Thursday, July 21, 2016

Impulse #57

A Plastic Christmas

A wild and wacky Holiday gift, created just for you, by
Todd Dezago Writer
Ethan Van Sciver Penciller
Prentis Rollins Inker
Janice Chiang Letterer
Rick Taylor Colorist
Digital Chameleon Separators
L.A. Williams Captain Christmas
Impulse created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo
Plastic Man created by Jack Cole

Our cover by Ethan Van Sciver and Wayne Faucher gives Impulse fans something they've wanted for a very long time now — a team-up with Plastic Man! And to make things even better, Mr. Mxyzptlk is here! And it's Christmas! And Mxyzptlk is stealing Santa's cookies! This issue is guaranteed to be amazing.

Our story begins with Plastic Man sneaking his pal Woozy Winks onto the JLA Watchtower. Plastic Man is supposed to be on monitor duty, but it's Christmas Eve, and he wants to continue his tradition of watching "It's a Wonderful X-Mas" with Woozy. So they pop the VHS in, get settled with their popcorn and snacks, and are promptly interrupted by an incoming message from the Young Justice cave.

Impulse is on the other end of the line, happily and politely explaining to Plastic Man that he has a jar of technoplasm, which is the most dangerous glop in the universe. Robin said they shouldn't keep it in their headquarters, and Impulse apparently talked to Steel about it, and he said the Watchtower has a cryo-lab that can safely store it. Plastic Man very reluctantly agrees to teleport Impulse to the Watchtower, telling Woozy that Impulse is the most impatient, obnoxious, impulsive little cretin he's ever met. And L.A. Williams reminds us of how Impulse battled Plastic Man in JLA vs. The Titans #2.

Impulse soon arrives on the Watchtower, asks where the cryo-lab is, then decides to try to find it himself before Plastic Man has a chance to say anything. After dropping off the technoplasm, Impulse takes a quick tour through the Watchtower. Plastic Man desperately tries to stop Impulse from running recklessly through the headquarters, but Bart's too fast for him, and Plastic Man is eventually tied up in a big ball.

We then head to Metropolis, where Mr. Mxyzptlk is posing as one of Santa's elves in front of the Metro City Music Hall (which is playing Dogs and View of L.A. The Musical). But this Santa is actually a Santandroid super-bot, which Mxy is planning to fight Superman with. Of course, Mxy doesn't expect his robot to defeat the Man of Steel — he just hopes that it will destroy Superman's reputation. Mxyzptlk believes the people of Earth will turn against Superman when they see him beat up Santa Claus. So Mxy starts things off with a few explosions to get Superman's attention.

Back on the Watchtower, Plastic Man has turned into a giant broom and is trying to sweep Impulse away in the most polite way possible. But Impulse sees Woozy is watching his favorite Christmas movie, so he plops himself down on the couch next to him and asks to share his popcorn. Plastic Man prepares to attack Impulse, but he's interrupted when a JLA monitor alerts him to several large explosions in Metropolis. Plastic Man knows Superman is off in space on this Christmas Eve, so he prepares to go down there. Impulse wants to go, too, but Plastic Man forbids him and teleports away.

In Metropolis, Mr. Mxyzptlk is sad to see Plastic Man has shown up to fight him instead of Superman, but he figures he can still salvage his dastardly plan by adjusting his Santa robot to fight Plastic Man. Mxy hops inside the robot and begins fiddling with the controls. Plastic Man sticks his head in there to see what's happening, but this startles Mxy so bad, he jumps up, hits his head on the machine, and is knocked unconscious. The Santa robot begins going haywire, and the latch slams shut, trapping Mxy inside before Plastic Man can pull him out.

Impulse teleports back to the Young Justice headquarters like he's supposed to, but he's still mad at Plastic Man for not letting him join the mission. So instead of running straight home to Manchester, he decides to take a quick detour to Metropolis. Once there, Impulse sees a distressed Santa Claus on the ground, being attacked by Plastic Man. Impulse puts himself between Santa and Plastic, and angrily shouts, "HEY!!? What happened to Santa?!? What did you do to him ... ?!?!?!" Before Plastic Man can explain himself, Impulse concludes that Santa is in no condition to deliver all the presents tonight, and will need his help. Impulse scoops up a nearby bag of presents, shoves it in Santa's hand, and races off, dragging the robot behind him.

Meanwhile, at Alabama's Manchester Mall, Max is criticizing Helen for putting off her Christmas shopping until the last possible minute. But Helen has a good reason for this. She was worried that Bart would peek at his presents early, or stumble upon them accidentally. While shopping, Max bumps into someone, knocking all their presents out of their hands. This shocks Helen, because Max is normally fast enough to avoid such collisions, and this harmless little bump really seemed to knock the wind out of him. Max tries to assure his daughter he's fine, and returns the conversation to Bart's present. So Helen shows him what she wants to get, and Max says, "Oh, no! Helen ... not that! Anything but that ... !"

Meanwhile, back at the Watchtower, Plastic Man has hastily returned to the JLA headquarters to use their computers to track Impulse. Woozy thinks Impulse is fine, since he's just delivering Christmas presents, but Plastic Man points out that Impulse is running around the countryside toting a malfunctioning robot built to battle Superman, which is roughly the equivalent of Impulse running around with an A-bomb.

Inside the Santa robot, Mxyzptlk begins to wake up, but is promptly knocked out again by Impulse's reckless running. Outside the Santandroid, Impulse is happily spreading holiday cheer across the planet. At each house, he drags Santa up to the roof, shoves him through the chimney, and fills the house with presents from Mxyzptlk's perpetually restocked sack. Of course, Bart doesn't think there's anything wrong with this — Santa's just feeling a bit lethargic after his fight with Plastic Man.

Finally, Plastic Man is able to triangulate and calculate Impulse's position to an orphanage in Opal City. Plastic Man grabs Impulse, who instinctively tries to shake him off, but Plas is able this time to tell Impulse that Santa is actually a robot with Mr. Mxyzptlk inside. Impulse remembers Mxyzptlk from last Halloween, so he stops resisting and allows Plastic Man to teleport him and the robot up to the Watchtower.

Mr. Mxyzptlk finally wakes up and vows revenge on Plastic Man, threatening to turn him into a candy cane. But Woozy points out that Plastic Man can already do that himself, and Plas proves this by turning into a candy cane. Mxy says that's not that impressive, since he can also turn into anything he wants. Impulse thinks this sounds neat, so he asks if Mxyzptlk can turn into an octopus, which he does. Woozy has Plastic Man turn into a lizard, then a rocket ship, while Mxyzptlk is requested to became an elephant and a taxicab.

The fifth-dimensional imp then asks for a real challenge, so Woozy  tells "Mr. Mixy-fishsticks" to become a character in his favorite movie. Mxy instantly appears on the screen of the black-and-white film, boasting of his power. He also corrects Woozy on his name, saying it's Mr. Mxyzptlk, but soon realizes he's made a grave mistake. Woozy hits the rewind button, which causes the imp to say his name backwards, which sends him back to his dimension.

By the time Bart gets home, it's past midnight, and he knows Max is going to greet him with a lecture. To his surprise, however, Max and Helen are still up, enjoying some hot chocolate by the Christmas tree. Max says it is technically Christmas, and Helen insists that Bart open one present now. Bart excitedly asks which one, and Helen tells him this present is in the kitchen. Waiting for Bart there is a sweet little puppy, who immediately begins licking the boy's face. Helen starts to tell Bart he needs to be responsible for the dog, but Bart is too busy laughing and saying thank you and Merry Christmas.

I cannot do this comic justice. It truly is one of the funniest Impulse comics ever. I feel like I say that a lot, but that's because Impulse is such a consistently funny series. Fans began asking for Plastic Man right from the start, and he did not disappoint. And Mr. Mxyzptlk, whom Impulse technically did create, was the perfect foil for the two of them. Placing the story at Christmas was another brilliant move, as it allowed the little boy in Bart to come out and enjoy the festivities of the season. Remember, he is really only 3 or 4 years old, so it's perfectly reasonable for him to still believe in Santa Claus — even to the point of protecting an obvious robot from Plastic Man (one of my all-time favorite scenes). And how about Woozy Winks for the win?

Continuity wise, it was nice to see a reminder that Max is still not doing well. Of course, poor Max has been in some state of injury for more than a year now, but it makes sense. Just when he started to recover from his gunshot wound, he got the snot beaten out of him by Kalibak. So we can continue to expect more on this front moving forward, as well as all the fun possibilities of Bart Allen owning a dog.

Impulsive Reactions starts with Ryan Fahrenkamp, of Cincinnati, Ohio, praising the series for being true to its style and loyal to its readers. Ryan loved Impulse #50, saying it was great to see the contrast between Impulse and Batman, combined with the chaos of the Joker. He also enjoyed seeing the comic's credits hidden the Mad magazine ad, and called the artwork and layout incredible, striking and bold.

The next letter writer withheld their name, but they explain that they picked up the Impulse: Reckless Youth trade paperback on a whim, and instantly became hooked, searching out all the back issues of Impulse, Young Justice and The Flash. This letter writer also praises issue #50 for Batman's and Joker's realistic reactions to Impulse. The letter ends by asking how Max Mercury was able to get his gunshot wound treated without compromising his secret identity. L.A. Williams explains that Max was shot on Halloween, so everyone thought he was ordinary Max Crandall just wearing a costume.

Lou Bernard, of Lock Haven, Penn., says he thought nobody could live up to Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos, until he read issue #50. Lou also describes Ethan Van Sciver's art as a mix between Ramos and Phil Jimenez, which I think is fairly accurate.

Tim Linnhoff, of Cologne, Germany, always thought speedsters were dumb, until he read Young Justice #1. Since then, Impulse has been Tim's favorite character. But Tim has also been reading Batman for 14 years, and was happy with how Batman was handled in issue #50. He also calls out the team-ups with Superman in Impulse #47 and Green Lantern in Green Lantern 80-Page Giant #2.

Craig Young says he became a fan of Todd Dezago for life after reading JLA: World Without Grown-Ups and Young Justice: The Secret. Craig also enjoyed Van Sciver's art from Impulse #41 and Flash 80-Page Giant #1. Craig says DC couldn't have picked a better team to handle the most impulsive kid on the planet, and I have to agree with him.

Nightwing writes about Impulse #53, saying the cover was Van Sciver's best by far (and I agree wholeheartedly). He also enjoyed Angel Unzueta's artwork and liked how Impulse remembered what Batman told him about his name.

Mart says he enjoyed Bill Messner-Loebs' writing, saying he often puts a slightly different spin on each character he handles, but never does it in an irreversible way. But Mart is enjoying the book even more now with the new creative team. He asks if the Max Mercury/New Gods adventure mentioned in issue #53 was a reference to an actual story, but L.A. tells him that was an original idea of Dezago's.

Wil Moss, of Nashville, Tenn., is in the minority by saying he was not too impressed with issue #50. But he did enjoy the two following issues a lot more. Wil loves how Dezago is handling the Bart-Carol relationship, and calls Inertia a great villain with a great look. He also enjoyed the work from guest artists Unzueta and Walt Simonson, although he did not like the Kalibak subplot.

Whew! That was the most letters we've had in a long time! But I think that's a good thing. Letters to the editor really add a whole new dimension to comic books, especially in a historical sense. Well, let's check out the new ads:

In brightest day ... in darkest night ... no evil shall escape their sight! Green Lantern PVC set.

Man of tomorrow. City of tomorrow. Superman.

Ace Ventura When Nature Calls. Starring Jim Carrey, after he played the Riddler in Batman Forever.

Bring home your very own giant! The Iron Giant. I just watched this again the other day, and I can say it still holds up very well. This is one of the most beautiful, touching animated movies ever.

Video Gear. The ultimate in video game accessories.

Tiny Toon Adventures Toonenstein Dare to Scare! for PlayStation.

Next time, we'll enter March 2000 with a quick cameo in Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #8.

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