Thursday, January 15, 2015

Impulse #23

Lessons Learned

Mark Waid Story
Humberto Ramos Pencils
Wayne Faucher Inks
Chris Eliopoulos Letters
Tom McCraw Colors
Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt Assistant Editor
Paul Kupperberg Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid & Mike Wieringo

It is the beginning of the end of an era for Impulse. This issue is the first of a three-parter that will close out Humberto Ramos' career with the fastest boy alive. Luckily for us, he's going to go out with a bang. And it all starts with this great cover he drew with Wayne Faucher. I love the colors and the expression on Bart's face. And I don't know about you, but my ear has only been pulled like that by one other person — my mother.

Our story begins on a somber evening. It's been quite a while since Max Mercury told Helen Claiborne he's her father, and now he's finally attempting to reconnect to her. But he just can't do it yet. He stands and stands at her front door, and almost knocks, but ultimately walks away. Helen thought she heard something and opens the door, but she just missed Max.

The dejected old man slowly and sadly walks home, while Helen returns inside to read the Manchester Community Shopper. But she comes across an article titled, "Max Crandall, historian, to give library lecture Thursday on Indian folklore." Helen angrily tears out the article bearing a picture of Max's face and throws it in the garbage. When Max gets home, he surprises Bart by asking him to go on a nighttime run.

But as Max and Bart streak down the street, they just miss the mysterious arrival of a masked female figure in a green jumpsuit. The sudden appearance of this woman in the middle of the road causes a seven-car pileup, and she attempts to steal a motorcycle a man fell off of. A policeman is on the scene and attempts to arrest the woman, but she uses a taser-like device to blast the handcuffs off her. She soon crashes the motorcycle, but quickly recovers and escapes the police by jumping onto a moving car and leaping from roof to roof on several other cars.

Meanwhile, Max continue their run through the city. Bart sees a bridge being raised for a boat to pass underneath, and he tries to jump the gap, but misjudges the distance and falls. Luckily, Max is able to save his butt — literally — by grabbing the seat of his pants. But to Max's dismay, Bart enjoyed the fall and asks to do it again.

The two speedsters then pass a hockey arena surrounded by cop cars and flashing lights, so they decide to go check out the commotion. Apparently, a couple of robbers are attempting to steal the box office receipts from the Jekyll and Hyde On Ice show, and they are holding the performers hostage out on the ice. Max holds back an eager Impulse, and asks whether he has a plan. Impulse says it involves hitting people, and he takes off, while Max stays behind to observe his protege.

Turns out, Impulse could have used a plan, as he didn't account for the slipperiness of the ice. Impulse slides past the amused robbers several times before he finally gets the idea to borrow the arena's Zamboni. Impulse saved the day and grabbed a big bucket of popcorn as his reward, but Max is furious with the youngster. Max explains that this was a hostage situation and Bart should have saved the innocents first. Bart maintains that he got the job done and nobody was hurt, so it doesn't matter. Max chastises Bart for not thinking enough, and Bart counters by saying Max thinks too much.

So the two angry speedsters run home, and Max finally gathers up the courage to knock on Helen's door. But their conversation is brief, as Helen is still quite upset that Max withheld the truth from her for so long and allowed Helen to believe he was someone she could date. Bart decides to take advantage of Max's momentary absence by building himself the biggest sandwich in the world. But before he can even get started, Max suddenly appears next to Bart, making him scream with surprise (which I always love). Max tells Bart to put the food away and pack his sleeping bag. Even though Bart points out that it's past dark already, the grumpy Max insists on going camping that very second — without video games. Max and Bart then zip out to the middle of nowhere, once again just missing the mysterious masked woman.

Once settled under the stars in the desert, Max asks Bart to start a fire without using super speed. But Bart doesn't listen, and runs off for a blowtorch. Bart quickly complains that he's bored, and begins to build model homes out of wood chips. Max attempts to have a deep conversation with the boy, asking if he ever looks back on his life. Bart thinks he's talking about the sandwich, and he apologizes, saying he was hungry. Max tries to clarify, saying he's talking about looking over the choices you've made — your accomplishments and failures. Bart realizes Max is talking historically, like before dinner, so he begins to defend himself again for his choices made at the ice rink. Bart tells Max his way isn't the only way, and he begins to go into a long explanation of how he's an experienced superhero now. Bart talks about how he almost became a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes and didn't need Max's help fighting Blockbuster.

As Bart babbles on, Max decides to test him once more by causing a minor avalanche. Max sticks his foot between a couple of rocks and yells at Bart to save him from the falling rocks. Instead, Bart smashes every single rock, covering Max in dust. A furious Max demands to know why Bart chose to go after the rocks instead of saving him and why he picked the gunmen instead of the hostages. Bart simply answers that there's more points for busting up the bad guys. This answer horrifies Max and puts him in a very quiet, depressed mood. Feeling like he's accomplished nothing in all this time, he tells Bart to pack up and they go home in silence.

Bart tries to cheer Max up by doing the dishes and brushing and flossing his teeth, but Max remains silent. Bart enters his room to go to bed, but suddenly finds himself face to face with the masked woman we saw earlier. She's holding what looks like a gun at Bart, so he tries to tackle her. But the "gun" turns out just to be a translator, through which the woman tells Bart to calm down. She then pulls off her mask and reveals herself as Bart's mother!

This is a significant issue of Impulse. And not just because Bart finally met his mom. This is the first time we've really seen Max and Bart fight. Sure, they've gotten on each other's nerves before, but never like this. This is a really great test to their relationship, and it'll be neat to see how they work through this. Max really took center stage in this issue, and it was nice to see the spotlight on him again. And how could you not feel bad for this guy, who, practically in a panic, keeps going back and forth between his two biggest relationships — Helen and Bart — hoping to find something that said he wasn't a failure, to no avail. What a sad concept. Sure, there were a few laughs and fun moments here, but on the whole, this ranks up there with the saddest, most emotional issues of Impulse.

Wade Boger, of Pottsville, Penn., talks about how fun Impulse is and how laughing at it can actually be dangerous, since he had stitches in his ribcage and was worried about pulling them out.

Tony Favro, of Victoria, Australia, says Impulse #20 was a rather painful experience watching Bart fail at so many sports. But Tony does praise the issue for providing Bart's first kiss, and he hopes the Bart-Carol relationship continues to grow.

Chris Khalaf, of Houston, reminds the editors that former Impulse editor Brian Augustyn promised a guest appearance by Plastic Man, and he hopes Humberto Ramos gets to draw him. Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt agrees that Plastic Man should show up, but doesn't give anything concrete.

Steven Damigella, of Irvine, Calif., points out how fun issue #20 was, even though Impulse technically never appeared in it. He also notes how similar Bart is to Danny Ziucko in Grease, asks for Impulse #25 to be a special triple-sized issue, and pitches an Elseworlds story where Impulse gains possession of a Green Lantern ring.

B. Varkentine, of Sunnyvale, Calif., praises Ramos and Faucher and expresses similar praise for the kissing scene and everyone's reaction to it. He also admits he didn't get the pun of the story title, "First Base," until the end of the issue, and admits that even though he doesn't like baseball, issue #20 was the best in recent memory.

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Next time: So you've met Impulse's mother. You've probably got a bunch of questions. Like, where has she been? What forced her to abandon Bart as an infant? Why has she waited so long to come for him? Will Bart abandon his life in the twentieth century to go home with Mom? And what does Max have to say about all this? Well, be here next time and you'll find out in Impulse #24!

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