Monday, April 24, 2017

Young Justice #31


Peter David – Writer
Todd Nauck – Penciller
Lary Stucker – Inker
Ken Lopez – Letterer
Jason Wright – Colorist
Tom Palmer Jr. – Assistant Editor
Eddie Berganza – Editor

Sssh ... SB is watching TV on this cover by Nauck, Stucker and Ian Hannin. And while Superboy gorges himself on Torgo's Pizza, Puffloids chips and Soder cola, flanked by a Flash pillow and a magazine with Nauck and Stucker on it, poor Impulse is left alone to fight off the evil mimes! If it's any consolation to Impulse, there are only three mimes to battle inside this issue, but he still does have to do all the work in this story. And I'm OK with that!

In keeping with the mime theme, there are only two words of spoken dialogue in this issue (giving Ken Lopez the easiest job in the world). The first spoken word comes from Kon shouting, "Quiet!!!!!" at Bart. Unfortunately for Bart, Kon's breath smells like onions. Apparently it's just the two of them today at the Catskills resort, and Bart wants to have some fun. He offers several suggestions to his friend, talking in pictograms instead of words, starting with an offer to go swimming. Bart could try out an Ambush Bug water tube, and Kon could certainly meet a couple of girls. But Kon only responds by putting a finger to his lips in a shushing motion.

But this doesn't stop Bart. He immediately launches into Plan B — a trip to the carnival, where he and Kon could dazzle the workers with their skill at the shooting arcade and win all sorts of stuffed animals, including, but not limited to, Beeker from the Muppets, Cookie Monster from Sesame Street, Captain Carrot and figures from Mystery Science Theater 3000. Again, the shushing motion. So this time, Bart takes a drastic approach. He runs off, quickly returns as Impulse, and suggests he and Superboy battle Darkseid, Brainiac, Bizzaro, Chemo, Harley Quinn, Lex Luthor, Extant, Star Saphire, Starro, Solomon Grundy, Captain Cold, Sinestro, Amazo, Plasmas, Monsieur Mallah and the Brain.

Superboy buries his face in his hands, once again says, Shhhhh, then grabs Bart's head and turns it to the TV screen, showing him the Cheerleader Championship with Terri Jewel Jackson from "Wendy the Werewolf Slayer." Bart glares at Kon and his stupid choice in entertainment, then takes off. Kon breathes a sigh of relief and begins to enjoy a bowl of popcorn. Impulse returns with a party hat and noisemaker, and tries to sneak up on Kon. As he prepares to blow the noisemaker in Kon's ear, Superboy casually stops the noisemaker with his tactile telekinesis, causing Bart's cheeks to puff up and giving him a little bit of a coughing fit.

Impulse once again glares daggers at Superboy, then comes to the sad realization that he'll never be able to pull Kon away from the cheerleaders, so he heads out on his own. Consider Kon a Super Couch Potato, Impulse quickly finds an opportunity to be a hero. A villain with a black top hat, black cape and curly mustache has kidnapped a woman in a pink dress and tied her to the railroad tracks as a train quickly approaches. Impulse rushes in like a cavalryman on his trusty steed, and in no time at all, frees the woman and ties up the villain.

To Impulse's surprise, the woman punches him in the jaw and unties the villain. She answers Impulse's puzzled reaction by pointing to a film crew for Premium Silent Pictures: Classic Films in the Classic Style. The director is furious at Impulse for ruining his shot, and when Bart sees that the train is just a cardboard cutout being pushed by a bicycle, he realizes he was a screwball and quickly runs away.

As he runs, Bart's mind already begins exaggerating that encounter, picturing the actress smacking him in the head with a 2-by-4. He then comes across a book fair, complete with advertisements for MST3K, a woman reading "To Serve Man" and a man that looks exactly like Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons, reading "Space Trek 2020." Impulse throws himself in the middle of the fair and loudly announces his arrival, expecting to be showered with roses and begged for autographs. But everybody gives Impulse the same shushing treatment Superboy gave him. When Impulse tries to ask why, he's met with even louder shushing. He then takes a closer look at the sign, and realizes that he's at a Librarians Book Fair.

So Impulse continues his quest to find something to do. From a distance, he sees three figures that could be Superman, Batman and Catwoman. But when he gets closer, Bart sees they're just mimes, so he resumes his journey. Feeling pretty discouraged, Impulse plops down on the steps of a porch. A man sits down next to him, and, feeling grateful to have some company, Impulse immediately tells the man all about how he couldn't get Superboy off the couch, and the actress smacked him with a baseball bat, and all the librarians shushed him. In response, the man rips off a card from a book and hands it to Impulse. The card shows the sign language alphabet and says, "I am deaf and poor. Please help me by buying this card." Embarrassed, Impulse covers his face and sadly demonstrates that he has no money, or pockets for that matter. He hands the card back to the man, who stomps on Impulse's ankle and angrily storms off.

The frustrated Impulse keeps running, eventually coming across a trio of monks having a picnic with chicken, grapes, cheese, bread and wine. The monks invite Impulse to join them, and after checking to make sure they're addressing him, Impulse happily sits down with them, imagining himself living life as a monk. As he takes a bite of chicken, Impulse immediately begins telling the monks about how Superboy literally kicked him out the door. The monks all shush Impulse, and he realizes that if he became a monk, he'd have to take a vow of silence. So he immediately takes off, leaving his drumstick spinning in midair and the three monks rather confused.

Impulse is getting pretty angry now as he runs. Luckily, he comes across a familiar face — the Flash, whom he hasn't seen in quite a while (thanks a lot, Geoff Johns). Bart quickly tells Wally how Superboy threw him out the window, the librarians shoved the book "Silence of the Lambs" in his mouth, the deaf man severed his ankles with a chainsaw and the mime robbed him blind.

As Bart details how the monk cut off his hair to give him the classic monk look, a janitor picks up the Flash and walks away with him. Bart wonders why Flash is stiff as a board, then realizes he's at Madame Trudeau's Wax Museum. Bart slams his head against the wall five times, gets a big bump, then falls down.

We briefly cut back to Superboy to see that he is still watching the Cheerleader Championship and has created a nest of junk food around himself, similar to what we saw on the cover. Impulse is still angrily running around, now applying some ice to the bump on his forehead. He comes across the O'Brien Arena, which just happens to be hosting the Cheerleader Championship. But what makes Impulse stop is the sight of the three mimes he met earlier robbing the ticket booth at gunpoint. Impulse quickly checks for the silent film director, and when he realizes this isn't a movie, he happily prepares to do some actual hero work.

The mimes spot Impulse, and they act like there's a wall in front of them. Impulse charges forward, then bounces off an actual invisible wall. By the time he gathers himself, the mimes are already making their way down a hallway in the arena. Another mime trick creates a huge gust of wind that knocks Impulse off his feet once more.

The mimes make it to the main stage, but Impulse is right behind them. Settling on a ranged attack, Impulse grabs an armful of cheerleaders' pom-poms and hurls them at the two male mimes. This distracts them long enough to allow Impulse to properly tie them up. The female mime, however, quickly takes a hostage — host Terri Jewel Jackson. Keep in mind, all this is being broadcast on live television. Superboy jumps up from his junk food heap, but he's too far away to do anything.

Impulse has an intense stare down with the mime. After a moment, he takes one step forward. The mime immediately pulls the trigger three times, but nothing happens. Impulse lets the bullets fall from his hand, shocking the mime. Terri Jewel Jackson then slugs her would-be assassin, and all the cheerleaders swarm and kiss Impulse, their hero. Superboy watches all this unfold, and closes the story with the second word of spoken dialogue: "D'oh!"

I won't be so bold as to call this a perfect comic book. But it's as close as you could possibly get to perfection. Every gag was a delight. Every page, panel, expression and pictogram bubble was beautifully crafted with the comedic precision of David and Nauck. And only these two creators could have done this. Let's be honest, this is not a Young Justice story, it's an Impulse story. But I can't really see anyone on Impulse being able to pull this off. As such, I have to say that the best single issue of Impulse is actually an issue of Young Justice.

There might have been some Young Justice fans disappointed to take a break from the complete cast of characters and all their separate storylines. But I hope that this issue brought a smile to their face half as big as mine, and that they'd be willing to indulge this Impulse-centric tale. I also like to think that there might have been some strong Impulse fans like me, who really wanted Bart to have a bigger role in Young Justice. At the end of the day, I found something that I absolutely love and can over and over again, and I guess that's all that matters.

Our letters to the editor begin with Brian Bearese praising Young Justice #27 for not letting the story take a back seat to the humor. He enjoyed the return of Cissie, the addition of Empress and Lobo, although Brian feels Lobo should only hang around for a few issues. Brian also compliments the art, asking the creative team stays on board for a long time, and also requests a guest appearance from Spoiler.

Paul Watson, of Essex, England, admits he doesn't know anything about baseball, but still loved issue #27 all the same. He loved the interaction between Cissie and Traya, and was also a big fan of the team's baseball uniforms. Eddie Berganza says the baseball motif of the costumes was all Todd Nauck's idea.

Joe Torcivia, of Westbury, N.Y., called the story a combination of Space Jam with Friz Freleng's Baseball Bugs to produce the Strangest Sports Story this side of Julius Schwartz. Joe also comments on Lobo's unusually good behavior, expecting him to swap out the baseball for a frag grenade (which he literally did in the next issue).

James the Daaknite really appreciates how the same creative team has stuck together for 27 issues. He does, however, have a problem with Empress saying "mon," feeling that's a bit stereotypical. Berganza says they didn't mean to offend, but were just trying to use shorthand to show that she's not African American. Now for the new ads:

The future of collecting., featuring Paul Dini.

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The kick of fruit juice in Starburst will get your brain asking "what if?"

Next time, we get the second part of the Return of Lucius Keller in Impulse #72.

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