Sunday, February 8, 2015

Impulse #29

Conflict Resolutions

William Messner-Loebs Writer
Craig Rousseau Penciller
Barbara Kaalberg Inker
Chris Eliopoulos Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt Assistant Editor
Paul Kupperberg Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid & Mike Wieringo

This is one of my favorite covers by Jeff Matsuda and Wayne Faucher. It doesn't tell me anything about the story inside the issue, but it does make fun of the asinine Comics Code Authority that plagued the world of comic books for decades. Through the years, that CCA logo got smaller and smaller on covers until DC and Marvel eventually stopped using it altogether. Making it extra large here is a humorous way of pointing out how ridiculous the notion of printing "approved" comics really was.

But more than a funny cover, this issue is significant for introducing William Messner-Loebs to the world of Impulse. Interestingly enough, Loebs was the writer on The Flash right before Mark Waid took over. So now, here he is taking over for Waid after he left Impulse. It seems like this may have initially been considered a temporary arrangement, but at some point it became a permanent assignment. So, for all intents and purposes, Impulse #29 launches the start of the new full-time creative team.

Our story begins with Bart stuck in Mr. Snodgrass' history class, and to our poor little speedster, it seems like the teacher is speaking in slow motion. And Bart is mostly preoccupied with the argument he had with Max this morning. While Max was reading the Manchester Courier (with the headline "Arrowette A-OK!"), Bart approached him about a video game contest with the grand prize being a Might-Blaster 1700 system. But Max forbids Bart from entering the contest, saying he has an unfair advantage with his super speed.

Mr. Snodgrass brings Bart back to reality by asking him what was the source of conflict between Benjamin Franklin and his son. Bart initially thinks he's talking about the sun, so he confusedly blurts out, "Because Ben wouldn't let him play Megademon?" This brings big laughs in the class, but Mr. Snodgrass is not amused.

Meanwhile, Helen prepares to head out to work while Max tries to fix the TV. Helen tells Max that Bart probably deserves a better explanation for being banned from the video game contest, but Max insists he knows what he's doing. Helen then coldly mocks his parenting skills, and Max angrily tells her that's not fair. He apologizes again for how he handled everything with her and says they can't keep beating themselves up about it. The mail is then delivered, and one letter in particular shocks Max.

We then cut to Bart walking home from school with Carol and Preston. Bart feels like he's been placed in a guillotine, since Mr. Snodgrass wants to have another "attitude" conference with him and Max. Suddenly, a pink delivery truck for Vandelay Latex (a nice Seinfeld reference) comes speeding down the street, careening out of control. Bart wants to change into Impulse and save the truck from crashing, but he feels trapped in front of Preston, worried about exposing his secret identity. Luckily, Carol knows exactly what he's feeling, so she literally grabs Preston's face and turns it away from Bart, saying they need to run for help.

Impulse zooms into the picture and does his best to create enough wind to stop the truck before it hits a tree. Just when he thinks he's about to be smashed like a fly, the truck comes to a safe stop. But to Impulse's surprise, a masked man pops out with a machine gun. Meanwhile, Helen comes home from work, ready to apologize to Max. But Max is nowhere to be found, and his tools and mail are still on the floor.

Returning to the action, a confused Impulse finds himself facing four men with machine guns, who seem intent on killing the teenaged hero even after he saved their truck from crashing. With so many bullets flying around, Impulse actually stops to think through his options logically. If he blows all the bullets back, they'll kill the terrorists and Preston and Carol. If he tries to catch them all, that'd be too many for hands, which would also burn. If he simply dodges all the bullets, they'd go into the surrounding houses. And if he sends them up into the air, they'd just fall back down again. Finally, he comes up with sending all the bullets into the ground.

Impulse's plan mostly works, but the effort and force of the bullets does leave him momentarily stunned. Carol sees this, and yells at the men to distract them from Impulse. Unfortunately, this causes the men to start shooting at Carol. Luckily, Preston saves her by pulling her down to the ground. Impulse becomes quite upset to see the terrorists shooting at his friends, so he begins to beat up all the men. One of them welcomes the hand-to-hand combat, saying he was Navy SEAL, which Impulse thinks is an actual seal wearing a sailor outfit. Regardless, Impulse quickly takes him out as well.

With all the men knocked out or tied up, Preston and Carol investigate the back of the Vandelay truck, finding it full of toxic waste. Bart then arrives, saying he left to call the police. Carol tells him that Impulse came, the guys are illegal dumpers, and Preston saved her. But Bart notices one of the bullets grazed Preston's arm and he begins to freak out. But Preston didn't even notice it until Bart pointed it out, and actually becomes rather excited to be sporting a wound. The police then arrive, and Preston takes off to tell his dad he got shot, while a depressed Bart walks home, dreading the inevitable lecture from Max for endangering his friends. Bart's so worked up, he even wishes Max would disappear and never return.

When he gets home, Helen tells Bart that Max has, in fact, disappeared. And while Bart is taking that in, we see Max visiting a house out in the farmlands. He knocks on the door, is shocked to see who answers it, then is knocked out.

Unlike that disastrous Gross-Out issue, this issue actually feels like it was written by someone who had read a few issues of Impulse. William Messner-Loebs handles everything in a very natural, authentic way, keeping everyone true to character. It was great to see Bart in the classroom again and deal with classic teenage superhero problems. And because I know the future, I am happy to say that this issue planted a few seeds that will be reaped at a later date. I also need to give credit to Craig Rousseau. He's no longer working off Sal Buscema's breakdowns and has a terrific handle on the series and its characters. I also like how he's subtly edging toward the enormous side when it comes to Bart's hair. Wieringo made it long, Ramos made it big, and Rousseau made it enormous — which I think is great.

Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt begins the letter column by saying Impulse #25 generated so many letters that ten postal workers had to be assigned to Impulse duty for the month. (And it certainly couldn't have helped matters with last issue not having a letters page.)

Jess "The Incredible Edible Egg" Willey is quite worried about facing an Impulse series without Max Mercury, saying he should at least get a miniseries with Jesse Quick. He also wants to see Impulse team up with the future Flash John Fox.

Robert E. Grover, of Amherst, Mass., praises the book for continuing to be so well written and drawn for two years. He says he'll miss Humberto Ramos, but will be happy as long as future artists remember to give Impulse big feet. Robert also brings up Mark Waid's hiatus on The Flash and wonders whether Grant Morrison will also take over Impulse. Jason answers by saying Waid's hiatus on Impulse will be shorter than his break on The Flash, but that turned out not to be the case.

W. Travis Stoffs, of Gainesville, Fla., asks to see more of Jenni Ognats, The Ray and Christina Alexandrova (or Lady Savitar as Jason referred to her).

Kevin Agot, of Manila, Philippines, is sad to see Ramos leave, but is hopeful for the future of the series. He also brings up a couple of conspicuous cameos in the future, which I missed, but Jason confirmed as Humberto Ramos and Wayne Faucher drawing themselves into the 30th century.

Kerry Aldrich, of Fredericksburg, Va., gives a substantive list of all the great things about issue #25, but also points out an error I completely read over. Apparently Meloni incorrectly referred to Iris and Barry as Bart's aunt and uncle instead of his grandma and grandpa. Jason explains that off by saying Meloni was a bit confused after doing so much time travel in one day.

Michael Warner, of Blissfield, Mich., says issue #25 made him sad and made him smile at the same time. He says stories like this that actually provoke an honest emotional response are rare and much appreciated.

There aren't any new ads in this issue, so I'll see you next time, when I begin DC's big event of 1997 — Genesis.

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