I still remember the day I met Bart Allen. I was about 14 years old, at the local chain bookstore, browsing through their section of trades, looking for something to spend my gift card on. I had recently begun collecting comics (as opposed to just reading the ones my brother picked up), and I was looking for some good jumping in places.
I was looking at a Spider-Man trade when I spotted this goofy looking boy with big hair and bigger feet shoving the Flash aside. I had to know who this guy was, so I picked up the trade and began reading the Forward. I was a couple pages in when I spotted a familiar name.
Christopher Priest was the creator of the Super Hero Comedy 'Quantum and Woody', which I loved. I thought 'If Priest likes this Impulse guy, he must be cool.'
I walked out of the store with the goofy boy with the golden eyes, and I never looked back.
I was in love, and surprised to be so. Never before had I encountered a DC hero that appealed to me the way Bart did (and still does!). 'Impulse' became the first DC book anyone in my family regularly collected (the second being Garth Ennis' 'Hitman'). Until then, it had all been Marvel or Image or Archie Comics (my brother and I were big on 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' until they killed the Mutamals in the early 90's). But reality challenged Bart Allen won me in a way that nobody else ever had, no matter what the company.
I followed him through his self-titled series, the team book 'Young Justice', and as many of his guest appearances as I could find. When both his books met their untimely end, I followed him to Teen Titans… until they turned him into Kid Flash.
I was not pleased with the change. One of the things I loved about Bart was that while he tried to live up to the Flash Legacy, he was doing it his own way. He made Batman's warning an embodiment of the forces of good. He hadn't been drowned in the history of his ancestors. But now he had.
It took me a while, but I eventually came back to Bart. I had to forgive the cheeky bastard, and my life just wasn't the same without him. I bought the two trades and took a look at his new adventures… and I kind of like them (even if the costume is fugly!)
No matter what costume he wears, he will always be Bart Allen.
But I do miss the thought balloons.
Bart stretched out on the couch, pointing his toes and groaning softly as his knee popped. The TV was, for the moment, set on the local news. Bart was paying it no attention until a picture caught his eye, and made him smile.
"-anniversary of the World Without Grown-Ups Incident-" the anchorman was saying. Bart grinned at the TV as he changed the channel to a re-run of Invader Zim, uttering a single word.