Tag Archives: Guest Posts

The Flash in Video Games Part 1: 90s Handhelds

Today’s guest post is by Colin Crebs.

I am a simple man, and there are two things I love in life. This exhaustive list includes the following: 1) video games and 2) the Flash. If you understand these two Flash-facts about me, you pretty much know me as well as any human being can know another in one lifetime.

LEGO Flash

Pictured above: The Lego Flash in 2012’s Lego Batman 2, the apotheosis of everything I ever wanted in a video game. And no, I’m not writing this blog post from an elementary school computer lab.

Unfortunately, this makes me very much a “niche” gamer, someone video game developers do not really cater to. The gaming market is not exactly saturated with Flash solo-titles, let alone appearances of the Flash in general. The Flash as a video game character, programmed correctly, is as rare as a Shiny in Pokemon, a Gold Chocobo in Final Fantasy 7, or perhaps an original copy of Earthbound on amazon.com. (Act quick! There’s one left, and it’s only $19,995.50!)

Aside from some obscure handheld games, the Flash is just not a titular character in gaming. He probably had his chance with his TV series to hit the big-time, but our beloved Scarlet Speedster’s show was defeated by the combined might of The Simpsons and The Cosby Show, a veritable Rogues Gallery of television. And thus the doors to true mainstream appeal in movies and games, widespread as love of Batman and Spider-Man, were probably shut for a while.

From this long forgotten time, which archaeologists sometimes refer to as the 90s, we got some strange Flash releases. Why anybody thought handheld platforms were the ideal way to show off the Flash’s super-speed, I have no idea, but we were gifted with two handheld releases: The Flash on Game Boy in 1991 and The Flash on the Sega Master System in 1993, two years after the TV series was cancelled oddly enough.

In my opinion, the Flash’s solo adventures, which are all about multi-tasking and fighting the combined might of many different Rogues at once through the gift of super-speed, just aren’t captured through handheld and the limitations of a B&W Game Boy. You can’t accurately simulate fighting an illusion conjuring madman, a wizard from the future, and a mind-controlling gorilla all at the same time in such a little screen. Anything less than that, and you’ve just got a generic platformer/brawler, and that tiny sprite with the winged mask might as well be Captain America.

The Flash on Game Boy

Pictured above: The Flash on Game Boy. Just not scratching the itch for some reason.

If you watch footage from these games on YouTube, emulate them, or track them down in a garage sale, a very clear principle reveals itself within seconds: the Flash and 2D platforming do not mix. To run at super-speed, it seems, you need to see more than 5-feet in front of yourself at all times, a luxury a handheld screen will not afford you. Because these vision-impaired Flashes are constantly struggling against this primitive camera, they run into a pit, a spike, or a flame trap every step they take.

Additionally, why is the Flash’s super-speed limited to movement? Why does the Flash have to stop and duck to dodge a bullet? Why does he have to use trampolines to reach the tops of building when he could just run up their sides? When he runs full speed into a generic thug, why does the Flash stop like he hit a wall? Why are the Flash’s punches weaker and slower than Batmans? Why isn’t the slightest contact with the Fastest Man Alive causing these mere mortals to explode in pixelated messes of gore?! I could go on forever.

I can...hardly move...

Pictured above: Artist’s rendition of playing as the Flash on the Sega Master System.

Perhaps as a result of these poor showings, the Flash is relegated to auxiliary roles in Justice League games today. For instance, he’s a playable character in Justice League Heroes on Xbox and PS2, Justice League: Earth’s Final Defense on Google Play and iTunes, and Lego Batman 2 on PS3 and Xbox360. All of these require some work on the part of the player, however, in order to unlock him. It’s neat that the Flash is a “reward” in and of himself, I suppose. I still wish he got more solo exposure though. His last solo appearance, in which he gets second billing even in his own title (Justice League Heroes: The Flash) was met with mixed critical response, and was probably the last we’ll see of him as the star of his own game.

But you know what? That’s okay. If you’re a Flash fan, you’re probably used to being a “niche” fan. You’re probably used to going out of your way to find Flash appearances, Flash comics, Flash merchandise, etc. The most illusive, and most rewarding, Flash appearance in my opinion is when he’s programmed well in a video game. In the coming weeks, I hope to walk through some appearances of the Flash in gaming, done well and not so well.

For my first Flash Pro-Tip, I leave you with this: stay away from the Flash titles in the 90’s. The Flash, like we learned from Spider-Man and Batman’s successes in games, belongs in the Third Dimension.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Colin Crebs is a third-year law student at S.J. Quinney College of Law in Salt Lake City, Utah. He was born with a SNES controller in his hands. Contact with questions and comments at colin.crebs@law.utah.edu.

Confessions of a Rebirth/New 52 Flash Fan

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.

Walter West: Adventures in Hypertime

Walter West

Today’s guest post is by by Joe Grunenwald.

The Flash was gone. Wally West was dead, having entered the Speed Force after saving Barry Allen’s life from Cobalt Blue. Then, out of the night sky, a bolt of lightning, a crack of thunder, and a new speedster appeared – older, scarred, but familiar, and known to the precious few to whom he unmasked.

Walter West was only around for a handful of comics (ten issues of The Flash, one issue of JLA, and six issues of Titans, plus a couple of annuals), but he left an indelible mark on me. “Chain Lightning” and the ensuing story that came to be known as “The Dark Flash Saga” hit at the very height of my Flash fandom, and the mystery of who the new Flash was had me baffled. I was convinced, up until the moment of the reveal, that it was Barry Allen, so to see a blue-eyed Wally West under the mask was quite the shock, and the rest of the story, detailing how he came to be in the ‘main’ hypertimeline, along with Wally and Linda’s eventual return and Walter’s tragic departure, are still some of my favorite Flash comics of all time. I waited for years for Walter to show up again, to no avail.

One of Walter’s less memorable adventures.

But man, how great that reappearance could have been!

Walter’s status quo as it was at the end of The Flash #159 leant itself perfectly to more stories. A speedster, hopping through hypertime, trying to find his way home – who wouldn’t read that? It’s Sliders meets Quantum Leap meets the fastest man alive. He can’t stay in any timeline for too long or he risks destroying it, so there’d be a built-in sense of urgency behind every one of his adventures. There’d also have to be a change of scenery/universe for each different story, which would be a fun opportunity to see alternate versions of the DCU. He could get sucked into problems in each new timeline he visits – perhaps problems that he causes himself when he arrives unexpectedly – and he could make enemies or even a big bad who somehow tracked him during his world-jumping.

Angela Margolin

And then there was Angela Margolin, Walter’s ladylove from whom he was separated at the end of the original story. A scientist herself, it’s easy enough to envision her trying to find a way to cross hypertime to find Walter. Throw in Rip Hunter as a recurring foil, or even the Challengers of the Unknown (who were left exploring hypertime themselves at the end of the “Hypertension” storyline in Superboy). This series – or miniseries, or series of backup stories in the Speed Force title that never materialized – could have had it all.

Alas, it clearly was never meant to be. Hypertime was underutilized and ultimately disavowed by DC editorial. Where Mark Waid told sweeping stories that spanned time and space, Geoff Johns took The Flash in a different direction, telling grounded stories that built up Keystone City and Wally’s rogues gallery. Now, over ten years later and with a rebooted universe in which Wally was never The Flash, the odds of an alternate universe Wally showing up are likely slim to none.

But it’s fun to consider what could have been, isn’t it? After all, this is comics we’re talking about – anything is possible.

Joe Grunenwald writes about comics at NerdSpan.

Fossil Flash Wristwatch

Today’s guest post is by Alex F.

In 2006, Fossil came out with a series of DC comic limited edition watches based on their most popular heroes retailing for $115. Of course they had to include your favorite hero and mine, The Flash. Now each of these watches are etched with their number out of 2000 in the back. So what happens to those low numbered watches? Are they saved for special customers or cast into the wind randomly? I have always wondered about this until I came across one, and not just any one, THE number one.

What makes this watch different from the other DC comic limited edition watches was the rectangular shape of the body rather than the standard circular shape. The logo and face of the watch is red striped background with a smaller white circle in the middle. Instead of a flat watch face the lightning bolt is raised above the white circle. Instead of numbers on the face each replaced with small white dots. The result is a textured watch face with minute details layered in the simplistic logo. Since this is a metal watch it does come with some heft.

Farewell to Zoom II

Zoom: Hunter Zolomon

Today’s guest post is by liquidcross of The Indigo Tribe.

Professor Zoom tormented Barry Allen constantly, but when he took things a bit too far, the Flash snapped his neck. Many years later, Barry’s successor Wally West had faced his share of speedster villains, but he never really had a Reverse Flash of his own.

During Geoff Johns’ stellar run on Flash, along comes FBI profiler Hunter Zolomon. After being severely injured by Gorilla Grodd, he decides to use the cosmic treadmill (conveniently located in the nearby Flash Museum) to go back in time and fix things. Naturally, it doesn’t quite work, and the resulting damage not only drives Zolomon over the edge, but turns him into Zoom, a new Reverse Flash. He thinks Wally doesn’t take his role as the Flash seriously enough due to not having faced any personal tragedy, so Zoom decides to mold him into a better hero…through a series of villainous acts, of course. These stories were expertly crafted, delivering all the twists and turns that really kept the readers on their toes. From Zoom accidentally killing Wally and Linda’s unborn children, to revisiting that incident to not only fix what happened but ending up in a time loop, the saga of Zolomon was a thrilling one to read.

Zoom (Hunter Zolomon): Why?

After those first big appearances, though, Zoom faded into the background. He showed up in a few crossovers and such, but he never regained a primary antagonist role. During Final Crisis, Inertia stole his powers, calling himself “Kid Zoom.” Zolomon was once again a disabled powerless human, and left to rot in a prison cell. He soon had company, though: the original Reverse Flash, Eobard Thawne. While that could’ve led to some great stories, Zolomon was never seen again, and the events of Flashpoint seemed to have erased both Zooms from existence.

Zoom was a fascinating character, and his time in the limelight was far too short. Aside from his unique powers and history with Wally, he always thought he was doing the right thing; and at one point, he came around and realized how badly he was screwing up. You actually felt bad for the guy, and that’s rare with supervillains.

Zoom (Hunter Zolomon)'s powersWhat I really liked about Zoom is that even though he was a Reverse Flash, he was not a speedster. He moved through time, and that caused all manner of problems for the Flash. It doesn’t matter how fast you’re running; if a guy is instantaneously jumping to a future point in time, he’s going to beat you there. Wally had to rely on his wits much more than his speed to defeat Zoom in most cases, which made for some excellent storytelling.

More importantly, Zoom may have been a new Reverse Flash…but he didn’t supplant the old one. His beef was with a completely different Flash, and as I said before, his powers were vastly different. In this, he’s a more interesting successor to the role, rather than a generic replacement.

Zoom’s shelving and eventual erasure was a complete waste. Now that I think of it, he should’ve been the real threat behind Flashpoint; he’s already got time travel powers, and the whole thrust of his plan could’ve been to destroy Barry to force Wally to once again become a better hero by surpassing his predecessor. Zoom manipulating Thawne would’ve been icing on the cake.

A new Reverse Flash is on the horizon, but it’s going to be a new character. I doubt we’ll ever see Zolomon again, and that’s a damned shame.

Liquidcross writes about Green Lantern and related comics at The Indigo Tribe.

A Case for Wally West as the New Reverse Flash

Flash #117 Blood Spot

Today’s guest post is by Scott Timms.

Every fan of the Flash has a favorite character who has taken up the mantle. There is no shame in loving Wally, being partial to Barry or the other way around. I personally lean toward Barry, but growing up in the 90s I understand the loyalty to Wally. On one hand, Barry is the current Flash and on the other hand Wally had the Flash mantle for just as long as pre-crisis Barry did. No one who has the characters’ best interest in mind would want Barry to be killed off to make room for Wally, and just having Wally appear as another Flash would be ill-conceived at best. How can Wally’s half a century of Kid Flash and Flash duty be honored, tied in, and introduced in a post Flashpoint New 52 world?

First, let us explore the answer that won’t sit well with any Flash fan: ignoring he exists with no explanation. For the Wally fans, consider how disappointing that option is. How relieving was it to find out why Captain Cold doesn’t use a cold gun anymore? Changes are fine, I just want some explanation or some bridge to the version of the story I hold dear. I present to you an interesting solution: Wally being introduced as the new Reverse Flash. It would give the character teeth and keep interest in his run as the Flash. It makes Flash #1-247 relevant in a way keeping him out of the New 52 universe simply doesn’t. The argument is always Barry or Wally. If you introduce Reverse Flash as an equal to Barry then you allow that question to come to life. Wally and Barry on the same page battling it out is an invigorating idea. Introducing a beloved hero such as Wally as a villain while at the same balancing the homage Wally is due will challenge the creative team and the preconceptions of the fans.

Here is an idea Wally fans will eat up. Wally doesn’t have to stay a “villain” or the Reverse Flash. How compelling are super hero team ups of two characters once at odds? How tantalizing would a story line be which introduces and establishes Wally as Reverse Flash, but then brings the two together? During their time at odds fans can see the “Barry vs. Wally” scenario play out before their eyes and brought together fans can have a fully reintroduced, explained, and character developed Barry/Wally team back to their comic books. Wally as Reverse Flash doesn’t forever doom Wally as an evil villain. It is an avenue by which he can be reintroduced. A mutual threat could bring Barry Flash and Wally Reverse Flash on the same side, and see Wally come back into the super hero fold. All this is speculation, but the directions the writers could take it are endless.

Wally as Reverse Flash is an intriguing idea. It challenges the status quo and gives Wally the provocative return he deserves. Do any Wally fans out there want the writers to simply have him appear and say “Poof! Here he is!”, or give Wally some lackluster, poorly executed return? Wally needs a place and his past stories have relevance. Being introduced as Reverse Flash could give him the reintroduction he deserves. Wally’s personality and place in the hearts of fans could take Flash/Reverse Flash to new heights.

For thoughts on other candidates for the new villain, check out our previous article, Who is the New Reverse-Flash?