By: Sterling Gates (writer), Oliver Nome (penciller), Trevor Scott (inker), Brian Buccellato (colorist)

The Story: Oh, Bart, you can’t hide anything.  I can see right through you.

The Review: In watching a few episodes of Dexter I noticed that even though the titular lead is one of the most compelling figures in television, very little about the overarching storyline or supporting cast bears enough interest for me to keep watching.  It sort of proves that even if you have a fantastically developed character, if the rest of the material underwhelms, then the piece as a whole can never reach beyond serviceable.

That’s sort of the case with this series, as Gates writes a pretty excellent Kid Flash.  Bart started his existence as a hardcore gamer and television addict, and his portrayal as a geek culture otaku really works as a modern spin on that.  If you count yourself among that particular demographic, you’ll be delighted with his frequent references to definitively nerdy media, like the relatively obscure, “Put me down, Dr. Ball!” (see Robot Chicken cartoon, “Dr. Ball, M.D.”).

On the other hand, Bart is also a much more thoughtful, serious young man than the hyperactive boy he once was as Impulse, so a few gags and lines in this issue come off a little over-the-top.  Bart seizing the Cosmic Motorcycle may be fun as an idea, but in the context of the story and the current incarnation of his character, it seems wildly stupid and kind of pointless, as it steals one of Patty Spivot’s few opportunities to do something useful.

As the only supporting character to this tie-in, Patty really deserves more to do than act the cipher to Bart, but she functions merely as a means for Bart to escape from his predicament.  Why else would she take up Hot Pursuit’s costume and equipment?  Even Gates has a hard time rationalizing her previously adamant decision to involve herself in meta-crime again with her inexplicable, left-field declaration that “I’d found the tools that would let me pursue justice.”

Even setting aside that irresoluble point, Gates also gets saddled with a burdensome plot, one he executes to the best of his ability, but remains stubbornly uninteresting and illogical.  Patty claims the Cosmic Motorcycle took her to this Brainiac-conquered time period, after which she was placed into a hibernation chamber.  The Motorcycle runs on the Speed Force.  So why did Brainic have to “fish” Bart out of the time stream to study the Force when he already had hard equipment and a “temporal anomaly” safe and secured?

And even though Bart’s plan to defeat Brainiac is definitely ingenious and uses his abilities in a very unexpected, interesting way, it also once again opens another gnarly power granted by the Speed Force.  I’m sure future Flash writers will continue to struggle to define, explain, and limit the range of his newfound skill for years to come, especially when coupled with Bart’s already unique speed-reading and memorization talents.

Nome’s youthful, kinetic work is very suitable for a Bart Allen title—if this was still the late 90s and Bart still went by Impulse.  But mostly the art looks exaggerated and silly, hardly the kind of stuff that will get you to take the dramatic events seriously.  Rather than look imposing and horrific, much of the setting winds up looking overdone, the unrestrained, clichéd imaginings of a kid who’s watched too many movies instead of applying his own tastes.

Conclusion: You can easily get onboard with the star character, but not with the story, and ultimately, it’s the latter that really matters.

Grade: C-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – “You stupid monster!  Why did you have to kill her?!”  Um, didn’t you just say why?