Another member of DC’s Flash Family has returned, with Bart Allen a.k.a. Impulse back from the dead. And considering HOW he manages to escape the Speed Force, Barry Allen’s grandson could be a key hero in the next stage of DC’s Universe.
There is no shortage of looming threats and disasters at work in the DCU, and Wally West sure didn’t make things better in the Flash War. In trying to undo the events of Flashpoint and return his children to reality, The Flash broke the barriers that once separated the normal world from the Speed Force (and other, more dangerous forces).
But the teenager that came speeding out wasn’t Wally’s son or daughter, but Bart Allen. And so far, no speedster is even aware of it – including their enemy, the Reverse-Flash.
We got the chance to talk to writer Josh Williamson about that Flash War twist, delivered practically out of nowhere. Having previously teased Jay Garrick trying to return as Wally had in Rebirth, the arrival of Impulse is a true curveball. And even if Williamson assures us that he hasn’t forgotten about Jay Garrick, in hindsight, if any former Flash could come back from the dead, it’s Bart Allen.
Barry Allen’s grandson from the future (the son of Barry’s son Don) first encountered “death” when he was stripped of the Speed Force and beaten to death by the Rogues. He would eventually be pulled back into action by the Legion of Super-Heroes to return to his “Kid Flash” person… before Flashpoint struck. Transforming into the White Flash and decaying into the Speed Force like his grandfather, Bart was presumed dead. But as Williamson explains, Hunter Zolomon’s master plan to trick the Flashes may have backfired. And as is now the norm, the ripples of Bart’s return are bigger than fans may realize:
A lot of people will be hoping it’s Jay Garrick calling out to Wally from the Speed Force, but one of the big reveals of the issue is the return of Bart Allen. How much fun is that to deliver, knowing what peoples’ reactions are going to be?
So the idea is that Hunter (Zolomon) makes them break the Force Barrier, you think that all is lost, you think that Hunter won. But in a way he didn’t, right? He beat them emotionally, but what he didn’t realize was that he’s allowed Bart to get out. Bart has basically been in there since Flashpoint, because Bart during the Flashpoint had that Kid Flash mini where he got trapped in there, and thought he died. One thing I think people should think about is that… in DCU: Rebirth, when Wally came out of the Speed Force he was wearing a Kid Flash costume. Here we’re in the same thing, he’s coming out wearing his Impulse costume. To me he’s still Impulse but that’s a whole other thing.
I’m really excited about it, man. It’s super surreal. There was a moment where… I never told a soul, but I was in the office the week that this was going to print, and I would walk by someone’s desk and they would have a printout of just that splash page. And I would just be like, ‘Oh my god, put it away!’ I was so nervous I didn’t want to even see it, like I would stare at it. Even when the page came in… Howard [Porter] drew that awesome splash page of him and I was just like, ‘there’s no way that this is gonna happen.’
Williamson explains that he “can’t get too deep into it” in regards to Bart’s larger story, since he’s currently missing from the announced DC books and artwork (despite his return being a fairly significant event, one would assume). Still, Bart’s return isn’t made lightly, and as a fan of the character himself, Williamson’s words should assure readers that Bart Allen is in good hands:
I started reading Flash during like, right after Born To Run but during Return of Barry Allen. That’s my favorite Flash story of all time. Right after that, about a year-ish after Return of Barry Allen they introduced Bart. I was about the same age, I was like thirteen, fourteen years old and I was a hyper little kid, or hyper teenager, and I freaking loved Bart. And I’ve missed him, you know?
In my 20s I became a Wally fan, and now as an adult, you know, I’m a Barry fan. But I still miss Bart. It was funny because I had these conversations over the last two years would come up of whether I was going to be able to use him or not…. It was one of my dreams for FLASH WAR to be able to bring Bart back, that was a big part of it. To have this idea of being able to put him in the book, have a plan for him.
There’s some fun stuff coming with him. I can’t get too deep into explaining it, I don’t know when it’s going to be announced, the stuff with him. But yeah there’s really a lot of cool stuff, I think fans of him will be happy.
Stay tuned for more teases of the past, present, and future of The Flash(es) from our full Josh Williamson interview.
The Flash #50 is available now from DC Comics.