I feel like I should have known.
I honest-to-goodness should have known something bad was going to happen after Wally West made his return in the last Justice League of American trade. There can’t be two Flashes. There can only be one (Jay Garrick doesn’t count, primarily because his costume’s different, I guess? Also, because you just can’t kill Jay Garrick).
With Wally West’s return, that clearly meant something was going to change. I never would have suspected that it would be the death of poor Bart Allen. After all, we’ve already seen the death of one Flash. How many can they kill???
The story builds slowly. Picking up where the previous Flash trade left off, Bart is trying to settle into his life in L.A. He finds out his romantic interest Val was kidnapped by her villainous father, so he bursts in to rescue her. They begin dating, and he enrolls at the police academy to study to be a forensic scientist like his grandfather, Barry. Sadly, this idyllic setting doesn’t last for long.
Bart’s evil twin Inertia (somehow it sounds so much cornier than it ever comes across in the comic) gathers together a handful of the Rogues, promising them riches and glory by stopping time. Of course, Inertia has plans of his own; primarily, to remove the speed force from Bart and take it on for himself. While all of this is happening, Bart has a run-in with his grandmother Iris, who informs him that she knows the outcome of future events, and is trying to protect Bart.
Although the reader isn’t informed of exactly what’s going to happen, it’s clear Bart is in danger. Unfortunately, he plunges headfirst into action, determined to save innocent lives. Inertia’s plan works, and Bart loses his speedster powers. At this time, the Rogues beat up on him pretty badly, and with no way to defend himself or rapidly heal, Bart succumbs to his injuries.
Rightfully spooked and even a little remorseful, the Rogues flee. We’re met with a series of images in which various people hear the news, each more heartbreaking than the last.
Then, enter Wally.
He rushes to the scene and Iris quickly fills him in, explaining that Inertia was behind Bart’s death. Angry and out for revenge, Wally tracks down Inertia and carries him across the world. To the end though, Inertia is a smug little jerk.
I want to wring his little neck.
Wally considers murdering Inertia for what he did, but decides that’s too good for him, and instead freezes his body, but not his mind. Inertia is trapped in the Flash museum, completely immobile but fully aware of his surroundings and the passing of time. It doesn’t really matter though. The damage is done; Bart is gone.
I never really expected Bart to ever die. One speedster already gave his life for the cause, I never thought they’d take another. The uniform really doesn’t carry very good luck. It’s especially sad given how young Bart was, and how brief his time as the Flash was. I can always hope that he’ll come back somehow, especially because the next book I’m reading is called Countdown to FInal Crisis, so obviously there’s yet another crisis in my future. Maybe this will shake up continuity and Bart will be brought back; then again, maybe not. He wasn’t the most enduring Flash, but I think he did the title proud, and I’m going to miss reading about him.