Didio: Bart Was a Step in the Road Back to Barry

An interesting revelation from the latest 20 Questions with Dan Didio at Newsarama. He’s previously claimed (though many fans remained unconvinced) that Bart Allen’s death in Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #13 was planned from the start, but we’ve got a new twist. Here’s part of his answer to question #15:

Bart was always going to go away, and I think the mistake was that we probably pulled Bart a little too soon, but quite honestly again, that was the problem of lining stories up with Countdown. The Bart story was due to be extended a little bit longer, but due to how things were lining up, he had to leave sooner.

That story’s not complete yet. We’re going to see more of what that story was about shortly – it was always the plan for Bart. He was going to be the Flash of the moment as we made our way back to Barry. [emphasis added]

Okay, not a big surprise that they shuffled things around to match with Countdown.* But am I reading that right? Is he saying that they planned to bring Barry Allen back as long ago as Infinite Crisis? Didio continues:

I think Mark Waid did an admirable job of stepping in and trying to find a different slant to Wally and the family, which we found out, was a more difficult story to tell than when we planned it. I think Mark did as best a job as possible – he put so much thought and effort into fleshing out that family, and I think we have a couple of rich characters in the children because of that.

This is the other thing that gets confusing, depending on who tells it: When was the plan made for Wally to return, and when was the plan made for Bart to be killed? Mark Waid’s interview in The Flash Companion suggests that he, at least was led to believe that Bart’s move up to lead Flash was intended to be indefinite, not a fill-in gig, though he predicted it wouldn’t catch on. And Didio’s remarks here about Waid “stepping in” suggest that they did bring him on unexpectedly — though that could simply be the result of moving up the timetable. (Which, now that I think about it, might explain artist Daniel Acuña’s sudden departure.)

I’ll agree with Didio on this: the West Twins are promising characters, even if most of the comics readership seems to want to throw them under a bus.

But at the end of the day, there’s a certain expectation of what a Flash story is, and what you want to see in a Flash comic book. While we expanded the Flash family, people really wanted to see the Flash.

And that seems to have been the main criticism of issues #231–243: Not enough of the Flash in The Flash.

But the goal for me, always, was to get back to Barry in the same way the goal was to get back to Hal in Green Lantern.

Whoa, hold on a second. Now he is saying that they were planning to bring Barry back from the beginning?

Well why didn’t they do that in the first place?

Seriously, Infinite Crisis would have been a perfect time to bring Barry back. Sure, a lot of us would have been pissed off that they were getting rid of Wally just because it was a Crisis and going back to Barry just so that they could bring back the guy who was the Flash when they were twelve — but you know what, we’re pissed off anyway. Plus we’ve got the frustration of three years of mismanaged Flash stories on top of that.

So, to sum up: DC considered Bart as a temp from the beginning. And DC never had any intention of bringing Wally back after they kicked Bart out, at least not as the primary Flash. It was all about Barry from the start.

*I find it amusing — in a banging-my-head-against-the-wall way — that people were so annoyed with the way some stories were stretched out during Countdown for the sake of lining books up, and people are annoyed now with Final Crisis because they’re not trying to line everything up.


12 thoughts on “Didio: Bart Was a Step in the Road Back to Barry

  1. Jackcsco

    I find it amusing that DC thinks a good time is first pissing off all the Barry fans like myself in the 80s, then the Wally fans by bringing on Bart, then the Bart fans by killing him, and then the Wally fans again by bringing back Barry. I would say this is their last chance. Do it right Jeff and you will have saved the Flash. Do it wrong and who says history can’t be repeated. The old saying goes I would rather be pissed off than pissed on but in this case DC has done both to us.

  2. Will

    This is all lies. They had no idea what they were doing at any time. They don’t plan this far in advance. This Barry ploy is just the last in long line of efforts to try to save the Flash and get some readers back. Would’ve been better to just put Johns and Kolins back on with Wally.

  3. Kelson Post author

    That’s the question, isn’t it: are they lying now, or were they lying when they promoted Bart, or were they lying when they brought Wally back?

  4. heffison

    I don’t see why Bart needed to be aged and replace Wally to pull this off. Why not leave Wally where he was, age the kids by exposure to the Speed Force somehow, and have Barry come back to Wally just like he has in Final Crisis? It might make sense if Bart is in the lightning rod so he can be with the Legion(s) but there must have been a better way to get him there. And DiDio’s hiding behind the Curse of Countdown is a cowardly way out.

    Geoff, and the promise of all Flashes being involved, can probably pull all of this together for Rebirth, and make everything better, if not actually worth all this trouble. They’re just putting fans (of any of the Flashes) through a lot of unpleasantness in the meantime.

  5. fastest

    I’ve been reading all of this bull from the beginning because I am a huge Bart fan, and I’ve sorted through the lies, here’s the story:

    DC had a plan to bring Bart in as the Flash after Infinite Crisis, parallelling what happened to Wally after Crisis on Infinite Earths.

    They had planned to bring Barry back to life during Final Crisis, not only bringing the Crises full circle, but also capitalizing on the success of Green Lantern: Rebirth. Bart was to remain the Flash untill this happened.

    Near as I can tell, DC gave up on Wally because they just had this great run by Geoff Johns that couldn’t be topped, but they had a couple of new guys, Bilson and Demeo, who used to write the Flash TV show, but probably didn’t know all of Wally’s continuity. So they gave them Bart. Bart was an unimportant character, they could just loosely follow his continuity.

    Look at the pacing of the first story of Flash: Fastest Man Alive. Slow as hell. Because Bilson and Demeo actually believed they’d have 3 years or so of stories to tell before Barry replaced Bart.

    Because of the terrible drop in sales of the series, and the Wally West fan outcry, DC decides to can FMA. Bilson and Demeo leave for “creative differences.”

    Look at the pacing of the second story arc in Fastest Man Alive. In 5 or so issues, Bart gets a job as a forensic detective, takes down zoom, fights all of the rogues, reveals his secret identity, and then dies. A million times the content of the first story arc.

    Bart wasn’t supposed to die, but they felt they could boost the sales of Countdown by tying it in to the death of the Flash, and showing how Countdown would tie into everything in the DCU like that (but it didn’t). Fortunately for us Bart fans, Geoff Johns was writing a story about a lightning rod…

    Anyway, there still was a problem, Barry wasn’t back, and we needed a Flash book for 2 years. The good news, they got Mark Waid back. They bad news, he couldn’t really do anything that would make Wally a cooler character than Barry, so there wouldn’t be fan outcry when Barry took over the title. So, the Flash was about the twins for 2 years.

    In my opinion (although extremely biased), DC should have stayed with Bart. They should have given him 3 years of stories. But they should have gotten a better writer, like Guggenheim, to write the book untill Final Crisis. That way, when Flash: Rebrith rolled around, not only would we see the return of Barry Allen (and Barry fans rejoice), but we’d also see the return of Wally West (and the Wally fans rejoice), and in the story, Bart would be taken seriously as a Flash cause he was a Flash for 3 years and not just 1 (and the Bart fans rejoice). Plus Jay would be in it (and the Jay fans rejoice). Everyone would be happy.

  6. papa zero

    I was crushed when they cancelled Barry’s run – and again when they killed him. It was comforting to see the Rogues come together to work with Flash in the final issue and noteworthy that he would parish with nothing less than the fate of the universe at stake.
    In the send off issue, the Rogues saluted Barry much as we all wanted to and rightly so given the fact that they had been there through the years for all the ups and downs… It was a resolution of significance that the Rogues were not only redeemed in a sense – but endowed with the voice of the reader in toasting the hero. The Rouges that I knew rationalized awful things, wreaked havoc, and needed serious medication if not jail time. They were petty, ego-driven, or crazed knuckleheads – but never evil for the sake of Evil (except for Reverse-Flash and Goldface).

    Since the Rogues lived on… they would be redefined in a world without their nemesis. Captain Boomerang carved a niche in Suicide Squad as a completely unrepentant jackass that happened to save the day on more than one ocassion. Captain Cold went mercenary in Wally’s pages of the Flash etc… For the most part, even if they continued a life of crime they remained true to form.

    Ironically, I lost interest in Wally’s run of the Flash long before I stopped purchasing the title. I found myself committed to the mantle of the Flash and consistantly bought it despite the fact that I never liked what they did with the character or storylines.
    It isn’t that I didn’t like Wally, rather I didn’t see them finding any solid direction or interesting thematic ground other than being in the shadow of Barry – and of course I wanted to see him get through that one since he would never progress otherwise. I finally quit collecting in the 90’s when comic books became all together economically impractical. I would read up from time to time online to see what was going on in the continuum but never found much of anything compelling enough to bring me back.

    So now that the word is out that Barry is coming back, my ears are “perked” but there is a price to pay for it should I become attached once more.

    I was pretty dissappointed in DC when I heard that the Rogues killed Bart. It went against the grain of what I knew about their characters. Sure, I’ve heard that they were “manipulated” and felt remorse… but it just didn’t wash with me. They were selfish and warped but never souless killers.

    When Barry went out – the story was written. They couldn’t screw up the character because they couldn’t touch him anymore. While I was initially elated to hear of his return, my joy soon turned to fear for a character I treasured in the hands of a company that now appears to be aimlessly grasping. Nevemind the idea that they have to defend the intent of what they “planned all along.” Nevermind the fact that they can’t keep a schedule. They don’t know their own characters. I guess the braintrust at DC is out to lunch in hollywood until further notice?

  7. Heatwave the Rogue

    I tend to believe Dan DiDio’s oomments this time. I remember his airplane story where a steward on the plane asked him when Barry Allen was coming back and DiDio replied… “Not. Yet.” This and other clues support that Barry’s return was the plan all along like he stated.

    I agree with the other poster here that Wally’s return should have been along with Barry and not before. It would have allowed Wally fans to cheer along with Barry fans instead of worrying about the fate of their character.

    DC needs to commit strongley to Barry’s return with both a solid creative team and editorial commitment for it to work, and early indication do seem to point in this direction.

  8. xinesi

    It’s what I’ve been saying all along; DC’s biggest competition isnt Marvel, it’s the dumb clucks brainstorming these supposedly huge “trans-universal” events that, as far as I can tell, fall flat on their face becasue of “infinite” tie-ins readers could care less about! Just give our favorite characters good stories to follow!Who the hell cares if Batman dies! New Krypton my ass! Give me Flash stories I can really enjoy for cripes sake!

  9. The Irredeemable Shag

    I can actually believe that around Infinite Crisis (not before), they decided to bring back Barry Allen. It makes sense that DC felt it would be easier for the fans to accept Barry returning and taking back the mantle of the Flash from Bart (rather than the fans outrage of Wally losing the mantle). Also, there is a nice symmetry in Barry dying during Crisis on Infinite Earths (death of the Multiverse) and returning in Infinite Crisis/Final Crisis (return of the Multiverse).

    Regardless, I don’t think we’ll ever know the truth. And even if there is some truth in DiDio’s statements, you know he’s spinning large portions of the story to his advantage.

    The Irredeemable Shag

  10. Mike

    To papa zero, I have to say I sorely disagree with you on one thing: Wally’s title, I believe, was MUCH more interesting than Barry after awhile. I was around for Barry in the 80’s, and towards the end of his run. When the trial thing happened, I felt they dragged it on TOO long, and that Cary Bates was out of ideas at that juncture. Add to that the sales drop in the book, and it only seemed natural to kill him off. It was actually a last minute idea by Wolfman/Perez to make Wally the Flash, but it proved fruitful. While some MIGHT have been disappointed in that, I felt it was a fresh start. Sure, a LOT of Wally’s early stories were about him following in Barry’s footsteps…and it was true. BUT—it was ALSO about a young man coming to terms with the LOSS of his idol, his hero, his mentor, and just growing up. Wally became the Flash at 19, which he was at the END of Crisis. When his series started, he turned 20. I thought that the writers did a fantastic job of giving Wally his own voice. His whole story was coming to terms WITH Barry’s loss, accepting his role AS the Flash, and moving out of Barry’s shadow to become his own man. Wally revitalized the Flash in new ways, and I feel you really missed out on some great stories.

    That being said, I feel that those at DC really messed up in how they’re bringing back Barry. As with many above have said, they could’ve done it after Bart’s death, or they could’ve just kept EVERYONE alive, and Barry STILL could’ve returned. Either way, the planning and execution of their ideas fell to pieces, and they did a less than stellar patchwork job on it. Let’s see how they pull themselves out of it with this miniseries.


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