Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Impulse #64


Virtual Heroes – Mercury Falling Part 3

Todd Dezago – Writer
Eric Battle – Guest Penciller
John Stokes & Prentis Rollins – Inkers
Janice Chiang – Letterer
Rick Taylor – Colors
Jamison – Separations
L.A. Williams – Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid & Mike Wieringo

Ethan Van Sciver, Wayne Faucher, and Patrick Martin racked up the high score on this issue's cover! And I am so happy that we get an homage to Nintendo 64 with Impulse #64. He's the most video game-crazy superhero of all time, so it's only fitting that he'd get to play off one of the of the biggest video game systems of the time, and it's annoying propensity to include the number 64 in about a third of its titles. The cover itself is very fun, showing Impulse and a weird green guy hanging from a rope while firing a big laser gun, about to be eaten by a rather weird-looking dinosaur. The background lists the scores for each explosion, and is rendered in a fun pixel effect. But I'm glad the whole thing wasn't pixelated, since that could have turned out poorly. Now, let's find out what this has to do with Mercury Falling.

Our story begins with Bart waking up to a strange world full of mythical creatures, unusual colors and the weird green guy from the cover.


Bart recognizes the green guy as his old friend, Dox. Bart gives Dox a big hug, saying he's missed him, but Dox says they were together yesterday, so Bart must have been having a wild dream and is just slow to wake up this morning. Dox reminds Bart that they're on a mission to save the prince, even though Bart feels he's no hero. As he breakfasts off some blue fruit from a tree, we notice that his clothes are different in almost every panel.

Bart and Dox are suddenly attacked by some Skybots sent by the Dark Wizard. They both manage to avoid the laser blasts, but Dox is surprised that Bart still doesn't seem to remember any of this. So he kindly reminds him that the Dark Wizard is protecting his castle with a Time-Spasm, which has brought out monsters from the past, present and future. Bart says he remembers Dox and having had adventures with him in the past, but he still feels like he's been away for a while. Bart comes across a mirror that has a very sinister-looking reflection in it. Bart tries to ask Dox about this, but they're suddenly attacked by a big blue Tyrannosaurus rex.

Our young hero runs away as fast as he can, or so he says, since it doesn't seem like he's running any faster than anyone else would. Eventually Bart and Dox are chased off a cliff by the T-rex, who stops and wonders aloud what he was supposed to tell that kid. Bart falls into a river, but emerges unharmed. He asks Dox why he didn't fly them off the cliff, and Dox explains that he can only hover a little bit over solid objects. Bart and Dox then arrive at a village full of tons of odd people — blue elves, a snowman, Frankenstein's monster and Dracula, one of the green veggie kids from Sir Real's virtual reality, and even Roland is there. Everybody praises Bart as a hero, much to his astonishment.

One old blue elf announces himself as the Teller, and he tells Bart the history of their kingdom of Nosirp. They were ruled by a good king, but he eventually fell ill and was on death's doorstep (in the Teller's story, death is represented by the Black Flash). The prince was reluctantly put in command, but the Dark Wizard seized on this moment of weakness to kidnap the prince and demand the king surrender his kingdom to him. The Teller says that all this was foretold in the legends long ago. But the legends also spoke of a hero with great hair and big feet.

This convinces Bart that he really is a hero, and he enthusiastically launches into the quest to save the prince, journeying through various levels of great peril. Bart began the day in pajamas, robes and loincloths, then transitioned to more ordinary clothes and sports jerseys. But now his clothes resemble the outfits of Indiana Jones and Adam Strange. At one point, Bart is grabbed by a giant robot, and he cries out, "Dox! I'm got!" So Dox frees him by tricking some spaceships into destroying the robot's head. Bart tells Dox that he loves having adventures with him and he never wants to leave. But the friends' sweet moment is interrupted by the return of the blue T-rex. Bart and Dox quickly escape to a nearby cave before the dinosaur can deliver his message. Too big to fit inside, the T-rex moans that he's going to be in so much trouble.

Bart and Dox finds themselves in Crystal Quarry, surrounded by angry-looking reflections of Bart. Suddenly, all the reflections come to life, and Bart and Dox are attacked by an endless horde of glass "Barts" all wearing one of Bart's previous outfits from this adventure. Bart is so preoccupied with this army, he doesn't notice the giant reflection of Inertia looming over him. Finally, Bart manages to take out all the glass clones by grabbing the Adam Strange one's laser gun and blasting its laser off all the crystals in the cave, shattering everything in sight.

Sometime later, Bart and Dox finally make it to the castle and down into its dungeon. But Bart is shocked to see the prison is nothing more than a bed in the middle of the room, with the prince fast asleep on it under a headboard of the Flash logo. Bart rushes over to the bed, and is even more surprised to see the prince looks just like him. He asks where the Dark Wizard is, and the prince says there is wizard. So Bart asks who's holding the prince here, but the prince answers with, "I think the question, Bart ... is who's holding you here?" Bart claims that no one's holding him here, since this is where he lives. The blue T-rex has finally caught up to Bart, and he asks Bart if he's sure this is where he's supposed to be.

The prince asks Bart how long he's been here, and Bart says he's been here his whole life. He and Dox grew up together because Bart was placed in here because he was aging so fast. Bart then starts to say he later went to live with someone else, but he can't quite complete the thought. The prince begins to fade away, telling Bart once again that he has to think about who's holding him here. Once the prince is gone, Bart asks Dox if he knows anything, but he only remembers having adventures with Bart. Dox does, however, ask Bart if he remembers anything else.

Bart struggles with this for a moment, insisting that he has always been here with Dox, and they came here to save the prince because the king is sick. Suddenly, Bart realizes that the king is Max Mercury being attended to by Dr. Morlo but with the Black Flash looming over him. Bart begins shouting that he has to get out of here to save Max and lightning begins to surround him. Dox reminds Bart of the reflection in the Crystal Quarry, and Bart finally puts it all together, shouting out Inertia's name as he puts on his Impulse uniform.

Once Bart becomes Impulse, the whole world begins shaking in what Dox describes as a reality quake. He says now that the dreamer, Bart, realizes he's in a virtual reality program, everything has begun to break down and the program has created a black hole to suck down everything that's not real. Impulse realizes this means Dox, as well, and he grabs onto his buddy's hand, promising to not let go. Dox tells him to let go since he's just make-believe, but Bart refuses. The poor kid begins crying and screaming that he won't choose between his best friend and the real world. Dox pleads with Bart to go save Max, but Bart decides to save both. Using his super speed, Bart rescues Dox from the black hole and leads him into the bright light of reality.

Bart wakes up on a bed with a blanket on his lap. He turns to tell Dox that he knew he could save him, but Dox isn't there. Bart realizes that Dox was right all along, and he sheds a final tear for his friend.

But Bart doesn't allow himself to be consumed by grief. He hops off the bed and explores his surroundings, running into Craydl, which confirmed his suspicion that he was in Inertia's lab the whole time. Craydl is shocked to see Impulse awake, saying that Inertia had claimed Bart would never want to leave the VR world. Bart instantly breaks down Craydl into a pile of goo, saying he doesn't have time to dance with him. Impulse immediately begins his journey home, saying Inertia has made a big mistake, and if he's done anything to hurt Max ...


It's Inertia! Of course, you probably already knew that since you've either read this story before, or you put the clues together while we were going along. I was a bit slow to this the first time I read Mercury Falling because I hadn't previously read Inertia's first appearance. So I had no idea who the character was or anything, and it was a huge surprise to me! Anyway, this issue was quite a bit of fun. Finally, after 64 issues, we got to see what life was like for Bart in the virtual reality world. I'm really surprised that Mark Waid never thought to show us this world. Regardless, I am very happy with what we got here. Just pure wackiness, giving us the opportunity to see Bart in tons of different costumes fighting dinosaurs, robots and more. The character of Dox is an extremely odd character. He's practically impossible to describe, and he really came out of nowhere. Since we never had any description of Bart's VR life, we never had a mention of Dox before. But I quickly grew to love his friendship with Bart, and I was surprised at how emotional I got at the end, where Dox essentially died in Bart's arms, despite his best efforts to save him.

Sadly, I do have to complain about the art in this issue. Ethan Van Sciver took four issues off, returned for two, and then had to take another break. I really wish he could have been as fast and consistent as Todd Nauck. Eric Battle's art isn't awful by any means, but it is a bit messy and inconsistent. But, if Van Sciver absolutely had to skip an issue of Mercury Falling, this was the right choice.

Impulsive Reactions begins with Bart Allen saying that he works at a comic shop and notices many people tend to skip the issues without Todd Dezago, and he urges the creators to have fewer fill-ins.

Michael Bregman, of Gan-Yavne, Israel, said he didn't have many expectations for Impulse #60 since it was done by fill-in creators. But Michael quickly fell in love with Dwayne McDuffie's funny and clever script, and Eric Battle's "classic Impulse artwork." Michael liked Pocket Pal and how Impulse beat him, and he's a big fan of Bart's puppy.

Terrance Griep Jr. initially thought Battle would be misplaced on Impulse, but he loved his work on the title. Terrance also says McDuffie always brings a verisimilitude to his characters that is often lost these days. But the real work, Terrance says, was done by the "mean genius" who brought these creators together.

Martin Gray says issue #60 was a wonderful way to celebrate five years, providing everything he wanted in an Impulse tale: clever use of super-speed, a fun villain, subplots and supporting characters all in a self-contained piece. Martin would like to see Pocket Pal again, perhaps accompanied by Chunk. He also liked McDuffie and Battle so much, he suggests they become the next regular creative team.

Sof' Boy said he was suffering from a massive headache, so he tried to relieve the pain by reading Impulse #60, which his friend have given him. Sof' Boy was laughing out loud from the second page on, and he hopes to see more of McDuffie and Battle.

Brett Wood, from Somewhere in Ohio, said he was supercharged to see Battle's artwork, which gave the issue the feel of a fast video game like Sonic the Hedgehog. He also loved how Impulse kept messing up Pocket Pal's name on purpose, showing that he really is a hyper, sometimes annoying young kid.

Kristian Greene, of Falls Church, Va., loved the humor and watching Bart emulate the actions of his greatest idol. Kristian felt that McDuffie and Battle twisted an entertaining story into a wonderful lesson.

La Tonya Raines, of Apex, N.C., loved the cover, the interactions between Ayana and Bart, and Pocket Pal, saying it was great to have a cool new black character.

Dragonfire loved the logos at the Talladega Super Speedway — Zesti-Cola, Soder Cola and LexCorp — sadly, no Wayne Industries.

Michael Hutchison, of Roseville, Minn., called issue #60 a humor-paced story with an interesting (if far-fetched) villain. He says he might like McDuffie more than Dezago. But Michael does complain about how this issue handled Max and Helen, saying they needed to have been more supportive of Bart.

Sonicblum, of Queens, N.Y., simply says Impulse #60 "had it going' on" and was a hilarious issue by the guest writer.

Angie de Blieck Jr., of North Haledon, N.J., noted that McDuffie made great use of Impulse's supporting characters — something other fill-in writers might try to gloss over. Angie says the big surprise was Battle's artwork, which is normally hard to look at in Aquaman, but was more natural and easy to follow here.

Kimberly Anne praised McDuffie for nailing Bart's personality, and says she's off to buy more Impulse and Wint-O-Greens.

Hasan Johnson correctly named L.A.'s quotes from BDP's By Any Means Necessary album and the movie Greased Lightning. Now for the new ads (if DC would have been on top of it, they would have made all the ads for the Nintendo 64):

Bomber Man 64: The Second Attack! Also for Game Boy Color.

Meet a parrot who won't settle for another lousy cracker. The Real Macaw.

Batman Beyond fruit snacks with a free CD Rom offer.

Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards with a crossword puzzle.

Bio Ploids for PCs. 10 PCs a day for 100 days. ePloids.com.

The face of terror. Kirby 64 (again).

Next time, we'll begin comics with an October 2000 publishing date, starting with a very brief Impulse cameo in Green Lantern: Circle of Fire #1.

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