Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Impulse #62

A Question of Faith

The frenetic first chapter in the startling saga we had to call Mercury Falling
brought to you by
Todd Dezago -- Words
Ethan Van Sciver -- Pencils
Barbara Kaalberg -- Inks
Janice Chiang -- Letters
Rick Taylor -- Colors
L.A. Williams -- Speed Force
Waid & Wieringo -- Creators

Max can't hide the fact that this issue's cover, by Van Sciver, Faucher and Martin, is based on 1965's Detective Comics #345's cover by the legendary Carmine Infantino. That is a very famous cover that has been copied many times, and I think it works quite well for this story — it's all about Impulse trying to protect and save Max Mercury. It's a dark and serious cover for an unusually dark and serious Impulse story we'll be starting. But don't worry, there'll be plenty of room for humor here.

Our story begins in Dr. Morlo's lab, where the former mad scientist has set up a special gyro-sphere for Max to run in. Max has allowed Bart to come along with him for this testing, but he doesn't want Morlo to tell the boy the severity of his condition.

So Morlo quietly tells Max that he has lost his connection to the Speed Force, and now whenever he uses his super speed, Max is worsening his condition. Morlo hypothesizes that if they could get Max near the Speed Force, he might be able to reestablish his connection to it. Otherwise, Morlo thinks Max will only have two months to live at the most. Morlo asks if the Flash could take Max to the Speed Force, but Max says Wally's too busy lately (and an editor's note vaguely tells us to check out the current Flash issues). So Morlo suggests having Impulse do it, but Max staunchly refuses this, saying he could never jeopardize Bart's safety for his own purposes.

Frustrated, Morlo begins yelling at Max, telling him to stop playing the selfless hero for once, because he is dying. Bart overhears this, pictures himself standing at Max's grave, and in a panicked voice, demands to know if Max is really dying. Max struggles to answer him, so Bart sadly turns to the doctor. Morlo kindly explains the situation to Bart, adding in that Max is too proud to ask for help. Morlo asks Bart if he'd be willing to help Max, and Bart readily agrees, asking to start helping immediately.

So they put Bart in the gyro-sphere, and, per Morlo's calculations, he's instructed to vibrate his molecules at a certain frequency, while accelerating to 88 Morlomiles per second. (I don't know what a Morlomile is, but I do appreciate the Back to the Future nod.) Bart gives it his best shot, but he's simply unable to maintain the necessary frequency. Max tells Morlo that they can't ask Bart to do something he's simply incapable of doing, and Morlo sadly realizes Max is right. Bart keeps trying though, but after a while, Max gets him to stop by saying, "Bart. It's okay ..." Bart sadly comes out of the gyro-sphere and gives Max an emotional hug.

Morlo takes Max into the next room to discuss other possibilities, such as looking at ways to slow down the deterioration process. But Bart stays behind, and once the others have left, he says aloud, "I can do it ... I will do it." Demonstrating an unprecedented resolve, Bart rearranges Morlo's computer monitors so he can see them while in the sphere. He hops in, and actually does a really good job — getting up to 87 Morlomiles per second — before he notices that he left the sphere door open. Bart is shot out of the sphere and bounces around the lab like a pinball.

Once Bart stops bouncing, he gathers himself up to see that something he hit has unleashed a huge lobster monster in the lab. (It's this monster's shadow we saw on this cover and in last issue.) Morlo and Max hear the commotion and come running. Morlo explains that the monster, the mudbug, is from another dimension and Bart must have ruptured the containment chamber keeping it there. The mudbug is surprisingly fast, and it takes a swipe at Bart's head with its razor-sharp claws. Bart shouts, "Hey!! Watch it!! That's my hair!!! That's like my trademark or something ..."

The mudbug then takes a swipe at Max, and Bart is shocked to see Max is completely unable to run away. So Bart grabs Max and Morlo and safely places them in the gyro-sphere, while Morlo begs Bart not to hurt the mudbug. So Bart starts to think of the best way to battle this creature, while he tries to dodge its attacks. Bart figures he should do something about those claws, and he pictures placing rubber bands around them. But then this makes Bart think about cooking and eating the mudbug like a lobster, and he decides that's too much thinking.

And sure enough, that really was too much thinking, because it distracted Bart long enough for the mudbug to land a heavy blow on the speedster and send him flying into the wall. When Bart pulls himself up, he sees the mudbug has turned its attention back toward Max, and now has him in its claw, with only the shell of the sphere preventing Max from being sliced in half. But the sphere is cracking, and Max is in incredible pain. Bart slowly comes to his senses, processes the feelings of fear and love that come from seeing his father figure in peril, then charges at the mudbug, shouting, "Get your claws off him, you darned dirty lobster!!!" Bart hits the mudbug at incredible speed and manages to push it back through the inter-dimensional rift. Unfortunately, Bart falls into the rift right behind the monster.

Morlo and Max stare at the rift in disbelief for a moment. They each struggle to find the words to console each other, pointing out that Bart had returned to the sphere in another effort to pass the test. Suddenly, Impulse comes crashing out of the rift. He's a bit disoriented, but otherwise seems fine. Max gives him a big hug, and Morlo reports that the mudbug caused minor damage to his lab. He says he'll handle the cleanup, and sends Max and Bart home, telling Max to get plenty of rest. And once his guests are gone, Morlo seems genuinely sad to have lost his connection to the mudbug.

Bart carries Max home, and Max thanks him for all he did today. But Max asks Bart to keep all this a secret from Helen for now, and Bart agrees. He walks in the front door, sees Helen has Matt Ringer over, so he quickly changes out of his Impulse uniform before Helen's new boyfriend can notice. Bart's dog greets him with some suspicious sniffing and slight growling, and Helen asks what's wrong with him. Bart says he must be smelling the other dog he stopped to pet on the way home, and Max realizes that Bart is smoothly referring to the mudbug without revealing his secret identity to Matt. Helen then escorts her boyfriend home, and Max tells Bart that they're going to have to be more careful now with Matt hanging around more often. As the dog continues to growl at Bart, he says, "Yeah ... that's for sure ... !"

And so begins what is possibly the biggest event to occur exclusively in the pages of Impulse. And what a great way to start! This issue had tons of emotion, some great action and just enough humor to remind us all that this is still Impulse. One great aspect of this issue is that it's the culmination of a storyline that began nearly two years ago in Impulse #44. Max's health has been struggling for a long time now, and he's finally at the point where he can't keep it from Bart. And Bart's reaction to this bad news was so sweet and pure. He wants to do everything he can to help Max, and it breaks his heart that he's failed so far. And, of course, there's a whole other element woven into this story, but I'll save that surprise for when we get to it.

This issue marked the return of Ethan Van Sciver, who took off the past four issues, presumably to get a head start on Mercury Falling. Curiously, though, his usual inker, Prentis Rollins, was replaced by longtime Impulse inker Barbara Kaalberg. Whatever the reason for this, the end result was great. Van Sciver's level of detail and emotional expressions were sorely missed.

Impulse Reactions begins with Wes Wesovich confessing that he fell behind on the series during William Messner-Loebs' run, and he wasn't too impressed with Todd Dezago's new direction. But he was won over with issues #57 and #58, which he felt brought back a sense of the book's different generations.

Zenobia Simmons, of Jersey City, N.J., really enjoyed the day-in-a-life story for Max since it showed him as a real person with heartaches. Zenobia also likes the ongoing story of Max's injuries because it makes him three-dimensional.

Mart praises the fill-in team, especially for the Old West sequence. He also called the backup story "very refreshing," and specifically mentioned Janice Chiang for managing three very distinctive style of lettering in the comic.

Jeff Carter called issue #58 a fun "break" issue, praising Craig Rousseau's cover and the backup feature of Bart being sick. Jeff also laments the shrinking letters page in DC comics. L.A. says the length of the letter columns is beyond his control, but he assures readers that every letter sent to DC is read, even if it's not printed. Now for the new ads:

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Follow this map to find The Wild Thornberrys Crunch Cereal new from Post.

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Just you and eighty new friends wreaking havoc. Digimon World for PlayStation.

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Saving the world before bedtime! The Powerpuff Girls. Take home the action on video today!

Where have all the cookies gone? Hershey's Cookies 'n' Creme.

Pokémon The First Movie. For the first time on television!

Next time, the Young Justice vacation continues in Young Justice #22.

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