comic books superheroes

Flash: Rebirth

FLASH WEEK continues here at ONCE UPON A GEEK…

Sorry if this is spoiling it for you, but Barry Allen came back from the dead in issue #2 of Final Crisis.  I’ve been ranting about this for a while here at ONCE UPON A GEEK and on THE UNIQUE GEEK list serv.  Since this is my blog, I’m going to continue to rant a bit more.

It was recently announced that in early 2009, there will be a “Flash: Rebirth” mini-series by Geoff Johns & Ethan Van Sciver (the guys who did “Green Lantern: Rebirth” and “Sinestro Corps War”).  This comic is going to reintroduce Barry Allen as the Flash to the DC Universe.  Geoff Johns has said that all the different Flashes will be touched upon in this mini-series (i.e. Jay Garrick and Wally West).  It’s also assumed this mini-series will lead into a monthly Flash book with Barry Allen in the lead role.

Flash: Rebirth

I have no doubt these comics will be well-written and be drawn excellently.  I’m envisioning a sort of superhero version of “CSI: Central City”.  My issue is with the lack of necessity in bringing Barry Allen back from the dead and the impact on Wally West.  I feel that bringing Barry back after being gone for 22 years is simply to satisfy the writer’s sense of nostalgia, rather than a story that grew naturally from the recent plotlines in the DCU.  Wally West was a very strong character that made an excellent Flash.  There is no denying that he was handled poorly since Infinite Crisis, but just like any other comic book problem it could have been fixed.  Instead now Barry Allen is going to take the spotlight as the primary DCU Flash, while Wally and Jay take a back-seat.

This really bums me out as the character of Wally West spent the past 20 years growing out of the shadow of Barry Allen and trying to live up to the heroic ideal that Barry represented.  Now with Barry back, Wally’s hero will once again be the Flash.  Why would Wally continue to be the Flash, and in the same costume as Barry?  Will Wally retire and simply raise his kids?  Will he continue on as the Flash and look like a carbon copy of Barry?  Will Wally change his codename and/or costume?  Will he become the Nightwing of the Flash family?   Or will he be more like Connor Hawke; same superhero name, but different costume than his namesake.  For me personally, any of these options are a disappointment.  Wally represented growth in the DC Universe.  Here was a young hero suddenly left on his own to make his way.  He idolized Barry, strived to be like Barry, and eventually surpassed Barry in abilities (at least that is how he was portrayed during Mark Waid’s initial run).  Wally’s journey to become a hero was a fantastic tale to follow.  Now with Barry returning to the primary Flash role, it feels that Wally’s journey was simply clocking time.

I also get the sense from reading interviews with Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison that they feel Barry Allen “deserves” to be the Flash more than Wally.  That statement hasn’t been in print, it’s just my gut instinct from reading their interviews.  It’s like they feel that Barry is the “real” Flash, while Wally has simply been keeping the legacy alive.  I take issue with Barry “deserving” to be the Flash more than Wally.  As I mentioned above, during Mark Waid’s initial run Wally surpassed Barry in abilities.  Does that mean Wally deserves to be the Flash more than Barry?  If you base the decision solely upon publication history, then it’s not really clear.  Yes, Barry obviously came before Wally as the Flash.  However, the amount of time each of them have been the primary Flash has been very similar.  See below…

  • Barry Allen had a 247 issue run; Flash (volume 1) 104-350.
  • Wally West has had 242 issues so far as the Flash (and will go at least a few more); Flash (volume 2) 1-242 (and still going).
  • Barry Allen was the Flash from 1956 to 1986 = 30 years.
  • Wally West has been the Flash from 1986-2008 = 22 years.
  • Barry Allen was a member of the Justice League for 232 issues; Justice League of America (volume 1) 1-232.  While Barry wasn’t in every issue, he was around for the majority of issues.
  • Wally West has been a member of the Justice League as the Flash for 205 issues; Justice League Europe 1-68, JLA 1-125, and Justice League of America (new series) 12-23 so far.  While Wally wasn’t in every issue, he was around for the majority of issues.

If you’ve been following the recent “Flash: Rebirth” thread over a THE UNIQUE GEEK, you can see several sides to this.  My buddy Michael Bailey and I are pretty much in-synch on this issue.   My friend Terry believes that a title can carry multiple characters as the Flash.  While I agree conceptually, the title will eventually select one individual to be the lead character.  As of right now, that looks to be Barry Allen.  So Wally West and Jay Garrick may continue to call themselves “The Flash”, but DC comics will be pushing Barry Allen as the primary Flash character.  Another alternative would be to launch a “Flash Corps”-like title, but I’m not sure that would be successful.

Okay… I’ll get off my soapbox now.  Truth is, I’m going to buy the “Flash: Rebirth” mini-series and the subsequent ongoing.  I’m probably going to love both because Geoff John’s is a brilliant comic book writer.   I’m even over my previous issue of Barry being boring.  My friend Terry convinced me that is the fault of previous writers, rather than a fault with the character.  While I’m sure I will enjoy Barry’s new adventures, I’ll always be sad that Wally has lost his place as the premier Flash in the DCU.

18 thoughts on “Flash: Rebirth

  1. i agree. i think wally-as-flash was the one perfectly-realized third generation take over of a major DC hero (sorry, kyle rainer never did much for me, and don’t even get me started on whatever the hell happened to Hawkman), and i’d be sorry to see DC ditch all that just to bring Barry back.

    i don’t think comics fans, as curmudgeonly as we are, necessarily reject all change, but it has to be done well. wally taking over for barry made sense emotionally and historically.

    “Since this is my blog, I’m going to continue to rant a bit more.”–the implicit meaning of every blog, ever. 🙂

  2. Shag, you will enjoy the run as long as Geoff John is on the book…so when he takes off in a year or 2 and leaves it to say….oh Jud Winnick or some other equally as bad ass-hat then what, you have invested time, money and most importantly heart into a comic that will be torn down.

    All this time i have always said my flaming pisser of comix has been that the dead characters don’t stay dead. Well the only reason that happens is because fuck-knuckle writers decide to play comix God and rearrange everything. Editors need to do their jobs and lay down some consistancy.

  3. Thanks for the comments!

    Rob – As usual, we’re trucking on the same highway. Just wait for “Aquaman: Rebirth”. It honestly wouldn’t surprise me. Geoff Johns has stated more than once that he’d like a crack at Aquaman.

    Serv – You know I’ve got your back on this one. But dude, did you have to go and funk up my blog by mentioning the Unoriginal Copycat (a.k.a. Winnick) like that? 🙂


  4. I like the idea of bringing DC back to a new silver age. Their silver age superhero archetypes are the reason I find DC interesting. I’ve always been a Marvel fan, but now I’m growing more and more interested in DC, and I think it is becuase of GL: Rebirth, Batman: RIP, and the upcoming Flash: Rebirth. Love it or hate it (which I’m sure that long-time DC fans will hate that pov), that is what is getting ME involved in DC. Also, I think Aquaman would be better…and maybe cool for the first time if Johns did his magic with him…no stupid hook-hand or water-hand. Also again…After McKeever and Winick (especially Winick) on the Titans book, I would like to see Johns come back and fix them again.

  5. Bringing back Barry Allen does not only imply how things can get better for DC, it will even make more readers, moreso new ones to see how the Silver Age heroes give true meaning to selflessness and integrity.

    Flash: Rebirth will be great! With Geoff Johns helming the series and with Ethan’s awesome artwork it will surely make fans old and new crave for more!

  6. Personal I think this is a move in the wrong direction that will close off newer readers. I mean Barry Allen was around my parents day. Like who nowadays can would be interested in a charater thats wasn’t been around in decades? Anyone who has memories of Barry are few and far in between. Really DC needs to keep their stories more appealing for a boarder group, not just people who were around long enough who can remember charater backs from the 60’s and 70’s.

  7. Wally West will tie with Barry in number of issues. On Dec. 24 he will have his 247th issue.

    I feel disappointed as well.

  8. Personally, when they killed Barry Allen, it left me so disillusioned as a kid that I quit reading comics altogether. I’m going to buy this series for sure.

  9. I am a fan of The Flash…any flash. They are (DCU) forever killing off/changing who will be the Flash, so this is nothing new. I have always and will always love the Flash character, so until they stop writing him completely, I will read ANYTHING IN PRINT relating to the Flash.

  10. I dont have my green arrow with me didnt winnick do a stint on it?whats with everyone bashing on him i thought those where good i havent read any of his other stuff though so that could be it. either way Rebirth is something thatll be much needed with the flash to me Wally was a great flash but it got to a point where he got over his issues with taking over barrys legacy and he grew up and after that it just went down hill. they have gone on as long as possible with him and now they need to reboot the series and introduce Barry Allen to younger audiences seeing as he to me is what really made the Flash so popular. it sucks to see wally get pushed to the back but it could be the best thing for them and other then the flash and GL the rest of the DC universe that has died needs to stay dead only reason i think it worked out with GL was because Hal Jordan is the Green Lantern theres no other character that comes close to him.

  11. personaly i think bart allen was the best flash and he got the shortest run ( pun intended) im still going to read it but i think they should newly dead characters alive instead of ancient one becuase most of us can remember wally west or bart allen

  12. From

    Apparently, “Wally West will be getting a new costume designed by Ethan Van Sciver, and will still be called the Flash.”

    I found your points about Wally being the symbol of growth very interesting. I think I’d like it more if Bart returned, or maybe never died, and reassumes the mantle of the Flash, while Wally goes into semi-retirement so he having more time to spend with his family.

    Anyway, I think/hope Bart comes back as a Black Lantern. It’d be bittersweet. He’s not really the villian type, though.

  13. I don’t understand why these people would go back to the silver age unless they just miss it. I loved the silver age but I also miss a lot of things that doesn’t mean it should be brought back. There is a reason Barry was killed in the first place. He was boring, I agree his writers toward the end ran out of ideas but He was boring before then. Now Geoff is not only bringing him back but he changed his origin. His mother didn’t die. What the heck is that crap. I also don’t know what they are going to do with Wally, he was the flash and deserved to be the flash. No one can say that he doesn’t. If readers wanted to know about Barry pick up his old issues. Don’t bring back a fossil that hasn’t been around since Ronald Reagan was president. I like Geoff’s writing and love reading his books but someday he will leave the flash like he did before and this book will fail. It is the single dumbest thing that DC has ever done.

  14. By the sounds of it, Barry isn’t sticking around. I think he’s back just for the mini-series. He knows he isn’t supposed to be back (as I’m sure the writers do). I’m thinking he’ll come back to elevate the flash universe and be gone again, maybe leaving Wally with exciting new possibilities? If anything it will be a boost for Wally (not that he wasn’t doing great). Wally will come through the reappearance of Barry stronger than ever. And, with Bart and Jay in Rebirth, fans should be basking in Flashness, not sulking.

  15. WOW i feel like DC missed with this one i feel like if their is a flash it should be WALLY WEST, by far the best and deserving FLASH he was the best by far and his personality is what people feel in love with there is/was no superhero like him.

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