Sunday, April 26, 2015

Impulse #35

Time Out of Joint

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

I'm a bit surprised to see Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt's name in the credits, since I thought he had already left DC to attend film school. But his presence here and in the letter column isn't an unwelcome one. Anyway, our cover is by Craig Rousseau and Wayne Faucher, and it follows the great DC tradition of throwing gorillas on the covers to boost sales. But there's a twist! This time, Impulse and Max Mercury are the gorillas — or rather apes, I'm not sure they're technically gorillas, but I don't really know my primates too well.

Our story begins right where last issue left off, with Bart and Max finding themselves in an alternate reality and Max being locked in stocks for risking his life to save a dog. Luckily, Max's punishment doesn't last long. As he's released by the Safety Police, Bart complains about this new world where Dr. Julian Tremain is president, the social worker Jasper Pierson runs the school, and, worst of all, Evil Eye is more popular than Bart. So Max gently helps Bart realize there are more pressing matters than his social life.

A Safety Police officer then notices that Bart isn't wearing a veloso-meter, devices surgically attached to all children to prevent them from running too fast. He places the device on Bart's shirt to get a reading, but Bart throws it off with his super speed. Unable to understand what's happening, the officer concludes the device to be broken and leaves to get a new one. While his back is turned, Max and Bart throw on their uniforms and take off.

As Max and Impulse zoom down the side of the road, they note all the cars are powered by rockets and traveling at dangerous speeds. Bart thinks this is pretty cool, until someone crashes. Max and Impulse save the driver, and soon see the presidential escort for Tremain pass by. Bart realizes he forgot to tell Max that Tremain was scheduled to appear at his school, but suddenly, a group of hang-gliders start dropping bombs over the traffic. Impulse sucks the gliders down to Earth with a super-speed vortex, which unfortunately also creates quite a mess.

The commotion lands Bart and Max in President Tremain's office in the White House. But Max and Bart are so busy arguing about his actions on the freeway, Tremain has to remind that he's the bad guy who has just taken over the world and they should be yelling at him. He then explains that this new world they're in contains no superheroes. Gotham City is a big pit of organic goo, caused by a secret weapons malfunction, and Metropolis was wiped out 30 years when it was hit by a rocket from space (fans of Flashpoint will find that plot very familiar).

As Tremain gloats about his supreme power, his former henchman, Rob, announces the arrival of the national science advisor Professor Zoom. Tremain explains that most of the super villains of this world are government bureaucrats. But this Zoom is an unstable lunatic, who often talks too fast for anyone to understand. As Zoom tries to slow down through the use of a controller, Bart casually asks Rob how he likes his new job. Turns out, Rob was hoping to control his own city or something like that, but all he does now is open the door for people.

Zoom finally gets under control and announces he has ingeniously deduced the rebels' plans to attack Tremain at his most vulnerable points and eliminate him. A couple of soldiers then escort in the rebel leader, who turns out to be Gorilla Grodd. Suddenly, everything is enveloped in another bright flash of light.

Bart and Max find themselves wearing kilts and standing in the White House redecorated as a palace. Bart wonders what they did this time to cause a time leap, but Max suspects it may have something to do with the Speed Force. President Tremain then happily proclaims his success as a leader. His policy, he explains, is to give everyone what they want. People want to drive fast, so he gave them rocket cars. Social workers want to control everything, so Tremain gave them complete control of the schools. And James Jesse wanted to turn Gorilla City into a theme park, so Tremain gave the OK. He then pulls on Bart's hair to demonstrate how fun it is to do whatever you want. Max asks what happens when what people want comes into conflict. But Tremain's answer is cut short by a sudden attack from Grodd and his army.

Bart tries to race off to help, but Max grabs his hair, saying they probably shouldn't be protecting Tremain. So Grodd, sporting an eye patch and cigar, invades the palace unimpeded. Since Tremain can't get Max and Bart to defend him, he calls on Zoom, only to see he has sided with Grodd. But before Grodd can claim victory, there's another flash of light.

Suddenly, all the humans are now apes and the apes are turtles. Max suggests there might be an elasticity to time that seems linked to the Speed Force through them. In this new time, Zoom is back on Tremain's side and has constructed a large purple ray gun. Zoom warns Tremain that the purple ray carries a 20 percent risk of frying the atmosphere and burning the entire planet, but Tremain deems that an acceptable risk. So Zoom fires his purple ray at Grodd's spaceship, but the turtle general counters with his own purple ray. Suddenly, there's another flash of light.

The chimp Impulse now finds himself wearing ancient Egyptian attire and surrounded by pyramids. The war between Zoom and Grodd is still ongoing, and Bart tries to prevent Zoom from increasing the power of his purple ray, but he's interrupted by yet another flash of light. The ape Max and Bart are now dressed as musketeers, and Max theorizes that the fabric of time is somehow looping, interacting with the Speed Force in an attempt to repair itself.

There's another flash of light, and ape Impulse winds up back in the Devonian Age. He smells the campfire, and realizes his past self is still there. As he races toward the campfire, he sees his past self prepare to slap an oversized mosquito, and he realizes that his arrival here is how the Speed Force is healing time. So ape Bart prevents past Bart from squishing the bug, and we get our final flash of light.

Bart finds himself back at good old Manchester Junior High, where Vice Principal Randal Sheridan is falling off a chair after hanging the New Year's Dance banner. Bart quickly arranges chairs for Sheridan, Jasper Pierson, Carol and himself to fall in all too conveniently, and Bart is quite happy that everything has returned to normal. That is, until Evil Eye grabs his hair. Carol tells Bart that Evil Eye's just jealous because Bart's the most popular boy in school, but Bart is growing sick and tired of everyone tugging at his enormous hair.

Bart then sees that Tremain and Rob are now school janitors, and he heads back home to where Helen is struggling to understand this latest adventure. The best Max can come up with is that he and Bart somehow created an anomaly that caused time to try to fix itself by sending it through a series of alternate realities until it found the right one sent them back home. Just as Max expresses relief to be in a world free of insane changes, Bart proudly shows off how he shaved his own head.

This was so much fun. The wackiness was cranked up to an 11 in this issue, and I absolutely loved it. We got to see Bart as a chimpanzee, and had some fun cameos from two of Flash's most notorious villains. But the real villain here was Dr. Julian Tremain, who was delightfully casual with Max and Bart. And on top of that, we got a real neat idea with Superman's rocket destroying Metropolis. As far as I can tell, this is the first time that idea was ever tossed around in comics. And 13 years later, DC would fully realize that idea in the continuity-changing Flashpoint.

But perhaps the most influential moment of this issue, though, is the shaving of Bart's head. Lovers of Bart's big hair (myself included) mourned the loss of his goofy, enormous locks. But really, what's more impulsive than shaving your head? And to set this up, William Messner-Loebs spent the past few issues having nearly everyone find an excuse to pull Bart's hair, while Craig Rousseau seemed to draw it bigger than ever. Bart's hair will eventually grow back, and it will get pretty long again, but I don't think it'll ever be as big as it was in this issue.

Chris Brantley, of Visalia, Calif., admits he was getting a bit tired of Humberto Ramos' style and finds Craig Rousseau to be a welcome change. He also supports William Messner-Loebs replacing Mark Waid. He does feel like Helen Claiborne forgave Max too soon, and Chris suggests naming the letter column "Make it Fast!"

Rod Dimanna, of Lakewood, Colo., says Impulse is the first book he's seen in 18 years that hasn't taken a step back during a creative team shift. Rod also requests a team up with Plastic Man.

Nick Keppler asks for an animated Impulse movie or cartoon series and asks whether Jesse Quick and Max Mercury are related to the Allen family (which they're not).

Steve Burns complains a little bit about the transitory period between Waid and Ramos to Messner-Loebs and Rousseau. He also asks for Todd Nauck to be a guest artist on Impulse, saying his work on the Flash Museum in Secret Origins really stood out.

Ben Varkentine, of Seattle, proposes a theory that Messner-Loebs was so grateful to Waid for not messing up The Flash after his run, that he decided to return the favor on Impulse. Ben also echoes the requests for an Impulse animated series.

Where have all the cookies gone? Into Hershey's Cookies 'n' Creme.

Dragon Ball Z. Tree of Might. This movie was OK, but not as fun as Dead Zone. But really, all the DBZ movies kind of sucked since they contradicted events in the TV show.

Grab the bags, save the points, get the goods on lunch! Planet Lunch points.

Batman & Robin on Pay-Per View. The best part of this ad is the quote from Bill Klein of NBC-TV: "The best Batman ever!" Klein certainly has different standards for Batman movies than I do.

Win you own Lunchables toon room!

The emerald flame will never die! Green Lantern statue by William Paquet, based on designs by Gil Kane.

NBA wrapper rebound. If you sent in basketball card wrappers, you could get a poster of Shaquille O'Neal. This was just a little after Shaq starred in the horrible Steel movie. He was just starting his career with the Lakers, and was averaging 28 points per game, but wasn't winning championships yet.

Massive quake rocks Gotham. Batman Cataclysm.

One wicked weasel! Punky Skunk for PlayStation.

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Superman! And he's back on GameBoy.

Next time, we'll take another look at what Impulse could have been like in the DC Animated Universe with Adventures in the DC Universe #13.

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