Tag Archives: Speed Force

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.

“Power Loss” – Review of THE FLASH #39

The future-Flash finds Overload…and the kind of trouble from which he can’t run away, while present Barry finds a surprising source of danger while trapped in the Speed Force. The twin storylines are moving forward in significant ways in one of the stronger issues in the Venditti-Jensen-Booth era of THE FLASH.

MILD SPOILERS AHEAD

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“The Savage World of the Speed Force” – Review of THE FLASH #37

Flash #37Our present-day Barry Allen is trapped in the Speed Force, powerless, while his alternate future-Barry (the “All-New, All-Murderous Flash”) has taken over his life. The Speed Force has more secrets than we thought, and the people Barry loves may be getting their first real hints that something is wrong here – all in the latest issue of THE FLASH!

LIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD

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UPDATED Media Blitz! Reverse-Flash Details Emerge in THREE New Interviews (via CBR, Newsarama, Comic Vine)

This week has already seen two three new interviews with the Flash creative team.  In pieces with Comic Book Resources, Newsarama, and now Comic Vine, Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato pull back a small corner of the curtain on their new iteration of the Reverse-Flash!

Flash_20_1detail

The duo eliminates at least one suspect, while providing some insight into the motivations and look of Flash’s new opposite-number. The Newsarama (and Comic Vine) interviews also feature a first look at preliminary pages from Flash #20!  Check out all of the chilling, UPDATED details after the jump!

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Barry Is Helping the Gem Cities and…Trickster? You bet! (Review of Flash #18)

flash 18 coverNow that Gorilla Grodd is lost in the Speed Force and the Gem Cities have time to heal, Barry begins issue #18 helping the Gem Cities rebuild from the devasation of recent battles.  He is everywhere, and apparently one of the best wall-hangers and carpenters around (or at least a lot of Speed Force makes up for a lack of other training).  It is just as well that he has so much to do, as Barry has yet to reclaim his old job – the bureaucracy of both the Police Force and the union haven’t been able to render a decision on his old job now that he is no longer “dead”.

WARNING: SOME SPOILERS AHEAD! DON’T LOOK FURTHER UNTIL YOU HAVE READ THE ISSUE!

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Media Blitz!: Flash Team Talks Rogues, Annual at Newsarama, PopMatters

With issue #6 hitting stands today, the Flash creative team of Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato are featured in two new interviews, one over at Newsarama and the other at PopMatters.

The Newsarama piece discusses the reintroduction of Captain Cold, the new character Turbine, as well as the vision for Speed Force as it appears New 52 version of Flash.  They also discuss the pacing of the title, noting stories will be told in one-to-two issue sets for the next few months.  The article features preview pages from issue #6, out today, as well as the first announcement of a new Flash Annual, due before issue #12 hits stands.

On their upcoming portrayal of the Speed Force:

Manapul: Inside the speed force itself will be quite different. I think before, it’s always been portrayed as just these speed lines and light and stuff like that. We really want to make it a world that’s fully realized, you know? And when the Flash enters this world, we want the readers to be in awe just as much as Barry Allen is.

It’s really going to be quite different visually.

More after the jump, including selections from a new interview with PopMatters.

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