I mentioned in last week’s Superboy column that Tim Drake seems to be the only member of the original Young Justice line-up that seems to be still hanging around the DC Universe.
So, let’s check in with another forgotten member of that team in the form of Bart Allen.
So, who is Bart Allen? Well, he’s the grandson of Flash Barry Allen from the 30th century. Barry had done some time travel late in his life before he died for a good long while in the original Crisis and fathered a pair of twins with his wife Iris in the 30th century. The twins would each have a speedster child of his or her own, with Barry’s daughter giving birth to Legion of Superheroes member XS while Barry’s son would have a boy named Bart.
Sounds fine so far.
Ah, but Bart had problems. His superspeed kicked in pretty much from birth, and his body was aging a bit rapidly. To accommodate his mind and body, he was sealed into a virtual reality machine that taught him what he needed to know as he grew older. At some point, he escaped and went back in time to when his cousin Wally West was the Flash and Wally had to first subdue the kid and then use his own speed to push the boy’s body into something resembling a stable form, meaning he stopped aging rapidly. Bart was chronologically about two while being physically somewhere in the range of 14-16. He also had no interest in being Wally’s sidekick. As it was, the feeling was mutual, so Bart, who had an incredibly short attention span and frequently daydreamed the world away in the form of simple cartoons, received the name “Impulse,” less as a cool name and more as a warning he never quite heeded.
By the by, of the various DC kid sidekicks, I always thought “Kid Flash” was the dumbest superhero name anyone came up with. Maybe Robins aren’t particularly scary, and Speedy sounds better for a Flash sidekick, and Aqualad has to deal with hanging around Aquaman, plus Wonder GIrl and Superboy, but at least they didn’t just slap a “kid” on his mentor’s name and call it a day.
As Impulse, Bart was popular enough to get his own solo series and joined the Young Justice team, initially alongside Tim “Robin” Drake and Superboy, who as a clone wasn’t much older than Bart chronologically speaking. Some female members would come shortly thereafter, and the kids would have what I would generally classify as fun and somewhat lighthearted adventures. That fits since Bart at this stage wasn’t even close to a serious character.
At a certain point, though, Bart grew up. After a bit of trauma, he changed his name from Impulse to Kid Flash, joined the Teen Titans, and revealed he had one ability that no other speedster possessed: he could retain knowledge from books he read at superspeed. It seems most speedsters could read a book at superspeed but could only retain the knowledge contained in the book for a few minutes at most. Not Bart. He could hold on to that information, and now as a more mature teen hero, he was ready to make a better impression on the hero world at large.
Then Infinite Crisis happened and Wally West, like Barry Allen before him, got sucked into the Speed Force with his whole family, forcing a now seemingly adult Bart to become the Flash.
And Bart’s solo Flash book…kinda sucked. He was dull now. Plus, he got killed off by the Rogues after a little while in what felt then and now like a cheap marketing gimmick complete with an obvious way to bring Bart back that took place around the time of the Final Crisis where Bart was, once again, a teenager and going by Kid Flash. Since both Barry and Wally were running around as “the Flash” and one of Wally’s kids was a new Impulse, I guess “Kid Flash” was still free, in part because I don’t know why anyone would take that name anyway.
But then the New 52 happened and Bart disappeared.
Oh sure, there was a Bart Allen, and this guy still turned out to be from the future, but he was a criminal in his time from another planet, sent back to the present as part of his sentence. He wasn’t even really related to Barry anymore.
And then with Rebirth, this guy also disappeared. The current Kid Flash is an alternate version of Wally West, with the original Wally also back and a little younger. Where’s Bart? That’s hard to say as no one has said yet. This was a character who not only appeared in a few episodes of the Young Justice cartoon series in his Impulse persona, but also appeared in a few episodes of Smallville. Now, he’s more or less gone.
I’m sure he’ll be back at some point.
Then again, I seem to be a on a roll right now with the original Young Justice team. I guess I’ll have to do Wonder Girl’s entry next week.