Written By Desi LaSalle
Are you a fan of speedsters? I personally have a great affinity for two characters in particular.The first is Wally West, aka The Flash. The second, Bart Allen, aka Impulse. I will talk about Wally another day, but for now we will turn our attention to Impulse. Created by artist Mike Wieringo and writer Mark Waid in 1995, Impulse made his first appearance in the pages of The Flash in issue #92. He was born in the late 30th century, son of Don Allen (son of Barry Allen, current silver age Flash) and Meloni Thawne, daughter of Professor Zoom.
Bart was born with super speedy abilities and traveled to the past to get help from Wally West. What he hoped for was assistance with his condition, a hyper-accelerated metabolism, meaning that he could die at a very young age, of old age of course. Wally proceeds to help Bart cure his condition by making him use his super speed at new levels, shocking his metabolism back to normal. During this time, it is Batman who gives Bart his hero name, calling him ‘Impulse’ due to his reckless nature. Wally, seeing that he could not handle Bart, decides to pass over Bart to the tutelage of the veteran speedster, Max Mercury. Max teaches him about the ‘Speed Force’, and how to use his powers responsibly. It is at this phase of Bart’s comic book career that we see him become a founding member of the team ‘Young Justice’, along with Robin and Superboy. Bart would later go on to join the ‘Teen Titans’
In 1995, Impulse popularity was such that DC gave him his own solo series, lasting a total of 90 issues, with a dose of action and comedy. The character of Impulse goes through an evolution in which we see him not only become Kid-Flash, but eventually The Flash. Impulse’s career didn’t stop there though, he became a major player in the hit series Infinite Crisis. Of all the speedsters, Wally West once said that Impulse is the fastest of all, able to borrow speed from other people and achieve incredible speeds, even matching the speed of light. Along with this, Impulse is perhaps the best speedster at manipulating the Speed Force.
His short temper and impulsive behavior made Bart a fan favorite. His series run was a great mixture of comedy and he had a great costume that was very eye catching. Impulse was a highlight in the Young Justice series and was written very well in his Teen Titans stint. I really think that DC over promoted him far too quickly though, in too many titles, at the same time. Due to this sales suffered. In The New 52, Impulse was changed completely, unfortunately bearing a new name, Bar Torr, with a different origin story behind him. Why change something that worked so well? Impulse was breath of fresh air in the pages of The Flash, Young Justice and Teen Titans series. It is truly a shame. I have to admit, that I still hope to see him appear somewhere in the DC universe. I guess while I wait I will have to turn my attention to the re-appearance of Wally West in the meantime.