Thursday, August 14, 2014

Impulse #4

Bad Influence

Mark Waid – Story
Humberto Ramos – Pencils
Wayne Faucher and Brad Vancata – Inkers
Chris Eliopoulos – Letterer
Tom McCraw – Colorist
Ali Morales – Assistant Editor
Brian Augustyn – Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo

The cover by Ramos and Faucher is historically significant because it shows the first super villain created specifically for Impulse. Yes, there was a corrupt businessman in the first two issues of Impulse, but he was quite generic and, as far as I know, doesn't ever come back. But White Lightning is the perfect villain for a teenage boy superhero. I mean, how is he supposed to fight a beautiful teenage girl? Well, let's find out.

Our story begins with Bart attempting to acclimate to life in Alabama by watching reruns of the Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle. (Perhaps he was inspired after meeting those Andy Griffith look-alikes in The New Titans Annual #11.)

Max tells Bart to avoid stereotypes, and he changes the channel to public television, which is airing a telethon hosted by Scooter the Funosaur (basically an orange Barney). As our heroes watch the live event, a girl named White Lightning stages an armed robbery with a handful of boys at her side. Impulse quickly arrives at the TV studio and begins to take out the henchboys, but he gets a bit excited with the prospect of being on TV himself, and grabs a camera, calling it an "Impulse cam."

White Lightning tells her boys to run away, and Impulse catches them by rolling Scooter the Funosaur like a log to knock them down. Some of the boys are worried about being grounded, but when they realize they're on TV, they all become excited at the idea of being famous. Impulse thinks they're a bit weird, and one of the cops tries to handcuff Impulse. He says, "Don't you guys have TV news down here, or is it all farm reports? You might have heard of me, y'know: I'm here to help!" He then vibrates out of the cuffs and tries to find Lightning, but she carefully hid herself and managed to escape.

The next day at school, Preston is selling videotapes of the big school-wide brawl that happened last issue. Bart, who's being treated like a movie star, notices Preston has a black eye and asks him if he got it during the fight. Preston hesitates, then says yes, although careful readers will remember that Preston wasn't involved in the fight at all, as he was on the sidelines taping the thing the whole time.

But the talk of school soon shifts to White Lightning, as a nerdy kid with a laptop notices that the super villain is recruiting a new gang over the Internet. Bart doesn't understand why everybody is so excited about a crook. Carol tries to explain the appeal and glory of taking part in her thefts and not getting caught, and she adds that she really admires boys who don't fall for that stuff. As usual, Bart doesn't realize he's being flirted with. Matt Mason, one of the many kids who wanted to beat up Bart yesterday, declares Bart king of the daredevils and a perfect candidate to join White Lightning. His friends agree, adding that Bart is quick and really good-looking — at least, according to their girlfriends. Bart realizes meeting White Lightning will give him a chance to catch her, so he agrees to go with Matt, much to Carol's disappointment.

Bart goes home after school to find Helen Claiborne visiting Max. Turns out, she lives just across the street and still wants to take Max to the Indian reservation. Bart immediately thinks they'll be a great couple, and he interjects himself into their conversation, telling Helen that Max would be thrilled to go out with her. After she leaves, Max glares at Bart, only saying that the situation with Helen is unusual. Nevertheless, Max decides to go on the date anyway, and Bart decides to keep a secret himself by not telling Max about his plans to infiltrate White Lightning's gang.

That night, Bart arrives at the big White Lightning meeting, not realizing that Max was secretly following him. White Lightning picks out all the biggest and toughest boys from the crowd, deeming Bart too small for her crew. She then takes off on her motorcycle, leaving all the leftover junior high kids behind. Bart then suddenly jumps in Matt's dad's fancy car and chases after White Lightning. Matt quickly gets in the car with Bart, and yells at him, but Bart says he thought Matt wanted to follow her, too. Matt then asks Bart if he at least has a license, to which Bart asks, "A license for what?"

Bart drives way too fast and erratically, and doesn't understand that he needs to shift the gears of the car, likely destroying the vehicle. Matt begins to panic and fear for his life, especially when Bart starts heading for a cliff. Bart catches a glimpse of Max out the corner of his eye, and he assures Matt that they'll be OK as the car heads off the ledge.

How about that for a cliffhanger? Literally! This was another fun issue, full of plenty of great moments of Bart at school, plus a fun chess match brewing between Bart and Max. And I am really happy Impulse has a real, original villain to fight. White Lightning doesn't have super speed or strength — just an irresistible appeal to stupid teenage boys. Luckily, Bart is still too young to be interested in girls, so he might have a chance against her — as long as his own stupidity and impulsiveness doesn't get in the way.

Luckily, this is the first Impulse issue with a letters column, so here we go!

Chris Karnes, of Naperville, Ill., says he enjoys the uniqueness of Impulse, and really likes Max Mercury's role in the book. He asks for Iris Allen and Jesse Quick to make guest appearances, and he hopes the book will continue to take advantage of being placed in the South. He also asks for some teen villains and an Impulse crossover with Robin or Superboy.

Shawn Lesser, of Aurora, Colo., praises Impulse as the cure for all the dark and gritty comic book heroes, including many of the teen heroes such as Robin and Damage. Shawn says this title brought back the fun to comics he first experienced when he started reading 25 years ago. He says Bart is much more likable in his own title than he was on Flash, and he enjoys Ramos' cartoony style and ability to make Bart an awkward-looking teenager with big feet. His only request is to keep Bart innocently suffering from the single synapse syndrome.

Rich Hohenrath, of Franklin Square, N.Y., admits he had uncertainties about giving Bart a series of his own, but he instantly fell in love with it after the first issue. He says Waid makes you feel comfortable with his characters, but he also continues to come up with fresh ideas. Rich also praises Ramos' art, especially his ability to draw boyish, realistic expressions. He also says he's excited to learn more about Max and eagerly looks forward to seeing Bart develop and play a role in the Flash mythos.

Jeremy Grossman, of Indianapolis, demands more Impulse stories. He wants more scenes of Bart in school, and would like to see a few girls thrown his way. He also compliments DC for being up to date on current teenage lingo.

Bryan Miller, of Murray, Ky., says Impulse embodies all the great things he's come to look forward to in Waid's writing. He feels Impulse wonderfully carries on the legacy of the growing Flash family, and he says the art is the glue that holds the exciting story together. He also says that Max is the coolest.

Jeff DeMos, of New York, says all young superhero comics are similar in that they deal with a rite of passage and a gradual evolution into responsibility — except for Impulse. Jeff says Bart is victimized by his virtual-reality upbringing, which serves as torture for him, but humor for the reader. He also finds the contrast between Bart and Max to be interesting and promising.

Monica L. Tittle, of Pelham, Ala., thanks DC for putting the series somewhere other than the eastern seaboard, but she does point out that several of the buildings drawn in the background of Manchester actually belong in Birmingham. Monica also admits she didn't like Impulse in Flash, but decided to try this book out just because of Waid. And now she likes it, especially because of Max.

I completely agree with the praise from each letter writer. This Impulse series has been wonderful, which has been huge for me, since The New Titans has become rather lackluster as of late, and Bart hasn't made an appearance in The Flash since issue #100. Anyway, let's get on to the ads.

Judge Dredd the video game for Super Nintendo, Genesis, Game Boy and Game Gear.

The movie event of the year in a spooktacular card set from fleer! Caspar trading cards.

Wimps & wannabe's need not apply. Dungeon & Dragons with an interactive audio CD.

OK. You've had a year to get ready. The Blockbuster World Video Game Championship II. This is a two-page ad for a company that is now virtually nonexistent.

Batman Forever trading cards.

Well, that does it for all the Impulse appearances in comics with a July 1995 publication date. Next time, we enter the month of August with a surprise cameo in Justice League Task Force #26.


  1. This cover confused me since i was 14, when it came out. Who or what is the blue gloved hand grabbing Bart's hair?? the white kid on the left has both his ungloved hands around Bart's bicep. The only explanation is that it was White Lightning's original pose before Ramos put her left hand on her own thigh. I can't be the only one that's noticed this mistake but i've never seen it pointed out before.

    1. You're absolutely right! I can't believe I didn't notice that!