Sunday, November 6, 2016

Impulse #63

Mercury Fallin Part 2: Training!

Todd Dezago Writer
Ethan Van Sciver Penciller
John Stokes Inker
Janice Chiang Letterer
Rick Taylor Colorist
Jamison Separations
L.A. Williams Editor
Impulse created by Waid & Wieringo

Cover by Ethan Van Sciver, Wayne Faucher, and Patrick Martin. This is a pretty awesome cover. Impulse looks simply fantastic. Even though he still has ridiculously big feet, and goofy big hair, Van Sciver somehow found a way to make him look focused, cool, angry and even a little bit dangerous. This is a new attitude for Impulse, which is exactly what this issue is all about — as well as the Fog Prince, ominously looming in the background, and the continued efforts by Morlo to save Max.

Our story begins with a very focused and serious Impulse running through Alberta, Canada. He barely breaks stride to save a snowshoer from an avalanche and doesn't even wait around to hear the man thank him.

At home, Bart shocks Helen by not only hanging up his jacket, but cleaning his room and doing his homework without even being asked. Helen overcomes her shock and praises herself for being able to teach the boy how to be responsible — just as she bet Max back in Impulse #52. The next day at school, Bart earns his first-ever A+ in social studies, much to the surprise of his teacher, Mr. Daniels. All of Bart's friends are thrilled for his success, and he explains to them that he aced the test by simply taking the time to consider the possibilities of each multiple choice question and then choose the best answer. But Preston and Wade laugh off Bart's response as an attempt to impersonate Mr. Snodgrass.

After school, Bart throws on his Impulse uniform and immediately rushes to Dr. Morlo's lab, where Max is laid out on a table just like on the cover. Sadly, Morlo does not have good news for Bart, reporting that Max's condition continues to deteriorate at an alarming rate. Morlo explains that when Max was shot on Halloween, then attacked by Kalibak on the Fourth of July, a chain reaction was set off in his body, which ultimately led to him finally losing connection to the Speed Force. (Quick note: Bart's test was dated June 2, 2000, which means the Kalibak attack happened almost one year ago.)

Max gets up from the table and tells Morlo and Bart to stop planning his funeral. Bart rushes over to help Max, and he instinctively turns Bart away. But he sees the look on Bart's face and he thanks the boy for his help, and assures him that everything's going to be all right. Morlo then introduces Bart to the next test that he and Max have devised to make sure Bart can safely take Max to the Speed Force. In place of the gyro-sphere, which the mudbug destroyed, Morlo has set up a big ring in the floor for Bart to run around. And this time, Bart has a dummy to represent Max, which he also needs to vibrate at the same frequency he's vibrating at. So Bart starts the test, repeatedly saying, "I can do it." Max and Morlo are both surprised by the improvement Bart has shown during these tests, and Morlo attributes this to Bart's love for Max.

Meanwhile, at the beautiful state capitol building in Montgomery, Alabama, the Fog Prince makes his triumphant return. The teenage criminal has upped his game since his last attempt at stealing an action figure. He has now created a bunch of fog monsters to hold all the government workers and tourists hostage. This includes Governor Don Siegelman, who actually was the governor of Alabama at the time. (Currently, Siegelman is in jail for bribery, conspiracy and obstruction. Awkward.) The Fog Prince explains to the governor that he's doing this to attract the attention of Impulse, so that when the speedster arrives, he can exact revenge for being humiliated in their previous encounter.

Some 160 miles away in Manchester, Max is shocked by Bart's progress report from school, in which every single teacher is praising Bart for demonstrating remarkable improvement in behavior and attention over the past few weeks. (The report card lists Bart's name as Bartholomew Allen II. I still haven't seen anything mention a middle name for Bart.) Helen tells Max that she thinks this sudden improvement in Bart is due to Max's condition. (Even though Max told Bart not to tell Helen, it seems like Max did tell her in private.) She believes that in Bart's mind, if he accomplishes everything that Max has been trying to teach him, then that might keep Max from dying. Helen then has a tender heart-to-heart with her father, telling him that she always thought there'd be more time for her to fully express her love to him. With tears in their eyes, they share an emotional hug.

Bart is hanging with his friends and his dog just outside the window, and he sees this tender scene, which momentarily distracts him. Mike calls Bart back to the group, and Bart says he just has a lot on his mind lately. Wade, who claims to be an observant writer, says that Bart never has anything on his mind — he just does things without thinking, and that's what his friends love about him. Preston adds that while they're happy Bart's excelling at school now, they're worried that he's forgotten how to have fun. He asks what happened to that wild, impulsive Bart Allen they all know and love.

Bart sadly responds that his uncle is sick, probably with cancer, which is why he's been so quiet lately. Preston apologizes and Wade expresses remorse, and Bart thanks them. He then tries to pet his dog, but once again, the dog avoids him. Preston wonders if the dog is mad that Bart hasn't named him yet (I mean, he got the darn dog on Christmas, and it's already June and it still doesn't have a name!), but Bart says the dog just smells the ammonia he has on his hands from cleaning the floor earlier. Preston suggests they all head down to Comics Corral to pick up the new issue of the Afterlife Avenger, but Bart tells them to go ahead without him since he wants to stay with Max right now.

Everybody takes off, except for Carol, who insists on finding out what's really going on. So Bart throws on his Impulse uniform again and takes Carol with him to Morlo's lab. On the way there, Carol berates Bart for not telling her earlier about Max. She reminds him that she knows what it's like to lose a parent, but Bart coldly asks her to change the subject. So Carol brings up Bart's obvious lie about the ammonia and his dog. So Bart tells her that the dog was actually smelling slime-spore-stuff from the lobster-monster ... but he fails to mention that he battled the mudbug several weeks ago.

Morlo is initially against the sudden arrival of Carol, but Max vouches her, saying she knows and keeps the family's secrets. Carol tells Max she's so sorry to learn of his condition, but Max tells her to cheer up, saying they think they're close to curing him. Morlo shares his optimism for once, citing Bart's amazing newfound control of his powers. But before they can get back to testing, they're interrupted by a special news report on the TV. Dave Trimble of WGBS News reports that the Fog Prince has taken the governor hostage and has named only one demand: that Impulse come out to face him. Before Max can say anything, Bart zips off to Montgomery.

When Impulse arrives at the capitol building, he receives an earful from the Fog Prince, who chews him out for making him look stupid. The Fog Prince then sends a fog monster after Impulse, but the speedster quickly runs away. This only makes the Fog Prince angrier, so he decides to turn up his fog to show the "speedy little snot-rag" that he means business. But he finds out he's lost control of his fog monsters, which are suddenly evaporating, freeing the governor and all the other hostages. Impulse returns to calmly tell the Fog Prince that he got rid of the fog. The wannabe villain kind of goes ballistic and charges at Impulse. But he's taken out in one punch, chained up and left for the police.

Bart arrives back in Morlo's lab seconds later, explaining that since fog is created by humidity in the air, which is caused by warm front and cold front colliding, he used his speed to generate a warm front of air around the area to evaporate all the humidity. Morlo, Carol and Max are completely stunned by this highly scientific explanation coming from Bart, who simply says he was just thinking "What would the Flash do?" Morlo then prepares Bart's next test, while Max tells his ward he had no idea Bart knew so much about weather. Bart says he didn't either, and guesses that's he's learning now. Carol, however, doesn't seem too pleased by this.

This was a pretty awesome issue. The emotion is handled so well — now spilling over to Helen and Bart's friends. And I love the idea that this traumatic experience has brought out an unprecedented level of focus from Bart. But Dezago never let this story become too heavy with all this serious stuff, using the naturally goofy Fog Prince to supply most of the humor. Of course, the greatest aspect of this issue comes through a second reading after you've already finished the full Mercury Falling story. There's a twist here, that I won't spoil just yet, but there a lot of hints laid out in this issue. And I'm not too proud to admit I totally missed all these clues the first time I read this.

Impulsive Reactions begins with L.A. Williams thanking Governor Don Segilman, press secretary Carrie Kurlander, her aide Ashley Davis and assistant Jada Dawkins, photographer Jason Harris and Bob Kovachek of New Channel 13 in Albany, N.Y., for sharing his meteorological knowledge.

Mr. E. writes that it's cool to see a superhero based in the South as opposed to all the others in the Northeast or West Coast.

Joe Torcivia, of Westbury, N.Y., says Todd Dezago has done the best out of the other Impulse writers at realizing the "chaotic element" of Bart Allen and using it in innovative ways to defeat the Joker, "Silver Fog Jr." and "The Composite Young Justice-er." He likes the notion of the series taking place in a quiet town, free from regular appearances of supervillains. Case in point, Joe praises Impulse #59 for not feeling pressured to throw in a villain. Instead, it played out like a delightfully humorous Archie-like story.

Cheryl Hogan, of Queens, N.Y., loved how Bart went out of his way to cheer up Cissie, but she does wonder how Cissie was able to attend Bart's school for the day. L.A. says that she obtained a visitor pass.

Zach calls Impulse the funniest character in the DCU, and he says issue #59 displayed Bart's greatest traits. He hopes for appearances from Inertia, Flash and Young Justice, saying Bart's great on his own, but at his comical best when teamed with another hero.

Mart called issue #59 a pleasant read, but lamented the lack of conflict in the story. He also asks how Grandma Iris is doing after her ordeal with Inertia, and L.A. says she's fine, but still living in isolation.

James Ireland, of Flagstaff, Ariz., praises Dezago for utilizing diverse storytelling styles each month. While retaining the same exuberant, lighthearted feel, James says Dezago keeps things unpredictable by not using the same pacing and plotting techniques with every issue. James speaks at length about the relationship between Impulse and Arrowette, ultimately deciding that Arrowette needs to see more of Impulse's thoughtful side that is often held back by other writers for the sake of a few easy laughs. James also loved the Max Mercury story in Impulse #58, and asks for more Max.

Mike Kravanis said issue #59 reminded him a lot of Dawson's Creek, but strangely enough, he loved it. He said the issue captured teen life exactly the way he wished Legion of Super-Heroes would. Mike praised Anthony Castrillo's art, but says he's not ready to give up Ethan Van Sciver yet. He also asks for guest appearances from the Star-Spangled Kid, Mary Marvel and Inferno.

Latonya Raines, of Apex, N.C., complained that Cissie looked too old to be in junior high, but she did praise the fashion of all the girls in the book. She also thinks it would have been fun to have Roland try on the Impulse suit and be "big man on campus" for a while.

Sina Maria Follis, of Houston, knew exactly how the story was going to play out by page 4, but still enjoyed the issue all the same. Now for the new ads:

The future is gummi. LifeSavers GummiSavers.

It's back! The Oreo Stacking Contest! You could win: a trip to the World Series; a chance to meet Derek Jeter or Ken Griffey Jr.; $20,000 savings bond and other cool prizes.

Two funny! The Mask and Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. Own them today on video and DVD!

If Jeff Gordon were a cereal, this is what he'd look like. Kellogg's Racing Apple Jacks.

Next time, we'll begin comics with a September 2000 publishing date, starting with a quick cameo in Green Lantern #128.

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