Media Blitz: Venditti, Jensen & Booth on Wally West & Future Flash

After the last issue of The Flash, Newsarama and Comic Book Resources spoke to the writers and penciller of the series about the just-finished and upcoming stories.

CBR: Venditti and Jensen Form “The Flash” Fight Club with Four Flashes.

Regarding future Barry:

…what we’ve explored with this future version of Barry is that he has decades under his belt of seeing the justice system fail. What happens when he decides that course of trying to make things right doesn’t work? Now, he’s taking matters into his own hands.

As far as present-day Barry Allen’s current status:

Barry has quite a journey that he must undergo from the end of “The Flash” #35 to where that story ends — not only in terms of where Barry is but that fact that he is without his powers. He has quite a journey to get back to Central City and Patty and the life that he is supposed to have, and how different he is when he gets to that point is as much a part of the journey as how far he has to travel.

They talk about the Rogues, and how we’ll be seeing some new villains soon, including the two that future Flash name-dropped: Overload and Plague.

Newsarama: Brett Booth on Redesigning Wally West & Bringing the Future Flash

On designing future Wally West’s Flash outfit:

Wally’s costume is actually based on a proposal I did years ago. He’s sort of a hybrid between Flash, Kid Flash and Max Mercury. I had to talk very fast to get them to change the open top to the regular skullcap.

And on designing the future Barry Allen’s costume:

I used Barry’s current costume as the base, I added in a bit of tech, and that was that. I wanted a more armored look, a darker look, but I also wanted to show him being more in control of the Speed Force.

I covered his face in the energy to keep who he was a secret — didn’t know they were going to reveal it in the first issue.

I did pull a bit of John Fox for the earpieces, a nod to the old universe.

Regarding Wally in general:

The purists aren’t happy because he was changed, but the rest of folks seem to be OK and even happy with the change. I know some bi-racial fans are very happy; they are now represented in the Flash Universe.

My hope is to get him some powers and maybe a spin off book! Wally was cool because he was an out superhero, and while the secret identity works for most characters, he is simply the Flash; you get what you see, warts and all. Doing that with a teen would be interesting and could be a lot of fun!


20 thoughts on “Media Blitz: Venditti, Jensen & Booth on Wally West & Future Flash

    1. Kyer

      Ditto. (But, man, is it hard. Hard not to interpret it as:)

      If you don’t agree with me you are automatically labelled a ‘purist’ which is a sideways way of saying “backwards Neanderthals who wouldn’t recognize ‘progress’ if it hit them over the head like a 2×4.”

      And I loved the Kid Flash costume because it showed his hair and looked awesome cool.
      Of course, back then I -liked- his hair. Unlike now when….yeah. Keep it under wraps.

  1. Jesse

    I hate the implication that fans dislike Wally’s change because of the change of race. That’s the least of the changes.

    (And they got rid of one non-white character and their two bi-racial kids, so the numbers don’t really add up to taking the high road on that issue, anyway.)

  2. Mr. F

    You got it right on the head Jesse. The whole race/diversity thing has become this big ridiculous dog and pony show that’s clouding the real issue, that being that these comics are just extremely bad. If they were going to use the newly biracial Wally to tell some great stories that COULDN’T possibly be told with a white Wally then I wouldn’t have any real problem with it, but they’re not and so instead it just comes across as a big, editorial middle – finger to all the older Wally fans.

    1. steve

      I think race should be an issue because Wally’s change was an attempt to improve the depiction of minorities in American comics, and in that attempt, it was a poorly thought out failure. The moment where Barry Allen tells Wally West that his criminal misdeeds weren’t his fault because Barry wasn’t there to show him right from wrong may go down as one of the most overt depictions of “white man’s burden” in the last decade of comic books. The issue of race should have been examined, and it should have been examined a whole lot closer by the writers and editors before those pages saw print.

      1. steve

        I should also mention that i don’t believe there was any racist intent behind that scene, but the way it was handled and the way it tied into the other Wally West scenes created a disturbing narrative. a simple rephrasing of the words or restructuring of the events would have avoided the implications. i really hope that, going forward, the writers can find a better direction for this new, seemingly de-powered for the forseeable future, Wally West.

  3. Kelson Post author

    …You say it’s not about his race, and then you say, with all-caps emphasis, that they should have only made him biracial if they were going to tell stories that absolutely required him to be something other than white, as if characters who aren’t white need a reason to exist. And “couldn’t possibly” sets the bar ridiculously high.

    I can’t think of any Wally stories from before the new 52 that couldn’t possibly have been told with a biracial Wally. I can think of some that it would have added more layers to.

    Six episodes into the show, we haven’t seen any stories with Joe or Iris that couldn’t possibly be told with white actors, and yet that’s working out just fine.

    If your problem isn’t his race, but the quality of the storytelling, then leave it at that instead of continuing to harp on his race.

    1. Mr. F

      Whoa whoa whoa…”as if characters who aren’t white need a reason to exist”? That’s putting more than a few words in my mouth, buddy! Nowhere was I making a blanket statement about every non-white person in the history of the universe. I’m talking specifically about one character, Wally West, the character who they completely overhauled in the name of progress and then paradoxically introduced as an old stereotype.

      They talk about it in interviews like they just changed his boots or gave him a new power, only if they did that they would have centered a twelve-issue arc on it. A competent writer should realize that race in 2014 (much as we hate to admit it) is more than just a costume change; it’s a lifetime worth of experiences, culture, prejudice etc. and unlike the origin of Barry’s freakin’ bow tie, that’s something actually worth acknowledging and celebrating, or at the least, something to capitalize on and use as a vehicle to tackle some real world, relatable issues. Instead, there’s this big media reveal that, “Hey, Wally’s half-black now in the name of diversity and progress,” and then they write him as a misguided youth, spray painting anti-authority symbols in the streets because his uncle’s in prison. Really? Progress? And the blonde, white man who time turns into a murder-a-month madman is supposed to teach him how to be a hero someday?

      Meanwhile, the first Arabian Green Lantern is stealing car bombs and the gay Teen Titan’s power is to materialize big purple bricks, the writer/creator of who is a 50 year old white man who gleefully harassed a bisexual woman in front of an entire audience at a convention but remains employed at DC. Mister Terrific and Static Shock were cancelled at #8 thanks to editorial meddling taking precedence over quality writing, but Aquaman & the Others has been solicited past #9, now down to just one non-white/female on the roster. Unfortunately, we never get to talk about any of those things because before I can ever make a point I have to stop and write an essay to try and communicate in the most calculated terms possible that my frustration with this new DC status quo ISN’T fueled by latent racism, since every person who disagrees with my opinion somehow misconstrues my every word and jumps immediately to that conclusion.

      So you know what…you win: I have a problem with bi-racial Wally, but it’s NOT his new race that’s the problem. My problem is that bi-racial Wally is one of many giant purple bricks in the foundation of a poorly executed, “pro-diversity” publicity façade that DC is using not to promote progress or awareness or unity, but rather to generate easy-dollars and keep their fans arguing while their comics keep sucking.

      I’m all for diversity in comics, man. The main character in my favorite comic ever is a bi-racial woman, so please try to understand the point I’m actually trying to make here.

  4. Karen Lin

    I don’t think they understand the problem that many readers have with this character. It has nothing to do with being a purist. It has to do with mostly two things:

    – This kid is not Wally in any way and I’m not talking about race. I’m talking about personality: Wally was a cheerful, optimistic, upbeat kid, who worshipped the Flash; this version of Wally is an angry, angsty kid who hates the Flash. Why even name him Wally if there’s nothing in him that even resembles Wally? They should have just created a new character. And, you know what, I would have no problem with a black Kid Flash. But he should be different. Which leads me to my second point…

    – The problem isn’t that this kid is black, the problem is that he’s stereotypically black. The first time we see him, he’s spray tagging a wall and wearing a hoodie. He’s a kid who looks up to all the wrong people and, for no good reason, here comes the white, blonde guy who’s going to be a role model for him. Three words: white man’s burden. That’s how this comes across. I would have actually accepted the race change if he was portrayed in a different way. This way is actually racist.

    I’m not a purist at all. I’m open to change. But the change has to make sense. This one didn’t. At all.

  5. David Vickery

    I don’t like Booth lumping in biracial fans as happy. I doubt a Japanese/Latino mixed person would suddenly feel represented and obviously there is no longer any ginger representation in the Flash universe so that’s a lateral move at best.

    Being upset with the changes isn’t even significantly based on the race. It’s about the butchering of Wally’s relationship with his aunt, making ANOTHER main Flash character have dead/abandoning parents. First Johns kills off Barry’s mom and imprisons his dad, now Venditti and Jensen kill of Wally’s mom and turn his dad into a deadbeat who abandons his kid. The Flash was never so, I don’t know, brooding and Batman-esque. Aside from that, a lot of people are annoyed at DC forcing down the troubled youth archetype for every teen or younger hero. It’s so overplayed and turning Wally into a petty criminal who needs his white male role model (Instead of his ACTUAL FAMILY in his Aunt) to teach him right from wrong is contrary to the entire premise of Wally’s character — someone who always dreamed of being a hero.

    Hell, they even mention it when they show how Wally was the first “out” superhero! It’s what he always wanted to be and he wanted to share it with the world. This Wally doesn’t have the perspective to want that. That’s kind of the problem with this team. They get vague ideas like “Barry is Wally’s mentor” and “Wally was a public superhero” but they apply very shallow thought to it and just tack it into a convoluted story where everything’s out of place. Like, why is Iris asking her acquaintance (it’s not like Iris and Barry are super close at this point) to raise her nephew for her? It’s absurd. Lots of weird, interstitial problems like this arise with the entire concept of how they’re dealing with Wally.

    1. Penny Dreadful

      My guess? Editorial is running the show, not the creative team. Such is the case with most DC titles. It is no secret that the DC editors pull the strings and the writers do a dance.

      We saw it, sadly, with the last creative team. They wanted to do a done-in-one story focusing on Barry’s forensic science job. Barry would’ve been solving an old mystery. That issue was spiked even after it was solicited. How about that Piper/Singh subplot? Dropped like a hot potato after the Flash annual.

  6. veronica

    I essentially stopped taking Jansen and Venditti seriously when I heard the flippant statement that if you want things to remain the same/continuity go read your old books. Really nice. I hope that they’re bounced from the book in the spring.

  7. Kelson Post author

    Being clear in this sort of discussion is absolutely critical if you don’t want to get misheard. For instance, Booth never actually states in his quote that people who don’t like the new Wally do so because of his race, and yet that’s how people reacted. So it’s important to make distinctions between positions like “They shouldn’t have changed his race” and “They handled changing his race in a bad way.”

  8. Kelson Post author

    As far as “purists” go, I’ve seen an awful lot of comments from people nitpicking every little deviation from their preferred continuity, either in the New 52 or in the TV show. Not just big changes like the Rogues’ powers. People *were* freaking out that Iris was black. People were freaking out because Barry wasn’t blond.

    There are an awful lot of comics fans who do dislike change, or at least a vocal enough subset to make it look like a lot of comics fans *are* purists about their preferred form of entertainment.

  9. Kelson Post author

    I actually agree that the new Wally has been handled badly, and for a lot of the same reasons: breaking the relationships he had, making him even more dependent on Barry for his identity than he was before, and relying too heavily on stereotypes.

    I think making him biracial, by itself, is neutral at worst (since nothing about Wally West requires him to be white other than the fact that he was created in 1959), and positive in terms of the representation that Booth mentions. There’s no shortage of white male characters in the DCU, and if we’re going to be focused on Barry Allen for the time being with a teenaged Wally, it’s not as if we’re going to see New 52 versions of Linda or the kids anytime soon. (Well, Linda could show up.)

    I can’t remember where I read it, but I saw an opinion piece a few weeks ago looking back at some of the clumsy attempts to include racial diversity in comics in the 1970s, and how cringe-worthy they are now…but the characters’ existence was an improvement over their absence, and inspired young fans and future writers and artists…and some of those characters have grown to become much more than they were when they first appeared.

    There’s certainly room for improvement with the New 52 Wally West. I’d much rather have a conversation about what has and hasn’t worked than one about “they changed it, now it sucks, and I hate being labeled as one of those people who hates change.”

    1. Penny Dreadful

      *slow clap*

      Kelson, I agree completely.

      I really want to give Wally a chance. And I agree that there should be a conversation about what does and does not work.

      And IMO, comic writers might want to follow this guide for writing people of color in the future (hint: stereotypes are stupid):

      “I can’t remember where I read it, but I saw an opinion piece a few weeks ago looking back at some of the clumsy attempts to include racial diversity in comics in the 1970s, and how cringe-worthy they are now…but the characters’ existence was an improvement over their absence, and inspired young fans and future writers and artists…and some of those characters have grown to become much more than they were when they first appeared.”

      Absolutely. See Luke Cage for more details.

  10. Kyer

    What has worked? The costume. I like the armored costumes (though not that they nearly all have the -same- kind of collar…lazy art that.) I like that it fits around Barry when he runs. I like how he’s still the nice, kind, personality from before. I like that early scene with him saving the airplane passengers. It was unexpected and thrilling. I liked the origin of Daniel West’s Reverse Flash.

    I like TV show Joe West. The only thing that truly bugs me about the show is that visually I can’t see Gustin as Barry Allen, but he does make a good speedster despite that.

    Have yet to see anything I like about nu Wally or nu Iris. The others on this thread have already stated why, though I will add that the race does bother me but only for the same reason that Gustin’s brown hair bothers me for someone playing Barry Allen. I don’t care if Kid Flash is bi-racial. I’d love a bi-racial Kid Flash to become such a hit that DC makes movies about him. All I mind is that WALLY WEST has been made bi-racial and personality/age wise so very different from before.)

    I don’t consider myself to be a ‘purist’ because of things like (and I said this way, way, back when) that I’d have loved for Wally to have been mentored on a different planet and in a different book by Jay or by Max or even Fox. That’s hardly ‘purist’, I’m thinking, but maybe I am. What do I know?

    Also, every damn thing TPTB and Wally fans did against Barry and against Barry Allen fans was/is reprehensible. He is not boring (unless the -writer- is boring. I cite New Frontier where he was wonderfully depicted) and he certainly should not have been dead for so long when other characters were breaking the hinges on the revolving Death Door for decades. In all of that, Barry Allen fans were wronged and badly wronged.

    But two wrongs don’t make a right.
    What DC has done to Wally West and his fans isn’t right.

  11. Jesse

    What’s so frustrating about the race issue to me is that DC had a variety of non-white and diverse characters that they got rid of with the new52. Not as many as they should have, but many. Here are some:

    Linda Park – Korean-American
    Jai and Iris – half-Korean
    Conner Hawke – quarter-black, Korean
    Amanda Waller – overweight
    Cass Cain – half-Asian
    Obsidian – gay
    Oracle – in a wheelchair
    Ryan Choi – Asian
    Max Mercury – Native american origin story
    The whole Justice Society – elderly
    Renee Montoya – latina, lesbian
    Jade – green

    They got rid of all that, went back to the 25-year-old straight white unmarried male versions of as many characters as possible, and then expect kudos at heavy-handed attempts to force diversity in? It just blows my mind.

  12. Steve

    I’d actually love to see a black Wally West in the era that the Flash book debuted in. the 1950’s or ’60s. The message of growing out of the limitations people put on you would resonate very strongly in that setting.

    Odd that the publishers have taken the opportunity of a black Wally West and only used it to put more limitations on the character.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.