Saturday, October 25, 2014

Impulse Annual #1

Speed Force!

Steve Vance Writer
Mike Parobeck Penciller
John Nyberg Inker
Chris Eliopoulos Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
Alisande Morales Assistant Editor
Brian Augustyn Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo

Our cover is by Humberto Ramos and Wayne Faucher. Our Impulse, Bart Allen, is in blue in the top left corner, almost like a guiding spirit to the new Impulse, Trace Wyndham. Unfortunately, Trace has blond hair inside the issue, and the aliens in the bottom right corner also look a bit different and wear clothes. I guess this is what happens when you have a different art team for the cover.

Our story begins with a one-page explanation: Earth is dead. Those who once might have called it home are long scattered to the endless stars. But in that scattering, on a thousand different worlds, by a thousand different ways ... Earth's greatest legends live on.

We open on the planet Mtoncanf, where the restless Trace Wyndham is eager to board a starship and explore the cosmos. But the ruling Dargonian Empire won't let him leave. So Trace rushes past a guard and wreaks havoc in a restricted area. After causing a rather small mess, he's able to escape the aliens, only to be caught by an aging man with red hair and a white robe.

The man introduces himself as Kinnock and reveals he has super speed by zipping Trace over to his secret school miles away. He introduces Trace to his class, a bunch of teenagers with names like Zephyr, Glide, Spark, Fusion and Wisp. They're all practicing martial arts and tell Trace they've joined Kinnock in his fight against the Dragonians. But they don't fight the alien overlords directly, realizing the empire is far too mighty to defeat head-on. Instead, they focus their efforts on making Mtoncanf as inhospitable as possible for the Dragonians by sabotaging with their computers, putting sand in their food and flooding their quarters with insects. The idea is that eventually, the Dragonians will feel like Mtoncanf isn't worth the trouble and will leave. But to Trace's astonishment, Kinnock says he's been practicing his invisible resistance for four years.

Kinnock takes Trace into a secret room and shows him a gold life pod. Kinnock says Trace's parents placed him in it as a baby when their spaceship encountered an emergency and was about to explode. Trace spent years in the pod's stasis tube, growing up in its virtual reality program. Eventually, Trace's pod was picked up by a Dragonian ship headed to Mtoncanf. The aliens didn't care about the boy inside, but Kinnock kept tabs on him and brought him to his school as soon as he could.

Trace initially has a hard time accepting this story, and he tries to leave. But Kinnock prevents him, saying the Dragonians are quite riled up at the moment and would be sure to punish Trace if they saw him again. So Trace reluctantly agrees to stay with Kinnock and help with his invisible resistance, on the condition that Kinnock help him get off the planet.

So Trace begins life at the school, helping out with the gardening and cleaning, feeling all the while like he's a prisoner. Later, Trace complains about not doing any fighting in a month, but Kinnock points out he's only been there two days. Kinnock then teaches Trace how to meditate and tap into the Speed Force. It only takes Trace a minute, and as soon as he does, he runs a couple of miles in half a second. Trace is very excited to learn all about the Speed Force from Kinnock, who decides it's time to give Trace a new name. Trace suggests Flash, but Kinnock settles on Impulse.

Kinnock teaches Impulse how to vibrate through objects and tells him that he has a one-in-a-billion genetic structure that is naturally in tune with the Speed Force, which is why none of the other kids have super speed. Impulse says it's a great coincide they crossed paths, but Kinnock says it was no coincidence at all. Later that night, Kinnock prepares the teenagers for a new mission: to sabotage the Dragonians' water supply to make it taste like it was poisoned, but not to actually poison it. Impulse randomly shows up in a new outfit that I guess he made himself.

Impulse rushes over to the Dragonians' quarters to sabotage the water, but he quickly gets bored and begins exploring. Unfortunately, he's spotted by the aliens, who begin firing at him. Naturally, they all miss and inadvertently damage the power core. Kinnock quickly arrives and tells Impulse they need to pull everybody out of the building before it explodes, which they do. However, the explosion attracted the attention of all the local humans, who are quick to praise Kinnock and his crew for standing up to the Dragonians. Kinnock is unhappy with this, but Impulse sides with the people and vows to take the fight to the Dragonians directly.

So Impulse spends the next two days taking down Dragonian installations, until the aliens send in a squad of shock troopers to quell the rebellion. The troopers have no chance of hitting Impulse, but they do blast one of his friends, which serves as a wake up call for the young hero. While Kinnock treats the kid's wounds, Impulse asks him why he's stayed on this crummy planet. Kinnock says he used to travel from planet to planet, chasing bank robbers and saving kids from falling trees. But he gradually grew overwhelmed and decided to focus his efforts on one planet.

Early the next day, Kinnock awakens all the kids to tell them they're surrounded by shock troopers and now is the time to fight for their lives. So they engage in a big fight, but all the non-speedsters are quickly taken down. Kinnock begins taking the injured away to safety, while Impulse tries to hold off the entire army alone. But eventually, Impulse is overwhelmed and surrounded by dozens of missiles. There's a big explosion, and the shock troopers report to the Dragonians there are no survivors.

But don't worry, Impulse and all his buddies are still alive. Kinnock took them all underground and popped up to save Impulse at the last second. Kinnock leads them all into the mountains to rebuild their school and begin again their invisible resistance. Impulse vows to be more patient this time, and begins planning to make the Dragonians' armor itchy.

Ugh. This is why I hate annuals. I follow Impulse because I love Bart Allen, Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos. And here is an "Impulse"story without any of those people. And it costs more than regular, and has lower quality writing and artwork. And everything about this issue felt completely pointless! OK ... so here's an alternate version of Impulse in the future ... and he learns to ... not fight? Seriously, what was up with that ending? Let's happily retreat to the mountains and plan to create minor inconveniences for this "evil" alien empire, which only became antagonistic when all their buildings were being destroyed. What a complete and utter waste of a story.

There weren't any letters to the editor in this issue, so let's head straight into the few new ads.

Speed Reading! Flash: The Return of Barry Allen trade paperback. Wally thought his mentor was just about perfect ... until he came back from the dead. By Mark Waid, Greg LaRocque, and Roy Richardson. Cover by Brian Bolland. Waid originally considered introducing Bart Allen in this story, but later decided to make Bart the lovable teenager Impulse instead of an evil adult.

Experience the new DC Comics Online. One of the featured live chats involved Mark Waid, presumably to talk mostly about Kingdom Come.

Aztek: The Ultimate Man. By Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, N. Steven Harris, and Keith Champagne.

Batman/Demon and Batman: GCPD on the same page.

Legends of the Dead Earth. Detective Comics Annual #9 by Chuck Dixon, Flint Henry, and James Hodgkins.

Next time, we get back on track with Impulse #16.

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