Sunday, January 18, 2015

Impulse #24


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

The penultimate Humberto Ramos features another great, colorful cover with Wayne Faucher. Impulse is being torn between two time periods by Max and his mom, and as always, I love the expression on Impulse's face. However, as we will soon see, Max doesn't actually put up that big of a fight.

We pick right up where last issue left off, with Bart being reunited with his long-lost mother. Max heard all the commotion in Bart's room, and came in to investigate. However, communicating with Bart's mom is a bit awkward since she's from the 30th century and only speaks the language of the future, Interlac. This is also Bart's native language, so he quickly teaches it to Max. Fortunately, this language lesson goes a lot better than his failed attempt to teach English to his cousin, Jenni Ognats. In fact, Bart does so well, he's even able to purposefully teach Max a couple of incorrect words to make him look like an idiot.

With everybody speaking the same language, Bart's mom introduces herself as Meloni and begins to explain why she's never actually met Bart. She starts at the beginning with the children of Barry Allen, the Tornado Twins Don and Dawn. Meloni married Don, but he was killed by the Dominators before Bart was born. Meloni didn't have long to enjoy her baby boy before he was kidnapped by the Dominators, who were fascinated by his super speed. The Earthgov sent the Science Police to rescue Bart, but they told Meloni her baby had died. They also convinced Meloni that the Dominators would come looking for her, so they gave her a false identity and sent her to Tokyo, telling the rest of the world that she had died, too.

But Bart's grandmother, Iris Allen, used her reporter skills to track down Bart, discovering that Earthgov was keeping him alive in a virtual reality program that could keep up with his super speed. Once Iris found out that Earthgov was doing nothing to slow Bart's rapid aging, she freed the boy and used the time machine built by her father, Eric Russell, to take Bart back to 1994. Earthgov assumed Meloni was behind the kidnapping, so they interrogated her. This gave Meloni enough information to deduce the truth, so she embarked on a mission to find her son. Meloni rescued Eric Russell and his wife, Fran. They went back to Eric's lab to use his time machine, but the Science Police took the calibration mech as evidence, meaning Meloni couldn't be sent back precisely to 1994, but got as close as she could.

Bart's jaw dropped open as Meloni told her story, which concludes with her explaining that she tracked Bart's biopattern to his room, and waited there for him to return. Meloni then says the time machine is set to retrieve her in about six hours, and she wants to take Bart with her to the 30th century. Max asks whether the future is a dangerous place, and Meloni admits that it is. The Russells are unfairly imprisoned, and Meloni and Bart will be fugitives, fighting for their lives and all the defendants of Barry Allen. And Bart realizes that list includes Jenni.

Max admits Meloni has an admirable goal, but he wants to know what her plan is. Bart and Meloni look at each other, then say, "Plan?" Bart leaps into his mother's arms, saying, "That's my mom!" Max groans, "Which explains so much." He then walks away, saying he won't stand in Bart's way and that no child should be separated from their parent. Besides, Max admits, he learned last night that there's nothing more he can teach Bart.

Bart quickly shows his mom that he's a superhero known as Impulse, although he admits he doesn't know why he's called that. Meloni thinks this is really cool, but suddenly, Carol and Preston knock on the door. Apparently, Bart's arguments and camping adventure with Max, combined with Meloni's arrival and story, filled the whole night and now it's time for school. Bart introduces his mom to his friends, explaining that she just found him and doesn't speak English. Carol's not surprised, remembering their brief encounter with Jenni, while Preston is too awe-struck by Meloni's beauty to speak. So Bart heads off to school, telling his mom he'll be back after lunch, and she tosses him an orange as he leaves.

Bart then tells all his friends that he's going away with his mom that very day, and he'll be moving very far away, making it hard to keep in touch. All of Manchester Junior High is devastated by this news, particularly Roland, who can't believe Bart would sacrifice his popularity. Before Bart leaves, Carol gives him a kiss on the cheek (although a lot of hair got in the way), and she gives him a picture she drew of him. And that picture shows Bart dressed as Impulse. (Coincidentally, Carol's drawing style is very similar to Humberto Ramos'.)

Meanwhile, Max begins to pack up, telling Meloni it feels like it's time he moved on. She asks him if he has any family, and Max reluctantly tells her about Helen and his failure to connect with her. Bart then comes home, and the Flash arrives soon after him. Wally apologizes to Bart for not being more patient with him, and wants to say goodbye on good terms. He gives Bart a ring, which he initially thinks is a Legion flight ring, and runs up to the roof to try it out. Luckily, Wally catches him in time and explains that it's a classic Flash costume ring, designed by Bart's grandpa, Barry. Wally says it was hard to fit the boots in, but he managed to make the adjustments to put Impulse's suit in it. Bart likes it, but was kinda hoping the suit would fly.

Bart and Max suddenly find themselves alone and forced to say an awkward goodbye while packing up the house's few remaining items. They both say they'll be happy to be rid of each other, and Bart tells Max he shouldn't have given him an eight o'clock bedtime or mess with his head by telling lies such as baby powder being made from real babies. Bart then finds himself sitting on the couch, clutching a pillow to his chest, while trying to happily declare his freedom. Max then puts his hand on Bart's shoulder, and we are treated to one of the most touching pages in this whole series. Bart hugs Max. There's no background, just quiet, simple whiteness highlighting this beautiful, touching moment.

But the tenderness comes to an end with the arrival of Meloni, dragging Helen behind her. Max is initially furious with this, but Meloni explains she told Helen everything Max had been trying to tell her. And most importantly, Meloni reminded Helen, and Max, of one simple truth: No parent should be separated from their child. With that, Meloni and Bart are zapped away to the future.

What an issue. There is so much going here. And we already have a leading candidate for 1997's comic of the year. Let's start with Bart's mom, Meloni. Her backstory is fun, exciting and doesn't feel forced at all. It answered all my questions and made perfect sense to me. I also love how Bart is the spitting image of his mother, not just in looks, but attitude as well. I don't know much about Don Allen, but it seems like he'd take after his more serious father, Barry.

Another significant development in this issue is Carol revealing she knows Bart's secret identity. I don't know exactly when she learned it, but it is pretty obvious for anyone willing to figure it out. And I love the way Carol handled this. She didn't draw attention to it, and basically told Bart, "I know who you are, but you don't need to worry about me telling anyone else." And since I know what's to come, I can say this is the beginning of a very nice and new element to Bart's life.

I was also happy to see Wally make another cameo in this series, and I'm really happy with Impulse's new costume ring. It feels like he's finally an official member of the Flash family now. However, I am sad that Wally didn't bring in Iris to say goodbye to her grandson. I'm sure she would have liked that opportunity — after all, she was just at Bart's house for his birthday party.

But the best part of this issue was Bart saying goodbye to Max. Coming off their biggest fight ever, these two stubborn guys were suddenly faced with the prospect of never seeing each other again. And even though they constantly got on each other's nerves, they are both the closest thing to family they've ever had. And they truly do love each other like father and son, and ultimately, were able to express that love.

Well, that's probably more than enough about Impulse #24. Let's now see what the fans thought about Impulse #21. Speaking of which, I had a fun conversation with Craig Rousseau on Twitter after I reviewed that issue. You can find our exchange here. And you can follow me on Twitter @BartAllenImpuls.

Mark E. Bermingham, of Eden, N.Y., said Rousseau was a great replacement on issue #21. He loved how Mark Waid made the Legionnaires light and funny, but feels Waid handled the time travel incorrectly, believing you can't exist at the same time with your past self. Mark also wants Impulse to keep his flight ring, and hopes Jesse Quick becomes a regular on the series.

Augie de Blieck Jr. praises Rousseau's work for being similar to Ramos' and matching the tone of the series. Augie also points out how similar Rousseau's style is to Bill Amend, creator of Fox Trot. Editor Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt said that three other letter writers made the same comparison.

Rob Haney, of Roscoe, Ill., was happy to see Impulse finally meet the Legion, and hopes it happens again. Rob also addresses the rumor that Rousseau would be taking over full-time pencilling duties for Ramos (this turned out to be true). Rob asks for Ramos to stay on the covers, but that didn't happen.

Justin Kane, of Lawrence, N.Y., is upset that Ramos will leave the series after issue #25, but he is very happy Rousseau was chosen as the replacement over previous fill-in artist Anthony Williams.

Jonah Brightner, of Roan, N.C., praises Waid for fitting so many gags into the issue and expresses his confidence in Rousseau taking over for Ramos.

Chris Khalaf, of Houston, appreciated the ties Impulse #21 had to classic Legion stories, including Adventure Comics #247, and the reintroduction of Koko the monkey. Now for the few new ads:

Shocking! This time we've changed more than his hair. Superman.

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

Next time: Impulse and his mom are in the 30th century ... and up against just about everybody! Their first goal is to free Iris Allen's parents from captivity by the Science Police while staying one step ahead of being captured themselves! No easy task, especially when the President of Earth has a generations-old grudge against the Allen family!

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