DC, which eventually got him the job.

Prentis Rollins gives the perfect description of Van Sciver's work: "Ethan's pencils are sumptuously detailed, and inking them is close, meticulous work. But the details don't dominate his work; they supplement it. His art is defined by the drama that comes from his excellent figure drawing and his breezy confidence in storytelling." Rollins also praises Dezago for his powerful and witty scripts.

Janice Chiang gets to say hello, even though she's been the book's letterer since issue #44. She mentions the other projects she's worked on, and mostly talks about her family and her mom, a Chinese immigrant, recently passed away.

Rick Taylor has by far the least to say, only reciting the other titles he's worked on and saying he lives in obscurity with his dog and roommate.

L.A. Williams also gives a shoutout to Wayne Faucher, who has inked every single cover of Impulse so far. We then get a couple of actual letters from readers.

Michael Bregman, of London, thanks Bill Messner-Loebs and Craig Rousseau for the great Impulse stories they provided. Michael is also excited for Todd Dezago to come to the book, saying he only picked up World Without Grown-Ups because it had the JLA in it. But he instantly fell in love with Impulse in that book and immediately picked up almost every Impulse back issue his store had.

Mark J. Kiewlak, of Nanticoke, Penn., says Messner-Loebs' greatest strength is his ability to create preposterous characters who still behave like human beings. Case in point, the Green Cigarette in Impulse #45. Mark really liked how Messner-Loebs allowed the story to tell itself and played with the readers' expectations to lend the story a touching finale.

Michael R. Bailey says he's been with Impulse since the beginning, but has felt some issues have gotten too silly. Michael says issue #45 was a good turning around point to allow everyone to deal with their emotional baggage. And now for the new ads:

How do you want your aliens crushed? Small, medium or large? Power Rangers Galaxy. I was a fan of Power Rangers when it first came out, but by 1999 I was 12 and too old for it.

Games for the next Mil-Looney-Um! Bugs Bunny Lost in Time for PlayStation.

Even better in a saucer. Nestle NesQuik. This is when Nestle decided that Quik wasn't a good enough name and decided to change it to NesQuik, and it still bugs me to this day.

"Aliens turned my milk green!" Cap'n Crunch's Cozmic Crunch.

Wild! Magicburst Pop-Tarts that become colorful when toasted.

Prepare for the Ride of a Lifetime on Nintendo 64! A Bug's Life.

Well, that wraps up the eventful month of July 1999. Between this issue, the No Man's Land special, and Bart randomly thinking he was Batman in Young Justice, this was a pretty Bat-heavy month. Next time, we begin comics with a cover date of August '99, starting with a return to the Impulse of the far future in DC One Million 80-Page Giant #1,000,000.