Monday, November 21, 2016

Young Justice #24

When the Bow Breaks ...

Peter David Same Ol' Writer
Eric Battle Guest Penciller
Lary Stucker Ol' Inker
Jason Wright Ol' Colorist
Ken Lopez Ol' Letterer
Maureen McTigue Ol' Associate
Eddie Berganza Ol' Editor

This issue's award-winning cover is by Nauck, Stucker and WildStorm's colors. It makes sense to have Robin win the gold, Wonder Girl the silver and Superboy the bronze — they are the leaders of the team in that order. Impulse, who's every bit as important to the team as anyone else, falls under a category all on his own. But I'm not entirely sure exactly why he's holding an abnormally large goldfish. He doesn't even seem to know why he's holding it. Maybe I'm thinking too hard about this cover, and I should just enjoy the goofy joke.

Our story begins with star archer Tina Thomas walking around outside at night — completely alone for some reason — and reviewing her upcoming day of self-promotion. She's suddenly assaulted, and all we see is a pair of dice and a female figure running off into the night, leaving Tina with a broken arm.

Several time zones away, we see that the Brain and Monsieur Mallah are working with a shadowy figure named Baron Sin Gaaz. Apparently the Brain has agreed to tear apart the U.S. archery team in exchange for the Baron to grow a new body for him. But the Baron decides to demonstrate that he's the one calling the shots, and via video chat, he drinks several vials of what appear to be fetuses of the Brain and Mallah. This disgusts the two villains in Australia, and the Baron tells them they can both be easily replaced, and he'll only fulfill his end of the bargain if Zandia wins the Olympics.

We then check in on our heroes, beginning Day 2 as spectators. Of course, they're still enraged to see that Zandia is allowed to compete, and Bart asks Robin if they should tell the JLA about this. Robin says he's already contacted them, but for now, the Zandians haven't done anything criminal ... yet. Cassie identifies all the villains, calling them a "who's who of bad guys" — their coach is Deadline, Merlyn is the lead archer, the second archer is Tigress and the third is Turk, Merlyn's protégé. (I have to disagree with Cassie. That is not a "who's who of bad guys." These are C-list villains. Merlyn might be a B-lister, thanks to the Arrow TV show.)

Kon reports that Monsieur Mallah is coaching Black Thorn on their gymnastics team, and Overthrow is doing shot put, javelin and hammer. But Robin points out something even more troubling — Cissie and her mom are being escorted away from the archery field by security. Bonnie is shouting that she and Cissie had nothing to do with Tina Thomas, and Cissie says they should be investigating the team of villains. Robin asks Secret to trail them and make sure nobody sees her, so she pours out of the binoculars and a guy behind Robin chews him out for smoking in the stands.

Secret follows Bonnie and Cissie into the security room, where the guards explain that they believe Bonnie attempted to hire someone to assault Tina, but when Bonnie couldn't get anyone to do the job, she did it herself. Bonnie says this is ridiculous, but, sadly, Cissie believes it might be true. For some reason, this investigation has been handed over to Agent Donald Fite, even though he's on vacation. With Bonnie, Cissie and the archery coach in the room, Fite reveals the only evidence against Bonnie,  Ace Atchison's video of Bonnie speaking to Merlyn yesterday.

There's no sound on the video, and Bonnie claims she was threatening Merlyn to stay away from her daughter. Fite points out that Merlyn was seen by 30 people at a reception last night, but nobody knows where Bonnie was. She says she was keeping to herself in order to not make a nuisance of herself to Cissie. The archery coach explains to Cissie that until Bonnie's name is cleared, the games committee won't allow her to compete. Everybody leaves the room, but Fite remains behind and tells Secret she can come out of hiding. Secret's surprised that Fite knew she was there, but she's more mad that he's ruining Cissie's dreams. But Fite says he actually believes Bonnie is innocent, even though he has no concrete evidence to support that.

Bonnie and Cissie are hounded by the press once they step outside, so Bart whips up a mini-whirlwind to give them an escape route. Instead of joining Robin and Cassie to meet up with Cissie, Kon chooses to investigate a different lead by himself. Robin seems worried by this, and Kon assures him he's not Match again. But Robin says he's just concerned that Kon feels he has something to prove since he's still missing his powers. (Turns out I was wrong about Cadmus giving him his powers back. I guess they just gave him some equipment to allow him to fly.) Kon says he's still Superboy with or without powers, and he takes off.

So Robin and Cassie meet with Bonnie and Cissie in her dorm room. Cissie's roommate, Natalie, has been put in a different room out of concerns Cissie might be a negative influence on her younger teammate. Cissie is putting all the blame of this on her mother, who insists that she'd never abuse a teammate, no matter how much she didn't like her. Cissie coldly replies that her mom would only abuse her daughter, and Bonnie calls that a cheap shot. Cassie actually takes Bonnie's side, which makes Cissie cry and say all this bad luck is karma for that horrible night in the woods. Robin finally starts coming up with a plan, suggesting they find someone who can read lips to confirm that Bonnie wasn't trying to hire Merlyn on the video tape.

We then catch up with Superboy, who went to the Zandia athletes' house to interrogate the archery team. Naturally, the villains don't like this, and Merlyn fires an arrow at Superboy, which he blocks with a stupid gold Superman shield that pops up on his wrist. But Merlyn's second shot, a vibro-shock arrow, does hit Superboy, and causes enormous pain to the powerless teen.

Meanwhile, Cissie has enlisted Natalie's help in clearing her mom's name. The deaf archer is a natural at reading lips, and in front of Agent Fite and the games committee head, Mr. Tompkins, Natalie reports that Bonnie did, in fact, threaten Merlyn. Natalie reads that Bonnie said if Merlyn hurts anyone on the team, she'll rip off his ... Luckily, Bonnie covers Natalie's eyes before she finishes the sentence. Mr. Tompkins agrees to allow Cissie to compete in the Games tomorrow once Bonnie and Natalie pass polygraph tests.

We return to the action, where Superboy is getting his butt kicked by the three archers. Empress suddenly shows up and begins slicing arrows with her swords. Merlyn calls this "cute," and Impulse shouts out, "You think that's cute? Check us out! We're just plain adorable!" Impulse is joined by Robin, Secret and Wonder Girl. But all the villains from Zandia join in the fight to even the odds. Well, actually the odds turn in the villains' favor once Hazard rolls her dice and a nearby bolt of lightning knocks our heroes down.

But Young Justice is quickly back on their feet, and even in the midst of the battle, one of the villains has to compliment Robin on his gymnastic skills. Superboy finds himself in Monsieur Mallah's grasp, and he shouts, "Get your paws off me, you damned dirty ape!" Mallah says, "Oh, as if I'd never heard that one before ..." and he's promptly knocked down by Wonder Girl. Impulse, meanwhile, is tormenting Tigress. Once he catches all her arrows, she cries out, "I want another opponent!!!" So Empress knocks her out from behind, and Impulse asks if there's anything else they can do for her.

Secret takes on potentially the most powerful villain of the group, Hazard, by going into her body through her mouth and nose. Secret learns that Hazard has psionic powers that she uses with her dice to affect the probabilities against her enemies. So Secret takes control of Hazard and throws the dice to create an improbable misfortune against the villains. This is manifested by the sudden arrival of the entire Justice League of America — Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Aquaman, Green Lantern and Flash.

Nineteen seconds later, all the villains are defeated, the JLA has taken off and Empress has disappeared. (In the shadows, we see two mice that resemble Pinky and the Brain standing on the villain Brain.) Hazard tries to reach for her dice, but she's stopped by Tina Thomas, who identifies the villain as the woman who broke her arm. Later, Mr. Tompkins contacts the Baron, saying that he's convinced the committee that Hazard was acting alone and all the violence at the Zandians' house was in self-defense, so only Hazard will be disqualified from the Olympics. Mr. Tompkins asks if he's done enough to ensure his little girl can live again, and the Baron holds up a human fetus, saying, "We shall see ... which way the tide turns."

This was an odd issue. After last issue, I assumed we'd get a fun, light-hearted story showing the villains genuinely wanting to compete in the Olympics, but being unable to prevent themselves from cheating. Instead, we find out this whole scandal is to serve a new, mysterious and super creepy villain named the Baron. And that just feels disappointingly mundane. I know this is a paradoxical statement, but all comic books suffer from an abundance of convoluted villain plots, and I was hoping that Young Justice would provide us another reprieve from that. Oh well. There were still some fun moments throughout. But I am surprised that Peter David completely missed out on a joke that had the perfect setup. Remember when Bart thought he could read lips and was horrible at it? In this issue, they needed someone to read lips. Why didn't we get just one panel of Bart offering to do it, then being humorously shot down?

Apparently Todd Nauck took this issue off to get married, which is a reasonable excuse. However, the art we ended up with was a mess. I'm really tired of Eric Battle now. His work seems to have grown worse with each subsequent issue we've covered. The biggest problem here were the action scenes. I could never tell what was going on. Plus, all the characters had a couple of moments where they looked really ugly. I think Battle got a little stretched out having to do this issue immediately after Impulse #64.

The letters to the editor begins with Keith Dallas, of Vancouver, British Columbia, saying that Impulse should know that Robin is "Timmy Drake" because he met him way back in Robin Plus Impulse. Keith also asks what happened to the gift Impulse requested in Young Justice #2. Eddie Berganza explains that Bart didn't figure out Robin's secret identity because he doesn't have an attention span.

Grant and Andrew write that Lagoon Boy needs to be a Young Justice regular, as well as the rest of the New Young Justice team. They also believe Robin's identity should be easy to figure out based on the events in No Man's Land.

Russ Anderson says that Sins of Youth was a lot better than he expected. He loved the humor, the connection to the Superboy series, and the development of the various relationships on the team: Impulse and Arrowette, Robin and Secret, and Superboy and Wonder Girl. Russ also hopes to see more Old Justice in the future. Berganza says that Sins of Youth was originally meant to only link Young Justice to Robin, Impulse and Superboy, but after David developed the storyline with Karl Kesel, it grew into the DC-wide event it was. Ironically, I think Sins of Youth didn't connect to Robin and Impulse nearly as well as it did to Superboy.

The new ads for this issue is by far the most annoying advertisement I've seen in a comic book. Right in the middle of the book is eight pages of slick paper, rudely interrupting the fight between Superboy and Merlyn. Four of these pages are the DC Comics Young Heroes Fall Fashion 2000 by Heather Elizaldi, Paul Pope and Lee Loughridge. It tries to be like a comic book ... I guess ... but it mostly just tells you what's in style, such as this gem: "Pants are slimming down and are also trimmed with leather, furry fabrics and metallic hardware."

Great as press-on nails. Rice Krispies Treats.

L2 Jeans.

Are you getting enough? Six Flags.


Krypton is dead — but its greatest city lives on! The Bottle City of Kandor.

Up next is Mercury Falling Part Four in Impulse #65.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Green Lantern: Circle of Fire #1

Darkness Visible

Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Pencilled by Norm Breyfogle
Inked by John Lowe, Ray Kryssing, Steve Bird, John Nyberg and Keith Aiken
Lettered by Sean Konot
Colored by Glenn Whitmore
Separated by Jamison
Asst Editor Frank Berrios
Editor Matt Idelson

Our cover shows Green Lantern flying in front of the main villain of this event, Oblivion. It's not a particularly striking image. Oblivion is too obscure to appear imposing, and Green Lantern is too wonky to appear heroic. The good news, though, is that the story inside the cover is quite interesting. The bad news is that Impulse has nothing to do with said story.

So anyway, our story begin with the incredibly large, seemingly invincible Oblivion attacking the planet Rann. He tells that planet's hero Adam Strange to warn Earth that he's coming for them next. So the injured Adam Strange contacts the JLA, who go off into space to investigate with Superman, Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Plastic Man, Flash and Green Lantern. Kyle Rayner is shocked to see that Oblivion is exactly like a comic book super villain he created when he was 7 years old.

The JLA quickly learn they're no match against Oblivion, so Superman sends Green Lantern back to Earth to gather reinforcements. On the way, Lantern runs into the Spectre, who offers no help, but delivers a cryptic warning of Kyle going to be betrayed by someone close to him. After Kyle leaves, we see that Spectre is actually the deceased Hal Jordan. When Green Lantern arrives at the JLA Watchtower, he asks Oracle to round up the Titans, the JSA and even Young Justice. But Oracle says everyone is busy fighting back a massive crime wave, since word apparently got out that the JLA has left the planet.

And from Oracle's computer screens, we see she is monitoring Impulse, Captain Marvel, the Titans, Beast Boy, Robin and Jay Garrick. Sadly, we don't see exactly who these heroes are fighting. And even sadder still, that is all the Impulse in this issue. Anyway, Oracle does manage to send Power Girl to help Green Lantern, who forms a team with Adam Strange, Firestorm, Atom and a handful of other Green Lanterns from the past, future and alternate worlds, who unexpectedly answered Kyle's plea for help.

Like I said, this is a really interesting story. A ton of characters are in play, involved in a really neat mystery surrounding a huge villain. Ironically, even though Impulse has nothing to do with the main story, the epilogue of Circle of Fire will play out in two issues of Impulse. Go figure.

As to be expected, there aren't any letters to the editor. So let's check out the new ads:

Crime created him. Justice drives him. We immortalized him. 200 figures. 1 Batman. From Hasbro.

Where do gods go when they die? JLA: Heaven's Ladder. A spectacular, oversized graphic novel by Mark Waid, Bryan Hitch, and Paul Neary.

To all who would do evil, they are judge, jury and executioner. And the world doesn't even know they exist. JLA: The Secret Society of Super-Heroes. An Elseworlds tale by Howard Chaikin, David Tischman, Mike McKone, and Jimmy Palmiotti. We will be covering this as it includes an alternate version of Bart Allen.

His greatest battle takes place within himself ... Batman: Ego.

From a lifeless body of clay ... a mighty Amazon warrior! Wonder Woman statue.

New Tropical Tremor increases lunchtime trading power by 300%. Tang.

Next time, we'll return to the Olympics in Young Justice #24.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Impulse #64

Virtual Heroes – Mercury Falling Part 3

Todd Dezago – Writer
Eric Battle – Guest Penciller
John Stokes & Prentis Rollins – Inkers
Janice Chiang – Letterer
Rick Taylor – Colors
Jamison – Separations
L.A. Williams – Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid & Mike Wieringo

Ethan Van Sciver, Wayne Faucher, and Patrick Martin racked up the high score on this issue's cover! And I am so happy that we get an homage to Nintendo 64 with Impulse #64. He's the most video game-crazy superhero of all time, so it's only fitting that he'd get to play off one of the of the biggest video game systems of the time, and it's annoying propensity to include the number 64 in about a third of its titles. The cover itself is very fun, showing Impulse and a weird green guy hanging from a rope while firing a big laser gun, about to be eaten by a rather weird-looking dinosaur. The background lists the scores for each explosion, and is rendered in a fun pixel effect. But I'm glad the whole thing wasn't pixelated, since that could have turned out poorly. Now, let's find out what this has to do with Mercury Falling.

Our story begins with Bart waking up to a strange world full of mythical creatures, unusual colors and the weird green guy from the cover.

Bart recognizes the green guy as his old friend, Dox. Bart gives Dox a big hug, saying he's missed him, but Dox says they were together yesterday, so Bart must have been having a wild dream and is just slow to wake up this morning. Dox reminds Bart that they're on a mission to save the prince, even though Bart feels he's no hero. As he breakfasts off some blue fruit from a tree, we notice that his clothes are different in almost every panel.

Bart and Dox are suddenly attacked by some Skybots sent by the Dark Wizard. They both manage to avoid the laser blasts, but Dox is surprised that Bart still doesn't seem to remember any of this. So he kindly reminds him that the Dark Wizard is protecting his castle with a Time-Spasm, which has brought out monsters from the past, present and future. Bart says he remembers Dox and having had adventures with him in the past, but he still feels like he's been away for a while. Bart comes across a mirror that has a very sinister-looking reflection in it. Bart tries to ask Dox about this, but they're suddenly attacked by a big blue Tyrannosaurus rex.

Our young hero runs away as fast as he can, or so he says, since it doesn't seem like he's running any faster than anyone else would. Eventually Bart and Dox are chased off a cliff by the T-rex, who stops and wonders aloud what he was supposed to tell that kid. Bart falls into a river, but emerges unharmed. He asks Dox why he didn't fly them off the cliff, and Dox explains that he can only hover a little bit over solid objects. Bart and Dox then arrive at a village full of tons of odd people — blue elves, a snowman, Frankenstein's monster and Dracula, one of the green veggie kids from Sir Real's virtual reality, and even Roland is there. Everybody praises Bart as a hero, much to his astonishment.

One old blue elf announces himself as the Teller, and he tells Bart the history of their kingdom of Nosirp. They were ruled by a good king, but he eventually fell ill and was on death's doorstep (in the Teller's story, death is represented by the Black Flash). The prince was reluctantly put in command, but the Dark Wizard seized on this moment of weakness to kidnap the prince and demand the king surrender his kingdom to him. The Teller says that all this was foretold in the legends long ago. But the legends also spoke of a hero with great hair and big feet.

This convinces Bart that he really is a hero, and he enthusiastically launches into the quest to save the prince, journeying through various levels of great peril. Bart began the day in pajamas, robes and loincloths, then transitioned to more ordinary clothes and sports jerseys. But now his clothes resemble the outfits of Indiana Jones and Adam Strange. At one point, Bart is grabbed by a giant robot, and he cries out, "Dox! I'm got!" So Dox frees him by tricking some spaceships into destroying the robot's head. Bart tells Dox that he loves having adventures with him and he never wants to leave. But the friends' sweet moment is interrupted by the return of the blue T-rex. Bart and Dox quickly escape to a nearby cave before the dinosaur can deliver his message. Too big to fit inside, the T-rex moans that he's going to be in so much trouble.

Bart and Dox finds themselves in Crystal Quarry, surrounded by angry-looking reflections of Bart. Suddenly, all the reflections come to life, and Bart and Dox are attacked by an endless horde of glass "Barts" all wearing one of Bart's previous outfits from this adventure. Bart is so preoccupied with this army, he doesn't notice the giant reflection of Inertia looming over him. Finally, Bart manages to take out all the glass clones by grabbing the Adam Strange one's laser gun and blasting its laser off all the crystals in the cave, shattering everything in sight.

Sometime later, Bart and Dox finally make it to the castle and down into its dungeon. But Bart is shocked to see the prison is nothing more than a bed in the middle of the room, with the prince fast asleep on it under a headboard of the Flash logo. Bart rushes over to the bed, and is even more surprised to see the prince looks just like him. He asks where the Dark Wizard is, and the prince says there is wizard. So Bart asks who's holding the prince here, but the prince answers with, "I think the question, Bart ... is who's holding you here?" Bart claims that no one's holding him here, since this is where he lives. The blue T-rex has finally caught up to Bart, and he asks Bart if he's sure this is where he's supposed to be.

The prince asks Bart how long he's been here, and Bart says he's been here his whole life. He and Dox grew up together because Bart was placed in here because he was aging so fast. Bart then starts to say he later went to live with someone else, but he can't quite complete the thought. The prince begins to fade away, telling Bart once again that he has to think about who's holding him here. Once the prince is gone, Bart asks Dox if he knows anything, but he only remembers having adventures with Bart. Dox does, however, ask Bart if he remembers anything else.

Bart struggles with this for a moment, insisting that he has always been here with Dox, and they came here to save the prince because the king is sick. Suddenly, Bart realizes that the king is Max Mercury being attended to by Dr. Morlo but with the Black Flash looming over him. Bart begins shouting that he has to get out of here to save Max and lightning begins to surround him. Dox reminds Bart of the reflection in the Crystal Quarry, and Bart finally puts it all together, shouting out Inertia's name as he puts on his Impulse uniform.

Once Bart becomes Impulse, the whole world begins shaking in what Dox describes as a reality quake. He says now that the dreamer, Bart, realizes he's in a virtual reality program, everything has begun to break down and the program has created a black hole to suck down everything that's not real. Impulse realizes this means Dox, as well, and he grabs onto his buddy's hand, promising to not let go. Dox tells him to let go since he's just make-believe, but Bart refuses. The poor kid begins crying and screaming that he won't choose between his best friend and the real world. Dox pleads with Bart to go save Max, but Bart decides to save both. Using his super speed, Bart rescues Dox from the black hole and leads him into the bright light of reality.

Bart wakes up on a bed with a blanket on his lap. He turns to tell Dox that he knew he could save him, but Dox isn't there. Bart realizes that Dox was right all along, and he sheds a final tear for his friend.

But Bart doesn't allow himself to be consumed by grief. He hops off the bed and explores his surroundings, running into Craydl, which confirmed his suspicion that he was in Inertia's lab the whole time. Craydl is shocked to see Impulse awake, saying that Inertia had claimed Bart would never want to leave the VR world. Bart instantly breaks down Craydl into a pile of goo, saying he doesn't have time to dance with him. Impulse immediately begins his journey home, saying Inertia has made a big mistake, and if he's done anything to hurt Max ...

It's Inertia! Of course, you probably already knew that since you've either read this story before, or you put the clues together while we were going along. I was a bit slow to this the first time I read Mercury Falling because I hadn't previously read Inertia's first appearance. So I had no idea who the character was or anything, and it was a huge surprise to me! Anyway, this issue was quite a bit of fun. Finally, after 64 issues, we got to see what life was like for Bart in the virtual reality world. I'm really surprised that Mark Waid never thought to show us this world. Regardless, I am very happy with what we got here. Just pure wackiness, giving us the opportunity to see Bart in tons of different costumes fighting dinosaurs, robots and more. The character of Dox is an extremely odd character. He's practically impossible to describe, and he really came out of nowhere. Since we never had any description of Bart's VR life, we never had a mention of Dox before. But I quickly grew to love his friendship with Bart, and I was surprised at how emotional I got at the end, where Dox essentially died in Bart's arms, despite his best efforts to save him.

Sadly, I do have to complain about the art in this issue. Ethan Van Sciver took four issues off, returned for two, and then had to take another break. I really wish he could have been as fast and consistent as Todd Nauck. Eric Battle's art isn't awful by any means, but it is a bit messy and inconsistent. But, if Van Sciver absolutely had to skip an issue of Mercury Falling, this was the right choice.

Impulsive Reactions begins with Bart Allen saying that he works at a comic shop and notices many people tend to skip the issues without Todd Dezago, and he urges the creators to have fewer fill-ins.

Michael Bregman, of Gan-Yavne, Israel, said he didn't have many expectations for Impulse #60 since it was done by fill-in creators. But Michael quickly fell in love with Dwayne McDuffie's funny and clever script, and Eric Battle's "classic Impulse artwork." Michael liked Pocket Pal and how Impulse beat him, and he's a big fan of Bart's puppy.

Terrance Griep Jr. initially thought Battle would be misplaced on Impulse, but he loved his work on the title. Terrance also says McDuffie always brings a verisimilitude to his characters that is often lost these days. But the real work, Terrance says, was done by the "mean genius" who brought these creators together.

Martin Gray says issue #60 was a wonderful way to celebrate five years, providing everything he wanted in an Impulse tale: clever use of super-speed, a fun villain, subplots and supporting characters all in a self-contained piece. Martin would like to see Pocket Pal again, perhaps accompanied by Chunk. He also liked McDuffie and Battle so much, he suggests they become the next regular creative team.

Sof' Boy said he was suffering from a massive headache, so he tried to relieve the pain by reading Impulse #60, which his friend have given him. Sof' Boy was laughing out loud from the second page on, and he hopes to see more of McDuffie and Battle.

Brett Wood, from Somewhere in Ohio, said he was supercharged to see Battle's artwork, which gave the issue the feel of a fast video game like Sonic the Hedgehog. He also loved how Impulse kept messing up Pocket Pal's name on purpose, showing that he really is a hyper, sometimes annoying young kid.

Kristian Greene, of Falls Church, Va., loved the humor and watching Bart emulate the actions of his greatest idol. Kristian felt that McDuffie and Battle twisted an entertaining story into a wonderful lesson.

La Tonya Raines, of Apex, N.C., loved the cover, the interactions between Ayana and Bart, and Pocket Pal, saying it was great to have a cool new black character.

Dragonfire loved the logos at the Talladega Super Speedway — Zesti-Cola, Soder Cola and LexCorp — sadly, no Wayne Industries.

Michael Hutchison, of Roseville, Minn., called issue #60 a humor-paced story with an interesting (if far-fetched) villain. He says he might like McDuffie more than Dezago. But Michael does complain about how this issue handled Max and Helen, saying they needed to have been more supportive of Bart.

Sonicblum, of Queens, N.Y., simply says Impulse #60 "had it going' on" and was a hilarious issue by the guest writer.

Angie de Blieck Jr., of North Haledon, N.J., noted that McDuffie made great use of Impulse's supporting characters — something other fill-in writers might try to gloss over. Angie says the big surprise was Battle's artwork, which is normally hard to look at in Aquaman, but was more natural and easy to follow here.

Kimberly Anne praised McDuffie for nailing Bart's personality, and says she's off to buy more Impulse and Wint-O-Greens.

Hasan Johnson correctly named L.A.'s quotes from BDP's By Any Means Necessary album and the movie Greased Lightning. Now for the new ads (if DC would have been on top of it, they would have made all the ads for the Nintendo 64):

Bomber Man 64: The Second Attack! Also for Game Boy Color.

Meet a parrot who won't settle for another lousy cracker. The Real Macaw.

Batman Beyond fruit snacks with a free CD Rom offer.

Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards with a crossword puzzle.

Bio Ploids for PCs. 10 PCs a day for 100 days.

The face of terror. Kirby 64 (again).

Next time, we'll begin comics with an October 2000 publishing date, starting with a very brief Impulse cameo in Green Lantern: Circle of Fire #1.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Young Justice #23

Down Under Where

Peter David Writer
Todd Nauck Penciller
Lary Stucker Inker
Ken Lopez Letters
Jason Wright Colors
Digital Chameleon Separations
Maureen McTigue First Alternate
Eddie Berganza Captain

This month's study of Arrowette and the mysterious Empress is by Mr. Nauck and the Mr. Terry Austin with the colors of WildStorm FX. I've got to admit, this is the first Young Justice cover in a long time that just doesn't do anything for me. Arrowette and Empress look decent enough, and this cover perpetuates the theory that Arrowette secretly is Empress, which certainly was a fun theory to throw around. But everybody in the middle looks really bored and out of it. And what are they supposed to be in, the Olympic rings? It just doesn't work for me. But hey, after 23-plus issues, it's understandable to have one or two that just doesn't click.

Our story begins with Wonder Girl screaming bloody murder. Turns out, she's just excited about Cissie's big news. But nobody else knows this, and they all come rushing in from various points in the Catskills resort to see what the emergency is. Superboy flies in, demonstrating that his powers have been restored by Cadmus (rather quickly, I'd say), and he also has a new outfit, going with a black T-shirt, blue jeans and red gloves.

Anyway, Cassie tells everybody there's no emergency, and she turns the floor over to Cissie, who says, "Well ... I'm on this team ... it's —" But Superboy interrupts her and begins cheering Cissie's return to their team. Impulse immediately throws up a banner that says "Welcome back Arrowette!" and he gives everybody party hats, noisemakers and confetti, explaining that he'd been keeping this stuff around for when Cissie finally came to her senses. But Cissie says she's not coming back to this team. After a brief moment of shock, Bart crushes his party hat, shakes his fist at the heavens and curses the Teen Titans. Cassie says it's not the Titans, so Superboy asks whether it's the JLA, JSA, the Outsiders or the Ravers (which he really hopes it's not). Those are all wrong, so Bart makes one last guess for the Creature Commandos, but Cissie finally tells them that she's on the U.S. archery team for the Summer Games in Australia.

Everybody congratulates Cissie on this accomplishment, and Cassie gives credit to Cissie's mom, Bonnie, and says she might have to rethink hating her now. Bart excitedly asks when they're going, but Robin says they're not going. Secret says they should because she didn't even know the U.S. archery team fought crime. Cissie tries to correct her, but Cassie interrupts, reminding Robin of how he told Cissie not to be a stranger. Superboy says the rest of them are going with or without Robin, but he should come because no one else can drive the Super-Cycle. So Robin finally gives in.

We then cut to the house of Donald Fite, where the A.P.E.S. agent is preparing to take a vacation with his teenage daughter, Anita. While they head off to Australia to watch the Olympics, Ishido Maad will housesit for his partner and record their favorite shows, Masterpiece Theatre and Xena. Once Donald and Anita are gone, Ishido says he needs to get a life.

We catch up to Cissie and Bonnie on the airplane headed to Australia, with Bonnie complaining about the Olympic committee making them ride coach instead of first class. Cissie says she won't let anything bother her, but then she's promptly smacked in the face by the chair in front of her. She tells the girl in front of her to stop hitting her, but she keeps doing it. Cissie angrily asks if the girl is deaf, and it turns out, she actually is. Cissie feels awful, and the girl, Natalie, is prompted by her father to apologize. Bonnie uses sign language to tell Natalie it's all right, and Cissie is shocked to see her mom knows sign language.

As they continue to talk, they quickly find out that Natalie is also on the archery team, ranked third right behind Cissie. (It's kind of odd that the archery team didn't meet up before getting on the plane, but whatever.) Natalie suddenly starts shouting and excitedly pointing out the window. A passenger yells at her for being too loud, and Bonnie chews him out for picking on a deaf girl. We then see what got Natalie so excited — Young Justice on the Super-Cycle flying right beside the airplane. Natalie's dad asks how the heroes are able to breathe at 30,000 feet in that open-air vehicle, and Cissie explains that a static bubble creates an air pocket around it. But then she realizes she put her foot in her mouth and hastily adds, "Uh ... so I've heard ..."

The passengers on the plane only saw Impulse, Secret, Superboy and Wonder Girl, as Robin had Secret create a "cloud cover" over himself. Once they're satisfied that Cissie saw them, they take off out of sight, and Secret comes off Robin. She asks if they can stay for the entire Olympics, but Robin says the hotel rooms are too expensive and all booked up anyway. Impulse says they could camp out again, and Robin agrees they can do that for one night only. He explains that some of them have secret identities that can't afford to disappear for too long without explanation. Robin makes sure everybody has their civilian clothes, and Bart starts to put his on right then and there, but Robin tells him he can wait until they land. Secret asks what she'll do, and Robin simply tells her he has it covered. As they approach the Olympic stadium, Bart says they should make that their new headquarters. Superboy sarcastically calls that a great plan, and Bart unsarcastically thanks him for the comment.

Back on the plane, our young archers notice a bit of a commotion up in first class. Turns out, it's the No. 1 archer in America, Tina Thomas, a former movie star who has a following of reporters and photographers. Cissie and Natalie sneak up to take a peek at their teammate, and Cissie is disgusted by Tina's immodest clothing. Tina spots the girls and makes a grand gesture of including them in her interview, but she still makes it all about herself. Bonnie steps in and lectures Tina on being a glory-hound. She says Cissie and Natalie are using their skills to represent America and the serve the greater good. Cissie's proud of her mom, until she obsesses over making sure the press has her name right and smugly adds that once they win the gold medal, they're going to whichever major Florida theme park wants them.

We then head to the Australia Games Council Headquarters, where the committee is objecting the inclusion of a country, saying it would turn the games into a debacle. The dark, shadowy representatives of the country say no protest was raised when they applied and the committee only began to object when their delegates arrived last night. The committee continues to protest, saying they didn't realize this country would be sending such delegates, but the dark figures, the Brain and Monsieur Mallah, basically say it's too late now, and they and their people are going to compete in the Olympics.

Cissie and Natalie get set up in their dorms at the Olympic Village, and Natalie, who can read lips, asks Cissie how she's able to excel at archery while being able to hear. Cissie says she just concentrates and focus. Natalie explains that since she can't hear anything, it's just her and the target, and the rest of the world can go hang. Cissie smiles and says she has often wanted the rest of the world to go hang.

We then meet up with a familiar face, Ace Atchinson, who is enjoying a new high after his incredible coverage of the Sins of Youth event. And it doesn't take Ace long to score his first scoop of the Olympics. Down by the archery park, Ace spots Bonnie yelling at someone who appears to be a super-villain. Ace's hunches are right, although he doesn't know the name of said villain is Merlyn. (Ace has never been too good with names in the superhero/villain community.)

Finally, the Opening Ceremony begins, and the heroes of Young Justice somehow managed to score some great seats in the stadium. Bart asks Robin why he's dyed his hair brown and is wearing sunglasses, and Robin says even though he's more relaxed with his secret identity among his friends, out in the public, he never knows who he's going to run into. Kon mocks Robin for being paranoid, but right on cue, Donald Fite arrives and instantly recognizes Superboy, and he quickly identifies Impulse by the hair. Superboy asks Fite to leave them alone for once, but the agent assures them he's on vacation here with his daughter. He introduces Anita to Young Justice, the bane of his existence, Wonder Girl, Superboy, Impulse, and, he presumes, Robin, the suburban legend. Our heroes all say hi, Bart compliments Anita on her braids, and Robin corrects Fite, saying he's an urban legend.

Somebody bumps into Anita and she drops her duffle bag on Cassie's lap. Cassie notes an odd tube rattling in the bag, and Anita hastily pulls the bag away from her, claiming the tube is her medication. Surprised by this behavior, Cassie recommends Anita take some of her medication now. Fite then asks Robin where their smoky friend is, and Robin says he has no idea who Fite is referring to, while he holds the binoculars Secret is hiding in. Cassie then thinks Anita looks familiar, but Anita staunchly says they've never met before.

The United States athletes then march into the stadium, and Bart says he couldn't be happier if it was him out there, and Cassie says she feels the same way. Fite asks the kids if they know someone on the team, but they all turn around and shout, "No!!!" Anita asks her dad if they can leave, but he says they still have a few more countries to go through followed by the lighting of the torch. The final country is then announced, the Republic of Zandia, which shocks Fite and Robin. None of the others have ever heard of Zandia, and Robin explains that Nightwing gave him the Titans file on it, and Zandia is a country populated entirely with criminals. (Note: Robin, Impulse and Superboy did visit Zandia in The Titans #12, but that Superboy was likely Match in disguise, which explains why Superboy doesn't know what Zandia is. And Impulse doesn't know what Zandia is because he's Impulse.)

Kon asks Robin if he's sure about Zandians being criminals, and Bart points out the delegates when they come into view. Sure enough, they're a bunch of minor super villains wearing orange and purple jumpsuits, led by Monsieur Mallah and the Brain. Mallah asks, "So tell me, Brain ... what are we going to do today?" Brain responds: "Same thing we do every day, Mallah ... try to take over the world!" Robin tells Kon he's pretty sure he's right, and Bart imagines the Joker with 17 Olympic medals around his neck. (Note: The Joker is not actually with the Zandians, although that would have been cool!)

Young Justice is still technically on vacation in their temporary headquarters in New York's Catskill Mountains (I wonder if New Young Justice is still together), but we're definitely back in the groove of things. Peter David and Todd Nauck are back on full-time duties, and the series is moving on to the next big story — finding out what the heck's going on with Arrowette and Empress. I love the exotic setting of this story that also ties in directly to real-world events. Of course, it's very frustrating that DC was never allowed to use the word "Olympics," but we all know what they mean by the "Summer Games." It also makes perfect sense for Arrowette to participate — she doesn't have any superpowers and is no longer a superhero, so there's no cheating going on here. And it is only natural that a country of super villains would force their way into the Games to try to cause trouble.

Impulse was great as usual this issue. Preparing all those party supplies for Arrowette was a genuinely sweet gesture. And Bart's hatred of the Teen Titans is somewhat justified. He was basically kicked off the New Titans when they went up into space and disbanded before returning to Earth. He later attempted to try out for the next group of Teen Titans, but was forbidden by Max. So I can understand Bart holding the smallest sense of a grudge against them — if Bart is capable of holding grudges.

The letters to the editor begin with Brian Sawtelle, of Bangor, Maine, saying Young Justice is the best comic series he's read in 13 years because of its humor and the self-discovery the heroes are going through. Brian ponders on the relationship between Robin and Secret and Spoiler and Arrowette, then he asks what the status of the Young Justice cave is, since it looked pretty bad in some issues, but suddenly seemed fine in others. Most importantly, Brian asks what Bart wanted from Sheik Ali Ben Styn "waaaaaay back" in Young Justice #2. Eddie Berganza says work is still being done on the cave, which is why the team hasn't returned there yet (even though it looked fine enough for New Young Justice), and he promises we'll see Impulse's gift in just a couple of issues.

Arief Leuvenardi, of Brisbane, Australia, loved the pun of Young Justice blowing George Washington's nose on Mount Rushmore.

Mary is very sad by the decision to replace Arrowette with Empress, calling Empress brash and mean, while praising Arrowette for her ability to take down enemies without superpowers or a special suit. Now for the new ads:

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Who dealt this madness? Superman Arkham.

Up next is Mercury Falling Part 3 in Impulse #64.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Flash #164

Lightning in a Bottle

Geoff Johns Writer
Angel Unzueta Penciller
Doug Hazlewood Inker
Gaspar Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
Joey Cavalieri Editor

We have a new creative team on The Flash, but are keeping to same practice of having a different artist do the covers. Luckily, the subpar Steve Lightle was traded in for the far superior Brian Bolland. This cover is a direct scene from the story, showing that not only is Flash being arrested, but he has also somehow been forgotten by the world.

Our story begins with a haunting image of Flash falling down into darkness, surrounded by skulls, lurking evil policemen, and some playing cards representing the Flash family. Jay Garrick is the Ace, Barry allen the King, Jesse Quick the Queen, Wally West the Jack and, naturally, Impulse is the Joker.

And that's all the Impulse we get in this issue. And to make matters even worse, that's the last we'll see of Impulse in The Flash for about two years. Geoff Johns seemed more focused on building up the world around Wally than writing stories involving the entire Flash family. And that's fine, it just means I'm going to miss including regular issues of The Flash in this blog.

Anyway, this issue does give us an idea of why Flash is unable to help Max Mercury in the pages of Impulse, but no questions are answered here. Wally wakes up imprisoned in a strange world where nobody know who he is, Heat Wave is a cop, Captain Cold appears to be a hero, Aquaman and many of the classic Rogues are dead, and not only is Barry Allen alive, but he hasn't even become the Flash yet. It's all very wild and confusing, and we'll never find out what's really going on here, since this story does not include Impulse.

But next time we will cover a story that involves Impulse in Young Justice #23.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Green Lantern #128

One in a Million

Jay Faerber – Writer
Gus Vazquez – Penciller
Andy Smith – Inker
W. Moose Baumann – Colorist
Sean Konot – Letterer
Frank Berrios – Assistant
Bob Schreck – Editor

Our cover shows Green Lantern down on the ground, surrounded by random thugs wearing Rocket Red-like armor, and one of them holding Green Lantern's ring. I don't know how Kyle is able to keep his costume on without his ring on his finger, but that's how they do it in the issue, as well. Anyway, this is a rather bleak and frightening cover, showing a superhero robbed of his one source of power. I just wish his ring was in the hands of someone we actually knew and feared.

Our story actually takes a much more light-hearted tone than the cover suggests. We open with Kyle Rayner and Roy Harper in the Warriors restaurant, with Roy showing off his archery skills in front of a girl by placing an apple on top of Kyle's head. Roy pretends to get distracted right as he fires the arrow, which freaks Kyle out, even though the arrow perfectly split the apple. After Roy gets the girl's number, he and Kyle catch up over a game of darts, reminiscing of their brief time together on the New Titans.

And that's all we get of Impulse in this issue — a flashback that shows him wearing the wrong kind of gloves. Although, the use of these gloves is interesting here, since it was in Impulse's first New Titans appearance where he was first shown (incorrectly) to wear full-fingered gloves to create a bit of a fake-out that Wally was going to join the team. Anyway, it was fun to see all these old friends once again. But now they've all gone their separate ways and pretty much have nothing to do with Impulse anymore. It's kind of sad, but Young Justice is exponentially better than New Titans was at the end of it's run.

Oh, I guess I should tell you how this issue ends. Well, Arsenal and Green Lantern get a call of some Quraci terrorists who have taken a bunch of hostages. During the course of the battle, Green Lantern loses his ring, and is forced to save the day with Arsenal's bow and arrow. To his and Arsenal's surprise, Lantern makes the one-in-a-million shot, and the two of them return to Warriors to laugh about it with Guy Gardner.

So yeah, this was a pretty fun, easy-going issue, which is always nice to have from time to time. And I do like to see that some people still do remember that brief and forgettable run of New Titans with Damage, Impulse, Mirage, Supergirl, Terra, Jarras Minion, Arsenal, Darkstar and Green Lantern.

Next time, we'll have another very quick Impulse cameo in The Flash #164.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Impulse #63

Mercury Fallin Part 2: Training!

Todd Dezago Writer
Ethan Van Sciver Penciller
John Stokes Inker
Janice Chiang Letterer
Rick Taylor Colorist
Jamison Separations
L.A. Williams Editor
Impulse created by Waid & Wieringo

Cover by Ethan Van Sciver, Wayne Faucher, and Patrick Martin. This is a pretty awesome cover. Impulse looks simply fantastic. Even though he still has ridiculously big feet, and goofy big hair, Van Sciver somehow found a way to make him look focused, cool, angry and even a little bit dangerous. This is a new attitude for Impulse, which is exactly what this issue is all about — as well as the Fog Prince, ominously looming in the background, and the continued efforts by Morlo to save Max.

Our story begins with a very focused and serious Impulse running through Alberta, Canada. He barely breaks stride to save a snowshoer from an avalanche and doesn't even wait around to hear the man thank him.

At home, Bart shocks Helen by not only hanging up his jacket, but cleaning his room and doing his homework without even being asked. Helen overcomes her shock and praises herself for being able to teach the boy how to be responsible — just as she bet Max back in Impulse #52. The next day at school, Bart earns his first-ever A+ in social studies, much to the surprise of his teacher, Mr. Daniels. All of Bart's friends are thrilled for his success, and he explains to them that he aced the test by simply taking the time to consider the possibilities of each multiple choice question and then choose the best answer. But Preston and Wade laugh off Bart's response as an attempt to impersonate Mr. Snodgrass.

After school, Bart throws on his Impulse uniform and immediately rushes to Dr. Morlo's lab, where Max is laid out on a table just like on the cover. Sadly, Morlo does not have good news for Bart, reporting that Max's condition continues to deteriorate at an alarming rate. Morlo explains that when Max was shot on Halloween, then attacked by Kalibak on the Fourth of July, a chain reaction was set off in his body, which ultimately led to him finally losing connection to the Speed Force. (Quick note: Bart's test was dated June 2, 2000, which means the Kalibak attack happened almost one year ago.)

Max gets up from the table and tells Morlo and Bart to stop planning his funeral. Bart rushes over to help Max, and he instinctively turns Bart away. But he sees the look on Bart's face and he thanks the boy for his help, and assures him that everything's going to be all right. Morlo then introduces Bart to the next test that he and Max have devised to make sure Bart can safely take Max to the Speed Force. In place of the gyro-sphere, which the mudbug destroyed, Morlo has set up a big ring in the floor for Bart to run around. And this time, Bart has a dummy to represent Max, which he also needs to vibrate at the same frequency he's vibrating at. So Bart starts the test, repeatedly saying, "I can do it." Max and Morlo are both surprised by the improvement Bart has shown during these tests, and Morlo attributes this to Bart's love for Max.

Meanwhile, at the beautiful state capitol building in Montgomery, Alabama, the Fog Prince makes his triumphant return. The teenage criminal has upped his game since his last attempt at stealing an action figure. He has now created a bunch of fog monsters to hold all the government workers and tourists hostage. This includes Governor Don Siegelman, who actually was the governor of Alabama at the time. (Currently, Siegelman is in jail for bribery, conspiracy and obstruction. Awkward.) The Fog Prince explains to the governor that he's doing this to attract the attention of Impulse, so that when the speedster arrives, he can exact revenge for being humiliated in their previous encounter.

Some 160 miles away in Manchester, Max is shocked by Bart's progress report from school, in which every single teacher is praising Bart for demonstrating remarkable improvement in behavior and attention over the past few weeks. (The report card lists Bart's name as Bartholomew Allen II. I still haven't seen anything mention a middle name for Bart.) Helen tells Max that she thinks this sudden improvement in Bart is due to Max's condition. (Even though Max told Bart not to tell Helen, it seems like Max did tell her in private.) She believes that in Bart's mind, if he accomplishes everything that Max has been trying to teach him, then that might keep Max from dying. Helen then has a tender heart-to-heart with her father, telling him that she always thought there'd be more time for her to fully express her love to him. With tears in their eyes, they share an emotional hug.

Bart is hanging with his friends and his dog just outside the window, and he sees this tender scene, which momentarily distracts him. Mike calls Bart back to the group, and Bart says he just has a lot on his mind lately. Wade, who claims to be an observant writer, says that Bart never has anything on his mind — he just does things without thinking, and that's what his friends love about him. Preston adds that while they're happy Bart's excelling at school now, they're worried that he's forgotten how to have fun. He asks what happened to that wild, impulsive Bart Allen they all know and love.

Bart sadly responds that his uncle is sick, probably with cancer, which is why he's been so quiet lately. Preston apologizes and Wade expresses remorse, and Bart thanks them. He then tries to pet his dog, but once again, the dog avoids him. Preston wonders if the dog is mad that Bart hasn't named him yet (I mean, he got the darn dog on Christmas, and it's already June and it still doesn't have a name!), but Bart says the dog just smells the ammonia he has on his hands from cleaning the floor earlier. Preston suggests they all head down to Comics Corral to pick up the new issue of the Afterlife Avenger, but Bart tells them to go ahead without him since he wants to stay with Max right now.

Everybody takes off, except for Carol, who insists on finding out what's really going on. So Bart throws on his Impulse uniform again and takes Carol with him to Morlo's lab. On the way there, Carol berates Bart for not telling her earlier about Max. She reminds him that she knows what it's like to lose a parent, but Bart coldly asks her to change the subject. So Carol brings up Bart's obvious lie about the ammonia and his dog. So Bart tells her that the dog was actually smelling slime-spore-stuff from the lobster-monster ... but he fails to mention that he battled the mudbug several weeks ago.

Morlo is initially against the sudden arrival of Carol, but Max vouches her, saying she knows and keeps the family's secrets. Carol tells Max she's so sorry to learn of his condition, but Max tells her to cheer up, saying they think they're close to curing him. Morlo shares his optimism for once, citing Bart's amazing newfound control of his powers. But before they can get back to testing, they're interrupted by a special news report on the TV. Dave Trimble of WGBS News reports that the Fog Prince has taken the governor hostage and has named only one demand: that Impulse come out to face him. Before Max can say anything, Bart zips off to Montgomery.

When Impulse arrives at the capitol building, he receives an earful from the Fog Prince, who chews him out for making him look stupid. The Fog Prince then sends a fog monster after Impulse, but the speedster quickly runs away. This only makes the Fog Prince angrier, so he decides to turn up his fog to show the "speedy little snot-rag" that he means business. But he finds out he's lost control of his fog monsters, which are suddenly evaporating, freeing the governor and all the other hostages. Impulse returns to calmly tell the Fog Prince that he got rid of the fog. The wannabe villain kind of goes ballistic and charges at Impulse. But he's taken out in one punch, chained up and left for the police.

Bart arrives back in Morlo's lab seconds later, explaining that since fog is created by humidity in the air, which is caused by warm front and cold front colliding, he used his speed to generate a warm front of air around the area to evaporate all the humidity. Morlo, Carol and Max are completely stunned by this highly scientific explanation coming from Bart, who simply says he was just thinking "What would the Flash do?" Morlo then prepares Bart's next test, while Max tells his ward he had no idea Bart knew so much about weather. Bart says he didn't either, and guesses that's he's learning now. Carol, however, doesn't seem too pleased by this.

This was a pretty awesome issue. The emotion is handled so well — now spilling over to Helen and Bart's friends. And I love the idea that this traumatic experience has brought out an unprecedented level of focus from Bart. But Dezago never let this story become too heavy with all this serious stuff, using the naturally goofy Fog Prince to supply most of the humor. Of course, the greatest aspect of this issue comes through a second reading after you've already finished the full Mercury Falling story. There's a twist here, that I won't spoil just yet, but there a lot of hints laid out in this issue. And I'm not too proud to admit I totally missed all these clues the first time I read this.

Impulsive Reactions begins with L.A. Williams thanking Governor Don Segilman, press secretary Carrie Kurlander, her aide Ashley Davis and assistant Jada Dawkins, photographer Jason Harris and Bob Kovachek of New Channel 13 in Albany, N.Y., for sharing his meteorological knowledge.

Mr. E. writes that it's cool to see a superhero based in the South as opposed to all the others in the Northeast or West Coast.

Joe Torcivia, of Westbury, N.Y., says Todd Dezago has done the best out of the other Impulse writers at realizing the "chaotic element" of Bart Allen and using it in innovative ways to defeat the Joker, "Silver Fog Jr." and "The Composite Young Justice-er." He likes the notion of the series taking place in a quiet town, free from regular appearances of supervillains. Case in point, Joe praises Impulse #59 for not feeling pressured to throw in a villain. Instead, it played out like a delightfully humorous Archie-like story.

Cheryl Hogan, of Queens, N.Y., loved how Bart went out of his way to cheer up Cissie, but she does wonder how Cissie was able to attend Bart's school for the day. L.A. says that she obtained a visitor pass.

Zach calls Impulse the funniest character in the DCU, and he says issue #59 displayed Bart's greatest traits. He hopes for appearances from Inertia, Flash and Young Justice, saying Bart's great on his own, but at his comical best when teamed with another hero.

Mart called issue #59 a pleasant read, but lamented the lack of conflict in the story. He also asks how Grandma Iris is doing after her ordeal with Inertia, and L.A. says she's fine, but still living in isolation.

James Ireland, of Flagstaff, Ariz., praises Dezago for utilizing diverse storytelling styles each month. While retaining the same exuberant, lighthearted feel, James says Dezago keeps things unpredictable by not using the same pacing and plotting techniques with every issue. James speaks at length about the relationship between Impulse and Arrowette, ultimately deciding that Arrowette needs to see more of Impulse's thoughtful side that is often held back by other writers for the sake of a few easy laughs. James also loved the Max Mercury story in Impulse #58, and asks for more Max.

Mike Kravanis said issue #59 reminded him a lot of Dawson's Creek, but strangely enough, he loved it. He said the issue captured teen life exactly the way he wished Legion of Super-Heroes would. Mike praised Anthony Castrillo's art, but says he's not ready to give up Ethan Van Sciver yet. He also asks for guest appearances from the Star-Spangled Kid, Mary Marvel and Inferno.

Latonya Raines, of Apex, N.C., complained that Cissie looked too old to be in junior high, but she did praise the fashion of all the girls in the book. She also thinks it would have been fun to have Roland try on the Impulse suit and be "big man on campus" for a while.

Sina Maria Follis, of Houston, knew exactly how the story was going to play out by page 4, but still enjoyed the issue all the same. Now for the new ads:

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If Jeff Gordon were a cereal, this is what he'd look like. Kellogg's Racing Apple Jacks.

Next time, we'll begin comics with a September 2000 publishing date, starting with a quick cameo in Green Lantern #128.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Young Justice #22

" ... The Best Intentions"

Story Todd Dezago
Art Todd Nauck & Bud La Rosa
Letters Clem Robins

Todd Nauck and Kevin Conrad with the colors of WildStorm FX give us a peek at a day in the lives of our heroes for this issue's cover. Still feeling the Sins of Youth hangover, this issue is comprised of four separate stories by guest writers and guest artists — except for the Impulse story, which (lucky for us) was drawn by Nauck. This cover does a good job of giving us a sense of what each story is about, and, naturally, the most interesting one involves our lovable speedster. Impulse is presenting Superboy with a large collection of superhero artifacts, including Wonder Woman's lasso, a lightsaber (?!), Green Lantern's power battery, Aquaman's trident, Hawkman's wings, 'Mazing Man's helmet, the H-Dial, some boomerangs, and a bunch of other stuff I'm sure I'm missing. And how about Secret showing a rare playful side?

Our first story focuses on Red Tornado, who has apparently been flying around aimlessly since Sins of Youth, contemplating his role as a father to his adopted daughter, Traya. The android comes across a playground, where he sees children that remind him of Robin, Superboy, Impulse, Wonder Girl and Secret. The girl that's like Secret is off crying by herself, so Red Tornado decides to intervene. The girl says she was hit by the boy who's like Impulse, so Red brings the boy over and asks him to apologize. The boy says he was just trying to play tag with the girl. With the misunderstanding cleared up, the kids run off and have fun, leaving Red Tornado feeling a lot better about actually being a father.

Interlude One: Bart gets an idea!

At the temporary headquarters of Young Justice in the Pennsylvania Poconos (it's supposed to be the New York Catskills, but whatever), Impulse and Secret are very worried about Superboy not having any powers anymore. So Bart gathers up all his comic books to try to find an inspiration for how he and Secret can get Superboy some new powers.

Secret wants to help, but she's not entirely sold on Bart's plan. Superboy then offers the two some leftover sushi, but Bart is horrified by the idea of eating raw fish (and I'm not sure if Secret even needs to eat). So Superboy heads off to update some files (whatever that means), and he tells Bart to stay out of trouble. Once he leaves, both Bart and Suzie agree that Kon does look sad, and they begin plotting in earnest.

Our second story puts Robin with Nightwing on a stakeout in Blüdhaven. This gives Robin some time to open up about his recent experience as an adult and the responsibility of being the leader of Young Justice. Robin still doesn't feel good about asking his friends to call him Alvin Draper instead of his real name, but Nightwing says it's probably a good idea to keep his secret identity away from Impulse, because if word got out that Tim Drake was Robin, then people could easily figure out Bruce Wayne was Batman. Nightwing admits that he even keeps his identity a secret from Jesse Quick on the Titans. They then take out the bad guy very quickly and easily, which helps Nightwing drive home his message that sometimes problems have a way of working themselves out.

Interlude Two: If you knew sushi ...

Bart begins his scheme by eliminating all the superhero origins that they can't replicate, such as being born on another planet, being bombarded by gamma rays or being a mutant. (Impulse notes that the mutants used to be pretty popular.) So Bart's first two attempts is to sneak some stuff into Superboy's food. Into Kon's drink, Bart slips some "super-soldier syrup," which he made from "just some .. stuff." And onto Kon's sushi roll, Bart places a spider.

However, Kon immediately spits out the soda when he drinks it and the spider when he bites into it. Secret, meanwhile, actually checks the issue of "Spider Fighter" and sees that not only is the spider supposed to bite the future hero instead of the other way around, but said spider is also supposed to be radioactive. Bart realizes she's right, and he wonders if that part's important.

Our third story features Cassie Sandsmark feeling the typical stress of a junior high student trying to be a superhero in her spare time. Not only are Cassie's grades slipping, but now she's been cast as the lead in the school play, and she doesn't know how she'll juggle all these demands on her time. Cassie's mom forbids her from meeting up with Impulse and Superboy that night, but she does allow her to train with Artemis (like we see on the cover). Like Robin and Nightwing, Cassie uses this opportunity to talk about her experience as an adult and try to figure out what she wants to do with her life. On her way home, Cassie comes across a car wreck with an infant trapped in the burning vehicle. She quickly changes to Wonder Girl, saves the day, and decides that's what she wants to do. The next day, she turns down the role in the play so she can spend more time as a superhero.

Interlude Three: Power playtime

Bart has now decided to replicate the accident that gave his grandpa Barry Allen super speed. He pours a bunch of chemicals into a bucket, connects a long string of jumper cables to a large generator, and tells Secret to hit the switch when he yells "Now!" Bart's thrilled that this plan will basically make two Impulses on the team, but Secret decides that's not a good thing. Bart, however, is completely oblivious to Secret's hesitancy, and he dumps all the chemicals on Superboy, wraps the jumper cables around him, and shouts "Now!" seven times.

Secret never turns on the generator, and Superboy eventually gets tired of Bart, so he trips him, grabs his hair and demands to know what's going on. Bart explains that they were just trying to get Superboy some new powers, and Kon tells him not to worry about it since Cadmus is already working on the problem. He asks Bart to stop trying, and Bart starts to agree, but then he wonders if he actually doused Superboy in the Plastic Man chemicals instead. So Bart jumps on Superboy's shoulders and starts pulling on his head, asking if he feels stretchy.

Now, even though Superboy doesn't have any powers anymore, he is still a lot bigger than Bart, so he easily flips the speedster off him and pins him to the ground. Kon threatens Bart with a piece of sushi, to which Bart screams, "No!! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! I hate it! I hate it! I don't want it! — I don't want any sushi!!" So Superboy lets Bart go, telling him once again to stop trying to get him new powers. Bart finally agrees for real, and once Kon's gone, Secret asks Bart what they do now. Bart says they first need to get rid of all the stuff he brought in for their backup plans, and we see a big stash of everything we saw on the cover plus more. One item of note is a Rocket Red armor suit that Jesse Quick was trapped in during Impulse #1,000,000.

This was a really nice issue. Not only were the Young Justice creators, Peter David and Todd Nauck, a bit burned out after Sins of Youth, but so were the actual characters of Young Justice. Robin and Wonder Girl understandably still have a lot to process after being turned into adults and back to teenagers again. And Impulse and Secret just desperately want things to return to normal, trying to help Superboy in their own innocent way. This was an issue of quiet reflection, spiced up by the beautifully hilarious interlude with Impulse. The heavy references to Marvel were great, as well as the large assortment of artifacts related to DC superheroes. But what most people remember this issue for is the incredible sushi scene. C'mon, Bart! Sushi's actually pretty good if you'd try it!

The letters to the editor begin with Miguel Maldonado, of Chicago, praising Young Justice #19. He's excited for Sins of Youth, and hopes to see Klarion more after the event. Miguel says he doesn't agree with Peter David's stance on gun control, but he supports David's right to express his views. He also encourages Young Justice to be more connected to other books in the DC Universe.

Peter Norbot, of Chicago, was also shocked to see Arrowette kissing Robin, feeling that Spoiler would be quite upset should she find out. Peter also points out the several references to Spider-Man in issue #16 and issue #18, and he even asks for a crossover with the web-head.

Jorge Ramos Dehais is still having a hard time accepting Arrowette's departure from the team, and he hopes she comes back some day. Now for the new ads:

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Megan's perfect world is about to pop! Stepsister from Planet Weird. A Disney Channel original movie.

The answers are out there. Wild Arms 2 for PlayStation.

Legend of the Dragoon for PlayStation.

Pasty complexion, funny accent, bad teeth. He'll feel right at home in London. MediEvil II for PlayStation.

Think twisted. Think fast. Micro Maniacs for PlayStation.

Hey, Kids! Comics! talks about Mark Waid's latest project, Silver Age #1 and the Silver Age 80-Page Giant as part of a larger event celebrating DC comics from the late '50s and '60s. The Flash is included in this, but not Impulse, obviously.

Blow your own bubble. Bubble Yum.

Rampage Through Time and Mortal Kombat Special Forces on PlayStation.

Collect Starting Lineup, and get with the pros.

Iron Soldier 3 fro PlayStation.

Up next is Mercury Falling Part Two in Impulse #63.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Impulse #62

A Question of Faith

The frenetic first chapter in the startling saga we had to call Mercury Falling
brought to you by
Todd Dezago -- Words
Ethan Van Sciver -- Pencils
Barbara Kaalberg -- Inks
Janice Chiang -- Letters
Rick Taylor -- Colors
L.A. Williams -- Speed Force
Waid & Wieringo -- Creators

Max can't hide the fact that this issue's cover, by Van Sciver, Faucher and Martin, is based on 1965's Detective Comics #345's cover by the legendary Carmine Infantino. That is a very famous cover that has been copied many times, and I think it works quite well for this story — it's all about Impulse trying to protect and save Max Mercury. It's a dark and serious cover for an unusually dark and serious Impulse story we'll be starting. But don't worry, there'll be plenty of room for humor here.

Our story begins in Dr. Morlo's lab, where the former mad scientist has set up a special gyro-sphere for Max to run in. Max has allowed Bart to come along with him for this testing, but he doesn't want Morlo to tell the boy the severity of his condition.

So Morlo quietly tells Max that he has lost his connection to the Speed Force, and now whenever he uses his super speed, Max is worsening his condition. Morlo hypothesizes that if they could get Max near the Speed Force, he might be able to reestablish his connection to it. Otherwise, Morlo thinks Max will only have two months to live at the most. Morlo asks if the Flash could take Max to the Speed Force, but Max says Wally's too busy lately (and an editor's note vaguely tells us to check out the current Flash issues). So Morlo suggests having Impulse do it, but Max staunchly refuses this, saying he could never jeopardize Bart's safety for his own purposes.

Frustrated, Morlo begins yelling at Max, telling him to stop playing the selfless hero for once, because he is dying. Bart overhears this, pictures himself standing at Max's grave, and in a panicked voice, demands to know if Max is really dying. Max struggles to answer him, so Bart sadly turns to the doctor. Morlo kindly explains the situation to Bart, adding in that Max is too proud to ask for help. Morlo asks Bart if he'd be willing to help Max, and Bart readily agrees, asking to start helping immediately.

So they put Bart in the gyro-sphere, and, per Morlo's calculations, he's instructed to vibrate his molecules at a certain frequency, while accelerating to 88 Morlomiles per second. (I don't know what a Morlomile is, but I do appreciate the Back to the Future nod.) Bart gives it his best shot, but he's simply unable to maintain the necessary frequency. Max tells Morlo that they can't ask Bart to do something he's simply incapable of doing, and Morlo sadly realizes Max is right. Bart keeps trying though, but after a while, Max gets him to stop by saying, "Bart. It's okay ..." Bart sadly comes out of the gyro-sphere and gives Max an emotional hug.

Morlo takes Max into the next room to discuss other possibilities, such as looking at ways to slow down the deterioration process. But Bart stays behind, and once the others have left, he says aloud, "I can do it ... I will do it." Demonstrating an unprecedented resolve, Bart rearranges Morlo's computer monitors so he can see them while in the sphere. He hops in, and actually does a really good job — getting up to 87 Morlomiles per second — before he notices that he left the sphere door open. Bart is shot out of the sphere and bounces around the lab like a pinball.

Once Bart stops bouncing, he gathers himself up to see that something he hit has unleashed a huge lobster monster in the lab. (It's this monster's shadow we saw on this cover and in last issue.) Morlo and Max hear the commotion and come running. Morlo explains that the monster, the mudbug, is from another dimension and Bart must have ruptured the containment chamber keeping it there. The mudbug is surprisingly fast, and it takes a swipe at Bart's head with its razor-sharp claws. Bart shouts, "Hey!! Watch it!! That's my hair!!! That's like my trademark or something ..."

The mudbug then takes a swipe at Max, and Bart is shocked to see Max is completely unable to run away. So Bart grabs Max and Morlo and safely places them in the gyro-sphere, while Morlo begs Bart not to hurt the mudbug. So Bart starts to think of the best way to battle this creature, while he tries to dodge its attacks. Bart figures he should do something about those claws, and he pictures placing rubber bands around them. But then this makes Bart think about cooking and eating the mudbug like a lobster, and he decides that's too much thinking.

And sure enough, that really was too much thinking, because it distracted Bart long enough for the mudbug to land a heavy blow on the speedster and send him flying into the wall. When Bart pulls himself up, he sees the mudbug has turned its attention back toward Max, and now has him in its claw, with only the shell of the sphere preventing Max from being sliced in half. But the sphere is cracking, and Max is in incredible pain. Bart slowly comes to his senses, processes the feelings of fear and love that come from seeing his father figure in peril, then charges at the mudbug, shouting, "Get your claws off him, you darned dirty lobster!!!" Bart hits the mudbug at incredible speed and manages to push it back through the inter-dimensional rift. Unfortunately, Bart falls into the rift right behind the monster.

Morlo and Max stare at the rift in disbelief for a moment. They each struggle to find the words to console each other, pointing out that Bart had returned to the sphere in another effort to pass the test. Suddenly, Impulse comes crashing out of the rift. He's a bit disoriented, but otherwise seems fine. Max gives him a big hug, and Morlo reports that the mudbug caused minor damage to his lab. He says he'll handle the cleanup, and sends Max and Bart home, telling Max to get plenty of rest. And once his guests are gone, Morlo seems genuinely sad to have lost his connection to the mudbug.

Bart carries Max home, and Max thanks him for all he did today. But Max asks Bart to keep all this a secret from Helen for now, and Bart agrees. He walks in the front door, sees Helen has Matt Ringer over, so he quickly changes out of his Impulse uniform before Helen's new boyfriend can notice. Bart's dog greets him with some suspicious sniffing and slight growling, and Helen asks what's wrong with him. Bart says he must be smelling the other dog he stopped to pet on the way home, and Max realizes that Bart is smoothly referring to the mudbug without revealing his secret identity to Matt. Helen then escorts her boyfriend home, and Max tells Bart that they're going to have to be more careful now with Matt hanging around more often. As the dog continues to growl at Bart, he says, "Yeah ... that's for sure ... !"

And so begins what is possibly the biggest event to occur exclusively in the pages of Impulse. And what a great way to start! This issue had tons of emotion, some great action and just enough humor to remind us all that this is still Impulse. One great aspect of this issue is that it's the culmination of a storyline that began nearly two years ago in Impulse #44. Max's health has been struggling for a long time now, and he's finally at the point where he can't keep it from Bart. And Bart's reaction to this bad news was so sweet and pure. He wants to do everything he can to help Max, and it breaks his heart that he's failed so far. And, of course, there's a whole other element woven into this story, but I'll save that surprise for when we get to it.

This issue marked the return of Ethan Van Sciver, who took off the past four issues, presumably to get a head start on Mercury Falling. Curiously, though, his usual inker, Prentis Rollins, was replaced by longtime Impulse inker Barbara Kaalberg. Whatever the reason for this, the end result was great. Van Sciver's level of detail and emotional expressions were sorely missed.

Impulse Reactions begins with Wes Wesovich confessing that he fell behind on the series during William Messner-Loebs' run, and he wasn't too impressed with Todd Dezago's new direction. But he was won over with issues #57 and #58, which he felt brought back a sense of the book's different generations.

Zenobia Simmons, of Jersey City, N.J., really enjoyed the day-in-a-life story for Max since it showed him as a real person with heartaches. Zenobia also likes the ongoing story of Max's injuries because it makes him three-dimensional.

Mart praises the fill-in team, especially for the Old West sequence. He also called the backup story "very refreshing," and specifically mentioned Janice Chiang for managing three very distinctive style of lettering in the comic.

Jeff Carter called issue #58 a fun "break" issue, praising Craig Rousseau's cover and the backup feature of Bart being sick. Jeff also laments the shrinking letters page in DC comics. L.A. says the length of the letter columns is beyond his control, but he assures readers that every letter sent to DC is read, even if it's not printed. Now for the new ads:

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Saving the world before bedtime! The Powerpuff Girls. Take home the action on video today!

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

Pokémon The First Movie. For the first time on television!

Next time, the Young Justice vacation continues in Young Justice #22.