Tag Archives: Guest Posts

The Flash in Video Games Part 6: Injustice

Today’s guest post is by Colin Crebs.

Flash fans rejoice! Another playable Flash in a fighting game appears, this time in Injustice: Gods Among Us. But is he done well, or is it an… injustice?

Injustice: Trinity Plus the Flash

Pictured above: The Flash striking a pose with the DC Trinity, with Solomon Grundy photobombing.

For quick reference, here is a video of the Flash fighting Shazam. You can see the Flash do some super-speed combos, slow down time, and perform his Super Move where he runs entirely around the world just because why not. If you practice with him for a few minutes, you will discover he’s very different in play-style from his appearance in MKvDC. He will seem generally slower, with no ability to zip around the stage with impunity. But he may grow on you.

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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

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

Max Mercury Changed My Life

Flash #78

Today’s guest post is by Tony Laplume.

I first encountered Max Mercury in 1993’s The Flash #78. This was part of Mark Waid’s “The Return of Barry Allen” arc, which did not actually feature Barry Allen, but rather Wally West’s first encounter with the Reverse Flash. Barry was the Silver Age Flash and Wally’s mentor, but he’d been gone since his death in Crisis on Infinite Earths. The arc was all about Wally finally moving past his feelings of inadequacy and embracing his own legacy. It was a seminal moment in Waid’s long run on the series, setting the stage for many other stories, including the introduction of the Speed Force, from which every DC speedster draws their ability.

Max Mercury was just another speedster in the arc. Along with Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash, and Johnny Quick, Max was representative of an earlier generation. He was a character Waid cobbled together from another Golden Age speedster, Quicksilver, renamed to avoid confusion with his Marvel counterpart. Memorably, Max was referred to as the Zen Master of Speed. I guess this was his first true mark of distinction for me, the fact that he was identified as an expert on the topic that defined the series. He was all but the Yoda of Flash lore.

Of course, Max fares poorly against Professor Zoom, the Reverse Flash, in the arc, although some solace can be found in the fact that he does little better than Jay Garrick or Johnny Quick. It’s Wally’s fight to win. Max is just there to inspire new confidence in him. By the end of the arc, Max disappears back to wherever he came from in the first place. Waid moves on as well, allowing Wally to enjoy being the Flash for a change, until the appearance of Bart Allen, whom Wally soon enough dubs Impulse, the new and future Kid Flash.

Bart quickly gains his own series, Impulse, also written by Waid, and resurfacing for the occasion is Max Mercury, who is given the unenviable task of helping the excitable youth discovery maturity. It’s Max in the role glimpsed during “The Return of Barry Allen,” the consummate mentor, who may be better instructing than actually doing. We discover Max’s true history, how he became a speedster in the nineteenth century and made several leaps through time, eventually depositing him in the present, an experienced and wise old man, allowed the white hair most superheroes never know. Bart’s own tenuous experience with time is something he can appreciate, if not Bart himself, who constantly exasperates Max, but this is fine, because he has a soft spot for family.

Max is a perfect personification of the kind of family Waid brought to the Flash franchise. At a time when comics were beginning to appreciate the working benefits of legacy, famously within the pages of James Robinson’s Starman, Waid started to understand the interconnectedness of a family of loners. Aside from the famous “Flash of Two Worlds” story in The Flash #123 in which Jay Garrick and Barry Allen meet (thereby initiating the era of the multiverse), the generations of scarlet speedsters had about as much to do with each other as Alan Scott and Hal Jordan’s Green Lanterns. True, Wally was the original Kid Flash and as such had an extensive history working alongside Barry, but Barry was gone by the time Wally took on the full cowl for himself, and it wasn’t until Waid that a writer finally addressed what kind of impact that had on his life.

In fact, as “Return of Barry Allen” proves, he didn’t stop there. Waid brought Jay back into the fold, and then Johnny Quick with his unique formula and daughter Jesse, who was also Quick. Max was something different, representative of the lineage but a character without a print background, and thus a part of Waid’s own emerging narrative. Waid didn’t always concentrate on this part of his own emerging legacy, at least not at first, not even following “Terminal Velocity,” which completed Wally’s journey toward awareness of the Speed Force. Subsequent arcs like “Dead Heat,” “Race Against Time,” and “Chain Lightning” continued the tradition and united the speedsters as never before or since.

It wasn’t until Impulse that Max could truly shine, guiding Bart along and deepening the sense of family. In the course of this series, Max reunited with a daughter he never had a chance to know because of his time hops. Every speedster needs grounding, seemed to be Waid’s message. Wally found his in exploring the depths of the Speed Force, while Bart and Max found each other as unlikely equals, even if both were reluctant to admit it. Max could sometimes come off as gruff, but it was a front, much as Wally’s life prior to “Return of Barry Allen” hid his longing to move past his mentor’s shadow. The man who began as a mystery and pegged as the expert not only became exposed as one of the biggest victims of the previously unknown Speed Force but one of its biggest beneficiaries as well.

Max Mercury will always fascinate me. He’s the manifestation of everything that made Mark Waid’s Flash great, even if he remains a fairly obscure element of it. While everyone else clamors to see Wally West again, I wish Max could make a comeback. If there’s anyone in that strange family who still has a story to tell, it’s him.

Tony Laplume regularly writes about superheroes at Comics Reader. Cover via Comics.org

The Flash in Video Games Part 3: Fighting Game Flash, It’s a Gas

Today’s guest post is by Colin Crebs.

In anticipation of Injustice: Gods Among Us coming out next month, let’s revisit the Flash’s video game appearances of choice: the Flash in fighting games. Today: Justice League Task Force (“JLTF”), basically Injustice on the SNES or Genesis from 1995.

Justice League Task Force SNES Cover
Pictured Above: What’s you favorite Blizzard game? Justice League Task Force? Mine too!

Initial blanket criticism: The Flash doesn’t belong in fighting games. Unless he’s fighting another speedster or he’s massively depowered, no opponent should have a chance against him. A modest iteration of the Flash is a guy that punches really fast and dodges bullets. Anything above that, he’s a guy that steals the speed of the opponent, freezes time, and executes punches with infinite mass. As Agnes would put it, “He’ll kill you five times before you hit the ground.” Did you lose Round 1? Why not run backward in time for a redo?

Blanket criticism aside, let’s turn to JLTF.

As far as I can tell, both the SNES and Genesis version of JLTF are despised equally, even though they are slightly different from one another. It’s commonly ranked as one of the worst fighting games of all time and Cracked even has a standalone article about it.

The major criticism of both iterations is just “Why would you play this and not a technically sound game like Street Fighter?” To that, I say, “Because you can play as the Justice League, stupid.” It’s easier to justify today though, as these games are just up for emulation or available at a garage sale for 50 cents, so there’s not much investment involved. Back in the day, if you forked over $60 for one of them, you’d probably be pretty mad at how they limited they are. The day you bought JLTF instead of Street Fighter II would probably haunt you the rest of your life. It’s not Shaq Fu-bad though, because nothing but Shaq Fu is as bad as Shaq Fu. It’s fun to say Shaq Fu.

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The Flash in Video Games, Part 2: Justice League: Earth’s Final Defense

Today’s guest post is by Colin Crebs.

We are running right along, looking at the appearances of the Flash in video games, as rare as they are. In review from Part 1, the Flash does not get to appear as the titular character in games anymore. He’s lucky if he’s even mentioned by name as a member of the Justice League. See this travesty.

Today we are looking at the Flash in Justice League: Earth’s Final Defense, available on iOS and Android.

Justice League: Earth's Final Defense (Title Screen)

Pictured Above: He even made it on the title screen! I’m so proud.

I highly recommend Justice League: EFD for all you Android or iOS gamers out there looking for more Flash-action on their phone, perhaps in between your digital comic reading app and your digital copy of The Flash: Stop Motion. Continue reading