Sunday, October 5, 2014

Impulse #13

Water Rat

Mark Waid – Writer
Humberto Ramos – Pencils
Wayne Faucher – Inks
Chris Eliopoulos – Letters
Tom McCraw – Colors
Alisande Morales – Assistant Editor
Ruben Diaz – Associate Editor
Brian Augustyn – Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo

The cover by Ramos and Faucher shows Impulse saving the chubby black kid we've only known as "Tubby" at this point. It's another striking cover with bold colors, and it gets extra points from me since it portrays a scene that actually happens inside.

This issue was delayed a month as Ramos recuperated from the big Dead Heat crossover. I always hate having my comics delayed, but I am happy to see Ramos' art here instead of a guest artist's. And one fun side effect of the delay puts Impulse #13 and Flash #113 in the same month. And that "plus 100" symmetry will follow the two titles for quite some time.

Our story begins with Bart Allen's popularity soaring to new heights at Manchester Junior High. Not only has he established himself as a reckless daredevil and the kid who beat the entire school in a fight, but now he's added rock star to the list. One boy, in particular, takes notice to this recent development and begins following Bart around. This is the chubby black kid from the cover, and his name is Roland. He's derisively called Water Rat by some kids, who routinely tease him by saying he causes earthquakes and sucks other people into his gravitational pull. So someone like Roland would naturally want to be a little more like Bart.

Bart eventually notices Roland following him, and when confronted, all Roland can say is, "How do you do it?" Bart, who's rather annoyed at being so popular, has no idea what Roland's talking about. He's then approached by a couple of skateboarders who want him to attempt a dangerous chicken run — skateboarding down the side of a cliff and across the busy Highway 45. Bart declines, but then he begins to worry about Roland. Carol mistakingly believes Bart is reconsidering the stunt, and she begins to give him another stern lecture. Carol then gives Bart a heart attack by saying, "I know who you really are, Bart Allen."

Luckily, she was only talking about his tendency to show off, and not his secret identity as Impulse. Carol then confuses Bart with some colloquialisms about swimming with big fish and getting too big for his britches. Bart says he can't swim, and he even wonders which language Carol is speaking. Max tries to explains Carol's concerns to Bart and he encourages him to keep an eye on Roland.

Sure enough, Max was right. Roland attempts to skate across the highway that night, and almost gets hit by a big semi-truck, just like on the cover. Luckily, Impulse was able to save him so quickly that nobody even saw the speedster. The skateboarders start to proclaim Roland cooler than Bart, who gets excited at the prospect of taking a vacation from being Mr. Popular. But then the "cool" kids begin challenging Roland to more dangerous stunts.

First on the list is a visit to Old Man Johnson's. Apparently the old man's son was a big-time football star, so he erected a statue of his son in front of his house. The skateboarders want Roland to take the football off the statue, but he figures out the hard way that it's attached to the statue. Old Man Johnson then spots Roland and sends his dogs after him. Luckily, Impulse is able to save the day by turning on the sprinklers. The dogs and Old Man Johnson slip in the water, and the skateboarders declare Roland a hero.

This starts a troubling pattern of Roland hanging out with Deke Ralston and his rowdy crew. Roland steals a flag from the top of a flagpole, takes some underwear from the girls locker room and attempts some dangerous jumps on his bike. Impulse secretly helps Roland through all these dares, and grows increasingly frustrated with Roland's rash behavior. Bart goes home to complain to Max, who's reading the Manchester Herald with the headline: "Faucher, the man!" Bart tells Max all about Roland's impulsive behavior, and Max can only say, "Maddening, isn't it?"

At school, Roland starts to think he's hot stuff, even calling Bart the formerly most popular kid in school. Roland's new "friends" have convinced him to cross the Devil's Thrasher — a slippery, mossy log stretching over a raging river full of sharp rocks. Bart tries to talk him out of it, but Roland brushes him off as being jealous. So Bart decides to try to help Roland — but not as Impulse this time.

Bart tries to show Roland how dangerous this latest stunt is, and he tells him that his luck can't hold forever. Bart even thinks that Impulse wouldn't be able to cross that log. But Roland follows the advice of the other kids and starts to cross the log. But when he gets halfway across, he realizes how stupid this is, and that even the great Deke Ralston is too scared to attempt it. So Roland turns around to come back, but he slips and falls into the river.

Bart jumps in without thinking, only to realize that neither he nor Roland can swim. Luckily, the two boys are able to keep afloat just long enough for Bart to surreptitiously use his super speed to whip up a whirlpool to sweep them to the shore. Roland admits those kids are jerks and Bart gains a new friend.

Unfortunately, news spreads of Bart saving Roland, and he gets a big headline on the Manchester Jr. High Sentinel, which quotes him as saying, "Why don't you all just pretend I'm not here and leave me alone?" Max explains to Bart that the point of a secret identity is to draw attention away from himself, and Bart vaguely remembers Carol's words of warning about forgetting the little people in his life.

So this was a nice, slightly lighter issue of Impulse. Continuing to put Bart on the opposite end of impulsive people is always wonderful. And this issue taught a good lesson about peer pressure. And Roland is going to be a great friend of Bart's throughout the series. I do, however, have to call out the usual spot-on Tom McCraw. He made a slight mistake in Impulse #12 — forgetting to color Impulse's face in one small panel — and in this issue he made one big mistake by making Roland a white kid, then correcting the problem on the same page.

Mike Aragona, of Montreal, praises Humberto Ramos' brilliant execution of the emotion in Impulse #10. He said he really felt Bart's pain and anguish, and loved the ending of Max only saying, "Ah."

Victoria Lund, of Barnsloswick, England, calls issue #10 the best issue of Impulse so far. She says it works well as part of the Dead Heat crossover and as an individual issue, showing great insight into Bart as a normal teenager.

Jeff Clifford, of Vacaville, Calif., calls Impulse the freshest character in comics in a long time. He said he was happy to see the Russian speedster die, saying eliminating "miscellaneous speedsters" helps make the Flash family more special. He also asks for the Atom to guest star in Impulse.

Doud Ohmer, of Covington, Ky., loved how Impulse #10 showed for the first time how much Bart cares. He also lists Johnny Quick as his least favorite speedster, hoping he'll be the one to die, and he wishes XS had a bigger role.

Brian C. Grindrod, of Montreal, calls Impulse a nice diversion from all the darker comic book titles. He says Mark Waid knows exactly how to write a teenage boy and Humberto Ramos can perfectly visualize Waid's writing with his great facial expressions.

Amy Kazmirek, of Flint, Mich., compliments the intense, red cover of Impulse #10, and editor Brian Augustyn explains that Patrick Martin usually colors all the colors under the supervision of cover editor Curtis King, assistant cover editor John Wren and color expert Mark Chiarello. I don't think I'll ever understand why so many people are required to make a cover, but all the Impulse covers have looked really great lately, so I guess it's worth it.

David Winterhelt, of Pasadena, Calif., guesses/hopes that Jesse Quick will be the one to die in Dead Heat, but her dad died instead. Now on to the ads:

The world is simple. There's good. There's evil. And there's Batman: Black and White. I've read a handful of these stories and some of them are good. And some of them are ... well, let's not say evil, just not good.

Catwoman: The Catfile and Superman/Batman: Alternate Histories sharing the same page.

A blast from the past! Wonder Woman by John Byrne.

Cool. Starman. James Robinson, Tony Harris, Wade Von Grawbadger.

Watch This Space. It talks about a few random things such as Bob Kane consulting on the new Batman & Robin movie. It teases Kingdom Come by Alex Ross and Mark Waid. It also sadly announces the departure of editor Brian Augustyn, who has overseen every Flash and Impulse issue we've seen on this blog so far. He'll still stick around for a while as a freelance writer, but I will miss his humorous answers in the letter column.

Impulse doesn't make any guest appearances in May 1996, so we'll keep it here for June. Next issue: Straight from the pages of Underworld Unleashed comes the Trickster, intent on separating an ancient jeweled cross from the University exhibit that brings it to Manchester. But can he get to it before White Lightning strikes?! And what about Lord Manny the first and Blott? Join Mark, Wayne, Tom, Chris, Ali and Brian in welcoming guest penciller Anthony (Fate) Williams, who fills in for the vacationing Humberto Ramos. Anthony's doing killer work on his two issues, and Humberto returns with issue #16, so fear not, faithful ones!

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