Spoilers ahead for this week's The Flash #50.
The original version of Bart Allen has returned to the DCU.
Although Wally West didn't succeed in rescuing his children during "Flash War" - the current Flash storyline by Josh Williamson and Howard Porter - his trip into Hypertime has released the fan-favorite speedster Bart Allen.
The character, who was created in 1994 by Mark Waid and the late Mike Wieringo, was primarily known as Impulse, but also wore the title Kid Flash and, for a brief time, was the Flash. When he was introduced, Bart was Barry's grandson from the future.
The character was replaced when the DC Universe was largely rebooted, launching a "New 52" version of the DCU that included a completely different Bart Allen/Kid Flash.
But this character, because he's wearing his Impulse costume and appears to have jumped out of Hypertime, where past versions of characters were shown to exist, appears to be the original version of Bart.
So how did Bart Allen return? And why didn't Wally get his kids? Let's take a look at spoilers for this week's The Flash #50 to find out what happened…
In the Beginning
The issue kicks off with a flashback moment when a much younger Wally is sad that he lost a race, but Barry is there to comfort him, proud that he didn't use his powers to cheat.
Juxtaposed with the flashback is the modern-day battle between Wally and Barry and Zoom, the latter wearing a Flash costume and, for now, winning the fight.
(They have been fighting since last issue, when Zoom revealed that he had no intention of helping Wally find his children and instead wanted to basically rule time and space while wearing a Flash costume.)
As they fight, Zoom is rattling on about wanting to make better Flashes by making them live through tragedy (his usual motivation for villainy).
Thematically, the issue echoes this idea in the flashback, as Barry tells young Wally that he will learn more from losing than from winning.
(Don't you just hate it when villains are right?)
But Wally doesn't care about any of these lessons right now. He just wants his kids.
He's not getting any information about the children from Zoom, though. The villain begins to use some of the new forces that were unleashed in the last issue.
(Reminder: Earlier in "Flash War," Zoom tricked Barry and Wally into breaking the Force Barrier, unleashing various forces that he can now utilize.)
The Strength Force makes him (surprise!) stronger. And the Sage Force makes him smarter (although the villain's boastful rant sure doesn't seem like it).
Zoom decides he should be the one to fix everything in the past, present and future, rushing off in a flash of lightning. Barry and Wally follow him, determined to stop him from traveling time and really messing up the timeline.
Meanwhile, Iris West and Kid Flash (the other Wally West) is trapped in the 25th Century with Commander Cold of the Renegades (the 25th Century Reverse Flash Task Force). In The Flash #48, the three of them were hit by a Time Wave, as time was apparently erased around them.
They eventually arrived in a sort of stasis that Cold calls "Nowhen."
Cold says Kid Flash has to run them back into the time stream. When the boy questions his own ability, saying he doesn't have a lightning rod the way his mentors do, Iris tells him to just run toward whomever he runs to when he's worried.
Kid Flash grabs their hands and they take off.
The two Flashes are chasing Zoom as he rushes into the Speed Force.
However, that's not his final destination.
Zoom says, "Thanks to you breaking the Force Barrier, I can cross the finish line into -- Hypertime!"
The three characters cross into another realm, where several scenes from past Flash stores are floating around them.
"Here I can pick and choose the reality I want," Zoom says. "All I need is the last force!"
"Wally, I think he's talking about the Still Force!" Barry says.
(The Still Force was just mentioned in Justice League as one of seven forces in the Multiverse, and Lex Luthor is using a baby to unleash it against the Justice League, although this plot point hasn't been explained yet.)
Wally and Barry determine that the Hypertime around them is dying, "another side effect of the break in the Source Wall," Barry announces.
What About the Children?
As Wally and Barry race past scenes from before Flashpoint, there's of course one that features Jai and Irey. Wally freaks out, wanting to save them.
And Barry remembers them. He apologizes to Wally for not remembering before.
The Flashes have to choose: Do they try to save the kids? Or do they continue chasing Zoom? Even Wally realizes that Zoom must be stopped or all reality could disappear, so they race on. "We'll find [the kids] again, I promise," Barry says.
Zoom finally stops, the Flashes right behind him. The villain announces that they've arrived in the 25th Century, which has been erased.
Barry and Wally are worried about Kid Flash, but before they can do anything, Williamson drops a hint about the future.
"You two have no clue about the war that is coming!" Zoom says. "You're unworthy of even fighting in it."
So yeah, we have a Justice League mention (check) and apparently Doomsday Clock mention (check) … or maybe Zoom is talking about some other “war"?
As Zoom tries to crush Wally's skull, he mentions the fact that the two of them were once friends. Wally begins to remember this fact (having forgotten much of his past). His temporal seizure appears to injure Zoom, the memory of their friendship forcing Zoom to let go of Wally.
Barry explains: "Every time you remember something from your past, you have a burst of temporal energy that clashes with your Speed Force connections." Since Hunter's connected to the Speed Force, these events hurt him.
Barry encourages Wally to let go of his guilt about the past and use the temporal energy to attack Zoom. He tells Wally to race ahead and catch up to Zoom, remembering the first time they raced and how he beat Barry even when he was young.
Sure enough, Wally catches up to Zoom. And using a flood of memories about his Flash Family, he knocks them all out of Hypertime.
Barry ends up crashing into the streets of Central City, where the Justice League is still unconscious (from the attack by Zoom). Iris, Cold, and Kid Flash arrive, the latter voicing his anger at Barry for racing away last issue.
Commander Cold uses his futuristic instruments to discover that the Speed Force is "completely detached from the space-time continuum" because of the broken Force Barrier. There's no temporal energy in the Speed Force anymore.
So…no more time travel for Flashes. Cold realizes he can't get home to the 25th Century, which he's hoping at least exists again.
But where's Wally?
Barry finds him in Mt. Hood, Oregon. Although Wally wants to immediately start trying to find Zoom, Barry stops him for a talk. The two make up, with lots of apologizing and bonding. But even after Barry explains that they can't time travel anymore, Wally races away, determined to stop Zoom.
Barry tells the Justice League about the new forces and their possible connection to the Still Force (although this is still a mystery). And Commander Cold keeps investigating the new forces and trying to find a way home.
But Wait, There's More
And … Bart Allen is back. In his Impulse costume.
He’s racing through a street, apparently back within the present-day DCU.
"Not sure if you heard me or not, Wally, but who cares?" Bart says. "Force Barrier's down and now the one and only Bart Allen is back!"
Meanwhile, in the re-formed 25th Century, the remnants of the Renegades walk into the futuristic version of Iron Heights, alarmed that the prison's one inmate may have escaped. Unfortunately, he did, and after he vaporizes the team, he announces that the Flashes will "pay for what they've done to me."
"Worlds will live. Worlds will die. And the Multiverse will never be the same."
The inmate is in silhouette, but his eyes glow red. And the door to his broken prison cell reads, "Inmate: Crisis."
The issue ends with a tease for the next issue: "The last run of Wally West."
The Flash #51 is scheduled to be released July 25.