Friday, November 14, 2014

Impulse #18

Virtually Wasted

Martin Pasko Guest Writer
Anthony Williams Guest Penciller
Wayne Faucher Inker
Chris Eliopoulos Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt Assistant Editor
Paul Kupperberg Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid & Mike Wieringo

Sadly it's time for another guest-creator issue of Impulse. But, as always, we have a nice cover by Humberto Ramos and Wayne Faucher. Unfortunately, this is a very misleading cover. Impulse sadly does not go into space ... yet. And the colorist made Bart's hair too light and his eyes blue, instead of yellow. But, this cover is notable for being the first in the series to show Bart not wearing his Impulse uniform.

Our story begins with a hallucinating teenager walking off the top of a tall building. Luckily, the news was right on top of this, giving Impulse a chance to rush over and catch the kid with a small whirlwind. Impulse sticks around to listen to the police, and he learns that there was a similar case not too long ago of a hallucinating teen showing no signs of taking any drugs.

Bart runs home, changes into his New York Yankees jersey, and finds Max preparing to spend a weekend alone at a log cabin. I guess Max knows he can leave Bart alone for a few days after he got by just fine when Max was kidnapped by Savitar. Bart thinks Max is still mad about the maid outfit prank during his adventure with Zatanna, but I suspect Max is trying to figure out what to do after telling Helen he's really her father. Anyway, Bart warns Max to avoid poison ivy, but Max assures him he can take care of himself. As soon as he leaves, Bart begins planning a party.

We then head to a sketchy part of town, where a shady man named Saul Zaranec is strong-arming a 17-year-old genius named Walter Traeger into providing him with some kind of high-tech implants. Walt warns him that there is a glitch in the transmitter not allowing subjects to exit the program and he needs more time to test the devices. But Zaranec accuses him of stalling and sends him on his way. Privately, Zaranec reveals to his henchmen that he's already got men to build more implants, he just needs Walt to provide the prototypes. And if Walt doesn't deliver in the next 24 hours, they will eliminate him.

The next day, Bart takes a field trip to The Dean Acheson Space Flight Center. (Dean Acheson was the Secretary of State under President Harry S. Truman.) Bart's class gets to see the astronaut training area, and Bart is most interested in watching a man experience the sensation of weightlessness while just sitting in an ordinary room. Walt Traeger then introduces himself and explains that the man Bart was watching was using his virtual reality program. Unlike conventional VR programs that require cables and headsets, Walt's technology utilizes a small implant, imbedded under the skin near the temple to transmit images directly into the trainee's brain.

We then check in with Zaranec, and find out that Walt has apparently sabotaged the equipment he gave him, making it impossible for Zaranec to replicate it. He does still have half a dozen implants, but he sends his goons to visit Walt personally to take all of Walt's equipment and take Walt out of the picture.

Meanwhile, Bart is bored after beating level 12 of Galactus Viper. So he decides to prank call Max at the cabin, but finds Max has set his machine to "announce only" specifically so Bart couldn't harass him with annoying messages. I guess Max knew that if there was a real emergency, then Bart would just run over there. Anyway, Bart gets so mad he throws the phone out the window, shattering the glass. Bart then decides to take a quick jog, which happens to take him right past Walt Traeger driving by. So Bart decides to follow him, suspecting he might be behind the cases of the hallucinating teens.

Walt arrives at his boathouse to find Zaranec's men tearing up the place. Luckily, Impulse isn't far behind, able to disarm and scare away the men. Impulse also saves Walt's computer and helps him clean up, while Walt tells his brief life story. Apparently he graduated from high school at 8, got his doctorate before his driver's license, and has been living on his own since him mom died a couple of months ago. But he'll turn 18 next month, way before social services gets to his case file. Walt also explains that Saul Zaranec's father used to own Z Corp, a flight simulator manufacturer. But after Zaranec's dad died, the company couldn't keep up with the improvements made in virtual reality and went bankrupt. So Zaranec started dealing amphetamines to employees at the Acheson Space Center, and one of his customers told him about Walt's implants. Soon, Walt found himself being forced to go into business with Zaranec to create high-tech hallucinogens.

While Walt and Bart talk and clean, neither of them realize that Zaranec's men have regrouped and decided to turn Walt's own technology against him. They've loaded the implants in a high-tech rifle in an attempt to shoot the device into Walt's temple from a distance. But the fist shot hits Impulse instead, who falls off the boat and into the lake. The second shot misses Walt entirely, but knocks a hanging plant on his head, which knocks him out. Zaranec's goons believe they tagged Walt with the implant, and they carry him away.

Impulse groggily pulls himself out of the lake, feeling like an anchor and wondering why he isn't bleeding if he was shot in the head. Impulse sees Zaranec's men drive away with Walt, and he begins to follow them. But just then, the goons activate the implant, believing it's in Walt's head. Suddenly, Bart finds himself flying through space in an astronaut suit, just like on the cover. When Walt fails to react, the henchmen decide to ramp up the hallucination, causing Impulse to believe he's encountered a UFO carrying several deceased rock stars, including Elvis Presley, John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix. Impulse then realizes he's in a hallucination, so he vibrates the implant out of his head.

By the time Impulse recovers, Zaranec's men have given up on tormenting Walt with the implant and have decided to just shoot him and dump his body in a cave. Zaranec himself arrived at the cave to do the job, but Impulse got there just in time. Using the stalagmites and stalactites as weapons, Impulse disarms and knocks out the bad guys and save Walt, who also turns himself in for his role in the whole mess.

Bart goes home and acts all cool when Max gets back, saying he almost missed him. Bart then says, "But that whole move with that virtual reality guy was stoopid buddies, yo?" I don't know if that is supposed to be 30th century slang or 1996 slang, and Max doesn't know either, groaning that the language has been reinvented in the two days he's been gone. Bart then notices Max covered in rashes from poison ivy and teases him the rest of the night.

I didn't care too much for this issue. It certainly dealt with an interesting idea, but the whole story was too convoluted and required too much convenient happenstance. And while I appreciate the effort to make Walt closer to Bart's age, I felt like Pasko put too much on Walt's plate. It's not enough to make him the smartest 17-year-old on Earth, who has created this amazing technology, but he also has to be an orphan? And his relationship with Zaranec was far too complicated, especially for stand-alone, throw-away characters. It reminds me a lot of Gridlock, except this time there was a teenager involved.

R.J. Spassov, of Bolivar, Ohio, actually expresses some disappointment in Mark Waid, wanting him to delve deeper into the topic of religion. R.J. says it would have been nice to see Bart actually investigate some different views, as long as the issue didn't turn into a tirade for or against organized religion.

Phillip Cosand, of Bothell, Wash., speculates that Bart must be close to 16, and he says he'd like to see a story of Bart learning how to drive. Editor Paul Kupperberg says that would be fun, but he fails to correct Phillip by saying Bart is closer to 14 years old.

Doud Ohmer, of Covington, Ky., wonders why Helen Claiborne didn't inherit any super speed from Max Mercury, but he is excited to see how she reacts to the news that Max is her dad. Doud also enjoyed seeing Trickster and White Lightning team up, and hopes the Trickster makes more appearances in Impulse or The Flash.

Paul D. Petrovic, of Canton, Ohio, says he enjoyed Impulse #14, but he warns that if Humberto Ramos permanently leaves, he will drop the book.

Tony Favo, of Grovedale, Australia, applauds Mark Waid for waiting a year to reintroduce White Lightning and sticking to his plot lines instead of succumbing to the "Bad Girl" popularity. Tony also asks if John Fox (the future Flash) will appear in Impulse, but Kupperberg says he'll be too busy.

PL Kenny, of Deckerville, Mich., praises issues #13 and #14, enjoying the moments with Roland and Carol. PL is also happy that Mark Waid was able to handle religion without falling into offensive clichés.

Laurie Flechner, of Bridgeport, Conn., praises Ramos' cartoonish art and Waid's stellar dialogue. She also wants Impulse to meet the Sovereign Seven again, and hopes for more scenes with Helen, Carol and Preston. Now on to the ads:

Retro name. New attitude. Teen Titans. By Dan Jurgens and George Pérez.

Explore the Heart of Darkness computer game sampler. Free! With two wrappers from Gummi Savers.

Nick in the Afternoon. The Return of Stick Stickly. I do vaguely remember this popsicle stick hosting the brief segments between cartoons.

The new animated series Superman comes to Kids' WB! this fall. This Superman show was actually very good, and I'll eventually get around to reviewing it on my other blog.

DC OverPower card game. Batman and Superman.

Coming to life this summer ... The Adventures of Pinocchio trading cards.

Watch This Space tells a rather interesting story about the publication delay in Robin Plus. (For some reason they don't say Robin Plus Impulse, but that's what it is.) Apparently penciller John Royle was trying to photocopy several pages of the comic in Manchester, England, when he got caught in an IRA bombing. John made it out OK, but three pages were lost, which he had to re-draw from scratch.

Red K. It'll rock Superman's world. Superman: Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite.

Next time, we'll head to November 1996 to take part in DC's big event of the year — Final Night.

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