Who is the Flash? Following the events of INFINITE CRISIS, Wally West is no longer the Fastest Man Alive. Instead, former Kid Flash Bart Allen has taken up the mantle, but why is Bart suddenly much older than he was before?
Bart has been aged since the Crisis and tries to live a normal life without using the Speed Force but when his friend's life is in danger, will that still be possible?
In the midst of a mighty lightning storm Keystone City is almost lifeless, it is one year later. A Department of Homeland Security vehicle followed by a van marked as HAZARDOUS drive through the streets. Inside the first vehicle sits a man smoking a cigarette.
He asks the driver how much longer they have to haul these explosives, cause doing it makes him nervous. The driver tells him to quit his whining because he’s getting hazard pay, which should be enough money to make him satisfied with the job.
The driver suddenly turns to his left as light enters his eyes, the headlights of an oncoming truck traveling at high speeds, “Where’d he come from??!!” The man shouts only to be hit, both vehicles being completely demolished, leaving no survivors.
Inside the truck a man speaks, “The first casualties of the next war. MY WAR.”
Through the burning carnage a red streak appears, it is Jay Garrick who thinks to himself, ‘The Speed Force may be gone forever, but I’m a metahuman - I’m still the fastest man alive.’
As the truck still drives at high speeds Jay Garrick struggles to keep up as without the Speed Force there is a finite limit to his speed. As Garrick reaches the door of the truck he opens it to see a simple mechanism is driving the truck, the truck soon crashes and comes to a halt. Inside a beaut-up jeep drives the man whose face is disguised through the use of a simple mask, the man who plans on building a bomb.
The story then shifts to a segment of Flash’s origin:
Before Bart Allen there were three, three that had been doused in chemicals that granted them superhuman speed beyond reckoning. Jay Garrick had found the love of his life on the job, Joan Williams, and because of his secret they were married in short order and still loving of each other she has always kept her husband’s secret.
Yet even though they were both extremely happy, Jay never felt truly complete until Wally brought him a son, Bart. And like his predecessors he too took up the mantle of the Flash, a title of honor. Keystone City put up statues, monuments and even a museum up in honor of Garrick, West and Allen…but they do all that for the fallen heroes as well.
Years later, during Infinite Crisis, Bart is surrounded by the Speed Force looking back at Jay he shouts, “You said you’d never leave!” their clasp hands become too strained, “Bart…I…can’t…keep…up!” and as Jay is left behind, Bart is absorbed into the Speed Force.
Back in the present day, Bart tosses and turns in his bed throughout the night saying, "NO!"
His roommate, Griffin Grey, turns on the lights, awakening Bart who had slept through his alarm. Griffin announces what's for breakfast and then tells Bart that it is almost seven.
This is important cause if they lose pay at their job again, the check for the rent will bounce. Bart swiftly gets dressed when Griffin asks him, "That was quite a thrash you had goin' on...what are you running from, man?"
Later that morning the two arrive at Keystone Motors, walking past a line of picket sign holding peoples. Bart mentions some stats and reasons these men are striking but Griffin merely laughs it off saying the men are "old and in the way".
A man then grabs him from behind and confronts him about the words saying that he has been working there for 24 years and how robots are taking away jobs. Bart is horrified at this fight but before it can escalate, Thatcher's friend tells him to leave the dumbass kid alone.
Inside the factory, Bart tries to lecture Griffin, saying that Thatcher lost his house and his wife and kids left him. Griff says he understands but he was just angry and besides, their time has past.
Bart argues that they built the Phoenix Roadster, a work of art, and for it they deserve at least a small amount of respect.
Griff says in response that he was raised by his grandparents and that as soon as school ended he left immediately cause they were just "too damned old" to do him any good. He then asks Bart if he understands what he means by that.
To which Bart replies that he doesn't, cause he was taken in by the Garrick's, who were easily old enough to be his grandparents. Yet they helped him through some hard times and he's still close to them.
Griffin smiles at Bart, "You're just confused, Allen. But tonight -- we'll get you stupid."
In S.T.A.R. Labs a young black-haired woman named Valerie Perez talks to her superior, Dr. McGee and says that she can't find Bart's test results.
She is then told it is because Bart has stopped returning their calls and blocked their e-mail. Valerie is surprised that Bart would not want to know how he was sixteen and in an instant aged four years.
Dr. McGee tells her that Bart doesn't seem to care at the present moment and they shouldn't either cause the real issue is the Speed Force...what has become of it? She finishes by saying that Bart will be left alone, and that Valerie should use up her energy to accomplish something else. Valerie is to stay clear of him, he has lost everything and the best that can be done for him is to find the Speed Force, in her opinion at least.
Valerie Perez watches as Dr. McGee leaves and then says to herself, "Maybe there's nothing you can do, Dr. McGee. But Kid Flash is no longer a kid -- and it happened overnight."
At a club, Bart and Griffin watch as some scantily-clad women start to get intimate together and Griffin tries to assure Bart that they're not lesbian, and that they are simply trying to turn the guys on.
Griffin then says he's going to go get a girl and that Bart should watch him at work. So the two make a toast and Griffin is already with a girl before Bart can down his shot.
The two then approach Bart and Griffin asks that Bart not come home for another three hours. Bart wonders what he should do for three hours and Griffin tells him "Score, brother. It's time for you to score. And have another drink..."
The strikers at the car manufacturing plant stand outside the building through the night. A man on the phone speaks to the others telling them that it sounds like they will be going back to negotiating.
The group is excited and as Thatcher begins to walk off a man shouts to him, "Hey, Thatcher! Management wants to talk!"
He mutters to himself, "Talk is cheap." Thatcher continues to his car where he opens the trunk only to reveal the mask of the criminal who escaped Jay Garrick the items he had stolen.
Bart walks alone through the crowded bar thinking to himself. Remembering how last year, when he was sixteen, to enter a place this would be unattainable. But now, it meant nothing to him.
He thought of himself as pathetic when he realized that the entire San Fransisco Library existed within his head but he needed girl advice from The Griffin. The thoughts drift off as he wonders what's on at the multiplex.
Many years ago, Barry Allen's legacy had its beginnings. Struck by a lightning bolt, granted a special red suit and with it the superhuman abilities that granted him the nickname "Scarlet Speedster", a title he eventually came to enjoy.
He became a hero, using his powers to help others despite his own fears, seeing to it that the needs of others came first. He managed to keep control of two lives, Barry Allen and The Flash yet he found himself unprepared for the rage of the criminals.
And it was too late by the time he learned of the full brutality of these psychopaths and is unprepared when they kill his innocent wife, Iris Allen West.
But he was given a second chance and so he and Iris were reborn in the far future where their children both lived and died. And where their only grandson, Bart Allen was born.
Yet Bart returned during the Crisis of Infinite Earths to perform his duties. Yet after that, the Black Flash caught up with him and he returned to the Speed Force.
Valerie Perez walks the streets, alone. She takes out her phone to see the message, "MISS YOU" displayed. She angrily speaks to the person on the other side telling them to leave her alone and never call her again...it doesn't matter who they are.
She then arrives at an apartment building and the door she comes to is opened by none other than Griffin Grey.
He goes to Bart's room, exclaiming how proud he is, that Bart hooked up with a girl and has her coming back for me.
But what he sees when he opens his roommates door causes him to speak out, "Bart?...What the Hell?"
Griffin exclaims his amazement at Bart when he sees that his roommate really does learn fast, looking at the room which is completely in disarray. Bart is confused and tries to correct his friend but Griffin continues speaking, "You two musta broke the bed. Please tell me there's video--!"
Valerie apologizes for busting in on Bart like this, its just he hasn't been returning any of her calls. Bart is even more confused than before and asks her what calls she's talking about and asks who she is.
Griffin whispers his advice to Bart, telling him that why should it matter who she is, she's a babe and she's in his room. So Griffin leaves the two alone and Valerie Perez introduces herself to Bart.
She then shows him her I.D. which reveals her to be a staff member at S.T.A.R. Labs.
Bart is initially surprised but tells her, "You must be new. I'm out of that business."
Valerie looks at Bart's messy room and asks him if it was a nightmare that caused this. He brushes the question off by saying that it was just a party that got out of hand but she doesn't believe him.
She confronts him and tells him that he has avoided S.T.A.R. Labs for months now so she asks Bart, "What are you running from?"
Bart quickly becomes defensive and tells Ms. Perez that he is no longer Kid Flash, he no longer needs to run from anything. He finally has achieved his wish of being normal...there is nothing wrong with him Bart adamantly states.
She tells him that she ever insinuated anything was wrong with him she was solely wondering why he was avoiding them to which he says he hasn't even seen her before so how could he avoid her.
It becomes evident that Bart plans on remaining argumentative so she explains her motives to him. She is an intern and simply wishes to help out Bart Allen (not Kid Flash) as she assumes it must have been hard to have skipped four years of life.
Bart tells her the Speed Force is gone, as is Wally, now Jay Garrick is the Flash and he just wants to be left alone, to live out his years as a normal human being.
Later, at Keystone Motors, Griffin continues to congratulate Bart on his women skills and says Bart will likely be teaching him soon. Bart thinks that's doubtful but does say Valerie was pretty cool.
In the Central Control Room, the masked "terrorist" we know to be Thatcher is seen readying an explosive device.
Griffin then questions Bart of her occupation and he tells him that she is a Headhunter for a major research firm. Griffin makes a joke about this and in laughter Bart says, "You kill me...maybe that's why I keep you around."
Back in the Control Room, Thatcher mutters to himself, "Time to destroy the beast that's destroying us...blood and fire."
Griffin and Bart still laugh with one another somewhere else in the plant when Griffin asks how Valerie was in the bed. Bart, amidst chuckles says that he just met her and so hasn't slept with her.
A ring sounds and to the surprise of the two unsuspecting friends the bomb goes off and a massive explosion throws Bart and Griffin several meters in a blast of flame.
An injured Bart is on his palms and knees staring at a heap of pipes and lasers, all surrounding a trapped Griffin.
Griff screams in pain, as lasers cut the pipes trapping him and cause them to pour harmful fluids all over his face. Griffin cries out, "HELP ME! Someone...please!"
A war rages in Bart's mind when he decides he must risk using his powers, as it is his friend in a life-endangering position.
Bart's eyes glow as they emanate the Speed Force and energy begins pouring from his body. Either he will control the Speed Force or it will control him.
The power soon becomes too much and Bart shouts out, "NOOOOOOOOO!!!" as the limitless energy begins to completely hide Bart from view.
The exploding carnage continues to brutally harm Griffin as he remains trapped, he screams out for Bart to help him, or anyone for that matter.
His rescue comes in the form of none other than the Flash, running at blurring speeds. But this is not Bart, rather it is Jay Garrick out to save an innocent civilian.
Yet he looks up to see Bart, whose body is pulsing with electricity, Jay asks if Bart is alright. Bart tells him that he will be, but right now Jay has to get Griffin to the hospital.
Jay seems hesitant and is confused about the Speed Force taking over Bart as it shouldn't exist. But Bart pleads with Jay to go...as he runs Jay looks at Bart and tells him, "We have to talk."
Bart screams allowed in pain as the Speed Force seems to only get stronger, shredding most of his clothing. Yet in his mind his willpower controls all as he tells himself, "The Speed Force must NEVER again be trapped. NEVER!" His eyes are glowing as a final thought races through his mind, "I'm not going to let it kill me."
TO BE CONTINUED...