Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Impulse #55

It Ain't Easy Being Greenery

Shon C. Bury Guest Writer
Ethan Van Sciver Artist
Janice Chiang Letterer
"Buzz" Setzer Guest Colorist
Digital Chameleon Separations
L.A. Williams Editor

For the first time ever, Wayne Faucher did not ink the cover of Impulse. For some unspecified reason, Barbara Kaalberg returned to ink Van Sciver's pencils. And it's a fairly decent cover. It shows us pretty much what's going to happen in this issue without giving anything away. There's our new bad guy, Sir Real (which intentionally sounds like "surreal"), and those little green hands will be revealed to us all in due time.

Our story begins with Sir Real, the self-proclaimed master of virtual reality, robbing the poor Manchester Savings and Loan. (This is at least the third time this bank has been robbed. Impulse and Max Mercury should just live there.) As we see on the cover, Sir Real has tons of wires emanating from his suit, which cover every man, woman and child, placing them in a virtual reality world, while he drains their bank accounts. Sir Real also conveniently explains that he used to be a virtual reality developer, but became upset when his bosses became rich off his ideas. (Van Sciver also took some liberties with the faces on the dollar bills flying around. One of them, a million-dollar bill, has the face of a woman. I can't say for certain who these people are, but I suspect they are some of this comic's creators.)

Meanwhile, Bart is playing video games while gorging himself on pizza, Chips Ho! cookies, Cheezy Poofs, Zesti cola, and pretty much every other junk food you could imagine. Max has very sweetly prepared a well-balanced meal with ham, bread and fresh vegetables. He even put on an apron to lay this beautiful spread. He calls Bart to dinner, telling him a superhero needs to treat his body better. Bart repeats Max's counsel — "my body is a temple" — but then he loses his game, which he blames Max for.

Bart reluctantly walks over to the table, and wonders if today is a holiday. Max says he just doesn't want Bart to rot away eating empty calories all day. But Bart turns down Max's hard work, suggesting they instead order Allegro's Pizza's mucho meat-o supreme-o. Naturally, Max refuses. Fortunately for Bart, a news report on the TV interrupts their argument. Bart recognizes Sir Real, and remembers the papers talking about him last issue, and decides to go off and stop the villain right now. The fact that he gets to delay eating his vegetables is just a happy coincidence. Max actually agrees with Bart on this one, but the boy has left the house before Max can get ready.

Impulse finds Sir Real in no time, and tells the villain to consider himself beat. Sir Real admits he had heard Impulse protects Manchester, but he's confident he'll be able to beat the hero. He tries to hook Impulse up to his VR jacks, but Impulse easily dodges all the wires, ties them up in a ball, and does a quick victory dance. Unfortunately, Impulse's quick win goes to his head, and instead of apprehending the bad guy, he mocks him. Impulse suggests changing Sir Real's name to "Get-Real" since he's so lame. He also lectures Sir Real on how geeky it is to be the master of virtual reality, explaining that he grew up in a VR world, which is "jack when you're up against a real hero." But during all of Impulse's gloating and lecturing, he fails to notice Sir Real's wires sneaking up behind him. Before he realizes it, Impulse is electrocuted and falls into a strange darkness.

When our hero comes to, he finds three little green kids standing over him. They introduce Bart to Veggie Valley, and warn him to not let the giant catch him loafing. The kids are Veggie Lad, Niblet and Lazy Veg, and they tell Bart he needs to start his work in the castle under the Mushroom Man. Bart tries to explain to them about his battle with Sir Real, but they don't know what he's talking about. Lazy Veg says he's tired and lies down for a nap, but Veggie Lad and Niblet shout at him to wake up. Bart says his new friends need Prozac, but soon a robot called the Slice-o-Matic swoops down and validates the veggie kids' fears by slicing Lazy Veg into a spiraled peeling.

Bart shouts, "What the grife?!" (Returning to his 30th century slang he rarely uses.) Niblet and Veggie Lad show Bart that many of their friends have also been sliced up into piles of peelings, but they are somehow still alive and able to talk. Bart calls the Mushroom Man's behavior "whack" and vows to take care of him. Right on cue, the gigantic Mushroom Man shows up, and he just so happens to look just like Max Mercury covered in mushrooms. The veggie kids sing their song of praise to the Mushroom Man, who shouts at Bart for loafing and not eating his vegetables. Transfixed by the giant Max, Bart is frozen in place, and subsequently squashed by the giant's fist.

Later, Bart wakes up in a prison cell in the castle. Niblet is next to him, and she explains that they're in the room where the Mushroom Man's gnomes, Mucky, Ducky and Frump, transform normal kids into veggie kids. Across from Bart is a normal kid who has just started growing some leaves on the top of his head. He wants to go back home to his mommy, but the gnomes force-feed him a green soup, saying he'll soon be a hardworking veggie kid. Bart decides he needs to stop this, but Niblet warns him that the gnomes are mean. Bart vibrates out of his cell and says, "Don't worry about me, I'm Impulse. Saving people is what I do."

Impulse sneaks around the gnomes' backs and begins freeing the kids by vibrating his finger into the locks of their prison cells. With the kids free, they join Impulse in fighting the gnomes, who are promptly knocked out like a bunch of bowling pins. All the kids proclaim Impulse as their hero, but he reminds them they still need to take down the giant mushroom guy. But first, he has to battle one more gnome, Big Grub. Big Grub, who is much larger than the other gnomes, says, "Big Grub come squash." Impulse mocks his limited vocabulary, then races between the gnome's legs, causing him to fall down hard on his face by trying to hit the speedster. Impulse jokingly says he hopes the attack didn't give Big Grub more brain damage. One previously defeated gnome gets up, but Impulse simply says "boo," and he runs away screaming.

But Impulse's victory is quickly spoiled by the call of the Mushroom Man — "Yo ho ho!" The veggie kids instinctively begin singing their song, and Impulse says "grife" again. The Mushroom Man demands to know who woke him up during his mid-afternoon nap. Impulse takes responsibility, and begins attacking the giant's foot, making sure to joke about how stinky his feet are. But with a simple flick of his finger, the Mushroom Man sends Impulse flying hard into the wall. The veggie kids rush over and encourage him to get up, but Impulse blacks out once more.

When he wakes up, Impulse sees Max Mercury pulling Sir Real's cables off him. Impulse initially panics, calling Max the Mushroom Man, but Max calms him down, showing him that he defeated Sir Real. Max speculates that Impulse rushed in without thinking and tried to fight a villain with unknown powers. Impulse says that's not what happened at all, and that he got stuck in a crazy vegetable land, fighting a giant mushroom man that looked like Max.

Max says he also got zapped by Sir Real, who, while being taken away by the police, says he didn't "zap" Max, but "shwipped" and "fwipped" him. Max ignores that odd comment and tells Impulse that he was in a VR-dream where he was force-fed fudge cookies by little elves that looked like Impulse. And Max hates fudge cookies. Impulse wants to laugh at this, but he keeps it in, choosing to ask Max how he escaped, instead. Max says he got loose, tied all the elves to the tree and burned it, but then admits he was joking.

A pretty clerk at the bank, named Kaylene, thanks Max, and he stammers a bit while shaking her hand. Impulse considers Max a corn ball, and soon the speedsters are on their way home. Max lectures Bart for not taking time to think before fighting Sir Real, and Bart teases Max about making a new girlfriend. In response to this, Max grounds Bart from video games for a week.

Once they get back home, Max notes that his beautifully prepared meal has gotten cold while waiting for them, and he doesn't have much of an appetite anyway, after having eaten all those virtual reality cookies. Bart suggests pizza, and Max graciously relents, telling Bart to call in the order while he clears the table. But Bart has a sudden change in heart, telling Max that he'll clear the table since he doesn't want to loaf about. He also grabs a carrot, to Max's astonishment, saying some veggies would sure hit the spot.

Everything about this issue is strange. Wayne Faucher didn't ink the cover, Todd Dezago didn't write the story, Prentis Rollins didn't ink Van Sciver's pencils, and Rick Taylor didn't color the issue. That's not to say the art suffered in this issue — far from it — but I have certainly gained a greater appreciation for Rollins and Taylor. I'm not exactly sure how to phrase it, but this issue just felt ... muted compared to the regular art team.

The story itself was incredibly strange and goofy. And it was quite a bit of fun. As much as I crave Dezago's world-building, there's nothing wrong with an occasional harmless filler such as this. I am reminded of Impulse #18, which also had a guest writer, Martin Pasko, and also featured a virtual reality-centric plot. It would have been an amazing bit of continuity if Shon C. Bury would have found a way to connect Sir Real to the entirely forgotten characters of that issue.

Impulsive Reactions begins with Mark McConnell of Strasburg, Colo., saying he bought five copies of Impulse #51 to share with his family because his hometown was mentioned in the comic.

Paul Dale Roberts, of Sacramento, Calif., felt reminiscent while watching Bart and friends talk about comics and complain about the 30-day wait between issues. Paul also praises the art and Inertia's costume.

Charlie Flint, of London, says he didn't read comics for about 10 years until he stumbled across Young Justice. In that series, he became intrigued with Impulse, began reading his series, and has fallen in love with the light, but not fluff stories and funny characters.

Rob tries to answer four of L.A. Williams' quotes from past letter columns, but he only gets two right. He also welcomes Todd Dezago and Ethan Van Sciver, saying they have big shoes to fill (pun intended). Tim now for the new ads:

New Kellogg's Pop-Tarts Snax-Stix. Snapping them apart is half the fun.

Scooby-Doo! Mystery of the Fun Park Phantom. A PC mystery game.

DC Kids combo deal. Order any two titles for only $29.95 and receive this free erasable memo board and pen absolutely free! Impulse was included on this list. Single issues of Impulse cost $2.25 at the time.

Earthworm Jim 3D on Nintendo 64.

Well, that does it for 1999. Next time, we'll review this massive year in Impulse's history and hand out some awards.

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