Crucible: The Final Impact

The !mpact Comics line from DC was never something I ever got into. I think that I may have mentioned this in a previous post, but i picked up the first issue of The Legend of the Shield because of the Captain America pastiche and The Comet for the Tom Lyle artwork, and I wound up with a couple of random issues here and there over the years. But the line never held my interest and didn’t last very long after its 1991 premier, bowing in 1993 with this six-issue miniseries.

I remember seeing Crucible advertised in Direct Currents, the promo magazine that DC published in the early 1990s. This got some sort of feature article with the cover of issue #1 done by Joe Quesada being the chief image. I was a fan of his at the time because he’d done a number of the covers on the Eclipso: The Darkness Within annuals the previous year and was also enjoying his X-Factor work, so this made me take notice. But with so many other books on my pull list (we were, after all, smack in the middle of The Death and Return of Superman and Knightfall/KnightQuest), I didn’t take the chance. But I was always kind of curious as to what the final !mpact story was and when I found it in a cheapie bin at the Baltimore Comic-Con, I snatched up all six issues.

The series opens six months after the last of the !mpact line took place. The Comet, after having ben revealed to be an alien, is now dead, and upon his death, The Crusaders broke up and disappeared into some sort of pocket dimensions or something. Our main character therefore is The Black Hood, and it looks like this is not the original Black Hood, but a teenaged replacement named Nate. He’s being pursued by a mysterious group named The Tomorrow Men, who are using robots employed by The Web (one of the other titles of the line) as enforcers. Their headquarters is a secret place called The Crucible (hence the title), which exists out of time and space–kind of like Vanishing Point in the main DCU. And they’re after some guy named Jordan who has just popped out of nowhere and is the big benefactor of the future and therefore is spoiling their plans.

What does the Black Hood have to do with this? Well, they are using some crystal gem to see the future and there is an as-of-yet-unknown connection between him and Jordan. So they capture him and transport him to some weird dream where he seems to be in rubble that was destroyed by The Comet. But The Comet’s dead! Or is he just hiding in the body of a rookie baseball player. He is. And over the course of issues #2 and 3, we flash forward a year to where the Black Hood is confronting The Comet and then fighting him and then working with him. Meanwhile, the head of the Tomorrow Men, a guy named Ryan, is getting all power hungry and two of the others take matters into their own hands and hire the Black Hood and Comet to work Black ops stuff, although Black Hood has another mission to keep an eye on The Comet.

This eventually leads to weird power plays among The Tomorrow Men, the return of all the !mpact heroes to what I think is supposed to be a big climax, and an epilogue that feels a little forced because this was supposed to be a relaunch of the imprint and not the finale. And since I hadn’t been reading the books to begin with, I wasn’t that invested. And I do wonder if it was originally going to be a longer story but was truncated to six issues, because the ending feels quite rushed. But the story, written by Brian Augustyn and Mark Waid, was entertaining enough, even if Chuck Wojtkiewicz’s art wasn’t to my taste. Don’t get me wrong, it served the story fairly well and was better than most of DC’s half-assed attempts at stylish ’90s artwork, but it still feels like it belongs in one of the Bloodline annual or the second-tier stories in the Showcase revival.

These characters, which had belong to Archie Comics way back in the day and were licensed to DC in the early 1990s, eventually made their way to other companies, including Dynamite (I think), so it’s not like DC is ever going to revive the !mpact line. I know that the books have their fans and I can totally see why; furthermore, if someone put this series or one of the other books in front of me, I wouldn’t object. But !mapct isn’t something I’m going to be seeking out.

Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash?

Sell or Donate.

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