Sunday, January 8, 2017

Impulse #67

Friends Like These ...

Todd Dezago – Words
Ethan Van Sciver – Pencils
Andrew Hennessy – Inks
Janice Chiang – Letters
Jason Scott Jones & Tom McCraw – Colors
Jamison – Separations
L.A. Williams – Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo

This issue's cover is by Ethan Van Sciver and Wayne Faucher! And it is a bright, fun happy cover to celebrate the happy ending of Mercury Falling. Max deservedly takes the lead, surrounded by Wonder Woman, Superman, Green Lantern, Plastic Man, the Star-Spangled Kid, Jesse Quick, Jay Garrick, and, of course, Impulse. Jesse Quick has a new costume now — so new, in fact, that the costume she wears inside this issue is different than her costume on the cover.

Our story begins with Max enjoying his restored powers by gleefully taking his daughter, Helen, on a tour around America. They visit Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty with Max praising Bart all the way. Helen eventually grows nauseous after this whirlwind tour, so they head home ... where a surprise party is waiting for Max! The guest list is a veritable who's who of the DC Universe. In addition to everybody on the cover, we have Jay's wife, Joan; Plastic Man's pal, Woozy Winks; Star-Spangled Kid's stepdad, S.T.R.I.P.E.; Zatanna; Wildcat; Aquaman; Martian Manhunter; and Dr. Morlo.

Max asks Helen if this party was her idea, and she says Bart also helped plan it. Wonder Woman delivers a brief statement, congratulating Max on cheating death at the finish line. Martian Manhunter, however, admonishes Max for not letting the JLA know about the situation and leaving it all up to Impulse. Max says he would have called, but everything happened so fast. Morlo steps in, saying he did try to call Wally West, but he got no answer. Jay explains that Wally is currently missing, but he's not too worried, assuming Wally is just out on some case right now and should eventually come back just fine.

Green Lantern tells Max that he can't believe that Impulse actually came through on this situation. Max quietly walks away in disgust, leaving Kyle to try to stammer out some sort of apology. J'onn tells him to be more forgiving of Bart's impulsive nature, but Kyle insists that Bart's powers often get him into trouble. J'onn draws a parallel to the recent Circle of Fire ordeal, where Kyle's power ring tapped into his subconscious and nearly destroyed everything. This finally shuts up Green Lantern.

Max joins a conversation between Morlo and Wildcat, a fellow "old-timer" who still remembers Morlo as an evil mad scientist. Morlo says he is a good guy now ... for the time being. Max insists that Morlo was kidding, and the reformed villain only reluctantly agrees to this. As Max walks away from this awkward moment, Plastic Man teases him that Impulse didn't bring him back in a box. He goes on and on about how irritating and obnoxious Impulse is, as Max angrily storms away.

Jesse then confronts Max, saying she's hurt that he didn't call her when Wally was unavailable. Max struggles to answer this, so Morlo once again steps in, saying they didn't really feel the need to contact any other speedsters once Impulse began to show such improvement. Jesse points out that it was actually Inertia who was showing the improvement, and initially Bart wasn't able to reach the Speed Force. Finally, Max has decided he's had enough with everybody bad-mouthing Impulse. He gets everybody's attention and tells them that while it's great that he's healthy again, they should be celebrating the real triumph of this story — how Bart was able to come through at the end and save his life.

Speaking of Bart, he has finally gathered up his friends — Carol, Preston, Roland, Mike and Wade —and they're all headed over to the party. Bart says lots of his distant relatives and friends of the family will be there to celebrate the fact that Max doesn't have after all. But Preston points out that they all saw how sick and thin Max became. Bart struggles to answer this, until he stumbles on the idea of tapeworms. He says that Max had a tapeworm in his intestines, which ate all his food and made him lose all that weight. But now it's out and the doctors let him keep it in a jar. Everybody seems to buy this lame excuse, except for Carol, who can only roll her eyes.

But most importantly, Bart's friends are happy to have him back. Preston says that Max's sickness made Bart act funny — he got real serious, showed off in school, acted smart and even kind of mean. Preston tells Bart he likes him a lot better this way, and Bart says that's about the nicest thing anybody could have said to him. Bart then starts to lead his friends into the party, but when he opens the door, he sees all the heroes inside are still wearing their uniforms. He quickly slams the door shut and struggles to stammer out another excuse. This time, he turns to Carol for help, whispering that all his "aunts" and "uncles" are still in costume and he wonders if they all live in those outfits.

Luckily, Superman spots Bart outside with his x-ray vision, and he tells everybody they need to put on civilian clothes fast. He asks Zatanna to change all their clothes, but she's been drinking too much Soder Cola and has the hiccups. Her first attempt merely swaps everybody's costumes, and they all shout at her. She gets it right on her second try, and Superman opens the door Bart was barring, while his friends were beginning to wonder if they really were invited to this party. Superman introduces himself as Bart's uncle Kal Ell ... inson ... Man ... ton ... But nobody sticks around to listen to his horribly fake name, and Bart tells Superman he can stop. He also teases him for still having the trademark spit curl in his hair.

Rolly meets Bart's uncle John (Martian Manhunter) and Mike meets Bart's uncle Eel (Plastic Man, whom Bart really doesn't like). Bart then introduces Wade to his uncle Arthur (Aquaman), but he notices that Aquaman has a gold hand. So he quickly shoves a vase over it, which Wade naturally notices immediately and can't help commenting on. Bart says that Arthur's had that vase on his hand for years, and they hardly notice it anymore. Bart then takes great pleasure in introducing his friends to his cousin Diana (Wonder Woman). With wide eyes, Preston asks Diana if she's a movie star or a model, and Wade asks if it's getting warm in here. Courtney and Carol are both disgusted by the boys acting like such ... boys.

Jay Garrick then pulls Max outside to "stretch our legs," which involves throwing on their costumes and running around the world at super speed. Unexpectedly, Jay uses this opportunity to also chastise Max for not asking for help. He tells the Zen Master of the Speed Force to not be too proud to rely on the family of speedsters for help. Max admits that Jay is right and he apologizes. He says that he's had a long life, having run through the end of one century and all the way through another, and he was even thinking for a while that maybe his time was up. But all that changed when Bart brought him to the Speed Force.

The two speedsters save some people from a sinking boat, and Jay says he's glad the unpredictable Speed Force was kind to him. As they stop a robbery in Italy, Max reveals that he and Morlo have run a few more tests, and found that he's only at 93% of what he used to be. But that's good enough for him. The speedsters then rescue a couple of idiot boys who tried to skateboard on the roof, and Jay can tell that something is still bothering Max. He says he feels guilty that while Inertia was impersonating Bart, he was so encouraged by Bart's improvements that he never saw through the deception. Max feels like he betrayed Bart by flooding Inertia with praise, and he hopes that Bart doesn't think that he likes Inertia more than him. Jay tells Max that he shouldn't be worried about Bart not understanding this. He says that they often take Bart for granted because he sees things and does things in ways they can't anticipate, but he always seems to come through. So Jay encourages Max to reach out to Bart and tell him how he feels.

Speaking of Bart, he has now snuck away from the party and is playing with his dog in his room. Carol comes and finds him, saying she needs to leave soon to meet up with Jeff, who she thinks is going to ask her to the dance. But Carol's worried by this sudden sullenness from Bart and she asks him if he's not still Inertia. Bart assures Carol he's the real Bart, and he explains that he's just confused right now. He tells her how Inertia placed him in the perfect virtual reality prison, where he completely forgot about all his friends and family and was able to just have fun with Dox. It had been so long since Bart had lived in the virtual reality that he didn't realize how much he missed Dox.

Also bothering Bart is the idea that while he was in that VR prison, Inertia was living his life and doing everything better and everybody liked him better. Carol cuts him off right there, saying that's not true. She didn't like Inertia and neither did any of Bart's friends. But Bart insists that Inertia was better at following directions, better at being a hero, and overall better at being Bart. Carol says that Bart is a loving and caring person, which is why he was able to break out of Inertia's prison. And it was Bart's love that enabled him to save Max — something that Inertia never could have done. Carol reminds Bart of what Preston said earlier, how Inertia was mean and stuck up ... and not near as cute. Finally, Bart gets to the heart of what's really bothering him. Since Inertia was such a good Impulse, what if Max is now disappointed in Bart? All Carol can say to this is that Bart needs to talk to Max about it.

The party comes to a close, and Helen turns down John's offer to help clean up, letting Max and Bart take care of everything at super speed. Bart asks Max if he can change Ivan's name, and Max says it's his dog and he shouldn't be expected to keep a name given by ... but he can't quite say Inertia. After a brief moment of silence, Max opens up to Bart. He says he's proud of Bart, and not just for taking him to the Speed Force. He's proud of the person Bart is on the inside. Max says that when Bart does stop to think about something, it's always about others. Max admits to Bart that he's guilty that when Inertia showed so much improvement, Max mistakingly believed that he had come through on his promise to Wally to raise Bart responsibly. When Inertia was exposed and Bart came back, Max realized he was wrong. He was successful with Bart a long time ago. Bart has grown into a kind and considerate person with a huge heart. Max tells Bart that he loves him as if he were his own son.

Unfortunately, Max's speech went a bit long for Bart's attention span. But Bart did hear enough to resolve his issues and he happily tells Max that he loves him, too. He then scoops up his dog to go meet up with Carol again. Bart zips over to Manchester Park, where he quickly finds Carol. Sadly, the poor girl is in tears. Turns out, Jeff didn't want to ask her out to the dance, and instead dumped her so he can take Kristin Donovan to the dance. Sobbing, Carol tells Bart that Jeff said she was "too intellectual" for him. Bart says, "Y'mean, he broke up with you 'cause he's dumb ... ? And isn't Kristin Donovan that cheerleader who kept going outside to check when her computer told her she had mail ... ?" This cheers Carol up, and she asks Bart how his talk with Max went. Bart says everything's great there, and he's decided to rename Ivan to Dox.

Well, we have quite a bit to unload here, so let's dive right in. This issue was the perfect epilogue to Mercury Falling. A big, cameo-filled party, a couple of nice conversations to resolve a few lingering issues, and the planting of a few seeds for a Bart-Carol romance. I really liked how Max's heart-to-heart with Bart went. While Max needed to get a lot off his chest, Bart really didn't need to hear all of it. He just needed to know that Max wasn't disappointed in him. And once he realized that, he bounced back to his regular, happily distracted self. There was no need for another big, emotional hug here — we've already been through that. Just a quick reassurance that everybody's OK, and then move on.

The guest list was nearly perfect. Most of the people here had already appeared in Impulse before, and those who hadn't were still tangentially connected to Bart and Max through Young Justice. But despite the enormous cast of characters crammed into this house, I still feel like some people were missing. Most notably was Bart's grandma, Iris Allen. She wrote about Bart's battle with Inertia, and was kidnapped by Inertia when he first appeared. So even though she likes to live a life of solitude, it seems like she should have been here to celebrate this victory. I also wish Bart would have invited Young Justice to this party. It would have been so cool to have them meet Bart's "regular" friends.

Impulsive Reactions begins with a note from Joey Cavalieri, the Flash editor, saying that he's now going to be the editor of Impulse. He doesn't say anything about L.A. Williams, which I found very odd, since L.A. always had such a strong connection to the readers, and usually when a creator or editor leaves the book, some sort of explanation is given. So I did some digging, and sadly discovered that L.A. Williams did not leave DC on the best of terms. I don't want to get bogged down in all the "he said, she said" messy details, but I will link to this blog post from frequent Impulse letter writer Michael Bregman. Regardless of who was right and who was wrong, this was a tragic development. L.A. Williams clearly poured his heart into this book and, in my opinion, made it as good as it ever could be. It's a shame to see a relationship break down in such a messy way.

CGundam writes that he's been reading Impulse since day one, and he feels like the comic is nowhere near as cool as it was 45 issues ago. He says Bart looks and acts like a 12-year-old. CGundam says Bart and his friends should be out joy-riding with their parents' cars and not telling ghost stories around a campfire like Cub Scouts. CGundam says he kept reading the series after the Mark Waid-Humberto Ramos run, and almost quit because the story and art went downhill. But he stayed on once Todd Dezago and Ethan Van Sciver came on, although he really wants Bart to look and act like a 15-year-old now.

Dodger says Impulse appears even younger than 12, and he also wants Bart to "be" 15. Dodger says the only place to Bart "the way he should be" is in Young Justice.

JKane has enjoyed all the runs of Impulse, noting how each creative team has brought something to the table to make this a rare book, a comic with a heart, a book where you actually care about the cast. JKane says that Bart has progressed greatly under the current team's reign. And if he seems a bit young, it's because that is simply Bart's personality. JKane says those who want a mature teenager should read Robin. He also says he's sad to see Ethan Van Sciver leave, but is excited to see Carlo Barberi's take on Impulse.

Da Caped Crusader loves the way Impulse is being portrayed now, especially how Bart's innocence is shown.

Joey Cavalieri ends the column with a longer note, saying he and Todd Dezago have been discussing this age issue. While Bart's innocence makes him seem younger, his VR-raised nonchalance makes him seem older. Joey says they're going to address this issue directly in the upcoming stories. He also officially confirms that Ethan Van Sciver is leaving Impulse, and his first project is a Flash graphic novel with Geoff Johns. Carlo Barberi will become the new regular artist with issue #70. Until then, Eric Battle will draw a two-part epilogue to the Green Lantern event, Circle of Fire.

Whew! That's a lot of changes to process. Ultimately, we'll just have to see how everything shook out when we get there. Until then, let's check out the ads.

Nautica Jeans Company. Not only was this the back cover ad, but Bart, Carol and Preston all wore clothing clearly marked with the Nautica logo throughout the issue. On one hand, it is kind of nice and realistic to see some brand-name clothes on our characters. On the other hand, it is odd that three characters all just happen to be wearing that same brand on the same day. The blatant advertisement also has a way of pulling you out of the story.

They're not just best friends. They're blood brothers. The Little Vampire.

Do you have what it takes to face the wall? Pokémon Puzzle League for Nintendo 64.

New Mini Oreo. Tastes so good you'll take 'em everywhere.

A well rounded woman: stays active, keeps away from creeps, eats healthy and never forgets where she came from. Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness for PlayStation, Nintendo 64 and Sega Dreamcast.

Gotta have sweet? Gotta find words! Juicy Fruit chewing gum word hunt.

Want to be a Pokémon Master? Master this! ThinkChip Battle Stadium.

Look out below! It's Captain Underpants in a box! And read the latest spine-tingling adventure of Ricky Ricotta's Giant Robot. OK, if you don't like Captain Underpants, then something is wrong with you.

Chills and thrills to go! Scooby-Doo's Creepiest Capers, Beetlejuice, The Scarecrow, Gremlins and The Goonies.

Superhero Superhits. 14 re-recorded theme songs from some of the most popular cartoon shows today.

Animorphs for PlayStation and PC CD-ROM.

Look for these musical encounters of the Scooby-Doo kind! Shack Tracks, Witch's Ghost and Alien Invaders.

Dear Family, You are all invited to Family Game Night. Boggle, Scrabble, Life, Payday, Yahtzee, Monopoly, Sorry and Clue.

Find new marshmallow mummies here. Froot Loops.

OK, now that we've thoroughly examined this issue, let's talk about Mercury Falling as a whole. For years, the only Impulse trade paperback was Reckless Youth, which collected the first handful of Impulse issues from The Flash and his own series. In 2009, DC decided to collect Mercury Falling, but I don't like how they did it. They put together issues #62 through #67, which is the complete Mercury Falling story, but they chose #67's cover as the cover of the trade. I don't like this at all because it minimizes Impulse's involvement and implies that the JLA are involved in this story. Fans of these characters would probably be disappointed to see they only have a small cameo at the very end of the story.

Even worse, though, is how DC replaced the Impulse logo at the top with The Flash logo. Officially, this trade paperback is The Flash: Mercury Falling. Even though the Flash has nothing to do with this story! Impulse's face is on the spine of the book, but the words say The Flash, Mercury Falling, Dezago, Van Sciver. And the back cover isn't much better. Although it does show Impulse, he's almost considered an afterthought in the text, which fails to even mention that this trade contains issues #62 through #67 of the Impulse series.

The text says, Flash Fact: Being a hero runs in the family!

For much of his decades-hopping career, Max Mercury was the best there was: a zen master of the Speed Force! Yet the very energy that gives him — and all speedsters — their powers, is threatening to tear him to pieces!

Only his super-fast protégé, Bart Allen — the impetuous Impulse — can venture into the Speed Force to reverse Max's condition. Though at times immature and inexperienced, Bart is trying his hardest to live up to the proud Flash family tradition. Now he must race against time — and his own shortcomings — to save the closest thing to a father he has ever known!

Flash Fact! Comics superstar artist Ethan Van Sciver (The Flash: Rebirth) and writer Todd Dezago (Young Justice) bring Impulse up to speed and out for broke with this startling chapter of the Flash legacy!

Well, there's not much more to say about this trade. There aren't any special notes or features inside. Just the issues, which are thankfully divided with the textless covers. The paper is the cheaper, newspaper-like kind, and at least my copy of this trade is very cheaply bound — all the pages separated from the spine during my first reading. So ... yeah. It's good to have this story collected, but it really, really bugs me that DC tried to hide the fact that this was an Impulse story. It's almost like they were trying to trick Flash fans into buying this.

All in all, Mercury Falling was an incredible story that is the highpoint of the Impulse series. As sad as it is to see Ethan Van Sciver and L.A. Williams leave, I'm glad they were able to go out on top. This story encapsulated everything that Impulse is about from an emotional standpoint, an artistic style and a sense of heroism. This is actually one of the few Impulse stories where it's jut Bart saving the day by himself (a nice result from having the Flash "missing"). As I've said before, Dezago did an excellent job of building on the groundwork laid by Waid and William Messner-Loebs to expand the characters of Impulse, Max Mercury and Inertia. And I don't know if this story would have had the same impact without a devoted editor like L.A. Williams or a talented artist like Ethan Van Sciver.

Believe it or not, we have finally finished all the comics with a publication date from the year 2000. So next time will be our big Year in Review with some awards to hand out!

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