Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Impulse Annual #2


William Messner-Loebs Writer
Craig Rousseau Penciller
Barbara Kaalberg Inker
Chris Eliopolous Letterer
Rick Taylor Colorist
Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt Assistant Editor
Paul Kupperberg Editor
Impulse created by Waid & Wieringo

Our cover is painted by Glen Orbik, and it features probably the most realistic-looking Impulse you'll ever see. At first, I found this cover to be a little freaky, but it's really grown on me over time. I also like the gag of Impulse defacing his own wanted poster. Although I have to point out the poster's lettering, which is conveniently spaced out around Impulse's head and hand.

This annual was part of DC's Pulp Heroes event, and the creators of Impulse decided to go with a Western theme, which offers an opportunity to tell an old Max Mercury story. And 35 pages of this 52-page comic is a pretty fun story of Max when he was known as Windrunner in the Wild West. But Impulse isn't in that story, so we'll skip it and only cover the short story he does appear in.

We start with Max and Bart on a train heading out to Mesa City, Arizona, to visit Max' old friend, Greg Saunders, who went by the name Vigilante back in the day. Saunders, who had been trying to establish a high-tech dude ranch out there, had been encountering some mysterious "accidents." So Max and Bart threw on their best cowboy outfits (with Bart wearing a comically large hat) and headed out to see how they could help. Unfortunately, the train is moving like molasses for the bored Bart.

So Bart begins talking to his fellow passengers, trying very hard to sound like a cowboy, and he meets one Jodie Huang, who got a job at the dude ranch in Mesa City. Suddenly, the train encounter a large boulder on the tracks. So Impulse rushes out and lifts the boulder with a whirlwind, only to discover several sticks of dynamite strapped to it. Luckily, Impulse keeps it high enough in the air that it explodes harmlessly.

We then check in on Mesa City, where Greg Saunders comes across a wallet full of thousands of dollars and no forms of identification. A couple of rough-looking individuals also lay claim to the wallet and suggest they split the prize. But first, they want everyone to chip in a couple of hundred dollars as "good faith" money and store it all in a safe to be evenly split in a month. But Greg realizes he's being scammed, and manages to slip out the money, leaving only a note in the wallet that warns the crooks not to mess with the Vigilante.

Bart, Max and Jodie then arrive at Mesa City and meet up with Greg. They tell him about the trouble they had on the tracks, and Greg admits to Max it feels like some people are trying to drive him out. Max remembers that Mesa City used to be controlled by the Owlhoot Syndicate, and he suddenly takes off to follow some leads. This gives Bart the great chance to say that Max is very impulsive.

Suddenly, trouble breaks out at the cappuccino saloon, where some software engineers broke out into a fist-fight over a movie trivia game. With Max gone, Greg tells Bart it's all up to him now. So he changes into Impulse again, and quickly puts down most of the rioting techies. But it's Jodie who actually puts an end to the fighting by launching into a big song and dance number that calms everybody down.

Jodie's singing is so good, it attracts the attention of the bank manager, Harvey McTeague, who offers to pay her three times what Greg is paying her. Greg and the manager get into an argument over the ethics of business. Jodie takes advantage of his distraction to head out and start looking for a certain map. But she's suddenly scooped up by a hot air balloon with a brown owl on it. Impulse notes her kidnapping, and alerts Greg Saunders, who recognizes the symbol of the Owlhoot Syndicate.

Impulse tries to save Jodie with another whirlwind, but he accidentally kicks up a huge sandstorm. The sandstorm does bring down the hot air balloon, and Jodie, who'd been taking karate lessons, manages to fight off the thugs who grabbed her. She tells Impulse that was looking for her great-great grandfather's gold, which he melted down into railroad spikes and hid in the rails of the first transcontinental railroad. Jodie explains that her family always thought the gold was just a legend, until someone stole her great-great grandfather's diary.

Impulse then notices that his sandstorm uncovered a long-lost ghost town called 20 Coffins. So he and Jodie go to check it out, only to find McTeague and the Owlhoot Syndicate has captured Max. Greg soon arrives and finds himself in a standoff with McTeague and his goons. The old Vigilante is outgunned by the bad guys, but Impulse is there to catch all their bullets, letting Greg shoot the guns out of their hands. But McTeague is a sore loser, and burns the map to the gold spikes.

Jodie sadly describes the enormous effort it would be to individually check each spike without the map, but while she talks, Impulse does all the work for her, and soon drops a big pile of gold spikes at her feet. Jodie rewards Impulse with a big hug, and Greg starts working on a business plan with Jodie.

This was a pretty fun story, but it feels incomplete. Perhaps it was meant to be the usual 20 pages, but got cut down to 17 at the last minute. In any case, I really want to know what the heck Max was doing this whole issue. He took off right at the beginning and didn't show back up until the end, having been captured by a couple of low-level thugs. Come on, Max! You're better than that! At least he redeems himself with the next story, Thunder in Mesa City, in which he meets and inspires a young Johnny Thunder.

There aren't any letters to the editor in this issue, so let's head straight to the ads.

Tangent Comics. The only thing you know is the names! The Joker #1, Metal Men #1, Nightwing #1.

Watch This Space continues to talk about San Diego Comic Con and really has nothing to do with Impulse.

The toons are taking over! Scooby-Coo. The Mystery Inc. gang stars in all-new, hair-raising adventures every month!

The Flinstones and the Jetsons. The first families of the Stone Age and the Space Age share the spotlight in one all-new, sidesplitting monthly comic!

Next time, we'll wrap up the epic Flash Month with The Flash #131.

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