Monday, June 15, 2015

Impulse #39

The credits were accidentally omitted from this issue, but assistant editor L.A. Williams will tell us in a future Impulsive Reactions that the usual team of William Messner-Loebs, Craig Rousseau and Barbara Kaalberg did work on this issue. Our cover by Rousseau and Wayne Faucher shows us that the Trickster has been brought back by popular demand. And we see that Impulse officially has decided to let his hair grow back. However, this amusing scene only appears on the cover, as Impulse in no way tries to trick the Trickster inside. But this cup-and-ball trick does remind me of Bart playing the game way back in The New Titans #118.

Our story begins with Impulse trying his hand at some old-fashioned espionage work. Max Mercury was called away on business two days ago, the same day Bart noticed the Trickster sneaking around town. Even though James Jesse helped Impulse take down Lord Manny I the last time he was in Manchester, Bart decides to keep an eye on him just in case. Conveniently, Max had left his surveillance tools out in an easy spot for Bart to find.

Impulse follows the Trickster all the way up to New York, where he visits the mansion of notorious crime lord Edward Dunsany. Eavesdropping from a distance, Impulse learns that Edward is locked in a power struggle with his son, Gerald, who went behind his back with the toxic waste dumping operation in Manchester. Edward did all he could to ensure his son's conviction, including hiring White Lightning to drum up bad publicity for the case. But Gerald and his men got off scot-free by bribing the judge — at least that's what Edward suspects.

Knowing of this feud, the Trickster has come to Edward with a proposition to eliminate his son for $1 million. Edward is suspicious, having heard that Trickster had been reformed since Underworld Unleashed. Trickster simply says he needs money to donate to charity, and he sees no better way to make that money than to do so while taking out a scumbag like Gerald. Edward then tells a quick story to illustrate the kind of man he is. Years ago, an assistant district attorney refused to give Edward a favor. So he waited. And one day, the assistant D.A.'s son became terminally ill. Knowing Edward could save his son, the man became his servant. But Edward let the boy die anyway, all to send out the message that he is not to be trifled with.

Luckily, Trickster's plan against Gerald isn't so morbid — he only wants to remove his wealth. Having heard all this, Impulse surmises that the Trickster never really did reform, and it's up to him to stop this Rogue and old crimelord. Impulse decides to try to be patient and gather more information. He spots a man with a rifle sneaking around the other side of the house, but Impulse is interrupted by a "Rowfl."

Edward Dunsany's guard dogs have found Impulse and chased him toward the compound's electric fence. Impulse has never tried to vibrate through an electric fence before, so he hesitates a bit, which gets him shocked anyway. By the time he recovers, the would-be assassin has already left. But Impulse is able to follow Trickster across town to Gerald Dunsany's mansion. Trickster meets with the crime lord's son by his pool, and Impulse sneaks into the water with a snorkel to listen in.

The Trickster has presented Gerald with a promise of unlimited wealth. And to demonstrate, he drops an ordinary pebble into a vial of liquid, which turns it to gold. Trickster explains that a scientist named Dr. Herkimer Xavier Rassmussan discovered an elixir to change base metals to gold. However, Rassmussan, who worked for a toothpaste company, was only able to develop this elixir in his spare time. And after years of pulling 20-hour days, the old man became quite unstable, and boasted loudly of his discovery. The International Monetary Fund soon heard about this, and moved quickly to shut down Rassmussan before he undermined every currency on Earth. They had the scientist thrown into an insane asylum and confiscated all the transforming liquid he'd made — all, except for a small vial the Trickster was able to obtain.

The Trickster further explains that the government decided to quietly and illegally dispose of the elixir, classifying it as toxic waste and handing it over to Dunsany's company, which he unwittingly dumped in Manchester, Alabama. Trickster then tells Gerald that he had already presented this same story to his father as a lie to con Gerald. But Trickster tells Gerald the story really is true, and together they'll use it to con the old man Edward. However, Edward had a hidden recorder out by the pool and learned of this double-cross.

So Impulse races back to Manchester and enlists the aid of Carol and Preston to search the Trickster's temporary housing. Impulse digs through Trickster's books, including "Under a Yellow Sun" by Clark Kent, while Preston complains about how confusing this predicament is. Carol then finds a photograph of the Trickster with Dr. Rassmussan, proving his story was true. Impulse recognizes the old man as the would-be assassin at Edward Dunsany's mansion, and Carol asks whether Impulse went back to see to if he returned. All Impulse can say is "Oops," as he races back to New York.

Luckily, Impulse arrives in the nick of time, and tackles Rassmussan into Edward's office before the mad scientist can kill the old crime lord. Impulse and Rassmussan are quickly surrounded by Edward's guards, and Impulse tells Edward he doesn't want to kill Rassmussan since he'll never get the gold without him. The scientist yells at Impulse for revealing his identity, and Impulse tries to talk his way out of it, but only makes things worse and ends up blurting out everything he knows. Rassmussan then admits that the Trickster had originally promised to work with him, but only wanted to steal the formula and have him locked away.

Meanwhile, the Trickster and Gerald have rounded up the dumpers to find out where they buried the "toxic waste." To help motivate them, Trickster and Gerald have tied them upside down, which seems to do the trick. Gerald's men say they buried most of the wast in Ian Cook Memorial Park, and Gerald knows his men are too stupid to lie, negating the need for further torture. However, Gerald isn't sure of the best way to retrieve the barrels, so Trickster suggests they visit the town's mayor.

We see the mayor isn't the same black mayor from the previous issue, but a white man with a large orange mustache. The new mayor initially turns down the bribe to dig up a public park, but his tune changes when Trickster points a gun at his head. He gladly accepts Gerald's money, and allows him to begin tearing up the park.

Later, Preston, Roland (with a Runk Enterprises hat) and Carol watch the progress of the heavy machinery and bemoan the rampant corruption in their hometown. And Carol secretly hopes that Bart knows what he's doing. Impulse is hanging out with Edward Dunsany, who says he's put Dr. Rassmussan back in a lab, but worries the scientist's mental state will prevent him from remembering the formula. But Edward still has a plan to come out on top over his son.

Before too long, Gerald and his men are able to recover all the barrels, the last one having leaked and turned into gold. Gerald spends the last of his money to pay off his men and send them far away. But he's fine with having spent so much money on this operation since he now has a warehouse full of elixir that can make him wealthier beyond his imagination. But as he and the Trickster deliver the final barrel to said warehouse, Gerald is shocked to find the whole place empty. His father, Edward Drax Dunsany, is waiting for him inside, along with Impulse. Edward explains that he bought off Gerald's people and over-bribed the people he bribed. He also reveals plans to extort the IMF and banks for billions of dollars to keep the elixir a secret.

Enraged, Gerald pulls out a gun and fires several shots at his father. But Impulse catches the bullets and tells Gerald to put the gun away. Bart's a bit frustrated at having to team up with a criminal and being unable to bring Edward to justice as long as he has Rassmussen in captivity, but at the very least, Impulse knows he can keep these people from shooting each other. Edward then pulls out a laser pistol and points it at the Trickster, saying even Impulse can't stop a beam of light. But Impulse becomes very serious and says he'll run Edward to jail himself if he pulls that trigger. Unwilling to be a sore winner, Edward gloats about being the one man to outfox the Trickster, and he takes off in his helicopter.

Feeling like a complete failure, Impulse begins wishing for a miracle to stop Edward Dunsany once and for all. Suddenly, a miracle arrives in the form of Dr. Rassmussan, who explains that he escaped from Edward by using his super speed. He then pulls off his mask to reveal himself to be Max Mercury. Max explains that the formula was a fake all along, and that he worked real hard to follow Impulse and get in front of him to pose as the would-be assassin of Edward. Trickster explains that he tricked the Dunsanys into "bribing" the town officials to help pay for the flood damage and to remove the real toxic waste. To assist them, the Trickster planted an actor to play the mayor with the orange mustache and the judge who let the dumpers go free earlier. The actor was the assistant D.A. from Edward's story, and he was more than happy to help out with this scheme.

Gerald points out that he saw the formula work in action, but the Trickster reveals that display was a simple sleight-of-hand to get him to bite the bait. Impulse asks Max if the original dumpers were also in on the long con, and Max said they weren't. He said they kept it on a need-to-know basis so everyone would act naturally. Trickster says the dumpers were just more marks for the con, and Impulse says, "Just like me." Bart angrily runs away, leaving Max behind, who just realized how bad he hurt Bart.

Whew! What a complex story to wrap up something that Messner-Loebs began in Impulse #29. This issue required several re-reads to figure out what was going on. Not only was the story itself quite convoluted, but a lot of essential information was crammed into lengthy text boxes, and a couple of art errors further complicated things. Ideally, this story should have been spread over two issues to help show a lot of things that happened off panel.

Ultimately, I did enjoy this issue, as it finally wrapped up a storyline that was getting a bit long. And I especially loved Impulse's very human reaction at the end. Not only had he been put in a compromising situation, and felt like a failure for letting the bad guy get away, but now he finds out it was all an elaborate plan and his own mentor didn't trust him enough to let him in on it. However, I feel like Max's plan was needlessly complicated. And how is he going to guarantee that Edward Dunsany will dispose of the waste properly? Or won't retaliate when he learn's he's been duped?

Impulsive Reactions begins with The Big Salute to Ennis Cosby (son of Bill Cosby) and Jonathan Levin (son of Time Warner chairman Gerald Levin). Both men dedicated their lives to education despite being born to celebrities. And both men were tragically murdered in 1997. And This School Rules goes to the University of Massachusetts.

Mark E. Bermingham, of Hoover, Ala., praised Impulse #35 for its wacky plot and fun take on classic villains Zoom and Grodd. Mark says only a series like Impulse can humiliate its main hero by turning him into an ape and still come out looking cool. He also is excited to see the bald Impulse in action.

Brian Rubin, of Jericho, N.Y., however, is furious with the decision to shave Bart's head, and demands he re-grow his hair at super speed.

Paul Dale Roberts, of Sacramento, Calif., loved all the humorous moments in issue #35, and is pleased to see Impulse is getting more clever.

Get your hands a chance to win a Goosebumps 2000 trip through Lunchables.

Grab the bags, save the points, get the goods on lunch! Planet Lunch points on Frito-Lays chips.

A stone-age hit! The Flintstones: I Yabba Dabba Do! on video.

Kellogg's NBA Pop-Tarts. Slightly hotter than your normal breakfast.

Ultra new-age gadgetry from the Nintendo laboratories. Game Boy Camera and Printer.

Next time, Impulse will make a quick cameo in The Power of Shazam #41.

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