Sunday, September 27, 2015

Impulse #46

When Barry Met Bart

William Messner-Loebs Writer
Craig Rousseau Penciller
Barbara Kaalberg Inker
Janice Chiang Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
Jamison Color Separations
L.A. Williams Former Assistant Editor bidding a fond farewell to:
Paul Kupperberg Editor
Impulse create by: Waid & Wieringo

Our cover by Craig Rousseau and Wayne Faucher shows an exciting impossibility: Barry Allen is back from the dead and ready to take Impulse under his wing. It is a very exciting, psychedelic image, and I do enjoy the indignant look on Max's face, contrasted with the joy of Bart's. Although we get the same Chain Lightning border on the left side of the cover, the text accurately describes this  issue as "kinda, sorta part of Chain Lightning!"

Our story begins about a week before Chain Lightning, with Max ragging on Bart for constantly being late on patrol night. On Monday, Bart's math teacher scolds him for failing to learn last week's equations. On Tuesday, Carol calls him immature, and on Wednesday, Assistant Principal Randal Sheridan asks him if he's making the best of his time. On Thursday, Gamal is disappointed in Bart, and on Friday, Helen reminds him he needs to take out the trash before playing video games. Bart gets a break on Saturday, but on Sunday, Max repeats a familiar phrase: "I'd just like you to think before you act. Is that too much to ask?" All in all, this hasn't been a good week for Bart Allen.

And that brings us to the end of The Flash #145. Wally has told all the other speedsters about his plan to use the cosmic treadmill for them to travel through time and save their descendants from the Cobalt Blues. But before they leave, Max felt it best to take two minutes to give Helen an update, and have Bart brush up on his Allen history, via Iris' book, The Life Story of the Flash.

Helen is actually against this idea, reminding Max of some of Iris' ominous words about Bart: "He will learn a harsh lesson about life that will cost hi a friend, but give him a lifelong companion" and "his greatest challenge will be his own dark twin." Helen says she would hate to know that, and she pleads with Max to think about Bart once in a while. But Max says he can't protect Bart from his own destiny, and says he might as well learn about it now. Helen then brings up another worry — Max's health. He assures her he's healed from the gunshot, and he proves it with a small demonstration of speed in the front yard.

We then check in with Bart, who's plopped himself down on his bed, determined to breeze through his grandma's book in one minute. He wants to read the whole thing, he really does, but he just can't get past page 25 (and I don't blame him — this book is a slow read). Soon, Bart begins daydreaming. The world shifts into a living cartoon, and Bart's poster of his grandpa is replaced with one of Jay Garrick. And calling him down to breakfast is Barry Allen, himself.

A note on the fridge reminds Barry to call Hal (Jordan, that is), and Barry tells Bart how happy he is that Max agreed to let him be Bart's guardian. After having some cereal, Barry prepare some scrambled eggs for their second breakfast, and Bart contributes by squeezing some fresh orange juice. Barry offers to put some chives on Bart's eggs, but he politely declines. Bart then notices the school bus leaving without him, and he asks if he should be going to school to keep up his secret identity. Barry says he is in favor of school, but he called them while Bart was sleeping and learned that today's lessons are particularly boring, and nothing he couldn't teach Bart in about three seconds, anyway. So Barry has decided that Bart's education for today will come from his favorite video game, Blastomatic 3000.

The two speedsters immerse themselves in the game, and Barry declares it as fun as jazz music — except jazz doesn't let you blow up Arcturian invaders! Barry's having so much fun, that Bart even lets him win. Once their game is finished, the Flash signal goes off. So Bart changes the channel on their massive TV to see the Central City Bank being robbed by Captain Boomerang. So Barry and Bart grab their costume rings, and race out to the scene of the crime with their battle cry: "Let's be there!"

Bart and Barry rush down the street, past a sign that says, "Keystone City celebrates IMPULSE and the Flash (in smaller letters) Day ... Every Day!" Bart notices they're running fast enough to cause a sonic boom and are shattering the nearby windows. But Barry tells him they'll clean up the mess later, and for now, Bart should just enjoy the cool effect. Barry then shows Bart his favorite trick — running up and over a building to catch Captain Boomerang by surprise.

Barry's technique works, but Captain Boomerang turns out to be a decoy dummy with sticks of dynamite strapped to it. Luckily, Bart is able to push his grandpa out of the way of the explosion. However, the explosion unleashed hundreds of razor sharp boomerangs — a trick Barry recognizes as "The Skies of Death." But Bart is ready for this, leading Barry in creating a cross-wind to cause the boomerangs to smash into each other. Soon, all that's left of the boomerangs is sawdust, and Barry praises his grandson for his spontaneous, yet brilliant plans.

Suddenly, Barry finds himself talking to another Flash, and another, and another. All the Flashes become quite confused, and even the real one forgets who he is. This turns out to be the work of Mirror Master, who explains that even the greatest of minds collapse when confronted by his dupli-mirrors.

Before Impulse can take down Mirror Master, he is nearly struck by a bolt of lightning and is pelted by hailstones. The Weather Wizard, naturally, is behind this, and he's joined by Gorilla Grodd, White Lightning, Despero, Harm, and Dr. Alchemy, who turns the ground beneath Bart to ice. Unable to find any traction on the ice, or a nearby Zamboni, Bart decides to trick Dr. Alchemy into helping him. Bart mocks the villain and his philosopher's stone, staying he bets Dr. Alchemy can't even turn him into gold. Dr. Alchemy takes the bet, and fires a blast from his stone at Impulse. But Bart expertly dodges it, letting the blast hit the ice and turn it into gold. It's a lot easier for Bart to run on gold, so he grabs his disoriented grandpa and makes a strategic retreat, while all the villains shake their fists and shout out, "Curses!"

Back at their house, Barry admits he doesn't know how they're going to handle so many villains at once. Bart says they need a strong overall strategy, and he puts together a plan with lots of complicated graphs and charts. Bart's idea is to strike quickly, and to use the villains' strengths against them. First, they need to pinpoint the villains' location, then design their attack lines and energy flow. Bart says it's a million to one shot, but it just might work. This is all too complex for Barry, but he has faith in Bart, saying he always knew that, if just give the chance, he'd be a cunning master of tactics.

Soon, Barry and Bart find Weather Wizard, Mirror Master and Dr. Alchemy at a circus tent. Weather Wizard tries to fry Impulse with some lightning, but leads him into hitting Mirror Master's mirrors. Dr. Alchemy tries to turn Impulse into lead, but Bart's too quick again, and Alchemy ends up transforming Weather Wizard's wand, rendering it useless. Dr. Alchemy tries again, but this time Bart and Barry grab a large chunk of the shattered mirrors and use it to reflect the philosopher's stone right back at it. Dr. Alchemy's weapon is turned to gold, ironically making it worthless.

With the day saved, Bart and Barry chow down on a bunch of hamburgers, chips, soda and candy bars. Barry tells his grandson he earned the treat, but he is worried about how so many of his enemies were able to get together. Barry's question is answered by the sudden arrival of Professor Zoom, accompanied by Blockbuster and Cobalt Blue. Flash and Zoom race off in an epic fight, and it's all Impulse can do to catch up to them. Bart realizes that if they keep going at this pace, they'll join the Speed Force and be lost forever. They race past the Black Flash, and Bart manages to give Zoom a boost by pushing him in the back. That does just enough to push the Reverse-Flash over the edge and send him into the Speed Force.

Just as Barry begins to thank Bart for saving him, Bart is pulled back to the real world by Max asking him if he's finished the book. Bart returns the book to Helen, who asks if he say anything surprising or bothering in the book. Bart surprises her by saying "not really," but he does admit one weird thing. Max told Bart that reading the book would be like meeting Grandpa Barry for real, and for once, Bart has to admit that Max was right.

What a lovely little story! This is exactly the kind of thing a 13-year-old would dream up. He has the perfect guardian who lets him play video games, skip school, and form his own plans. And naturally, Bart imagines himself as the hero of the story, singe-handidly taking down just about every villain he's every encountered. It was so wacky and stupid and wonderful. And for continuity's sake, it is good that Bart didn't get to the end of the book, so he'll still be surprised when he meets his greatest challenge.

Craig Rousseau truly excels at the simplified animated style. The whole dream sequence was light, whimsical and consistent. If there ever was an Impulse animated series, I imagine it would have looked exactly like this. Ironically, the oddest part of this issue were the real life scenes, which were drawn with more detail than usual to provide the contrast.

And because I'm into these things, here are all the book on Helen's bookcase: Listen to the Sax, a book on Iowa, Views of L.A. (as always), Under a Yellow Sun by Clark Kent, Reds, The Jungle, Of Mice and Men, 1980 Alabama, World Atlas, National Geographic, Fire in the Lake, Soul of Ice, Malcolm X, Native Son, The Magic of Miles Davis, The Adventures of Teddy Q, The Color Purple, The Best of Gourmet 1997, I Ching, Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare's Sonnets, Burbur's Dreams, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Perennial Gardening, Brancus, Herb Ritt, The Rice Room, Avedon, History of Art, Children Come Home to Roost, Turtles, Guide to Birds of North America, The Grapes of Wrath, Flora and Fauna of the Northeast, L.A. Confidential, Dinotopia, Victory, On the Road, Nivlac and Space, Shade Gardening, Socrates, A Brief History of Time, Saint Barbara, Women in Comics and probably a few more I missed.

Impulsive Reactions begins with Paul Kupperberg taking over the Salute Box. Paul says that after almost two years, he's leaving Impulse, and the DCU in general, to take another job at DC. He doesn't specify what he'll exactly be doing, but he does say L.A. Williams will become the new editor on the book, and he thanks everyone he's worked with. L.A. then thanks Paul for the opportunities he's given him, and he promises readers that 1999 will be a banner year for Impulse.

Erica Henderson, of Brooklyn, N.Y., says she first discovered Impulse when her dad brought it to her when she was sick. She instantly clicked with the idea of a 30th-century teen trying to adjust to 20th-century life in Alabama. Erica does ask why Max doesn't make Bart get a haircut.

Marc. S. Tucker, of Manhattan Beach, Calif., says he was tempted to drop Impulse when the creative team shifted, but he's glad he didn't. He says Bill Loebs has a marvelously balanced sense of humorous understatement, and Craig Rousseau's art has come to match that of Humberto Ramos'.

Joe Boyle, of Budd Lake, N.J., says he likes how Bart acted impulsively enough to shave his head, adding that the wig was a nice touch. But if Impulse is going to remain bald, Joe strongly suggests they modify his costume to cover his head.

Ronald Nelson Jr., of Bronx, N.Y., calls Impulse #39 an example of great storytelling. He liked how Impulse lived up to his name, the unexpected pairing of the Trickster and Max Mercury, and Bart justifiable anger at the end.

Melanie Woden, of San Jose, Calif., was very pleased that Arrowette was brought back in Impulse #41. She asks the creators to remember that the title of the book is Impulse, not Evil Eye or Preston, and she asks for more Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt and Ethan Van Sciver. L.A. says that Van Sciver will be drawing the cover of issue #50, but he doesn't say he'll also be taking over as full-time penciller.

Dana Huber was disappointed in Impulse #42, complaining about the lack of Max Mercury, calling the main plot corny, feeling like Carol acted out of character, and generally saying the humor wasn't all there. But Dana does hope Green Cigarette returns. Now for the ads:

And to think some people collect stamps. Pokemon for GameBoy, and the Game Link cable, sold separately. I had blue version, my brother had red, and with our handy cable, we were able to collect all 150 Pokemon. And yes, there are only 150 of them.

Blasted into the endless worlds of Hypertime! Superboy. Heroes in for harsh realities! Supergirl. Apparently all DC house ads now have a background scroll of text with various heroes listed, including Impulse.

In the next century, it will take a boy to do a man's job. Batman Beyond on the Kids' WB! I never was the biggest fan of this show, but I will admit it had its moments.

We're looking for a few good aliens. Green Lantern: The New Corps.

Give a gift subscription and receive an erasable memo board. This ad (like so many others) uses a cutout of Impulse from the cover of issue #41. It's a popular cutout, since he's happily gesturing to something behind him with his thumb. An individual issue of Impulse cost $2.25, but you could get 12 issues for $19.95.

Old enemy, new allies! Superman's Nemesis: Lex Luthor and Supermen of America.

Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century. A Disney channel original movie.

Find the golden wrapped Pop-Tarts and you might find yourself in a Pop-Tarts commercial.

Next time, we'll continue Chain Lightning with The Flash #146.

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