Friday, May 02, 2008

Final Crisis Reverses A Historic Comic Book Classic…In a FLASH!

Hello faithful readers. FanBoyWonder is in the midst of packing for a few days in Boston for a business trip—but while we’re there we’ll see FBW’s nephew Baby Jack, our brother and sis-in-law.Joe and Suzanne. As an added bonus, we’ll have lunch with Mom and Dad FBW before we fly back.

But before we left, we wanted to weigh-in on the big buzz of the week.

In case you didn’t get the memo, the big secret of Final Crisis has been revealed in that Barry Allen, The (second) Flash will return from the dead to save the DC Universe (from itself?).

News of Barry’s return was broken on Wednesday in of all places the New York Daily News (although credit where credit is due, FanBoyWonder learned about it from the Occasional Superheroine and from there it was off to the races for the comic book websites, blogs and message boards.

For those of you readers too young to remember or NOT actually alive at the time, Barry Allen was The Flash of the Silver Age—actually the first Silver Age hero and his creation (or more accurately his re-imagination from the original Flash Jay Garrick)—was the vanguard of the super hero rebirth in 1956.

The Barry Allen Flash character was killed in 1985 in issue 8 of Crisis on Infinite Earths. It was a grand death, especially because character had endured such hard times in the years before his death—from the murder of his wife Iris by his arch enemy Professor Zoom, to his two-year manslaughter trial for killing Zoom when Zoom attempted to kill Barry’s fiancé on their wedding day.

To us, Barry Allen’s death was so poignant both because it was so rare for a hero of his stature to die and because Barry Allen’s death represented the interruption of an unfinished life.

FanBoyWonder is old enough to have read the adventures of Barry Allen as The Flash during the pre-CRISIS days and we liked Barry Allen. But we wish he stayed dead. Why? Well first and foremost….. doesn’t dead mean DEAD anymore?

Apparently not as Final Crisis writer Grant Morrison told the NY Daily News:

That's the point of comics - they don't have to die, because they're fictional creations," said Grant Morrison, one of the writers behind the comeback. "We can do anything with them, and we can make them come back and make them defy death," Morrison said. "And that's why people read comics, to get away from the way life works, which is quite cruel and unheroic and ends in death."

Hey Grant, thanks so much explaining to us why we’ve read super hero comics for the past 30 years.

Let’s drill deeper into that synthetic, made for the press release quote…what we hear Morrison saying is: “It’s ‘ONLY’ a comic book story so it REALLY DOESN’T MATTER….we can undo what’s been done and someday, someone can undo what we do here.”

In our humble opinion, that mindset is a disservice to the genre in that if comic book writers don’t take their own storytelling seriously and if they don’t respect the intelligence of readers by upholding rules and consequences to the outcomes of previously told stories—then how does one convince the “mainstream” world that comic books are a legitimate storytelling medium?

We happened upon a piece by Sam Gafford—also a child of the pre-CRISIS who remembers Barry Allen fondly—at where he laments that he is finally getting what he wants with the return of Barry Allen but he is scared of what DC will do to him and we think it’s worth quoting:

If Barry does come back, DC will do something to him.

“They'll make him insane or give him a drinking problem or a split personality (he could be the Flash and the Reverse Flash as the same time!), or he'll drown baby kittens in the river. If that's not enough, they'll put him through some other heart-rending tragedy like killing his wife, Iris, again. Just ask Ray Palmer. He'll tell you how rough Silver Age DC heroes have it these days.

Five years ago, I would have rejoiced to have seen Barry come back and to read a new monthly comic of his adventures. Now, the mere thought of it inspires the type of fear that even Stephen King can't create. In this new DC, where heroes die at the drop of a hat, where villains get their heads punched off (or through), where family and friends are murdered with an alarming regularity, what will become of Barry? I'd like to think that his honor would inspire others and usher in a new 'Golden Age' of super-heroism. I'd like to think that, but DC comics are littered with too many corpses for me to even believe that for a minute. No, if Barry does come back, he'll end up corrupted by the darkness that is at the root of DC comics today… or he'll just get killed again.”

Amen Sam. We children of the pre-CRISIS have to stick together.

Word is that Geoff Johns will be writing a new Barry Allen Flash book so we have faith (not misplaced we hope) that the character will be respected, as Johns did with Hal Jordan’s return in Green Lantern.

But the big question is—If Barry Allen returns as THE Flash, what happens to Wally West.

At the end of the original CRISIS, Kid Flash Wally West took Barry Allen’s costume and name and vowed to continue his legacy. Over the next two decades, we saw Wally struggle to live up to the Flash mantle and eventually to surpass Barry Allen as the Flash.

Kid Flash’s “promotion” to The Flash was a seminal in comics history. For the first time ever, the sidekick stepped up to become the hero. Now after nearly 25 years, DC is poised to throw it out the window….for a sales gimmick????

FanBoyWonder’s Flash Fixes

FanBoyWonder is not foolish enough to think we can turn this supertanker around—this is a done deal. However, there are steps that DC can take to minimize the collateral damage and appease the fans—fans of ALL the Flashes—in the wake of Barry Allen’s return.

1) Don’t Give Wally West The Broom—Having witnessed Kyle Rayner, the one-time “last” Green Lantern and GL standard bearer for 10 years—get the swiftly swept out away to B-list status upon Hal Jordan’s return, we do NOT wish to see the same thing happen to Wally West.

After 23 years as the Flash in his own right, Wally West has proven himself as a character and should NOT be marginalized. Don’t kill Wally, don’t de-power him, don’t de-age him and don’t de-mote him back to Flash’s sidekick or supporting player.

With Barry’s return, Wally should be free of the burden carrying the Flash legacy. So allow him to establish his own identity in a Nightwing-like fashion. But as a peer to Barry. Let Wally be War Machine to Barry Allen’s Iron Man.

Call him Velocity, Charley Hustle or Speed King or something other than “Flash.” There are dozens of characters who fly and are strong so there has to be room for another speedster in the DCU who isn’t named “Flash.”

2) Bring Back Bart!—Bart Allen, Barry’s grandson was shoehorned in as the fourth Flash following Infinite Crisis. The “new” Flash an ill-conceived, poorly executed maneuver, in which they prematurely aged Bart (again) to college-age, took all that we knew and liked about the Bart Allen character and made him into a bland early-Wally West clone.

This lasted about a year until it was painfully obvious it wasn’t working so “Bart’ was killed off and Wally returned as the Flash.

However, we stand by our previously suggested to fix what Infinite Crisis broke regarding Bart Allen. Bart, the Kid Flash and former Impulse who disappeared during Infinite Crisis #4, is still alive and was not the same older Bart Allen who appeared at the end of IC, who ran as the Flash and who was killed.

That “Bart Allen” should be revealed as from one of the newly minted parallel Earths, leaving Kid Flash still out there just waiting to be returned.

DC management—here’s how to have your cake and eat it too. Think of Flash and Kid Flash together again for the first time—Grandfather and grandson running together.

Bart Allen didn’t have to die and if you’re brining back one Flash, why not a two-fer? Come people! Are we the only ones tired of Dead Flashes?

Can we get an AMEN people?


Blogger Kello said...

I like your Bart Allen idea, but I'm not so hot on Wally choosing a new identity. I'm worried he'll become the next Titan to go through a multitude of costume and persona changes (i.e. Troia). As far as screwing up Barry, let's just expect the worst, because someday the wrong writer will get a hold of him...

11:50 PM, May 03, 2008  
Blogger FanBoyWonder said...

Hi Kello,
I understand your feelings about Wally and I share your misgivings regarding his Titan status...especially if Judd Winick is writing the book.
But hopefully DC will see it's way clear to bring back Bart.
Thanks for reading.

1:36 PM, May 04, 2008  
Anonymous Brae said...

am i the only person who actually enjoyed Bart Allen as The Flash? i was broken when they killed him.

5:19 PM, August 27, 2008  

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