Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Rebirth: New life for the old Flash could be good for everyone

When Flash: Rebirth #1 is released tomorrow, it will be something of a family reunion for me.

Like most comic book geeks, I have "my" versions of legacy superheroes, and in the case of the Flash, Barry Allen is mine. Barry Allen — square, straight-arrow, "boring" ol' Barry — is the first Flash I experienced. He was the one I grew up with. The one I pretended to be when I'd try to snatch something out of the air before it could hit the ground.

But this doesn't mean I don't have any room in my personal Flash Museum for Wally West and Jay Garrick (though I could never warm up to Bart Allen). When Barry sacrificed himself in Crisis on Infinite Earths to save the universe ... well, it made sense. It was exactly the sort of thing the character would do, and it also made perfect sense that Wally — who had been Barry's protégé as Kid Flash — would carry on in his fallen mentor's place.

I especially appreciated the way Wally was distinct from Barry, rather than just a carboard plug-in used to fill a suddenly empty speedster slot. Where Barry was the classic selfless hero, Wally was usually just fun — and more than even Barry, Wally seemed to cement the idea of a Flash Family.

I'm hoping Wally doesn't suddenly become marginalized by Barry's return — but as a fan, I'm willing to risk it. Does that make me a typical fanboy? I hope not. But I can't deny I'm excited to see what Geoff Johns does with the resurrection of the Silver Age Flash, particularly since I thought he already pulled off the impossible by bringing back Hal Jordan as Green Lantern (again, my GL).

Which brings me to what I would most like to see in the Flash reboot; more Flashes. When Johns brought Hal back from the hell that was the Spectre storyline, he didn't suddenly jettison Guy Gardner, John Stewart and Kyle Rayner. If anything, he helped further define those characters, and then expanded on the whole GL Corps concept. I don't see why something similar can't be done for the Flash Family. Ever since Barry met Jay, there really hasn't been just one Flash in the DCU — why should there only be two?

It may not be obvious, but I'm not one of those comic book fans who thinks things were better back in the day. As I said, Barry's death made sense and I was perfectly content to let him stay dead. And if it was almost any other writer than Johns, I'd most likely be a lot more suspect than enthusiastic.

But as it is, I'll be happy to welcome back Barry Allen tomorrow — as long as it doesn't mean saying good-bye to anyone else calling themselves the Flash, too.

What do you think of Barry Allen's revival? Let me know in the comments, and be sure to vote for your Flash in the sidebar poll. And while you're at it, take a look at Ron Richards' "6 Questions That Flash: Rebirth Needs to Answer" at iFanboy for some interesting thoughts on the Scarlet Speedster's return.


Khairul H. said...

I voted for Wally. He's the Flash I grew up reading. I did read Barry's stories but mostly at the tail end of his series. It was during that trial that went on forever. The part I remember most was Big Sur disfiguring Barry and he went to Gorilla City to get a new face.

What do I think of his return? I'm surprisingly against it. I say surprisingly because he's a pencil drawing so why should I care either way? But I do. When I heard Johns was bringing him back, I rolled my eyes. I guess my eye rolling was directed more at Geoff Johns who is living his fanboy dreams and bringing back the Silver Age heroes that he grew up with. Look forward, Johns! Forward not back! Saying that however, I did like his revival of Jordan because turning him evil was just a brainfart on DC's part, in my opinion. But Barry Allen died a hero and as you said, it was necessary.

Oh well. More power to him. Hope he pulls it off. I doubt I'll be along for the ride though.

Dan said...

Though I started off reading Barry, Wally is my Flash. Similarly, though I started reading Hal, Kyle is my Lantern. Stupid Geoff Johns and his Silver Age fetish.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the two above - I love Wally, and Barry is boring to me. I grew up with Wally, although I did go back and read about 50 Barry issues. Wally has had some bad issues, but that's due to poor writing, not a poor character.

That said, Johns is great and I have some faith in him. He did an amazing job with Green Lantern - but the Sinestro Wars and color wars could probably have worked just as well with a good Kyle.

GM Victory said...

Barry is the Flash I grew up with. In DC Comics he had the roughest time than any other character in the early 80s. Iris' murder, rebuilding his shattered personal life, rediscovering his ability to fall in love again, reuniting with his wife only to die alone saving all of existence.

I agree with more Flashes. The Flash Family is the only one that has a true legacy in DC. No other character has lineage that exists longer than the Flash.

Sky_of_Blue said...

I just want to see Barry and Hal together again, and getting into trouble. :-)

Should we be worried that Flash:Rebirth is launching on April Fool's Day?

rob! said...

I tried so hard to like Flash: Rebirth, really I did, but by page 2 the gore and blood are flying and I just sort of gave up.

I finished the comic, and the story and art are fine, but I HATE that modern superhero comics have this level of violence. Puts me off completely, and I'm not buying any future issues.

If this is what Johns has in mind for Aquaman, count me out.

Maxo said...

Khairul: You're right about John's fanboy slavishness to the Silver Age, and you might end up being right about sitting this one out. I'm sticking with it for now, but man, is it tenuous.

Dan: I didn't know that! I'm curious; what made you gravitate toward Wally and Kyle?

Anonymous: That's an interesting idea. I think they just realized they'd screwed the Hal Jordan character beyond recognition and it was costing them both the character and reader's goodwill, and they just really, really wanted to bring Hal back. As I said in the post, I'm not really invested in seeing dead characters brought back to life; like you, I just want good stories.

GM Victory: That's one of the things I'm interested in seeing with this reboot; more of the interaction and influence Barry Allen has with the rest of the DCU. I wouldn't mind seeing some of what Judd Winick was trying to do with Green Arrow's family, just, y'know, not crappy.

Sky: What did you think of the Barry/Hal scene in Rebirth? I loved it!

Rob: Yeah, I don't have a problem with gore in context, but I had a similar reaction as you did. It just seemed unnecessary.