Sunday, June 17, 2007

Flash: The Fastest Man Alive is (Almost) Dead—The Flash Lives Again

A quick shout out to FanBoyWonder’s best pal Kemosabe. FBW and KS went to see Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer this weekend. We both liked it a lot. Look for our fresh from the movie review later this week just as soon as FBW finds time to transcribe the tape.

However, this weekend as we were in the process of writing up our weekly review of books we read for the week of June 13, we had been in the process of bitching about how The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #13 was two weeks late—this was supposed to be THE issue that would change everything, or at least that’s what DC told retailers in hopes of getting them to order more.

Oh how right DC was. Word has reached us from Wizard World in Philly via of DC’s announcement that Flash #13, now slated to hit stores next week, will in fact be the last issue. This news comes despite DC’s solicitations for issues #14 and #15, which as it turns out seems to have been some super-head fake by DC to keep readers guessing.

The pic of Flash #13 above is from a cool blog devoted to all things Flash called Crimson Lightning Given that we could not find the image of this Flash cover anywhere else following DC’s announcement, we are much impressed by Crimson Lightning’s blogmaster Dixon’s ability to come up with the image—a tip of Jay Garrick’s Mercury helmet to you sir!

Meanwhile, DC’s announcement that they’ve pulled the plug on this Flash series is surpassed by the additional announcement that they have dispatched long-time Wally West/Flash writer Mark Waid to come back and that the previous edition of the Flash will re-launch with its old numbering intact. Look for Flash #231 to hit shelves in the fall.

Meanwhile, DC will put out All Flash #1, a one-shot special, in September as a retrospective on the Flash Legacy and transition between series.

What has not been announced or revealed is who the Flash will be and/or what happens to Bart Allen as the Flash.

FanBoyWonder’s take on DC’s announcement: This is a major concession by the powers that be at DC that their attempt to fix the Flash following their disastrous post-Infinite Crisis re-launch of The Flash—both the book and the title character—was not working.

Despite the laudable efforts of current Flash scribe Mark Guggenheim, who was brought in to repair the damage done by Hollywood bozos Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo; it was like trying to put a band-aid on cancer.

DC has taken similar action to fix Wonder Woman by bringing in Birds of Prey writer Gail Simone, a fan (and FanBoyWonder) favorite and proven winner.

As for what is to come in Flash #13 and specifically the fate of current Flash Bart Allen, our best guess is that this Bart Allen will die but it will be revealed that the Bart Allen that emerged from the Speed Force following Infinite Crisis and whom adventures (as dwindling number of) readers have been following is a Bart Allen from one of the newly minted parallel earths. Which would mean the real, still-teenaged Kid Flash Bart Allen is out there somewhere, as is Wally West.

Just a guess but we’ll find out soon enough if we’re right yet meanwhile, DC’s sea change has once again made us excited about The Flash. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, we’re a bit crunched for time today so here are our picks for the week of June 13 from the shotgun formation.

Justice #12

The Upshot from DC Comics: A few twists and turns remain in this amazing tale of the alliance of the world's most fearsome villains! And against the wild landscape of hundreds of heroes and their foes, smaller, more intimate human dramas are played out. Don't miss the remarkable conclusion to the remarkable 12-issue maxi-series by Alex Ross, Jim Krueger and Doug Braithwaite!

We’ll be honest with you our faithful reader. To save our life, we really couldn’t tell you just what exactly the story behind Justice was about, but darn it all, we LOVED it anyway.

Face it, Justice was not a writer’s series and it was the visuals that made this series work—and what great visuals they were. We may get a better sense of what the story was actually all about when we read all 12 issues together rather than as bi-monthly individual chapters but the one thing that Alex Ross’ story did succeed in doing was to make us really appreciate the late-Silver Age DC Universe (circa 1978-1980).

Given the mess that the current DC Universe finds itself in, Alex Ross’ DCU was a very nice place to visit. Hey DC, with a reborn multiverse and 51 other parallel Earths out there, ya think you can find a home for the World of Justice? Earth Ross anyone?

Green Lantern Corps #13

The Upshot From DC Comics: All hell breaks loose in the forests of Mogo as Lanterns old and new confront the ghosts of their pasts, and the sentient planet must make a desperate sacrifice to defeat the enemy within.

Writer Dave Gibbons continues to impress us as we have watched his writing skills develop. Before this issue, we would have labeled him an artist/writer in that order but he has really come along in both his plotting and scripting.

Following the events of last issue with Honor Lantern Guy Gardner accused of murdering two fellow Green Lanterns, we fully expected half of this issue to be Lantern vs. Lantern fight action. Yet to our pleasant surprise, Guy gets his fellow GL’s to hear him out within the first three pages and they use their heads instead of their rings.

Making a welcome appearance, GL Natu—Dr. Natu, is called in to help diagnose the problem with Mogo, the planet Green Lantern. The cure of the yellow bug/virus that infects Green Lanterns to become both brainwashed and afraid was both a great self-contained story yet it also advances the big upcoming Sinestro Corps storyline which starts later this month.

The Amazing Spider-Girl #9

The Upshot from Marvel Comics: Spider-Girl, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Part 1 (of 4) When Spider-Girl stumbles on to a S.H.I.E.L.D. mission that’s about to go bad, she inadvertently sets free the deadliest (and most requested) foe that Spider-Man ever faced—Carnage!

Ok the actual story isn’t worth writing home about. Long explanation short, Miss Spidey accidentally helps in the release of one of her father’s greatest enemies Carnage.

But it’s an understandable mistake as writer Tom DeFalco has bad guys working for the government guarding an imprisoned Carnage while agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. trying to affect the jail break that Spidey happens upon and attempts to stop.

Maybe this will be better explained away next issue but it seemed all over the place for us. However, it’s the general strengths of this book—scripting, great art by Ron Frenz and Sal Buscema and a genuinely great character in May “Mayday” Parker/Spider-Girl that still make this book a fun read.

Better yet, Spider-Girl is all that a young female hero should be. Miss Spidey is the polar opposite of the pop-tart current incarnation of Supergirl over at DC and what they seem poised to do to Mary Marvel.

As we’ve said before, Spider-Girl isn’t just Spidey with boobs but she’s a three-dimensional character who is still growing. The perfect balance of a hero who is a “legacy” but who also makes her own mark.

To their credit, DeFalco and Frenz have never (at least since we’ve been reading) done anything to “sex-up” their portrayal of May/Spidey.

To prove our point, just try to imagine Spider-Girl wall-crawling wearing a belly shirt (with obvious signs of an unrestrained teenage bosom) with a micro skirt and/or a thong and you can see just how silly and undignified many of the female characters at Marvel’s Distinguished Competition look by comparison.

Spider-Girl’s creators have removed the use of “T&A” from their storytelling bag of tricks yet they still manage to write a compelling and loveable character. Imagine that.

Trials of Shazam #7

The Upshot from DC Comics: Freddy must find Hercules for his next trial, which is considerably more difficult than he expected, since Herc is behind bars!

You know, we really wanted to dislike this issue and this series so far, but Judd Winick—to our everlasting surprise—continues to deliver. Yes purists will no doubt dislike all of the eggs he is breaking to make his new magic omelet but we’re still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and let Trials play out to the end.

Heck, Winick even makes an attempt at character development as readers gain some insight to Sabina, Freddy’s dark rival for the Power of Shazam.

The art of Howard Porter continues to impress us. His new style fits perfectly with the mood of the story.

Yet we hope that this Trial doesn’t take up all 12 issues of the series. We really want to find out what’s going on with Billy, now the new Wizard. Otherwise, so far, so good Judd.

Countdown #46

The Upshot from DC Comics: This year-long weekly series featuring a cast of hundreds kicks into high gear in its second month, under the watchful eye of head writer Paul Dini! See Mary Marvel undergo a surprising transformation! Learn why Donna Troy and Jason Todd are integral players in a cosmic chess game! And see Jimmy Olsen as you've never seen him before!

Well DC has actually seen fit to explain something. It turns out the power that a newly re-charged Mary Marvel inherited from Black Adam was both his power and the Power of Isis—a twofer.

Yet we see her new power already taking a toll on Mary as she clearly likes how strong she feels. As she is forced to do battle with a lame demon whose body is made up of dead fetuses (we kid you not….ew gross), it’s disappointing how easily Mary considers killing the demon as the way to stop him. We guess this is where the real seduction of “Dark Mary” begins.

No complaints about the art of Jesus Saiz and Jimmy Palmiotti. In fact, they complement each other VERY well. They should consider a permanent collaboration.

Yet a shout out and acknowledgement to The Video Store Girl, Blogmistress of the Occasional Superheroine.

First, thanks VSG for reading us here at FanBoyWonder—you’ve made our day knowing that someone other than convicts, shut-ins and other assorted reprobates read our rantings. Thanks also for crediting us vis-a-via your Mary Marvel posting.

VSG also put forth a very good suggestion regarding Countdown—cut the price to $1.99 because there’s just not enough story to justify the fulsome $2.99 cover price (note, the previous weekly series 52 was $2.50 per issue—and worth only $2.50, barely).

It's like a bunch of "clips" updating you as to the continuing adventures of assorted characters with no real "story" structure per issue. Oh look, there's Holly Robinson getting off the bus. Jimmy's had a bad dream. Pied Piper & Trickster shoot the shit. These are 'clips.' Not a story,” Video Store Girl says.

We can’t disagree. For us, it takes a lot for us to drop a book, especially a limited series, mid-story run (but not impossible as we dropped Ion last year after issue #2 like a hot potato) but we suspect that DC is determined to put our resolve to the test.


Blogger Kirk said...

You're welcome!

6:45 PM, October 01, 2007  

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