Thursday, August 31, 2017

JSA #34

Stealing Thunder Part 2 of 5: Troublestruck

David Goyer and Geoff Johns Writers
Leonard Kirk Penciller
Keith Champagne Inker
John Kalisz Colors
Heroic Age Separations
Ken Lopez Letterer
Morgan Dontanville Assistant Editor
Peter Tomasi Editor

The cover by Rags Morales shows several heroes battling other heroes, led by the new Crimson Avenger duking it out with our very own Impulse. And if the black-and-white effect wasn't enough, the evil grin on Bart's face should be enough to tell you something's not right. I've always enjoyed Morales' work for the most part, and I like what he does with Impulse here. Sadly, Morales did not draw the inside pages, nor do the inside pages show this fight.

Impulse only appears on one panel in this issue, so we're just going to breeze on through this. Long story short, the Ultra-Humanite (an old, body-snatching villain) has somehow taken over Johnny Thunder's body and gained control of his all-powerful genie. Through a series of wishes, the Ultra-Humanite has conquered Earth and enslaved most of its metahumans, using the most powerful of them as his personal guard.

Somehow, someway, there is a small band of heroes that has managed to elude Ultra-Humanite's control for six months — Sandman, Hourman, Crimson Avenger, Power Girl, Captain Marvel, Jakeem Thunder and the villain Icicle. They have developed a way to disable the brain-control chips Ultra-Humanite has placed on all the heroes' necks, and they've decided to first free the collection of telepaths being used to monitor every inch of the globe. However, our heroes find the telepaths being protected by a fairly large gathering of some of Earth's most powerful heroes and villains.

This is a pretty interesting concept. Back in the Golden Age, Johnny Thunder was mostly used as comic relief. But if you stop and think about it, his genie really is tremendously powerful, so it's pretty cool to see what a villain would do with that power. Sadly, I don't think Goyer and Johns sufficiently explained why these particular heroes were able to avoid the Ultra-Humanite and no one else was. At the same time, though, it is kind of fun to have some lesser known heroes basically battle the entire DC Universe. So I'm torn.

Even though Impulse didn't do anything this issue, we will see him do a bit more as we close out this five-part story. But before we do that, next time we need to see what life for Bart is like without Max Mercury in Impulse #84.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Impulse #83

Double Visions Part 2

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: A new marketing technique demonstrated by Carlo Barberi and Wayne Faucher! We have Impulse in a comic shop, decorated with a few pieces of JLA merchandise, including a poster of Batman, Superman and the Flash. Every single comic in the shop is a replication of this cover, which is a pretty neat effect (although it would have been cooler and a lot harder if some of the comics were other DC titles that came out this month). I think it was really fun to have Impulse breaking the fourth wall in the background, slowly realizing that he's standing behind this issue's villain. I do feel, however, that Shanela is showing a bit too much skin here, especially since she's only supposed to be in the 10th grade.

Our story begins with Impulse already locked in a battle with Shanela. He believes he's wrapped in chains as a horde of monsters is swarming around him, but he's actually standing in an empty high school hallway.

We then cut back to yesterday, when Impulse once again was called to Manchester High to investigate another case of reported hallucinations. Once again, Bart's search comes up empty. Recognizing he doesn't possess any detective skills, Bart considers calling in Robin to help him. But then he remembers that both he and Robin are no longer members of Young Justice, which means, according to his 14-year-old boy logic, he and Robin can't help each other anymore. So Bart runs home to try to get Max to help him out again. But Max is on the phone with Jay Garrick, and he sternly tells Bart he can't help him because he's busy investigating an anomaly in the Speed Force.

As Bart dejectedly leaves Max's office, Helen tells him to take Dox for a walk, pointing out that the dog is Bart's responsibility, but she and Max are usually the ones who end up taking care of him. So Bart acts responsible and takes out his dog. As he ponders over the case of the hallucinating high schoolers, he theorizes that Dox might be able to smell something at the scene of the crime. So Bart leads Dox to the high school, hoping to make him the next Rex the Wonder Dog or Scooby Doo.

On his way, Bart meets Shantay, who asks if she can pet Dox. She says she wishes she could have a dog of her own, but her sister is allergic. Shantay also recognizes Bart as a junior high student, and Bart says he can't wait to get to high school, since it feels like he's been stuck in middle school for years. After Shantay leaves, Bart remembers her always being near the scenes of commotion at the high school, so he decides to follow her, hiding behind cars and telephone poles all the way back to Shantay's house.

Since Bart didn't see anything suspicious, he begins to consider his search a waste of time. But Shanela comes walking by, and Dox suddenly begins barking at her. She shouts at Bart and threatens to call the dog warden to take Dox away. And once again, Bart confuses Shanela with her twin sister, wondering how she suddenly appeared outside after just having walked into her house.

The next day, Shanela tries to be friendly to a group of boys she recently terrorized. She knows that Ashley, the girl she made believe had become a monster, won't be coming back to school for a while, so Shanela asks Ashley's boyfriend, Brandon, if he'd be interested in going out with her. Brandon immediately turns her down, and his friends heap on some more insults for good measure. Shanela quickly grows angry, her eyes glow green, and all the boys believe a giant demon has erupted from the basketball court.

Shantay sees this and comes running. Her eyes glow blue, causing a large cartoon fox to appear and smash the demon with a hammer. All the boys's terror changes to confusion, and they decide to walk away, leaving the twin sisters to yell at each other. But Shanela isn't interested in listening to Shantay's lecture, so she storms off, threatening her sister if she gets in her way again.

Meanwhile, back at the house, Max has begun probing the Speed Force once more. He feels a bit guilty about not telling Jay and Wally the whole story, but he figures it's best to confirm that one of the Speed Force's most devious inhabitants actually has gone missing before he sounds the alarm. As Max becomes intangible and vulnerable, a voice greets him, saying he's been waiting a while, and was beginning to think Max wasn't going to come.

Back at the high school, Shanela is spreading the rumor that all the hallucinating students were on drugs. Shantay again tries to confront her sister, and Impulse suddenly arrives, having heard about the basketball court incident via Wade's sister. Impulse runs into Shantay, not noticing Shanela right around the corner. He talks to Shantay a bit, trying to sound a more confident in his investigation than he really is. Shanela can't hold back for long, though, and she jumps out around the corner, angrily saying all her victims deserved what they got because they were a bunch of conceited jerks. Before Bart can get over the shock of learning Shantay has a twin, Shanela attacks Impulse, giving him the hallucination of monsters and chains we saw at the beginning of this issue.

Shantay shoots "acid" on Impulse's "chains," telling him that the monsters are just illusions. Impulse confirms this by running through a couple of monsters, but as the twins ramp up their psychic battle, Bart can't tells which twin is good and which one is evil. He eventually remembers that the nasty one was afraid of Dox, so he quickly runs home to grab his dog.

Dox immediately plays the hero, charging straight at Shanela. She screams out in terror, begging her sister to take away the dog illusion. But Shantay confesses that is a real dog barking at her. To add to the effect, Impulse brings in seven more dogs  to surround Shanela, who falls to her knees, begging for help. Impulse says he'll take the dogs away if Shanela promises to stop creating illusions at school and making everybody go crazy. Shanela agrees, and Impulse gets rid of the dogs, reminding the teenage girl that he can come back with even more, bigger dogs at any time, and he also has lots of powerful friends.

With the day saved, Bart runs home to tell Max and Helen all about his latest victory. To his surprise, though, Bart finds Helen waiting for him, with tears streaming down her face. She tells him she saw a horrible sight — Max being sucked into the Speed Force. Bart tries to calm her, suggesting this kind of stuff happens to Max all the time. But Helen insists this time was different. This time, Max was screaming.

Now that was an ending. Dezago's been teasing this for quite a while now, and still is withholding a lot of information — a bit too much if you ask me. Sadly, I know how this turns out, and I can say that's going to be the last we see of Max Mercury for a long time. It's also sad to say that this side story was much more interesting and significant than the main story of this issue.

The main story felt like something straight from William Messner-Loebs. An underdeveloped nameless villain defeated in an indirect, inconsequential way. It was nice watching Bart try his hand at being a detective somewhat. But the "villain" he battled barely qualifies as a villain. And she frustratingly didn't face any consequences for her actions. Look at it: Shanela traumatized dozens of her classmates, sent several to the hospital, damaged property ... and all she got was a few dogs barking at her. I much rather would have cut that story in half to give more pages to Max's mission. How about establishing a credible threat so we understand why Max has to attempt this dangerous undertaking?

Impulsive Reactions begins with SNW21 praising Impulse for its creative team and for the quick recaps at the beginning of each issue that are helpful for new readers. SNW21 is also enjoying the subplot of Roland and Evil Eye slowly figuring out that Bart is Impulse, as well as the maturity Bart showed in listening to Mike Ringer talk about his dad.

Havk thinks Bart's return to Impulse was rushed, saying the woman with the heart attack wasn't a strong enough reason. Havk is also tentative with the Roland and Evil Eye stories, saying they're cool, but again feels like they're rushed.

Brentac liked Impulse #80 mainly for Mike's transformed view of his father.

Kolbster1 predicts that Carol will come back at some point, but acknowledges that since she and Bart are still in junior high, their relationship can't really advance past where it already is.

BartAllen12 points out that Bart is young enough to develop crushes on a lot more girls.

NeoSharks predicts that Carol will return as soon as Bart is able to move on and possibly find a new girlfriend.

R3X29YZ4A wonders what happened to all the talk of Bart preparing to become the next Flash.

Tobias Christopher says this may have been Mark Waid's original plan back in 1994, but Impulse has since been passed through too many creators to guarantee that. Referencing Kingdom Come, Tobias says it looks like the next Flash will be Wally West's daughter, and that Bart will merely become an older, more mature Impulse. Now for the new ads:

The quest begins now. Galidor: Defenders of the Outer Dimension.

Where would you go? The Time Machine.

Super Mario World 2 for Game Boy Advance.

Next time, we'll begin May 2002 with a quick cameo in JSA #34.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

SpyBoy/Young Justice #3

Peter David Writer
Todd Nauck & Pop Mhan Pencils
Jamie Mendoza & Norman Lee Inks
Guy Major Colors
Clem Robins Letters
David Nestelle Designer
Philip Simon & Tom Palmer, Jr. Assistant Editors
Phil Amara & Eddie Berganza Editors
Pop Mhan Cover Art
Special thanks to Neela Weber at DC Comics

The front of our cover focuses on Superboy, SpyGirl and Impulse, with the back showing Secret, Lobo (even though he's not in this story), Rip Roar (apparently fighting with Young Justice for some reason), Impulse again and SpyBoy's friend, Butch. I really do appreciate that all three of these covers included Impulse. And although the artwork has been decent enough, the covers on a whole have been rather nonsensical, showing villains and some heroes that are nowhere to be seen in this three-part story. I wish Mhan could have done something like this that tied in better to our story.

We open on Annie Mae's shark-shaped submarine, with Harm explaining to her the concept of Hell-Holes. He says they're essentially sinkholes created by demons seeking to blur the boundaries between Earth and Hell. And when Hell-Holes get wide enough, they consume whatever is on top of them. Apparently, the Grand Canyon was a Hell-Hole that destroyed an ancient civilization, and the San Andreas fault is a slow-moving Hell-Hole. But the one that's caught Harm's eye is underneath Tokyo, positioned directly under the Grand Emperor Hotel, which is currently hosting 50 of the world's top business leaders. Harm explains that he sent the SDs to Tokyo to attract Young Justice and SpyBoy to the Hell-Hole, which will kill them and the world leaders.

As Harm speaks, our heroes are busy battling the diminutive versions of themselves. SpyBoy stops his doppelgänger from killing Robin, but the SpyBoy SD gets in the real SpyBoy's head, making him think that his Alex Fleming persona is fake. Impulse and Superboy find their counterparts out on the roof. Impulse tries to kindly reason with his SD, but he only makes him angrier.

Superboy's SD climbs down his shirt and begins biting his back. So Superboy decides to ram into the ground to squish the SD, but the little guy slips out at the last second, causing Superboy to not only hurt himself, but also weaken the barrier on the Hell-Hole.

Harm rejoices in the chaos the battle is causing, explaining that he is drawing power from the Hell-Hole, and the more people panic and trample the ground, the stronger he becomes. Annie Mae does not agree with Harm's scheme, so she sends her henchman, Slackjaw, after Rip Roar again. This time, Slackjaw is a bit more prepared, and he manages to draw blood. This sends the shark-man into an unstoppable frenzy, and he apparently kills Rip Roar off screen. Harm draws his sword on Annie Mae, saying he doesn't really want to fight her since her scientific resources helped him use his Hell-born magiks and psychological profiles of Young Justice to create the SDs. But Annie Mae has no hesitation in fighting Harm. She uses her psychic powers to freeze him in place and scan his mind for a weakness.

Back at the fight in Tokyo, Arrowette sees the Impulse SD running away from the real Impulse, so she trips him up with an oil slick arrow. Robin has also defeated his SD, but once again is an open target for the SpyBoy SD. The real SpyBoy, shaken by the SD's words, have reverted to his nervous, unsure Alex self. SpyGirl saves Robin this time, but she's unable to stop the Wonder Girl SD from releasing a large quantity of cyanide gas. The panic reaches a climax, with the Hell-Hole beginning to open and shoot out blue flames.

But our heroes quickly discover the gas is actually harmless. Secret suddenly seems to fall under a trance, and Alex is angrily trying to prove to Superboy and Impulse that he can be just as brave as his SpyBoy alter ego. As the blue flames grow, the Young Justice instantly recognize this as an apocalyptic earthquake from the bowels of Hell. Team SpyBoy has never encountered anything like this before, and Superboy and Impulse take a quick moment to laugh at their ignorance. They then round up the rest of the SDs, and Superboy takes delight in juggling them like a bunch of balls.

Secret suddenly snaps out of her trance and has all the answers. She explains that something terrible beneath them is feeding off raw emotion and terror, and she knows where the source is. Secret can't explain how she has this knowledge, but she assures her teammates she can take them all to the person behind this if they step into her cloak. All the members of Young Justice have traveled with Secret like this before, and none of them are too keen about doing it again. Impulse says it makes you go nuts, Wonder Girl says it makes you feel like being pureed in a blender, and Robin thinks Secret's "vision" could be another trap. Secret's dismayed that none of her friends trust her, but Alex is eager to prove himself, so he dives right in, instructing the others to get all the bystanders to stop panicking.

Secret teleports to the shark-sub, and Annie Mae tells Harm that she summoned Secret, since she's the only one who can stop him. Secret lifts up her cloak and tries to get SpyBoy to help her fight the villains, but he's still Alex and is reduced to a shaking, terrified boy after traveling with Secret. Slackjaw, finished with Rip Roar, decides to help Harm fight his sister before taking him down. Harm also prepares for attack, but suddenly feels weakened as the panic above the Hell-Hole has subsided. Young Justice and SpyBoy's friends have calmed the crowd down and is entertaining them with feats of acrobatics, juggling the SDs, and having Arrowette shoot apples of Butch's head.

Harm fights through this feeling of weakness, and takes a swipe at helpless Alex. Right in the nick of time, the SpyBoy persona takes over, catches Harm's sword and begins to battle the villain. Secret is busy with Slackjaw, and during their fight, a hole is punched in the side of the submarine. As water rushes in, Slackjaw runs away in pure terror, causing Secret to wonder how a "shark guy" could be hydrophobic. SpyBoy easily gets the upper hand over the weakened Harm, taking his sword and ramming it through his chest. Harm becomes surrounded by flames and disappears.

The water is now waist deep, and Annie Mae has mysteriously disappeared. So Secret teleports SpyBoy back to the others, who have discovered the SDs have suddenly turned to stone. Secret explains that the sorcerous energies Harm used to create them must have vanished when he did. She tells everyone that SpyBoy realized that Harm wasn't really alive, so he felt free to stab him with his own hellspawned blade, which sent him back to wherever his soul currently resides. SpyBoy admits he didn't know Harm wasn't really alive, and everyone stares in shock at his casual attitude toward killing someone.

Well, that was an abrupt ending. It felt like Peter David had too much story for just three issues. And I'm still left with a bunch of questions. Why did Annie Mae make the SDs with Harm, then turn on him when he revealed his plan to kill Young Justice and SpyBoy? Why were the SDs so small that they became utterly useless once they actually started fighting? Why wasn't there a Secret SD? I could go on, but I'll just leave it there.

As a whole, this three-part crossover was fairly average. I would say it was nice to put Young Justice in a new situation, but that wasn't really the case. Everything the SpyBoy crew brought to the table wasn't anything different from what Young Justice had previously dealt with. Team SpyBoy, however, did face something new with Harm and his Hell-Hole. I also can't really say Team SpyBoy and Young Justice had good chemistry together. David tried to give Robin a budding romance with SpyGirl, but that felt forced and it conveniently ignored Secret's deep jealously toward Robin's perspective girlfriends. This was something that could have been developed, had there been enough space for this story to properly breathe.

My favorite part of this story had nothing to do with SpyBoy. It was the great interactions between Impulse and Superboy — something I'm dearly missing now that Impulse is off the team. Their prank with Arrowette was nonsensical and unnecessary, but it was funny. And they had tons of great asides sprinkled throughout this otherwise weird and dull story. Sadly, the main purpose of this crossover — to inspire Young Justice readers to pick up SpyBoy, and vic e versa — failed for me. I feel like I got a good enough idea of what SpyBoy is all about, and it never felt interesting enough for me to track it down. Well, let's wrap this up with a look at the new ads:

Who's pulling the strings to create A World Without Young Justice? Find out this May in a 5-part epic starting in Young Justice #44, Impulse #85, Robin #101 and Superboy #99, and concluding in June with Young Justice #45.

He was the greatest hero of the Green Lantern Corps ... and its greatest tragedy. Green Lantern Legacy.

His people call him warrior. Destiny will name him The Scorpion King.

Check out these SpyBoy collections, full of action, adventure, and intrigue by Peter David and Pop Mhan!

Smallville action figures.

1st encounters! 1st battles! 1st adventures! DC 1st.

A Dark Horse comics preview, focusing on Star Wars: Episode II.

Horsepower focuses on a Mace Windu bust.

Free Comic Book Day, showing a Star Wars comic, Justice League Adventures, Tomb Raider and Ultimate Spider-Man.

Next time, before we begin A World Without Young Justice, we need to wrap up the Double Visions story in Impulse #83.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Impulse #82

Double Visions

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

On our cover: A creature feature from Carlo Barberi and Wayne Faucher! I'm not the biggest fan of monsters in general, but these monsters look alright, I guess. I do enjoy the kid/id pun, which gives us a clue to the story inside. And Impulse looks really good here. The girl he's protecting seems a bit off, though.

Our story begins at Manchester High School, where a couple of students are running around, screaming about monsters that no one else can see. Bart, however, is still only 14 years old, and thus, is working on his eighth consecutive year of eighth grade at Manchester Junior High School. Luckily, none of his friends have aged either since 1994, so they all get to enjoy reading comics in secret during study hall. Naturally, Bart is reading his issues at a much faster pace than his friends, prompting Preston to tease Bart for only looking at the pictures.

As Roland hands Bart the next issue of The After-Life Avenger, he asks Bart if he'd like to be a superhero. Bart surprises Roland and Preston by saying it'd be too uncomfortable to be a superhero since you can't go to the bathroom in the middle of a fight with a villain, and when you do try to go to the bathroom, you can't get your uniform off quick enough. Bart then goes on to complain about the stupidity of secret identities. While he sermonizes, he's once again fiddling with Carol's broken heart necklace. Evil Eye sees this and identifies it as the necklace he saw mysteriously disappear from his grandpa's lab.

Wade then sneaks up to his friends, telling them that he was just at the office and overheard news that a bunch of high school students have been freaking out — pulling out their hair, breaking windows and more. Bart promptly asks to be excused for a bathroom break, and Preston notes that Bart does seem to need a lot of bathroom breaks, which would probably make him a lousy superhero.

Bart changes to Impulse and races over to the high school, which is surrounded by police cars, ambulances and firetrucks. Impulse asks an officer what's going on, and he says they believe they may be dealing with a hallucinogenic drug. In the meantime, they're trying to evacuate the school. So Impulse rushes inside, finding one classroom is being blocked off by a boy named Travis, who is wildly swinging a broom at nonexistent goblins. Impulse doesn't know what to make of this, but he has little difficulty taking the broom away from the teen and rushing him outside, where Travis immediately starts to calm down.

The students start to evacuate the building, but a pair of twin girls lingers behind. Shantay asks her sister, Shanela, why she did that to Travis. Shanela initially refuses to talk about it, but at her sister's prodding, she admits she's tired of the way all the cool kids talk down to her and treat her like trash. Shanela then heads into the bathroom, leaving Shantay out in the hall. Impulse quickly spots her and pulls Shantay outside before she has a chance to argue. Impulse then immediately returns to the school to try to find out what was causing the hallucinations. He sees Shanela come out of the bathroom, and he does a double take, believing he had just evacuated her. Not considering that these could be two separate girls, Impulse takes Shanela outside, asking her if she's ever had that "deja voop."

Impulse drops Shanela off in front of a group of her peers, then immediately takes off. A girl named Ashley starts mocking Shanela, calling her the monster everyone was talking about. Shanela's eyes glow green, and everybody starts running away from Ashley, now seeing her as a large green monster. Shantay sees this and pulls her sister away, while the paramedics prepare sedatives for Ashley and her friends.

Meanwhile, Max Mercury is once again meditating in the Speed Force. This time, he has somehow brought golden energy forms of some of the speedsters that have become one with Speed Force, including Johnny Quick, Barry Allen and a woman named Vi. They're discussing a being who has apparently retreated to the outer borders of the Speed Force and must have some devious agenda. The speedster in the Speed Force are confined to that area and are unable to venture into the Speed Storm to hunt down this being. Max says he's the only one who can attempt this mission, but Johnny and Barry warn Max of the dangers involved. Barry is especially worried of who would watch after Bart if something were to happen to Max.

Bart suddenly bursts in through the door to ask for Max's help at the high school. He's stunned at the sight of the Speed Force entities, who quickly disappear once Max assures them he'll discuss his plans with Jay Garrick and Wally West. Before Bart gets a chance to ask Max what that was all about, Max asks him what's going on at the high school. So Bart tells him as they run, also noting that Helen is spending a lot of time with her boyfriend, Matt Ringer. Max says he's considering moving to a new place with Bart to give Helen some space. Bart doesn't have much time to ruminate over this, because they're already at the high school, where a construction worker is trying to replace a broken window but is falling from his cherrypicker.

The worker is falling with the shattered window, and Impulse decides to catch all the pieces of glass before saving the man. Max panics, grabs the worker, and chews out Bart for not saving him first. Bart insists he had time to go back and catch the man, but Max tells him to think next time, since panic attacks like that are hard on his heart. The two speedsters then conduct a thorough examination of the high school, but are unable to find any clues as to what caused the hallucinations. Max says he needs to go see Jay and Wally, and he invites Bart to join him. Bart tells Max to say hi to Jay and Joan for him, but he refuses to see Wally, saying the last thing he needs is for Wally to tease and pick on him. (I'm really surprised by Bart's reaction here, since he has had hardly any involvement with Wally since his wedding to Linda.)

Shantay overheard some of Impulse's conversation with Max Mercury, and is rightfully worried that more superheroes will show up and eventually discover it was her sister who caused the illusions. She goes home and once again yells at Shanela for using her "ventrilopath" abilities for bad, which will surely get them both in trouble. Shanela tries to scare her sister with a monster, but Shantay waves it away, knowing it's just an illusion. She warns Shanela about Impulse getting involved with other superheroes, but Shanela sees this as a challenge.

After last month's bizarre Don Coyote story, I was very happy to return to Manchester and all our side stories. Bart's friends are getting very close to figuring out his secret identity — or maybe they've already figured it out and are just playing along for now. We got a few more hints about Max's new secret mission, and we continued the conversation of Helen and Matt. And on top of all that, we got a new villain that could pose a challenge for Impulse. What good is super speed against psychic projections?

I was a bit frustrated that Dezago made a point to say Bart is still 14 years old. He spent the past year showing Bart mature and grow up a little bit — isn't it time to say he's turned 15 already? And what was with Bart's negative reaction at the mention of Wally? They haven't even talked to each other in ages, and the last time they did, they seemed just fine. I also have to complain a little bit about the art. Barberi is getting better each issue, but in this one, he had a hard time with objects' sizes. Carol's broken heart necklace is now about a third of the size of Bart's thumbnail. It's so tiny, I have no idea how Evil Eye was able to spot it from across the room. And when Roland handed Bart a copy of The After-Life Avenger, the comic was no bigger than a baseball card. Part of this problem, I believe, has to do with Barberi's tendency to draw hands huge and fingers fat.

Impulsive Reactions begins with Joey Cavalieri thanking all the Impulse fans for spreading the word about the book through the DC Message Boards.

Link, the Hero of Hyrule, says he was a Young Justice fan who liked Impulse, but he felt he didn't have enough money to buy Impulse's solo title. But then he got the Impulse trade paperback, Bart Saves the Universe, and the six most recent issues. Now he regrets ever having passed it up.

Retri starts off by calling Impulse the best DC character ever, mainly due to his funky hair. Retri says Impulse #6 is the best issue in the series, and requests an Impulse poster.

StarmansGal says she has the DC Direct figures of Bart and Max, as well as the World Without Grownups figures of Impulse, Robin and Superboy. But she complains that those figurines made the characters way too buff.

Zortnac says you can find the original Impulse promo poster on eBay. Cavalieri apologizes that DC doesn't have any current posters to sell.

MentalGirl says she likes how Impulse is so innocent, saying he doesn't have a mean bone in his "cute little body."

Max Mercury II says he likes Impulse's legacy most of all, calling him the new Kid Flash. He also likes that Impulse is his age.

Katarhal says the one line of dialogue that best sums up Impulse was something he once said to Trickster: "You're confusing me. That's always dangerous." Now for the new ads:

Mini Oreo with Chocolate Creme.

United in the name of justice ... driven to protect mankind. Justice League Adventures.

Ritz Bits Sandwiches graham cracker s'mores.

Monsters, Inc. Scream Team for PlayStation.

Bad guys beware! Teamo Supremo on ABC.

Hey, kids! Comics! talks about Hawkman #1, Superman #600 and Batman #600.

MVP2: Most Vertical Primate on VHS and DVD.

The next level of fruitensity. Jolly Rancher gel snacks.

As if you needed another reason to eat pizza. Tony's Xtreme Fun Stuff.

Next time, we'll conclude our Dark Horse crossover with SpyBoy/Young Justice #3.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

SpyBoy/Young Justice #2

Peter David Writer
Pop Mhan Pencils
Norman Lee Inks
Guy Major Colors
Clem Robins Letters
David Nestelle Designer
Philip Simon & Tom Palmer, Jr. Assistant Editors
Phil Amara & Eddie Berganza Editors
Pop Mhan Cover Art
Special thanks to Neela Weber at DC Comics

The front of our cover showcases the leading women in SpyBoy and Young Justice — Bombshell and Wonder Girl. On the back, we have Empress, SpyBoy's dad and some old guy in a wheelchair, who wasn't in last issue. Lagoon Boy is also here for absolutely no reason. He never was officially a member of Young Justice and he does not appear in this three-part story. The best part of the cover, though, is the double image of Impulse, helping fight these random mimes, who also are not in this story. These covers aren't bad, but I wish they provided a better sense of what the story is.

We pick up where we left off last time, with SpyBoy, Bombshell and SpyGirl breaking into Young Justice's headquarters at the Catskill resort. Bombshell starts things off by throwing a smoke bomb, which Impulse tries to catch, but it suddenly swerves in midair. The surprised Impulse is unable to prevent the bomb from going off, which knocks out Impulse, Superboy, Wonder Girl and Empress. Secret, however, is immune to the smoke, and Robin managed to get on his gas mask fast enough.

SpyBoy takes on Robin, but is unable to hit him with his gun. Robin mocks him for shooting like a Star Wars stormtrooper, and SpyBoy admits he's only trying to shoot to wound. Secret, meanwhile, takes on the two girls, who, through trial and error, eventually discover her weakness to electricity.  SpyBoy also manages to get the upper hand on Robin, knocking him down and aiming his gun at his head at point blank range. SpyBoy says he never misses when he shoots to kill.

But before he can pull the trigger, Arrowette shots an arrow into the barrel of his gun. She tells SpyBoy she never misses and her next arrow is aimed at his heart. Arrowette orders SpyBoy to hold still, but he calls her bluff and calmly walks toward her. Eventually, the string on Arrowette's bow snaps, but before SpyBoy can attack her, Impulse zooms in between them. He explains that he managed to disperse the gas at super speed to minimize its effects, so he, Superboy, Wonder Girl and Empress are all back on their feet and have SpyBoy surrounded.

The fight is suddenly put to an end when Red Tornado shows up with SpyBoy's dad, who says they've just found out that someone is attempting to create evil duplicates of world leaders drawn from their minds. Red Tornado says if none of them care about that, then they're free to continue their pointless slugfest. They ask who wants to keep fighting, and Impulse immediately raises his hand. Bart then sheepishly puts it down, grumbling that everyone tells him to think, but they always hate what he comes up with.

We then cut to the Sea of Japan, where our villains, Annie Mae and REMbrandt are hiding in their shark-shaped submarine. Annie Mae is angry at REMbrandt for sending the "SDs" of Young Justice and SpyBoy out on a mission without her knowledge. She starts to threaten her partner in crime, but he responds with some threats of his own.

Back at the Catskills resort, everyone is sitting down in the dinning room, while Impulse quickly whips up some sandwiches. SpyBoy's dad explains that the intruders at the A.P.E.S. and S.H.I.R.T.S. headquarters scrambled the security systems, but now those organizations have finally managed to restore the computers enough to get a clear picture of the intruders. SpyGirl recognizes the diminutive creatures as SuperDeformeds, or SDs for short. She explains these "roundies" or "squishies" are popular in Japan. Impulse says he's seen them in Japanese comics, or manga — characters with huge eyes, weird hair and big feet. Bombshell asks Impulse if that applies to him as well. (Unfortunately, Pop Mhan drew Impulse with exceptionally small hair on this page, effectively killing the joke.)

Red Tornado reports that they've also finally discovered what these SDs stole — detailed psychological profiles on all the top world leaders. The SpyBoy team believes this to be the work of their archenemy, Annie Mae, but Robin wants to know how she was able to create SDs of Young Justice. Secret says they don't know anyone who can get into their hearts and souls and dreams. Superboy, Robin and Wonder Girl awkwardly stare at Secret after she says that, then try to play it cool when she asks why they're looking at her.

Getting the conversation back on track, Red Tornado says they have received a message from Annie Mae, or whoever, showing plans to use the SDs to attack the Zenith Meeting — a collection of the heads of 50 international conglomerates — in Tokyo. Everyone realizes this is a trap, but they decide they need to go there anyway. SpyBoy, however, doesn't want Arrowette to come along, saying her heart isn't in it. Arrowette angrily says she is coming, and when Impulse and Superboy cheer the return of their teammate, she elbows both of them in the chest for stealing her clothes. As Impulse jokes with Superboy, their evil counterparts are planning their attack.

The rest of the SDs are sneaking through the vents of the building, and the SpyBoy SD expresses concern for their mission. The Robin SD says the only way they'd be stopped was if their creator tipped off the heroes for some reason and if said heroes had a super fast transport to get from New York to Japan. Turns out, that's exactly what happened. Secret sneaks up on the SDs in the vents and attacks them with one of Bombshell's bombs.

Annie Mae learns that SpyBoy and Young Justice have begun battling the minis, and she chews out REMbrandt for sending the SDs into a no-win scenario. But REMbrandt says he never intended for the SDs to win. He wants them to die for the noblest pursuit of all — to see the world go to hell. As he says this, he pulls off his cloak, revealing himself as ... Harm!

So there's Young Justice's main villain to help balance the story. Unfortunately, this story didn't hold my attention as well as last issue. After a very quick and underwhelming fight between heroes (always necessary for crossovers like this), we then spent the rest of the issue literally sitting around a table and talking. And what they talked about just didn't seem that interesting. It also didn't help that SpyBoy artist Pop Mhan took over the penciling duties this month. He can have some really good moments, but far too many of his panels and pages fall flat. But really the biggest problem is the story. It is just so darn strange. Setting aside the whole SD thing, what is Arrowette doing in this story? What was Peter David trying to prove with her standoff with SpyBoy? It's an unnecessary addition. Young Justice has enough members without her, and this crossover hardly feels like the time and place to rehash Arrowette's personal demons — a matter that I felt had already long been resolved.

The Death of Buffy. Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics.

How can the Flash fight 8 Rogues in 2 cities? (Well, he could ask Impulse for help, but that'd be too easy, right?)

Shirts that fit you and your style. DHorse Deluxe.

Deathblow started the job. Now Batman's going to finish it. Batman Deathblow: After the Fire.

Not for justice. Not for honor. For vengeance. Batman Huntress: Cry for Blood.

You've never see bounty hunters like these ... Jango Fett and Zam Wesell.

Horsepower talks about Lone Wolf 2100.

In Gotham City ... it takes more than guts to fight crime! Robin #100.

Next time, we'll return to the main series with Impulse #82.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Impulse #81

Don Coyote: The Man of La Jolla

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

This issue's cover: Signs point to Carlo Barberi and Wayne Faucher as the names behind this one! To be honest, I don't get this cover. Why doesn't this guy know how to spell Impulse? I do know this cover is based off The Flash #181, which came out this same month and sadly, once again, did not include Impulse. But really, I just don't think this cover is funny or engaging.

Our story begins with another fun recap page, showing how Bart is finally out of his funk, is back being Impulse again, and is loving it. He considers himself the latest and greatest in a long line of speedsters (with Wally West actually being the most primitive one).

Bart is in rare form, fully utilizing his powers and training to minimize the effects of his running on the environment. He is literally running on air, neutralizing the sonic boom when he passes the sound barrier and is eliminating his backdraft when he stops to catch some french fries and a soda that was dropped by a waitress before it hit the customer in the face in Chicago. Bart's path takes him to Southern California, where a movie set designer named Dan Coyote has failed to properly secure three large fake aliens he's built. The aliens just happen to fall on Dan right as Impulse passes by, so Bart decides to make sure the man is all right.

To Bart's astonishment, Dan proclaims himself to be a superhero named Captain Saturn. He quickly throws on a costume with a flowing yellow cape and shoves a golden helmet on Bart's head, calling him Snacky, the Boy Comet. Seeing Bart's obvious confusion to all this, Dan assumes that some insidious villain has scrambled his sidekick's brains. He then immediately begins running off nowhere in particular to find adventure. Bart decides to humor Dan for a bit, asking him how he gained his superpowers. Dan explains that he was abducted by aliens, who gave him his superpowers, turning him into Captain Saturn (although the aliens didn't come from Saturn).

Bart is now thoroughly convinced that Dan is not actually a superhero, so he starts to suggest they head to a hospital to have the bump on his head examined. But before Bart can stop him, Dan leaps off the edge of a cliff, believing he can fly. Bart quickly runs under Dan, creating a mini vortex below him to safely suspend him in midair and carry him across six lanes of traffic. Bart sets Dan down at a gas station, where an overwhelmed mother is trying pump gas and corral her three young boys. Dan sees the woman as a damsel in distress, with the boys as dwarves and the gas pump hoses as monstrous serpents.

Dan "rescues" the family by tying the gas hoses up in a knot, while all Impulse can do is embarrassedly tell everybody he doesn't know that man. Dan once again insists that "Snacky" put on his helmet, which Bart does for about a second, grumbling that it looks more like a cockroach than a comet. He then pulls Dan aside and asks if he can explain how he became Snacky. So Dan tells Bart that several years ago, a group of ninjas sabotaged some trapeze artists' ropes, causing the performers to fall on Bart's parents, who were sitting in the crowd. The impact killed Bart's parents, making him an orphan. Captain Saturn then took the young boy in, calling him Snacky since that was apparently his mother's name. He then gave his ward a blood transfusion to give him powers and make him his sidekick.

The owner of the gas station comes out to yell at them for messing up his pumps, and the three rowdy boys convince their mom to take them to the mini golf course next door. Bart tries once again to take Dan to the hospital, but he has spotted his next challenge — the mini golf windmill, which he believes to be a dragon. Dan grabs a pole and charges at the windmill. Impulse quickly pulls the family out of the way, as Dan smashes the "dragon" into oblivion. In his exuberance, Dan accidentally bumps a large replica of Paul Bunyan, which begins to fall on the family. Bart, however, noticed that the gas station owner was just about to drop his cigar on a large puddle of gasoline.

Impulse catches the cigar, preventing what surely would have been a massive explosion. This left Paul Bunyan to "Captain Saturn," who stunned everyone by catching the large prop. But then Bart realized Dan's pole actually stopped the statue from completely tipping over. Just then, Dan is approached by two men he recognizes, Geoff and Tom. They thank Impulse for watching over their friend, explaining that he occasionally acts eccentric like this, but is otherwise harmless. Dan takes off with his friends, telling "Snacky" that he's going to be part of a big crossover team-up, leaving Impulse (and most of the readers) completely confused at what just happened.

It took me a while to figure this out, but Dan Coyote sounds an awful lot like Don Quixote. Knowing that, though, I still have to say I didn't like this issue very much. I did think the origin of Snacky was pretty funny, but the rest of the issue was just a bit too weird and random for my tastes. But mostly, I'm upset that Dezago and Barberi interrupted their narrative for what felt like a fill-in issue. In the previous issues of Impulse, we saw Bart's friends start to figure out he's Impulse, Max Mercury investigate a new threat through the Speed Force, and Helen move closer toward marriage. Why did we put all those storylines on hold for a retelling of Don Quixote? It just felt like a complete waste of Barberi's art.

Impulsive Reactions begins with Andy Oliver, of Upminster, England, saying Impulse #77 boasted another inventive cover. He admits to feeling a little drained by Our Worlds at War, as he grew tired of multipart crossovers years ago. Andy also says Bart's new power is imaginative, although he worried it would grow old quick. But he was pleasantly surprised with what happened involving Bart's power in issue #77. Andy even praises the creators for taking advantage of the big crossover to shake up the status quo of Impulse. Joey Cavalieri hints at Bart's new power being used to set off another big storyline.

Andrew James Shaw, of Torrance, Calif., believes Bart's new power will prove to be too powerful in the long run. But he does admit the new power isn't as lame as he thought it'd be. Andrew also praises Barberi's skill with drawing hair, and he asks for White Lightning to gain super speed.

Next time, we'll return to our Dark Horse crossover with SpyBoy/Young Justice #2.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

SpyBoy/Young Justice #1

Peter David Writer
Todd Nauck Pencils
Jamie Mendoza Inks
Guy Major Colors
Clem Robins Letters
David Nestelle Designer
Philip Simon & Tom Palmer, Jr. Assistant Editors
Phil Amara & Eddie Berganza Editors
Pop Mhan Cover Art
Special thanks to Neela Weber at DC Comics

I'm not usually a fan of Pop Mhan's art, but I think this wraparound cover turned out nicely. On the front, we have SpyBoy and Robin, the leader of Young Justice. On the back, SpyBoy's mentor, Prime Number and Young Justice's mentor, Red Tornado. And for a bit of random fun, Impulse is zooming by to help fight this horde of skinheads. Unfortunately though, these random skinheads do not appear in this story.

So, since this is a DC/Dark Horse crossover, this story is not in continuity. But the timeline for Young Justice suggests this is happens right before Our Worlds at War (without the imminent threat of said war). Anyway, our story begins at the secret headquarters for an organization called S.H.I.R.T.S. (Secret Headquarters, International Reconnaissance, Tactics, and Spies). A helicopter flies over the building and lets down five doll-sized figures that resemble Robin, Superboy, Impulse, Wonder Girl and Arrowette. The "chibi" Young Justice sneaks inside, running past Prime Number, who's having a discussion with SpyBoy's father, Sean, about pushing the teen too hard. Apparently SpyBoy is really a normal kid named Alex Fleming with a sleeper identity that can make him the most efficient and deadliest espionage agent in the world.

Prime Number spots the small figures running past him, but before he can stop them, "Arrowette" shoots a tiny arrow into his chest. She wonders if she should kill him, but "Robin" tells her to keep moving. Prime manages to press an alert on his watch, but by the time more soldiers show up, the tiny intruders have already downloaded the data they needed and made their escape.

We then cut to Mount Rushmore, which has apparently been repaired since Match blew up part of it, and still serves as the headquarters for A.P.E.S. (the All-Purpose Enforcement Squad). Agent Donald Fite asks Agent Ishido Maad if he's coming over for Christmas dinner, but Maad is mad at Fite for not telling him that his daughter was Empress. As Fite tries to explain his reasoning, a gas bomb goes off in the hallway. Right before he loses consciousness, Maad manages to catch a glimpse of three tiny figures resembling SpyBoy and his female companions, Bombshell and SpyGirl.

Fite and Maad later visit Young Justice at their Catskills resort to tell them about this break-in. None of our heroes have heard of SpyBoy, believing him to merely be an urban legend. Impulse, however, isn't paying attention to anything, as he's working through a big stack of Game Boy games, occasionally saying, "Done! Next!" as he swaps out cartridges. Fite and Maad continue the briefing, saying that they don't know what SpyBoy stole from them. And when they contacted S.H.I.R.T.S. about it, they were only met with a denial and an accusation that Young Justice broke into their headquarters. Eventually, Maad gets sick and tired of Impulse's video game playing, and he takes the Game Boy away, placing it in his pocket. Bart's furious to his toy imprisoned, so he quickly steals it back, trying to pull off an innocent, angelic whistle when Maad looks at him.

The agents admit to Young Justice that they don't believe the teens broke into S.H.I.R.T.S. headquarters. And they're willing to accept the possibility that both Young Justice and SpyBoy are being set up by someone else. To try to get to the bottom of this, Fite and Maad suggest they send someone in undercover to SpyBoy's high school in New Jersey. Fite points out that even though he trusts Young Justice, the A.P.E.S.' upper echelon is still suspicious of the team, and a little cooperation would constitute serious fence mending. So they agree to send in Robin, Empress, Wonder Girl and Secret, keeping out Superboy because he's too recognizable and Impulse because he's just too ... Impulse.

We head over to Julius Rosenberg High School, where Alex (SpyBoy), Yukio (SpyGirl), Marta Hari (Bombshell) and Butch Moody are consumed with finding dates to the Mid-Winter Dance. Well, actually, Alex doesn't want to go, but Yukio wants to go with him, and nobody wants to go with Butch, who passionately cries out for someone to go to the dance with. Anita steps forward and offers to go with Butch, but then Cassie (dressed as a goth) claims him as her own. Thrilled to have two girls fighting over him, Butch offers to take both of them, which Anita and Cassie readily agree to.

As Butch walks away with his two new girlfriends, Alex is approached by "Rob Roy," a new student dressed in a preppy vest with glasses and a goatee. Rob asks the class president to tell him where "the happening stuff" around the school is. But Alex's SpyBoy persona (represented by a mini version of himself) becomes suspicious. As do Yukio and Marta, who quickly usher Alex away to a class president meeting.

We then go to the Sea of Japan, where a shark-shaped submarine serves as headquarters for a petite villain named Annie Mae. She is working with a mysterious figure named REMbrandt (REM as in the sleeping REM). He apparently tapped into the subconscious of Young Justice and SpyBoy and worked with Annie Mae to create the little troublemaking duplicates. But Annie Mae feels REMbrandt is withholding information from her, so she threatens him with her bodyguard, Slackjaw, a beefy half-man/half-shark. But REMbrandt counters with his own bodyguard, Rip Roar, the four-armed thug who originally stole the Super-Cycle, then was imprisoned in hardened lava. REMbrandt explains he freed Rip Roar from his "self-made imprisonment" and watches with glee as he easily overpowers Slackjaw.

Back at the high school, Alex, Yukio and Marta have snuck outside to discuss the new kids at school. They correctly assume these kids are Young Justice in disguise, referencing the intel Prime Number gave them earlier. But before they can formulate a plan, Principal Reichenbach calls them back inside. Secret was disguised as steam rising from an air vent, and is pretty upset she just missed hearing SpyBoy's plan. At lunch, Yukio flirts with Robin and ruffles his hair, while Butch complains to Alex that his two new girlfriends only want to talk about Alex. Butch correctly assumes this is another matter for SpyBoy, and he begs Alex to let him join this mission. Alex gives in, even though his inner SpyBoy knows he'll regret it.

So what happens when you leave Impulse and Superboy alone? They get up to no good. Well, it's more of a harmless prank. They invite Cissie out to the Catskills resort and encourage her to enjoy some private time in the sauna. This gives Bart ample time to steal Cissie's clothes, replace them with her Arrowette outfit, and chemically treat her towel to dissolve when it reaches 180 degrees. Bart worries that Cissie's going to kill them, but Kon believes she needs to be pranked back for masterminding Anita's date with Lobo. Besides, Kon really wants Cissie back where she belongs.

Cissie emerges from the sauna, sees her clothes have been replaced, and announces she'll just stay in her towel until she gets her clothes back. Right on cue, the towel dissolves, and just as Bart predicted, Cissie vows to kill him and Kon. While she yells at them from the locker room, Bart and Kon are meeting up with the rest of Young Justice, hearing about their undercover mission. Robin reports that Secret learned SpyBoy is on to them, and Impulse is impressed with how quickly they figured that out. Empress and Wonder Girl aren't sure, though, believing Yukio was genuinely attracted to Robin. As Robin recalls his interaction with her, he suddenly realizes that she placed a homing device in his hair. Suddenly, there's a big explosion, and SpyBoy, SpyGirl and Bombshell come bursting through the window.

So this was an interesting concept. I'll admit I've never heard of SpyBoy before this, and I personally would have preferred a Young Justice/X-Men crossover, but this actually worked out quite well. There are quite a few similarities between SpyBoy and Young Justice, which might be inevitable since Peter David is the writer for both those books. In any case, he did a good job of fully utilizing those similarities to make these teams feel as equal as possible (even though Young Justice has more members). David also did a good job of giving newbies like me enough material to grasp the basics of SpyBoy without bogging me down in too many details.

The story itself was silly and odd. True, we have seen Young Justice go undercover in a high school before, but it's still fun. And the great lengths Impulse and Superboy went to to bring Arrowette back were probably unnecessary (YJ already has enough members), but once again, it was fun. In crossovers like this, it's tradition to have equal representation for not only the heroes, but the villains, as well. Annie Mae and Slackjaw are for SpyBoy, and on the Young Justice side, David dug deep to find one of their earliest and most-likely forgotten villains, Rip Roar. I appreciate the callback. REMbrandt, however? Well, I won't spoil it just yet.

The oddest part of the story, though, is the miniature versions of the heroes. I guess it's funny, but it's mostly weird. And it makes no sense whatsoever that two separate groups of highly trained government intelligence agencies would even for a second mistake those little guys for the real teenage heroes. I mean, even in a quick glance, the first thing you'd notice, is these figures are only about two feet tall. And even if that tiny figure looks like SpyBoy, you'd have to know that the real SpyBoy is not that short!

The production of this book was mostly good. Todd Nauck on pencils is always a beautiful thing. But when you switch out his regular inker and colorist, you can tell there's a difference. Impulse's hair suddenly had the shape and color of straw. Also, this comic was produced by Dark Horse, meaning it used different paper, different binding and different ad placement. It's funny how much those little things can affect your reading experience when you're used to the DC methods. And speaking of ads, we get a nice balance between house ads for DC and Dark Horse:

From the pages of Hellboy. Mike Mignola's B.P.R.D.

Starman: A Starry Knight.

SpyBoy: The Deadly Gourmet Affair and SpyBoy: Trial and Terror.

He's lived a thousand lives, and been a hero in them all! Hawkman by Geoff Johns.

United we draw. The greatest writers and artists in comics. An unprecedented coalition of publishers. 9-11. Two volumes reflecting on a tragedy that changed the world.

At last — a full-service super-hero firm you can count on! The Power Company.

To the death! Batgirl #25. Cassandra Cain vs. Lady Shiva. The rematch you've been waiting for!

Things from Another World. The hottest comics! The newest movies! The coolest collectibles!

Horsepower. This letter column talks all about the new villain for Star Wars: Episode II, Jango Fett, and how he's cooler than his son, Boba. (They're right. Boba Fett doesn't do anything.)

The Dark Knight Strikes Again statue.

Next time, we'll return to the world of DC with Impulse #81.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Young Justice #40

The Night Before Doomsday

With apologies to Clement Moore ... or maybe Major Henry Livingston.
Writer Peter David
Pencils Todd Nauck
Inks Lary Stucker
Colors Jason Wright
Separations Digital Chameleon
Letters Ken Lopez
Assistant Editor Tom Palmer Jr.
Editor Eddie Berganza

This month's cover is by Nauck, Stucker and the colors of Ian Hannin. All of DC's covers this month had the titles in the art, which is a pretty fun change of pace. And this is an incredible cover, putting the entire team above a theater's marquee sign. But as much as I love this image, it is a bit jarring for a couple of reasons. One, Arrowette left the team a long time ago, and Impulse and Robin just left the team recently. Two, as we're about to see, the story inside actually takes place long before Slobo, Empress or Snapper Carr were brought aboard. So I really don't know what to make of it.

Our story is a Christmas poem patterned after "The Night Before Christmas" told by Robin. The Christmas he describes took place two years ago, back when the team was just Robin, Superboy, Impulse, Wonder Girl, Secret and Arrowette. Superboy was still in his old costume, Wonder Girl was wearing her black wig, and the team was still based in the old JSA headquarters in Happy Harbor, Rhode Island. We open on Robin in the bathroom (or Bat-room as he renamed it) because he ate too many of Arrowette's crab cakes. The rest of our heroes are busy putting up Christmas decorations, with Impulse getting tangled up in the lights. An alert suddenly pops up on their monitor, and Impulse hopefully suggests it could be Santa, but Superboy shoots that down.

Robin emerges from the toilet and is quickly told about the incoming energy wave blast from deep space. His teammates have dubbed this "Doomsday" (not to be confused with the Superman villain) and Robin readily agrees. He puts out a call to the JLA, but they're off-planet. In desperation, Robin calls everyone he can think of — the Titans, Outsiders, Doom Patrol, JSA, Ravers, Inferior Five, Suicide Squad and Legionnaires. But they were all busy fighting or partying. So, it's left up to just Young Justice to save the world. They all load up in the Super-Cycle, trying to not let on how terrified they were — except Impulse, who begins openly writing his Last Will and Testament on an incredibly long piece of paper.

Our heroes head toward the moon, and soon come in contact with the energy blast, who identifies himself as Mordrek of the Great Khund Alliance. He explains that he created a bomb to destroy Earth, and to ensure its success, he placed his essence in it — being perfectly happy to sacrifice his life to destroy the human race. So the Super-Cycle pulls out every gun and cannon it has and begins unloading on Mordrek. But its weapons have no effect. So our young heroes unanimously agree on a suicide mission, hoping that a head-on collision with Mordrek would save the world.

Suddenly, Santa Claus appears out of nowhere, being pulled in his sled by his eight reindeer. He turns to wish a happy Christmas to the teens, not realizing he has flown right in the path of Mordrek. It's too late for Santa to get out of the way, and he collides with Mordrek, causing a huge explosion. All that's left is the smell of burned reindeer, as both Mordrek and Santa have been completely vaporized.

However, the presents Santa was set to deliver miraculously survived and neatly fell into the Super-Cycle. Not only that, but the toys came pre-addressed and accompanied with a map. At Bart's urging, Young Justice agrees to deliver the presents in honor of the late Santa Claus. Unfortunately, it took our heroes more than two months to complete this task, which made a lot of people quite upset. Robin concludes his poem by wondering if Santa Claus is immortal and is reincarnated each year. He hopes that Santa will be back next Christmas, but if he's not, Robin and his teammates refuse to deliver the presents again.

On a side note, the scroll that contained the words of the poem got longer and longer on each page. On page 16, Impulse breaks the fourth wall and notices this. He calls in his teammates to try to help him prop up the scroll, but despite their combined strength and the various contraptions Bart builds, the scroll wins out in the end, completely filling page 22. On that final page, Secret and Impulse phase through the paper and comment on how many words are on the scroll. Impulse says it's all the words they didn't use in issue #31.

This was a delightfully dark Christmas tale. Not only did Santa Claus die in a horrific, fiery explosion, but then it took our heroes more than two months to deliver his presents around the world. Beyond that, it was a fun change of pace to have a prose-focused comic. And it was a bit nostalgic to return the team to the original six members. Speaking of which, Todd Nauck once again demonstrated his genius. This story takes place two years ago, and all the characters actually look two years younger. Superboy doesn't have his scruffy little goatee yet, and everyone — especially Impulse — is a bit smaller and skinnier. All in all, another classic issue of Young Justice, which is especially welcome now that Impulse is technically not on the team anymore.

Our letters to the editor begin with Jason Smith asking if Our Worlds at War was Peter David's idea because he enjoyed Young Justice's role in it so much, particularly how it put the spotlight on people who work behind the scenes and never get the glory. Eddie Berganza, however, says that David would rather stay clear of crossovers, and it was the Superman writers who came up with the event.

Justin Asbell enjoyed the homage to Crisis on Infinite Earths, as well as the reverse psychology scene with Lobo. He does worry, however, that his favorite Young Justice member, Impulse, will be hurt or killed, since he was not shown in the future scenes of the Young Justice Our Worlds at War special.

Kristen McClure, of San Clemente, Calif., thanks Todd Nauck for spending so much time at the San Diego ComicCon. Kristen worries that Bart is going to quit Young Justice like Cissie did, saying it's too soon for her favorite big-haired, big-footed speedster to go. She also worries that the end of Young Justice is looming. Now for the new ads:

Drive dangerously. Burnout for PlayStation 2.

Coin collecting, advanced. Warioland 4 for Game Boy Advance.

A darker justice must be served. Batman Vengeance for PlayStation 2, Game Boy Advance, Xbox and Game Cube.

You've never played like this before ... RZone at Toys R Us, featuring the Nintendo Game Cube.

If one is good, a handful must be better. Starburst.

Racing has evolved. Kinetica for PlayStation 2.

In the world, only this island is ... Dragon Warrior VII for PlayStation.

Are you seeker material? Harry Potter trading card game. I actually did try this game out. It sucked.

Pikmin for Game Cube.

Prepare for a beating ... Virtual Fighter 4 for PlayStation 2.

Culture, advanced. Golden Sun for Game Boy Advance.

This time, Crash is going to need all the help he can get. Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex for PlayStation 2.

How far will you go to get your prey? Looney Tunes Sheep Raider for PlayStation.

Super Smash Bros. Melee for Game Cube.

They're revolting! Oddworld Munch's Oddysee for Xbox.

Next time, we'll begin a three-part crossover with Dark Horse in SpyBoy/Young Justice #1.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Impulse #80

Sometimes a Hero

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 striking portrait of White Lightning by Carlo Barberi and Wayne Faucher! It is a pretty funny cover, and I am glad that it reflects the reality that Bart currently is not Impulse (although it would have better had he been wearing street clothes). On a personal note, three years ago I won a ticket to Salt Lake Comic Con and was able to have Barberi sign this cover. I had just started collecting Impulse at the time and had mistakingly believed this was the first Impulse cover he drew. In any case, it is neat to have been able to meet someone who drew my favorite character.

Our story begins with a one-page recap of all the trauma Bart experienced the past few weeks, emphasizing how much happier he is now that he's given up being Impulse.

We then head to Bart's house, where he, Preston and Mike are waiting for Rolly. Preston again admonishes Bart to stop fiddling with Carol's necklace, since it only makes him sad. And Mike encourages Bart to look forward to their monster truck rally later that night. Rolly eventually arrives, distributing copies of their Impulse movie. But as he hands Bart his VHS, Rolly tells him about the strange scene he discovered, where Bart suddenly disappeared and was replaced with the real Impulse. Bart tries to explain this by saying that Impulse must have been moving so fast that it tricked the camera. Rolly seems doubtful, and as he ponders this, Evil Eye rides up on a Razor scooter. He starts making fun of everybody, but suddenly stops when he sees Bart holding the broken heart necklace.

Later, Matt Ringer and Helen Claiborne are having a deep conversation in her kitchen until they're interrupted by Mike and Bart, excitedly asking if it's time to go to the monster truck rally yet. Helen tells the boys they have to wait for Max to finish his work first. Bart immediately starts to say that Max doesn't work, but he catches himself when he realizes what Helen is actually referring to. Helen then tries to talk to Mike, commenting on how his dad must know him really well to have come up with this monster truck idea. But Mike's attitude suddenly darkens. He hangs his head, barely mutters a reply, then hastily drags Bart outside to play with Dox. Helen apologizes to Matt, saying his son just doesn't seem to like her. But Matt says that Mike is mad at him, not Helen.

Helen then checks in on Max, who is having a very intense Speed Force meditation session. Helen tells him it's time for the monster truck rally, but Max says something's come up and she needs to go in his stead. While he's talking with her, he continues his conversation with Johnny Quick and Barry Allen, assuring Barry that he taught both him and Bart to be careful. With that, Max suddenly zooms out of the room to face this mysterious threat.

So Helen heads to the rally with Matt, Mike and Bart, even though she doesn't like monster trucks. Bart was picturing monster trucks to be a bit more like King Kong scaling the Empire State Building, but he's still pretty happy with the real things. Helen suggests the boys run — er, walk — to get some snacks, and Matt offers Mike some money, but Mike coldly turns him down. Bart's image of a monster truck climbing a skyscraper turns to a giant Mike snarling and swiping at airplanes. As he and Mike head off to get the snacks, Bart asks him why he's so hard on his dad. Helen asks Matt the same question, so the two Ringers simultaneously tell their story separately.

Matt met his wife, Grace, in college, while he was a pre-med student in the ROTC. After they were married and had Mike, Matt was sent to Sarajevo as a paramedic. But the horrors of war convinced Matt to change careers when he got back home. So he took over his dad's business in construction, excavation and demolition. One day, when Mike was about 4 or 5, Grace decided to sneak up and surprise her husband. But Matt had laid out some explosives to remove a couple of boulders, and he wasn't able to warn Grace fast enough. Matt lost the hearing in his right ear because of the blast, but worst of all, he and his young son watched their wife and mother die. And now, even 10 years later, Mike still blames his dad for giving up his medical training, believing that he would have been able to save his mom had he still been a paramedic. So Mike deeply resents his father's attempts at connecting to him.

Neither Bart nor Helen know what to say after hearing this story, but they're all soon wrapped up in the rally and have a great time. At the end, the driver of the Equalizer, Andy Hartner (who looks a lot like Carlo Barberi) is presented with a suitcase of $200,000 in cash. Suddenly, White Lightning flies in on a rope and takes the prize money. When Hartner tries to stop her, she uses her psychic powers to turn him into an agreeable, drooling lovestruck fool. White Lightning then grabs the microphone and instructs the crowd to hand over their wallets and purses to her squad of teenage boys. Bart remembers his previous encounter with White Lightning, where she angelically swore to a path of righteousness. Now Bart is furious to see she lied to him.

Whispering, Helen says she hates to ask, but she wonders if Bart is going to do something. Bart tells Helen how White Lightning lied to him, and he admits that when he quit being Impulse, he thought there wouldn't be trouble anymore, and — referring to Carol — maybe things wouldn't hurt anymore. Helen tenderly tells Bart that life is full of hard stuff for superheroes and regular kids alike. But everyone has to learn from the difficult things they face and then do the best with what they've got. As she tells Bart this, she takes his hand in hers, showing that even though Bart has given up being Impulse, he's still wearing his Impulse ring.

While this heart-warming conversation is happening, all around them is pandemonium with White Lightning's boys robbing the crowd. One of them gets a bit too rough with a middle-aged woman, who doesn't want to give up her purse because it has pictures of her granddaughter in it. The commotion causes the woman to clutch at her chest and collapse in the stands. Matt immediately rushes in, shoving the teenage boy aside, saying the woman is having a heart attack. He takes control of the situation, tending to the woman while ordering someone to call 911 and request an ambulance. Mike's jaw drops to see a side of his dad he thought was long gone.

Helen asks Bart if he wants to call the ambulance, but he tells her to do it, saying he has something else he needs to do. Bart pops open his ring, and becomes Impulse once again. He makes quick work of White Lightning's boys before confronting her for breaking her promise. White Lightning turns her charms on Impulse, telling him that she really did try to be good, but it didn't work and her mom is still in jail, so she needs the money to get her out. Impulse starts to agree, but he's able to shake off White Lightning's powers and quickly ties her up. He tells her that good things do happen to you when you do good, but sometimes you have to work a little harder and be a little more patient.

White Lightning is taken away by female police officers, and Bart quickly changes back to civilian clothes and rejoins Helen, Matt and Mike. Bart excitedly asks them if they saw Impulse, but Mike is too busy congratulating his dad for performing CPR and saving that woman's life. Helen, though, makes sure to tell Bart that she was really glad that Impulse showed up. When they get home, they find Max waiting for them, and Bart enthusiastically tells him all about Matt's heroism, combined with Helen's inspiring words that convinced him to become Impulse again. Helen asks Max where he went to, but he chooses to let Bart have the night, saying he'll explain everything later. Meanwhile, Evil Eye is trying to sleep, still thinking about the necklace Bart's always carrying. Suddenly, he remembers where he saw that necklace before.

Impulse is back! And I was really happy with how it happened. It wasn't a huge, planet-threatening event. Just a simple robbery, combined with some encouraging words and an example of heroism. I liked how Helen didn't pressure Bart to become Impulse, giving him the opportunity to still be a hero by calling 911. But Bart realized on his own that no matter how bad he felt being Impulse lately, he'd feel a lot worse knowing he had his powers and didn't use them to help people. I think it was natural of Bart to walk away from being Impulse like he did, and I feel he spent an appropriate amount of time away. Now, as for Young Justice, I think it's best for Bart to continue to keep his distance for a little bit. They weren't particularly understanding of his feelings, so I could see Bart letting things cool down a bit more before coming back.

This issue also started planting seeds for a new, mysterious threat involving Max Mercury, which could be good because I'm craving a legitimate villain now. Bart's friends are also slowly figuring out that he's Impulse, which is pretty fun. But at the end of the day, I don't think it matters that much. I've always had the impression that half the adults of Manchester, Alabama, already know Bart's secret identity. I'm also enjoying the relationship between Helen and Matt. It would be nice to see them get married, and it would throw a new dynamic in Bart's "family" life. Would he live with Helen and Matt and Mike as his "brother"? Or would Bart have to go back to living with Max alone? Sadly, I know we're not going to get to ask those questions.

Impulsive Reactions begins with Corndog7 praising the cover of Impulse #77 for being funny, despite the situation it conveyed. He liked the part when Bart created his first scout in front of his teammates and admitted it's a little weird. Corndog7 hopes Bart doesn't retire after this accident, but he does hope it took away his new power, believing it had too much potential to be overused.

Hawkman thought issue #77 was very funny, and he liked how Wonder Girl told off Superboy. He asks a question about Flash: Our Worlds at War #1, in which Wally tells Linda that Bart is "gone."

Brentac explains that Wally was talking about Bart and Young Justice being stranded on Apokolips, and how nobody knew they went there.

JLAmember believes Wally may have received partial word of Bart's whereabouts, curtesy of garbled messages due to the war. JLAmember also says issue #77 was funny, exciting and powerful — everything you'd want from a comic book.

SNW21 explains in further detail that Young Justice's mission was to go to the moon to rescue the Suicide Squad, but then they went to Apokolips without telling anyone, leading Wally to believe they had gone missing. But apparently Linda was more hopeful than Wally, reminding him how he and Jay have both disappeared during similar crises, yet managed to find their way back home. SNW21 also points out that at this point in time, Wally is unaware of Bart's new power, which could also explain why he thinks Bart died.

BartAllen12 says the last couple of pages in issue #77 hit him hard. He believes Bart lost a part of his soul after watching one of his copies be killed. BartAllen12 also believes that word initially spread that Impulse died on Apokolips, but not everyone realized it was just his scout.

TitanBoy is curious to see how Bart will handle losing another part of himself after going through a really tough separation from Carol. He pleads with Todd Dezago to give Bart a little break, considering the emotional abuse he's taken the past few months. But TitanBoy does credit Dezago and Carlo Barberi for creating a run to rival that of Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos.

Scott Redding enjoyed Dezago's handling of Superboy and Wonder Girl, saying it was an accurate depiction from what Peter David had established in Young Justice. But he does wonder why Cissie would be so willing to put Parademons' lives in danger since she quit being Arrowette after she nearly killed two men. Now for the new ads:

The next level of fruitensity. Jolly Rancher gel snacks.

Go ahead, knock yourself out. Prehistorik Man, Planet Monsters and Kao the Kangaroo for Game Boy Advance.

Wear the watch that's also a game. Timex Power Fighter.

Sour Punch Straws. The official candy of ogres everywhere! Shrek on video and DVD.

Spyro: Season of Ice for Game Boy Advance.

Boxing Fever for Game Boy Advance.

Four(!) separate one-page ads for Magic: The Gathering Academy.

No Rules Get Phat for Game Boy Advance.

Win free Tiger toys from Lunchables.

Justice League premieres November 17 on Cartoon Network. (Without Impulse! Sorry, I'll never get over that!)

Casper: Spirit Dimensions for PlayStation 2.

Well, that was the one and only comic Impulse appeared in with a January 2002 publication date. Luckily, things will pick up next month, beginning with a flashback Christmas special in Young Justice #40.