Saturday, August 9, 2014

Impulse #3

How to Win Friends and Influence People

Mark Waid Story
Humberto Ramos Pencils
Wayne Faucher Inks
Eliopoulos – Letterer
McCraw – Colorist
Morales – Assistant
Diaz – Associate
Augustyn – Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo

The cover by Ramos and Faucher gives us a happy Impulse absurdly bobbing and weaving through the middle of a schoolyard fight. This is more or less what happens in the issue, with the exception of Bart wearing his Impulse outfit. But it kind of is required to have Bart dressed as Impulse on the cover. All in all, I rather enjoy this cover — it's light, fun and goofy, which Impulse is all about.

Our story begins with Max Mercury reading the Manchester Journal about someone named Augustyn (a nod to editor Brian Augustyn). Bart begins his day by repeatedly asking Max what his plans for the future are.

But Max refuses to tell Bart what he has in mind for him, only reminding him that his job to teach Bart Allen how to act and think like an ordinary, 20th-century boy. And Bart's assignment today is to make some friends. After trying on about four different outfits, Bart finally gets dressed and heads to Manchester Junior High at 7:58 a.m. He immediately has Encounter One, which is with a couple of bullies demanding students pay a toll to gain access to the hallway. Bart refuses to pay and uses his super speed to sneak around the bullies. They don't quite understand what happened beyond the fact they were duped, so they challenge Bart to meet them behind the bleachers at 3 p.m. Bart thinks this sounds fun, so he agrees.

At 10:03 a.m., Bart has Encounter Two in library class. Mr. Graham has given a pop quiz with three geography questions: What is the unit of currency in France? What are policemen called in Paris? And how tall is the Eiffel Tower? But instead of researching those answers in the library books, Bart decides to go straight to the source. A kid named Hank sees Bart leaving, and when he learns his girlfriend thinks Bart is cute, he decides to rat him out.

In Paris, Impulse helps the gendarmes (policemen) stop a thief named Le Reynard (the Fox) from stealing millions of francs. Having answered two of his questions, Impulse takes a quick detour to the Eiffel Tower to ask a tour guide how tall it is (984 feet). He then returns in school just in time to turn in his report. Mr. Graham thinks Hank was lying, so he gives him a zero. In retaliation, Hank tells Bart he'll cream him at 3 p.m. behind the cafeteria. Bart is reminded of beating up Kobra, which was fun, so he agrees to it.

We then cut to Max at the local library, drinking from a Superman mug. A woman named Dr. Helen Claiborne just happens to bump into him, and although she claims to be conducting serious medical research, she actually has a couple of random books in her arms, including one about snorkeling. She tries to flirt with him, and, noticing that he's reading about Indians, she offers to take him to the reservation outside town. But Max turns her down, saying he's got plans with his nephew.

At 12:37 p.m., Bart has Encounter Seven. We don't see exactly what happened, but it ended with some kid getting drenched by the fire hose and vowing to meet Bart out front by the cannon at 3 p.m. In the cafeteria, Bart lines up behind a chubby black boy, nicknamed Lardo. A kid flips a meatball at Lardo, but Bart pushes Lardo's tray down, protecting the black boy and causing all the food to fall on the kid who flipped the meatball at him. Bart gives Lardo his lunch, then calmly eats some of the food thrown at him in an ensuing food fight. The kid whose meatball attacked backfired also challenges Bart to meet him at 3 p.m. on the baseball diamond.

Preston (the closest thing Bart has to a friend right now) pulls out a video camera to record Bart before he gets killed by half the school. Bart unconcerned about his growing list of after-school fights, and asks Preston if his camera can shoot in 3-D. (That was a ridiculous question in 1995, but not so much in 2014.) Preston tells Bart he asks the weirdest questions, and he explains that after school he wants to try to film the swamp lights at the Morton place. In the meantime, a bunch of girls take a liking to Bart, which only upsets their boyfriends.

At 1:50 p.m., Bart has Encounters Twelve, Thirteen and Fourteen in gym class. Bart (naturally) dominates at dodgeball, and the losing team is forced to run laps. Bart then adds to the losers' humiliation by outrunning them backwards. As with every encounter today, Bart didn't mean to upset or embarrass anybody, it just happened.

Finally it's 3 o'clock, and basically every boy in school has gathered at various places around the building. Bart casually walks by each group, leading them to the football field, which is the only place big enough for the crowd. Pretty soon, the other kids start arguing amongst themselves about who gets to beat up Bart first. Bart, realizing he can't reveal his Impulse identity, abstains from fighting. But all his ducking and dodging only serves to work up all the kids even more, and pretty soon the whole school is fighting each other on the football field, with Preston recording everything from the sidelines. Bart later spots Max in the bleachers, and when Max asks if he's made any friends, Bart says there's always tomorrow.

This was a great standalone issue. Although there were a few little moments scattered throughout that will come into play later on. But the real selling point with this story was the absurdity and goofiness of everything. The whimsical art of Humberto Ramos perfectly matches the humorous insanity of Mark Waid's story. And we got another great look at how poorly equipped Bart is to fit in at junior high. He is completely oblivious to the societal norms of school, nor can he recognize when a bunch of girls are flirting with him. He also doesn't understand the feeling of chaos a food fight, or fist fight, is supposed to create, as both seem to play out in slow motion to him. I really loved the images of Bart calmly walking down the aisle in the middle of the food fight, and idly whistling to himself during the all-school brawl. He just operates outside the norm, and I appreciate Waid for showing this in a fun, rather than angsty way.

We still don't have a letters page, so here are the new ads:

Beware the ultimate evil! Warlock for Super Nintendo and Genesis.

Triumphant returns! Superman: The Man of Tomorrow. The five Superman titles — now the most powerful weekly on Earth!

The heat is on! Hardware and Kobalt by Milestone.

You will see things his way! Parallax View. The resurrection of Hal Jordan. Green Lantern #63-64.

Wonder Woman #100. Fall of an Amazon.

What do you get when you cross Batman and Robin with Two-Face and the Riddler? Batman Forever official comics adaptation.

True Lies. Now a video game blockbuster! On Super Nintendo, Genesis, Game Boy and Game Gear.

Next time, we have to leave the whimsical fun of Impulse and return to the dreary, poorly drawn Crimelord-Syndicate War in The Darkstars #32.

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