Sunday, May 24, 2015

Impulse #36

Court Dates

William Messner-Loebs Writer
Craig Rousseau Penciller
Barbara Kaalberg Inker
Chris Eliopoulos Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
L.A. Williams Asst. Editor
Paul Kupperberg Editor
Impulse created by Waid & Wieringo

Our cover by Craig Rousseau and Wayne Faucher shows a bald Impulse! His trademark hair, his wonderful, gigantic, hilarious hair is gone! Shaved away by a most impulsive move by Bart! How can we survive with a hairless Impulse?! Oh, and we see Impulse being sworn into court for some reason, but he's humorously distracted by his GameBoy.

Our story begins with a closeup on Bart's bald head, as the teenage speedster tries to justify his action to Max Mercury. Bart says this will prevent bad guys from grabbing his hair, give him less wind resistance when he runs, and makes him look cool. But Max points out that if Bart and Impulse both went bald at the same time, that would kill his secret identity. But luckily, Max had a wig made for Bart out of the same material as his costume. But Bart misunderstands the purpose of the wig, and tries to wear it as Impulse ... which doesn't work.

We then check in on the defense attorney of the toxic waste dumpers. He's being driven to the trial by his adult daughter, Robbie, who is morally outraged her father is defending such obviously guilty criminals. He tries to explain that everyone deserves the best defense, and the legal world isn't always as black-and-white as Robbie's symphony is. But the attorney's daughter is fixated on the idea of meting out justice, which reminds her dad about how five of his clients have recently been attacked by a revenge-crazed paladin.

Meanwhile, Gerald Dunsany has hired a couple of secret agents to keep a close watch on the trial of his toxic waste dumping goons. Previously, it had been established that Edward Dunsany was working against his son, who had undercut his toxic waste dumping business. But in this issue, Edward is referred to as Gerald's grandfather, which I believe is a mistake. Later issues will re-establish their relationship as father and son.

And so, the trial finally begins with Carol and Preston prepared to fulfill their roles as witnesses. But they're surprised to see Bart is there with them. Even though he wasn't there to see the toxic waste dumpers in action, he still received a last-minute subpoena by the defense. The trial gets off to a rocky start, as the prosecution is led by the inexperienced Assistant District Attorney, who can't keep a hold of his papers, or thoughts. As he bumbles through his opening statement, Bart and Carol become worried about the trial. And Robbie, especially, becomes worried, vowing to do what needs to be done in order to prevent the criminals from getting away scot-free.

Richard MacDonald, the defense attorney, then begins his opening statement. Suddenly, one of his clients his apparently shot. MacDonald shoves his other clients out of the way to protect them, but he is hit as well. Everyone starts running away, and Bart takes advantage of the chaos to turn into Impulse. He tries to grab hold of the bullets raining down on the crowd, but he's suddenly swung around hard into the wall, feeling like the "bullet" he grabbed was more like grabbing a fan.

Robbie MacDonald then appears, wearing a paladin outfit and wielding a harp. She introduces herself as the Song of Justice, and proudly boasts of how her musical powers were able to defeat Impulse. But when she sees her dad unconscious on the ground, she assumes it was the work of the criminals and vows to avenge her father. She uses her harp to create a sonic portal to follow the criminals, and Impulse quickly recovers to chase after her. Gerald Dunsany's secret agents are unsure whether the Song of Justice is working with or against them, and they're unsure of what to do about Impulse. But they check Richard MacDonald, and find he is still alive. Apparently the sonic bullets stun rather than penetrate.

Impulse follows the Song of Justice outside, where all the locals are celebrating a rare snowfall in Alabama. But Bart has very limited experience running in the snow, and when he tries to stop, he slides and slides before finally falling down far away from the Song of Justice. This leaves Robbie to catch up to the toxic waste dumpers and use her harp to make them start beating each other to death. But Dunsany's secret agents arrive in time to stop her by pulling out a couple of guns.

Luckily, Impulse is able to quickly recover again and take the agents' guns before they fire. But Robbie is upset with Impulse, and makes him start to dance. As he dances, Impulse begins to realize how Robbie's harp works. Just as it's amplifying his urge to dance, the harp is amplifying Robbie's need for justice into crazed revenge. So Impulse decides to counteract the harp's high-pitch with some music of his own. By snapping his fingers at super speed, he's able to create enough white noise to cancel out the harp's tune. Soon, Robbie snaps out of her trance, and realizes that her dad was shot and she takes off to help him. Dunsany's agents feel the threat has been neutralized, so they leave, and the toxic waste dumping goons beg Impulse to take them back to jail, where it's safe.

And so, the trial is able to resume some time later. Richard MacDonald is back on his feet, although his arm is now in a sling. He calls Bart to the stand and presents a highly unlikely scenario in which the dumpers were actually trying to take the toxic waste and illegal weapons out of the city. Bart has to admit that technically is a possibility. And even though MacDonald knows it's a horrible story, he sticks with it and provides the best defense he can for the criminals. In the end, to his and everyone else's amazement, the judge lets the dumpers go free.

So William Messner-Loebs returns to his long-running toxic waste dumping story, but did so somewhat awkwardly. Bart never had a reason to be involved in the trial, but I think Messner-Loebs realized too late that he couldn't really tell the story of the trial without having Bart in there. So he just threw him in there, but didn't provide a reason for his inclusion. He also confused the Dunsany's relationship, making this rather complicated story that much harder to follow. And while there were plenty of fun moments in this issue, it was rather odd how Impulse defeated the Song of Justice. The snapping fingers bit was fine, but having Impulse work out the plan with full, complete thought bubbles was something we've never seen before. When Impulse thinks, it's always been in goofy pictograms. Until now, for some reason.

Even though Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt was officially replaced by L.A. Williams as assistant editor on this issue, Jason did come back to answer the letter column one last time, signing out with "setting the controls for the heart of the sun."

Jennifer Contino, of Ellwood City, Penn., says Impulse is the most original character she's read about since Firestorm. She also asks for a miniseries with Robin, Superboy, Mary Marvel, Wonder Girl and Anarchy or Captain Marvel Jr. Also, a maxiseries for Max Mercury.

Matt Woods suggests "Synapse, Crackles, and Pops" for the letter column name, and asks for a followup on Bart looking into religion.

Ben Varkentine, of Seattle, liked Impulse #32, but he was a bit bugged by the drool on the cover. But overall, Ben is happy with how William Messner-Loebs is following up on Mark Waid's writings, and how Bart is struggling to learn how to think.

Paul Dale Roberts, of Sacramento, Calif., liked how Bart was able to cheer up Professor Snodgrass with his infectious positive energy. And Paul, like most of the letter-writers, also loved the gag about Dr. Morlo's webpage.

Next issue: Dr. Morlo is back ... but this time, he's come seeking Max and Impulse's help! Though Morlo has lived his life as a villain, he wants to save his son, a third-rate super villain, and his grandson, Bart's own schoolmate, Evil Eye, from an even worse fate ... death at the hands of a maniacal and embittered old hero known as the Glory Slasher. (Actually, he's going to be called the Glory Shredder in Impulse #37, just another naming mistake by William Messner-Loebs.)

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