iFanboy Video Podcast

iFanboy – Episode #165 – The Flash!

Show Notes

First appearing in 1940, The Flash has been a mainstay in the DC Universe for seven decades. And in a universe dominated by the likes of Superman and Batman, the most important super hero of them all might just be The Flash. This week, Josh Flanagan, Ron Richards and Conor Kilpatrick take a look at the highs and lows of the Scarlet Speedster.

The Flash: A History

From Jay Garrick to Barry Allen to Wally West, The Flash has been, and remains, a central figure in the DC Universe. Wha are these men and how did they come to be The Flash?

The Flash: The Multiverse and Crisis on Infinite Earths

When Barry met Jay no one had any idea what dominoes were about to fall that would lead all the way to Crisis on Infinite Earths and even up through today.

The Flash: Recent Years and The Return of Barry Allen

Up until recently, the last five years have not been kind to The Flash. What went wrong and how to DC turn tragedy into triumph?

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Comments

  1. rjspring rjspring says:

    Very excited to check out this episode – with the flash re-birth arc and Johns taking over on writing duties I’m really interested in getting into back Flash continuity – multiversity also had a great article on catching up on back (Waid/Johns) flash continuity here

  2. vod89 says:

    Good podcast, but there not gonna kill Wally, after Flashpoint he’ll probably have a book ala Green Lantern franchise

  3. UncleBob UncleBob says:

    Johns is really good at revitalizing characters, even those from which he was the author.  At first I was dismayed that he was going to work up Barry instead of Wally, but I am won over. This was similar to me as when he made the change from JSA to Justice Society of America.

    Wally and Kyle were  my Flash and GL, but now I am really digging Barry and Hal.

     

  4. UncleBob UncleBob says:

    ..and great show!

  5. mickmac59 mickmac59 says:

    Love how nothing was going to stop Ron from laying it down! I’ve only recently got back to comics so I’ve always seen Barry as the Flash (loved Rebirth) & I can’t wait to see what Johns has planned.

  6. great episode guya

  7. I remember asking if you were ever gonna do an episode about the Flash and getting super-excited when you hinted at one. Now it’s here! The Flash is my second favourite DC character (behind Batman of course) and this episode brilliantly captures everything need-to-know about the Flash legacy. Sometimes even I forget about just how important the Flash is to the whole DC Universe.

    Incidently, I liked the Bart Allen stories, despite hating Bart as Impulse. I was actually quite sad to see him die, and considering the nature of "comic book death" that’s really saying something. Also, I was very much against bringing Barry back, as I’m sure a lot of Wally fans were. It’s not that I hate Barry or anything, more that I thought his death was kind of sacred. But now, I’m just as excited for Barry stories as I was for Wally stories.

    That said, I really, really hope they don’t kill Wally off.

  8. MoniBolis MoniBolis says:

    Great episode.

    I’m reading the current flash series and I love it.

     

    @Cedric, If you watch this, I know you’re gonna like the Flash even more

  9. Cedric Cedric says:

    @Monibolis

    Yup:)

  10. Ilash Ilash says:

    Cool show, guys, on my favourite superhero. Even if I’m still not with you on the new direction of the franchise.

  11. mrmister mrmister says:

    Really wish DC didn’t suck about making the more recent good Flash runs available in trade paperback

    Started reading with Rebirth which was just ok but totally loving the new ongoing. 

  12. mickmac59 mickmac59 says:

    BTW guys, you didn’t mention the (short lived) 90s TV series – any thoughts/memories?

  13. DrAwkward DrAwkward says:

    Huge Flash fan and admittedly a Wally fan so loved the episode.

    I agree with Josh that it’s a huge unfortunate waste of a character.  Wally’s more experienced than just about any of the mainstream heroes having been inducted as a sidekick, living full time as a public superhero with the distraction of a secret identity or mundane job, and having put on the mantel of his mentor earlier than any of his peers.  Wally was the only non-dysfunctional family man with superhero children in the Big 7.  The only redhead, the youngest amongst them, the only one with a non-white significant other, and the only one with ties to other heroes that could rival Nightwing or Superman.  He had the benefit of Barry’s Rogues and his own original ones and related supporting cast and setting.

    That history means there are some stories you can only tell with Wally; conversely comparatively few that need Barry to be told… particularly if the past 5 years of stories had been spent repositioning Wally rather than returning Barry.  That said, I get that history also means baggage and some writers just couldn’t wrap their heads around it and needed a fresh start with Barry to get motivated.

    I disagree with Conor that Wally’s 50 years means it’s time to shelve him.  I think there’s still a significant and logical hole left in Wally’s resume: Mentoring.  Wally’s currently sidelined.  The cities are covered by Barry.  The JSA gets Jay, JLA gets Jesse, and Titans get Bart.  Wally’s one and only real profession has been being a superhero (ignore the Spectre induced car mechanic retcon for a moment) which he learned from one of the best mentors ever- Barry Allen- (contrast this to the negligence or dysfunction between the Trinity and their sidekicks).  Naturally, unable to do superheroing, having Barry as a model, and having Irey waiting in the wings… the most obvious thing to do is TEACH!

    By making Iris younger and the tone of Flash makes it clear that Barry’s book is more or less a clean slate reboot.  His adventures are going to be tonally solo Flash almost Silver age-ish.  That leaves Wally to be written in a character driven young heroes book that uses new characters and that potent magic found in the formula of Hogwarts, Xaviers, the Initiative, etc.  He trades the psychic omniscience and magical omnipotence of those instructors for the physical omnipresence of a speedster… literally always there to catch you fall, evacuate you from danger, speed heal, etc.

    It’s the last main hurdle for Wally’s character in completing his professional hero’s arc in an organic way, gives DC the opportunity to inject new/young/charismatic characters into the universe while not squandering the value of a character with a lot of goodwill still attached, and gives DC a versatile book that can be played as a Marvel-styled character book, an action team superhero book, or guest-star book when Wally calls in favors to have special guest instructors for the day/issue.

  14. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    @DrAwkward: I didn’t say that because Wally’s had 50 years that means it is time to shelve him. I said he’s had 50 years of stories, so it’s not like he hasn’t had his share of stories. Wally’s had 50 years of stories: it’s okay to let Barry have the spotlight back.

  15. Mangaman Mangaman says:

    NOW THIS IS THE SHOW I REMEMBER! (none of that "convention stuffs")

    Another great show as always guys. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to find tpb for that Millar/Morrison run.

  16. Jeff Reid JeffR (@JeffRReid) says:

    @Mangaman – There are two trades that, I think, house the entire Millar/Morrison run. They’re EMERGENCY STOP and THE HUMAN RACE. Better yet, they’re currently both still in print. Snatch that stuff up. Personally, I like Mark Waid’s and Geoff Johns’ runs a bit better, but they also had a bigger canvas (more issues) to work with. On the plus side, Millar and Morrison did create the Black Flash, so that’s something.

  17. DrAwkward DrAwkward says:

    @Conor: "share of stories" and "spotlight" still kind of imply shelving… the idea that there’s some limited exhaustable resource used up (stories or light), so one needs to hold its breath for another share of stories, more time in the light, or get off the shelf and let another take a turn.

    I don’t know that I agree with that at all.  In terms of "share" it implies 1) that Wally and Barry stories can’t be mutually exclusive; and 2) that stories are meaningfully finite.

    For example, it would be really odd to say, "It’s okay for Batman to disappear for Superman since Batman has had his share of stories."  You wouldn’t say that because the stories Batman tells are different than Superman’s… similarly, Wally’s stories are different than Barry’s (which was my point about Wally’s history and backstory) which is something few people get in a twist about with- say- the Bat Family of books (which are almost all powerless gadget-based vigilantes in the same city) because people realize the histories and characters still bring different stories to the table… but with the shared moniker of Flash suddenly there’s a fear of story exhaustion (nevermind Family analogs or Marvel’s Dark doppleganger line; consider the literal duplication of books/lines for Superman/Batman/Spidey)?  To the second point it would be really odd to retire Superman just because he hit 70 years and had three books running simultaneously (oops, he’s spent his share!).

    I think it’s fully possible for Wally and Barry to support two separate books with tonal, history, character, etc. differences and if Wally doesn’t, I get that you’re trying to comfort and say- "At least he’s had years of good stories."  I’m just saying it’s coming across as, "He’s had years of good stories which justifies taking him out [so long as he goes out on a high note as prompted by Josh's comment] to cycle characters through the finite resource of light and stories" which doesn’t seem to mesh with any of DC’s other pillars.

  18. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    @DrAwkward: You’re extrapolating on what I said in directions I haven’t gone.

  19. @DrAwkward : Some really good points there. I’ve always been a Wally fan, I think Barry was before my time and his only real impact on me was Crisis. Wally has always been the main Flash in my mind.

    That said I think the guys (@Conor) have a point in regards Barry getting the spotlight for a while. The Flash has not been working for quite some time so maybe a change in focus would help. My hopes for Flash is that Wally and the rest of the cast inhabit a role similiar to Guy, John and Kyle in the GL stories. If anyone can keep this balance and respect for legacy it’s Geoff Johns so I’m pretty hopeful for Flash’s future.

  20. NathanNicdao NathanNicdao says:

    Aww.. Poor Wally. Don’t worry Wally, I’m hunting down your trades.

    (any particular recommendations, iFanbase?)

    Josh did better voice acting than Neil Patrick Harris. Well, that was Barry, but, yeah.

     

  21. I like the Flash.

  22. trobinson79 trobinson79 says:

    Tsk, tsk, @Conor and @Josh – interrupting @Ron’s words with your shenanigans during the podcast :)

    Great job – it educated me very well on all things Flash, having been a guy that only kept tabs on him in Justice League stories and any Crisis event DC throws at us.  Johns’ work as of late on Flash is spectacular and a great jumping-on point for newbies.

  23. SonorousStar SonorousStar says:

    Great show about one of my favourite all time comic heroes.

    Connor, thanks for mentioning the writers that came before Waid and Johns like William-Messner Loeb and Mike Baron. A lot of the concepts that we see now being used all the time in Flash comics were created in those runs: Super-fast metabolism to keep speed up, being able to pluck bullets out of the air, waeving through people at such speed that they seem to stand still etc were all created in these runs. Also, the character of Waly wasn’t always boring (something which I disagree with btw), during these runs he had great supporting cast members like Chunk, his estranged parents and Linda who were all created around that period too (plus also a brilliantly written gay Piper who became one of Wally’s best friends).The character of Wally has slowly changed over time, he was a spoilt, brass, brat for much of it which made the character interesting and different. Of course he mellowed as he grew up over time, but those earlier issues of Wallys run were edgy, sexy and took risks.

    People today obviously want the traditional (and in my mind a little dull) personality of Barry over the fun, brash chracter of Wally (when he’s written well that is). Oh well. Looking forward to following Johns run, but I really don’t think he’s done ANYTHING new with the character of the Flash (which is not Johns forte, he’s much more about working with the traditional tools and giving them a spin).There’s a reason people loved Wally for 20 years and it’s the same reason people are upset that he’s been sidelined because Johns just wasn’t interested in going back to him: Just because Wally was badly written for a few years doesn’t mean you replace, it just means you need to try harder. 

  24. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    @SonorousStar: I don’t think I’v ever heard anyone say that Wally was boring. We certainly didn’t.

  25. TonyScarfone says:

    Love the show but since you guys brought it up I wanted to say that I don’t think the issue is that you talk to quickly on the video show.  I find it cringe worthy how often you talk over each other. I know when the camera is going it is hard to keep things in check but still…

     Otherwise a great show.  Thanks!

  26. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    @TonyScarfone: It’s an unscripted roundtable discussion show. We try to minimize it, but that’s going to happen. It’s the nature of the format.

  27. NathanNicdao NathanNicdao says:

    It makes it feel very natural, light, and friendly.

  28. Ilash Ilash says:

    @SonorousStar: I think your last line was most pertinent. I strongly disagree with the idea of there being nothing more to do with Wally and he should therefor be replaced, I would think that there is a lot to do with the idea of a guy who has basically lived a real-life fantasy his whole life by not really being anything other than a superhero suddenly being confronted with the more down to earth realities of raising kids and having a family. 

    The last five years have been screwed up by supremely idiotic editorial decisions, bad art choices, not allowing writers the chance to prove themselves and a lack of direction but that hardly means that Wally has run his course. They just needed, as you say, to have tried harder to move Wally towards the next stage in his development. Instead he has been cast aside for a, to date, boring take on Barry Allen (though I am enjoying the monthly a fair amount, Barry is the least interesting thing about it) in a move that shows just how backward thinking DC’s current direction so often is.     

  29. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    @Ilash: Or how smart they are. The Flash is relevant and exciting again for the first time in 5+ years.

  30. daccampo daccampo says:

    I’m starting to mentally tie this discussion to that of "endings", as written by Romo and Jimski recently. I loved Wally’s story and read it from Baron through the end of that series. I knew Barry before Wally, but he wasn’t really that relevant, aside from his sacrifice in Crisis. Wally had a great, meaty story. It was about growing up. It was about honoring the mantle and the man who came before him. Great, great stories. Then Johns came along and he didn’t really "grow" Wally, but he rather expanded laterally, shining light on the city, its denizens, and the rogues.  But the stories did reach a point where they started to lack. Did DC make some bad decisions? Yes.  Is there a natural point at which Wally’s "growing up" story reaches a conclusion and then he just becomes another super-hero? I’d also say yes. I think that was the reason for Waid’s return and the attempt of the "family man" Wally. It was an attempt to move him to another set of thematic stories.

    I’d also suggest that Kyle Rayner went through something similar. I was there at the start, and I really enjoyed Kyle’s path of growth as a hero. But there came a certain point where his stories lost that forward momentum that comes with a strong "theme."

    So, to Conor’s point: I don’t see anything inherently bad with trying Barry for a while. It gives Johns a chance to see if the character is relevant and if he can find a strong story theme. I don’t know that this is it — personally, while it’s pretty, I think I’m ready to drop it. I’m not finding a compelling theme that makes this different from other super-hero stories. It SEEMS to be mostly about taking the Silver Age concepts and finding a modern way to spin them. Maybe the whole cold case thing will bring about a stronger theme. I’m not seeing it yet. 

    I think for me the bottom line is: I don’t need a Barry. I don’t need a Wally. I don’t need a Bart. I need a strong set of stories that give me a unique POV and some kind of storytelling urgency that makes me want to pick up the next issue. 

  31. OttoBott OttoBott says:

    My dad (Barry) has a twin named Allan. I just recently made this connection.

  32. DrAwkward DrAwkward says:

    @llash: I agree: "backwards."  "Smart" means they’d been able to deliver this same story with Wally (growing the character rather than rebooting the franchise) which, undoubtedly, they could have done having 60-odd issues worth of stories to position him such to do it.  Final Crisis, Blackest Night, and Flash v3 #1-2 thus far could have easily been told using Wally.

    For example, in BN, instead of Barry "paragon of hope" Allen emotionally bullying Atom and Mera into fighting, Wally "I grew stronger through The Return of Barry Allen arc" West could have credibly encouraged them to overcome during a distraught time when you think you’re underpowered and when the undead are playing with your emotions- coming out better in the end- likewise he could have whipped out his resume sharing his tenure of multiple Leagues and teams saying "father knows best" in credible fashion compared to Barry attempting to encourage when- in his own Rebirth- he’s literally suicidal (attempting to disappear into the Force in issue #4).  That’s just one example.

    Story-wise, The Flash is relevant and exciting again in spite of Barry not because of him.

    Creatively, I’m sure Conor’s right.  All the DC creative teams gave up and couldn’t figure out how to write the next stage in the character arc in a compelling fashion so they needed stunts and new characters to inspire them… but, honestly, inspire them to tell the same stories they could’ve been telling (or even DID tell) with Wally (for example, under Johns, Wally already did the rebuild an entire bridge feat and he already suffered the "accused of a crime as a police insider" arc when Ashley Zolomon’s brakes failed).

    Literally ANY character can see a sales surge by renumbering #1 and literally ANY writer can get motivated if you give them an opportunity to plant a history-making flag (which Johns is only too ready to use, readily exploiting death and other taboos- for example Spectre level mindwipe/retcons- most other writers have the decency to avoid)… what distinguishes a great character and great writer from just any character/writer is the ability to get over the hump and raise sales anywhere in the run just through solid writing (the way Flash was climbing before Johns left the book) rather than just stunts.

  33. No, Wally must not die.  It is Barry who must die. 

     

  34. Mangaman Mangaman says:

    Anyone know if they ever brought back all the Flashes for a single issue?

  35. Mangaman Mangaman says:

    @Conor & @Ron: Hey. I remember one character who hasn’t been brought back yet: Uncle Ben. If he comes back, that’s the cover I’d get Stan to sign XD.

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