Sunday, March 22, 2015

Impulse #33

Time Out

William Messner-Loebs Writer
Craig Rousseau Penciller
Barbara Kaalberg Inker
Chris Eliopoulos Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt Assistant Editor
Paul Kupperberg Editor

The Jeff Matsuda cover era is over now, but the good news is that Craig Rousseau finally gets to start drawing his own covers again! I always appreciate it when the inside artist is also the outside artist — it helps give the reader a good idea of what they're going to get. Here, Rousseau teams up with mainstay cover inker Wayne Faucher to give us a light-hearted Thanksgiving scene. I haven't really seen anyone mention that Impulse needs to eat an enormous amount of food — as is often the case with other speedsters — but it's still a really fun image, even if this issue doesn't directly deal with Thanksgiving. I do find Carol's inclusion to be a bit odd, and I want to find out who messed up Helen's hair. It's supposed to be black with a white streak through it, not brown.

Our story begins in a dark office, where an old man has hired a familiar face — White Lightning. The man explains that he has an investment in the men who are being tried for toxic dumping in Manchester, Alabama, and he wants White Lightning to punish those who arrested these men and frighten the witnesses to death. White Lightning readily agrees, saying for the money she's being offered, she'll gladly terrify the whole state.

We then check in at Manchester Junior High, where Bart is helping a bunch of kids set up a large Christmas tree in the school. Bart complains that Impulse could have quickly done the whole thing, but Carol points out that he would have blown all the needles off and wrecked the tree. We then cut in to the office of Assistant Principal Randall Sheridan, where he is meeting with the school's new social worker, Jasper Pierson. Apparently the school board sent him to Manchester in light of all violence and civil disobedience surrounding the students during the past year.

So Pierson soon gets set up in his new office, and begins meeting with the problem students one-by-one, hoping to give them a "time out" to quietly reflect on what they're doing. His first student is Carol Bucklen, who is being raised by her older brother. Pierson notes that she's getting very good grades, but he's worried she's using school to cover up deeper problems, such as struggling to define her brother's role as a father in their sick role-playing fantasy used to cover up their pain. Carol insists that everything is fine, but Pierson senses lots of buried resentment and declares they have a lot of work to do.

Pierson's next victim is Preston Lindsay, who is being raised by his dad, while his mom continues to receive treatment for her violent tendencies. Pierson notes that Preston's home life is mostly stable and his grades are average, but he worries that this is a sign that Preston has a terrible, compulsive fear of change. But Pierson assures Preston that if they keep talking, they'll prevent the boy's bad feeling and resentments from coming out inappropriately and damaging his relationship with his family. Preston didn't even realize he had bad feelings he didn't know about, and he asks the counselor what he's going to do to hurt them. Pierson then calls a time out, saying they have a lot of work to do.

Next up is Evil Eye, whom we last saw trying to rob the mall during the big curfew strike. Pierson reveals that Evil Eye's real name is embarrassingly Wilfred, and he notes his grades are borderline at best and his father has never attended a parent-teacher conference. As Pierson combs through Evil Eye's rather thick file, he notes the boy has been running with a gang called the Legion of Eels, and been associated with vandalism, fighting and truancy. Evil Eye proclaims that school is stupid and he's only hanging around until his dad hits a big score and sets them up on easy street. Pierson continues to dig through the file and finds evidence of an extortion ring and 12 charges of trafficking in stolen property. He suggests they call a time out, and looks up to see Evil Eye has already left, which he thinks is a good idea.

Finally, it's Bart's turn to meet with Mr. Pierson. The social worker notes that Bart's grades are variable, and he's managed to impress his teachers. He sees Bart lives with his uncle, but can't find any record of guardianship papers. In fact, Pierson can't find birth certificates for Bart, Max or his parents. He says it seems like Bart never existed and his mom completely vanished. Bart truthfully explains that his mom is in the 30th century, fighting a rebellion against an evil empire. Bart also says that he was raised in a video game and that Max is a time-traveling superhero. He finally realizes he's let the horse out of the barn, and he tries to take back what he said. But Pierson believes that Bart's home life is so terrible that he's had to construct this imaginary life to deal with it.

Across town, another investigation is ongoing, as the accused toxic waste-dumpers are having a private meeting with the district attorney. Their lawyer is furious about this, and demands to see them immediately. Suddenly, a huge hole is blown in the side of the building by a heavily armed White Lightning. She tells the police to release her friends from the ridiculous dumping charge, and quickly takes off before the police can retaliate. One of the officers recalls a report saying White Lightning had stolen some ordnance from a secret government facility, which she is now using to intimidate the Manchester police.

Later that evening, Bart tells Max about his latest predicament. He says the diabolical social worker is on to them and will soon undo the months Bart spent establishing a secret identity through endless preparation, constant stress and brilliant improvisation. Max notes that Bart's definition of "brilliant improvisation" is blurting out the truth every time someone asks. But Bart is in a right-out frenzy, saying they need to do something about all the missing paperwork Max apparently forgot about when they first moved to Manchester. Max says he'd rather investigate the full-scale military assault on the police station from earlier in the day, but he reluctantly agrees to solve Bart's problem. With one phone call, Max is able to order birth certificates for himself, Bart and his parents, driving records, credit histories, a death certificate and grave site for Bart's dad, as well as a feedback loop to alert him if anyone goes poking around. Bart stares at Max in stunned silence, who simply says, "What?"

The next day, Bart decorates the school Christmas by himself, happily pointing out to Carol how he was able to do it two seconds instead of two hours. Carol says the other kids would have wanted to help, but Bart insists everyone hates tree trimming, and that he saved them all from hours of jostling, arguing and screaming. Suddenly, the tree explodes, courtesy of White Lightning. The super villain introduces herself as Moonshine for some reason, and warns Carol not to go off testifying about things she doesn't know about. Impulse quickly appears and disarms White Lightning. But the massive rifle begins beeping suspiciously, which worries both Carol and Impulse. White Lightning suggests that Impulse may have triggered the rifle's self-destruct, and to their horror, the rifle begins counting down. Impulse asks Carol to shut it off, but she says that he's the superhero. So he gives the rifle back to White Lightning, saying she has no choice but to shut if off now. But the villain laughs, saying maybe the gun isn't a bomb at all, and maybe it's just a beeping rifle. She then disappears in a cloud of smoke.

After school, Bart tells Max about his latest failure. Although Max points out that he saved Carol, Bart feels like White Lightning was able to escape because he didn't have a plan. So he spends the next few minutes filling out a big stack of papers of possible plans and alternatives. Max takes a look at one of his pages, which involves using microwaves to set Greenwich mean time back an hour. But Bart is determined this is the correct course of action, telling Max he's been right all along. Max says, "If I'm so right, why am I filled with dread?"

At twilight, Bart takes Carol and Preston on a walk outside Manchester. He has correctly deduced that White Lightning has come after everybody involved in the toxic waste-dumping trial, leaving Preston as the last target. He says White Lightning will soon show up to start pushing Preston around, but he has contacted Impulse, who will be there waiting for her. But Preston feels like he's coming face-to-face with a Tyrannosaurus rex. Suddenly, Mr. Pierson spots the kids out on their own and tells them it's dangerous for them to be alone out here. His arrival was not a part of Bart's plan, so he tries to tell the counselor they're fine and there's no danger around for a hundred miles.

But Bart's interrupted by the arrival of White Lightning — in an Apache helicopter. Mr. Pierson stupidly tries to call a time out on the villain, but White Lightning begins firing her machine guns anyway. Max Mercury shows up in the nick of time to save Mr. Pierson, while Bart stands under the helicopter to adjust his plan to these unexpected developments. But as he shuffles through his big stack of papers, they get caught up in the wind and are sucked into one of the helicopter's engines. The papers cause the helicopter to crash, and Bart is so stunned by this development, Preston and Carol have to pull him to safety.

Later, Max is reading the paper while Bart plays his GameBoy. Max confirms that there's been no sign of Moonshine, and the trial is still on. Bart tells him Carol and Preston are still eager to testify, and he says he couldn't have stopped the villain without his plan. Max says he's glad to hear it, and continues reading his paper, which features an article with the headline, "Good luck JHR!" and a picture of man heading off to film school. Another article says "Kupps #1 Dad." I know for sure the first one is a reference to Assistant Editor Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt, who is leaving after this issue to pursue a career in film. Kupps is short for Editor Paul Kupperberg, and he may have had a child when this issue was being made, but I'm not entirely sure.

Anyway, on our final page, White Lightning returns to her mysterious, old client. She's nursing a broken wrist, but is otherwise fine. She reports her mission a success, and is rewarded with a large briefcase of money. The old man then reveals himself as Edward Dunsany, boss of bosses. He explains that his son set up a rival organization to undercut his own dumping business. So Dunsany hired White Lightning to stir up trouble around his son's case so the law will come down on him like a ton of bricks.

This was a really nice issue in terms of realistic human reactions and comic book continuity. I think it's completely reasonable for a school board to send a social worker to Manchester Junior High considering all the school has been through. And while Jasper Pierson is well-meaning, I'm sure we've all had to deal with people like him, who like to create problems to solve where there aren't any in the first place. I was also glad that Messner-Loebs is reminding us of past details about Carol, Preston and Bart, while also bringing back Evil Eye and White Lightning. However, Messner-Loebs' great weakness with names was on full display here, as he constantly switched back and forth between White Lightning and Moonshine. But overall, I really enjoy the job he's doing on this title. A lot of issues of Impulse have been standalone one- or two-shots. So it's nice to have something like this dumping trial serve as the backdrop during this run, while Messner-Loebs continues to tell stories about Bart and his friends growing up.

Our letters column begin with a farewell from Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt. He says he'll be leaving DC after three-and-a-half years, but he'll be sticking around Impulse for a few months. He does praise the efforts of Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos, saying they planted the seeds for William Messner-Loebs and Craig Rousseau, who have taken the ball and run with it.

Sam & Gabe, of Oak Park, Ill., simply ask for a professor to make a duplicator so there's like a hundred Barts. Jason jokes that will be DC's next big crossover, and says they're working with representatives from other comics companies to have Impulse appear in every comic published in America for one month. I know he's joking, but I kinda wish that did happen.

Aaron Cullers, of Miamisburg, Ohio, says his favorite joke in Impulse #29 was Impulse imagining a seal in a Navy uniform. And Jason happily admits that gag was his idea.

Zeke Ruffen, of Los Alamos, N.M., says he always enjoyed that Impulse was mostly comprised of self-contained stories and (incorrectly) says Waid waited 23 issues before doing a multiple-part story. That said, Zeke says he was worried about Messner-Loebs jumping into a continuing story like this, but said he's pleased with the results, especially with finding out what happened to David Claiborne.

Melissa K. Lester (17) loved how excited Preston got after being shot, and praises the artwork, saying Rousseau's really giving a great feel of the characters.

Jason Simmons (Da Bomb), of Greensboro, N.C., reports that Disney Adventures magazine named Impulse the best new superhero. I also read this magazine as a kid, but I don't remember Impulse's honor. That's probably because I didn't know who Impulse was back in 1997.

Aaron Cullers has a second letter printed for Impulse #30, saying he liked Dr. Morlo, but felt like David Claiborne was forced into the story. He also says Preston and Carol are some of the better supporting characters in the DC Universe.

Mamoun Nazul, of Boston, says the Genesis miniseries itself is disappointing, but many of the individual crossover issues are great. Mamoun also loved the teachers in issue #30, as well as Rousseau's facial expressions. Well, let's check out the new ads now:

Brett Favre says, "This holiday season, have a ball ... a cap, or Madden 98! ... And don't forget that really handsome Brett Favre action figure!" Take it from the NFL's two-time MVP, " 'Tis the season to get all new NFL gear. And don't forget that handsome Brett Favre action figure! Ho, Ho, Ho!"

Scooby-Doo where are you? Right here in a new-to-video feature-length animated movie kids are going to love! Scooby-Coo Goes Hollywood.

Dark Past. Dark Present. Dark Future. Across the generations they battle the eternal evil of Vandal Savage. Batman: Dark Knight Dynasty.

DC Comics Online. Featuring live chats with Mark Waid, Brian Augustyn and Grant Morrison.

Stratego. Now and beyond. This is a little comic strip, with alien warlords acquiring the board game, believing it will teach them Earth's defensive strategy.

Can you survive? Has man learned to live with the most powerful creatures imaginable? Don't miss Steve Spielberg's spectacular adventure! The Lost World: Jurassic Park. This was a rather disappointing movie, failing to live up to the magic of the first movie or the source material book by Michael Crichton.

Next time, Impulse will take part in DC's latest crossover with Marvel, Unlimited Access #3.

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