Monday, May 30, 2016

Young Justice #15


Peter David, Writer
Todd Nauck, Pencils
Lary Stucker, Inks
Ken Lopez, Letters
Jason Wright, Colors
Maureen McTigue, Assoc. Editor
Eddie Berganza, Editor

The debut of "Black Arrow" is by Nauck & Stucker with the colors of WildStorm FX. Yes, this cover definitely lets us know that we're in for another rare dark issue of this usually light series. Arrowette does look pretty cool in her new costume, but this image of her battling (hunting?) two guys with guns is haunting.

Our story begins with those two guys, Rick and Jerry, running madly through the woods. But after a while, they realize nobody is chasing them, and they congratulate each other on dodging the cops. Jerry is glad that Rick got to show Marcey like he wanted to, but he is a bit worried that Rick left it behind. Rick apologizes for dropping it when the police showed up, and he says they'll have to leave town now, since their voices are heard on the tape.

Rick then comes across a black arrow in a tree with a note attached to it. He wonders how long it's been there, and when he reads the note, it says, "About ten seconds longer than the next one." Right on cue, the next arrow flies right between the two men, picking up the note and sticking in the tree behind them. Naturally, this arrow came from Arrowette, just like we saw on the cover. Rick and Jerry pull out their guns and begin firing wildly at the unseen archer. After a minute, they think they scared their assailant away, but another arrow flies right between Rick's legs.

The two men scramble away in a renewed panic, followed by a very angry Arrowette. She sarcastically thanks her mother for providing this "Dark Arrowette" outfit for the purpose of making more action figures. But she is glad to have something appropriate to wear while running through the forest. She retrieves her arrows, and notes the sun is going down, which is good for her since she has night goggles.

We then get a flashback to the spring dance at Cissie's boarding school. Robin insisted the whole team attend the dance, although he would be late arriving, having to check up on a few leads first. Cissie, however, feels odd to be partying so soon after Secret's disappearance. Cassie tries to cheer her up, but then she gets bummed out when Bart and Kon enter the room. Cassie knows that Kon will ask Cissie to dance and won't even acknowledge her. Kon, meanwhile, is happy to be in disguise not as a geek this time, but a cool kid with a goatee.

The boys approach the girls, and Bart introduces himself as Low Profile. Cissie says the boys look like Jay and Silent Bob, and just as Cassie feared, Kon asks Cissie to dance. However, Kon didn't specifically say Cissie's name, and she tells Cassie that Kon asked for her. Cassie is thrilled by the prospect of dancing with Superboy, and luckily, Kon has the grace to agree to the dance.

Cissie watches from the sidelines with her friend and psychologist, Marcey Money, who is the only person at the Elias School who knows Cissie's secret identity. (We met her briefly in Secret Origins 80-Page Giant #1.) Marcey compliments Cissie on being considerate enough to give Cassie the dance. After lightly teasing each other over their taste in music, Cissie notes that Marcey is no longer wearing her engagement ring. Marcey explains that she rushed into the engagement, and notes that no one should do things on impulse. Right on cue, Bart runs up on the stage and begins playing the drums before eventually being chased off by the band.

Marcey tells Cissie that her mother called the other day, but this is still a tender subject for Cissie, who hasn't had any regular contact with her since leaving for boarding school. Marcey admits that Bonnie still has a long way to go, but she tells Cissie that her mother has been making progress with her associates. Marcey suggests Cissie talk to her mother, during a therapy session if she'd like. But Cissie pushes this aside, saying she's at a party and doesn't want to discuss things that will depress her.

Back in the current time, Rick and Jerry are still running through the woods. Although it's been an hour since their encounter with Arrowette, they're still a bit jumpy. When they hear rustling in the bushes, they open fire again, this time killing a bear cub. Jerry moans, "We capped Boo Boo! We're slime, man!" Arrowette then shoots an arrow through Rick's flashlight, but she is spotted by doing this. Rick and Jerry miss the girl, but they do knock down the tree branch she was sitting on, burying Arrowette in a pile of foliage.

In another flashback, Cissie bumps into Ricky on her way to an appointment with Marcey. The previously engaged couple had just broken up, and Ricky did not take it well, to say the least. Marcey is a mess, and wants to cancel the appointment, but Cissie insists on cheering her up and helping fix her ruined makeup. Marcey admits that she felt Ricky would have shot her then and there if he had a gun on him, which is why she's an advocate of gun control. The psychologist then applies this to Cissie, saying it worries her to know a girl with so many unresolved issues is constantly running around with a bow and arrow. But Cissie assures her that she's a hero and has it covered.

Now, Arrowette kicks herself for toying with the guys and putting herself in a vulnerable position. Luckily, she spots a beehive overhead, which she knocks down with an arrow. The bees chase the men away, but Arrowette also comes under their wrath. She has to jump into a stream to avoid the bees, which she chastises for not telling the difference between the good guys and the bad guys. Arrowette softly repeats to herself that she is one of the good guys.

In the last, most recent flashback, Robin and Superboy give Cissie a ride to school in the Super-Cycle, having just completed some mission or other. To her horror, Cissie finds the school swarming with police, news stations and an ambulance. Hiding behind some trees, Cissie catches a glimpse of the victim being placed in a black body bag — her psychologist, Dr. Marcey Money.

Going into full investigation mode, Cissie manages to sneak past all the people and into the school. She hears Marcey's voice screaming out in terror, and realizes it's coming from a video tape the police found at the scene. One officer believes the perpetrator recorded the video to watch the victim begging him again, but then he dropped the camera when he fled. The cops watch as Marcey is slowly shot in each leg, and one officer admits he puked the first two times he watched it.

When Marcey is finally killed on the video tape, Cissie screams aloud, then quickly runs away from the police. She rushes through an interview with Congressman Zuckerman, who is quick to blame the murder on violent movies, music, video games and comic books. Cissie tackles Zuckerman, and shouts about gun control and how Zuckerman has consistently voted agains the issue. She says she know everyone will cry out for change after this tragedy, but nobody is going to do anything ... except for her. Cissie quickly runs away before getting in trouble for tackling a congressman, who uses this outburst to support his theory of the corrupted youth of America.

Cissie knew she'd be able to catch the murderers before the police in these woods, so she donned her Dark Arrowette outfit and quickly began her hunt. And that brings us back to the present, where Jerry is finally beginning to get second thoughts about continuing to run away. Ricky angrily tells him they're like supernovas, they'll burn out fast, but a hundred times brighter, which fails to convince Jerry. At the sight of an approaching shadow, Jerry is ready to give up, but Ricky is not, firing several shots at the figure.

Turns out the figure was the big, angry momma bear. Jerry trips backward over a log and is knocked out, while Ricky ditches his companion. Arrowette freezes the bear in place with a cryo arrow, and ties Jerry up to a tree right in front of the injured, furious beast. When Jerry comes to, Arrowette explains the situation to him, and darkly says he better hope she'll come back to untie him before the bear unfreezes.

It doesn't take long for Arrowette to catch up to Ricky. He's furious to discover he's been tormented all night by a girl, and he begins wildly firing his gun all around him once again. Suddenly an arrow pierces his left thigh, followed by another arrow in his right. Arrowette says, "Now let's see ... you shot her in one leg ... then the other ... then ... what was it again ... ?" Ricky collapses in pain and panic, and begs for mercy. He tosses his gun away and completely surrenders to Arrowette. But she draws her arrow, aims it at Ricky's heart, and says she could easily get away with this. She could bury his body out here in the woods and no one would ever know. And maybe then, Marcey's voice would stop screaming in her head. Arrowette says Marcey deserved to live, but Ricky doesn't. She then lets the arrow fly.

Suddenly, the arrow is caught by Superboy. As is usual for him, he opens with a joke, saying he knew he'd get the hang of catching arrows sooner or later. He explains that he heard the news report, and came by to see if he could help. Superboy then demonstrates an unusually high level of maturity by giving Arrowette a fitting, and beautiful analogy. He says that sometimes a pitcher will instantly regret a pitch as soon as its thrown, wishing he could call it back before he gets pounded. Superboy then hold the arrow out to Arrowette, saying they're going to pretend that it was a pitch that got away from her. And the next pitch is up to her. He asks if she wants it, or if she wants a reliever to handle it.

Arrowette refuses the arrow and walks away from Superboy, simply saying, "Not now." When she gets out to an open field, she angrily tosses aside her bow, shouting that she wants answers right now. Arrowette then falls to her knees and weeps into her hands.

Woah. Let's take a moment to let that sink in. This was easily the darkest, most serious issue of Young Justice. But it's handled with poetic beauty in a deeply emotional manner. I nearly came to tears typing up the synopsis. Arrowette's pain is so tangible, and it's so heart-breaking to see her battle that, and ultimately go down a path she doesn't want to go down. It's completely understandable why she would want to fire that final arrow. Not justifiable, but understandable. And oh so tragic.

What really made this story was the ending. This was the most heroic thing I've ever seen Superboy do. He never once condemned or accused Arrowette. He perfectly summed up the whole situation, and wisely, bravely even, gave Arrowette a second chance. It was so nice to see this side of Superboy, who is normally such a goofy, immature character. He saved the day in this issue, but it wasn't a perfect victory — he couldn't prevent Arrowette from shooting the arrow in the first place. And that is something that will haunt her in the days to come.

The only thing that would have improved this story would have been a stronger connection to the victim, Marcey Money. We only saw her once, briefly, buried in the back of an 80-page special. I wish Peter David could have spent a little bit of time establishing this character over a few issues. In any case, it is still an impactful story. And looking at the big picture, we see Young Justice as a team is now going through their first real struggle. Secret is missing and Arrowette isn't going to be the same for a while.

Now to radically shift tones, let's head over to the letters column, starting with John Izzarone, who asks a lot of questions about Young Justice meeting Lobo or a Lobo Jr. Eddie Berganza reminds him of the "li'l Lobo" statue in Young Justice #1,000,000.

Claire N. asks if Impulse saw the vision of Kali in Young Justice #9 because of his simple mind. Berganza prefers to call it a naive mind.

A person named Eats Veggie (that's what it says) breaks down the team's diverse cast of characters — Secret for the mystical side, Superboy and Wonder Girl for the super-people, Robin the leader, Impulse the goof, and Arrowette for the feminists. But this person argues the team needs some water support in the form of Lagoon Boy. Apparently this writer became hooked on the character in the No Man's Land special.

There aren't any new ads, so I'll see you next time with Impulse #55.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #5

The Subs Part One

Geoff Johns & Lee Moder Writer/Storytellers/Penciller
Dan Davis Inks
Tom McCraw Colors
Bill Oakley Letters
Heroic Age Separators
Mike Carlin Editor
Courtney Whitmore created by Geoff Johns & Lee Moder

Step aside, Young Justice! Star and S.T.R.I.P.E. rule this cover, as do their artists, Lee Moder, Dan Davis, and Richard and Tanya Horie! It is a fun concept for a cover, especially for an issue that prominently guest stars the top teenage team. I'm just not a fan of Moder's work. Everyone looks wonky here. The execution dampens the excitement.

Last time we saw Young Justice in this series, they began making plans to check out this new Star-Spangled Kid. Well, now is apparently the day to do just so. The entire team, including Red Tornado, has decided to visit Blue Valley High School. They hide the Super-Cycle in a swamp near the school, which I find odd because Blue Valley is in Nebraska, not exactly known for its swamps, and the Super-Cycle could simply fly away and come back when Robin whistled for it.

Anyway, Superboy and Impulse take a quick peek at the girls of Blue Valley High, and Superboy says this is definitely a mission for him. Impulse doesn't get it, and Superboy gives him a hard time, saying Wally, a legendary ladies' man, should have taught him a thing or two about such things. Robin gets their attention by throwing a batarang at their heads, then asks them to help cover up the Super-Cycle.  Impulse wants to quickly do the whole job himself, but Red Tornado tells him not to use his super-speed, saying it'll cause more harm than good.

Robin then orders Impulse and Superboy to get into their disguises. Robin will be a blonde named Jeremy Johnson, Superboy will be a geek named Carl Grummet (in honor of Superboy creators Karl Kesel and Tom Grummet), and Impulse will be a skater named Wade (in honor of Impulse creator Mark Waid). We don't get a last name for "Wade," but it probably was something close to Wieringo. Sadly, I can't think of any specific comic creators Jeremy Johnson is a reference to.

Superboy and Impulse still don't see the need for this elaborate undercover mission, so Robin explains. Their mission is to find the new Star-Spangled Kid, see what he's like and see if they can count on him when they need a helping hand. And Robin wants to do this subtly to avoid the all-too-often big fist fight between superheroes.

Superboy is willing to concede to that point, but he's still upset that he has to play the geek. Robin strokes his ego by saying he has the necessary acting skills to pull off the geek that Impulse lacks. The three boys then bump into Courtney Whitmore, and Robin nearly drops a device given to them by Doctor Magnus that's supposed to pick up residue from the Star-Spangled Kid's power belt. (This is another odd bit of this story, as Young Justice has never had any interaction with Doc Magnus previously.)

Meanwhile, Wonder Girl, Arrowette and Secret are out scouting in the swamp. Wonder Girl and Arrowette complain about all the bugs, but Secret seems to enjoy the mud. Robin reminds them about the cosmic residue out there that their radar picked up, which he believes could be the Star-Spangled Kid's hideout. And Superboy and Impulse remind the girls that they drew the short straw. And Red Tornado tells everyone to get back to work, while he creates fake school records for the boys and searches the existing school records for any Pembertons.

The boys head to their first class, which is a bit unruly because it has a substitute teacher. Impulse enjoys the chaos, and Superboy has a hard time figuring out if the sub is a man or a woman. And Robin is perplexed when his device starts going ballistic around the teacher named Pozer. Out in the swamp, the girls, aided by their own device, come across a large alien spacecraft, and they wonder if they should call Red Tornado. We then see that at least one teacher is working with a shadowy figure who is aware of Young Justice's visit to the school. But the villain doesn't want to attract any attention to his schemes, telling the teacher to wait to enact his plan until after the heroes have left.

The boys' next class is gym, which also has a substitute teacher, who also causes Robin's device to go off. The sub has the class play dodge ball, and Superboy is immediately struck out because he was too busy making fun of Robin for not going on any dates. Impulse seems distracted by the game, and Robin tells him this is a good opportunity to work on his focus. But Bart loses track of the ball and gets knocked out, too. Robin tells Impulse not to feel bad for losing his concentration, saying it took him years to perfect his. As soon as he says that, though, he gets distracted by Courtney again, and gets hit by a ball. As he walks off the court, Robin remarks that Batman would kill him for that.

After school, the boys are hanging out in the gym where the cheerleader tryouts are set to begin. Superboy thoroughly enjoyed his day at school, saying they should do this more often. Robin tells him they're not there to flirt with girls, but Superboy counters by pointing out how Robin became smitten by Courtney. All the substitute teachers then suspiciously march through the gym, talking about an emergency meeting away from all this "variety." Robin's device goes wild once again, and Impulse finally asks, "What are we waiting for?" Courtney also noticed the odd behavior of the subs and decides to investigate as the Star-Spangled Kid.

The subs meet in the faculty lounge and quickly reveal themselves to be blue aliens with a device that will transform humans into other Laroonians just like them. The boys burst through the window, Courtney bursts through the door, and Robin calls in Red Tornado to help. Robin is surprised to see that the Star-Spangled Kid is a girl, but is still happy to fight alongside her, anyway.

Courtney's stepfather, Pat Dugan, picks up an alert on his watch that Courtney has activated her power belt, so he quickly arrives in his S.T.R.I.P.E. suit. Red Tornado mistakes this as an enemy, but Courtney quickly vouches for him. Impulse pauses to compliment her on her cool robot, but this leaves the two of them vulnerable to the Laroonians' ray gun. The Star-Spangled Kid and Impulse are blasted with the blue ray, and are transformed into bald, blue aliens. Courtney moans that she does not need this, but Bart thinks it's pretty cool that he now has pointy ears.

This was a pretty fun, but slightly frustrating issue. The school day went by surprisingly quick, and the heroes of Young Justice were surprisingly slow on the uptake. Why did it take Red Tornado all day to sort through the school records? Why didn't the girls report to Red or Robin that they found an alien spaceship out in the swamp? And what were they for the rest of the day? I know this is just a fun, light story, but it seemed a bit too simplistic for me, and made Young Justice look incompetent. And Moder's art nearly ruined the whole issue.

None of the letters to the editor mention Young Justice (unsurprisingly), so let's head over to the ads:

They were the heroes of tomorrow. Full of dreams and ideals. United to protect a near-utopian galaxy. Then the blight came. Legion of Super-Heroes. Legion of the Damned.

He inherited the power. But can he fill the boots? Son of Superman.

When you're at the top of the evolutionary ladder, there's only one way to go: down! JLA Primeval.

Next time, the team will once again don civilian disguises, although in a much more serious story in Young Justice #15.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Flash #155

Payback Unlimited

Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn, Story
Paul Pelletier, Pencils
Jose Marzan, Jr., Inks
Gaspar Saldino with Ken Lopez, Letters
Tom McCraw, Colors
Joey Cavalieri, Editor

This isn't too bad of a cover by Steve Lightle. But for the umpteenth time, I will say Pelletier should be doing the covers. Replicant's arms do look a bit pixelated up around the cutout for the stupid-looking Flash logo, and I don't think that was intentional. In any case, we really don't care about this "ultimate rogue" because he has nothing to do with Impulse.

Sadly, Impulse has very little to do in this issue. But we'll still give it the full coverage it deserves! We come on a rare scene of just Impulse hanging out with Jesse Quick (Max Mercury is nowhere to be seen). Jesse comments on how they finally got the answer they were looking for, in regards to the new Flash, but she's no happier. Impulse says Jesse's never happy, and he's never heard her laugh. And come to think about it, I'm with Bart on this one. When has Jesse ever been happy?

Jesse gets Bart back on topic, reminding him (and us) that the last time they saw the Wally they knew was fighting Cobalt Blue in the 30th century. Then, boom, a dark stranger shows up, takes Wally's place, then reluctantly reveals himself as Wally, but older. Jesse asks where he's been for 10 years his time. Bart tries to say, "Maybe he's been busy," but Jesse cut him off, assuming Bart was going to bring up Linda again, who Jesse still thinks is Bart's imaginary friend.

Bart hadn't thought of that, but now that Jesse's brought it up, he decides to go straight to the source and ask this Wally about it. Bart interrupts a tender moment between Flash and Angela Margolin, simply asking, "Where's Linda?" Flash gets pretty upset with this, and calls him Brat. Bart corrects him, but Flash says he was named by a dyslexic. He grabs the teen and angrily says, "Understand one thing. Never ... never ... ask me about Linda." Unfortunately for Flash, though, his new girlfriend heard this conversation, and now she's asking who Linda is.

And speaking of Linda, she is currently standing in front of her own grave, flanked by two different Flashes. One is violent and psychotic, but the other seems like the good old Wally we all know and love. After a brief skirmish, this good Wally manages to escape with Linda, who confirms that he is the real Wally since he remembers her disappearing on their wedding night.

Linda explains that she was kidnapped and taken out of time so everyone would forget her. She escaped, but ended up in this alternate world where she was killed by Kobra, which drove this version of the Flash (who she calls Walter West) mad. Wally explains that he went into the Speed Force (again) to defeat Cobalt Blue. And coming out of the Speed Force, he was once again drawn to Linda like a lightning rod, somehow breaking a dimensional barrier to undo the damage caused by Linda's kidnapper.

It doesn't take too long before Walter finds them and gets into another fight with Wally. One advantage Walter has is that he trained under Savitar before killing him, which gives him a few new tricks. As Walter moves in for the death blow, Linda calls out to him, getting him to refrain from killing Wally. Suddenly, Walter and Wally are trapped in separate glass jars, and Linda realizes her kidnapper has returned. And that kidnapper is none other than Abra Kadabra.

It's all starting to come together. While there are many similarities to other Mark Waid Flash stories, this one brings in the fun added twist of introducing our main character to an Elseworld or What If? version of himself. And I appreciated Impulse's boldness in his brief scenes here. Altogether, this was another great comic from this creative team. Even though I skipped over all the parts with Replicant, he is actually a pretty neat villain.

Next time, Impulse and Young Justice will have a bigger role in Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #5.

Action Comics #760

" ... Never-Ending Battle ... "

Joe Kelly Writer
German Garcia Penciller
Joe Rubinstein Inker
Glenn Whitmore Colorist
WildStorm FX Separations
John Costanza Letterer
Maureen McTigue Associate Editor
Eddie Berganza Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster

Superman's unleashed on this month's breakthrough cover by Phil Jimenez and Liquid! Run! And it is a pretty fun cover. I like it when the characters interact with the words or other elements on the cover.  The cover on a whole is rather stylistic, and I probably wouldn't enjoy it very much on it's own. But it actually matches up quite well with the three other Superman titles this month. They're all done in the same style, with a chunk of the Superman shield in the background, interlocking to create one big, cool image.

Impulse (and Young Justice) only make a quick cameo here, so we'll keep this quick. A villain named La Encantadora has been making a living selling fake kryptonite to other villains around the world. And since she has the ability to teleport, she is able to constantly stay one step ahead of Superman and her dissatisfied customers. At one point in this worldwide chase, Superman arrives at the Statue of Liberty, expecting La Encantadora, but finding Young Justice instead.

Apparently Batman had set up the meeting, but wasn't able to attend. So he had Young Justice go to place a tracer on the villain. But, as Impulse says, Superboy scared her off with an Animaniacs-like "Hello Nurse" call and bad cologne. Impulse and Superboy both desperately want to help Superman, but he politely declines.

And that's all we see of Young Justice in this rather wacky, light-hearted issue. Superman runs into a whole bunch of villains, ranging from the serious (Lex Luthor, Ra's al Ghul, Metallo) to the goofy (Doctor Spectro, Clock King, Riddler). And, ultimately, he does catch La Encantadora by taking away the source of her power, her necklace.

This is a very different Superman than the one Impulse last saw. He's much more upbeat and positive, and, in my opinion, more enjoyable. As I write this review, DC is in the middle of a big Rebirth, with promises of making their characters more optimistic, happy heroes. For inspiration, they should take a look at stories like this. Superman is polite, but firm. Responsible, yet graceful in light of such an absurd situation. And few things are more ludicrous than a bunch of teenagers in a giant motorcycle parked on top of the Statue of Liberty fantasizing about beautiful villains.

The letters column is called Re: Action, but none of them mention Impulse or Young Justice (not that I expected them to). So let's check out the ads:

Choose your weapon. Choose your quest. Choose your team very carefully. Gantlet Legends for PlayStation and Nintendo 64.

Life is hard. Why make it harder with drugs?

I got your hand signal right here buddy. Crash Team Racing for PlayStation.

Introducing Omega Boost. Why go to all the trouble of being weightless if you can't blow up a bunch of space crap? For PlayStation.

Prepare for the greatest match ever! Pokémon: The First Movie. I do remember this movie quite well. It was a big event at the time. There has been a lot of Pokémon since, but nothing has matched the incredible hype it had in 1999.

The World is Not Enough. Starring Pierce Brosnan.

Sonic has a new light speed dash. Sonic Adventure for Sega Dreamcast.

Next time, Impulse will make another quick cameo in The Flash #155.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Young Justice #14

Like Heck, You Say or Crossovers are Heck!

Peter David Hecka Writer
Todd Nauck Hecka Pencils
Lary Stucker Hecka Inks
Jason Wright Hecka Colors
Digital Chameleon Hecka Seps
Ken Lopez Hecka Letters
Maureen McTigue Hecka Associate
Eddie Berganza Going to Heck

It's Harm in your face by Todd Nauck & Lary Stucker with some WildStorm colors! This cover certainly doesn't hold back the big surprise of this issue. Luckily, though, there will be a pretty big surprise associated with Harm we'll get to enjoy. Altogether, this is a fun and exciting cover. Although, I am a little confused as to why Impulse is thinking of a zebra. Is it just because Harm is (mostly) black-and-white now? Or is there a deeper meaning I'm missing?

Our story begins with Secret making her way back to the only home she's ever known, the Young Justice cave. She's still pretty shaken after her experience in the hospital, and now she's afraid to be alone. She searches for her friends, especially Robin, whose name she repeats several times. Interestingly, we see that someone has put up a Hugga-Tugga-Thugees poster on the wall next to the portrait of the original Justice League of America.

Secret isn't able to find anyone, and she visits the swimming pool, thinking about how just a few days ago they were all playing in the pool like normal kids. She wonders if she was ever normal, and as she stares at her reflection in the water, she sees herself being electrocuted. Secret hastily turns away from the image, deciding she doesn't want to remember these horrifying memories. As she does so, her hand freezes and turns to ice. For the first time ever, Secret feels cold. And she becomes more frightened than she was before.

We then check in with the rest of Young Justice, who are flying past an unnamed town in the Super-Cycle. A volcano has spontaneously appeared in the middle of the town and is spewing lava all over the place. Arrowette says, "Well, that can't be good!" Impulse notes that Superboy usually says that, and it's kind of becoming their slogan now. Robin orders Impulse to contain the lava while Superboy and Wonder Girl dig a trench to catch the overflowing lava. Everything in the town is appropriately themed for this disaster, with big advertisements for devil's food cake, hot sauce, the hottest comic books for sale, and the movies Volcano and Armageddon. And, is that Snapper Car down there?

Impulse contains the lava with a high-speed air cushion, and he notes the similarities between this and Young Justice's most recent adventure with Supergirl. But as Impulse astutely observes, "But dis ain't Dis ... I mean, this ain't this ... Dis ... I ... this ... aw, never mind." Superboy and Wonder Girl get to work on the trench, and nobody seems to notice the demons emerging from the volcano. After a few minutes, Impulse reports to Robin that the lava seems to have a mind of its own, and he can't contain it much longer. So Robin has Arrowette shoot three liquid nitrogen arrows into the heart of the volcano. This works perfectly, and soon the volcano is frozen and the town is saved. The kids fly home, tired and covered in ash. Sadly, they pass another town, Blue Point, that they weren't able to save and is completely covered in lava. Superboy pessimistically notes that for every town they do save, there's a hundred more they don't.

We then cut to Chicago, where Red Tornado is approached with an offer from the mayor's office: help protect the city from an invasion of demons in exchange for a full pardon. Red Tornado accepts the deal, and when the guard fumbles with the keys to his cell, Red simply blasts the door off, demonstrating that he could have escaped at any time. The android also says he would have helped the mayor even without the pardon, but since the deal has been made, he will accept it. So, Red Tornado is finally free, without the help of the A.P.E.S. or Old Justice. He flies into the sky and is quickly surrounded by a bunch of demons that look similar to the ones from Dante's Inferno, but are slightly different.

Young Justice returns to the cave, and Impulse begins shouting for Tornado, Traya and Secret. Arrowette jokingly shouts for Cubby and Annette, which I assume is a Mickey Mouse Club reference, which seems a bit old for her. Robin calls up Red Tornado, who simply says now is not a good time to talk. Wonder Girl heads to the lockers to clean all the ash off herself, and she actually takes off her wig and goggles. But Cassie immediately screams once she enters the locker room, and Impulse is naturally the first to arrive.

The sight that made Cassie scream is Secret covered in ice all the way up to her head. Impulse initially thinks it's an ice sculpture of Secret, but Wonder Girl says this must be the same effect that caused Supergirl's flame wings to freeze (which Supergirl told everyone about, apparently). The rest of the team arrives, and Arrowette asks Robin what they should do. Robin can only stammer out an "I don't know," and Superboy rips into him, saying a leader doesn't get to say that. In his panicked state, Robin lashes out at Superboy, saying he'll deck him if he doesn't shut up. Before Secret's head is covered by the ice, she speaks ominously about Hell freezing over and the coming of the abyss. But soon she's completely engulfed by the ice, and all Robin can think to say is to get her to the sauna. Suddenly, Secret begins cracking, and an old foe, Harm, emerges from the ice.

While Red Tornado has his hands full with demons and volcanoes in Chicago, Harm explains to Young Justice that they haven't seen him in a while since he's been suffering from a slight case of death. Harm says the only way he could have returned was if Hell froze over, which it just did. He pulls out a flaming sword, and fires a large blast at our heroes. Superboy protects his teammates by bearing the brunt of the blast, but it takes a lot out of him. Robin tells Wonder Girl to get him to safety (which I think is a big mistake to send away one of your heavy hitters while battling such a powerful enemy).

Robin, Arrowette and Impulse move in to attack, and Impulse quickly gets on Harm's back and pummels him with punches. Harm calls Impulse's little fists cute, and to demonstrate that he is, in fact, dead, he runs his sword through himself to get at Impulse.

Impulse is shocked to see that Harm actually cut his arm on that attack. Arrowette fires three arrows at the villain, but he slices them all with his sword. Secret, now a scattered vapor in the room, begins pulling herself together to help her friends. As she does so, she also pulls together all those memories she desperately tried to bury.

Harm takes the fight out into the main room, where he begins wailing on Wonder Girl and Superboy. Luckily, Secret returns to full strength and fills the room, telling Harm she remembers him. Harm also remembers Secret, saying the last tim they fought, he didn't get a good look at her. Impulse feels like a dunce, and even Arrowette and Robin are confused by this revelation. Secret calls Harm Billy and demands to know how he could kill her, his sister. Everyone is shocked by this, but Harm smugly explains that a sacrifice was required, although in hindsight, he feels he should have sacrificed their father. Secret then goes ballistic and lifts Harm out of the cave, blasting him out to a nearby mountain.

Secret and Harm battle in the snow, with Harm blasting her with his flame sword and pushing aside her words that siblings are supposed to love each other. Superboy and Wonder Girl are first to arrive, ramming into Harm from both sides. The others are right behind them on the Super-Cycle, which hits Harm with a big blast from its cannon. But Secret gets in the final blow. Still on fire, she rams herself into the mountain's snow pack, saying this time, she and Billy will die together. Harm and Secret are buried in an avalanche, and Robin orders the team to stand by at the ready, saying the snow won't hold those two for long.

After waiting a long time (eight hours according to Superboy), Impulse begs Robin to give him something to do, saying his foot's asleep, and his legs and his hair ... So Robin gives the word, and Impulse looks all over the avalanche, but is unable to find a trace of Harm or Secret. Arrowette asks what they should do, and once again, Robin has to utter those three evil words, "I don't know." But Robin follows that up by saying Secret is one of them, and they'll find her, no matter what. And at the end of this issue, we see that somehow, inexplicably, Secret has fallen into the hands of agents Fite 'n Maad.

This was a pretty awesome issue. Young Justice's greatest villain returned, and we finally learned the chilling origin story of Secret. The issue served as a great tie-in to the Day of Judgment crossover, and it never felt like the main story of this series was sacrificed to accommodate it. Red Tornado's situation was resolved (although a bit conveniently), and we got some great character moments from our team. I liked how Robin snapped at Superboy — it helped humanize him and show the intensity of the situation. And Wonder Girl spent most the issue fighting without her wig or goggles — a sign of things to come. And Impulse was his usual, lovable self.

I guess I can now finally talk about the episode of the Young Justice animated series that features Secret and Harm. It's called "Secrets," and is appropriately written by Peter David. In it, Artemis and Zatanna battle Harm, and are aided by the ghost of his dead sister, who can only say the word "secret." The episode did a great job with Harm, who is every bit as chilling and smug as he is in the comics. But I'm really sad that Secret was reduced to a one-note role. I could say that something is better than nothing, but I feel that Secret is a critical part of the Young Justice story — every bit as important as Robin, Superboy or Impulse. So I almost consider it insulting to see what the show did with her.

The letters column accidentally reprinted two letters from last month. But it also includes two new letters, starting with Doud Ohmer, of Covington, Ky., who liked seeing the Psyba-Rats in Young Justice #8, but felt like Chuck Dixon could have done a better job with the story. He was also annoyed at how easily Red Tornado was defeated.

Michael C Lorah, of State College, Penn., enjoyed Dixon's story and loved Impulse's advice to "jiggle it," calling it hysterical and practical, since that usually does do the job. But Michael wasn't a fan of the differing art styles between Nauck and Coy Turnbull, saying it would have been better if Turnbull just did the whole issue. Time now for the new ads:

They'll mess with your mind. Star Wars Pit Droids.

It's not the size of your Howitzer, it's what you do with it. Tiny Tank for PlayStation.

Apokolips Pow! Superman & Savage Dragon: Metropolis.

Anyone want a little brother? ... he's totally housebroken. Mission Hill on The WB.

L2 Levi's at Sears, Goody's, Kohl's and Mervyn's.

Next time, we'll begin the month of December 1999 with Action Comics #760.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Impulse #54

Day of Judgment Night of Camping

A Dezago • Van Sciver • McCarthy • Rollins • Chiang • Taylor • Digital Chameleon • Williams production
Impulse created by Waid & Wieringo

Our cover shows Impulse in a movie theater, surrounding by all the various ghosts and goblins from the Day of Judgment event. L.A. Williams said Ethan Van Sciver and Wayne Faucher drew themselves in it, and I can sort of see them in the monsters right behind Impulse and on the right side. But as fun as all this is, I am compelled to point out that technically speaking, none of this happens in this issue. In fact, as we'll soon see, Impulse doesn't even show up.

We open on Preston Lindsay, who has taken up a new hobby — filmmaking. Through his narrations, we learn that the town of Manchester lies in Jasper County, just off Route 195, and Bart lives at 323 Maple Drive. Preston is filming his neighborhood while standing on top of a ladder in a wagon, which is being pulled by Wade and Mike. As this amateur film crew makes its way past Bart's house, we see Max sporting a fresh cast on his arm, autographed a hundred times by Bart. Preston heard that Mr. Crandall broke his arm fighting a giant, which he assumes is a joke. We also see a copy of the Daily Manchester Eagle, which features a story about a mysterious bank robber known as Sir Real. (Manchester either has a lot of newspapers, or one paper that constantly changes its name.)

Helen is leaving for a dentists convention, and she thinks it'd be good for Max to get Bart out of the house for a while so he can recuperate from his battle with Kalibak. She suggests allowing Bart to have an overnight campout with his friends, saying it'll be good for the boy to have some fun. Max says with Bart, fun is usually a seven-letter word: T-R-O-U-B-L-E. Bart, meanwhile, is completely oblivious to all this, immersed in his Game Boy.

A couple of friendly dogs come out and pester our amateur filmmakers, and Preston nearly takes a hard tumble off his ladder. Max and Bart stabilize the wagon and ladder and return to their previous positions before anyone notices, leaving Preston, Mike and Wade wondering why he suddenly stopped falling. Helen's final point, that Bart would be forced to slow down to his friends' level, causes Max to finally agree to the campout.

Helen takes away Bart's game of "Revenge of the Maniacal Muskrats" and tells him he'll be roughing it for the weekend. Max sternly warns Bart to be discreet, and he and Max head inside, leaving a pouting Bart to meet up with his friends. Suddenly, Zatanna appears in Helen's house, asking Max to help battle off legions of demons from the Underworld. Jay Garrick arrives right after with the same request. And despite Helen's protests, Max agrees to help these heroes, noting the seriousness of the situation. So he rips off his cast and bandages, and heads off to the big crossover event without Impulse.

Bart and his friends have gathered up all their supplies in their backpacks, and they head over to the candy shop to pick up Rolly. What they see looks like Evil Eye keeping Rolly's sleeping bag away from him before tossing it at him and calling him a rat. Preston chews out Evil Eye, reminding him how they saved him from Sunnyside. Mike joins in, calling Evil Eye a loser, and all the campers head off, leaving Evil Eye to call the kids girls and tell them to have fun on their "stupid little campout."

The boys head down the train tracks, and Preston begins filming again, explaining that not only are they taking advantage of the last week of summer, but they also plan on sneaking into Christian Taranturro's latest film, "Pulp Dogs." Preston introduces Wade as their film crew's writer, and Mike as their top actor, since he's so animated and can draw on so many emotions. (In case you haven't figured it out, but Wade and Mike are based on Impulse's creators, Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo.)

The kids toss a football around as they walk, and when Bart is told to go long, he goes really long. For a moment, nobody knows where Bart is, but he suddenly reappears right behind his friends, and Preston laughs it off as one of Bart's "magic tricks." After 20 minutes of walking, Bart begins to grumble, asking, "Do you you always walk this slow? ... I mean, 'we'! Do we always walk this slow?!" Wade assures Bart they're almost there, explaining their plan to camp on Griffin's Hill and hike into town after dark, all without being seen by old man Griffin, who is said to shoot trespassers on sight. Rolly says nobody will see them, but none of the boys notice Evil Eye following them from the shadows.

Later, the boys get their tent set up (at a snail's pace, according to Bart). Preston asks Bart if he remembered the food, and we get a fun thought bubble of Bart thinking about himself thinking about himself thinking about ... Ultimately, Bart decides to say the food's in his bag, then hurries home and comes back with the food before anyone notices. Soon, the boys are roasting hotdogs, while a starving Evil Eye watches from the bushes.

Once it gets dark, Bart and friends take the (slow) two-mile hike into town. Mike leads them to a Lexcom movie theater where his cousin works as an usher, and left the bathroom window open so the kids could sneak inside. All the kids make it in, but when Evil Eye tries to follow, he gets caught. The usher tells Evil Eye that he and his friends are in big trouble, and Evil Eye stammers for a bit before sadly saying he doesn't have any friends.

The boys love the movie, but they do get in a bit of trouble when Rolly eats the popcorn of the old lady sitting next to him, and when Preston's and Wade's constant talking annoys the three guys behind him who look an awful lot like Todd Dezago, Prentis Rollins and L.A. Williams. The kids head back to the campsite around 11 p.m., talking about the movie and reenacting its scenes all the way there. When they reach the campfire, everyone starts roasting marshmallows, and Preston pulls out the camera once again as they tell ghost stories.

Halfway through Bart's story, just after Preston turned off the camera, all the ghosts and goblins we saw on the cover come bursting out of the fire. The demons don't bother the boys and fly off into the night, leaving Bart's friends to ask him how he did that. Bart can only say "I dunno," while realizing that if he became Impulse to investigate, he'd be disobeying Max's order to be discreet. The only boy to get scared by the demons was Rolly, who zipped himself up in his sleeping bag and refused to move, even to enter the tent. Mike realizes it's now 2:30 in the morning, so they all go to bed, glad to be among friends and not scared and alone. And Evil Eye settles in for the night nearby, with nothing more than a ratty, patched-up blanket to cover him.

In the morning, the kids are awoken by the shouting of old man Griffin. Preston worries that they'll never be able to pack up before they're spotted, but Bart does all the work for them in about half a second. Bart's friends don't have much time to wonder how this happened, since Griffin fired his shotgun into the air nearby, causing everyone to scramble away as fast as they can. Well, Bart calmly walks away, but his friends are running.

Two miles later, the worn-out boys are happy to be safely away, but Rolly realizes he dropped Evil Eye's sleeping bag while running down the hill. Everyone's surprised by this, and Rolly explains that he told Eddie yesterday they were going camping but he didn't have a sleeping bag. Evil Eye excitedly said his dad has one, and Rolly thought he meant he could borrow it. But Evil Eye was actually hoping to go camping with Rolly and the others, but he was too embarrassed and proud to admit this.

When Rolly finishes his story, Mike feels bad for assuming Evil Eye was bullying Rolly, and Preston feels bad for not realizing that Evil Eye wanted to come along. Wade suggests they buy Evil Eye a new sleeping bag, but Bart has suddenly disappeared once again. Evil Eye, meanwhile, is being shouted at by his dad, who happens to be wearing a Messner-Loebs Trucking shirt. Halfway through the lecture, the missing sleeping bag suddenly appears on the front lawn, putting a small smile on Evil Eye's face.

There was no Impulse in this issue, and I loved it. Dezago has done a wonderful job of fleshing out Bart's circle of friends while perfectly capturing the spirit of teenage boys during summer vacation. And I loved how he progressed the story of Evil Eye. He's finally given up hanging out with gangs, but he's still somewhat an outcast among the "good, normal" kids. His story really hits close to home for me, since I had a friend just like Evil Eye when I was this age. My friend was also from a broken home and was a bit of an outcast. It wasn't necessarily his fault he acted out sometimes, but sadly, I and my "good, normal" friends were too young and stupid to realize this until it was too late.

But as sweet and touching and funny as this issue was, I can't help but feel bad for any reader who picked up this comic looking a Day of Judgment tie-in. Showing Max running off to fight demons and having some demons randomly show up at a campfire is nowhere near enough to be considered a tie-in. It also doesn't make any sense for Max to be willing to rush off into such a dangerous situation with a broken arm and not bring Impulse along. I also feel bad for all the letter-writers in the past who asked for another appearance of Zatanna in this series. We were teased with a brief cameo, and that was it.

We only have two letters in this month's Impulsive Reactions, starting with Caleb L. Duncan, who admits he only knew Impulse from the Robin Plus Impulse one-shot and a smattering of Flash issues. Young Justice began to raise his curiosity, but ultimately, it was Batman's appearance in Impulse #50 that got Caleb to take the bait. Now, he's fallen for the series hook, line and sinker.

Jeff Dyer, of Dubuque, Iowa, wrote a "fast-talking" letter (with no spaces) praising issue #50 and Van Sciver's work. Now let's check out the new ads:

Wanna save the world? Relax. That's what these guys are for. The Avengers, Big Guy & Rusty the Boy Robot and Xyber 9 on Fox Kids.

He's big! He's green! He's just in time for breakfast! Reptar Crunch cereal inspired by the Rugrats.

You never know what you're going to win in a box of Totino's. Grand prize is a trip to the "Football Final," which I think means Super Bowl, but they couldn't get the rights to say it.

Six days a week of Pokémon only on Kids' WB! Plus, new episodes of Batman Beyond.

Who is the master spy? Spy vs. Spy for Game Boy Color.

Vatical made the great outdoors portable. Zebco Fishing! for Game Boy Color.

Buy your kid a Suzuki and we'll give you the gear for free.

Next time, we'll take another look at the Day of Judgment crossover with Young Justice #14.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Flash #154

Dimensionally Challenged

Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn, Story
Paul Pelletier, Pencils
Jose Marzan, Jr., Inks
Tom McCraw, Colors
Gaspar, Letters
Joey Cavalieri, Editor

Our cover by Steve Lightle is ... disappointing at best. The concept behind it is a great one. The new Flash finally revealing his identity to the other speedsters, who are both in shock, and seem to recognize the man behind the mask. But the execution is just awful. Max Mercury looks 20 years old and Impulse is flat-out terrible. Pelletier could have drawn this exact same pose a thousand times better.

Our story begins with the new Flash fighting and ultimately defeating the Folded Man. But we don't really care about that — let's skip ahead to the good stuff. Max, Impulse and Jesse Quick are still suspicious of the new Flash, so they've begun investigating the lightning-shaped obelisk he placed in front of the Flash Museum and regularly disappears into. Impulse vibrates through the structure, but can't find anything. Max encourages Bart to keep trying different frequencies, while Jesse begins to get second thoughts, reminding Max that Jay Garrick has vouched for this Flash.

Before too long, Impulse finds the Flash's lair, deep underground below the obelisk. He burrows a tunnel for Max and Jesse, and they all begin searching the sanctum, which Jesse speculates could be one of the Turtle's old underground passages. The room is full of boxes of books, photo albums and other personal effects belonging to Wally West and Barry Allen. Bart is a bit reckless searching through all the stuff, tossing a bunch of textbooks around, which Jesse hastily catches. Max notices the textbooks are all about chemistry, which only makes him more suspicious of the new Flash. But Bart is frustrated for a different reason. Amidst all the boxes and photos, there's not one picture of Linda Park.

Jesse and Max literally drag Bart away, telling him that he's too old for imaginary friends. Of course, we know that Linda is not imaginary. She just happens to be trapped in an alternate timeline, where the Flash is a wanted criminal and is currently beating the snot out of a bunch of police officers. Linda sees this Flash's viciousness and realizes that he is not Wally. He tries to take her away, but she calls him a maniac, and explains that she was kidnapped and somehow escaped to the wrong place. Flash says he thought she was dead, and he's suddenly attacked by an ultrasonic blast from the Piper.

Hartley Rathaway tells Wally he's sorry to be attacking him, but he felt he has no choice after what Wally did to Heat Wave. Piper then notices Linda, is shocked to see her, then warns her that Flash has changed and she's not safe with him. Piper holds off the Flash, and sacrifices himself to help Linda escape. She runs through the city and comes across a large statue in her memory. According to the plaque, in this world, Linda apparently sacrificed herself to defeat Kobra.

Back in our world, the new Flash has defeated Folded Man and is sharing an intimate moment with Angela Margolin in her office. She basically professes her love to him, but once again asks where he came from. Max, Impulse and Jesse show up right then, asking the same question.

Meanwhile, Linda runs to the cemetery and finds her own grave. The Flash then finds her, and Linda tells him that in her world, Wally sacrificed himself and then came back from heaven to save her. This makes Flash jealous and angry. He grabs Linda harshly, and tells her that he killed Kobra for her, and has been killing criminals since then to protect the innocent. He starts raving, saying he'll never let Linda go again. As she tries to escape, a bolt of lightning strikes between them, and another Wally West emerges from it, telling the other one to take his hands off Linda.

Max confronts the new Flash with some of Wally's personal effects, saying he suspects he knows what happened to Wally. Bart grows impatient with all this, and finally manages to rip off the Flash's mask. At last, we get to see the face of this mysterious speedster. He looks just like Wally, except he's older and has a lightning-shaped scar running down the side of his face. And he says his name is Wally West.

Shocking, wild and confusing. But a fun read all the same. And I have faith that Waid and Augustyn will be able to clear this all up in the next couple of issues. As always, Pelletier's art was beautiful, and I really enjoyed Impulse's brief moments. And the fight with the Folded Man wasn't bad, either. It just wasn't relevant to this blog, since Impulse wasn't involved.

Next time, we'll take a quick peek at the crossover event Day of Judgment. Impulse didn't appear in the main storyline, but he did show up in a couple of tie-ins, starting with Impulse #54.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Impulse #53


Todd Dezago • Writer
Janice Chiang • Letters
Rick Taylor • Colors
Digital Chameleon • Separator
L.A. Williams • Editor
... and filling in for proud new papa, Ethan Van Sciver ...
Angel Unzueta and Walt Simonson • Pencils
Keith Williams and Scott Williams • Inks
Impulse created by Mark Waid & Mike Wieringo
New Gods created by Jack Kirby

Sadly, Ethan Van Sciver had to sit out this incredible issue, but he and Wayne Faucher did give us this incredible cover. If I were to rank the Impulse covers (which I probably should), I'd put this in the top five. Everyone is so fierce and focused and fantastic-looking. Kalibak is huge and intimidating, and Inertia is positively vicious. But the real kicker is Impulse, who has never looked angrier. The little bit of blood on his cheek and the tears in his eyes put this over the top. The tension is palpable, the emotion is strong, and the image as a whole is simply amazing.

Our story picks right up where we left off last time, with Impulse stuck in the green goo of Craydl, while Inertia looks on. Meanwhile, on the far side of town, Kalibak has suddenly been teleported to Helen Claiborne's office. Upon seeing Max Mercury, Kalibak immediately tries to attack him, but Max manages to get himself and Helen away to safety.

As Impulse struggles to free himself of the goo, he is shocked to see another kid who looks just like him (minus the blond hair). Completely unconcerned by the situation, Impulse suggests that he and Inertia play a prank on his friends at the Fourth of July picnic by pretending to be each other just like the identical cousins in the Pickelodeon movie from the '60s. According to Bart, this prank would be "the bomb." Inertia, however, has other plans. He releases Impulse from Craydl, only to hit him hard in the face. He introduces himself as Thaddeus Thawne, the last of his line to be oppressed by the Allens.

Meanwhile, back at the Fourth of July picnic, Preston, Wade and Mike come running out of the woods, screaming about the monster. They tell Carol, Jeff and Ayana what happened, and Ayana is the one who asks where Bart is. Mike explains that Bart and Rolly ran the other way, and before too long, Rolly comes bursting out the woods, believing that the monster was somehow punishment for him playing with fireworks. But now everyone is left wondering what happened to Bart.

Impulse and Inertia are now locked in a full-blown speedster fight, which mostly entails them punching each other as they run around the world. Impulse is still holding out hope that he and Inertia can be friends, asking if they'll team up after they fight each other for a little bit. But Inertia mocks him, claiming to be smarter, stronger and better than Bart in every way.

As they fight, Inertia provides his backstory, saying everything began with Barry Allen's twin brother, Malcolm Thawne, who became Cobalt Blue. The Allen-Thawne feud continued for generations until the 30th century with President Thawne. After Bart was born, President Thawne acquired his genetic material and spliced it with pure Thawne DNA (even though Bart was already half a Thawne from his mother's side). President Thawne used this genetic material to clone Thaddeus. But while Bart aged at an accelerated rate, Thaddeus' growth was slowed down and carefully controlled. He spent centuries in a nutrients womb until his body and mind had reached perfection. After eons of waiting, the clone was finally "born" as Inertia — the Reverse-Impulse.

Meanwhile, as Max rushes Helen away from Kalibak, he explains that he once encountered the son of Darkseid years ago while teaming up with the New Gods. Max defeated Kalibak by using Mister Miracle's motherbox to open up a boom tube to swallow a blast from Kalibak's beta club. At super speed, Max then opened up another boom tube behind Kalibak, unleashing the energy blast on Kalibak's back. And Kalibak has held a grudge against Max ever since. Max drops Helen off in a quiet field, then rushes back to stop Kalibak before he kills anyone in his quest for revenge.

Half a world away, Impulse and Inertia continue their high-speed battle. They had been vibrating to pass harmlessly through buildings and civilians. But when they pass the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Inertia leaps on Impulse's back to disrupt his vibrations. Bart realizes they're going to crash into a crowd of tourists like a bowling ball. Impulse has to work hard to vibrate himself and Inertia through the people, which gives Inertia the opening he'd been waiting for, and he strikes Impulse with his special spiky ring.

Meanwhile, Max returns to Helen's office just seconds after departing. Kalibak begins smashing building, and Max strikes back with a piece of debris. But Max is still not back to full strength after that gunshot on that fateful Halloween night. He lures Kalibak to a dilapidated warehouse, but takes a big hit in the process. However, Max's plan works, as Kalibak follows him up on the roof, which immediately collapses under Kalibak's immense weight.

Impulse and Inertia's brawl carries them through China, Japan, France, Egypt and Gotham City (where we see the boots and cape of someone who might be Batman, but could just as easily be Robin). Inertia mocks Impulse for never being in a real fight before. He explains that Bart lost this fight before it even began due to his uncontrolled energy, frenetic activity and taking action without thought. Inertia says Bart is nothing but an impulse — his name is a label and a curse.

The speedsters return to Manchester, and Inertia pins Impulse on his back. But suddenly, Impulse blocks Inertia's punch and quotes Batman, saying Impulse was never meant to be his name, but a warning. This startles Inertia, and soon Impulse is on top of him, finally taking control of the fight. Inertia orders Craydl to engage Retreat Plan A, and a teleport hoop opens up nearby. Iris Allen pops out, covered in Craydl's green goo. Bart leaves Inertia to free his grandmother, which enables Thaddeus to sneak into the hoop and teleport away.

We return to the Max-Kalibak fight, where Max has caught the falling Kalibak with a whirlwind. He keeps Kalibak disoriented and pushes himself to the limit by carrying him to an uninhabited island in the South Pacific. When Max gets back to Helen, he collapses and asks her to take him home.

Inertia returns to his lab, furious at himself for allowing his fears get to him at the end of the fight. Craydl tries to comfort him, but Inertia says this was just a reconnaissance mission and it was a complete success. Meanwhile, Impulse frees his grandma by running around the green goo bubble and breaking it down. Iris embraces Bart, saying, "I was so worried about you! When I saw him — how evil he was ... I just thought ... I was sure he ..." But she stops herself from completing the thought. As fireworks go off in the distance, Bart stupidly asks his grandma if she brought him anything.

What a great issue. Impulse finally got a big fight with his equal, and Max finally got a big fight with a massively tough villain. But perhaps most interestingly, we got to learn Inertia's backstory. I love how Dezago went back to The Life Story of the Flash to find inspiration for who is unquestionably Impulse's greatest villain. And I like how we saw that one of the reasons baby Bart was held by the government was so President Thawne could create a clone of him. Of course, it seems redundant to splice Bart's DNA with "pure Thawne DNA" since Bart is already the grandson of President Thawne. But it is kind of neat that Thaddeus's growth was the exact opposite of Bart's. While it is odd to consider this secret lab surviving and raising a clone for hundreds of years, I guess it doesn't matter too much when you live in a futuristic society with time travel capabilities.

As for the fight itself, I would have liked something a little more interesting than a punching match around the world. And it will always bug me that it's now cannon that Batman gave Impulse his name to warn him. But I guess I have to accept it. But all in all, this was a very exciting issue, especially the Max-Kalibak fight. We really felt Max's fear and exhaustion.

Sadly, the art nearly ruined this issue. I understand why Van Sciver sat this one out, but it still seems criminal for him to miss this climatic issue. Unzueta's and Simonson's pencils felt a bit sloppy and rushed. And their differing styles clashed a bit. This is especially noticeable if you read the Impulse 100-Page Spectacular. After three solid issues of Van Sciver's beautiful work, the book concludes with a climax tainted by less-than-spectacular art.

Impulsive Reactions begins by excusing Van Sciver to welcome the birth of his son, Hunter Zalman Van Sciver. (That name will sound familiar in a couple of years.) L.A. Williams gives special thanks to the guest art team, joking that Scott Williams and Keith Williams are his sons.

Dleehii, of Bonaire, Ga., called Impulse #48 the best issue ever, causing the reader to laugh out loud multiple times. Dleehii loved the interactions between the Riddler, Max, Morlo and Impulse.

The Heckler II reported having a new favorite Impulse quote of all time: "MAX! I mean Ohmygoodnessit'sMaxCrandallamanIonlyknowCASUALLYwhoistheuncleofBartAllensomeoneIalsoknowonlyCASUALLYsincewearetwoentirelydifferentpeople."

Silent Nick said his favorite line was from the Riddler: "I DON'T HAVE A SCARRED COIN!!!"

Paul Spragg, of London, said this creative team has outdone itself by putting such a cerebral villain against the kid with no thought processes whatsoever. Paul called issue #48 one of the funniest of the series, especially liking the cover and Impulse asking what the barcode is. His favorite line was from Max: "I should be furious, but it's so much fun to watch!"

Stanford Carpenter, Comic Book Research Fellow of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., also enjoyed the cover, but he admits he didn't immediately recognize the Riddler. And while he enjoyed the issue, Stanford wishes Dr. Morlo would have been explained a bit more for new readers.

Jack Purcell, of the Words and Pictures Museum of Fine Sequential Art in Northampton, Mass., liked how one of the sound effect bubbles said, "KAALBERG," paying tribute to the book's former inker. He also enjoyed how big characters like Superman and the Riddler are exposing new readers to lesser-known characters like Morlo and Evil Eye.

The Cavalier said issue #48 was the funniest Impulse story, but the best Impulse story is Impulse: Bart Saves the Universe. Now let's check out the new ads:

An optical illusion showing the new green Apple Jack. It's hard to remember that Apple Jacks didn't always have green pieces.

Play the Keebler Escape to Color. Grand Prize: Game Boy Color Mega Pack.

Wanna see a bunch of Pokémon say "Cheese"? Pokémon Snap on Nintendo 64.

One in ten wins! In the Nabisco PlayStation Sweepstakes. The Ultimate Prize involves the PlayStation Truck arriving at your school.

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

Experience a once-in-a-lifetime magical adventure. The Amazing Panda Adventure. Ironically, I remember reading the book about this movie, but I have no idea if I ever did watch it.

Heroes first. Legends later. Friends forever. Flash & Green Lantern The Brave and the Bold.

Money. Power. Respect. Two games. Two countries. Grand Theft Auto and GTA: London for PlayStation.

Now for a brief review of the Impulse 100-Page Spectacular. This collection has a publication date of August 2011, cost $7.99, and uses the cover of Impulse #50. It includes issues #50 through #53, beautifully reprinted on nice, slick, magazine-type pages. Unfortunately, it does not contain any of the covers for the other issues. The four issues do work together very well as a self-contained story, although the art change at the end is rather jarring. Since this came out around the same time of the Green Lantern movie, almost every ad in the book ties into Green Lantern in some way, shape or form. Altogether, I really enjoy this book and am very glad it exists (there are far too few Impulse trade paperbacks). My only complaint is the actual size of the book. One hundred pages is really an awkward amount. I can squeeze 80-Page Giants into my comic book bags, but 100 pages is just too big. And yet it's too thin to look good next to all my trade paperbacks on my shelf.

Next time: The Flash #154.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Supergirl #37

Hell's Heck's Angels Part 4 Demon in the Bottle

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

Our cover shows Dante slamming Supergirl's head into the glass containing the lava monster Dis, while the possessed Young Justice attacks from the rear. Not only is this slightly inaccurate, it's absolutely horrible-looking. Why is everything pink and purple? And when did Dante transform from a suave disco stud into a grotesque half-man, half-ape? The only slightly redeeming element of this cover is Impulse running upside down on the cavern walls. That's pretty cool.

Our story picks right up where we left off last time, with Dis breaking free of his glass container. But Supergirl is somehow able to contain him with a telekinetic blast (I wasn't aware of that power), and she reseals the container with her flame vision. But Dis is still somehow able to cause Supergirl to be covered in ice, which shatters her flame wings.

The mysterious Lord Carnivore is watching the progress of Young Justice's assault on Leesburg, Virginia. Superboy and Wonder Girl have thrown a bunch of trees in a pile, which Arrowette lights on fire. And Impulse is running around with a very small speed limit sign for some reason. Carnivore knows this should be pleasing him, but something's nagging away at him.

Dante begins beating on Supergirl, vowing to have more fun with Young Justice once he's done with her. Supergirl is able to fight through the ice and throw Dante off her. Unfortunately, she threw him right into Dis' container, shattering it.

In Leesburg, Young Justice has moved on to freeing the inmates from the prison. As Superboy and Wonder Girl rip off the cell doors, Impulse steals the guns from the police and hands them to the criminals, saying he was recently taught in social studies to not infringe on bearing arms. Arrowette and Robin fight off the police outside, relishing in their new villainous attitudes.

Dis finally breaks free once and for all, and in his eagerness to kill Supergirl, he inadvertently engulfs Dante, who suffers a horrible death. This angers Carnivore, who wanted Supergirl to be the one to kill Dante. He doesn't want her to die, but to fall.

Back on the surface, Robin notices the weather has suddenly become very cold. The demon-creatures on the backs of his and Arrowette's necks are suddenly hit with something, and the two of them feel like they're coming out of a fog. The Super-Cycle shows up, and Robin and Arrowette use it to rescue some officers from Superboy, Wonder Girl and Impulse.

The Super-Cycle fires three pink beams at the creatures on our heroes, freeing them from Dante's control. Robin explains that the Super-Cycle's tactic was risky, which is why it didn't attempt it earlier. But it decided to take that risk once it saw the heroes freeing criminals. Returned to his senses, Impulse very quickly incarcerates all the inmates with ropes and chains since the doors are still broken.

In Dante's Inferno, all the other demon-creatures suddenly decide to leave the prisoners. Supergirl arrives with Dis (literally) hot on her tail. As Supergirl wonders how she can rescue all these people, Young Justice arrives in the Super-Cycle to save the day. Arrowette offers an awkward apology to Supergirl, and they load everybody into the cycle, which phases out to freedom.

Agents Fite and Maad (who are always able to travel great distances quickly) have left Chicago and arrived in Leesburg to search for Young Justice. They don't have to look very long, because Young Justice and all the criminals Dante had kidnapped phase up right in front of the A.P.E.S. agents. But Dis isn't far behind, bursting up through the sewers. However, as soon as he's exposed to the daylight, he turns to ice and shatters. Everyone congratulates Supergirl, and she takes the credit, but secretly doesn't know what happened. And Carnivore isn't sure, either, suspecting only that Hell is freezing over.

I'm pretty disappointed with this issue. Besides the lackluster art, the story was just full of too many coincidences. The Super-Cycle just happened to be able to rescue Young Justice, but conveniently waited until the end of the story. Dante was conveniently killed by Dis, and the demons conveniently just decided to leave. Young Justice just happened to arrive right at the most convenient time — heck, even Supergirl called that a deus ex machina. And Dis conveniently died before he could cause any real damage. Ultimately, our heroes didn't do anything to save the day. They were just kind of there while things happened around them.

All in all, it was a disappointing story and a disappointing crossover. While Young Justice did get a fair amount of time in these four issues, and their side stories did continue in their series, this whole crossover mostly felt like a Supergirl story. All the villains ended up being Supergirl villains involved in this very strange world of demons and angels. Dante started off rather interesting, especially since he believed he was actually a good guy. But he very quickly devolved into a worthless pawn in this story that I don't find all that appealing. In the end, I feel like a Supergirl-Young Justice crossover could have and should have been much better.

Next time, we'll wrap up the month with Impulse #53.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Young Justice #13

Hell's Heck's Angel's Part 3 Dis, Dat and De Other

Peter David – Writer
Todd Nauck – Pencils
Lary Stucker – Inks
Ken Lopez – Letters
Maureen McTigue – Associate Editor
Eddie Berganza – Editor

The dog pile on Supergirl is courtesy of Todd Nauck & Lary Stucker with some Wildstorm colors! Unfortunately, Wildstorm thought the little demon succubi things were green, when they're really brown with grey, metallic wings. But that's just a minor nitpick on an otherwise great cover. I love the evil Young Justice with their glowing red eyes. And it is really cool to Supergirl take them all on at once. In fact, it's so cool that I'll show another picture of these guys fighting.

We pick right up where we left off, with the possessed Young Justice battling Supergirl in Dante's Inferno. I especially love Impulse's evil grin — just look at that! Anyway, Supergirl throws Wonder Girl over her shoulder and right into the charging Superboy's path. Superboy warns W.G. to get outta the way, saying he can't stop. Wonder Girl says if he has time to say he can't stop, then he does have enough time to stop. But he doesn't, and collides with his teammate, knocking her into a rack of leisure suits.

Supergirl tries to appeal to the most sensible member of the team, Robin, saying he's obviously not in his right mind to be attempting a frontal assault against her. But he doesn't listen, and head-butts her. Supergirl tosses him at Arrowette to get her to stop sniping, then flies out of Impulse's reach and decides to take out the demon-things latched on the necks of Young Justice. Supergirl blasts the one on Robin with her flame vision, but this causes both Robin and the creature to scream in pain. Arrowette and Wonder Girl start shouting that Supergirl is trying to kill Robin, and nobody will listen to Supergirl try to explain herself. She realizes that these creatures have bonded too tightly to Young Justice and removing them might injure the teen heroes, or worse.

As Dante gleefully watches on, Superboy engages Supergirl in an aerial battle. Supergirl tries to encourage Kid to shake off the demon, but he yells at her for preaching and judging him like every other adult. Superboy says he's glad he'll never be an adult, and slams Supergirl into a cliff. This causes a bunch of rubble to start raining down on Dante's victims below, so Supergirl utilizes her flame wings to protect them. One of the victims, Tammy Neil, calls Supergirl Ember. This is the second time Supergirl's been called Ember, but before she can dwell on the subject, Wonder Girl and Superboy both hit her hard.

We then cut to the Cook County Jailhouse, where the police guards are perplexed by Red Tornado's odd behavior. For a long time, the android just silently stood in his cell. But now he's having what appears to be a one-sided conversation. But what the police don't know is that Red Tornado is talking to Martian Manhunter. J'onn tells him the Justice League is discussing the best way to aid him, but Red Tornado refuses their help. He does, however, suggest the League choose Captain Marvel to watch over Young Justice if he's permanently incarcerated.

Red Tornado then asks J'onn to leave him alone, claiming the psychic link is putting a strain on his circuits. J'onn points out that he's been showing far too much emotion for a mere machine, but Red pleads with him again to leave. J'onn complies, and once he's gone, Red Tornado falls to his knees and buries his head in his hands, further perplexing the guards. Agents Fite and Maad then arrive, and tell the guards to leave.

Back in Dante's Inferno, Dante recognizes Supergirl's wings as a sign that she's an Earthborn, the very creature that Dis warned him about. Realizing that Young Justice will never be able to stop her, Dante begins flying away in search of more help. Supergirl notices this, and is able to get all the possessed teens off her long enough to begin pursuing the real villain.

Superboy wants to go after Supergirl, referencing a recent fight he had with her in his own series. But Robin says if they want to pay her back, then they should hurt her where she lives. Impulse asks if he means taking away her credit cards, but Robin pounds him on the head and calls him a cheesehead. Robin means literally going after where Supergirl lives, Leesburg, Virginia.

So the kids head over to the Super-Cycle, which is still in lockdown mode. Arrowette points out that it's not listening to Robin's commands, and he calls her Princess Peroxide. Robin decides to forget about the Super-Cycle, saying he saw which way Supergirl entered the cave, and if they backtrack that way, they'll probably be able to find Leesburg. Impulse kicks the cycle, calling it a stupid machine. But it responds by pulling out all its guns and firing at Impulse as he scampers away.

Back at the jail, Fite 'n Maad offer Red Tornado a deal — his freedom for the mist girl. Fite says that they're willing to let Red Tornado keep working with Robin, Superboy, Impulse, Wonder Girl and Arrowette, since they're all more or less normal kids. But the mist girl is apparently in a completely separate class, and she has to be kept apart ... forever. Red Tornado thinks about this for a moment, then asks, "What mist girl?" The A.P.E.S. agents angrily leave, but are soon replaced by a middle-aged couple. And the woman introduces herself as Red Tornado's daughter ... in a manner of speaking.

We then check in at the hospital, where Kathy Sutton is still recovering in bed. Traya says they need to help her daddy, and Kathy agrees, although she's not sure what to do. A passing custodian is singing the "Splish Splash" bath song (of all songs!) and the sleeping Secret hears the lyrics and begins dreaming of taking a bath. In her dream, Secret is a normal girl, relaxing in a nice bubble bath while listening to a boom box. Someone enters the bathroom, whom Secret calls a creep. She threatens to tell her mom and tells the intruder to leave. But the stranger picks up the boom box, says, "Enjoy the abyss, Sis," and throws it in the water, electrocuting Secret.

Secret wakes up screaming, "No!!!" The custodian hears this and opens the door to the closet she was hiding in. Secret shouts at him, and he runs aways thinking she's a monster. Secret then retreats through the vent and returns to Kathy Sutton's room. Kathy recognizes Secret from her dreams. But Secret just wants to be left alone and bursts out the window.

We then visit a Hunters Appreciation Day rally in Leesburg. The speaker holds up a copy of Young Justice #7, complaining of the way hunters were depicted in it. Arrowette interrupts his speech with an incendiary arrow, and Wonder Girl and Superboy start tossing trees in a big pile, scaring away all the hunters. Impulse asks Robin what's next, and Robin says they'll turn the town into a parking lot, starting with this big fire ignited by Arrowette.

Back at the jail, Red Tornado's visitors say they're Mort and Amelia Hibbert. Amelia says her mother was the original Red Tornado, explaining her previous comment. Mort says they're activists who are worried about Red Tornado's adopted daughter, as well as the children Red mentors in Young Justice. Mort says they're planning on doing something about the kids' safety with or without his help. As the Hibberts leave, they hand the android a card that says Old Justice.

Supergirl finally catches up with Dante in an ice cave. She demands that he release Young Justice, but he just laughs at her, revealing what appears to be a giant lava lamp. But inside the lamp is a living blog called Dis. He praises Dante for his work, then breaks out of the glass, telling the Earthborn she's his.

This was a pretty fun issue, sadly hampered by a few weird things. I love evil Young Justice, especially the rude Robin constantly mocking his teammates. And the fight with Supergirl was great, although I could have used a bit more of it, particularly from Impulse. He didn't do too much this issue, although his interaction with the Super-Cycle was great. And the slow unraveling of Secret's past was amazing. And it was nice to finally get started on the Old Justice storyline. We were promised they'd appear in issue #10. I don't know why that got pushed back so far, but I am excited for it.

What I didn't like, and rarely ever do, was all the allusions to demons and angels. I don't know, I'm just not really into all that stuff. And it feels really out of place in this series, which recently battled the Acolyte, who turned out to be a fraud. I also got just a bit uncomfortable with the hunters' rally. I can handle the casual breaking of the fourth wall that this series usually has, but this one felt like Peter David overtly saying, "So, you didn't like my views on hunters in issue #7? How about this?!" I'm not a hunter myself, so I'm not offended by this viewpoint. But I do dislike stories that get too heavy-handed with their political messages. Another oddity of this rally was the conspicuously blank poster and podium. It's unlikely that Todd Nauck would leave such large areas completely empty. I suspect editorial removed some potentially upsetting words and images.

The letters column only had room for two letters this month. Jay McIntyre, of Colmar, Penn., liked seeing the Psyba-Rats in Young Justice #8 and would like to see more of them. He also wants to learn more about Secret and the Abyss.

Achal Oza, of Santa Barbara, Calif., liked seeing the Supermen of America in Impulse #47 and says they should appear in Young Justice sometime.

Next: Check out Supergirl #37 for the conclusion of "Heck's Angels." Will Supergirl's hometown go up in flames thanks to our team? And just what the heck is that thing in the bottle?