Monthly Archives: September 2008

Bits and Pieces: Interviews and More

First off, Newsarama interviews Alan Burnett, whose 4-issue arc on The Flash started last week. He very carefully avoids giving out any spoilers, but talks about how he got the assignment and his history with reading The Flash.

Former Flash writer Mark Waid, now Editor-in-Chief of BOOM! Studios, speaks with writer Rockne O’Bannon about his upcoming Farscape comic books at Newsarama.

Marc Guggenheim, the final writer on Flash: The Fastest Man Alive, talks to the Pulse about Spider-Man, where he applies the Chewbacca Defense to “One More Day” and the end of the Spider-marriage, and to CBR about Eli Stone. (Pulse link via Lying in the Gutters; Comics Should be Good riffs on the OMD comments)

Monday’s Heroes featured the show’s first on-screen speedster, Daphne Millbrook. It was also a very good premiere. Season 3 is off to a much stronger start than last year.

Todd Klein, who designed the first post-Crisis Flash logo in 1987, looks at dots and dashes in comic lettering, and how the typewriter gave comics the double-dash (--) instead of the more standard em-dash (—). Among his examples: the last issue of Flash Comics and the lead story from Showcase #4, the last and first solo Golden Age and Silver Age Flash stories.

Speaking of Todd Klein, last Spring he wrote up a 4-part study of the Flash Logo from 1940 through the present day: Part 1 · Part 2 · Part 3 · Part 4.

Another Kind of Flash Forward

ABC has bought the TV rights to Robert J. Sawyer’s novel, Flashforward, based on a script by David S. Goyer (Batman Begins and the Flash movie that never happened) and Brannon Braga (Star Trek, 24). The network wants to turn it into a series, and thinks it could become a companion piece to Lost.

As described by Pop Critics (where I learned about the deal):

During [a scientific] experiment, as the button is pressed, the unexpected occurs: everyone in the world goes to sleep for a few moments while everyone’s consciousness is catapulted more than twenty years into the future. At the end of those moments, when the world reawakens, all human life is transformed by foreknowledge.

Why am I mentioning it here? Because I really like Robert J. Sawyer’s novels, and the word Flash is in the title. I discovered him through his Neanderthal Parallax trilogy, and since then I’ve read Calculating God, Mindscan, and Rollback. I haven’t gotten to Flashforward yet, but it’s on my to-read list.

Sawyer tends to write social science-fiction: if X technological advance occurs, or Y scientific principle is discovered, what impact will that have on society? How would we react to discovering an alternate reality in which Neanderthals developed civilization instead of us? Or if aliens landed and claimed they had scientific proof that God exists and created the universe 14 billion years ago? What are the legal implications of being able to copy your personality into a virtually immortal, lifelike robot?

Regarding the title: In Sawyer’s blog, he mentions that the actual title is Flashforward, but because it was split into two words on the cover, it tends to get referred to as “Flash Forward.”

Flash vs. the Pirate Torpedo

Arr! Barry Allen may not know how to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day, but he do celebrate Jog Like a Pirate Day!

Showcase #13: The Flash runs across the water from a torpedo with a pirate flag on front. 'No matter how fast I go---this pirate torpedo keeps following me!'

From Showcase #13, it’s “Around the World in 80 Minutes,” a tale of the Flash. (Mostly he runs around the world, helps people out, and gets kissed by women. Aye, it be good to be a superhero.)

(Cover via GCD. This story appears in Showcase Presents: The Flash vol.1 and The Flash Archives vol.1. And yeah, it’s a repost, but it’s from a year ago on my other blog, so I figure it’s fair game.)

Faces of Evil: Rogue Profiles Go Global

In January, DC’s villains will take over the entire line for Faces of Evil. Each regular DC title will spotlight a villain for the month — much like the Rogue Profiles that Geoff Johns did during his run on The Flash, or the “New Year’s Evil” specials from 1998. The project was inspired* by the de-motivational posters DC has been running this year, and by the Final Crisis slogan, “The Day Evil Won.”

This might explain why December’s Flash #247, the conclusion of “This Was Your Life, Wally West,” was not solicited as the final issue of the series even though we know the book will stop for Flash: Rebirth. Even if Rebirth starts right on time in January, they could still run a one-shot focusing on, say, Zoom. Though I’d rather see a villain who hasn’t already had a spotlight issue in recent years.

Of course, I’m still holding out for the book to reach #250. So few series reach that milestone, and it would be sad for it to stop two issues short.

*Cynically, it occurs to me that this allows an extra month to finish Final Crisis before the entire line shifts from just before to just after the world-changing event.

Review: Flash #244, “Infested”

To be honest, I’ve been dreading this arc. Between the title, “This Was Your Life, Wally West,” the promotional descriptions, and the timing, it clearly seems that DC is setting it up as a last Wally West story — whether it literally is, or whether it’s simply the last story in his solo book. The last time that happened, we got “Finish Line,” which was…underwhelming at best.

Fortunately, this issue proved to actually be good. Writer Alan Burnett has a good feel for the characters, and portrays Wally as a competent hero. He holds his own against Amanda Waller. The Justice League has no qualms about sending him on a case solo. When he encounters obstacles that prevent him from using his normal tactics, he immediately finds a way to work around it.

Importantly for continuing readers, the story doesn’t feel disconnected from the previous runs. Story elements continue seamlessly from “Fast Money,” following up on choices and actions both at the personal level and at the heroic. And while the tone is more serious — possibly the closest to Geoff Johns since he left the book — it’s not a major departure.

Similarly, while Paco Díaz’ art is more realistic than Freddie Williams II’s more cartoony style, it’s clear that he’s working from the same character designs, so the change in style doesn’t jar the way that, say, the change from Scott Kolins to Alberto Dose between “Blitz” and “Ignition” did. (Although that was a deliberate artistic choice, so perhaps it’s not the best example.) I particularly like the fact that the Flash’s costume has some texture to it: the belt, in some panels, actually looks like a belt and not just a different color in the fabric.

The family dynamic is well-balanced with the super-heroics. Readers who dislike seeing Iris and Jai will be happy to see a lot more solo action from the Flash. Those who do like them will be pleased to see that their new, not-about-to-die status is actually explored rather than simply taken for granted.

This is probably the best first issue from a creative team that The Flash has had in years. It’s certainly better than the first issues of “Finish Line” or “Lightning in a Bottle.” I still have reservations about where the story may be going, particularly since we’ve got a major change coming in a few months, but I suppose we’ll see.

Now, on to specifics. Thar be spoilers ahead…. Continue reading

Three Months of Speed Force

Some administrivia today.

1. As of Monday, it’s been three months since I launched this blog. I have no idea what the typical lifetime for a comics-related blog is, but I can say I’ve kept this up far more regularly than I expected, with 162 posts in 94 days — an average of 1.7 posts per day! — and readers have made nearly 350 comments!

It’s also taking a lot more time than I expected, which has kept me away from other projects. (In particular, I’d planned a major update for the Alternative Browser Alliance this summer, which has become more urgent with the announcement and first beta of Google’s Chrome web browser.) I may be scaling back a little on Speed Force soon, but I’ll still aim for several posts a week.

2. I finally got around to replacing the banner at the top of the page. I didn’t want to stick with the theme’s default, since “train station” doesn’t really say “speedster,” and I was never really satisfied with the fractal “lightning.” (Besides, the smallest I could get that image without making it look really nasty was a whopping 50 KB.)

Still, I’m a web developer, not a graphic designer or an artist. Give me the graphics and I’ll build the HTML and CSS to turn them into a web page, but original art? It would make XKCD look like George Pérez. So instead of trying to draw something, I looked for photos of actual lightning on Flickr. I adapted “Lightning Crashes” by ~Prescott under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic license. The banner can be re-used and/or modified under the same terms.

3. After a struggle for the #3 spot at Comic Blog Elite with Collected Editions, we’ve both been superseded by a number of high-profile blogs that have joined, including Once Upon a Geek, The Absorbascon and 4thLetter. Speed Force has been holding steady around #12 lately.

4. I’ve dropped the Recent Visitors/Viewers boxes from MyBlogLog and BlogCatalog. They add a lot to the download time, especially on certain browsers *cough* IE *cough* that wait until they’re loaded before displaying the main section of the page.