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Post By
Daveym 
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Location: Lancashire
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Subj: There's a Marvellous Flash Book Out Now ... [Re:Flash #11 and Titans #5]
Posted: Sun Nov 27, 2016 at 05:57:31 pm GMT (Viewed 540 times)



"I'm Not Going To Let My Friends Die. My Best Friends, And The Woman I love..." - Wally West, The Flash.


The wise option I tell myself might be to move on from broaching the subject and not denigrate the character of Barry Allen/The Flash any more than I have previously in such commentaries that look at his latest comicbook outings... but upon some due reflection the strengths and weaknesses of this weeks two notable 'Flash' adventures are so completely owned and purposely put forth in print by DC Comics that I feel that what I say can only be seen as an evident truth, rather than some wearying critique on how Joshua Williamson and his artist-of-the-month simply aren't capable of getting to grips with adventure fiction and serving up an exciting story featuring fully developed characters that meets with the standards of virtually every mainstream title that DC are presently putting out. Read the adventures of Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Superman, or even Green Arrow for instance and you will see a compelling mix of plot, intrigue, romance, and - passion - Passion that is both character orientated and creator inherent. Here are books featuring characters who feel and exude passion. Written and produced by creative teams with passion. Come to The Flash however and... you will find none of these elements. No Passion, not in the characters within it nor anything exuding from the people writing and drawing it. This is a book so grindingly dull and lifeless it makes your wallpaper exciting and interesting to stare at...

I'll be blunt and to the point here then, as there is no sense mincing words on this subject, because as I 'read' The Flash #11, and followed this with Dan Abnett and Brett Booth's Titans #5, I shall tell you in no uncertain terms that no greater a contrast between two books of the same stable and the vigour within their respective content and creative teams, are you likely to find on the shelves this very month than these two titles. No more thuddingly DULL and mediocre a production are you likely to read from DC comics this month than Joshua Williamson and David Gianfelice's The Flash #11 with its perpetually po-faced title character and his instantly forgettable supporting cast.

And by way of illustrating the point at hand I offer forth the following as the physical evidence of what I experienced. The Titans has been entirely West's story, in the span of five issues Dan Abnett and Brett Booth have managed the feat of distilling everything that made Wally West's Flash such a great vibrant character, The Flash who captured a generations attention and became so proficient and well rounded he fully replaced, and even exceeded, his dear departed mentor in every way. And with the odds stacked against him, and an old foe holding all the advantages, his in this months Titans is why we loved him; but by way of contrast let's begin with the thrilling adventures of Barry Allen:



From The Flash #11.










    Quote:
    "They put on a cape and cowl for a reason. They're committed to defending others — at the sacrifice of all their own personal instincts. That's something we reinforce. If you look at every one of the characters in the Batman family, their personal lives kind of suck…

    Tim Drake, Barbara Gordon, and Kathy Kane — it’s wonderful that they try to establish personal lives, but it’s also just as important that they put it aside as they know what they are accomplishing as the hero takes precedence over everything else. That is our mandate, that is our edict, that is our stand with our characters." - DC Comics, Dan Didio.


Is it by design or coincidence that Wally West's return to the DC Universe that had previously erased him from existence coincided with the return of Superman himself, to great fan acclaim and general online praise? Why was Superman's return so immediately successful?
Not rosy nostalgia for times past I would argue, rather the appeal and resonance of the return of these old faces lay in the very elements that DC had determinedly and forcefully extinguished with their revamping and rethinking of both the characters involved and the way in which they were to be presented going forward from 2011's restarting of their universe. Recast as isolated loners, stripped of their pasts, bereft of much in the way of hope, the harshness of their treatment would become summed up in Dan Didio's fatuous and alarming admission that it was now the company policy to isolate their lead characters and ensure them no chance at all of ever finding emotional contentment within their private lives and certainly no one whom they could allow in on their secrets, presumably Didio and company were of the belief that no normal person could ever choose be capable of standing side by side with their superfolk and offering them their strength and support as they proceeded with their chosen duty to help the needy. The absurdity of the idea scarcely needs expanding on as by the logic of that decree one has to wonder if the firemen, Police force, Armed forces, and Red Coss agencies were also to fall under that umbrella, and if not why not... but then the whole premise was not just outrageous in conception but ultimately proved the point when it came to declining sales and evaporating support for the whole New-52 ethos. And without a doubt the one vital ingredient in the success of Superman's return and the unmourned New-52 Superman's demise was the presence of the previous canons Lois Lane herself. The strength of her support for her partner writ for all to see, but never overplayed or feeling forced. That its success was rapidly followed by Dinah Lance's return to the life of Oliver Queen and the resumption of Steve Trevor's romance with the Princess of Themiscyra shows much about how flawed the management of DC Comics has been. But then what does it say about The Flash that while his contemporaries all have an ongoing healthy relationship with partners or admirers Barry Allen sits in a strange fudge of a relationship with Iris West...
The Flash #11 epitomises all of the problems that bedevil Barry Allen as a character. Unable or unwilling to share his secret theirs is a relationship that might be unrequited love in the manner of the traditional formula of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, or it might be just the hapless blunderings of a shy and befuddled police scientist who doesn't have the emotional or mental nous to get to grips with his dual identity and either seperate it or incorporate it into his day to day life and his human need for close companionship. Are Barry Allen and Iris West doomed star-crossed lovers? Judging by The Flash #11 I have no idea. On the other side of the DC stable though there is no doubt whatsoever about what makes Wally West tick and how fiercely committed he is to both friends and lovers. Indeed life in general. Here is a man who loves the people in his life, loves being The Flash and helping others. Whether it was the correct decision to return him to the DC universe we can argue over and over. But here he is and here is a boldly written statement from Dan Abnett that follows the tail of the return of Superman and Lois Lane-Kent and makes an equally powerful statement on what it is that was/is wrong in the modern DC Universe's content and philosophy. By embracing the best of these characters, giving them a life, a real chance at finding personal fulfillment, the stories will write themselves and the appeal of the characters fully shine through. Ans such is the enormous success of the Rebirth initiative.

In some peculiar way Barry Allen's Flash has not made that transition. Here is a book stuck in the deepest of ruts. With utterly mediocre talent employed to service it. And with the return of Wally West leaving Barry Allen and his book staring down the muzzle of a far superior model of Scarlet Speedster.
For the first time in many years I finally read a new series of The Flash I want to see more of. And it isn't Joshua Williamson's series, it is Dan Abnett's. Over in The Titans.

What strange days we live in.


The Flash - Titans #5.







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