Monday, June 8, 2015

Impulse #38

Rising Waters

A WGBS Report.
A Paul Kupperberg production.
Bill Messner-Loebs / Writer
Craig Rousseau / Cameraman
Barbara Kaalberg / Lighting
Tom McCraw / Color Technician
Chris Eliopoulos / Text Graphics
L.A. Williams / Assistant Editor

Our cover by Craig Rousseau and Wayne Faucher shows a still-bald Impulse having some fun with the flooding in Manchester. Cowabunga was still cool in 1998, right? This is a very fun and light-hearted cover, but as Impulse will quickly learn inside, a massive flood hitting his hometown isn't all fun and games.

Our story begins with Dave Trimble reporting live from Manchester, Alabama, which is frantically trying to protect itself from the incoming flood. The whole town has come out to stack sandbags along the Warrior River, led by Impulse and Max Mercury, who have worked nonstop for two days. Trimble reports that the Justice League is busy battling monsters in San Francisco, and we even see a clip of Superman, Flash and Martian Manhunter in action.

After delivering his report, Trimble opts to stay behind and help out, although the mayor of Manchester is a bit perturbed that he referred to their city as a "sleepy Southern village." Trimble tries to explain that's just the world of TV, then asks the mayor for an update. He says a couple of nearby towns have already been evacuated, and the water's rising a couple of inches each hour, meaning the sandbags won't hold for much longer. The mayor also has insisted that Max Mercury and Impulse rest 10 minutes every hour, since they've been working so hard. It's on one of these breaks where Max reveals how tired he is by almost calling Impulse Bart. And Bart learns that his hyper metabolism won't let him stay bald for too long. Luckily, though, he came prepared and give himself a quick buzz.

Max realizes they need a new plan, because all they're doing right now is wearing themselves out. Bart then gets a great idea to build a dam and turn the river into a lake, but Max points out that said lake would put the towns north of Manchester under water. Bart wishes there was a nearby place that really needed water, but then he realized there is such a place. And without telling Max this plan, he takes off and runs on the river fast enough to create a waterspout. He then drags the waterspout with him to the desert of Texas to let the dry sands soak up the water.

Pleased by the success of his plan, Impulse makes 200 trips before before becoming exhausted and soaked. Max comes to check on him, and Bart says, "Hero ... going splorch ..." Max says he proud of Bart for having a plan and trying hard, but he reports that his efforts have only lowered the waterline about 2 inches, and now the Texas desert is getting more water than it can handle. So the two speedsters return to Manchester to resume their sandbagging duties.

School counselor Jasper Pierson makes himself useful by blowing whistles to keep people on track, even though Evil Eye thinks he's a dweeb. Preston and Carol are shocked to see the recently acquitted toxic waste dumpers have stayed behind to help out, and are even working side-by-side with the cops who arrested them, the prosecutor and the judge. Evil Eye is also shocked to see the dumpers' lawyer is also here, speculating he must have been paid to stay in town. Carol tells him that's a horrible thing to say, and he should be glad to see people put aside their differences to help out. But Evil Eye insists it doesn't matter anyway, saying only the greatest superhero ever could save them now, but who'd want to waste their time on such a junky little town. At these words, Roland suddenly gets an idea and rushes off, saying he has to call his grandmother.

Back on sandbagging duty, Impulse and Max meet Dave Trimble, whom Max accuses of implying that he's Impulse's sidekick. Trimble remarks on how sensitive everyone is, and says Max should be glad he doesn't have to worry about super villains right now. This gives Max an idea, and he asks Trimble to give him a direct link to the station. We then see that Roland, who has a Buzz Lightyear in his room, didn't go to call his grandma after all. Instead, he wrote an email to Charles Runk, aka the Chunk. Roland begged his hero to come save his town, and offered his entire college savings — $2,000 — plus free yard work.

Max then gets on TV with a special message for super villains. He speaks of how desperate Manchester is right now, and says he'll offer temporary immunity from arrest to all criminals who come out to help fight the flood. His message is heard by Dr. Morlo, the Transparent Weapon, the Glory Shredder, White Lightning and her mom, and many others. The mayor is furious with Max for offering such a deal, but Max gives him a phone number that confirms he does indeed have such authority. We don't know who was on the other end of that phone, but it was someone pretty big to get the mayor to shut up so quick. Impulse, however, is also mad at Max, saying he can't invite "thieves and monsters and ... carpetbaggers and murderers" into his town. But Max points out that all those people already live here, and he's just making them earn their keep. But Impulse still isn't convinced, believing asking for help from your enemies makes you look weak and stupid.

The first villains to show up are Gerald Dunsany's secret agents. They introduce themselves as Olson and Johnson and tell Max he never saw them there. They're immediately followed by the Transparent Weapon, the Song of Justice, the Spazz, and several other villains I don't recognize — I think one of them may have been the clown Impulse, Max and Jesse Quick fought during Genesis. Impulse points out the Transparent Weapon, and Evil Eye goes out of his way to say he's never seen him before. Dr. Augustus Morlo soon arrives, as well as a new villain called the Green Cigarette, a constantly coughing man whose head is an eternal green flame.

Impulse keeps a wary eye on the villains, and Carol wonders why the Transparent Weapon thinks being invisible will help him stack sandbags faster. The Song of Justice comes up with an inventive solution — using her harp to create huge water people to stack sandbags. Dr. Morlo has created a chemical atomic destabilizer that will break the water down to its basic, gaseous elements. Impulse takes the large purple tablet to drop in the middle of the river, while the Green Cigarette contributes by drying people's shoes. When Morlo's tablet dissolves, it turns a big chunk of water into oxygen and hydrogen, and creates a fairly large explosion that knocks Impulse off his feet. White Lightning dives in after him, and Impulse calls her Moonshine. She corrects him, then is shocked when the invisible hand of the Transparent Weapon pulls her out.

As Helen Claiborne works alongside her dad, David, Impulse regroups with Max and wonders how he'll ever be able to fight the two villains who saved his life. Max explains that most criminals start out with a little decency, but they changed when life threw them a curveball. Bart thinks this is bogus. To him, right is right and wrong is wrong. Bart says that Max traveled through time for years and he never became a criminal, but Max asks, "Whatever gave you that idea?"

But Bart and Manchester have more immediate concerns. Despite the town's best efforts, the water continues to rise and the sandbag wall begins to break down. The mayor is just about to give the evacuation order, when a helicopter for Runk Enterprises Ltd. arrives. The Chunk himself emerges, but the mayor knows Manchester can't afford his usual fee — he charged $1 billion to clean up the Gulf War. He starts to negotiate with the hero, but Chunk says his fee has already been paid, giving a nod to Roland, and adding that he's a sucker for yard work. Chunk lets Roland help him as he sucks up all the extra water and dumps it on a planet of water several dimensions away. Chunk knows that someday, someone will be willing to pay handsomely for that water, and he asks Roland if he can clip his hedges into swans with a wink.

In the end, David Trimble gives a final report on how heroes and villains came together to combat the natural disaster. And Trimble is careful to refer to Manchester as a "tiny bustling dynamo of a town" instead of a "sleepy Southern village." During the cleanup, the clerk from Pete's overhears Olson and Johnson discuss some high-tech, possibly illegal equipment, and the humble, foreign clerk reveals a keen scientific mind as he joins their conversation. But when he's met only by death stares, he takes the hint pretty quickly and backs away.

This was a great issue for several reasons. First was all the cameos! Anyone who was anyone in the world of Impulse got to show up here, which was fantastic. And I love how Messner-Loebs found an unbeatable problem for our hero — a rather simple, common natural disaster. But a natural disaster so large, it accomplished what many disasters are able to do, which is unite people. In the face of such all-encompassing calamity, people are able to put aside petty differences and come together for their fellow man. And this provided an excellent lesson for Impulse to learn: The world isn't always a simple black-and-white. All in all, I think this single issue is the perfect embodiment of Messner-Loebs' run on Impulse. The focus was on Impulse learning a lesson on humanity rather than saving the day in the traditional way. And these life lessons are taught with plenty of sweet humor. Plus, Messner-Loebs got to use Chunk, one of his creations from his run on The Flash. And, as promised, Messner-Loebs did clarify that White Lightning's name is not Moonshine. He didn't explain why Impulse thought it was, but whatever. At least the mistake was acknowledged and corrected.

After 37 issues with a nameless letter column, assistant editor L.A. Williams comes in and slaps a name on it on his first try — Impulsive Reactions, which I believe was one of the many suggestions over the years. L.A. also introduces The Big Salute Box, to thank Paul Kupperberg for hiring him, and This School Rocks Box, to give Fordham University a shoutout.

Zenobia Simmons, of New York, wasn't a normal DC reader, but was recommended Impulse and loved the artwork, characters and storyline enough to keep reading.

Debbie Wilson, of Bronx, New York, calls Impulse the perfect Generation X hero — someone who's totally into his life but not too caught up in it to prevent him from doing good. Debbie did, however, have a problem with Impulse #34, believing a simple fly-swat shouldn't be strong enough to propel the characters into an alternate future.

Jennifer Continua, of Ellwood City, Penn., praises the covers of Impulse and asks for either a Max Mercury miniseries or an appearance in the Legends of the DCU series. L.A. says there are no plans for Max in Legends of the DCU, but Max will continue to appear in Impulse, The Flash and the upcoming Flash Giant. Now for the ads:

Penny Hardaway says: "It takes one heck of a game to get me ... this bent out of shape!" It's the new Penny 1-on-1 Hoop Game! Basically just a cardboard cutout of Penny Hardaway in select boxes of Post cereal. You were supposed to use a real penny as a basketball and flick the cardboard Hardaway back to shoot. This ad was not licensed by the NBA, so Penny's wearing a plain white uniform instead of his usual Orlando Magic duds. And sadly, this ad was made around the same time the real Penny was bent out of shape, of sorts. The 1997-98 season was the last year he made the All-Star team and suffered a career-altering injury that limited him to just 19 games and 16.4 points per game.

Give history a wedgie. Rascal 3-D Action Adventure Game for PlayStation.

Guess why Alpha-Bits just got frosted? We fell into a birthday cake? Went mountain climbing in Tibet? Took a cruise to Alaska? Somebody forgot to close the fridge door? Polar beer licked us? We just taste awesome, why else?!!

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

Are you dangerously cheesy? A Cheetos "quiz" that's basically rigged to give kids a perfect score of the King of Cool.

New great taste, more golden color. Cap'n Crunch.

Find Ernie lost in time. Play the instant win game from Keebler to win a trip for four to Orlando.

Next time, Impulse will make a very quick cameo in Green Lantern Secret Files and Origins #1.

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