One series [Ethan] Van Sciver will be working on that could be talked about was the upcoming “Flash: Rebirth” series. When a fan asked why they would replace Wally West with Barry Allen when the former was the far more popular and successful version of the character, the artist said, “We have not said that Wally West will not be the Flash.”
When the conversation came to a chicken or the egg type of debate between the panelists and the audience about the scarlet speedster, [Dan] Didio explained, “Some of the more recognizable Wally West stories deal with the Barry Allen lore and what his legacy is. A lot of Wally can’t be explained without Barry, so therefore it was essential, we thought, for Barry to come back. And at that point, we’d undone so much of what Crisis On Infinite Earths was ” Supergirl was back, the multiverse was back ” there was only one last piece to decide upon, and it was Barry. And at that point, it didn’t make sense not to do it.”
“I used to be in taxi cabs with Dan and just say, ‘We have to bring Barry Allen back,’” Van Sciver explained finally. “Now is the time for this character. Flash is a CSI scientist. It’s a whole new avenue for Flash stories, and these are stories Geoff and I want to tell. And you have to give us the room now. This isn’t a reboot. We are going to make this part of one long continuous story. Just like with Hal Jordan…everything that was done even before us was part of a much larger picture. We’re going to do the same thing with Barry Allen and the entire Flash legacy.”
Also interesting, and relevant to the Flash, is the earlier section in which Dan Didio talks about realizing that repeated reboots and changes of direction are actually alienating readers, rather than bringing them in:
“What happens is that if a character doesn’t work, we go, ‘We got a brand new direction to put him in! We’re moving him into something new! We’re going to try something brand new and different! We’re going to throw everything out and start over again!’ We make that mistake, but what that does is, it alienates fans.
“Our biggest mistake is that we don’t continue and build on…what we should be doing is let it sit for a while and then come back with a good strong story with what’s going on. That’s what Geoff [Johns] does. That’s Geoff’s secret weapon. He doesn’t throw it all out and start all over. He builds on what’s existed and makes it better…We get too worried about the minutia…all we should be doing is telling great stories with out characters.
This is, of course, exactly what’s happened to the Flash over the last few years:
— Hey, it’s a Crisis, let’s get rid of Wally and replace him with Bart!
— Hey, Bart’s not selling well, let’s kill him off and bring Wally back!
— Hey, Wally’s not selling well, let’s change creative teams after only one arc!
— Hey, Wally’s still not selling well, let’s bring back Barry!
I’m glad to see that DC finally understands where they went wrong, and it sounds like they’re on the right track to fix that problem.
Update: There’s more info from Saturday’s DC: A Guide to Your Universe panel.