Sunday, January 4, 2015

Impulse #21

A Little Knowledge

Mark Waid Story
Craig Rousseau Pencils
Wayne Faucher Inks
Chris Eliopoulos Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt Assistant Editor
Paul Kupperberg Editor
With thanks to Otto Binder
Impulse created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo

Otto Binder was a DC writer way back in the '50s and '60s, and had a hand in creating the Legion of Super-heroes, who we see on the cover by Humberto Ramos and Wayne Faucher. From left, we have the teleporting bug Gates, the magnetic-powered Cosmic Boy, the lightning-powered Spark, the telepath Saturn Girl, and the hyper-intelligent Brainiac 5. And how are there five Impulses here? Well, we'll just have to read the issue to find out.

Our story begins with Bart Allen happily walking down the street, drinking a big Slurper. Suddenly, a girl addresses him as Impulse. Bart awkwardly laughs it off as some kind of joke and hastily leaves. He then throws on his Impulse uniform to go on patrol, but he runs into a boy who calls him Bart Allen. Bart again runs away, changes into his civilian clothes, but soon encounters another girl who tells him to give her regards to Max Mercury.

A panic-stricken Bart retreats to his home, only to have the three teenagers follow him. Two more heavily-disguised figures join the group, as Bart locks the door, worried what Max would do if he saw Bart's identity was exposed. Luckily for Bart, Max leaves to go to the market just as one of the figures teleports into the house. Bart tackles the intruder, only to see he's wearing the Legion of Super-heroes logo. Bart's attitude instantly changes from fear to joy.

Bart excitedly tackles the Legionnaires in the front yard and immediately asks them where his cousin, Jenni Ognats, is. Suddenly, Max, who didn't go to the market after all, swoops in and shoves all the super-teenagers indoors. Max demands to know what's going on and all Bart cares about is where Jenni is. Cosmic Boy tells Bart that Jenni is still in the 30th century, where the rest of them are. The Legionnaires mistakingly believe it was Bart who sent Jenni back to the future, and they ask for his help. Neither Max nor Bart tells them it was actually the time-traveling John Fox who calibrated the Cosmic Treadmill to send Jenni home. Instead, Bart agrees to help them if they let him borrow one of their flight rings.

So Impulse decides to try to replicate John Fox's success, and he leads the Legion to the Flash Museum. We see Impulse fly by a Central City sign, but as XS explained in Impulse #9, the museum is in Keystone City. Perhaps our heroes just flew through Central to get to Keystone. Anyway, they arrive at the Flash Museum, and surprisingly, none of the Legionnaires know what it is, even though XS said the museum still stands in the same place in the 30th century and is a lot bigger. I guess she was the only one of them to care about the Flash since it's her heritage.

But before our heroes can enter the museum, a second Impulse suddenly appears before them, warning them not to enter the building. But before he can explain himself, he fades away into nothingness. Nobody knows what that was about, but they decide to enter anyway. Impulse complains the museum doesn't feature an Impulse room yet, even though we did see an Impulse exhibit back in issue #9. I guess Bart was just hoping that small exhibit would be a full-fledged room by now.

So Impulse leads the Legion to the Cosmic Treadmill, only to find a shadowy figure apparently tampering with it. Impulse rushes toward the figure, but he suddenly vanishes before Impulse can grab him. Brainiac 5 begins to examine the treadmill, but he can't figure out how it works. So Impulse jumps on it with Brainiac and begins to run. The two heroes are then transported just a few moments in the past to see Impulse starting to run on the treadmill.

Impulse thinks this is real cool, so he hops back on the treadmill and keeps popping on and off it, creating multiple versions of himself from a few minutes in the past and future. Saturn Girl tries to calm Impulse down with her telepathy, but her mind quickly becomes overwhelmed by the several Impulses. Luckily, the other versions of Impulse soon disappear, and Brainiac 5 figures out that Impulse eventually snaps back to the moment he left whenever he vibrates through time. However, this rule doesn't seem to apply to whatever Impulse carries with him.

So Impulse shoves all the heroes on the treadmill, determined to take them all back to the 30th century in one go. But something goes wrong, and they all end up in S.T.A.R. Labs for some reason. Impulse accidentally frees a white monkey named Koko, which latches onto Brainiac 5's face for some reason. Outside the room, a future version of Cosmic Boy looks on and says, "I wondered when that was going to happen."

Everybody soon returns to the Flash Museum, and Brainiac 5 threatens to convert the Cosmic Treadmill into a Phantom Zone Projector. Impulse still maintains he can get the Legionnaires back home, but thinks he'll have greater success if he takes them back one at a time. So he grabs Gates first, but he panics and breaks free of Impulse's grip, winding up alone in the room. Gates then becomes the shadowy figure we saw at the beginning of this time travel adventure, and the current Impulse comes back to save him before the past Impulse can grab him.

Impulse and Gates are reunited with the others, but they soon discover that Impulse somehow pulled three velociraptors into the future with him. Everybody begins fighting the raptors, and Impulse decides to go back in time to just before they entered the Flash Museum. He delivers the cryptic warning we saw earlier, and once again disappears before he can explain himself properly.

Meanwhile, the Legion of Super-heroes are struggling with the raptors. Saturn Girl's mind is still fuzzy after being overwhelmed by the multiple Impulses, and Brainiac 5 can't pull the monkey off his face to help anybody. Impulse soon returns and manages to lure the dinosaurs onto the treadmill. (After all, this isn't his first encounter with raptors. He pulled a similar trick way back in Zero Hour.) However, Impulse has a hard time taking these dinos back home, since their added weight is slowing down the treadmill. Cosmic Boy encourages Impulse to "pour it on," and Impulse does so, quoting George Jetson with "Jaaaane! Stop this crazy thing!"

Impulse and the dinosaurs and the treadmill all disappear. Impulse returns a moment later, claiming he's finally mastered time travel and can take the Legion back to the future. But with the treadmill missing, he has no way of helping them, nor do they want his help anymore. The Legionnaires take back their flight ring and leave, deciding to ask the Justice League or Green Lantern for help. As soon as they've all left the room though, the Cosmic Treadmill returns to its proper place.

This was a rather wild, but fun issue of Impulse. It's great to see him interact with other teenaged superheroes — something he hasn't done much of since the New Titans folded. But the most significant aspect of this issue is the introduction of fill-in artist Craig Rousseau. He was initially asked to do issue #22, then later was given #21 as well. His work isn't as crisp and clean as Humberto Ramos', but Rousseau perfectly captures the goofy tone of the series. He also introduced the "hidden Impulse" — a small Impulse peering around a random panel just for fun. It has nothing to do with the story but completely fits Impulse's character. And with those things considered, it should come as no surprise that Rousseau would later become the full-time artist after Ramos leaves.

Lee Taylor, of Pittsburgh, Penn., praised Impulse #17 for adding variety to the world of comics with a fun one-shot issue, great writing by Waid and manga-esque pencils by Ramos. Lee also points out the letter column lacks a title and suggests "Quick Takes."

Doud Ohmer, of Covington, Ky., wasn't too happy with Martin Pasko's take on Bart and Max in Impulse #18. Doud also asks for more Max-Helen scenes, as well as guest stars from Jesse Quick, Zatanna and Robin.

The DCfan calls issue #17 the best issue of Impulse yet, praising Waid and Ramos, as usual, but also pointing out inker Wayne Faucher and colorist Tom McCraw.

Tony Favro, of Clark, N.J., said issue #18 was surprisingly good, but he is worried that Waid will be leaving the book soon, since Impulse and The Flash have had a run of guest and co-writers recently. Editor Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt explains that Waid was busy finishing and promoting Kingdom Come for a few months, but has no plans to leave Impulse or The Flash at this time.

Julian Bukalski, of Moro, Ill., praises Pasko for having a better understanding of the character of Impulse than other writers, such as Marv Wolfman, ever had. Julian does, however, criticize Pasko's plot, particularly the climax. Julian suggested Impulse employ a trick seen by the Flash in an issue written by William Messner-Loebs. Coincidentally enough, Messner-Loebs will be directly involved with Impulse before too long.

Trent D'Adamo, of Charon, Md., liked issue #18, but was upset that the cover had nothing to do with the story inside. He also requests a guest appearance by the Legionnaires, which just happened. Now for the only two new ads:

Before there were Elseworlds ... the ultimate imaginary story! Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? Collected in prestige format.

Subscribe to the world's mightiest heroes! An individual issue of Impulse cost $1.75 at this time, but a 12-month subscription only cost $15, and the Annual would be included free.

Next time: For more on Bart's continuing torment of the Legion, follow him (and Max) into Legion of Super-heroes #88.

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