Monday, May 16, 2016

Impulse #53


Todd Dezago • Writer
Janice Chiang • Letters
Rick Taylor • Colors
Digital Chameleon • Separator
L.A. Williams • Editor
... and filling in for proud new papa, Ethan Van Sciver ...
Angel Unzueta and Walt Simonson • Pencils
Keith Williams and Scott Williams • Inks
Impulse created by Mark Waid & Mike Wieringo
New Gods created by Jack Kirby

Sadly, Ethan Van Sciver had to sit out this incredible issue, but he and Wayne Faucher did give us this incredible cover. If I were to rank the Impulse covers (which I probably should), I'd put this in the top five. Everyone is so fierce and focused and fantastic-looking. Kalibak is huge and intimidating, and Inertia is positively vicious. But the real kicker is Impulse, who has never looked angrier. The little bit of blood on his cheek and the tears in his eyes put this over the top. The tension is palpable, the emotion is strong, and the image as a whole is simply amazing.

Our story picks right up where we left off last time, with Impulse stuck in the green goo of Craydl, while Inertia looks on. Meanwhile, on the far side of town, Kalibak has suddenly been teleported to Helen Claiborne's office. Upon seeing Max Mercury, Kalibak immediately tries to attack him, but Max manages to get himself and Helen away to safety.

As Impulse struggles to free himself of the goo, he is shocked to see another kid who looks just like him (minus the blond hair). Completely unconcerned by the situation, Impulse suggests that he and Inertia play a prank on his friends at the Fourth of July picnic by pretending to be each other just like the identical cousins in the Pickelodeon movie from the '60s. According to Bart, this prank would be "the bomb." Inertia, however, has other plans. He releases Impulse from Craydl, only to hit him hard in the face. He introduces himself as Thaddeus Thawne, the last of his line to be oppressed by the Allens.

Meanwhile, back at the Fourth of July picnic, Preston, Wade and Mike come running out of the woods, screaming about the monster. They tell Carol, Jeff and Ayana what happened, and Ayana is the one who asks where Bart is. Mike explains that Bart and Rolly ran the other way, and before too long, Rolly comes bursting out the woods, believing that the monster was somehow punishment for him playing with fireworks. But now everyone is left wondering what happened to Bart.

Impulse and Inertia are now locked in a full-blown speedster fight, which mostly entails them punching each other as they run around the world. Impulse is still holding out hope that he and Inertia can be friends, asking if they'll team up after they fight each other for a little bit. But Inertia mocks him, claiming to be smarter, stronger and better than Bart in every way.

As they fight, Inertia provides his backstory, saying everything began with Barry Allen's twin brother, Malcolm Thawne, who became Cobalt Blue. The Allen-Thawne feud continued for generations until the 30th century with President Thawne. After Bart was born, President Thawne acquired his genetic material and spliced it with pure Thawne DNA (even though Bart was already half a Thawne from his mother's side). President Thawne used this genetic material to clone Thaddeus. But while Bart aged at an accelerated rate, Thaddeus' growth was slowed down and carefully controlled. He spent centuries in a nutrients womb until his body and mind had reached perfection. After eons of waiting, the clone was finally "born" as Inertia — the Reverse-Impulse.

Meanwhile, as Max rushes Helen away from Kalibak, he explains that he once encountered the son of Darkseid years ago while teaming up with the New Gods. Max defeated Kalibak by using Mister Miracle's motherbox to open up a boom tube to swallow a blast from Kalibak's beta club. At super speed, Max then opened up another boom tube behind Kalibak, unleashing the energy blast on Kalibak's back. And Kalibak has held a grudge against Max ever since. Max drops Helen off in a quiet field, then rushes back to stop Kalibak before he kills anyone in his quest for revenge.

Half a world away, Impulse and Inertia continue their high-speed battle. They had been vibrating to pass harmlessly through buildings and civilians. But when they pass the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Inertia leaps on Impulse's back to disrupt his vibrations. Bart realizes they're going to crash into a crowd of tourists like a bowling ball. Impulse has to work hard to vibrate himself and Inertia through the people, which gives Inertia the opening he'd been waiting for, and he strikes Impulse with his special spiky ring.

Meanwhile, Max returns to Helen's office just seconds after departing. Kalibak begins smashing building, and Max strikes back with a piece of debris. But Max is still not back to full strength after that gunshot on that fateful Halloween night. He lures Kalibak to a dilapidated warehouse, but takes a big hit in the process. However, Max's plan works, as Kalibak follows him up on the roof, which immediately collapses under Kalibak's immense weight.

Impulse and Inertia's brawl carries them through China, Japan, France, Egypt and Gotham City (where we see the boots and cape of someone who might be Batman, but could just as easily be Robin). Inertia mocks Impulse for never being in a real fight before. He explains that Bart lost this fight before it even began due to his uncontrolled energy, frenetic activity and taking action without thought. Inertia says Bart is nothing but an impulse — his name is a label and a curse.

The speedsters return to Manchester, and Inertia pins Impulse on his back. But suddenly, Impulse blocks Inertia's punch and quotes Batman, saying Impulse was never meant to be his name, but a warning. This startles Inertia, and soon Impulse is on top of him, finally taking control of the fight. Inertia orders Craydl to engage Retreat Plan A, and a teleport hoop opens up nearby. Iris Allen pops out, covered in Craydl's green goo. Bart leaves Inertia to free his grandmother, which enables Thaddeus to sneak into the hoop and teleport away.

We return to the Max-Kalibak fight, where Max has caught the falling Kalibak with a whirlwind. He keeps Kalibak disoriented and pushes himself to the limit by carrying him to an uninhabited island in the South Pacific. When Max gets back to Helen, he collapses and asks her to take him home.

Inertia returns to his lab, furious at himself for allowing his fears get to him at the end of the fight. Craydl tries to comfort him, but Inertia says this was just a reconnaissance mission and it was a complete success. Meanwhile, Impulse frees his grandma by running around the green goo bubble and breaking it down. Iris embraces Bart, saying, "I was so worried about you! When I saw him — how evil he was ... I just thought ... I was sure he ..." But she stops herself from completing the thought. As fireworks go off in the distance, Bart stupidly asks his grandma if she brought him anything.

What a great issue. Impulse finally got a big fight with his equal, and Max finally got a big fight with a massively tough villain. But perhaps most interestingly, we got to learn Inertia's backstory. I love how Dezago went back to The Life Story of the Flash to find inspiration for who is unquestionably Impulse's greatest villain. And I like how we saw that one of the reasons baby Bart was held by the government was so President Thawne could create a clone of him. Of course, it seems redundant to splice Bart's DNA with "pure Thawne DNA" since Bart is already the grandson of President Thawne. But it is kind of neat that Thaddeus's growth was the exact opposite of Bart's. While it is odd to consider this secret lab surviving and raising a clone for hundreds of years, I guess it doesn't matter too much when you live in a futuristic society with time travel capabilities.

As for the fight itself, I would have liked something a little more interesting than a punching match around the world. And it will always bug me that it's now cannon that Batman gave Impulse his name to warn him. But I guess I have to accept it. But all in all, this was a very exciting issue, especially the Max-Kalibak fight. We really felt Max's fear and exhaustion.

Sadly, the art nearly ruined this issue. I understand why Van Sciver sat this one out, but it still seems criminal for him to miss this climatic issue. Unzueta's and Simonson's pencils felt a bit sloppy and rushed. And their differing styles clashed a bit. This is especially noticeable if you read the Impulse 100-Page Spectacular. After three solid issues of Van Sciver's beautiful work, the book concludes with a climax tainted by less-than-spectacular art.

Impulsive Reactions begins by excusing Van Sciver to welcome the birth of his son, Hunter Zalman Van Sciver. (That name will sound familiar in a couple of years.) L.A. Williams gives special thanks to the guest art team, joking that Scott Williams and Keith Williams are his sons.

Dleehii, of Bonaire, Ga., called Impulse #48 the best issue ever, causing the reader to laugh out loud multiple times. Dleehii loved the interactions between the Riddler, Max, Morlo and Impulse.

The Heckler II reported having a new favorite Impulse quote of all time: "MAX! I mean Ohmygoodnessit'sMaxCrandallamanIonlyknowCASUALLYwhoistheuncleofBartAllensomeoneIalsoknowonlyCASUALLYsincewearetwoentirelydifferentpeople."

Silent Nick said his favorite line was from the Riddler: "I DON'T HAVE A SCARRED COIN!!!"

Paul Spragg, of London, said this creative team has outdone itself by putting such a cerebral villain against the kid with no thought processes whatsoever. Paul called issue #48 one of the funniest of the series, especially liking the cover and Impulse asking what the barcode is. His favorite line was from Max: "I should be furious, but it's so much fun to watch!"

Stanford Carpenter, Comic Book Research Fellow of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., also enjoyed the cover, but he admits he didn't immediately recognize the Riddler. And while he enjoyed the issue, Stanford wishes Dr. Morlo would have been explained a bit more for new readers.

Jack Purcell, of the Words and Pictures Museum of Fine Sequential Art in Northampton, Mass., liked how one of the sound effect bubbles said, "KAALBERG," paying tribute to the book's former inker. He also enjoyed how big characters like Superman and the Riddler are exposing new readers to lesser-known characters like Morlo and Evil Eye.

The Cavalier said issue #48 was the funniest Impulse story, but the best Impulse story is Impulse: Bart Saves the Universe. Now let's check out the new ads:

An optical illusion showing the new green Apple Jack. It's hard to remember that Apple Jacks didn't always have green pieces.

Play the Keebler Escape to Color. Grand Prize: Game Boy Color Mega Pack.

Wanna see a bunch of Pokémon say "Cheese"? Pokémon Snap on Nintendo 64.

One in ten wins! In the Nabisco PlayStation Sweepstakes. The Ultimate Prize involves the PlayStation Truck arriving at your school.

More adventure than most summer vacations! Croc 2 on PlayStation.

Experience a once-in-a-lifetime magical adventure. The Amazing Panda Adventure. Ironically, I remember reading the book about this movie, but I have no idea if I ever did watch it.

Heroes first. Legends later. Friends forever. Flash & Green Lantern The Brave and the Bold.

Money. Power. Respect. Two games. Two countries. Grand Theft Auto and GTA: London for PlayStation.

Now for a brief review of the Impulse 100-Page Spectacular. This collection has a publication date of August 2011, cost $7.99, and uses the cover of Impulse #50. It includes issues #50 through #53, beautifully reprinted on nice, slick, magazine-type pages. Unfortunately, it does not contain any of the covers for the other issues. The four issues do work together very well as a self-contained story, although the art change at the end is rather jarring. Since this came out around the same time of the Green Lantern movie, almost every ad in the book ties into Green Lantern in some way, shape or form. Altogether, I really enjoy this book and am very glad it exists (there are far too few Impulse trade paperbacks). My only complaint is the actual size of the book. One hundred pages is really an awkward amount. I can squeeze 80-Page Giants into my comic book bags, but 100 pages is just too big. And yet it's too thin to look good next to all my trade paperbacks on my shelf.

Next time: The Flash #154.


  1. Great reviews! I'm really loving this page! I check it multiple times a week for updates. :)

    For the 100 page spectaculars, I recommend seeing if your local comic store sells Golden Age covers individually. The Golden Age comics were much larger than the modern ones, and I've found the covers for those comics fit those larger 100 page books quite well. Just a suggestion. Looking forward to more!!

    1. Thanks for the tip! And I'm glad you're liking the blog! I'll try to make sure there's something new each week.

  2. (Grain of salt, since this involves fan-theories and the like).

    "While it is odd to consider this secret lab surviving and raising a clone for hundreds of years"

    I read a fanfic whose writer was just as confused by this "hundreds of years" backstory; they eventually decided to explain it (in-story) as a lie fed to Thad during his growth (said fic also had him grow at a more-or-less normal human rate, so about 15 years, just in time for the Legion's debut/early period if I'm getting the timeline right). Which I think makes quite a fair bit of sense when you consider his character arc in this series.

    On the other hand, you could always consider the lab as a "time flows slower on the inside" kind of thing...

    1. That's a pretty interesting theory. We do know that Thad was lied to about his family history, so maybe this was another to boost his self confidence. Either way, it still is a little strange, but interesting nonetheless. And I think most good comics are strange and interesting.

  3. For what it's worth, there are several canonical versions of the origins of Bart's codename, one of which literally happens in the ZH miniseries itself, IIRC. There's also a reference to it early in his original 90s Teen Titans run. :V But I haven't thought about this in years and am not at all sure where in my apartment the issues are. u.u

    1. Good memory! As far as I can tell, the first time Bart was formally called Impulse was in Zero Hour #3.