Here’s one more excerpt to round out the quartet of Scarlet Speedsters. As with the others, it’s posted here with permission of the book’s main author, Keith Dallas.
Mark Waid: Running on Impulse (excerpt)
By John Wells
WELLS: Why call him “Impulse,” rather than “Kid Flash”?
WAID: Because it was a perfect name. We didn’t want to call him “Kid Flash” because it sounded a little corny, and I still think it sounds a little corny. “Impulse” is the perfect confluence of a character’s name, his powers, and his personality, all in one word. And once we had the name — and I can’t swear it wasn’t Kurt Busiek’s suggestion — it completely summed up the character. Thought to deed in one motion without all those pesky synapses getting in the way.
WELLS: [laughs] It really did. Whose idea was that hair?
WAID: I think it was Humberto’s. Pure Humberto [Ramos]. Mike Wieringo had done the initial costume design, without the mask, but boy, Humberto went to town with the look, with the giant hair and the gigantic feet.
WELLS: Now kind of earlier on, you’d had the Tornado Twins revived in 1991’s Legion of Super-Heroes #18 and immediately had them executed by the Dominators.
WAID: [chuckles] “You” meaning “the Legion editors and writers after you left staff.” Don’t look at me, man.
WELLS: And later on, their DNA created a female speedster called Rush. And meantime, Don Allen was said to have been survived by his wife, Carmen Johnson and their two-year old son, Barry II. So what came first? You said you had the teen speedster idea for the Justice League story earlier in the interview], was that before or after?
WAID: A little after, so that would have been the “Barry II” that we were talking about at the time, I suppose. But at that point, we were going to reboot the Legion with Zero Hour, so I knew that all bets were off in terms of Rush and those characters. It also freed up the name “Impulse,” which I believe was the codename of —
WELLS: Kent Shakespeare.
WAID: Kent Shakespeare, yeah.
WELLS: Iris brought Bart back to the 20th Century in the hope that Wally could cure her grandson, but she also wanted Wally to rein in Bart and train him in the use of his powers. Why was that not going to work?
WAID: It was so not going to work because Bart and Wally just hated each other. Wally saw in Impulse all of his own negative characteristics, so it put his teeth on edge.
WELLS: On the other hand, Max [Mercury] and Bart did work out pretty well, even though they didn’t think it was going to. How did you see that relationship?
WAID: We went into the Impulse series not sure who the mentor figure was going to be. And for a long time, I think we were talking about it being Jay, but Jay has his wife, Joan, and I don’t know what they could have brought to the series that wouldn’ t have been Ma and Pa Kent. Making Bart’s mentor Max, somebody who was so dry and so much the opposite of Bart, was too much comic potential to let go.
WELLS: Now early on, Impulse had been set up as Wally’s heir apparent when we thought Wally might die in “Terminal Velocity.” But then DC threw you a curve by announcing that there was going to be an Impulse comic to debut after Flash #100. So what kind of damage control did you have to do?
WAID: Talk about mixed blessings. “Yay! Good news. We got a new series. Wait — what?” We found out Impulse was getting his own series about the same time the rest of the world did. Go figure. And it initially threw us off our “Terminal Velocity” game because Impulse was deliberately there as a red herring to make you think that he was going to pick up Wally’s suit and be the next Flash. But the way advance solicits work, people would have known that Impulse #1 was going to be published the month after Flash #100 and gee, I wonder who’s going to step into the main role. I bet it’s not the kid who’s going to get his own comic. [John chuckles] So that’s why we dragged Jesse Quick and Max and some of the other speedsters into that story, “Terminal Velocity,” just to help set up a few more red herrings.
The bigger question, the bigger problem, was what do we do with that Impulse book? What do we do with it that’s not Kid Flash? What do we do with it that’s not the exact same adventures that Flash has, but about a kid with bigger feet? So the roll of the dice we took thematically, Brian and I, was our determination to make it not a super-hero book but a sitcom disguised as a super-hero book. And, God, you would have thought from the way the people at DC reacted that we were talking about publishing porn. [John chuckles again] One of the vice presidents who’s no longer there was literally running up and down the hall at the time, waving advance copies of the first issue around and yelling, “What the hell is this crap? Why are we even publishing this? What is this awful, awful comic book?” because he didn’t get it. A lot of people didn’t get it, and conventional wisdom up there was that the book wouldn’t last past issue six. But Brian and I would always rather swing for the fences than go for the safe, solid double. And a super-hero comic with Impulse would have been a safe, solid double, but we swung for the fences and, boy, it paid off for us.
The full interview runs six pages and is accompanied by sketches and illustrations from the comics.
The Flash Companion is now available from TwoMorrows, Amazon, and local comic stores.