Monday, October 13, 2008
Jay, the Distinguished Flash
As I discussed in a recent post, I'm all for the Return of Barry Allen and the Humanization of Wally West. By "Humanization", I of course mean "the Slowing Down to the Speed of Sound". Kind of like how Confederate women used to refer to the war as "the Late Unpleasantness".
There are a few reasons for my position. First and foremost, naturally, is that the changes reassert the Dynastic Centerpiece Model (my pet theory, which originally sparked the creation of this blog) among the Flash family. Second, Wally's transsuperhypermegaultrametaspeed was -- and always has been - - a storykiller. Third, the original Flash (Jay Garrick, currently starring in the Justice Society of America) topped out at between 700 and 1000 miles an hour. Frankly, if that was good enough to Jay, it's good enough for Wally.
But, most pertinently for this post, returning Wally to his '80s era speed limit helps distinguish him from his principle, Barry Allen. This, then, brings us to the real point of my post.
We know how they'll distinguish Wally from Barry. But how should they distinguished Jay from Barry (other than merely being older)?
Well, a look at some of the original Flash stories gives us plenty of good ideas of how to write a Jay Garrick who's not only different from Barry Allen, but more in keeping with his original characterization...
Jay was rather snarky. Pardon me, as he was a Golden Ager, it would be called "being a wiseacre". This was one of the ways (the many, many ways) that Golden Age characters expressed confidence. Most writers wouldn't dare write the venerable Jay Garrick that way now, but I think it's a perfect way (one of many, many ways) to distinguish him from his fellow Flashes. Let Jay be "the Wiseguy Flash".
Jay was kind of spooky. And he used to use his speed to gaslight people or just scare the bejeezus out of them. This is not something Wally and Barry do, and it's a great schtick to give Jay. Let Jay be "the Spooky Flash".
Jay threw metal shards shaped like lightning bolts at people. Tell me that wouldn't shake you up. It also gives Jay what Heroclixers call "a ranged attack". Let Jay be "The Flash Who Throws Stuff at You".
Jay had his own visual style for superspeed. When Jay runs, let it look like this picture, like he used to. In fact, each of the Flash speedsters should have a different visual look to their superspeed. No, it doesn't make any sense. Not at all. But it looks cool. Let Jay be the "Pencil Line Flash".
Jay was a one-dollar whore. Just kidding! Jay used to steal clothes, borrow clothes, and generally denude people -- guys, really -- at superspeed all the time. There's a clothes-gag in almost every story. What a charming eccentricity to have, particularly in a gentlemen of his years. Let Jay be "the Haberflasher".
Jay sang. Well, really, all Golden Agers sang. And, yes, that includes Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman. Within continuity, there are only a few Golden Agers remaining (e.g., Jay, Alan Scott, and Ted Grant). Alan's got a bit too much gravitas for public crooning and I can't imagine Ted's got much of a singing voice. Let Jay carry the torch, or rather the microphone, for the Singing Heroes of the Golden Age. Let Jay be "the Singing Flash".
Jay had a thing with "Mister". He called people "Mister Killer" and "Mister Kidnapper". He called inanimate objects "Mister". People called him "Mister Flash". Sure it was probably just a characteristic of Golden Age writing style, but, gosh, it sounds odd today. It's a charming anachronism. Let Jay be "Mister Flash".