Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Impulse #16

Running from the Past

Mark Waid Story
Humberto Ramos Pencils
Wayne Faucher Inks
Chris Eliopoulos Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
Outgoing associate and editor Ruben Diaz and Brian Augustyn welcome new kings of speed Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt and Paul Kupperberg
Impulse created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo

It is pretty sad to see the great editorial team leave, but it is wonderful to get back on track with Ramos drawing Impulse again. And we're treated to another solid cover by Ramos and Faucher, showing us that this will be a special Max Mercury issue. It's good for Impulse to take the back seat every now and then, especially when we're in Waid's competent hands.

Our story begins with a flashback. We see Max and Bart move into their Manchester house, and Bart is overly eager to unpack at super speed, but Max holds him back. Their moving boxes also had some labels — Humberto's Pencils, for one — and one called Bart's Cool Stuff. I'm not exactly what possessions Bart had with him, coming so soon after arriving from the 30th century, but that doesn't really matter. The flashback continues to show Max meeting Helen Claiborne, and Bart trying desperately to get the two dating, but Max continued to keep his distance. Until now.

We catch up with the end of Impulse #15, with Helen being abused by her ex-husband, Jim. Max slams Jim into the wall, shouting, "Take your hands off my daughter!" Bart and Helen are equally surprised by this, and Max, finding it difficult to explain, quickly runs away. Bart can't help himself from commenting on Max running faster than he's ever seen. He then realizes that he basically told Helen that Max is a superhero, and he tries to cover his tracks. But the more he says, the more he reveals, ultimately telling Helen that he, too, is a superhero.

We then get an extended flashback of Max back in 1947. While battling the evil Dr. Morlo, Max inhaled some mustard gas. He was taken to the house of Dr. David Claiborne, where he and his wife, Laura, watched after Max while he was in a nine-week coma. And even after Max wakes up, he's in such a bad shape, David has him stay in the house for a few more months until he's fully healed.

As time passes, Max begins to form a friendly relationship with Laura. He tells her about his time-traveling past, which means he has no friends or family. He points out how similar he is to Laura, who has no life outside the house and has a very distant husband. Max asks Laura if she loves David, and all she can say is, "He's my husband."

Back in 1996, Helen tells Bart that she has noticed a lot of odd behavior around him, but never gave it too much thought. Luckily, Bart is able to change the subject to Helen's abusive ex-husband. Helen insists she's fine, and says this has happened before, which is why she has a restraining order against Jim. The police arrive and take Jim away, while Helen, like Max, reflects on her past mistakes.

We return to 1948, where Max offers to take David fishing. But David, the only doctor in Manchester, says he's too busy. Max points out how often Laura is left alone while David is working, and David says Laura can handle it and that she knew what she was getting when she married him. Max asks David if he loves Laura, and all he can say is, "She's my wife."

Late one night, Max and Laura go up to the roof to gaze at the stars — the one constant in all his time-traveling. Laura tells Max she's longed wished for an escape from her loneliness. One thing leads to another, and Max and Laura make love. David walks in on them and weeps, saying, "She's my wife ..." Laura runs to David's side, and Max runs far, far away. He runs so fast, he jumps ahead to 1957.

The current-day Max is still running, still shedding bitter tears. Bart manages to catch up to him, having followed the scorched footprints — although he is a bit out of breath. Bart tells Max he let slip  the fact he and Max are superheroes, but he's willing to take responsibility. Max finally stops running and tells Bart he'll talk to Helen.

So Max sits down on a couch with Helen and tells her everything. He says when he finally got the nerve to look up Laura again, he found she had already died, but was survived by a daughter. So when the opportunity to relocate Bart came along, he chose Manchester in order to be closer to Helen. But Helen is quite upset that Max never said anything of this before, and even let her flirt with him. The distraught Helen tells Max she won't reveal his or Bart's secret identity, then she tells Max to leave.

But before he opens the door, Helen tells Max that he was the smile that occasionally appeared on her mom's face. David left Laura when Helen was very young, and Helen never remarried. She was often very sad, but every now and then would look at the stars and smile. Helen says she's glad to finally know the whole story. And this story ends with Max taking Helen outside to stargaze, while Bart watches from a distance.

Aaahh ... it's so nice to get back to the great team of Waid and Ramos. The emotion of this issue would have fallen flat in lesser hands. And it's so great to have the payoff on Max's mysterious background, which Waid has been teasing to pretty much the whole series. But, as wonderful as it was to have the focus on Max, I do have to say that I do not approve of his actions here. Under no circumstances is it appropriate to sleep with another man's wife. And running away/avoiding this problem for a lifetime, with or without time travel, is not good, either. But I applaud Mark Waid for giving us a flawed character. Max became more human with this issue, and more interesting.

Our first letter is a goodbye from Brian Augustyn, titled, "Family man loses mind — quits secure job." He basically says he's stepping down as a DC editor after eight years so he can spend more time with his two daughters. But he doesn't entirely say goodbye from DC, as he transitions into a freelance writer role, with one of his jobs co-writing The Flash with Mark Waid. I will miss Augustyn's great responses to letters, but I am looking forward to his run on The Flash.

Randall Kirby, of Ontario, Ore., simply says Impulse #12 was one of the best comics he's read in a while and he bought three issues of it.

Eric Gapstur, of Belle Plane, Iowa, said he used to be a Marvel fan until they started changing Spider-Man and Wolverine too much. So he picked up a copy of Impulse #8, and has since switched his allegiance to DC.

Adam Austen, of London, liked everything about issue #12, and wept at the departure of Jenni Ognats. He says the only bad thing about Impulse is that he has to wait 30 days for the next issue.

Melani Nazelrod, of Riverton, N.J., identifies herself as a 15-year-old girl. She calls Mark Waid an inspiration and Humberto Ramos the best and most original artist in the comic book industry. She begs for an Impulse cartoon, asks for Bart to visit Jenni in the future, and requests a Max Mercury miniseries.

Jason Domingo, of Montreal, identifies himself as a 13-year-old boy, and he says Impulse is one of the best things to have happened to his comics collection in a long time. The first thing that attracted him was Ramos' manga-style pencils, but he was also excited to see Waid writing it, since he creates realistic teenager situations. Jason expresses concern that Ramos will be pulled away from Impulse by Marvel (which is essentially what happened). Jason also asks if the character named Mercury in JLX #1 is the Amalgam version of Impulse. Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt confirms this, and I hate to admit this, but I've never heard about this. None of the comic book databases included this version of Impulse in my searches, but now as I look at the cover of this Justice League X-Men book, I see what is clearly Impulse, only with silver hair. So I apologize for the gap in my efforts to review every Bart Allen appearance in chronological order. I will acquire and review the two issues this Mercury (Pietro Allen) appears in as soon as possible. Now for the ads:

They told her to get a life. They didn't say whose. Supergirl by Peter David, Gary Frank, Cam Smith.

The world's greatest heroes. Only in their dreams! Justice League: A Midsummer's Nightmare by Mark Waid, Fabian Nicieza, Jeff Johnson, Darick Robertson, Jon Holdredge, Hanibal Rodriguez.

Gotham barely survived Contagion. Can the world bear its Legacy? Detective Comics #700 by Chuck Dixon, Graham Nolan, Scott Hanna.

A rather odd ad explaining the recently announced DC line of science fiction titles now has to be called Helix, probably for legal reasons. I don't know and I don't care.

Legends of the Dead Earth. Azrael Annual #2 and Superboy Annual #3.

The Phantom trading cards. Disappearing from shelves everywhere this summer.

Next time ... well, depending on how long it takes for JLX #1 to arrive, it could be that DC/Marvel team-up, or it could be Impulse #17.

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