Creative Consistency

Edit: This has been restructured and rewritten a bit to make the post come off a bit less personally, since that wasn’t the intention.

Groovy Superhero is running a series on The World’s Fastest Cancellation, looking at the way the series has been relaunched over and over since Geoff Johns 2005. The Flash has had a remarkably consistent writing credit over the years, until Geoff Johns left the book in 2005 to do Infinite Crisis.

Wally Before Geoff

One thing the author of that series said got me thinking about the series’ creative history: In part one, he or she writes about the book after Geoff Johns left it:

The Flash…was relegated to the status he had endured throughout most of the ’90s: a “who needs work?” book, being tossed around from creator to creator

Tossed around from creator to creator? True of the last three years, but certainly not true of the 1990s. William Messner-Loebs wrote the book for four years from 1988–1992. Mark Waid* took over in 1992 and stayed on until 2000 (Brian Augustyn joining him officially halfway through after several years as editor and an uncredited co-writer), with a one-year break during which he wrote JLA: Year One and Grant Morrison and Mark Millar filled in. In fact, if you count the Morrison/Millar run as a main creative team, there’s a grand total of only five issues by fill-in writers** from #1 to #225 (the end of Geoff Johns’ run), covering 1987–2005.

Long-Term Consistency

If you go further back, Gardner Fox wrote most of the Golden Age books, with Robert Kanigher coming in near the end. John Broome wrote most of the Silver Age, with Fox and Kanigher. There was a transition period in the late 1960s, and then Cary Bates wrote nearly every issue from the early 1970s through 1985.

Three main writers from 1940-1970. One from 1970-1985. Five writers or writing teams from 1987-2005. (I’m lumping the Waid/Augustyn and Waid solo runs together. Same with the Morrison/Millar and Millar solo books.)

Now let’s look at the book after Geoff Johns left in 2005:
4 issues by Joey Cavalieri
8 by Danny Bilson & Paul De Meo
5 by Marc Guggenheim
7 by Mark Waid
6 by Tom Peyer
4 by Alan Burnett
2 one-shots

Six writing teams in three years, and a couple of one-offs.

Flash or Thrash?

Following Johns’ final issue, it’s clear they had already decided to axe the book, since all that remained was one stand-alone story that had been sitting on the shelf and the 4-part “Finish Line,” which was clearly intended (like the current “This Was Your Life, Wally West”) to wrap up the series.

Then DC proceeded to throw lead characters, creative teams, and creative directions at the wall haphazardly, hoping something would stick. How could anything gain traction with that much churn?

In my opinion, given that DC is already committed to relaunching the series with Flash: Rebirth, the best thing DC could do to build the book back up would be to keep Geoff Johns on after the miniseries, and give him at least a year to establish the series tone, direction, and at least one long-term arc. Then make sure that whoever follows him is sufficiently high-profile not to scare readers off, and won’t simply throw everything out and start over.


*By part 5, he explains that “Waid’s main contributions to the Flash mythos were to introduce Wall and Wife Linda’s twins.” Now, I would assume that he meant Waid’s contributions this time around, but given the remark in part 1 about the series being a dumping ground of random writers in the 1990s, I have to wonder whether the writer in question is simply not familiar with Waid’s eight-year run, or that it established the Wally/Linda relationship, introduced the Speed Force, built up a family of speedsters, spun off an Impulse/Max Mercury book, and really established the Flash as once again being a major player after 60-odd issues of the B-list.

**Those fill-ins would be:
#29: Len Strazewski (1989)
#151: Joe Casey (1999)
#160: Brian Augustyn solo, not sure you can properly call it a fill-in. (2000)
#161: Pat McGreal (2000)
#163: Pat McGreal (2000)


9 thoughts on “Creative Consistency

  1. papa zero

    Amen to the continuity of a single writer… I think this is as important as the fate of the many characters involved in the coming events. If a solid tone isn’t established for the base of readers – then the title will certainly face further “redefining” to “fix” Rebirth.

  2. Jason West

    I Believe in Geoff Johns! (TDK…lol)

    seriously, i can’t wait to see what he has cooked up for Barry and Wally!

    btw: i was thinking…Rebirth is essentially taking place after Final Crisis, where Barry Allen came back. L3W is supposedly supposed to have Bart Allen return as well. wouldn’t that mean that Rebirth will deal with Bart’s return as well, essentially taking away from Barry’s spotlight? or will people not care and simply want to see ALL of The Flashes in the book?

  3. Brandan

    Great post! Some people just shouldn’t talk about things they know very little about!

    And as for Rebirth…Bart will most likely still be in the future by the end of Lo3W.

  4. Groovy Superhero

    I’m going to be charitable and assume you didn’t read the entire first half of The Flash – World’s Fastest Cancellation (Part 5), which at no point references the ’90s at all, but is a very specific history of Waid’s brief run on the book in the immediate aftermath of the Lightning Saga crossover. The ’90s are not touched on at all in the post, so maybe before you should read the whole post before you make false allegations and lame attempts at insults. As for your other comments regarding the series, you and I don’t happen to agree about the way the Flash was handled in the ’90s but you don’t have to be a dick about it. There’s such a thing as “agreeing to disagree,” but anyway thanks for the free press.

  5. Groovy Superhero

    P.S. If you’re such a Flash fan I would think you’d agree with me that the deserves better than 3 cancellations in as many years, which was the entire point of the series. Why you instead chose to nitpick about the differences between how you and I define long-term creative team tenure is beyond me, oh and Brandan, speaking of people remarking on things they know very little about, maybe you should have followed the links and read my posts yourself.

  6. Kelson Post author

    @Brandon: you’re getting a bit out of line, there.

    @Groovy Superhero: I’m sorry I upset you. This wasn’t intended to come off as an extended “take that” post, and if it seemed too harsh, I apologize.

    What I was going for was threefold:
    1. To bring readers’ attention to your series, because I thought it was interesting.
    2. To point out a correction to what you said about the Flash’s status in the 1990s, since I could not find a way to comment on your blog itself.
    3. To use your series as a springboard to talk about creative consistency, how much the Flash used to have, and how lack of it has hurt the book over the last three years.

    Looking back at the final draft of the post, I realize I did not fully separate those elements, and I will try to correct that later today.

    To respond to some specific remarks:

    Agreeing to disagree applies to opinions. The fact is that most of the 1990s was taken up by a single creative team, and was not “tossed around from creator to creator.”

    You’re right that part 5 doesn’t mention the 1990s. If I’d looked only at part 5, I would have assumed it was simply a matter of phrasing, and you were only talking about that run on the book. Having read part 1, I was led to believe that it was a lack of familiarity with Waid’s previous work on the book.

    Finally, might I suggest enabling comments on your blog? If I had been able to post a comment on part 1, I would have simply made the point of correction there, and used this post entirely for the linking and springboard. Perhaps you would have found that less offensive than being called out on someone else’s blog.

  7. Groovy Superheo

    There are a lot of interesting theories being tossed around about the pros of disabling comments, so I am (possibly temporarily) disabling them as an experiment. Chances are, they’ll be re-enabled soon.

    But that’s besides the point.

    It seems like you and I have the exact same opinion about the Flash deserving creative consistency, and because your definition of “long-term” creative team consistency and mine differ. We simply have different standards.

    So, agreeing to disagree does apply to opinions, and that is the crux of our disagreement which seems to have been overly amplified on both our parts. I don’t agree that the ’90s were consistent enough for the Flash, while you are happy with the tenure of the teams.

    Since it was a series, part 5 was the part that wrapped up the series with the latest Flash developments: The Lightning Saga, the brief run by Waid in its aftermath, which focused on establishing the new West family as characters, so I have no idea why you think the ’90s are relevant to that post at all. The post covered the story in chronological order, and post #5 was about 2007-8, and I think that’s quite clear.

    To say Waid was brought on to introduce the kids is not an insult, it’s a fact, and it seems a bit short-sighted to have Waid do that while Morrison is writing about the return of Barry Allen, which means all that effort Waid put in will not amount to much as the Wests fade into the sidelines when the new series launches.

    So we basically agree on everything except I don’t think there was enough consistency on the book for much of the ’90s, and you do. The result was a post that actually did sort of come off as a “gotcha”, when we really agree on 99% of the issues as you yourself said. I suspect a slightly different phrasing on your part and a slightly less zealous reaction to same on would have avoided this semi-argument entirely.

    How about we agree to agree: The Flash deserves more consistency than he has received in the last three years, and we hope he gets it in the future.

    So, basically, we agree

  8. Jason West

    i can’t wait til Geoff expands the mythos. and stays for several years. woot! for consistant creative teams! i wonder who’ll be drawing The Flash…hmmm…Howard Porter maybe?


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