Friday, August 22, 2014

Impulse #6

Secret Identity

Mark Waid Writer
Humberto Ramos Pencils
Wayne Faucher Inks
Chris Eliopoulos Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
Alisande Morales Assistant Editor
Brian Augustyn Editor
Special thanks to Joyce Porter, E.T. Richardson Middle School
Impulse created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo

The cover by Ramos and Faucher shows Impulse, his friend Preston, and a ... monster?! This is a pretty exciting and intense cover, but as we'll soon find out, the real monster might not be who we expect. Joyce Porter, who was thanked in the credits, is a child abuse advocate. So we're entering a very special issue of Impulse, but I promise you, it's not cheesy at all!

Our story begins in the office of Assistant Principal Randall Sheridan, who is speaking with Preston Lindsay. Mr. Sheridan notes that Preston has come to school quite often looking a little scuffed up, but Preston simply says he fell. Mr. Sheridan tells him his teachers are concerned, and they can help with any problems he has at home, but only if someone can verify the situation. Preston insists there's no situation and leaves.

Up next is Bart Allen, whose pencil is on fire because he's finishing his homework. Mr. Sheridan overlooks this bit of absurdity to ask him to hang a little closer to Preston. At first, Bart thinks Mr. Sheridan is just trying to get him to make more friends, but he explains that Preston is going through some tough times and he wants Bart to keep an eye out for anything weird.

So Bart goes out to the swamp with Preston to try to catch some swamp lights and monsters on film. Preston has big plans to film a movie and go to Hollywood and be loved by the whole world. He asks Bart what his dreams are, but all Bart can think about is smashing a pie into Max's face. Suddenly a pair of bright lights spook the kids, and Preston decides to protect Bart by pushing him off their rowboat.

When Bart emerges from the water, Preston is gone, so Bart turns into Impulse to find him. He runs into a bunch of snakes, and politely asks them, "Do you mind? I'm trying to think." He then runs into Preston's dad, who's looking for him with a flashlight and is very angry. Bart soon finds Preston, and takes off his Impulse outfit to join him. When Preston's dad finds them, he yells at Preston for disobeying his mom's instruction to get home before dark, and he tells his son he'll get it when they get home. Bart and Preston load up in the back of his truck, and once they get home, Preston's mom tells him that she warned him about making his father angry and now he has to take his punishment.

The next day, Bart is training with Max, by having him throw a bunch of weapons Bart must vibrate through. But Bart's distracted by Preston's problems, and he asks Max why a kid should be so afraid of a grownup. Max says it sounds like life if unfair for Preston — if, indeed, what Bart thought he saw was what was really happening. Max warns him he could destroy a family with a false accusation, and all he really saw was a boy being threatened with punishment for breaking his curfew. Bart complains that Max is giving him too much to think about, so he tells him to make sure Mr. Lindsay is guilty before accusing him of anything — even if that means keeping an eye on Preston day and night. Bart worries about seeing something as Impulse, which would expose his secret identity. All Max can say is they have to hope it doesn't come to that.

The next day, Bart pays attention to Preston getting dressed in gym class, and he is quite worried by what he sees. At lunch, Bart realizes Preston's missing, and Carol tells him he's cutting the rest of the day. Apparently he said something about doing anything to complete his movie after what he went through last night. So Bart quickly runs off to find him.

We see Preston running through the swamp with his camcorder, being chased by the monster on the cover. Impulse arrives just in the nick of time to push the monster away from Preston, and he tells him to go home. But Preston says he can't go back to what's waiting for him. The monster then retaliates, so Impulse takes advantage of the many snakes in the swamp and throws a bunch on the monster. He then grabs a large branch to continue to battle the beast, when he's interrupted by a man asking him to leave his son alone.

The man explains that his son, Hector, suffers from a severe case of acromegaly, which causes him to grow uncontrollably. The doctors don't expect him to live more than a year, and they just want to keep living quietly in the swamp. Impulse tells him he should warn people, since everybody thinks Hector is a monster. But the man kind of likes that idea, since it keeps people away and allows him to provide his son with the love he — and all other sons — deserve.

Impulse then decides to pay Preston's dad, Tom. He catches him right before he enters his house and tells him to leave Preston alone. Tom brushes him off, but Impulse is adamant, saying he's protecting Preston from a monster. Again Tom tries to laugh him off and enters his house with Impulse trying to hold him back. When he opens the door, he finds his wife beating Preston, yelling at him for threatening their family happiness. Tom is just as shocked as Impulse, who quickly runs away. Tom stops the beating and embraces Preston.

The next day, Bart decides to tell Mr. Sheridan what he saw, even though doing so would expose his secret identity. But when he enters his office, he sees Preston is already in there with a police officer and a social worker. Bart waits outside for him, who later tells him he'll be staying in school and can still live with his dad, although he'll be receiving some counseling. Preston says his dad always just left the punishment to his mom, and never realized how bad it got. His mom, meanwhile, has been placed under observation in a social services house, and Preston is allowed to see her on weekends. Bart asks him if that's what he wants, and Preston says his mom is still his mom and he just wants her to get some help. Bart then returns Preston's camera, which he thought was lost forever in the swamp. Preston's dad comes to pick him up, and Preston decides to let Bart keep the camera. Bart records Preston walking away arm-in-arm with his dad, and says, "Cool."


What a powerful issue. My recap can't do this issue justice. The silent page of Impulse and Tom walking in on the beating is stunning. Tears are steaming down Preston's face, and Humberto Ramos did a fabulous job with everybody's expressions. Watching a parent beat her child was more terrifying than almost any other comic book super villain. And I never felt Mark Waid got too heavy-handed with this story. I think he did a marvelous job of showing how real and common child abuse can be, while also teaching that things aren't always as they appear. This is the power of comics — taking a fun, goofy kid like Impulse and using him to deliver an important message.

Well, that's all I can say about this amazing issue. Let's see what the letter writers have to say about Impulse #3.

Andrew Joseph, of Islington, Ontario, said he's been reading comics for 24 years, and this is the first time he's had a desire to communicate with the creators. He loved how Impulse took care of the bullies, and he also loved the artwork, saying it's similar to Japanese manga.

Mike Aragona, of Montreal, said he laughed so much at the issue that he lost track of time and was late for work. He said Waid's writing is top-notch and Ramos and Faucher create simple, yet highly effective visuals. Mike said Bart's view of the world is so uncomplicated that it makes the reactions of this around him seem so much more off-the-wall.

Jeremy Grossman, of Indianapolis, said he likes Bart Allen's cocky, yet quiet attitude. He also said he likes seeing a superhero live through a day of public schooling, which was more entertaining with Impulse than Robin, who plays the part of "cool wuss" and the girl-crazy Superboy. Jeremy also asks for the return of the black boy only known as "Lardo," feeling someone with emotion will help bring out the dialogue in the book.

Charles Skaggs, of Columbus, Ohio, said Waid created a wonderful self-contained story, which he calls a true rarity in comics today. He also points out the character named XS in the Legion of Super-heroes, who is Bart's cousin, and he asks if we'll ever have a family reunion. Editor Brian Augustyn confirms such a reunion, saying XS will show up in issue #9. Now on to the ads:

There are some days you'll never forget. Bon Jovi (These Days). The new album featuring the hit single "This Ain't a Love Song" in stores now!

The chase is on. Capture DC villains and uncover a new secret message. DC Villains trading cards.

So big. So fast. So close to home. Wherever you are — there's a Six Flags near you. I have been to the Six Flags in Los Angeles twice, and I really enjoyed it both times. They have some amazing roller coasters, although it's not a complete, well-rounded theme park like Disneyland.

Can you match the meal with the fit of the jeans? The food: Sloppy Joe, peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a hotdog. The jeans: Classic 505, Relaxed 550, Loose 560. Levi's.

Playoff football cards. Pigskin included. This ad shows a picture of a pig, which is pretty funny, I guess, but this is the same football card company that repeatedly runs ads without pictures of football players or even football cards.

Next time, we begin October 1995 with The New Titans #126.

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