Thursday, April 6, 2017

Impulse #71

The Return of Lucius Keller Part 1

Todd Dezago Writer
Carlo Barberi Penciller
Juan Vlasco Inker
Janice Chiang Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist
Digital Chameleon Separator
Joey Cavalieri Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid & Wieringo

This issue's cover delineates and delivers new meaning to the term "steampunk," as drawn by Ethan Van Sciver and Wayne Faucher! It is a fun cover with a pretty goofy pun on it. Granted, in this issue Impulse and Max aren't chased around by this particular steampunk machine, but you get the idea. In any case, it's always a nice change of pace to put the spotlight on one of Max's villains.

Our story begins in Northeastern New Mexico, at a secret lair that has been hidden underground since the late 1890s. There's a big flash of light, and the machine we saw on the cover materializes out of thin air. Turns out this is a time machine, transporting Lucius Keller, sworn enemy of Max Mercury, or, as he knew him in the 19th century, Blue Streak. Somehow, Keller figured out Max had traveled to the future, so he's followed him here to kill everyone Max holds dear.

We then head over to Manchester Junior High, where Preston and Rolly have been tasked with videotaping the boys' soccer practice. Jeff Weber considers these two to be nerds, so he purposefully runs into them, knocking down Rolly and camera on a tripod. When Preston tries to stand up to Jeff, he calls them girls and wusses before rejoining the team. Preston wonders what Carol sees in Jeff, and Rolly points out that Jeff only acts this way when Carol's not around.

Impulse, meanwhile, has just stopped a bank robbery in St. Louis. On his way back home, he drops off the guns he took with Officer Hannaburgh, in what appears to be a regular occurrence. Bart changes back into his school clothes and meets up with Preston and Rolly 12 seconds later. Preston and Rolly tell Bart all about Jeff, who is currently sitting in the stands, flirting with cheerleader Kristin Donovan — even though he's supposedly dating Carol. Rolly laments that they're unable to do anything about this, but Bart eyes Jeff's gym bag and gets an idea.

Bart pulls out an extra pair of Jeff's shorts and sneaks up underneath the bleachers to slide the shorts around Jeff's ankles. Jeff doesn't notice because he's too busy plotting a lame excuse to give to Carol so he can spend the night with Kristin instead. When the coach calls Jeff back to the field, he trips over the shorts, much to the amusement of his teammates. The coach yells at him for stupidly wearing two pairs of shorts, and when Jeff says the shorts aren't his, the coach points to Jeff's name on the waistband. Jeff wonders how his shorts got out of his bag, and when he turns to look at it, Bart, Roland and Preston are all innocently looking away and whistling.

Shortly, Bart walks away with his friends, who are still laughing at Jeff's humiliation. But Bart's still a bit mad, saying he hates the way Jeff lies and cheats on Carol. Preston realizes that Bart doesn't like because he actually has feelings for Carol. He says that everyone knows Carol's always had a crush on Bart and she was just waiting for him to wake up. Bart denies this, saying she's just his friend. But Roland agrees with Preston, suggesting that maybe Bart does have feeling for Carol but he doesn't know it yet. Bart thinks this is ridiculous, but Preston and Roland still stand by their theory.

The next day, Lucius Keller arrives at the northside of Manchester with a large robot he intends to distract Max Mercury as he attends to the more personal aspects of his scheme. Meanwhile, Bart is unable to focus on the teacher's lesson on blue-striped tree frogs because he's so perplexed by his relationship with Carol. He can't help staring at her, wondering what Bart plus Carol equals. Carol eventually notices Bart's staring, as does the teacher, who scolds him for not paying attention.

Later, Bart overhears Jeff telling Carol he can't meet her that night because his coach has called an extra practice. Carol suggests that she could go to the practice and do her homework on the sidelines while she waited for him. Jeff objects to this too strongly, and lamely says that Carol's presence would distract him. He then notices Bart and tells Carol that she can do her homework with Bart and then give the answers to him later tonight. Bart thinks of Jeff as a snake, but then he suddenly gets another idea.

Bart quickly takes off and reappears at super speed, and the only one who notices is Carol. As she walks home with Bart, she points out that Bart doesn't like Jeff. Bart says he thinks she should be with someone who treats her nicer, so Carol asks who he's talking about. Bart's thinking of himself, but he can't bring himself to say it. Suddenly, a blue-stripped tree frog pops out of Bart's shirt. Bart says he ran off to the Amazon get the frog to help Carol with her homework, and she comments on how fun it is to be with Bart. Jeff, meanwhile, is with Kristin Donovan once again, bragging about how all needs to do is splatter a little mud on his uniform to pull off his lie to Carol. He opens his gym bag to find it's stuffed with frogs, planted there by Bart — his true purpose for running to the Amazon.

Max is out on patrol when he spots the robot, which feels dreadfully familiar to him. Helen, meanwhile, has put on a fancy dress to go to the opera with Matt Ringer. She heads off, playfully interpreting Dox's barking as a mother telling her to have a good time and not stay out too late. Just outside, Bart spots the rising smoke coming from the robot's destruction, and he quickly takes off as Impulse.

Four seconds later, Impulse and Max Mercury are racing around the machine, trying to keep it at bay until Max decides the best strategy. He suggests attempting to shut it down from the inside. Before they get a chance to try this, the robot opens up machine gun fire on our heroes. Bart catches all the bullets (even though they're hot) and he asks Max what he should do with them. Max reminds Bart of what they were just talking about, so Bart vibrates into the robot and throws all the bullets into its gears. Bart's plan works perfectly, and the giant machine quickly falls down as an obsolete pile of metal. Max darkly says that his was too easy, since this machine reminds him of an old foe he had — a brilliant scientist who lost his family when one of his inventions exploded. Unable to face his guilt, this man turned it into a bitter hatred for Max. Bart asks if it's possible to have feelings sometimes and not even know it, and when Max says yes, Bart's thoughts again turn to Carol.

A little later, Bart takes Carol out for a walk and finally brings himself to tell Carol that Jeff's cheating on her. Carol is understandably hurt by this, and Bart kindly apologizes, explaining that he's only telling Carol this because he cares about her and doesn't want to see her get hurt. But in the midst of this emotional conversation, neither of them notice a shadowy figure spying on them from the bushes.

Meanwhile, Max returns home to find that Dox has somehow been shut in the kitchen pantry. He then notices a copy of The Topeka Tattler from 1893 left on the table. The headlines read: "Rocket Sled Tragedy. Inventor loses family in accident." This confirms Max's fear that Keller has returned, and he begins to fear for Helen's life.

Lucius Keller was originally introduced in Impulse #58, and I think it's pretty neat that Dezago went back to that side story and has expanded on it. Max has had a handful of villains — Savitar, Dr. Morlo, Glory Shredder — but most of them have already been defeated, so it's good to give him another one, especially when you consider Max's long-spanning career. But the return of Lucius Keller actually played secondary to the Bart-Carol-Jeff love triangle. I think this is still developing at an appropriate, adorable pace. Yes, Bart has kissed Carol once before, but that was more of a joke than anything. Now, finally, it seems like things will get serious between them.

Impulsive Reactions begins with Joey Cavalieri talking about getting caught in a wind storm that sent all his Flash manuscripts flying and he figured this must be what it feels like to live in Manchester and have Impulse randomly zoom by.

Chuck Brouillette, of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., called Impulse #68 a treat. He enjoyed how Adam and Alanna Strange were handled, Impulse's Inertia-inspired focus, and Green Lantern's motivations. Chuck loves how Impulse manages to balance the silly with the serious, saying that balance makes the series read so real.

Daniel E. McMasters, of Sacramento, says he was fooled by the solicitation in Previews magazine that made it sound like Max Mercury was going to die. He was not only dreading the death, but the eventual return of Max, so Daniel was very happy to see Max survived Mercury Falling. He says Impulse #67 brought back some of the humor that had been missing during Mercury Falling. Daniel admits to considering dropping the series, but with Max still alive and Carlo Barberi coming aboard, he's staying on.

Robert Kowalski, of Detroit, says Adam Strange is his favorite hero, and he loved seeing him and Impulse thrown together into a Circle of Fire epilogue. Robert appreciated how issue #68 recapped Adam Strange's history, and he enjoyed everything from the lava pigs to Green Lantern's line about needing to save Rann from Impulse. Now for the ads (once again Bart and his friends were all dressed in Nautica clothing):

Thermonuclear cheesehead! Cheese Nips.

All-new action figures from DC Direct! Red Tornado and Martian Manhunter.

Winning $10,000 isn't half as cool as spending it. Get ready to go on a shopping spree. Because if you find a Golden Wrapper inside specially marked boxes of Pop-Tarts toaster pastries you could win $10,000 instantly.

The Silver Age Justice League of America villains PVC set.

A lot of magic. A little reminder from Kellogg's. Mini bean bag toys shaped like Disney characters inside cereal boxes.

Wrigley's Juicy Fruit chewing gum. Gotta have sweet?

Next time, we get a very special Impulse-centric story in Young Justice #31!

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