Wednesday, February 15, 2006

BHM 15: Chunk

I miss Chester Runk, a.k.a. Chunk.

He began as a crazy supervillainous metaphor for our over-eating, over-consuming society, back when I actually enjoyed reading Flash, back when it was fun and full of interesting characterizations, social commentary, and realistic problems, back before it devolved into romantic/mystical claptrap about the Speed Force and Linda "The Anchor Around Your Neck" Park.

But Wally's humane approach to Chester's situation helps him reform and become one of Wally's best friends. Chester, a devoted friend, was sweet and brilliant, but unattractive and underassertive. Wally, one of the Beautiful People, took his girlfriend Connie and his friend Chunk for granted, in a slow-cooking subplot that eventually saw Connie and Chester "dump" Wally for being a self-absorbed jerk, then become engaged to each other.

Along the way, Chunk helped fight Eclipso during the Darkness Within Saga... and survived. You go, Chester. Chunk also was able to legally and morally use his powers to make himself a fortune, proving himself smarter than 99.99999999% of the DCU.

But like most post-Crisis Supporting Castmembers for Flash (and Wonder Woman), he disappeared so the next writer could make up his own Supporting Cast (a phenomenon that has undercut those two characters for 20 years now).

Oh, and he was black. Which I don't think was ever mentioned by any other character, because -- well, why would it be? Just another reason Chunk is so exceedingly cool.


Anonymous said...

Wasn't Chester created by William Messner-Loebs? He needs to be working in this industry again.

Somebody needs to get his best work, Journey, in TPB. C'mon DC see what you can do about helping the guy out.

These are my words.

Mike Nielsen

The Thing That Walks Like A Man said...


Good sir, I am stunned that ANYONE out there enjoyed the Baron Flash run.

Granted, my sensibilities are firmly in the old giant-atomic-tops-and-time-traveling-boomerangs Flash mold , but...jeez.


farsider said...

Thank you Scipio,

I forgot how much I liked Chunk. Baron did some good stories.

Scipio said...

In fact, I'll go further. Not only did I enjoy Baron's run, it was, I believe the ONLY run on Wally's book I actually enjoyed. I think I only continued to buy the book based on an interested in the character wholly rooted in what Baron did with him.

Eventually, during Waid's run, I got fed up, and stopped reading it.

Anonymous said...

OK, my bad. It was Baron not Messner-Loebs. I forgot about Baron's run being before that.

Oh well, won't be the first mistake I make today, just the most embarassing...

'These are my words'

Mike Nielsen

Steven said...

Geoff Johns used him in a cool issue of the Flash near the beginning of his run. His powers malfunction after he is shot, and Wally has to decide whether to kill his friend to save his city.

On the other hand, the issue had a real, "Hey, whatever happened to that guy" vibe to it.

k26dp said...

Not only was that a good issue for Johns, but has some of Scott Kolins's best artwork to date.

Tim O'Neil said...

I thought I was the only one who massively disliked Mark Waid's Flash run - talk about your "Mary Sue" effect!

Mark Gruenwald once said that one of the worst cliches any comic book writer can use is to have the villain vanquished by the sheer "goodness" or "purity" of the hero. Sure enough, this is a pretty hoary device that you just do not see used at all much anymore. But it seems like every time you turned around, Wally was defeating some villain or another solely on the basis of his love for Linda or some other tripe... there was an issue where they were fighting Neron or one of those satanic bad guys and they literally choked on the purity of the heroes' souls or something. I tried to avoid buying the book but for some reason I did now and again...

The Thing That Walks Like A Man said...

Don't get me wrong--despite some good stories, Waid did plenty to put me off of Flash, from abusing the Rogues to repeatedly losing-replacing-then-returning Wally to the duds (John Fox, "Dark Wally"), to the whole Linda-is-his-tether thing.

But the last straw involved two words:

"Cobalt" and "Blue."

--*-- SHUDDER --*--

For me, Mr. Johns wrote the only run in the entire series that really clicked with this reader.

MarkAndrew said...

Chunks is, indeed, pretty darn cool. An almost completely unique character, as you've described (well) here.

Baron was, indeed, the best of the best Post-Crisis Flash writers by a country mile.

Anonymous said...

The Baron/Loebs era was a classic. And Waid showed that he had no idea what their appeal was by introducing the speed force and jettisoning 95% of the supporting cast (Chunk, Tina, Connie, Wally's parents, Mason Trollbridge). And bad villains galore. Savitar, Cobalt Blue, and the height of creative bankruptcy, Replicant (he has all the powers of the Rogue's Gallery -- combined!).

And Johns. Criminy. Explain to me how Murmur and Double Down are Flash villains? They're fricking Batman villains from a guy who wishes he was writing Batman instead of Flash.

Scipio said...

Preach it, brother! I agree.

Blockade Boy said...

Ditto, Scipio and anonymous. The Baron stories were my favorites, too. They were weird and fun, and -- for all of Wally's dubious morality and the complications that ensued -- still pretty lighthearted. The Chunk was a great example of this. As for Johns, while I like his other work, his Flash stuff convinced me he didn't get enough hugs as a child. Heatwave as a serial arsonist who's responsible for burning alive dozens of people, including his own family? Jeebus! For Pete's sake, Geoff, go make yourself some banana pancakes or something and CHEER UP!

methane said...

Chunk rules!

I'm in agreement with those who really liked the Baron to Messner-Loebs era. It was full of interesting people who all wanted to do the right thing (they just didn't always know what the right thing was).

Since recently getting back into comics, I haven't yet tried any of the more recent Flash eras, so I won't comment on the worthiness of the following writers.

Anonymous said...

What? Mike Baron only did the first 9 or so issues. He quit because he was having trouble 'getting' Wally and was afraid of damaging the character. His writing at the time was stilted and choppy. However, he'd already set up Wally to be a mean, money-grubbing, millionaire horndog who slept with a married woman.

Baron was replaced by Brian Augustyn, I believe, who was a genius with making unlikable people sympathetic. Augustyn gave the series a goofy but human element. Messner-Loebs followed that.


Kelson said...

Nope, Augustyn didn't show up as a writer until halfway through Waid's run, when they started co-writing.

It went straight from Baron to Messner-Loebs. Unless some of those issues were ghost-written.

Gustavo said...

I feel like I just walked into one of those support groups for rare addictions... I too love the Baron ( and specially ) Loeb Flash and was badly put off by "linda is my anchor" Waid.

And as I said elsewhere...Chunk! The great character find of 1987 ( to paraphrase such a popular meme in thsis great blog )