Memories Lost, Memories Found, Memories in Motion

July 19, 2004

Flash #207-209

By Avi Green

Flash #207: Rush Hour!
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Howard Porter

Wally’s regained his memories, but sadly, Linda’s taken off to find the time to comtemplate what he’s done, to erase the world’s memories of him as the Flash, as he learns to his dismay when he gets home from work that day. He gets to speak to the Spectre about this, but does not get any really satisfying answers from him. And then, as if things weren’t bad enough, the Rogues plan to attack a Flash Day parade, now being held at least once a month, and with Tarpit on the scene, that’s even more annoying news.

Well, this certainly was a good chapter picking up where the last part left off. Wally’s not pleased to find that Linda’s left the household, and the Rogues’ Gallery, which, interestingly enough, is currently split into two groups, has tried to foul things up by attacking the townsfolk’s new parade dedicated to the Scarlet Speedster. The Rogues’ such as the new Trickster wouldn’t dare lay a deadly finger on any of the innocent participants themselves, let alone watch as others do, but the ones such as Plunder would, leading Wally to sock him out a good one and break his rifle after stopping a bullet he’s fired at one of the drummers.

As for Hal Jordan, still the Spectre, well, I wish I could get the JSA on a frequent (and affordable) basis, but while I can’t, I can certainly say that there’s an answer in recent issues as to why he caused the whole wide world, including Wally himself, to forget that he was the Flash. Read those issues to know why, and why Hal’s going to be returning from the dead soon, much to my relief, though what will be relief is if he’s exonerated of his supposed onslaught against the GL Corps during Zero Hour in 1994.

Porter is a good choice for this run following Alberto Dose’s previous one in issues 201-206, certainly appropriate for the brighter tone that makes the book work.

And I liked seeing an exclamation point in the issue’s title, not something you see much these days, if at all, just like word balloons and narrative captions from the writers/editors themselves.

Flash #208: The Red Carpet
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Howard Porter

The Rogues have grabbed the Flash and Abra Kadabra wants to try and push his face in, but luckily, Jay Garrick and Bart Allen, formerly Impulse and now the new Kid Flash, are speeding to the rescue, and make short work of cleaning up the mess that is the Rogues, including an amusing scene that’s meant as a throwback to the time when Wally went on a time-travelling adventure in “The Land of the Golden Giants!” from 1961, with Barry when he was still Kid Flash himself. With that concluded, they go to the newly structured Flash Museum, still curated by Dexter Myles, and explain that the Spectre contacted them about what happened to Wally. But before Wally can really make any serious continuation of their discussion, the JLA beams him up to their space station, still demanding to know what happened and why they can’t remember who he is.

This story, aside from featuring a good match between three speedsters and the Rogues in the streets of Keystone City, also finds the opportunity to fit in more than plenty of references to past storylines, visually and even in dialect, that even I recognized from a few that I’d read. And not only that, we get a glimpse of an upcoming storyline that explains what the first Trickster, James Jesse, and even Heatwave and Pied Piper, are up to now, in the service of the FBI.

So many amazing things to be found in one issue, almost like the time when plenty of stories could be told in just one issue, and what’s done today in 15 pages could be done back then in just 5.

Flash #209: Fast Friends
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Howard Porter

In the JLA’s space station, some of the members, such as Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman, want to take things patiently when it comes to questioning the Flash about their memory loss, but others aren’t that much. Wally declines to tell them, implying that Batman can do it for them, and beams back down to earth, also to look for Linda in places where he thinks she might be, but Superman still insists on taking after him, mainly because he realizes that Flash may have some kind of trouble to contend with, and so, there comes a lengthy race around the globe between two very speedy contestants, and you have to wonder – is Wally really indeed the Fastest Man Alive?

Perfect. There have been races between Flash and Superman, both pre-and-post-Crisis (you can look at the list here), such as in Superman #199 in 1967 in a story written by Jim Shooter, in which the Scarlet Speedster and the Man of Steel took part in a race for beneficiary funds, with two crime syndicates trying to sabotage the proceedings so that they can collect the money themselves, and then in Flash #175 Vol 1. the same year, written by E. Nelson Bridwell (“The Race to the End of the Universe!”), in which they were forced into a race to save the galaxy, and luckily things were set right in the end, yet the question at that time as to who exactly was the fastest was left unanswered at the time. I guess you could say that, with the next race, which was held in World’s Finest #198-199 in 1970, and written by Denny O’Neil, the question was finally answered, after a crooked plot to cause time distortions, with pre-Crisis General Zod being one of the masterminds, was being conducted, and the two superheroes were forced into action again, and Flash was the one who managed to shut down the menacing machines of the villains, and said “Guess what? I WON!” Leading me for one to say that, it's a triumph for the working class indeed! There would be one more adventure with the two of them in Superman’s own DC Presents #1-2 in 1978, written by Martin Pasko, and then, in 1990, in the post-Crisis era, Wally West would have the pleasure of racing the Man of Steel in The Adventures of Superman #463 in 1990, written by Dan Jurgens, in a story involving Mr. Mxyzptlk, that mischevious imp from another dimension, whom Superman was trying to shoo back to where he came from. It contained a nice nod to Silver/Bronze Age stories when Superman pointed out that “what we really have here is a race between Superman and Kid Flash.” And guess what? Even Jay Garrick would have the pleasure of racing the Big Blue Boy Scout in 2002, in the one-shot special called DC 1st, written by Johns himself, in which Abra Kadabra, having broken out of Iron Heights at the time, once again tried to menace Wally and company, in a battle that climaxed in the 64th century where he came from.

Now, we have another race going on here, and this time, you can certainly say that Wally is the Fastest Man Alive, mainly because at the time of the race that took place in 1990 between him and Superman, he hadn’t regained his full speed just yet; it would only be in 1992-93, when Mark Waid was doing the writing, that he would be able to do so. And it’s a wonderful outing indeed, offering some good human interest study between the two of them, one a crimefighter and the other the same but also a mentor, that ends with them doing their part to clean up Keystone – in civilian clothing, btw, and then returning to the JLA’s station after a meal at the Kent farmhouse to let the rest of the team, including formerly active members such as Black Canary and Green Arrow, know who he really is.

And let’s just say that it can certainly make sense as to how even formerly active members like BC and GA, Elongated Man and even members of the JSA like Hawkman, who no doubt wants to know what happened just a short time after he’d helped the Flash to beat Brother Grimm, why even he doesn’t remember who Wally really is.

So now it remains to be seen, how will the whole superhero community look upon this as of now. That’ll come in the near future, I can expect.

2010 update: as of this writing, I no longer stand by this review. I have since changed my opinion and written this off as garbage, as explained over here.

Copyright 2004 Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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