THANK YOU, GREG!
Hi there folks, my name’s Ryan Andrew Brandt and I’m a friend of Greg’s, due to our mutual love of comics, writing, comedy and wrestling. I bribed him enough money – er, he was gracious enough to let me on here to discuss my thoughts on THE FLASH: REBIRTH#1.
In short: It sucks.
There you have it. No if’s, and’s or buts, it just sucks.
When you can’t even get the characterizations and history right of the majority of the characters you’re writing, you deserve a bad grade.
Pretty much the only three redeeming spots in this book are as follows…
the banter between Hal and Barry (the Parallax line was a good one), Wally’s characterization and the preview of POWER GIRL at the end. The rest of it was a mess. And it’s a mess precisely the way all of Geoff John’s comics are a mess…they’re nothing more than glorified fan-fiction where characters and plots get warped to fit what he wants, instead of making the necessary changes to the story to make it fit the character. And this, readers of I’M JUST SAYIN’…, reads like really bad fan-fiction.
I realize that in the broadest of terms, all comic book writers, if they aren’t the ones who originated the book that they’re on, are fan-fiction writers. But, there’s a subtle and succinct difference in that. Fan-Fiction are stories written by fans of a property. But there are those in that group who ARE writers and just happens to be fans, and there are those who are just fans who try to be writers.
And Geoff Johns falls into that second category, especially when it comes to his DC work. I mean, take a look at his GREEN LANTERN storyline going on now. A war of light being waged with rings that symbolize emotions. I mean, seriously…an emotional spectrum? Since when is will-power an emotion? And yellow was never about fear. It caused fear in Green Lanterns, as it was their only vulnerability…not because it was powered on it. The whole war of light is nothing more than a fan going, “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if there was more than one corps and each one dealt with a different aspect of emotion?” which would be shot down by any astute editor, who would tell that fan “Is there any evidence for this? Hmm… nope, there isn’t. I like the idea of exploring the ‘Blackest Night,’ but not this War of Light.” It’s just a stupid idea and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in the context of Green Lantern lore – but since it’s what Geoff John wants, and Didio himself acts like a fan-ficiton writer himself (especially with Chuck Dixon and others saying he changes his mind constantly), it becomes canon.
It’s the same thing with TEEN TITANS. All of sudden Kon-El goes from being a clone of Paul Westfield, genetically engineered to be as Kryptonian as possible without being Kryptonian, to all of a sudden having ALWAYS been a half-human/half-Kryptonian hybrid.
And lookee here – that was something Geoff always wanted…stated in a letter to the SUPERBOY book, stated in a disregarded proposal for Superboy, and instated once that book was cancelled and he had Kon-El all to himself in TEEN TITANS.
Then there’s Bart, who for some inexplicable reason goes from being carefree but more aware of his surroundings to ultra-serious… and all because of a gunshot to the knee-cap!
Amazing! Feeling himself die on Apokolips has nothing on that! I won’t even begin discussing Superman, for fear of foaming at the mouth.
But now, Geoff’s penchant for retconning continuity, ignoring established characterization and having one or two scenes of gratuitious and unneeded violence is rearing it’s ugly head in THE FLASH.
Yes, there should be a mixture of appreciation, envy and jealousy on the part of all the Flashes. Jay should be happy to see a name and power-set he had become a longtime staple of the Super-Hero world…all while slightly saddened that he isn’t recognized more as the first Flash. Instead of being recognized for his accomplishments with the mantle, what does Jay get? “Oh hey, you’re Jay Garrick, the original. So, tell me, what was Barry Allen like? Does Wally West still have to consume lots of carbs to run? Is Impulse really as ADD as people claim?”
But he should never, NEVER say “Barry made me the Flash.” That’s just a cheap and lazy way of trying to up Barry’s cred without, you know, actually doing right by the characters. Let’s face it… if Jay has any reason to explain to the JSA why he appreciates Barry, yes, one aspect should be that he brought him out of retirement. But the other and more important aspect should be the fact that this kid admired Jay so much that he decided to honor him by keeping his name alive – which more than anything else, makes Jay respect and love Barry. Barry didn’t make Jay the Flash. Barry kept the Flash alive. That’s a major difference there.
Wally’s wasn’t as bad…
…because even when virtually everyone (even Barry in “Chain Lightning”) tells him he’s awesome, he’s still paranoid and neurotic over whether or not he’s as good of a hero as he personally sees Barry. He has problems with the Legacy, in that Barry saved the whole freakin’ UNIVERSE – so what good are his accomplishments against that?
But Bart…oh, Bart…
…he got the short end of the stick here. His characterization is absolutely, positively horrendous. Bart idolized Barry, but not in the way Wally did. Wally saw him as a saint. Bart saw him as a Grandpa, someone whom he felt that maybe he could become like. If he could just slow down, not be so impulsive, he could be the type of man everybody admired, in the way that Barry was. One of my favorite scenes with Bart was in “JLA: World Without Grownups”- at the Detroit Cave, Bart saw Barry’s picture and looks at it in complete awe and whispers, “Grandpa?” That’s Bart’s thoughts on Barry Allen. That’s what he wants to be like.
It’s been shown, time and time again, that Bart hoped to meet Barry. So this sudden, “What makes Barry so special?” is completely and utterly out of character. Not only that, but there’s another nasty comic book contradiction (which I’m starting to think has to be a prerequisite in order for it to be a Geoff Johns comic book) in that Barry isn’t even the first to escape the Speed Force. Wally is, and I know that because Mark Waid made damn sure to state that over and over and over… (which is why I stopped reading his FLASH, because it got tiresome for all the plots to somehow ensure that statement would make it into the book)
And besides, should Bart be happy Barry is back, because that might mean there’s still hope that he can rescue Max Mercury from the Speed Force?
Oh wait, I forgot, that would be addressing continuity, and Geoff Johns doesn’t do that unless it somehow ties into what he wants to do. I know, I know, I’ve heard fans state “But maybe he’s pissed because Barry and everyone came back but not Max?” and I’m sorry but that doesn’t fly. If my Mom disappeared into a realm (via the machinations of a super-villian) that it turned out my Grandpa Gayle Brandt disappeared too, and HE reappeared all firm and healthy, I sure as hell wouldn’t be pissed off at him that he returned and not my Mom. I’d be celebrating the fact I get time with him… while hoping that somehow, someway, my Mother would come back.
Then there’s Barry…I hate the fact that the main drive of his current characterization is “I can feel the Speed Force calling me back”. That’s not a good plot… because virtually EVERY speedster once they come close to it has that urge. Wally has it, Max had it… why not focus on something that would’ve been better?
Like the fact that Barry was in what Mark Waid described it as “A heaven for Speedsters”, a place that both Max and Impulse described as being ‘beautiful’ in “Mercury Falling” in IMPULSE? Someplace that, when their mortal time is said and done, Max and Impulse felt they belonged? (but again, that would be addressing past continuity that goes against what Johns wants) Why not focus on the what Barry’s possible reaction to being ripped out of a place that should be utterly amazing, and dragged back to our slow-ass, dreary reality?
Nope, we don’t even get that. Instead, Johns tries to paint the Speed Force as a chaotic mess that robbed him of individuality. Nor does he try to make Barry’s issue into something else plausible, such as: “I’ve been replaced by the guy who I hoped would replace me. The world has moved on so well without me. I can’t go back to who I was; my greatest accomplishment was to sacrifice my life to save the universe. What is truly left for me? What can I do that beats the significance of that? All that’s left for me to do is either go back to Paradise or live the rest of my life with Iris.”
Then there’s the retcon of Barry now being the son of a murderer, which in turn creates a memory of him chasing after a police car, which supposedly is what set him on the path of Law Enforcement.
Now, this I’m willing to be somewhat lenient on because it seems TOO obvious and it’s too close to the origin of Hunter Zolomon that I actually buy into the arguement that it’s an implanted memory by the villain of the piece (and if it’s not, then here’s Exhibit 10 Million B as to the typical Geoff Johns Rewrite-to-Get-What-He-Wants file).
This isn’t even getting into the god-awful non-use of Savitar, a character I’ve been aching to see return… only to be killed off one page after he comes back. Seriously, a character whose WHOLE LIFE was built around becoming one with the Speed Force and his first lines are, “I’m Free”?!?
Shouldn’t his first lines be, “NOO! Why am I back here?!? How’d you do this?!?” because this guy shouldn’t be elated, he should be pissed. But nope, he just runs along until Barry’s touch kills him and he says his line of, “You were the first Allen… and the last,” which is just another slap in the face to me because Barry wasn’t the damn first one! Jeez, can you people find a way of making your point without having to shove it down our throat in the most haphazard, contrived way possible?!?
Okay, my last thing on Savitar is that he should’ve been a villain brought back for the express purpose of being a sociopath who can’t stand being ‘ripped’ from Heaven. Contrast him to Barry; Barry’s back, but he can live withouth being in Paradise because he has Iris. Savitar just wants Paradise. That would’ve made for a hell of a fun confrontation or even a storyarc.
I can’t say that Barry should’ve stayed dead or that there aren’t any possibilities with him AS the Flash. But it would’ve been much more enjoyable if instead of trying to obviously set him up as being THE Flash, we instead see a book that revolves around Wally’s trials as the Flash, Barry’s trials as the Flash and Jay’s trials of the Flash. Use each of them to explore a facet of the LEGACY. Instead, they’re using the claptrap of “Barry is the best.” I don’t buy that. It’s why I won’t be reading this garbage, like I didn’t read the garbage that portrayed Hal as being the best or the ‘most important’ Green Lantern, why I disagree with Morrison’s garbage that only Bruce can be Batman or only Clark can be Superman.
The fact that this terrible book is getting any good reviews boggles my mind. It shouldn’t have gotten published. But Didio is in charge and he keeps saying he’s wanted Barry back since forever… *bleagh*
I never thought I’d see the day where the majority of DC and Marvel’s book are nothing more than poorly written fan-fiction. It makes me NOT read any more mainstream comics.
I’m Ryan Brandt – and I’m just sayin’, is all…
Tags: Commentary, Flash (Barry Allen), Geoff Johns, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Teen Titans