Friday, June 24, 2016

Flash Friday : remembering Mike Wieringo

I know I promised last week to continue with the next part of Paul Ryan´s Emergency Stop but because Today would have been Mike Wieringo´s 53rd birthday I´m bringing you a special edition of FLASH FRIDAY instead.

Originally I wanted to post this much sooner but for some reason my internet access has been blocked most of the day. So I´m practically coming in at the eleventh hour since I can´t do a FLASH FRIDAY post on Saturday. And just when I had laid out all the material and checked all birthdays, sorted out the videos, when everything was prepared to make this an easy post where I don´t have to race the clock. I guess it´s true what they say about the best laid plans of mice and scarlet speedsters.

Speaking about plans, my plan to read the entire volume 2 of THE FLASH in one go may happen sooner than I thought. Because I went and ordered THE FLASH : A CELEBRATION OF 75 YEARS which means I finally have issue 1 even if it´s not in single issue form. I have looked over the various trade paperbacks from the run that have been released but it seems like issue 70 is not included in any so I´m still missing that one.

But that´s only one issue and since it´s a crossover with Green Lantern maybe it will be included in an upcoming Green Lantern trade. In any case I can finally read the FLASH issues I bought in 2014 in Erlangen. And who knows ? Maybe I can attend the Stuttgart Comic Con and find issue 70. 

Since we´re on the subjects of plans I want to mention that I haven´t had the time to download all the issues of FLASH I found online and now the site seems to be on the fritz. Some issues are not accessible anymore which means that besides the next two parts of Emergency Stop I have only two more complete FLASH issues by Paul Ryan. So we´ll see how FLASH FRIDAY will continue and if it will stay a weekly series in a month.

I don´t know if my readers even want a new FLASH FRIDAY post every week but since I don´t get much comments and the number of daily clicks of the blog seems to be going up recently - over 1,340 on Saturday so I guess the people like Alan Davis - I seem to be doing something right.

And with that let´s get to Today´s topic. When Mike Wieringo started on FLASH I was ready to leave the title. Mark Waid had just finished his big opus The Return Of Barry Allen and this was the definitive Wally West story. So what else was there to tell ? Surely this was the pinnacle and things would only go downhill from here. Boy, was I ever wrong because Mark Waid was just getting started. You may ask why I kept reading.

Well, while back in the day comic books were not as cheap as they were when I started reading american comics they were still affordable at 1.25 dollars and as long as a writer didn´t eff up a title really bad the series stayed on the pull list for the first few issues when a new writer or new artist came along to see if the magic was still there. Or if the new team was an improvement. Which didn´t happen that often but it did happen.

Now Mike Wieringo was not a big name at that point so he was not the big draw for me. I had seen some of his work in the pages of JUSTICE LEAGUE QUARTERLY which looked okay but not too spectacular. He was still somewhere between the usual more realistic drawings you find in super hero comics and the more cartoony style that would become his signature later on but even at this point I could see something there.

What definitely had a big impact on the decision to keep the title on the pull list were the covers by Alan Davis which are one of the reasons why I find it strange that the only Mike Wieringo FLASH issue that appears in a collected edition is issue 92 and even that would not have happened if it wasn´t the debut of Bart Allen who was created by Waid and Wieringo.  

I mean, talk about a dream team : you have Mark Waid writing all the issues, Mike Wieringo doing the interior art in issues 80 to 83, 85 to 88 and 90 to 92 ( issue 84 is drawn by Barry Kitson and issue 89 by Kris Renkewitz with a cover by Rob Haynes ), Alan Davis on covers from 80 to 88 and Mike Wieringo taking over doing covers from issue 89 to 100 ( he also did the covers for issues 118 to 124 and issues 128 and 129 ). Plus there´s a zero issue by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo ( which is also included in THE FLASH : A CELEBRATION OF 75 YEARS hardcover ).    

And on top of that we have Wally´s pals from the Teen Titans Nightwing and Starfire as guest stars and a story where he has to face that even the fastest man can´t save everybody. But since nobody can fathom why DC includes certain stories into multiple trades whie others get the short end of the stick let´s get back to Mike Wieringo´s stint on the FLASH. Like I said, I was willing to wait and see what Mark Waid had up his sleeve and he didn´t disappoint as he grabbed the reader right from the first page by clearing up who the Flash really is. And to give you a better idea what an impact the first page of issue 80 had on the average comic readers it´s one of the few comic pages my younger brother can recite in his sleep.

Since I already own issues 80 to 91 of FLASH I can´t tell you how expensive they are - especially now that everything connected to the Flash has gone up in price because of the huge success of the Flash tv series - but no matter if you are a Mike Wieringo fan, a Mark Waid fan, a Flash fan or just like to read good stories keep your eyes open for these issues. Here are a few more covers and splash pages by Mike Wieringo : 

Because the entertainment block has gotten a bit out of hand lately I have decided to dial things down a bit. I still have to mention the birthdays of Nancy Allen ( 66 ) and Peter Weller ( 69 ) since it is not often that two people who worked on the same movie have their birthday on the same day. I´m talking of course about the original ROBOCOP trilogy and I remember that the first one was heavily censored in german cinemas.

Even though neither Nancy Allen nor Peter Weller were in it here is a video from the short lived tv series. In this one Robocop encounters a guy who thinks he´s OCP´s superhero Commander Cash and studies cartoon law.

Speaking about cartoons : as we have two birthdays related to Robocop our second video is from the cartoon series. It was produced by Marvel Productions since they had the license for the comics at that time.

Since I could not find a video about Mike Wieringo´s FLASH issues here is a documentary for my german readers about comics in the 60s which mentions a lot of franco - belgian comics that were in the german ZACK.

I wasn´t sure which of my bookmarked music videos I should pick but I think Kenny Rogers´ song The Gambler fits the occassion the best.

Of course we can´t end a FLASH FRIDAY post without some Flash fact.

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