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.

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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?

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