The Flash- ‘All Star Team Up’

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The Flash TV series on the CW has been a roaring success, joining Arrow in firmly establishing the DCU on the small screen. While Arrow has been slow to embrace the more colorful aspects of the comic book world, the Flash has proudly waved its superhero flag high. In its first season there have been several villains straight out of the comic, time travel conundrums and even callbacks to the 1990’s Flash series! Of course Arrow teamed up with the fleet-footed one in a special crossover story as well.

Team-ups are one of the staples of superhero comic books. It’s fun to see characters work together, blending or clashing in crime-fighting style and it’s also more value for your money! I recall hearing that Avengers was popular with some readers simply because it featured so many heroes in one adventure. The Brave and the Bold team-up series ran for many years on this concept alone, pairing Batman with another hero from Green Lantern to Adam Strange and even the Joker! One issue even chronicled the creation of the Justice League of America!

Hawkman, The Flash, the Atom, Green Lantern and Superman were The Justice League in the old Filmation series

In the Flash’s sister series Arrow, the Atom has been getting more firmly developed and will soon star in his own spin-off series that will take the team-up concept even further, making it a weekly event. As a precursor to The Atom, ‘All Star Team Up’ (another title from the annals of DC Comics) has given us a taste of what it will be like to watch heroes pair up against a common foe.

I will admit that I am not up to speed on Arrow so my knowledge of this version of Ray Palmer is very slim. As such I am confused as to why he resembles Tony Stark/Iron Man than the scientist adventurer from the comics. Whereas the comic book Atom uses dwarf star alloy to shrink yet maintain his mass, making him as powerful as a bullet, this Atom is… basically Iron Man.

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I understand that the original intention was for Brandon Routh (the former Superman Returns star who now plays Palmer/the Atom) to portray Ted Kord/Blue Beetle but am less clear on why that did not happen. In any case… that’s the situation. The Atom is a rich businessman who flies around in an armored suit he designed to fight crime.

Moving on…

Unlike some other weekly comic book programs, The Flash has plenty of visual appeal and has a high production value. That kind of attention to the look and feel of the show made All Star Team an enjoyable and memorable experience. In just an hour there was dramatic tension, humor, mystery and a diabolical villain-ess who overwhelmed the Flash, prompting Ray Palmer to don his costume and pitch in.

There were a couple of dud lines such as when Palmer admits that he is hoping for technical assistance from the STAR Labs team with his suit as he has trouble ‘keeping it up.’ This of course prompted his girlfriend Felicity to insist that their sex life is great (there was an audible thud there).

As a weekly installment of a superhero TV show, this was a fast-moving episode that was a lot of fun. I’m a big fan of Daredevil and Gotham as well which are of course much grimmer and more intense, but I am happy that in this modern world where comic book characters are such a hot commodity there’s room for a guy who can run really fast.

We’ve come a long way from Legends of the Superheroes.

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Get ready for Grodd in the Flash

The scarlet speedster has been rocketing along on the small screen in the weekly TV series The Flash. The popular program has developed a marvelously wild and dangerous world of mad science and high adventure along with the usual doses of high drama. I’ve been happily keeping up with the series and in my opinion it’s the finest of the new comic book tv shows (though I do enjoy Gotham and Arrow as well). The_Flash_TV_Series_Poster-6 In the comic book realm, the Flash is highly regarded for his rogue’s gallery. Captain Cold, The Top, Weather Wizard, Heatwave, Mirror Master, Captain Boomerang and more make Central City a tough place to live for any law abiding citizen. Ask any fan of the medium and they will confirm a good villain can make a book that much better. Batman and Spider-Man may top the Flash, but neither has a giant gorilla from a secret simian civilization with mind-shattering abilities. Oh yes… the Flash has Gorilla Grodd. And the ape is coming to the small screen very soon.

Gorilla_Grodd_0008(via Hollywood Reporter) Barry (Grant Gustin) had his hands full in Tuesday’s episode, with Peek-a-Boo (Britne Oldford) teleporting all about town, Pied Piper (Andy Mientus) escaping from S.T.A.R. Labs, and Linda Park (Malese Jow) helping Barry’s dating life speed along. But the final scene, set beneath Central City, teased a beast that could put Barry’s life in true danger. Following the episode executive producer Greg Berlanti tweeted “What did you all think? #theflash #groddlives.” That’s a reference is to Gorilla Grod, who in the comics is a genius gorilla with the ability to control people with his mind. The Flash team hasn’t revealed when Grod will make his appearance, but Barry will have his hands full in the meantime.

Familiar to fans of the comic as well as anyone in my age bracket who can clearly recall the mad monkey from Chaallenge of the Super Friends, Grodd is truly a horrifying and distinctive monstrous foe. While we may not know when he will pop up, we do have this glimpse of the villain to get our imaginations going… Grodd_FlashGorilla Grodd animatronic head via KDramastars Recommended: 

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CW’s The Flash extended trailer

The fastest man of alive, the sultan of speed, the human whirlwind… the Flash. When what was later referred to as the Silver Age of comics took off, exploding into the revival of the superhero (resulting in the creation of the Marvel Comics Group and much more), many were somewhat surprised to find that the herald of this era was the scarlet speedster known as the Flash. A science-fantasy hero revived from the 1930’s, the Flash was an instant hit and each electrifying issue surpassed the previous one. Against outlandish villains such as Gorilla Grodd, Captain Boomerang, the Weather Wizard, Captain Cold and Mirror Master, Barry Allen used the amazing abilities granted to him by his connection to the speed force.
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This autumn, a new generation will become Flash fans with the arrival of a new weekly TV series.

Whereas Marvel Entertainment has had major successes in the theatrical releases that have crafted a unified setting for various heroes and mythologies, DC has ruled the small screen and it looks like things are going to get more interesting as Gotham, Constantine and now the Flash will be joining Arrow. I have been enjoying the Arrow series on Netflix (it’s a weird mixture of Dallas, Sweet Valley High and Batman Begins) and am looking forward to seeing the DC Universe expand on the small screen. Barry Allen had previously appeared in Arrow, and now is spinning off into his own solo series.

From the extended trailer, we now have a much more in-depth look at the upcoming series it is interesting to see the groundwork for the Reverse Flash, Professor Zoom and the murder of Barry’s mom. I’m a little less excited about the Star Labs crew as, while I can see the need for a supporting cast, this particular ‘crew of quirky specialists’ is getting old. The special effects are impressive and it looks like DC Entertainment has invested a lot into this project.

More to come…

The Flash sprints onto screen at last

the_flashThe scarlet speedster is one of the most imaginative and dynamic comic book superheroes. The herald of the Silver Age of comics, the Flash broke new ground when the long underwear genre was seen as a dead duck. However, Carmine Infantino’s outstanding artwork and the wild scripts by John Broome and Robert Kanigher soon made the star of Showcase Comics the standard bearer for a superhero revival that continued through Hawkman, Green Lantern, the Atom and more.

A founding member of the Justice League, the Flash is known for having one of the most interesting rogue’s gallery which includes Gorilla Grodd, Captain Cold, the Human Top, Mirror Master and more. He was part of the Super Friends cartoon and much later a popular member of the Justice League animated series. In print, there is a vast legacy of the Flash spanning generations from Jay Garrick (the Flash of the 1940’s) into the far future.

Over the years, the Flash’s popularity has come and gone but he retains a cult following in the comic book community on both sides of the page. Some of the most successful creators such as Mark Waid, Grant Morrison and Geoff Johns have all taken a shot at the human whirlwind and shown just how amazing he can be. He was also one of the few characters to gain his own weekly TV series with a theme song by Batman’s Danny Elfman.

So given all that it should come as no surprise that the Flash is headed to join (Green) Arrow on the CW. Spinning out of his guest appearance on Arrow, the Flash will continue to flesh out the DCU on the small screen (soon to be joined by Gotham). The series will not be a half-made gesture at a comic book TV series, reducing the character’s trademark uniform into armor or a sweatsuit but will instead pay homage to the look and feel of the comic book while somehow to fitting into the grounded reality presented in Arrow. It’ll be interesting to see how this is accomplished with a hero whose rogue’s gallery is all but absurd.

flash_DC Comics

Via SuperHeroHype:

The CW has released the first official image of Grant Gustin in his gear as The Flash as he will be seen in the upcoming series. Designed by three-time Oscar winner Colleen Atwood, who also designed the costume for “Arrow,” you can check out the image below!

Gustin will star as Barry Allen in the series, which will serve as a spin-off to their popular series “Arrow” where he made two appearances as the character.

Joining Gustin for the show will be Candice Patton as Iris West, Jesse L. Martin as Iris’s father, Detective West, Michelle Harrison​ as Barry’s mother Nora Allen, Rick Gosnett as Central City Police Detective Eddie Thawne, Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon, Danielle Panabaker as S.T.A.R. Labs bioengineer Caitlin Snow, Tom Cavanagh as S.T.A.R. Labs CEO Harrison Wells, and John Wesley Shipp, from the original “The Flash” TV series, in an unspecified role.

“The Flash” arrives from co-creators Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg who, along with Geoff Johns, will write the pilot episode with “Arrow” pilot director David Nutter at the helm. Production on the pilot is set to begin next week.

The Flash has been in feature film development alongside Green Lantern and Wonder Woman for many years but nothing ever came of it. Given the failure of Green Lantern, that may have been a blessing in disguise. But as a TV series, the Flash has lots of potential for a modern audience hungry for comic book heroes but with an added edge. One of the interesting aspects of the Flash is that his alter ego Barry Allen is a forensic scientist which is sure to grant the writers plenty of possibilities.

To date, details are slim on the series, but as casting announcements continue and the success of Arrow’s second season builds, expect to hear more about the crimson tornado. Previous Flash actor John Wesley Shipp will also be making a guest appearance on the program.

Recommended:

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The Flash: The Complete Series

Quick review: Daredevil and the Flash

Daredevil #10

By Mark Waid and Paolo Rivera
‘The Man Without Fear’ is more commonly known these days as the grim crime fighter with a string of bad decisions trailing behind him like ghostly apparitions reminding him of his failures. As Typhoid Mary called him, he is the ‘Merry Christian,’ in that he holds the weight of the world on his shoulders. However, that thread was stretched so far under the previous creative regime that old hornhead transformed into a legitimate demon, horns and all, and fought his dearest friends, leading an army of assassins.

Waid’s run has returned Daredevil to his pre-Frank Miller days and the character appears to be more fun-loving and care-free, but Waid has promised that there will be a price to pay in the end. As his best friend Foggy Nelson has observed, there is something forced and disturbing about Murdock’s change of attitude that hints to a deeper wound.

In any case, Daredevil has been more fun and interesting in the past nine months than ever before. His abilities and character have been utilized in new and extravagant ways that open up new vistas of potential in story telling. This is of course greatly bolstered by the superlative artwork by Paolo Rivera and Marcus Martin (though Marcus has since left) which have made DD the most visually compelling book on the racks today (challenged only by the title below).

The radar senses of Daredevil have been a major definition of the character’s persona that set him aside from the other heroes in as much as Wolverine’s claws and the Hulk’s purple pants make them mavericks. However, the radar ability has seldom been represented as a hindrance rather than a super power. Sure, DD can perceive surfaces and environments in ways that we can only dream of, granting him enhanced sensitivity in the sensory realm, but this can also be a downfall. In the latest story, DD has descended into the underworld through a system of tunnels that have allowed graves to be be stolen from a cemetery that just so happens to contain his father’s coffin.

The journey underground is a staggering one that hampers his sensitivity to the utmost as the echoes from the confined spaces and extremely rancid smells confound him in his search for the grave robbers. Rivera and Waid have provided a wondrous blend of comedy and nail-biting drama as DD narrowly avoids several obstacles that he simply cannot ‘see.’

As Waid puts it: “Man without fear,” they call me. Only because I’m blind. If I could see half the stuff I get myself into, I’d be scared brown.

Daredevil eventually finds himself against the Mole Man who has stolen the corpse of his greatest love. Mole Man would never have dared confess his feelings to her while alive, but gladly waltzes with her cadaver in the half-light of the subterranean world.

The conflict between DD and Mole Man is one of fisticuffs but also one of nerves as Mole Man pokes at a sore point for Murdock, indicating that if the Man Without Fear could not locate his father’s grave, how important could it be? It forces Murdock to accept that his father is gone forever, something that he has avoided admitting to himself.

I have said it once but I will say it again. Daredevil is a superb comic book that should be on your weekly pull list of you enjoy the sequential medium, are interested in Will Eisner or want to be in on the ‘next big thing.’ A collection is available and this week a ‘Point One’ issue is on the stands to welcome the uninitiated.

Daredevil, Vol. 1

Daredevil, Vol. 2


The Flash #7

By Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
Across the street, the Flash is undergoing a Renaissance courtesy of Francis Manapul. The big pull of the book back in the day, in addition to the whacked out villains such as psychic apes, boomerang-wielding Aussies and wizards from the future was the art style.

Former art director of DC Comics, Carmine Infantino, created some of the most mind-boggling images on the page during his long tenure on the Flash monthly book (while simultaneously redefining Batman, I might add). Aided by Gardner Fox’s mad scripts about the slowest man alive and alternate dimensions, the series pushed all the right buttons for young readers.

When DC decided to become gritty and more appealing to Marvel Comics readers, they killed off the old Flash, Barry Allen, and drafted his protege Wally West into the scarlet running togs. In more recent years, retro has become more appealing and Barry Allen is back, along with the wild energy of the old Fox/Infantino age.

The new Flash is young bachelor Barry Allen, who works as a police scientist alongside his love interest Patty with whom he has an uneasy romance. Meanwhile his actions as the Flash have earned him more bad press than good as his super speed has led to a massive EMP explosion, knocking out the power grid in Central and Keystone City. The Flash has struggled to maintain law and order in the fallout, but the fact remains that he has caused this chaos.

the latest issue sees the Flash struggling to defeat an old enemy (with the re-booted post-52 DC Universe, I’m unclear HOW old) Captain Cold who is trying to draw him out for revenge. The reason? The EMP charge caused the life support system maintaining Cold’s sister to fail. With nothing else to live for, Cold is out for revenge using strangely enhanced powers.

Speaking of enhanced powers, the Flash is learning the impact that his super speed has on the fabric or reality, thanks to Dr Elias (no doubt named after the original Flash’s creator, Lee Elias). It seems that Flash’s speed is so great that if he reaches critical mass he can open a wormhole to another reality. Of course in the heat of battle, and while attempting to defeat Cold and save Patty, the Flash opens a wormhole that sucks up Iris West and presumably Barry Allen as well (the Flash claimed that Barry was safe in the other half of the shattered vessel just as it was consumed by the wormhole.

In the end, Barry vows to save Cold’s sister by producing energy via a massive treadmill and sending a generator to her hospital. He also opens a wormhole in hopes to find Iris and save the others that he condemned to a fate worse than death… only he finds a new nemesis waiting for him there.

As a kid, I remember being mesmerized by the weirdness of the Flash. If anything, the modern version pays homage to and further develops that other-worldiness in bizarre storylines and breathtaking page layout and line work. What I mist admire is that Manupal has maintained the innocence of the Flash that I so enjoyed as a kid. Easily the most beautiful book published by DC at this time, the Flash is worth a look. There are a couple of collections suggested below.

Flash Vol. 1: The Dastardly Death of the Rogues!

The Flash Vol. 1: Move Forward (pre-order)

Quick review: Aquaman, Daredevil, The Flash

Aquaman #4

By Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis
The latest Aquaman revival is at its fourth issue, the conclusion to the opening storyline: The Trench. The man who relit the Green Lantern, gave Hawkman his wings back and brought the Flash up to speed, Geoff Johns, has finally taken a hand at the King of the Seven Seas and… I’m still not sure what to make of it.

Aquaman is a solid book that features astounding artwork from Ivan Reis (whom I have enjoyed on his various DCU projects over the years), but the script still feels like it is lacking something and that may be depth (if you’ll pardon the pun). The tricky thing with Aquaman is that there really is not much to the core character. He swims, he talks to fish and that’s about it. Subsequent attempts to add some edge to the character by pairing him with a mermaid-ish wife from another dimension, giving him a son then killing him, taking his hand, bringing back his hand in numerous forms, growing his hair/cutting his hair… have really made it plain that DC Editorial has no clue what to do with this character which is bizarre since he is so embedded in the public consciousness and recognized even by people unfamiliar with comic books.

When I heard of the New 52 project and that Aquaman was going to fall under Johns’ watch I was gearing myself up for a revamp or retooling a la the Rebirth comics he had written for both Green Lantern and the Flash. However, in this case, we are seeing a different, more subtle approach that has the character define himself by his actions through an adventure story rather than the story wrap itself around his origin. It’s an inspired decision but leaves me wondering if this is really the best idea as Aquaman is in such dire need of a revival.

The first storyline is a quirky one that involves Aquaman and his wife Mera attempting to live a ‘normal life’ away from Atlantis among humans. Aquaman had only just recently returned from the dead in the amazing maxi-series Brightest Day and deserves some time to find himself, especially given his track record with his underwater kingdom (at one point they chained him to a rock in the sun and left him to die). Through the reactions of the locals, we see that Aquaman is not regarded as a ‘heavy hitter’ by any stretch of the imagination and he handles the lack of respect with a stiff upper lip without looking brooding or intense.

The seaside town comes under attack from an ancient race of carnivorous beasts and only Aquaman and Mera stand a chance of stopping them. They discover a vast civilization under the waves that has become awakened (much like Godzilla) from a long hibernation and are seeking food for their queen. The ‘food’ in this case, consists of people preserved in gelatinous sacks on the cave walls. Unfortunately, the queen’s brood are mainly stillborn and the cave is littered with dead infants (pleasant, huh?) that are in turn eaten by the adults (thank you, DC Comics).

Understandably disturbed, Aquaman nevertheless feels compassion for the creatures and wants to aid them but in the end cannot help but damn them to a death under the sea, trapping them within an underwater volcanic eruption. Once more on the surface, Aquaman is accepted into the town as he and Mera take up residence in Aquaman’s father’s lighthouse. The closing scene where they are united with the stray dog was touching and showed simply that this is the beginning of a new life for the sea-faring superhero.

It’s not quite up to the quality of his previous work and the cannibalistic monster things were incredibly horrific (why do most DC Comics feature these nightmarish visuals???), but it’s a good start and I hope that the creative team stick to it as the series gains more momentum.

Daredevil #7


By Mark Waid, Paolo and Joe Rivera
Across the street, Mark Waid is showing how to reboot a hero without killing him or starting him over from the beginning in Daredevil. Sure, the previous series saw DD transform into a massive demonic creature that led an army of ninjas… but Waid was not faced with a solid reboot when he arrived to bring the magic back to the Man Without Fear.

Stripping away the grim drama and intensity from Daredevil may strike most readers are an impossible task that would remove the title’s core qualities but it has resulted in one of the most acclaimed superhero books on the stands and for good reason. Back to practicing law, Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson attempt to shake the curse of Daredevil and rather than enter the courts and be mocked instead advise their clients to represent themselves. Openly denying that he is the man without fear, Murdock lives a somewhat normal life with the occasional supervillain battle. A writer without parallel, Waid’s work on Daredevil has shown that if the stories are solid and the art good, the book will make it. In the case of DD, the art has been nothing short of jaw-dropping, joining the ranks of series like Batwoman and the Flash as breath-takingly gorgeous.

The latest issue feels very much like a television program and operates as a stand-alone story. Murdock is leading a class of blind ‘trouble’ students from a private school on a trip to the Catskills. On the busride back, they encounter a snowstorm and the bus turns over, stranding the kids and Murdock in the wild all alone. Even with his radar gift, Murdock is almost as blind as the children due to the heavy snow blocking his second sight but he is determined to save and protect the children. Pulling them along with his billy-club’s extended cord, he leads them through the hip-deep snow drifts to safety… and then things get worse.

DD #7 is a fantastic issue that serves as a guide for anyone interested in telling a compelling story in the comic book medium. The characters are solid, the action well told and the drama strong. Not a single punch is thrown, there’s no sign of a super villain and no one dies only to return an issue later. It’s just a great comic.

The Flash #4

By Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
I have a lot of respect for Francis Manapul. His work on the Flash with Geoff Johns was very good and reminded me of the secret formula that makes the Flash such a great read; an inventive story and spell-binding artwork. Previous artists such as Scot Kolins, Howard Porter and Alfredo Dos have taken the baton left by Carmine Infantino and run with it, filling the pages with that weird rippling line and lightning bolt combo that is the character’s trademark.

The modern revised Flash is a new character in many ways, while he retains the qualities of Barry Allen; a clumsy bachelor with an inventive mind and a heart of gold. The new series sees Allen in the early days of his speedster career, still finding new ways to tap into that mysterious ‘speed force.’ The issues to date have seen him vibrate an airliner through a bridge and out-think his enemies.

Despite my praise, this opening storyline ‘Mob Rule’ feels like it is dragging on for far too long. There have been some very clever ideas, but much of the plot involves a new character who requires so much development that this issue is almost entirely about him!

While Barry Allen lies dead (apparently) from a point blank gunshot wound, we are finally told the origin of Mob Rule and his relationship to Barry Allen. It’s a good story and well told… I just have a hard time ignoring the fact that the star of the book was only in the last few pages!

Honestly, Manapul kind of wrote himself into a corner here as so much of the story was unclear that an entire issue needed to be set aside for exposition. However, he’s a very talented artist and his layouts and design make the experience a stunning one. Images drip and branch from panel to panel, sometimes with characters literally leaping from the confines of one moment to the next.

When it comes time for best series to come along or best break-out talent, Francis Manapul deserves some consideration. He has made the Flash comic into a must read series by pouring all of his talent into every issue.

DC’s The Flash gets top tier treatment in Flashpoint

The sultan of speed, the human whirlwind called the Flash is highly regarded as the viceroy of the Silver Age of comics that gave us the Fantastic Four, Green Lantern and more. Police scientist Barry Allen was unexpectedly doused in a random selection of chemicals when a bolt of lightning struck his laboratory. Taking up the mantle of his favorite boyhood comic book superhero, he donned a red costume that retracted into a ring on his finger and called himself the Flash.

The early days of the Flash read like a how-to guide for Silver Age comics. Each issue stands on its own and utilizes bizarre concepts and colorful super villains against our hero who must not only defeat his foe but also arrive on time for his date with the hen-pecking but lovely Iris. The Flash’s rogue’s gallery runs the gamut of psychically-imbued gorillas, wizards from the future and madman that hide inside mirrors. While the character lost his appeal in the late 1970’s, he was given a new lease on life by dying saving all of reality from the Anti-Monitor in the 1985 Crisis on Infinite Earths. His protege Wally West took up the legacy of the Flash for many years, before Barry Allen made a triumphant return in another Crisis.

Green Lantern, another of Johns’ favorite characters, was the focus of t Blackest Night crossover that firmly embedded the ring-slinger in the DC Universe. The new event (far bigger in scope that Blackest Night) centers on the Flash. It has been met with generally positive responses as it sheds a new (if grim) light on an alternate future of the DCU.

The mystery man dressed as Batman in Flashpoint raises the stakes

Via UGO.com:

Superstar Geoff Johns (responsible for one of the finest Flash runs this century) is assuming writing duties on the mega summer event’s five issue main series, which will be bolstered by four one-shots and SIXTEEN mini-series (Flashpoint: Batman Knight of Vengeance, Flashpoint: Project Superman, Flashpoint: Hal Jordan, etc.). You’d better have your checklist handy for this one, folks.

This is a complete gut feeling, but it bodes well for the in-development Flash movie that DC is giving the Scarlet Speedster so much attention. 2009’s Blackest Night was a Green Lantern event, and look: we got a movie this summer. With the Flash movie rumored for 2013, that just makes tons of timeline sense. Hopefully this means DC is going all-cylinders on this one.

Geoff Johns has worked some magic with what are regarded as ‘second tier’ characters such as Green Lantern and Hawkman, but his work on the Flash is legendary. He is also the current Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment, a title that demanded his heavy involvement in the upcoming Green Lantern movie. As Johns’ latest event series brings the Flash to the fore, one wonders if a feature film is not waiting in the wings for the scarlet speedster…

Here’s an excerpt from an interview with Flashpoint architect Geoff Johns via i09:

[i09] In Flashpoint, you’re not just creating a story, you’re building another reality and (re)inventing a ton of characters. How did you coordinate this world-building effort?

[Geoff Johns] Really it was working with editors Eddie Berganza and Rex Ogle. I fleshed out the world, the characters, and the concepts with the rest of the series writers — for example, James Robinson is writing a miniseries about [the 1960s Batman villain] The Outsider, and the two of us discussed that character. It was a team effort with DC editorial.

Two-part question: what made you choose the Flash and the particular trope of alternate realities for Flashpoint?

One of the staple stories of Flash is parallel Earths and timelines. I really wanted to do a story that would have the DC Universe as the entire scope but have the Flash at the center of it. It just made sense — for me, this is the ultimate Flash story. The timeline has been altered so that the hows and whys are the story. Flashpoint is a showcase to demonstrate why the Flash is a major character, just like how we’ve done with Green Lantern. It’s important that the Flash can hold his own.

Is there one particular moment that changed reality or did several things go askew?

I would say that’s a mystery you’ll see unfold!

More info at DC’s Source.

Professor Zoom crashes the Flash

Every superhero needs a supervillain. Superman has Lex Luthor, Batman has the Joker, Popeye has Bluto… etc.

The Flash is renowned for his rogue’s gallery of mad scientists, psychic gorillas and evil men who play with toys, but the real threat has always been Professor Zoom. First introduced in Flash #139 (published in 1963, the year that gave us Doctor Who and took from us President John F. Kennedy), Eobard Thawne is a criminal from the future who loots a time capsule only to find one of the Flash’s old costumes inside. Already in possession of the evil mastermind moniker ‘the Professor,’ Thawne alters it slightly to Professor Zoom, dons a reverse-themed Flash costume and a career is born.

Thawne became the most destructive and powerful of the Silver Age Flash’s, his mind bent not just on defeating the Flash, but in replacing him completely in history. This madness resulted in the jaw-dropping murder of Iris, wife of Barry Allen. It was a common tactic at the time, with Aquaman’s son being killed, Black Canary I’s husband being killed, Ray Palmer’s wife going insane and Hawkman and Hawkgirl becoming estranged. For anyone who thinks that the DCU has only gotten dark recently, think again.

So distraught over the loss of his wife, the next time Zoom appeared and threatened someone close to him, he snapped Thawne’s neck and was placed on trial, one of the longest story lines in the comic’s history (soon to be collected in a Showcase edition).

After Barry Allen died and was replaced by his protege Wally West as the Flash, a new character Hunter Zolomon was introduced. Initially a criminal profiler, Zolomon was driven mad by interacting with a malfunctioning Cosmic Treadmill at the Flash Museum (why was the real thing on display?). Determined to transform West into a better hero through tragedy and pain, Zolomon renamed himself Zoom and struck at West’s wife, killing her twins in the womb.

But now the real Professor Zoom is back, still manipulating history and determined to replace Barry Allen. When Barry Allen was revived in the pages of Final Crisis, it was clear that a good story better be in the wings. I know that the domain of the dead is a revolving door in comics, but the death of the Silver Age Flash has always been an important moment for readers. Sacrificing himself in the pages of Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Flash horrifically aged and shattered throughout time, merging into the very lightning that caused his transformation into the scarlet speedster in the first place.

Professor Zoom returns in Flash: Rebirth

Many fans were frustrated by the addition of Allen’s mother being murdered and his father perishing in prison as the prime suspect. They felt that it was yet another moment of comic book writers ‘darkening up’ their heroes. Imagine their surprise and excitement when it was revealed that Professor Zoom had been altering Allen’s history. The first attack in a renewed battle between the polar opposed speedsters, the next volley has arrived in Flash #8, focused on Professor Zoom’s origin.

Professor Zoom Vs. The Flash Via http://theflash.wikia.com

Told in a fractal narrative style, we see Thawne’s life of suffering and unfair conditions change again and again as a spectral image of his supervillain self appears to kill any who stand in his way. A neglected child, Thawne’s parents have a second child who fills Eobard’s life with tasks and whining.

When Thawne is unable to attain a research position at the Flash Museum, he blames it all on his brother who has successfully become a policeman. When Eobard’s brother attempts to arrest him for hacking into the Museum archives, he is suddenly removed (violently) from history. The time-line altered, Thawne is next shown as an aspiring student at the Flash Museum.

The story continues to develop, showing Thawne’s desperation to create a perfect life, so vicious and precise that even any that would deny him love are destroyed. It is truly chilling. The conclusion is a mind-bender and no doubt sets the stage for Flashpoint, the upcoming cross-over event of 2011.

If you have not been reading the Flash, I highly recommend the new series. Johns is known for his work on JSA, Hawkman and Green Lantern (all superb books), but he really cut his teeth on the Flash and continues to remind readers why he is such a magnificent character.

If you are more of a hardcover and trade paperback kinda guy, please consider the collections below:

Buy The Flash, Vol. 1: The Dastardly Death of the Rogues

Buy The Flash: Rebirth

The Flash Vol. 4: Blitz

The Flash by Geoff Johns Omnibus, Vol. 1

Buy Flash vs. The Rogues

Showcase Presents: Trial of the Flash

DC promises Flashpoint rings and buttons… plus a $4 price tag

DC Comics’ next big thing is a massive crossover called Flashpoint consisting of 15 separate character-centric miniseries, a number of one-shots and more that promises to do for the Flash what Sinestro Corps War did for Green Lantern (and not Blackest Night). The herald of the comic book Silver Age, the Flash is an incredibly important character that Johns has a unique handle on. His previous run on the series is legendary and the current monthly series is receiving accolades from critics and fans alike.

Of course, the incentive Flash ring and buttons may not win over many fans who will be struck by price shock at the $4 price tag (especially after DC loudly proclaimed a $3 price tag on all books), but… what can you do? It’s the business…

Cover to Flashpoint #1

Via CBR.com:

Representatives from DC Comics have been rolling out a string of product announcements today as part of the latest meeting held by ComicsPRO (the comics retailer trade organization) in Dallas, TX, and the publisher has capped off the day with word that they’ll continue with their highly publicized and occasionally criticized ring promotional program.

On their The Source blog, DC confirmed that June’s “Flashpoint” #2 will ship with a special edition plastic Flash ring and that they “will also be creating exclusive buttons, featuring the re-imagined superhero logos of ‘Flashpoint.’ So far only nine of the logos have been unveiled, but there will be buttons corresponding to each of the Flashpoint mini series. The buttons will only be available at comic book stores and will not be one of our (many) cool convention giveaways.”

A Flash feature film has been hinted at for quite some time and supposedly Johns has been deeply involved. DC Entertainment is banking on the success of Green Lantern to secure the possibility of future big budget films (with the scarlet speedster a clear contender). Much like Green Lantern, the Flash is a legacy hero with a generation predating the current speedster and extending into the far future. But (again like Green Lantern), the Silver Age Flash Barry Allen is regarded as the best and most prominent of the lot.

A mousy and humble police scientist, Barry Allen became the fastest man alive after being struck by magic lightning, drowning Allen with various chemicals in his crime lab. Imbued with the ability to not only move faster than anyone else, Barry Allen is also capable of perceiving the world around him in a heightened way in which the ordinary world crawls past at a snail’s pace. Facing a bizarre and madcap array of villains from Captain Cold to the Human Top, Heatwave, Gorilla Grodd and more, it has always been Allen’s brilliant solutions using his super speed that have earned him the mantle of superhero. After sacrificing his life so that the universe would live, Barry Allen was succeeded by Wally West (the wise-talking Flash of the Justice League cartoon), but in comics death is more like a revolving door than a final end. Allen made an explosive return in the pages of the inexplicably complex Final Crisis and has taken over the monthly book ever since.

Aside from the aforementioned writer Geoff Johns, one of the major pulls for me regarding the current Flash series (currently collected in ‘The Dastardly Death of the Rogues’) is artist Francis Manupaul. The art in the Flash has always been important, from the dynamic and strange motion lines of Carmine Infantino to the maddening detail-driven art of Scott Kolins. Manapaul spoke to the Canadian Press recently about drawing the scarlet speedster and had this to say:

“I’ve actually been a longtime Flash fan since high school and the very first time I talked to (DC co-publisher Dan DiDio) about working with DC, one of the very first projects that I asked for was The Flash,” said Manupal, who got to draw the character when Johns brought Flash back last year and the new series started.

“It’s better to work with writers that you admire and that you mesh with. The story is ultimately what is important,” Manupal said. “Through our experience working on ‘Adventure Comics,’ the collaboration worked out really well. And when Geoff came back to The Flash, he brought me along with him.”

Manapul’s goal has been to incorporate everything fast about The Flash and the series.

“Just that one word. We wanted to make it fast again,” he said.

(read the entire interview here)

I know that many readers are scratching their heads wondering why I am making such a big deal out of a superhero whose claim to fame is the ability to run fast. I can understand the reluctance to accept the coolness of the Flash, which is why it is fortunate that a hardcover edition of the new series is available today in comic shops, your local book store, library or even online.

Recommended:

The Flash: The Greatest Stories Ever Told

The Flash of Two Worlds

The Flash Vol. 2: Rogues

The Flash: Rebirth

The Flash, Vol. 1: The Dastardly Death of the Rogues

DC Comics unveils event comic ‘Flashpoint’

While Green Lantern is the big star of DC Comics these days, 2011 may be the year that the Flash makes a major impact on readers with Flashpoint. The devious evil speedster from the future, Eobard Thawne, known as the Reverse-Flash, is changing history, creating what is known as New Time.

All of it centers on a major event in the 21st Century called Flashpoint.

Geoff Johns spoke to CBR.com this past Summer and dropped a few details about the upcoming Flash-centric event coming from DC Comics.

We’ve heard about “Flashpoint,” but reader Chris O’Halloran asked if you had a plan to feature Barry Allen in an epic event within the DCU or even a trilogy of universe-spanning stories like you did with Hal Jordan?

I can’t say much. “Flashpoint” is five-issue series that’s going to introduce a lot of new and familiar characters, focus on Barry Allen and the DCU and it’s out sometime next year.

And you’re working with Andy Kubert on “Flashpoint.”

Actually we’ve already started on it. We’re about halfway through the first issue. Andy is obviously one of the best artists working today and he comes from that great Kubert family. The way he approaches everything is really top-notch. There is a lot of design work in “Flashpoint.” I’m really fortunate to be able to work with someone like him.

William Schwartz had a question about continuity. He asked that you explain the continuity of Professor Zoom, a.k.a. Reverse Flash, between “Blackest Night,” “Blackest Night: Flash,” “Flash: Rebirth” and “Brightest Day.” He’s alive and then imprisoned in “Flash: Rebirth,” which also hints at his soon-to-come resurrection. He’s a Black Lantern in “Blackest Night: Flash” but also alive and imprisoned before being frozen by Captain Cold. He’s then resurrected at the end of “Blackest Night” and escapes, yet he is still in prison. Is that right?

You’ll see more with Reverse Flash in “Brightest Day” and then “The Flash.” But he definitely has the timeline right. I mean, if you look at it from our point of view, in a linear timeline, he was resurrected by the Black Ring, brought back to life by the White Lantern, he then time traveled, brings Barry Allen back, gets stopped by Barry Allen and he’s get imprisoned in Iron Heights. I know. [laughs] Does anyone have an aspirin?

The Flash fansite Speed Force is proving to be an excellent resource for the upcoming story:

It looks like someone — most likely the Reverse-Flash — is systematically altering history to prevent the origins of DC’S heroes. It’s a concept we’ve seen before. My first thought was of a JLI story from the early 1990s, butCraigRMacDonald pointed out on Twitter that it’s also the premise of the first year of Booster Gold. Of course, when you distill it down to such basic elements, just about any story has been told before, and it becomes all about the details and execution.

I’ll be updating this post with links to the new teasers when I have time, or you can keep an eye directly on The Source.

The Source at DC Comics had a bit more including the cryptic promotional images below:

Flash Fact: Come back each and every Friday as we build towards the release of FLASHPOINT #1, and for the latest on the DC Universe event of 2011. This story is as ambitious and big as any event in DC history, and there’s much to tell in the weeks and months to come.

We’ll have one more tease for you this morning, then ask you all to come back next Friday.

Since this is an event centered on The Flash, it’s easy to run ahead at full speed in our excitement for the project. Because we have so much to say, we’ll be slowing down the news cycle here for a while.

We know there’s a lot of anticipation and clamoring for art and we can tell you now that Andy Kubert’s work on FLASHPOINT is spectacular, as you’ll see in the weeks to come.

FLASHPOINT #1 goes on sale this May. Can lightning strike twice?

“Whatever Happened the World’s Greatest Heroes?”

"Whatever Happened the World's Greatest Heroes?"