The Fastest Man Alive Returns to Comics

The herald of the Silver Age of comics, the Flash has a surprisingly spotty amount of success. A reinvention of the classic character created in 1940, the modern Flash is regarded as the super hero that saved long john comics. While the 1960’s issues by John Broome were amongst the finest of the age and the art by Carmine Infantino a high water-mark for the comics in general, the Flash has had his fill of troubles.

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Those troubles began, some may say, with the tragic sacrifice of Barry Allen (Flash II) in Crisis on Infinite Earths. A very moving moment that helped define the series as a true ‘event’ comic, it has remained one of the few un-reversed deaths in comic books… until now that is. This left the door open for a new younger Flash to take over.

The new Flash series starring Wally West was an almost immediate success and with a TV series taking place at the same time, it was a good time to be a fan of the Fastest Man Alive.

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I have known, as have many others, that the return of Barry Allen was in the works and again like those same fans wrangled my fists at the heavens that it was an awful idea. To give you some background, DC Comics has made a mess of all things Flash for the past few years. Geoff Johns had brought a new level of excitement and popularity to the title, but after he departed Wally West (Flash III) traveled to an alternate universe with his wife in the middle of a battle with an evil Superboy. It had to be the most awkward thing I’ve ever seen in comics. EIC Dan DiDio had said at conventions that ‘Crises are bad luck for the Flash‘ (eluding to Wally West‘s death in the mega event comic to reference the death of Wally’s mentor Barry. What readers got was a bad situation turned into a last minute vacation. Wally felt himself being pulled someplace and instead of a tragic death, he stepped out of battle to pick up his wife and kids so they could go with.

With Wally West gone, Bart Allen was chosen to be the successor in one of the most unsuccessful Flash comics to date. Bart himself was a well-loved character, but he had no business taking on the mantle of Flash. The series ended after only 12 issues with his brutal murder despite opposition from readers and creators within DC.

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A subsequent series by fan favorite Mark Waid has been well received, but it’s still a very awkward fit. After sending Wally and his entire family off to who knows where, it’s equally odd to have them just return. With Barry Allen‘s resurrection in the pages of the latest big event comic Final Crisis, it looks like there will be a ‘new sheriff in town,’ as it were.

Geoff Johns is known for revitalizing many a comic book (his work on Avengers being a seldom spoken-of example) from Hawkman to Green Lantern. The fact that Johns is teaming up with artist Ethan Van Sciver on Flash Rebirth soothes my worries completely. The new series, Flash Rebirth will reunite the team that made Green Lantern a top selling book, something that this franchise dearly needs.
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Newsarama talked with Ethan and Geoff at this past summer’s San Diego Comic Con and got a few details out of them…

NRAMA: OK, it’s centered around Barry, but what about the other Flashes?

EVS: It’s centered around Barry, but we touch on all the other Flashes as well.

GJ: Just like Green Lantern: Rebirth touched on all the GLs.

EVS: I don’t think anybody… I mean, if you’re a Jay Garrick fan, you’ll be happy to see this book. If you’re a Wally West fan, you’ll be happy with this book. If you’re a fan of any Flash, you’ll be a fan of this book…

GJ: …at least until issue #2!

NRAMA: Oh, now that’s going to get people talking. But will other Flash characters be in this book, like Wally’s kids, or the rest of the Flash family?

GJ: We’ll be delving into everything we can.

EVS: Nothing will be ignored, really.

GJ: This is literally taking, like, every Flash, all the speedsters, and looking at it and saying, OK, what’s the next level we can take this stuff to?

EVS: Right. How does this all work together?

GJ: And where is it going to go? ‘Cause Flash has always been about moving forward. And we’re moving this super-sonic universe forward. Just like Green Lantern.

NRAMA: OK, since we’re being “careful” to not talk about the story, can you tell us about the overall tone of the book?

EVS: I think this book is going to have a new tone from any Flash book that’s been done before. Simply because it’s about Barry, and we haven’t seen Barry for over 20 years. Everybody’s used to Wally, and people were getting used to Bart. Barry is a very different kind of guy from Wally or Bart. So the book is kind of going to change too. I think the whole idea is going to shift.

Everyone loves Wally West and rumor is that he is not going anywhere. I’ve heard that he will be receiving a new secret identity and costume to set him apart from Barry, which should be interesting. With the recent Final Crisis mini-series Rogue’s Revenge once more establishing that while Wally is good, Barry Allen is the real deal.

The villains are already quaking in their boots and readers are reserving their copies.

I think everything may finally be right in the world for the Flash.

Recommended:

Showcase Presents: The Flash, Vol. 1
Flash, Book 1: Blood Will Run
The Flash: Race Against Time
The Flash: The Greatest Stories Ever Told
Crisis on Infinite Earths

Flash Rebirth hits the stands March ’09.

5 thoughts on “The Fastest Man Alive Returns to Comics

  1. I think most people would disagree with you. Barry was a boring character and Wally has been the flash for over 20 years. This whole thing is bringing the DC Universe backwards instead of forwards.

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  2. I agree with you that Barry was very boring but he has also been steadily built up as the real sultan of speed in the DCU. Wally West is great and if it were anyone other than Johns and Scriver at the helm of the Rebirth comic I would be furious. It’s similar in some ways to the rebirth of Hal Jordan. Kyle Rayner had been building up his credibility as Green Lantern only to get ousted by Hal’s return. And sales as well as the reputation for Green Lantern have skyrocketed after Hal’s return, I hope the sane can be said for the Flash in a year’s time.

    Wally has gotten no love from DC Editorial since Johns stopped writing him so I hope that this is a good sign for him as well as Barry.

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  3. I think that the most human Flash is Wally. I have recently read the whole first cycle of Waid on Flash and I have no doubt. Thanks to Flash/Wally West I know the meaning of speed and freedom and I have seen a different and more funny way of being a super-hero.

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