Monday, April 25, 2016

The Flash #153

The Folded Man

Mark Waid & Brian Augustyn, Story
Paul Pelletier, Pencils
José Marzan, Jr., Inks
Gaspar, Letters
Tom McCraw, Colors
Frank Berrios, Asst. Editor
Joey Cavalieri, Editor

This issue's cover was provided by good ol' Steve Lightle. Our courier, Incompetent Overnight, made sure it didn't arrive folded ... for a change. I'm not sure if Cavalieri was making a joke or referring to an actual problem at the DC offices. In any case, I have to disagree with calling Steve Lightle "good." He's passable. Pelletier is good, and really deserves to be drawing these covers.

Impulse (once again) doesn't have a whole lot to do in this issue, so we'll just focus on the critical stuff. The new Flash has been around for four weeks now, and is getting pretty serious about dating Angela Margolin. On a recent date in Paris, Angela notes how little she still knows about her new boyfriend, but she admits she enjoys the mystery. She tries to ask Flash about Wally West, but he says he can't tell her.

The conversation then turns to one of Angela's police officer friends, who was recently killed by a new villain, the Folded Man. The talk of death seems painful for the Flash, who says just before he came here, he saw another speedster give his life in the line of duty, for which he feels responsible. Flash and Angela then leave, deciding to investigate the death of her friend.

We then see that Impulse was there the whole time, using a new trick — vibrating to become invisible. He was also recording the Flash's conversation for Max Mercury and Jesse Quick. During this covert mission, Bart has insisted on calling himself Agent Double-O Impulse, while Max is the commander and Jesse a mere ensign.

Jesse is willing to play along with Bart's titles, but she is unsure about eavesdropping on the man Jay Garrick has vouched for. Max, however, is more suspicious than ever, wondering whether the other speedster Flash referred to is Wally. He also hypothesizes that this new Flash may be a certain someone whose closest ties are to Bart. Bart misinterprets this veiled reference to Barry Allen, and he thinks Max is talking about Linda Park. Max quickly shuts that down, though, reiterating that Linda is a creature of Bart's fertile imagination.

Speaking of Linda, her escape into the time stream has brought her to Keystone City. She finds Wally and leaps into his arms. But they're soon surrounded by the police, seeking to arrest Walter West. This guy named Walter tells Linda the cops have been after him for years. He puts on his Flash costume, and angrily attacks the officers, leaving a bewildered Linda to wonder where she is.

And that's really all we need to care about. The rest of the issue details Flash's and Angela's investigation, which leads them to the Folded Man. He has a special suit that enables him to "fold himself" into the second, third and fourth dimensions. And the issue ends with him taking Flash into the fourth dimension.

This was a pretty good issue. I love this creative team, and their ability to juggle multiple storylines. If there's some people who don't care about Linda or Wally, then they at least had a fun new villain to keep them interested. The Folded Man is definitely someone who can challenge the Flash to use his powers in creative ways. And although Impulse's appearance was brief, I did like seeing him use his powers in a new, creative way. I think he's developing at an appropriate rate — pulling off something as technical as vibrating to become invisible, then moments later, stupidly thinking Max was referring to Linda. That's typical teenager stuff.

We do get a two-third page of Speed Reading, but neither of the letters mention Impulse. We do have two new ads, though:

Edit your music with the touch of a button. Sony MiniDisc.

Shadowgate 64: Trials of the Four Towers.

Next time, we'll return to our Young Justice/Supergirl crossover.

Superman Annual #11

The Apes of Wrath

Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Penciller: Joe Phillips
Inks: Rich Faber and Rob Stull
Colors: Jason Wright
Letters: John Workman
Associate Monkey: Maureen McTigue
And Eddie Berganza as Beppo the Super-Monkey!

Yes, both this issue and The Flash Annual #12 were given the unoriginal title of The Apes of Wrath. And once again, the cover is by Arthur Adams, and doesn't look too bad. However, it is slightly inaccurate. True, Superman does rescue Lois Lane from a giant robotic gorilla, but he doesn't even begin the fight until after he turns back to normal. Picky detail, I know, especially since the selling point of this issue is to see Superman as a gorilla. Perhaps that's a problem with the story, though. It would have been better to actually see this exact scene inside.

Impulse only makes a quick cameo at the end of this issue, so we'll just quickly breeze through it. Since the Flash had such an easy transformation back to human, Superman gets an equally easy one. He simply flies up to space and exposes himself to direct sunlight. Meanwhile, the prince of Gorilla City, Ulgo, is manipulated into believing humans caused this war with the apes, and he retaliates by hopping into a giant gorilla robot to destroy the Pentagon.

Naturally, Ulgo kidnaps Lois Lane so she can tell the world his righteous story. However, Lois had recently unearthed the gorillas' plot, and she and Superman just talk Ulgo down by revealing the truth to him. There is still a bit of a fight, though, as Ulgo conveniently loses control of his robot, giving Superman something to smash. Once the day is saved, Young Justice arrives, sadly too late to help.

Impulse blames his teammates for their late arrival, and Wonder Girl explains they were planning on using a giant exploding banana to take down the giant gorilla. Superboy admits this plan sounds kind of dumb when you say it out loud. Superman tells them they can still help clean up, then starts working with Prince Ulgo to end this war.

This was a surprisingly good issue. The art was decent, and the story wasn't half-bad. I liked seeing the split in ideologies in the gorilla community, and I liked how Lois played a big part in saving the day through good old-fashioned journalism. And Young Justice's random arrival was perfect. In a world filled with so many heroes, stuff like this should be happening all the time. "I'm here to help! Oh ... you already won ... OK ..." Although I do wonder where Secret is. She usually gets left out of every Young Justice cameo.

So that's it for Impulse's involvement in JLApe. Since there aren't any letters or new ads, I'll leave you until next time, when we cover The Flash #153.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Flash Annual #12

The Apes of Wrath

Brian Augustyn – Writer
Doug Braithwaite – Penciller
Robin Riggs – Inker
Steve Dutro – Letterer
Tom McCraw – Colorist
Frank Berrios – Assistant Editor
Joey Cavalieri – Editor-in-Chimp

Our cover by Arthur Adams shows us that Grodd has transformed the new Flash, Max Mercury and Impulse into apes and hooked them up to sinister-looking treadmills. The image is much more detailed and palatable than the inside work, but other than that, it's an accurate depiction of this story. Unfortunately, Max Monkey and Chimpulse don't look nearly as good as they did in Impulse #35.

Our story begins with Impulse, Max, Jay Garrick and Jesse Quick in hot pursuit of the new Flash. Impulse complains that this guy is even faster than Wally and way faster than any of them. Jesse and Max still think it's unwise for them to trust this guy, but Jay assures them this isn't his fault, saying it's also happened to the other members of the Justice League. (I'm surprised that this new Flash was allowed to hang out with the Justice League.) Of course, Jay is referring to Flash's transformation into a gorilla and his sudden urge to work with a group of Gorilla City rebels led by Grodd.

Impulse manages to catch the self-dubbed Flashorilla, but soon finds out that he's as strong as, well, an ape. The other speedsters all grab onto Flashorilla, but are quickly thrown off and pounded a second time when Flashorilla swings around a tree branch. Impulse complains that he's fighting like an animal, and he wonders whether the monkey or the man inside is fighting them.

The speedster follow Flashorilla into the Central City Zoo, and right into a trap laid by Grodd. Before they can escape, Grodd blasts them all with his device that transforms humans into apes. Besides magically altering their clothes to match their new bodies, Grodd's ray also makes our heroes completely subservient to him.

The loyal ape speedsters are taken to the Transglobal Media satellite tower, which Grodd and his group, Simian Scarlet, have used to construct a morphogenic field generator satellite. This device will transform all the humans in the world into apes, but it first needs to be charged by the Speed Force. The speedsters are hooked up to the treadmills we saw on the cover and are fed bananas while they run. Impulse, who now calls himself Chimpulse, suddenly starts having deep, philosophical thoughts. He remembers his recent battle with Grodd's son, Gorbul Mammit, and wonders why he should be helping Grodd now. But the gift of a banana momentarily interrupts Chimpulse's thoughts and he obediently runs with his fellow speedsters.

Simian Scarlet forces ravage Central City, transforming all they see into apes. They come after Angela Margolin in the crime lab, but she escapes them by causing a fire. She then steals one of the apes' hovercrafts, causing an ape to turn around a Planet of the Apes quote, "Damned dirty humans!"

After the effects of Chimpulse's banana wears off, he begins his deep thinking once again, which surprises him. Concluding that he is philosophically opposed to armed rebellion, Chimpulse determines that he cannot continue to abet Grodd's scheme in good conscience. He disconnects himself from the treadmill, and argues with an ape scientist about the apes going against the natural order. Chimpulse says apes can no more replace humans than penguins, or buttercups declaring war on bees. The ape scientist follows Chimpulse's line of reasoning, and for a moment, agrees that he's on a fool's crusade. But he snaps himself out of it and orders Chimpulse to resume running.

Chimpulse refuses this, and dodges a few guards to run up on a platform and deliver a speech of liberation. He urges his fellow gorillas to "be all the ape you can be," and does a Sally Field impersonation with, "Fellow primates, it warms my heart to realize that you like me ... you really, really like me!" Chimpulse's words reach his fellow Speed-Apes, and they also get off the treadmills and join in the fight against Simian Scarlet.

During the fight, Chimpulse utilizes one of his favorite techniques — leading his pursuers into a wall that he vibrates through. However, he suddenly became a human again vibrating. Flashorilla asks how he managed this, and Impulse says, "Beats me — I'm no deep thinker!" So Impulse shows him, by leading him to vibrate through a wall. This also works for the Flash, who hypothesizes that their Speed Force auras hold their essential matrices to enable them to become intangible. And when they vibrated through the wall, they forced those matrices to reassert their rightful forms.

Flash and Impulse quickly defeat the remaining gorillas in the room, and Max wonders how he, Jay and Jesse will turn back since they can't vibrate through walls. Flash offers no suggestions for their predicament, and leaves them to stop Grodd before he does anything will all the energy the Speed-Apes gave him. Flash destroys Grodd's computers, and gets into a big, long and boring fight without Impulse. Angela shows up at some point and is captured by Grodd, and he acts like King Kong by taking her to the top of the satellite tower. Flash saves Angela, and all the released Speed Force energy causes a large explosion, which provides cover for Grodd to escape.

For some reason, this causes the speedsters to return to human, but none of the other transformed people in Central City. Impulse says he misses Max Monkey, and Flash takes off to help the JLA finish this monkey business once and for all.

I'm really disappointed with this issue. Braithwaite's art was unbearable, and Augustyn's story just seemed to be going through the motions. I know this JLApe story is not meant to be taken too seriously, but I would have liked a little more explanation for what happened in this issue. Why did Impulse become such a deep thinker when he was turned into an ape? And how did the other speedsters turn into humans? It would have been very easy to have Impulse vibrate them through walls to turn them back, but they didn't show that or even mention that happening. All together, this was a rather sloppy comic. I'm still sad that Impulse didn't get his own JLApe annual, but at least we didn't get another comic with the same low level of quality as this one.

There aren't any letters to the editor, but there is a pretty fun newsletter written by Grodd's supporters, explaining what else has happened during JLApe. This is paired with a pretty handy guide, showing that this issue is the fifth part of an eight-part crossover. Now for the new ads:

L2 by Levi's.

DC Universe Role Playing Game. Fight crime. Crush evil. Live the adventure!

Where the heroes live.

Oh good, now they'll let anyone play. Mario Golf for Nintendo 64.

Andy MacDonald, the 1998 X-Games champion, showing his idea for getting high — not doing drugs.

Rules just slow you down. NFL Blitz 2000 for Nintendo 64, GameBoy Color, Sega Dreamcast and PlayStation.

Reach out and crush someone. Monster Truck Madness 64.

Next: Gorilla City's crown prince Ulgo personally leads the attack on humanity by piloting the might Grogamesh robot on a mission to destroy the Pentagon! Can Super-monkey save the day?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Impulse #52

Tumbling Down

Todd Dezago Writer
Ethan Van Sciver Penciller
Prentis Rollins Inker
Pages 14, 16 & 17 by Walt Simonson Penciller • Scott Williams Inker
Janice Chiang Letterer
Rick Taylor Colorist
L.A. Williams Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid & Mike Wieringo
The New Gods created by Jack Kirby

Our cover by Ethan Van Sciver and Wayne Faucher is pretty darn awesome. Inertia looks gleefully evil, monitoring Impulse being drowned by a green gooey monster, while Max Mercury battles Kalibak,  son of Darkseid. Kalibak's presence here seems random, but it is quite explosive. Max really hasn't ever had someone big like this to fight one-on-one. I also liked how this series again found a creative way to present the barcode, comics code, and credits — this time, by making them all separate monitors in Inertia's base. So how about we dive into this story and find out what's going on here?

Our story begins with a rare appearance by Bart's grandma, Iris Allen. We find out that she's secluded herself to a lonely cabin in an unknown location so as to not accidentally reveal the future to any of her family members. Her modest abode is full of family photos — her deceased husband, Barry; a rare photo of her deceased twins, Don and Dawn, as children; and, of course, Bart, who is still alive ... for now! However, Iris' quiet night is ruined by the explosive arrival of Inertia, who introduces himself by quoting the most ominous line from Iris' seminal work, "The Life Story of the Flash:" "I will comfort Impulse when he learns a harsh lesson about life ... and I will worry the day his greatest challenge arrives in the form of his own dark twin."

Inertia causes a bit of ruckus in Iris' home, knocks her down, and stands over her as he says, "Hello, 'Grandma' — I read your book — I thought I'd show up a little ... early." Iris recognizes Inertia, who promptly destroys the entire cabin.

We then check in on Bart, who is multitasking just like any normal teenage boy with super speed. He's reading the After-Life Avenger comics, eating junk food, playing video games, and watching a rather violent knockoff of the Simpsons with the Homer stand-in pointing a gun at the Bart stand-in, saying, "Ave, lambada!" Naturally, Max isn't too pleased by this, especially when he finds out that Bart is also mowing the lawn.

Max mutes the TV and orders Bart to give him some undivided attention. Bart's report card came in today, and although he did pass, it was just barely. And most of Bart's teacher's agree that he could do better if he focused more. As Max lectures Bart, he has trouble focusing on the conversation, before he ultimately gives an odd defense: "Well ... as long as they know I can do better, I don't really see any sense in overdoing it ... right?"

This doesn't sit well with Max. He tells Bart that his level of focus has been backsliding lately, which is crucial to both his lives as Bart Allen and Impulse. But once again, Bart becomes distracted during this lecture, to the point where Max decides to give up. Bart asks to go to the Fourth of July celebration at the park, and Max agrees, as long as Bart cleans up the living room. However, Bart has the whole place clean and is out the door before Max can finish telling him to do his chores at normal speed.

Helen tells Max that he needs to stop giving Bart orders and needs to start finding ways to make these things "cool" to Bart. Since Helen seems to know so much about raising kids in Max's eyes, he decides to put her up to the challenge of overseeing Bart's learning skills and personal growth, citing his recent injuries as an excuse. Helen accepts the challenge, then notices that Bart left the lawnmower going, which has now crashed through the fence and is cruising into the neighbor's yard. Max races off after it, while Helen un-mutes the TV right on cue, as the Homer stand-in says, "D'ahh!"

Somewhere else, Inertia steps through a teleportation ring back into his lab. His computer, Craydl, assures him that 2,560 liters of technoplasm has been prepared, a boom tube has been put in place and timed to go off at the exact moment Inertia encounters Impulse, and a special pointy ring has been loaded and initialized. Inertia is excited to finally realize all his schemes and see his family's eons-long crusade triumph when he defeats — no, becomes Bart Allen. Inertia slides on the ring, which Craydl warns him not to poke himself with.

At the Manchester Fourth of July Fair, Bart has joined up with Preston and Wade. Bart's soaking in the paradisiacal atmosphere, while Preston tells Wade that "In Brightest Day" was great with Mel, his ring, and the ILM effects, but he claims "Pulpdog" will be the movie of the summer. Wade says Preston will never be able to see it, since LexCo recently bought the theater and jacked the prices sky-high. The three boys are joined by Mike, who says he knows an usher there who will be willing to help them sneak in the theater.

Bart spots Carol, who's hanging out with her friend, Ayana, and her latest crush, Jeff. Ayana greets Bart in a very flirty way and asks if he's staying for the fireworks tonight. Bart's pretty confused by Ayana's tone, but he does tell her they're all going up to the hill to watch the fireworks. Carol agrees to catch up with the troublemakers later, and gives Bart a high-five right in front of the stricken Mike. As Bart and the guys take off, Ayana comments on how cute Bart is. Mike asks Bart if he and Carol are boyfriend and girlfriend, while Jeff asks the same question of Carol. Carol easily laughs if off, saying Bart's like a brother to her. Bart, however, gets a little panicked by the question, but manages to tell Mike that Carol is just his best friend. Roland (now called Rolly by his friends) shows up with a bag of M-80s, while Mike begins romantically daydreaming about Carol.

Across the farthest reaches of space, on the vile planet of Apokolips, Inertia's boom tube opens up in a prison cell, freeing the mighty Kalibak. The two guards standing watch are horrified by this sight, saying that Darkseid will execute them immediately for this — if they're lucky. (I'll admit, I haven't kept up with the New Gods since Genesis, so I don't know why Kalibak was in prison to begin with.)

Meanwhile, in the woods on the far side of the park, Bart and his friends are having a blast blowing stuff up with Rolly's M-80s. Mike has forgotten about Carol momentarily to return to his idea of sneaking into the movie theater. Mike says his folks would turn him down if he just asked for the money, and he calls his dad a tool. Wade says his dad's a tool, too, and asks Bart whether Max is one. Even though Bart has lived in the 20th century for at least one year now (possibly two), he still encounters new slang words from time to time. And this is one of those times, causing him to wonder if Max is like a hammer or a screwdriver.

At the dental office of Helen Claiborne, Max is dropping his daughter off to get some last minute work done before the fireworks show. Helen's been short-staffed lately, and is pretty backed up. But Max doesn't mind the delay, saying at his age, he's in no rush to see more explosions. Unfortunately, Max gets at least one more explosion, as Inertia's boom tube opens up right behind him. Kalibak emerges from the boom tube, and recognizes Max, whom he believes freed him from his cell. However, Kalibak says he still hasn't properly thanked Max from their previous encounter, which sounds pretty ominous.

We then see that Inertia has teleported into the woods just out of sight of Bart and his friends. Inertia uses his teleport hoop to bring in the technoplasm, which he has Craydl form into a large monster. Bart, meanwhile, is close to figuring out his friends' use of the word "tool," imagining that if Max is a screwdriver, then he must be the screw. Preston wants to move on to blowing up a watermelon, but before he gets the chance, Craydl approaches the boys in his giant, green, gooey monstrous form.

All of Bart's friends are freaked out by this monster, especially Wade, who leaps into Mike's arms. Bart, however, is more curious than frightened. He does initially run away with his friends, until Craydl calls him Speedy. Bart realizes that he knows his secret identity, so he quickly changes into Impulse and engages Craydl. Bart asks the green monster what it is, and Craydl explains that he's a coded compound called technoplasm, programmed to alter his molecular makeup in any way to defeat Impulse. Bart runs up to the top of Craydl's head, and gets a bit worried when the monster continues to march through the forest and toward other people. But then Bart realizes that if Craydl is programmed, then that means he's a computer, which means he's basically a big Jello robot, which means that, technically, Bart wouldn't be killing Craydl, just terminating the program.

So Impulse decides to vibrate into Craydl and shake at a rate to send him flying apart. Craydl adjusts his molecular structure to match Impulse's vibrations, so Impulse vibrates his hand at a different rate, which does the trick. Craydl collapses in a big sploosh, leaving Impulse wet, sticky, but pleased to have saved the day. But when he tries to shake the technoplasm off him, he discovers he can't free himself. With Impulse stuck in the green goo, Inertia makes his grand entrance. Impulse asks the new guy who he is, and Inertia mockingly answers with, "Are you really that dim ... ? Isn't it obvious ... ?"

What an amazing issue! Besides the obvious excitement of Inertia putting his plan into place, this story rocked in every other aspect. I love Bart's expanding group of friends, the teenage love triangles, and the exciting plans for summer vacation. And I love all the little details Todd Dezago threw in, proving he's done his homework. Not only did we get to see Iris, but we got a direct quote from her book. And even seeing Helen work as a dentist was great. I've known she was a doctor of some sort, but I don't recall her being referred to as a dentist, specifically. I'm also pleased with how Impulse is continuing to develop his powers. Vibrating his arm at a different rate from his body is pretty advanced technique. But even though he's growing, his development is still slow, as Dezago found plenty of humorous ways to illustrated Bart's impulsiveness and inability to focus.

And everything is pulled together brilliantly by Ethan Van Sciver. His luscious details and exciting action scenes make this a beautiful book to look at, as always. He also excels at simply drawing normal people with great facial expressions. Bart's group of friends are all varied and interesting, showing the full range of emotions typical for teenagers. And it's really fitting to have Bart often staring vacantly off in the distance. I also have to mention Walt Simonson's contribution. He's somewhat of a comic book legend, especially in the area of Jack Kirby's Fourth World. So it's fitting that he'd be brought in to handle all the Kalibak scenes. However, his style is noticeably different from Van Sciver's, creating a slight distraction in this otherwise awesome issue.

One final note of random trivia. Preston's reference to the movie, "In Brightest Day," is likely a Green Lantern movie starring Mel Gibson. Back in 1999, few things would have sounded more exciting than a live-action Green Lantern movie. Well, we did get one in 2011, the same year this issue was collected in the Impulse 100-Page Spectacular, which is chock-full of Green Lantern ads.

All the other comics this month didn't have any letters to the editor, but Impulse managed to sneak in a two-thirds page of Impulsive Reactions. Heidi Brooks, of the Catholic Relief Services in Kenya, really enjoyed the philosophical debate presented by Superman and Max Mercury in Impulse #47. But she was most pleased to see the reference of land mines in Burundi, reminding me of how big a problem this was in the '90s.

MJM67X called issue #47 excellent, praising the artwork and the story, and mostly the fact that Bart actually concentrated. Well, that's all the room for letters that could be squeezed in this issue. Let's check out the new ads:

Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Berries now with Jungle Berries! And a Terk Talking Keychain offer through Disney's Tarzan. I still like Tarzan. Very '90s, yes. Very Phil Collins, yes. But still a pretty good film.

Find the Chips Ahoy! bag without chocolate chips and win up to $1,000.

Rock their world! Pokémon Pinball on GameBoy. This is truly a great game, and I still play it from time to time.

So you want to be Tarzan? Then you'll love Tarzan on PlayStation. Outrun wild animals. Surf on trees. And go one-on-one with a deadly hunter.

It came from outer space! The Iron Giant. This is one of the greatest animated films of all time. And this retro ad is equally a work of art.

Next time, we'll finally get around to that JLApe event, starting with The Flash Annual #12.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Supergirl #36

Hell's Heck's Angels Part 2 Justice Delayed

Peter David, Writer
Leonard Kirk, Penciller
Robin Riggs, Inker
Gene D'Angelo, Colorist
Digital Chameleon, Seps
Bill Oakley, Letterer
Frank Berrios, Asst. Ed.
Mike McAvennie, Editor

Our cover shows Supergirl (literally) in the clutches of Young Justice. They look particularly demonic with their faces and bodies blacked out, leaving only glowing red eyes and a few distinguishing elements of their costumes. It's a really neat effect. I'm not a big fan of the art in this issue, but I can get behind this cover. The only nit I have with it, is it doesn't say that this is the second part of a crossover with Young Justice. I've been burned by comics like this before, where I only find out after I open it that I should have bought an issue from a different series to read first. Small notes on the cover help prevent this.

As to be expected, there's a lot going on in this issue that doesn't concern Young Justice or Impulse. So I'll just gloss over all the extraneous stuff. Our story opens on an odd businessman named Mr. Carnivean. His underling, Mr. Stubbs, informs him of Dante's recent visitors, and even brings up a video to show Young Justice making their way through the cavern. Mr. Carnivean calls Dante an "overreaching little mortal" and says Arrowette remains quite the fashion nightmare. (Hey! At least this costume is better than her first one!) Anyway, Mr. Stubbs shows Mr. Carnivean that Dante has captured a woman named Tammy Neil. The two sinister men hope Dante doesn't know the true nature of Tammy, but just to be sure, Carnivean decides it's time to introduce Supergirl to the new chaos stream.

Let's skip ahead a bit to Supergirl spotting a reverend being attacked by one of Dante's winged demon friends. Supergirl's able to get the creature off the man's back with her heat vision, then follows it as it escapes through the sewers. Supergirl is led through a portal in the sewer wall, which opens up to what she recognizes as another chaos stream. Supergirl follows the little winged demon through a series of caverns until she comes enters Dante's Inferno just in time to see Superboy get pounded by the large winged demon.

Supergirl helps Superboy defeat the large creature, and they learn that its wings are metallic and were somehow grafted onto its back. Their victory is short-lived, however, as Wonder Girl swoops down and begins attacking them. Wonder Girl is followed by Robin, Arrowette and Impulse, who start hitting Supergirl with everything they've got. They all have the demon-succubi things on the back of their necks, and their eyes are red like the cover. Supergirl realizes the teens are possessed, and she asks for Superboy's help. But in the commotion, Superboy also was possessed, and he quickly joins his teammates in the onslaught against Supergirl.

I am all in favor of a Supergirl/Young Justice crossover. Since both titles are written by Peter David, you can count on him to get all the characters right and keep the continuity straight. And having Supergirl take on pretty much the entire Young Justice is a pretty awesome idea. This issue was only hampered by the subpar art and my lack of knowledge of this version of Supergirl. I guess I need to sit down one day and read Peter David's run on the title. With this issue, I'm surprised at how much the series seems to deal with angels and demons. I find that idea a little weird, but it could be cool. David is, after all, a pretty dang good writer.

Next time, we'll see what Inertia has planned in Impulse #52.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Young Justice #12

Hell's Heck's Angels Part I Dante's Disco Inferno

Peter David – Writer
Todd Nauck – Pencils
Lary Stucker and Jaime Mendoza – Inks
Jason Wright – Colors
Ken Lopez – Letters
Maureen McTigue – Associate Editor
Eddie Berganza – Editor

Our cover shows Young Justice in ... well, Heck (hey, it's a kids comic). As usual, Nauck and Stucker do a perfect job capturing the personalities of our heroes. Although, technically, Secret's appearance in this fiery place is incorrect. But we'll get to that later. In the meantime, try to zoom in on the lower right floating island. That's our villain for this issue — the winged guy dressed in purple and surrounded by little blue figures. Also note everyone dancing beneath the spiky disco balls. Most of them are dressed in appropriate '70s attire, except one girl is wearing a Stavesacre shirt, which is not a disco band. And, for some reason, this was the first issue of Young Justice that was digitized by Comixology, making this cover the "logo" for the digital series.

Anyway, our story picks up where we left off last time, with Agents Fite 'n Maad bursting through the doors in a court room to catch our heroes. But to their surprise, the room is empty, even though they just heard voices moments ago. Maad doesn't take this well, and begins swearing and pounding the wall. Fite learns that Red Tornado escaped when the forcefield was momentarily down, but air units are in pursuit. Fite orders the forcefield to remain on, believing he still has a chance to catch whoever helped Red Tornado, whether that be the Justice League or Young Justice.

We then see how our teenage heroes escaped. They all grabbed ahold of Bart and had him vibrate the five of them through the floor and into the basement. But Bart has never vibrated anyone else with him, let alone four people, and everyone's pretty worried that he can't quite pull it off. And no one's more worried than Bart, who's having trouble holding everything together. They soon pop out in the basement, and Superboy tells Imp he can slow down now. But in a brief, yet tense moment, Bart finds he can't stop vibrating and says someone needs to get Max or Wally to help him slow down.

Luckily, the quick-thinking Cissie comes to the rescue by telling Bart she loves him and always has. This unexpected shock is enough to jolt Bart back to normal, although he's left wondering whether Cissie really does have romantic feelings for him. Meanwhile, Red Tornado continues his daring escape with Traya. A couple of A.P.E.S. agents try to stop him, but they're no match for the android, who demonstrates that the air is his home.

Robin has a hard time planning their next step, saying he wished the Super-Cycle didn't ditch them once they arrived in Chicago since they could have easily phased in and out of the courthouse. Cissie suggests that the cycle is off helping somebody else, as it has done in the past. But Bart wonders why it didn't help them free Red Tornado. As the A.P.E.S. agents begin a thorough search of the courthouse, working their way down to the basement, Superboy suggests Robin whistle for the Super-Cycle. Robin decides to give it a try, and he orders everyone to put on their uniforms just in case they need to fight their way out. (Don't ask me where the girls kept their uniforms on their skimpy outfits.)

The kids get their costumes on and Robin begins to wonder if the Super-Cycle could even hear his whistle from the courthouse's basement. Fite and Maad hear them in the basement, and are just about to open the door, when the cycle suddenly phases up through the floor. Impulse rejoices over this perfect timing, and our heroes quickly climb aboard to make their final escape. Once again, they choose to phase down through the floor, but this time the Super-Cycle is doing the hard work.

Young Justice heads down deep into the Earth's crust, and the cycle refuses to listen to Robin's commands to resurface. Eventually, it reaches a large cavern, which reminds Arrowette of their recent fight against the Hugga-Tugga-Thugees. Once the kids exit the Super-Cycle, it shudders and closes in on itself. Impulse notes that it's locked down and probably wants them to stay, to which Superboy says, "Oh, y'think?" Robin pulls out a flashlight and leads the team through the cavern.

As they explore, Superboy notices that Wonder Girl has been agreeing with him most of the time. She says that's because he's right most of the time, which makes him pretty happy. The team then makes it through a corridor, coming out on the same image we saw on the cover. But there are a couple of differences. Not everybody is dancing — some are toiling away with pickaxes, others are in a pool of lava, and all of them have small, winged creatures latched onto the back of their necks. Arrowette thinks the Super-Cycle must have taken them to another dimension. The leader of the place soon swoops in on his large, grey wings, surrounded by the small, demon-like creatures. He introduces himself as Dante, the place as his Inferno, and claims to be on the same side as Young Justice.

We then check in on the Red Tornado's wife, Kathy, whose condition has worsened in the hospital. But while Kathy is having a seizure and the doctors are scrambling for a crash cart, she imagines herself in a beautiful, peaceful field. Kathy sees a bright light and begins to move toward it, but Secret suddenly blocks out the light, telling Kathy she has to come back for her husband and daughter. Secret just manages to explain Red Tornado's trouble with the courts when the doctors apply the defibrillators and sends and electric current through Kathy's body. The electricity causes Secret a considerable amount of pain, and she quickly leaves Kathy's body, shouting, "No electricity! Never again!" The nurses and doctors initially think Secret was Kathy's ghost going up to heaven, but Kathy wakes up and asks where John and Traya are.

Back in the underground cavern, Dante leads the kids into his office and offers them drinks. Impulse plops down on a beanbag chair, but the others remain standing, still not ready to trust Dante. Robin recognizes several of the people in the Inferno as criminals he helped bring in. Dante explains that he was a student of theology and archaeology, which led him to discover this cavern and the winged creatures living in it. (Dante calls them succubi, which technically is inaccurate, but I'll go along with it for simplicity's sake.) The succubi feed off pain and misery, so Dante decided to provide them people to feast from. He kidnaps criminals, convinces them they're dead, then learns of their secret bank accounts and ill-gotten gains, which he then uses to continue his noble work.

Our heroes, naturally, do not approve of Dante's perverse punishment, calling it a form of slavery. Dante offers Young Justice the chance to leave, but they insist on freeing the people and shutting Dante down. But before they can even start fighting, Dante's succubi sneak up behind each teen and latch on to their necks. Dante explains that the succubi can stimulate the emotions they feed off, and once their fangs are in you, it's impossible to sever the connection.

Meanwhile, Red Tornado and Traya arrive at the Young Justice cave, and Red admits he hadn't considered the long-term ramifications of his actions. He tells Traya that he can't keep her hidden as a fugitive, away from her school and life, but Traya insists on staying with her robotic father. Their conversation is interrupted when the cave receives a signal on the direct beam. Red Tornado pulls it up on screen, and finds he's video-chatting with Fite, Maad and Kathy. Traya is thrilled to see her mom has recovered, and Kathy tells John that she's worked everything out with the authorities. She's officially designated him as Traya's legal guardian, and all the legal issues will be sorted out. But first, Kathy just wants to hold her daughter. Red Tornado agrees to bring Traya back to Chicago, realizing that he actually does love his wife.

Secret, however, is in pretty bad shape since being electrocuted. She's happy that she pulled Kathy back from the brink of death, although she's unsure of the details. Bad memories start returning to her, and she's not sure she wants to remember them. All she wants now is to rest. So she finds a quiet closet in the hospital and curls up and falls asleep.

Back in Dante's Inferno, all our heroes are having a hard time fighting off the succubi, but Superboy is having the most success in fighting them off. Dante's impressed with his resilience, but he mocks the Kid, and Wonder Girl's attempts to help him. Dante even goes so far as to call Wonder Girl a "frumpy little thing," which really makes Superboy mad. But before he can finally rid himself of the succubus, Dante lashes his whip around Superboy's neck and drags him out the window of his office. Superboy eventually does free himself of Dante's whip and the succubus off his neck, but he soon finds out that Dante had thrown him into the path of a very large and powerful winged demon.

Red Tornado and Traya arrive at the hospital in Chicago, and Kathy is able to tell her daughter that none of this is her fault. And Traya is happy they can be a family again. Unfortunately, this touching reunion is spoiled by the Cook County Police Department arresting Red Tornado for obstruction of justice, destruction of public property and resisting arrest. Kathy said she was promised all this would be worked out, but the police admit they lied to her just so they could get Red Tornado. Traya wants her daddy to run away again, but this time, Red Tornado surrenders to the police.

Yet another high quality comic from David and Nauck. We got to see Impulse push his powers to new limits, explore more mysteries of Secret, follow the Red Tornado story to bittersweet moment, and see Superboy's and Wonder Girl's relationship slowly develop. However, Arrowette wasn't the only one reminded of the Hugga-Tugga-Thugees in this issue. While Dante himself seems like a pretty interesting character, especially since he thinks he's a good guy, too much of this setup is too similar to the last big Young Justice adventure. Maybe we could have used some more time between bad guys lurking in big caverns.

As with all the other comics this month, the letters column is conspicuously missing. And that's a real shame, since I was hoping for some clarification on that mystery female cameo on last issue's cover that Berganza referred to. Oh well, let's check out the new ads:

Mystery Men. I really enjoyed this movie as a kid when it came out. However, I think a superhero spoof like this would do even better today, since the cinematic world is now so inundated with superhero films.

Ape Escape. You better get them before they get you. For PlayStation.

Next time, we'll follow this story right into our first official Young Justice/Supergirl crossover. Sadly, the cover mentioned nothing of this crossover, but at least an editor's note at the end did.

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Flash #152

New Kid in Town

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

The Flash has (once again) mysteriously disappeared, opening the door for a new Flash. Our cover represents this, not just with the new guy in the new suit, but even the font of the issue's title has changed. I think the suit's pretty cool, but I can't stand that new font. I think they were trying for a blur effect, but it just looks blobby and stupid to me.

Our story picks up days after the events of Chain Lightning, and no one has seen Wally West since then. Jay Garrick is picking up the slack in Keystone City when he suddenly encounters this new Flash, who is obviously not Wally because he's older and has a more advanced control of his powers. He seems to be a hero, although he is a bit rough around the edges. Jay asks this Flash if he's one of the futures Flashes they met during Chain Lightning, but he says no and blows Jay off.

Jay doesn't take too kindly to this, so he decides to put the foot down — by calling in some big feet. Impulse is the first to arrive, kicking up some dirt to stop the new Flash in his tracks. Max Mercury and Jesse Quick are right behind him. Jesse, who did her doctorate on all known superheroes, doesn't recognize this new guy, and Max says he'd like to see who's under the mask. Impulse immediately jumps on this Flash's shoulders and tries to take off his mask. The Flash hurls Impulse off him, and assures the others that Impulse will be fine since he'll land on his hair. Max and Jesse try to flank the Flash, but he escapes before they can catch him.

Jesse admits she actually misses Wally and wonders where he's been since they last saw him in the 30th century. Bart suggests that Wally's looking for Linda, but nobody knows who he's talking about. Bart's shocked that nobody remembers Linda, Wally's girlfriend who was on TV and played video games with Bart. Jesse jokes that Max needs to remember that Bart is a growing boy and if they don't let out his mask every now and then, it gets too tight. But Max reminds the others that Bart was raised in a virtual reality and still occasionally has trouble distinguishing reality from fantasy. Bart tries to remind everyone of Linda wielding a big gun during their fight with Kobra, but this only makes her sound more like a fictional video game character. Jay takes a more tender approach and asks Bart if Linda has a last name. But Bart doesn't know it, probably because he never paid much attention.

We then catch up with Linda Park, whom we haven't seen since she mysteriously vanished on her wedding day and was erased from everyone's memory. She is being held captive by a shadowy figure, who has somehow removed her from time itself. He explains that he altered things so Linda's family and friends always believed she vanished before she even met the Flash. He has now placed Linda in a special room, surrounded by swirling flashbacks of time. The shadowy figure says that beyond his stronghold is death unimaginable, which Linda considers better than living out her days forgotten by everyone she knows and loves. So Linda hurls herself into the time stream, even though her captor warns her that she's condemning herself to oblivion.

Meanwhile, the new Flash defeats Dr. Alchemy in a slightly harsher manner than Wally probably would have. He then visits the still upset Jay and says he wants to work with him — taking over Central City, while Jay protects Keystone City. The Flash then removes his mask in front of Jay, but his back is strategically turned toward the camera. He tells Jay he can't explain everything right now, and takes off again. But even if we don't see this Flash's face, we do see that he has constructed an odd lightning-shaped obelisk in front of the Flash Museum, which he vibrates into from time to time. And inside is boxes and boxes of personal effects belonging to Wally and Barry Allen. And although Jay now knows what this Flash looks like, he's still determined to keep a close eye on him.

It's always nice to return to the world of Waid, Augustyn and Pelletier. They just make high quality comics that look great and read well. And it's really nice to finally get back to Linda's storyline. I love how Impulse is the only one who remembers her and that nobody believes him because he's, well, Impulse. This plot line will be fun to follow. However, the main plot line of Wally disappearing once again is a bit redundant. This is at least the third time Mark Waid has sent Wally away to defeat a villain. The first we saw was against Kobra, but Wally's absence was brief. The second time was against Savitar, and just like here, Wally was replaced by an alternate Flash. In that case, it was John Fox. Here, I don't really care that much because I feel like we've already seen this story.

For some reason, this issue does not have the Speed Reading letters page, which is quite a shame, since I'd imagine there were a lot of great letters about Chain Lightning. We also don't have any new ads, so this is where I take my leave.

Next time, we'll see how well Bart and his friends escaped from the D.E.O. in Young Justice #12.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #2

True Colors

Geoff Johns & Lee Moder Writer/Storytellers/Penciller
Dan Davis Inks
Tom McCraw Colors
Bill Oakley Letters
Heroic Age Separator
L.A. Williams Asst. Ed.
Chuck Kim & Mike Carlin Editors
Courtney Whitmore created by Johns & Moder

The cover by Moder and Davis shows the Star-Spangled Kid and S.T.R.I.P.E. battling a bunch of weird green men (boys?) and a villain named Paintball who can apparently steal color from people. Whatever that does. I'm quite confused by all this, but I don't think it really matters as far as Impulse is concerned. I'm also not a big fan of Moder's art, but he does have a fun, light-hearted tone appropriate for a teen book.

Most of this story has nothing to do with Impulse, so I'll just hit on the basics. Courtney Whitmore is your typical teenage girl, dealing with braces, high school, and a recent move from sunny California to boring Blue Valley, Nebraska, the former home of Wally West. Courtney has somehow acquired a special belt that gives her super strength, and has become the new Star-Spangled Kid. Courtney's stepdad is Pat Dugan, who used to be the sidekick for the original Star-Spangled Kid, and is now running around in an armored suit called S.T.R.I.P.E. (Special Tactics Robotic Integrated Power Enhancer). The two have a pretty acrimonious relationship so far, but they have managed to work together to stop some small-time villains from destroying Blue Valley High School.

Word has spread quickly of this feat, and Oracle sent a message to Red Tornado about this possible new hero, although she thinks the Star-Spangled Kid is a boy. Robin likes the idea of being aware of all potential teammates, and he suggests they make a trip to Blue Valley sometime to check him out. Red Tornado asks if they can leave Impulse behind, then adds that they should probably leave all of them behind after catching them all at a particularly immature moment.

It's pretty innocuous stuff — Impulse is teasing Wonder Girl for reading an article called "Ten things to do to get a cute boyfriend," and Superboy's flirting with Arrowette caused him to accidentally detonate a smoke arrow in his face. Robin still wants to take the whole team to Blue Valley, but says they don't need to run out this minute. And that's really all we need to know about this issue.

When Impulse was first created, Geoff Johns was just a letter-writing fanboy at Michigan State. Now here he is with his first comic book series, which is steeped in DC Universe legacy characters. So it should be no surprise that as DC's Chief Creative Officer, he is currently trying to restore a sense of legacy through DC Rebirth. As for this particular issue, I thought the story did a good job of setting up high school life, reminding me a lot of the early Impulse issues. And I am happy that Young Justice has another teenage hero to interact with.

This series is still too new for a letters column, but we do get two-thirds of a page urging kids to "recycle" the comic by giving it to a friend, briefly explaining what Mike Carlin does as DC's Executive Editor, and advertising the upcoming event, Day of Judgment. The other third of the page is an ad for Now for the rest of the ads:

It's time to get hooked up. (Or, how to set up your Coke voicemail box for free). I guess this was a pre-cellphone way for kids to feel like they had their own phones. I don't know.

Tangy. Fruity. Chewy. Spree. It's a kick in the mouth.

Use your smart bomb. Command & Conquer for Nintendo 64.

Driver. You are the wheelman. For PlayStation.

Lasts longer than your attention span. Starburst Hard Candy.

Six Flags is just a fast ride away!

All the muscle you don't have yet. World Driver Championship for Nintendo 64.

It better be ice cold for Stone Cold. Got milk? with Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Next time, we'll finally return to The Flash for the first time since Chain Lightning.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Impulse #51

It's All Relative

Todd Dezago Writer
Ethan Van Sciver Penciller
Prentis Rollins Inker
Janice Chiang Letterer
Rick Taylor Colorist
Digital Chameleon Separators
L.A. Williams Editor
Impulse created by Waid & Wieringo

Our cover by Van Sciver and Wayne Faucher shows Impulse battling a new villain, who is terrorizing a toy store with his gaseous powers. I love the melodramatic goofiness here, especially the one adult (in a Flash T-shirt) amidst all the kids clamoring for the action figure. And if you're worried about that smoky noose around the doll's neck, I did buy two copies of this issue ... well, that is if you count the Impulse 100-page special that included this issue.

Our story begins with the same hooded figure secretly watching Impulse last issue. This time, our mysterious stranger is using his advanced computers to observe Impulse on June 13, 1999, battling the "humidity manipulating adversary" from the cover. Once the computer, Craydl, is switched to conversation mode, it chews out its master for repeatedly watching this same fight. Craydl claims Impulse's victory was nothing more than dumb luck, and that this hooded figure can take Impulse in a cinch. Craydl worries that its master has developed a full-blown obsession, which the stranger says is wonderful before ordering Craydl to replay the entire day.

If I interpreted the date correctly, Craydl is showing us a day in Bart's life during what must be the last week of school (and a date that occurs more than a year after that April Fool's adventure with Batman). The video opens in the cafeteria, with Bart intently focused on his Game Boy, while Preston shows off his new issue of The After-Life Avenger (which has an ad for Views of L.A.: The Movie). Preston is joined by Roland and a couple of new kids, one of whom is named Mike and wants to take Preston's comic to his algebra class. Meanwhile, one of Carol's friends catches her crushing on the hunky jock Jeff Weber.

Bart's friends are perplexed that he doesn't read comics because they're "too slow." But as they talk more about the After-Life Avenger, his sidekick Cherub, and his arch-nemesis Baron Bad, Bart becomes intrigued and quickly reads Preston's entire collection. Bart notices issue #16 is missing, and he's told that's the rarest issue of the series, apparently having sold out immediately because it features the Avenger defeating the Emulator. Bart is completely engrossed in the comics until he finishes the most recent issue, which ends with the words, "Continued in 30 days." Realizing he'll have to wait a whole month for the end of the story, Bart declares the whole thing a rip, and tosses the comics aside.

Our mysterious figure then pauses the video and orders Craydl to fast forward to 2:36 p.m. of the same day, while also changing the location to Denver, Colorado. Here, the video focuses on 15-year-old Nelson Arling, who is having a hard time finding an action figure of the After-Life Avenger's sidekick, Cherub. Nelson throws a fit in the toy store, and the worker tells him the rumor is the Cherub figures were stolen off trucks and stashed in a warehouse in West Virginia to jack up prices for the speculators. Nelson decides it's time for him to try out his new toy, a high-tech device that surrounds him in swirling fog.

The video then returns to Manchester, where Max and Helen are giving Bart, Carol and Preston a ride home from school because it's raining. But Bart hates slow-paced car rides. He's so frustrated, he even uses the futuristic euphemism "grife," which we haven't heard in quite a while. Bart argues that he wouldn't even get wet if he just ran home, but Max warns him to mind his secret identity around Preston, while Helen sings along to "Cat's in the Cradle" on the radio. Finally, Preston is dropped off, but sadly Max still won't let Bart run home.

Bart notices that Carol has been in a sort of trance the whole ride, and he snaps her out of it. Embarrassed, Carol quickly brings up the topic of Preston's upcoming birthday party, and Bart realizes he hasn't got a present for his best friend yet. Helen suggests he find something thoughtful that only he would know Preston wants. Bart quickly comes up with the perfect gift — the one issue of After-Life Avenger Preston is missing. And before anyone can stop him, Bart vibrates through the car, pops on his Impulse costume, and takes off. Helen comments on Bart's impatience, and Max says Bart gets anxious waiting for the light to come on. By which he means any light switch — the kitchen, the living room, etc. Even though it seems like the light comes on immediately, for Bart it doesn't.

The video is then paused again, and the hooded figure has Craydl replay the origin video of Bart Allen. We're treated to a clear and concise chart showing the Allen family tree, explaining how Barry Allen went to the future and had the Tornado Twins, Don and Dawn, who then had Bart and Jenni. The video then shows how Bart rapidly aged and looked like a 10-year-old when he was only 2. It goes over the details of how Bart's grandma Iris rescued him and took him back to the 20th century so Wally West could stop his accelerated aging. However, the video avoids any mention of Bart's mom and his other grandfather, the evil President Thawne, which I find odd. Anyway, the mysterious hooded figure is still perplexed as ever by Bart's success despite his impulsive behavior.

Vowing to remove all errors and oversights for when he confronts Impulse, the stranger then resumes the video, switching it now to 12 kilometers east of Strasburg, Colorado. A Mack truck for We 'B' Toys is suddenly surrounded by very thick fog. The driver, who had been singing "On the Road Again," is forced to hit the brakes. The fog then rips the door off the truck, and pulls the driver out, spilling his Superman thermos. The fog forms itself into the image of a large monster, and we see it's being manipulated by Nelson Arling, who's now wearing the same silver suit we saw on the cover.

Meanwhile, 84 kilometers away, Bart happily runs back home with After-Life Avenger #16. He had to go all the way to Seattle to find it, but it'll be worth it once he sees the look on Preston's face. Bart soon encounters the patch of fog, which he thinks is thick as pea soup, and he decides to stop for a moment and check it out. And it's a good thing he did, too, since he discovered the big fog monster ripping the truck in two, while Nelson digs through the boxes of the action figures, looking for Cherub.

Impulse quickly disperses the fog by running around in circles, which gets Nelson's attention. Nelson boldly proclaims that Impulse can't stop him since he can control fog. Impulse thinks this is a pretty lame power, and he makes fun of his enemy, naming him the Fog Prince, Master of Mist. But Impulse soon learns that Nelson can make the fog pack quite a punch. The two 15-year-olds yell at each other to shut up for a bit, then Nelson explains that his dad is Silver Fog, which is where his powers came from, although he needs a "conduit-thingy" to focus them better. Nelson claims that Silver Fog used to stomp the Flash, which Impulse thinks is a lie. And Craydl confirms this lie, by stating that Silver Fog did battle the New Teen Titans, but the Flash was absent, and Silver Fog fled from the heroes, anyway.

The Fog Prince says, "Oh yeah ... ? Watch this!" and creates several more fog monsters. Impulse responds with, "Oh yeah ... ? Watch — this! — and this! — and this! — and this!!" as he disperses each monster. But the Fog Prince counters by recapturing the truck driver and threatening to tear him limb-from-limb. Impulse looks down at his comic book, which shows the After-Life Avenger defeating the Emulator by threatening to throw his Emu-Ray into the fiery Hellpits of the Molten Underworld. And lying right next to that comic is the coveted Cherub action figure.

Impulse decides to mimic the comic book cover by grabbing the action figure and holding it over the edge of the overpass in the exact same pose as the After-Life Avenger. And he even quotes the hero by saying, "I believe you were looking for this?!" Nelson falls for the bait, and as he lunges for the action figure, Impulse snatches away his conduit-thingy, which causes all the fog to fade away, including Nelson's suit, leaving him just a stocky bald kid who's actually shorter than Bart.

Impulse ties up Nelson and rushes him and the truck driver over to a nearby police station. He asks the driver to stay there and tell the police what happened while he goes back to clean up the mess. Bart puts all the toys back in their boxes and stacks them up neatly, pausing only for a moment to consider taking the Cherub action figure to give to Preston. But even though Bart knows Preston would love the toy, he decides that's not fair, and just sticks to the comic book.

As the video ends, Craydl claims that Bart's victories are only a matter of coincidence and the fact that he's never been seriously challenged. The hooded figure agrees with Craydl that he'll use his superior intellect to defeat Impulse. He then removes his cloak, revealing his blond hair and a green-and-black outfit identical to Impulse's. He proclaims that as the last of the Thawnes he will do what he was bred to do — to right a wrong that was visited upon his family generations ago. He will remove the littlest Allen, replace him and become him. And Bart will never see him coming because he is Inertia.

I think we need to talk about the end first. Impulse finally has an archenemy — something he has seriously been lacking these past 50-plus issues. And although we still don't know that much about Inertia, it is pretty frightening that he has access to videos of Bart's life and is obsessively studying them in preparation to defeat and replace Bart. This terrifying concept, combined with Inertia's fun interaction with Craydl, made each of their scenes captivating.

Another way the story could have been told would have been to show Inertia reviewing past highlights of Impulse's career. It would have been fun to relive Impulse battling Kobra and Savitar again and having adventures with the Teen Titans and Young Justice. But instead Inertia focused on an entirely new adventure, which I think worked out for the best. The Fog Prince really isn't that much of a villain, but he was pretty hilarious as an overly emotional geeky teenager, matching Impulse on the most juvenile level.

I also loved how this issue began expanding Bart's circle of friends. Bart's now interacting with more people than just Preston and Carol, and Carol not only gets a new girl friend, but a hunky jock to crush over. And Max's line about Bart waiting for the light really stood out to me. If they ever did make an Impulse cartoon, watching Bart get annoyed by slow light switches would have made a great gag. And in case you think I'd forget, the art was once again gorgeous. Ethan Van Sciver was exactly what this book needed.

The only complaint I have with this issue is an atrocious ad placement. Four pages of advertisements were stuck right in the middle of the book, interrupting pages 12 and 13, which were a two-page spread of Impulse's origin. To read those pages correctly, you had to read the top half of 12 and 13 before reading the bottom half of the two pages. And with those ads in the way, this became a confusing pain in the butt. Luckily, this is not a problem in the Impulse 100-Page Spectacular or the digital version.

Impulsive Reactions starts with Matt W. complaining that Impulse #46 had a misleading cover. But he did say that he still liked the issue as a whole with all its jokes and villain cameos. I agree with L.A. Williams' response that the cover did say it was "kinda, sorta part of Chain Lightning," which did make it accurate.

Dave Anderson, of Rockford, Ill., calls Impulse your annoying little brother constantly asking a bazillion stupid questions. But Dave did like how Bart seemed to mature a bit after reading (or rather daydreaming) about his grandpa in issue #46. In Impulse #47, Dave actually thought that Impulse should have followed Superman's standard in fighting crime 24/7.

Robert Swerdlow, of Seldon, N.Y., says he only picked up issue #47 for Superman, and he felt the issue used him in the worst possible way. Robert says Superman has better things to do than talk to Impulse. L.A. agrees, pointing out that was why Superman flew off on Impulse at least four times during their conversation.

John Steib enjoyed the way William Messner-Loebs portrayed Superman and kept him consistent with all the other DC Universe books, as well as showing a scene that also occurred in Titans #2, which came out the same week.

Shane Sarte also was a fan of Superman's appearance and how Impulse came to realize that his current tactics weren't the best way to go.

Hank Kurz, of Sterling Heights, Mich., sees that the Riddler was set to appear in Impulse and Robin the same month, and was wondering whether someone would comment on that. And as L.A. says, the Riddler did make mention of his recent battle with Robin in the pages of Impulse.

Natalie Mourra, of Santa Ana, Calif., was happy to see Evil Eye get a reality check, but she was confused as to why Superman was acting that way. Natalie also asks where Bart's street clothes go when he puts on his Impulse costume. For the Superman question, L.A. referred her to Superman's titles. For Bart's clothes, L.A. referred Natalie to Flash assistant editor Frank Berrios. (I'm assuming he had a whole thing about where speedsters' clothes go.)

Jennifer M. Contino thought the interaction with Superman, Impulse and Superboy was very realistic. She also praises the whole art team, especially Craig Rousseau, lamenting his upcoming departure. But Jennifer says she's seen some of Ethan Van Sciver's work and is excited for it.

Ali Crolius, of Amherst, Mass., says that her 7-year-old son, Ezra, is now really into the comics scene, and is especially drawn to Impulse. I wonder if Ezra still likes Impulse now that he's in his 20s. Time now for the new ads:

Are you a Mega-Dude? Warheads candy and merchandise, including a coupon for 25 cents off — if you don't mind cutting out Bart's head on the other side of the page. Man, the ad placement for this issue was just horrible.

Everyone's excited for the return of the Oreo Stacking Contest. Stack 'em high and you could snag $20,000, a trip to Orlando and a role on TV!

NesQuik. It's great, even if your brain is the size of a walnut.

Send us the greatest Eggo creation and we'll send you to Florida with $10,000.

He'd like to have a few words with you. A closeup on Darth Maul for a toy that quoted movie lines when you placed the corresponding action figure on it. Ironically, Darth Maul only has about two lines in The Phantom Menace.

The World's Mightiest Mortal is back! The Shazam! Archives Volume 2.

More adventure than most summer vacations! Croc 2 for PlayStation.

It takes more than a hit single to reach the top. 15% of adult height is added during teen years. So we give our growing bones lots of calcium by drinking milk. How do you suppose we reach all those high notes, anyway? Got milk? with the Backstreet Boys. Ironically, growing up actually makes it tougher to reach those high notes.

Well, that is it for August 1999. Next time, we'll dive into September with Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #2.