Monday, August 3, 2015

Impulse #43

Gamal's Song

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

Our cover by Craig Rousseau and Wayne Faucher very nearly shows a scene that happens in this issue. As usual, the main exception is having Bart in his Impulse uniform. And when you think about it, having Carol hang out with Max Mercury and Impulse is kind of weird, but this is just the cover. The important thing here is seeing the humble store clerk Gamal actually working as a scientist. His genius has been alluded to before, so now we actually get to see him put it to use.

Our story starts seven months ago, with Max deciding to plant an herb garden with chives, mint and horseradish. His daughter, Helen Claiborne, is worried Max is planting too much, especially since chives like to spread. But Max brushes her off, and both Max and Helen quickly become annoyed with Bart's constant asking of whether the plants are growing yet. (There a couple of errors on the first page worth mentioning. "Mint" is humorously misspelled as "mint" and Helen's last name is incorrectly listed as Calidcott. Why can't Messner-Loebs ever keep names straight?)

Three months ago, Gamal's brother, Pete, accidentally sets off Gamal's burglar alarm, which sends him flying up to the ceiling, just like Impulse on the cover. Of course, this little mishap only makes the usually grumpy store owner even grumpier.

One month ago, Bart and Carol are hanging out with Gamal, who is telling them about another one of his inventions backfiring — an automatic sprinkler system. Since he inadvertently flooded the store, Pete is having Gamal dig a drainage ditch behind the building. But Gamal is an inventor, and has built a robot to accomplish the task for him.

Gamal laments that he must invent as a bird must sing, but his song is only heard by a few friends. He explains that he refused to work for the military of his unnamed country, so he escaped to America only to find that his science degrees aren't honored in the U.S. And since he doesn't have any experience with S.T.A.R. Labs or LexCorp, nobody is interested in hiring him, forcing him to work at Pete's store. But Gamal does take solace in believing his home country has forgotten about him and he can at least live in peace.

One week ago, we see that Gamal's country has not forgotten about him. A group of shady-looking people pass through customs, and when asked why they're visiting the U.S., they answer honestly: "We're an elite group of multinational, multigendered mercenaries, most with superpowers, who have been hired to kidnap or assassinate a rogue scientist living in this country undercover." Unfortunately, the airport security assumes they're joking and lets them through. (This was the pre-9/11 world, after all.)

Today, Bart is quite upset to find he's being served chives for dinner again. Since Max didn't listen to Helen, they've found themselves with more herbs than they know what to do with. So today they're having baked chives with mint and fried chives with horseradish sauce. Bart starts to curse the chives, but Helen stops him, saying they'll have none of that New Yorker language in this house. Bart says he's tired of bringing chive sandwiches to lunch since nobody wants to trade for a big pile of stuff they only ever see sprinkled on baked potatoes. And none of Bart's friends have even heard of sugared horseradish ice cream.

Bart's complaints are interrupted when the gravity in the room is suddenly reversed and everybody finds themselves eating on the ceiling. Max tells Bart to stop this immediately, and Bart complains that he's always blamed for everything. Gamal then walks into the dining room, wearing a special suit to neutralize the effects of the machine he's carrying. He explains that he developed the upside-down ray to repel burglars, but he didn't count on his device being so potent.

Gamal turns off his machine to bring everybody back down to the floor, and he excitedly helps himself to some chives, saying they're a rare delicacy in his country. Bart asks Gamal if he has any more cool inventions, and Helen suggests he use them to help the Justice League, using Impulse as a liaison. But Gamal wants nothing to do with Impulse, saying he uses his powers with a complete lack of responsibility. Gamal says Bart is completely different, though, showing his kindness by always bringing him a chive sandwich for lunch. Max glares at Bart, who imagines a noose forming around his neck. Luckily, Bart's noose is broken when Carol comes rushing in, shouting that a horrible monster is trying to destroy the town.

Everybody rushes outside to see a large flame monster terrorizing Pete. The flame monster is controlled by a woman, who orders Gamal to turn over his inventions. Gamal agrees to give her anything and to return to his country in exchange for Pete's life. Impulse and Max Mercury soon arrive on the scene, and Impulse acknowledges they can't just rush in blindly, since doing so could burn Pete to a crisp. Max tells Impulse to use Pincer Movement 7, which Impulse agrees to, but soon realizes he has no idea what Pincer Movement 7 is. Suddenly, Impulse is attacked by a giant rock monster, and Max finds himself surrounded by impenetrable darkness. Max's attacker introduces himself as The Dark, and explains that he's placed Max in a telepathic cloud of night and is absorbing his mind.

Meanwhile, Helen helps Gamal retrieve all his inventions from Pete's store, but Gamal begins to worry what his country will do with them. Gamal and Helen are met by a giant ice lady and a cigar-smoking man wearing a mask. He introduces himself as Pointman and his team, Expediters, Inc., made up of Glacier, Flame, Mountain and The Dark. Pointman tells Gamal to call off Impulse and Max or things will get ugly.

Impulse spots Gamal and his inventions, and decides to turn the bad guys upside-down. But he accidentally uses the anti-gravitational ray instead, which sends Pointman flying off into the air and turns Glacier into a pillar of ice, stretching up into the atmosphere. Impulse comments that the bad guys are gone like Seinfeld, and Gamal wonders if any of his other inventions can help them defeat the three remaining mercenaries. Gamal pulls out a 3-dimensional duplicating machine, and Impulse asks to be multiplied. Before Helen can stop him, Gamal fires the ray at Impulse, creating seven copies of the teen speedster.

The eight Impulses all begin arguing amongst themselves. One wants to create a big whirlwind, one wants to pretend they're dead, another wants to grab some sledgehammers, while two of them argue about pincer movements. One Impulse, possibly the original, stands aside, complaining about the immaturity of his clones and wonders what John Fox would do. Eventually, all the Impulses are able to agree on a plan — save Max.

This turns out to be quite simple for the Impulses, who only have to enter The Dark's telepathic night to save Max. With eight different chaotic Impulse minds invading The Dark's, the villain can't keep control and collapses in a fetal position. Gamal and Helen, meanwhile, keep sorting through Gamal's inventions, and he finds one that can swap superpowers. Gamal laments that both Max and Impulse have the same power, but Helen suggests he use it on Mountain and Flame. Helen's plan works, as Flame becomes smothered in rock, and Mountain heats up too much and becomes molten.

Max asks Gamal where the leader is, and Gamal says Pointman is still up in the air, but the anti-gravity effect will wear off eventually. Pointman's helmet soon comes crashing down, but the rest of him is nowhere to be seen. Gamal then turns Impulse back into one person, and everybody walks home, suggesting Gamal create inventions to help out with everyday matters, such as fixing cars and painting houses.

This was another pretty fun issue of Impulse. We started with the absurdly hilarious incident with the chives, threw in a fun, wild fight, expanded on Gamal's character, and, in typical Messner-Loebs fashion, ended without Impulse really saving the day. Yeah, he was an important part in defeating Expediters, Inc., but it was really Gamal's inventions that got the job done. I still don't know why Gamal let himself into Helen's house with his upside-down ray activated, and I am a little worried that Impulse actually killed Pointman. We saw three of the bad guys knocked out, and it's safe to assume that Glacier will be fine since she's still connected to the Earth. But Pointman's helmet falling down without him is a rather ominous sign.

We only have two-thirds of a page for letters to the editor this month, leaving only enough room for two letters and none of L.A. Williams' usual features.

Jason Baroody, of Upper Montclair, N.J., said Impulse #39 was very different and full of surprises. He was happy to see the Trickster again, and is glad to see that Max's training is slowly starting to sink into Bart's thick skull. Jason does note, however, that Max still has a lot to learn about family.

Kenley Obas, of Springfield, Mass., was also surprised by Trickster's appearance and how upset Impulse was at the end of the issue. Now on to the ads:

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Got ya! Presenting Pokémon for Game Boy. To become a Pokémon master trainer, capture all 150 of them. It won't be easy. To train them, you have to capture them. To capture them, you have to fight them. To fight them, you have to find them. That's right, back in 1998, Pokémon ads needed to thoroughly explain themselves to their new American audience.

Next time: Impulse and the boys host a "Hallow-Teen" party in Young Justice #3 and it doesn't go smoothly.

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