Saturday, October 22, 2016

Impulse #61

The Sidekick Swap

G. Johns 's da Guest Writer
Mshindo I. & E. Battle ♥ da Guest Pencillers
R. Ramos 's Guest Inking
J. Chiang 's Letters
Colorist R. Taylor ♥'s Jamison Separations
Randy Newman ♥'s L.A.

This issue's cover by "Stars" Van Sciver and "S.T.R.I.P.E." Faucher. This issue's credits were carved into a tree trunk, hence the hearts (which I hope show up for everybody). Anyway, this is a really fun cover with Impulse riding S.T.R.I.P.E. upside down and Max nervously poking his head out the window. Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. are perfect guest stars for Impulse, and if a guest writer was necessary, then Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. writer Geoff Johns is the best choice. I am glad that Ethan Van Sciver has returned at least to do this cover, but his presence is sorely missed on this series. He hasn't done an issue since Impulse #57.

Our story begins with Max dragging Impulse out to Blue Valley, Nebraska, on a Saturday. Bart wanted to go see Ratman 2001 with Preston for the fifth time. But Max says this is a great chance to learn from someone who was around when teenaged heroes first appeared — and he's not talking about Old Justice, whom he considers a "bunch of bitter sidekicks" who've taught Impulse more than enough. Max, who is working up quite a sweat on this run, tells Bart that he needs to learn more about his legacy, particularly that of Kid Flash's legacy, since Bart recently sort of met Wally as Kid Flash during Sins of Youth.

Just as Bart starts to complain about being called Kid Flash all the time, the Star-Spangled Kid makes a dramatic arrival and calls Bart "Kid Flash." She then asks if he's gotten a haircut, but realizes she might be thinking of his adult form during their previous adventure. Impulse reminds her of the first adventure they had, where they both lost their hair and turned blue, and he asks Courtney not to tell Max. Courtney asks how Robin is doing, and Bart wonders why all the girls ask him how Robin is.

Max Mercury and Pat Dugan become reacquainted — apparently they haven't seen each other since 1943 with the Seven Soldiers. Both of them experience some sort of time warp, which is why they're (relatively) young still. But the teenagers interrupt the old-timers' reminiscing by complaining once again that it's Saturday. Pat says superheroes don't get weekends off. Max encourages him to have patience, but Pat says Courtney doesn't know the meaning of the word. Max vows to teach it to Courtney, and he immediately grabs her and rushes her off to her lesson, leaving Bart and Pat to begin theirs.

Pat explains that he used to partner with one of the world's first teenage heroes, the original Star-Spangled Kid. Now he's with the current Star-Spangled Kid in Blue Valley, which is still best known for being the home of Kid Flash because of the tremendous legacy he left behind. Pat talks about how Wally acquired his powers as a teenager and had to learn how to adapt to them, whereas Bart was born with them and had to learn how to adapt to reality. But Bart quickly gets bored with this history lesson, and begins fiddling around with Pat's suit, accidentally triggering his launching fist, which destroys Blue Valley's famous Kid Flash billboard.

Meanwhile, Max takes Courtney to the Justice Society of America headquarters in New York City, running past newspapers that say, "Catwoman's prison cat fight," "Superman under siege" and, most importantly to us, "Fog Prince loose!" Max asks Wildcat for a JSA assignment, but Wildcat says it's been a slow day, and all he has for the two of them is reports of a ghost at the Silversmith Gentlemen's Club. The old men at the club are very old fashioned, and they prohibit Courtney from entering, since she's a girl. Courtney literally kicks the door in, and Max lectures her for not asking to enter in a more courteous way. They quickly spot the source of the disturbances — the Gentleman Ghost, who I guess was involved in Day of Judgment (not like Impulse was).

Back at Blue Valley, Impulse and Pat make a quick pit stop at his garage, while Impulse suggests they head to a zoo, arcade, or better yet, the movie theater to see Ratman 2001. Bart answers Courtney's phone that she left behind, and has a quick talk with her friend Mary, who also asks how Robin is doing, much to Bart's chagrin. Pat tells him they're going to repair the billboard they destroyed, and in his excitement, Bart accidentally spills some paint on the remains of the villain named Paintball. Pat thought he and Courtney had defeated that paint-based villain, but apparently all it takes to revive him is to have his goggles come into contact with some paint. Paintball quickly reforms himself and sticks Pat to the wall and Bart to the floor.

In New York, amidst a slew of Ghostbuster jokes, Courtney tries to battle the Gentleman Ghost, but her attacks keep flying through him. Max tries to help, but he's overcome with exhaustion. The Ghost explains that after Day of Judgment, the powers that be appointed him to stay on Earth to ignite heart attacks in old, rich men ... for some reason. The battle goes from bad to worse, with Gentlemen Ghost grabbing Max by the throat, saying he still needs to fill his quota for the week.

In Nebraska, Impulse easily frees himself from Paintball's trap, but instead of pulling Pat off the wall, he decides to jump into the S.T.R.I.P.E. suit himself. Pat warns Bart that he won't be able to do anything in there since the whole system is based on virtual reality, but Pat soon realizes that this won't be a problem for Bart. Sure enough, Impulse considers the insides of the robot to be "home sweet home," and he instantly begins pushing the machine to its limits by attacking Paintball and freeing Pat. Eventually Paintball is defeated with ordinary paint thinner, and Bart says, "Whoa, he melted. Wicked. As in witch."

The other battle also comes to a quick end, as Courtney finally figures out that her energy-based "shooting stars" can damage the Gentleman Ghost. The specter doesn't like being harmed, so he just teleports away, saying he'll look for another club with less distractions. The old men at this club, however, are still mad at Courtney for barging inside and basically destroying the place. But Max angrily defends Courtney, prompting her to remind him of the lesson he was trying to teach her.

Just as soon as Bart and Pat finish rebuilding the Kid Flash billboard, Max returns with Courtney. Both Max and Pat consider their lessons to have failed, and they each tell their old friend that he has his hands full. Courtney, however, had a fun time, saying she's never seen a ghost before, and she'd like to do this swap thing again. Max quietly says he'd do another swap the day he grows a second head. Bart quickly rushes Max out of there, saying there's still a chance he and Preston can catch the 7 o'clock showing.

As the two speedsters take off, we see that Bart has left a small note on the billboard: "Wally, thanx for going first! Bar Impulse." Max does his best to keep up with Bart and not let him see how hard a time he has with running. He resolves he can't put off his next appointment with Dr. Morlo, who is currently working on Max's problem in his lab. Morlo is not happy with the results he's seen so far, and as he works, a dark, sinister creature lurks on the screen of one of his monitors.

This issue was a bit of a disappointment. Maybe it's because I'm tired of getting filler issues in Impulse. Maybe it's because I'm mad that this was labeled as a "Day of Judgment Follow-Up" that actually had nothing to do with Day of Judgment. (It actually had more to do with Sins of Youth, if anything.) But I think the biggest reason I'm disappointed in this issue comes down to the Gentleman Ghost. Traditionally, in a superhero swap story, you'd have each hero battle the other's usual villains. This worked with Impulse fighting Paintball. We've seen Paintball on the early covers of Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E., and watching Bart have fun inside the S.T.R.I.P.E. suit was great. But the Gentleman Ghost is not an Impulse villain. He only made one very brief cameo in Impulse #54. So it makes no sense to bring him in here (and to defeat him in a really lame way, too). Ideally, Courtney and Max would have gone to Manchester, Alabama, to battle someone Impulse has actually faced before. Granted, I don't know exactly who this should be — obviously not Inertia — but maybe someone like the Spazz or White Lightning could have returned?

And, of course, the art added to the disappointment factor. Two pencillers is never an ideal situation, and I think there's a reason why Mshindo never became a big name in comics. He kept having Bart bite his lip and make really weird, annoying faces throughout the whole issue. But I will give him credit for showing Max's fatigue while running. And I will also credit Geoff Johns for making sure to tie everything in nicely to what has previously happened in Impulse and what will happen next. So really, this wasn't an awful issue by any means. It just could have been a lot better.

Impulse Reactions begins with Jack Purcell, of Northampton, Mass., saying Impulse keeps getting better and better with Todd Dezago and Ethan Van Sciver. Jack loved Impulse #57 because it reminded him what a great character Plastic Man can be, and he asks for more interactions between him and Impulse.

Tamiko Campbell, of Bronx, N.Y., praised Impulse's ability to pull in other DC characters (like Plastic Man) and allow them to branch out in new ways.

Bart Allen (that's what he said his name was!) asks for an issue that guest stars some VERY old characters — Sugar and Spike, Scribbly and Ma Hunkle.

Craig Rousseau writes: "Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the Christmas issue! Todd and Ethan are making Impulse so good these days, it jumps right to the top of my monthly pile of books!" L.A. Williams thanks the former Impulse penciller for his praise, and encourages readers to check out his work on Batman Beyond.

Captain E. Nemo said issue #57 was the second best issue after Impulse #50. He loved the idea of Plastic Man finding someone else annoying and obnoxious.

Dark Vengeance loved Mr. Mxyzptlk's plan to ruin Superman's reputation with the Santandroid. He also asks what Bart's going to name his new dog, and L.A. brings that question to the readers.

Steve Premo said he loved reading issue #57 to his kids since it showed Bart still believes in Santa Claus and did nothing to imply that Santa doesn't exist. Steve's kids loved how Plastic Man struggled to pronounce Mxyzptlk, and he suggests the dog be named Primo.

Faries Odom, of Malden, Mass., called issue #57 a good read with lots going on, and perfect for children and teenagers.

Brian J. McNamara, of Amherst, Mass., said his 5th and 6th graders at Wildwood Elementary loved the Christmas issue. Several children loved how Impulse believes in Santa, and others especially liked the happy ending. Brian enjoyed comparing it to the comics he read as a child in the 1950s.

Electric Peter Tork loved how Woozy Winks was given a chance to be useful.

Erik Johnson simply praises the creators and says he looks forward to each new issue, and identifies one of L.A. Williams' quotes.

Jon Hart, of Kansas City, Mo., identifies another quote and says he enjoys the book.

Eduardo A. Santillan Marcus, of Rosario, Argentina, called issue #57 the best Christmas story of the year, perhaps the decade. He almost died laughing at Plastic Man, Woozy and Mxy. His only request is that Impulse meet Lobo someday. L.A. notes that Impulse will be meeting Lobo in Young Justice very soon.

Nuriko is glad to have some happiness on the book ahead of the upcoming intense storyline, Mercury Falling. But before we can get there, let's check out this month's new ads:

Ken Griffey Jr. asks, Sometimes I wonder, why baseball? Why not basketball? Why not football? Why not soccer? Then I wonder, why not eat them all? Sportz crackers.

Hey, kids! Comics! talks about the Superman writers' Super Summit 2000, alluding to the storyline of Lex Luthor becoming president. It also includes a tribute to longtime DC artist Gil Kane, who had recently passed away. Kane was mostly known for his work on Green Lantern and the Atom in the Silver Age. He also provided the art to The Life Story of the Flash.

You can win instantly to be in Nicktoons through specially marked packages of Nabisco products.

The story of pink milk. (Pink cows picking strawberries.) Hershey's Strawberry Syrup.

DC Kids Combo Deal. Order any two titles for only $29.95 and receive this free erasable memo board and pen. Individual issues of Impulse cost $2.25 at this time. This subscription ad includes Impulse and Superboy, but sadly, not Young Justice or The Flash.

Best Western Summer Adventures. Stay at a hotel and get a free disposable camera, 10-minute phone card and a comic book.

When titans crash! Superman & Bugs Bunny.

Be a Dark Knight. Batman with a chocolate milk mustache. Got milk?

Next time, we have to take one more quick diversion before starting Mercury Falling, with Young Justice #21.

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