Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for the cover.
Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for the cover.
2008 was a busy, if tumultuous year for the Flash.
As 2008 opened, the Flash was just wrapping up the six-part story “The Wild Wests,” the relaunch featuring Wally West as head of the Flash family and introducing his super-powered twins, Iris and Jai. To put it mildly, it was not received well by fans, and former fan favorite writer Mark Waid quickly left the book.
After a one-shot by Keith Champagne, Tom Peyer picked up the regular writing chores and Freddie Williams II stayed on for the 6-part “Fast Money,” which resolved the twins’ super-speed aging problem and gave us a glimpse of an adult Iris West II.
The series wrapped up with the year, as Alan Burnett, Paco Diaz, and Carlo Barberi brought us “This Was Your Life, Wally West.” The four-part story arc looked back at Wally West’s career as Kid Flash, then the Flash, and his relationship with his wife Linda and their children.
The Rogues’ Gallery were off-limits to start with, as they were off-planet for Salvation Run. Early in the year, DC released the news of Flash: Rogues’ Revenge, a miniseries that would spotlight them after they returned to Earth, going after Inertia for tricking them into killing the Flash. Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins would return to the speedster mythos for six issues.
By the time the series was launched, it had become Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge, and instead of six regular-sized issues it was three oversized issues.
Remember: This week’s comics arrive on Friday instead of Wednesday due to the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
The Shadow Cabinet has stolen the mortal remains of Dr. Light. The Justice League has vowed to bring them down. Plus, Shadow Thief has returned deadlier than ever before, and you won’t believe the source of his new powers.
Written by Dwayne McDuffie. Art and cover by Ed Benes
Note: JLA #28 has been shuffled around like a deck of cards, but Diamond says it’s coming out this week.
Concluding the sequel to Kingdom Come and featuring several pages of painted interiors by Alex Ross! The Justice Society have had their greatest wishes granted, but at what deadly price? As war breaks out among the Justice Society, the cost of Gog’s watchful eye comes to light. But removing Gog from Earth will cost more than they could ever imagine. This finale will leave the Justice Society torn apart…and see a new team rise out of the ashes!
Written by Geoff Johns & Alex Ross.
Art by Alex Ross and Dale Eaglesham & Nathan Massengill.
Cover by Alex Ross.
Variant cover by Dale Eaglesham & Nathan Massengill
Finally, the secrets of this year’s most talked about event can be revealed! Witness how Darkseid’s death shattered the Multiverse, creating continuity ripples throughout the DC Universe! Submit to Darkseid and read the full Anti-Life Equation! This is a book you cannot resist to buy!
Written by Grant Morrison & Peter J. Tomasi.
Art by Frank Quitely & various.
Covers by Frank Quitely and Jim Lee & Scott Williams
Note: Newsarama has a 5-page preview of Final Crisis Secret Files. It is, of course, possible that the Flash only appears in the splash page.
The Flash often appears in Trinity.
I recently watched the complete fifth season of The Batman. I’d only ever seen one episode, “A Mirror Darkly” (the one with the Flash, of course!) before, and when I decided to watch the two-parter with the Justice League, I figured I might as well watch the rest of the season.
The series follows Batman, a young Robin, and a teenaged Batgirl as they battle the usual assortment of Gotham City villains. While the 1990s Batman: The Animated Series essentially translated the comic-book versions of these characters into a style suitable for animation, The Batman has redesigned virtually everyone…and that’s the main problem I have with the show. They’ve taken the villains and dehumanized them, making them into little more than monsters.
The main thread for season 5 is showing Batman as he works with the Justice League, with 8 of 13 episodes featuring guest stars. Unlike the Gotham villains, the heroes’ designs are practically lifted from the comics. It’s also a much more Silver Age League (at least compared to the animated Justice League and Justice League Unlimited from earlier this decade)*, with Hal Jordan as Green Lantern, Hawkman as a Thanagarian policeman, and Barry Allen (though his name is never mentioned on screen) as the Flash. Conspicuously absent is Wonder Woman, an oddity considering the larger role given to Batgirl in this series. That, and some of the visuals in the final episode, reminded me of Filmation’s Justice League cartoons from the 1960s.
The season opens with a two-parter pitting Batman against a mind-controlled Superman. Lex Luthor and a host of Batman villains guest star. Oddly enough, I found myself looking up the casting, even though Superman, Lex and Lois are voiced by the same actors as in the Dini/Timm cartoons. The takes on each character were enough different that I didn’t notice the voices at first.
Batman goes on to team up with Green Arrow, the Flash, Green Lantern and Hawkman over the course of the season, as they fight Count Vertigo, Mirror Master, Sinestro and the Shadow Thief. The Green Lantern tie-in, “Ring Toss,” was particularly fun, as the Penguin obtains GL’s ring. He figures out the basics pretty quickly, even though he doesn’t have the experience — or willpower — to use it to its full potential.
According to the producers, the Flash in this series is Barry Allen, though his real name is never mentioned onscreen and his personality is somewhere between the Timmverse Flash and Impulse.
The Scarlet Speedster teams up with Batman and Robin in “A Mirror Darkly” (on the first disc of the set). Mirror Master has come to Gotham City seeking components for a weapon (of course), and uses mirror duplicates of heroes — including both Batman and the Flash — to help him steal them. I like the portrayal of Mirror Master as a smug know-it-all mad scientist, and the redesigned costume works fine for me. He’s been given a sidekick/assistant named Smoke, and thankfully the show’s staff resist the urge to point out the pun in the name (though I keep thinking of the episode, erroneously, as “Smoke and Mirrors” because of it).
Mirror Master’s plan proves to be one of those totally bizarre schemes that would ordinarily seem out of place in a Batman story, but feels right at home in a classic Flash story with new pseudo-scientific feats appearing on every page.
On a related note, I could swear I remember an episode of Batman: The Animated Series that also featured a showdown in a room-sized orrery at a planetarium, but I just can’t place it.
In a sense, there are two series finales. “The End of the Batman” has Batman and Robin going up against Wrath and Scorn, opposite numbers who have dedicated themselves to protecting criminals and wiping out the Batman. They bring in half a dozen Batman villains in on the scheme, one which will not only make them all rich, but end the threat of the Batman for good.
Then the two-part “Lost Heroes” brings the Justice League thread to the foreground, as all the heroes who have guest starred over the season show up just long enough to be abducted, leaving Batman and Green Arrow to track them down. The heroes must battle robots that have stolen their powers, then head off another alien invasion. Robin and Batgirl aren’t left out of the action either, and their reactions to meeting the League — and seeing its headquarters — are priceless.
(This story also has the oddest portrayal of Hugo Strange that I’ve seen, but then I’m mainly used to the version from Legends of the Dark Knight, so I’m not sure what “standard” is. Now that I think about it, he looks like a cross between Dr. Scratchensniff and Ralph the Guard, and now I can’t unsee it.)
*I realize I’m probably going to compare almost any animated DC show to the DC Animated Universe for quite a while. Even though I grew up on Superfriends in the early 1980s, it was the 1992 Batman series that really resonated with me and my friends in high school. It was a show that actually managed to present complex characters and storylines without talking down to their audience. It featured the best portrayal of Two-Face until this year’s The Dark Knight. The direct-to-video Batman: Sub-Zero was a better Mr. Freeze movie than Batman and Robin, which came out the same year. And it introduced Harley Quinn. How can you argue with that?
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Collected Editions has spotted more DC collections for 2009, including two Flash hardcovers.
Writers: Gardner Fox and John Broome Artists: Carmine Infantino, Joe Giella and Sid Greene
Collects: The Flash v.1 #123, 129, 137, 151 and #173 $39.99 US, 144 pages
Flash #123 is, of course, the classic “Flash of Two Worlds.” The other issues feature further cross-dimensional team-ups between Barry Allen and Jay Garrick from the 1960s, as they go up against Golden-Age classics like Vandal Savage and the Shade, and Silver-Age villains like Captain Cold and the Trickster. Wally West co-stars as Kid Flash in the last story in this collection.
Writer: Geoff Johns Artist: Scott Kolins, Doug Hazelwood and Dan Panosian Collects: Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge #1-3 and The Flash v.2 #182 and #197 $19.99 US, 144 pages
According to Amazon, both are scheduled for July 7, 2009.
Comiccon.com interviews the creators of Will Triumph Fights Alone. The power ring on the cover, with its yellow band, circular setting, and lightning insignia looks oddly familiar.
Comics Should Be Good’s Top 100 battles adds more Flash material, including Flash vs. Zoom (Blitz) (thanks, Craig MD) and #47, Flash vs. Professor Zoom (Return of Barry Allen)
Update: I missed this one in my rush to post this before heading out to a family gathering that, as it turned out, was starting several hours before we expected. Newsarama has an interview with Greg LaRocque about his new project, The Dreaming. LaRocque worked on The Flash during the late 1980s and early 1990s with both William Messner-Loebs and Mark Waid.
When I thought of doing this feature, I figured there would be more of these. But there are surprisingly few. Most of them, as it turns out, are from Comic Cavalcade back in the 1940s. None appeared during Barry Allen’s run, and only two during Wally West’s. (One of them I only included because the cover quoted “Jingle Bells.”) Impulse, however, managed three.
I even went hunting for team books — Justice League, Teen Titans, Justice Society, etc. Oddly enough, I couldn’t find many that were both Christmas-themed and featured a Flash.
Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for the covers.
Well, if Wally West’s series had to end — again — at least he got a decent send-off. Flash #247 concludes Alan Burnett’s four-part “This Was Your Life, Wally West”. This story wraps up threads from the current run of the series, looks back on Wally’s entire super-hero career, firmly establishes his roots in the Justice League and Titans, and sets up a few beats that can be picked up for future stories with the characters.
It picks up immediately after the previous issue’s cliffhanger, resolving the threat to Linda before rushing headlong into battle with the Queen Bee. This month does feature another flashback, this time to the West family’s time on the planet Savoth, but it’s only two pages. It ends with a conclusion that’s not quite an ending, but a place to stop. DC isn’t burning any bridges here the way they did with “Full Throttle” and the end of Bart’s series.
It’s also much better than “Finish Line,” the four-parter that wrapped up Wally’s series the last time it was canceled, from Flash #227–230. It was better written, better researched, and actually made an effort to tie together the rest of the series. The only thing “Finish Line” has over “This Was Your Life, Wally West” is consistent art.
While the first issue of the arc was penciled entirely by Paco Diaz, and the second and third were penciled entirely by Carlo Barberi, this issue was done by committee. Barberi gets the cover spot, but is joined by J. Calafiore and Andre Coelho. I’m not familiar with either of their work, so I couldn’t tell who did which pages, but the shifts in style were jarring. Normally changes in artist don’t bother me, especially if their styles are similar or if the change is done for thematic effect. (An example in The Flash would be Race Against Time, in which each issue used one art team for Wally’s storyline and another for John Fox’s.)
Brian Stelfreze’s cover, on the other hand, has got to be one of the best Flash covers since the relaunch. (I’d also include issues #243 and #246, both by Freddie Williams II) The starkness of it, with the plain white background, the shadow of the grim reaper, and the Flash standing barefoot with his boots off, says everything that needs to be said about what he’s up against. Honestly, I think it would work better without the “Wally West — Finished?” caption, or even the title logo.
Spoilers after the cut: Read the rest of this entry »
The current series of The Flash ends with #247, arriving in stores tomorrow.
Flash: Rebirth will be a
6-issue miniseries written by Geoff Johns with art by Ethan Van Sciver, and is scheduled to start in April 2009. Ethan Van Sciver is drawing it, and has released one panel of preview art (see below).
Flash: Rebirth is centered on Barry Allen, but will “touch on all the other Flashes”—presumably meaning at least Jay, Wally and Bart.
Geoff Johns wants to “make [the Flash] mythology even bigger” in Flash: Rebirth, much like Green Lantern: Rebirth and Sinestro Corps War expanded the Green Lantern mythology. Johns says it “will be very science based, but will also blend in the quasi-science of the Speed Force”
Wally West will be getting a new costume designed by Ethan Van Sciver, and will still be called the Flash.
Update (Jan 19): The solicitation for the first issue is now available, confirming a release date of April 1 and the format: 5 oversized issues, 40 pages each for $3.99 (like Rogues’ Revenge).
Update (Feb 6): DC has released a 5-page preview through New York Comic-Con and Newsarama.
Update (Mar 27): The covers for issue #1 have been revealed.
A new Flash series will almost certainly launch after Flash: Rebirth finishes. DC hasn’t officially announced when, who will write it, who will draw it, or even which Flash will be the star. Geoff Johns has been very strongly hinted, and it’s almost guaranteed that Barry will headline the book. It seems unlikely that they’d go to all the effort to bring him back, do a high-profile mini-series, and relaunch the book, just to keep someone else as the focus.
I think that covers the major issues. There is, of course, lots of speculation. Here’s a quick link to all posts here about Flash: Rebirth.