Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Sins of Youth: Kid Flash & Impulse #1

Media Blitz

Dwayne McDuffie Writer
Angel Unzueta Penciller
Jaime Mendoza Inker
Chris Eliopoulos Letterer
Moose Baumann Colors/Seps
Mike McAvennie & L.A. Williams Editors
Impulse created by Mark Waid & Mike Wieringo

Cover by Mike Wieringo & Terry Austin. Colors by Tanya & Richard Horie. It really is great to see Impulse co-creator Wieringo drawing Impulse and Kid Flash (even if Impulse is an adult now). Back in 1994, Wieringo drew teenagers the way most comic book artists did — just as short adults. But in 2000, he's shown that he's learned to draw teens skinnier and in more realistic proportions. I wish he would have drawn Impulse a few more times before his untimely death in 2007. Anyway, Impulse's adult outfit keeps the general look of his original uniform, right down to the fingerless gloves. The big difference, obviously, is his hair is no longer flowing free in the wind, as he's now covered his head in a more traditional Flash manner. It's better for secret identities, but not quite as fun, in my opinion. Wally, however, is pretty much wearing the exact same uniform he wore back when he was the original Kid Flash, which is a nice callback.

Our story begins with an angry Wally running away. He's feeling awkward, clumsy, slow, and he can't concentrate since he has teenage hormones overwhelming his smaller body. Bart catches up to Wally, saying he's been chasing him for nearly 300 miles now, and they're supposed to be working together on a public relations tour. Bart asks Wally if he think he's being just a little impulsive, and Wally says he'll defer to Bart's legendary expertise in that area. Bart calls Wally a surly kid, then finally asks him where they're going, and Wally says he plans on spending his honeymoon with his wife — alone. Bart says talking to Linda's a good idea since she's a reporter, but Wally says P.R. is going to be the last thing on his mind with his beautiful wife in their honeymoon suite in Paris, and the prospect of him learning Victoria's secret. This innuendo appears to go over Bart's head (even though he's physically an adult, he still only knows what he knew as a kid). He says he'll go get Max and then they can all get together later. Wally reluctantly agrees to this plan, but he tells Bart to not give him orders, reminding him that he's still the Flash.

In Manchester, Alabama, Max is watching the coverage of the Sins of Youth on the news when Bart walks in behind him. Max initially thinks Bart's voice is starting to change, but when he sees the adult Bart, he asks if he's a time traveler from the future. Bart says he wishes that were the case, then advises Max to sit down as he tells him what happened. In Paris, France, Linda is prepared for a romantic evening with her husband, but she gets quite a shock when she sees what Wally looks like now.

Back in Manchester, Bart is sitting on the floor, finishing his story to Max, adding the detail that Superboy had to be different and didn't grow up at first with everybody else. Bart jokes that the JLA Watchtower is now full of Hard Kore CDs, but he's confident that somebody will figure out how to put things right, sooner or later. In the meantime, Bart asks for Max's help as an elder statesman to tell the media the real story. Max compliments Bart for his extremely well-thought-out plan, but he has to decline the invitation for reasons he can't say. Bart doesn't press the issue, saying he knows it's his responsibility, and Max praises him for living up to his grandpa's legacy.

Bart says he knows he goofs off a lot, but he's always understood what he's training for. Max actually gets a tear in his eye as he says the world needs the Flash. Bart prepares to take off, but first tells Max that if he'll support him if he ever decides to let him in on whatever it is he's hiding. Max wishes Bart godspeed, and he says he'll try to keep it just under godspeed as he zooms away.

We return to Wally and Linda, who actually are talking about public relations. Wally asks Linda to help them get their story out, but Linda says that'd be a conflict of interest, since everybody knows she's married to the Flash. Linda starts to go through a list of names of people who could help, ultimately deciding to call on a media consultant who works for Regis Philbin and Booster Gold. But Wally's hormones get the better of him, and he tries to lean in for a kiss. Linda pushes the boy away, telling him to wait until he's old enough to shave again. Wally apologizes, and Linda asks if it's this bad for the other JLAers, and Wally says she should be thankful she's not married to Aquaman. Linda gives Wally a hug and says she's thankful she's married to him, while Wally has an Impulse-like pictogram thought of a hotel's Do Not Disturb sign.

Shortly later, Bart and Wally meet up in front of Chiang Restaurant (named in honor of longtime Impulse letterer Janice Chiang). Bart brags about how he's much bigger as an adult than Wally was, a comment that Wally deems infantile. Bart then asks Wally why he's wearing that "goofy outfit" and isn't just using the Speed Force to change it back. Wally says his Kid Flash costume is "one of the all-time classically cool super-suits" and he only stopped wearing it to honor Barry Allen's legacy. But while he's temporarily a teenager, Wally figures he might as well indulge in a little nostalgia. Bart offers to let Wally wear his old Impulse costume so they could be Impulse and Kid Impulse, but Wally still hates being called Kid ... even though he's dressed as Kid Flash ...

Bart and Wally then meet with media consultant Ted Barton, who quickly shows them what all the news channels are saying about Young Justice. And none of it is good (one reporter even wildly speculates about "alleged misconduct" between Superman and Wonder Woman). But Ted Barton, who enjoys cigars and speaking in the third person, says he loves a challenge and will gladly help our heroes. He explains that like most Americans, he loves Mount Rushmore and is mad it got destroyed. He admits to fearing metahumans, but is secretly ashamed at owing them so much. Ted Barton also wonders why so many of them wear their underpants on the outside. Wally jokes that they have to do that so they don't soil their underpants when they're three feet away from Darkseid.

Ted Barton loves Wally's humor and says he wishes he had time to book him on Leno. Wally says Letterman's funnier, and Bart says Conan's funnier than both of them. Wally is surprised to learn that Bart is awake at 12:30, and Bart asks him not to tell Max. Ted Barton then gets the speedsters back on track by suggesting they heavily promote their intention to set a world record for the most interviews in one hour, an event he calls "Media Blitz." Ted Barton quickly puts together press kits and an itinerary to fax to news outlets across the country, but Wally rushes the papers out to everybody in person.

So Wally and Bart head off on their publicity tour, but Wally complains that their schedule has them zigzagging back and forth across the country. Bart advises his young companion to not read while running, or use his portable Playtendo. Their first interview is with Bethany Snow, a noted critic of the Titans. But before they can get there, Impulse receives a call from Red Tornado. The android is enjoying his first childhood by listening to Hard Kore, but he's also responsibly monitoring the world. He tells Impulse that a villain named Major Disaster has summoned a giant tidal wave to destroy North Carolina, even though he's currently in jail.

Impulse and Kid Flash rush off to North Carolina, and Wally asks Bart how he wants to handle the situation. Bart tries to think what his grandpa would do (possibly still a holdover from the last issue of Impulse). He considers building a wall of sandbags, digging a trench to stop the wave, redirecting the water with a wind vortex, draining the water with a hole in the ocean floor, absorbing the water with millions of sponges, evacuating the entire coast, and even traveling back in time to prevent the tidal wave from ever occurring. While Bart is lost in thought, Wally quickly steals the speed from the tidal wave to dissipate the water. (This demonstrates that even though Wally is younger, he still has the same powers he recently acquired as the Flash.)

Wally's mad that they missed their first interview, but Bart believes they're bound to get some good press from saving the Eastern Seaboard. However, Bethany Snow criticizes the speedsters for not showing up, calling them cowards. Wally and Bart head off to Gotham next, and Bart admits to Wally that he froze because he never realized there were so many options before. Our speedsters race past Robin and Batboy in the Batmobile, and Wally praises Batman for his "business as usual" attitude. Bart says it's because Batman stays focused on the problem at hand, something that Wally should try sometime.

Over at MBC, Jack Ryder is interviewing for a job. He believes somebody ought to give the superheroes a "fair shake," so his prospective employer agrees to hire him if he can deliver on this promised live Flash interview. But when Bart and Wally arrive at MBC, they find a squad of A.P.E.S. waiting for them. Bart blames Wally for spreading their itinerary around, and notes that these agents have come prepared with equipment to battle speedsters. Wally says they shouldn't confront the A.P.E.S., since that would endanger all the people around them, so he suggests they just move on to their next interview at Metropolis. So the speedsters take off, assuming no harm was done by skipping one more interview, but poor Jack Ryder was denied the job.

At Metropolis, we encounter a familiar foe, the Green Cigarette! Returning to a life of crime, the Green Cigarette is robbing a bank by emitting a type of gas to subdue the guards. Wally somehow manages to clear out all the gas and even "extinguish" Green Cigarette's flame head, rendering it a pillar of smoke. Bart asks Wally to show him how he did that sometime, and Wally questions the logic behind Green Cigarette's move from Manchester to Metropolis.

The two speedsters then finally sit down at a press conference. Bart begins to answer a question from Lois Lane, but is interrupted by the arrival of more A.P.E.S. agents looking to arrest the heroes. So Bart and Wally quickly run away. Wally rescues some people from a burning building, while Bart reads the local paper and comes across a reporter who has written some fair stuff about Superman. So Bart uses a pay phone to call Clark Kent, but only gets his answering machine. Bart angrily assumes Kent is a lazy reporter, sleeping off a three-Martini lunch. But an editor's note tells us that Clark Kent is actually helping Superboy fight Match right now. (I'm not sure if Wally knows Superman's secret identity, but Bart never mentioned the name of the reporter he was calling, so it's a moot point.)

Later, Wally complains that they're not doing a good job at their Media Blitz. Bart point out that in addition to stopping the tidal wave, they've stopped an earthquake, caught a bunch of crooks, rescued a crashing airplane and stopped a bomb from destroying the Hub City Arch. Wally says he did most of that stuff himself while Bart just stood around thinking or ogling girls. Bart denies looking at girls, but does admit to being paralyzed by indecision, since he now feels like he can't afford to make a mistake. Bart also turns things around on Wally, blaming him for ruining the few interviews they did have. Apparently Wally yelled at Katie Couric, insulted Rush Limbaugh and pulled down the pants of Roy Raymond Jr.

The speedsters then run into Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl in Gateway City. Diana says she and Cassie are heading off to battle a Cyclops, and Wally tells them he and Bart are heading to their last interview with Jaqueline Cabrero of KGCW-TV. Bart, who isn't interested in girls as a kid, suddenly becomes smitten by the beauty of the adult Cassie, proving that Wally was right about Bart ogling girls. Cassie says she's surprised that the speedsters are here and not in Keystone City, where the Folded Man has returned and captured billionaire Norman Bridge. (I'm not sure if they meant Devlin Bridges, who was involved in the Folded Man stories in The Flash.)

Anyway, the Folded Man has his captive held in his own house, and although Wally has not encountered this villain before (that was Walter), he does know the basics of how Folded Man can travel through higher dimensions. Since Wally assumes Bart will sit around thinking once again, he rushes in to save the hostage. But Wally is immediately thrown out of the house by Folded Man ... twice. Bart, however, has spent his time drawing figures in the dirt. He tells Wally that the Folded Man and his hostage are in a 3-D shadow of a fourth-dimensional object, just like the popular 30th-century game, 3-D Holographic Tessertris. Wally thinks Bart is goofing with him, but Bart assures him he's very good at that game, and he can apply the knowledge from that to this situation.

So Wally follows Bart's plan by zooming in and out of the house and rearranging furniture and walls in a seemingly random order. But they did manage to evacuate Bridges and his nearly three dozen employees before the estate vanished into a wormhole. Most of the employees praised the heroes, but Bridges told reporters that the Flash destroyed his house and enabled the Folded Man to escape.

Wally calls the whole exercise a bust since most of the media are still reporting the wrong story about the heroes. But Bart points out that they did spend their day helping a lot of people, which is more important than how they look. Wally laughs a little at this, saying that Bart now reminds him of Barry.

Later, Klarion ... bum, bum, BUM ... the Witch Boy pays a visit to Captain Cold. He offers the Rogue a job, but Captain Cold turns him down, saying he's not for sale. So Klarion turns him into a kid and leads him off to "go play with the Flash."

CDTV News Top Story

This is Ace Atchison reporting for CDTV News, here today with the Flash and Impulse to get everything cleared up on the mess that the super-hero "Justice for All" march in Washington, D.C., turned into.

ACE: So what happened, Flash?

FLASH: Um, I'm Impulse. He's the Flash ... Kid Flash, really ...

KID: Don't YOU call me "Kid."

ACE: Things are a bit mixed up, huh?

KID: Duh. That's putting it mildly.

IMP: Wally, be nice! You see, Ace, this ... witch boy ... Klarion put a spell on the JLA and the others to make them into little kids. But then Doiby Dickles from Old Justice pulled this gun out of his hat ...

ACE: Uh-huh ...

IMP: No, really. And the gun started to make the hero kids older, but it backfired with Klarion's magicandwewoundupwiththeadultsbecomingteensandthekidsbecomingadults.Theolderoryoungeryouwerethemoreitallaffectedyouinreverse.

ACE: You're going a bit fast for me. Let me get this straight ...

KID (running off with teammate): No time. We're late for our next interview ...

ACE: Stay tuned. We'll be trying to make sense of this.

This was a really fun story. I feel like it did a good job of focusing equally on Wally and Bart, as well showing realistic, humorous responses from each of them in this wacky situation. Any 13-year-old boy who knew he had a beautiful woman waiting for him in bed would do exactly what Wally tried to do. And we've seen before how disastrous it can be when Bart, who's not an experienced thinker, tries to think too much. We've also seen an adult Bart before, in an alternate future in The Ray, and he was pretty serious then, too.

One reason this issue worked so well was because we had a lot of familiar names working on it. Besides co-creator Wieringo providing the cover, we had guest writer McDuffie and guest penciller Unzueta return, as well as former Impulse letterer Eliopoulos and current Impulse editor L.A. Williams to make sure everything fit together. I still would have preferred Todd Dezago, but McDuffie is a solid replacement. And while I'm not a huge fan of Unzueta's style, the art was decent enough to move the story forward and never became a distraction.

I also liked how this issue was placed in the middle of this 12-issue event. Impulse and Kid Flash are the best-equipped heroes to bleed over into other storylines and give us a quick glimpse of what happened before and what will happen later. I only wish this issue was longer to give us more interactions with all the other heroes. Also, this issue had the best CDTV News segment at the end, hands down.

Next time, Part 8: Doiby Dickles's space gun reversed the aging effect once. Now Starwoman has to babysit her team on a star trek to get a new one! Sins of Youth: Starwoman & the JSA Jr. #1.

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