Thursday, July 13, 2017

Impulse #78

Losing the Impulse

Todd Dezago • Writer
Carlo Barberi • Penciller
Rich Faber • Guest Inker
Janice Chiang • Letterer
Tom McCraw • Colorist
Digital Chameleon • Separator
Joey Cavalieri • Editor
Impulse created by Mark Waid & Mike Wieringo

This issue's cover depicts Impulse in both the attic and debasement by Carlo Barberi and Wayne Faucher! All kidding aside, this is one of the most powerful, heart-breaking covers in all of Impulse. The lighting, the tears streaming down Bart's face, Max and Helen helplessly looking on. Everything works in the saddest way. I think it's much more tragic to have a hero choose to quit than simply be defeated by a villain. And that's what we get here. Also, what really kicks this cover up a notch is all the Easter Eggs in the background. We have boxes labeled for Helen, Max and Wally (for some reason), with stick figure graffiti on Max's and Wally's boxes, presumably from Bart. And among Bart's Impulse memorabilia, we have a picture of him with Wally and another picture with what looks like Terra and Damage from Bart's old New Titans days. And, yes, Bart is wearing a Nautica shirt as usual (when will that sponsorship end?).

Our story begins with Max filling Wally in on everything that's happened to Bart the past few weeks (since Wally no longer interacts with Bart, thanks to Geoff Johns!). Max tells Wally all about Bart's adventure to the 30th century, how he acquired his new power to create scouts, and how one of those scouts was killed on Apokolips, putting Bart into a comatose state, which lasted several days. Max was touched that while Bart recovered, he was visited by just about everyone — Jay and Joan Garrick, Red Tornado, Nightwing, Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr., Plastic Man, Green Lantern, Dr. Midnight, Tempest, the Star-Spangled Kid, Starfire, Hawkgirl, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Big Barda, Supergirl, and Superman.

Max told Bart's Young Justice friends (Robin, Wonder Girl, Superboy, Empress and Cissie) that it'll take a few weeks before Bart's back on his feet. Max then told Bart's neighborhood friends (Preston, Mike, Wade and Ayana) that Bart came down with double walking pneumonia, which Preston thought was "awesome cool." Bart returned to school the following week, and managed to catch back up fairly easily. But Max is concerned about the boy's attitude, telling Wally: "But there's something still not right; this isn't our Bart ... he's ... he's sad. And he's lost any interest he'd had in being ... a hero."

Wally suggests having Bart talk to a professional therapist, pointing out that what he suffered on Apokolips goes beyond "traumatic." Max agrees, then puts the conversation on hold so the two running speedsters can help a family change a flat tire. Max lifts up the van with a little vortex, Flash puts the new tire on, and bids the family farewell with a bad pun: "You're on your way with time to spare!" As Max and Wally run through Norfolk, Nebraska, Max tells Wally the rest of the story about Bart's adventure to the future, namely, how Carol chose to stay in a different time period, just after Bart had fallen in love with her. Wally comes screeching to a halt, shocked to hear that not only had Bart fallen in love, but that he was willing to tell Max about it. Max asks what's so weird about this, and Wally says kids don't usually tell these things to their fathers. Wally catches himself at the word "father" and tries to explain it away, but Max brushes him off, seemingly pleased with the title.

Max and Wally take off, zooming past the Norfolk County Courthouse, not realizing that one of Impulse's (few) foes is inside. White Lightning is at a hearing for her mother, and is dismayed when the judge orders her to solitary confinement without visitation until the trial, along with a bail of $200,000 due to her history of escaping custody before her trial date is set. White Lightning tries to say goodbye to her mom, but is pushed away by a guard. She begins to use her hypnotic charms on him, but her father, Detective Bramer, is there to stop her. White Lightning vows to raise the money for her mom's bail legally, remembering Impulse's advice to use her powers for good.

Back in Manchester, Alabama, Bart is quietly playing fetch with Dox in the backyard when Max asks if he wants to go on a run with him. Bart sadly says that he doesn't feel like running anymore. As he struggles to explain his emotions, Max tells him it's okay to not want to run and it's okay to not know how you feel. Max explains that Bart's been through so much these past few weeks that it's perfectly normal for him to be sad and confused, and, at the end of the day, he trusts Bart to make the right decisions. Preston then comes cover, eager to show his friend something that's guaranteed to lift his spirits — the latest issue of the After-Life Avenger, guest starring Ben Steel and his bear, Hans!

But to Preston's disappointment, this exciting comic book has no effect on Bart's mood. Bart leads Preston into his room and climbs up on his bed, apologizing for not being able to be cheered up. Preston realizes that Bart's sad about Carol, and as he talks, Bart pulls out Carol's broken heart locket. Preston then deduces that Bart actually did kiss her, but he spots a flaw in Bart's story. He said he kissed Carol right before she left with his mom, then he corrects himself and says he meant her mom, then he has to correct himself again and says he meant before she went to her grandmother's. Meanwhile, Rolly is doing the final editing on their Impulse movie. He knew they captured some footage of the real Impulse coming to save them from falling off the walkway, but he's now found something odd. In one frame, Bart is standing next to Carol, wearing his Dr. Bad costume. But in the next frame, Bart is completely gone, and the real Impulse is there in his place.

We then head to the Sheffield Savings Bank in Sheffield, Alabama, where White Lightning is trying to withdraw her trust fund. But the female teller won't let her do that without her mother's signature. Growing frustrated, White Lightning demands to see a male teller. She causes a big enough scene that the manager comes out to talk to her. Lucky for White Lightning, the manager is a male, and she uses her powers on him to get her money.

Meanwhile, Max Mercury has resumed an activity he hasn't done for a while because of Bart's troubles — probing the Speed Force through meditation. He seems to be having a conversation with Johnny Quick, telling him how much Bart has matured lately. Helen then interrupts him, saying that her boyfriend, Matt Ringer, is over, asking to talk to Max. So Max heads out to the front yard, and Matt tells him how strained his relationship is with his son, Mike. He's noticed how cool and casual Max and Bart are, and he's hoping to have an activity with the four of them so Mike could see how fathers and sons can be. Max is once again pleasantly taken aback at being called Bart's father, and he agrees to the plan. Matt eagerly explains that he wants to go to the monster truck rally in two weeks, rejoicing that this might give his son a chance to be happy. Max looks over at Bart, and agrees that kids should be happy all the time.

We then return to White Lightning, who has come to the sad realization that her depleted trust fund still isn't enough money to post her mother's bail. She watches TV in her trailer home, learning of a big concert coming to the Birmingham Coliseum, starring Holly Matchet, Leonard Schmenard and the Daniel Charlie Band. White Lightning knows she could rob the ticket box to get more than enough money for her band, but she also really wants to follow Impulse's advice to put good out and get good back.

And so, Max finds Bart once again playing fetch with Dox. As he sits down next to the teen, Bart tells him it used to be so much fun, racing around and helping everybody. But after Apokolips, and everything with Carol, it just isn't fun anymore. Bart admits that lately, being Impulse is sad. Max says he's behind Bart on this (having to clarify he means he supports him), and he explains that when he first agreed to train him, his goal was merely to teach him how to control his powers — not to be a superhero. That's what Bart became anyway, but Max points out that he doesn't have to be that anymore. It's tough enough just being a kid, and all he an Helen want is for Bart to be happy. With this encouragement, Bart finally comes out and says he wants to quit being Impulse.

Bart visits the Catskills resort to tell Young Justice his decision, breaking the news in front of Red Tornado, Wonder Girl, Robin, Secret, Superboy, Cissie and Empress. Everybody is shocked by this, especially Superboy, who says that nobody quits Young Justice. Even though Cissie quit, she still hangs out with them. But Robin steps forward and says he understands how all of them must think about quitting from time to time, and how this lifestyle can sometimes be too much. Robin says sometimes they need to step away for a little while, and sometimes they need to step away for good.

And so, everybody says goodbye to Bart. Wonder Girl is the first to hug him, saying, "You take care, Speedy." Empress shakes his hand, saying she knows he'll be back. Cissie ruffles Bart's hair, saying he owes her an ice cream. Secret blows him a kiss, telling him it won't be the same without him. Red Tornado congratulates Bart on making a mature decision and says he's always welcome back should he change his mind. Finally, Superboy grasps Bart's hand and ruffles his hair, saying they're going to miss him, but they understand he has to do what he has to do. And with that, Bart walks away from Young Justice, with Empress repeating her belief that he'll be back.

Our story concludes with White Lightning giving in to temptation. With three armed teenage boys under her control, she robs the Birmingham Coliseum box office, simply saying she got tired of waiting for good stuff to come to her.

This issue was sad and quiet. Yet it flowed naturally out of the preceding stories. Bart has made a tragic decision, but an understandable one. It is going to be rough getting through the next few months without Impulse, but luckily his supporting characters are developed enough to keep things interesting. Bart's friends are beginning to piece together his secret identity, ironically right when he gives it up. Max has resumed probing the Speed Force, which will eventually lead to more storylines. Helen and Matt are progressing as a couple. And White Lightning has fully returned to a life of crime. In the meantime, poor Bart is going to have to try to find motivation to become Impulse again.

Impulsive Reactions begins with Chuck Brouillette, of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., expressing appreciation for Impulse serving as the bloodline to the bridge of Barry Allen's legacy, going back to Bart whispering "Grampa" when he first saw a picture of him in World Without Grown-Ups. Chuck though Impulse #75 nicely wrapped up the Dark Tomorrow storyline. He also finds Bart's new powers of time travel fitting, considering how his grandpa's role in the DCU was to connect with the past and visit the future.

Joe Nah suggests having Bart completely give up his Impulse outfit in favor of the old yellow Kid Flash outfit. And should Bart become less impulsive after Our Worlds at War, then a name change would be in order, as well. Joey Cavalieri seems genuinely interested by this idea.

Archangel1 claims that Impulse would never in a million years wear the Kid Flash costume of his own free will, primarily because the bright yellow would make him too big a target for enemies. Archangel1 does, however, agree that it's time for a new outfit.

Tobias Christopher points out that Bart did wear yellow in the Secret Society of Super-Heroes, which he says has a pretty great ending.

Anthony O'Brien says his first issue was Impulse #9, and he fell in love with Jenni Ognats, comparing her to Disney's Little Mermaid. Anthony also fell in love with the rest of the cast and crew of the book and scooped up all the back issues. He says the first two issues of the series weren't that great, but Impulse #3 was when it found its heart.

Max Mercury II says he didn't start buying the book until Impulse #61. He was first brought in through The Flash and Young Justice, and the clincher was when he found out the writer of World Without Grown-Ups was writing Impulse.

Corndog7 says his path to Impulse actually started in Aquaman. He enjoyed Tempest and followed him to the Titans, where he grew to love the Flash and Jesse Quick. Once he started reading The Flash, he began craving more adventures with Jay Garrick and Max Mercury. Finally, he got on board with Impulse in time for the Mercury Falling arc. Now for the new ads:

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Hey, Kids! Comics! talks about the new Justice League animated series (which almost had Impulse on it).

It's time to duel. Yu-Gi-Oh! King of Games on Kids WB!

It's even more fun in real life! Lunchables Chocolate Cookies 'n Frosting.

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Next time, we'll see how Bart's hero friends really react to him quitting the team in Young Justice #38.

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