A review of Impulse, the comic book series.
Boy, I love having a website. It's really great, because I have been wanting to do this for years, and I've had these ideas for years about this thing in particular for a while, and I have a place to say it, finally. So, let's talk about Impulse, one of the greatest comic books ever, maybe. Definitely one of the best superhero comic books ever. One of my favorite superhero comic books/comic books.
Impulse is something of an anomaly. So, a little backstory, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Not that it really matters that much or anything. Impulse is Bart Allen. He is the great, great, great, great, whatever grandson of Barry Allen, the original Flash. Bart Allen is from the future, and he spent his entire life living in a video game until he was rescued in a story I don't really care about. All right, I just never really read it. Created by Mark Waid, great guy, great writer, I like him, quite a lot and the series sold me on him.
Impulse was a fun character. Okay, so, Impulse is a 14 year old kid, and he lives with Quicksilver, aka Max Mercury, is assigned to train him. Max is, you know, a silver-haired hunk of a person who's over a couple hundred years old and sort of like a zen sort of master, which is ironic considering that he can run super fast because zen people are considered to go super slow. Do you get it? Do you get the irony? Get it? I kid because I love.
So, here is the deal, I guess, the deal with Bart Allen. Bart Allen is fun. Bart Allen is a fun character. The entirety of the Impulse series was fun. Fun. Even after Mark Waid left, it was a fun comic series. The jokes were funny. It was even sweet a lot of the time. I bought the relationship between Max Mercury and Bart was nice. It was a good father/son relationship. And so, there are some thought things, and it turns out, and this is important because I have a lot to say about what happens at the end of this series, and it surrounds the character of Max's daughter, Helen Claiborne, I think is how you say it.
Okay. So, let's go over some highlights before we get to the ending because there's a lot to discuss the ending in my opinion. Part of the things that sort of make Impulse interesting. Okay, the first thing that makes Impulse interesting. First, he's a fun character inherently, who like a lot of people who can run super fast like, in comic books, is a fun, thinks fast, talks fast. He's kind of the perfect fit for Waid's style. He's also, interestingly, a popular kid in his school who gets popular just being nice and friendly to everybody. I'm trying to remember a specific comic.
Honestly, the entire series is really fun. A few things I like, I actually really liked when Bart's mother came from the future. And there's a really great scene because in the future it turns out they don't really speak the same language that we do because it's the future and time language changes. So, Bart decides, I'm going to teach her how to speak, you know, modern day English vernacular, I guess I'll say that. But, because I'm like a speedster dude, I'll do it super fast like. And they go through all this stuff. And it's like, there's brick Anyways, so, and he says, "This is a brick." Or there's a story where Bart gets a dog, that I like.
Have you noticed that a lot of the stuff I've brought up isn't like superhero related? Yeah, right. That's actually sort of part of the appeal of this. It's a, it's more down to earth sort of thing this was a 90's thing and I wouldn't go so far as to call it Linklateresque but it's definitely in that same mindset that some people were having. Cause it's often just about kids being kids. Maybe even sort of Spielbergesque style, you know. Now that I think about it, Spielberg, I mean obviously, Spielberg needs to direct a Superman movie. Because that's crazy, he's the absolute perfect choice for that. But, this would have been another decent pick for Spielberg.
Okay. I really want to talk about the ending for this because the ending has made me so mad for so long and it needs to be articulated by somebody, and I need to articulate this. Okay. So, remember I mentioned that Max had a daughter. So, Max moves in with his daughter, Helen. And Bart and Helen form a bond, or you know, they actually form a realistic relationship. And there are so many characters I haven't mentioned, but anyways, I don't have time for everybody. It's a conceivable mother/son relationship. So, the thing is, Bart is essentially an orphan who hasn't formed great bonds and has been uprooted in his life several times. And at the end of the series, Max Mercury mysteriously disappears and nobody knows where he went.
So, Max is a father figure, the one person that has been a consistent in his life, for a good deal of time and suddenly disappears. And with this, the entire Flash people freak out. So, the thing about Bart and this is another point I need to make about Bart is, Bart never wanted to be a Flash. Bart created his own identity. He created Impulse. In fact, there's a scene directly where Barry, no it's Wally, it's Wally at this point, asks him about that. Bart is most apathetic to overtly hostile to the concept of ever becoming a Kid Flash.
And I don't know, for young people especially, I was older when I read this, but I still kind of got it. And that's an important thing. It's an important thing in life to decide your own ideals and stuff. That's a thing DC doesn't do. Honestly. It does not have characters be truly independent. Name one that is, young person especially, that's what I'm thinking, that truly operates independently. There aren't any at all. And I'll get more into this later, I keep saying that.
But anyway, back to Helen. So, Bart forms a relationship with Helen. Max disappears, and the Flash's freak out about this. They decide that Bart should live with Jay Garrick and one of the last comics is Wally really lecturing Bart about this whole thing like, "You're being selfish. You should move in with Jay." And Bart is like, "I don't want to. I don't want to." Okay, so, here's the problem. Bart was 100% right. Bart has a huge point. No, why would somebody who has been tossed around his whole life, want to ever leave? Why would he ever want to stay in a single location with a person that was his surrogate mother and he formed a sincere connection to that wanted to stay with him?
Oh, I know. Because after this series, Bart, who had his own separate identity and his own separate ideals and his own family structure, forever now must be part of the Flash structure. Because after this he gets shunted off to the Teen Titans and changed into Kid Flash and loses his entire background and his supporting cast. Oh, and his personality changes.
But, no, there's no reason that people want to stay with their loved ones. That's not a thing. It got me so mad at this. The whole time I was reading this, I hated this issue. I hated this because it's an inexplicable thing DC does. And I don't want to talk fully about the nature of what happens to Bart, just because I've not read those stories really because they made me too mad. DC has a little bit of a tendency, well, I don't want to bring up, I'm not the hugest Geoff Johns fan. I know he's done a lot of good work. I find I'm not the biggest of his. And I don't really want to complain about this because it's boring and I think nobody cares about this.
So, Geoff Johns once gave an interview about DC, and I can't find the exact quote, but it was something along the lines of He thinks the real great thing is this huge legacy that DC has, like it's legacy characters and that's kind of great. And that's fine, but I think a problem he has with a lot of characters is it comes off like, when other characters tend to want to do their own thing, I think DC has kind of a problem with this. And it resonates a lot. I think Impulse is a good example of that because they do not like Impulse. His entire history after that has been a recon of any personality he had and sanding down. And I just don't like that, you know, as a person.
What had been an interesting and unusual character in the Flash myths, that sold me on the Flash mythos was turned into another carbon copy of the Flash. Of the same Flash. And at times it seemed to be a deliberately mean parody of the Flash, of him, and what he used to be. And for Daring to not want to be part of his family's legacy and wanting to be his own ideals and independence, that's a thing I like. I don't know where that leaves me in this world or you in this world. This turned out to be a much longer thing than I thought it was going to be, but okay.
I just, I worry about people. I worry about how this world seems very intent on any individual thing needs to be commoditized and turned into smooth goop and how the self is fundamentally unimportant and how people have become fundamentally unimportant to this world. And I don't know what is left for the person.