Bobby Lane is the son of John Lynch, a super powered special ops member of Team 7. For decades the corrupt I.O. organization had been carrying out genetic experiments designed to create super soldiers for the government. Team 7 were among the 12th generation of this experiment (Gen 12), and among the first successes - previous attempts had ended in death for the subjects. When many of the members of Gen 12 became fathers, I.O. became interested in their children: Gen 13. According to the Gen 12 series, Lynch's wife left John Lynch when their son, Robert, was very small.
The exact circumstances of his mother's death are unknown, but Bobby was put up for adoption under a fake name. (It was later revealed that several Team 7 members who had gone into hiding themselves knew about this and arranged this to protect Robert from I.O.) During his childhood Bobby often changed foster families, because he was unable to fit in with them, though he became good friends with his foster sister Han Tsung during his stay with her family.
When Bobby became a teenager, I.O. decided to restart Project: Genesis which had done the Gen 12 experiments. They performed genetic screenings across the country and recruited all children and teenagers who were gen-positive, usually indicating that they were the children of a Gen 12-member. Bobby was recruited to be part of the Gen¹³ project, unaware of this history. There he began to connect with others such as Grunge, Caitlin Fairchild, and Roxy. And it was there that he first had his latent powers unlocked. But when he and his friends discovered what the end goal of the project was, and that the plan was to control any successes by numbing their wills using drugs, they planned an escape. The four of them were joined on their escape by two others: Sarah Rainmaker and Threshold. Unknown to the rest of them Threshold was loyal to I.O., and only went along because it was his mission to try and awaken the latent powers of Freefall and Grunge (who hadn't manifested any yet) and create a killer instinct in the group that the government desired in its super powered operatives. He succeeded, and then betrayed the group. All of them except Fairchild were recaptured. She came back for them, and having made a second, successful escape they allied with John Lynch, who had become a high-ranking member of I.O.
Lynch took the team to San Diego to hide from I.O. and Bobby began to develop romantic feelings for his team-mate Sarah Rainmaker. Sarah didn't return those feelings though, as she considered herself a lesbian. The two did become good friends though. One of the first villains Bobby helps defeat is Helmut, an old adversary of John Lynch. He would also confront returning I.O. troops, a giant ape rampaging across a college campus and in one case, a trickster spirit who personally manipulates his feelings concerning Sarah. In another instance, the entire team is transformed into animal hybrids. Again and again, Gen 13 would confront DV8, who also came from Project: Genesis but were much more violent and amoral.
Some time later Lynch and Bobby figure out they are father and son. After some initial awkwardness the two have come to accept this new dynamic in their relationship.
During his time with Gen 13, Bobby began to develop powerful psionic abilities, allowing him to read and control the minds of others. He lost these powers when another Gen-Active, a powerful telepath damaged the telepathic part of Bobby's brain. Bobby defeated the telepath and his brothers and became romantically involved with their sister, Leslie, a Gen-Active codenamed Trauma Queen. Their romance was short-lived as Robert and the rest of Gen 13 apparently died in an explosion.
In fact, Gen¹³ had been displaced to an alternate universe and they returned to their own Earth months later.
Following the events of Captain Atom: Armageddon, Burnout is described s the aftereffect of a bald-faced attempt at cloning and gene splicing by Tabula Rasa, an off-shot of I.O. Burnout is a former juvenile hall resident turned pacifist, created with fire-manipulation ability and given to a foster family to control his growth. When the first part of the experiment ends, and he's abducted and brought back to Tabula Rasa with the current Gens, now boys and girls experimented upon as he was, he escapes with them.
He later participates to the activities of the group, namely escaping from I.O., facing a group of teenagers from an alternative universe based on the Authority, the Authoriteens, and another batch of I.O. clones sent to apprehend his teammates. He also came into brief conflict with Kevin "Sweet Sally" Emils while Gen 13 was in Tranquility, after Kevin mistakes Bobby for flirting with Ajita (Leona Terrell). Fortunately, their difference was later resolved and became friends.
During Gen 13's adventures, Burnout was revealed to be, as his Gen¹³ teammates, the recipient of the soul of his original namesake, collected by the Doctor and restored in the new body. However, in this life all the Gens exhibit different tendencies, becoming progressively their own persons: Burnout becomes with the time trustier and eager to help.
During the World's End events, attempting to protect his teammates by a flare brought by a Reaper clone of The High Burnout was blinded, and relied on Caitlin's advice to cope with his condition in the post-Armageddon ruins that the world had since become. Due to Caitlin spending more time with him to guide and help him during his lasting blindness, Rainmaker thinks they may be developing a stronger attraction, due to the Florence Nightingale Effect: Grunge dismisses the idea, and asks him, to distract the team from their miseries, to tell them about his vision of a post-Armageddon future.
Burnout tells of a world in which he, still blind, roams the world with a modified car, devised to bring music to everyone still alive, hoping for someone still alive to hear him and be lifted from his/her worries at least for a while.
Eventually the gang takes refuge in a mall. There they encounter killer rats and a group of people who have survived Armageddon. Bobby is still unable to see normally but gains the ability to see heat signatures. Within all the survivors he sees green blotches, which would turn out to be the Warhol Virus. All the people turn into Incubites and the gang barely escapes with their lives. After cleaning up and getting new clothes, the team decides to hitchhike to the town of Tranquility. Along the way they stop at a post-apocalyptic skate park run by renegade youths. While Bobby begins to rest in a tent, Caitlin grabs him and the two kiss proving that Caitlin develops feelings for him.
- Pyrokinesis: Burnout generates high-energy plasma that bursts into flame when exposed to oxygen.
- Fire Blasts: He can direct his flames into searing thermal energy blasts
- Fire Shield: He can surround himself with an aura of protective flames to deflect physical attacks.
- Flight: He can super heat the air around him to create powerful thermal updrafts that lift him into the air. While flying he has reached speeds that exceeded 388 km/h.
- Radiation Production
- Heat Generation: He can burn targets to cinders without ever touching them or setting them on fire.
- According to a Wildstorm sourcebook, Bobby was called Burnout even before he went to Project: Genesis. It was a nickname given to him by his classmates due to his sullen attitude towards school.
- Burnout is a devoted fan of the band Soundgarden.
- While Robert had red hair in his first appearances, the ongoing Gen¹³ series depicted him with blond hair.
- Burnout has a cameo in the animated Gen¹³ movie during an athletics event.
- Bobby plays the electric guitar. Grunge seems to enjoy his music while Lynch considers it "noise". He is accepted as a replacement guitarist for Sirens, the band of his girlfriend Mel.
- Burnout has appeared in the following non-WildStorm Image publications: The Deadly Duo Vol. 2 #3.
- 120 Appearances of Robert Lane (Wildstorm Universe)
- 41 Images featuring Robert Lane (Wildstorm Universe)
- 2 Quotations by or about Robert Lane (Wildstorm Universe)
- Character Gallery: Robert Lane (Wildstorm Universe)