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CSBG Archive

Everybody’s Somebody’s Baby – Day Two

Okay, so we had the Top 100 Comic Book Runs List. I even went a little further, and showed you the NEXT fifty-six runs on the list. But what about those runs that were less supported? THEY have their fans, too, right? So each weekday (so long as I have pieces to run), I’m going to take a look at some runs who did not make the top 158, but were still quite loved by readers out there!

Here’s the second run!


Mark Waid’s Impulse – 36 points

Impulse #1-6, 8-17, 19-21, 23-27

Mark Waid debuted the character Bart Allen, the grandson of Barry Allen, in the pages of Waid’s Flash run. He became popular enough to be spun off into his own title, along with another character Waid had introduced, Max Mercury. Max was Bart’s guardian.

The comic was intentionally lighthearted, and it had some of the funniest issues of late 90s DC comics, #3, in particular, was a brilliantly humorous story.

In #8, Waid introduced (as part of his own Underworld Unleashed crossover) the revamped Blockbuster, who became a big part of Chuck Dixon’s Nightwing run.

Waid’s run was notable in how FUN it all was.

Humberto Ramos drew most of the run – and his manic style went perfectly with Waid’s fun scripts.

Sadly, Waid left the book after issue #27.

Here’s my old pal Eliot Johnson on why Impulse is tops!

Bored out of my mind one day, I began browsing the internet, only to discover that Bart Allen had died. Much to my surprise, I felt a genuine pang of sadness. No, I certainly didn’t care about the shell of a character that he had become under the pen of Geoff Johns or some guy named Marc Guggenheim. Nor did I shed a tear for the enjoyable but rather one-dimensional Impulse from YOUNG JUSTICE or the latter portion of the IMPULSE series. My sympathy was rather for the Bart Allen that was, for 25 issues, a rare example of a teenaged hero being the center of good stories.

We all now that teenaged heroes are an inherently ridiculous idea. Yet, they have persisted for years in comics in an attempt to make the books more relatable to the generally younger audience that read them.The idea has rarely worked. The hopelessly square writers couldn’t write teenagers and the artists couldn’t draw them–making them look like short, bizarrely muscle-bound adults. IMPULSE by Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos quite significantly bucks that trend.

IMPULSE is most well-known as the debut of artist Humberto Ramos. Ramos has rightfully drawn a far amount of criticism over his career, but he never missed a step on IMPULSE. His fluid, exaggerated style augmented Mark Waid’s frenetic stories every step of the way. Waid’s work is equally hit-or-miss for me, but he managed to make the conceit of a teen hero actually work in the unique creation of Bart Allen, a hero from the far future with a four-year-old’s brain in a teenager’s body. Waid then plucked Max Mercury from obscurity to play guru for the young speedster in the slow, southern town of Manchester, Alabama.

The resulting, largely character-driven stories usually centered on Bart’s training or his bizarre social life, but the series never lacked for action thanks to quirky villains like the southern belle White Lightning. Bart was a cocky little brat, to be sure, but Waid always managed to make Bart likable at the last possible minute resulting in an alternately hilarious and poignant series. Whether Bart was dealing with child-beating or helping Zatanna fight demons, IMPULSE remains one of the true gems amongst the vast wasteland that was mid-nineties DC.

Thanks, Eliot!


This book was real fun, sadly Waid left it too soon,

Only 36 points? Really? If Bart wasn’t dead, this would’ve killed him. I think I put this in second place, though I tacked on Humberto Ramos…nothing against the fill-in artists on stuff like the Trickster/White Lightning two-parter or the Legion issue, but Ramos made Bart fun to look at, especially with the pictogram-laced thought balloons.

I thought Tom Peyer wrote issue #27, a good one introducing us to the new Arrowette.

While I haven’t read it years, #3 is a classic. Bart unintentionally pisses off everyone in school just by being himself and he’s the only one who doesn’t participate in the big fight.

I don’t use it a whole lot any more, but my old net handle was KidImpulse. I loved that as a hyper active ADD kid there was Impulse to look up to. It must have been what it was like for kids to see Robin in the 40’s. Impulse was really important to me, and I never miss the chance to tell mark Waid at cons.

Sorry this is kind of unrelated to the topic, but was the contest winner for the top 5 runs ever announced? Just curious.

D’oh! No one won it outright, Da Fug, so I totally forgot about it!

I’ll do it right now!

I have the trade collecting the early issues of this, and yes, it really was magnificent. Bright, witty, fast-paced and lively, and it’s a shame they essentially watered down this character to the point that having him beaten to death by the Rogues Gallery was a mercy killing.

I loved the book
WIshed I’d voted for it but I was too busy voting for stuff that everybody else voted for anyways. I never really checked to see who’s run I was reading back when I was into the book either though.

Alex Hernandez

June 3, 2008 at 2:26 pm

I totally agree with Eliot’s article. Impluse was my favorite comic when I was in Middle/High school. I loved the action and comedy. I loved the relationship between Max and Bart. I loved the art and the writing. This comic was just brilliant. After Mark and Humberto left the book I did too. I couldn’t get into the Young Justice Impulse because he was just too silly, he lacked the depth of “the real” Impluse.

I didn’t mind too much when Bart as the Flash died because the second Deathstroke shot the fastest boy alive in the knee, a kid who can dance bewteen a hail a bullets, the character died. At least they had the decency to stop calling him Impulse while his corpse ran around.

Bart was a shell until Johns gave him some depth. Don’t get me’ wrong, loved Waid writing Bart but it always felt shallow.

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