Today’s guest post is by Nick of The Culture Cast.
September 2009. I had just returned to school for graduate studies after teaching for a few years, and in an amazing example of poor decision making and bad timing, I started collecting comics again after a six year break. Just one though: Bryan Q. Miller’s Batgirl. An unusual choice perhaps, but I guess it was the right comic at the right time for me.
One night, I was wandering through Wal-Mart when I came across the DC Universe Classics “The Flash” action figure. I was somewhat in awe of it. Of course, I was fully aware of the Flash. What DC Comics fan couldn’t be? But I was never really into the character. His powers were cool, but I always thought his enemies – the Rogues – were kind of lame. Still, there was something about this toy. Nicely sculpted with a great paint job (that classic red sure popped). It was an all-around solid figure.
Part of me wanted to pick it up, but being a grad student (ie: poor), and being not really all that interested in amassing action figures, I passed on it. Over the next month, anytime I went to the store, I looked at that Flash figure. Then one day, it was gone. Just as well, I thought. No longer there to tempt me!
March 2010. Batgirl #8 had an extremely thin crossover with Red Robin #10 which I didn’t realize until after I was suckered into buying the latter. At the end of that Red Robin issue (incidentally enough, drawn by Marcus To), there was a preview for The Flash #1 written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Francis Manapul. I was immediately struck by Manapul’s artwork. The lines, the coloring, the cartoony look without it being too cartoony – it all worked for me. Most striking was Manapul’s ability to make a static image seem like it is going 100 miles per hour. I hadn’t seen anything quite like this before. It all seemed to work and felt completely right for a character I hardly knew anything about.
I kept going back to that preview. I loved the look, but I wasn’t sure about collecting a second monthly title (first-world problems, I know). In grad school, you need to spend your “fun money” wisely. That’s when I came across the Flash: Rebirth collection. I decided to check that out and, if I liked it, I’d go ahead and jump into the new series. Though I wasn’t crazy about the art, I loved Rebirth. You can imagine my surprise at the somewhat negative reaction I later discovered the story had online. Since I never followed this character, I had no preconceived notions on who Barry Allen was, is, or should be.
May 2010. I picked up the first two issues of The Flash. I was enthralled. I love superheroes generally considered “boy scouts”. Superman was my first love. Captain America was my guy in high school. Cyclops was always my favorite X-Men from the 90s cartoon. And, now Barry Allen Flash could be added to that list. There is something about a character doing good for the sake of doing good that just appeals to me.
Summer 2010. I learned all I could about the character. I completely revised my opinion about the Rogues. Oh, I still thought they were lame, but being lame is exactly what made them cool and, ultimately, unique for a group of villains. I learned Bart Allen wasn’t nearly as obnoxious as I was previously led to believe. I read some heated online Wally West debates (if only those fans knew what was right around the corner). I learned more about Jay Garrick, who I felt was incredibly awesome (to the point that I was him for Halloween that year). I even sat down and watched through the 1990 The Flash TV series. Needless to say, I had a lot of spare time that summer.
I also came across some Flash blog during this time. Can’t quite remember what it was. Speed Flash? Flash Force? Something like that I think. It’s not important.
Spring 2011. Sadly, my excitement for The Flash died down considerably as new issues were continuously delayed. I dropped it after issue 6, deciding just to wait for the trades. I followed the solicits, but tried to stay spoiler free. Then, news hit about Flashpoint and the New 52. Shocked and surprised like any comics fan, I didn’t know what to think. It was then revealed that Manapul was staying on the book as artist and co-writer. My excitement returned in full force.
This was the perfect new jumping on point for me. I enjoyed the then-current title, but I still felt like an outsider with so much continuity baggage. Now everything is brand new again, and I could get in on the bottom floor. What more could I possibly ask for?
September 2011. I found that new Flash comic was terrific. It was exactly what I look for in a comic book. It had great storytelling, great art, and was just plain fun. Barry was never truly rebooted before, so it provides bold new territory for all fans.
Today. The focus on Barry has been a cause of contention for some fans (particularly those of Wally). I suppose I understand why, but it doesn’t bother me. I never followed Wally. I came in after him, and I’m loving every minute. Now, I think back to that action figure I saw at Wal-Mart over three years ago. If I knew I was to become the Flash fan I am today, I would have bought him. Not only was he a Barry-Flash, but I can’t find him anywhere now!
You can find Nick over at The Culture Cast with Zack and Nick, where he posts monthly reviews of The Flash.