Monday, March 16, 2015

Impulse #32

Unhealed Wounds

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 Waid & Wieringo

Our cover by Jeff Matsuda and Wayne Faucher gives us a very nice and fun closeup on Impulse's face. I'm not exactly sure what the lightning on Bart's remarkably skinny tongue is for — perhaps that's a result of him sticking his tongue out at super speed. This is also Matsuda's final cover on Impulse. I really enjoyed his expressive, angular style, and I wish we could have seen that on the inside pages.

Now that Genesis is over, and Max has been rescued from Dr. Morlo, the Owlhoot Syndicate and the Suit, life can finally return to normal in Manchester, Alabama. And that means Bart finally is able to tell Max about his disastrous encounter with the toxic-waste dumpers, in which Preston was grazed by a bullet. Bart tells Max the whole story, getting faster and faster at the end, then crosses his fingers in hopes Max won't yell too much. To Bart's astonishment, Max seems more interested in the Manchester Courier, and simply says, "You did fine. Don't get anyone else shot."

A perplexed Bart then takes his problems to Helen, who says, "Now there's an unusual concept. A teenager who doesn't understand the person who's raising him." When Bart tells her Max is being nice and accepting for no reason, Helen says, "You have my sympathy ... not!" (Ahh, so '90s!) Helen tells Bart to call her when he has a real problem, like world peace breaking out. So a very confused and upset Bart grabs his backpack and heads out to walk to school with Carol.

To Bart's frustration, Carol also fails to see the problem with Max failing to yell at Bart, reminding him that Preston is completely fine. Carol also tells Bart she's been contacted by the D.A.'s office, which thinks the dumpers were connected to organize crime, meaning she and Preston could testify at the trial. Bart begins to pout since nobody talked to him, but Carol points out that Bart technically wasn't there — Impulse was, and he can't testify. Bart then notices they're being followed by a suspicious car, so he quickly changes into Impulse to pull out who he believes to be more criminals.

Preston, meanwhile, is visiting his mother for the first time in nearly six months. After the horrific events of Impulse #6, Preston's mom was placed in therapy so she wouldn't be a danger to her son. And now Preston is finally coming to see her, with a potted plant in his hand. But Preston's mom isn't quite herself. She warns her son that the hospital is dangerous, since all the doctors are secretly lizard people from the underground city of Lizardia. She says she's written a 500-page document detailing their plans for world dominance, and she warns Preston to trust no one, not even his father. The case worker explains to Preston that his mom agreed to some elective drug therapy, but the doctors are having trouble adjusting her medications. This, however, doesn't make Preston feel any better.

We then cut back to the action with Bart and Carol, who find out the people following them are indeed undercover cops. They explain that there've been some threatening letters surrounding this toxic-waste dumping case, so the police decided to hire some protection for the potential witnesses. As the cops get back in their car, Bart calls them a couple of dweebs. To his surprise, Carol chides him for being mature, and praises the cops for acting like heroes, being tall and smelling like mint.

Carol takes off in a huff, leaving a confused Bart behind. He decides from now on he needs to start thinking more, which doesn't work out too well when Preston joins him. Preston tells Bart all about the state of his mom and he wonders whether he's making things worse by visiting her or staying away. Bart tries to think real hard, but can't come up with anything, so Preston decides to try to work things out on his own.

Later, we see Preston visiting his mom again. He's brought her another potted plant, and sees the three others he gave her have died. Today, Preston's mom is very happy. Too happy, in fact. Preston tries to tell her about the toxic-waste dumping trial, but she's only focused on milk and cookies and the sock hop.

At school, Preston gives Bart and Carol the latest update on his mom, and sadly begins to doubt if she'll ever get better. As they talk, Bart becomes annoyed with the undercover cops' poor job of discreetly protecting them. Although Carol still has her crush on the tall cop, calling him very intellectual. Bart tells Preston to pretend to ignore the cops, since it hurts their feelings when they're noticed. Preston responds by asking, "What about my feelings, huh? What about my mom's feelings?"

Preston then begins to go on a bit of rant about how no one cares about his mom at the clinic, and how his mom is either a raving loony or some person he doesn't even know. His emotional outburst is suddenly interrupted when the undercover cops tackle a suspicious man in a suit. Carol begs Bart to do something, but he worries about making the situation worse, since they could start shooting or throwing grenades at each other. Luckily, it turns out the man in the suit was merely a lawyer, trying to tell Carol and Preston that they've officially been called witnesses for the defense. So a happy Bart points out to Carol that he didn't do anything and it was good.

Of course, nothing is as simple as it seems. The lawyer's client specifically wants Carol and Preston to prove that no laws were broken. So on Preston's next visit to his mom (with another plant), he presents this quandary to her. Preston also asks her why Carol is following the one cop around like a puppy. Sadly, Preston's mom is still in no condition to help her son, being in a completely unresponsive state during this visit.

Luckily, Bart does have a responsive guardian to help him out. Bart is caught up on the concept of action vs. inaction, and expresses his frustration with not knowing which decision to make. Max says it's hard to make decisions, and sometimes he just flips a coin. This only causes Bart to freak out even more — not liking the idea of Max running his life with a coin toss. Their discussion is cut short by a news bulletin on the radio. Police have surrounded and begun evacuating Green Acres Mental Health Facility after receiving a threatening letter targeting the place. And, of course, Green Acres is where Preston's mom is being held.

Max and Impulse soon arrive on the scene, and after some worrying, Impulse decides to risk talking to the cops to see what's up. They tell him there are still a few patients inside, but they don't have any major cause for concern yet, especially since all the other letters turned out to be hoaxes. For some reason, Carol is also there, and she notices that Preston is gone.

Preston, naturally, is inside, visiting his mom. Bringing her a cactus this time, Preston is still wrestling his confused feelings about whether he feels guilty for his mom's predicament. But ultimately, he's resolved not to desert her when it seems like everyone else has. However, Preston's mom is not a good mood today. She begins shouting at Preston, calling him Susie for some reason.

Back outside, Impulse is struggling mightily with what he should do. He acknowledges he could check each room in the hospital in about five seconds, and if he finds a bomb, he'll be a hero. But he worries that perhaps the Flash's Rouges Gallery could be in there waiting for him with an advanced trap that is triggered by his super speed or vibrations. Impulse tries to consider all the possibilities, including the hospital being a trap set up by aliens seeking to send the whole town into space. Max tells Impulse he's overthinking this, but Bart reminds him he's always been taught to have a plan. The poor kid then begins to worry about how much planning is too much, and he gets caught in a loop saying, "Plan! No plan! Plan! No plan!"

Meanwhile, Preston's mom continues to shout at, and threaten to beat her son. But she's calling Preston by her own name, Susie, and she refers to herself as Ezra, who was her grandfather. Preston then realizes that she reliving a traumatic experience from her childhood. Outside, Impulse makes several false starts at entering the hospital, and Preston gives him a nice shock by walking up behind him.

Impulse is thrilled to see Preston is alright, and he explains that his mom quickly fell asleep after her episode. Preston goes on to tell Impulse that he just discovered him mom was beaten by her grandfather while staying on his farm in the summers. And Preston is relieved to finally realize that none of this was his fault. And Impulse is relieved to see Preston solved his problem without super powers. So he begins to contemplate retiring and picking up hobbies such as glassblowing and starting an herb garden.

This was a very good issue. I'm very glad that Messner-Loebs decided to write a followup to Impulse #6, which is still probably the best issue of the series. We got a great look inside Preston's head, and I felt his emotions and thoughts were very realistic. The only thing missing here was Preston's dad, who wasn't mentioned at all. As wonderful as it was to see a boy deal with his abusive/psychotic mother, I really wanted to see the expanded family dynamic of that boy's father and that woman's husband deal with this difficult situation. But other than that, I really loved this issue, including the tough debate Impulse dealt with. It's never easy to know when or how to interfere in other people's lives, and I think Bart did some major growing up in this issue. He's taken the first step to actually think about these consequences, but now he needs to learn how to think and not let moral and ethical quandaries mire him in inaction. Well, let's see what the readers thought about Impulse #28:

Claudio Franke says he's returned to the world of comic books after a six- or seven-year hiatus, and it's mostly due to Impulse. Claudio loves how Impulse is a book about a kid who happens to be a superhero and not the other way round.

Doud Ohmer, of Covington, Ky., hopes to see Arrowette return without her mother in the future. He also says Tom Peyer is the only guest writer who doesn't feel like an obvious guest writer.

Stacy Hogan also wants to see more Arrowette, and kind of rails on Max for his reluctance to get involved in family matters.

Mark Kiewlak, of Nanticoke, Penn., calls issue #28 the strongest issue not written by Mark Waid. But he didn't quite appreciate the ending, feeling more people needed to learn a lesson at the end, and he called Bart a brat for guilting Max at the end.

Gloriann Marters, of Naguabo, Puerto Rico, simply praises Impulse for being super-cool and says that she needs to subscribe to the series since her shop is always sold out of Impulse issues. Now for the few new ads:

New Marshmallow Alpha-Bits Supershapes!

Cut 'em out and clean up! With Post Toy Buck$ you can save up to $17.00 on all this cool stuff! (Crayola Deluxe Activity Set, Crash Bandicoot for PlayStation, K'Nex construction sets and select TYCO radio control vehicles.)

Watch This Space does have a very slight relation to Impulse. Letterer Chris Eliopoulos will also be lettering Green Lantern. Exciting, right?

Deck yourself with Dannon Sprinkl'ins!! Fa-la-la la-la ... la-la-lala! Get Mom to get yummy Dannon Sprinkl'ins! With glittery holiday stickers on every Holiday 4 pack! Collect all 4 sets and deck your tree! Your stockings! Yourself!

Next time, we'll wrap up 1997 by helping the Legionnaires finally return to the future in Legion of Super-Heroes #99.

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