As the current “Flashpoint” event series races through the summer and barreling towards the impending September relaunch of DC Comics’ entire superhero line, dozens of characters are laying claim to new lives. In the alternate world of “Flashpoint,” heroes have turned villain, characters who were dead have returned to life and new faces have arrived on the scene.
But in the setting Barry “The Flash” Allen has found himself in, one other hero has somehow managed to recall the DC Universe that was: Barry’s grandson Bart “Kid Flash” Allen. And starting this week, readers can follow the teen speedster’s adventures in the world of “Flashpoint” in the pages of the three-issue “Flashpoint: Kid Flash Lost.” Of course, Bart’s journey into the new world is quite a different one from his grandpa’s.
CBR News spoke with writer Sterling Gates, who, after years of attempting to but not quite lining up the perfect Kid Flash writing gig, is headlining this new series with artist Oliver Nome. Gates explained how today’s issue #1 will send Bart to the future of Flashpoint as he juggles the fate of the Flash Family with the secrets behind villain Hot Pursuit and the qualities that make Kid Flash a unique and memorable superhero in his own right.
CBR News: Sterling, making your way to writing Bart Allen seems to have been a long road whose travel time may have driven the character a bit crazy by now if he’d had to deal with it. With the full picture of what “Flashpoint” is coming into focus and how the relaunch is developing, fans are getting a better idea of why we didn’t see the two of you together sooner. Generally speaking, what’s it like to get to the point where you’re working with Kid Flash? Have any of the ideas or concepts you had for the character when you hoped to write him worked their way into this book, or is this a pretty much entirely new thing?
Sterling Gates: Well, “Kid Flash Lost” is more or less a completely new thing.
I first pitched a Kid Flash series in 2007 to DC, and then pitched one again in late 2009 or early 2010. There was talk about moving it forward at that point, but ultimately the book never came to pass. DC called me a few months ago when they were getting “Flashpoint” up and running and said they had a miniseries they wanted me to write. “Great,” I said, “What is it?” “We’re calling it Kid Flash L–.” “I’m in! I’m in! If it’s Kid Flash, I’m one thousand percent in.” And we went from there.
But yes, a lot of the ideas I have about Bart as a character have been in my head since 2007. The plot and how it ties into “Flashpoint” is all new, though, and “Flashpoint” architect Geoff Johns and the wonderful Joey Cavalieri have both been making sure it stays true to the spirit of “Flashpoint” while still being my own story.
What’s your personal connection to Bart? You seem right around the age (as I am) where the original Waid/Ramos series would’ve been around during your teenage years. Did you follow the character back then? What kind of impression did he leave on you as a reader and eventually as a writer?
My personal connection to Bart grew out of my personal connection to Wally West. I was a fan of the Flash in the early 90’s, but eventually dropped out of reading comics altogether to focus on playing guitar. My father passed away in 1998, and my family decided it was time to shutter my parents’ comic book store and sell all of the stock. But before we did that, I went through and pulled all the books I wanted to keep out of the back issues. That’s where I discovered Mark Waid’s Wally West-Flash run.
I was a teenage kid trying to come to grips with the fact that I’d just lost my father, and there in the pages of a comic book, I found a twenty-something superhero dealing with the fact that his father figure was gone while struggling to live up to his name. It struck a huge chord in me, and I can honestly say that reading about Wally coming to grips with losing Barry helped me deal with losing my dad. From that point on, I had to collect every appearance of Wally West. Which lead me to Bart.
Bart Allen appeals to me at a more base level. Bart’s a kid from the future who grew up in a virtual reality/video game environment and moves at super speed. C’mon, that’s just cool! He’s instinct and impulse and movement wrapped up in a teenager from the future. Bart goes with the first thought in his head — something I’ve always been guilty of doing — and he loves his friends. He enjoys being a hero, hanging out with his friends and loving every minute of it. And I find him to be hilarious.
Mark and Humberto Ramos did a great run at the start of the Bart Allen-focused “Impulse” series, making Bart identifiable and warm and funny even as Bart explored the modern era alongside his time-traveling mentor, Max Mercury. I always thought it was interesting that the time-traveling speedster from the future got paired up with the time-traveling speedster from the past. Max and Bart contrast and reflect one another, which makes their relationship so fun.
Of course, the Bart we have now is a bit of a different guy than the super spaz he was when introduced. Did you find it hard to balance the various aspects of his personality as you sent Kid Flash through this crisis?
No way. Bart’s a lot like all of us. He’s got many, many different layers to his personality, and each one comes out as a reaction to what’s happening about him.
Geoff Johns did an incredible job of “maturing” Bart in “Teen Titans” when he transitioned Bart from Impulse to Kid Flash. That felt like the most natural switchover to me. Geoff made Bart feel like a teenager who had some hard things happen to him, so he grew up a little bit. He’s still the funny, fun-loving character we know and love, but a little bit older and wiser.
I wanted to celebrate all things Bart Allen with this miniseries, as a hero and as a member of the Flash Family. I mean, I figured “Why not?” They might never let me write Kid Flash again!
The big hook for this story is two-fold: first, Bart is the only person outside of Barry who remains himself in the world of Flashpoint, and second is the fact that he’s landed in the future of that alternate reality rather than in the present Barry is facing in the main series. Tackling the former first, Bart’s knowledge of the “real” DCU seems to be an important wrinkle, not just for your story, but for the event as a whole. How does that fact impact the rest of the series both in terms of his quest and in terms of how we’ll move out of this book and into the future of the Flash franchise?
Well, I can’t say how it will impact Bart as we move out of “Flashpoint.” You’ll have to ask Francis and Brian! [Laughs] Within the “Flashpoint” context, though, it’s vitally important that Bart deals not only with his memories, but with some of Barry’s, too. How’s that for cryptic?
All right, then! As for our future setting, I assume this is because Bart’s point of origin is in the future. And for as much as we’ve learned about Bart over the decades, we still don’t know much about his time in virtual reality before Iris brought him back to the present. Will you be playing with any of those elements?
“Kid Flash Lost” is set firmly in the Flashpoint Universe’s future. It’s vastly different from the future Bart was raised in, a fact that Bart and Hot Pursuit deal with in a big way. Let’s just put it this way, someone pulled them to the specific time and place where they end up.
Let’s talk about the rest of the Flash family! Since “Rebirth” there’s been a lot of justifiable focus on Barry and his life returning to the DCU, but fans have been asking after the entire scope of the crew — particularly Wally West — since then as well. How much of this series for you was digging into those characters as a whole and determining their fates?
Of all the members of the Flash Family, the focus here is on Bart and Hot Pursuit and to some degree, Max Mercury. The other speedsters in the Flash Family are present, and we see what happens to them in the Flashpoint Universe, but those three are the most active across the miniseries.
As for their fates, well, it’s the Flashpoint Universe. How I feel about these characters and what happens to them aren’t necessarily the same thing — which sounds pretty ominous, doesn’t it? [Laughs] Oh, and we’ll also learn a lot about Hot Pursuit, but to say anything more would spoil it!
OK, here’s one of those obvious questions that I know is hard for you to answer, but it’s also one I can’t avoid asking. People are wondering how much of the Flash family will survive into the new DC Universe in September. Are there any ways in which this series is serving as a bridge to how we’ll see the whole franchise take shape in the fall?
Well, I don’t know if DC wants me to say this, but “Kid Flash Lost” is essentially my love letter to the Flash Family. Reading Mark Waid’s run on “Flash” helped me to keep going during one of the worst times in my life, so to use Bart Allen to say how I feel about the Flash just felt right. I’m really proud of how the series turned out, especially issue three.
Your artist, Oliver Nome, seems to be coming to this project with a lot of affinity for teen heroes and the DC teens in general (I’ve been scoping his DeviantART page). How has he matched your take on Bart’s personality in his pencils, and what other aspects of the series are you most excited for him to work up?
Oliver Nome’s art is dynamic as hell. His super speed stuff, his design work, his action — he’s risen to every challenge I’ve thrown at him with this book and completely blown me away. There’s a kinetic energy to his pencils that I find really interesting, and I think people are going to be very, very impressed with his work. Especially after they see his take on Bart Allen. It’s pretty awesome.
Overall, you’ve got an awful lot of story points, characters and ideas on your plate for a three-issue mini series. When all is said and done, what do you hope to contribute to Bart Allen and the Flash legacy as a whole?
I just wanted to tell an exciting and emotionally-driven Kid Flash solo story! Bart’s a great member of the Flash Family, and he deserved to have a compelling and interesting story within “Flashpoint.” He’s someone I think a lot of readers identify with, and I hope everyone enjoys how I wrote him within the series.
I mean, c’mon, who wouldn’t want to write a Bart Allen miniseries? Kid Flash is awesome, and he’s got one of the coolest costumes in comic books. Kid Flash FACT!
DC Comics’ “Flashpoint: Kid Flash Lost” #1 is in comic shops today