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Comic Book / Impulse

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My name is Bart. I hope my spelling's okay. I just learned to write this morning ...
Bart Allen, Impulse #1

Impulse is the title of a DC book by Mark Waid, Ethan Van Sciver, Humberto Ramos and Wayne Faucher featuring the speedster Bart Allen that ran from 1995 until its cancellation in 2002.

Barry Allen's grandson from the future is in the present to stay and he's sent to live with Max Mercury, formerly known as the speedster hero Quicksilver, in Alabama for guidance and guardianship. He enrolls in school where it quickly becomes apparent that being raised by virtual reality has not prepared him for interacting with real people, nor studying in such an environment. Bart manages to find some fast and loyal friends regardless of the inadvertent destruction he tends to leave in his wake and learns to get by in the modern age even if he never tries to fit in. He also ends up time traveling to other periods rather often during his adventures as Impulse.

For the character see The Flash – The Flashes. For the second Impulse see The Flash – Other Speedsters.


  • 10-Minute Retirement: Bart decides to retire as Impulse in 78 after the trauma of having to fight on Apokolips and leave his girlfriend in the future sour the whole superhero concept for him, and is back in the suit by the end of 79.
  • Alliance of Alternates: Bart teams up with his future self to fight President Thawne.
  • Backwards-Firing Gun: An issue guest-starring The Riddler featured said Crown Prince of Conundrums with a revolver rigged to shoot backward.
  • The Cameo: Issue 78 has cameos from Superman, Supergirl, Big Barda, Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl, Starfire, Stargirl, Tempest, Doctor Mid-Nite, Green Lantern, Plastic Man, Nightwing, Joan Garrick, Jay Garrick, Captain Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr.
  • Chained to a Railway: The cover of issue 70, in which Bart's friends make a fan-video about Impulse, features Carol tied to some railway tracks with an approaching train being raced by Bart and Mike who are both dressed as Impulse.
  • Character Title: Impulse is Bart's costumed name as well as the title of the work.
  • Charm Person: The villain White Lightning can charm people, mostly men, to do her bidding.
  • Christmas Episode: In which Bart irritates Plastic Man and accidentally helps the villain (Mxyzptlk, who has made a Santa Bot) before things are explained to him. He receives a puppy from Max and Helen.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Sadly the Impulse supporting cast soon vanished after his book ended, most notably Bart Allen's best friend Preston and love interest Carol. Much to fans' displeasure, one line in Geoff Johns' Teen Titans had Bart suggest it was Wonder Girl who got him to like girls, rather than mentioning Carol or even Arrowette (another crush of his). Bart's dog Dox was also never seen again or mentioned by any later writers.
  • Color Character: White Lightning. Green Cigarette, yes really.
  • Cool Big Sis: She appears only briefly, but Jesse Quick was this to Bart, as often as he annoyed her.
  • Confronting Your Imposter: When Inertia takes Bart's place and tries to kill Max in the Speed Force Bart manages to catch up to them. He doesn't actually win the fight but Thad is disturbed by how he refuses to stay down and his angry realization that he doesn't have anyone who cares so deeply for him causes him to throw the fight and leave, after which Bart is able to restore Max's powers.
  • Covers Always Lie: Issue 31 shows Bart eating popcorn while watching Max punch a transformed Dr. Molo while the blurb cheekily reads: "In this issue of Impulse absolutely nothing like this scene happens!"
  • Crossover:
    • Bart tries to help out Zatanna with her magic show in issue 19, only to annoy her so much she accidentally sends him to another dimension trying to get him to just let her work.
    • The Legion of Super-Heroes shows up in #21 looking for their missing member XS (Bart's cousin who'd been staying with him) or how she got back to the future, only to find that she's gone and Bart doesn't know how to get them home.
    • "Lessons in Fear" features Superman showing up and helping out, while he was in his "must use my powers at all times to their fullest extent phase". Max had to explain to Bart how unhealthy this could be when Bart considered taking a page out of Supe's book.
    • In issue 50 Imp goes to Gotham to play an April Fool's joke on Robin but ends up coming across Batman fighting the Joker and stops to help instead.
    • Imp and Max visit Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. for issue 61, and Max chats with Wildcat at the JSA headquarters as well.
    • The Justice Leauge and the JSA attend a party for Max in issue 67.
    • Green Lantern Kyle Rayner and Adam Strange feature in issues 68 and 69.
    • With Young Justice for the Our Worlds at War event which plays out across the DCU.
  • Doppelgänger Attack: Bart's speed clones can attack and interact with things on their own before they merge back with the original.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Bart and his cousin Jenni Ognats/XS, who stops by for about four issues, are speedsters from the future who don't understand modern society very well, and even have to learn English to communicate.
  • First Kiss: Carol gives Bart his first kiss when he hits the game winning run for their baseball team.
  • Ghost Story: When Bart goes camping with Preston and Wade they sit around the campfire and tell ghost stories, though Bart's attempt is interrupted by actual ghosts.
  • Hammerspace: Villain Pocket Pal's power is his pocket dimension which he grabs things out of.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: Bart has a pet Jack Russell Terrier named Dox.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Johhny Quick sacrifices himself to save Jesse.
  • High-School Dance: Bart takes Cissie (Arrowette) to a school dance to get her mind off the fact that she almost killed someone for revenge.
  • In-Series Nickname: Bart's mother Meloni calls him Sunshine for his yellow eyes and sunny, bright personality.
  • Lighter and Softer: Despite the page image here, this series was more of a cartoon compared to the other comics at the same time.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: Inertia traps Bart back in the VR program he was raised in while Max is dying in order to carry out his plan to murder the older speedster, but Bart is able to remember his life outside virtual reality and break out to save his mentor.
  • Official Couple: Bart and Carol.
  • Parental Substitute: Max Mercury, Bart's mentor and guardian, comes to view Bart as a son and is uniquely qualified to take care of Bart as a fellow speedster.
  • Parents as People: Preston's mother has mental issues which have turned Preston's home life downright abusive, but its clear she needs help and things take a turn for the better once she gets it.
  • Passionate Sports Girl: Carol is very fond of baseball, and is even on the school team despite the rest of the players being boys.
  • Phonýmon: Imp plays "Poxy Monsters" on what is obviously a Game Boy. The most prominent monster is a blue Pikachu look alike called "Peekaboo".
  • Population Control: Bart and Carol travel to the future to try to prevent President Thawne from using Carol's future invention to kill off most of the population of earth which he considers to be overpopulated.
  • Power Incontinence: When Max starts losing his connection to the Speed Force it makes him fatally ill.
  • Promotion to Parent: Carol is being raised by her older brother Bobby since their parents were killed in a car accident.
  • Pull the Thread: When Inertia impersonates Bart nearly everyone takes note of how different and more responsible (and less fun) he's behaving but puts it down to it being his reaction to his mentor's state as Max is dying at the time. Carol doesn't quite buy it and after playing along while doing her own research is able to discover Bart has been replaced.
  • Rogues' Gallery Transplant:
    • One issue had Impulse having to deal with The Riddler note , who Bart kept confusing for other villains.
    • The Green Cigarette, believe it or not, was an incredibly minor character in Peter Milligan's Animal Man run. In a story that took place in an alternate universe. A villainous version of the character appears to bedevil Bart a couple of times.
  • Secret-Keeper: In addition to the rest of The Flash family being aware of Bart's id his close school friends Preston Lindsay and Carol Bucklen also learn of it.
  • Sex Sells: The concept is called out and lampshaded on the cover of issue 83 where Bart and some of his speed clones are standing around behind a woman with a bared midriff reading comics and saying "Nice cover! Pretty girl on the inside! Hey! It's this issue's villain!"
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Bart protests that his feelings for Carol are just those of friendship, and by the next issue is willing to steal a time machine to save her because he loves her and has stopped trying to play it off.
  • Shout-Out:
    • " Wow. They're gone. Just like 'Seinfeld.'"
    • Preston and Wade talk about the new "Christian Tarenturro" movie "Pulp Dogs".
  • Speed Echoes: The images of Bart left in his wake as he travels faster than light develop into Speed Clones who can act on their own for a bit before merging back with the original who then gains their memories after he's hit by a ray that's meant to (fatally) connect the victim to the Speed Force, but hadn't been used on anyone who already had a connection to it.
  • Surprise Incest: Helen is in for a shock when she learns to guy she's been flirting with is actually her time-traveling father.
  • Surprise Party: Max decides to throw Bart a surprise birthday party and has to get Jesse Quick to help keep Bart from finding out what's going on due to Bart's nosiness.
  • Sweet Home Alabama: Bart was sent to live in Manchester, Alabama (which is real, despite what Impulse #1 claims) with his mentor Max Mercury (Max specifically chose it for reasons made clear in issue 16). This is deliberate; the series is based off Mark Waid's childhood in the South.
  • Telepathy: Twin sisters Shantay and Shanela Williams who attend Bart's highschool have the ability to project thoughts into other people's minds, one of them takes to using this ability to torment those around her while her sister helps Bart put a stop to her cruelty.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Bart's hyperactivity drives the Riddler absolutely batty because he isn't playing by his rules.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: Bart is going to school while he's not acting as Impulse, not that he pays much attention to anything the teachers there might be saying.
  • What Would X Do?: Bart tries to improve his hero work by asking himself what Flash would do, he's not always excelent at coming up with an answer without being sidetracked though
    "This is so going to work! I just want to make one little change … not, 'What would Superman do.' I'm going to ask myself … 'What would the Flash do?' I feel gooder already."
  • William Telling: The cover of issue 28 shows Arrowette shooting at a watermelon on Impulse's head, with her arrows implanted all around him and stuck everywhere but the melon.