Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Young Justice #27

Baseball Field: Myrg or "There's a Saga Born Every Minute"

Peter David Writer
Todd Nauck Pencils
Lary Stucker Inks
Jason Wright Colors
Ken Lopez Letters
Maureen McTigue Left Out
Eddie Berganza Ump

This issue's striking cover is by Nauck and Stucker with colors by Ian Hannin. This is a fun, wild and wacky image, showing exactly what happens in this issue. Young Justice is going to play a baseball game against some very large, armored aliens. I love this idea not only for the pure goofiness in it, but also the unique display of our heroes' strength and speed. This cover is up to Nauck and Stucker's usual standards, but Hannin is a colorist I'm not familiar with, and he did forget to color Impulse's goggles. Tsk, tsk!

Our story begins with Traya Smith's first day at the Elias School, and the young girl has already run into some bullies, who are making fun of Traya's name. Cissie quickly comes to Traya's defense, but the bullies try to brush Cissie off, saying her five minutes of fame from the Olympics will quickly wear off, since nobody remembers the athletes once the games end. But Traya demonstrates that some people do remember the Olympians by naming the earliest athlete she can remember, Irving Baxter, a gold medalist from 1900. She then rattles off several more names, including the first women to compete, Marie Ohnier and Mme. Brody; Zhang Shan, who won the first mixed shooting event in 1992; Flo-Jo in 1988, Nadia Comaneci in 1976 ... Finally, the bullies walk away in anger, and Cissie tells Traya that she won.

The two girls then head to their room, and find a note on the door from the principal, warning Cissie about her fan mail. When they open the door, they find the whole room covered in massive stacks of letters. Traya says people won't be forgetting about Cissie anytime soon, and Cissie realizes she should have taken her mom's advice about hiring a service to handle her mail. As she takes some letters off a stack, she causes an avalanche of letters and is buried in her mail. Traya tries to dig Cissie out, but finds that she has mysteriously vanished.

Cissie finds herself being flung through outer space until she suddenly lands in a giant baseball mitt. She gathers herself up on a baseball field, and Wonder Girl quickly comes to her side, apologizing for dragging her into this. Cissie, though, sees Young Justice preparing to play baseball against a bunch of large aliens, and she assumes she's dreaming about a sequel to "that lousy movie with What's-His-Name, the basketball player, and those cartoon guys." (Cissie is referring to Space Jam, with Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes. But it is hardly a lousy movie — in fact, it's the greatest movie ever made, and anyone who disagrees is flat-out wrong.)

Cassie assures Cissie she's not dreaming, and Secret, Superboy and Impulse are all very happy to see their former teammate again. Lobo is happy to finally have a "looker" on the team, and Empress takes issue with that comment. Cassie explains that they needed a ninth player, and the Slag captain suddenly turned to her to pick someone. Cissie popped right into Cassie's head, and the Slag used their telepath and matter transmitter machine to use Cassie's thoughts to find Cissie and bring her to the planet Myrg. Impulse explains that the Slag have conquered Myrg, but they've agreed to leave the people in peace if they're defeated in a game that, near as they can tell, is a dead ringer for baseball. Cissie shouts at her friends for choosing her over Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, or even Plastic Man. She moans aloud that even though she gave up being a superhero, she's now on an alien planet, fighting off a race of invaders. She quotes the Godfather Part III by saying, "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!"

Robin, meanwhile, is in the locker room having a bit of a meltdown. Doiby Dickles notices this, and he offers the Boy Wonder some counsel. Robin explains that he's trying to balance in his mind his normal life with normal school and girl troubles combined with this wild, high-stakes mission that has the entire population of an alien planet pinning their hopes of freedom on him. Robin admits he feels out of his comfort zone with this mission, but Doiby stops him before he completely breaks down. Doiby points out that Robin's problem is just his attitude. Doiby says that if Robin acts like he owns the place, then Myrg will be his world before he knows it.

Feeling better, Robin walks out onto the field and to his surprise, one of the Slag aliens shouts out, "Look! It's a kid in red and green tights! Let's surrender!" As the aliens begin to bow down to Robin, Superboy reminds Robin that the aliens repeated word-for-word a sarcastic joke Robin said before they arrived at Myrg. But this perplexing moment quickly comes to an end when the leader of Slag, K'rnd'g, tells his men to stand up and ignore Robin. K'rnd'g, who is wearing red and green, himself, explains that those are the colors of leadership on their home world, and the Slag are conditioned to defer to those colors at all times. K'rnd'g also springs a surprise on Young Justice, telling them that they're not only playing for the freedom of Myrg, but for Earth, as well. Everyone's a bit worried by this, but Robin assures the team they can win. Wonder Girl worries that the Slag will cheat, so Doiby suggests they cheat back — a plan that Lobo is in favor of.

So everybody puts on their custom baseball uniforms that I assume the Slag provided, and they head out to play some baseball! At pitcher, is our lovable Impulse, with Robin at second base, Wonder Girl at center field, Superboy as catcher, Secret at first base, Cissie in right field, Lobo in left field, Empress as shortstop, and Doiby at third base. The Slag have also provided the announcer and a robotic umpire. The entire planet of Myrg has come out to watch the game, with the best seats filled by the evil Prince Marieb, the executioner, and Doiby's girlfriend, Ramia. She reminds Doiby that once he wins, Marieb will leave Myrg and they can be together again.

The game finally begins, with Impulse throwing a strike that the batter didn't even see. Superboy mocks the batter, saying that was just Impulse's cut fastball. Robin and Empress cheer on Impulse to show the "high heat," and Impulse throws his second strike. Superboy asks the batter if he's planning on swinging, and K'rnd'g tells his player to anticipate Impulse's delivery. So the batter actually swings before Impulse even throws his third pitch, which Superboy called his change-up that even his nonexistent grandmother could have hit. Wonder Girl comments on how this could actually be a dull game, and when Cissie responds with sarcasm, Cassie says she can't stay mad forever. Impulse quickly strikes out the next two batters, with Superboy yawning and sipping a soda. The crowd goes wild, and even the announcer has to admit he's never seen the opposing team take such a command of the game. K'rnd'g blasts the announcer in the face with a laser, and a new announcer takes his place, talking instead about how the Slag are leading Young Justice into a false sense of security.

Cassie wonders how an alien race that's never been to Earth ended up adopting baseball as their official game, and Robin speculates that they picked it up on old broadcast waves from Earth and decided to claim it as their own. He then sends up their first hitter, Impulse. Superboy, and the Slag wonder why the pitcher is going up to bat first, and Impulse further perplexes everybody by bunting the first pitch. But then everyone realizes that Impulse quickly ran all the bases before his bunt could be fielded. The announcer calls it impressive, then gets blasted in the face again. Impulse returns to the dugout next to Cissie, who calls him a one-man team. She also notes that she's never seen Impulse so focused. Impulse slowly admits that he's been trying a lot harder since Max got sick and almost died. Cissie has met Max before, and she understands that he's more than a teacher to Bart. Her eyes fill with tears and she gives Impulse a big hug.

(OK, it's time for an annoying continuity rant. If you just look at the dialogue of this conversation, you could strongly make the case that this is actually Inertia in disguise talking to Cissie. But if you look closely at the art in the last panel, we can see Impulse's ring on his finger — the one indicator that proved "Bart" was really Thad. This ring was missing since Young Justice returned from Australia, so I assumed that was a clever, subtle way of showing that it was really Inertia who went on this outer space adventure. Turns out I was wrong. It really was Bart the whole time. And even though Max is better now, Bart is still a bit shaken up by it and is trying to work on his focus.)

The next batters for Young Justice, Lobo, Superboy and Wonder Girl, all hit home runs, driving up their lead to 4-0. Secret, though, is unsure with what to do with the bat, and she strikes out in a moment of confusion. Cissie strikes out, too, while crying out that she hates this game, and Doiby also promptly strikes out, bringing the inning to a close. Empress tries to offer Cissie some friendly encouragement, but Cissie shortly turns her down. She then turns to Cassie and asks how they could let Empress join the team. As they argue about Empress' limited experience and secretive background, a Slag batter manages to hit a pitch off Impulse. The ball sails right toward Cissie's head, and she just manages to catch it. Everybody cheers her for having great reflexes, even though she mostly got lucky.

In the Slag dugout, K'rnd'g assures his worried team that they'll make a great comeback in the ninth inning when they employ their compensators. So we skip ahead to the ninth inning, with Robin encouraging Impulse to win the game with three more strikeouts. Superboy mocks the batter for being anxious to strike out again, but to everyone's astonishment, the batter knocks Impulse's pitch out of the park to give the Slag their first score of the game. And the same thing happens with the next batter, over and over again, until the Slag take the lead with 12 runs and load the bases with no outs. Finally, Robin decides to discuss things over on the mound. Impulse says he feels like he's throwing as hard as ever, and Robin tells him he is. He kicks himself for not realizing earlier, but he now knows that the Slag's visors are enabling them to track Impulse's pitches and their gloves are speeding up their swings.

So, to counter the Slag's cheating, Robin throws a few curveballs himself. He has Doiby and Empress switch positions, and sends Impulse to right field and puts Cissie on the mound. Robin assures Impulse that this isn't anything against him, he just wants to try this plan. Cissie, however, is very worried about this plan. Robin and Superboy assure her that her arm is strong enough and her eye is good enough to place the ball where it needs to be in order to keep the hit in the park. Empress then approaches Cissie, removes her mask, and tells her that she became a hero because of the example Cissie set.

So Cissie throws the pitch in the perfect spot, low and inside. The batter hits it straight down the third base line. Empress fields the ball, collecting one out. The baserunner barrels toward her, but Empress evades him in a puff of smoke and gets the ball to Robin, who makes the second out. Another baserunner slides to take out Robin and disrupt the triple play. Robin acrobatically leaps over the runner, but his throw to first base is a bit too high. Luckily, Secret is able to stretch out to catch the ball and earn the third out. Everybody begins cheering and congratulating Cissie, except for Lobo, who's sad he didn't get to frag anybody.

But the celebration is short-lived, as K'rnd'g reminds Young Justice that the Slag still have a one point lead heading into the bottom of the ninth. And Young Justice's next three batters — Cissie, Doiby and Secret — haven't had a hit all game. Doiby's optimistic they can pull it off, but Cissie and Secret both feel the game is over.

I really enjoyed this issue. The prospect of Young Justice playing a game of baseball might be a turnoff for some people, but it really worked. It was a creative use of everybody's powers and talents, and was a lot of fun, as well. I especially liked how Impulse was used in this issue both as a pitcher and a hitter. And it was great to get Cissie involved again. Even though she's not Arrowette anymore, she still is a member of the team. In the end, I actually found myself enjoying the baseball stuff so much, I wish we could have seen more of the game instead of just skipping ahead to the end. It's also my duty to remind you of Bart's first attempt at baseball in Impulse #20. Bart is a much more polished player this time around, but the stakes are also much higher.

Our letters to the editor begin with Martin Kelly ruminating over Robin's secret identity. Martin argues that Tim Drake should be in the clear to tell his teammates who he is since it won't directly connect him to Bruce Wayne, unlike Dick Grayson. Martin also points out that Dick told the Titans who he was back in the day, meaning that Wally West most likely knows who Batman is. Martin also complains about Robin's romance with Secret, saying Robin already has enough girlfriends in his other books.

Paul Watson, of Essex, England, wonders if Baron Sin Gazz is actually Baron Blood, but Eddie Berganza says this baron is a new character. Paul loved the fight between Impulse and Tigress and felt that Superboy was very much in character by wanting to fight even without powers.

Miguel Maldonado, of Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, says the most memorable moments in Young Justice are always related to Impulse. He especially loved Tigress shouting, "I want another opponent!" Miguel also loved having the JLA show up and beat all the bad guys in 19 seconds. He asks if there's an unwritten rule for superhero teams to have an outer-space adventure, and he hopes Doiby Dickles stays on Myrg once they get there.

Brian Seidman, of New York, says he's not a big fan of Eric Battle's take on Young Justice, calling it a little too choppy, except for Impulse, who was sleek and dynamic. Brian hopes Cissie can work things out with her mom, and he even asks for a Fite 'n Maad one-shot. Now for the new ads:

Driver 2. The Wheelman is back on PlayStation 2.

Forget your driver's license ... you're gonna need a passport. Cruis'n Exotica for Nintendo 64 and GameBoy Color.

See what your stuff is worth at WizardWorld.com. This ad hearkens back to the disastrous speculator market of the '90s when everybody thought they could invest in comics. But when everybody's buying "rare" issues to sell back at a later date, nobody's going to pay out when it's time.

Freaky what you can get out of a bottle of Sprite these days.

Into video games? Want to learn all the secrets, tips, and codes so you can win every time? Then log on to: GamePro.com.

Next time, we'll sadly begin the post-Ethan Van Sciver/L.A. Williams era with Impulse #68.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hourman #22

The Chrono-Bums

Tom Peyer Writer
Tony Harris Artist
John Kalisz Colorist
Heroic Age Separations
Kurt Hathaway Letterer
Tony Bedard Editor

Cover by Tony Harris, color by Richard & Tanya Horie. And this cover ... uh ... shows ... Hourman and ... playing cards? Seriously, I have no idea what's going on here. And, I guess, that is a good indication of how this story will go. Just a whole lot of confusion for me here. One thing I do know is that this Hourman is from the DC One Million event. He's an android with time manipulation abilities, and for some reason he decided to stay in the 20th century after that wild event with Vandal Savage and everybody.

Our story begins with Young Justice — Robin, Superboy, Impulse, Wonder Girl, Secret and Red Tornado — randomly deciding to visit Hourman. The narrator, Snapper Carr, says Young Justice has had nothing to do with Hourman, and are starting to feel weird about it. So they go to a seedy-looking coffeehouse called the Mad Yak, which Hourman apparently frequents. Robin hesitates before opening the door, noting that the patrons of this establishment might not be too big on authority, so they shouldn't just barge in like it's a bust. But Impulse wasn't paying attention, and he just runs right in. So everybody reluctantly follows, and are greeted with an awkward silence.

Robin introduces themselves to the owner, who doesn't seem too friendly. Superboy says they're just looking for Hourman, and Impulse very quickly says that Red Tornado is also an android and they thought the two androids would like to meet. The owner says he'll tell Hourman that the teens stopped by, for $20. So Young Justice storms away, with Robin calling the place rude, unfriendly and uncool, and Superboy saying he'll never go back there, even if Superman starts eating there. And Red Tornado was oddly silent throughout the whole ordeal.

Hourman arrives just seconds after Young Justice leaves, and he says he's glad he missed them since he has too much going on right now to get involved with "super-hero energy." He then spends the rest of the issue gathering up all his friends to take them on a time-traveling adventure. And that's it.

I usually like it when Young Justice randomly shows up in other books, but I prefer organic chance meetings. Like when Superman or Supergirl happen to fly by them up in the sky. Or when there's a really big disaster and Young Justice arrives just a bit too late to help. But this issue ... it was just weird. Why did Young Justice go looking for Hourman? Technically, they did meet Hourman in Sins of Youth — Red Tornado even swapped arms with him when they were little kid androids. So I can't really see any reason for Young Justice to want to reach out to Hourman. If he were a teenager, like the Star-Spangled Kid, then I'd understand the interest here. But as it stands, this unexplained and unnecessary appearance, combined with rather lackluster art, make this an undesirable and forgettable issue for this little Impulse blog.

Update: I asked Tom Peyer on Twitter about this issue and he said: "YJ & Hourman had friends in common (the JLA) & YJ wanted Red Tornado to have an android friend. Made sense to me!" So this does help a little by reinforcing the random goofiness of Young Justice. Mostly though, I'm grateful that Peyer took the time to respond to my random question about a 17-year-old comic book.

None of the letters in Hourmail mention Impulse or Young Justice, so let's check out the new ads:

The only thing worse than the weight of the world on your shoulders is the weight of the moon. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask on Nintendo 64.

Extra sugar free gum Polar Ice flavor. It shows the ice is so cold, if you chew it you grow white fur like a polar bear.

Mess with the best, go down like the rest. Hercules for Nintendo 64.

Freaky what you can get out of a bottle of Sprite these days.

Enter the Namco Champion Within sweepstakes! Grand Prize: Tekken Tag Tournament arcade unit.

Vapor Transmission. The new Orgy album featuring "Fiction (Dreams in Digital)."

What are you going to wear tonight? Cigarettes? No thanks.

Look out. The rainbow's in a sour mood. Sour Skittles.

Deliver at all costs. Smuggler's Run for PlayStation 2.

Next time, we'll get a lot more of Impulse and his friends ... out in space! In Young Justice #27.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Superman and Batman: World's Funnest #1

"Last Imp Standing"

Evan Dorkin
Mike Allred
Brian Bolland
Frank Cho
Stephen DeStefano
Dave Gibbons
Joe Giella
Jaime Hernandez
Stuart Immonen
Phil Jimenez
Doug Mahnke
David Mazzucchelli
Frank Miller
Sheldon Moldoff
Glen Murakami
Norm Rapmund
Alex Ross
Scott Shaw!
Jay Stephens
Ty Templeton
Bruce Timm
Jim Woodring
and Chris Chuckry

Our cover by Brian Bolland and Chris Chuckry shows Mr. Mxyzptlk battling Bat-Mite over a large pile of deceased Batmans and Supermans from all sorts of different eras and worlds. From the Golden Age heroes to their animated versions, they all get killed by these two ultra-powerful inter-dimensional imps. This cover is also the cover for the 2016 trade paperback, World's Funnest, which collects 12 of the best stories with Mr. Mxyzptlk and Bat-Mite, going all the way back to Mxy's first appearance in 1944. (Sadly, this collection does not include Mxy's appearance in Young Justice, where Impulse and the Three Stooges taught the imp how to have fun.) This otherwise amazing collection fortunately is available digitally. And anchoring it is this 64-page Elseworlds tale, that put all the impressive credits in a fake ad for The Bat-Mite and Mr. Mxyzptlk Extra-Dimensional Imp-Formational Society, with all the creators listed as members of said club.

Our story begins in the Silver Age, with Superman and Batman having captured Lex Luthor and Joker. Suddenly, the ropes holding the two villains unravel on their own, and Luthor and Joker try to make a hasty getaway. Suddenly, a couple of giant mannequins come to life, but Superman, Batman and Robin are easily able to take out the mannequins and recapture Luthor and Joker. Bat-Mite appears and admits that he freed the criminals so he could see his hero, Batman, in action. Mr. Mxyzptlk then appears and says he brought the statues to life to annoy his rival, Superman.

The two imps both accuse the other of getting in his way, and their fight starts sending a lot of magic around. Batman tries to stop the fight, but Mxyzptlk accidentally kills him. Bat-Mite weeps over the loss of his hero, and he kills Superman in retaliation. In anger, Mxy then kills Robin, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Perry White. Supergirl, Batwoman, Batgirl and Ace the Bathound all show up, and begin weeping when they see everyone has died. So Mxy kills them, as well, and the Super-Pets when they arrive. Luthor and Joker begin laughing to see all these heroes perish, but Mxy doesn't like that, either, and he kills them, too.

The Justice League finally arrives, including Barry Allen, but Mxy easily takes them all out. The entire Legion of Super-Heroes shows up, but when they realize that without Earth's heroes to serve as an inspiration, they wouldn't exist. So they all vanish in a blink of an eye. Bat-Mite finally decides this is enough, and he begins trying to trick Mxyzptlk into saying his name backwards so he'll be sent back to his dimension. But Mxy doesn't fall for this trick, and as the two imps fight, they grow larger and larger, destroying everything in their path. They're eventually bigger than the entire planet Earth, and at this point, the Spectre steps in to try to stop them. But Mxy kills him by smashing Earth on his head. The imps keep fighting, destroying stars, planets and galaxies, until finally there is nothing left but whiteness. Mxy is glad the universe is gone because that means there's nowhere else for Bat-Mite to hide, but Bat-Mite realizes there are other universes he can teleport to.

Bat-Mite first heads to the Phantom Zone, which Mxy promptly destroys. Up next is the Golden Age universe with the Justice Society of America and Jay Garrick. Mxy kills them all, so Bat-Mite retreats to Earth-3, where the evil version of the Justice League, the Crime Syndicate, reigns supreme. (The Flash equivalent on this Earth is Johnny Quick, not to be confused with the good Johnny Quick we know and love.) These villains actually attack Bat-Mite, and Mxy saves him by killing them and destroying the universe once again. Up next is Earth-X, home to Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters, but Mxy quickly kills them all, too.

Mxyzptlk then follows Bat-Mite to the world of Captain Marvel in the Golden Age. Mxy first encounters the Monster Society of Evil, and he decides they're all too stupid to live. Bat-Mite gathers up the entire Marvel family and begs them to attack Mxy. But the vengeful imp kills them, too, for being too silly. The next world is home to Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew, which Mxy hates even more. The two imps then appear in the real world and are immediately frightened by it all. They fly down to the DC offices, take a quick peak inside, then both decide to destroy this "wrong" dimension and pretend they never saw it.

Bat-Mite once again tries to trick Mxyzptlk into returning to the fifth dimension, but this time, Mxy realizes that if the fifth dimension doesn't exist, then he can't be sent back there. So Mxy destroys his home world, then follows Bat-Mite to Apokolips, which he promptly destroys. But Mxy leaves a dying Darkseid floating through space, so he can give him the fabled Anti-Life Equation before he dies. And the equation is simply Mr. Mxyzptlk plus Bat-Mite, which makes Darkseid laugh.

The next world is home of the Super Friends cartoon, featuring Wendy, Marvin and the Wonder Dog and the Wonder Twins. Mxy hates how when these heroes talk, the only thing that moves is their mouths and the general lameness of the Wonder Twins, so he kills them all. The next world is actually a storyboard for an episode of Superman: The Animated Series. Mxy naturally destroys this world, too, then follows Bat-Mite right into the middle of the famous Batman-Superman fight in The Dark Knight Returns. Mxy quickly kills Superman, but slowly, and brutally beats Batman to death, causing an abnormally high amount of teeth to fall from his mouth. Bat-Mite then retreats to a world that looks very familiar.

It's the DC Universe in the '90s, filled with new, legacy characters, new outfits and powers for existing characters, and a prevailing tone of "edginess." Impulse (a great spokesman for this era) is the first to spot Bat-Mite, calling out the "fat elf in the freaky-looking Batman suit." But then Impulse wonders if this simply is Batman's new look, noting that you never know these days. Everyone else, except Nightwing, seems intent on killing Bat-Mite, and the poor imp tries in vain to explain who he is.

But nobody here has ever heard of Bat-Mite. The imp runs away from this crowd in tears, looking for Batman to set everything right. But Batman hasn't heard of Bat-Mite, either. So Bat-Mite decides that these mean and scary heroes with all their nasty weapons are actually evil impostors, and he kills them all. Mxy arrives just in time to watch Bat-Mite kill the last remaining heroes and ultimately destroy the entire universe. Mxy is impressed by this, but he still wants to continue his fight.

Our next stop is the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths, with Wally West sadly holding the empty uniform of Barry Allen, and Superman explaining to everybody that the Anti-Monitor has finally been defeated. Mxy kills everybody, leaving Superman for last, who sadly asks if all their efforts to save the universe were pointless. Mxy thinks for a moment, then says, yes, it was all meaningless, and he destroys this entire universe, as well.

We then quickly jump around to a bunch of different worlds, seeing Rip Hunter in the Time Stream; the Atomic Knights; classic Wild West heroes; the Charlton heroes of Blue Beetle, the Question and others; World War I; Amethyst in Gemworld; Heaven (showing Perry White finally meeting Great Caesar's Ghost); the Revolutionary War; World War II; Kamandi the Last Boy on Earth; the Space Cabby; Booster Gold; the Tangent Heroes; 'Mazing Man; Sugar and Spike; the Challengers of the Unknown; the DC One Million heroes; Abra Kadabra; the Reverse Flash; Batman Beyond and many more. And every single one of them was killed by Mr. Mxyzptlk.

Mxyzptlk follows Bat-Mite to the Kingdom Come world, where Bat-Mite has stolen the Jay Garrick helmet from this world's Flash for some reason. Mxy destroys this world as well, then tries to throw a bomb at Bat-Mite. But he uses the Flash helmet to bounce the bomb back at Mxy, and he blows up. But he's fine, because he's, you know, Mr. Mxyzptlk. However, that explosion did seem to calm Mxy down. He slowly starts laughing, and Bat-Mite gradually joins in. The two imps laugh and laugh about how fun it was to destroy the entire multiverse, and just like that, they return to the Silver Age world they started on, saying they'll meet up again the same time next Tuesday. As Batman and Superman take Joker and Luthor away, they both get the sense that some great cosmic joke was being played on them. But they quickly shake this feeling off as lingering effects of Joker's laughing gas, completely unaware that Mr. Mxyzptlk and Bat-Mite are gleefully laughing at the heroes behind their backs.

This was a wonderfully hilarious story that lovingly teased every different incarnation of DC Comics. No matter what the era or style is, there's always something to make fun of, and this comic did a great job of finding those goofy elements to exploit. And what made everything a hundred times better were the people who made this comic. Instead of getting somebody else to mimic the unique styles of Frank Miller, Alex Ross or Bruce Timm, DC actually brought in Frank Miller, Alex Ross and Bruce Timm, and it makes all the difference. This comic is great for all fans of DC, but especially students of DC's history.

Now, before we move on, I have a bonus story to review. This trade also includes a Bat-Mite story from 1995 that features a small, Impulse-Mite cameo I was unaware of.

Mite fall

Script-Mite: Alan Grant
Art-Mite: Kevin O'Neill
Color-Mite: Digital Chameleon
Lettering-Mite: Clem Robins
Ass't-Mite: Chuck Kim
Editor-Mite: Archie Goodwin

The cover by Kevin O'Neill gives us a good idea of what this story is — a goofy, over-the-top retelling of the classic Batman tale, Knightfall.

In this story, we learn that Bat-Mite's dimension is full of other chubby imps who all love dressing up and acting like superheroes and supervillains just like him (but he's the only one who comes to Earth from time to time). The events in this dimension run parallel to Earth's, so when the real Bane unleashed the lunatics of Arkham Asylum to weary and weaken Batman, the Bane-Mite did the same thing to Bat-Mite. And the results turned out the same, with Bane-Mite beating and breaking Bat-Mite.

Bat-Mite used the last of his strength to come to Earth to find a hero to save his world. But since the real Batman was too weak, Bat-Mite turned to a reformed drug dealer named Bob Overdog (whom he met in Grant and O'Neill's 1992 Legend of the Dark Mite). Bat-Mite gives him the ridiculous suit we see on the cover, turning him into Overbat, and, long story short, Bob destroys Bane-Mite through the power of pure goodness. But with Bane-Mite defeated, Bob succumbed to temptation and tried some of Bane-Mite's drub, Toxik, which caused his head to explode. The Mites mourn Bob's death and decide to honor his heroism with a giant gold statue at a ceremony attended by Flash-Mite and the very rare Impulse-Mite.

This was also a pretty fun story, although the dark writing and grotesque art kept me from fully enjoying it. But I did like the unexpected surprise of the Impulse-Mite. It's always nice to see your favorite character included in other stories, even random, utterly goofy stories like this.

Next time will be another cameo appearance, but it will be in continuity and a bit more serious in Hourman #22.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Year in Review: 2000

I was 13 years old in 2000, which meant that I was at that age where everything and everyone was stupid. In all fairness, though, there wasn't a whole lot for me to like about 2000. My beloved Utah Jazz had begun to fall apart, and overall, it turned out to be a pretty weak year in the movies and television. If only I knew about Impulse comics back then! Then I would have had something to enjoy!

The highest grossing film of 2000 was Mission: Impossible II, which I still haven't seen because I've never been interested by those movies. Second on the list was Gladiator, which also won Oscars for best picture and actor (Russell Crowe). I didn't see this one till years later, because 13-year-olds really shouldn't be watching rated-R films ... or at least that's how it was back then. But yeah, I did like that when I finally got around to seeing it. Other big hits included Cast Away (great), Disney's experimental, but lackluster Dinosaur and the live-action How the Grinch Stole Christmas (kinda weird, but mostly OK). My favorite Disney film of the year was actually The Emperor's New Groove, an unexpectedly funny and fresh movie. But I guess it doesn't technically count as a "hit" of the year.

In the world of superheroes, though, 2000 did experience a major breakthrough with X-Men. For the first time in more than a decade, we had a serious, realistic portrayal of comic book superheroes in a major blockbuster. Well, a modest blockbuster, it didn't quite earn $300 million. But it still was a very exciting time. The old X-Men cartoons were re-run on TV, and my friend recorded them all to watch over and over again, while we poured over every piece of concept art and leaked news from the burgeoning internet. Nowadays, looking back at it, you might say this first X-Men movie is dumb, even disappointing. But it laid the groundwork for a very successful franchise that is still going today. Even 17 years later, we're going to get another film with Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier. And most importantly, X-Men opened the door for this glorious explosion of superhero movies — a door we thought had been slammed shut by Batman & Robin.

Another interesting development in 2000 was the fact that Impulse very nearly became an actual cartoon character. Somewhere around this time (or in 2001), Bruce Timm and company began working on ideas for a new cartoon show featuring the Justice League. Aiming to stick to the kid-friendly mandate of the Kids' WB! network, they proposed a lineup of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter and Hawkgirl along with three teenage sidekicks, Robin, a female Cyborg and Impulse. Well, things kind of died with Kid's WB! (and that network subsequently died on its own), so DC turned to Cartoon Network, which apparently accepted the show based off just one phone call. Not feeling pressured to appease to little kids anymore, Bruce Timm dropped out Robin and the girl Cyborg, and replaced Impulse with the adult Flash. Although the end result was fantastic, I'm left wondering what this show would have been like with Impulse on it. Thankfully, we do have a very small glimpse of that possibility. During the planning and pitching stage, Timm threw together a very quick and rough test video to show the proposed team in action. It turned out they didn't need to show this to any network executives, but the video has survived on the internet. So I present to you, the first animated Impulse! You'll see him run, and trip Solomon Grundy, and ... that's about it.


Moving on to more concrete news, 2000 was probably the biggest year Impulse ever had or ever will have in the world of comic books. In addition to his usual cameos throughout the DC Universe, Impulse took part in the biggest Young Justice event ever, Sins of Youth. And if that wasn't enough, Impulse's own series delivered the amazing, explosive Mercury Falling storyline. Impulse also helped Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn close out their run on The Flash, and was a major character in a two-part Elseworlds story. Between the writing, art and overall influence, Impulse was at the pinnacle of his career in 2000.

Best Issue: Impulse #66

As incredibly amazing as Sins of Youth was, there really wasn't a defining Impulse moment in that story. The Impulse/Kid Flash issue was fun and all, but it didn't have nearly the same impact as Mercury Falling. Impulse #66 was the climax of a story that was the culmination of the entire Impulse mythology. Go all the way back to the very beginning, when Iris rescued Bart from the evil 30th century government. That was when Inertia was created. Now connect that to the early stories of the Speed Force and Max Mercury's relationship with it. Add in the more recent stories of Max being injured, mix it with the classic Allen-Thawne feud, and you end up with the ultimate Impulse story. This issue let Bart unquestionably be the hero all by himself, demonstrating great courage and love to rescue his father figure from a very real danger. And what really set this story apart was the insight we got into Inertia. He became more than your generic evil clone, developing into a nuanced, sympathetic character. Issue #66 was incredibly emotional, and not just for the Bart-Max relationship.

Best Writer: Todd Dezago

Dezago earns his second-straight award, edging out Peter David, who churned out some really great stuff with Sins of Youth and Young Justice. Four-time winner Mark Waid also deserves some credit for closing out his legendary Flash run with an exciting, intriguing mystery and the long-awaited Wally West-Linda Park wedding. But Todd Dezago was the clear favorite here. He beautifully set up Mercury Falling, and then knocked it out of the park. And there really isn't much more to say about that, as I've gushed so much about that story. But if, by some way, that wasn't quite enough, Dezago also wrote the wonderful side story in Young Justice with Impulse and Secret trying to help Superboy get his powers back.

Best Artist: Ethan Van Sciver

Paul Pelletier drew a fantastic Impulse in the few Flash issues we had this year. And Impulse co-creator Mike Wieringo returned to the character with the Sins of Youth covers. But even more impressive was Todd Nauck's workhorse ability to churn out all those high quality Sins of Youth and Young Justice pages with minimal breaks. I was so impressed with Nauck's ability to draw nearly every character in the DCU — and draw them in different ages — that I came very, very close to giving him his second award here. But, ultimately, this is an Impulse blog, and I have to reward the man who made such incredible strides on this book during its biggest storyline. True, Ethan Van Sciver did take a few more breaks than I would have liked, but what he did give us in the year 2000 was unparalleled. He went all out for Mercury Falling, and it paid off. As much as I love Nauck's style, I'm not 100 percent convinced that he could have pulled off the intense emotions that Van Sciver utilized. Simply put, Mercury Falling does not work without Ethan Van Sciver.

Best Supporting Character: Max Mercury

Impulse has always had a fun relationship with Superboy and a sweet relationship with Cissie. This year, he really started working well with Secret, prompting Robin to note that Secret is starting to act more like Impulse. Bart also has maintained great friendships with Carol, Preston and all his other schoolmates, creating an ever-growing list of candidates for this award. However, Max Mercury was head and shoulders above the competition this year, winning this award for the second consecutive year and third time overall. Bart's devotion to Max was the driving force of the great storyline of this year. And everything was resolved in the most beautiful, emotional way. Max and Bart are closer than ever, and what makes this so great, is that they reached this place organically. After years of their adventures and butting heads, they came through for each other when it mattered most. If there was any doubt before, it's now gone, and we can truly say that they are in a father-son relationship.

Best Villain: Inertia

That's back-to-back wins for Thaddeus Thawne, and a complete sweep for the Mercury Falling storyline. Yeah, Sins of Youth was a lot of fun, and Klarion ... bum, bum, BUM ... the Witch Boy was a delight. But Inertia provided the most menace and the most meaning in his schemes. He took over Bart's life for several weeks, almost perfectly mimicking him. He executed his plan perfectly, and even when Bart caught up to him at the end, Thad still had the opportunity to kill Bart and Max. But he couldn't bring himself to do it. He had experienced the joys of being loved and respected. And he bitterly realized that the hateful life he had been forced into was based on lies. For this tragic and sympathetic aspect, Inertia not only is the best Impulse villain of 2000, he's the best Impulse villain of all time.

Well, 2001 is going to have its work cut out trying to match 2000. But we'll still have a lot of fun with it. Carlo Barberi will soon take over the series, delivering an art style that somehow pays homage to Humberto Ramos, Craig Rousseau and Ethan Van Sciver. David and Nauck will continue their amazing run on Young Justice, sending the expanded team on even more fun adventures in space. Impulse sadly, won't spend much time with the Flash, but he will make plenty of cameos throughout the DCU, and he will also join in the massive event of the year, Our Worlds at War. It all begins with one of those quick cameos in the very wacky World's Funnest Elseworlds tale.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Impulse #67

Friends Like These ...

Todd Dezago – Words
Ethan Van Sciver – Pencils
Andrew Hennessy – Inks
Janice Chiang – Letters
Jason Scott Jones & Tom McCraw – Colors
Jamison – Separations
L.A. Williams – Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo

This issue's cover is by Ethan Van Sciver and Wayne Faucher! And it is a bright, fun happy cover to celebrate the happy ending of Mercury Falling. Max deservedly takes the lead, surrounded by Wonder Woman, Superman, Green Lantern, Plastic Man, the Star-Spangled Kid, Jesse Quick, Jay Garrick, and, of course, Impulse. Jesse Quick has a new costume now — so new, in fact, that the costume she wears inside this issue is different than her costume on the cover.

Our story begins with Max enjoying his restored powers by gleefully taking his daughter, Helen, on a tour around America. They visit Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty with Max praising Bart all the way. Helen eventually grows nauseous after this whirlwind tour, so they head home ... where a surprise party is waiting for Max! The guest list is a veritable who's who of the DC Universe. In addition to everybody on the cover, we have Jay's wife, Joan; Plastic Man's pal, Woozy Winks; Star-Spangled Kid's stepdad, S.T.R.I.P.E.; Zatanna; Wildcat; Aquaman; Martian Manhunter; and Dr. Morlo.

Max asks Helen if this party was her idea, and she says Bart also helped plan it. Wonder Woman delivers a brief statement, congratulating Max on cheating death at the finish line. Martian Manhunter, however, admonishes Max for not letting the JLA know about the situation and leaving it all up to Impulse. Max says he would have called, but everything happened so fast. Morlo steps in, saying he did try to call Wally West, but he got no answer. Jay explains that Wally is currently missing, but he's not too worried, assuming Wally is just out on some case right now and should eventually come back just fine.

Green Lantern tells Max that he can't believe that Impulse actually came through on this situation. Max quietly walks away in disgust, leaving Kyle to try to stammer out some sort of apology. J'onn tells him to be more forgiving of Bart's impulsive nature, but Kyle insists that Bart's powers often get him into trouble. J'onn draws a parallel to the recent Circle of Fire ordeal, where Kyle's power ring tapped into his subconscious and nearly destroyed everything. This finally shuts up Green Lantern.

Max joins a conversation between Morlo and Wildcat, a fellow "old-timer" who still remembers Morlo as an evil mad scientist. Morlo says he is a good guy now ... for the time being. Max insists that Morlo was kidding, and the reformed villain only reluctantly agrees to this. As Max walks away from this awkward moment, Plastic Man teases him that Impulse didn't bring him back in a box. He goes on and on about how irritating and obnoxious Impulse is, as Max angrily storms away.

Jesse then confronts Max, saying she's hurt that he didn't call her when Wally was unavailable. Max struggles to answer this, so Morlo once again steps in, saying they didn't really feel the need to contact any other speedsters once Impulse began to show such improvement. Jesse points out that it was actually Inertia who was showing the improvement, and initially Bart wasn't able to reach the Speed Force. Finally, Max has decided he's had enough with everybody bad-mouthing Impulse. He gets everybody's attention and tells them that while it's great that he's healthy again, they should be celebrating the real triumph of this story — how Bart was able to come through at the end and save his life.

Speaking of Bart, he has finally gathered up his friends — Carol, Preston, Roland, Mike and Wade —and they're all headed over to the party. Bart says lots of his distant relatives and friends of the family will be there to celebrate the fact that Max doesn't have after all. But Preston points out that they all saw how sick and thin Max became. Bart struggles to answer this, until he stumbles on the idea of tapeworms. He says that Max had a tapeworm in his intestines, which ate all his food and made him lose all that weight. But now it's out and the doctors let him keep it in a jar. Everybody seems to buy this lame excuse, except for Carol, who can only roll her eyes.

But most importantly, Bart's friends are happy to have him back. Preston says that Max's sickness made Bart act funny — he got real serious, showed off in school, acted smart and even kind of mean. Preston tells Bart he likes him a lot better this way, and Bart says that's about the nicest thing anybody could have said to him. Bart then starts to lead his friends into the party, but when he opens the door, he sees all the heroes inside are still wearing their uniforms. He quickly slams the door shut and struggles to stammer out another excuse. This time, he turns to Carol for help, whispering that all his "aunts" and "uncles" are still in costume and he wonders if they all live in those outfits.

Luckily, Superman spots Bart outside with his x-ray vision, and he tells everybody they need to put on civilian clothes fast. He asks Zatanna to change all their clothes, but she's been drinking too much Soder Cola and has the hiccups. Her first attempt merely swaps everybody's costumes, and they all shout at her. She gets it right on her second try, and Superman opens the door Bart was barring, while his friends were beginning to wonder if they really were invited to this party. Superman introduces himself as Bart's uncle Kal Ell ... inson ... Man ... ton ... But nobody sticks around to listen to his horribly fake name, and Bart tells Superman he can stop. He also teases him for still having the trademark spit curl in his hair.

Rolly meets Bart's uncle John (Martian Manhunter) and Mike meets Bart's uncle Eel (Plastic Man, whom Bart really doesn't like). Bart then introduces Wade to his uncle Arthur (Aquaman), but he notices that Aquaman has a gold hand. So he quickly shoves a vase over it, which Wade naturally notices immediately and can't help commenting on. Bart says that Arthur's had that vase on his hand for years, and they hardly notice it anymore. Bart then takes great pleasure in introducing his friends to his cousin Diana (Wonder Woman). With wide eyes, Preston asks Diana if she's a movie star or a model, and Wade asks if it's getting warm in here. Courtney and Carol are both disgusted by the boys acting like such ... boys.

Jay Garrick then pulls Max outside to "stretch our legs," which involves throwing on their costumes and running around the world at super speed. Unexpectedly, Jay uses this opportunity to also chastise Max for not asking for help. He tells the Zen Master of the Speed Force to not be too proud to rely on the family of speedsters for help. Max admits that Jay is right and he apologizes. He says that he's had a long life, having run through the end of one century and all the way through another, and he was even thinking for a while that maybe his time was up. But all that changed when Bart brought him to the Speed Force.

The two speedsters save some people from a sinking boat, and Jay says he's glad the unpredictable Speed Force was kind to him. As they stop a robbery in Italy, Max reveals that he and Morlo have run a few more tests, and found that he's only at 93% of what he used to be. But that's good enough for him. The speedsters then rescue a couple of idiot boys who tried to skateboard on the roof, and Jay can tell that something is still bothering Max. He says he feels guilty that while Inertia was impersonating Bart, he was so encouraged by Bart's improvements that he never saw through the deception. Max feels like he betrayed Bart by flooding Inertia with praise, and he hopes that Bart doesn't think that he likes Inertia more than him. Jay tells Max that he shouldn't be worried about Bart not understanding this. He says that they often take Bart for granted because he sees things and does things in ways they can't anticipate, but he always seems to come through. So Jay encourages Max to reach out to Bart and tell him how he feels.

Speaking of Bart, he has now snuck away from the party and is playing with his dog in his room. Carol comes and finds him, saying she needs to leave soon to meet up with Jeff, who she thinks is going to ask her to the dance. But Carol's worried by this sudden sullenness from Bart and she asks him if he's not still Inertia. Bart assures Carol he's the real Bart, and he explains that he's just confused right now. He tells her how Inertia placed him in the perfect virtual reality prison, where he completely forgot about all his friends and family and was able to just have fun with Dox. It had been so long since Bart had lived in the virtual reality that he didn't realize how much he missed Dox.

Also bothering Bart is the idea that while he was in that VR prison, Inertia was living his life and doing everything better and everybody liked him better. Carol cuts him off right there, saying that's not true. She didn't like Inertia and neither did any of Bart's friends. But Bart insists that Inertia was better at following directions, better at being a hero, and overall better at being Bart. Carol says that Bart is a loving and caring person, which is why he was able to break out of Inertia's prison. And it was Bart's love that enabled him to save Max — something that Inertia never could have done. Carol reminds Bart of what Preston said earlier, how Inertia was mean and stuck up ... and not near as cute. Finally, Bart gets to the heart of what's really bothering him. Since Inertia was such a good Impulse, what if Max is now disappointed in Bart? All Carol can say to this is that Bart needs to talk to Max about it.

The party comes to a close, and Helen turns down John's offer to help clean up, letting Max and Bart take care of everything at super speed. Bart asks Max if he can change Ivan's name, and Max says it's his dog and he shouldn't be expected to keep a name given by ... but he can't quite say Inertia. After a brief moment of silence, Max opens up to Bart. He says he's proud of Bart, and not just for taking him to the Speed Force. He's proud of the person Bart is on the inside. Max says that when Bart does stop to think about something, it's always about others. Max admits to Bart that he's guilty that when Inertia showed so much improvement, Max mistakingly believed that he had come through on his promise to Wally to raise Bart responsibly. When Inertia was exposed and Bart came back, Max realized he was wrong. He was successful with Bart a long time ago. Bart has grown into a kind and considerate person with a huge heart. Max tells Bart that he loves him as if he were his own son.

Unfortunately, Max's speech went a bit long for Bart's attention span. But Bart did hear enough to resolve his issues and he happily tells Max that he loves him, too. He then scoops up his dog to go meet up with Carol again. Bart zips over to Manchester Park, where he quickly finds Carol. Sadly, the poor girl is in tears. Turns out, Jeff didn't want to ask her out to the dance, and instead dumped her so he can take Kristin Donovan to the dance. Sobbing, Carol tells Bart that Jeff said she was "too intellectual" for him. Bart says, "Y'mean, he broke up with you 'cause he's dumb ... ? And isn't Kristin Donovan that cheerleader who kept going outside to check when her computer told her she had mail ... ?" This cheers Carol up, and she asks Bart how his talk with Max went. Bart says everything's great there, and he's decided to rename Ivan to Dox.

Well, we have quite a bit to unload here, so let's dive right in. This issue was the perfect epilogue to Mercury Falling. A big, cameo-filled party, a couple of nice conversations to resolve a few lingering issues, and the planting of a few seeds for a Bart-Carol romance. I really liked how Max's heart-to-heart with Bart went. While Max needed to get a lot off his chest, Bart really didn't need to hear all of it. He just needed to know that Max wasn't disappointed in him. And once he realized that, he bounced back to his regular, happily distracted self. There was no need for another big, emotional hug here — we've already been through that. Just a quick reassurance that everybody's OK, and then move on.

The guest list was nearly perfect. Most of the people here had already appeared in Impulse before, and those who hadn't were still tangentially connected to Bart and Max through Young Justice. But despite the enormous cast of characters crammed into this house, I still feel like some people were missing. Most notably was Bart's grandma, Iris Allen. She wrote about Bart's battle with Inertia, and was kidnapped by Inertia when he first appeared. So even though she likes to live a life of solitude, it seems like she should have been here to celebrate this victory. I also wish Bart would have invited Young Justice to this party. It would have been so cool to have them meet Bart's "regular" friends.

Impulsive Reactions begins with a note from Joey Cavalieri, the Flash editor, saying that he's now going to be the editor of Impulse. He doesn't say anything about L.A. Williams, which I found very odd, since L.A. always had such a strong connection to the readers, and usually when a creator or editor leaves the book, some sort of explanation is given. So I did some digging, and sadly discovered that L.A. Williams did not leave DC on the best of terms. I don't want to get bogged down in all the "he said, she said" messy details, but I will link to this blog post from frequent Impulse letter writer Michael Bregman. Regardless of who was right and who was wrong, this was a tragic development. L.A. Williams clearly poured his heart into this book and, in my opinion, made it as good as it ever could be. It's a shame to see a relationship break down in such a messy way.

CGundam writes that he's been reading Impulse since day one, and he feels like the comic is nowhere near as cool as it was 45 issues ago. He says Bart looks and acts like a 12-year-old. CGundam says Bart and his friends should be out joy-riding with their parents' cars and not telling ghost stories around a campfire like Cub Scouts. CGundam says he kept reading the series after the Mark Waid-Humberto Ramos run, and almost quit because the story and art went downhill. But he stayed on once Todd Dezago and Ethan Van Sciver came on, although he really wants Bart to look and act like a 15-year-old now.

Dodger says Impulse appears even younger than 12, and he also wants Bart to "be" 15. Dodger says the only place to Bart "the way he should be" is in Young Justice.

JKane has enjoyed all the runs of Impulse, noting how each creative team has brought something to the table to make this a rare book, a comic with a heart, a book where you actually care about the cast. JKane says that Bart has progressed greatly under the current team's reign. And if he seems a bit young, it's because that is simply Bart's personality. JKane says those who want a mature teenager should read Robin. He also says he's sad to see Ethan Van Sciver leave, but is excited to see Carlo Barberi's take on Impulse.

Da Caped Crusader loves the way Impulse is being portrayed now, especially how Bart's innocence is shown.

Joey Cavalieri ends the column with a longer note, saying he and Todd Dezago have been discussing this age issue. While Bart's innocence makes him seem younger, his VR-raised nonchalance makes him seem older. Joey says they're going to address this issue directly in the upcoming stories. He also officially confirms that Ethan Van Sciver is leaving Impulse, and his first project is a Flash graphic novel with Geoff Johns. Carlo Barberi will become the new regular artist with issue #70. Until then, Eric Battle will draw a two-part epilogue to the Green Lantern event, Circle of Fire.

Whew! That's a lot of changes to process. Ultimately, we'll just have to see how everything shook out when we get there. Until then, let's check out the ads.

Nautica Jeans Company. Not only was this the back cover ad, but Bart, Carol and Preston all wore clothing clearly marked with the Nautica logo throughout the issue. On one hand, it is kind of nice and realistic to see some brand-name clothes on our characters. On the other hand, it is odd that three characters all just happen to be wearing that same brand on the same day. The blatant advertisement also has a way of pulling you out of the story.

They're not just best friends. They're blood brothers. The Little Vampire.

Do you have what it takes to face the wall? Pokémon Puzzle League for Nintendo 64.

New Mini Oreo. Tastes so good you'll take 'em everywhere.

A well rounded woman: stays active, keeps away from creeps, eats healthy and never forgets where she came from. Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness for PlayStation, Nintendo 64 and Sega Dreamcast.

Gotta have sweet? Gotta find words! Juicy Fruit chewing gum word hunt.

Want to be a Pokémon Master? Master this! ThinkChip Battle Stadium.

Look out below! It's Captain Underpants in a box! And read the latest spine-tingling adventure of Ricky Ricotta's Giant Robot. OK, if you don't like Captain Underpants, then something is wrong with you.

Chills and thrills to go! Scooby-Doo's Creepiest Capers, Beetlejuice, The Scarecrow, Gremlins and The Goonies.

Superhero Superhits. 14 re-recorded theme songs from some of the most popular cartoon shows today.

Animorphs for PlayStation and PC CD-ROM.

Look for these musical encounters of the Scooby-Doo kind! Shack Tracks, Witch's Ghost and Alien Invaders.

Dear Family, You are all invited to Family Game Night. Boggle, Scrabble, Life, Payday, Yahtzee, Monopoly, Sorry and Clue.

Find new marshmallow mummies here. Froot Loops.

OK, now that we've thoroughly examined this issue, let's talk about Mercury Falling as a whole. For years, the only Impulse trade paperback was Reckless Youth, which collected the first handful of Impulse issues from The Flash and his own series. In 2009, DC decided to collect Mercury Falling, but I don't like how they did it. They put together issues #62 through #67, which is the complete Mercury Falling story, but they chose #67's cover as the cover of the trade. I don't like this at all because it minimizes Impulse's involvement and implies that the JLA are involved in this story. Fans of these characters would probably be disappointed to see they only have a small cameo at the very end of the story.

Even worse, though, is how DC replaced the Impulse logo at the top with The Flash logo. Officially, this trade paperback is The Flash: Mercury Falling. Even though the Flash has nothing to do with this story! Impulse's face is on the spine of the book, but the words say The Flash, Mercury Falling, Dezago, Van Sciver. And the back cover isn't much better. Although it does show Impulse, he's almost considered an afterthought in the text, which fails to even mention that this trade contains issues #62 through #67 of the Impulse series.

The text says, Flash Fact: Being a hero runs in the family!

For much of his decades-hopping career, Max Mercury was the best there was: a zen master of the Speed Force! Yet the very energy that gives him — and all speedsters — their powers, is threatening to tear him to pieces!

Only his super-fast protégé, Bart Allen — the impetuous Impulse — can venture into the Speed Force to reverse Max's condition. Though at times immature and inexperienced, Bart is trying his hardest to live up to the proud Flash family tradition. Now he must race against time — and his own shortcomings — to save the closest thing to a father he has ever known!

Flash Fact! Comics superstar artist Ethan Van Sciver (The Flash: Rebirth) and writer Todd Dezago (Young Justice) bring Impulse up to speed and out for broke with this startling chapter of the Flash legacy!

Well, there's not much more to say about this trade. There aren't any special notes or features inside. Just the issues, which are thankfully divided with the textless covers. The paper is the cheaper, newspaper-like kind, and at least my copy of this trade is very cheaply bound — all the pages separated from the spine during my first reading. So ... yeah. It's good to have this story collected, but it really, really bugs me that DC tried to hide the fact that this was an Impulse story. It's almost like they were trying to trick Flash fans into buying this.

All in all, Mercury Falling was an incredible story that is the highpoint of the Impulse series. As sad as it is to see Ethan Van Sciver and L.A. Williams leave, I'm glad they were able to go out on top. This story encapsulated everything that Impulse is about from an emotional standpoint, an artistic style and a sense of heroism. This is actually one of the few Impulse stories where it's jut Bart saving the day by himself (a nice result from having the Flash "missing"). As I've said before, Dezago did an excellent job of building on the groundwork laid by Waid and William Messner-Loebs to expand the characters of Impulse, Max Mercury and Inertia. And I don't know if this story would have had the same impact without a devoted editor like L.A. Williams or a talented artist like Ethan Van Sciver.

Believe it or not, we have finally finished all the comics with a publication date from the year 2000. So next time will be our big Year in Review with some awards to hand out!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Young Justice #26

From Myrg with Love

Peter David Dat Writer Bum
Todd Nauck Dat Pencil-Pushin' Bum
Lary Stucker Inkin' Bum
Ken Lopez Whattaya-Call 'im, Letterin' Bum
Jason Wright Colorin' Bum
Maureen McTigue Associate Pain
Eddie Berganza Major Pain in da Bum

Our cover by Nauck and Stucker takes us on a wild, scenic flying-car chase through an amusement park on planet Myrg. In the main car, Robin takes out the driver, while Wonder Girl battle the corrupt leader of Myrg. To the right, Impulse drives and Superboy fights off the troopers. To the left, Doiby Dickles is in the driver's seat, with Secret using her smoke to protect him from incoming laser blasts. I love the action, the humor from the absurdity of the situation, and the beautiful coloring. I do have to note, however, that both Empress and Lobo are missing.

Our story begins with Cissie King-Jones returning to her all-girls boarding school after winning the gold medal in archery at the Olympics. Cissie suddenly finds herself the center of attention, surrounded by a large crowd chanting "USA! USA!" and "Cissie rocks!" The principal, Ms. Foster, angrily investigates the commotion and demands that Cissie explain what's going on. Cissie stammers out an apology, but the principal reveals she was just joking, and gleefully leads the students in another cheer of "Cissie rocks!" The principal then leads Cissie to her office, where the Red Tornado is waiting for them.

But while Cissie is at school, the rest of our heroes are ditching (or perhaps their classes start later in the year). Deep in outer space, near the planet Myrg, Impulse's spaceship has been targeted by what appears to be a space taxi cab. But this cab is hostile, and begins firing lasers at the Young Justice crew. Impulse presses a bunch of buttons real quick until he figures out how to disable the auto-pilot, which enables Doiby to evade the laser blasts. Wonder Girl asks if he can handle this, but he says it's nothing compared to Times Square at rush hour.

Superboy is worried that Doiby won't be able to dodge these blasts forever, and he urges Robin to launch the Super-Cycle so they can go out and help. But Robin is unable to get the vehicle to respond, confirming his earlier reports of it acting strangely. Lobo gets tired of everybody standing around, so he blasts off on his flying motorcycle (and he probably would have blasted right through the hull of the ship had Empress not opened the bay door at the last second. The Top Teen quickly tears apart the cab with a hook and chain, resulting in an explosion that knocks our ship to the point that Doiby can't tell who's upside down and who's right-side up. Impulse says, "Actually, except relative to a planetary body, there's no real 'up' or 'down' in space."

If that sounded like an unusually intellectual thing for Impulse to say, then it's probably because he's really Inertia in disguise (Nauck made sure to keep Impulse's ring off his finger this issue). Impulse notices that the cab was piloted by robots, or they could have just blown up George Lucas' house. Lobo returns to the ship, celebrating his victory, but Robin yells at him for killing the people on the cab. Lobo argues that when battling an invading army, you need to take the off the kid gloves. Robin insists that their team is not about killing people, but Secret intervenes and tells Robin that no one died on that vessel. This surprises both Robin and Lobo, and Secret darkly explains that if someone had died, she would have known it. This worries Superboy and Empress, but Lobo begins to like her.

Impulse then relays a message from Doiby: "Youse guys bedder strap yerselfs in, 'cause dey's a meteor ring we's gotta maneuver tr'oo, and it ain't gonna be pretty!" Robin tells Impulse he doesn't have to use Doiby's accent, but Impulse hasn't realized that he's now talking like Doiby. Everybody straps in, except for Superboy, who is so happy to have his powers back that he's decided to hover in place while the ship shakes around him. But his plan is flawed, and the Kid is flung around the ship like a pinball, much to the delight of Lobo. Secret finally catches Superboy, and he's surprised that she's able to make just parts of herself solid (even though I'm pretty sure that he should already know this).

Finally, Doiby gets the ship through the meteor ring and down to the planet Myrg. Empress is shocked that it looks just like old New York City, but Doiby just shrugs this off. Impulse is the first to notice the arrival of the Myrg police department, and upon seeing the ship piloted by their planet's most wanted criminal, the cops escort them to City Hall. Lobo prepares to fight the police, but Robin tells him not to. Lobo then turns on Robin in a rage, and Superboy starts to come to Robin's aide, but the Boy Wonder channels his mentor, Batman, and stands his ground. Lobo is surprised and confused by this display of courage, so he pulls off his attack, but points out that he could break Robin in half. Robin agrees, but calmly explains that he's not the enemy, and neither are the cops outside. The real enemy, Robin says, are the alien leaders who have conquered Myrg, and if Lobo jumps out and starts fighting right away, then they'll lose the element of surprise. Robin calls Lobo one of the strongest cards in his deck, and playing that card too soon is just plain dumb.

Lobo is impressed by this, but he has to make sure that Robin acknowledges him as the strongest card in his deck, not just one of his strongest cards. Robin sighs and grants Lobo this meaningless title, but both Superboy and Wonder Girl take offense to this. Robin walks away from them in frustration, and Doiby tries to cheer him up by saying that the Starwoman didn't have it any easier when she visited Myrg with the Junior Society of America. Impulse then points out the City Hall, but he's still talking like Doiby, and Robin shouts at him to stop it.

We then cut back to the principal's office, where Red Tornado is making a big show of meeting Cissie for the first time. Cissie picks up on this hint, but she stammers and talks too much, saying that she's only heard of Red Tornado but has never met him, and that clearly people don't have to have met people to have heard of them. Keep things light, the Ms. Foster says she's heard of the pope, although she's never met him. Cissie instantly says he's really nice, but then hurries to say that she's heard that he's nice.

Red Tornado suggests they get to the point of their meeting, so they all sit down and Ms. Foster begins digging through the files on her desk, looking for the one on Red Tornado's adoptive daughter. Cissie starts to say "Traya," but she catches herself and instead says, "Try ... this file here." Ms. Foster opens it up and explains to Cissie that Traya is having trouble at her public school because she's too intelligent for their curriculum. The Elias School was on the short list of academies suited to meet Traya's needs, but academics are only part of the equation. Traya is going to be much younger than the rest of the girls at Elias School, and this is where Cissie comes in to play. Cissie doesn't get it at first, saying she's nowhere smart enough to be a tutor. Red Tornado then steps in to explain. He says that he and his wife enjoyed watching Cissie at the Olympics on TV, and they were impressed with her perseverance in the face of adversity. Red says that when Traya comes to the Elias School, the biggest thing she's going to need is a friend. So he was hoping that Cissie would be Traya's roommate, take her under her wing and essentially be Traya's big sister.

Back on Myrg, we take a peek inside the Royal Palace, where "Hiz Royalness," Prince Marieb, is struggling to contact his home planet of Gren. (His office is decorated with photos of him with Elvis, Spock and other aliens.) Princess Ramia suddenly bursts through the door, demanding that Marieb let Doiby and his companions go. Marieb says that Doiby got off easy last time, but Ramia reminds him that he tried to execute Doiby last time. Marieb angrily says that this time, Doiby will not escape.

Doiby and Young Justice are led into the Royal Palace in front of a large crowd calling for their heads. Robin once again reminds the team that they'll need more than force of arms to get out of this situation, and Lobo assures everyone that he's all they need. Lobo shouts at the crowd to shut up, which they do, and then Prince Marieb greets our heroes with Herman the Executioner. Robin begins a stalling tactic by asking questions about Marieb's authority. Doiby explains that Marieb is the youngest of a large family of royalty on Gren, and he has the least authority of all his brothers. Doiby says that Gren only invaded Myrg so they could find a place to put Marieb out of the way. Marieb angrily contests this, shouting that he's the most important person on this planet.

Having established this fact, Robin enacts his plan, first by having Impulse tie up Marieb and whisk him up to the top of the palace. Impulse holds the prince over the edge of the building, and Robin advises the police against trying to save their ruler. He explains that Impulse and Marieb will be halfway across the city before the cops even get into the air. And if the police try to do anything to Doiby or Young Justice, then Impulse will make sure that Prince Marieb is never seen again.

The negations are interrupted by the arrival of a large, menacing spaceship. Marieb begins to freak out when he sees this ship, and he begs Impulse to hide him from it. Impulse asks if he'll put Doiby back in charge of Myrg and leave the planet, and Marieb instantly agrees. Impulse rejoins his teammates on the ground to report on their success and ask Robin how he got that giant ship to show up and spook the prince. But Robin had nothing to do with the ship. Suddenly, the people on the ship — very large, robotic creatures — comes down and announce themselves as the Slag, Masters of the Game. Gren was not able to withstand the Slag in the Game, so it and all its former conquests are now under Slag control. Superboy asks what this "Game" is, and he's answered with a baseball and a bat. Wonder Girl throws her hands up in the air and says, "That's it. I'm joining the Titans."

Young Justice in space is pretty fun. Of course, the planet Myrg is essentially New York in the '30s, so it doesn't feel too "alien," but I think that helped keep this issue from being too wacky. We had just the right amount of wackiness. The heart of this story was Robin rising to and meeting new challenges as the leader of the team, and showing how it's possible to overthrow a government through nonviolent means. Lobo is a really great addition to the team, providing a necessary level of conflict, while doing so in a fun way. And as for Impulse, this issue also supports my theory that Inertia took Impulse's place after Australia. There's no ring on his finger, he appears a little too smart once or twice here, and it seemed a little more like Inertia than Impulse when he was holding the prince off the edge of the building. Ultimately though, it doesn't matter and it's perfectly acceptable to read this Impulse as the real Bart Allen. I just like connecting all my comic book stories.

Our letters to the editor begin with Jim Bryan asking for a return of the Point Men, either fighting with or against Young Justice. He also loved the anthology format of Young Justice #22, especially the Impulse and Secret story.

Russ Anderson, of Baltimore, also says the Impulse story was his favorite, with Secret being pulled along trustingly as Impulse does his "well-intentioned-but-woefully-misplaced concern shtick." Russ also was a fan of all the glimpses of other origins, especially the 'Mazing Man helmet. He felt the Red Tornado story was too schmaltzy, though, and the Wonder Girl story was bland. He did like the Robin story, but ends his letter by asking for no more fill-in issues.

Vinny Necco liked the whole issue, but was sad that Arrowette and Empress weren't in it. Vinny enjoyed the Red Tornado story, the Wonder Girl story and the Robin story, although he did resent how Robin didn't defend the team or Impulse in front of Nightwing. Vinny also really enjoyed the interactions between Impulse, Secret and Superboy, but he did spot a continuity error in another comic. Apparently an issue of Superman: The Man of Steel had Superboy saying he got his force belt from Impulse, with an editor's note sending readers to Young Justice #22. And this, of course, is completely incorrect.

There aren't any new ads, so I'll see you next time, when we finally wrap up Mercury Falling in Impulse #67.