Wednesday, July 02, 2014

The Testimony of the Flash

"Thank you for joining us today, Mr. Allen."

"Happy to. Good morning, by the way."

"Um, yes. Nice tie, by way."

"Why, thanks. But, truth be told, it's a clip-on."
"How do you feel you are faring as a character in the New52?"

"Oh, just fine; and you?"

"Well, I think the revision of my origin robs my coin of its former powerful signifi--very clever, Mr. Allen.  But this is not about me."

"Just asking."

"You're much cleverer than you appear, aren't you?"

"The outfit helps."

"So how do you think you're faring?"

"Oh, just fine.  I usually get by just fine."

"Usually? Mr. Allen, you were DEAD for over twenty years."

"Yes, nice opportunity for lots of other speedsters to shine. Very relaxing, too."

"Are you trying to be difficult, Mr. Allen?"

"Nope; trying to help.  Are you asking me to evaluate my character's standing and condition in the current reality relative to incarnations in previous universes, particularly with regard to a possible reboot in the near future?"


"Hm.  Well I read a lot of comics and ... it's pretty much the same for all of us.  Core stuff stays the same.  Some changes are made that SEEM substantial, but those are generally confined to characteristics that aren't essential, but only thought to be such by certain subsets of readers.  For example, to some readers, the New Wally West is a substantial change because they perceive Wally's previous characteristics as essential.  But, relative to my story, his essentials remain: he's younger, I have a mentor relationship with him, and he's Iris West's nephew. 

"A similar analysis could be applied to the changes to other heroes; the degree to which they change in any reboot is directly proportional to the share of their overall qualities, characteristics, and related facts that are essential.  Compare:  Batman has a high ratio of "Essential Facts" to "Nonessential Facts" so he seems less effected by any reboot than, say, Wonder Woman or Aquaman, for whom that ratio is reversed."

"So you're comfortable with your current state of affairs and confident any new reboot won't change that?"

"Yup.  You can always rely on Flash Facts."

"No more questions, Mr. Allen."


Anonymous said...

Barry is pretty damn smart.

I have two problems with the new Wally West:

1) His hair needs to be red. If he dyes it, I'm fine. Yes, I consider the red hair essential, the way Barry needs to have a blond crewcut, or Superman has the black hair and ideally a spitcurl.

2) Oh boy, another black (or mixed race) kid who has criminal tendencies until a white man teaches him a better way. Jesus Christ, DC, I thought you were better than that. Make him a kid who plays too many videogames or hangs out on Fark.

Joshua Roots said...

Ah, Barry. We can always count on you to give a thoughtful and speedy response.

Bryan L said...

Actually, I think the Wally/race thing is DC trying to get in front of their television version, for a change. Since Iris and her dad are black on TV, Iris' nephew would probably be black/mixed race. Of course, they haven't mentioned any siblings for Iris yet, but that may come.

DC has a bad habit of getting a property on the air and not having any comics that resemble it. They're sort of bringing Green Arrow into line with Arrow now, when they probably should have done that with the launch of the new 52. I doubt they anticipated Arrow's success. I certainly didn't.

Murray said...

Well, the core debate always comes down to what the Chuckleheads in Charge think are "essential facts" and what the Impossible-to-Please Fans think are "essential facts".

The CiC declaims in academic tones that this dessert is identical in the essential facts to the previous dessert. "Cake on a plate, with a fork to eat it with and a cold beverage on the side." The ItPF counters with "Yes, but gluten-free carrot cake with a lemonade is, critically, not the same as the triple chocolate cake with a glass of milk you were serving."

The axiomatic essential fact is that the ItPF is the one with the money to spend. And while the old cliche of "the customer always being right" is a gross overstatement, the customer's opinions must certainly be given serious consideration.

John said...

I have to agree, except for two points.

1. Barry's not the only one wearing a clip-on, or Harvey's a lot more careful with his wardrobe than makes sense.

2. Of all the things in a comic book that has ever confused or frightened me, that milk carton is far and away the worst. It's like some mutant Parmalat precursor whose lower body wasn't strong enough to support its weight, but comes in single-serving sizes. I don't doubt that this was an actual product, but...yikes!

Oh, and I'm with Anonymous on one point: Wally can be black, but there's no reason he has to be black and in serious need of mentorship from a white guy. The former is only offensive in the way that the "Batman's yellow oval" debate is important. The latter is not just offensive but cliched.

On that note, and I say this as a middle-class straight white man, is it really so hard in all these reboots to make the DCU more diverse? They keep saying they want diversity, but then limit it to new or relatively minor characters. Would it damage the credibility of the Flash franchise if there was...I don't know, an Afghani woman (there's a tribe named Barech) under the cowl?

Scipio said...

"1. Barry's not the only one wearing a clip-on, or Harvey's a lot more careful with his wardrobe than makes sense."

It's amazing how many people don't think about it.

Mostly people who don't wear ties every day.

Anonymous said...

"Oh, and I'm with Anonymous on one point: Wally can be black, but there's no reason he has to be black and in serious need of mentorship from a white guy"

I think we're on the same page, but just to be excruciatingly clear: the problem is Wally needing a white mentor to keep him from succumbing to his inborn criminal tendencies. If Wally could use a mentor simply because he's a shy kid or whatever, and the mentor happens to be a friendly white guy, that's fine.

Dalle Robberts said...

I don't think Cyborg or Martian Manhunter need to give testimony on the New 52. It should be obvious how they feel about it. It's the best thing that ever happened to the former, and the worst (with the possible exception of the Bronze Age) to the latter.

John said...

In the artists' defense, it is possible that Harvey has ties specially made so that the knot's outer fabric is rotated. He would presumably have the polish and patience (and obsessive nature) to get his tie the same length every day.

And if his neck changes size, he just murders whoever did the work. Easy!

Anonymous, exactly.

Dalle, maybe not, on the Martian's part. His fates are a lot like a compulsive gambler's. He was penny-ante in the Silver Age. Lost a bundle during the Bronze, but kept hitting it big especially through the '90s, where the Justice League books insisted he was central to the premise and the Ostrander series made him everybody's mentor.

In relative terms, he's had a pretty big fall, but in absolute terms, he seems to be doing about as well as his Silver Age incarnation. Maybe better, in some ways.

Anonymous said...

Now that we seem to be done collecting testimony, there's a twist ending: as of a few months ago, Harvey Dent is DEAD. If there's anyone who could benefit from a reboot right about now, it's Harvey Dent ... but I suppose his coin is making him do things all legal-like.

Anonymous said...

I have, for most of my life, relied on Flash Facts. Even if he can't make it to work on time, you can rely on the Flash.

– Jack of Spades

Anonymous said...

I would appreciate one more testimony, if that is an option: I would love to hear from the Psycho Pirate.

After all: He played a significant role in the Crisis whose anniversary will shortly be observed. He remembered past continuity (I think, from any asylum?) when virtually no one else did. So far as I know, he does not presently exist in the new 52.

I am guessing that he might any number of pithy remarks to make about another reboot.

Mr. Preece said...

This "Wally West" is nothing but another post-Crisis "snot" of a character, JASON TODD. And boy did fans enjoy THAT guy...

Scipio/Two-Face is WRONG. The Wally West being replaced is NOT essentially the sidekick character. Wally had been an independent Flash for 20 years and became an independent PERSON as a married man and father. He was leaps and bounds away from what Scipio/Two-Face claim were his essential characteristics.

WHO out there was saying "boy I'd sure read that Flash book if Kid Flash was an asshole!" Are these the same NON-EXISTENT people that Didio believed would break their neck to buy Superman in metal boots and a collar??????? The same people who would jump to buy DC comics digitally because they were now convenient to buy (and without those smelly comic shops)????

Lotta Delusional Conclusions being reached at Derivative Comics, Inc., all leading to overly Diluted Concepts being ignored by people who Don't Care. (all the while pissing off the people who Do Care.)

Mr. Preece said...

Murray, you are CORRECT.

Didio's brand of Bait-and-Switch comics has done little to achieve his goals of reaching a broader audience. Current comics are still being bought and sold by the same people who were buying the previous comics.

I tried to give this New52 Flash a chance after I realized he was NOT the Flash that Geoff Johns reintroduced a few years back. This version features ALL of the bland parts but none of the INTERESTING parts (such as being a man out of time, being a man who died to save his universe, etc.) This version is running entirely on the liveliness of the villains. The main element, Barry Allen, is duller now than he ever was.

And bringing back the 2nd ("snot," as Denny O'Neil says) Jason Todd under the name of Wally West is a terrible idea. Wally had a lot of fans who kept that series alive for 20 years. They deserve better than this.

Scipio said...

"He was leaps and bounds away from what Scipio/Two-Face claim were his essential characteristics."

Yes, he was. But you are missing "Barry's" point: what's at issue is Wally's essential characteristics relative to BARRY's story. Barry is the centerpiece of the Flash dynasty, not Wally.

In that context, Wally had, in Barry's absence, wandered far off model. Barry returned, and Wally got rebooted to his role in Barry's story.

I'm not saying anyone has to LIKE it. But that IS the way it is.