Sunday, January 25, 2015

Impulse #25

You and Me Against the World

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

Here it is. Humberto Ramos' amazing run on Impulse comes to an end after a little more than two years of reshaping the character and taking the series to great heights. Ramos didn't draw every issue, but he did do each cover, including the annual, with inker Wayne Faucher. And this 26th and final Ramos cover keeps in line with the high quality that's been established. It's kind of fun to see a pouting Impulse, and the purple background is a nice change of pace. However, we'll soon see that Impulse's adventure in this issue will be a lot more dramatic than losing his holovid privileges for the night.

The issue begins with a fun recap page, which shows Max Mercury being whited out, and Meloni being drawn in his place. And Impulse breaks the fourth wall by reacting to the giant pens coming down on the page. Anyway, we turn the page to join Bart and his mom in the 30th century. Bart is amazed by everything and wants to play with all the neat toys around him he's never seen before. But Meloni pulls him aside, calling him Sunshine, and reminds him that the Science Police are out to get them. Bart asks whether the Science Police enforce the law of gravity. Meloni explains that they work for Earthgov, which is ruled by President Thawne, who's behind the conspiracy against the entire Allen bloodline.

Before they can begin their mission to save Iris Allen's parents, the Russells, Meloni suggests Bart switch out of his conspicuous Impulse outfit. So Bart sucks his suit back into his ring, only to realize that his 20th century clothing makes him stand out even more. Soon, mother and son are surrounded by the Science Police. So Bart puts his Impulse costume back on, scoops up his mom, and runs away to safety. Bart briefly discusses the prospect of visiting Jenni with his mom, then he asks a bystander which way to the jail. And that man turns out to be R.J. Brande, who will later become a key figure for the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Impulse and mom soon arrive at the prison and find Eric and Fran Russell. The prison is controlled by a supercomputer that can anticipate and adapt to any escape plan or strategy it faces. Luckily, Bart and Meloni don't know the meaning of the words "plan" or "strategy," and they begin to randomly attack the computer and its equipment. Unable to find any logic in their actions, the computer eventually has a meltdown, freeing the Russells. Eric and Fran thank Bart and Meloni for saving them, but they point out that their actions have put all the Allens in danger. Bart and Meloni realize this includes Jenni, so they find a good hiding place for the Russells and head off to find Jenni.

Unlike her cousin, Jenni didn't acquire super speed until adolescence, meaning she is currently a 2-year-old in the year 2995. Bart and Meloni find Jenni at a daycare, and Bart tells his mom how Jenni will become a hero named XS and join the Legion of Super-Heroes, which hasn't formed yet. And Meloni tells Bart more about the Allen-Thawne feud, dating back to Eobard Thawne and Barry Allen. Meloni also says that this Thawne, the president of Earth, had secretly aligned with the Dominators to kill the Tornado Twins and was probably behind the capture of Bart.

Before too long, the Science Police do show up to capture the young Jenni. Bart remembers Max's instructions to take care of people in trouble first, so he grabs his toddler cousin and runs away. He tries to tell her about his adventures with Brainiac 5, but Jenni instead spits up all over a Science Police officer right behind them. Unfortunately, this distracts Impulse long enough for another officer to grab Jenni and fly away.

Meloni tries to follow Jenni on a hover bike, but Bart stops her, pointing out that they wouldn't be able to catch up to her. Quoting Max again, Bart suggests they wait and try to find out where Jenni is headed. So Bart and Meloni hide themselves and eavesdrop on an officer, who is giving out the coordinates for Jenni to be taken to. Meloni knocks out the officer, and Bart begins searching for a map on him. Meloni begins to hesitate, and asks what Max would do next. Bart says he'd figure out who the Science Police are, to which Meloni explains that they confiscate forbidden and experimental weapons. So Bart rushes into the Science Police headquarters, and loads himself up with weapons and armor for the rescue mission.

Bart and Meloni then follow the officer's coordinates right to the Flash Museum, which has fallen into disrepair after being barricaded by President Thawne. Our heroes sneak inside, only to find Thawne waiting for them, and holding a gun to the sleeping Jenni's head. Thawne tells Bart to drop his weapons, and he chastises Meloni for betraying her own father. To Bart's astonishment, Meloni reluctantly admits that she is a Thawne, and she broke years of truces by falling in love with Don Allen. Her marriage reignited the family feud, and President Thawne had Don killed for corrupting his daughter. He also kidnapped Bart and planned to mold him into his image. Bart asks his mom why she didn't tell him the whole story from the beginning. He says, "You act like it would have made a difference, but ... you're still my mother."

President Thawne then points the gun at Bart's head and vows to take out the last of the Allen line. Meloni jumps in front of her son and tells her dad he'll have to kill her first. But Thawne can't bring himself to shoot her, telling her all he's wanted through this whole feud is to have his daughter back. So Meloni comes up with a bargain for her father. She'll stay with him on the condition that no harm comes to anyone of the Allen family. Also, Meloni agrees to send Bart back to the 20th century so he'll no longer be a threat to Thawne.

Bart is devasted to leave his mom, but she explains this is the only way he can be safe. She also says Max is a better parent than she'd ever be. Bart asks his mom to come with him, but she says she has to stay back and make sure her dad upholds his part of the bargain. Thawne then begins to gloat for winning a thousand-year victory, proclaiming that no speedster will ever plague his family again, not realizing that he was holding a future speedster in his arms the whole time.

Meloni leads Bart to the Cosmic Treadmill, which has been improved since Bart's past misadventures on it. Meloni then gives a heartfelt goodbye to her Sunshine, telling Bart how proud she is of him since he's willing to put his heart aside to do the right thing by others. Bart runs back to 1997, finding himself just outside Manchester at sunrise. The sad teenager stops for a moment and looks at the sun. Bart says, "Sunshine," and begins to grin as runs home. Bart can't wait to see the look on Max's face when he returns, but when he enters his house, he finds it completely deserted.

And hidden in the barren woodwork is a couple of goodbye messages from Humberto Ramos: "Thanks for everything Bart! I'll never forget you. Ramos." and "To Brian, Ali, Ruben, Mark, Wayne, Tom, Chris, Jason and Paul, with my heart, gracias por todo. Humberto. I will miss you guys!"

And I will certainly miss Humberto Ramos. He really did pick a great issue to go out on — filled with  plenty of humor, action, fun futuristic backgrounds, and a really strong emotional ending. And it caps off a wonderful three-parter that truly was Ramos' best work on the series. Story-wise, everything came close to reseting to the status quo, although we will see some changes in the following issues. Bart didn't get to spend a whole lot of time with his mom, but we did get to learn the whole story of Bart's early life and find out that he's half-Allen/half-Thawne, which is a fun twist.

I can't overstate the influence Humberto Ramos had on Impulse. True, Mike Wieringo was the first to draw him, and earned co-creator status for doing so, but he actually didn't draw Impulse that much. Ultimately, I think Wieringo's greatest contribution was Impulse's costume (minus the mask), which remained unchanged for about 10 years. But Ramos really was the one who took the character to a whole new level. No longer was he just a short, muscular speedster. Thanks to Ramos, Bart became a rather scrawny and awkward teenager with big feet and even bigger hair. Not only did Ramos make him more realistic looking, but he gave him a goofy, rabbit-like appearance that perfectly matched his personality. And Ramos set the standard for all future artists to follow whenever they drew Impulse. It is really sad to close the Humberto Ramos chapter on Impulse, but starting the Craig Rousseau chapter will be fun and exciting as well.

Our first letter to the editor is actually from the editor himself, as Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt describes how he first encountered Ramos' work for Impulse #1. Jason says, "And Humberto has only gotten better since then. His art style, combining manga with more traditional comic-book storytelling, was exciting, to be sure. But that wasn't all. Look at the facial expressions on his characters. They're having fun. Humberto's having fun. And we're having fun.

"Since then, Brian has gone freelance, the Yankees won the World Series, Ruben has set his mark upon the world with the new JLA (and an Impulse issue or two), and Paul and I inherited The Flash and Impulse. And Humberto became a superstar. Through it all, he was a true pro and a wonderful guy to work with. We'll miss him.

"Humberto, thank you very much for two years of fun. I wish you luck in your other projects and can only hope that we work together again soon. Take care!"

I'm not sure if Ramos ever did work with Hernandez-Rosenblatt again. After leaving Impulse, Ramos mostly devoted himself to Marvel, and for a couple of years worked on his creator-owned imprint Cliffhanger. In recent years, he's done a lot of work on Spider-Man, and just a couple of weeks ago reunited with Mark Waid on S.H.I.E.L.D. #2.

Jon Jankovich, of Penn Run, Penn., asks for a regular Jesse Quick backup story in Impulse, and suggests the letter column be titled Impulse Ramblers. He also points out that Bart's first kiss technically occurred in Flash #95, although Jason counters by saying that was just an insignificant peck.

Keith Rogers, of Friendswood, Texas, was initially upset with Impulse #22 for making Max look rather shady. But then Keith was happy to see it was all for Bart's surprise party.

Ben Varkentine, of Sunnyvale, Calif., says issue #22 was the best fill-in issue of the series, with Ruben Diaz being the only guest writer who doesn't feel like a let-down from Mark Waid. Ben would also like Rousseau to draw a Jesse Quick limited series and for Waid and Greg LaRoque to create a Max Mercury miniseries.

R.J. Spassov, of Beaumont, Texas, says issue #22 is a close second behind his favorite, Impulse #20. R.J. particularly liked going back over all the clues dropped during Max's deception.

Gregory Kinfield, of Harrison Township, Mich., was happy to see Jesse Quick, and points out that Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt was incorrect in stating that Impulse hasn't met Green Lantern yet.

John Norris, of Richmond, Va., says he's been collecting comics for 20 years and is happy to have a title to share with his son. He also expresses his support for Ruben Diaz to write another fill-in issue for the series. Now on to the ads:

A mouthful of cookies ... in every bite! Hershey's Cookies 'n' Creme.

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Play the Kellogg's Rice Krispies Treats Hoppin' Holiday Hunt! Grand prize is a trip for four to Hollywood and Warner Bros. Studio.

Watch This Space talks about Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt's short film, "Meat," which debuted at the Slam Dance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

Have a blast with MooTown snacks! Enter to win the Sega's Sonic Blast Ultimate Home Video Game Giveaway!

Next time, we'll take a quick break from Impulse to see one final cameo of the Impulse-Quicksilver amalgam character, Mercury, in JLX Unleashed #1.

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