The best place to start reading… the Flash!

This is part 3 of my 24-part-series “Super-Heroes: Best Place to start” [Link to the complete list… here!].

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You’re interested in The Flash [Link] / Barry Allen [Link] or Wally West [Link]?

To me, the best place to start is…

not yet released. If you want to start reading right away, a charming first look will be:

“DC: The New Frontier” by Darwyn Cooke (Writing and Art), a limited series / trade paperback collection [Link to review] published in 2004.

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If you can wait until November 2012, though, I’d recommend the following collection by Francis Manapul (Writing and Art) and Brian Buccellato:

THE FLASH VOL. 1 HC Writers: Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato Artist: Francis Manapul Collects: THE FLASH #1-7 $22.99 US, 168 pg.

more info: here [Link]

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What’s the appeal of… Barry Allen and Wally West?

Created at the start of the quirky, optimistic and crazy 1950ies/60ies “Silver Age” of Comics [Link], “The Flash” tells inventive, but slightly nerdy and repetitive tales of street-level, everyday men: Barry Allen and his – temporary – replacement Wally West are doting, sweet and sometimes naive midwestern boys, perpetually almost ready to settle down.

A wide-eyed, but small-scale / suburban / rose-colored examination of life’s demands on your typical normal, late-twenties, All-American “regular” guy.

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two other books, good for beginners:

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good books for advanced readers:

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sub-par or disappointing books:

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common problems / grievances in “The Flash” books:

  • a plethora of (fairly likeable but flat) mentors, kids and sidekick speedster heroes… who have nothing to do.
  • never-ending “the tiger cannot change it’s stripes”-storylines about gimmick-themed thugs and gangsters like Captain Cold, Mirror Master or Trickster.
  • a fairly suburban / apolitical / rose-colored perspective on city life, long-term relationships and civic duty. Even more kitties waiting to be rescued than in Superman’s Metropolis.🙂

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Is the current monthly “The Flash” book, launched in September 2011, any good?

Hell, yes! Francis Manapul’s “The Flash” is so lush, charming, engaging and reader-friendly… it feels more a like Disney / Pixar production than a DC super-hero book. Excellent, visually mature storytelling for an all-ages audience!

Interested in other comic book heroes?

I’d recommend bright and big-hearted series like “Supergirl”, “JSA” and the current “Aquaman”.

Here’s my full list [Link]!

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related Links:

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my German comic book journalism:

2 comments

  1. Re: your note on Flash: Blood Will Run — not a fan of (most of) Geoff Johns’s Flash run, Stefan? Surprised to hear it; this was one of my favorites. I agree that the series is Rogue-centric — which may seem old hat now, but when Johns started, there hadn’t been such detailed use of the Rogues in years; now it might seem trite only because Johns did it so well for so long. I disagree that there’s no progress for the heroes to be found, too — Johns changed Wally West drastically, from a very public hero to a private one. Actually, Johns probably changed Wally too much even, effectively ending the character’s story such that Mark Waid couldn’t do much with him afterward.

    If I may, let me post a link to my retrospective review of Johns’s entire Flash (Wally West) run, kind of a tribute to how much I liked the series:

    http://collectededitions.blogspot.com/2006/12/flash-retrospective-flash-rogue-war.html

    Your results, of course, may differ. Really enjoying this “best place to start” series, and appreciate the links to my site.

    1. Heyhey! Great to hear from you!

      My problem with the Johns arc might have to do with the… complicated way I read the series: In Germany, Panini released the issues following “Flash: Iron Heights” – all of the US “Blitz” TPB and some additional surrounding issues – in a one-shot collection (“Flash: Monster Edition”). So in 2009, for my first encounter with Wally, I was introduced to a hero with a public identity… and a baby on the way. Sounded intriguing!

      But when I caught up on the whole arc in 2010, things quickly fell apart: magical retcons, lost babies, the “is Wally a father?”-tease in the “Blood will run” trade… the status quo is always *just* about to change in a big and exciting way. But in the end, not that much happened. I got invested in Pied Piper and Doctor Zoom’s ex-wife – but never really got rewarded with lots of good character moments. I got excited about Weather Wizard as a father… only to read “Rogue’s Revenge” (argh!).

      In “JSA”, Johns proved that he could write all kinds of relatable, likeable and complex female characters. But in the faux-gritty, rogue-centric “Flash” run, women were window dressing… or fridge material.😦

      But yeah! I’ll go read your retrospective!

      If nothing else, the tie-in issues to ‘Identity Crisis’/’Infinite Crisis’, ‘The Secret of Barry Allen’, were very, *very* good.

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