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.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Impulse #75

Dark Tomorrow Part Three

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 is the last for the team of Ethan Van Sciver and Wayne Faucher. And I've got to say, I'm pretty disappointed in this cover. Van Sciver has had some of the best covers for Impulse, but this one just feels lazy. Yes, Impulse is blasted by a big energy beam in this issue, but that doesn't mean we should only see the outline of him. It is possible to draw Impulse glowing with energy and still show the details of his body, particularly his face. And I know it's possible, because Carlo Barberi drew it that way in the book. So, I'm sad to see that Van Sciver officially stepped away from the book on his most disappointing cover. But we're not quite done with Van Sciver — he'll eventually return to this blog through his work on the Flash.

Our story picks up right where last issue left off, with our lovable, teenage Bart Allen, and his older, darker future self together on a space station set to launch several satellites to bathe the Earth in the Hyper-Ray. Protecting these satellites, though, are three massively tall and strong mindless Hyper-Guard soldiers. Adult Bart tells teenage Bart to stick close to him until they develop a strategy, to which teenage Bart wonders if that adult is really a future version of himself. Nevertheless, the teenager does listen to the adult, and they both begin the fight by vibrating through the monsters' attacks. Teenage Bart eventually goads two of the guards into attacking each other, then he tries to get the third to destroy the satellites for him. But Bart gets a little careless and has to be rescued by his adult self.

Adult Bart begins to understand why Wally West had such a hard time with him, then he tells teenage Bart to take out the satellites, while he deals with the final "chabbo." So teenage Bart gets to work, but before he takes out the final ray gun, he notices the shocking violence his future self is displaying.   Adult Bart seems to be taking out all his frustrations on this guard, continuing to savagely beat the monster even after he's down. Teenage Bart grabs his arm and pleads with him to not become a killer. Adult Bart realizes his younger self is right, saying these dark times have turned him into a brutal hero. Teenage Bart then notices the final ray gun has powered up and is about to go off. He rushes toward it to stop it, but he's too late.

Teenage Bart takes the full brunt of the Hyper-Ray, becoming enveloped in a purple energy. As Bart screams out in pain, dozens of golden images of him emerge from his body, appearing to be made of pure energy. When the Hyper-Ray stops, Bart immediately passes out. He wakes up a few moments later on the space ship, and he immediately says he needs to help Max. But adult Bart calms him down, explaining that his quick metabolism has healed his injuries, but they still need to scan him to see if there's any side effects from the Hyper-Ray.

But teenage Bart changes the subject to ask one of the many nagging questions from this adventure: Why didn't adult Bart just go back in time to save Max and Helen in the first place? Adult Bart says he tried to do just that, but for some reason was unable to. He speculates that there are some events in history that simply cannot be changed. He tells his younger self that the history records indicate that after Lucius Keller was arrested, he stole a policeman's gun and fired off a series of shots at point blank range. Max caught all those bullets, but Keller somehow managed to get the gun to Helen's head and shoot her before Max could react. This froze Max in a state of shock, which enabled Keller to kill him, as well.

Teenage Bart excitedly points out that time must have changed by now since the Hyper-Rays were destroyed, and now Carol doesn't have to be "shifted through time or anything now." But both Carols explain that Thawne still has access to her research, and they have merely delayed his plans. Thawne overhears this and begins laughing, revealing that he had a second space station that has already bombarded the southern hemisphere with the Hyper-Ray. Teenage Bart begins to panic, and as he does, a couple more yellow energy versions of himself come out his body and run off.

Fran Russell then turns on the TVs, showing horrific news reports of millions of people going mad with the burst of super speed they can't control, causing massive destruction and death. Both Carols weep at the sight of this, not wanting to be responsible for the loss of so many lives. Teenage Carol then bravely steps forward, saying she will stop this. Teenage Bart tries to talk her out of it, and even adult Carol says she doesn't need to do this, but teenage Carol's mind is set. She tells Eric Russell she wants to go, and he prepares things for her trip through time.

Shortly, a depressed teenage Bart is sitting alone in the dark, when teenage Carol joins him. Bart immediately tells her how crazy her decision is — trying to change something that hasn't even happened yet when they can just go home. Bart asks what he's supposed to tell Carol's brother or their friends when he gets back, but Carol shushes him by placing her hand over his mouth. She admits that she never thought anything would make her happier than just being Bart's friend, and she didn't know if he'd ever feel for her the way she feels for him. Carol then surprises Bart with a big, romantic kiss. Bart quickly recovers, and the two teens kiss and kiss and kiss.

Their adult counterparts walk by this romantic scene and choose not to interrupt. The teens take a break from the kissing, and Bart asks how come they've never done that before. Carol, laughing and crying, says he's why — Bart was never ready, emotionally still a little kid for so long. Bart says he's ready now, and they kiss again. This time, they're interrupted by Meloni announcing it is time.

Back at Dr. Russell's lab, the time portal is open and ready for Carol to walk through. Bart makes one last appeal, saying Carol shouldn't go off alone. Meloni steps forward, saying she'll go with Carol and take good care of her. She gives her son a kiss on the cheek, then let's Carol give Bart one last kiss on the lips. Carol begs Bart to never forget her, saying she'll keep her drawing of Bart to always remember him. She then hands him a small purple package, asking him to wait to open it until she's gone. With that, Carol and Meloni disappear in a flash of light, leaving Bart behind to weep over being separated from his girlfriend and mother.

Unfortunately, the plan still hasn't worked. The adult versions of Bart and Carol haven't ceased to exist like they thought they would by sending Carol further into the future. Eric tries to hypothesize why this plan failed, guessing it has something to do with the inaccessibility of the time around Max's death. Teenage Bart interrupts him, saying he does feel something happening.

Back in the present, Lucius Keller has the gun pressed against Helen's head, gloating about how Max won't be able to outrun this bullet. At that moment, three and a half miles west, a portal opens up, revealing several of the yellow energy Impulses. As they race toward Max and Helen, another portal opens up, and out steps adult Bart. But one of the energy Impulses shoves him back through the portal. The energy Impulses quickly catch up to Max and Helen, disarming Keller, intercepting the bullets, rescuing Helen and tying up the villain all in a split second. The Impulses simultaneously celebrate their victory, then quickly disappear with a "pap" sound when Max tries to address them.

The Impulses reappear in the 30th century and quickly run back into Bart's body, leaving the teen and everyone around him quite confused. Bart then gets new memories, realizing that those other versions of himself saved Max and Helen. Adult Bart and Carol then begin to fade from existence, thanking him for changing the event they couldn't. Bart turns to the Russells, saying since he's changed the past, then Carol didn't need to go to the future. Sadly, Eric tells him there's no time to bring Carol back. History is reshaping itself around them, and they have to quickly get Bart back to the 21st century. And to escort him on his journey home, is Bart's grandmother, Iris Allen.

At the sight of his grandma, all the emotions of the day catch up to Bart, and he breaks down in uncontrollable sobbing. Iris puts a blanket around Bart's shoulders and leads him through the portal. They reemerge in New Mexico, right next to Max and Helen, who understandably have a lot of questions. But Iris tells them that Bart's going to need a little time alone first.

I have very mixed feelings about this issue. First, the good. Dezago gave us a very emotional issue, perfectly handling all of Bart's moods. The wonder and terror of meeting his future self, the perplexed outrage of the absurdity of this entire adventure, the thrill and trepidation of a growing romantic relationship, and the crushing sadness of being separated from loved ones. It all felt natural, thanks in large part to Barberi's solid pencils. And as I've said before, I really enjoyed the concept of sending Bart back to the 30th century to have another confrontation against his evil grandpa. And there were a couple of twists here, which did keep me on my toes a bit.

Unfortunately, I have quite a few fundamental problems with this storyline. To start with, we need to acknowledge that time travel is extremely tricky. Sometimes it's best to just keep things light and simple with time travel, but this story demands that we analyze everything carefully. So here we go:

At the beginning, we're told that Bart and Carol decided to move to the 30th century after Max and Helen get killed. There, they grow up, Helen creates the Hyper-Ray, then realizes Thawne's going to use it to kill off half the Earth's population. Bart initially tries to go back to save Max and Helen, but as we saw later, he was immediately pushed back in the time portal by one of Impulse's energy scouts. Believing that the time period around Max's death was deemed inaccessible by some cosmic power, Carol decides to travel to just a few hours before Max died to kidnap her teenage self and convince her that she needed to travel even further into the future.

What I want to know is how did Max die in the first place? In our timeline, since Carol kidnapped herself, Bart rushed off to find her immediately after defeating Lucius Keller, which left Max alone to try to catch the bullets and protect Helen. But if Carol hadn't been kidnapped, then Bart should have still been there and likely would have saved both Max and Helen, right? And even if Bart somehow messed up, he had Keller's time machine right there and could have made everything right. There were just too many ways this could have been avoided that Dezago failed to address.

Ultimately, the biggest weakness of this story is sheer stupidity of the plan to take Carol into the future. If adult Carol believed the death of Max was unavoidable, then she should have traveled back to a time after the death and convinced Carol that she couldn't move to the 30th century. If Carol stayed in the 21st century with her brother and sister, then she never would have been able to invent the Hyper-Ray. Amazingly, nobody brings this up. Bart gets close to it, and even brings up Carol's brother in this issue, but Carol brushes all arguments aside. And in the end, we see that this grand scheme didn't even change anything anyway, which made me glad because it was so stupid. If Dezago's end goal was to have Carol be lost through time, then he needed to find a better way to get there.

Now for the final, and most important point: Impulse's new powers. On their own, I actually don't mind these powers that much. It sort of makes sense — Impulse now has an excessive amount of Speed Force energy in him that "leaks" out in the form of these scouts. I also know there's going to be some interesting stories involving these scouts coming up soon, and I like to pretend that the Impulse of the DC One Million universe is one of these scouts that survived and evolved through time. But what concerns me is the concept of Impulse getting new powers. It's never a good sign when a minor character gets new powers or a new outfit or a new identity. This usually means that DC editorial believes the character needs some kind of gimmick to spur more sales. Icons like Superman can survive a change to blue, electric powers, but for characters like Impulse, a new power like this is essentially a death sentence. This was DC's way of saying, "If this doesn't boost your sales, then you're gone."

And I'm not just saying this on my own. Todd Dezago pretty much said as much after the series was canceled. He said he had been warned of Impulse's poor sales numbers right when he took over on issue #50. He lamented the editorial efforts to limit the amount of humor in the books, as well as requiring Dezago to have Bart and Carol kiss and to give Impulse new powers. So essentially, the two big things that came about from this storyline, were things that Dezago didn't want to do. I think he made the most of a tough situation, but I also think this lack of enthusiasm accounts for so many of my problems with this story. And, honestly, it probably would have been better to not have Bart and Carol kiss or to give Impulse new powers.

Impulsive Reactions begins with Joey Cavalieri saying he's happy to have the immediate feedback offered through the DC Message Boards. He says Todd Dezago, Ethan Van Sciver, Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins frequently check the comments there, as well.

"A Gorilla in Tights" mentions a rumor that a young speedster will die in Our Worlds at War. Apparently Johns claimed that the Flash would be safe, so "Gorilla" has narrowed the list down to Impulse, XS and Jesse Quick.

"Bart Allen" calls Dezago the best-kept secret in comics between his work on Impulse and Tellos, and he asks if Impulse co-creator Mike Wieringo could do a fill-in issue sometime.

"Impulsive Lad" admits that an Impulse cartoon is a far-fetched idea, but he would like to see Impulse used in a music video by Blink 182 or New Found Glory.

AG1082057 asks if all of Impulse's running in Alabama has a cumulative effect on the weather.

LilChica theorizes that Impulse would need to basically run the same route 24/7 to really effect the weather, which she believes is unlikely due to Bart's impulsive nature and love of video games.

Scott Redding asks Dezago who are some of his favorite teen characters he'd like to see in Impulse.

Todd Dezago answers:

Dear Scott,
Well, the great thing about editor Joey Cavalieri is that, if there's anyone we want to have appear as a guest star or whatnot in the pages of Impulse, he makes it happen. Joey's great!
As for who I'd like to see drop by from the 12-to-19 category ... ?
Well, the Young Justice gang will be showing up very shortly and will pop in a little more frequently from now on. And while she doesn't fit into our current storyline, I have a fondness for XS and would love to see her come back for a visit! I'd also like to fold Hypertime a bit to get the Tangent Flash to swing through Impulse, but, as I said, our current storyline (which we have plotted waaaay into the future ...) doesn't permit an appearance by these guys yet. But don't rule any of them out. I always try to throw in the surprises!
So now that that's said, who would you like to see ... ?

Now for the new ads:

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Next time, we'll begin the Prelude to War with Young Justice: Our Worlds at War #1.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Superboy #88

Diapers and Angels and Babies, Oh My!

Mama Joe Kelly & Papa Eddie Berganza Writers
Grande Padre Pascual Ferry Penciller
Great Uncle Keith Champagne Inker
Second Cousin Jason Wright Colors
Favorite Auntie Digital Chameleon Separations
Gran'pappy Comicraft Letters
Mike McAvennie No Relation

Our cover is pretty straight-forward, showing us that Superboy not only has to deal with the D.N.Angels, but also a stinky baby. I don't really know that much about either of these trials, but that doesn't matter. We'll just sit back and enjoy the ride until Impulse shows up on the last page.

So the baby is actually the reincarnation (if you will) of long-time Cadmus clone superhero, the Guardian. Tensions are high at Cadmus right now, under the presidency of Lex Luthor and direct supervision of Amanda Waller. And before the Guardian, Jim Harper, died, he apparently requested that he not be cloned anymore. Superboy is eager to fulfill Harper's final wish, while also taking care of this unexpected "bundle of joy" that pukes, poops and pees everywhere.

While shopping for baby supplies, Superboy is attacked by the D.N.Angels, who claim they're working for the government, but Kon doesn't trust them. After a bunch of running around and all the requisite high-jinks that ensue when a baby is involved, Superboy manages to escape the three super-powered women and retreat to the New York apartment of Bianca, the young woman who helped give him a redesign recently. The baby Jim Harper keeps them both up all night, and Kon finally falls asleep on the couch.

In the morning, Superboy learns on the news that Cadmus — the entire three-square-mile building — has mysteriously vanished without a trace. Superboy visits the empty site, complaining that nobody gave him a chance to collect his Playtendo, "female anatomy books" and official Wendy the Werewolf Stalker silver bullet. Suddenly, he's confronted by the entire Young Justice roster, and none of them look too happy.

And that's all that we care about. This story will continue in the tie-ins of Our Worlds at War — primarily a Superman story that grew to encapsulate the entire DC Universe. I really don't have much to say about this issue. I'm not a big fan of the art, but the humor was pretty good. I think I'm going to have to find the time to read this Superboy series one of these days.

Next time, we'll begin comics with the August 2001 publication date, which will take us into Our Worlds at War. But before we get to that crossover, we have to wrap up the Dark Tomorrow storyline in Impulse #75.

Impulse #74

Dark Tomorrow Part Two

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 and Mike Wieringo

This issue's cover: A shadow of things to come by Ethan Van Sciver and Wayne Faucher! It is a thematically dark cover — just Impulse and Carol together against the oppressive world of the future. And it is a pretty nice trick with the shadows, showing how this dark tomorrow brings Bart and Carol closer.

Our story picks right up where last issue left off, with Bart learning the horrible truth that Max and Helen were killed in New Mexico by Lucius Keller. Naturally, Bart freaks out a bit and begins simultaneously confronting everyone around him — Carol and her adult self; Bart's mom, Meloni; and his great-grandparents, Eric and Fran Russell.

Meloni asks her Sunshine to calm down, which he has a hard time doing, until she explains that the Science Police are able to detect him using his super speed. The Russells apologize, saying they never intended to involve Bart in their plan to change the past so that Carol doesn't create the Hyper-Ray. Adult Carol repeats her story, adding a few details. After she created the Hyper-Ray to help people burn off sickness like Bart can, Bart's grandfather, Earthgov President Thawne, co-opted Carol's work to create his personal team of Hyper-Guards, each possessing two-thirds of Impulse's speed. Initial testing showed the Hyper-Ray left more than 80% of test subjects with rapid neural degeneration, but Thawne still pushed forward with his plans to expose the entire world to the ray. So Carol traveled back to the 21st century in an attempt to convince her younger self to help alter history and save the world.

After Carol finishes her recap, our heroes are discovered by the Science Police, led by President Thawne himself with his Hyper-Guard. Eric advises Bart to hold back until they know what they're up against, and Bart complies. President Thawne opens his remarks by gloating of his absolute power and ability to stop Carol Bucklen, even with the help of her ex-boyfriend. He soon spots teenage Bart, and immediately asks if Carol is insane to risk altering history just to stop him. Privately, Thawne is thrilled to see teenage Bart, as he believes he can influence and mold the boy into his personal weapon.

Thawne orders the Science Police to bring everyone in custody, so Impulse decides to act. He quickly disarms all the Science Police officers before they have a chance to react. Thawne angrily refers to his Hyper-Guard as "chabboes" (no idea what that means) and he sends the three-man squad after Impulse. Bart has a fun time playing tag with these slower speedsters, and he even dances on one of their heads, calling himself "that lord of the dance guy." Bart takes out the second guy by goading him into attempting to vibrate through a wall, which, the guard was unable to accomplish. As Bart heads for the third and final "chabbo," Thawne manages to grab teenage Carol and stick a gun to her head.

Bart immediately stops fighting, and Thawne mocks him for his soft heart, recalling their previous encounter, where he threatened Bart's cousin, Jenni Ognats. Thawne also mocks Carol, saying he could alter her past, just like she wanted by simply shooting her younger self. As the Science Police move in to arrest our heroes, the officers are suddenly knocked out by someone very fast — adult Bart Allen.

(This adult version of Bart is much beefier than the versions we saw in The Ray and Sins of Youth. This is likely due to the rough life this Bart has been living in the 30th century under President Thawne — a life that has given him a large scar on the side of his face, and a rather dark personality.)

Thawne curses at the adult Bart, who quickly appears behind the president, holding his own gun to his head instead of Carol's. Adult Bart says he should just shoot the "scroach" for everything he's done to his family and the world. Adult Bart blames Thawne for every atrocity that has occurred in the past nine years, and he says he's sickened to be related to him. Teenage Bart intervenes, telling his adult self that he can't kill Thawne because he's a hero. Adult Bart yells at his past self, saying he doesn't understand what Thawne has done. Thawne finds some courage at this, saying he's known Bart too long and that he'd never kill. But adult Bart pulls the trigger anyway, causing everyone to gasp in amazement.

But adult Bart caught the bullet right before it touched Thawne's nose. And he threatens to keep firing bullets to see if he can catch them all. Teenage Bart breathes a sigh of relief, as adult Bart demands that Thawne call off the Science Police. Adult Carol, with tears in her eyes, also begs Thawne to call off the Hyper-Ray launch. Thawne laughs at this request, saying the Earth is overpopulated and he's saving humanity with this. It's also too late to stop the launch, he adds, since the Hyper-Ray satellites will be launched from the Hela Space Station in less than 20 minutes. Adult Bart tosses aside his grandpa, reminding him that he's Impulse and always has plenty of time to save the day. Teenage Bart enthusiastically agrees and begins racing off with his future self. Eric manages to call back the Impulses, reminding them that they need to get into a rocket to go to the space station.

Minutes later, everyone has loaded up in a space ship, with President Thawne in tow as their prisoner. He naturally demands to be set free, but Meloni points out that with him on board, his "trogs" won't dare attack them. Teenage Bart takes the moment to talk to his future self, who refuses to give away any details, only telling his past self to remember his love for Carol and make sure he tells her about it. The two Carols join them, and things get really awkward between the adults. So teenage Carol drags teenage Bart away to give their future selves some privacy.

As adult Carol apologizes to adult Bart, telling him he was right about her research, teenage Bart renews his doubts about whether this adult Carol is actually Carol. Teenage Carol once again confirms this, pulling out a piece of paper to prove it. On the paper is the drawing of Bart in his Impulse outfit that Carol made back when she discovered his secret identity. She explains to teenage Bart that about a week after she gave the drawing to him, she saw it was left out in the open in his house, where everyone would see it, so she took it back and kept it in her diary ever since. The adult Carol cherished that drawing her whole life and gave it back to teenage Carol to help convince her.

Teenage Carol tells teenage Bart that she has to help with this plan since she wouldn't be able to live with herself for being responsible for the deaths of so many people. Bart asks what's going to happen to them, and Carol begins to cry, saying this is bigger than that. She takes Bart's face in her hands, and he starts crying, too. As they embrace, Carol asks Bart to promise to never forget her. They're then interrupted by Meloni announcing their arrival at the space station, and Bart happily exclaims that once they destroy the satellites, they can return home and everything will be back to normal.

Eric briefs the two Barts on the mission, explaining that they'll have three minutes to totally destroy the satellite launch rockets. Their ship pulls up alongside the space station to enable the Impulses to vibrate through the hull. Once they're out of sight, Thawne begins laughing, saying he made sure to protect the most vital component of his plan. And this protection is in the form of three massively huge and possibly insane Hyper-Guard soldiers.

To be continu — oh, wait, there's more ...

Hundreds of years earlier, in the present, Max and Helen are in New Mexico, talking to a police officer about placing Lucius Keller in a maximum security facility before possibly transferring him to Iron Heights. The other officer had placed Keller in the cop car, but before he closed the door, he turned to wipe the sweat from his brow. This momentary distraction was enough for Keller to grab that cop's gun and fire off four quick rounds.

The story's starting to come together, and I'm glad that Dezago is referencing Impulse's previous trip to the 30th century. I would like more information, though, regarding President Thawne and this timeline. When did he become president? When did he create Inertia? When was he involved in Chain Lightning? It would be nice to see all this laid out. Ultimately, though, I think he is an excellent villain for Impulse, and it's great to see him again.

I still am frustrated that nobody has mentioned Carol's family, though. Nor do I buy the idea that in order to change the past, she needs to come to the future. It would have been a lot easier for future Carol to convince past Carol to stay in the 21st century. I do like the concept of Bart and Carol meeting their future selves, and I'm also always open to a return to the 30th century, but I think this whole story could have been set up better.

Future Bart is rather interesting. His suit isn't too bad, neither is his hair. The big surprise was how buff he is, but I think it makes sense in this dark world, where he's constantly on edge, fighting, struggling and hiding. But I like how even though he is darker and more serious, he still does have that trademark impulsive nature.

Impulsive Reactions begins with Joanne M. Nott, of Lorain, Ohio, said Impulse #71 was great and she's eagerly waiting for Bart to tell Carol he likes her. Joanne also requests some Impulse merchandise, saying she has the action figure and the statue, but would really love a T-shirt. (I also have the statue, and it is absolutely perfect!)

Max Mercury II said the first three pages of Impulse #72 were some of the best ever since he's a big fan of Carol. He didn't except the return of Lucius Keller to be so short, but he liked the characterization all the same, and is excited for the Dark Tomorrow storyline.

Rick2Tails is thrilled that Bart and Carol have finally kissed, and is distraught that Bart can't enjoy a first kiss without an abduction taking place. Rick does feel that Bart should have been more distressed when he ran into Max, but he liked the rest of the issue with Helen in the robot, Max pointing out the flaw in Keller's logic, and Bart impulsively leaving to save his girlfriend.

Vanguard also felt the Return of Lucius Keller was a bit short, but enjoyed it all the same. Vanguard believes the mysterious kidnapper was Meloni Allen, pointing out the similarity in costumes.

JKane calls Dezago the most evil (yet best darn) writer around, having delivered a few panels of pure magic before snatching it away. JKane is very excited for another time travel adventure with Impulse, and says Barberi is getting better and better drawing Bart and the rest of the crew. Now for the new ads:

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It's even more fun in real life! Lunchables Chocolate Cookies 'n Frosting.

Next time, Impulse will have a quick cameo in Superboy #88, which will help set us up for the next big DC crossover event, Our Worlds at War.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Young Justice #33

Wash and Werewolf

Peter David Writer
Todd Nauck Pencils
Lary Stucker Inks
Jason Wright Colors
Ken Lopez Letters
Tom Palmer Jr. Assistant Editor
Eddie Berganza Editor

There's a pun for every cover, but don't blame Todd Nauck, Lary Stucker or Ian Hannin for this issue's. I personally like the pun on the cover more than the title of the story, but that's beside the point. This is the first of a two-parter with Wonder Girl, Cissie and Empress (not pictured) battling real werewolves alongside Wendy the Werewolf Stalker. It's a good cover as usual, but sadly the cover and the story have nothing to do with Impulse. In fact, Impulse won't even show up next issue (a first for Young Justice). But he does make a quick cameo here, so let's get to it.

The main story focuses on Joe Westin, creator of "Wendy the Werewolf Stalker," starring Terri Jewel Jackson. (Around the same time, Joss Whedon was creator of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," starring Sarah Michelle Gellar.) Ratings are dipping for "Wendy," so Westin has decided to bring in gold medalist archer Cissie King-Jones to guest star in an episode. Cissie is allowed to bring some friends, so she chooses Cassie and Traya. Anita also tags along, which gives her an opportunity to start to mend her relationship with Cissie.

While all this is developing, Bart is hanging out with Superboy at the Catskills resort. Bart is putting together a ship in a bottle by vibrating his fingers through the glass, which actually requires a great deal of precision if you think about it. Kon is reading a copy of Pointless Surveys Monthly when he asks Bart who he'd eat dinner with if he could pick any person, living or dead. Bart says that's an easy question — a living person would be much better than a decaying corpse crawling with maggots and flies. Bart says the only reason anyone would want to eat with a dead person would be if they were on a diet and wanted to lose their appetite.

Kon clarifies that he meant someone like Thomas Jefferson. Bart confirms that Jefferson is dead, then says he would like to ask him why he's not dead anymore. He then asks Kon if Thomas Jefferson has come back to life like Superman did, or if it's like a "Spectre ghost kinda thing." Kon says he doesn't even know why he bothers, and Bart says he doesn't, either. Kon tries to change the topic from dead people, but Secret suddenly shows up. Superboy doesn't want to be left alone with Secret and Bart — perhaps remembering their disastrous attempts to restore his powers — so he suggests they rustle up the rest of the team.

Secret reports that Cassie, Cissie and Traya have all flown out to the set of "Wendy the Werewolf Stalker," so Kon asks Bart if he's heard from Robin lately. Then the impact of Secret's words hit Kon, as he realizes that Cissie and Cassie get to meet his idol, Terri Jewel Jackson, whom he'd kill to be with. Kon immediately begins moping that first Bart and now "C&C" get to live out his dream. Secret's a bit confused by this, but Bart understands that Kon is a big fan.

And that's all the Impulse in this story. In this issue and the next one, our female heroes will battle actual werewolves, and have some fun along the way. It's not a bad story, it just doesn't pertain to this blog. So we'll check out now and wait for the next time the entire Young Justice team can unite to face a threat. Luckily, we won't have to wait too long.

The letters to the editor begin with Michael Bregman, of Gan-Yavne, Israel, calling Young Justice #29 another hilarious issue. He enjoyed the Secret-Darkseid dynamic, as well as the Superboy-Wonder Girl romance, which he hopes carries over to Superboy's own title.

Sean Anderson wants to keep Lobo, bring back Arrowette and keep Empress. He acknowledges this is a lot of characters, but he figures if Justice League can handle seven members, then Young Justice should be fine with eight.

Amy Walker, of Sacramento, Calif., says that Lobo adds a tough, yet comical touch that completes the ensemble. She calls him a walking contradiction — good-natured yet savage — and says that Peter David fully understands this.

Jason Smith is glad the creative team of David, Todd Nauck and Lary Stucker have stuck around for so long. He enjoyed the "Mr. Doug Side" joke, as well as the involvement of the Forever People. Jason wants Lobo to stay on the team, but not as a teenager. He also requests a Deadman guest appearance.

Dirkatron says he's historically been ambivalent toward Lobo since he never cared too much for his graphic violence. But with Young Justice, Lobo has been a lot of fun. So Dirkatron votes to keep Lobo, although he also acknowledges this as a temporary involvement. Now for the ads:

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Next time, we'll continue Bart's adventure in the 30th century in Impulse #74.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Impulse #73

Dark Tomorrow Part One

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: Another well-rendered masterpiece by the masters of pencil and pen, Ethan Van Sciver and Wayne Faucher! Bart has apparently found Carol ... in the future ... surrounded by some sort of "Flash" police ... at Iron Heights. It's a lot to take in, and we'll get there in due time. Sadly, though, I have to say that once again, the Flash is not involved in this story. It's like there's a big, insurmountable gulf between Bart and Wally. Anyway, this is a pretty fun, detailed cover that rewards you for paying attention to the background — there's a bit of graffiti above Impulse's head that says "Choke on a Soder Cola."

Our story picks right up where last issue left off, with Bart hopping into Lucius Keller's time machine to try to rescue Carol. Max tries to stop him, but Bart's too quick for him, disappearing into the Time Stream just as he finally admits aloud that he loves Carol. Bart quickly masters the machine, and arrives in Manchester, Alabama, at almost the exact moment he wanted — just a few seconds too late. Impulse sees the mysterious kidnapper hit the past Bart in the head with the pink knockout gas then pull Carol into a blue portal. Impulse was too late to prevent Carol from disappearing, but he can, at least, follow Carol through the portal, racing by his past, knocked-out self.

Impulse comes to in an old ballroom, littered with the remains of some long-forgotten party. The room is adorned with massive windows, showing a futuristic, but bleak and polluted city. Carol approaches Bart from behind, telling him that she's responsible for this dystopian future. All the pollution, war and poverty are apparently her fault, she says. Bart rejoices to see his girlfriend, running around her, telling her all about his heroic journey through the "time thingy" right behind her. He has more to tell Carol, but she stops him, saying that she actually arrived in the future a few hours before Bart did, which gave her time to learn this awful truth.

Suddenly, the mysterious kidnapper approaches, and Bart bravely stands in front of Carol to protect her. But Carol tells Bart it's OK, since the kidnapper is actually herself — when she's 32 years old. Bart is understandably confused by the concept of adult Carol kidnapping teenage Carol and taking her to the 30th century. Adult Carol apologizes for the confusion and tries to explain her plan to correct the mistake she made, but before she can get very far, Bart and the Carols are surrounded by the Science Police in flying cars, placing the three under arrest for "violation of temporal manipulation regulations."

Adult Carol has Bart provide them a cover by hurtling the strewn silverware at the Science Police vehicles, giving her time to fire up her ship. Soon our heroes are off toward freedom, and even Impulse is impressed by the speed of adult Carol's ship. Now that they have a moment to breathe, adult Carol begins her story. At some point in her past, Carol and Bart relocated to the 30th century, and Carol became a scientist specializing in biophysics and the Speed Force. Her goal was to use the power of the Speed Force to help ordinary people burn off diseases like Bart does. Eventually, Carol developed a ray that could give people these health benefits and a fraction of super speed as well.

Carol's research was closely monitored by Bart's other, evil grandfather, Earthgov President Thawne, who sought to use the ray to create an army of hyper-soldiers (the guys on the cover). Carol warned Thawne that she hadn't studied the long-term effects of the ray yet, and the initial tests revealed most subjects suffered from physical and mental breakdown. But Thawne was unconcerned with these risks. In time, he had his team of loyal Hyper-Guards and plans to expose the Hyper-Ray to the entire human race, essentially committing genocide with Carol's life's work.

With Thawne's plan already in motion, Carol decided the only way to stop him was to change her own history. But Bart first wants to know why he and Carol decided to go to the 30th century in the first place, and where his adult counterpart is. Before Bart gets his answers, though, the ship is attacked by mecha-leeches — robots that will burrow into the ship's wiring and override the controls. Teenage Carol begins to moan that their situation is hopeless, but adult Carol inspires confidence in her. She teaches Bart a move she's done with the adult Impulse before, called the Screeching Halt. The plan is for Bart to stand still and vibrate his molecules to allow the ship to keep moving without him.

So Bart takes teenage Carol in his arms and successfully performs the Screeching Halt, while adult Carol keeps flying in the ship, set to meet up again with our teenage heroes at a designated safe spot. Once free of the ship, Bart is essentially standing in mid-air, so he pistons his legs and feet to create a cushion of air for a soft landing. As Bart rushes teenage Carol off to the safe building, he expresses his doubts in adult Carol's story. Teenage Carol tells Bart that in her few extra hours with adult Carol, she was able to confirm her identity. She encourages Bart to rush off to help her adult self, then realizes that she's not alone in this building.

Adult Carol, who has been in the 30th century long enough to adopt the word "grife," has lost all control of her ship and is bracing for a crash landing. Luckily, Bart finds her just in time and safely vibrates adult Carol free of the wreckage. He quickly takes her to the safe house, and has a bit of a panic looking for teenage Carol. But he soon finds her with ... his mom!

Bart's mom, Meloni Allen (who now speaks English), gives her son a big hug, then reveals that Bart's great-grandparents, Eric and Fran Russell, are also part of this small group set on altering Carol's past. (You might remember that the Russells helped Iris Allen take Bart back to the 20th century for the first time.) After all the pleasantries are taken care of, Bart happily proclaims that his and Carol's mere presence in the future must have altered history. Adult Carol says that sadly, it appears they still haven't altered things enough. Eric confirms this statement and theorizes that the only way to guarantee the survival of the human race is to displace Carol even farther into the future to entirely prevent the development of the Hyper-Ray.

Naturally, Bart objects to this plan and returns to his previously unanswered question: Why did he and Carol relocate to the future in the first place? Meloni gently takes Bart in her arms and says that he and Carol come to the future a few months after Max is killed. Bart happily explains that he saved Max's life at the Speed Force, but Meloni explains that she wasn't referring to that. Both Max and Helen were killed in the desert in New Mexico by Lucius Keller. And as Meloni says this, we return to the 21st century to see Keller eye a distracted policeman's gun.

This is the beginning of what looks to be an epic adventure for Bart and Carol. I'm very glad we've returned to the era of Bart's birth, surrounded by several of his family members we hardly ever see. Unfortunately, I do have a few problems with this issue. Beyond the disappointment of not visiting Iron Heights or actually battling this Hyper-Guard, I'm not really buying the premise of this story. So this whole thing is supposed to begin with Bart deciding to return to his mom in the 30th century after Max and Helen were killed. I know that Wally's in no position to look after a 15-year-old, but couldn't Bart go live with his reclusive grandmother Iris? I only ask this because Meloni and President Thawne made a pretty serious deal to essentially end the Allen-Thawne feud by agreeing to keep Bart in the 20th century and Meloni in the 30th. So how could Bart risk breaking this agreement and the lives of all his family members by going to the future?

And an even bigger question: How could Carol ditch her family to follow Bart to the future? Does Todd Dezago not realize that Carol has an older brother and a younger sister she lives with? And how could she make such a big commitment when she's just 15? OK. Let's pretend that there are some very good answers to all of those questions so far. Now let's play this out. Bart and Carol set up new lives in the 30th century and live there for about 17 years. Where is the Legion of Super-Heroes? Where is Bart's cousin, Jenni Ognats, aka XS? And why is Carol blaming herself for the destruction of mankind, when, according to her story, President Thawne really hasn't done that much yet? And why does Eric Russell want to take Carol farther into the future? Why doesn't he suggest keeping her in the past? That way, she'd never have access to the technology to create the Hyper-Ray and the crisis would be solved.

Ugh. Dezago's stories seem to be getting muddier the further away we are from editor L.A. Williams. No offense to Joey Cavalieri, but I don't remember Dezago's stories raising this many questions when L.A. was editing them. Oh well. I guess we'll have to look for the good amidst the flaws. On the bright side, Carlo Barberi's art is improving nicely as he becomes more comfortable with Impulse.

Impulsive Reactions begins with Cavalieri saying he's working late on a Friday night, waiting for a package to arrive. In the meantime, he's answering letters from the DC Message Board.

Zortnac says Barberi's art is awesome and "kicks major butt."

Max Mercury II says Impulse is better than it's ever been, saying Barberi is second only to Ethan Van Sciver in terms of drawing Bart. However, Max thinks Barberi is superior with all of Bart's friends. He also praises Dezago for perfectly capturing the romantic drama of teenagers.

Datalore thanks Cavalieri for printing his letters and calls Impulse "a little sunshine in comics."

StarmansGal loved the idea of Bart's friends making an Impulse movie, especially how they all got the details of Impulse wrong. She also particularly enjoyed the ending of Preston saving Bart's dog.

Grovermy said he checked out JLA Jr. #1 when he heard Barberi was taking over on Impulse #70, and was impressed with the way he drew Kid Flash. Grovermy says Carol has never looked better, and says he prefers Barberi's take on Bart's hair over Van Sciver's, which made Bart's hair look a little girly. Grovermy also liked the gag with Bart and Carol looking at his big feet since it reminded him of Robin Plus Impulse #1.

Cleetus said this was the best issue of Impulse in a long time, ranking up there with the best of Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos. He loved the idea of the movie and the relationship between Bart and Carol. Cleetus asks for the return of White Lightning, and Cavalieri promises she'll be back in issues #79 and #80. Now for the new ads:

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Next time, we'll explore the Wendy the Werewolf Stalker universe in Young Justice #33.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Young Justice #32

Anita's Date With Lobo (Because, Y'Know, What Else Can We Really Call It?)

Peter David Writer
Todd Nauck Pencils
Lary Stucker Inks
Ken Lopez - Letters
Jason Wright - Colors
Digital Chameleon - Separations
Tom Palmer Jr. - Assistant Editor
Eddie Berganza - Editor

This issue's cover is by Todd Nauck and Lary Stucker with the colors of Ian Hannin. I have to admit, this is the rare Nauck cover that doesn't really work for me. And I don't think it's necessarily Nauck's fault, I just have a strange bias against headshots like this. Everyone looks unnatural without their necks. But looking past this, I will say everyone looks good, and it is nice to finally put the spotlight on Empress, who has been on the fringe for so long.

Our story begins at the home of Donald and Anita Fite, where a mysterious caller with a voice that "sounds like gravel tumbling around in a cement mixer" is asking for Anita. The teenager assures her father she's a big girl and can handle any unwanted attention herself. Anita tries to gently let down the caller, saying she's busy tonight, but her date says he's already arrived at her house. As he begins knocking on the door, Donald offers to send him away, but Anita says he might not be able to handle this one. She tells him how there's a new member of Young Justice who's interested in her ... and is kind of psycho. Donald says he's always considered Young Justice a bunch of good kids, even if his job often put him against them. But he will not allow one of them to intimidate his daughter. He answers the door, fully prepared to send the young "psycho" away.

But to Donald's and Anita's surprise, on the other side of the door is a very polite and well-dressed Lobo. His hair is combed, his usual biker outfit is swapped out for a suit and tie, his red eyes somehow have pupils now, and he has a bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates in his hands. Donald turns to Anita, saying he'll let her choose whether she wants to go with this odd, but well-behaved young man. Lobo gives the chocolates to Donald, promising they're the best in the galaxy. He hands the flowers to Anita, who's still trying to figure out when she arrived on Bizzaro World, but she ultimately agrees to the adventure of a date with Lobo. The Top Teen asks what her curfew is, and she starts to say midnight, but her dad says it's ten. Lobo promises to bring her back at 10 o'clock. He leads Anita to his space hog, but before they fly off, he removes the contacts that Wonder Girl apparently gave him to make his eyes look more normal.

We then head over to the Catskills resort, where Cassie, Cissie and Bart are hanging out in their normal clothes. Superboy joins the giggly bunch, and initially thinks they're laughing at his new costume. But they tell him they're still laughing about their fun afternoon they had with Lobo. Cassie explains that Lobo came back with Bart's spaceship, which the Myrgians were nice enough to install an invisibility screen on, so it could be parked out back inconspicuously. Bart wonders if they should be called Myrgians or Myrgites, but Cassie tells him they're getting off track. Bart excitedly tells Kon that he helped Cissie and Cassie, and Cissie takes over the story, lifting up her hair to impersonate Lobo.

As Cissie begins her impersonation, she uses the word "frackin'" instead of "fraggin'," and Bart corrects her, taking the chance to mention again that he helped. Cissie continues, saying that Lobo was distraught, because all he can think about is Empress. Bart interrupts again to say that they asked him to help. Cassie thought it was very sweet to see a love-struck Lobo, so she told him that Empress likes him, too. They then spent the next hour convincing and preparing Lobo to ask out Anita, not warning the poor girl, because, y'know, where's the fun in that? Bart says once more that he helped, and Cissie says he wound up being the star of the show. Cassie wishes she could have seen Anita's face when she answered the door, and they all burst out into laughter once more. Superboy, however, is quite stunned by all this, and he asks his friends to tell him they didn't actually do what they just said they did.

We return to the big date, where Lobo and Anita have arrived at a fancy Mexican restaurant called Sergio's. Unfortunately, the maitre'd denies the young couple a table, even though there are plenty of empty seats available. As Lobo tries to reason with the man, Anita turns away and covers her face in embarrassment. The maitre'd tries to explain that he can't accommodate Lobo as easily as he can snap his fingers, but when he does snap his fingers, Lobo suddenly becomes vicious. His hair flies up, his eyes glow red, and spit froths from his mouth. The intimidated maitre'd agrees to seat Lobo, and snaps his fingers to summon a waiter. On the second snap, Lobo instantly returns to the well-behaved version from the start of the date. Anita missed what happened, and Lobo isn't sure why the maitre'd changed his mind, either.

As soon as Lobo and Anita sit down, every nearby table asks for their check and leaves as soon as possible. Lobo orders a bottle of the restaurants best wine, which he promptly snaps open, shattering the neck of the bottle. Anita can't help herself and begins laughing out loud at the over-the-top absurdity of this situation. Lobo seems a little worried that she's not having a good time, but she assures him she is, and she politely refuses the wine, pointing out that she's underage. Lobo asks Anita what her story is, so she delves deep into her background, telling Lobo all about her grandmother, a Haitian Vodoun priestess, who moved to Louisiana to raise her daughter, Oshi, who eventually grew up and fell in love with Donald Fite.

We cut back to the Catskills, where Superboy is trying to explain to his friends that they've just sent Empress out on a date with a ticking time bomb. Cassie says it was just a joke and that Anita can handle it herself. Cissie says maybe Anita will find out it's not so easy to fill her boots. Kon points out that Cissie is jealous that Anita replaced her on Young Justice, an accusation Cissie denies. Cassie quickly calms Kon and Cissie down, saying that they did give Lobo some additional help. This is where Bart comes him. The speedster happily shows off his newest book, "Hypnosis Made Easy" by Dr. M. Johnson. Bart explains that after reading the book, he hypnotized Lobo to control his aggressive tendencies. Once he snapped his fingers, Lobo became calm and sociable. Cassie and Cissie assure Kon that Bart had mastered the technique of hypnotism, but Kon asks if he mastered it as well as he "mastered" lip-reading by reading a book. At this comment, everybody stops laughing and begins to worry.

Continuing Anita's story, Donald and Oshi were married and Anita's Grandmere slowly came around to Donald — after she used her Vodoun ways to curse him with baldness. Anita displayed a natural athleticism at an early age, and she lived a happy childhood until her mother was killed by the Baron Sin Gaaz. Donald worked for the justice department at the time, and almost single-handedly took down the Baron's crime organization. In retaliation, the Baron burned down the Fite's apartment with Anita and her mother inside. Anita miraculously survived, then spent the next few years with her Grandmere, learning her Vodoun ways. On her Grandmere's deathbed, she gave Anita a magic staff that granted her the ability to teleport. Anita also performed a ritual that required her to slice open her hand, but that's where she decided to stop sharing her story with Lobo.

So Lobo tells his story, about how he was born on Czarnia and the nurse who delivered him went insane. Later, Lobo killed his entire race and spends his days fragging bastiches and drinking people under the table. Anita decides she'll pretend Lobo never told her that. The restaurant then brings out some live music and a dancer, who unfortunately has a habit of snapping her fingers. The snaps start slowly, giving Anita a chance to figure out what's going on. But as the snaps speed up, Lobo increasingly loses control, essentially becoming a ticking time bomb, just as Superboy feared. Eventually, the "bomb" does go off, leaving a ragged Lobo lying in a pile of rubble that used to be the restaurant.

Superboy, Bart, Cassie and Cissie rushed over to Donald Fite's house to explain the situation and warn him that his daughter might be in danger. Donald regrets ever trusting Young Justice, but just then, Lobo and Anita fly in on the space hog. Lobo is back to his usual self, wearing his Wink 281 shirt, and, while not acting overtly aggressive, certainly is a long way from the polite Lobo that showed up earlier this evening. Donald notes the change in Lobo's appearance, but Anita says she prefers him this way, and she even gives Lobo a kiss on the cheek. Lobo happily exclaims that "one evening with me, they'e mine, just like that!" He snaps his fingers, which causes Bart, Cassie and Cissie to become aggressive, Lobo-like versions of themselves (Bart even swears, saying, "You're @*!$% right we are!). Superboy says, "Nice hypnotizing there, Impulse." But Lobo says these three look great to him.

I do like this recent trend of Young Justice to focus on two characters. First was Robin and Secret, then Impulse and Superboy, now Empress and Lobo. It was nice to get Empress' backstory, as well as a mention of the Baron, whom we haven't seen since that quick glimpse during the Olympics in Australia. Most of all, I loved how Bart was able to have a huge comedic impact on this issue even in a limited role. And it was refreshing to see these teenage superheroes kicking back and relaxing on a Saturday night, living life as normally as is possible for them.

Our letters to the editor begin with Paul Watson, of Essex, England, enjoying the origin of the Super-Cycle, especially since Impulse got all the best lines in the issue. He, did, however, feel that Superboy's "machismo running wild" was a little out of character. Paul was surprised that Cissie didn't hit the game-winning home run, but he was glad Doiby got a chance to shine, with some more help from Impulse. Paul also stands by his request for Lobo to leave the team as soon as possible.

Gerry Brown calls Empress redundant and lacking in motivation. Gerry suggested adding Static or Rocket to bring some diversity to the team, noting that Static's personality would work great with Bart. Eddie Berganza admits they have been working on ways to bring Static Shock to Young Justice.

Brian Seidman, of New York, was surprised that Young Justice #28 had so much baseball and so little of the Forever People. But he did like the interaction between the Super-Cycle and Lobo's space hog, suggesting they bring in the Batmobile, Robin's Redbird and Wonder Woman's invisible jet. Brian was also thrown off a bit by Superboy's behavior toward Wonder Girl, and he notes that the team still has some unresolved leadership issues. Now for the new ads:

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Green Lantern Hal Jordan power ring prop.

Powerpuff power. got milk? with the Powerpuff Girls in banana, chocolate and strawberry flavors.

Next time, Bart hunts for Carol in Impulse #73.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Impulse #72

The Return of Lucius Keller Part 2

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 and Mike Wieringo

This issue's cover: Bart's worst day, captured in time by Ethan Van Sciver and Wayne Faucher. I always associate covers like this with the Bronze Age, whether or not comic historians would agree with my assessment. In any case, DC comics, particularly the Flash, have a long history of these type of melodramatic covers. There's a time and a place for them, and I believe when used sparingly they can be effective. Such is the case here. Carol has always been Bart's friend, but lately, there have been rumblings that she might be a bit more than that. So to take her away just as these feelings are beginning to develop truly makes for "Bart's worst day."

Our story picks right up where last issue left off, with Bart struggling to have a serious conversation with Carol. He tells her how Jeff Weber is a slime ball, who's been seeing Kristin Donovan behind Carol's back. And Bart believes that Carol deserves to be with someone who'll treat her better. Thankfully, Carol is open to Bart's words, and she begins to realize what he's having a hard time saying. She asks Bart who he has in mind, and her speech bubbles come out in the shape of hearts. As Bart embarrassedly stammers, Carol takes his hands and pulls him in for their first, real, romantic kiss.

But before their lips officially touch, Bart's hit in the head with a puff of pink gas. He falls down in a daze, as Carol is grabbed from behind by a masked female figure and pulled into a portal of bright light (essentially what we see on the cover, except Bart's not in his Impulse costume and the colors are different). Carol screams for Bart's help, but he's unable to fight off the effects of the knockout gas. He gets his costume out of his ring, but immediately collapses and can only helplessly watch as the screaming Carol disappears from view. Once the portal dissipates, Bart succumbs to the gas.

Meanwhile, several blocks away, Max has discovered the old Topeka Tattler, detailing Lucius Keller's fatal accident. Max quickly confirms that Helen is not in the house, meaning that his old nemesis has somehow found his way to the 21st century and is after the people Max cares about. This also means that Bart is a potential victim. So Max rushes out the door and slams right into Bart, whose hyper-metabolism has mostly rid him of the knockout gas, although he's still a bit woozy.

Bart tells Max that Carol's been kidnapped, and Max tells Bart that Helen's been kidnapped, too. Once Bart fully recovers, the two speedsters take off to find Keller and rescue Helen and Carol. Max tells Bart the story of Lucius Keller, how he was a brilliant scientist in the late 19th century, who accidentally killed his wife and daughter in a failed experiment involving a rocket-powered locomotive. Keller blamed Max for this tragedy, and when he couldn't kill Max himself, he began killing everyone Max had saved in his course as a superhero.

Max and Impulse then arrive at Keller's secret hideout in New Mexico, and Max tells Impulse to stay hidden outside, acting as their ace-in-the-hole, as he goes in to confront Keller personally. Keller has been waiting for Max, and he freezes his nemesis in place by showing a video of Helen tied up to a bunch of explosives and showing that he has his hand on the detonator. Max agrees to stay still, while Impulse surreptitiously vibrates through the walls to look for Helen and Carol.

Feeling he has the upper hand, Keller begins to gloat, boasting of how he managed to follow Max through time and to his joy discovered he now has a wife and son (mistaking Helen's and Bart's relationship to Max). But Keller has done his homework, knowing that Max's "son" is named Bartholomew and also has super speed, which likely means he's nearby. So Keller amplifies his threat, saying that if he presses the detonator, he'll not only be killing Helen, but also destroying the nearby town of Clayton. And the only way to prevent this tragedy, Keller says, is for Max to submit to his execution to atone for the lives he "so callously ignored."

Impulse stood still a bit too long during Keller's speech, perhaps getting too worked up by the whole situation. Unfortunately, this leads to his capture by a large, squid-like robot. Luckily, Impulse is able to vibrate free from its grasp, but now he's exposed. Keller reminds Max not to move as Bart battles the robot, but Max does advise him to keep vibrating through the machine's tentacles. Bart successfully accomplishes this, but isn't able to make any real progress in the fight until Max tells him to go into the robot's head, recalling their previous battle against Keller's other giant robot. However, Keller was counting on Bart doing exactly that.

Impulse crashes into the squid's head, only to find Helen tied up to about a thousand sticks of dynamite. He frantically tells this to Max, who immediately surrenders to Keller. Bart warns Max not to give in, reminding him of his own words that Keller is insane. Keller mocks Bart's impudence, wondering if all 21st century children refer to their parents by their first names. He tells Impulse that he'll disable the detonator for Helen and will allow Bart to take his "mother" back home. But Keller warns Bart that if he tries to return to save his "father," then he'll decimate Clayton, New Mexico.

As Bart unties Helen, Keller decides to rub some salt in Max's wound by telling him that his "wife" was dressed so immodestly because she was apparently off to meet a "gentleman caller." Max finally tells Keller that he's mistaken and that Helen is actually his daughter. Seeing how this news has thrown Keller off his game, Max digs a little deeper, suggesting that Helen looks how Keller's daughter might have looked had she lived.

It's Keller who has now frozen with fear and uncertainty, and Impulse and Helen stick around to listen to the rest of Max's verbal beat-down. Max points out that Keller must have truly gone mad to have created a time machine, yet not use it to go back in time to save his loved ones from the disaster. Lucius Keller had never considered this, and the weight of this idea causes him to fall to his knees and drop the detonator. Max quickly tells Bart to grab the detonator, while he grabs Keller. The villain doesn't bother putting up a fight, only able to moan about the loss of his wife and daughter. Bart notices that the detonator doesn't appear to be hooked up to anything, but then he realizes something much more crucial — Carol is nowhere to be found.

Bart runs all around the cave, but can't find her. He angrily grabs Keller by the scruff and demands to know where Carol is, but Keller doesn't know who he's talking about. Max promises Bart they'll find Carol as soon as they take Keller to Arkham Asylum and dismantle the time machine before it falls into the wrong hands. But Bart has another idea. Before anyone can stop him, he hops into Keller's time machine, saying, "I'm sorry, Max!! I don't have time!! I hafta go back! I've got to find Carol!! I ... I ... love ... her ..."

Well, here it is. Bart has finally admitted he loves Carol. We've been building to this a long time, so it doesn't feel rushed or forced. But in a small way, I do find this development somewhat bittersweet. Part of the appeal of Impulse to me was that he was a kid, not a teenager dealing with angst and love triangles. But I guess even ageless comic book characters do need to starting growing up a bit — after all, Impulse has been 14 years old for about six years now. So on a whole, I support this storyline with Carol.

Slightly more problematic for me, though, is the storyline of Lucius Keller. How did he know that Max traveled forward in time to the 21st century? From his point of view, Keller was successfully killing all the people Max had saved, until Max suddenly disappeared one day. Shouldn't he have assumed that he drove Max into retirement? Instead, he somehow correctly deduced that Max retreated to more than 100 years in the future. Also, if Max knew where Keller secret hideout was all this time, why didn't he destroy it back in 1896? Keller was using his advanced technology to kill dozens of people, so it seems like Max should have caved in that hideout to cut off the source of Keller's power. Ideally, I think Keller should have left a note with the old newspaper, telling Max where he could find him. Because that was what he ultimately wanted. So yeah, the concept of Keller might have been interesting, but the execution was just a bit too sloppy for me.

Impulsive Reactions begins with Joey Cavaleri urging readers to send in their thoughts on the new art team of Carlo Barberi and Juan Vlasco. He also mentions a Mexican volcano that delayed the delivery of some of his pages (I'm not sure if this led to a pushback of an issue's publication date).

Andy Oliver, of Essex, England, admits he hadn't been reading Impulse for a while, but after picking up the DC Direct figures of Max Mercury and Impulse (guess I need to grab those), he decided to check out Impulse #67. Even though it was the conclusion of a long-running storyline, Andy still found it accessible and entertaining. The party reminded him of a Flash story that had the Rogues throwing a party for Captain Cold, and he was especially glad to see Woozy Winks included. He liked the conversation between Martian Manhunter and Kyle Rayner, and, most importantly, loved the interaction between Max and Bart. Andy points out that those two have come a long way since Impulse #1.

Carlos R. Hall, of Jacksonville, Fla., suggests recruiting Rob Liefeld to do Impulse and a Silver Age Atom/Hawkman miniseries. (I'm personally glad this never happened, because I loathe Liefeld's artwork.) Carlos also asks for Wally West to be reunited with Bart Allen (thank you!) and for mini-busts of the original three members of Young Justice.

Tobias Christopher throws out an idea of Impulse having a little brother who is even more impatient than Bart.

Andy Barclay also likes this idea, saying it'd be a great Elseworlds story. Cavalieri mentions that Ethan Van Sciver recently had an idea that's "not dissimilar" to that.

Michael Bregman, of Gan-Yavne, Israel, points out that the real story of Impulse #69 wasn't Green Lantern, Adam Strange and Impulse fighting a big monster, but rather the development of Bart's character. Michael called it heartbreaking to see Impulse on this guilt trip, and he praises him for going out of his way to save the sea creatures. He liked how Green Lantern apparently saw too much of himself in Impulse, allowing the story to create some fun tension between the two of them, yet still do justice to the two characters. Michael is also happy that Van Sciver is still doing the covers. Now for the new ads:

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Next time, we head into June 2001, the third-straight month where Impulse only appeared in his own title and Young Justice. So that means we'll be reviewing Young Justice #32.