Sunday, March 8, 2015

Impulse #31

Solving the Puzzle

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

Our cover by Jeff Matsuda and Wayne Faucher shows Max Mercury battling Dr. Morlo, while Impulse idly watches by with a bag of popcorn in his hand. But as the cover kindly tells us, absolutely nothing like this scene happens in this issue. I do appreciate an honest cover, especially when honesty is used to a comedic effect. But I think the word "absolutely" might be a bit strong here. After all, Max really does battle Dr. Morlo, and Impulse really does little more than watch.

Our story begins with Helen, Carol and Bart coming together to get serious about finding Max, who has been missing for several days now. As they go through their options, Bart's history teacher, Professor Snodgrass, pays a visit. To Bart's horror, Snodgrass says he wants to talk to him about Impulse. Bart freezes in place, and Helen tells him to come closer to his teacher, saying he won't bite, but Bart imagines him as a vicious wolf.

Luckily, Mr. Snodgrass hasn't deduced Bart's secret identity (or at least that's what he's saying). Instead, Snodgrass says he knows that Bart and the other kids know how to contact Impulse, and he was hoping Bart could arrange a meeting with the superhero for him. Snodgrass says he wants to talk to Impulse since he was one of the few people who didn't lose their faith during the recent Genesis crisis. Snodgrass feels awful that he lost his love for history and teaching, and asks Bart whether this means he shouldn't be a teacher anymore. Bart imagines the wonderful freedom that would come from Snodgrass' early retirement, but decides to think for a minute before speaking.

Ultimately, Bart decides to do the right thing, and he encourages his teacher to not give up a passion developed over a lifetime because of one moment of doubt. Snodgrass loves what Bart tells him, and excitedly proclaims he'll never retire, which makes Bart feel like a dunce. Snodgrass then notices that Carol is over there, too, and is surrounded by various maps and papers. When he asks what they're doing, Carol decides to mostly tell the truth — that they're looking for an old-time hero called Max Mercury. Eager to help, Snodgrass suggests they give the Internet a try.

We then check in on Max, who is still in Dr. Morlo's basement with David Claiborne. Max has decided to bluff by telling his captors that Impulse has already found him and will soon be there to rescue him with the Flash and the Justice League. But Morlo's unconcerned, saying he's planted a bomb under the lab, which he will detonate at the first sign of an attack. This information is new to David, and troubling to Max, who realizes that even a small explosion would be greatly amplified by all of Morlo's old and dangerous chemicals in his basement. Morlo then leads David upstairs to show him his plan.

Back at Helen's house, we see that their Internet search has paid off quite well. Not only were they able to find one of Max's villains still operating, but they saw he has his own webpage linked to the JLA site. Visiting, Bart and the others are able to easily access Dr. Morlo's plans for world and local domination, secret formulas and recipes, and his secret location. Mr. Snodgrass recognizes the town of Hancock, about 30 miles from Manchester. Once he hears that, Bart decides to turn into Impulse and go save Max.

Impulse arrives in Hancock less than a second later, only to realize that he didn't wait the extra two seconds to get Morlo's actual address. He briefly considers finding a phone to call home, but doesn't want to risk having Snodgrass answer the phone, so he decides to manually check house to house.

Elsewhere, Morlo shows David a very large and fancy antimatter gun, which he says he bought cheap from Intergang. David notes that the gun looks rather old and damaged, but Morlo insists it's fine and tries to demonstrate it on a squirrel. Nothing happens to the small animal, but the gun does begin smoking and dangerously overheating. Morlo realizes that if the gun explodes, it will turn the whole town into a crater. Suddenly, Max zooms by, grabbing the gun and rushing it out to the fairgrounds to explode safely.

Impulse sees the explosion and wishes he could live in Hancock, believing the blast to be a regular event. He then notices Max zip past him, so he follows. Max returns to Morlo's basement and tries to figure out the best way to stop Morlo without destroying the neighborhood. Impulse suddenly appears right next to him, proudly proclaiming that he found him all by himself — except for some help that doesn't really count.

Bart apologizes to Max for getting mad at him about the video game contest and then wishing he'd disappear. But Max explains that he came out to Hancock to visit Helen's legal father, David, but then he was captured by Dr. Morlo. At the mention of a bad guy, Bart excitedly says they should go get him, but Max stops him, explaining that the whole place is going to blow. Max suggests they wait and see what develops, and Bart angrily vibrates in place, saying he hates waiting to see what develops.

David then comes down the stairs, and a panicked Impulse has a hard time finding a place to hide until Max tells him to vibrate through the wall. David tells Max that he now realizes Morlo is insane, and even though he still hates Max for stealing and impregnating his wife, he will work with Max to stop Morlo. Max says they first need to find the switch to the underground bomb, which David assumes Morlo is keeping on his person.

Once David is gone, Impulse comes out of the wall, saying, "That horrible! Did you know there was dirt in there?" "Out there," says Max. "We're underground." Max then tells Bart that his plan could work as long as Bart didn't tell anyone else where they are. Bart says he didn't tell anyone, but they all found out on their own, and pretty much everyone they know and love will be there in about 20 minutes. So Bart tries to come up with his own plan, quickly coming up with several possibilities, but immediately realizes each of them won't work.

So Max enacts his own plan, which begins with him swiping Dr. Morlo's age-defying potion to egg him on. Predictably, Morlo rushes down to his lab to yell at Max. Per Max's instructions, Impulse is carefully hidden, repeating Max's instructions in his head: "Don't run in until he shows the control. Don't run in until he shows the control. ..." Max keeps egging Morlo on until the mad scientist actually does pull out the control switch, saying he'd gladly die to kill Max.

David then punches Morlo, knocking out the elderly villain. Max wonders what they could do next while still keeping his secret identity intact, and David offers to call the mental hospital he broke Morlo out of. Impulse, still hidden, and still repeating Max's instructions, finally realizes the threat has been neutralized and he missed his opportunity. Max then tries to talk to David, but the old man walks angrily walks away, saying Max is still the man who ruined his life.

Max and Bart change into their civilian clothes, and an ambulance soon arrives to take Morlo away. Helen, Carol and Mr. Snodgrass pass the ambulance on their way to Morlo's house, and Snodgrass is astonished to see that Bart is already there. Bart struggles explaining himself for a moment, but Max steps in, saying that Impulse brought Bart with him. Max also explains that he was captured by a delusional old man who thought he was the old hero, Max Mercury. Snodgrass laughs at the idea, saying Max would have to be 100 years old to be that hero from the 1930s. Max glances toward the still bitter David, and says, "That's right. And some days I only feel that old."

This was a wonderful issue of Impulse. It feels so good to get back to basics after all the special events in-between. William Messner-Loebs is doing a great job with the humor of the book, giving Bart some really funny lines. However, Messner-Loebs does begin to show his great weakness with names in this issue, giving Carol the last name Trent instead of the previously established Bucklen. But Craig Rousseau has also come into his stride here — giving Impulse so many amazing expressions. And I loved having him vibrate when he gets angry. It's such a simple, yet effective detail.

Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt begins the letters column by saying Rousseau's artwork is the coolest thing since Arnold put on his Mr. Freeze outfit. (I consider that to be a highly offensive insult, but I think Jason meant it as a compliment.)

Matt Child also praises Rousseau's artwork, but he's mainly concerned with one panel in Impulse #26, in which a partygoer is chasing a naked girl with a torch. I admit I completely missed this detail, but I do think it's pretty fun.

Craig Elliot, of Stirlingshire, Scotland, says Impulse is a breath of fresh air since it features a character who is not angst-ridden, overwhelmed with responsibility, carrying a grudge against life or constantly facing life-threatening menaces.

Mark E. Bermingham, of Eden, N.Y., was happy with all the guest characters in issue #26, saying that Wally and Robin acted perfectly in character. But Mark does point out that it was rather odd that Jesse Quick was so reluctant to help Bart when she was happily helping prep for his birthday party just a few issues previous.

Kerry Aldrich, of Fredericksburg, Va., says Rousseau is doing a great job since he gave Bart big feet, big hair, patented thought pictograms, and made him look about 14 or 15 years old.

Doud Ohmer, of Covington, Ky., is happy with the new status quo of Carol knowing Bart's secret identity and having Bart and Max live with Helen. Doud feels Carol will be able to help Bart out and Helen will provide a motherly influence in the series. Now for the new ads:

Tangent Comics. The only thing you know is the names! The Flash #1, Green Lantern #1, The Atom #1.

The faces of the DC Universe. For one month, all the covers of DC Comics featured an extreme closeup on a character's face, which is pretty neat when you put them all together. We'll see The Flash and Impulse pretty soon.

The world's greatest heroes can be yours! Get 18 comics for the price of 12! A single issue of Impulse normally cost $1.75 in 1997, but through this deal, you could get 12 issues of Impulse plus six bonus issues for just $15.

Watch This Space talks about San Diego Comic Con. I guess the only Impulse-tie to this is the appearance of Mark Waid on the panel called The was DC: The Write Stuff!

Next time, we'll continue Flash Month with Impulse Annual #2.

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