Barry Allen: Metatemporal Detective

Another interview with Geoff Johns, this time at Scripps News.

The stuff I really want to focus on is with Barry Allen as a crime-solver. But his crimes are on the crazy ’60s-physics level. A murder could span across dimensions or ancient cities or crazy places that are real cities. Or he could find a body where the crime is unsolvable through normal means, and kinda taking that “CSI” approach but putting it on a greater scale of wonder and scope and the DC Universe itself….He solves crimes that are unbelievably bizarre and unexplainable. And they take him to different places and strange foes and bizarre criminals.

The interviewer compares it to CSI: 52.

This sounds like the kind of book I’d be interested in even without the Flash. And when Geoff Johns eventually leaves, Grant Morrison would be the perfect choice to follow him — I like the way he wrote Barry in Final Crisis, and he showed in his 9-issue run back in the 1990s (reprinted in The Flash: Emergency Stop and next month’s Flash: The Human Race) that he can write crazy sci-fi adventure starring the Flash.

Read the rest of the interview.

(Title shamelessly taken from Michael Moorcock’s short story collection, The Metatemporal Detective.)


11 thoughts on “Barry Allen: Metatemporal Detective

  1. West

    I’m kinda embarrassed by that Human Race thing (assuming that was the one where Wally raced the lil energy guy). But then, overall, I didn’t like Morrison/Millar’s Flash tales.

    I didn’t hate them (and I certainly kept reading them), but they didn’t really float my boat, iirc.

    Maybe I should revisit, to be sure. I assume the Spider-symbiote/Speed Force material costume came from one or both of them. (Maybe that was the “Human Race” tale.) Enh. I’ll dig up the issues some time.

    .-= West’s latest blog post: Gays & the Military… Again =-.

    1. Kelson Post author

      Yeah, the speed force costume came from “Emergency Stop.” My favorite from that run is still the one-shot of a day in the life of Jay Garrick, though.

      1. CM22

        The 2nd issue of Human Race, where Wally is getting beat and is just dead tired and possibly going insane are some amazing and some of my favorite Wally character moments ever though. Including Jay’s “Your uncle died a hero, and if it comes down to it, you’ll do the same” and that’s good enough for Wally at the moment.

        But 134 is a GREAT issue as well.

        1. Kelson Post author

          Hmm, yeah. That was a good moment. And the one where Wally starts faltering and Linda says something to the effect of, “Remember: Superman offered, but the people of Earth chose you for this.”

          I’m beginning to contemplate the crazy idea of just re-reading all of my Flash comics. As if I don’t have a backlog of new stuff I haven’t read yet.

          1. CM22

            “You’re the flash, the fastest man alive.”
            “and then some baby, and then some.” Great moment.

            I re-read large chunks of the Wally run pretty regularly, haven’t tried to power through all the Barry stuff yet though. Just bits and pieces here and there. But reading Wally is so easy, once it gets to Waid it just reads so smooth.

  2. CM22

    I think this is a great big concept pitch, but like a lot of his ideas I don’t see it panning out in execution. I’ve sure we’ll get fantastic(ally violent) murders, but I’m not sure of the detective work following them up. It’s too much like “Hal Jordan Space Cop” where, we see Hal Jordan fighting the same super villains he’s always fought. And if he isn’t directly fighting a super villain that tried to kill him, he’s just off duty, being a test pilot. He’s never out doing his space cop duties, Stewart does that off panel.

  3. papa zero

    I think there is potential for a “metatemporal detective” but more than likely that angle will be dumped as soon as writers feel blocked or that they are rehashing old material – which probably won’t take long. I suspected that when geoff compared the Flash family to the Green Lantern Corps that he’d go more for a character that protected the continuum from anomalies…

    I’m not quite sure about Barry playing detective though. Forensics has less to do with building a case or solving a mystery (in it’s scientific and methodic practice) than objectively establishing conclusive evidence. Detectives view a big picture, use subjective ideas and methods to determine objective ideas. Forensic scientists impartially use scientific method to verify a conclusion. The roles they serve are VERY different and require different intellectual approach. Establishing motive and ballistics are apples and oranges. Conceivably they can pull it off but to sell the idea that he is a metatemporal detective simply because he is a forensic scientist is a bit of a leap.

    1. Demas

      CSI/Detectives have been blurred even by the TV franchise that is spawning this variation of Barry. I think it’s short-hand for the Secret Knowledge Detective (see below comment)… which are “fake” mysteries IMO (ones that can’t be solved via clues but who’s answers are sprung upon the reader/viewer via the Detective’s Secret Knowledge/Power).

      The general outline wouldn’t be much different from the Silver Age (thus Johns mentioning 60’s Physics). Some wonky or wacky event/crime occurs. Flash is clueless but some secret knowledge – technobabble – leads him to the true villain (though in the Silver Age most times the villain needlessly reveals himself) and the mystery is “solved”.

      Can it work? Does so on TV a whole lot but not exactly something to aspire to, IMHO.

  4. Demas

    Secret Knowledge Detective is currently at TV staple… gone are hard-boiled cops who get to the truth though brutality and bullets… today’s crime-fighters all prance around with the ammo of the information age- whether by graft, intellect, or the supernatural.

    Monk, Psych, Dead Zone, Raines, The Mentalist, L&O:CI, Burn Notice, The Listener, Bones, CSI, Medium, Lie To Me, etc. – the list seems endless. It’s fertile writing ground but the “hook” itself is not enough… there needs to be an underlying chemistry or charisma to the character and I’m worried the vision stated is mostly procedural rather than addressing that character appeal factor. Subconsciously or not, I think Kelson said it well by saying this is a formula that works even without The Flash.

    If Barry becomes the DCU’s Grissom… they still need a Jack Bauer. Let Barry try to rework the CSI/procedural detective formula to comics (good luck)… meanwhile, let Wally stick with the Fights and Tights formula. Wally’s not- generally- regarded as cerebral and just about all of his greatest feats and arcs center around combat. By contrast, Barry’s greatest achievement was a cosmic – largely non-violent – run. Let Wally be the fighter.


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