Friday, January 30, 2015

Impulse #27

Fight for Your Right to Party

Mark Waid & Ruben Diaz Co-Writers
Sal Buscema Breakdowns
Craig Rousseau Pencils
Brad Vancatta Inks
Chris Eliopoulos Letters
Tom McCraw Colors
Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt Assistant Editor
Paul Kupperberg Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo

The transitional era of Impulse continues with the unusual, but welcome decision to have Jeff Matsuda and Wayne Faucher do the covers for the next few issues. I do feel a little bad that Craig Rousseau got kicked off cover duty after only one issue, but I really do enjoy Matsuda's work. This cover is every bit as colorful and exciting as anything Humberto Ramos did, and Matsuda seems to perfectly capture the levity of Impulse established by Ramos and Rousseau, all while adding his own angular style. Sadly, Matsuda only did a handful of Impulse covers and never worked on the inside pages, which would have been really neat to see.

But the biggest piece of transitional news here is this being Mark Waid's final issue of Impulse! One of the greatest comic book writers of the past 25 years and the creator of this character is sadly stepping away after more than two years of high-speed fun. We'll still see Waid on The Flash (whenever Impulse makes a quick cameo there), and he'll return for a couple of more special stories of Impulse, but this is the last time Waid's name will be on the cover of a regular issue of Impulse. Well, let's save the praise for Waid till the end of this review.

Our story begins with Manchester, Alabama, abuzz over a new 10 p.m. curfew for children, imposed by Councilman Emmet Baxter. Unwilling to take this harsh punishment sitting down, a large group of kids sneak into the Manchester Mall as it's closing and lock themselves inside. At the forefront of this gang is Bart's good friend, Preston Lindsey, who calls radio host Dr. Richard Friend to announce they won't leave the mall until the curfew is lifted.

Meanwhile, poor Bart is stuck unpacking all his stuff at his new home with Max and Helen. Because he wants to go play with Preston and Carol, Bart uses some super speed to unpack, but ends up making a bigger mess in his haste. Max begins to lecture Bart, but Helen admonishes him to go easy on the boy, so Max relents and lets Bart go have fun with his friends.

Back at the mall (where Jay and Silent Bob are making a cameo), Carol Bucklen has armed herself with a megaphone to try to organize the kids and make sure they don't cause more harm than good with their protest. Preston asks her where Bart is, and she says he's sick with edema. Unknown to Carol, however, is three rowdy teens plan to use the protest as cover to rob the mall. They are "Evil Eye," a kid with an eye patch with the letter "e" on it, Smartypants, a fat kid who only speaks in complicated math formulas, and Snag, a skinny kid with a lisp. I don't think Smartypants and Snag will return, but Evil Eye definitely will.

Anyway, the protest has attracted the attention of the media and police, but Bart knows nothing about it. When he arrives at the mall, he sees all the cop cars and assumes his friends are in trouble, so he changes into Impulse to vibrate inside. He soon interrupts Carol's speech about showing the authorities how mature they are, and to Impulse's dismay, none of the kids are happy to see him. They think the cops sent him in as a spy, and wish the popular Bart Allen would've shown up instead. Impulse pulls Carol aside and asks why she didn't invite him to the protest, and she says she was worried he'd cause the delicate situation to explode. Impulse complains that nobody trusts him, so Carol tells him to earn that trust by making sure nobody gets out of control.

Councilman Baxter,  who happens to own the mall, arrives and prevents the police from breaking in and damaging his doors. Faced with taking a big reputation hit on live TV, Baxter decides to show the kids leniency and agrees to lift the curfew provided they don't damage the mall. Then, for reasons that remain unclear, the protest turns into an all-night event with Impulse tasked with maintaining the peace, even though he wants to play in the monster truck, skateboard off the concession stands and swim in the fountain like everyone else. Luckily, Carol is there to keep Bart in line.

Impulse gets off to a good start keeping the peace by taking a brick out of a kid's hand before he could smash a window with it. But when Impulse tries to stop some other kids from playing Aquaman in the fountain, he slips on the overflowed water, crashes into some skateboarders and careens into a pile of paint cans, spilling yellow paint all over the place, including a most displeased Carol. The commotion provides a perfect cover for Evil Eye and his gang, who hack into the mall's main power grid and start sneaking around the air vents.

As Impulse tries to get kids off the carousel by spinning it around too fast and stop some older kids from playing "feetball" (I'm glad he still hasn't learned the proper word), Evil Eye, Smartypants and Snag enter a comic shop and rob it blind. But as they prepare to make out with their haul, they realize the whole mall is still surrounded by cop cars. Luckily, the rest of the kids are still ignoring Impulse's and Carol's instructions, creating enough chaos for Evil Eye to hijack the monster truck Impulse was playing in earlier. But unlike Impulse, Evil Eye actually starts up the truck and begins driving it toward the exit, not caring who gets in his way.

Impulse can't think of any other way to stop the truck, so he simply stands in front of the door, hoping Evil Eye will stop on his own. Of course, Impulse does have the backup plan of vibrating through the truck should Evil not stop. But Carol thinks Impulse is simply being extraordinarily brave, so she joins him in front of the doors. More kids follow suit, linking arms in an effort to prevent Evil Eye from ruining their protest. But the monster truck keeps rolling forward, and just when Impulse prepares to become a pancake, the truck runs out of gas.

All the kids unite in apprehending Evil Eye and his gang, and turn them in to the police when dawn arrives. Impulse believes he's saved the day again, but Carol points out that the mall is still a huge mess. Luckily, Impulse is able to correctly clean the building at super speed, and Councilman Baxter officially agrees to rescind the curfew.

So this wasn't necessarily the strongest note for Mark Waid to leave on, but it was a fun, light-hearted Impulse tale, nonetheless. It introduced a new villain in Evil Eye, and, more importantly, it established the new dynamic of Helen and Carol on "Team Impulse" (if I may be so bold to name it such). Helen's main role so far is to help Max be a little less strict, and Carol's is to help keep Bart focused — something that both of them really need. And once again, Rousseau's art greatly benefited from Buscema's breakdowns, making this an a rather solid issue.

Now what can I say about Mark Waid that I haven't already? He searched deep in the comics archives, found a forgotten footnote (Barry Allen's grandson) and created a character that is both unique and natural. Waid gave Bart a strong sci-fi/superhero backstory, then threw him in the real world to experience very human, down-to-Earth scenarios and emotions. Bart is as inspiring as he is relatable, thanks to Waid never forgetting that Bart is a teenager first and a superhero second. Waid put Impulse through some strong, action-packed crossovers, and he always included a healthy dose of humor in the title. But Waid truly excelled with the quieter, more serious issues in the series. When he slowed the book down enough to make room for real, heart-breaking emotions, this comic book entered a rare level of excellence. Of note are the tender moments of Bart saying goodbye to Max, saying goodbye to his mom, being powerless while Max lay in the hospital, and, most of all, watching Preston be abused by his mom. Only the best of writers can handle such topics without betraying the overall light and fun tone of the series. And in my opinion, Mark Waid is the best comic book writer out there. Currently, he's writing some great stuff for Marvel's Daredevil, but maybe, one day, DC will revive the Impulse title and convince Waid to return to his Alabama roots. I can hope, can't I?

Oddly enough, the letter column makes no mention of Waid's departure. Perhaps this wasn't intended to be his final issue, or maybe DC purposefully kept the news quiet to limit the drop in sales that would surely occur. In any case, here is what everyone thought of Impulse #24:

Jay Bardyla, of Edmonton, Canada, simply thanked DC for creating a good comic that brought tears to a grown man's eyes.

Robert E. Grover, of Amherst, Mass., was happy to see Max test Bart, and said the issue made quite an impact on him by showing Bart's innermost drive and how frail Max can be.

Olav Beemer, of the Netherlands, says the highlight of the issue was the final moments before Bart left for the future. He also praised the book its daring and innovative change of the status quo. I wonder what Olav thought when Bart returned to the 20th century ...

Julian Bukalski, of Moro, Ill., praised the issue for making a significant contribution to the understanding of Impulse and introducing some change to a series that was quietly growing stagnant with all its single-issue stories that were fun, but provided little development for the characters.

Scott Vogt, of Madison, Wis., suspects Carol drew her picture of Bart as Impulse way back in Impulse #13. He also talks about how emotional issue #24 was, and points out the look on Max's face at the end — one of sadness, happiness and a wish for good luck.

Mary Catelli, unlike Olav, hopes Bart's trip to the 30th century is a quick one (which it was.) Now on to the ads:

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Watch This Space doesn't mention anything Impulse-related, although it does talk about the comic adaptation of the Batman & Robin movie. Sorry, I spelled that wrong. That should say, the awful Batman & Robin movie.

A powerful foe. A young hero. Batman: Bane by Chuck Dixon & Rick Burchett. Batman: Batgirl by Kelley Puckett, Matt Haley & Karl Kesel.

A cold criminal. A lethal beauty. Batman: Mr. Freeze by Paul Dini, Mark Buckingham & Wayne Faucher. Batman: Poison Ivy by John Francis Moore, Brian Apthorp & Stan Woch.

Don't ask why. We eat what we like. Apple Jacks.

Next time: You've heard of "stage mothers"? Well, the concept's hit superheroing, as the one-time — and little-known — heroine Miss Arrowette grooms her daughter to follow in her footsteps, stage-momming her to bigger and better things. Of course, picking Manchester, home of Impulse, for the new Arrowette's debut may not have been the wisest move she could've made.

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