Sunday, August 17, 2014

Impulse #5

Lightning Strikes

Mark Waid – Story
Humberto Ramos Pencils
Wayne Faucher Inks
Chris Eliopoulos Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
Alisande Morales Assisstant Editor
Ruben Diaz Associate Editor
Brian Augustyn – Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo

This cover is a direct continuation of how Impulse #4 ended, with the exception of Bart wearing his Impulse outfit. But since this is the cover, I'll accept that. I'll also accept the speech bubble on the cover — a practice I usually frown upon. But in this case, Impulse calmly saying, "Cool," is absolutely perfect for the situation.

Our story begins with Bart driving Matt's dad's car off a cliff. He was trying to chase after White Lightning, but figured out the hard way that he doesn't know how to drive. Matt has a panic attack and passes out. And although Bart did catch a glimpse of Max earlier, Max's sudden appearance on the top of the car does startle him.

I just love the facial expressions on that page. Anyway, Bart tells Max this is his fault because he scared him by running alongside him on the road. Max tells Bart to not argue and asks him to help save Matt and the car. The two speedsters hang on the sides of the car and Max tells Bart to pump his legs at super speed to create an air cushion under the car. Bart starts early, which causes the car to spin wildly for a moment, but they soon right it and land safely. Bart offers to drive Matt home, but Max takes that responsibility and sends Bart home, reminding him it is a school night.

The next day, Matt tells everyone at school how he and Bart were driving 110 miles per hour and went flying off a cliff. Nobody believes him, especially since the car didn't get a scratch on it. Matt admits he passed out during the fall, and he asks Bart to corroborate his story. Bart honestly tells everyone he created an air pocket under the car, but everyone assumes he was joking. Bart then eats lunch with Carol, who is still mad at him for running off with White Lightning's gang. Again, Bart tells the truth, saying he was trying to infiltrate the gang. Carol chastises him for lying and tells him to just be himself. Bart says he'd love to, but Max keeps telling him to be somebody else. This only makes Carol angrier, and she leaves.

After school, Bart finds Max in a deep meditative state with eyes glowing and crackling with energy — very similar to what happened to Wally when he got too close to the Speed Force, but in a more controlled environment. Bart sneaks around Max, who then scares the teen again by suddenly speaking to him. Max explains he was probing the Speed Field for ... something ... but nothing that concerns Bart ... yet. Bart's then surprised to see his "uncle" the coach potato reads newspapers from around the world, and he's even more surprised that Max hasn't yelled at him about last night yet. Max admits Bart didn't have a bad plan, and it's a shame he didn't infiltrate White Lightning's gang. But Bart says he did at least see the guys she picked for her job, knowing at least one of them plays "feetball" for the school. So Bart decides to find him after practice and tail him while Max goes on his date with Helen Claiborne.

So Bart follows the football player around, wearing the worst possible disguises on top of his Impulse outfit. But he somehow manages to go unseen all the way to White Lightning's hideout — an isolated cabin in the woods. White Lightning, however, does see the top of Bart's head and recognizes his hair. So Bart quickly, and wisely, ditches the Impulse outfit and poses as an ordinary kid still eager to join the gang. White Lightning is impressed by his gumption and decides to let him tag along, figuring she could use him as a hostage if all else fails.

So White Lightning loads Bart on the motorcycle behind her — even making sure to give him a helmet — and they take off for her big heist. On the way, they briefly talk about Lightning's motivations, and she asks Bart if he has some father figures he'd like to see get smeared. Wally and Max come to mind, but Bart doesn't say anything. They soon arrive at the Minhota Reservation Casino, which happens to be where Max and Helen are.

White Lightning crashes through the window and asks Bart to help her rob the charity. But Bart is mysteriously gone. Suddenly, Impulse arrives on the scene and starts taking out the henchboys. Helen recognizes Impulse from the paper and asks, "Whoever in the world would've expected him to come to the rescue?" Max says, "Certainly not me ..." Impulse then pulls Max aside, proudly showing off how well he's been keeping his secret identity. Max sarcastically calls him a master of disguise, then tells Impulse to take out White Lightning.

A security officer then gets a clean shot at White Lightning's head, but Impulse pulls her out of the way, saving the villain. She ends up on her back at the feet of another guard, who calls her princess. This kind of throws White Lightning for a loop, and she calls the guard daddy. But she quickly recovers, becoming even more violent than before, and shoots the chandelier. Lightning then takes off on her motorcycle, and Impulse asks Max what he should do. Max motions to the crashing chandelier, so Bart protects everyone in the casino, letting Lightning escape.

Impulse then races out to the highway, but he can only find a big semi-truck, not realizing White Lightning is on it with her mother. Lightning tells her mom she thought she saw her dad, but realizes he couldn't be here. The mother-daughter team proceed to carry out their plan of punishing him.

Max goes home that night to find and angry Bart sitting in the dark and scowling. Max tells him his face will freeze that way, and Bart believes him. He then practically asks Max to lecture him for letting White Lightning get away, but Max tells him he did a pretty good job. He had a bit of a plan and no one got hurt. He just needs to accept that sometimes the bad guys get away. But Bart's still skeptical, saying, "You're being nice to me just to keep me off-balance, aren't you?" Max says, "Pretty much. 'Night."

So that concludes Impulse's first adventure with his first super villain. And I guess we can call this a draw. True, Impulse did prevent White Lightning from stealing any money, but she got away, with the promise to return. And since I know the future, I can promise that she will return. I really like the concept of White Lightning, and I want to know more about her backstory. And overall, I really enjoyed this issue. Max making Bart scream is deliciously wonderful. And there's even a certain degree of humor to a skulking Bart sitting in the dark. You just can't take him seriously! Well, with that said, let's get on with the letters.

Phil Rhein, of Manitowoc, Wis., talks about his dissatisfaction of mainstream comics, but grew to like Impulse because of the good art, Mark Waid's writing, and the promise that the title would explore themes of growing up, fitting in and life at school. He then asks a very awkward question about Bart having sex, but Brian Augustyn assures him that Bart is still far too young for anything like that.

Stuart Brynien, of Brooklyn, N.Y., says he didn't like Impulse at first, not wanting Flash to have a sidekick. But then he grew to love the character, and followed him over to his own title. Stuart compares Bart to Tim Drake, saying they both face the same challenges as teenage boys, but Bart is at a considerable disadvantage, having grown up in a virtual reality in the 30th century. He says Bart is great because he is different, and he also praises the Bart-Max relationship.

T. Paul Lehman, of Fort Collins, Colo., reminds us that spoilers were just as common 20 years ago as they are today. He says the announcement of the Impulse title told him that Bart would not die or become the next Flash in Terminal Velocity. But he says he likes Bart's costume, attitude, ability to vibrate through objects, and the fact that he has a secret identity. He then gives a list of very specific requests for how Wally is to make a cameo in the book, as well as Jesse Quick and Superboy, and for Bart to get a pet dog.

Charles Skaggs, of Columbus, Ohio, praises the lightheartedness of the book in the midst of all the other angst-ridden comics. He says he enjoys the innocent brashness of Bart, and likes Max so much he wants him to get his own mini-series. Charles then requests that Bart learn a bit about his grandfather, Barry Allen, and he asks for some clarification on his age. And luckily, Augustyn does provide that clarification, saying Bart is 14 and in the ninth grade. In Alabama (and other states, like my home Utah), grads 7 through 9 are in junior high. So that means a mistake was made in Impulse #2, when Max told Bart he was 15.

Scott Vogt, of Green Bay, Wis., says there is no way he should like Impulse this much, but Waid has accomplished the impossible. Like many of the other letter-writers, Scott was worried Bart would ruin Flash, but the character gradually grew on him. He goes on to praise everything about the book, even calling out inker Wayne Faucher. Like Scott, there is no logical reason for my love of Impulse, but I've embraced it and am here for good. Now on to the ads.

Gotham City's most wanted ... captured on video! The Adventures of Batman & Robin. If you bought two videos, you'd get a free Batman action figure with some stupid extra stuff strapped onto his back.

To face his future, he must destroy the shadows of his past. Nightwing. Four issues of intrigue and action beginning in July. By Dennis O'Neil, Greg Land and Michael Sellers.

Green Arrow #100. Where angels fear to tread. Aiming beyond! Coming in July. Dion, Aparo & Fernandez and Damaggio & Campanella.

The winner and still champion. Wonder Woman. Written & drawn by John Byrne.

A two-page ad for The Adventures of Batman & Robin on Game Gear and Genesis.

For the first time ever! The Justice League Task Force faces their greatest enemy ... themselves. For Genesis and Super Nintendo. This doesn't look anything like the Justice League Task Force Impulse recently visited, but rather the classic Justice League everyone thinks about, including Superman, Batman, the Flash, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Green Arrow.

Next time, we enter the month of September 1995 to find out what Impulse was doing while everybody was out in space in The Darkstars #34.

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