Monday, December 11, 2017

JSA #54

Virtue, Vice & Pumpkin Pie

Geoff Johns Writer
Don Kramer Pencils
Keith Champagne Inks
John Kalisz Colors
Heroic Age Separations
Jared K Fletcher Letters
Stephen Wacker Assoc. Editor
Peter Tomasi Editor

Our cover by Carlos Pacheco shows the JSA and the JLA gathering around a table like a happy family for a Thanksgiving feast. And this isn't just a sentimental, fun holiday cover. This actually happens in this issue. With one exception: Wally West. I'll talk more about his conspicuous absence at the end.

Our story opens at the headquarters of the Justice Society of America in Manhattan, where the JSA and JLA have gathered together for the first time since the Virtue and Vice even that saw Despero and Johnny Sorrow nearly conquer the world. Everybody's in a good mood and excited to celebrate Thanksgiving, except for Batman, who spends the entire issue worrying that something bad will happen.

Representing the Flash family are Jay and Joan Garrick, Bart (still as Impulse) and the de-powered Jesse Chambers. Bart complains to Jay about having to wait so long to eat, noting he could quickly grab some KFC right now. (I love this joke, because in the future, Impulse will literally appear in a KFC comic.) Jay encourages Bart to try to socialize with the other heroes and warns him that he'll steal his speed if he doesn't slow down.

Bart and Jakeem Thunder find each other, and although they have met before, it was only briefly, so Bart needs to be reminded of Jakeem's name. Turns out they both live in Keystone City, but go to different high schools. Bart says his school "totally blows," which earns him a reprimand from Jay. So Bart improves his language, saying he doesn't like it. Jakeem actually swears when talking about his school, and when Jay yells at Jakeem, Bart gives him a thumbs up.

Eventually, dinner is served. Stargirl (formerly known as the Star-Spangled Kid) is upset at having to sit at the kids table with Bart and Jakeem, complaining that Captain Marvel is the only real kid in attendance. Bart and Jakeem don't make Courtney feel any better by bragging about being able to eat mashed potatoes through their nose.

Jay proposes a toast, but before anyone can begin eating, a blue and red alien suddenly teleport into the middle of the room, destroying the table and all the food. They announce themselves as Kulak the Sorcerer and the Warlock of Ys and claim they'll crush the Justice League and rule the world. But then they realize they're outnumbered 10-to-1 and don't stand a chance. With the villains defeated very quickly off screen, our heroes order pizza and Mr. Terrific allows Batman the satisfaction of saying he was right.

This was a nice, light-hearted comic, giving our heroes the rare chance to just hang out and relax. Bart goofing off with Jakeem was a natural pairing, although I feel Geoff Johns had both of them acting way too young. I don't think there are many 15-year-olds trying to eat mashed potatoes through their nose.

Now for the Wally business. The Flash #200 ended with Wally reporting on Bart having joined the Teen Titans and Jesse losing her powers, right before he makes a deal with the Spectre to have the world forget about the Flash. So this comic had to fall within a very narrow time frame after the conversation Wally had with Jay about Bart joining the Teen Titans, but before Bart spends his first day with the team, because he ended that night as Kid Flash. It's pretty weird, but it does almost, sort of work, continuity-wise. The ironic thing here is that Geoff Johns is the writer of all three books, so you'd think he would have made everything a bit clearer. Instead, it feels like he kind of painted himself into a corner with Wally's story.

Next time, we'll continue Bart's first day as Kid Flash in Teen Titans #5.

Year in Review: 2003

I was a sophomore in high school in 2002-03, and the big event for me that year was my marching band's trip to the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California, on New Years Day. I played trumpet in this 292-member band that went down the streets, blasting "Call of the Champions" — the theme song John Williams wrote for the 2002 Winter Olympics. We were still pretty excited by that event and wanted the world to know that we were from Utah.

In the world of film, Return of the King dominated in both the box office and at the award ceremonies. After becoming the second movie after Titanic to gross more than $1 billion, Return of the King then went on to win all 11 Oscars it was nominated for, including Best Picture. I loved this movie as much as anyone, but I still think some of those Academy Awards were given to make up for the previous Lord of the Rings films being snubbed.

Three other movies passed the $500 million mark — Finding Nemo, The Matrix Reloaded and Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. As for superheroes, Marvel came out with three films — Daredevil, X2 and Hulk. However, the only one of those worth watching was the X-Men sequel.

The year 2003 was not particularly kind to Bart Allen. Without the Impulse series, and Young Justice facing a quick cancellation, Bart only appeared in 20 issues this year — his lowest total since 1994, which wasn't even a full year. Bart helped Young Justice wrap up their business on Zandia and with Secret, before getting his butt kicked by Zoom and a Superman robot. As Young Justice collapsed around him, Bart eagerly jumped at the chance to join the new Teen Titans. But on his first day on the job, Deathstroke destroyed his knee. And so the year ended with Bart resolving to be less impulsive and become Kid Flash.

Since this is my 10th Year in Review post, I think it'll be fun to go back over the previous awards.

Best Issue

1994: Flash #92
1995: Impulse #6
1996: Impulse #10
1997: Impulse #24
1998: JLA: World Without Grown-Ups
1999: Impulse #50
2000: Impulse #66
2001: Young Justice #31
2002: Young Justice #45
2003: Young Justice #55

All the awards for 2003 were pretty tough for me. There were very few highlights for Impulse this year. The Blitz storyline in The Flash was memorable, but Impulse was just a bystander during it. I also considered Teen Titans #4, which showed Bart's transformation to Kid Flash, but I'm still not sure if I think that's a good thing. So that left me with the last five issues of Young Justice, as they were the most enjoyable for me from an art and story perspective.

Young Justice #55 wins the award to represent the conclusion of that wonderful series and Bart Allen's time as Impulse. The final issue wrapped up the Secret storyline that had been building throughout the entire series. And it wasn't our heroes' superpowers that brought down Secret, but the normal teenager Trim Drake. Darkseid gave Secret what he saw as the most severe punishment, but was actually a blessing to her. And then the whole thing ended with a fun cameo from Young Justice One Million.

Best Writer

1994: Mark Waid
1995: Mark Waid
1996: Mark Waid
1997: Mark Waid
1998: William Messner-Loebs
1999: Todd Dezago
2000: Todd Dezago
2001: Peter David
2002: Todd Dezago
2003: Peter David

This award only came down to Peter David, Judd Winick and Geoff Johns. Winick demonstrated a complete ignorance of Impulse and Young Justice. And Johns was wildly inconsistent with Bart. At times, he had Bart act like a little kid — thinking it's gross to see people kiss and begging to watch Saturday morning cartoons. Other times, Johns had him act like an annoying know-it-all, spouting off memorized passages from encyclopedias — before he read an entire library. I know that by nature teenagers are inconsistent, and that Bart is really only 3 years old. But I still did not like how Johns wrote the character during this year. Or how he acted like the entire series of Young Justice and Impulse didn't happen.

David didn't get to do a whole lot with Impulse this year, but he did make sure to have fun with him. Bart got to goof off with Superboy and Ray, before having a candid conversation about how he never fears for his own safety, just that of those close to him. Mostly, David wins this award for creating an environment where characters could have fun and goof off, yet still deal with serious issues.

Best Artist

1994: Mike Wieringo
1995: Humberto Ramos
1996: Humberto Ramos
1997: Humberto Ramos
1998: Craig Rousseau
1999: Todd Nauck
2000: Ethan Van Sciver
2001: Todd Nauck
2002: Carlo Barberi
2003: Todd Nauck

This was perhaps the easiest award to hand out. The only other people who drew Impulse in more than one comic book in 2003 were Alé Garza, Scott Kolins and Mike McKone. And I don't care for their styles at all. (Well, in Garza's case, it's more of an issue of execution, rather than style.) So Nauck was the obvious pick. Not only because of the crisp, clean and expressive way he drew Impulse, but because he was also able to masterfully create scenes of dozens of characters and still make his deadlines without ever compromising on quality.

Best Supporting Character

1994: Damage
1995: Max Mercury
1996: XS
1997: Carol Bucklen
1998: Superboy
1999: Max Mercury
2000: Max Mercury
2001: Carol Bucklen
2002: Max Mercury
2003: Jay Garrick

You'd think that with Max and Carol out of the picture, this would be a shoo-in for Superboy, the perennial runner-up. But sadly, we just didn't have enough time this year for Bart and Kon to get up to their usual hijinks. They did make a sales pitch to the team, and played a game of random trivia, but that was it. Superboy became too preoccupied with trying to woo Wonder Girl, and as soon as he joined the Teen Titans, the whole Lex Luthor DNA bombshell hit.

But throughout this turbulent time in Bart's life, there was one — and only one — person who consistently stood up for Bart. And that was Jay Garrick. In The Flash and Teen Titans, Wally seemed to go out of his way to belittle and demean Bart. Luckily, Jay was usually there to put in a good word about Bart. He recognizes Bart's potential, and, like a responsible guardian, is staying on top of Bart's homework. He's no Max, but he's the best Bart has right now.

Best Villain

1994: Psimon
1995: Kobra
1996: Savitar
1997: President Thawne
1998: Bedlam
1999: Inertia
2000: Inertia
2001: President Thawne
2002: Bedlam
2003: Deathstroke/Jericho

Bart didn't face too many villains this year. Agua Sin Gaaz and Lady Zand were part of a larger story focusing on Empress. Darkseid was involved in the Secret business, but nobody directly fought him. Indigo and the Superman robot were just freak accidents. And Zoom, while a compelling villain, was all about Wally, not Bart. So that leaves us with Deathstroke, who may or may not be under the control of his dead son, Jericho.

Much like Zoom, this villain believes, in his own twisted logic, that he is doing a good thing. If he can frighten the Teen Titans enough to disband, then he'll save the teenagers' lives down the road. But more significantly, Deathstroke directly caused more physical damage to Bart than any one villain. Prior to this, Bart's greatest injury was the death of his scout, but that was pretty much a result of the hostile environment on Apokolips more than anything else. With Deathstroke, he meticulously set up a trap, paralyzed Bart, then blew away a part of his leg. And later that same day, he severely damaged Cyborg and nearly killed Robin. It only took this Teen Titans team a few hours to develop one pretty nasty villain.

Well, that's it for 2003. Next time, we'll begin reviewing comics with a publication date of 2004, which will mostly be Teen Titans. But there will be a handful of cameos scattered here and there, as well as the first appearance of a Bart Allen on TV via the Smallville show. But first, we will be treated to one more sighting of Bart as Impulse in JSA #54.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Teen Titans/Outsiders Secret Files & Origins

A Day After ...

Judd Winick & Geoff Johns – Writers
Ivan Reis & Carlo Barberi – Pencillers
Marc Campos & Norm Rapmund – Inkers
Nick Napolitano – Letterer
Sno Cone – Colorist

Cover art by Tom Raney, Scott Hanna, Mike McKone and Lary Stucker, colored by Gina Going. Three different pencillers on one cover is a bad idea. This looks more like a collage than a single, unified image. But what really confuses me is the location. Are the Teen Titans and Outsiders at a dance club? And if so, why? Everything about this cover is just really perplexing and disappointing.

Our story begins with the conclusion of Graduation Day. Wonder Girl is walking away from Superboy and Robin, angrily telling them that they'll never learn enough as Young Justice. And Nightwing is stubbornly turning his back on Arsenal, declaring the Titans finished. Six weeks later, Dick is still mourning the loss of Donna Troy and is refusing to answer Roy's phone calls. So Roy decides to move on without Dick. He shaves his head, gets a new costume and starts making phone calls.

In San Francisco, Starfire and Beast Boy are flying around, unintentionally scaring jets, and discussing Cyborg's plan for a new Teen Titans. Kory is hesitant to accept a mentorship role, but Gar insists that there are a lot of kids out there who are different like them and need somewhere they can go to find themselves. Vic has four specifically in mind, with a few others that could be added if things work out. Starfire asks if they can really be the Titans without Nightwing and Donna. Beast Boy simply says, "We aren't all gone, Kory."

At Smallville High, Conner Kent has trouble remembering his locker combination and is lectured by a hall monitor for being late to class. When he's threatened with a phone call to his parents, Superboy laughs this off and flies away. Meanwhile, someone is sorting through some old equipment at an abandoned Cadmus facility, finding a hard drive labeled "Project Superboy."

In Gateway City, Cassie Sandsmark's high school is attacked by a griffin. She playfully battles the mythical beast, while several teachers urge the principal to contact Cassie's mother to discuss her future at Gateway High. Ares watches all this from a distance, feeling disappointed that Wonder Girl has so much power that no one has bothered to harness.

In Keystone City, Bart Allen is lounging on a baseball-shaped bean bag in his room, surrounded by a board game, several video games and leftover pizza. Bart is doing something unusual for him — making a phone call. He's called up the Themysciran Embassy to try to locate Cassie via Wonder Woman. But he has a hard time convincing the receptionist who he is, and Jay Garrick keeps interrupting. In the end, Bart decides it's a lost cause and gives up.

Jay then enters Bart's room, saying they need to talk about his low scores on his entrance tests to Keystone City High. Bart says he hates studying because it's boring, and he feels he doesn't need an education since he's going to be a full-time superhero when he grows up. Jay asks Bart if he doesn't need to know anything, to which Bart reminds him that he was already been taught everything he needs to know while in the virtual reality in the future. He can't stand learning from books, so he doesn't.

We catch up with Arsenal, who has visited a S.T.A.R. Labs facility to check on the progress of blue robot girl that indirectly caused the deaths of Omen and Troia. The scientists have taken to calling the robot Indigo and have placed her in a tube of green liquid, while she continues to repair herself. Cyborg, who still hasn't acquired new legs, is riding around in a floating golden wheelchair (exactly like Professor Xavier's in the '90s X-Men cartoon). Vic repeats his assertion that Indigo's attack on them was an accident. Roy agrees, asking that Indigo be fully repaired, reactivated and placed under his control.

In Gotham City, Robin is swinging around the rooftops with Nightwing, still talking about their failure from six weeks ago. Robin notes they've been ambushed before, but he wonders why they lost focus. He also notes that all of them have seen people die before, and they thought that would make them stronger, but it didn't. He tells Nightwing he knows he blames himself, just as he does. Yet Dick remains silent through all this. Tim finally asks what they're going to do now. Nightwing says he doesn't know, but whatever it is, they should do it alone.

This story did a fairly decent job of bridging the gap between Graduation Day and Teen Titans #1. I needed to see these characters spending some time grieving. The narrative as a whole is strengthened by realizing there was a six-week gap of inactivity before the new Teen Titans were gathered. Of course, I still have a hard time being satisfied. There still was no mention of Young Justice, the Ray, Empress, Snapper Carr or Red Tornado. One of the reasons Young Justice was set up with adult mentors was to help get them through situations exactly like this. I wish Geoff Johns could have given us a page or two of the Young Justice people trying to gather everyone to comfort them. I really needed to see why that group was insufficient to meet the needs of Wonder Girl, Superboy, Robin and Impulse. I didn't need to see Superboy and Wonder Girl having difficulties in high school — we already had that in Teen Titans #1. But I did need to see the official collapse of Young Justice.

Bart's phone call was rather odd. It makes sense that Bart would want to reach out to Cassie, seeing as how she was devastated after Donna's death. But why can't Bart find her? He has been to Cassie's house before. Has she moved? Is Bart still in contact with Robin and Superboy? I have so many questions from such a simple scene. It was nice to see Carlo Barberi draw Bart again. But it looked so strange with Bart's shorter hair. It just ... doesn't feel right. Sorry, I'm still going through shell shock after seeing the last vestiges of Impulse being taken away.

Who Was Donna Troy?

Words & Pencils Phil Jimenez
Inks Andy Lanning
Colors Tom McCraw
Separations WildStorm FX
Letters Comicraft
Special thanks to Devin Grayson

This story picks up at the end of Donna Troy's funeral. Superboy asks Wonder Girl if she's going to be OK, and she says she isn't. Impulse can only look on helplessly.

Later, Cassie starts going through Donna's photo album, reliving her (very confusing) life. We also see some more mourning from past members of the Teen Titans, including Wally West. Superman apologizes to Wonder Woman, taking responsibility for his robot killing Donna. (Yeah, why didn't you dismantle it if you knew it was unstable?) Wonder Woman blames herself for not being there for Donna. Lois Lane promises to write a great obituary. Even Batman comforts Diana, but Nightwing remains aloof.

In the end, it's Cassie who comes to Diana's side. She tells her the last words Donna gave her: "I have no idea where I'm going to be tomorrow. But I accept the fact that tomorrow will come. And I'm going to rise to meet it."

I don't have anything to say about this backup story. It was a nice, necessary resolution to Donna Troy's legacy. I do feel bad, however, that absolutely nothing was shown for Omen. Anyway,  let's wrap this up with Bart's profile page.

Kid Flash

Jeremy Johns: Text
Geoff Johns: Pencils
Nelson: Inks
Tom McCraw: Colors
WildStorm FX: Separations

Real Name: Bart Allen
Marital Status: Single
Height: 5'2"
Weight: 115 lbs.
Eyes: Yellow
Hair: Brown
First Appearance: The Flash #91 (June, 1994)

Bart Allen — the grandson of Barry Allen, the second Flash, and Iris West — was brought back through time to our century after his father was killed. At Iris's request, Wally West, the current scarlet speedster, began to teach Bart how to fit into this new era and get a grasp on his powers. Frustrated by his nephew's lack of focus, Wally turned his attention elsewhere. Bart became known as Impulse and set out to become a super-hero in his own right.

Bart Allen's powers mirror those of Wally West, with one major exception: Bart also has the ability to remember everything he reads at super-speed. Currently, he resides in Keystone City with Jay Garrick — the original Flash — and Jay's wife Joan. Despite Wally West's misgivings, Bart accepted an invitation to join the new Teen Titans.

Recently, Bart was injured when Deathstroke put a shotgun to his leg. Thankfully, his accelerated healing enabled a handful of skeptical surgeons to replace his kneecap with an artificial one, and Bart was back on his feet in a matter of hours. But the effects of this encounter were much more than physical. Feeling unsure, and tired of being underestimated, Bart went to the local public library and read every single book in the building. He retained that knowledge, but what he'll do with it from here, and how it will balance with his lack of experience, is anyone's guess.

The last time Bart had his own profile page like this was three years ago during Sins of Youth. That listed him as 5'3" and 114 lbs. So since then, I guess Bart has gained one pound of muscle, and lost an inch in height when he cut his hair. Jeremy Johns also incorrectly said that Bart was Wally's nephew. The two are actually cousins (once removed, via adoption, if you want to get technical). Unsurprisingly, Johns did not mention Bart's ability to create time-traveling scouts, and I have to say that's probably for the best. It was an overpowered ability, and it will be simpler to move on without it. I still wish we had a story showing Bart losing that ability, though.

What is surprising about this profile page is that it was drawn by Geoff Johns. It's the only image I've seen him draw, and I have to say it actually looks pretty good. I even like this style more than Mike McKone's. The shorter hair doesn't look too bad with this costume, but it does worry me that Bart's beginning to look too much like Wally West did back in the day. It's becoming more common for artists to forget what color Bart's eyes are, and we'll gradually see his hair turn from brown to red.

Well, believe it or not, we are done with comics from the year 2003. Next time, we'll review the year and try to hand out some awards.

Teen Titans #4

Breaking the Rules

Written by Geoff Johns
Pencilled by Mike McKone
Inked by Marlo Alquiza
Colored by Jeromy Cox
Lettered by Comicraft
Associate Editor Tom Palmer Jr.
Editor Eddie Berganza

Our cover by Mike McKone gives Robin the focus, putting Beast Boy in the background, taking the form of a bunch of different animals. And for some reason Brother Blood's cult is here, as well. These covers are more about showing off the characters than telling any kind of story, seemingly putting people together by random. I'd like these covers a bit more if I could see more purpose behind them. But I can't think of any reason to pair up Robin and Beast Boy.

Our story picks up with the fight between Cyborg, Beast Boy and Deathstroke. Or should I say Jericho? Even though Cyborg and Beast Boy don't believe him, Deathstroke claims that he actually is his son, Jericho, who had the power to jump from person to person. When Slade slid his sword through his son, Jericho's last thought was of survival, and his essence went into Deathstroke's body, lying dormant for years to heal. When Deathstroke heard about Donna's death and the new team of heroes being assembled, Jericho woke up and took control.

This shocking news has given Deathstroke the advantage in the fight, and he viciously runs his sword through the robotic part of Cyborg's head. As Beast Boy helps Victor, he tells Jericho he believes him and begs him to stop fighting so they can help him. But Deathstroke knocks out Beast Boy, saying he's here to help the Teen Titans — to show them how dangerous it is to be a superhero.

We check in on Bart's operation, where the doctors have to keep reopening the self-healing wound to insert the artificial kneecap. As they work on him, Bart's mind replays the harsh comments he's received over the past few days. From Starfire: "Goofing off. Don't you do that enough, Impulse?" and "Help out, Impulse." From Flash: "Bart's a good kid — but I don't know how much I believe in him."

We then return to Titans Tower at 8:34 p.m. Starfire, who hasn't seen Robin, Superboy or Wonder Girl since about 10 a.m. that day, decides to finally check up on them. She enters Robin's room and finds that not only has he cut an escape hole through the window, but he took the time to perfectly carve the hole in the shape of Batman's logo. Starfire angrily flies through the window to locate the missing teenagers.

Our "troublemakers" have apparently spent all day making their way to the hospital, and Robin hopes that Starfire's anger on a scale of 1 to 10 registers a 50. He says he hates being told what he's capable of. Superboy agrees, adding that he doesn't like being told who he is, referencing his DNA connection to Lex Luthor. Robin says he knows what Superboy means, but he refuses to let Wonder Girl in on the conversation.

In the hospital, a doctor is gathering up Impulse's tattered, bloodied uniform, while a nurse looks up the insurance information Beast Boy left behind. And if you look closely, you can see a TV in the background playing the Teen Titans cartoon show. Robin slips in through a conveniently open window, asking where Impulse is. The doctor says Bart checked himself out a few minutes ago. He marvels at the speed of Bart's recovery — having been up and walking just 15 minutes after the operation — as well as his pain threshold, since he had to endure the whole ordeal without anesthesia. Cassie asks where Bart went, and all the doctor can say is that Bart had asked for directions to the library.

We then cut to a mysterious scene in Flagstaff, Arizona. A young woman, dressed in a dark cloak, is being chased through the woods by three other cloaked figures. She calls out for help, and as she is hit in the back, dozens of black birds fill the sky.

At the San Francisco Public Library on Larkin Street, everybody is running out of the building onto the streets. Wonder Girl manages to ask a little girl what's caused the panic, and she says the books are floating and a ghost is inside. So Wonder Girl, Superboy and Robin walk in, observing huge stacks of books moving around by themselves. They quickly realize that the books are being moved by Impulse, who's moving so fast no one can see him. Robin notes that they must look like statues to Bart, who has apparently decided to ignore them. Superboy wonders what Bart is doing, and all Robin can surmise is that he's reading every book in the library. Conner finds it hard to believe that cartoon- and video game-loving Bart would suddenly take an interest in reading.

Cassie, however, was drawn out to a nearby alley by a mysterious voice. She follows the voice to a window, in which appears the full form of Ares. Wonder Girl prepares for a fight, but Ares removes his helmet in a gesture of peace. He tells Cassie that she shows great potential as a catalyst for real change in the world. He offers her a lasso that looks like Wonder Woman's lasso of truth, but he's intentionally vague on the details of this lasso. Cassie unwisely takes the lasso in her hand, and the second she tries to return it, the window shatters and Ares disappears.

Robin and Superboy soon find Cassie and ask her what she's holding. She admits she's not sure, and before she can tell them who she was talking to, a small bomb drops down in front of them. Superboy shields Robin from the blast, which knocks him and Wonder Girl out. Deathstroke attacks Robin, and beats the snot out of him. He easily puts the Boy Wonder on the ground and aims his shotgun just inches away from Robin's face. Deathstroke pulls the trigger, but the bullet is caught by Bart, who identifies the bullet as a nitro express cartridge with a velocity of 2,000 f.p.s. and a striking energy of four tons. As he explains that he read all this in a book, he takes apart Deathstroke's gun piece by piece. Robin calls out to Impulse, but Bart corrects him: "Nope. Kid Flash!"

OK, I'll admit that was a cool moment at the end. Catching a bullet (a very powerful bullet, apparently) just half an inch away from someone's face is pretty sweet. Heck, I'll admit I liked everything about Bart in this issue. How he used those put-downs he's heard as motivation to get him through the surgery. And how he read every single book in the library. (If I had super speed, I'd definitely do that.) Bart has received the very sad message that no one likes Impulse anymore. So he has gone out of his way to be as un-Impulse-like as possible. It's a pretty typical teenage thing to try to radically reinvent oneself. But the question is: Will I like this new Bart?

The rest of the issue was OK. Jericho's story seems a little implausible, but his motivations do make sense. The biggest problem was timing of everything. Issues 2 through 4 are all on the same day. The Alcatraz fire started at about 8 a.m. and was wrapped up by 9:30, at which point Cyborg rushed Bart off to surgery (and then was criminally negligent in failing to contact Bart's legal guardian). Starfire takes the others back to the tower and talks for a few minutes before leaving them. Suddenly it's 8:30 p.m. and I'm wondering what everybody was doing all day. Did it take Robin five hours to perfectly carve out his bat-shaped hole in the window? Did he, Superboy and Wonder Girl get lost in San Francisco, stop to get lunch and catch a movie before heading to the hospital? Or maybe they spent several hours peeking in every window of the hospital until they found the right one.

Next time, we'll wrap up all comics with a 2003 publication date with Teen Titans/Outsiders Secret Files & Origins.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Teen Titans #3

A Kid's Game

Written by Geoff Johns
Penciled by Mike McKone
Inked by Marlo Alquiza
Colored by Jeromy Cox
Lettered by Comicraft
Associate Editor Tom Palmer Jr.
Editor Eddie Berganza

Our cover by Mike McKone is part of a trend of featuring one new Teen Titan in the foreground, with a corresponding mentor in the background. Apparently McKone also did this with issue #2, showing Superboy and Cyborg, but for some reason my digital copy did not include that cover. This cover is slightly awkward — as I think all of McKone's work is. I'm not sure what emotion Starfire is trying to convey in the background, nor can I make out who those statues are supposed to be. I can only assume they represent previous Teen Titans who were killed in the line of duty. It is nice to see Wonder Girl smiling again, though, as she has been so angsty in this series.

Our story begins at 9:13 a.m. on that fateful first Saturday of this new incarnation of the Teen Titans. After saving all the people from the fire on Alcatraz island, somebody eventually found Impulse bleeding out in a dark hallway. And Cyborg himself rushed Bart to a nearby hospital (not sure if it's the same one they all crashed during Graduation Day).

Cyborg places Bart on a stretcher and tells the doctors he was shot in the knee. They observe that Bart's knee is already partially healed, but incorrectly. His patella has been shattered and ligaments have been torn. Cyborg tells them about Bart's heightened metabolism, which will unfortunately negate any anesthesia. So the doctors decide to try to move faster than Bart in an attempt to save his knee. Bart says he doesn't care about the pain, but he does have one extremely stupid request: "Just don't ... tell the Flash I messed up."

The rest of our heroes have returned to Titans Tower, where Starfire is telling Robin, Superboy and Wonder Girl the history of Deathstroke and the Teen Titans. She leads them into a memorial room, filled with large statues of deceased Teen Titans — Golden Eagle, Dove, Aquagirl and, of course, Donna Troy. But of particular importance today is Jericho, Deathstroke's son. Starfire tells the others that Jericho was possessed by a demonic force that drove him mad, and Deathstroke shoved his sword through Jericho's heart. Robin speculates that Deathstroke attacked them today because he blames the Teen Titans for the death of his son. Starfire agrees, calling Slade Wilson a delusional sociopath.

Wonder Girl is outraged by Deathstroke's message to Impulse — "Kids shouldn't wear costumes" — and she says the lives they save as superheroes is worth the tradeoff of losing some of their teammates. Superboy agrees, and announces it's time for payback. Starfire advises them to let Cyborg and Beast Boy handle it, since they have experience fighting against the deadliest mercenary in the world. Superboy and Wonder Girl chaff at being treated like kids, and for a moment, it looks like they're about to get into a fight with Starfire. But Robin shocks everyone by siding with Starfire and saying he'll pull out his laptop to see if he can offer any help that way.

Wonder Girl and Superboy follow Robin up to his room, protesting all the while. But instead of getting on his computer, Robin pulls out a small laser and begins cutting a hole in his window, telling Cassie and Conner that they're going to visit Bart and then track down Deathstroke. Cassie is surprised that he lied to Starfire, to which Robin gleefully boasts of lying to Batman.

We then head to the Church of St. Sebastian in Phoenix, Arizona, where a group of people in red cloaks are pouring their blood into a large red pool. And from the pool rises a young woman they call the "daughter of the eighth devil."

Later that night, Beast Boy has met up with Cyborg, who tells him that Bart's body wants to heal, but it needs to be guided. And the doctors are considering reconstructing with an artificial kneecap. Beast Boy tells Cyborg it's not a good idea to lock out Robin and the others, and that they should all be hunting Deathstroke together. He then smells Deathstroke on the roof, so he turns into a rhino and plows through the wall.

The three of them immediately begin fighting, with Deathstroke explaining that he wants them to stop convincing kids to put their lives in danger. He even says he'll kill one of them if they don't listen to him. Cyborg and Beast Boy become especially offended by Deathstroke's casual tone, calling them Vic and Gar. After they finally pin Deathstroke down on the street, they tell Deathstroke they are not friends. But Deathstroke says that deep inside this body, he is their friend, Jericho.

OK. I've got a few things to say here. First of all, why are our superheroes constantly going to ordinary, civilian hospitals? Can't they work out some arrangement with the JLA to teleport to the Watchtower or something? Or why didn't Cyborg put a medical center in the brand new Titans Tower? Ordinary doctors would not have any experience of operating on a speedster, or any other superhero for that matter, which we saw quite clearly in Graduation Day.

Secondly, why didn't Cyborg tell Bart that he did not mess up? Bart followed Starfire's orders perfectly. There was no way he could have avoided Deathstroke/Jericho's trap. These poor Young Justice kids are suddenly filled with so much angst and self blame, and the Titan mentors are not doing a great job of alleviating those feelings.

Thirdly, why did Cyborg honor Bart's request to not tell the Flash? I can understand that Wally is sort of out of the picture at the moment, having had his memory wiped by Spectre, or whatever. But Jay Garrick should have been contacted immediately. He is Bart's legal guardian, and should have been informed immediately that this 15-year-old boy has just suffered a massive injury. Plus, he's an experienced speedster who could help out somehow. Maybe he could have absorbed Bart's speed so that his body would stop healing itself for a couple of hours. Maybe he could have helped build Bart's new artificial knee at super speed. In any case, he needed to be at Bart's side during this. Also, out of courtesy, Cyborg could have called Helen Claiborne, as well.

Other than those very big problems, I guess I could say this comic wasn't half bad. One thing Geoff Johns is good at is planting seeds for future stories. He doesn't always remember to return to these little seedlings, but that's beside the point. Just three issues into this new series, we've started stories about Lex Luthor, Ares, Brother Blood, Deathstroke and Jericho. Unfortunately, Johns is unable or unwilling to balance out this teenage angst with some humor, like Peter David would have done. Everyone in this comic is just so darn miserable!

Next time: Teen Titans #4.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Teen Titans #2

Child's Play

Written by Geoff Johns
Penciled by Mike McKone
Inked by Marlo Alquiza
Colored by Jeromy Cox
Lettered by Comicraft
Associate Editor Tom Palmer Jr.
Editor Eddie Berganza

Our cover by Mike McKone is another sloppy, disappointing image. Once again we have Raven, even though she's not in this issue. And once again we have Bart as Kid Flash, even though he's still Impulse. And what's with that idiotic face he's making? Well, I guess everyone's face looks kind of weird. At least Beast Boy is actually an animal that can fight this time.

Our story begins with Deathstroke the Terminator in his trophy room giving a speech to his old "friend" Wintergreen. But Wintergreen's head has been added to Deathstroke's wall, placed alongside exotic animals like a rhino, lion, gorilla, etc. And the main point of Deathstroke's speech is that he now hunts alone.

We then cut to Titans Tower, San Francisco, at 7:36 a.m. Even though Superboy had previously complained about an 8 a.m. wake up call, and had stayed up till 3 a.m. with Robin the night before, he is up bright and early, taking a few laps in the pool. Robin is also up and is already (or still) wearing his uniform. He wants to talk about their late night discovery that Superboy has Lex Luthor's DNA. Superboy dismisses the whole thing as a joke, but Robin insists on asking Batman to run a DNA test. Superboy refuses this offer, asking Robin not to tell anyone about it. But once he leaves, Robin collects one of Superboy's hairs from his towel.

Meanwhile, Beast Boy and Bart are eating cereal on the couch while watching a nature documentary. Bart wants to watch Saturday morning cartoons (seriously), and he and Gar get into a playful fight for the remote. Gar turns into a lion, then a cheetah, but is still too slow to catch Bart. Amidst their roughhousing, Gar knocks a lamp into the TV, cracking the screen. Bart blames him for the mess, but Gar blames Bart for not catching the lamp with his super speed. Starfire arrives and destroys the remote control. Bart starts to apologize, but Starfire tells Impulse he goofs off too much, and tells him to come to her next time he wants to spar.

Cassie shows up (in her uniform) and announces she's leaving. She spent all night thinking about joining this team, but in the end, decided she needs to get away from all the ghosts of the Teen Titans. Bart chases her down, begging Cassie not to leave. He says they need these weekends after spending all week in school pretending to be something they're not. Cassie tells Bart she was just expelled from her school, all because Zeus decided she should be a hero. Bart points out that Zeus didn't make that decision — Cassie did. She claims that Bart doesn't know her, so Bart says she's the girl who made him believe they could make a difference, the girl who made him like girls, the Wonder Girl.

This makes Cassie pause for a bit, but she ultimately says she doesn't know where she belongs. Beast Boy, Starfire, Superboy and Robin have now joined them in the gardens, and Superboy tells Cassie she belongs right here. Her response is interrupted by a large explosion over on nearby Alcatraz island. Beast Boy turns into a bird and says they need to fly over there to rescue the tourists in danger. Superboy follows him, and Starfire picks up Robin. Bart puts on his Impulse uniform and asks Cassie if she's coming.

In the end, Wonder Girl does decide to join everyone, but she and Starfire start giving conflicting commands. Beast Boy plays peacemaker, telling them they'll sort out hierarchy later, but for now, they need to focus on rescuing people. Superboy stops a wall from falling on a group of kids, and Robin hands them some gas masks to make it through the smoke. The kids ask our heroes who they are, to which Superboy answers, "We're the Teen Titans, kid." But as Superboy said that, he was right in the crosshairs of somebody's rifle.

Wonder Girl is helping load people onto a ferry when she spots Ares' reflection in the water. Impulse draws her away from this by reporting the smoke in the prison is too thick for him to rescue more people, so she tells him to clear the smoke. But Cassie is also in the gunman's crosshairs. Beast Boy turns into an elephant and loads up his trunk with water, while Starfire flies him in position to try to put out the flames. Naturally, an elephant can't carry that much water, so Superboy tries to help by rupturing what he thinks is a water pipe. But it was actually a gas line, which only makes things worse. Suddenly Cyborg shows up and somehow puts out all the flames. (I seriously have no idea how he did this. The art and the dialogue do not help at all.) Cyborg then shakes Superboy's hand and formally welcomes him to the Teen Titans.

Wonder Girl and Starfire start pushing the ferry out to sea, and even though he's already checked, Starfire orders Impulse to go back through the prison once more to see if anyone else is there. So Bart goes back inside. He runs down a dark hallway and hears someone say, "Like moths to a light." Impulse stops for a second and is hit in the back of the neck with a dart that paralyzes him. Deathstroke emerges from the shadows, explaining that Bart's metabolism will break down the tranquilizer in less than a minute, but that's all the time he needs. He places a shotgun barrel to Bart's right knee, and apologetically says he's simply sending a message: "Kids shouldn't wear costumes." Deathstroke then pulls the trigger, destroying Impulse's knee.

So this is it. The end of Impulse. Of course, Impulse stopped being Impulse the second Young Justice ended and Geoff Johns was put in charge of the character. But this is a significant injury that will "wake up" Bart and lead to him becoming Kid Flash. And it was a pretty shocking moment. Of course, I am reminded of Impulse's first encounter with Deathstroke so long ago in Deathstroke: The Hunted #45. But for as well-calculated as Deathstroke's plan seems, it really feels like he went to a whole lot of work just to injure one Teen Titan. Also, I am inclined to blame Starfire for this accident. If she would have listened to and believed Bart, he wouldn't have had to go back in there a second time.

I am rather conflicted about Bart's speech he gave to Cassie. On one hand, that is in Bart's nature to try to keep his friends together and cheer them up when they're feeling down. But some of the things he said were just not accurate. He had decided to be a hero — and demonstrated an attraction to girls — long before he met Cassie. So maybe that's Bart just saying whatever he can to try to get Cassie to stay. Or maybe that Geoff Johns once again demonstrating his apathy toward Young Justice and Impulse.

I've also come to the sad resignation that we're now in a world where nobody knows or cares about the several years of Young Justice running around and saving the world. You'd think those kids would recognize Robin and Superboy from Young Justice, but they don't. And our characters aren't going to talk about that time, either, let alone what happened to the Super-Cycle or The Max or anything. I guess you don't want to weigh down new readers with too much continuity, but what about the old readers who still care about the stuff that happened before?

Next time: Teen Titans #3.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Teen Titans #1

Teen Titans

Written by Geoff Johns
Penciled by Mike McKone
Inked by Marlo Alquiza
Colored by Jeromy Cox
Lettered by Comicraft
Associated Editor Tom Palmer Jr.
Editor Eddie Berganza

Apparently there are three covers of this issue, two of them by Mike McKone. But my digital copy only includes one McKone cover and the Michael Turner variant. And I'm not passionate enough about this series to track down that missing McKone cover. The one I do have here isn't particularly impressive. In fact, it looks downright sloppy. Uninspiring faces, some weird anatomy (look at Bart's hands!) and a rather boring, static image. (Is a little monkey the best animal Beast Boy can turn into?) The three hands in the foreground are allegedly the various villains this team will be fighting, but I'm not going to worry about figuring out who they are. Well, enough of that. Let's look at what should have been the only cover for this issue.

This is kind of iconic. Yes, it is the team just standing around in a pose, but they look awesome. A tiger is infinitely better than a small, chubby monkey. And the anatomy and faces are right on the money. Yes, Starfire's butt is a bit awkward, but everything else about this cover is magnificent. As a Young Justice fan, I'm happy to see Robin, Superboy, Wonder Girl and Imp ... er, Kid Flash, all look a little bit older. They're no longer the 14- and 15-year-olds of Young Justice. They're now 16- and 17-year-old of the Teen Titans. Wonder Girl has a new costume, finally shedding her goggles once and for all. Superboy, who looks like he's gained 30 pounds of muscle, has gone with the "non-costume" look, reminiscent of the Smallville TV series. And yes, Bart is wearing his Kid Flash uniform, even though he's not technically Kid Flash yet. (Raven doesn't appear in this issue, either.) But Michael Turner has drawn an amazing Bart Allen here. He looks older, stronger, confident and, dare I say it, sexy. I wish Turner had been the regular artist on this series. That would have made this transition a lot more palatable.

Our story begins in Smallville, where we learn that Superboy is now living with Jonathan and Martha Kent under the name of Conner Kent. He's enrolled at Smallville High School, sporting a short, conservative haircut, as well as some glasses to preserve a secret identity. But after hearing his fellow classmates discuss the mundanity of homecoming parades, band practice, baseball games and cow tipping, Superboy decides he's had enough. He takes off his outer shirt, revealing the black Superman shirt underneath, and goes for a quick fly.

Superboy carves out a giant S in a cornfield, and Superman suddenly appears, asking if the S is for Superboy or skipping class. Superboy says it stands for sanity, which he feels he'll lose if he's confined to life at Smallville High. Surprisingly, Superman agrees with Superboy, telling him he needs some unique after-school activities. Which is why he's delivering Victor Stone's invitation for Superboy to join the Teen Titans. Superboy reminds Superman about the last time all the sidekicks got together and two people died, including Teen Titan founding member Donna Troy, and now Wonder Girl hates him for it. Superboy is also concerned about having the Justice League constantly looking over his shoulder. Superman assures him the JLA will not interfere with the Teen Titans. And the plan is for Superboy to go to the Titans on Friday after school, and be back in Smallville Sunday night. Superboy says he'll think about it, and Superman tells him to go back to class.

In Gotham, Robin is battling Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, while talking to Batman about the same offer. Robin is also hesitant on the idea. He wonders what Nightwing thinks about, then asks Batman if he feels he needs more training or mentoring. Batman simply says he thinks Robin needs to see his friends, which makes Robin think.

In Keystone City, Wally and Jay are arguing about this offer in Jay's home. Wally is worried about Bart starting at Keystone City High, but Jay points out the Teen Titans will only meet on the weekends, and it'll be great for him and Joan to take the weekends off. But Wally, another founding member of the original Teen Titans, is also shaken by Donna's death. Although he doesn't blame Bart for it, he still thinks Bart isn't serious enough about being a superhero. He even coldly says that Impulse will never grow into the role of the Flash.

Bart comes downstairs at this, asking Wally what he was saying. Jay tells Bart to go finish his homework, and Bart says he wants to take an Xbox break. Jay points out he's had four Xbox breaks, and he asks Bart how his paper's going. Bart says it's good, spouting off a random fact about King Tut inheriting the throne at age 9 from Akhenaten and ruling until he was 17. Bart adds that it was probably cool to have a kid as a king, but Wally is shocked that Bart knows all this. Bart says he read his history book yesterday in just a few seconds, which surprises Wally even more that he's still able to remember something he read at super speed a day ago. Bart responds with a simple answer that stuns both Wally and Jay: "I remember everything I read. Don't you?"

Jay then send Bart back upstairs to finish his paper, then turns to Wally to talk about Bart's potential. Apparently no other speedster can remember everything they read. Wally eventually says he's fine with Bart joining the Teen Titans if he wants to, but he admits that he really doesn't believe in Bart. And the poor kid had been hiding at the top of the stairs, listening to Wally repeatedly berate him.

At Gateway City High School, we learn that Cassie Sandsmark's secret identity as Wonder Girl has been exposed. This is causing major problems for the school, fearing they're now a target for any number of super villains. The principal calls Cassie and her mom into her office, saying she wants to expel Cassie for these public safety threats and "preaching paganism" in the halls. When the principal says Cassie isn't normal, the teen loses her temper and destroys the principal's desk before storming out.

Cassie retreats to the girls bathroom, where she sees an odd vision of Ares' helmet in the mirror. Starfire flies in through the window, telling her it's only natural for authority figures to fear younger heroes. She says she's come to deliver the invitation to join the Teen Titans since Wonder Woman refused and told Starfire to stay away from Cassie. But Starfire tells Cassie she believes she can make her own decisions. She also speaks of how much she misses Donna and doesn't want Wonder Girl to be forgotten. Cassie thinks about this for a moment, then asks, "When can we leave?" So the two fly out the window to the Teen Titans new headquarters in San Francisco.

Starfire shows Cassie the gardens, including some flowers she saved from her home planet Tamaran before it was destroyed. A talking lizard starts flirting with them, and Starfire introduces Gar Logan, the Titans' Changeling. He turns into his human form and says he's gone back to being called Beast Boy. He continues flirting with the girls and turns into a dog as they approach the main entrance, complete with a massive statue of the original Teen Titans. Beast Boy explains that Cyborg designed the facility, but the city of San Francisco and a few Silicon Valley investors financed it ... in exchange for a few favors. (Unclear yet if he's referring to Optitron from Graduation Day.)

Starfire tells Cassie that she, Cyborg and Beast Boy want to create a place where young heroes feel accepted, to have a place to train, get away from the world on weekends and, most importantly, experience freedom. Impulse suddenly arrives and gives Cassie a big hug. Superboy is right behind him, and Robin steps out from the corner he'd been hiding in. Cassie shoves Bart off her, and all the former Young Justice members stare at each other awkwardly for a moment.

Cyborg addresses everyone over the intercom, telling them to get settled in their rooms and that training begins tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. Beast Boy turns into a robin to lead Robin around, and Bart tries to strike up a conversation with Tim, asking him if he's wearing a new cape. Robin also growls at Impulse, prompting him to ask, "What's with everyone?"

We skip forward to 3 a.m. Superboy can't sleep, so he goes wandering around, finding Robin checking his emails on a laptop. Superboy asks Robin why they came here, and Robin admits he's been asking himself the same question. Superboy says it feels like everyone's trying to shove the weight of the world on their shoulders, but he also feels that none of them came here because their mentors told them to. They came because they're friends. Robin agrees with that assessment.

Their bonding moment is interrupted by an odd alert on Robin's laptop. The message, from someone named Snapdragon, says "With Superboy?" Robin unwisely opens the attachment from an unknown sender, revealing a detailed readout of Superboy's DNA. He is 50% Kryptonian, with Superman being the "donor." Superboy is also 50% human, with the donor being Lex Luthor.

Allegedly, one of the main reasons DC canceled Young Justice was because of their new animated show, Teen Titans, which premiered around the same time this issue came out. The corporate theory was that kids who saw the show on TV would be disappointed and confused to not see any Teen Titans comics books on the shelves. But I'm not sure this comic solved that problem. If you were introduced to Cyborg, Beast Boy, Starfire and Raven on that show, wouldn't you be confused to pick up a comic book also called Teen Titans but had those characters in their 20s and hardly involved in the story at all?

This comic was 30 pages long and generally did a good job of showing where the last four remaining Young Justice member are in their life. Robin's pretty constant, but Superboy and Wonder Girl are going through some major changes. And so is Bart, although his change is ironically happening at a slower pace than the others. They spent a bit of time talking about Graduation Day, even though they were barely involved in it. And I am very disappointed that nobody even breathed one word about their time as Young Justice. But overall, I am mildly intrigued by this set up. For the most part.

I'll just come right out and say it: I'm not happy with anything happening to Bart. I don't like how Mike McKone draws him — he looks like a 12-year-old. And I don't like how Geoff Johns writes him. He always insists on having Wally be an unreasonably massive jerk toward Bart. And now he's turning this goofy, lovable, impulsive kid into an obnoxious know-it-all. I mean, it's neat and all that he can remember everything he reads, but is that going to be used for anything interesting? Or enjoyable?

As for the continuity, I'd have to assume that this issue took place after most of the events of Blitz, but before the very last few pages of The Flash #200. I think Flash defeated Zoom, went to Jay's house to whine about Bart joining the Teen Titans, then made his deal with Spectre to have the world forget the Flash. Kind of an odd turn of events, but that's the best I can come up with. I'm surprised that Johns didn't take the chance to reference his other series. One funny thing with this issue was Bart's line: "I remember everything I read. Don't you?" I imagined myself asking this question of Johns. "Don't you remember what happened in Young Justice? Or Impulse? Or did you even read those comics?" I'm not asking for much. Just an acknowledgement that those previous stories did happen.

Next time, we'll cover the one and only comic Bart Allen appeared in with the publication date of October 2003 — Teen Titans #2.

The Flash #200

Blitz: Conclusion – The Final Race

Geoff Johns – Writer
Scott Kolins – Penciller
Doug Hazlewood – Inker
Ken Lopez – Letterer
James Sinclair – Colorist and Separator
Joey Cavalieri – Editor
Special thanks to Jeremy Johns

Our cover by Scott Kolins shows an extremely happy Flash running down the street on a bright, sunny day. I always find it a bit unnerving to see Wally smile like this. Even more given the intense story he's in the middle of. I mean, his unborn twins were just killed last issue! However, this cover is actually a wraparound, which does help a bit.

Now we see the pain Wally and Linda are going through, plus the mysterious intervention of the Spectre. We can also put all the covers of Blitz together to see what kind of a collage Kolins has given us.

I hope that image turns out for everybody. It isn't quite as perfect as I'd like, but you get the general idea. This is a rather impressive achievement by Scott Kolins. It's like a mural telling the story of how Zoom shows up, beats up Wally and Linda, then Wally fights Zoom, defeats him and races off into the sun with a smile on his face. All together, I do kind of like it. But individually, the covers aren't quite as strong as they could have been.

Our story picks right up where we left off last issue, with Zoom announcing his plans to begin Lesson Two. Lesson One was teaching Wally loss by killing his unborn children. Lesson Two will be to reverse Wally's origin from Hunter's by crippling him. Zoom drags the fight out to a desert, explaining that when Wally loses the ability to run, he'll change his mind on time travel. Zoom demands that Wally admit he's right and begins to pummel him. But another time rift opens up, showing Hunter's ex-wife in the past leaving a funeral asking Hunter what he did. Zoom freaks out at this image, delivers a mighty punch to Wally and races away, demanding to be left alone.

Wally comes to in Seattle, with Jesse Quick by his side, apologizing for not coming sooner. They return to Keystone City to check on Linda in the hospital. Jay reports that she's suffering from internal bleeding, but is stable at the moment. Wally realizes that if Zoom wanted her dead, he'd have already killed her. Impulse sadly says he wishes he could help, and Jay points out that he and Bart will be without super speed for the next couple of hours.

But Wally's more desperate for Jay's science background to help him figure out what's going on with Zoom. So they find a room with a chalkboard and Jay lays out his theory. When the Cosmic Treadmill exploded on Hunter Zolomon, a wormhole, or rip in time, was created. Since they were unable to steal Zoom's kinetic energy, Jay believes he isn't tapping into the Speed Force, but time itself. He draws a line on the chalkboard representing the timeline, with a box on it labeled "Now." Everybody rides the "Now" box along the timeline, but the explosion knocked Zoom off it and fused him with a wormhole. He's still moving forward, unable to go back in time, but now he he can control how fast or slow he moves ahead in time.

Of course, there is a drawback to this, Jay points out. Zoom is causing a great strain on the timeline, pulling it like a rubber band and causing it to fold in on itself — hence the windows in time randomly appearing near him. Jay theorizes that if Zoom keeps "running," these windows will grow larger and the rubber band will snap. Wally decides he can't wait for Jay and Bart to power back up. Jesse offers her help, but Wally dismisses her. Meanwhile, Wally's detective friends, Morillo and Chyre, look through Hunter's file and figure out where he might be.

We see that Zoom has gone to Kansas City to revisit the scene of the worst day of his life. While working for the FBI, he led a team of his wife and father-in-law (nepotism much?) to take down a small-time crook dressed as a clown. Hunter assured them the clown would not be armed, but he was wrong. The clown killed Hunter's father-in-law and shot him in the knee. Haunted by visions of this awful event, Zoom destroys the entire barn.

Wally soon shows up, but he's still no match for Zoom. This time he tries talking to him, telling Hunter he read his file and knows all about that tragic accident and how Hunter's wife left him. Wally asks Hunter why he never told him about all this, but Zoom just blames Flash for turning his back on him. Jesse suddenly arrives, pulls Wally away and says she's giving him all of her speed. Infused with her mantra — 3x2(9yz)4a — Wally feels the boost of speed that enabled him to virtually freeze time (which he did in Impulse's very first issue).

Wally is finally able to fight Zoom on equal terms. But after he lands his first punch, Zoom mocks him for pulling his punches, and notes that he needs to push Wally harder. So he decides to skip ahead to the final exam — killing Linda. As they fight each other across the country, Zoom practically begs Wally to kill him, saying the only way to prevent Linda's blood from being on his hands is to do what Barry Allen did to Eobard Thawne. When Wally refuses, Zoom tells him he'll never be as good as Barry.

The fight takes them through Italy, China and Metropolis (right past Superman, even). Wally finally manages to get Zoom down on his knees, right as another time rift opens up, showing Hunter's father-in-law asking him if the clown will be armed. Wally shoves Zoom's head into the pink lightning, hoping it will fuse him back with the present. This essentially works, although Zoom is now frozen in suspended animation. And one last time rift shows Wally and Linda happily announcing that they're going to be parents.

Zoom is taken to Iron Heights Penitentiary and placed in a special yellow tube. All he can see is the vision of himself assuring his wife and father-in-law that the clown doesn't have a gun, over and over again. Wally heads to Linda's side, and after assuring her he stopped Zoom, the two begin to weep for their lost babies.

Later, Wally heads to Valhalla, the superhero cemetery. He reflects on how Bart has now joined the Teen Titans, which he's not sure about, but Jay insists is the right decision. Jesse also seems to have lost her powers for good and now is working as the JSA's business manager. And Iris is spending every day with Linda to help her recover. But Wally has had enough. He visits Barry's statue to apologetically announce his retirement from being the Flash.

Suddenly, the real Barry Allen shows up on the Cosmic Treadmill. After giving Wally a big hug, Barry explains that he's traveled back from his retirement in the future to visit his former sidekick on the first of the three hardest days of his life. Barry also says that he knows in a few days he'll go back even further in time and will die to save the world. But he's OK with that. Wally starts to worry that Hunter was right, that he should have traveled back in time to help him. But Barry tells Wally he made the right decision. Time travelers shouldn't change history, which is why Barry won't be changing history now, only sitting back, watching and offering his support.

Barry leads Wally to Hal Jordan's statue. The Spectre flows out of the statue and takes the form of Hal. Wally immediately asks him to bring back his unborn children, but Hal says he can't bring back the dead in a pleasant way, nor can he change history. But Hal can offer Wally something else — a chance for the entire world to forget who the Flash is. Wally hesitates, but Barry offers his support and blessing, so Wally accepts. Hal tells Wally to run and he'll do the rest. As Wally takes off, Barry tells Hal he's "well on his way," but Hal's confused by this comment.

Two months later, Wally and Linda are walking down the street in the rain, talking about a new job Wally has taken. Morillo and Chyre race by, complaining about all the crime they've been dealing with since the Flash disappeared. Linda asks Wally whatever happened to the Flash, and Wally says he doesn't remember.

This was a 38-page special befitting the 200th issue of Wally's series and the conclusion of Scott Kolins' run on the title. Zoom really is a great villain — despite the redundant name and costume. I also find it highly unlikely that the FBI would put three family members together on the same team, but that still was a traumatic event for anyone to go through. And the end result of Zoom in this issue is a fate I consider worse than death. Unable to move, forced to repeatedly watch the worst moment of your life. Not even Zoom deserved that.

I was a little disappointed that only one of Zoom's "windows in time" showed the future. And that was Bart's, which wasn't surprising at all, since everyone knew he was going to be Kid Flash. I think it would have been interesting had Wally's final vision shown him in the future. I'm also frustrated by how Wally apparently needed to absorb all of Jesse Quick's speed in order to fight Zoom. This issue did reference the Mark Waid story where Wally used Johnny Quick's formula to basically freeze time. But it also forgets that Max Mercury was also able to reach that speed (for a shorter period of time) because the formula was just a psychological crutch. Wally always had that speed within him and he didn't need to take the speed from Jay, Bart or Jesse.

I also consider this issue to mark the end of the Impulse era. Teen Titans #1 also came out this month, showing Bart wearing the Kid Flash uniform. So even though he'll be wearing the Impulse uniform in the first couple of issues, for all intents and purposes, he ceases being Impulse at the end of this issue. And sadly, his career as Impulse ended with him literally whimpering, wishing he could help. And that's just not right. I'm not saying he should have used his time-traveling scouts to save the day, but he surely could have done something more useful in his final fight as Impulse.

Next time, we'll begin the next chapter in Bart Allen's career with Teen Titans #1.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Flash #199

Blitz Part 3: Into the Fast Lane

Geoff Johns Writer
Scott Kolins Penciller
Doug Hazlewood Inker
Ken Lopez Letterer
James Sinclair Colorist & Separator
Joey Cavalieri Editor

Our cover is fairly simple and straightforward. Flash vs. Zoom. In front of a simple lightning bolt background. And unlike last cover, this one doesn't have too much "bleed over" from the other connecting covers. All in all, it's pretty solid. Although I do have to point out one of my pet peeves with Kolins' art, and that's the spittle he often draws in people's mouths when they yell. It's an unnecessary, annoying and ugly detail.

Our story picks up with Zoom confronting Linda on the apartment rooftop. But before he snaps his fingers, he has a bit of trouble "tempering" his speed — bouncing around too much, excessive vibration and difficulty speaking. Linda begins calling for Wally, and Zoom manages to say that Wally is his friend and that he's helping him face fear. Zoom then prepares again to snap his fingers, but Impulse suddenly arrives and attacks.

But Zoom suddenly disappears. Bart asks Linda where he went, and she urges him to find Wally and Jay. Before he can react, Bart is hit by Zoom. He proclaims himself the fastest man alive and lifts Bart up by his neck. As Zoom starts to choke Impulse, a large pink lightning bolt appears beside them, showing a vision of an older Bart dressed as Kid Flash. This seems to bother Zoom, and he throws Bart aside, knocking him out. Linda rushes to Bart's side and tries to defend him with a knife she just happened to have. But the knife disappears in a second. And in the next second, Linda disappears.

Meanwhile, Wally is helping the injured Jay, telling him they were attacked by Zoom. But Wally can tell it isn't Eobard Thawne because his shoulders are too broad, his voice is different, and he seems to have a hard time controlling his speed. Zoom suddenly appears before the Flashes, holding Linda as a hostage. Wally and Jay try to absorb Zoom's kinetic energy by racing around him, but it doesn't work. Zoom easily knocks Jay away first, then Wally.

Wally quickly gets back up and tries a more direct attack, but is unable to land a single punch. Zoom knocks Wally away again, then tells Linda that she's a target and needs to go away. He finally snaps his fingers, causing all the nearby windows to shatter and Linda to go flying through the air. Wally tries to rush to her, but Zoom holds him back for a bit, telling him to note this feeling of helplessness. He says it's only a matter of time before Linda dies, so he advises Wally to enjoy it while he can and learn from it. Zoom then takes off, and Wally sadly cradles Linda in his arms.

Wally takes Linda to Keystone City General Hospital, where he's met by Jay and Bart. Jay tells him they've taken Iris and Joan to stay at a friend's house in Denver. With tears in his eyes, Bart apologizes to Wally. He really tried to stop Zoom, but he was just too fast. And speaking of the devil, Zoom himself appears in the hospital, mocking Wally's pain. Bart and Jay instantly decide to give Wally their speed (somehow) and encourage him to take down Zoom.

Unfortunately, even with the combined speed of Jay and Bart, Wally is still too slow to even see Zoom as anything more than a blur. The fight quickly brings the two of them to a snow-covered mountain. As Zoom beats the snot out of Wally, another pink lightning bolt appears, this time showing Hunter Zolomon when he put his wheelchair on the Cosmic Treadmill. Wally asks Zoom what he wants with Hunter, and Zoom calls the pink lightning a window in time — a side effect of his powers. He then removes his mask and reveals himself to be Hunter Zolomon.

Wally begs to know why Hunter's doing this, saying that they're friends. Hunter says all this was caused by their friendship. He tells Wally that when he refused to use the Cosmic Treadmill to go back in time and fix his leg, Hunter tried to use the device himself, but it exploded and gave him these powers. He now wants to make Wally be a hero willing to take any risk needed. A hero that knows what it's like to live with loss so that he'll be willing to do anything in his power to help people.

Another time rift opens up, showing Barry Allen moments before his death. Zoom causes an avalanche, then quickly races back to the hospital to check on Linda. He returns to Wally and tells him that when all this is over, Wally will thank him and be his friend again because he'll be a better hero at the end of the day. Zoom also announces that although Linda is going to survive, her unborn twins — a boy and a girl — did not. He calls this the end of Lesson One. Now it's time for Lesson Two.

Now this was a good comic book. Zoom is a compelling villain because he has a twisted logic that actually, almost makes some sense. In his mind, Wally was holding himself back as a hero because he hasn't experienced any real tragedy. So if Zoom can provide some tragedy, then Wally will be a better hero. And I sort of understand that. Of course, Hunter is completely going about this the wrong way — it would be far more beneficial to everyone involved if he chose to be a hero himself — but he's clearly not able to think with a level head right now. Even though I wish Zoom had a different name and a different costume, I am really glad he's motivated by something other than a desire for revenge or simply being "evil."

Next issue will fully reveal the secrets behind Zoom's powers, but I think this issue did a good job of dropping some hints. First of all, Hunter got his powers when a time machine exploded, so it makes sense that things would be different for him. Then there's the "time windows" opening up around him, showing glimpses of the future and the past. (DC had already spent months by this point talking about how Bart will become Kid Flash, so that was a pretty obvious vision of the future.) I did find it odd, though, how Bart and Jay gave Wally their speed. I remember Wally being able to give them some extra speed before, but I can't recall a previous situation like this. I guess it makes sense that they could do this, but it caught me off guard with how all of them acted like this was something they do all the time.

Another significant thing about this issue is that it features the final action scene splash page of Impulse. And yes, Scott Kolins insisted on drawing that obnoxious line of spit between Bart's teeth. But it was nice to see one last fleeting moment of heroic action from Impulse before he slowly slinks away and becomes Kid Flash. I do have to say, though, this has been a tough month for Bart, physically. After the Superman robot choked him and threw him into a wall, Zoom did the exact same thing to Bart.

Next time, we'll conclude the Blitz storyline in The Flash #200.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day #3

Part Three: Recessional

Judd Winick Writer
Alé Garza Penciller
Trevor Scott & Marlo Alquiza Inks
Jeromy Cox Colorist
Comicraft Letters
Associate Editor Lysa Hawkins
Editor Eddie Berganza

Our cover shows Nightwing holding the dead body of Troia. It is a rather morose image, although it does spoil the story inside, and confirms my fears that this miniseries is just a Titans story with Young Justice as the guest stars.

Our story picks up with several members of the Titans and Young Justice battling a Superman robot at a S.T.A.R. Labs facility in Silicon Valley, California. Tempest takes a big hit that sends him flying into a nearby firetruck. The Superman robot then grabs Impulse, prompting Nightwing to order Bart to go limp.

Impulse chooses instead to break free of the robot's grasp and tie it up with its cape. But the robot punches through the cape, hitting Impulse in the back, and sending him into the wall. Wonder Girl rushes to Bart's side, notes that he's unconscious, and wonders aloud why he can't ever listen. Next to her, a random pile of purple goo starts bubbling.

The Superman robot flies into the air and prepares to throw a large piece of machinery at our heroes. Arsenal fires a few arrows at it, destroying the chunk of rubble, but otherwise doing no damage to the android, which fires back with some heat vision blasts of its own. Troia flies up, grabs the robot, and manages to push it out to an open field.

The blue robot girl with pink hair says she's programmed to protect humanity, but she's only operating at 35 percent of her normal capabilities and still requires more repairs. So Arsenal pulls out a screwdriver and asks Robin to help him fix up the robot, while everyone else chases after Troia and the Superman bot.

The Superman robot throws Troia off him, hits Wonder Girl with a blast of freezing breath, then puts Superboy in a headlock. Nightwing frees him by placing a couple of explosives on the robot's back, but once again, very little damage is actually done to the android. Meanwhile, we discover that the purple goo on the floor was actually the hero Metamorpho.

Troia quickly returns to the fight, and manages to take off one the robot's arms. She then pins it under her begins pummeling it. But before the Superman robot is completely destroyed, it blasts Troia through the heart with its heat vision, killing her instantly. Immediately after, the blue robot girl plunges her fist through the Superman robot, finally destroying it. However, she also collapses right after.

The narrator then tells us that Omen had very few friends and family, so her funeral service was very small. Donna Troy's, however, was massive. Nearly every hero imaginable showed up to pay their respects to Donna, who was honored with a statue of herself labeled, "Friend, Princess, Warrior."

After the funeral, Wonder Girl retreats to a lonely tree to cry under. Superboy and Robin approach her, telling her that this wasn't their fault and they did was try to help. Cassie says that's the problem — all they do is try to help, but they never do. She angrily says they've never known what they were doing and now their ignorance has led to the murder of two people. Kon admits they have a lot to learn, but Cassie cuts him off, saying they'll never learn enough. Cyborg was watching all this from a distance, and he says to himself, "You're wrong ... and I'll show you why ..."

Arsenal and Nightwing are having a similar conversation, with Nightwing insisting this was all their fault. He shouts and whines, and Roy quietly answers with, "I loved her, too." He then tells Dick he can't throw away everything they built with Donna, but Dick insists the Titans are finished and walks away. We then get an epilogue showing Donna waking up on the world she saw in her nightmares. Luckily, she's wearing more than her underwear this time.

This was the story of how the Titans became the Outsiders. Nightwing, who was clearly unstable before any of this began, was simply unable to keep the team going after witnessing two of his teammates be killed. That's completely understandable. Overlooking the incredibly lame way Omen and Troia were killed, and the incredibly confusing shenanigans Donna Troy is constantly put through, and we have an adequate origin story for this new Outsiders team. Unfortunately, setting up the Outsiders was only half the goal of this miniseries. It was also supposed to show how Young Justice disbanded and became the Teen Titans. And that really didn't happen.

Young Justice started this story by visiting a large corporation late one night to discuss a potential sponsorship deal. We don't know what any of them thought about this. Then, a random robot attacked Cyborg and was legitimately killing him. So Young Justice tried to save Cyborg, which started a bit of a fight that inexplicably wounded half the heroes involved. Later, this same random robot activates a random Superman robot. Everybody goes to fight it, and two members of the Titans are killed. Tragic? Sure. Especially for Wonder Girl, who was fairly close to Donna. But was this a strong enough reason to disband Young Justice? Heck no! Maybe let Cassie take a break for a bit, but there's no reason for Superboy, Robin, Impulse or Empress to want to stop what they're doing.

This was a disappointing miniseries through and through. The artwork was never particularly good. And the story jumped around like crazy — being annoyingly specific with times and locations, yet quite inconsistent in other aspects. And so much time was spent on things that ultimately didn't matter. We didn't need to have that prolonged Titans debate at Optitron, as there was no payoff whatsoever in this story. In the end, I was looking for something to ease the disappointment of Young Justice's cancellation. Instead, I just got a sloppy story that cared more about other characters.

Next time, we'll continue the Blitz storyline in The Flash #199.

Friday, December 1, 2017

JLA: Welcome to the Working Week

Writer Patton Oswalt
Penciller Patrick Gleason
Inker Christian Alamy
Letterer Ken Lopez
Colorist John Kalisz
Separator J.D. Mettler

Cover Penciller: Patrick Gleason
Cover Inker: Christian Alamy
Cover Color: Dave Stewart

This is a 64-page special, telling the story of Marlus Randone, a young man who publishes his own magazine about superheroes, and somehow was able to spend a week at the JLA Watchtower. The hodgepodge cover shows the various photographs, notes and clippings Marlus uses for his magazine. It also is a perfect representation of the hodgepodge nature of this story, as well as the humor befitting the comedian Patton Oswalt.

The story begins with an alien invasion hitting Marlus' neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. To protect the citizens, the JLA teleports the whole neighborhood to the Watchtower. The aliens are quickly disposed of and all the people are teleported back home. Except for Marlus. He manages to sneak away from the group and spend the next week hiding, stealing food, and taking a few pictures of the heroes in action. Much of what he observes is your basic superhero stuff (and none of it involves Impulse), but there are a few highlights I found interesting.

One day, the Weather Wizard threatens the Virginia coastline. But instead of sending in the Flash to take him out, Batman calls up the Weather Wizard and negotiates with him. He points out that even if the Weather Wizard did fight and defeat the Flash, his act of terrorism-for-profit would have every human and metahuman agent and agency on his trail for the rest of his life, not to mention Doctor Fate and Zatanna hounding him in the afterlife. So Batman offers Weather Wizard a chance to work with a major U.S. corporation to co-patent his technology, receive a huge tax break and earn royalties in perpetuity as the device is used for beach reclamation around the world.

On another day, Wonder Woman brings Cheetah, Killer Croc and Lady Shiva up to the Watchtower to spar with her to have a few months shaved off their prison sentences. And in a rather gruesome scene, Batman tests his limits by seeing how long he can survive in space. But the only part we really care about is the night that Plastic Man throws a party, and everyone is invited. And I mean everyone.

Impulse is seen hanging out with Blue Beetle for some reason. We also see Robin with Nightwing and Superboy dancing with Spoiler. Poison Ivy tries to crash the party, but Plastic Man catches her. The issue then heads into a climactic battle against some monsters from another dimension, and Marlus is able to help thanks to a dream he had. In the end, he's teleported back home, and we learn that the JLA knew he was there the whole time. Martian Manhunter decided to let him stay because he recognized Marlo from years ago when his father, a firefighter, died saving J'onn's life.

This is an unusual comic. It was kind of fun to see the JLA operate from the perspective of an outsider who doesn't quite know what's going on. Although, too much of that did become a bit frustrating and disorienting. Adding to the disorientation were all the time jumps, flashbacks, dreams and fantasies. But working through the confusion, this comic does have some funny and really interesting moments (I thought the bit with Batman and Weather Wizard was brilliant). Unfortunately, the art did let me down a bit, which is kind of odd because in 2017 Patrick Gleason is one of my favorite artists. I guess he wasn't quite as refined in 2003.

Next time, we'll conclude Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day #2

Part Two: Commencement

Judd Winick Writer
Alé Garza Penciller
Lary Stucker Inker
Jeromy Cox Colorist
Comicraft Letters
Associate Editor Lysa Hawkins
Editor Eddie Berganza

Our cover shows a fairly shocking image: Superman, looking quite angry and evil, beating up Nightwing, Troia, Robin and Superboy. Don't look too closely at the proportions or the anatomy — you will start to lose your mind. Well, let's try to find out what's going on here.

Our story picks up after the disastrous fight with the blue and pink robot girl against the Titans and Young Justice. Nightwing has decided to bring all the injured heroes to San Francisco General Hospital, yet he is adamant that everybody keep their masks on ... unless it's medical. Cyborg proves problematic, as the hospital is not at all equipped to help him. And Impulse does not like being restrained by Tempest.

Eventually, Dr. Sarah Charles of S.T.A.R. Labs shows up, and one hour and 26 minutes later, she has everybody "out of the woods." And she is preparing to transfer the wounded to S.T.A.R. Labs Facility SJ-1, 63 miles away. But before that can happen, our favorite blue robot teleports into said facility. She fights through a bunch of guards, smashes her way to a big vault, but by the time she gets it open, she's running at only 1.78 percent power and collapses. Superman steps out of the vault, picks up the robot, and flies away with her.

Back at the hospital, Robin is complaining to Superboy about how dumb the fight with the robot was. He blames Impulse and Empress for charging in, causing half the Titans to get injured while looking out for Young Justice. Robin is embarrassed to have made such a showing in front of the team that inspired them. Superboy says he's sure the Titans were a lot like them when they started, but Robin darkly says he doesn't think so.

Troia and Nightwing are watching this conversation from a distance, and Troia points out how similar Robin is to Nightwing. She asks him to tell Robin that he's wrong, reminding Nightwing of all their failures when they were younger. But Nightwing refuses, saying Young Justice needs a leader more than a kind word. Troia suggests Nightwing could lead them, but he darkly says he can barely lead the Titans. He then abruptly changes the conversation by asking Troia if she's consulted Wonder Woman about her nightmares. She hasn't, which angers Nightwing, so Troia calls him on his hypocrisy for refusing to talk to Robin or Batman.

They find Wonder Girl sulking in a closet, so Nightwing leaves Troia to try to comfort her. Wonder Girl admits that she's considering leading a normal life as a high school girl, getting involved with sports and the yearbook staff and such. Troia asks if that's what she really wants, and Wonder Girl realizes such a boring life would drive her crazy. Troia tells her they didn't choose this life, but it is their destiny and they have to rise to the challenges. After a moment of silence, Wonder Girl says she's scared most of the time. Troia says she'd be stupid not to be.

Cyborg is awake now, and he tells Arsenal that he learned a bit about the blue robot when it connected to him. She's from more than 2000 years in the future and was damaged in a previous battle. Cyborg says the robot was simply looking for similar life forms, but she inadvertently fell into defense mode, which is why she attacked them.

One of the S.T.A.R. Labs people gets everybody's attention and turns on the news, showing reports of explosions at computer gaming store called Contesto. Impulse asks why they should care about a toy company, and Dr. Charles explains that was just a front for a S.T.A.R. Labs facility. The newscast reports that Superman is on the scene, prompting local responders to keep their distance. The cameras allegedly also show the blue robot (although we don't see it in the comic) because Impulse comments on how weird it is to see Superman working on "the bad girl that laid us all up." Nightwing asks Dr. Charles how soon she can get them there, and she says her hover craft will make the trip in eight minutes. So Nightwing rounds up everyone who's healthy enough to fight — Robin, Impulse, Superboy, Wonder Girl, Arsenal, Troia and Omen.

Our heroes arrive at the facility and find Superman repairing the robot's circuits with his heat vision. But they instantly realize something is wrong, as Superman refuses to acknowledge their presence. Impulse thinks he's "off his nut" to be playing doctor on "C3PO," while the whole place looks like Godzilla whacked Tokyo. Robin says they can't try to make Superman do anything he doesn't want to do. Tempest agrees with Robin, but also acknowledges Impulse has a good point. Omen tries to read Superman's mind, but is unable. Believing he's in a trance, she tries to touch him to restore his senses. Nightwing, ever the worrywart, warns her not to, but Omen proceeds with her plan.

Superman suddenly turns, grabs Omen's neck and crushes it, killing her instantly. Impulse was the only one who could have tried to save her, but he hesitated out of shock. And the narrator tells us that Impulse wouldn't have made a difference even if he didn't hesitate. The narrator also explains to us that this is a Superman robot that was built to resemble the original's powers as much as possible, but was deemed unreliable, deactivated and put in storage. Until today.

This was another lackluster effort in this miniseries. Even Lary Stucker's inks couldn't fix Alé Garza's problems with proportions, anatomy, heads and faces. And the story is just so ... melodramatic. We spent most of the time sitting around in the hospital with everybody acting like they've never lost a fight or been injured before. Look, that little stint with the blue robot girl was not a big deal. At all. It was a quick fight, a couple of people got electrocuted ... so what? Stuff like that happens all the time for these people, right? And why are they all treating that fight like it was the biggest mistake they've ever seen? That robot was killing Cyborg, despite her intentions. Somebody needed to do something.

This issue spent so much time on the hospital sob fest and the robot girl hopping around, that we weren't left with any time for the promised fight against this Superman robot. I also think it was incredibly lame for a narrator's box to tell us this was a Superman robot. A significant detail like that should organically come from the story. And as for Omen's death? Sure, I guess you could call it shocking. But I don't know anything about her, nor do I care about her.

Next time, we're going to take a very quick look at JLA: Welcome to the Working Week.