Sunday, September 11, 2016

Impulse #60

What Would the Flash Do?

Dwayne McDuffie Guest Writer
Eric Battle Guest Penciller
Prentis Rollins Inker
Jason Scott Jones Colorist
Jamison Separator
Janice Chiang Letterer
L.A. Williams Editor
Impulse created by Waid and Wieringo

This issue's cover by Impulse: Bart Saves the Universe's Jason Johnson and Wonder Girls: Sins of Youth's Chris Ivy. And just like Bart Saves the Universe, this cover has a frantic, wild style, combined with lots of little details around the edges. The odd border around this cover gives the impression of something significant for this story, but I don't think it's anything more than Johnson's doodling. The only thing on the cover that seems to matter for this story is the imprint on Impulse's boot, which is a nice touch. Johnson, however, did mess up Impulse's gloves — making them full-fingered instead of the cool-for-the-90s fingerless gloves. It's also worth noting that Jason Johnson joins the short list of people who have drawn an Impulse cover — Humberto Ramos, Craig Rousseau, Jeff Matsuda and Ethan Van Sciver.

We open to find Bart hanging out in someone's backyard with Ayana and Roland. Ayana drags Bart into a shed, telling Roland to wait outside since she has something private to show Bart. Our oblivious hero agrees, but he does wish he had a Girl/English Dictionary to decipher Ayana's clues. In the dark shed, Ayana hands Bart a Wint-o-Green Life Preservers candy, and shows him that when you bite down hard on them, they make sparks in the dark. Ayana then tries to smoothly transition this into making a different kind of spark with Bart. But Bart suddenly dashes out of the shed before the kissing can begin, leaving Ayana to hope that Bart doesn't tell Mike about this (since Mike had previously been her other participant in this "sparks in the dark" experiment). Of course, Bart was completely oblivious to all this, and focused only on one thing — getting as many of those candies as possible.

But in this latest distraction, Impulse completely misses a robbery at Fambly Jewelry, where the teenaged thief has somehow managed to put the store's safe into his pocket. He introduces himself as Pocket Pal to the police, and explains that his pocket is "just a little bigger on the inside than it is on the outside." He demonstrates this by pulling out a bazooka, which he uses to blast a big hole in the wall. Before the cops can pull themselves out of the rubble, Pocket Pal pulls out a motorcycle and zooms away.

We then cut to Manchester Junior High, where it's time for the midterm science exhibition. While waiting their turn, Roland tells his friends about how his dad would go streaking during college. And we get a very odd image of Bart imagining himself running around naked. Anyway, when it's Bart's turn to demonstrate his science experiment, he pulls out his big bag of Wint-o-Greens and a sledgehammer. He attempts to give an official-sounding speech with a fake British accent, then asks for the lights to be turned off. However, the auditorium still isn't dark enough to Bart's liking because of the emergency lights. So Bart literally cuts the power to the building, then puts on an impressive display by smashing the mints.

After the power's restored, Bart is sent to Randal Sheridan's office, which now lists him as the Assistant Vice-Principal, a title that seems redundant. Anyway, we see that Mr. Sheridan has stacks and stacks of files detailing Bart's misdeeds, including burning the ant farm with a magnifying glass and trying to flush a sleeping bag down a toilet. After shouting at Bart for a bit, Mr. Sheridan says he won't call in Bart's Uncle Max this time, and he warns the boy to try to think before he acts.

Bart is then accosted in the hall by an overly anxious hall monitor named Deke. Turns out he was one of the bullies in Impulse #13, but has since turned his life around by joining the Supermen of America (the actual group, not the corrupt posers we saw in Impulse #47). Deke shows Bart the secret of his transformation — a bracelet that says "WWSD" for "What Would Superman Do?" Bart becomes inspired by this, and instantly heads off to an arts and crafts store to make his own bracelet. But instead of using Superman as the inspiration, Bart's bracelet asks "What Would the Flash Do?" As soon as he puts it on, Bart says he feels "gooder" already.

Later, Max is astonished to see Bart not only complete his pre-algebra homework, but also work a few problems ahead. Bart then heads out on patrol, saying he's devised a new grid system that will be more efficient than his usual haphazard style. As he takes off, promising to be back in three minutes in time for curfew, Helen tells Max how Bart also cleaned his room, turned off the TV, put away his video games and even read a book. He did forget to pick up his jacket, but Helen is still impressed. She then takes off for another date with Matt Ringer, leaving Max to quietly reflect on how he might be able to get Bart ready to take care of things on his own before he has to.

Impulse's new grid takes him to the Birmingham Zoo, where he sees Pocket Pal stealing a live lion. Impulse says he spent some extra time studying the police blotters, so he feels prepared for this battle. Pocket Pal attacks with a bunch of darts, which he says have Impulse's name on them. Bart catches each dart individually, and is surprised to see they actually don't have anything written on them. Pocket Pal says he was just looking for some fun before heading to the track to grab some cars, and he isn't really ready for a fight like this. So he pulls out a large backhoe, which he hopes will cover his escape. Impulse easily vibrates through the construction equipment, but then suddenly realizes that it's almost time for his curfew.

Pocket Pal calls Impulse a baby for having a curfew, and for a moment, Bart imagines himself beating the villain like a punching bag. But he sees his What Would Flash Do bracelet, and instead of thinking of Wally, he thinks of his Grandpa Barry, telling him to get home by 7 o'clock. So Impulse consults a pocket watch he just happened to have, then tells Pocket Pal he'll give him a whuppin' tomorrow. Pocket Pal pulls out a large laser gun, but Impulse is long gone before he gets to fire it.

Bart rushes back home, where Max asks him why he decided to leave during the middle of a battle with a super villain. Bart explains that he was two seconds away from missing curfew, but he assures Max it'll be fine, since he's already deduced where Pocket Pal will strike next. He promises to catch the villain tomorrow, after he completes his chores. Max asks what's happening to Bart, and he explains to him about his bracelet and how it'll make him always be good from now on. However, Max still feels that Bart needs to be grounded for the stunt he pulled at school that day. Bart starts to protest, but then imagines himself wearing an oversized Flash outfit, asking, WWFD? So Bart politely agrees to the punishment, then takes a bath, brushes his teeth and goes to bed.

Max confers with Helen (who came back rather quickly from her date), saying he finds the new Bart a bit creepy, and kind of like a kid from the Brady Bunch. Helen tells him to relax, saying this phase won't last long. She reminds Max of the time Bart tried to teach himself to bend spoons with his mind. That phase didn't last too long, either, although it did ruin all the family's silverware.

The next day, Impulse finds Pocket Pal at the Talladega Speedway, which is currently hosting the Lucky Cola 500. Impulse shouts out to "Pucker Pal," but is too late to prevent him from putting a race car in his pocket. Pocket Pal demonstrates that he was prepared for Impulse today by pulling out a tennis ball cannon full of live hand grenades sitting on top of a high-speed turntable. This begins launching grenades out in all directions, but to Pocket Pal's surprise, Impulse is able to protect the racers and the fans by catching every single grenade and safely dumping them in the river. Bart quickly returns, offering a fish to "Pocket Pool." As he laughs off Pocket Pal's attempts to correct his name, the villain grabs Impulse and shoves him into his pocket.

Pocket Pal gloats that his pocket contains the loot of a thousand jobs, and the only way out of that dimensional rift is a small, 4-inch hole, which he imagines that Impulse will never be able to find in a hundred years. However, Impulse is able to find the hole fairly quickly, and he sticks his arm out of it, grabs Pocket Pal, and pulls him into his own pocket.

The pocket world is full of tons of cash, a space shuttle, a Tyrannosaurus rex, Tupac Shakur, Elvis Presley, and black man in a fancy purple suit, whom I sadly cannot identify. Impulse tells Pocket Pal he's going to find out how many times he can punch him in the nose in one second, but he suddenly imagines Grandpa Barry asking what he'd do. Bart reluctantly admits that his grandpa probably wouldn't pummel the villain. But, Bart does realize that his grandpa also wouldn't ask his bracelet for moral advice, either. So Impulse beats up Pocket Pal, shoves his WWFD bracelet in his mouth, then ties him to the roof of the race car to make a daring escape from the pocket and return all the stolen loot. As Pocket Pal is taken away by the police, Impulse assures him that he's not the only one being punished tonight. Bart returns home to face his early bedtime, which feels like being in prison. But once Max turns out the lights, Bart chomps down on one last Wint-o-Green.

This was a pretty fun issue. I'm not sure why Todd Dezago didn't write this one, but Dwayne McDuffie did a pretty good job. It's always fun to have Impulse battle a teenage villain he can tease and argue with. Also, you can tell McDuffie did his research on the series, reaching way back for the obscure character Deke, as well as mentioning ongoing side stories like Max's ailing health, Helen's budding romance, and Ayana's crush on Bart. The only thing that felt out of place was Mr. Sheridan's big stack of files of Bart's misdeeds. While that's certainly a plausibility in the world of Impulse, none of the previous writers ever mentioned Bart's reputation as a notorious troublemaker (intentional or otherwise). Eric Battle's art was good, but a little uneven in places. Every now and then he had a panel that just looked off.

Impulsive Reactions begins with a thank you note to the Walker County's Chamber of Commerce for providing information on the real-life Manchester, Alabama. L.A. Williams also thanks the Birmingham Zoo and the Talladega Superspeedway — two other real-life Alabama locations that finally made their way into an issue of Impulse. And, by way of coincidence, Dwayne McDuffie's mom is from Talladega.

Michael Bregman enjoyed having one week of Young Justice appearing in their own book, Impulse and Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. He was particularly glad that the YJ cameo in Impulse #56 was more than just a few pages, but didn't take the focus away from Impulse. Michael also loved the ending with Impulse dressing up as Inertia, but then he got goosebumps realizing that Inertia could easily dress up as Impulse.

David Edward Martin loved all the visual jokes in Bart's messy room, pointing out a "My Pet Monster" doll, the whirlybat helicopter made from vacuum parts, a bank pneumatic tube cylinder, the Rosebud sled from Citizen Kane and a Batman movie mask.

D.L. Stephenson praises the art, but complains about Robin's "cloven hoof" boots. D.L. also didn't like how Secret seemed to be portrayed as a stereotypical timid girl, and D.L. felt the rapper Hard Kore was racist, calling it a "typical white male fantasy" to have Robin punch out the black gangster. L.A. responded kindly, pointing out that Secret is undergoing a metamorphosis of her own, played out in the pages of Young Justice. L.A. contends that Robin, being trained by Batman, only disliked Hard Kore because of his lyrics, not his skin color. But L.A. does agree that as an industry, they do need to works toward diversity without stereotyping.

Michael Siglain simply says issue #56 perfectly balanced the humor and the action, and he loved the gag of Impulse getting a slow lightbulb over his head.

Fingernail Man is even more simple, saying the issue was beyond cool and he really, really enjoyed it.

Mart enjoyed the Composite Superboy, but feels a guest appearance of just Superboy would have been enough. He also disproves of Helen's new boyfriend, calling him a member of the Village People. L.A. candidly points out that a Composite Superboy would not have worked if Robin was not also present.

Brent Clark says Impulse is rapidly becoming one of his favorite titles, and that he decided to go on a back-issue hunt for nearly 50 comics. He asks for more Young Justice cameos, and a Green Lantern cameo. L.A. asks if he saw the Impulse team-up in Green Lantern 80-Page Giant #2. Now for the new ads.

TopGear Pocket 2 for Game Boy Color.

Old gets young. Young gets old. Got it? Young Justice: Sins of Youth. The battle of the ages begins this March in: Young Justice: Sins of Youth #1 and #2, Superboy #74, Young Justice: Sins of Youth Secret Files #1. Plus these specials: JLA, Jr., Aquaboy/Lagoon Man, Batboy & Robin, Starwoman & The Junior Society of America, Kid Flash/Impulse, Superman, Jr./Superboy, Sr., Wonder Girls, The Secret/Deadboy.

This is going to be awesome! And we are going to cover the heck out of it!

Don't trade it for anything! Pokémon The First Movie on video and DVD, with a free Mewtwo card.

Enter the Milk Mustache DC Super Heroes Sweepstakes. Win a trip to Hollywood, New York or the Caribbean.

Everything they need to know about crimefighting they learned in kindergarten! The Powerpuff Girls.

Next time, we will finally begin THE event of the year with Young Justice: Sins of Youth #1!

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