Impulse #29 (1997)

Impulse #29 (September, 1997)

“Conflict Resolutions”
Writer – William Messner-Loebs
Penciller – Craig Rousseau
Inker – Barbara Kaalsberg
Letterer – Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist – Tom McCraw
Assistant Editor – Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt
Editor – Paul Kupperberg
Cover Price: $1.75

Over these past several months I’ve reviewed a good bunch of DC Comics… as such, the room in which I keep my longboxes currently looks as though it was hit by a tornado.  It’s almost to the point where I can’t fit the entirety of my body in there… and I’m not that huge’a dude.  I try to fit in a few minutes a day where I begin undertaking the ever-growing endeavor of “putting crap away”.

I said all of that so I may say this… I wish my library room was cleaner a few months back when Reggie and I were discussing the Comics Code Authority (for five-weeks straight!) on our Weird Comics History Podcast… because I definitely would have reviewed this book then!  Not that it has much anything to do the Code, Kefauver, or Wertham… but, it does have a rather striking cover, no?

Well, today I put in my 5-10 minutes of tidy time, and came across this one.  Figure better late than never… it’s always a good time with Impulse… right?

We open with Bart Allen’s history teacher Mr. Snodgrass giving a lecture on something related to the Revolutionary War… I like that the word balloon drags out each and every word, as though it’s taking several seconds to say.  I dig that because, hell… we’ve all been there… but also, ya gotta figure this is how the fastest boy on Earth would receive a boring lecture.  Veeeeerrrrrry sllllloooow.

As he pontificates, Bart’s thoughts wander to a recent argument he had with his guardian, Max Mercury over entering the MegaDemon video game contest.  Max feels it would be unethical for Bart to compete against fellow gamers who happen to not be gifted with super speed.  His flashback is interrupted by Snodgrass, who asks Bart to elaborate on the conflict between Benjamin Franklin and his natural son.  Taken aback, Bart suggests the root of the conflict was Ben not letting his boy play MegaDemon!  This does not go over well with Snoddy.

We shift scenes to the Mercury home where he is struggling to repair the television set.  His newfound daughter, Helen enters and begins lecturing Max on how he dealt with poor Bart.  The chat becomes contentious, and Helen winds up walking out after making a passive-aggressive comment.  Max sits and stews for a bit, however is soon interrupted by the daily mail call.  Among the envelopes, one stands out… and appears to shock our silver-haired speedster.

We rejoin Bart as he’s walking home from school with his probably-gonna-be love interest Carol, and douchey pal Preston.  Due to his outburst in class, Bart’s gotta deliver some bad news to Max… there’s another “attitude conference” on the horizon.  As they chat, a… latex truck from, and I’m not kidding… Vandalay Industries goes careening by, driving directly toward a tree.

Carol grabs Preston by the face so Bart can get into his Impulse duds… so, I guess she already knows… and he runs off to stop the truck.  He stands before it and waves, trying to create wind to bring the rig to a stop… and either he does, or the driver hits the brakes at just the right time.  A goon in a ski mask hops out and aims his gun at our boy.

Suddenly three more goons appear from the truck… all packing heat.  They begin just rat-at-atting away in Impulse’s general direction.  This is when Impulse works best… in the split second before the bullets make contact he is able to logically plan his next few steps… and consider all the potential alternatives.  He decides that if he wants to keep everybody safe, he must catch every single bullet… and then throw them deep into the ground.

This turns out to be not his finest idea… everyone’s still alive, so I guess it wasn’t his worst one either.  Carol yells out to distract the goons, and almost gets blown away for her trouble.  Preston dives to push her out of the way.  Impulse sees that his friends are endangered, and he gets pretty ticked off.  He beats down all the goons, including their Joe Dirt-looking driver.  Turns out they were toxic waste dumpers posing as a potential George Costanza employer.

As the dust clears, Bart Allen returns to his friends claiming to have called the police.  We see that Preston’s arm was grazed by a bullet… and he just won’t shut up about having been shot.  He’s quite proud… as I guess one would be.  Bart’s not impressed, however… all he can think of is just how close his friends were to being killed real good.

The police arrive and Preston and Carol remain to answer some questions.  Bart splits off and heads home, all the while hoping that maybe somehow Max won’t be in when he gets there.  As luck would have it… Max ain’t there!  Helen says it’s as though he disappeared… but to where?  We are… [to be continued…]

It’s been a long while since I read an issue of Impulse.  This is one of those series I look back on fondly… from a time in DC Comics history I really enjoyed.  It’s also one of those series I dreaded revisiting, because rose-colored glasses and all that.  This (along with Superboy and Robin) came when I was in my late-teens myself, and, while I wouldn’t say it/they were my favorite… I did always look forward to reading it/them.  Now that I’m in my *groan* late-30’s… I was afraid I may not dig these as much.


It’s definitely a sillier book… and the art… man… I remember loving this style of art when I was a kid.  I still think it fits the tone of the series, and the character… but, I gotta say… I don’t think it aged all that well.  Maybe my tastes changed… or maybe it just really drives home that this is a late-90’s book… and it feels ever so dated.  If I had to guess, I’d say Rousseau is either working in a manga style… or a Humberto Ramos style.  Ramos, if I’m remembering correctly was the original artist on this title when it launched with Mark Waid on writing chores.  If Rousseau’s doing his best Ramos impression, well… fair play then… this is very much in his style.

Keeping with the aesthetics for a bit… I love that Bart thinks in pictures.  This was something they had managed to keep up quite well during this period, even seeping into other titles like Young Justice.  That’s actually one of the few things I remembered from this, and it still makes me smile when I see it more often than not.

The story is decent.  I like how Bart is looked at like he’s a goof-off when in his civvies, but when he’s in costume he actually forces himself to think logically… to plan things out.  Here, he had to figure out his best course of action while catching bullets.  That’s not something one would expect from that dopey kid in class.  He also acts rather selflessly… which is cool.  

I remember the ongoing Max Mercury plot going on for quite awhile.  It wasn’t bad or anything, it just felt very slow… which is probably appropriate given this book doesn’t carry the title Max Mercury.  I do really like how the speedsters kind of took care of their own during this time period.  Throughout this series the Garricks, the Quicks, and Max Mercury all play fairly sizable roles.  Almost makes me homesick for this era.  I miss how much so many of DC’s books felt like “families” back then.

While I can’t say this is the best thing you’ll read in a given day, I think I can safely say it won’t be the worst.  Definitely worth a flip through, like so many of DC’s late-90’s offerings.

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