Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Impulse #47

Lessons in Fear

William Messner-Loebs Writer
Craig Rousseau Penciller
Barb Kaalberg Inker
Janice Chiang Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
VLM Separator
Superman created by Siegel & Shuster
L.A. Williams Editor
Impulse created by Waid & Wieringo

This is the first issue of Impulse that didn't have the same editing team as The Flash. When Paul Kupperberg left, L.A. Williams either left or was kicked off The Flash, but he got to hold on to Impulse by himself. But despite the difference in editors, Impulse will continue to make occasional guest appearances in The Flash. Now if only we could get Wally to show up in Impulse once in a while ...

But who needs the Flash when you've got Superman! This month's cover by Craig Rousseau and Wayne Faucher gives us Superman in one of his most quintessential poses — rescuing a cat from a tree. And a jealous Impulse provides a perfectly humorous juxtaposition.

Our story begins with Manchester once again covered in snow (unlike the cover). For a town in the South where it never snows, it sure seems to snow quite a bit in Manchester, Alabama. Anyway, Impulse has been tracking down the Tigers gang that shot Max Mercury back on Halloween, because for some reason, Max decided not to bring those punks to justice. Luckily, Bart is being the responsible one this time, and he was tipped off about the Tigers' plan to ambush some school kids today. So Bart set himself up in a secluded location, armed with a pair of binoculars and plenty of junk food to last the one hour, 38 minutes and 24 seconds he's been waiting.

We then see school counselor Jasper Pierson walking home, lost in thought. Apparently a bunch of school kids have been joining a group called the Supermen of America. This sounds good and well, but Jasper wishes he could start a dialogue with this group to make sure they don't have any hidden agendas. Jasper's so worked up about this, he almost gets hit by a car. But the car was lifted up into the air at the last second.

At the home of Max, Helen and Bart, poor Helen is left to shovel the driveway by herself since Max said he needed to leave on a "secret assignment" and Bart is still waiting for the gang to show up. But just as Helen gets started with the chore, two thin beams of heat hit the driveway and melt all the snow away.

We head back to Impulse, who is growing impatient with the molasses-like pace of time. It has now been one hour, 39 minutes and seven seconds. Finally, the Tigers gang shows up. But to Bart's surprise, all of them are wearing blue sweaters and berets with the Supermen of America logo, including the punks involved in Max's shooting, Steelboy and Raffles.

Unfortunately, Impulse is too far away to hear the gang discuss how they're using the Supermen of America to cover their criminal activity. And Impulse can't figure out how to get close enough to listen in without revealing himself. When Evil Eye shows up, Bart realizes he has no choice and has to hear what they're talking about. So he quickly runs through his options. If he runs straight down there, all the snow will kick up and he'll be spotted. But if he runs fast enough, he might be able to melt the snow ...

But before Impulse can enact his plan, someone places a hand on his shoulder and says, "Son ... " Bart freaks out and runs right past the gang, and keeps on running and running, trying to get away from this stranger. Bart realizes he's being chased by someone quite fast, and suddenly, he's stopped by Superman himself. Bart wonders where all the snow went, and Superman tells him that they're in the Gobi Desert — on the other side of the world.

Superman apologizes for startling Impulse, saying he saw the teen speedster crouching down and thought he could use his help. Bart asks him what he was doing in Manchester in the first place, and Superman says he's decided to really use his powers to help people by basically being a hero nonstop. As they talk, Superman quickly excuses himself to take care of some land mine trouble in Burundi. Just as soon as he gets back, Superman leaves to help the Titans, and we get a quick shot of Nightwing and Jesse Quick.

Bart spends most of his time in the Gobi Desert impatiently tapping his foot and whistling, but Superman does eventually return to explain that he's decided he doesn't have the right to pick and choose anymore. From now on, he's going to do whatever it takes to help everyone in need all the time. Bart understands where Superman's coming from, saying his recent interactions with John Fox and the Chain Lightning saga have shown him he needs to be more responsible. But Superman ditches Impulse once again, and he decides to head back home, hoping he didn't miss anything with the gang.

Meanwhile, Roland, who has also joined the Supermen of America, is inviting Evil Eye to join him at the Monster Ice Skate Rally. But Evil Eye is desperate to join the Tigers gang — despite what happened on Halloween — and he shoves Roland away. Roland is hurt and confused at this action from his friend, but Evil Eye was actually trying to protect Roland from the gang, which is trying to use Evil Eye to help them exploit other members of the Supermen of America.

Steelboy and Raffles come across Evil Eye and Roland, and they prepare to rough Roland up a bit. Impulse arrives in the nick of time, and the bullies claim they weren't doing anything and that Roland fell by accident. Impulse surprisingly gets pretty tough with them, saying, "Well, I'm here now. The accident's over." The bullies say they aren't scared, but they do leave anyway, reminding Impulse that everything they do is on Superman's say-so. And they walk past a window that says, "Coming Soon ... ago ... Van Sciver" — a reference to the upcoming creative team, Todd Dezago and Ethan Van Sciver.

Impulse lingers behind with Roland, who asks him if those bullies are really working with Superman. Impulse isn't sure, so Roland says he should ask Superman. When Impulse says it's not that easy, Roland suggests asking someone who really knows him. So Impulse decides to go ask his best friend who has the closest connection to Superman — Superboy.

Bart surprises Superboy, who yells at him for sneaking up on people like Superman's been doing lately. After admitting he found Superboy by going everywhere he could be until he blundered across him, Impulse asks his friend about Superman. Superboy says no one can fall off a curb lately without getting a face full of Big Blue. Impulse figures Superman just wants to help more, but Superboy thinks he's going too far. He tells Impulse that Superman has set up a 24-hour monitor station at the Fortress of Solitude, on which we see quick glimpses of Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Captain Marvel.

Superboy speculates that Superman has stopped eating and sleeping, and says things have gotten pretty intense. Impulse suggests they try to talk to Superman, and as soon as he says that, Superman suddenly appears behind the two boys and menacingly asks what they want to talk about. Both immediately chicken out and says everything's swell and peachy. So Superman takes off, telling the two to get back to work.

A thoughtful Bart returns home and comes across Max, who defensively tells Bart he can't tell him about his recent trip. But Bart's not interested in that. He instead asks Max why they even bother leading normal lives. Bart tells Max all about his encounter with Superman and he wonders if he should follow suit — setting up a monitoring station in the basement with a supply of a hundred thousand pizzas and chili dogs, and circling the globe doing good.

Max admits that is a good idea in theory, but then he flips it around on Bart. Max asks Bart how he felt growing up in the virtual reality, and Bart says he felt safe, but he knew he was missing out on the real world. So Max asks Bart what would happen if they took his plan to the extreme and built a giant virtual reality for everyone, seeing as that's the only way to really protect people. The confused Bart asks if their job isn't to protect people. Max says their job is to help people live the lives they want, but not to rule through fear. And Max concludes his talk by helping Bart realize that he was a little scared of Superman this afternoon.

Later, the Tigers gang head down to Pete's to intimidate Gamal into paying them protection money. As usual, it takes Gamal a while to figure out what they're talking about. But when the punks pull out their baseball bats, Gamal gets the message. Luckily, someone is there to stand up for Gamal — the unlikely hero, Jasper Pierson. Jasper explains that Superman saved his life recently, and he's trying to follow his example. But his actions only make the gang angrier, and one of them pulls out a knife. Evil Eye sees this, and realizes (once again) that he's hanging with the wrong crowd. He tries to fight off the bullies, and when a window is smashed, Superman arrives to put an end to the commotion.

One of the idiots swings a bat at Superman, and he crushes the weapon like a toothpick. Another actually pulls out a gun, and Impulse suddenly arrives to take it away, assuming (or hoping) that it was the same gun that shot Max. Impulse helps Superman take the Tigers away, leaving a frightened Evil Eye behind.

I'll admit I wasn't a huge fan of this issue. Superman's first cameo in this series came at a rather dark time for him, as his new attitude put him at odds with everyone from the JLA to the Metropolis police. So that aspect of this issue instantly became a bit of a downer. But I'm even more troubled by the Tigers gang, Evil Eye and Max. Why didn't Max bring the kid who shot him to justice? I know he was embarrassed by his flub, but that punk is a menace to society and needs to be taught that he can't go around shooting people! Max even could have simply testified against him as Max Crandall to protect his secret identity. And this can't be an instance where Max leaves it up to Bart to tie up all the loose ends. It wasn't Bart's fault Max got shot — it was his own, therefore he should have apprehended the criminal as soon as he was able. And as for Evil Eye, I guess the best word to describe my feelings is disappointed. I'm not entirely surprised he went crawling back to that gang. You'd think that the events of Halloween would be enough to scare him straight, but he's a confused, desperate kid in a rough situation. Truly a tragic character.

All the letters in Impulsive Reactions are via DC Online, so we just get goofy screen names this time.

Galadrie says Impulse #43 was one of the best issues in a while, but does complain about Gamal, saying we either need to know more about him and have a reason to care about him, or we simply need to see less of him. And I kind of agree with Galadrie. William Messner-Loebs just had a hard time getting Gamal off the ground. He never gave him a last name or named the country he's from, making it that much harder to connect to him.

Dew 1976 wants to know when Bart and Carol are going to hook up, but L.A. Williams reminds Dew that Bart is really only 3 years old and still not interested in dating.

Selinacatx simply asks why Bart's eyes are yellow, and L.A. really doesn't have an answer.

Dusty points out that there is a real Manchester, Alabama, but it's nothing like the one in the comics. L.A. says they treat it like they do New York. It's based on a real place, but is peppered with lots of fictional aspects. In later interviews, Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn admitted they chose the name Manchester without realizing it was also the name of an actual town. They just wanted a random, average city in Alabama. Now for the new ads:

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

Hang out with your heroes! Sports Illustrated for Kids now on video. Featured are Brett Favre, Mia Hamm, Grant Hill, Steve Young, Venus Williams and Derek Jeter.

Today's special: Laughs! Looney Tunes and Animaniacs on Kids' WB!

Don't eat the winning Oreo — showing off is much tastier.

Power Rangers Lost Galaxy. I have no idea what this iteration was all about. I had already bowed out of the Power Rangers by this point.

Turn Saturday morning upside down with Lunchables!

Animorphs: The Invasion Begins. I read the first few Animorph books, and did enjoy them. But the TV show never held my attention. And then the books became really repetitive.

Next time, Impulse and his friends will get some guest stars and face a familiar foe (sort of) in Young Justice #8.

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