• Columns 

    Speeding To Oblivion

    By | December 31st, 2009
    Posted in Columns | % Comments

    We’ve been around for only a little while as a website, but Multiversity has drawn the attention of other fellow bloggers and received a number of fantastic links that have built our audience very steadily. Thanks to everyone for the support so far, but that is not actually what this post is about. One of the most frequent Multiversity linkers has been our boy Kelson over at Speed Force and he’s recently written about something that upset him that we did not know about: DC’s abandoning of the Wally West co-feature in the upcoming Geoff Johns/Francis Manapul Flash title and the Kid Flash solo book.

    It turns out Kelson was a little upset about that, and to be honest, so am I. To see me rant and rave about how DC is trying their hardest to ruin The Flash universe that I grew up loving, see after the jump.

    Note: I did read Geoff Johns response to comic fans reactions to this news. Geoff Johns said pretty much what Dan Didio should have said. However, my stance is still the same, and I’m sure if he wasn’t contractually obligated to say so, he probably would agree with me that he’d prefer the situation to be different.

    While I spend basically every waking moment on this site tackling graphic novels, small press titles, and my adoration for all things Brian K. Vaughan, my favorite hero throughout my life has been The Flash. To be specific, Wally West with Bart Allen as Impulse. My favorite run was actually the Mark Waid/Brian Augustyn one along with Waid/Augustyn/Humberto Ramos’ stretch on Impulse. I grew up with these characters as this happened to coincide with the height of my boyhood fandom of comic books.

    I also liked Barry Allen and always thought that his death in Crisis on Infinite Earths was one of the all-time greatest comic book deaths. On his subsequent returns, they were handled in such a way that they either were fake outs to enhance a storyline (such as when Professor Zoom came to Keystone City actually thinking he was Barry Allen) or in ways that made sense from a continuity standpoint (the Cobalt Blue arc, Infinite Crisis in the glorious Flash(es) vs. Superboy Prime fight). DC had a good grip on the character and what he could and couldn’t do, and they used but didn’t abuse the loophole Marv Wolfman installed in Crisis on Infinite Earths when he was instructed to kill Allen. See below for Wolfman’s explanation:

    I came up with the idea of Flash moving back through time, flashing into our dimension even as he was dying. So, thought I, what if Barry was plucked out of the time stream at one of those moments he appeared? What if that meant from this point on Barry knew that he was literally living on borrowed time, that at any moment the time stream could close in on him and take him to his inevitable death.

    When Grant Morrison brought upon the return of Barry Allen, I was fine with that. While I despise dead characters returning and would have preferred more time with Wally and Bart (who had just returned from the dead himself in Legion of Three Worlds), I was okay with the return. I don’t want to make this about why Barry Allen shouldn’t be a part of the DCU because that isn’t what I’m trying to convey here.

    I’m trying to convey how badly DC has handled Wally West and Bart Allen.

    It all started with Infinite Crisis and the disappearance of all remaining non-Jay Garrick Flashes. You had Wally West and his family disappear, and you had Bart Allen go into the Speed Force as well only to return at the end of the series as an adult version of himself.

    While I love all Flashes, I’ve always had a favorite in Bart Allen. As I mentioned before Waid, Augustyn, and Ramos’ run on his solo title Impulse is an all time favorite of mine and his relationship with Max Mercury is one of my favorites in comic history. This series is highlighted by the madcap energy and perpetual state of wonder Allen is in, which is something Waid/Augustyn mastered as well as anyone ever has.

    Continued below

    To return the character as an adult was their first mistake. Their second mistake was putting an atrocious team like Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo on the book (were they really surprised when the book turned out to be bad and that sales tanked?). Their third mistake was abandoning Marc Guggenheim’s exceptional time on the book only to have him brutally and coldly murdered by the Rogues. Think about that – DC saw fit to having one of their flagship characters beaten to death while saving a city. Is that the death he deserved? No. That is an absolutely pathetic way to let a beloved character go out.

    After that we were given the return of Wally West with the horrendous JLA/JSA team up The Lightning Saga. This led to the keys to this incredibly fast car goingback to Waid and he managed to…drive it into a concrete wall at high speeds. His run was about as bad as you could get, shifting the focus to a family of Flashes (upon their return West’s kids were much older and they had powers) and really losing sight on what really works with this character.

    About this time is when Barry Allen and Bart Allen returned, as DC had to have figured out that pretty much nothing they were doing with this once rich universe of characters was working. They made a wise decision in putting Barry’s return back in the hands of perhaps the most able Flash writer around – Geoff Johns. This would have been a brilliant move if it weren’t for the fact that they put his return mini-series Flash: Rebirth also in the artistic grasp of Ethan Van Sciver: Slowest Penciler Alive.

    That the series has taken nine months to release five issues with the sixth coming March 24th – just seven days less than a year since the first issue – is indicative of how well this venture has gone.

    Of course, DC presented us with light at the end of the tunnel. Upon the eventual conclusion of Rebirth (and the spoiler ridden Blackest Night: Flash, assumably), we’d receive The Flash: Secret Files and Origins by Johns and Francis Manapul. Once that was digested, Johns and Manapul would return for The Flash, a new series starring Barry Allen with a co-feature starring Wally West with Johns and Scott Kolins onboard. Even more exciting for me as a Bart Allen fan? They were going to give us a Kid Flash title written by rising star Sterling Gates that promised to bring back the old Bart and Max Mercury dynamic.

    To me, this was heaven for my favorite character. Barry Allen returns and we still would get Wally West and Bart Allen in capable hands as well. All was right in the world.

    Now, back to the present.

    Dan Didio recently announced that the Wally West co-feature and Bart Allen centric Kid Flash title were “on hold”, with the Wally part likely having something to do with the restructuring of their co-feature program – don’t even get me started on the upcoming cancellation of the Blue Beetle backup in Booster Gold.

    The good news being that we would be getting not just 22, but 30 pages of Johns written, Manapul illustrated Barry Allen action in The Flash. As exciting that is, I have to admit, it tastes pretty bitter to me.

    As an addendum, Kelson stated that he didn’t want to be “that guy.” You know, that guy whose loyalty to their favorite supersedes all other logic or factors in the situation.

    Well Kelson, I will be that guy.

    I have long stated that one of the biggest crimes in comics is fans fierce character loyalty. If you choose to read a terrible comic just because it stars “Superhero X” even though its written by (current version of) Jeph Loeb and drawn by Larry Stroman and has been described by your average comic book fan as the single worst comic ever made – that’s your own fault for wasting your money and helping support a bad comic being made.

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    Yet with The Flash, I’ve supported the character throughout the bad and the good. I continued to read no matter how bad it got or how poorly they treated the characters. DC has turned me into a hypocrite and inverted my own standards.

    No longer.

    Until they get their act together and support the current characters we love while rebirthing Silver Age stars, they will not earn any of my money towards The Flash. I was looking forward to reading Johns and Manapul’s run, but if they choose to abandon two story rich characters like Wally West and Bart Allen simply because they cannot work out the logistics or whatever the back story is, well…they lost themselves a reader because of it.

    It’s a simple formula – tell quality stories with the characters that we love. That’s how you earn fans. When they treat the characters and their fans with the proper respect, I’ll be back. Until then, I’ll be joining Kelson at the picket lines (metaphorically speaking of course).

    David Harper

    David Harper mainly focuses on original content, interviews, co-hosting our 4 Color News and Brews video podcast, and being half of the Mignolaversity and Valiant (Re)visions team. He runs Multiversity's Twitter and Facebook pages, and personally tweets (rarely) @slicedfriedgold. By day, he works in an ad agency in Anchorage, Alaska, and he loves his wife, traveling and biscuits & gravy (ordered most to least, which is still a lot).