June 25, 2008
One of the strangest things to hit comics fandom last week was the furor over DC EIC Dan Didio’s rumored ouster. It didn’t happen — in fact, his contract was renewed — but in response, Collected Editions has posted a list of 3 things Didio has done right for DC:
- Revitalized the summer event crossover.
- Greater continuity in publishing (ex: Countdown, Full Throttle, and The Lightning Saga all fitting together).
- Emphasis on a good story (including support for low-selling, but critically-appreciated books).
#1 is a matter of perspective: if you like big events, it’s a good thing. If you don’t, it’s not. Personally, I’m getting tired of them.
#2 is a bit of an odd choice for a wait-to-trader, since you don’t get the impact of, say, Bart’s death and Wally’s return hitting simultaneously if you’re reading the trades months later. Though I suppose it’s sort of like looking at the way the various pieces of Seven Soldiers interlock.
#3 I absolutely agree with. I’ve lost a number of favorite books to low sales in the past, and while I haven’t gotten into, say, Manhunter or Blue Beetle, it’s nice to see some of these books given more of a chance.
That said, I’ve found myself very frustrated with DC over the last few years, for the following reasons:
1. As mentioned above, I’m tired of mega-crossovers. I was actually prepared to skip Final Crisis until I found out it was being written by Grant Morrison. (Of course, it’s since become clear that I would have had to pick it up anyway for research material!) Edit: This is, of course, not unique to DC. Marvel is just as focused on big events. It occurs to me that my current favorite series are Fallen Angel (IDW), Dynamo 5 (Image), Fables (DC/Vertigo) and Girl Genius (Studio Foglio) — all of which are stand-alone series. Of those, only D5 even takes place in a shared universe.
2. Mishandling of the Flash after Geoff Johns left. Six creative changes in three years. Two relaunches, and possibly a third coming up. A high-profile launch with writers who hadn’t adjusted to the medium. Starting both relaunches with slow burns instead of hitting the ground running.
There was no need to relaunch the book after Infinite Crisis. DC just figured “You can’t have a Crisis without a dead Flash” (or whatever the quote was). On the relaunch, Bilson & DeMeo were learning rapidly, but not fast enough to turn around sales. Marc Guggenheim was brought in to kill Bart, and response to his story made it clear that DC didn’t need to replace him. I’m very much enjoying Tom Peyer’s arc on the book, but just as it got going, DC announced a new creative team. It feels like DC has no idea what to do with the character, and is flailing around in a panic, grasping at everything without actually taking hold of anything long enough to let it build.
Since Flash is the only ongoing DCU book I read regularly these days, that makes a big difference. I can only hope that the attention the Flash is getting through Final Crisis and Rogues’ Revenge will turn things around.
3. The wholesale slaughter of “redundant” and C-list characters to make a point. That’s just throwing away long-term story potential for short-term shock value. Yes, you can bring them back, but every time you do, it makes the threat of death that much less credible for the next story. And no, this didn’t start in the last few years — I’ve seen more than a few favorites killed off within months of their series being canceled back in the 1990s — but it seems to have accelerated drastically from Infinite Crisis onward.
I can’t say how much of this is Didio’s fault, however, which is part of why I stayed out of the discussion last week. That, and it had turned into a virtual lynch mob. It was downright eerie watching the same thing happen, focused on the recent Flash editor, Joan Hilty, over at Comic Bloc — yes, Comic Bloc, the place that Newsarama posters think is full of rainbows and ponies enforced by a fascist dictatorship of moderators. I’d like to refer readers to this xkcd comic strip. Or, if you’re okay with swearing, Penny Arcade’s Greater Internet ——wad Theory (NSFW language) sums it up succinctly.
June 24, 2008
Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins have done a number of interviews about this summer’s Flash-focused mini-series, Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge.
The Comics Bulletin piece has a nice look at 5 of the 6 covers — the plot-related “sliver” covers, fitting with the Final Crisis design, and the alternate “iconic” covers featuring Captain Cold, Heat Wave (pictured), and the Trickster, and a few pages of preview art.
June 23, 2008
Comics Should Be Good has a feature on the top 10 Pieta covers — covers inspired by Michelangelo’s statue, Pietà, of Mary holding the lifeless body of Jesus. The most famous of these covers is probably George Pérez’ cover for Crisis on Infinite Earths #7, the death of Supergirl.
One Flash cover made the cut: Flash v.1 #305, in which Barry Allen and Jay Garrick each hold their dead wives. (It turned out Joan wasn’t actually dead. And Iris got better…eventually.)
There’s at least one more Flash cover that fits the bill: The full cover for Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #13, featuring the Black Flash carrying the lifeless body of Bart Allen.
This was the cover that set me looking for examples of dead Flash covers last year — and it’s amazing how many there are!
Final Crisis #2 of 7
Meet Japan’s number one pop culture heroes, the Super Young Team and their languid leader, Most Excellent Superbat! Join legendary wrestler Sonny Sumo and super escape artist Mister Miracle as they team to face the offspring of the Anti-Life Equation! See Earth’s superheroes mourn one of their oldest allies! Witness costumed criminals sinking to new depths of cowardice and depravity as Libra takes things too far! Uncover the doomsday secrets of the poisoned city of Blüdhaven! Learn the shocking identity of the prime suspect in the murder of a god! And read on if you dare as Batman becomes the first of Earth’s champions to face the Fallen of Apokolips. All this and a spectacular return from the dead…
Grant Morrison and J.G. Jones’ multiverse-spanning epic continues with bombshell after bombshell in Final Crisis #2 — “Ticket to Blüdhaven”!
June 25, 2008. Written by Grant Morrison. Art and covers by J.G. Jones
Tangent Comics vol. 3
Collecting more of DC’s Tangent titles, including Tangent Comics: Superman, Wonder Woman, Joker’s Wild, JLA, Tales of the Green Lantern, Powergirl, Nightwing: Nightforce and Trials of the Flash.
June 25, 2008. Written by Mark Millar, Peter David, Ron Marz, Dan Jurgens and others; Art by Darryl Banks, J.H. Williams III, Ryan Sook and others; Cover by Jurgens.
The Tangent Flash
When [former Flash] artist Mike Wieringo passed away, he was in the middle of his latest Marvel Comics book, a What If? story. Mike had completed seven pages of what became a massive 27-page story. With Mike’s passing, Marvel Comics generously provided access to the script and Mike’s art to The Hero Initiative, and Mike’s friends stepped up to finish the story, and pay tribute to Mike. Now, What If…This Was The Fantastic Four?: A Tribute to Mike Wieringo is a massive, 48-page tribute book that contains the full story, and additional written tributes to Mike. Previously covered here.
Contributors include Jeff Parker, Arthur Adams, Paul Renaud, Stuart Immonen, Cully Hamner, Alan Davis, David Williams, Sanford Greene, Humberto Ramos, Skottie Young, Mike Allred, Barry Kitson, and Val Staples. Cover by Mike Wieringo and Paul Mounts.
June 25, 2008.
June 21, 2008
Comic Book Resources and Newsarama have posted their write-ups on today’s DC Nation Panel at HeroesCon. Newsarama’s coverage includes a breakdown of the question-and-answer session, including some tantalizing hints about the future of the Flash. (The article notes that these are paraphrased.)
Q: What’s coming up in The Flash?
Ethan VanSciver: “No comment” on what’s coming up, but the artist added, “I love the Flash, Absolutely love the Flash.”
Dan Didio – How much?
EVS – Enough to spend some time with the Flash.
Q: Is the Flash that Ethan wants to spend time on Barry?
DD: Enough said.
There have been rumors of a Geoff Johns/Ethan van Sciver project for months, and speculation that it might be a Flash series starring Barry Allen.
Johns and van Sciver are, of course, well-known today for their work on Green Lantern, and Green Lantern: Rebirth — the series which brought Hal Jordan back from limbo and reinstated him as DC’s main Green Lantern — seems particularly relevant. They also teamed on the 2001 graphic novel The Flash: Iron Heights, which introduced a half-dozen new villains to the Flash mythos (focusing on Murmur) and established Keystone City’s equivalent to Arkham Asylum. The opening sequence featured a flashback to Barry Allen, police scientist, testifying at Murmur’s trial.
For several years, Iron Heights has been difficult to find, but it’s now been included in the second edition of Flash: Blood Will Run.
Q: Will a Flash die in Final Crisis?
DD: Quite the opposite.
Well, we’ve known since the end of April that Barry Allen was returning from the dead as part of Final Crisis, so this doesn’t give much away. Interestingly, CBR’s write-up has this as “No, quite the opposite.” That single word makes a difference. That phrasing implies that not only does Barry return, but no other Flashes die. That would indicate that Wally, Jay, and yes, even Barry are safe — at least in Final Crisis itself.
Were any readers at that panel? Can you clarify how Didio phrased this?
Update: The Pulse’s coverage doesn’t try to paraphrase the response, but mentions, “one fan joked that it would mean that Wally West would have more kids.”
Some recent interviews with former Flash contributors:
Comics Worth Reading interviews Todd Dezago (who wrote Impulse for nearly half of the series’ 90*-issue run) about Perhpahanauts (co-created with art by
his Impulse collaborator artist Craig Rousseau**) moving from Dark Horse to Image.
Newsarama interviews Mark Waid (1990-2000) and William Messner-Loebs about the upcoming adapation of The Necronomicon. Messner-Loebs and Waid together account for 12 years of Flash stories from 1988–2000.
Edit: Mark Waid, William Messner-Loebs, and Todd Dezago actually cover the entire run of Impulse, minus a handful of fill-in issues by other writers.
*Yes, 90. The October 1998 issue was numbered #1,000,000 as a DC One Million tie-in.
**Correction: while Dezago and Rousseau both worked on Impulse, it was at different times. Rousseau worked on the book mainly with William Messner-Loebs.
June 20, 2008
Here’s a quick update on the earlier post about the Morrison/Millar run getting the trade paperback treatment. Collected Editions reports that “The Black Flash” will be included in The Flash: Emergency Stop.
This is a good move, as it’s the story from that period that has added the most to the mythos. The Black Flash, the personification of death for speedsters, has shown up in two pivotal arcs: “Mercury Falling” in Impulse, and “Full Throttle” in Flash: The Fastest Man Alive. It was in “Full Throttle” that Inertia and the Rogues killed Bart Allen, just a short time into his career as the fourth Flash. The consequences of that event have spun into Countdown, Salvation Run, the current “Fast Money,” and the upcoming Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge.
Incidentally, several months ago the Black Flash made an appearance in Something Positive as the only Flash villain that Davan MacIntire likes. The presentation almost makes it look kindly as it carries a dying Flash away. (Warning: while that particular strip is “work-safe,” the webcomic and the commentary often feature adult language, situations, and offensive humor.)
The Pulse reports that former Flash writer Cary Bates has a new book coming at Marvel this summer after a long absence from comics. Here’s how he describes the book, True Believers:
It’s a new take on the group book. Although the True Believers have powers they’re not super-heroes per se, but a group of counter-culture subversives, each with his and her own reasons for lashing out at the disinformation routinely put forth by the establishment. They’re willing to take on any government, organization, group or individual that traffics in secrets or lies, cover-ups or conspiracies.
Cary Bates wrote more than 130 issues of The Flash from 1971 through to the end of the series in 1985 — essentially the entire Bronze Age — and edited it during the final two years. During his 15-year run, he changed the book from primarily stand-alone adventures to more ongoing storylines, including such high-profile stories as the death of the Flash’s wife, Iris Allen, and the multi-year Trial of the Flash.
The interview also discusses how Bates got his start in the industry:
THE PULSE: A lot of our readers might not know that you got your start in comic books by sending in cover ideas to DC Comics when you were 13 and had quite a few of them bought. When you were first sending in ideas, did you ever dream any would be bought or were you just writing to your favorite publisher?
BATES: Actually, when I first started submitting cover ideas I would always draw, ink and color them. My original aspirations were to become a comic book artist. In retrospect, having worked with so many truly talents artists over these years, I’ve come to realize my limitations. Though I’ve always been pretty good when it comes to visualizing things, my actual drawing ability was never anything to write home about.
Full interview: The Pulse: Cary Bates is a True Believer at Marvel
June 18, 2008
Reader Ungenesis pointed me to a set of images which confirm the presence of The Flash in the upcoming video game, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe.
The costume isn’t quite one of the standard variations. It’s got the V-shaped belt like Wally West’s, but the cutout on the boots is reminiscent of Bart Allen’s costume as Kid Flash, and the yellow armbands are entirely new. Edit: And as Ungenesis points out below, the gloves are yellow as well, another variation that doesn’t appear in any of the standard flash costumes — though it can be found in several alternate reality designs, including the original Earth-3 Johnny Quick, Ms. Flash, Earth-D’s Tanaka Rei and others.
Judging by the forums at Worlds Collide, the official site for the game, the images were probably scanned from the UK’s XboX 360 Magazine.
Update June 25: More screenshots have been released (available from CBR and elsewhere), including this one, which shows a much clearer view of the Flash’s costume:
Could the Flash be running toward another relaunch? Fans have been speculating for months, ever since rumors surfaced that Silver Age Flash Barry Allen might be returning in Final Crisis.
There are certainly signs that point to change.
Sales on The Flash have continued to drop since last summer’s relaunch brought Wally West back from limbo and introduced the Flash Family.
Barry Allen has indeed returned, off-panel in April’s DC Universe #0 and (reportedly) on-panel in next week’s Final Crisis #2.
The miniseries Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge is clearly going to be high-profile — quite possibly higher-profile than the ongoing book.
The book has been relaunched twice* in as many years. Flash: The Fastest Man Alive, launched in the wake of Infinite Crisis with Bart Allen as lead, lasted only 13 issues from 2006–2007. The revived Wally West series, picking up at #231, will hit 13 issues by the end of the current storyline. If DC stays true to form, it’s pretty much due.
Then there’s the setup. Fan response to the Flash Family has been mixed at best. While some love Iris and Jai West, others would rather see them as normal children, and still others would happily throw them under the bus. (And yes, I’ve seen that sentiment expressed on message boards.) DC might (rightly or wrongly) conclude that the twins are a liability to the franchise.
Today’s Flash #241 features part 4 of Tom Peyer’s 6-part “Fast Money.” The storyline is scheduled to wrap up in #243, due in August. Signs initially pointed to Peyer writing the book long-term, but DC’s September solicits show a new creative team after the story concludes: writer Alan Burnett and artist Paco Diaz. With a title like “This Was Your Life, Wally West,” things don’t look too good for the current speedster.
There’s no official word yet on whether Burnett replaces Peyer as the regular writer or whether Peyer will be back after a couple of issues, though Peyer’s MySpace page says he’s “writing six issues of The Flash for DC Comics with artist Freddie E. Williams II” (emphasis added). Update: I contacted Tom Peyer through MySpace, and he confirmed that #243 is his last issue:
Flash #243 is my last issue. We went into it with no set time I’d be leaving, which is why we seemed so cagey about it, and we parted friends.
My next mainstream work is for Marvel Apes, which is kind of like Marvel Zombies but they’re apes; please check it out in the fall.
What’s still unclear is how long Burnett is scheduled to be on the book. The situation is eerily similar to early 2006: early in the stages of a cosmic “Crisis” crossover, a new team comes on board with a final-sounding storyline. The write-up even echoes the earlier story’s title, “Finish Line.”
Edit: And, on top of all that, editor Joan Hilty is leaving the book for Vertigo.
So what does all of this mean? No one (outside of DC’s offices) knows yet… though there’s plenty of speculation. Will we see another relaunch with Barry Allen taking over for his successor? Or a new direction for Wally, perhaps without the twins? Will Wally and Barry share the lead? Or will Rogues’ Revenge lead into a second Flash ongoing with Barry?
*In point of fact, since Geoff Johns left the book in 2005, no creative team has lasted longer than half a year. Joey Cavalieri penned Flash v.2 #227-230 marking time until its cancellation for the Bart relaunch. Danny Bilson & Paul DeMeo wrote the first 8 issues of Flash: The Fastest Man Alive before being replaced by Marc Guggenheim, who handled writing chores for the 5 issues leading up to its tragic end. Mark Waid wrote the transition, All-Flash #1, and Flash v.2 #231-236. Poor reception led to him leaving, with Tom Peyer coming on board in Flash v.2 #238. And then there’s Alan Burnett on #244.