The Flash is already faster than anyone in DC Comics, but before Bart Allen aka Impulse took on the role, he was DC’s most powerful magical hero too!
The Speed Force champion known as Impulse is a character that eventually holds the iconic mantle of the Flash, and in a story from Impulse’s solo series, this speedster receives a magical upgrade that turns him into the most powerful hero in DC Comics. Impulse may be just as fast as the Flash, but the Flash has got nothing on Impulse’s control over the mystical arts.
Happening in 2002’s Impulse #86 and continued in Impulse #87, by Todd Dezago and Carlo Barberi, Bart Allen aka Impulse, hits the ground running as he does his best to protect the Justice League from some cosmic mischief cooked up by the Superman villain, Mr. Mxyzptlk. Helping Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, and the rest of the League send Mxyzptlk safely back to his dimension, readers are given a surprising reason for how Impulse could possibly carry out these feats with ease: he’s magical!
Soon revealed that Impulse sent speed copies of himself back in time to thwart a Young Justice villain named Bedlam via intercepting his mystical powers before he even acquires them, Bart Allen returns to a new world where everything he can think of instantly becomes reality. Realizing that he has the potential to fix far more problems around the world than he ever could as a regular speedster, Impulse begins to adjust reality as he sees fit, turning him into DC’s most powerful hero, but at an unintentional and unacceptable cost.
Declared to be “The Most Powerful Hero In The Universe” right on the cover of Impulse #86, the story inside goes on to show that the more Impulse changes reality, the more the unintended consequences of his actions push his vision of a perfect world toward ruin. Slowly corrupted by the omnipotent magical power that Bart could feasibly use to take down Superman (having a weakness to magic must suck!), Impulse is met by a cosmic being known as the Phantom Stranger and ends up holding his own in a brief scuffle with the guy before relinquishing his magicks for the betterment of the reality he has inadvertently created.
Though it’s true the way Impulse goes about using his magic might have been innocent enough at first, his judgment never ends up matching the level of influence he holds as a mystical being, showing that while this one-time Flash meant well, being DC’s most powerful hero for even the shortest of moments wasn’t actually all it cracked up to be. And while this isn’t the first time a Flash Family member has royally screwed up reality (Flashpoint and the ramifications of that event immediately comes to mind), Impulse is at least able to reset things in a way that doesn’t bring about a new DC Universe, while simultaneously learning a valuable lesson about power and responsibility along the way.
So even though this Young Justice member eventually makes the right call by returning his stolen magic from whence it came, seeing Impulse become an all-powerful sorcerer is a nerd moment that was fun while it lasted. Impulse may already be one of the most iconic speedsters in comics, but when it comes to all things mystical, this future Flash has it on lock as well!
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