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joyeuxnoel in ship_manifesto

Living Up to the Legend (Bart Allen/Kon-El, DC Comics)

Title: Living Up to the Legend
Pairing: Bart Allen/Conner Kent (Kon-El); (Kid Flash/Superboy)
Fandom: DC Comics
Author: joyeuxnoel
E-mail: joyeuxnoel @ livejournal . com
Spoilers/References: Impulse (#1-89); Superboy (#1-100); Young Justice (#1-55); Young Justice: Sins of Youth (complete mini series); Young Justice in No Man's Land #1, Young Justice/Spyboy Crossover (#1-3); Identity Crisis (#1-6); Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day (#1-3); Teen Titans (vol. 3, issues #1-current)
Thanks: To startredder for scans, trixie_chick for help with research, reccea for beta'ing, and kiarda for getting me into Young Justice in the first place.





--Young Justice #39


Index
I. Character Biographies
II. Analysis of Pairing.
III. Fandom Discussion.
IV. Additional Information



I. With the Codenames and the Secret Names and the--

"Single Synapse Theory"
Barthlomew Allen a.k.a. Kid Flash (formerly known as Impulse)

History:
Born in the 31th century, Bart Allen comes from a long line of speedsters. He is the grandson of the second (and most notable) Flash, Barry Allen. His grandmother is Iris Allen. His mother, Meloni Thawne, lives in the 31st century and Bart's father, Don Allen, is deceased. Wally West, the current Flash, is his second cousin.

Inheriting his family's speed, Bart was only a baby when he started to display this ability. He began to age at a supernatural rate and there seemed to be no way to stop the accelerated aging. Unable to stop or control Bart's rapid growth and simply willing to experiment and observe, the government plugged him into a VR machine with programming to let his brain functions stay on par with his body. By the time he was two years old, Bart looked twelve. Knowing that unless something was done he would die prematurely of old age, Iris brought him to the past, seeking help from her nephew, Wally West.

With a burst of speed, Wally stopped Bart's accelerated growth, leaving him about 14 years old and a young speedster about a ten centuries behind. With no sense of reality or mortality, Bart ended up being raised and cared for by Max Crandall (Max Mercury) the "Zen Master of Speed". Here he started the ultimate task of fitting in with a 20th century world and trying to be normal.

He has had many friends, superheroes and otherwise, and a rather lackadaisical (although not on his part) relationship with his family. He has stayed with his grandmother Iris, temporarily with Wally, fostered off to Max Mercury and now is currently in the residence of Jay and Joan Garrick.

Personality:
Bart's first codename, "Impulse" was inadvertently given to him by Batman, and was quite fitting since Bart barely hesitated between thought and deed. Writer Peter David eventually equated Impulse to the Id, "all instinct, no thought." (Young Justice #1) Bart can simply best be described as impulsive, thus a fitting codename.

In the early days, Bart tended to take the shortest route between two points without exploring any other possibilities or thinking through the consequences. Although not stupid, Bart hardly would have won many strategy contests. Past brilliant ideas have included shaving his head to prevent bad guys from grabbing his hair to getting a tattoo of the Green Lantern symbol rather than the Flash logo to keep his identity a secret. (Thankfully, neither of these ideas had lasting consequences.)

For a long time, it seemed that Bart had little to no sense of mortality, especially his own. Recent events have sobered Bart to the harshness of the world. Between being shot in the knee by Deathstroke and the tragedy of Sue Dibny and Jack Drake (Identity Crisis) Bart has started to take his role as superhero more seriously and others, including Wally West, have noticed.

Romantic Interests: Cissie King-Jones (Arrowette), Carol Bucklen (Carol Trent), Rose Wilson (Ravager)

Superpowers: Super speed, Ability to retain information about everything he reads, Ability to vibrate through solid matter without any damage (unmentioned as of late), Ability to create energy clones (usually referred to as "scouts") also possessing super speed (past ability/unmentioned as of late)

"Don't Mess With the S"
Conner Kent a.k.a. Kon-El a.k.a. Superboy

History:
After the death of Superman (he's fine now), Cadmus project started on an endeavor to recreate the Man of Steel. Using human DNA once believed to be donated the Project Director Paul Westfield, it has since been expanded/retconned to be the DNA of supervillian Lex Luthor and combining it with DNA from Superman, Cadmus succeeded... to some extent.

Their design was hardly perfect. Unable to imprint all of Superman's powers, for a long time Superboy's main power was tactile telekinesis (TTK) which allowed him to emulate many of Superman's powers including flight and strength. Another side effect due to genetic complications was the fact that Superboy was for a long time an eternal kid, unable to age past 16. (This problem was eventually rectified in Sins of Youth.)

After Superman recovered, alien and clone got to talking and Kal "adopted" Superboy as family going as far as giving him a Kryptonian name. For a while Kon-El lived on Hawaii busting bad guys and courting a relationship with Tana Moon (the teenage answer to Lois.) Eventually he moved to Cadmus's labs, then later to Metropolis becoming the superintendant of an apartment building (pun intended) and now resides with Ma and Pa Kent in good ol' Smallville U.S.A. playing fetch with Krypto.

Personality:
In the past, Superboy has been all about the image. He sported sunglasses and a leather jacket and gold earring and went as far as to have an agent getting residuals for licensing and royalty checks. The term "ttk" is his trademark and it's impossible to forget since he mentions it so often. Kon wears the "S" and is undeniably a "white hat" and he always manages to come through at the end. He operates on a punch first, talk later mentality that's more to do with ego than exaggerated pugilism. Kon also has a protective streak when it involves relationships.

Kon has had many sobering moments in his superhero career. His girlfriend, Tana Moon, was killed by Amanda Spence, he has lost his powers, regained his powers, seen the horrors of war and has traded in his shades for glasses and a secret identity and now faces the tedium of high school in rural hicksville.

Romantic Interests:Tana Moon (deceased), Cassandra Cain (Batgirl III), Cassandra Sandsmark (Wonder Girl II)

Superpowers: Tactile Telekinesis, Heat Vision, X-ray Vision, Superhearing, Telekinesis (may gain this in the future, as evidenced in Sins of Youth)


II. Kindred Souls and Common Ground

While opposites may attract, there is a lot to be said about kindred souls. In the realm of comics, each character is unique bringing with them their own fantastic story and origin shaping who they are. Character histories range from the tragic, the lucky, the fated, and everything in between. However, every once in a while the foundation can be more similar than most. Because of this, Kon and Bart can simply relate in ways most people can't. There's very few things they can't talk about, and even less that they can't relate.

Both Kon and Bart have not had a typical life experience. Both were raised in a sort of suspended animation they were not taught information as much as programmed. As a consequence, they each have an interesting blend of ignorance and arrogance towards the world. Kon had become the walking epitome of pop culture whereas Bart seemed to view the world as a video game. Growing up as a teenager is hard enough but being born one is even worse.


Wonder Girl: Impulse... How about you? Would you be normal, if you could?
Impulse: I don't understand the question. I am normal. It's the rest of the world that's weird. --Young Justice #7


Cheshire Cat: You should have read more as a child. Maybe you'd know what was going on.
Superboy: I grew up in a giant test tube surrounded by vicious ooze. There wasn't much room for books. --Superboy #92


Superboy: This is really happening.. isn't it? I wish I got to see Nirvana before Cobain died. I wish that I got to be a Superman. I wish I had parents. --Superboy #85


Because of their unique origins, they both have atypical relationships with their family. Kon doesn't so much have parents as he has genetic donors, which leads to both Superman and Lex Luthor being his paternal figures (insert "love child" comments here.) He has run about unsupervised, had a string of mentors at Cadmus, and now has guardians in the form of Ma and Pa Kent who are trying to instill normalcy in him (if milking cows is normal...)

Bart had previously lived under the guidance of mentor Max Mercury who was absorbed into the Speed Force. He has lived with most of the Flash Family in the present time excepting the Quicks. Bart's mother lives in the future and practically kidnapped Bart upon their first meeting (in fact, he didn't even recognize her.) He has never known his father, and loves his grandmother, Iris. He idolizes his grandfather and wants to live up to Barry Allen's legend.


Superboy: The people I live with. They're not my real mother and father.. I don't have any parents... really. But they're cool. And the last kid they raised turned out okay. ... what's it like anyway?
Wonder Girl: To have parents?
Superboy: Yeah. --Teen Titans #16


Kid Flash: We're in the Thirty-first Century, Robin. This is... this is where I was born. This is home. This is where my Mom is... --Teen Titans #16


As far as it comes to mentors, both Superman and Flash seem to have an infrequent presence at best. While neither Bart nor Kon have ever held the role of "kid sidekick" (a reasonable argument for the lack of contact), both Clark and Wally are hardly staples in their lives. Since moving to Smallville, Clark has had an increased role in Kon's life, however Wally remains aloof like the wayward parent called after his child is sent to the principal's office.

Even so, Kon and Bart share the same goal in life. The only ambition they have is to be a superhero when they grow up. While other teenage superheroes have retired or plan to resign, Kon and Bart want to live up to their namesake and one day fill their mentor's shoes. They understand tradition. They understand legacy.


Wonder Girl: We're not like you, Kon. We're not defined by our costumed identities. That stuff all came second to us.
Superboy: I don't see myself as "defined" by my costume.
Wonder Girl: Yeah? I want to be an archaeologist when I grow up. Cissie talks about being a scientist, maybe. What's your career aspiration?
Superboy: To be Superman. But that's not the poin-- --Young Justice #16


Robin: What's with the new look? And the codename? "Kid Flash." You got shot, you... read a bunch of books. But that wouldn't make me become Nightwing.
Kid Flash: And you aren't going to be Batman either. It's not what you want. But I've been ignoring the future, Tim. One of these years, who knows when, I will be The Flash. Like my grandfather was. --Teen Titans #5


Like their mentors, they both tend to view the world in terms of black and white. Shades of gray are not found here, nor are means of subterfuge or necessary evils. What can appear to be ignorance or an "all or nothing" stubbornness is, at its root, more idyllic than anything else. Both Kon and Bart hold an optimism about the world rather than cynicism. (Interesting, as they've both suffered losses as far as it comes to relationships.) They tend to rush into the immediate situation, dealing with the present problem and leaving the fallout for when it comes. Proven time and time again, both of them barely heeding orders from Robin, or Cyborg, or Nightwing, and even Batman. (Homicidal Superman Robot? No problem! ... oops.)

Kon and Bart share many similarities. Admittedly, some are more superficial than others. They both have evil clones: Match and Inertia (the must have superhero accessory this season.) Both Kon and Bart have pet dogs, Krypto and Dox, respectively. They've both lived in the future and hung out with the Legion of Superheroes. Through their life experiences, they can relate to each other on many different ways. Although Kon is more mature than Bart and serious it doesn't lessen the impact of their friendship. Bart is actually one of the few people Kon doesn't tend to argue with.

Up until recent events in Teen Titans, neither Bart nor Kon had many secrets. In fact, for a long time Kon didn't even have a secret identity, and Bart's proven he's not very reliable with his. They are both far too earnest for their own good. What you see for their personality is exactly what you get. They have the same attitude whether smacking down obnoxious hecklers in Olympic stadium seating or facing down Deathstroke. Still, there's a lot to be said for the lighter side of things. Some of the best moments between Bart and Kon are lighthearted and fun.

They can be the ultimate conspirators, indulging in activities such as pranking Arrowette to steal her clothes with no great subterfuge. (And consequently being elbowed by her in unison.) They come up with elaborate ideas, including redesigning their superhero headquarters, idealizing flight rings and complex command centers all the while giving absolutely any thought towards how they might pay for such a thing (even after Wonder Girl points that detail out. Twice.)

Their lighthearted and silly moments are frequent and refreshing. It's enjoyable to watch as Bart consults comic books to try and figure out how to get Kon's powers back (and subsequently feeding him spiders and dousing him with rainbow liquid and actually believing it might work.) They've shared a wavelength before thinking in unison to help Robin get back into Gotham (going against Batman's wishes in the process.) They play random trivia with rules that only they understand and enjoy. Not to mention there's random dialogue like, "It's that, or some Freudian thing that means I secretly think of Impulse as a chick--" (--Superboy #92) that pops up in the comics. With innuendo like that, how can one go wrong?

Their friendship gives a levity to the relationship. It's about being yourself, with everything that comes with it and everything that is lacking, and being accepted for who you are because of it.


III. They Like Us, They Really Like Us!

Young Justice fandom was a pretty niche group when it comes to the DC Comics Universe fandom. The book itself saw frequent cast changes and many guest stars. The fandom for Young Justice was devoted, but small compared to the multitude of other fan sites and works for the more popular and enduring characters in the same universe.

However, with the progression of the Young Justice series the storylines became both more comedic and more dramatic. Almost all characters in the title evolved beyond their cliched role and personality. Character development for both Kon and Bart was clearly shown in many ways, whether through their powers or their conversation. Just before the Superboy, Impulse, and Young Justice titles were canceled, the reader saw many crossovers, guest appearances, and references between the titles.

In fandom, however, Young Justice slash took smaller steps. Fiction in general was sparse and slash more so. Very few slash pairings received much notice or attention, although there has always been an audience for Superboy/Robin slash. (The only thing Young Justice fen cared less about was femslash possibilities.) Eventually, Tim/Kon rose in popularity and is currently written frequently and with great enthusiasm. As it stands, it is one of the more popular Tim pairings in fandom.

While Tim/Kon had found its audience, the idea of slashing Bart and Kon seemed strained at best, the blind leading the blind as it were. Slashing Bart and Kon during Young Justice gave their relationship levity, contrasted between the relationship shared between Superboy and Wonder Girl and Kon and Tim's frequent disagreements. Gradually, this pairing gained more fans and now has a stable audience.

However, Tim/Bart remains a rarity. In fact, stories involving the threesome of Tim/Kon/Bart are now easier to find than the latter two pairings combined. (More information can be found in this community with Derry's Tim/Kon/Bart OT3 essay.)

Admittedly, Teen Titans shows little to no sign of interaction between Kon and Bart. (Kon's interactions have been focused on Cass and Tim.) The story arcs for Teen Titans have focused on establishing or reintroducing characters such as Jericho, Raven, and Beast Boy. Sadly, ensemble casts only allow for limited spotlights and bits of dialogue. However, ironically, with the launch of the Teen Titans, fandom has seen more stories focusing on Bart and Kon being written.


IV. Additional Resources

Websites:
General Information:

Those Who Ride the Lightning
The comprehensive Flash centric site

The Superboy Source
General Information, a good jumping off point for links and fic, just don't trip over the occassional broken link or image.

Titans Tower
Comprehensive Website covering just about all information you would want to know.

Teen Titans Gallery
General Information on all incarnations of the series as well as scans.

Discussion Boards:

Comic Boards
General Discussion Forums

scans_daily
Catch all website reposting scenes from comics as a fun trip down memory lane or a starting off point for discussion.

heartbart
The Bart Allen community for livejournal, encouraging general discussion about the character.

Fan Fiction and Archives:

Young Justice: A Fanfic Site
One of the oldest YJ sites on the web, it boasts games, fan fiction, and fan art.

DCU Slash and Adult Index
Between the livejournal link and the preserved sites, it serves as a decent stepping off point.

dcfic_index
Aims to sort all DC fiction posted to Livejournal via the memories.

titans_together
Perhaps the definitive place to find fic which encompasses both Young Justice era and the current Titans run.


Fan Fiction Recommendations:

And Burn the Phoenix by Livia (liviapenn)
Summary: Kon takes a look at the changes around him, comes to a few realizations of his own, and figures out things aren't as different as they seem.

Like Like by Jori (plainsong_x)
Summary: Fluffy waffy piece of fun, involving Bart and Kon on a lazy day in the Titans Tower. Written for the jbbs challenge, one of my favorite pieces.

Heartaches, Friendships, and the American Sundae by Recceanna and Gen X (reccea and joyeuxnoel)
Summary: Bart gets a clue about relationships and offers some accidental sage advice.

Saving Ohio by Rosencrantz (crantz)
Summary: Adorable and hilariously cute day in the life story discussing some rather *cough* interesting dreams.

Untitled by NW's chick (trixie_chick
Summary: A quick study about the relationship between Bart and Kon.

Kinaesthetic Learning by girl_starfish
Summary: Kon directs a lesson in voyeurism when he wanders in one Bart and a scout.

Untilted by Derry (derryderrydown)
Summary: Short drabbles set as a character sketch piece for Tim/Kon/Bart.

Just Bart by fire_and_a_rose
Summary: Another Tim/Kon/Bart piece proving that although Bart may have changed his codename he still embodies the concept of impulsive.


Comics:

Adventures of Superman #500-502
(First Appearance of Superboy)

Trade Paperback: Impulse: Reckless Youth
(collecting: Flash #92-94, Impulse #1-6)
First Appearance of Bart Allen

Trade Paperback: JLA: World Without Grown Ups
(collecting: Girl Frenzy: The Secret #1, JLA: World Without Grownups #1-2)
First Meeting of Impulse and Superboy. Subsequent prequel setting the stage for Robin, Superboy, and Impulse to found Young Justice.

Our Worlds at War (story arc)
(story arc consisting of: Young Justice: Our Worlds at War #1, Young Justice #35-37, Impulse #77-78, Superboy #89-93)
Covers the "Our Worlds at War" crossover that encompassed the DCU, events including Young Justice on Apokolips, One of Bart's scouts being murdered, Bart quiting Young Justice, and Kon dealing with depression.

Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day #1-3
Transition story set between Young Justice and Teen Titans.

Comments

Yay! Great manifesto! Excellent selection of quotes -- they really work to complement your essay. I especially love the part about how Kon/Bart is one of the more light-hearted pairings. Totally agree, and it's part of what makes them so much fun! I'm more of a Tim/Kon fan myself, but I adore Bart and I like all three of the boys in various combinations ;)
Wonderful manifesto! You had a really strong argument and I enjoyed it very much. XD
Awesome essay! I adore the characters, I adore the pairing, and I adore your writing. :)
verrrrrrrrrry nice job, hon. nice blend of facts, humor, and perspective. ^_~ just, very well put together.

...now i crave kon/bart. ha. ^_^

Very nice manifesto! (and, thanks for the rec! *G*) I liked the emphasis on canon and the use of quotes to show the similarities in Bart and Kon's personalities.

A couple of links Bart/Kon fans might like:

chaosraven drew this Bart/Kon picture for my birthday.

And here's a Bart/Kon photomanip that I did. (Not quite as good, but I still like it. *g*)
Ooooh. More eye candy. *sparkles* Thanks for sharing the links. You both do spifftacular work.
Hmm... interesting. I totally don't see Kon/Bart at all (but I hope you still love me anyway), mostly because I think that while they are, as you have pointed out, very similar characters, Kon grasps with his fingernails for the least bit of credibility, whereas Bart really just doesn't care. (To be fair, I haven't read any of that new Teen Titans stuff, so I'm basing this entirely off early YJ, full run of Impulse and those 10 issues of SB where Kon was well written... about 83-93 I think) Then again, since then, I think Kon has chilled out and Bart has gotten more serious, but I prefer to preserve them in crystal in my head the way I like them. Anyway, back to the point... I think that Kon could never be close to Bart... even a close *friend* to Bart... because Bart doesn't really have a concept of what Kon wants.
I see from your quotes that they have taken Bart in a direction where he's trying to be the Flash but I really preferred the way Mark Waid wrote him... he was a superhero because it was a game and because it was the only thing remotely challenging in his life, and *when he stopped to think about it*, of course Grampa was a hero and sure I want to be like him.

Kon, on the other hand, is "I wanna be Supes, I wanna be the leader, I want to be the best hero ever." He makes fun of Tim a lot, I think, because he's jealous that Batman values Tim as a human, and Supes, when he remembers that Kon exists, treats him like the annoying President of the We Love Superman Club, as opposed to a) a "relative" or b) an actual human. (I was going to say that Bat picked Tim, but Tim thrust himself upon Bruce even more than Kon did on Supes.) Unfortunately, Kon has motivation but little actual skill, and so he lies in this terribly uncomfortable place in the YJ spectrum where he *wants* to be like Tim, but unfortunately is far closer to Bart.

Which I think is why there is so much more Kon/Tim than Kon/Bart (ignoring the influence of Finest III, which is the definitive tome of Kon/Tim) is because being with Tim means that Kon has grown more towards who he wants to be, whereas being with Bart would be more of a ... backwards movement. (Alternately, Kon coming more to terms with himself, and thus a healthier relationship). Tim/Bart would never work for the reasons that a lot of comp sci/engineering majors can't stand english majors (unless you've got some weird power imbalance... like the way techie guys marry liberal arts girls but it never happens the other way around... this topic is getting really strange)

To sum up, it sounds like based on the progression of characters you've described, I can see how a relationship will be inspired. But if squiks me, it is not that I disagree with you, it is that I refuse to believe anything that happened past 2002, canonwise.

I mean, Iceman is made out of Havok's pee, now, for the love o' Boo$ter Gold.

In other news, the idea of Bart+Scout is the most mind-scrubbingy thing I've read all week. Congratulations. A winner is you.


:,D Very awesome job. Very well organized and well supported! I loooooooved it this much:

|--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

But to the millionth power. Just that much. A remarkable amount of love! ♥ ♥ ♥ Hee. :) Not to mention Bart/Kon is just too cute in general and I was thrilled to see someone wrote a manifesto on the pairing. You made my day!

-Chien
*snugs* Thanks for the comment, it's always cool to find out that other people enjoy the pairing as well. I had a lot of fun writing this up and even more enjoyment going through all the back issues, I'm glad it was worth it.
Hi! I am a huge fan of this pairing and enjoyed reading your manifesto. I also enjoyed reading the fic rec list, but I could not get Heartaches, Friendships, and the American Sundae to open. If you have an alternate link to this story, it would be greatly appreciated. ^-^

Once again, brilliant job on the essay!
Hi! I'm glad you enjoyed reading it even if the manifesto is sorely outdated now. :3

At any rate, here's an alternate link to the story you were looking for: Heartaches, Friendships and the American Sundae
I loved your manifesto.
blue by darkhavens

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