Solomon Stone and the Flash.

§ April 9th, 2009 § Filed under Uncategorized § 1 Comment

The World’s Most Perfect Comic has at last been created, and that comic is…


…concocted by the trio of mad geniuses Chris Sims, Matthew Allen Smith, and Benjamin Birdie.

Click the pic above to be whisked away to the very first chapter, which you can read for free — FREE! — with new chapters to follow on future Wednesdays. Tell ’em Mike sent you!

Longtime customer, comics columnist, and ‘zine publisher Jim Kingman dropped me a line to ask what I thought of Flash: Rebirth #1, the mini-series revival of Barry Allen, the long-dead Silver Age Flash.

Well…I’m not going to lie and say I wasn’t looking forward to it. I was a fan of the old Barry Allen Flash series, even all the way through to the bitter end and the generally maligned “trial” storyline (which I actually enjoyed, so there). But my anticipation, I think, is more of a knee-jerk old nostalgic fanboy response more than anything else. When you get right down to it, a revival of Barry Allen is largely unnecessary (as Tim O’Neil notes), as the character was given a heroic send-off in Crisis on Infinite Earths, his heroic identity successfully passed down to his former kid partner, and his place as the Fallen Legend to Whom Others Pay Homage was solidly fixed in the DC Universe. There was also a sense that the character was pretty much “done” at the time of his death (primarily because of that darn trial storyline), and the passing of the torch from one generation to the next felt natural and acceptable.

I was going to go into a comparison between this transition and what happened to the Hal Jordan version of Green Lantern, but that’s been done to death, I realize. Basically, turning Hal into a villain in order to make way for a new GL didn’t feel like a natural transition…it felt like the short-term gain marketing gimmick it was, and when the eventual Green Lantern: Rebirth mini came along, that felt like it was fulfilling a need/correcting a misstep in the franchise.

There is no such “mistake” (if I may so bold as to use that term) being corrected by Flash: Rebirth. The character was quite fine as he’s been for the last couple of decades: a dead hero to whom others kept measuring themselves by, especially his former kid partner and new Flash, Wally West. His occasional, brief time-travel appearances in the modern DCU would remind the characters (and the readers!) of just how awesome Barry Allen was supposed to be, but primarily he was kept to the status of Deceased Heroic Legend. There was no lingering nagging feeling that some grave injustice had been done to Barry Allen, no outcry from fans that the character must be restored…the franchise had moved on, and the memories of the Barry Allen Flash served to enrich the stories that succeeded him.

All that said…the Wally West Flash series sort of felt like it may have run (heh) its course. After nearly 250 issues, the Flash franchise needed a little freshening up. Also, the series never really recovered from the Bart Allen Flash debacle, so a fresh break was probably needed. And bringing back a character that, for over two decades, was very famously dead is a good way to grab some attention. So while bringing back Barry Allen may not have been necessary for the character (as it arguably was for Hal Jordan), it may be a help to the franchise overall. Whether it’s short-term marketing gimmick or long-term franchise adjustment…well, we’ll see.

I realize none of that answers the question “is the comic any good?” to which my response would be “yeah, ain’t bad.” If a Return of Barry Allen comic had to exist, this’ll do. Damning with faint praise, I realize, but reading this comic creates a variety of mixed responses in me (as evidenced in the blathering above). Just on its own, the comic’s fine…it’s readable and enjoyable, which is all a comic really has to be. Considered in the larger scheme of things, you’re left wondering why it seemed necessary, outside of giving a kick in the pants to the franchise. And I suppose that may be reason enough, particularly given the previous attempt to bring life to the series didn’t go so well.

And of course there’s also a question of what’s going to be so different this time with Barry Allen back in the costume, but we may have to wait and see the rest of the Rebirth mini before we find that out for sure. I suspect the answer is “not a whole lot,” but we’ll all find out eventually.

Just no more extended trial storylines. I liked it, as I said, but once was enough, really.

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