The latest in comic book superheroes -- Fresh action comes from ''Generation X,'' ''Spawn,'' and ''Impulse''

By Ken Tucker
Updated July 14, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

Batman and Judge Dredd have been snapped up by the big screen, but Hollywood and regular grown-ups ought to be aware that there are lots of other superheroes — some old, some new — providing fresh action in comic-book land.

Generation X
A breed of alienated punks, Marvel’s latest X-Men spin-off isn’t a rip-off. Its mutants-in-training range from Chamber, an Englishman with a big, gaseous hole in his chest, to Jubilee, an American who can merely create fireworks — a piddly superpower that leaves her feeling sheepish. They’re young, they’re insecure, they’re cute.

Wonder Woman
After Superman and Batman, Wonder Woman is DC Comics’ most venerable do-gooder. In a clever, revitalizing stroke this year, Mike Deodato Jr. limned a curvy WW to draw in the dewy eyes of young boys, and William Messner-Loebs wrote a strongly feminist story line about WW’s attempt to ”free our enslaved sisters in Patriarch’s world” — i.e., male-dominated earth. But starting in issue #101, WW will be written and illustrated by X-Men vet John Byrne, and his first installment looks like a return to a less political Woman. (Sigh.)

Oh, sure, he may very well be the spawn of aitch-eee-double-hockey-sticks, but he’s basically a very good guy. A recent Spawn story line tackled child abuse more vividly and frighteningly than any well-meaning TV movie.

The best-written superhero in comics is Starman. James Robinson had the marvelous notion to create, in Jack Knight, the son of an aging superhero loath to take over the family business. When the original Starman becomes too old to fight, Jack is pressed into service, and we see the son’s emotions shift and waver. Freudian and excitable, Starman is keen.

On the other hand, the best-drawn superhero book in the land right now is this one, a spin-off of The Flash. A teenager capable of incredible speed, Impulse is an impulsive youth for whom superpowers operate like budding hormones — while growing into a hero, Impulse sometimes runs too fast, or does his homework so quickly, his pencil catches on fire. Impulse is drawn by Humberto Ramos in a cartoony style that owes something to Japanese comics but with homegrown wit.