Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Relative Heroes #3

Free Lunch

Devin Grayson Writer
Yvel Guichet Penciller
Mark Propst Inker
Bil Oakley Letterer
Rob Schwager Colorist/Seps
Frank Berrios Asst. Editor
Jordan B. Gorfinkel & Darren Vincenzo Editors
Relative Heroes created by Grayson & Guichet

Our cover by Guichet shows one of the Relative Heroes, a young girl named Temper, who has electric-based powers. This cover is an annoying reminder of how excited the world was in the year 2000 to use the word millennium in everyday conversation. Other than that, I really don't have that much to say about this cover. I don't particularly like Guichet's style, but I am always happy to see the interior artist also draw the cover.

Time for a disclaimer: I don't know anything about the Relative Heroes. This is the third part of their six-part miniseries, and they never really caught on after that. I also have not read the first two parts of this story, so I am supremely confused by everything here. This issue does try to explain the basics, but I also think it is intentionally confusing to a degree. The Relative Heroes are a group of wayward orphan teenagers, caught in the middle of a huge mystery they don't understand. And they're still having a hard time trying to understand themselves. So how can a casual reader such as myself hope to understand anything?

So apparently the Relative Heroes (who still haven't come up with a team name or any code names for themselves) received super suits from someone they know to be a bad guy. They're also being chased by the D.E.O. (and possibly other people), so they stole a Winnebago and are making a cross-country trip to Metropolis to see Superman. Of course, the kids on this team can't even agree on the reason why they want to see Superman, or if they even do want to see him. In any case, their trip takes them through Manchester, Alabama, where they're hoping to get some help from Impulse. (Some of the teens believe a fellow teenage hero would do a better job of understanding them than an adult hero.)

As soon as the Relative Heroes enter Manchester, they're met by a young, aspiring super villain named Metalhead. The disorganized teenagers try to prepare for battle, but they mostly stand around arguing about what they should do. Luckily, Impulse on the scene, and he knocks down Metalhead before he can do any real damage. Unfortunately, Impulse pushed Metalhead's large suit of armor right on top of three of the teenagers. And somehow, Temper's electrical powers caused a grassfire around her. Impulse quickly puts out the fire, and pries Metalhead off the teens by taking apart the armor piece by piece. The kid inside that suit begins gathering up his armor and everyone just kind of ignores him as they excitedly introduce themselves to Impulse. The one most excited to meet him is a boy named Cam, who can mimic the powers of any nearby superheroes. Cam is eager to test out Impulse's speed, and he challenges him to a race, which Impulse instantly agrees to.

Impulse arrives a split second later, explaining that he decided to run around the Great Lakes, but Cam apparently tried to run across them. The other teens tell Impulse that once he and Cam became separated, Cam lost his super-speed, which means he's likely swimming in Lake Huron right now. So Impulse rushes off to save Cam, comes back and realizes that three of the teens did get pretty banged up when Metalhead fell on them. So Bart decides to show them some Southern hospitality by taking all five of the teenagers one-by-one to his house to recuperate.

Of course, Bart instantly remembers that Max doesn't like having superheroes on the front lawn, so he quickly rushes them inside, only to realize that Max probably wouldn't like having superheroes inside the house, either. But Bart quickly finds Max, explains the situation, and justifies himself by saying he'll protect his secret identity by pretending he's just visiting this house. Seeing as how he has no choice in the matter, Max puts on his costume and tries questioning the Relative Heroes.

Max's simple questions are each met with five different, complicated answers. So I'm not even going to try to get into their complicated backstory and conflicting goals. One thing Max can see for certain is these kids' nerves are frayed. So he invites them all to stay for lunch, and tells them to sit still for a moment and think about what they're going to do. However, as Max is busy tending to the distressed teens, he fails to notice Bart and Cam sneaking out to retrieve the Winnebago, which is a pretty bad idea, since neither of them is old enough to drive.

Max finds out one of the teens has a grandfather in Metropolis, so he makes him to call him. The others turn on the TV and see a special report from the D.E.O., accusing one of them of murder. Meanwhile, Bart and Cam are having way too much in the Winnebago, joking about what they could put in the shower besides water, and imitating the driving styles from their favorite videos to escape the cops when they try to pull them over. As soon as the Winnebago gets back to Bart's house, the panicked Relative Heroes quickly load into it, and take off as fast as they can, with the police hot on their trail. Max does nothing to stop them, but he does hit the redial button on his phone to talk to the kids' grandpa.

OK. So that was that. A very confusing and discombobulating situation. And intentionally so, I believe. I think Grayson is hoping that the mystery will hook readers, but it's not working for me. It also doesn't help that the art is just plain bad. The one and only action scene here was a muddled mess, I had to make my best guess at what was happening. I also think Max should have done a better job of taking care of these orphan teenagers. However, it was pretty fun for Bart to hang out with a kid just as wild and impulsive as he is.

There aren't any letters to the editor, so let's check out the new ads:

Intense "inter"tainment. Watch "The Multipath Adventures of Superman"! You'll experience new state-of-the-art interactive technology that allows you to control the storyline.

If it's in print, it's at NextPlanetOver.

Tonight on the Winky the Crow Show, Winky calls on his kung fu skills to disarm a crazed fan. Brought to you by the out there taste and crunch of Cornnuts.

Includes rocket launcher, laser, assault rife and yes, a flamethrower. Like to blow things up and rescue people? Then Bionic Commando: Elite Forces is the game for you. And remember, you're not just some kid with a Game Boy Color, you're a finely tuned war machine.

Powerade Extinguish thirst and power up with energy yielding carbs. Now available in Infrared Freeze — with a sudden flash of orange.

Jackie Chan Stuntmaster on PlayStation.

Defenders of the chocolate. 3 Musketeers.

Returning this March! Family Guy.

Superboy flies high in this brand-new limited edition cold-cast porcelain statue!

This is one of the greatest pieces of Young Justice merchandise out there. I don't have this statue (yet) or the Robin statue, but I do have the Impulse one, and it is gorgeous.

Now, I usually save Impulse for the end of the month, but in this case, I need to put Impulse #60 before we dive into the amazing Sins of Youth event! See you next time!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Impulse #59

Running Rings ...

Todd Dezago Writer
Anthony Castrillo Guest Penciller
Prentis Rollins Inker
Janice Chiang Letterer
Rick Taylor Colorist
Jamison Separations
L.A. Williams Editor

Once again, Ethan Van Sciver took a break from regular pencilling duties. But he did draw this month's cover with Wayne Faucher, putting Impulse in the most romantic pose he's ever been. Meanwhile, poor Carol appears heartbroken in the background, dropping a letter she had for Bart. Now, the inside story doesn't completely match this cover, but it definitely will celebrate Valentine's Day while welcoming Arrowette back to her original book. It's also interesting to note that Impulse and Young Justice both had very pink covers this month, but that was just a coincidence.

Our story begins Impulse giving Cissie King-Jones a ride from her boarding school to his junior high in Manchester, Alabama. Bart figured his friend was in need of some major cheering up, and so far, his plan seems to be working, as Cissie actually allows herself to giggle at Bart's lame jokes as he carries her in his arms.

But once they stop, Cissie begins to express her doubts. Bart reminds her of the fun they had at two of her school dances (Impulse #41 and Young Justice #15), so he figures Cissie will have a great time at his dance. Bart quickly changes out of his Impulse uniform and shows (for the first time) how he puts it back in his ring by compressing the costume with a small super-speed whirlwind. Sadly, Cissie is still unsure about all this, reminding Bart (and the readers) about how she almost killed the man who murdered her counselor and friend, Dr. Money. Bart very sweetly points out that Cissie did not kill that man, and everything's going to be OK once she gets her mind off it. And Bart knows of no better place to take your mind off things than school.

For some reason, Bart decided to bring Cissie with him to attend the full day of school, rather than just bringing her down when it was time for the dance. And this tactic serves to create plenty of opportunities for awkward moments. It begins when Bart and Cissie walk up to school and are greeted by Carol and Ayana, who ask Bart who his new friend is. Bart introduces Cissie, saying she's a friend of his from Young — uh ... Youngstown! Ayana excitedly shows Bart that the school isn't using tickets for the dance, but instead giving the students little gold rings they can use to ask out their dates. She comes close to asking out Bart, but she's interrupted by the arrival of Preston, Mike and Wade.

Preston asks Bart to hold his ring, saying he has gym first period and is afraid of losing it. Mike is preoccupied thinking about Carol, Ayana is only thinking about Bart, Carol is wondering who Cissie really is, Cissie is wondering why Carol is staring at her, and Wade is busy playing Zelda on his GameBoy. Of course, Bart now has to introduce Cissie to the rest of his friends, and he surprisingly remembers a recent headline from the Daily Manchester Eagle: "Girl archer still sought for questioning." So Bart tries his best to be discreet, saying that Cissie is his sister. Carol reminds Bart that he doesn't have a sister, and Bart thinks of her as a back-stabbing demon. So Bart says he meant to say that Cissie is his sister's friend, which only confuses everyone even more.

The kids start to head to class, but Mike runs down Bart and tells him that he also has gym first period and wants Bart to hold his ring for him. Bart agrees, then is immediately approached by Ayana, who once again tries to ask Bart to the dance, but he cuts her off, assuming she wants him to hold her ring like Preston and Mike. Meanwhile, Evil Eye gives Rolly some money to buy his ring since he's too embarrassed to let anyone know he wants to go to the dance. Evil Eye has his sights set on cheerleader Jenny Bialecki, but before he can ask her, he sees Preston talking to Jenny. Evil Eye assumes Preston has asked her to the dance, and he angrily vows to beat up Preston after school. Vice Principal Randal Sheridan hears this and gives Evil Eye a stern warning.

Meanwhile, at the dental offices of Helen Claiborne, contractor Matt Ringer (father of Mike) is showing the dentist his final repairs after the Kalibak attack. Matt then abruptly asks Helen if she'd like to have dinner with him before the school dance, noting that they both signed up as chaperones. Helen is surprised by this offer, but she gladly accepts.

We return to school, where it's now lunch time (don't ask me what Cissie did during class). Bart asks Cissie how he ended up with everybody's rings, and Cissie tells him it's because his friends trust him. She even admits that his plan to distract her from her troubles is actually working. Mike joins them at their table and asks Bart how he should ask Carol to the dance. Bart unfortunately has to tell Mike that Carol has her eye on Jeff Weber. Meanwhile, Ayana is talking to Carol, saying that even though Bart did take her ring, he most likely didn't realize that she was asking him to the dance. Carol is still suspicious of Cissie, which then makes Ayana suspect that Bart wants to go to the dance with Cissie instead.

Cissie notices how Bart is completely oblivious to Ayana's flirting, so she tells him about it. Bart brushes her off, saying Ayana is that friendly with everybody, not just him. Besides, Bart says, he's taking Cissie to the dance. Cissie jokes that he hasn't given her a ring yet, and maybe he should give her his Flash ring. Bart says his costume ring never comes off his finger, but Cissie is persistent. So Bart heads off to get a ring for Cissie, while still carrying the three extra rings, which all look a lot like his costume ring, but has different symbols on them like hearts and teddy bears. As Bart rushes off, he doesn't notice Rolly, who had picked up Eddie's ring that he threw away in disgust, and is hoping he can get refund on it for his wayward friend.

Bart and Rolly slam into each other, and all the rings go spilling across the floor. Preston is on the scene, and he finds his ring before taking off to walk Jenny to class. Rolly also hurries off with his ring, hoping he can prevent Evil Eye from getting into more trouble. Bart then notices that Carol has confronted Cissie, who is defending herself by saying she's known Bart long enough to know his biggest secret — something that Carol highly doubts. As Bart wonders how to get these two to stop fighting, he realizes that he has lost his costume ring. He immediately begins panicking and shouting how Max is going to kill him. Cissie and Carol help him calm down enough to explain the situation, and both girls immediately realize not only the severity of the situation, but that both of them know that Bart is Impulse.

Meanwhile, as Rolly is wondering how he can prevent Eddie from fighting Preston and still preserve his friendship with both of them, he notices that he accidentally grabbed the wrong ring — one with a lightning bolt on it instead of a crown. We cut back to Bart, who is doing his best to stay calm with the aid of Cissie and Carol at his side. Carol suggests retracing his steps, which Bart does at super-speed, but can't find his ring. Cissie explains that Carol meant he mentally retrace his steps. Cissie asks him who he saw when he last had his ring. Bart recounts how he had all the rings, then Preston got his back, but Bart had bumped into Rolly. Realizing that Roland has his Flash ring, Bart immediately takes off, leaving Cissie and Carol to comment on how they hate when Bart does that. Ayana approaches the girls, asking if Bart was just there a second ago.

Before Bart can find Rolly and get his ring back, Rolly notices a small switch on the side of the ring. He presses it, which causes Impulse's costume to come flying out right in Rolly's face, knocking the poor kid out. Bart finds him a second later, and quickly puts his costume back in his ring. Before Rolly comes to, Evil Eye stumbles on them and is standing over Rolly's unconscious body just as Mr. Sheridan is walking by. The vice principal wrongly assumes that Evil Eye knocked out Rolly and Bart was trying to help him, so he takes Eddie down to his office.

And later, Jeff does ask out Carol, which breaks Mike's heart. Ayana approaches Bart, and as he tries to giver her ring back, she finally manages to explain that she wants to go to the dance with him. Bart is surprised to see Cissie was right, but he sadly has to tell Ayana that he's taking Cissie to the dance. Ayana becomes heartbroken by this, but Bart is able to smoothly redeem the situation with a small white lie. He tells Ayana that Mike secretly has a crush on her. Ayana (correctly) had thought Mike was interested in Carol, but Bart convinces her to ask him, and both of them seem to be happy to have someone to go with.

We end at the dance, where we see Mike and Ayana having a great time together, as well as Jeff and Carol. Rolly and Evil Eye are there, too, even though they don't have dates. Evil Eye is looking a bit grumpy, but we find out that Bart did stand up for him off-page and kept Eddie out of trouble. As Cissie dances with Bart, she comments on how inspiring it was to see him do everything he could to make all his friends happy. She admits that he was right — that spending the day at his school did make her forget about her troubles. Cissie tells Bart she loves him for this, and she gives him a kiss on the cheek.

I always love these issues that put the focus on Bart rather than Impulse. Dezago has given us a great supporting cast of lovestruck teenagers, and it was wonderful to see it all come to a head at a Valentine's Dance. Most importantly, though, is what Cissie said. Bart really is a good boy. Sure, he doesn't always pay attention, or think before acting, but he genuinely wants to do what's right and make sure everyone around him is happy. And this issue did a great job of showing that. And on a very random note, I have heard people previously ask if the Flash costume ring could be weaponized. Well, as poor Rolly found out, it can be.

Anthony Castrillo did a fantastic job as a guest penciller. Of course, it helps a lot having inker Prentis Rollins and colorist Rick Taylor, but on a whole, Castrillo's art did a great job of complimenting Ethan Van Sciver's work. I wish Castrillo would have been chosen as the official fill-in artist for the (all-too-often) moments when Van Sciver needed a break. Now let's check out those letters.

Impulsive Reactions begins with Natalie Mourra of Santa Ana, Calif., calls Impulse #54 a really cool issue that balanced humor with emotion and showed us Evil Eye's good side. Natalie hopes Evil Eye can become a close friend of Bart, whom she refers to as a "yellow-eyed cutie."

M.T., of Amherst, Mass., noticed some similarities between issue #54 and The Blair Witch Project. M.T. liked the issue, but felt it would have been better as an all-out parody. L.A. Williams responds by saying the issue had been finished before the first ads for The Blair Witch Project aired. But the creators of Impulse did take inspiration from another movie — Steven King's Stand By Me.

Paul Dale Roberts, of Elk Grove, Calif., really liked Shon C. Bury as the guest writer on Impulse #55, especially teamed up with Ethan Van Sciver. He loved every aspect of the issue from Bart's junk food consumption, to Max's frustrations, to the virtual reality world mimicking the Jolly Green Giant.

Ron Nelson Jr., of Bronx, N.Y., also enjoyed issue #55 with Sir Real, which he thought was a great name. He also says Impulse would make a great animated television show (and I agree with him 100%!). Now let's check out the new ads.

Love makes the world go round! The Powerpuff Girls. Your heroes save the day in all-new Powerpuff Girls books!

Call and vote for your favorite cartoon character. With special campaign stickers, posters and other cool stuff inside select Post and Kraft food packages.

Action faster than the speed of light! Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue.

In the Gotham City of tomorrow, the knight is still dark. Batman Beyond. An electrifying monthly series by Hilary J. Bader, former Impulse penciller Craig Rousseau, and Rob Leigh.

Tomba! 2 The Evil Swine Return. For PlayStation.

A form for the Seventh Annual Wizard Fan Awards. If you don't mind ripping out the letters page, you could fill this out and mail it in. Unfortunately, none of the categories have anything to do with Flash, Young Justice or Impulse.

Tobacco is whacko if you're a teen.

Scooby-Doo! and the Great Mystery Search books.

Next time, we'll begin May 2000, which was a very big month for Impulse and Young Justice. But before we can get to that fun, we have to take a quick look at Relative Heroes #3.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Young Justice #19

Banned, On the Run

Peter David – Writer
Todd Nauck – Pencils
Lary Stucker – Inks
Jason Wright – Colors
Digital Chameleon – Separations
Ken Lopez – Letters
Maureen McTigue – Associate Editor
Eddie Berganza – Editor

The mysterious Empress makes her entrance in this cover by Todd Nauck and Lary Stucker with the colors of WildStorm FX. Empress certainly is making a splashy entrance, breaking in on Young Justice while they're hiding out in Wonder Girl's room. As always, Nauck does an excellent job of adding wonderful details to Cassie's room — posters of the Space Girls, Wendy the Werewolf Stalker and Green Lantern. But the best part is Impulse, who is actually the closest one to the shattering window, and yet he is the only one who hasn't noticed the sudden arrival of this masked girl. GameBoys really are Bart's weakness — remember that one time he completely missed out on an adventure to space with the New Titans because he forgot his GameBoy? Yeah, you'd think he'd learn. But then again, he is Impulse, which basically means he doesn't learn.

Our story begins rather oddly, with a small speck of white on a black background. We then see the speck is Secret's head, which gets larger and larger in our view. And then she begins to laugh, and out of her mouth tumble Impulse, Robin, Superboy and Wonder Girl. They fall and flail wildly in the darkness before randomly bursting into flames. The fire eventually passes, only to be replaced by ice. The four teens are frozen solid before falling onto a bunch of jagged icicles and shattering in a million pieces.

Suddenly, Robin is standing in the middle of a rainstorm, looking quite perplexed. Secret asks if he's all right, which startles him into performing a hasty backflip away from his teammate and right into Superboy, who is using his tactile telekinesis to keep the rain off him. Impulse is nearby, hanging on a tree branch by his ankle, and Wonder Girl pulls herself out of some bushes, having lost her wig on some branches. Superboy calls Secret "Spectress" and tells her to keep away from them.

Robin asks Secret what happened, and she explains that she saved the team. When their was the big explosion in the cave, she brought them all into her ... but not into the abyss, which wasn't easy for her. Wonder Girl says she would have rather taken her chances with the explosion, and Secret indignantly asks for some gratitude. Wonder Girl reluctantly says "Thanks," Impulse says "Slick," Robin says "'preciate it," and Superboy sternly says "Don't do it again."

Moments later, our heroes have taken refuge in a tree, and Robin takes a peek at the remains of their base through his binoculars. To his dismay, he sees the JLA there, surveying the damage. Superboy respectfully asks Robin, as the leader, what they should do. Impulse suggests talking to the JLA and turning themselves in. But Robin feels they are dealing with too many unanswered questions that can only be answered by them working together as a team. Secret wonders if he's just making excuses to avoid facing the JLA. Robin admits he doesn't know. But one thing he does know for sure, is they need to get out of the rain. He asks Cassie if they can go to her house, but Wonder Girl has strangely wandered away from the group. Nursing a leg injury from the fight with the Point Men, Wonder Girl begins hallucinating, imagining that Wonder Woman, her mother and Arrowette are all disappointed in her. As she collapses, the vision of Arrowette morphs into Empress, who pulls out a sword.

We then cut to the office of Senator Perkins, where Old Justice is bringing a grievance against the congressman. They have already learned of the Point Men attacking Young Justice, and they find it suspicious that a group such as the Point Men would appear right when they were bringing legal pressure against Young Justice. Perkins assures them it was just a coincidence, but Old Justice makes sure to warn Perkins that he better not be using them for a hidden agenda. But unbeknownst to the elders, a secret camera in Perkins' office is being monitored by a dark, shadowy figure and Gray Lady of Point Men. Gray Lady is worried about Old Justice's suspicions, but the figure assures her Old Justice has nothing concrete, and they don't want to let Perkins know that he's also being played. Gray Lady reports that Blank Slate and Serpenteen are tracking Young Justice, and the shadowy figure advises them to not attack the heroes unless absolutely necessary.

Cassie wakes up in her bed, believing for a moment that her recent experiences were just a dream. Then she sees her teammates, making her room the new Young Justice headquarters. Robin is working on Cassie's computer, while Secret reads a magazine and Impulse plays GameBoy. Cassie notices her leg is bandaged, and Impulse and Superboy explain that they found her with puncture marks in her skin and an X cut around the wound. Cassie remembers being bitten by Serpenteen, and she realizes that the X cut into her must have been to suck the poison out of her leg.

Robin, meanwhile, is communicating with Oracle, who says she has found a possible temporary headquarters for Young Justice. It's a hotel resort in the Catskill Mountains that has recently gone into receivership and is now completely abandoned. But it's still furnished with stocks of food, working electricity and plumbing. The only potential obstacle is security system, but Impulse should be able to dismantle it in three seconds.

So Robin tells his teammates that he's found a place where they can lie low until they get everything sorted out. Superboy asks what happened to their plan to go public with their story, and Robin assures him they'll contact Ace Atchinson again once they get settled in this new place. Impulse suggests staying in Cassie's house, proudly proclaiming that he's already caught 47 "Poxy Monsters." Cassie naturally vehemently opposes Bart's idea, saying her mom will kill her if she sees all of them in her room.

Right on cue, Helena Sandsmark comes home, only to find Serpenteen and Blank Slate on her roof. The two Point Men charge at her, and before Young Justice can respond to Helena's screams, Empress appears out of nowhere and pushes Serpenteen away from Helena. Wonder Girl, Secret, Superboy and Robin aren't far behind, smashing through Cassie's window to save her mom. Robin orders Impulse to get Mrs. Sandsmark to safety, but to his astonishment, Impulse is not at the battle scene. Turns out Bart has gotten a bit distracted trying to snatch all the Poxy Monsters (even though his Game Boy is now smoking).

Luckily, Cassie is able to grab her mom, leaving the others to battle the intruders. Robin warns Empress that Serpenteen is dangerous, but Empress cryptically says, "My wish is your command." She orders Robin to stop, and he's suddenly unable to move his feet. Empress easily bests Serpenteen in hand-to-hand combat, demonstrating an ability to vanish in a puff of smoke and reappear right behind her target. As Superboy and Secret tangle with Blank Slate, Empress brings her fight to a decisive conclusion by slicing off the tips of Serpenteen's fangs with two quick swipes of her sword.

Poor Serpenteen howls in pain at this attack, finally making a sound loud enough to pull Bart away from his video game. He rushes off to the fray, realizing that he's messed up. Cassie, meanwhile, drops her mom off at a safe location in the city, and the two have a quick, but tearful conversation about Cassie's role as a superhero. Ultimately, Helena allows Cassie to fly off and help her friends.

Back at the fight, Robin regains control of his feet and begins charging at Serpenteen. Blank Slate realizes that their simple surveillance mission has gotten completely out of hand, and he joins Serpenteen on the lawn, saying they need to leave. Superboy, Wonder Girl, Robin, Secret and Impulse all rush toward the two enemies as fast as they can. But Blank Slate teleports himself and Serpenteen away at the last second, causing the heroes of Young Justice to collide with each other in a most undignified manner. Robin says aloud that he's glad Batman didn't see this.

Once our heroes untangle themselves, they realize the mysterious sword girl is gone. Robin calls her Empress, and Cassie wonders how Robin knows her name. The Boy Wonder pompously states that he acquired this fact through keen observation, a series of logical deductions and inferences ... and the large word "EMPRESS" burned into the lawn. Superboy sarcastically notes that Robin definitely was trained by the world's greatest detective. Cassie realizes that Empress was the one who saved her in the woods, and she almost tells Robin that she thinks Arrowette is secretly Empress. But she quickly dismisses this idea as being "too obvious."

So the teens load up into the Super-Cycle and fly to the abandoned resort hotel in the Catskill Mountains, New York. To Robin's dismay, everyone immediately rushes off on their own. Wonder Girl says the place reminds her of "Dirty Dancing." Impulse becomes enamored with the junk food and the "decorative bugs." And Secret is impressed by the real beauty parlor. Only Superboy decided to stay with Robin, and they both check out the ballroom together. However, they find Old Justice there waiting for them.

This was yet another wonderful installment by David and Nauck. I'm especially impressed with Nauck right now, seeing as how Ethan Van Sciver has to take so many breaks between issues, but Nauck is able to churn out 22 awesome pages each and every month. This is his eighth consecutive month where he was the book's only penciller, and next month he's going to give us an extra long special issue. As for this issue's story, things certainly are heating up. Our team is barely hanging on together. Secret's creepiness was thrust into everyone's faces, Superboy has been acting a bit off for a few issues now, Wonder Girl is on the brink of an emotional breakdown, Robin is losing the confidence of his teammates, and Impulse is sweetly oblivious to it all. But it's a good thing we had Impulse's distraction with "Poxy Monsters," because this would have been a very intense issue otherwise. Our team is now face-to-face with Old Justice, while mysterious villains are making their moves in the darkness. And what is up with Empress?

We have three letters to the editor this month, all dealing with the issues of gun control raised in Young Justice #15. I think it was wise of Eddie Berganza to not try to respond or justify anything. He just lets the letter writers express their views.

Matthew Hertel gives praise to Peter David for taking on such a controversial issue. Matthew says most people are too afraid to touch the subject, and he's gained more respect for everyone involved in this issue.

Creed said that David always was one of his favorite writers, until this issue. Creed will not support anyone who advocates gun control, saying Germany's attempt at gun control in the 1930s only led to more violence in the '40s. Creed's letter ends with, "Good Bye DC, and Good Bye Peter."

Craig Wagner, of Portland, Ore., anticipates backlash from the NRA and firearm-loving Americans. As a Canadian living in the states, Craig is amazed at the arguments people use to defend guns, such as likening them to shovels. Craig counters that when shovels are used properly, they don't kill people; but the purpose of a gun is to kill or injure. Craig loved issue #15, calling it touching and moving, and he said it's about time someone in comics said what Cissie said about guns.

Speaking of Cissie, next time we'll see her return to the book she debuted in — Impulse!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Flash #159

Whirlwind Ceremony

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

Our cover by Steve Lightle shows Walter West escaping into the Speed Force with his fiancee, Angela Margolin. I rarely like Lightle covers, and this one is made even worse by the rather cheesy speech bubbles. I think Impulse and Young Justice covers can occasionally get away with speech bubbles when they're intentionally being really goofy. But The Flash is a much more serious title, and this is a really serious situation. And to add one more sin to this cover, the story inside directly contradicts this image and dialogue. But don't worry, we've got a really good story inside, trust me!

We pick up right where we left off last time, with Superman and Wonder Woman's sudden arrival. Unfortunately, these two powerful heroes are none too happy, and are actually physically separating Walter and Angela. Wally asks what's going on, and Superman tells him that Walter's very presence is endangering everything they know. Jay Garrick begins to object, but as he talks, a phantom image of himself from another world briefly appears next to him.

Wonder Woman recognizes that this means the timelines are crossing, and Superman reluctantly explains to Walter that he, Wonder Woman and Batman recently had an adventure involving parallel worlds and hypertime. They learned from experience that the longer something or someone remains in the wrong reality, the more the barriers between timelines bend and break. Superman sadly tells Walter that he has to leave this world before the universe crashes into others and collapses.

Walter demands to take Angela with him, but Wonder Woman explains to him that taking her back to his world would be just as dangerous as he is to this world. Wonder Woman and Superman apologize and express genuine sorrow, but as they talk, Superman briefly becomes Ultraman. Jesse Quick tries to make the case for Walter being able to stay, but Wally points out how reality is already being warped by Walter just standing there. Ultimately, Superman and Wonder Woman decide to give Walter six more hours to spend with Angela, and they take off.

Wally and Linda offer their condolences to Walter and Angela. Walter turns them down, not unkindly, and reminds them that they should be planning their wedding that got interrupted so long ago. Impulse excitedly remembers this key detail, and Joey Cavalieri reminds us that it happened way back in The Flash #142. Bart is so excited, in fact, that he quickly throws on a judge's outfit, presumably to marry Wally and Linda right then and there. Max Mercury sighs and tells Bart now is not the time. But Wally surprises everyone (Bart most of all) by saying that Bart has an excellent idea. Wally suggests they hurry and get married today — re-creating their original ceremony as soon as possible. Linda points out that they have a lot to do — getting caterers, guests, the marriage license, her grandma's Iowa farm prepared — but Jay says that's nothing the Lightning Brigade can't handle, and everyone rushes off to get this wedding ready. (I've never heard the term Lightning Brigade before, but I think it might be a half-decent way to describe the Flash "family." Or it might just be really cheesy. I can't tell.)

Meanwhile, Walter takes Angela to Rome to have their own private ceremony in a beautiful, yet empty chapel. Angela breaks down in tears, saying she'll never be able to love anyone else once Walter leaves. He does his best to comfort her, talking about his own experiences with learning to love other people and see them for who they honestly are.

Back on the Park family farm, Wally is impatiently "helping" the caterers set up, and he accidentally knocks down the wedding cake. But instead of catching the cake, he steals the speed from it, causing it to fall like a feather so the caterers can easily catch it themselves. This surprises both Wally and Linda, who speculates that he must have gained this new ability after being merged with Walter. Wally seems doubtful, so Linda suggests that he could just be honing his skills. In any case, she tells him to worry about it later and just try to chill for a moment. But Wally begins rushing around even faster, setting up the decorations. Linda asks if they should at least postpone until his parents arrive, but Wally says he'll send them a wedding album, to which Linda asks if any photographer will be able to capture him on film.

The JLA and Titans then arrive, and Superman asks Linda to forgive Wally for his jumpiness, considering what happened last time. But he assures her that this time, all these heroes aren't just guests, but they're also guards. Linda is still a bit worried about Wally, and she talks to Donna Troy about him. As Superman scans the area, he asks Jay and Max how exactly Walter came to this dimension. Turns out the elder speedster have been discussing that very topic, and they believe that Walter held the Speed Force open and let loose its energy. Max know from personal experience that not only is this tactic a life-or-death gamble, but it also means that even though Walter can leave this world, there's no guarantee he'll make it back to his world.

In Rome, Walter sees the "bleed-over" from his world is getting worse and now causing accidents in the street. He tells Angela he'll need to leave soon, and, to make matters worse, he admits to her that he's not sure if they'll be able to remember each other once he leaves. This makes Angela and Walter cry even more.

On a happier note, Wally and Linda's wedding has begun! In addition to the JLA and Titans in full uniform, the guests include Chunk, Jay and Joan Garrick, Ralph and Sue Dibny, Linda' friend Barb, and all our favorite speedster (or Lightning Brigade) in their Sunday best. Bart, the ring bearer, is wearing a nice, brown suit with his hair slicked back into a pony tail. On one panel, there's a closeup of Changeling, but I'm pretty sure it was supposed to be Bart and was just mis-colored.

Anyway, the wedding suddenly becomes a shocker when Linda halts the ceremony to finally have a frank, honest discussion with Wally. Max is worried, but Jay assures him they'll be able to work it out. Arsenal says they should sell tickets to this, and Donna tells him to be quiet. Linda finally gets Wally to admit that he got really spooked by Walter and is afraid that he'll turn out like him if he doesn't get married as soon as possible. Linda points out that that's not a good enough reason to want to marry somebody, and this forces Wally to finally be open with his feelings. He tells Linda how he never wants to be without her again, how he taught her how to have fun and she taught him how to be a grownup. He says he can't wait to spend the rest of his life getting to know her. After this sweet speech, Linda allows the ceremony to continue, and the two are finally, truly married.

But as Wally and Linda kiss to begin their new lives together, Walter and Angela kiss to begin their new lives apart from each other. A heartbroken Walter rushes off into the Speed Force, praying that Angela will still remember him. When he emerges, he finds himself in front of a comic shop, with a bunch of kids wondering why a guy in a costume is standing around when it's not Halloween. Walter learns that he's not in Central City anymore, but Kansas City. The comic shop owner assumes Walter is an incredible cosplayer, and he invites him inside to take some pictures. Walter sees a bunch of comics on the shelves that were published this month, including the JLA #40 we just reviewed. He picks up a copy of The Flash #159, which has a picture of himself on the cover. He reads the story we just read, and on the last page, sees a panel of Angela saying she does remember Walter and will always remember. This puts a smile on Walter's face for the first time that day, and he quickly leaves the shop, presumably to try to find a way back to his proper home.

This was a great issue. Wally and Linda finally got married! And Walter got a sweet, tragic sendoff, combined with a fun trip to "our world" where superheroes are fictional. I thought the big wedding was handled well — we didn't need a repeat of all buildup we had last time. The guest list felt appropriate, except for the absence of Linda's parents. It makes sense for Wally, since his family is awful, but poor Linda's mom was seen weeping and desperately searching for her daughter while she was trapped in time. Linda's parents definitely deserved to be there.

Bart didn't have a whole lot to do, but he was great in his limited scenes. Dressing up like a judge with a long black robe and curly white wig was great, and I appreciated his smug look of importance while serving as the ring bearer. But what was up with that ponytail? Good look? Weird look? I can't say for certain.

Next time, we'll be formally introduced to Empress in Young Justice #19

Saturday, August 13, 2016

JLA #40

World War Three Part Five

Grant Morrison – Writer
Howard Porter – Penciller
Drew Geraci – Inker
Ken Lopez – Letterer
Pat Garrahy – Colorist
Heroic Age – Separator
Tony Bedard – Assoc. Editor
Dan Raspler – Editor

This is a pretty scary cover — showing the three biggest heroes cowering in fear in the presence of some unseen evil. However, I have no idea what's going on (both on the cover and inside). As the cover clearly states, this is the fifth part of a six-part story, and I have not yet read the four preceding parts. And whenever Grant Morrison is involved, there's always the chance that I'd be confused anyway, even if I had read everything previously. Luckily, Impulse only shows up in one panel, so I don't need to worry about a whole lot.

So apparently it's World War III, and I mean actual war. Like all of Asia and Europe are fighting against America with soldiers, bombs, helicopters, tanks, etc. And there's a giant monster/weapon/entity/thing called Mageddon that is apparently responsible for all this. Amidst all the fighting, we see several members of Young Justice help repel invading forces on Venice Beach, Los Angeles.

We have Superboy, Impulse, Red Tornado and Arrowette here, which probably means that this story took place before Arrowette quit and all the stuff with Old Justice happened. Or maybe Arrowette decided to throw on her costume once more because it's well, you know, World War III. Anyway, that's all we see of Impulse, and therefore all we really care about. The rest of the issue involves a lot more fighting like this and some sitting around war tables and trying to come up with a plan. The ending is pretty neat, though. The Flash (Wally West) returns from a trip to the Speed Force. After remarking that he's glad he didn't end up on another parallel Earth again, he introduces everybody to the help he brought with him — a gigantic blue man made of energy.

So that's it. A big, brash story with tons of fighting possibilities, which is necessary for this version of the JLA, which currently has like 17 members on its team. The art was fairly decent, and I'm sure the story will be good, too, once I get around to reading it. But for now, and the purposes of this blog, I really don't have anything else to say about it.

Next time, we'll wrap up the Dark Flash saga in The Flash #159.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Secret Files & Origins Guide to the DC Universe 2000 #1

Here and Now

Story by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Pencils by Scott Eaton
Inks by Ray Kryssing with Doug Hazlewood (special thanks to Kristie Kryssing)
Letters by Bill Oakley
Colors by Carla Feeny
Separation by Digital Chameleon
Edits by Maureen McTigue and Tony Bedard

Cover pencilled by Darick Robertson, inked by John Dell. It is a pretty nice, poster-like cover showing off some of the most popular DC characters in the year 2000 — Starfire, Steel, Hawkgirl, Wonder Woman, Superman, Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Batman and the Star-Spangled Kid. I'm pretty sad that Young Justice and the Flash weren't included here, but I guess you need to cut it off somewhere, and sticking to 10 characters that represent a lot of different aspects of the DCU is better than trying to cram 20 or 30 characters on the cover.

This issue has a horribly obnoxious title. However, that's the only negative about it. It's a 96-page information dump, telling you everything you ever wanted to know about the DC Universe, appropriately timed for the start of the year 2000. In addition to the main 44-page story, we have 11 shorts, 12 profile pages and a 7-page timeline. You would be hard-pressed to find a character or element in the DCU that was not represented in some way in this comic book. For geeks like me, this is a gold mine.

Our main story begins with Green Lantern being approached by the D.E.O. with a special mission. He meets with Major Lutwidge and Doctor Charles (two former Young Justice antagonists) who tell Green Lantern that another old Young Justice foe, Bedlam, is apparently loose and looking for a superhero to possess. The D.E.O. wants Green Lantern to help them scan every hero he can find to try to find Bedlam, and they want him to do this discretely so Bedlam won't be alerted to their search.

Green Lantern agrees to this, and first comes across the Justice Society of America, including the original Flash, Jay Garrick. Kyle Rayner has a slightly awkward conversation with the heroes, but he does manage to discretely scan them all and send the data back to the D.E.O. Kyle is initially worried that he sent back too much data at once, but Lutwidge assures him their computers can process the data faster than he can send it. Seeing this as a challenge, Lantern scans every metahuman in New York at once.

Noticing the Titans aren't at their headquarters, Green Lantern tracks them down the Caribbean, where he meets several of Impulse's old teammates — Arsenal, Damage, Donna Troy, Starfire and Cyborg. Lantern helps them fight the H.I.V.E. while scanning them, then takes off as soon as the D.E.O. reports still no traces of Bedlam. Next on Kyle's tour is Metropolis, where he comes face to face with Superman. Luckily, Superman quickly takes off to check on an earthquake, so Green Lantern didn't have to lie directly to the Man of Steel.

The D.E.O. then suggests that Green Lantern fly up to a geosynchronous position above the U.S. mainland so they can quickly direct his scans to cities with known superheroes. So Kyle flies up into space and scans Supergirl in Virginia, the Marvel family in Fawcett City, Resurrection Man in South Carolina and Max Mercury in Manchester, Alabama. The D.E.O. then wants Green Lantern to track down Young Justice, which is a little bit tricky, giving their recent fugitive status and the recent destruction of their headquarters in Happy Harbor, Rhode Island. Luckily, Lantern's ring is able to track the energy signals from the Super-Cycle. The D.E.O. is fairly critical of Young Justice, but Kyle defends them, saying their his friends and they don't deserve the bad press they've been getting. However, Superboy, who has been quite jumpy lately, does not welcome Green Lantern's sudden arrival.

Robin calls Superboy off and asks Green Lantern what he's doing there. Kyle says he was just worried about them and wanted to see how they're doing. Superboy angrily insists they're fine and tells "Mister Bleeding Heart" to beat it. So Green Lantern takes off, having scanned them all and still not finding any signs of Bedlam. His next stop is Keystone City, where he meets both Wally and Walter West — something that really perplexes the D.E.O. scientists.

Green Lantern then visits Wonder Woman in her flying dome before heading up to the JLA Watchtower. Martian Manhunter (a telepath) seems a little suspicious, but Green Lantern quickly exits and goes down to Atlantis to scan Aquaman. His last stop is Gotham City, which raises Batman's suspicions. The D.E.O. congratulates Green Lantern on his work, but report they still have found no trace of Bedlam and they would like Lantern to stand by.

We then see that Major Lutwidge and Doctor Charles made up the story about Bedlam (as any good Young Justice fan will know, that genie gave up his powers to become a human baby). Instead, these corrupt D.E.O. agents are using Green Lantern's data to power up a giant robot called the Amazo 2000. Luckily, Martian Manhunter and Batman were good detectives, and they told Green Lantern that Bedlam's previous host, 13-year-old Matthew Stuart, is still locked up tight. So Green Lantern goes back to the D.E.O. base, confronts Lutwidge and Charles, and battles Amazo 2000.

The fight is surprisingly quick and simple, apparently because the D.E.O. never scanned Green Lantern himself, giving him an advantage over the robot that didn't know how to fight him. With the robot destroyed, the real D.E.O. arrives to shut down Lutwidge and Charles' operation. They even reluctantly allow Green Lantern to wipe their computers of all the data he acquired on the heroes, so in the end, it's as if nothing ever happened.

This was a pretty fun story that provided a creative way for us to take a tour through the DC Universe. Green Lantern was a natural choice for this, since he's young enough to relate to Young Justice and the Titans, and old enough to associate with the JLA and JSA. I just wish the final fight would have been more satisfying. I mean, it's a giant Amazo 2000! It should provide at least a small challenge! Well, let's check out the other pages Impulse shows up on.

Young Justice

Text by Scott Beatty
Pencilled by Todd Nauck
Inked by Lary Stucker
Color by Tom McCraw

First Appearances:
YJ Team JLA: World Without Grown-Ups #1 (August, 1998)
Secret The Secret #1 (June, 1998)
Empress Young Justice #19 (April, 2000)

The teen heroes of Young Justice have gone far to prove to the world (and themselves) that they are more than simply junior facsimiles of the JLA. Mentored by the enigmatic android Red Tornado and presently headquartered in an old abandoned resort in the Catskills, the team's membership currently includes Wonder Girl, Robin, Superboy, Impulse, and the wraith-like Secret, with the mysterious Empress in the wings. But while the supporters of Young Justice are growing in number, so are the team's detractors, most particularly the government agency A.P.E.S., which believes Young Justice to be a threat to national security. Moreover, the aged membership of Old Justice, a union of former "teen sidekicks," has actively lobbied for legislation to prohibit teen vigilantes. Together, both organizations may spell the end of Young Justice forever.

It feels like I'm reviewing this issue too soon, because so much of this bio refers to things we haven't seen yet. But I am sticking with publication date order, and this comic book has a March 2000 publication date. Next time, when I start the April books, we'll find out all about Empress and the new Young Justice headquarters. Wonder Girl's new look will come even later (although we have been teasing it for a long time now.) Despite this jarring chronological conflict, this profile page does boast a beautiful image from Nauck and Stucker.

The Flash "Family"

Text by Scott Beatty
Pencilled by Paul Pelletier
Inked by Doug Hazlewood
Color by Tom McCraw

First Appearances:
The Flash (Wally West) Flash (first series) #110 (December, 1959 – January, 1960)
The Flash (Jay Garrick) Flash Comics #1 (January, 1940)
Max Mercury Flash #77 (June, 1993)
Impulse Flash #91 (June, 1994)
Jesse Quick Justice Society of America #1 (August, 1992)

They are the riders of the lightning, fleet-footed heroes drawing their super-speed from the Speed Force, an energy source that lies beyond the light speed barrier. As The Flash, Wally West is the fastest man alive, carrying on the heroic legacy of the previous Flash, Barry Allen, a speedster who gave his life to save the Earth. Allen himself was inspired by living legend Jay Garrick, the original "Flash," who continues to run rings around his comrades after 60 years of heroism. Trusted ally Max Mercury, the so-called "Zen Master of Speed," currently enjoys the unenviable task of instructing Allen's grandson Bart Allen, the teen speedster Impulse, to use his own powers responsibly. Fast friend Jesse Quick inherited her extreme velocities from father Johnny Quick, who accessed the Speed Force by mentally focusing on the mathematical formula "3X2(9YZ)4A." Having recently defeated the techno-sorcerer Abra Kadabra and reunited with his lost love Linda Park, Wally West hopes that life will slow down for himself and his fellow speedsters, if only for a little while.

All right, no chronological conflicts here. Just great art by one of my favorite Flash artists of all time, Pelletier, and a succinct explanation of who all these people are. And that's exactly what a profile page is supposed to do. Jay also shows up on the JSA page, Wally and Jesse both are on The Titans, and Wally is on the JLA page, as well.


Compiled by Robert Greenberger & Phil Jimenez

This timeline is incredibly dense and wonderful. It's seven pages of pure text, starting with Clark Kent becoming Superman for the first time 12 years ago. This is also the same year that Barry Allen became the Flash. Wally West became Kid Flash a year later, and helped form Teen Titans a year after that (10 years ago from now). Six years ago, Barry sacrificed himself to destroy the Anti-Monitor's antimatter cannon, and Wally took over as the Flash.

Two years ago, Bart Allen, the super-fast grandson of the Flash (Barry Allen), arrives from the 30th century. "Adopted" by speedster mentor Max Mercury and stationed in Alabama, Bart takes the name Impulse. And during the past year, Robin, Impulse, and Superboy join forces as Young Justice and eventually admit Wonder Girl, the Secret, and Arrowette as members.

It's a little odd to think of Impulse being around for two years, but in a lot of ways, it makes perfect sense. He had a brief stint with the New Titans, then had time to form Young Justice. He's celebrated two Christmases, and has had at least one summer vacation. However, when he first showed up here in the 20th century, they said he was 14 years old. You could argue that Bart's now 15, but I think 16 is a bit of a stretch. Plus, it seems like he's still going to junior high school. But that's how time works in comic books. Very slowly and selectively. In real life, Bart Allen has been around for almost six years, but nobody's ready for a 20-year-old Bart ... yet.

So, all in all, this was a fantastic comic book. A wealth of information crammed into 96 pages. Well worth the $6.95 cover price. There aren't any new ads, so I'll see you next time, when we start April 2000 with a quick cameo in JLA #40.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Impulse #58

Flashing Before My Eyes

Todd Dezago • Writer
Jamal Igle and Grey • Guest Pencillers
Prentis Rollins • Inker
Janice Chiang • Letterer
Rick Taylor • Colorist
Digital Chameleons • Separators
L.A. Williams • Editor
Impulse created by Waid & Wieringo

Craig Rousseau returned to do this cover with Wayne Faucher, paying homage to the cover they did for Impulse #46. It is nice to see a familiar face return, but, sadly, this is not the best work we've seen from Rousseau. I think we would have been better off having Ethan Van Sciver draw this cover, putting his own spin on Rousseau's previous work. Because, you know, this is Van Sciver's book, now (even if this is the first of three consecutive issue penciled by guest artists). Anyway, this is a pretty fun cover with Max acting out of character, and the goofy reference to No Man's Land. I suspect there was a certain segment of comic readers back in this time that got pretty sick and tired of seeing No Man's Land on everything. Also note the cold medicine and tissues around Bart. That will be important later on.

Our story begins with Max reading the morning Daily Manchester Eagle (yet another name for this town's paper), which features the headlines, "Junior JLA outlawed" and "Girl archer sought for questioning." Helen leaves for work, and Bart takes off for school after a mad scramble to get all his things. As he leaves, Bart derisively considers Max a couch potato, but as soon as he's gone, Max leaps off the couch, throws on his costume, and goes on patrol around the world.

Max first takes out a super villain in Rome before thwarting a bank robbery in Chicago. He then checks on Bart in school, but makes sure to take off before his "nephew" spots him. Bart did notice something zipping by the window, and his teacher reprimands him for not paying attention.

Max returns to Europe, where he saves a woman from falling off a gondola in Venice and rescues a young girl from gunfire in war-torn Eastern Europe. He then heads to Rio de Janeiro to catch a construction worker who's fallen off a skyscraper. Often, Max is confused for Flash or Superman, but he doesn't mind, preferring to work in anonymity.

Max then goes to China (the text says Kiamen, but I think it should be Xiamen). By this point, Max is dripping with sweat, exhausted from the day's labors — he is still feeling the effects of his gunshot wound and the battle with Kalibak. However, there's been a powerful earthquake here, and Max is eager to help. He speaks with the authorities in fluent Chinese, and they tell him about a woman trapped under the remains of her store. They can't rescue her because of a nearby gas leak that could cause a huge explosion with the slightest spark. So Max takes an oxygen tank, and carefully enters the hole to see what he can do.

The woman is happy to see an experienced hero coming to her aid, saying she heard the firefighters talking above her, and she was worried that those young men would act impulsively. Max says he's had plenty of experience with young, impulsive heroes, and he begins the slow, careful process of removing the rubble from around the woman. She says she takes pride in knowing about the world's superheroes, but has never heard of Max Mercury. She asks him why he chooses to be anonymous. So Max tells her his backstory while he works.

Max explains that when he first became a superhero in the 1800s, he was fairly prideful, spending time soaking in the cheers and adoration of everyone he saved. Although he didn't have a superhero name yet, he had developed quite a reputation, which he enjoyed. One day, a scientist named Lucius Keller developed a rocket-powered locomotive. But on the day of the machine's debut, it erupted in a fiery explosion, killing Keller's friends and family, leaving him badly scarred and enraged.

Four months later, Keller found Max and accused him of letting his family die. Max tried to explain that he was in Texas on the day of the disaster, but Keller wouldn't hear it, pulling out two guns and trying to kill Max on the spot. Max easily caught all the bullets and apprehended Keller. But Keller managed to escape a few months later, and began to hunt down and kill everyone Max had ever saved.

The Chinese woman tells Max that just as Keller blamed him for something that wasn't his fault, Max is now blaming himself for something that's not his fault. She tells him he can't be responsible for the actions of others, and she assures Max that he is, indeed, a hero and can help other people. By this point, Max seems to have recovered enough to attempt something we've never seen him do before — vibrate the woman out from under a large beam. She says she's honored to have been saved by Max Mercury, but Max says the honor is his.

Later that day, Max checks in with his old nemesis and friend, Dr. Morlo. The reformed mad scientist has built a device that spins Max around like a tornado, and Max wonders if the machine is really necessary, or just Morlo having some fun with him. Morlo laughs off the comment, then decides to be blunt with his findings. As a result of all the trauma Max experienced, he is now only performing at 80% of his previous potential. Morlo suspects that Max's injuries have corrupted his link to the Speed Force, and now his condition is worsening at an accelerated rate. Morlo says if they don't find a way to reconnect Max to the Speed Force, then it will destroy him.

Max then hurries home and plops down on the couch with his paper right before Bart comes in. Bart once again considers Max a couch potato, and walks away, shaking his head. Helen comes home right after and asks Max how his day was. Max says with a small grin, "Oh ... the usual."

And now for something completely different ...

Bart Gets a Virus

By Todd-Ethan-Janice-and-Rick

We begin our backup story with Max yelling at Bart to get ready for school. However, it quickly becomes apparent that poor Bart isn't quite his usual self.

Max notices Bart is running a fever, and he asks him if he's feeling nauseous. Bart doesn't know what that means, so Max starts to explain that it means it feels like he's going to throw up. Right on cue, Bart "blarts" right there in the hall. Bart's never thrown up before, and he asks Max what it is. Max says it looks like breakfast. Bart says he's sorry about Max's shoes, and Max says he's sorry about Bart's dog.

Max lays Bart down on the couch with a pillow and blanket, saying it's odd for Bart to be sick, since speedsters' accelerated metabolisms usually burn out fevers before they get to them. Max says he needs to run a few errands, and he needs Bart to stay put and go off and do anything impulsive since he's sick, dizzy and doesn't have complete control of his body. Bart agrees, and turns on some cartoons while Max takes off.

But Bart's cartoons are interrupted by a special news report of a bank robbery and hostage situation in Mobile, Alabama. The news anchor says it's too bad there's nobody around who could end this standoff, and Bart realizes she's talking about Impulse. So Bart defies Max's orders and rushes up to Mobile as Impulse.

Later, Max comes home to find Bart still on the couch, still feeling a bit under the weather. Max checks Bart's temperature and asks if he didn't go out like he asked him to. Before Bart can answer, the TV shows the Mobile bank robbers being arrested and loudly complaining about the little guy who came at them like a bullet and "yakked" all over them. Max looks at Bart, who cries out, "I HAAAATE BEING SICK!!!"

That backup story really stole the show. So let's talk about that first. This was a hilarious and sweet side story that this series really needs more of. And Ethan Van Sciver did an amazing job of setting aside his detailed realism for a simple, cartoony style that feels like a wonderful combination of Foxtrot and Calvin and Hobbes. And look at how big Bart's feet are! It's so ridiculous! And here's the best part — this backup story is not as insignificant as one might think. Stay tuned!

Back to our main story, it was pretty nice to see what Max does on a normal day. Igle and Grey did a really decent job as guest pencillers, and keeping the usual inker and colorist helped a lot. I think it's nice to have a periodic reminder of Max's past, and Dezago added another tragic element to a past that's already full of tragedy. This helps explain why Max is so reluctant to tell anyone about his past lives, but I did find it a bit odd that he was so willing to open up to that Chinese woman. I found it even odder that he was able to vibrate that woman out from under a beam, since we've seen several stories deal with Max's inability to vibrate through solid objects. Only Bart and Walter West can do that. Wally can, but when he does, he causes an explosion.

It was also nice for Max to meet up with Morlo again. The two are a great comedic pair, and, more importantly, they have been looking at Max's injuries for a long time now. Maybe, finally, things will start moving on that front.

Impulsive Reactions begins with a plea from L.A. Williams for more letters, which is interesting, because that plea is followed by two full pages of letters.

Caprice Corbett, of New York, admits that she's not a comic book reader, but a friend gave her Impulse #54, and she really enjoyed it. She asks a bunch of rather basic questions that L.A. is kind enough to answer. Then Caprice answers a suspicion of mine by saying she enjoyed the "eye candy" for female readers, saying Bart is a "cute boy with real COOL hair and beautiful eyes." L.A.'s most useful answer is identifying the demons Bart and his friends saw — Baal, the Gentleman Ghost, Mawzir, and Bloodklott.

Michael Bregman loved how Bart never put on his costume in issue #54, which allowed for great character interaction. He asks if Dezago and Van Sciver were sitting behind the boys in the movie theater, and L.A. confirms this (although he doesn't mention that he was also there).

Eileenk98 simply says the issue was "nice and quiet (relatively speaking) for a change."

Rypta Gud'n complained that the issue had nothing to do with Day of Judgment, and said it wasn't the best by Dezago and Van Sciver, but he liked it anyway.

Flashcar simply said it was boring and nothing happened.

Cheryl Hogan wanted to see where Zatanna, Max and Jay went, felt Preston's narrations were boring, and thought the boys' reaction to the campfire demons was understated. But she was touched by the moments with Evil Eye.

Brian Siedman, of New York, says he usually complains about too much crossover material, but in this case, he actually wanted more. He also said he usually asks for more Bart and less Impulse, but in this issue, he wanted to see Impulse. He says he felt the Inertia storyline went too long, and he vows to stick with the book at least until the Young Justice guest appearance. Now for the new ads:

Even superheroes get hungry. Batman Beyond toys at Burger King.

In the wake of No Man's Land, Gotham City is reborn! Batman, Detective Comics, Gotham Knights, Robin, Catwoman, and Azrael: Agent of the Bat.

Where have all the cookies gone? Hershey's Cookies 'n' Creme.

Watch Kids' WB! and you could win a big screen TV, a PlayStation game console, the new game Um Jammer Lammy and other great prizes.

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

The hometown heroes of Metropolis are back! Supermen of America.

Next time, we'll take a look at Secret Files & Origins Guide to the DC Universe 2000 #1. (How's that for a title?!)

Monday, August 1, 2016

Young Justice #18

Revolting Developments

Peter David Writer
Todd Nauck Pencils
Lary Stucker Inks
Jason Wright Colors
Digital Chameleon Separations
Ken Lopez Letters
Maureen McTigue Assoc. Edits
Eddie Berganza Just Edits

Run for the cover by Todd Nauck and Lary Stucker with the colors of David Baron of Wildstorm FX. It is nice to have a cover like this to reiterate exactly who is in Young Justice now. The team's roster has been in flux lately, but now it seems to have stabilized with these five heroes. This straightforward power shot of the team made a good cover for the second Young Justice 100-Page Spectacular (although an image that included Arrowette would have been better for that collection). My only complaint with this cover is Wonder Girl, who looks a bit wonky. But everyone else looks great, especially Impulse (and that's all that matters). Also note the sinister, shadowy figures in the background, and the flames creeping up around the cave.

Our story picks up with the news reports of Young Justice destroying Mount Rushmore. This includes a fun look at a newspaper editor, who's very similar to J. Jonah Jameson, telling Robbie he wants the headline, "JLA Junior — Threat or Menace!?" Naturally, all this publicity intensifies the Young Justice talks in congress, and Senator Perkins begins calling on the White House to take action. In the face of a large group of protesters, President Bill Clinton makes preparations for some kind of legislation against our heroes. But first, he composes a letter to his daughter, Chelsea, explaining that even though he knows she's a big fan of Wonder Girl, he has to do something before this all ends in tears.

Back in the cave, Young Justice first has to deal with the issue of Secret. Robin points out that Secret now remembers who she is. Impulse notes that she knows how she became they way she is. Wonder Girl asks if she wants to tell them any of this, but Secret declines. Robin says they have a right to know, since they put their lives on the line to rescue her and are now facing a world of trouble because of it. Superboy coldly points out that Robin still hasn't told them his secret identity. Robin starts to argue, but then realizes Superboy does have a point. So he tells Secret she doesn't have to tell the team anything she doesn't want to, but he does ask what happened to Harm. Secret does answer this question, saying when she came to, she was already in the A.P.E.S. headquarters, so Harm could be anywhere.

Wonder Girl then turns the conversation toward the negative publicity created by the Mount Rushmore incident. Apparently, none of the media outlets have reported anything on the A.P.E.S., but all of them have been decrying Young Justice for their reckless behavior. Wonder Girl is worried her mom is going to ground her forever, and Superboy says the public wants to ground the whole team. He asks why they should have any respect for anybody else, when they have no respect for them. Red Tornado arrives and says they need to show respect to gain respect. He reprimands Superboy for assaulting him, saying he was only trying to help the team by telling them to keep a low profile. Superboy accuses the android of not trusting their judgment, so Red asks them what their judgment says they should do now. Robin suggests they get their story out there — tell everyone they're not the bad guys. But Red Tornado fears they're too late for that.

Suddenly, Superman appears on their computer screen. He requests Red Tornado to report to the Watchtower, and for Young Justice to stay put and wait for a long, unpleasant talk. Red Tornado promises he'll defend the team in front of the Justice League, but he warns them to be prepared for Young Justice to be shut down. Secret passionately objects to this, saying she will no longer allow others to tells her what to do. Superboy agrees with her, criticizing the JLA for being on them since Day One. Red Tornado asks Robin if he agrees with them as their leader. Robin does agree, saying, "We know we're right, but what's the point in being right if we're not willing to fight for it?"

Red Tornado knows it's a foolish question, but he asks anyway if they're going to stay in the cave while he's gone. Robin says they will, and Impulse angrily asks what else are they going to do. As Red flies off, he has to admit to himself that Robin did make a valid argument. Superboy congratulates Secret for standing up for them, and Wonder Girl says Cissie would be proud. Secret then asks where Cissie is, and Wonder Girl has to tell her the bad news that Arrowette has quit the team.

Cissie, meanwhile, has asked Cassie's mom, Helena, to take her to her mom, Bonnie. Bonnie tells Helena to leave them, but Cissie wants her to stay. Cissie gives her mom all her Arrowette outfits and gear, saying she's given up being a superhero. Bonnie is flummoxed by this news, and Cissie argues that all this was only ever Bonnie's dream. She points out that all the pictures of her in the house are of her as Arrowette. Bonnie says this was always Cissie's dream, and that she never forced her into this. Cissie begins laughing hysterically at this, which makes Bonnie very upset. Helena tries to calm them down, but Cissie keeps on laughing, and Bonnie keeps getting angrier. Ultimately, Bonnie gets her daughter to shut up by slapping her.

Helena immediately steps between the two of them and sternly tells Bonnie to get away. Bonnie tries to justify the slap, saying Cissie was hysterical, and that's what you do with hysterical people. Helena tells Bonnie that if she touches Cissie again, she will break her arm. Helena leads Cissie out of the house, saying she thought the two of them needed to work things out, but now obviously isn't the time. Bonnie tells Helena she can't act like Wonder Woman just because her daughter is Wonder Girl. Helena responds by saying she's just a mother, and Bonnie needs to remember what that means. Once they're gone, Bonnie smashes a photo of Arrowette, falls to her knees, and begins weeping into her hands.

Back in the cave, Impulse has decided to pass the time by quickly reading a book called "Speed Reading Made Easy" by Skip N. Paige. Superboy says if they want to get their story out there, they need to do it quick. Impulse comments that the only guy who didn't treat them like a bunch of lame-os was the CDTV reporter, Ace Atchinson, who called them Young Justice in the first place. Robin tells Bart that's brilliant, and Impulse is very pleased with himself, but quickly has to ask what he said that was brilliant. Robin tells Secret that she'll need to go public, too, so they can explain that the government kidnapped one of their members. Secret agrees, and Superboy adds that they should explain how they've saved the "whole freakin' planet" so they should be treated with respect.

Robin explains that Ace is the perfect reporter for them, because even though he's a bit of a flake, he does serve a youth-oriented audience that will be sympathetic to their cause. However, Robin says that he can't talk to the media, since that will dispel his status as an urban myth. Secret pushes him on this issue, but Robin won't budge, implying that Batman will end his career if he disobeys. So, Robin suggests they appoint a spokesperson to represent the group in his place. And that person is ... Wonder Girl.

This comes as a shock to both Wonder Girl and Superboy. But Robin defends his decision by saying Cassie is well-educated and articulate, soft-spoken yet sincere, and will appeal to CDTV's huge female viewership. Robin then asks Kon if he doesn't think Cassie is capable of this, and Superboy eventually relents. So Young Justice contacts Ace Atchinson, appearing on his computer screen, just as he was looking for a hot and sexy interview. Superboy, Wonder Girl and Impulse stand in front of the camera, looking as serious as possible. Wonder Girl asks Ace if he's willing to give them an exclusive interview, and Ace eagerly agrees. But before they can work out the details, the heroes are distracted by a large noise in their cave. So Wonder Girl tells Ace they'll call him back while they all leave to investigate the commotion.

The commotion was caused by a group of intruders (the shadowy figures from the cover). The Super-Cycle tried to ward them off, but one of them threw the bike through the wall and out the cave. Impulse, naturally, is first to arrive on the scene, and says, "Okay! Nobody here move! Except for, y'know, me, because I'm supposed to be here. So I can move. But you guys better stay put, or there'll be some, uh ... some serious stay putting here!" (I love how bad he is at talking tough!) Impulse is answered by a short Hawaiian boy, who introduces himself as Short Cut — Impulse's opponent for today. Impulse tells Short Cut he picked the wrong day to come looking for trouble, and he immediately charges at the intruder. But Short Cut teleports Impulse out to a random alley in Happy Harbor, causing Bart to crash into a brick wall.

The rest of Young Justice then arrive in the garage, and are properly introduced to the Point Men — Short Cut, the Gray Lady (a gargoyle-like girl with wings), Blockade (a big, strong guy), Serpenteen (a lizard person), and Blank Slate (a guy seemingly wearing a white sheet). Robin tells the Point Men they're intruding and need to leave, but Gray Lady says their purpose is to make sure Young Justice doesn't ruin the names of superhero groups everywhere. Wonder Girl warns them that the Justice League is due to arrive soon, and Serpenteen and Blockade vow to wait for them peacefully and not throw the first punch. Superboy, however, disagrees, and immediately slams blockade through the floor.

A full-scale fight breaks out, with Robin taking on Gray Lady, Wonder Girl battling Serpenteen (who boasts that the god Quetzalcoatl is stronger than Hera), and Blank Slate takes on Secret, manifesting the same powers as her. Superboy shows little regard for their headquarters, slamming Blockade into all their computers and causing a big mess. Impulse quickly rejoins the fight, figuring he'll hit Short Cut between blinks. However, Short Cut begins teleporting himself away from Impulse, making the speedster quite frustrated.

But perhaps the most dangerous battle is between Secret and Blank Slate, who end up as giant clouds swirling around each other and becoming an uncontrollable tornado. This tornado veers into the swimming pool, lifting up the water and dropping it on the computers Superboy had damaged and are still sparking. Water and electricity don't mix, and a big fire is soon started.

Impulse is the first to recognize this problem, and he rushes Robin away from his fight to show him the catastrophe. Robin calls out to Secret, trying to get her to calm down. But Secret, who has had a pretty rough past few weeks, is in a bit of a frenzy. She incoherently yells at Blank Slate, saying nobody will ever know her, and she increases her intensity. Robin sees the fire spreading to some barrels of gasoline in the garage, and he starts to give Impulse an order, but is interrupted by a large explosion.

This issue is everything I want in a comic book. Great art paired with a great story that perfectly balances, action, emotion and humor. We're continuing an intriguing story that has been building for a while now, while planting more seeds for even more exciting stories down the road. We got a lot of teenage, emotional outbursts (without getting too angsty) combined with an interesting ethical debate. Even though Arrowette is off the team, we're continuing her story, getting a rare look at her mom when she's alone. And everything wrapped up nicely with an awesome action scene, pitting our heroes against a team that matches up very well with them. Of course, just like Old Justice, the Point Men don't necessarily feel like villains — it's more intricate than that. But it doesn't make this fight scene any less enjoyable.

I did enjoy watching Secret lose control here. I think it's a perfectly reasonable reaction to suddenly remembering her brother killed her, then fighting that brother, then being kidnapped (again) by shady government agents. That's more than enough to make anyone snap. Superboy, though ... . His behavior seems out of place (as it should be, we'll learn later). Luckily, we had Impulse around to keep things light and happy. Pretty much everything he did and said was hilarious. And I always love watching speedsters battle teleporters. I actually wish Impulse had a regular teleporter to fight in his main series.

We only have two letters to the editor this month, starting with Philip Portelli, of College Station, N.Y., praising the book for the story arc against Dante. He also speculates that Impulse's emotional naiveté may have consequences the team will have to deal with. According to Philip, Arrowette's position as resident sex symbol seems to have snared Bart. I have to disagree, however, since I think Arrowette's sexiness is mostly lost on Bart. (But not Superboy, though.)

Sean Landry, of LaPlace, La., noticed the Forever People using the Super-Cycle way back in Crisis on Infinite Earths. But Eddie Berganza explains that they were using a different super-cycle that utilizes the same technology. The Young Justice Super-Cycle is their own.

We don't have any new ads, so I'll see you next time, for a special Max Mercury story in Impulse #58.