Out of the many speedsters in the DC Universe, all of them have had a pretty similar link to the Speed Force. Though at times some speedsters have been cut off while others haven’t, for the most part, the link these characters have to the Speed Force supplies them with a constant source of energy that they can tap into at any time. However one of Teen Titans Academy’s newest recruit, Bolt, has an altogether unique link to the Speed Force.
Alinta, a speedster from Australia, takes the initial focus of the opening training session in Teen Titans Academy #2 with a look at her speedster abilities. Cyborg is the one who first notes the uniqueness of her link to the Speed Force, calling her a “Speed Force sprinter.” Alinta can only access the Speed Force in short bursts like lightning bolts, prompting her to take the name “Bolt”, whereas other speedsters can access it without such limits. If Alinta is a sprinter then speedsters like Barry Allen and Wally West are marathon runners.
This doesn’t stop Alinta from trying to reach the same level as those speedsters though. She tells Cyborg she didn’t leave her home country of Australia to be “just a sprinter” and that she’s going to push herself to be able to access more of the Speed Force energy.
As well as pushing herself in training, Bolt shows herself to be true Teen Titans material in this issue. After going to her room to move from her wheelchair to her blades, she’s around to respond to Nightwing’s chase with Red X. When Nightwing misjudges the length of a fire hose, Bolt saves him, catching him before he hits the ground. Thanks to “Future State” we know that this quick thinking on Alinta’s part leads to her graduation from Teen Titan Academy student to full-on Titan. However, where this information comes from is linked to the sinister twist in Alinta’s story.
Shortly after saving Nightwing, Alinta gets a call from Amanda Waller, who reminds Alinta that she owes her and is only in the Academy because of Waller. This isn’t the first mention of the shady government operative playing a hand in Alinta’s superhero career though. Future State: Suicide Squad by Robbie Thompson, Javier Fernandez, Alex Sinclair and Wes Abbott revealed that before joining Teen Titans Academy and becoming Bolt, Alinta was stuck in a life of crime. Although the activities of her previous life are not mentioned here, Waller reminds her of what she’s done for Alinta in the past and clearly expects something in return.
Alinta’s refusal to cooperate with Waller leads to drastic measures. Not only is Alinta cornered by the new Red X but also by Waller’s latest iteration of the Suicide Squad. This team features characters who later become Bolt’s Justice Squad teammates during “Future State,” foreshadowing her descent from aspiring superhero to another one of Waller’s puppets.
Bolt’s limited connection to the Speed Force explains why Waller wants her as part of her Justice Squad. Unlike the other speedsters in the DCU, this makes Bolt much easier to control. Future State: Suicide Squad already explained that Waller could take away Alinta’s speed whenever she wants, as well as using her classic, more explosive methods of motivation. This may also hint at the origins of Bolt’s powers. If Waller can so easily take them away and is responsible for Alinta’s new life in the first place, perhaps she is also the one who gave Alinta her Speed Force abilities in the first place. Either way, Waller isn’t going to let Alinta’s debt go unpaid.