Friday, January 24, 2014

The return of Flash Friday - interrupted

You probably expected another post about the best or worst comics of 2013 but if you have been following this blog for any amount of time you know that I always try to change topics to avoid things from getting too boring. In this case I went over the last posts I did in 2013 and - since it´s a cool alliteration - decided to continue with this series.

And one of the reasons for that is, that in my first post I never got around to explain why Wally West was my favorite Flash. I was just too aggravated by the whole " no super hero marriage " ban by Dan Didio.

I also got sidetracked with pimping comics, so between that and mainly talking about the Silver Age Flash, Barry Allen, there wasn´t much of Wally West in the entire post. Thankfully I already mentioned how much I hated Scott Kolins´ run on the book so we can ignore it in this post. We are going to talk about much older issues of the Flash anyway. I´m not sure if I haven´t written about this before but in most cases I always think I already wrote about this and that only to find out I really didn´t. So it´s time for another stroll down memory lane to the times when you could still read DC and they were 1 buck. Yes, we´ll go all the way back to the earliest issues of US comics with Wally West as the Flash that I read.

This is when I was doing my military service in Munich where I got my first exposure to a real comic shop and could buy american comics at three outlets. I have mentioned this pivotal time period a few times in earlier posts so I won´t go over it again here. Let me just say that I had three places where I bought FLASH comics then : Juergen´s Comic Shop in the city of Munich proper where I got the newest issues, a small comic shop under the moving stairs where the subways were and where I got the issues of the last three or four months and finally the international press newsstand at the main train terminal where I got even older back issues.

Ah, those first steps on unfamiliar soil venturing into unchartered comic territory. I had already found some original american comics back home in Ludwigsburg at some newsstands and I also had bought my first issue of ALPHA FLIGHT at an international press newsstand but here was my first visit to a comic store that had a ridiculously huge stock of US comics.

Not only did they have all the comics I already knew from Marvel and DC, they also had a lot of titles I never heard of. I was completely stunned by all the books I didn´t know and there were a lot of them especially by DC.

All this was during the 80s so they were just rolling off WATCHMEN and the whole restructuring after CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS meaning not only were there dozens of new books, all the other books were restarted. On top of that the VERTIGO imprint was just starting thanks to the phenomenal success off HELLBLAZER and more importantly SANDMAN.

And that´s just the two companies that I already knew of. There were all those companies like Dark Horse, Studio Proteus, Warp Graphics, Eclipse or Comico that I never heard of. Some of the titles like Eclipse´s DNAgents had already been translated to german at that time but most of this stuff was brand new to me. A lot of the companies are gone now like Malibu or First but back then there were many new series to discover.

And thanks to the other two sources for comics it was easier to get into series because if I found something interesting I not only had the newest issues, it also wasn´t difficult to find older issues up to 6 months back.

Although in the case of FLASH I have to admit I didn´t take the effort. I picked up an issue here or there but I didn´t actually search out older issues if I remember correctly. It may also be the case that I didn´t find that many issues to begin with, it HAS been a long time since then and my memory is a bit foggy in some parts. What I do know is that my earliest issues had quite the few gaps between them and I think I only bought the first one, issue 21, because it was an INVASION tie in story.

The creative team of William Messner - Loebs and Greg LaRoque was already in place but they didn´t particularly impress me very much.

It´s funny, back then I didn´t really care about the book and now I would give my right arm for a series of trades collecting this run. Well, not really my right arm but you know what I mean. By the way, is it just me or were there a lot of writers with three names on DC´s books ? And also creative people with this weird names where the last name has a big letter than a small one followed by the rest. Like William Messner Loebs, J M DeMatteis, Greg LaRoque or Shawn McManus. Maybe that´s a thing.

Back to FLASH, the next issue I got was issue 29 by the creative team of writer Lew Strazewski, penciler Grant Miehn and inker Paul Fricke ( whose last name sounds very much like a german name although he would not have been very happy with a name like that in Germany ) and it´s a wonder I got any FLASH issues after that. I really didn´t like the art and I guess I mainly bought it because it featured the NEW Phantom Lady.

Funny Flash Fact for the audience of ARROW : one of the villains in the story is Merlyn who is Oliver Queen´s best friend in the tv version.

Back to Wally West, in those early issues of FLASH I read he was pretty much the obnoxious, horny jerk he is in the brilliant Justice League cartoons by Bruce Timm. I don´t know what the thought process behind Wally as the new Flash was but he was quite different from Barry Allen. For starters he had had some problems with his powers ever since his Teen Titans days, in fact he even temporarily lost them, so when he took over the mantle of his uncle not only was he nowhere near his speed he also had to eat constantly to be able to run. He also lived with his Mom and because he had to pay the bills he was always concerned about money and always talking about it. Which made him look a bit greedy. It looked like he was constantly trying to cash in his fame as a member of the Justice League and that in more ways than one if you know what I mean.

Yep, I´m talking about the ladies. Since this was still single Wally West the horny part of his character came into play and he hit on women a lot. Which you normally do if you are single. And in his case not only was he a celebrity he was a flaming superhero adored by the general public. Not only that but he was always surrounded by such hot superheroines like Black Canary, Fire and Ice, Wonder Woman and Power Girl. Especially by sexy Power Girl and her almost bursting magical cleavage window.

Aside from Power Girl and Guy Gardner this had the most potential because you just had to put them into a room or confront them with a situation and the story would practically write itself. Wally was always hitting on Power Girl, trying to score or play any practical jokes on her and Power Girl was always trying to just hit Wally, but he was too fast.

At this point you´re probably asking yourself how this moneygrubbing, horny pervert could ever become my favorite Flash ( or not if you are a longtime reader of my blog ) but in order to be able to talk about why I liked Wally as a Flash so much we have to talk about his starting point.

Unlike Kyle Rayner, who just became his superhero career handed to him with a nifty ring, Wally had to earn his stripes. First as a sidekick to his uncle and then as a member of the Teen Titans. So readers knew him for a long time. He didn´t suddenly appear in the superhero community but rather he had grown from a teen sidekick to his own teenage superhero persona even if he was still working under the Kid Flash moniker. When tragedy struck with CRISIS OF INFINITE EARTHS he decided to honor his mentor and role model by taking up the mantle and carrying on the name of the Flash. Which wasn´t an easy task because most heroes and villains - especially the Rogues - still treated him like Kid Flash. So yes, he was a bit of a jerk when he started his new career as the third Flash ( you have to count Jay Garrick as the first one ) but that was just a phase.

He made some mistakes but he also did some things no other hero at that time did - like going public with his secret identity. Some people may argue that the main reason for that was that he wanted the people to remember the big sacrifice of Barry Allen during the Crisis and stop asking him why he´s so different to how he used to be ( you can read all about Barry Allen´s and Wally West´s secret identities becoming public knowledge in this nifty article from the Comicbookbin ) . Be that as it may, it was a step he did take and for better or worse Wally West was the new Flash now and some people weren´t too happy about it. Not at all.

Like I said, I only read sporadic issues of William Messner - Loebs´ Flash run ( I still read about Wally West in the pages of JUSTICE LEAGUE EUROPE where I also encountered the new version of Power Girl for the first time - and the rest is history ) and I probably wouldn´t have stayed on the title if he hadn´t been followed by the equally brilliant Mark Waid.

I had the luck of finding all issues of his first storyline BORN TO RUN at the various comic outlets I mentioned before and boy what a story it was.

Mark Waid started his run on the title ( which is no pun, even if I use it constantly in this post ) by going back to the earliest days of Wally West as Kid Flash when he was wearing the same costume as Barry Allen. Which was kind of new to me since I hadn´t read that many Golden Age stories from that time. Yes, I read a lot of der issues mit DER ROTE BLITZ ( The Red Flash how he was called in Germany since there also was a Green Arrow ) but none of them had any team ups with young Wally West.

Sadly I have to wrap things up for Today as for some strange reason blogger suddenly stopped working for almost an hour which was extremely nerve wrecking. It seems okay now but I don´t want to tempt fate.

I almost lot the last three hours of work and while it is possible to write it all again it´s impossible to recreate the exact post. In any case I´m much to depressed now to continue so that´s it for Today. We will continue this at another Friday where I hopefully won´t have as much problems with the internet or blogger. It will take enough time to finish this post as it is.

Since I spend most of my day on this post I´ll probably continue with some must see tv as the seasons have been piling up on my desk. I have only seen the first episodes of BREAKING BAD and BOARDWALK EMPIRE so I still have the first two seasons of that to watch. I also haven´t even started with seasons 1 and 2 of MODERN FAMILY and just Yesterday I just started with season five of DEXTER. I´m always watching it with my Mom who´s really big into crime series ( especially when the spanish dubbing is on the discs ) so since she´s watching CSI or CRIMINAL MINDS right now I´ll have to find something else. I have also ran out of episodes of SUPER FRIENDS to watch so when I have finished with the few AQUAMAN episodes I still have I have to start with the second season of THE ADAMS FAMILY or season 1 and 2 of KIM POSSIBLE which I got for Christmas.

Now this is what I meant when I said that I didn´t get the best Christmas presents this year. Kim Possible ? Really ? I mean it´s a good series but if you don´t know what to get what´s wrong with a gift certificate from amazon ? I bet the Kim Possible DVDs don´t even have any saucy behind the scenes footage or blooper reels with the cast members in the extras.

Okay, wrapping things up. Most of this post I was talking about the 80s but since I already exhausted all of my videos for that in my last post ( how should I have known ? ) Today´s video at the end of the post picks up a few of the other things I wrote about. I mentioned the brilliant JUSTICE LEAGUE cartoon and secret identities so here´s a clip with one of the best Wally West Flash scenes from STARCROSSED bringing both together.

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