I hope everyone had a great fourth of July weekend, that you had the chance to ponder our freedoms, enjoy a hamburger and hot dog, see some fireworks, and spend time hanging out with family and friends! That evening, I enjoyed a fantastic dinner out with my girlfriend at a steak house that I’ve been meaning to try for years and three days later my stomach is still thanking me! I have to do that more often.
But on to the subject of the entry. With the final page of Final Crisis #2, and the ever appropriate “Run!” — it appears that the silver-age speedster, Barry Allen, has returned to the DCU proper and it’s high time that we welcome an old friend back here in Duckburg! That said, let me exercise a little caution in my own celebration. This isn’t the first time the possibility of Barry’s return has been showcased only to have the possibility yanked right away, and we have no idea as of yet that Barry will even make it through DC’s Final Crisis event, so I’ll retain that ‘ol familiar sense of cautious optimism — but this time it appears that DC is ready to bring Barry back permanently and I’m holding out hope that indeed this time the Flash is finally back!
And with that in mind I wanted to take a moment to share my gratitude that I’ll be able to enjoy the adventures of a childhood hero once more and that hopefully, along the way, he’ll reach a whole new generation of fans again. Because as much as I respect and appreciated Barry’s sacrifice near the conclusion of Crisis on Infinite Earth’s, the reason it was initiated was both cheap and cowardly, and certainly the man that ushered in and defined the Silver-Age deserved much better than the treatment he received at the “crossroads” of the mid-80’s. Not knowing where to take him next, editors (with a few exceptions) decided to take the low road and kill him — that’d get people talking! Thankfully, a host of talented writers wouldn’t forget the character (as would be the case with Jay, years later) and they took many an opportunity to pay homage to the Scarlet Speedster, keeping his memory and legacy alive through Wally’s continual drive to pay respect to his Uncle nearly every step of the way. And to Wally West fans, he really did become a great character and I don’t want him to go anywhere. I’m hoping that they find a way to keep all the Flash’s fresh in the lime-light, but Barry got the raw end of the deal those many years ago and it’s high time he got the chance to run again.
Flash’s debut…was the defining event of the superheroic resurgence. Fast on the heels of Flash’s success came still more Schartz-spearheaded rivivals from DC’s 1940’s heroes, including Green Lantern, Justicle League of America, Atom, and Hawkman. All these…features went on to recieve their own titles…thereby sparking renewed interest in super-hero comics. The Flash…would act as a ‘Big Bang’ to the kickstarting of the entire comic book industry! – Paul Kupperburg
So, in honor of his return, I went back and read that introductory story in Showcase #4, entitled “Mystery of the Human Thunderbolt!” over the weekend and I really do believe this is exactly the kind of hero people need today. Y’see, one of the things that was unique about Barry was that he was already a “hero” prior to gaining super-speed. He was a police scientist already in the service of his fellow man, working to solve crimes through scientific exploration in a forensics lab (ahem, that sounds like a great show…) and when that fateful day came that the lightning struck, and once he realizes the power he possesses, the first thought he has is: ‘what more can I do to help.’ Now, you can take your modern “conflicted heroes” and champion their gray “characterizations” until you’re blue in the face — but I’ll adamantly argue that there’s a heck of a lot more actual “character” to be found in the man that simply does the right thing because it’s the right thing. Sure, it was great to watch Wally grow into those boots and finally become the hero that everybody knew he would be, but that same song isn’t for everyone and heck if we don’t have hundred(s) of conflicted heroes to satisfy readers who long for “gray matter” out there. Seriously, a hero that is simply a hero for goodness’ sake is by far the exception these days — and a true original, sad as that may be.
We owe this guy, and as much as I can appreciate the sacrifice he made for everyone in the original Crisis, I don’t believe that his death had to be his defining moment, but rather, that the choices he makes day in and day out can hold at least as much power and significance.
Welcome back old friend!