Tag Archives: William Messner-Loebs

These Are The Greatest Wally West Stories Ever Told

Comics Should Be Good has posted the results of their reader poll for the Greatest Wally West stories ever told. It’s technically a top ten list, but they included eleven stories because the #10 winner was essentially a prologue for one of the other winners.

It’s interesting to break down the results by writer:

  • 7 by Mark Waid (including the top three)
  • 2 by Geoff Johns
  • 2 by William Messner-Loebs

In a way it’s surprising that Geoff Johns, DC’s current superstar writer, isn’t more heavily represented, but it also makes sense. Mark Waid’s run on The Flash was very much about Wally West and his journey through young adulthood (Messner-Loebs’ run even more so!), while Geoff Johns’ run tilted a bit more toward the Rogues.

Head over to Comics Should Be Good for the full list!

Happy Birthday Bill Messner-Loebs

I learned on Comic Bloc that today is William Messner-Loebs’ birthday! He wrote The Flash vol.2 for about four years from Flash #15 (1988) through Flash #61 (1992), during which he laid the groundwork for Wally West’s characterization in the 1990s and beyond. He also had a two-year run on Impulse, taking over from Mark Waid in Impulse #29 (1997) and handing the reigns to Todd Dezago after Impulse #49 (1999).

Catching Up: Messner-Loebs, Guggenheim, Waid and Van Sciver

Twenty years ago, William Messner-Loebs started a four-year run on The Flash. Seven years ago, out of work, he and his wife lost their house. Michigan Live writes about how his life has turned around since then. (via The Beat).

Another former Flash scribe, Mark Waid, talks to CBR about his arrival on Spider-Man.

Flash: The Fastest Man Alive “Full Throttle” writer Marc Guggenheim’s TV show Eli Stone has not been renewed beyond the network’s current 13-episode commitment. Update: Newsarama also has an interview about Guggenheim’s “Character Assassination” arc on Amazing Spider-Man

Flash: Iron Heights and Impulse artist Ethan Van Sciver, currently working on Flash: Rebirth, has started a weekly column at Newsarama, Your Time Is Now Mine.

Update: One more: Geoff Johns talks with CBR about bringing the Legion of Super-Heroes to Smallville.

Creative Consistency

Edit: This has been restructured and rewritten a bit to make the post come off a bit less personally, since that wasn’t the intention.

Groovy Superhero is running a series on The World’s Fastest Cancellation, looking at the way the series has been relaunched over and over since Geoff Johns 2005. The Flash has had a remarkably consistent writing credit over the years, until Geoff Johns left the book in 2005 to do Infinite Crisis.

Wally Before Geoff

One thing the author of that series said got me thinking about the series’ creative history: In part one, he or she writes about the book after Geoff Johns left it:

The Flash…was relegated to the status he had endured throughout most of the ’90s: a “who needs work?” book, being tossed around from creator to creator

Tossed around from creator to creator? True of the last three years, but certainly not true of the 1990s. William Messner-Loebs wrote the book for four years from 1988–1992. Mark Waid* took over in 1992 and stayed on until 2000 (Brian Augustyn joining him officially halfway through after several years as editor and an uncredited co-writer), with a one-year break during which he wrote JLA: Year One and Grant Morrison and Mark Millar filled in. In fact, if you count the Morrison/Millar run as a main creative team, there’s a grand total of only five issues by fill-in writers** from #1 to #225 (the end of Geoff Johns’ run), covering 1987–2005.

Long-Term Consistency

If you go further back, Gardner Fox wrote most of the Golden Age books, with Robert Kanigher coming in near the end. John Broome wrote most of the Silver Age, with Fox and Kanigher. There was a transition period in the late 1960s, and then Cary Bates wrote nearly every issue from the early 1970s through 1985.

Three main writers from 1940-1970. One from 1970-1985. Five writers or writing teams from 1987-2005. (I’m lumping the Waid/Augustyn and Waid solo runs together. Same with the Morrison/Millar and Millar solo books.)

Now let’s look at the book after Geoff Johns left in 2005:
4 issues by Joey Cavalieri
8 by Danny Bilson & Paul De Meo
5 by Marc Guggenheim
7 by Mark Waid
6 by Tom Peyer
4 by Alan Burnett
2 one-shots

Six writing teams in three years, and a couple of one-offs.

Flash or Thrash?

Following Johns’ final issue, it’s clear they had already decided to axe the book, since all that remained was one stand-alone story that had been sitting on the shelf and the 4-part “Finish Line,” which was clearly intended (like the current “This Was Your Life, Wally West”) to wrap up the series.

Then DC proceeded to throw lead characters, creative teams, and creative directions at the wall haphazardly, hoping something would stick. How could anything gain traction with that much churn?

In my opinion, given that DC is already committed to relaunching the series with Flash: Rebirth, the best thing DC could do to build the book back up would be to keep Geoff Johns on after the miniseries, and give him at least a year to establish the series tone, direction, and at least one long-term arc. Then make sure that whoever follows him is sufficiently high-profile not to scare readers off, and won’t simply throw everything out and start over.


*By part 5, he explains that “Waid’s main contributions to the Flash mythos were to introduce Wall and Wife Linda’s twins.” Now, I would assume that he meant Waid’s contributions this time around, but given the remark in part 1 about the series being a dumping ground of random writers in the 1990s, I have to wonder whether the writer in question is simply not familiar with Waid’s eight-year run, or that it established the Wally/Linda relationship, introduced the Speed Force, built up a family of speedsters, spun off an Impulse/Max Mercury book, and really established the Flash as once again being a major player after 60-odd issues of the B-list.

**Those fill-ins would be:
#29: Len Strazewski (1989)
#151: Joe Casey (1999)
#160: Brian Augustyn solo, not sure you can properly call it a fill-in. (2000)
#161: Pat McGreal (2000)
#163: Pat McGreal (2000)

Catching Up: Impulsive Interview Round-Up

Some recent interviews with former Flash contributors:

Comics Worth Reading interviews Todd Dezago (who wrote Impulse for nearly half of the series’ 90*-issue run) about Perhpahanauts (co-created with art by his Impulse collaborator artist Craig Rousseau**) moving from Dark Horse to Image.

Newsarama interviews Mark Waid (1990-2000) and William Messner-Loebs about the upcoming adapation of The Necronomicon. Messner-Loebs and Waid together account for 12 years of Flash stories from 1988–2000.

Edit: Mark Waid, William Messner-Loebs, and Todd Dezago actually cover the entire run of Impulse, minus a handful of fill-in issues by other writers.

*Yes, 90. The October 1998 issue was numbered #1,000,000 as a DC One Million tie-in.

**Correction: while Dezago and Rousseau both worked on Impulse, it was at different times. Rousseau worked on the book mainly with William Messner-Loebs.