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Saturday, June 23, 2007

My Obligatory Flash Post:

As a warning, this post contains heavy spoilers for Flash #13 and the end of the Lightning Saga.

Seriously. If you haven't read them and still intend to, go away.

--

Okay. I have to say, I'm happy. I'm VERY happy. Well, to be fair, I do think Bart Allen got screwed over. I don't deny that. But as to who came back...well, I couldn't be happier.

Wally West is MY Flash. And I had no idea I'd missed him so much until he came back.

I sympathize with the disappointed Barry fans. I really do. It sucks to have hope dangled in front of you and have it snatched away again. I actually expected it to be Barry too (though not long term. My prediction was Barry would be back for the event and die/return to death again.)

But I'm going to be very rude right now and make a hard prediction about the future of the DCU: Barry Allen will never lead the Flash title ever again.

Yes, Barry was incredibly popular. Yes, a lot of folks miss him. Yes, he was a great character. Yes, it sometimes does seem like they're trying to make Wally into Barry 2.0.

But Barry Allen is not going to be back for good, for one simple reason. He died in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Sure, we've seen him since. We've seen him in guest spots. We saw him in JLA Year One. But Barry Allen hasn't been the primary Flash character for more than twenty years.

I know that may not seem like a long time to a lot of Barry Allen fans. But to put it in perspective:

Crisis on Infinite Earths was written in 1985-1986.

I was BORN in 1983. I was two years old when Crisis on Infinite Earths began. TWO YEARS OLD.

This isn't the same as Hal Jordan. Hal Jordan went Parallax in 1994. Final Night, wherein Hal Jordan died, was 1996. Green Lantern Rebirth was in 2004. He made prominent appearances as Parallax and the Spectre pretty frequently during Kyle's run, JLA, JSA, and other important comics. He had his own series as the Spectre. People, even new people to comics, pretty quickly knew who Hal Jordan was. Hal Jordan was dead less than ten years.

Ten years is very different from twenty years when you're thinking in terms of a comic book audience. In ten years, boys who were playing kickball in the street and reading their older siblings' comics have become the young men that comic book companies still consider their target audience.

Twenty years ago? That target age-range was gnawing toothlessly on rattles and playing peek-a-boo. Not reading comics.

Yes, the people writing the comics are older. Yes, they're usually trying to recapture the stories of their youth. But honestly, they're not stupid. And as awesome as Barry is as a character, he's more ingrained in their audience as the dead inspiration than he is as a living hero.

I mean, think about it. With both Barry and Wally "dead", people immediately assumed that the Flash that would be brought back was Barry.

And honestly, that's what makes sure Barry will stay dead. (Or come back and die again.) Because if Barry came back, who would immediately assume during the next big event that WALLY would show up? I don't think anyone would.

But this way, at every single event, our first thought will always be the expectation that it's Barry Allen. Infinite Crisis? Barry Allen! Nope. It's Bart. Lightning Saga? Barry! Nope. Wally.

I mean, Wally didn't even DIE in Infinite Crisis and very few actually floated the idea that he'd be back. That's how powerful dead-Barry is.

From a business standpoint, Wally West is a perfectly functional Flash. He's fronted his comic for twenty years. He's been in the JLA for almost ten. He was one of the core members of the very popular Justice League Unlimited. I don't think it's a stretch to say that for my generation, he IS the Flash. Would a living Barry sell to my generation? Maybe. There are quite a few of us who enjoy the old back-issues and trade paperbacks. Who can say? But do you really think they'll take the risk when they have one that works quite nicely?

It's a horrible thing to say, but honestly, the company knows you expect Barry to come back, they know it'll sell comics to tease you, and they're going to milk that cash cow until the day you die. In the meantime, they'll be selling Wally and his successors to my generation and beyond.

Of course, I could be wrong. If this turns out to be a trick. If Barry Allen both comes back and assumes leadership of the title, then feel free to come back here and say "I told you so."

I doubt it though. Twenty years might not be a long time to a comic book fan, but to a company, it might as well be an eternity.

17 Comments:

  • At June 23, 2007 1:01 AM, Blogger Toriach said…

    Kali,

    If you go back and re-read JLA 10 I think you might find that a case can be made for it actually being Barry that the Legion were after and who they got.

    In an interview about the original Crisis, it was stated that there was a secret out that would have allowed them to bring Barry back anytime they wanted. Since he was traveling through time and wound up as the lightning bolt that game himself his powers, they could have had him materialize anywhen, knowing full well that at some point he would most likely wind up leaving to complete his destiny.

    Furthermore in the Legion story that the Lightning Saga references, there was a body for the lightning blast to revive. No body in this case yet they were still using lightning rods. Furthermore they refer to Wally as having "rode the lightning". The very last shot is a face contained in the lightning rod.

    I believe that face was Barry's. He is the person that the Legion was trying to get and they suceeded. Wally and family's return was an unexpected side effect.

    Peace
    And
    Long
    Life

    Toriach

     
  • At June 23, 2007 1:19 AM, Anonymous wonderfish said…

    This mostly reminds me of how much I want Dan Garrett back, despite the fact that he died twenty years before I was born.

    I think I'm doing something wrong.

     
  • At June 23, 2007 1:29 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Toriach: I'm not arguing whether the Legion got who/what they wanted. It certainly looked like it was Barry.

    I'm arguing that this is exactly what they always do. Tease. And whether that is Barry or not, and whether he does finally get resurrected or not, I don't think he's ever going to take back the Flash comic book from Wally. His time has passed.

    YMMV, of course.

    wonderfish: Heh, you've seen the kind of characters *I* like. Dan's awesome.

    It's probably not likely that Dan Garrett is going to take the Blue Beetle title from Jaime Reyes any time soon though.

     
  • At June 23, 2007 1:36 AM, Anonymous Michael Rawdon said…

    Actually, Barry wasn't "incredibly popular". After about 1970, I don't think Flash sold very well, and it positively limped towards its end in the early 1980s. (Go back and read some issues between #300-350. Better yet, don't; it's not worth the pain.) And this was in an era when DC wasn't exactly the dominant comics publisher.

    I agree: There's no compelling reason for DC to bring Barry back. I'm not even sure why DC would bother to stoke a controversy like this. I can't imagine it does much for sales.

    (BTW, I grew up with Barry as the Flash. I could care less who the Flash is these days. Not only did Waid put the Barry/Wally stuff to rest a decade ago, but the DC Universe is so different from what it was when I grew up that bringing back one character isn't going to make any difference.

    Honestly, I'd just rather DC published better stories than the pile of suck that "The Lightning Saga" turned out to be.)

     
  • At June 23, 2007 2:52 AM, Blogger Mike said…

    I didn't want Barry back, despite loving the character, I wanted Bart to be the Flash, I liked him. This sucks. Bleh.

    p.s. I've always hated Wally

     
  • At June 23, 2007 3:04 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Michael: I stand corrected. :-) I can only go by hearsay for what it was like back then. For obvious reasons. :-)

    I was very disappointed in the end of Lightning Saga, but optimistic with Waid writing the Flash again.

    Mike: Aww. I'm sorry. Well...I'm glad Wally's back as I like him best, but I'm sorry Bart got the shaft. I was hoping he'd retire or get de-aged properly and be Kid Flash/Flash-to-be again. :-(

     
  • At June 23, 2007 3:52 AM, Blogger Ununnilium said…

    Well, I think Bart is pretty obviously coming back. I mean, it just being Wally-as-Flash has already been done, and Waid loves having a whole Flash Family around. Plus, the whole thing about the Speed Force being inside him at the end screamed "Sequel hook!"

     
  • At June 23, 2007 6:12 AM, Blogger The Fortress Keeper said…

    What. Ever.

    :)

    Barry is a great character, and DC could do some pretty neat things with him as a "man out of time" a la early Captain America.

    True, his book wasn't selling like gangbusters at the end. However, he did headline his title longer than his JLA pals Green Lantern, Atom, Hawkman and Aquaman. Plus, DC was doing SO badly in the late 70s that even Detective Comics was almost canceled.

    Finally, don't count Barry out because he's been dead for a few decades. If Bucky can come back as a viable character after a 60-year absence, anyone can!

    That said, however, I think you're right. Barry's position is pretty set as the Patron Saint of DC's universe, an untouchable figure who will only be trotted out for big-hype events.

    And to be honest, I'd rather not see Barry running around the dismemberment-crazy, dead-baby demon landscape of the current DC.

    I'd like some of my childhood memories to remain intact! :)

    If any Silver Age characters were revived, I'd rather see Katar and Shayera Hol get another chance. Now THERE'S two figures who got screwed over ...

     
  • At June 23, 2007 6:17 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I don't deny good Barry stories could be told! I just don't think they'd give him precedence over Wally. It'd be kind of cool to have him in the supporting cast though. :-) If they did decide to finally bring him back for good.

    Awww. I definitely miss Shayera. Too bad they can't somehow split Carter and Katar too. It's not like Katar seems to have any real influence on Carter's personality. And his identity seems much more wrapped up in Egyptian Prince rather than Thanagarian Cop...

    Well, maybe later.

     
  • At June 23, 2007 9:30 AM, Anonymous zeb aslam said…

    My inner fanboy yelped in glee as the saner part of me rebelled against the awful writing in JLA #10.

    I'm completely with you kalinara. Wally is MY Flash. Admittedly my very first super-hero comic ever (I started out on Richie Rich, etc...) was Barry Allen as Flash and so I will always have a soft spot for him...but Wally was the one I grew up with. I started reading the book around issue...92 I think when I was about 10 maybe 11. And ever since then, Wally has been the Flash I've been most interested in. Now, I know Bart didn't deserve what happened to him (I'm still hoping he'll return as Impulse, personally) but I am incredibly glad Wally is back.

    As for Barry? I don't care either way, but I would hate to see him be put in the current DCU. That character deserves better. After what IDC did to him retroactively...I definitely could do without his presence.

     
  • At June 23, 2007 10:32 AM, Anonymous Spatterdash said…

    Because of the comics I had access to when just getting into the DCU, I'm more familiar with and more fond of the pre-Crisis Flashes. Never mind that Barry died a few years before I was born, or that Jay (my favourite) hasn't been in a comic on his own since 1951, it was just the old stuff I read first.
    I'd expected Wally to come back, seeing as he wasn't even properly killed in Infinite Crisis (or so I gathered). I was a little disappointed Bart died, even though I've got very little interest in the character, as it just seems like a waste of potential. I have a feeling he'll be back, mind.

    I think Barry is great, and there's some brilliant things you could do with the character, but he's better off dead. To have him return would reduce the impact of his death, and diminish the saintly status he achieved. He's very much of his time, and he'd be rather out of place in the modern DCU.
    On the other hand, there's always plenty of room for him in stories set in the past, eg. JLA: Year One.

     
  • At June 23, 2007 10:37 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    I do love Wally, and I'm so glad that he's back. Now we can have some interaction with Kyle and Roy. Heck, he was even fun with Guy.

    I never thought I'd feel sorry for Batman, but I do a little bit. He obviously really wanted it to be Barry.

    Poor old Bart. I much preferred Bart as Impulse, but still, being kicked to death is a rotten way to go. I'm still wondering if he isn't somehow going to be showing up in the League of Bratty Future Teenagers. He'd be the perfect fit!

     
  • At June 23, 2007 11:08 AM, Blogger Rob S. said…

    I love 'em all. I wish Bart had been given a fairer shake as the Flash (by DC, not the fans -- they were right to turn away from the barely-competent storytelling the book launched with). But once Bilson, DiMeo & Lashley botched the serve, the die was cast (to mix metaphors). I think DC should have been more imaginative about writing Bart out of the series, though.

    I'm glad Wally's back. I'd be glad if Barry were back. Waid'll do a bang-up job on both of them.

     
  • At June 23, 2007 5:47 PM, Blogger Shelly said…

    Barry Allen was the Flash I grew up with. But Wally is the Flash I love. He was Kid Flash in the Teen Titans and that was my book when I was a kid. Those were my contemporaries. For Wally to be the Flash, in the JLA, was to see someone from my generation grow up and find success. I'm so glad Wally is back.

    I don't think we've seen the end re: Barry.

    I'm very happy with where things are right now. Roy and Wally in the JLA.

     
  • At June 24, 2007 4:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think the big key is that Barry died a noble heroic death, whereas Hal got turned into a madman when he could easily have just been shuffled off stage in favor of Kyle. The Green Lantern concept can be easily used to shuffle who is the headliner every so often without needing to have Hal kill off the entire GLC and go mad.

    So one reason Barry stays dead is that his death didn't trigger outrage.

    -- John Biles

     
  • At June 24, 2007 9:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think John Biles has half of it. Barry died a hero's death, and Wally paid his dues and earned both his place in the JLA and the title of Fastest Man Alive. I contrast this with how Kyle was pushed into the role of the One True Green Lantern with relatively little buildup; I only really accepted him in the role after Morrison had him spend some time as the novice in JLA.

    -- Jack of Spades

     
  • At June 24, 2007 9:51 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Jack:

    I think you've got a point there. Also, the Green Lantern Corps franchise is built for more than one protagonist. Even before Kyle, Hal, John and Guy all had rings and the title. John had been reinstated, so Rebirth just pulled Hal (and Guy) back into the Corps fold. They and Kyle can co-exist pretty easy.

    I think that's harder for Flashes. Sure Jay can co-exist, but he's a special case. Otherwise, there seems to really need to be just one Flash. So it's really much more of an "either-or" thing in my opinion.

     

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