Friday, October 18, 2013

It´s ( not married anymore ) Flash Friday!

I have been busy the last few weeks. More than usual in fact and a lot of that has been due to the fact that I found new episodes of DOCTOR WHO on the internet ( well, new to me but old to most people who may be reading this from the UK ) . The downside has been that I spent way too much time on the internet and still didn´t manage to get new posts done.

The thing is the last time I found episodes of Doctor Who on the interweb I stopped after a while and then the website was gone and I thought that was it. So this time I´m trying to finish this once and for all.

Originally the plan was to see them all until the big 50th anniversary episode is aired in November but the way it´s going I´m lucky if I have them all until then. It´s not like I don´t watch an episode now and then. I have finally seen some episodes with Sylvester McCoy, quite a few with Colin Baker and even one with Peter Davison. So I thought about doing a post about The Doctor but since Today is Friday and I just couldn´t find any appropiate alliteration I´ve decreed this day as Flash Day. I hope it´s not too boring for my readers as I talk again about the Flash of long ago.

One reason why I talk so much about the Flash that used to be is that I don´t read the actual Flash book so if I want to talk about Flash it´s not the Flash how he is now but how he was. You know how it goes :

My name is Wally West and I´m the fastest man alive. I´m The Flash.

At least for me. I know that people always say that your favorite Flash is the one you grew up with. Or any comic book character for that matter. And this may be true for some comic readers. For some. Maybe for all. I don´t know. What I DO know is that for me it was not always the first version of a certain superhero that I saw that was my favorite. Heck, the first Green Lantern I read was Hal Jordan but my favorite was always Guy Gardner. And while the guy running around in red spandex in the first Flash comics I read as a kid was Barry Allen he wasn´t my favorite.

Okay, he wasn´t my favorite but this cover by George Perez is just gorgeous beyond words ( no pun intended ) and since it not only features Firestorm but also the Atomic Skull aren´t you just dying to read it ?


As chance would have it I just got some issues of BACK ISSUE and one of the articles in the SUPERMAN IN THE BRONZE AGE issue is about the Atomic Skull, who was pretty underused pre - crisis. Normally I don´t get many issues of ALTER EGO or BACK ISSUE at the online comic shops I frequent so when I had the chance I ordered four at once. One is the aforementioned SUPERMAN IN THE BRONZE AGE issue,

the one I´m reading right now is the big team up issue while number three is all about the Legion of Super - Heroes in the 70s and 80s.

And speaking about the Legion of Super - Heroes, the fourth one is an oversized issue with a big wraparound cover by Alex Ross recreating Mike Grell´s famous cover for their first solo series. Of course this one is all about the over sized and tabloid sized specials. Right now there are three more issues I found at another online comic shop that I would like to order but I have to slow down a little with buying comics the next weeks.

This month I went a bit overboard because I got some comics rather cheap from the guys at the PANINI FORUM and also from amazon.

I was looking if anybody was selling the second WONDER WOMAN book since my sister really likes the series. It´s one of the few good series left at the New52 and I got her the first one as a Christmas present last year. So I wanted to see if I could get it at a bargain price now that a lot of people are getting out of the rebooted DC universe. Instead I found some of the books I had on my to read list like volume two of Catwoman, the second book of Green Lantern, the first one of Batman & Robin and so on.

So right now I have a huge pile of unread comic trades on my desk which include the complete pre - New52 Batman Incorporated as well as the first one in the new continuity, both volumes of the brilliant Siniestro Corps War ( which I can finally read in its entirety ), the latest issues of comics I got together with the BACK ISSUEs, volume 4 of Showcase presents Superman Family ( which was available at amazon for 8 bucks which is not bad for a 20 Dollar book ) and I´m still waiting for the package to arrive which contains volume two of Swamp Thing and the Hardcover Edition of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE MAN OF TOMORROW ?

On top of that I just ordered the third hardcover of ALL NEW X - MEN and the CONTEST OF THE CHAMPIONS from amazon because it was at a real bargain price. Now if I really should manage to read all that there are already the next ones lined up on my amazon list. I´m not sure about AGE OF ULTRON but it´s currently at 48 bucks and I´ll probably wait until it´s at 45 or below which is my normal threshold for 75 Dollar hardcovers. What is a given is the second hardcover volume of LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT : JIM APARO, normally 50 Dollars and currently at 36 EUROS. Another book I´m not sure about is the Daredevil : End of Days 40 Dollar hardcover which is at 22 EUROS right now, which is a hefty discount. But the one that bugs me the most at the moment is another one of those Warren horror comic deluxe reprints by Dark Horse.

CREEPY ARCHIVES VOLUME 16 was at 23 bucks when I wanted to write my last post, then went up to 35 bucks when I did my last post and right now the price is falling again. Those of you who have read one of my earlier posts about those big hefty 50 Dollar beauties are either tired of hearing me rave about them or you want to add another one to your collection.

This one has the usual all - star cast of creators like Alex Toth, Neal Adams, Richard Corben, Wally Wood and Bernie Wrightson lined up inside and if you want to know more you can see some preview pages here .

Like I said before, if you want to give one of those 50 Dollar books a try here is your chance to do it without paying an arm and a leg for it.


But back to my favorite Flash that was Wally West, because he made me pick up the book on a regular basis and got me so hooked I never quit.

Well, at least until the beginning of THE REVERSE AGE, like I call Scott Kolins´ tenure on the book. I really don´t like to sound overtly negative but the workings of a superfast superhero and Scott´s especially un - kinetic and rigid art didn´t really gel for me. Sure, the stories by Geoff Johns were still top notch - especially his handling of the rogues - and the covers by Brian Bolland were just mindblowing but the abrupt change from interior artist Angel Unzueta to Scott Kolins just was too much for me.

In my case I was literally reading them and weeping so I quit until the BLITZ story came around and to this day I can´t help myself wondering what a masterpiece this could have been with a different artist.

I even tried to order PANINI´s first print on demand comic that contained the storyline. And I´m saying TRIED here because I never got the copies I ordered. Yes, that´s plural because I wanted to order two copies of the book. For which I got some criticism because there were quite a few people who didn´t quite get why somebody would order more than one copy of a book that had a definite print run, was probably only available through this one time opportunity and which you would not be able to find in even the best comic shops. Go figure. But back to the Flash book.

After a few issues Howard Porter became the new artist and I was once again enjoying the ride up until the end when INFINITE CRISIS f - word - ed everything up with Bart Allen becoming the Flash and getting killed by the Rogues. Ever since I´ve been itching to get back with the speedforce but the new books haven´t piqued my interest as they say nowadays.

Part of that is that writers have historically struggled to make Barry Allen interesting. Now I said it. I know, sacrilege. I don´t care. When I was reading the Bronze Age Flash I remember that it was always more about the guy with the costume and the weird situations he found himself in ( and some of them were pretty weird ) than it was about the guy himself.

The stories were interesting but Barry was always a bore and the single most defining thing he did was dying during Crisis on Infinite Earths.

And to put the cake on that most heroes didn´t even remember exactly how he died or during which crisis it was. They only remembered his great sacrifice and not much else. In short, the two things people knew about the Flash was that he died during CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS and that he was married. Which is something DC seems to be having a problem with ever since their rebranding for marketing´s sake - I mean reboot.


Well, I wasn´t thinking too much about the subject of marriage in the NEW52 - because quite frankly I try to stay away from it as much as possible - but thanks to this post on ComicBits Online I was reminded of the whole negative stance on superhero marriages in comics Today.

Which to me is one of the biggest BS MFs going on in comics. Like somebody once said, people who think your life is less exciting once you are married are either people who are not married or people who should not be married in the first place.When I read Dan Didio say crap like :

" When comics were at their biggest peak, the personal lives of the characters were at their smallest. I don´t want to read a book about a marriage. What I want to read is how people are trying to balance all aspects of their lives. There has to be a sacrifice to being a hero. "

My first reaction is that he doesn´t know the first thing about comics. Okay, not really my first reaction. That would be to throw up. But my second reaction is wondering who put that guy in charge. I mean, even leaving the fact aside that when comics were at their biggest peak most titles had numerous stories in one issue and the stories were six pages long at best, they were printed on cheap pulp paper, cost ten cents and you could buy them at every newsstand ( I wonder if DC is going to bring all that back too ) it´s totally bogus. Because there were marriages even back then. Okay, some of them took place on parallel earths or were just imaginary stories but they wouldn´t have done them if someone at DC wouldn´t have thought that a married superhero is much more interesting than the same superhero who isn´t married. At least in that story.

Back to the whole thing about the peak of comics, if you define their biggest peak at the point were they sold the most issues - okay. Now we all know where the new DC is coming from. It´s all about the Benjamins. But if you talk about the best stories DC did I don´t think anyone would argue their best decade was back then and if you want to go for the best Flash storylines of all times they are not from the Golden Age. Some of my favorites are THE RETURN OF BARRY ALLEN, TERMINAL VELOCITY, DEAD HEAT or CHAIN LIGHTNING and they all came out in the 90s.

When I was reading DC comics as a kid the interesting part was that some heroes were married, like Flash, Hawkman, Aquaman or Elongated Man and others weren´t like Superman, Batman or Green Lantern.

If you were reading a team book like Justice League and all the heroes would have been the same in their civilian identities what would be the point of reading a team book instead of a solo book like Batman or Flash ? It´s just boring when they are too much alike instead of different, where Barry Allen is jealous of Hal Jordan because he has no worries about the wife and surviving to come home. And vice versa Hal Jordan was jeaulous of Barry Allen because he had a settled life with a loving wife and the home with the picket fences and the apple pie he could go home to after saving the world instead of just an empty apartment somewhere.

Heck, the whole dynamic around Flash and Green Lantern´s friendship came from the differences between this happily married guy and this one - night standing bachelor. When it was Green Lantern and Green Arrow it was not only two guys wearing the same colour and expecting people to not confuse them or think they are a couple, but they also were both pining over girls and trying to one - up another. And the big stories about Silver Age Flash involved his marriage in some way like the classic TRIAL OF THE FLASH which is currently available as a SHOWCASE PRESENTS.

Which - funny now that you mention it - is where people can go to read stories that have a Barry Allen who´s not married and which are 8 pages max. And I´m not knocking that. Everybody can read the kind of comics they like. Myself included. As I mentioned I bought SHOWCASE presents SUPERMAN FAMILY volume four, and while it doesn´t include highlights like Jimmy Olsen desecrating old viking burial grounds or traveling to the past with a time bomb it does have other gems like Jimmy Olsen´s transformations into the famous Wolfman, Elastic Lad, Giant Turtle Boy, gaining Superman´s power, traveling to the times of the Wild West without a chance of getting back and shaving his head to impersonate a mobster. I really dig those stories because they crack me up.

To come back to Barry Allen´s death in Crisis on Infinite Earths - and Didio´s comments about sacrifice - I don´t think it would´ve had the same impact if he wasn´t living happily ever after with Iris in the future.

I mean the same scene with a Barry Allen that was single and had nothing to loose - or worse one who was unhappily married and went all good riddance - would have definitely sucked. And this is the end for this part as I´m afraid we must discuss the rest of it in a future installment ( it IS my free day ). The whole marriage thing did get us a bit off topic - as did my pimping for some comics - but I hope we can continue with why Wally West was my favorite Flash some other day. Not in my next post because that will be all about SECRET WARS II ( yes, again ) and why I loved the new costumes for Spider - Man, Iron Man, Captain America and Thor.

For more on the whole anti marriage thing by DC I recommend you go to Graeme McMillan´s IN SICKNESS AND IN COSTUME : SUPERHEROES VS MARRIAGE and DC´S SUPER POWER BREAK UPS OT HE NEW 52 . And if you want to read a superhero series where things are as they should be and superheroes do indeed get married - and also pregnant - without things becoming boring I recommend Thomas F Zahler´s brilliant LOVE AND CAPES series of which the fourth trade is already available.

Also don´t forget to check out those issues of BACK ISSUE or ALTER EGO for more Silver and Bronze Age goodies, they are totally worth it.

Since I mentioned issue 122 of BATMAN Todays video at the end of the post is about the lead story THE MARRIAGE OF BATMAN AND BATWOMAN.

I´m sorry but it´s in french. Apparently there were some comic LPs floating around in Quebec and somebody really used the audio to make this animated version of the comic. I guess Dan Didio read this as a young boy and was so freaked out that he suffered a severe case of marriage phobia which apparently runs rampant to this day.

The reason why I´m posting this is because I think the story is pretty funny because in the end Robin is the one who puts the idea of Bruce Wayne marrying Kathy Kane into Bruce´s head. And because Batman is pretty much a dick in this story, insisting that Batwoman gives up her costumed identity because women belong in the kitchen and she´s so stupid somebody will probably unmask her and then it´s the end of his crime fighting career. Which of course happens because we all know women are stupid. Which makes kinda sense because it´s just a dream that Robin has in the end so it´s probably more about what Robin thinks about women. Man, I have to say, this is what Robin dreams when he is having a wild dream with Batwoman ? Ah, sweet innocence of youth.

But back to stupid women who get unmasked and ruin everything for male heroes. I guess back then it didn´t occur to anybody that Batman might become the one who gets unmasked and then it would also be lights out for Batwoman. But that probably never happened to male heroes back in those days. And I also want to give props to Batwoman for appropiating one of Bruce´s old Batman costumes and sewing it up for use in record time - even if it was a bit tight in certain spots ( I wonder what she meant with that ? ). I guess women were good for something back then, even if it was only sewing. So I hope you enjoy the video and who knows - this attitude towards women in comics is maybe coming back now.

There are two versions of the video on YouTube, one is the original french version which you can find here and the one I posted is also french but with english subtitles. I hope you enjoy THE MARRIAGE OF BATMUN AND BATWOMUN ( that´s not a typo. Just read the subtitles ) !

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1 comment:

Terry Hooper-Scharf said...

I liked the original Flash but was no big fan/collector. He played a pivotal part in establishing DCs multiverse and bringing back the Golden Age characters -The Flash Of Two Worlds. So the impact of his death was massive on comic fans. And I'd glad you said that about Didio -now I'm not the only target for the hitman!!!