Monthly Archives: April 2013

Mike and Me

Today’s guest post is by Brent Clayton

Generally speaking, Mike Wieringo is one of my favorite artists. Specifically, he is my all-time favorite Flash artist. And it took his death for me to reach that realization.

FLASHback 2007 – I read of Mike’s death in Comic Buyer’s Guide #1635. I am, of course, saddened by this news, his death happening at an age far too young. I knew of his work, appreciated his art, loved the passion and fun and crispness he infused in every panel but knew him best as the co-creator of young Bart Allen, he of swift Impulse. But as I read his obituary, I was overcome with a sense of bewilderment. It seems Mike had been living in Durham, NC.

Durham, a city that was a mere 23 miles away from my hometown. I was surprised, even shocked a bit, to learn that such a talent had lived so close to me yet I had no clue. Curious, I looked up other various articles online that reported on his death, wanted to know more of his life, eventually purchasing Modern Masters Vol. 9 featuring Mike by TwoMorrows Publishing (coincidentally, a company located in Raleigh, NC) What I learned of his life forever altered my view of both him and myself.

He and his family are from Virginia, with some family roots in Lynchburg, VA. As a younger man, I had followed my heart and my love, followed her all the way to Lynchburg, a beautiful city, a city surrounded by mountains, cradled within the clouds. To this day, Lynchburg remains a special place in my life; a place I know knew that Mike shared as well.

After graduation, Mike had the opportunity to attend Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. Due to financial concerns though, he was unable to attend. Instead he eventually came to work within the grocery retail business, rising up, at one point, to become Produce Manager. Well, I know all too well the grocery retail business, having worked within it for the past 20 years. It’s a hard job, full of little aggravations that can easily grow to the size of a Lynchburg mountain. I was sure that Mike knew those same aggravations as well as the small joys the job can bring too. I could relate to him on that level.

But he didn’t want to become trapped within that life, he felt he needed to give one more shot to his dream so he re-focused on his art, re-applied to VCU and was able to attend. Having read that, my admiration of the man grew as I saw the passion he felt about the medium and the raw talent he had to pursue a career within it, the need to strive for that dream. As comic fans, I suppose we each have that dream at one point or another. My time was during my youth, I wanted to be a comic book writer. Being a child during the 80s, in a rural country town, when the Internet was science fiction, achieving such a goal was more difficult but that didn’t stop me. I submitted to Marvel and DC plenty of times, only to get a nice decline letter in return each time (although one editor suggested I start reading Comic Buyer’s Guide for more insight and help in the business so life is, indeed, a circle)

Over the years though, I started to realize that I may not have the proper drive to be a writer, perhaps not even the strongest of imaginations. I may be good at writing, but I am not a writer. I’ve spent years coming to terms with that tiny yet vast difference. But Mike didn’t, he went back to school, chased after that impossible dream despite the risks, and we all are the better for it.

I read of the many and varied titles Mike had worked on throughout his career, not only Flash, but Sensational Spider-Man, Robin, Adventures of Superman, Fantastic Four, Tellos and so many more. I resolved then and there to collect as much of his work that I could. The man may have passed, but his work will live on forever and I wanted to catch up on what I had been missing.

But then a dark thought occurred to me. I checked through my collection to find my copies of the guest books for HeroesCon, the largest comic convention held in NC each year in Charlotte. At that point in time, I found the copy for the last year I attended the con, 2005. With growing trepidation, I flipped through the pages and soon found it – ‘Mike Wieringo AA406’. He was there but for some reason I couldn’t remember or now even fathom, I didn’t stop by for a meet & greet. I checked my other copies and sure enough, Mike was in attendance yet not once did I ever stop by and say hello. I felt ashamed over these lost opportunities, too little too late.

To some, this may all sound like a far stretch or wishful thinking. Perhaps, but in learning of Mike’s life after his death, I think I’ve come to a better understanding of the man and the artist, I think we may have shared some things in common, things that would help demystify the comic persona and see him as the regular guy he was all along. I was both glad over this realization and saddened at the same time, that I can no longer tell him these things, that in some small way, I had taken him for granted.

My hope one day is, when I am able to again, to attend HeroesCon, when Todd Dezago (a near semi-regular) or Mark Waid are in attendance, to tell them how much I’ve enjoyed their work and if they would be so kind, tell me a story of their friend Ringo…

Brent Clayton posts here and on other Flash websites as Savitar

Review: Flash’s Run to Nowhere in Injustice #13

The Flash in Injustice: Gods Among Us #13 - Today I just want to run.

This week’s chapter of the Injustice: Gods Among Us digital comic focuses on the Flash as he struggles with the consequences of Superman and Wonder Woman’s campaign and his role in it.

Some disclosure: I haven’t been reading this series, so I came into this issue relatively fresh. All I really know is it’s supposed to set up the world of the video game, and early issues feature some really unpleasant stuff with Lois Lane and Superman.

What appears to be happening is this: Superman and Wonder Woman have taken an Anakin/Darth Vader turn, and are using their powers not to help people, but to enforce order with an iron fist across a growing portion of the globe. Some, but not all of the Justice League have followed along, Batman being a notable exception. Flash has joined them, but in this issue sees first hand what happens when people reject Superman’s “protection.”

It’s an intriguing character study. The Flash tries to clear his head with a long-distance desert run, but fails, dwelling on the events of the day and what he learned afterward. The most poignant moment occurs when he finds the remains of a kangaroo hit by a truck. The driver, he muses, didn’t have time to react and had no hope of stopping it. The Fastest Man Alive, however? He watched the incident in all its sickening detail, fully aware of what was happening and fully able to stop it. Only he didn’t.

The comic does a good job establishing what’s going on and who’s involved, as well as showing Barry’s realization that he’s signed on for something horrible. What’s not clear is why he sided with them in the first place, given the way he’s portrayed in this issue. Is it that he trusts Clark and Diana? That he believed in their cause, but didn’t understand what they were doing? Did it start out benign and escalate? To be fair, the target reader has probably been reading since the beginning and doesn’t need to be reminded in such a short chapter.

It does feel a bit familiar: Superman and Wonder Woman taking over and Batman trying to stop them reminds me a lot of Kingdom Come or the Squadron Supreme Utopia Project. That said, it’s been more than 15 years since Kingdom Come and almost 30 since the Squadron Supreme story, so it’s hard to begrudge a newer take on the same thematic elements.

I continue to be impressed with how much story DC’s digital first comics fit into essentially a third of a standard comic, and even though the overall story doesn’t grip me from this one installment, the Flash’s story does.

This Week: Injustice, Major Disaster, Mercury Falling

Injustice: Gods Among Us #13The Flash takes center stage in Injustice: Gods Among Us #13 (digital) by Tom Taylor (no, not that Tom Taylor) and Tom Derenick. The series is a prelude to the upcoming video game.

In the land down under, The Flash must face the consequences of his choices. Superman and Wonder Woman have brought their campaign for a new world order to Australia and are confronted by a new hero. But what connection does this would-be champion have to the Scarlet Speedster?

Impulse #64Digital backissues include:

Flash #125: Lead-in to “Hell to Pay.” Rejected by Keystone City, Wally West protects the coastal city of Santa Marta, California, where Major Disaster plans to create a massive earthquake. Meanwhile, Keystone’s mayor finds that kicking the Flash out might not have been the best idea when the Rogues return from the dead. Mark Waid, Brian Augustyn, Paul Ryan & John Nyberg.

Impulse #63-64: “Mercury Falling” continues. Can Impulse pull together what it takes to save the dying Max Mercury? Or is inertia keeping him from unleashing his full potential? Bart says goodbye to his oldest friend in these issues. Todd Dezago, Ethan van Sciver.

DC Collectibles Solicitations For Sept/Oct 2013!

Hey Speed Readers,

So DC Collectibles put out their solicits for September/October 2013 and one item of interest stands out to New 52 Flash fans:


The DC COMICS – THE NEW 52 look of The Flash’s Rogues Gallery member Captain Cold is perfectly captured with this action figure based on his all-new design.

On Sale September 2013 • Action Figure • $24.95 US

*Allocations May Occur


Yeah, yeah I know *New 52 grumble*. Still great looking figure and one that I can’t wait to add to my display. I’m loving the ice accessories that match up with his current powers (makes the $24.95 price point a bit easier to swallow) and what looks to be a swanky removable hood so we can see New 52 Len in all of his glory. We haven’t had a new Captain Cold six-inch version since Mattel’s ( mostly disappointing, imo) DC Universe Classics Captain Cold which while detailed (with removable gun and holster) they flubbed his height when compared to the other Rogues in the line. He looks super short standing next to Mirror Master and Captain Boomerang.

The good Captain has had two previous DC Collectibles (DC Direct) figures that both pretty much knocked it out of the part. The first was from DC Direct’s 2001 Rogues series featuring Captain Cold (in a beautiful sculpt reminiscent of Scott Kolins’ work on Captain Cold in the Flash) and came with his freeze gun and removable glasses. The figure still holds up well compared to the more recent releases from DC Collectibles but this figure came out 12 years ago so we desperately need some updated Rogues in the line up. The second came about through DC Direct’s Alex Ross Justice line based on the 12 issue maxi-series. This one definitely has the most detail of all of the Cold releases (removable gun from holster and you can kind of pull down the hood to get a glimpse at Len pre-New 52).  Unfortunately the “good” captain is horribly out of scale with just about all of your average DC Direct/DC Collectibles releases not to mention the stylistic differences (being based on the photo-realistic art of Alex Ross) makes it stand out big time among a display of basic DC Direct/DC Collectibles figures.


So who else is looking forward to adding a New 52 styled Captain Cold to your display? Any other Flash Rogues you hope to see from the New 52? Let us know in the comments below!


Of Robins and Flashes…Endangered Species?


Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out just what is more dangerous in the DC Universe – to be a Robin or to wear a lightning bolt on your shirt?  There seem to be a lot of beloved characters falling by the wayside lately, and it bears some examination.  After all, Jason Todd, Stephanie Brown, and now Damian Wayne have all died while wearing the symbol of Robin.  It hasn’t been the safest role to take on in the DCU…although I would make an argument that running fast seems to attract even more trouble.

In the latest print issue of  Smallville Season Eleven we find the conclusion of the story arc that features Bart Allen, the Impulse of the Smallville-verse.  In this story, Clark and his good friend Bart are reunited in a globe-hopping battle against the Black Racer, the enemy of Flashes past and present.  In the end, Bart saves the day…but sacrifices himself to do so.  All we are left with are Clark’s plans to build “a big statue” to Bart, and another Flash that has left some form or other of DC continuity.

This adds to the demise of the Wally West of Earth 16 in “Young Justice”, and the deaths and disappearances of Flashes over the years.  Let’s take a partial toll here:

  • Barry Allen died saving the Earth in Crisis on Infinite Earths, remaining basically “dead” until Flash Rebirth.
  • Jay Garrick and the rest of the JSA died over and over again soon after CoIE while in a continual time loop, fighting the battle of Ragnarok.  This is where they stayed for several years until they were brought back into DC continuity.
  • Wally West has been in and out of the Speed Force, presumed dead more than once, killed in the Flashpoint series without ever having taken on the mantle of Flash, and now does not even exist in the New52.  He was killed once again on Earth 16 in Young Justice as noted above.
  • Bart Allen was pummeled to death by the Rogues while serving as the fourth Flash, being brought back to life some time later.  And, as noted above, his Smallville-verse self just took a one-way ticket (presumably) into the Speed Force.

This doesn’t even start to list other dead or missing speedsters like Johnny and Jesse Quick, Max Mercury, or Wally’s kids.  It really doesn’t seem safe to run fast these days.flash tfma 13

The toughest part of all this for me is the way the actual deaths are being handled lately.  Bart’s passing in Smallville felt forced…it wasn’t truly necessary.  Yes, he got rid of the menace…but how did that help Clark and the rest of the Smallville gang?  Believe it or not…exposure to Speed Force energy somehow cleansed Clark of the tracking radiation Luthor was using to follow Superman’s every move.  This allowed Superman to resume acting as Clark Kent without being found out by Luthor.

In other words…Bart’s sacrifice was made so that he could act as a “spot-remover” to some radiation that was creating an inconvenience for Clark.

I have supported (and continue to support) the New52 volume of The Flash, as it represents some of the finest scripting and art in the DC lineup today.  I’m not the guy that would ask “Where’s Wally?” for the thousandth time to Dan Didio at a con.  I do like most of what I see from DC – I’m a DC guy and have been for over 40 years of collecting.  I’m just sad to see the plot device of killing off speedsters used so much.  It seems that being a Robin or a Flash means you are wearing a red shirt in the metaphorical sense as well as in the literal sense…and both roles are simply too valuable to the history of the DC Universe to continue to be treated in that way.

Flash in Gaming Part 5: The Flash Game That Never Was

Today’s guest post is by Colin Crebs.

Let’s talk about the ideal Flash game. The ideal game, basically.

There is one thing that haunts my dreams more than anything. No, it’s not that I never cleared my father’s name for the murder of my mother (tasteless Barry Allen joke).

It’s this obscure 1-minute long video I found by accident on YouTube. It’s the thought that a GTA-style, next-gen, sandbox Flash game was in the works and then disappeared into the Speed Force/Development Hell/Development Speed Force.

Why? I can only imagine that it was too awesome for human consumption. That playing just this demo build filled the average person’s soul with so much joy, the human heart exploded instantly from rainbow and chocolate unicorn overload. Continue reading