Saturday, April 18, 2015

Impulse #34

The Devonian Age


This issue hit the stands just in time for Christmas 1997, although the issue itself has nothing to do with Christmas. But this is still a really fun cover by Craig Rousseau and Wayne Faucher. I like Max's Flash T-shirt and the Flash wrapping paper on the barcode. I always though barcodes had to be white, so it was really cool to see that they were able to disguise it as a present. All in all, this is pretty much how I would expect Christmas morning to be in the Crandall/Claiborne/Allen household. Except for Bart wearing his Impulse uniform. But this is a cover, so he kind of has to wear it.

Our story begins with Max installing a fax machine, much to Bart's bewilderment. But Max insists this is the best way to keep in touch with the JLA, JSA, Arkham Asylum, Oracle and others. But the machine proves a bit too complicated for Max, and Bart claims it'll never work. Max wishes just once Bart would tell him he's right, but Bart decides to run off to school instead.

Bart stays after school that day to help Carol and Vice Principal Randal Sheridan hang a banner for the New Year's Dance. Mr. Sheridan stands up on a chair to reach the banner, but he's startled by counselor Jasper Pierson yelling at him for "risking those children's lives." Mr. Sheridan starts to fall, but luckily he and everyone else fall neatly into some chairs arranged by Bart at super speed. Carol remarks on their great luck by glaring at Bart, who does his best to look innocent.

Pierson begins to lecture Sheridan for using non-approved appliance to repair school property, and while Sheridan admits he should have used a ladder, he doesn't appreciate how Pierson's panicking caused him to fall. Max then arrives to take Bart away, showing him an emergency fax he received. Apparently a secret government weapons facility is under attack, so Max and Impulse take off toward the desert for Area 52.

Our heroes soon find there's only two intruders, who apparently can vibrate through walls. Impulse assumes this will be easy, and rushes toward one of the figures, saying, "Bad terrorist! Time for jail!" But the terrorist suddenly disappears and reappears behind Impulse, grabbing his hair. Impulse quickly breaks free, only to have his hair grabbed from behind again. He can't believe this terrorist is moving so fast, so he begins to speed up more and more. Max tries to tell Impulse to slow down, saying the terrorists aren't using super speed. But Bart doesn't listen, and eventually collides with Max, knocking them both out.

Impulse and Max wake up in a big glass tube, and are introduced to Dr. Julian Tremain, Master of Time and Space, and his henchman, Rob. Tremain explains that he stole secret weapons from Area 52 that will enable him to change history and make himself leader of all mankind. Bart excitedly whispers to Max that he'll just vibrate through the glass and stop Tremain. But Max warns him that something else is going on — why else would Tremain go to the trouble of bringing the two speedsters into his lab. But Impulse shrugs him off, saying all villains simply love to gloat. But when Bart vibrates through the glass, he activates Tremain's machine, and the whole room is enveloped in a bright light.

When Impulse wakes up, he finds himself facing a freaky-looking fish thing. This startles him, and he falls into a pool of water and is attacked by gigantic mosquitos. Max then arrives and calmly welcomes Bart to the Devonian Age. Bart asks if this is an age where everyone is named Devon, but Max explains it's the time when life first moved out of the sea and onto the land (about 400 million years ago). Max identifies the lungfish that spooked Bart, and says it is the most advanced vertebrate on the planet.

So Bart understands he won't be seeing any dinosaurs or cavemen on this trip to the "olden days," but he does wonder where the pyramids are. Max sarcastically remarks that he and Abe Lincoln used to hitch their horses to the pyramids, then he clearly explains that they are sitting at the very beginning of life on Earth. Bart gets pretty excited by this, and takes off to see it all, but Max stops him, saying they can't change anything. Everything they do will be magnified by hundreds of millions of years, so killing a grasshopper or promoting soil erosion could change their own time beyond recognition.

Bart carefully pulls a large mosquito out of his hair, and the two speedsters relax a bit, take off their masks, and Max begins to talk about the amazing, courageous journey of the lungfish. But Bart soon becomes bored and decides to fashion a fishing pole from a thread from his jeans and a nail from the New Year's Dance banner. Max angrily destroys Bart's pole and wraps the thread around his head, which is his way of saying "no change" means "no fishing," too. As Max storms off, Bart points out that they're changing things by making tracks and breathing air. Max angrily admits he doesn't know what to do. They run down the list of everything they can't do, including eating anything, drinking anything or building a fire. Bart trips on a rock and pulls a trilobite out of his hair, and in desperation says they might as well be dead. But Max points out they can't let themselves die because the bacteria in their corpses would devastate the flora and fauna of the area.

Having fully established what a bind they're in, Bart finally starts to wonder how they got there in the first place. So Max explains that Dr. Tremain's time machine obviously needed a power source, and he goaded Bart into provided that power by tapping into the Speed Force. Suddenly, our heroes catch the smell of roasting fish. They follow the smell to find Tremain and Rob having a cookout with lungfish, trilobite and clams. The villains invite the heroes to eat with them, and Bart tries to warn them against eating anything, but the food smells so good, and since it's already cooked, he gives in.

Even Max can't resist the allure of food, and as he sits to join them, he learns that the villains are also stranded in time. Apparently, Tremain underestimated Impulse's power, which hurled them all through an uncontrollable vortex and fried Tremain's backup machines. So now the would-be conqueror of Earth has resigned himself to a life of a gourmet fisherman on the world's first beach. Bart asks whether they have any hope of returning to their proper time, and all Tremain can give him is a slight theoretical chance — if they change the future enough, they could potentially create a reality where he doesn't create the time machine and they return home. As they watch the sun set on the Devonian Age day, Bart slaps one of the large mosquitos that've been bugging him. Suddenly, everything fades away in another bright flash of light.

Bart finds himself back in school, helping Carol and Mr. Sheridan hang a banner again. But this time, they're all wearing uniforms, and the banner says, "Welcome World-President-for-Life Tremain!" Sheridan once again stands up on a chair, and Mr. Pierson once again freaks out. But this time, Pierson has Sheridan arrested by the Safety Police and orders Bart and Carol to put on helmets and kneepads. We then see it was Evil Eye who reported Sheridan for using unauthorized equipment. All the kids in school praise Evil Eye for being safe and temperate, and he proclaims his aspirations to be captain of the Safety Police.

A confused Bart walks outside and finds Max locked in stocks next to Sheridan. Max explains that his great crime was saving a dog from being run over by a car. Apparently, in this new world, it's a crime to risk your life. Bart finally admits that Max was right about everything, and Max says hearing Bart say that isn't anywhere near as fun as he thought it'd be.

This was another fun. light-hearted issue of Impulse that this series is built upon. It's kind of nice to take a quick break from the toxic waste-dumping trial and have a simple, wacky adventure. And although Impulse's very existence has always been predicated on time travel, it was great to see him go back in time for once and start exploring with alternate timelines.

Even though he didn't technically work on this issue, former assistant editor Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt did handle the letter column one more time, signing out by saying he's getting on a plane tomorrow.

Jim Bryan praises the series for its focus on down-to-Earth moments and the art that always matches the tone of the book. He asks for more references to Southern culture, more White Lightning and a cameo from Damage.

Scott J. Mullowney describes himself as a 39-year-old who has dropped all his Marvel titles for being too angsty. He thanks the creators of Impulse for making comics fun again and something he can enjoy with his kids.

Ben Varkentine, of Seattle, asks why this series doesn't have a name for the letter column, and offers the usual praise for Impulse #30. He's happy to see Bart slowly, but surely learning, and loves how William Messner-Loebs writes Max Mercury.

Daniel Montiel says Impulse is one of the few books where he can go from laughing to serious in just a few seconds without feeling as if he violated something. He's happy with how Impulse is growing up and learning that his powers can't solve everything, and thanks DC for providing a book that will have him laughing, yet thinking about for a long time.

Kevin Dragone, of Phoenixville, Penn., asks if Savitar will return, whether one of the statues in the future Flash museum was an adult Bart as the Flash, and when Robin will team up with Impulse again. He also suggests Impulsive, Impulsive Chat and Impulsive Imports for the letter column name. Jason mostly dodged all of Kevin's questions, but he did say something big was planned for Robin and Impulse.

Julian Darius, of Moro, Ill., praises William Messner-Loebs, calling him a favorite writer ever since he made The Flash just a little less serious. Jason also echoes the kind words for Bill, saying he and Paul Kupperberg had worked with him on Wonder Woman and were very happy when the opening for Impulse worked out well with everybody's schedule. Now for the new ads:

Dragonball Z The Movie: Dead Zone. This was a favorite of mine as a kid, especially the scenes with Piccolo. What astonishes me today is how expensive this movie was in 1997. $19.98 for a dubbed VHS and $29.98 for the DVD.

JNCO takes you on a wild and educational free for all when you witness ... the ancient art of yo, demystified.

Hey sport! Check out this new, tight collection of sports apparel and accessories: shirts, shoes, caps bags and more for your life and your game. WB Sport.

She doesn't like them. She doesn't trust them. She may be one of them. Chase. Written by D. Curtis Johnson. Illustrated by J.H. Williams III and Mick Gray.

Watch This Space is full of the usual trivial garbage, highlighted by DC's circulation coordinator walking past Regis Philbin on the street. How exciting!

Next time, we'll conclude the Marvel/DC crossover with Unlimited Access #4.

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