Barry Allen: So Flash and So Clean, Clean

January 21st, 2009 by | Tags: , , , ,

Barry Allen was one of the most optimistic men I’ve ever known. A forensic scientist who looked at life differently than most in his position… Working at the crime lab — Barry saw his job as protecting the innocent rather than damning the guilty. I wish I could’ve understood that.

-Batman, on Barry Allen (Flash #205)

Sometimes, when I’m feeling mean, I call the Justice Society of America a team of guest stars. I pretty much mean that about everyone on the team but Jay Garrick. Jay Garrick is a Flash, and I love Flashes.

They each have their own flavors. Jay is the elder statesman, the guy who’s been around the block and who may not be the best around, but is definitely the most seasoned. Wally is the rookie who made good in being a hero and a man, and has the Justice League status and family life to prove it. I’ve talked about Wally often enough that I think my fondness for the character can go relatively unstated. Barry, though, is something else entirely. I’ve written about the guy before.

One thing that Johns established in his run on the Flash is that the Rogues respected Barry. They didn’t like him, but they respected him. It may not have been fun and games, but it certainly wasn’t made up of death threats and tortured girlfriends.

The phrase that I associate with Barry the most is “Flash fact.” He’s the classic hero. Clean-cut, square jaw, a little goofy in his social life. He’s the Saturday morning cartoon guy. If you wanted to directly translate the Flashes to cartoons, Barry would be your best choice. Wally has the (entertaining) baggage of a family, Jay Garrick is really kind of too boring to lead a show. Barry, though, Barry has everything you need. He has the intrepid girlfriend who knows his secret, even though he doesn’t know she knows, so you have the bonus of both a romance and a capable and funny female cast member without falling into annoying Lois Lane drama. He has villains with really, really dumb and entertaining gimmicks, and the Flash costume is already pretty much one of the best visuals in comics. It’s the perfect Saturday morning cartoon.

So, Barry, to me, represents a different era of hero. Back when heroes were heroes, investigative reporters were dumber than entire bags of bricks, and dudes thought that being so angry about being colorblind made it okay to leave your house and call yourself “Rainbow Raider.”

Jay is the wise Flash, Wally is the accomplished Flash, and Barry? He’s the happy Flash. He has fun.

Here’s the solicit for Flash: Rebirth #1, the post-Final Crisis return of Barry Allen:

The Flash: Rebirth #1

Written by Geoff Johns
Art and covers by Ethan Van Sciver

Through the decades, many heroes have taken the mantle of The Flash, but they all ride the lightning that crackles in the wake of the greatest hero the DC Universe has ever known, the man who sacrificed himself to save the Multiverse: Barry Allen!

Following the events of Final Crisis, Barry has beaten death and returned to a fast-paced world that a man out of time wouldn’t recognize. Or is it a world that is only just now catching up? All the running he’s done before was just a warmup for the high-speed race that he and every other Flash must now run, because even though one speedster might have beaten death, another has just turned up dead! From Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver, the visionaries responsible for the blockbuster Green Lantern: Rebirth and The Sinestro Corps War, comes the start of an explosive and jaw-dropping epic that will reintroduce to the modern age the hero who single-handedly birthed the Silver Age of comics! DC history will be made, and the Flash legacy will be redefined!
On sale April 1 • 1 of 5 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US

I love the Flashes, I really do. But, I’m tired of heroes being fueled by tragedy. Reintroducing a classic Silver Age hero with a newly dead one just sounds lame. I realize that I’m judging it by the solicit, but that’s what solicits are there for. It’s a story summary so I can decide if I want to buy it. Right now, I don’t want to buy it. The man out of time aspect could be interesting, but the murder mystery? I’m tired.

Barry Allen cures Iris of the Anti-Life Equation with a kiss. That’s Barry in a nutshell for me. He’s bright and shiny and hope and fast. He’s above all the muck and grime and garbage that superheroes tend to get put through nowadays.

Barry could never be a Marvel character, and I love that about him.

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12 comments to “Barry Allen: So Flash and So Clean, Clean”

  1. Maybe it’s not a well-known speedster. Remember “Speed Kills,” where one of the Red Trinity guys bought it falling off a wall to start the arc? Maybe Lady Flash eats it . . . I wouldn’t immediately think Jay or Wally will be going to the Hall of Justice In The Sky . . . though with DC these days, all bets are off.

  2. Eh, whoever dies is kind of beside the point anyway. db’s reaction to the solicitation reminded me of the cover of the January Previews, hyping Battle for the Cowl as “A shocking new miniseries.” I realize “A good new miniseries” doesn’t have the same ring to it, but something like Battle for the Cowl doesn’t have to be shocking. The new Batman won’t be successful (as a property) if he’s shocking, he’ll be successful if the story of his ascension is believable. I’m going off on a tangent, but it seems to be a similar default mindset that the gimmick – and not the writing — will sell the story.

  3. I’ve never been into the Flashes, and especially not Barry, but this article makes me interested in him. I want to read comics with a character like you’ve described.
    But this is indicative of DC since Identity Crisis. No one is allowed to be lighthearted anymore.

  4. […] 4thletter! bemoans the fact that Barry Allen’s return appears to be linked to another speedster’s death. […]

  5. I still pull out COIE #8 every once and awhile. Barry Allen goes out like a G-and nobody knows! Good stuff.

  6. I’m kinda bothered that I still don’t know how the hell Barry returned. Has that ever been fully explained?

    Also, it’s a trip that the solicitation text seems to forget all about Jay Garrick being the original Flash.

  7. Today DC sent retailers the first promotional materials for Flash Rebirth and I taped the poster up in the front window with a huge grin on my face. I love the Flash legacy and I looking forward to Rebirth more than any book in recent history. Possibly more than Final Crisis.

  8. It doesn’t specifically say that a speedster will die, one just turned up dead – It can’t be Wally (they have plans), and I doubt it’s Jay. I think that it is Bart – the one who has “just died.” I don’t think they are going to pull this stunt a 3rd time in 5 years…

    I may be wrong.

  9. Well, a speedster recently died: Inertia.

  10. Kapitalist Kouriers, NOOOOO!

  11. Remember when Barry killed Professor Zoom? Yeah.

  12. Wow…I am so excited for the return of “The Flash” aka Barry Allen, he has been long missed and his silver age peers will be complete again. I love Wally too but he never really fullfilled the role of Flash for me, I hope they revive the mantle of Impulse and Wally takes the name and returns with Nightwing and company to the pages of Titans where he belongs and will be a great character rather then splitting his time between Justice League and Titans and not really committing. Barry is back and will bring Flash back into the realm of the Super Seven….Superman, Aquaman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Black Canary