When reviewing FLASH comics and TV episodes, I get the joy of writing about my favorite character in comics, a hero I’ve followed for my now 52 years of reading comics (hey, that’s a coincidence for a DC fan, huh?). But, there was a time that this Flash fan was truly bummed out…which takes me all the way back to…well, a “Flash”back to COIE in 1985.
For today’s Flash fans, the original Crisis on Infinite Earths is just history…and in some respects even that history has been revised by a variety of other “events”, not the least of which is the conclusion of Convergence supposedly re-writing the end of that original universes-shattering event. For me, as a 20-something years old comics fan returning to my favorite medium after a break, it was a very bittersweet time. I saw my childhood being swept away in a flood of death and destruction that saw the Silver and Bronze Ages being moved aside. Supergirl died. Superboy no longer “existed”. And, worst of all, Barry Allen died.
My Flash died.
Today, that is being hailed as a seminal moment in comics. At the time, it didn’t feel that way. The series for our favorite speedster wasn’t drawing very well, and it had in fact been cancelled. And, even though his sacrifice saved what was left of the DCU, it felt a lot more like DC was merely using Barry to put an exclamation point on the end of the Silver Age. The only saving grace for that part of the story for me was having him turn into the actual lightning bolt that granted him his speed.
And, my Flash died.
At the same time, Wally was just finding that he could run again – but limited at the time to the speed of sound. Jay was not far from being stuck in an endless time loop with the rest of the Justice Society, fighting and re-fighting Ragnarok. It seemed like a sad time to be a speedster.
After all, my Flash died. But, at least we did have a Flash, and I had been a fan of Wally since the Teen Titans were formed (and yes, I did buy the first issue of their team up when they fought the “Separated Man”). So, I was more than willing to give the “new” Flash series a try. I’m glad I did.
Wally found his own path to being a hero and we were off on a terrific volume of new Flash stories. We received a teaser from Mark Waid in “The Return of Barry Allen” (a really great arc, but still not a real return). And, years later, we finally did get a “Rebirth” that returned Barry Allen, my Flash, to the DCU.
I have been a fan of every DCU speedster, from Jay to Barry to Wally to Bart, from the Quicks to Max Mercury to Don and Dawn Allen to XS and…you get the idea. I refuse to get into arguments over who was the best Flash – they are all great to me. But, for every fan there is a moment that lets you know things will never be the same – not in that hyped up “read this arc” way that you see in ads all the time. No, there is a moment when you realize that the comics of your childhood simply don’t exist anymore. The death of Barry Allen in COIE was that moment for me. Even though he’s back, and even though I’m still a fan, that moment in 1985 is something I will always remember.