Sunday, June 25, 2017

Superboy #91

War Letters

Joe Kelly Writer
Pascual Ferry Pencils
Keith Champagne Inks
Jason Wright Colors
Digital Chameleon Seps
Comicraft Letters
McAvennie Editor

Cover by Pascual Ferry & Keith Champagne. Now this is an appropriate cover for Our Worlds at War. It's dark. It's bleak. It's depressing. And it perfectly matches this story. Young Justice is stranded on the hellish planet of Apokolips, where half their team has been kidnapped and two of their members have essentially been killed. We're in the Casualties of War phase, and Young Justice has been hit as hard as any superhero team.

This issue is divided into three stories told concurrently. One is told by one of Superman's robots, detailing Krypto's efforts to save people around the world and protect the Fortress of Solitude from an Imperiex probe. The other story is a letter Guardian is writing to the families of the fallen soldiers who joined him and the Human Bomb in an attack against an Imperiex probe in South America. But the story we care about is a letter from Superboy to his friend, Serling.

Superboy starts his tale with Young Justice rescuing the injured JLA from space. (Apparently Superboy can manipulate his tactile telekinesis to create a "space suit" for himself.) Kon is creeped out by the Martian Manhunter's mangled form, and he personally carries Green Lantern into the Paradocs, where we see Wonder Woman, Plastic Man and the Flash being treated. In his letter, Kon admits to feeling guilty about thinking of rising through the ranks to replace fallen members of the JLA. But in his mind's eye, he doesn't see Young Justice surviving this war, either.

We then see Young Justice in Impulse's spaceship, The Max, abruptly change course to follow the Black Racer and Steel. Superboy explains that he's the best fit to lead Young Justice on this mission because he's had the most experience with adventures in outer space. He writes that Robin began to crack under pressure, and he says that even though he doesn't want to be on Apokolips, it's his duty to put his head down and get the job done.

As we're given a flashback of Superboy, Wonder Girl, Cissie and Impulse arriving at Darkseid's citadel, Kon tells a joke about a soldier saying, "War is swell." The soldier's partner is shocked to hear him say that, but then he sees the soldier has a piece of shrapnel in his mouth and was trying to say, "War is hell." Superboy admits it's a bad joke, then moves on to describe what happened to Impulse, prefacing it with, "Something bad happened."

Superboy takes responsibility for Impulse's accident, saying if he didn't push Robin and act like a big man, then he wouldn't have killed one of his best friends. After staring helplessly at Impulse's shaking, quivering body, Superboy begins to weep and flies up into space to get away from this horrific scene. But to make matters even worse, Superboy sees the entire planet become enveloped in a boom tube and transported away from Earth's orbit and to the other side of the universe. Seeing that it's now become even harder to return home, Superboy slumps down on a building. Never having felt so scared or helpless, Kon writes, "Wake me up, please. This isn't fun anymore."

I really liked this issue. It didn't cover a whole lot of new ground, but it did provide an emotional insight into Superboy's thought process during this whole event. And Pascual Ferry gave us a unique, haunting image of Bart's scout dying. That panel alone is worth the price of admission. I also enjoyed the other two stories in this issue, but I would preferred to have given all the pages to Superboy's tale. It would have been nice to have seen even more of Young Justice rescue wounded heroes before going to Apokolips. And, not to spoil too much of next issue, but we will see that the rest of Young Justice will also have been kidnapped by Granny Goodness off page. This issue would have been the only logical place to show that, and I'm sad we didn't get it.

This issue joins Young Justice #36 and Impulse #77 in the Superman: Our Worlds at War Book Two trade paperback. One advantage this trade has over the first one is that it devoted a whole page to each issue's cover instead of squeezing two on a page. However, the covers are relegated to the back once again, creating a few awkward transitions. This trade also suffers from an exclusion of some really important issues that showed important moments in the fights against Imperiex and Brainiac 13. The omission that hurts most for this blog is Young Justice #37, which will show how our teenage heroes get off Apokolips. Instead of that, we do get a couple of pages at the end of World's Finest: Our Worlds at War #1, drawn by Todd Nauck showing Young Justice make it back to Earth. It's an emotional scene, but it doesn't include Impulse, so we're not covering it here. Finally, the biggest problem with this trade paperback is the cover. It is drawn by Mike Wieringo, and it is drawn well. It just portrays a completely insignificant fight in the midst of a massive that had so many huge moments and casualties.

Ultimately, though, I am glad that Impulse earned the status of having a "death" in a massive, company-wide crossover. And in this trade paperback, Impulse was a major part of three of the ten issues inside, which I think is huge for a character who was only ever a background character in the previous DC events (beside Sins of Youth). For the most part, I'd say I did enjoy Our Worlds at War. It's big, it's wild, the stakes feel real and the costs are devastating. However, because this event lacked a dedicated miniseries, it suffered from pacing problems, clumsy transitions and continuity flubs. Reading the two official trade paperbacks will give you an incomplete picture of the story, but reading everything marked with Our Worlds at War will waste a lot of your time with nonessential filler.

By sheer coincidence, Our Worlds at War wrapped up just before the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. I wonder how this story would have changed if it were written after 9/11. In any case, I do see this as a time of transition for Impulse, Young Justice and DC as a whole. It's hard to go back to simple, silly stories after going through such serious, traumatic events both in the comics and in real life. As DC shifts into a darker tone, the light-hearted series of Impulse, Superboy and even Young Justice will begin their countdown to cancellation.

Next time, we'll move to comics with a November 2001 publication date, beginning with a very quick cameo in Flash Secret Files and Origins #3.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Impulse #77

Split Decision

Todd Dezago • Writer
Carlo Barberi • Penciller
Juan Vlasco • Inker
Janice Chiang • Letterer
Tom McCraw • Colorist
Digital Chameleon • Separator
Joey Cavalieri • Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo

This issue's cover: The bombs bursting in air were rendered by Carlo Barberi and Wayne Faucher. Sadly, I am not a fan of this cover. All the characters seem slightly off model, even Impulse. And although the tombstone does say, "That's not funny," I think the tone of this cover is too funny and light for the story inside. If it were me, I would have just focused on the left side, removed the speech bubble, and played up the danger of Apokolips.

Our story picks up with Impulse, Superboy, Wonder Girl and Cissie breaking off from the rest of Young Justice to begin their quest to rescue Steel. Our heroes are scaling a mountain, with Superboy and Wonder Girl flying and Cissie climbing with the help of Impulse, who wonders out loud if they're in a Planet of the Apes scenario. (And Todd Dezago provides a fun recap of the essential information of this crossover.)

Superboy and Wonder Girl are discussing their treatment of Robin, with Kon insisting their secretive leader "had it coming," and Cassie criticizing Superboy for the way he handled the situation. Cissie tells Bart he's the only monkey they'll see on Apokolips, and Impulse reaches the top of the mountain and sadly reports that not only are there no apes, but only more miles miles of the same old volcanic wasteland.

The conversation then turns to the location of Steel. Even though last issue established that Cissie had a Paradocs tracker locked on a beacon on Steel's armor, that whole idea is seemingly forgotten in this issue. The story now is that Superboy saw which direction the Black Racer was taking Steel, and our heroes are trekking across Apokolips according to his memory. Atop the mountain, Cassie asks Kon how sure he is they're heading in the right direction, and Superboy can only say he's 72 percent sure. Wonder Girl chews him out for acting so impulsively, which she says led to their fight with Robin. She criticizes him for being so busy talking that he doesn't stop to hear what he's saying or how other people are hearing it. And in a flashback, we see that besides Secret and Wonder Girl, Cissie and Empress also wanted to stop the fight, albeit somewhat half-heartedly. Lobo, however, encouraged Robin and Superboy to keep fighting, while Impulse was simply looking away.

As they try to figure out what their next move should be, Impulse explains to his teammates his new power of creating energy scouts of himself that can travel back in time. He offers to create one to check which direction Black Racer and Steel were headed. Superboy initially dismisses this idea, but Wonder Girl likes it. So Superboy agrees, but he gives Bart strict instructions to only have his scout see where Black Racer was headed and then come right back to them. So Bart sends off one scout, which returns a second later and points them all in the right direction. The whole experience leaves Superboy with a dazed look on his face, and even Bart admits it's a little weird.

Meanwhile, 20.7 kilometers away, a team of red Parademons have spotted four individuals moving across Sector 15.2. They prepare to ready an automated surface elimination program, but Granny Goodness aborts the order, saying these intruders are children and all children on Apokolips belong to her. As such, she orders the Parademons to capture the children and bring them back to her unharmed.

We return to our heroes, who are currently passing one of the many fire pits of Apokolips that can shoot flames miles into the sky when activated. This one is inert, so Impulse is taking advantage of this opportunity to run along the pit's cavernous walls — despite Superboy's warning. Before too long, Bart inadvertently breaks off a piece of a pipe, which falls down into the pit, triggering it. Luckily, Bart is able to avoid the massive column of flames and pull his teammates away to safety in time. Cassie thanks Bart for saving them, and Cissie notes that they need to avoid dropping things into the fire pits.

Shortly, our heroes arrive at Darkseid's citadel — a building the size of a small city, adorned with enormous statues of Darkseid, himself. Superboy asks Bart where, exactly, the Black Racer took Steel, but Bart reminds him that he gave his scout strict instruction to just see where they were headed and come right back. As Kon bemoans their difficult task of trying to find a needle in a haystack, Bart suggests he creates another scout that will actually follow Black Racer into the citadel this time. Kon likes this idea, but Cassie doesn't. She launches into a long tirade about how dangerous this is, and how Superboy needs to be more responsible if he wants to be a leader. Unfortunately, she talks too long, and while she was talking, Impulse created and sent off his second scout. Before anyone can process what Bart just did, a huge swarm of Parademons flies out of the citadel.

Meanwhile, about and hour ago, Impulse's scout has spotted the Black Racer zooming down a series of corridors and staircases with the lifeless form of Steel floating behind in the Racer's wake. Impulse's scout is careful to keep his distance, and before too long, he sees the purpose of the Black Racer's journey. Standing in front of two sets of armor — one Imperiex, the other decorated with Superman's shield — is the ruler of Apokolips, Darkseid. The Black Racer kneels before Darkseid, addresses him as his liege, and presents Steel's body as an offering. Impulse's scout doesn't quite understand this scene, other than it doesn't look good and he needs to tell the others immediately.

Back in the present, our heroes have quickly found cover behind a wall, and are both surprised and relieved to see the Parademons fly right past them. But then Wonder Girl worries that the Parademons are after Robin and the others, so Superboy immediately flies up to fight the winged army. Wonder Girl pulls him back down to earth, saying they need to come up with a plan or they'll waste their element of surprise. Bart admits Superboy did surprise him, but Kon agrees with Cassie. He orders Bart to race back to their ship as fast as he can so he's not seen, warn Robin of the Parademons, and tell him the rest of them will be there soon to help out. So Bart takes off and Cissie suggests they use the fire pits to distract the Parademons.

So Superboy takes Cissie in his arms as he and Wonder Girl begin flying around, dropping pieces of metal and junk into the fire pits, confusing and even killing some Parademons. But it doesn't take the Parademons too long to spot the source of this commotion, and they all begin flying after our heroes. Granny Goodness sees that her troops have veered off course, so she decides to punish them for disobeying orders. She activates the self-destruct mechanism on their armor, and all the Parademons begin to erupt in violent balls of flame that rain down hard on the ground.

Wonder Girl, Superboy and Cissie manage to take cover in an open building, and watch in horror the death and destruction of war. Impulse soon joins them, sadly reporting that their teammates have already been captured by Parademons. Before they can put together a plan to save the others, Cissie spots Impulse's scout weaving through the fireballs of the dying Parademons on his journey to return to the original Impulse. Bart notes that there's too many fireballs and his scout needs to vibrate through them. But the scout is distracted, and tries to begin telling everybody what he saw before he reaches the safety of the building. Cissie tells the scout to not talk, Cassie tries to warn him to look out and Bart shouts at him to vibrate. But it's too late.

The scout is blasted in the back with a fireball, screaming out in pain as it's torn to pieces and turned pure white with an exposed skeleton. Cissie cries out Bart's name as she, Superboy and Wonder Girl helplessly watch the terrifying image of their teammate dying. A second later, Cissie spots the real Bart, who has fallen to the ground in a fetal position. With tears in their eyes, Bart's teammates surround him, wondering how they can possibly help him.

That last page is one of the most haunting images in all of Impulse. DC had been spreading the rumor that Impulse would die in Our Worlds at War, and here they managed to give him the terrifying experience of death without technically killing him off. Pretty traumatizing stuff.

But as powerful as that final scene is, I do have a few problems with this issue. Carlo Barberi drew Superboy a bit too skinny, messed up Wonder Girl's hair, made the Parademons look completely different from last issue of Young Justice, and ultimately failed to make Darkseid look anywhere near intimidating. There are also a few nagging continuity issues — the result of having different writers and editors, I suppose. No one is wearing their red Paradocs armbands they had last issue, and as I said earlier, this issue completely ignored Cissie's tracking device they were using to find Steel. All those problems aside, though, this issue is one of the most significant issues of Impulse that will forever alter the character.

Impulsive Reactions begins with Joey Cavalieri announcing that this month's letter column will feature an online discussion about the rumors of Impulse's demise.

David Edward Martin quotes a line the Linear Men gave Superman, saying that three heroes would die: "the Patriarch, the Queen Mother, and the Young Speedster." David believes the first two are Aquaman and Wonder Woman's mother, Hippolyta, but he's doubtful the third would be Impulse. He suggests it could be Inertia, someone who has, despite his worst intentions, has shown a propensity for heroic acts.

RogerBurks doesn't think it'll be Inertia because most people don't know about him, and he believes Impulse's death would screw up DC's continuity and ruin the company's efforts of giving the character wider exposure. Instead, he suggests a temporary death for Wally West or a permanent death for Jesse Quick.

 Max Mercury II says, "I got two letters for ya: XS."

Assumpta Brava says it can't be XS since the Legion of Super-Heroes isn't involved in Our Worlds at War.

RickShaw1 asks when the Linear Men gave that warning to Superman.

SNW21 says it was mentioned in Superman: The Man of Steel #109.

Hourman14 quotes Geoff Johns as saying Wally West is not going to die.

Storyteller believes Bart will die, but it'll be a temporary death, calling it a rite of passage for speedsters.

Mild Mannered Janitor III says he used to love Impulse during the Mark Waid-Humberto Ramos run, but he dropped the title during the William Messner-Loebs run. He gave the Todd Dezago-Ethan Van Sciver run a shot, but couldn't get into that, either. However, he has been impressed by Carlo Barberi's art and is wondering what's a good jumping-on point for his run.

Tobias Christopher says Barberi started with Impulse #70, which he says is a good starting point. He briefly explains the Dark Tomorrow storyline and says Dezago and Barberi are "kicking major tail."

Rick2Tails says new readers won't have any problem starting right after the Mercury Falling storyline. Now for the new ads.

Traxtar OG: computes how far you run, how high you jump, hang time, with stopwatch. We are not alone. Reebok.

Can you unlock the mystery? Pokémon Crystal for Game Boy Color.

Rumble Robots. Interactive fighting robots.

Lady Sia for Game Boy Advance.

The Powerpuff Girls Pop-Tarts. Mojo Jojo didn't see this coming either.

The 2XS Club for Everybody with Game Boy Color. I guess you win free stuff if you buy certain games.

Run home now with See Spot Run. Out on videocassette and DVD.

Discover the Unown! Pokémon the Movie 3 on videocassette and DVD.

Cap'n Crunch's Oops! Smashed Berries . Kids smashed 'em in the factory so you can fit more in your mouth!!

Next time, the Casualties of War continue in Superboy #91.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Young Justice #36

Kissing on the Apokolips

Peter David – Writer
Todd Nauck – Penciller
Marlo Alquiza – Inker
Ken Lopez – Letterer
Jason Wright – Colorist
Digital Chameleon – Separations
Tom Palmer, Jr. – Assistant Editor
Eddie Berganza – Editor

Our cover is by Todd Nauck and Marlo Alquiza, and although I always prefer Lary Stucker, I do have to say that Alquiza does a really good job filling in. I love the concept of this cover — putting our characters in black and letting only a few colors peek through. We've officially moved into the Casualties of War phase, and the darkness of the cover reflects the darkness of the story. Our four main heroes are front and center, with the others near the wreck of Impulse's spaceship (now decorated with the Paradocs symbol). I especially like the effect done on Secret to make her look semi-transparent. The only nit I'd pick on this cover is the color scheme. They're on Apokolips, which always has had a very red color scheme (including inside this book). But then again, I do appreciate the symbolic darkness we have here, so I'm torn.

Our story begins probably just seconds after the image on the cover happened. Young Justice has just crash landed on Apokolips, and, to everyone's horror, Robin and Superboy have begun attacking each other. Wonder Girl is the first to try to break up the fight, reminding the two that they're friends.

Robin says a friend wouldn't have crossed them up like Superboy did. Superboy insists he only did what he thought was right and the only reasons he hasn't used his tactile telekinesis on Robin is because he's his friend. But when Robin angrily flips Superboy off him, insinuating that he'd still beat him even with his powers, Kon prepares to attack again, vowing to not hold anything back this time. Wonder Girl steps in front of Superboy and Secret creates a barrier around Robin. But Robin bristles at the girls' help and blames Superboy for bringing them to Apokolips. He also points out that the last time Superboy sabotaged the team, he turned out to be Match, so Robin wonders what his excuse is this time.

Superboy suggests that Batman may have given Robin some tips for handling them, and Wonder Girl tries to tell him not to bring up this topic, while Lobo lazily plays with a yo-yo. Robin insists that Superboy elaborate on his comment, which Kon gladly does. He reveals that the entire team heard about how Batman kept secret files, detailing all the weaknesses of each member of the JLA. Since then, they've all been wondering if Robin, as Batman's protégé, also has files on his teammates. Robin says Batman has his own way of doing things, and he turns to the others to see what they have to say on this topic.

Impulse is the first to speak up, saying it's only natural to be a little worried, considering Robin's association with Batman. Cissie says that even though this doesn't affect her directly since she's no longer Arrowette, she does understand the concern. Robin directly asks Cassie what she thinks, and she nervously says that as Wonder Girl, it's only natural for her to wonder. Secret says she trusts Robin implicitly and doesn't care what the others say. Empress points out that if any member of the JLA had been taken over by an outside force, then everybody would have been thanking Batman for his foresight, and, by extension, Robin. Lobo sees that everyone's taking sides, so he chooses Robin, because he didn't back down when Lobo got in has face. Of course, Lobo clarifies that he's not respecting Robin for his courage, but that he views the Boy Wonder as dumb as a rock and therefore not a threat. Robin still thanks Lobo for his support, though.

So Robin finally comes clean and tells his teammates that he does not have files on them. He says that he actually has friends, whereas Batman merely has associates, something that's becoming more clear to him. With that out of the way, Robin says they now have two issues to worry about. First, since they're on Apokolips, they might as well try to save the person they came looking for. Luckily, this hero is wearing armor that was equipped with a standard-issue Paradocs tracker, and Cissie has a scanner that has located their missing person about 20 miles north of them. The second problem Robin points out is their ship, which needs to be repaired before they can even think about leaving Apokolips. Lobo reports that he spotted a small ship port just south of them as they were crash-landing. He believes that they can find whatever parts they need down there to fix Impulse's ship, The Max.

Robin orders Superboy, Wonder Girl, Cissie and Impulse to find their patient and bring him back, while the rest of them help Lobo with the ship. Superboy points out that Robin just happens to be sending away the four people that don't trust him, but Robin justifies his decision by saying he chose two of the strongest members, the fastest member and the one medical expert for this recon mission. Superboy admits this makes sense, and he starts to apologize, but Robin brushes him off, saying that Kon got them into this mess, and now he's trying to get them out of it. If Superboy doesn't support his efforts, Robin contends, than that says more about him than Robin.

We then jump back to what really is the beginning of our story. Young Justice has already been working for a bit as the Paradocs' Search and Rescue team, and now they've been given the assignment to retrieve the wounded members of Suicide Squad from the Moon. It takes The Max long enough to fly there for Robin to play a game of Solitaire and for Anita to braid Cissie's hair. Lobo is the pilot, Impulse the co-pilot, and Superboy the loudest critic of being asked to rescue supervillains. Lobo thinks Suicide Squad is a stupid name, and when Impulse asks what he thinks about the name Young Justice, he says it's even dumber. Cassie is still trying to get Cissie to be Arrowette again, but it seems now she's taken a more joking tone, coming up with silly archer-related names instead of Arrowette. But the girls' brief moment of levity is spoiled by Secret suddenly growing stiff, staring wide-eyed into the distance, and reporting the arrival of Death. On skis.

Lobo also says he sees Death approaching, so Robin orders everyone to battle stations (taking time to compliment Cissie on her hair). However, none of the scans pick up anything, and even Impulse in the co-pilot seat can't see what Lobo can see and Secret can sense. That is, until a black man on skis appears in the ship, with the unconscious body of Steel trailing behind him. Superboy steps in front of the Black Racer to try to save Steel, but the Racer just phases through him like the Super-Cycle would. Secret then tries to stop him, but even she fails. The Black Racer (and Steel) then pass through the ship and back out into space. Superboy demands that they change their course to go after Steel, but Robin insists that they stick to their mission. While they argue the merits of rescuing heroes over villains vs. duty and obligation, Lobo steers the ship in the Black Racer's direction, claiming a personal history with the embodiment of death. Robin tries to stop Lobo, but Superboy physically pulls Robin back, saying they're doing the right thing even if Robin doesn't agree.

Robin wasn't surprised by Lobo's erratic behavior, but he was genuinely hurt by Superboy's betrayal and the fact that no one, other than Secret, stepped up to defend him. However, Secret's intervention was too little too late, as The Max has arrived at Apokolips. And is promptly shot down. Luckily, Lobo is an amazing pilot, and he was able to land the damaged ship without anyone being injured. And that catches us up to where this issue began.

Superboy, Wonder Girl, Impulse and Cissie have headed north to find Steel, while Robin, Empress and Secret are headed south to find spare parts for their spaceship. To save time, Robin has left Lobo behind to get a head start on the repairs. Robin and Empress have a tough time crossing a field of exploding lava rocks, but they do make it to the shipyard in one piece. Secret scouted out the area (which includes a chunk of armor from a fallen Imperiex probe, as well as tons of ships straight out of Star Wars and Star Trek), and she reports that the place is empty. Robin asks Lobo over the radio what parts they need, and as Lobo rattles off a very complicated list, Robin realizes the fatal flaw of his plan: he has no idea what any of these items look like. So the Boy Wonder asks the Top Teen to come join them.

As soon as Robin makes that request, he, Empress and Secret are surrounded by an army of parademons. Our heroes fight valiantly, but are simply outnumbered. Secret is captured in some sort of energy field, and both Robin and Empress believe they are going to die. When all hope seems lost, Lobo jumps down from his Spacehog, wielding his famous hook and chain. The leader of the parademons says that Granny Goodness had ordered them to take in the humans alive. And since Lobo is not a human, they should kill him.

Lobo fights viciously. But the endless armies of parademons match his ferocity, shooting each other just for a chance to hit Lobo. As Robin and Empress are put in chains, Lobo fights until every inch of his body is covered in blood. Finally, he falls to his knees, and he actually seems to rejoice at the sudden appearance of the Black Racer, calling out, "At laaaaaast!!!!" But the Black Racer does not take Lobo away. And before the horrified eyes of Robin, Empress and Secret, Lobo falls to the ground dead. The parademons lead our heroes away, and as Lobo's blood spills from his lifeless body, it begins boiling and churning. And it appears that dozens of little Lobo faces are emerging from his blood.

Holy cow. What an issue. Lobo is dead. Half the team has been captured — on Apokolips, no less! And the other half of the team has basically turned their backs on Robin and are off facing who knows what. This issue perfectly demonstrated the horrors of war and the difficult choices that have to be made during war. We also had our first casualty in this series, with Lobo receiving a fitting, heroic end that he seemed to crave. But as we saw on the last panel, Lobo isn't necessarily gone for good.

Superboy's desire to save Steel may derive from his ignorance of the Black Racer. If he understood that Steel really was dead, he probably wouldn't have insisted on following him to Apokolips. Then again, in an earlier Our Worlds at War tie-in, Superman also begged the Black Racer to release Steel, so it's only natural that Superboy would be guided by the same principles. The other shocking aspect of this issue was the reveal that half the team didn't trust Robin because of Batman's actions. Sadly, this idea was not developed in the Young Justice series, probably because the last handful of issues had the team separated and everybody basically doing their own thing. I suppose one could argue that the team was hesitant to do much together because of their distrust of Robin, and it was only being drafted into war that forced them to come together again.

This issue is included in the trade paperback Superman: Our Worlds at War Book Two (as are the next issues of Impulse and Superboy we'll be reviewing). One unfortunate aspect of this issue, in regards to being in a trade, is the fact that it starts in the middle of the story, then backtracks to the beginning. I don't mind it when individual issues do this, but it becomes disorienting when that issue is part of a larger story. It creates a lot of needless jumping around through time. For whatever reason, a lot of the Our Worlds at War issues used this technique, creating some awful, whiplash transition. (In Book One, we end one issue with Superman dramatically coming face to face with Darkseid, but on the opposite facing page, the next issue begins with Superman punching General Zod.)

Our letters to the editor begin with Justin Asbell praising Young Justice #32 not just for providing the origin story for Empress, but also giving a funny story with Bart's hypnosis. Justin says Impulse and Lobo are the perfect tandem for mischief and fun.

Augie de Blieck Jr., of North Haledon, N.J., always considered Impulse a superhero sitcom, and now he considers Young Justice to be one, as well, pointing to the sitcom classics of an ill-fated date, clichéd hypnosis and a happy ending, relatively speaking. Augie is also excited to learn more about Empress since she doesn't have her own series.

Robert Acquarulo called issue #32 one of the best to date since the Lobo/Empress date had him laughing out loud. He hopes Peter David doesn't run out of ideas to make him laugh.

Mikki Grolemund, of East Amherst, N.Y., says she's been a fan since the beginning and asks for the Star-Spangled Kid to join the team. She also requests a miniseries for Wonder Girl. Eddie Berganza says Courtney Whitmore can't join Young Justice because she's already on the JSA. He cites the period when Wally West was on the Titans and JLA, and DC apparently received a lot of negative feedback for it.

Chrissy Bachmann isn't much of a comic book reader, but after following her fiancé into a shop, Young Justice stood out to her for being refreshing, clever and beautifully drawn. She calls issue #32 the funniest she's read, and begs for Lobo to stay on the team. Now for the new ads:

We have a four-page DC Fall Fashion Preview, drawn by Eduardo Risso, written by Amy Keyishian, and colored by Lee Loughridge. The main thing that sticks out to me is a skateboarder that vaguely resembles Bart Allen, accompanied with the question, "How big are your pants?" Yes, I do remember the time when bigger pants were better.

Make them your own. Levi's Carpenters. I did specifically shop for Carpenter jeans. Something about those extra straps and pockets on the sides were really cool. Trust me!

Ge boned! Monkeybone now on video and special edition DVD.

Next time, we'll see what the rest of Young Justice was up to in Impulse #77.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

JLA #57

Mind Over Matter

Mark Waid – Story
Mike S. Miller – Pencils
Paul Neary – Inks
David Baron – Colors
Ken Lopez – Letters
Steve Wacker – Assistant Editor
Dan Raspler – Editor

Unlike most of the DC Universe in the summer of 2001, the JLA series did not participate in Our Worlds at War, instead focusing on an invasion of white martians. I'm not exactly sure what this cover is trying to illustrate, other than the continuing fight against these aliens. The cover seems to imply that Superman was turned into a white martian, but the white martians, like Martian Manhunter, are merely shapeshifters. So I don't really appreciate the misleading nature of this cover.

Impulse only shows up in one panel, so we're not going to get involved in this whole story. All we need to know is that the white martians have altered Earth's atmosphere to inhibit oxidation. This lack of oxygen is making it harder for people to breathe, especially Atlanteans, is causing people to go insane, and, most importantly, has removed the white martians' only weakness: fire. To demonstrate this, Mark Waid has brought in his creation, Impulse, who has wrapped up a criminal in firecrackers. Luckily for the criminal, Impulse is unable to get his lighter started.

It's a pretty funny scene, and if it feels a bit reckless by even Bart's standards, we can blame it on the lack of oxygen going to a distracted, teenage brain that needs all the help it can get. Anyway, that's all we care about in this issue. The JLA don't defeat the white martians here because this is just part three of four. I loved seeing that Waid has forgotten about Impulse, and I thought he looked pretty good here, minus the slight coloration error.

None of the letters in Justice for All mention Impulse (or Flash for that matter), so let's check out the new ads:

Get xtreme. Get Right Guard. With Dave Chappelle.

Big. Mean. Loud. JVC.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The magic begins November 16. You'd be hard pressed to find somebody my age who wasn't profoundly influenced by these books and movies.

No shirt, no shoes, no X Games.

Fortress. The twerps have landed!!! For Game Boy Advance.

Oxy Shower Gel fights acne bacteria and pimples all over.

Dark Age of Camelot. The adventure begins Fall 2001 A.D.

Next time, we return to Our Worlds at War with Young Justice #36.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Nightwing: Our Worlds at War #1

Die, Die, and Die Again

Chuck Dixon Writer
Rick Leonardi Penciller
John Lowe Inker
Noelle Giddings Colorist
Digital Chameleon Separator
Willie Schubert Letterer
Michael Wright Editor

Looks like we have another Jae Lee cover for this latest Our Worlds at War one-shot. This one isn't too bad, showing Nightwing fighting some less-than-human cavemen. This indicates that we're in for another nonessential, time-traveling tie-in to this massive crossover.

Our story opens with Nightwing trying to combat the riots that have broken out in Gotham City since the war began. But when he receives a distress call from Oracle, Dick Grayson rushes off to Barbara Gordon's aid. Babs explains to Dick that she's been tracking a virus that appeared at the same time as Imperiex. She believes the virus is from the future and is fighting back by sending assassins after her through email. To try to avoid the virus, Oracle and Nightwing visit a S.T.A.R. Labs facility that houses a strange device that is surrounded by a temporal field, which transports whoever steps into it to a random moment in history.

Oracle and Nightwing step into the field and reappear in 1934 and are promptly attacked by a mobster, who was given a letter instructing him to kill the two of them. Our heroes easily defeat the man, then commandeer his car to help them out in all the other time periods they visit. Every time they drive into the temporal field, they end up being surrounded by people trying to kill them, no matter how far they go back in history. It is after their adventure with the cavemen people that they cross paths with Young Justice in the Timestream.

Eventually, Nightwing and Oracle decide to use holograms to fake their deaths. This successfully wards off the mountain man sent to kill them, which gives them enough time to somehow figure out how to get back home. Whoever launched the virus, perhaps Brainiac 13, finds out that Oracle has survived, but he decides he has more important things to worry about now.

This issue sucked. The art was lackluster and the story completely worthless. At least when Young Justice traveled through time, they got to actually see Brainiac 13 and Imperiex. This issue does no such thing, only referencing a futuristic virus, but not actually saying what makes this virus so bad. There was never a sense of a threat, and the story ultimately has nothing to do with Our Worlds at War. I'm really confused by these one-shots. The JLA one was absolutely essential to the story, but the Young Justice and especially the Nightwing one-shots could easily be skipped.

Next time, we'll take a very brief look at JLA #57, one of the few issues that did not tie-in to Our Worlds at War.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Young Justice #35

War Torn

Peter David Writer
Todd Nauck Pencils
Andy Lanning & Lary Stucker Inks
Jason Wright Colors
Digital Chameleon Separations
Tom Palmer Jr. Assistant Ed.
Eddie Berganza Editor

President Luthor wants you to know that this month's cover is by Todd Nauck and Andy Lanning with the colors of Ian Hannin. I wish Lary Stucker would have inked this. I think Lanning went a bit too thick on the shadows. Otherwise, this is a pretty powerful cover. A rare somber moment for Young Justice, being drafted into war and saluting the president, even though he's a super villain. But hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. I also think the order our heroes are standing in is significant. Robin is still the leader, but Superboy and Wonder Girl are also vying for that top spot. Impulse and Secret are just kind of there, Empress is brand new, Lobo isn't an official member yet, and Cissie has officially left the team, but is still around. Let's find out what's up with her red, non-Arrowette outfit.

Our story begins with Cassie visiting Cissie at her home, trying to convince her to resume her Arrowette identity and help fight in what the news channels are calling "Our Worlds at War." Cissie's school closed up temporarily, and Cassie's school was actually destroyed, with some of Cassie's friends being killed. Cassie explains that Red Tornado has ordered Young Justice to meet at the Catskill resort hotel this evening, presumably to tell them President Luthor's plans to have Young Justice fight side-by-side with the JLA. Cissie doubts that one girl with a bow can make a difference, but Cassie insists she can. She returns the bow and arrows Cissie gave her when she gave up being Arrowette, but this only makes Cissie think that Cassie views her as a coward. So she pulls her friend out to the backyard, stands her in front of an archery target, and places an apple not on Cassie head, but in her mouth.

We then cut to a startling image of Superman holding Superboy's dead body in his arms, surrounded by almost every DC hero you could ever think of (except Impulse). Superboy quickly jumps up to tell everyone that he's not dead, but he realizes he's all alone, standing on the sign that says "Welcome to Topeka, KS. Population ... 0." Kon hears somebody calling for help, and he sees its Wonder Girl with the lower half of her body blown away. He's suddenly attacked by a bunch of zombie clones of himself who remind him that he, too, is a clone, so it doesn't matter if he's killed.

Superboy is awakened from his nightmare by Secret announcing the arrival of Red Tornado. Kon asks the android if he's forgotten about Young Justice, and he responds that he's been busy assisting his wife with her physical therapy, but he has stepped in when needed. He looks at Secret as he says that last part, and she nervously asks to change the subject.

We cut to the home of Donald and Anita Fite, where Anita has decided that she needs to tell her dad she's Empress before she heads out to war. But as she begins to talk, Donald reveals he's known about her secret identity the whole time. And although they did just happen to run into Young Justice in Australia, he did make sure to call his daughter "Empress" in front of them because he preferred the idea of Anita fighting crime in a team setting rather than going off alone. Anita hugs her dad for being so understanding. Impulse then knocks on the door, and awkwardly asks Agent Fite if "Anita might want to ... y'know ... hang out. Not that this has anything to do with the end of the world or anyth—" Anita cuts him off, saying her dad already knows about her secret identity. Bart says, "That's a relief. I was having a hard time covering." Anita charitably says she didn't notice, then hops in Bart's arms as he rushes her off to their meeting with Red Tornado.

Back at Cissie's house, the gold medal archer has drawn her bow, explaining to Cassie that if she applies just the right amount of pressure, she'll be able to send the arrow through the apple but not into her throat. Cassie panics and ducks down at the last second, but Cissie was aiming for just above her head the whole time. Cissie doesn't blame her friend for cowering out, explaining that she, too, believes there's a chance she'd make a mistake. Not necessarily in her archery skills, but in letting out her violent side if she resumed her Arrowette identity. Cassie insists that she's a heroine, but Cissie angrily says she's spent her whole live allowing her mother to define her, and she's not going to let anyone else do that, even her best friend.

Cassie says it was stupid of her to try to look at one positive of this war as being able to fight alongside her friend again. Cissie says that's almost as stupid as when Cassie wished that she'd play baseball with her to save an alien world. She yells at Cassie for consistently bringing up the Arrowette topic whenever they see each other, and she criticizes her friend for failing to accept her decision. Cassie says she's being asked to accept the fact that Cissie is going to be hiding instead of helping defend the planet. As Cassie flies away, she wishes her friend to have a nice life ... for however long the human race might have. Wonder Girl meets up with Robin in the Super-Cycle, and he says he suspected Cissie wouldn't join them. Cassie asks why people can't be who they want them to be, and why do they feel guilty when they want people to be those things. Robin says that's one thing he doesn't know, even though he's been trained by the world's greatest detective.

We finally get everyone together at the Catskills resort, and Red Tornado addresses the team, congratulating them all for not getting killed in his absence. He asks Robin and Secret if there have been any more incidents, and Secret angrily says everything's fine. Superboy asks what they're talking about, but Secret insists it's nothing and Robin puts a finger over his mouth to indicate to Kon to stop talking. Red Tornado notes the addition of Empress and asks if she was subjected to any background checks or standardized tests to determine if she's a right fit for the team. Impulse says, "Nah. We just let her in." And Red Tornado says he's relieved that nothing has changed.

Red Tornado then asks about the "homicidal maniac" he's heard is now on the roster, and Wonder Girl explains that Lobo isn't exactly a member — he just shows up occasionally for no discernible reason. Robin says they haven't seen Lobo in a while, and he thinks he might not come back. Right on cue, Lobo smashes through the ceiling on his Spacehog while battling a pink alien. Much to Superboy's despair, Lobo also destroys the pool table while demanding the alien pay him. Wonder Girl and Superboy pull Lobo off the alien, and Red Tornado asks him if he's a freelance assassin or an Imperiex advance scout. The alien says he'll be whoever they want him to be, and Red Tornado says that's apparently sufficient to qualify him for Young Justice membership.

The alien then begrudgingly hands Lobo a big wad of cash and meekly adds that he must have imagined those extra cards. As the alien leaves, Lobo explains that he was just a refugee, displaced by Imperiex. Lobo enjoys taking advantage of alien refugees and says he loves war.
Robin: "War. Hunh. Good God."
Wonder Girl: "What is it good for?"
Impulse: "Absolutely nothing."
Secret: "Say it again."
Superboy: "That's a cool song."
Secret: "There's a song?"
Superboy tries to explain this, but only ends up confusing Secret more, while Lobo happily counts his money and wonders what comes after "eleventy million."

Red Tornado gets the conversation back on track by reminding everybody of the approaching threat of Imperiex and revealing that he knows all about their adventure with the Linear Men. He mentions the instability in Pokolistan that was likely headed to war before the threat of Imperiex, and Superboy  excitedly asks if their mission is to go there to preserve the peace. But it's not. Red Tornado speaks about the planet Apokolips appearing in Earth's orbit, with no one really sure whose side it's on. Impulse eagerly says they're ready to tell Apokolips it's "our way or the highway." But that's not their mission, either. So Robin and Wonder Girl come right out and ask what they are supposed to do. Before Red Tornado reveals their mission, he reminds them that the JLA is not in charge. This is a global situation, and as such, President Luthor is in charge, and he has expressed doubts about drafting minors into war, regardless of their superpowers. Superboy worriedly asks if this means they're supposed to sit this out, but Red Tornado says they've been assigned to the Paradocs unit.

Everybody stares at each other for a moment, and Impulse thinks of himself as a dunce. Then they all simultaneously ask, "The what?" (except for Lobo, who is still busy loving his money). Red Tornado explains that there will be lots of injuries and casualties in this war, and the Paradocs is the premiere medical unit to handle this. Young Justice will have the job of going into hotspots to retrieve fallen warriors and bring them back to the Paradocs to be treated. Impulse, Wonder Girl and Superboy all angrily complain about being sidelined and told to sit at the kid's table. Robin tries to calm them down, but it's ultimately Secret who does the job, giving an impassioned speech about the families of these downed heroes. Superboy (correctly) interprets this as Secret implying that he's cold and heartless because he doesn't have a family. Everything starts escalating until Traya arrives.

Red Tornado's adopted daughter had been swimming in the resort's pool, but heard all the shouting and decided to come check it out. She approaches Robin, saying she was worried about her dad heading off to this war, but he told her that Young Justice is going to be working with the doctors to help him and all the other daddies when they get hurt. Traya asks if this is true, so Robin turns to his team to see what they say. Impulse, Wonder Girl and Superboy look a bit ashamed at their behavior, and Superboy leans down to assure Traya that they will be there to help the injured fighters. The little girl gives Superboy a big hug in gratitude, but once she's gone, Impulse teases Kon for making a new girlfriend.

Red Tornado asks Lobo if he'll be joining Young Justice, but Empress explains to him that he wouldn't be interested in this mission since they won't actually be fighting anyone. She tells him he's a destroyer, not a rescuer, so he should just go destroy something on his own. Lobo agrees with her and flies off on his Spacehog. Red Tornado is pleased by this and instructs the team to take both the Super-Cycle and Impulse's spaceship to the Paradocs unit above Metropolis. Bart finally reveals that his ship has a name, "The Max," which Cassie thinks is a good name. Suddenly, Lobo returns, saying he thinks Empress actually really wants him to stay and was trying to use reverse psychology on him. So for her sake, Lobo has decided to join this mission after all, ignoring all of Empress' protests.

Everybody puts on their special armbands, loads up into The Max and flies up to the Paradocs in the giant Space Ark to report to Doctor Kitty Faulkner. The doctor tells Young Justice they already have some casualties and need to retrieve a few members of the JLA. She labels the teens her premier S&R team, which Impulse thinks means Superboy and Robin team, but Wonder Girl knows means Search and Rescue team. Robin asks if they'll be carrying any medical personnel with them, and Dr. Faulkner says they are stretched pretty thin personnel-wise, but she can assign one technician to the team. Faulkner explains that this technician is knowledgable in all first aid techniques and has already demonstrated her skills in her short time on the Paradocs. Apparently she was thoroughly trained by her mother and has some familiarity with metahumans. Dr. Faulkner then introduces Young Justice to ... Cissie King-Jones.

I really like this plan for Young Justice to be the medics in this war. They're not strong enough to make much of dent in the fight against Imperiex, but they are strong enough to slip in and out of the field of battle to rescue the wounded. It was great having Red Tornado back again, and I thought the discussion/argument the team had was natural and true to character. I also like how Cissie found a way to be a part of the war without becoming Arrowette. However, the timing feels a bit off. Cassie went straight from her house to the meeting with Young Justice, then to the Paradocs, where Cissie was there waiting for them, having already proven her medical skills. At the very least, I have to say that Cissie had already volunteered and been accepted to join the Paradocs before Cassie even knocked on her door. And if that was the case, then why didn't Cissie just tell her friend that yes, she is going to help in the war, but not as Arrowette?

The letters to the editor begin with Justin Asbell praising Young Justice #31 for featuring the most entertaining of heroes, Impulse. He loved how Impulse daydreamed of fighting Extant again, whom he defeated in Bart Saves the Universe. Justin also wants Lobo to stay on the team, the Point Men to get a miniseries, Arrowette to spend time with Connor Hawke, Young Justice to have a crossover with the Legionnaires and Titans, and for Stars, S.T.R.I.P.E. and Steel to make a guest appearance.

Paul Dale Roberts, of Elk Grove, Calif., says issue #31 reminded him of the mimes at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. He also called the wordless issue excellent, saying Impulse and Superboy took the whole show.

Mark-El said issue #31 was a good exercise in depriving yourself of one sense to boost what you notice with other senses. In this case, omitting the distraction of text showed off the great work of Nauck and Stucker's art.

Tony Escobar Jr., of Houston, says he just read the entire Young Justice series and praises Peter David for keeping all the characters true to their individual titles. He says the series is a reminder that kids are supposed to have fun and be drawn like kids. Now for the ads:

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Next time, we'll take a very quick look at Nightwing: Our Worlds at War #1.

Monday, June 5, 2017

JLA: Our Worlds at War #1

A Date Which Will Live in Infamy

Jeph Loeb Writer
Ron Garney Penciller
Mark Morales Inker
Tanya & Rich Horie Colors
Richard Starkings Letters
Tom Palmer Jr. Ass't Editor
Eddie Berganza Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster
Batman created by Bob Kane

Like all the Our Worlds at War one-shots, this cover is by Jae Lee. And I'm happy to say that he apparently draws adults much better than teenagers. Not that I'm in love with this style still, but it feels a lot more natural than his cover for Young Justice. He also kept things simple — the JLA surrounded by flames — avoiding the odd Revolutionary War imagery that Young Justice was saddled with. This cover is a decent representation of the bleak tone of this story.

Now, Impulse barely makes the briefest of cameos in this issue, but I'm more than happy to review it, since it is essential reading for understanding the Our Worlds at War event. But before we dive in, a quick recap: After a lot of buildup involving Warworld, Apokolips, an alien alliance transporting the entire population of Metropolis onto a massive Space Ark, President Luthor secretly dealing with Brainiac 13 and a superpowered individual in Germany calling himself General Zod, war finally begins with the arrival of an Imperiex probe that destroyed Topeka, Kansas. Superman battled and destroyed that probe, but several other probes began heading for Earth. The JLA tried to stop them ... but they didn't do a very good job.

Our story begins on a horrific image of a beaten Martian Manhunter, floating through space, with his eyeball popped out of its socket. All he can do is telepathically call out for help while Green Lantern tries to protect him from the attacking Imperiex probe. Kyle creates a bunch of missiles and Flash tries to help speed them along. (Yeah ... Flash and Plastic Man and everybody can somehow survive and run around just fine in outer space. I guess I'll just have to assume they were given some kind of invisible space suits to help them out.) Anyway, our heroes' efforts are in vain, as the probe easily knocks out Flash, Green Lantern and Plastic Man. Only Wonder Woman and Aquaman are left to try to prevent at least one probe from reaching Earth.

We see that some of the war has spilled out to Gotham City, where Batman is calling for help from Nightwing, Robin, Batgirl and Huntress, while asking Oracle to tell the Justice League that he's made Gotham his priority now. After defeating the probe that destroyed Topeka, Superman visited Smallville, only to find it completely leveled. Before he can spend any time searching for his parents, he hears Martian Manhunter's distress call and blasts into space.

Superman helps Aquaman and Wonder Woman battle the probe, and Diana delivers the final blow, cracking open its armor with her shield. But doing so created a huge explosion that knocked her out. Superman rushes her to the Paradocs on the Space Ark, and Aquaman learns from Starfire that one of the Imperiex probes landed outside the capital city in Atlantis, so he immediately heads down there.

At the White House, General Rock reports to President Luthor that the JLA only turned back one Imperiex probe. The others have landed in Kansas, Russia, Germany and Atlantis, but Luthor already knew this. Doctor Magnus points out that each city Imperiex has attacked is the dead center of their respective continents, indicating Imperiex's plan to tear the planet apart. Luthor asks which heroes are  left after the Justice League, and he's told the Justice Society, the Titans and Young Justice. When asked who he wants, Luthor simply says, "Everyone."

And that's all the Impulse we get in this issue. But there's still more, so let's keep going. Blue Beetle, Booster Gold and Guy Gardner take on the probe in Russia, and Guy is killed. General Zod battles Imperiex in Germany, Jesse Quick joins the Titans in their fight against a probe in Africa, and the Outsiders attack another probe in Antarctica. Back on the Paradocs, Green Lantern is alert and talking while recuperating, but Wally is still too injured to respond. Superman has a brief moment with Lois Lane before he learns of the Imperiex in Atlantis. So he immediately takes off again to help Aquaman. The King of Atlantis faces the Imperiex probe on his own, ultimately piercing its armor with his trident. Superman arrives just as the probe explodes — too late to save Aquaman. The Man of Steel cries out, "Imperiex! If you want war — I'll give you WAR!"

Throughout the story, we were given the speech Franklin D. Roosevelt gave to Congress on December 8, 1941 — the day after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. The speech details America's resolve to respond to this surprise attack, as well as listing all the islands and nations that are currently being attacked by Japanese forces. I think this story paralleled that moment in history fairly well.

This issue is pretty darn explosive. So much happened. Maybe a little too much. The pace could have been slowed down just a bit, especially when characters died. But I guess that's what the tie-in issues are for. In any way, I actually am enjoying this story. It was hard when our first two issues felt inconsequential. But now the threat is real. Earth is under attack, and the situation is dire. I think this might be the most credible threat I've felt in any major event we've covered. Imperiex is more imposing than anything we saw in Genesis, DC One Million or Final Night. The only thing that compares was Zero Hour.

The art was dynamic, often using breathtaking splash pages to show the enormity of this story. Sadly, the one panel I used for a picture is probably the worst panel of the whole issue. Perhaps the images of those heroes around Luthor was an afterthought, because the rest of the art looks much better than that.

This issue is also included in the Superman: Our Worlds at War Book One trade paperback, which makes sense since there is no way to understand this event without reading this issue. My trade was published in 2002, and seems like it was hastily and cheaply thrown together (using the more newspaper-like paper). Most the issues in this trade feel essential, except for one Supergirl issue (even though I love Peter David's writing). The issues building up to the war feel a bit slow, which is contrasted by the super fast pace of this issue. But my biggest complaint is that DC pushed all the covers to the back, perhaps in a poor attempt to create the illusion of making this one connected story. But it's not seamless, and can sometimes be quite jarring when you turn the page and jump into a completely different story without warning. And they made the covers really small in the back, squeezing two on each page, taking away any chance to properly enjoy them.

Next time, we'll see how our favorite teenage heroes are brought into this war in Young Justice #35.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Impulse #76

Missing You

Todd Dezago • Writer
Carlo Barberi • Penciller
Juan Vlasco • Inker
Janice Chiang • Letterer
Tom McCraw • Colorist
Digital Chameleon • Separations
Joey Cavalieri • Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid & Mike Wieringo

This is the first Impulse cover drawn by Carlo Barberi, inked by series stalwart Wayne Faucher. It is a pretty funny take on Dr. Morlo's examination of Bart — playing into an Operation game motif. I still think Barberi draws fingers too thick, but he did a great job with the faces and Bart's hair (the most important part). I do wonder why the text asks, "Where did Impulse get his new power?" We already know that. We saw last issue how he got blasted with the Hyper-Ray. I'm also not sure who colored this cover, but whoever did messed up Morlo's hair.

Our story begins with a despondent Bart hanging out on the (unusually large) top bunk area of his bed, sitting on a baseball-shaped beanbag, surrounded by his Nintendo 64, PlayStation, Game Boy, After-Life Avenger comics, a Pokéball, a couple of slices of leftover pizza, an abandoned Monopoly game, soda spilling out of a can, and tons of dirty clothes everywhere. Dox the dog is patiently trying to get Bart's attention, but he only has eyes for an unedited copy of Impulse: The Movie.

Apparently Bart's been watching this tape over and over again since Rolly dropped it off, especially a part where Bart had to reach around Carol while she was tied to a chair, and he got pretty close to her. Helen and Max are discussing Bart's depression, with Helen pointing out that Carol was not only Bart's best friend, but his confidante who knew all his secrets. Max says it's only natural for Bart to be depressed right now, and he suggests they be supportive of this and let him know it's OK to be sad and take time to sort out his feelings. Helen is impressed by Max's improving parenting skills, and he shares the credit with her.

We find out that the purple package Carol gave Bart included a golden heart necklace (which cracked in half on the journey home), a note to Carol's brother and a three-page letter to Bart that expressed her sadness of this situation and included instructions to take her diary from her room and leave the note for her brother. Bart has read the letter 14 times, but can't bring himself to read the diary yet.

Max calls Bart to come with him to Dr. Morlo's lab to check out his new powers. But Max chooses to take Bart the long way round, running through the American West, across the Pacific Ocean, through Japan, past the Great Wall of China, then ultimately across the Atlantic Ocean, past the White House and finally back to Alabama. The run around the world gives the two a chance to talk, with Max telling Bart that he's sorry for him and he understands how Bart feels that life isn't fair right now. Max promises that his sadness won't last forever, but he has to make sure that sadness doesn't prevent him from doing what he wants to do. He tells Bart that he is a good person, and when he puts good out in the world, good always comes back to him. Bart talks about how odd it was to suddenly fall in love with a friend he's known for a long time, and how unfair it was to lose Carol right after that happened. Bart says, "I ... I just love her so much ..." Max says, "I know you do, Bart ..." Then he leads him into Morlo's lab.

We then cut to Norfolk, Nebraska, where we're reunited with an old villain — White Lightning. She's walking into the police station, and when an officer tries to stop her, she begins flattering him, talking very sweetly with lots of little hearts peppering her speech bubbles. This "sweet talk" puts the cop in an agreeable trance, and White Lightning is allowed to proceed. But she's suddenly stopped by another cop, who calls her "princess" and says he won't let her use her powers to free her mother from prison again. He says the only way she's getting out now is for someone to pay her bail. White Lightning storms off, telling her dad that she'll be back with the bail money.

We return to Morlo's lab, where the former mad scientist has apparently been working with Bart for more than an hour, but hasn't made much progress, especially with Bart constantly staring at Carol's broken heart necklace. Morlo does report to Max that the Hyper-Ray didn't seem to cause any genetic or cellular damage to Bart, but there does seem to be a sort of "ghost" tracing his molecular structure, which must be responsible for his "doppelgängers." The question everyone is wondering is how Bart "launches" the time-jumping duplicates. When Bart did this previously, he was worried about Max and Helen being killed. Morlo speculates that Bart's current depression is dampening this ability, and when it comes to emotion, Morlo admits he is ignorant.

Just when Morlo is ready to throw in the towel, a golden energy Impulse duplicate pops up right next to him, saying that he'll figure it out in three-and-a-half minutes, then promptly disappears. Three-and-a-half minutes later, Morlo still hasn't figured it out. Bart apologizes for letting him down, then suddenly he creates a duplicate. Morlo realizes Bart was feeling pressured to trigger his power, and that is the answer they were looking for. Morlo tells the duplicate to go back three-and-a-half minutes to tell him not to give up. Max then asks Bart if he thinks he can do it again, and when Bart tries, about a dozen versions of himself pop up. Morlo asks Bart if he can put them back, and when Bart tries, all the duplicates run back into the original body.

The experimentation is interrupted by the appearance of Morlo's grandson, Eddie "Evil Eye" Parker, who's asking his grandpa for some money to go to the fair. Max and Impulse quickly sneak away before Eddie sees them, but Bart left behind Carol's necklace. Morlo chews Eddie out for walking into his lab without knocking first, saying his experiments could be dangerous. Eddie seems to notice the stray necklace, but doesn't seem to notice Impulse coming back to retrieve it.

We then head to the Manchester County Fair, where Bart, Preston, Rolly and Mike are trying to take their minds of Carol having to go live with her "grandmother." Bart's still a bit depressed, but with the encouragement of his friends, and after a couple of rides, he begins to cheer up a little bit. Meanwhile, a large group of boys have gathered around a cotton candy truck, which is manned by White Lightning. She doesn't have any cotton candy for the boys, but she does have a little favor to ask of them.

Before too long, word gets out through the fair that White Lightning has robbed the ticket booth. Bart's friends all rush off to try to get a glimpse of the villain, but Bart takes off by himself to become Impulse. The teenage hero begins rushing through the crowds, looking for White Lightning. He thinks he finds her, but it turns out to be a boy wearing a large white wig with a matching blue jacket. Impulse then thinks he spots the real one again, but it turns out to be another decoy. This happens three more times before Bart realizes that the crowd is full of teenage boys dressed like White Lightning. Fearing he'll never find the real villain, Bart wishes he had some way to know her plan. Then he realizes his new power may come in handy here.

Bart creates an energy duplicate and tells him to go back in time 20 minutes. The duplicate takes off, saying, "Gotcha, boss!" but Bart doesn't like being called "boss." Twenty minutes ago, White Lightning is handing out the wigs and jackets, telling the hypnotized boys to wear the disguises around the fairgrounds while she escapes in the cotton candy truck. The duplicate returns to Bart with this information, and Impulse soon spots White Lightning's getaway truck.

White Lightning sees Impulse approaching in her rearview mirror, but before she can react, Impulse is sitting right next to her. She instantly begins begging him to let her get away just this one time, saying her mom's in jail and she needs this bail money to get her out. White Lightning elaborates, saying her mom is a good person, even though she doesn't always obey the law. But now her dad, who left the family when she was a kid, is a cop and determined to make their lives miserable. White Lightning begins crying, saying her mom is her only friend, and she asks Impulse if he's ever lost someone he'd do anything to get them back. Bart naturally thinks immediately of Carol.

Sympathy aside, though, Impulse tells White Lightning that she still can't break the law. He reminds her of the time she saved him from the flood in Manchester, and he repeats Max's words about how if you try to do good things, then good things will happen to you. White Lightning admits that nothing's been working for her lately, so she tries to make a deal. If she promises to change, will Impulse let her go this one time? Impulse considers this, then decides to agree, provided White Lightning return the money she just barely stole. White Lightning gives Impulse the money bag, wraps him up in a big hug, then tries to use her powers on him to give her some of the money. This almost works, but Impulse is able to shake off her hypnotism.

White Lightning laughs this off, saying she never was able to "put the whammy" on Impulse, and assures him she's very grateful for this second chance. Once she's out of sight, White Lightning laughs at what a moron Impulse is, and hopes to get away before he checks the bag. Her plan doesn't work, though, and Impulse quickly catches her and this time throws her in jail. Sitting behind bars, though, White Lightning actually does begin to consider turning over a new leaf.

This was a nice issue to show Bart dealing with his grief, further explore his new power and start to bring the series back to its roots. The return of White Lightning is a welcome one, since Impulse has so few recurring villains. And I'm also real happy to see Evil Eye back. His character was developing nicely until he basically disappeared during the Inertia storyline. Unfortunately, I'm not too happy with Bart's new power. It just too powerful. There doesn't seem to be a limit to how many scouts he can create, and he can send them back in time with incredible precision. And the use of his power against White Lightning was complete overkill. Are you telling me that Impulse wouldn't have naturally stumbled across her if he just kept running around for a few more seconds?

Impulsive Reactions begins with Joey Cavalieri saying he's currently picking an artistic team to fill in for Carlo Barberi and Juan Vlasco two months from now, and that he's working with Mark Waid on a project that's the "polar opposite of Impulse."

Charles R. Hall, of Jacksonville, Fla., asks for Impulse to meet Captain Marvel Jr. and Mary Marvel, battle one of the Flash's Rogues, such as Weather Wizard, Mirror Master or Captain Cold, and he requests a new set of DC Universe trading cards.

Andy Oliver, of Upminster, England, really enjoyed the cover of Impulse #72, saying the speech balloons reminded him of comics from the 1970s. He is happy with the development of Impulse's character, but he feels Lucius Keller is a fairly standard melodramatic revenge-seeker. Cavalieri promises that we'll find out that Keller is more than he appears in the coming months.

Terry Bogard, of Barcelona, Spain, directs his comments to Barberi, complimenting him on his work and inviting him to have a conversation with him in Spanish if he's uncomfortable talking in English.

Tobias Christopher said it was really sad to see the broken relationship of the adult Bart and Carol, and he speculates if Carol is the friend Bart was going to lose, according to The Life Story of the Flash.

Carlo Barberi responds on the message board with, "Gracias! Yes, I'm enjoying working on Impulse because I really love the character and it's real fun to draw!"

As we take a look at the new ads, I'll point out that once again Bart and all his friends were exclusively wearing Nautica clothing — even Evil Eye. (When will this agreement end?)

Cap'n Crunch's Oops! Smashed Berries.

Warning: Flavor may go to your head. Fruit Gushers.

Bionicle from Lego.

The Powerpuff Girls "Mojo Jojo's Rising" Read Along.

Earthworm Jim for Game Boy Advance.

Every body needs a hero. Osmosis Jones.

Razor: Freestyle Scooter for Game Boy Color and PlayStation.

Hey Kids! Comics! talks about a JLA/Avengers crossover and a list of DC creators visiting San Diego Comic Con, including Geoff Johns and Humberto Ramos.

The Jetsons meet the Flintstones: The Movie.

Toonami: Deep Space Bass soundtrack.

What do you think you're doing? Instead of watching Courage the Cowardly Dog, you're watching the same thing you did as a little kid? Scary.

What do you think you're doing? Instead of watching Dexter's Laboratory, you're watching the same thing you did as a little kid? That's stupid.

What do you think you're doing? Instead of watching Johnny Bravo, you're watching the same thing you did as a little kid? Not pretty. (Sensing a theme, yet?)

Gotta have my Game Boy Advance? Win one from Juicy Fruit.

Next time, we'll begin the All-Out War phase with JLA: Our Worlds at War #1.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Superman: Our Worlds at War Secret Files & Origins #1

Earth Allies

Written by Chuck Kim
Art by Ariel Olivetti
Color by Tom McCraw
Separations by Digital Chameleon

Cover art by Ed McGuinness and Cam Smith, color by Richard and Tanya Horie. Since this is a Superman event, it is nice to have the artist of Superman handle this cover. McGuinness has a big, beefy, explosive style that DC tried to make sure was matched on all the Superman titles, which helps add some consistency to events like this when you read it altogether in a trade. And speaking of trades, this cover was used on the Our Worlds at War: Book One trade paperback (although none of this issue's stories were included inside). Anyway, this is a pretty straightforward cover — Superman punching Imperiex with a handful of heroes knocked out below, including poor Superboy. I like this kind of art. Not much to complain about.

Like all Secret Files issues from this time, this issue is 64 pages, anchored by one main story and peppered with a couple of backup stories and a few profile pages. The main story shows Imperiex destroying several planets (just like we saw last issue), which leads to the formation of an alliance of several aliens who are normally enemies. We learn that Superman had previously battled who he had believed to be Imperiex, but that turned out to just be one of Imperiex's clones. The real Imperiex is much larger and more intimidating. The story ends with Liri Lee of the Linear Men observing Imperiex's quest to destroy the universe and deciding to allow this to happen. (The Linear Men really are big jerks!)

In one of the backup stories, Amanda Waller is gathering resources to face this threat, and she laments that she can't call on Lobo since Klarion turned him into a teenager. Another story shows a documentary about the old Justice Society of America's involvement in World War II, which includes the original Flash, Jay Garrick. And that's about all in this issue that concerns Impulse beside the profile page he appears on.

The text is presented as a news report by Lois Lane, detailing the JSA, JLA, this new Suicide Squad and, of course, Young Justice. Here's what she says about our favorite heroes:

"I'm a little worried about Young Justice. They're mostly protégés and sidekicks of the Justice League who formed their own group. Though formidable in their own right, I question Dad's (Secretary of Defense Sam Lane) judgment in drafting teens, super-powered or not, into the war effort. Their latest recruit, the newly teenaged Lobo, also has me worried, but for completely different reasons."

Also worth noting is that Cissie — not Arrowette — is shown with the team. Wonder Girl is oddly absent, and Secret is not colored correctly. On a whole, I am not a fan of this artwork at all. It feels rushed and sloppy. But I did like Lois Lane's concern about sending teenagers off to war. And we will find out exactly how and for what purpose Young Justice was drafted in the next issue of Young Justice.

Next time, we begin comics with a September 2001 publication date, starting with Impulse #76, which chronologically takes place before Our World at War.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Young Justice: Our Worlds at War #1

Comedy of Eras

Writers Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning
Penciller Todd Nauck
Inkers Ray Snyder, Terry Austin, Randy Emberlin, Jaime Mendoza, Walden Wong, John Stokes
Letterer John F. Workman Jr.
Colorist Tom McCraw
Separations Digital Chameleon
Assistant Editor Tom Palmer Jr.
Editor Eddie Berganza

Cover photo: Jae Lee and José Villarrubia, colors.

So here it is, the big event of 2001. Our Worlds at War was primarily a Superman story, but it included basically the entire DC Universe. Unlike previous events, such as Genesis or DC One Million, Our Worlds at War didn't have its own miniseries. Instead, it played out in the regular issues of dozens of titles and included a handful of one-shots, such as this one. Our World at War was also divided into three parts, Prelude to War, All-Out War and Casualties of War. This is part of the Prelude to War. Confused yet? Don't worry, we'll be spending plenty of time in this big event to give you a chance to figure it out.

By the way, I'm not a fan of this cover at all. Very rarely do I ever enjoy a Jae Lee piece, and this is not one of those times. I do like the war motif, although it seems someone should be playing the fife (preferably Impulse). Of course, that would give it a much sillier vibe than it currently has, but then again, how serious can you really be with an old, 13 colonies flag and Superboy with a snare drum? Plus, the story inside is rather silly, itself (unlike the whole of Our Worlds at War). Ultimately, though, I think Lee just made Young Justice look too young. Superboy looks like he's six. Everybody's heads are too big, their arms are too short, and in general, nothing seems to work.

Our story picks up with the ending of last issue of Superboy at the abandoned Cadmus facility outside Metropolis. Superboy is in big trouble for kidnapping the infant clone of Guardian, and somebody has apparently sent Young Justice after Kon (sadly, we never find out who told Young Justice to attack their teammate). Wonder Girl and Robin yell at Superboy for absconding with top-secret government property, but Superboy wonders when babies are considered property. Lobo is eager to get the actual fighting started, so he lifts up a huge box and prepares to smash the Kid with it.

As everybody rushes forward to stop Lobo, they're suddenly frozen in place. Liri Lee of the Linear Men appears and tells Young Justice they've been drafted. Apparently a renegade artificial intelligence is ravaging the timeline and is threatening to annihilate the entire continuum. Liri says Young Justice was the only superhero team the Linear Men have been able to contact and she gives Robin a  temporal compass (looks like half a steering wheel with an electronic display in the center). Liri explains that the compass will take Young Justice to the moment in time when this evil consciousness is at its weakest, and they need to stop it to save everything they know and care about. She disappears, and a moment later, our teenage heroes also vanish into thin air.

Young Justice is flung into the rainbow, psychedelic world of the time stream. Robin angrily says he does not need this right now, while Impulse cheers, "Weeeeee!" Lobo asks Robins to get them to "fly straight," and Robin starts pushing buttons to try to stop them from spinning out of control. Wonder Girl begs Robin to try faster, and Impulse (who has had his share of time travel experience) comments on how time traveling always makes his head hurt. Lobo grows impatient, grabs the temporal compass from Robin, and pushes something that makes the display say, "Alert! Coordinates reset!"

The team falls into a quiet cornfield. Robin makes sure Empress is alright, then demands that Lobo give him back the compass. Wonder Girl says this doesn't look like a place where an artificial intelligence would make a stand. Impulse has fallen on top of Lobo, who threatens to put "Bart-brat" in diapers for the rest of his life if he doesn't get off him. Superboy calls Lobo "Spaz-bo" and jumps on him for getting them lost in time. Bart warns the two to stop fighting for fear of breaking the compass. He takes the device from Lobo and reads that they're now apparently in Mexico, circa 1500 A.D. Bart asks where Mexico Circa is and wonders why his head is pounding.

The source of the pounding is a fleeing army of Spanish conquistadors, so frightened they don't even notice the teenage superheroes they're trampling. Lobo, Superboy and Robin begin fighting for control of the compass again, but they're immediately interrupted by the arrival of an army of Aztec warriors with jet-bikes, laser guns and artificial wings. Lobo is hit by one of the jet-bikes and drops the time compass. Robin dives for it, but he is also hit by a passing warrior, and is knocked out.

When Robin wakes up, he finds that he and his teammates have all been captured by the Aztecs and are secured with energy bands on their wrists and ankles (Secret is in a glass tube). Lobo and Superboy are still shouting at each other and Wonder Girl yells at them to shut up, saying she doesn't want the last thing she hears before she's sacrificed to be them crabbing. The temporal compass is in the hands of the leader of the Aztecs, who offers a prayer to the "Disk of Fire" and vows to remove the living hearts of his enemies.

The leader, who is a green robot, moves to begin the ceremonial executions, so Robin signals the team to escape. And ... I'm not exactly sure how they escape. Secret flies out of her prison with no problem, and then we see Impulse running around and breaking everyone's bonds, but I don't know how he got out. It kind of looks like Superboy undid Impulse's ankle bond, but then how did Superboy get free? (I know, this isn't that important. I'm just surprised to see a rare moment of unclear action from Todd Nauck.)

Anyway, our heroes break free and Robin orders them to recover the time compass. Superboy adds to not let "Slo-bo" mess with it. Lobo warns "Stupid-boy" to watch the mouth, and Wonder Girl asks where the Aztecs got this "Az-tech." Empress speculates that this is the work of the renegade computer sentience they've been sent to stop. As everybody fights the Aztecs, Secret flies up the air and begins blocking out the sun. Superboy makes his way to the robotic leader, and before their fight begins, the robot shuts down. Apparently the robot and all the "Az-tech" was solar-powered, and with Secret's cloud cover, they're now obsolete. Superboy takes the compass back and destroys the robot with a single punch. Impulse says, "Superboy's broken their leader. Can we go now?" Robin agrees and asks Kon to hand over the device, but Superboy insists he can handle it and pushes a button that sends everyone flying through time once more.

Impulse, Superboy, Lobo and Secret pop out on top of an enormous robot that is one of several marching across a desolate landscape. Superboy reads the compass, which says they're now at the Russian Steppes, circa A.D. 2500, the era known as the "Great Shut-Down." Lobo continues berating Kon, and Secret and Impulse try to get them to stop fighting. Eventually, Secret is forced to physically separate Superboy and Lobo, and she asks Impulse to try to find a way into the robot. Impulse's initial search comes up empty (I'm not sure why he didn't try vibrating through it), so Superboy and Lobo begin trying to bust a way in. Secret, however, finds a small crack and slips through it.

Inside the robot is Empress, Robin, Wonder Girl and a massive army of Red Tornado robots. Just as Secret catches up with her friends, a hologram of a green robot's head comes on, announcing himself as Brainiac 13. He orders the slave units of the sovereign robotic nations to prepare for the execution of the memory-wipe of the Great Disruptor. Robin speculates that Brainiac 13 must be the renegade consciousness the Linear Men sent them to stop, but Wonder Girl feels he might be a bit out of their league. She also notes the similarity of Brainiac 13 to the "Aztec priest guy" and asks who the Great Disruptor is.

Huge doors open up on the enormous robot, and dozens of robots come flying out. Not only is there the army of Red Tornados, but tons others based on the Metal Men, Amazo, Cyborg, Hourman and Metallo. The robots fly toward an opposing army of equally large red-and-black robots, and a fierce battle begins. All our heroes are reunited, and while Lobo is thrilled by the carnage, everyone else seems a bit nervous, especially Impulse. Robin believes they're still not where they're supposed to be, and he angrily demands that Kon give him back the compass. But a panicked Bart has stolen it and desperately begins pressing buttons. Impulse manages to hit the right button just a split second before a huge laser blast obliterated the robot Young Justice was standing on.

For the third time, our team is hurtling through the time stream. But this time, they pass by a peculiar sight — Nightwing and Oracle in an old car. Bart asks for a ride to Manchester, Wonder Girl and Oracle say, "That isn't ... is it?" And Robin and Nightwing say, "Naaaaah." Finally, Young Justice land in a new place, this time the JLA Watchtower on the moon. But both the station and the moon have seen better days. Bart begins running around everywhere, unable to find anybody else. Robin gets him to slow down and read the display on the compass, which says they're in the year A.D. 2020. Superboy suggests they turn on the links to the video feed, which Bart quickly does.

On the screens, our heroes see adult versions of themselves desperately battling the same red-and-black robots they just escaped. The adult versions of Young Justice are fighting alongside the Ray, Blue Beetle, Power Girl, Doctor Fate, Lagoon Boy, Beast Boy, Green Lantern, Guy Gardner, Plastic Man, Atom, Captain Marvel Jr., the Star-Spangled Kid, Damage and a few others I know I'm missing.  Lobo is dismayed to see he's still on Earth 20 years later, Superboy says this is just like Sins of Youth all over again, and everyone else stares in awe at their adult selves and the Armageddon they're battling. Everyone except Impulse. He notices that his adult self is nowhere to be seen on the monitors, and he repeatedly asks in a panic where he is.

Superboy points out the enemy they'd supposedly be battling in 2020, and Robin reads the JLA computer that identifies him as an Imperiex probe. Feeling the gravity of the situation, Superboy starts to explain to Robin why he took the baby Guardian. But he's interrupted by the literal destruction of the Earth. The Imperiex probe had placed a bunch of large devices around the planet that hollowed it out. The hollowers convert Earth into energy, which is then sucked up into Imperiex's planet-sized ship. The Earth, now completely dead, is just an empty husk leftover that quickly collapses on itself and becomes a black hole. As the black hole begins to destroy the moon and Watchtower, Wonder Girl grabs the compass from Impulse and puts everyone back in the time stream.

Our heroes end up in a spaceship in United Planets territory in A.D. 3004. They're immediately confronted by Tarok, the Persuader, Mano, Validus and the Emerald Empress — a.k.a the Fatal Five. Everybody prepares for a battle, but they're suddenly stopped by a young man wearing a Superman outfit. Young Justice thinks he's Superboy, but Kon recognizes him as Valor, or M'Onel as he goes by now. M'Onel doesn't know how Young Justice arrived here, but he is thrilled to see them, saying he and his team are in desperate need of some help. And he introduces Young Justice to the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Bart is reunited with Jenni Ognats, who asks how her favorite time-lost cousin is doing, but Bart first has to clarify that she is talking about him. Empress and Wonder Girl are having fun conversations with their hosts, while Lobo sizes up the Fatal Five. Robin, Superboy and Secret are talking to M'Onel, who explains that they're facing a threat so fierce, they were forced to team up with their old enemies, including the Fatal Five. He also adopted the old Superman costume to try to be a source of inspiration during this war against, you guessed it, Imperiex. Brainiac 5 (another lost friend of Impulse's) has somehow fused with Brainiac 13 and is coordinating the Legion's battles in 97 separate locations. M'Onel asks Young Justice to stay and help them fight, but Robin believes they'll help out more by completing their original mission. And now that he's finally got his hands back on the temporal compass, he can actually send them to where they are supposed to go.

Young Justice arrives in a black void, and Robin reports that the compass says they're at a time so remote that dates as they understand them no longer apply. Superboy interprets this as nowhere and nowhen, and criticizes Robin for bailing on the Legion when they needed help. As Robin explains his rationale, our heroes are surrounded by large, green circuitry and odd mechanical orbs. They're soon met by Waverider, who says he's been tracking their time-hops and he's pretty upset that they've delayed their attack on Brainiac 13. Our heroes are surprised that Waverider wants them to battle Brainiac 13, and Robin explains that, based on their "unscheduled stopovers," it appears that Imperiex is the true threat.

Waverider criticizes the children for being ignorant, and he plays them a video showing that in this time, Brainiac 13 has remade the very fabric of the cosmos into his computerized image, leaving the last few vestiges of organic life to struggle in a pitiful existence until they are hunted down and exterminated by Brainiac 13. But right now, Brainiac 13 is a giant robot just below our heroes, vulnerable because he's downloading his consciousness throughout time to wage his war against Imperiex. But this still doesn't convince Young Justice. Robin says that even though Brainiac 13 obviously isn't a hero, the universe seems to be benefitting from his presence. Wonder Girl points out that this future is just a possibility, with nothing written in stone, and Superboy questions the Linear Men's real agenda.

Waverider is exasperated by their defiance, but he sees an Imperiex probe approaching, which he believes will destroy Brainiac 13 for him. So he takes off, telling Young Justice they're no longer required. Robin encourages the team to stick with their principles and follow their gut instincts that tell them to stop Imperiex. Everybody enjoyed this plan, especially Superboy, who wants to have a conversation about following your instinct after this is all over. So a big fight ensues, but nobody is able to make even a dent on Imperiex. Empress tries to use her psychic powers to stop Imperiex's movement, but she apparently needs to draw power from living organisms around her, of which there are none in this bleak future.

Superboy eventually asks Robin to find a way to get Brainiac 13 to help them out, and somehow, someway, Robin is able to rig the temporal compass to send Brainiac 13 a warning through time. Robin's plan works, and the giant Brainiac 13 comes to life to fight the Imperiex probe, which grows in size to match its foe. Brainiac 13 gains the upper hand and rips off a chunk of Imperiex's armor, causing a huge release of energy that would surely be deadly for our teenage heroes. Luckily, Robin is able to send them all back home right in the nick of time.

As everybody falls down in the abandoned Cadmus facility, Robin expresses second doubts about their choice. Wonder Girl exclaims that Imperiex clearly was the bad guy, and Empress asks if they really did just save the world. Impulse once again asks where he was in the future, and Anita and Cassie assure him that the future's not written and anything can still happen. Superboy resumes his conversation with Robin, who agrees to go with his gut and let Kon off the hook. But he does remind him that he's now going up against the U.S. government. Lobo decides to remind Superboy of what will happen, and he lifts up the big box he had at the beginning.

The last page is an article from the National Whisper called, "Growing pains for Young Justice? Psychic says immaturity may be team's downfall." The article quotes Bella Fortuna, who claims the problems will begin with Superboy, who may be too young to be a father but has a young boy in his future ... or is it an older man, perhaps his grandfather? As for Robin, Fortuna foresees a lack in confidence, shattered self-esteem and perhaps a weight gain of 200 pounds. Fortuna says Wonder Girl will meet a nice young man and outgrow Young Justice, but she has a friend with a secret and a dark side that may be too much for her to handle. As for Impulse, Fortuna says, "He runs too fast. My visions of him are all blurry, and they give me a migraine."

This issue once again shows the amazing power of Todd Nauck. He cranked out this 38-page time-traveling adventure without missing a beat on the Young Justice series. This issue also shows me how valuable inker Lary Stucker and letterer Ken Lopez are. I never appreciate such aspects of comics until I see someone else handle them. Still, though, the inking wasn't that bad in this issue, especially considering that the tight deadlines required six inkers.

As for the story? Well, I was a little mixed on it. It was a lot of fun to have Young Justice constantly bickering as they're flung around through time. And it is always neat to see a bunch of possible futures. But I did have a few problems. First, who sent Young Justice after Superboy for absconding with government property? It feels completely against their character to side with the government over one of their own. Remember, one of the very first things they did as a team was lie to the government and the JLA about Secret. Second, I didn't like how Young Justice instantly and unanimously decided to side with Brainiac 13 vs. Imperiex. Can't these kids recognize that this is a complex matter and both Brainiac 13 and Imperiex are awful beings that would each destroy the Earth? Third, it was just a bit too convenient for Robin to completely master the temporal compass like that. I know he's good with technology, but being able to send messages to Brainiac 13 in the past? Seems a bit much.

Ultimately, this story's biggest weakness was that it was entirely inconsequential. (Which is why it wasn't included in the Our Worlds at War trade paperback.) But think about it. Young Justice didn't do anything in this issue. They got a glimpse of the destructive power of Imperiex and Brainiac 13. Then they went back to right where they began. The most interesting thing, actually, was the implication that Impulse might not survive this war. As we saw in the most recent Impulsive Reactions, this was a rumor DC was playing up at the time. And I kind of like. It's sort of a badge of honor to be considered significant enough that your death would have an impact in a big event comic. Barry died in Crisis on Infinite Earths, Wally almost died in Zero Hour, will Bart die in Our Worlds at War?

Naturally there aren't any letters to the editor, so let's check out the new advertisements:

3,000 years in the making. Magic: The Gathering – Apocalypse Invasion Cycle Book III.

Sooner or later you're gonna have to be "skins." Oxo Balance shower gel.

Hey, Kids! Comics talks about Our Worlds at War, promising three months of crossovers. It also talks about a 240-page anthology called Bizarro Comics.

Win instantly a trip to WWF WrestleMania through Corn Nuts.

The Vans Warped Tour a family classic!

Are you getting enough? Six Flags.

I believe comic book heroes walk the earth. Unbreakable out on DVD.

Next time, we continue the Prelude to War with Superman: Our Worlds at War Secret Files & Origins #1.