Tag Archives: Blog Crossover

Flash-back: Zero Month & Terminal Velocity, 20 Years Later

Flash #0

In 1994 DC Comics published Zero Hour, a five issue mini-series designed to not only serve as a major summer crossover but also fix some of the continuity problems that had plagued their universe after the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths.  Some have suggested that Zero Hour caused more problems than it fixed but at the time it was the dawn of an exciting new era for DC.  To kick off this new age DC followed Zero Hour with Zero Month.  As the name suggests all of the main DC books were rolled back to zero though each one had a different approach to the idea  Some books featured a new origin.  Some contained tweaks to the existing origin.  Some contained brand new versions of old characters.  All of them served as a jumping on point for new and old readers alike.  
To celebrate this new era (or perhaps to bury it) some of us in the comic book blogging community have banded together from remote galaxies to discuss how the characters we cover were rebooted/revamped by looking at the solicitations of our character’s zero issues as well as delving into the Wizard Magazine Zero Hour Special, which was a magazine published around the time of Zero Hour to promote the series, what was coming next and the history of DC in general.

Back in the Day…

With Zero Hour being sort of a follow-up to Crisis on Infinite Earths, someone at DC thought that killing off the Flash — or at least appearing to — would be a way to tie back to the already-classic story. But the Flash creative team had other plans.

In 1994, Wally West had been the main Flash for eight years and his series was approaching issue #100. (This was back when the typical comic book story ran one or two issues, maybe three. Four-issue stories were occasions, and a six-issue story meant Serious Business.) Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo had just introduced Impulse, Wally’s cousin and Barry Allen’s grandson, and brought back Iris Allen from the future. And they had slowly been bringing together DC’s other speedsters: Semi-retired Flash Jay Garrick, Johnny Quick, a renamed Max Mercury (originally called Quicksilver), and Johnny Quick’s daughter Jesse Quick.

Wait: a Crisis needs a dead Flash, and we’ve got a lot of speedsters around?

That’s right: it was time to play pick the successor.

But not right away.

Wally did vanish during Zero Hour, but didn’t die. He bounced around in time, met a younger version of himself at a critical moment in his past, and made it back just in time for his optimistically-named Welcome Back party to avoid admitting to itself that it was really a wake.

But he’d seen a vision of the future — one without him in it, or his then-girlfriend Linda Park — and something had changed in himself: Now, whenever he started running too fast, he began transforming into energy, losing a bit more of his humanity each time.

Terminal Velocity and the Speed Force

Zero Month set the stage for Terminal Velocity, which brought all the speedsters together and introduced the Speed Force. It’s been expanded greatly since then, but in those pages the idea was simple: It was an extra-dimensional energy field that all speedsters tapped into for their powers. The downside: they ran the risk of losing themselves if they drew too much. Max Mercury had come close many times only to pull back at the last moment, finding himself years in the future each time. An emotional anchor could help: Jay Garrick had felt the call, but held fast to earth and his relationship with Joan.

It was a neat trick: It tied all of DC’s speedsters together. It provided an easy answer to “Why doesn’t the Flash burn out in five seconds?” and similar questions — the energy’s coming from somewhere else. And it put a damper on the powers, one that could be adjusted as each plot required it.

By the end of Terminal Velocity, Wally West did indeed lose himself to the Speed Force. It felt like heaven. It held all the answers he’d ever wanted.

But he came back.

Because Linda wasn’t there.

A few years later, I read something Mark Waid had written about Terminal Velocity (maybe the afterward in the collected edition). Some readers had given them flak for having Wally return after all that talk about how nobody ever returns. Waid’s response: Whenever you start a story by explaining that no one has ever returned from the cave of death, chances are good that this is the story about the first person who does it.

Another bit from the same article: Amid all the epic destruction and battles, when it comes down to it, they were writing a love story.

And you know what? That’s what sticks in my head too. Not the near-destruction of Keystone, or the conflicts between Wally, Jesse and Bart, or the super-speed antics, or everyone in the DCU going up against Kobra’s organization. And sure, the consequences were far-reaching: It was ages before Jesse trusted Wally again. He and Bart could barely stand to be around each other. And knowing about the speed force gave Wally a few extra tricks up his sleeve, and of course that leads to the question of who else might know even more about the speed force…

But for me, the key moment of Terminal Velocity is right there at the end, when everyone’s convinced Wally’s gone, and Linda runs off, and Wally finally makes it back to her.

Everyone else can get the good news later.

Zero Month Solicitations: Flash Beyond Zero Hour: Flash

As this is a blog crossover be sure to check out the links below to find out how other characters were treated during ZeroMonth.

Thanks to Michael Bailey of the Fortress of Baileytude and Jeffrey Taylor of From Crisis to Crisis for organizing this event, providing scans (except for the cover, which is from comics.org), and writing the introduction text.

High Speed Hauntings: 4 Ghost Stories Featuring the Flash

Flash Annual #11: Ghosts - Cover

Ghost stories seem a natural fit with some superheroes. Not so with the Flash. An origin based in science, scientifically trained alter-egos, villains who use technology. Even the “magician” villain, Abra Kadabra, is more of a techno-mage, using highly advanced future technology to carry out transformations that seem like magic to our experience. The closest the Flash mythos gets to the supernatural is the metaphysical nature of the speed force, and even that is described in terms of energy and the nature of space-time.

So it makes sense that for 1998’s “Ghosts” annuals, the Flash story would feature not a traditional ghost, but one tied to the speed force: Johnny Quick, who had vanished into the speed force two years earlier during Dead Heat.

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Flash Secret Files and Origins

A group of character-focused comics blogs have gotten together for a crossover event featuring DC Comics’ Secret Files and Origins books:

Today’s event was organized by Diabolu Frank and Anj. We here at Speed Force missed this one (unless you count posting this cover at the last minute), but we’ve participated in a number of past crossovers with the same group, including the original Crisis on Earth-Blog highlighting the George Perez/Alex Ross cover for the collected Crisis on Infinite Earths, celebrating the Super-Powers 25th Anniversary, posing a piece of the DC Challenge, plugging lesser-known comics with Read This Too!, Mayfairstivus’ look back at the DC Heroes RPG, and most recently Animated Anthem Day.

Flash(back): Animated Anthem

This is the intro for the Flash segments that ran during the Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure (1967-1968). Filmation produced three Flash cartoons in which the Flash and Kid Flash battled original evildoers including a giant mutated bug (The Chemo Creature, seen here), a mad scientist in a robot suit (Professor Crag), and an alien speedster (The Blue Bolt). Sadly, he didn’t actually “conquer the barriers of time and space” in any of the segments they produced.

Warner Bros. released all the non-Superman/Aquaman sequences on DVD a few years back, and I reviewed the set a couple of months after this blog went online.

Even setting aside the image quality, you can see that it’s a very different style from modern shows like Justice League Unlimited and Young Justice, or even Super-Friends. Continue reading

Mayfairstivus – Captains Cold & Boomerang in the 1989 DC Heroes RPG

Today’s guest post is by Frank Lee Delano.

Hello, Flash fans! I go by the alias Frank Lee Delano, was voted second most likely to run entirely too many blogs (after Rob Kelly,) and I will be your substitute teacher for the day. For the second year in a row, I’m running a complex and lengthy inter-blog crossover between Thanksgiving and Christmas, in part because I’m a sadistic misanthrope who takes his hatred of the holidays out on my unsuspecting fellow bloggers. The theme this year is Mayfairstivus, a make believe holiday where we celebrate the Mayfair Games Incorporated DC Heroes role-playing system and its many releases. A large part of the blame for this type of event falls on the shoulders of The Irredeemable Shag, who brought me into his own crossover, Crisis on Earth-Blog, almost two years ago, and continues to conspire with me on these dirty dealings. Shag was your guest blogger forMayfairstivus – Celebrating Flash in the DC Heroes RPG, and when I volunteered to write a second post while your regularly scheduled Kelson was tending to his newborn son, Shag offered the advice, “I believe his blog is typically on the positive/up-beat side, so I wouldn’t trash Captain Boomerang too much (but that’s just me).” As I believe I already established that I am diabolical and make all my promises through crossed fingers, I now present to you Captains Cold and Boomerang, whom I will surely criticize venomously.

I assume I first became aware of Captain Cold through the Super Friends cartoon show, because that’s just what people of my generation did (see also: mustachioed men wearing mirrored aviators and Lacoste polos with skimpy tennis shorts defending original Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.) As you may or may not be aware, Ape Law* dictates that every super-hero must have an ice-themed villain, so to me Captain Cold was just Mr. Freeze on a budget. It wasn’t until John Ostrander wrote Cold into his first Manhunter script as a loser who loved betting baseball that Leonard Snart felt like he had something unique to contribute to the field, as more of a blue collar snow blower. Of course, now Snart is a fan favorite, after taking on a Golden Age attitude toward casual homicide. If you’re going to flash freeze some dope in the equivalent of liquid nitrogen, you might as well indulge the bloodlust of Rome by punching the schmuck’s head into a pink-tinged flurry, right? So cool, Captain Cold is now the baddest gangsta to wear a fur-lined hoodie.

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Mayfairstivus – Celebrating Flash in the DC Heroes RPG

Today we’re featuring the first of two guest posts by fellow blogger The Irredeemable Shag (from ONCE UPON A GEEK and FIRESTORM FAN)!

Dear Speed Force readers,

Welcome to Mayfairstivus! That’s right, it’s time once again for the beloved annual celebration of Mayfair Games’ DC Heroes Role-Playing Game! This time honored tradition dates back to 1985 when the first edition of this role-playing game was released … or maybe this is a fake holiday some comic book bloggers just cooked up as an excuse to post related content from Mayfair’s long-running DC Heroes line.

Mayfair Games DC Heroes Role-Playing Game box set 1985 art by George Perez

Today we’ll look at a few different Flash entries from the role-playing game (RPG) and learn how the first box set shattered my fragile little comic reader world.

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