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The ’90s Revisited: Flash #79


flash0079The Once and Future Flash

Story: Mark Waid
Pencils: Greg Larocque
Inks: Roy Richardson
Letterer: Tim Harkins
Colorist: Gina Going
Assistant Editor: Ruben Diaz
Editor: Brian Augustyn
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: August 1993
Cover Price: $2.50

I snagged this issue for 25 cents…the primary reason that it caught my attention was that it felt as thick as an annual…spotting the price, I saw it was priced as one also. Looking at the cover a bit closer, then, I realized it was an issue by Waid, and had the Reverse-Flash on the cover…a dynamic more interesting to me now as a fan of the tv series than any time previous. Plus, it has a nice “old-style” feel to it with the Flash’s speech balloons on the cover getting me curious. “You messed with my memories, threatened my city, and hur tmy friends…now you’re gonna pay!!”

Turns out…this issue seems to cap off the The Return of Barry Allen story that I’ve heard of, but never yet read for myself. So coming in, I’m at a loss of specifics to this story…but still felt like I was able to follow along without much issue, given my prior knowledge of Wally as the Flash, and stuff I’ve read about the character’s development aside of what I’ve actually read OF the character through stories.

Eobard Thawne–Professor Zoom–the Reverse Flash–apparently was posing as Barry Allen. Or rather, for a time he THOUGHT he actually WAS Barry. He stands revealed here, and ready to rumble–as he and Wally collide to fight out who gets to be THE Flash. We learn how Thawne wound up in the position he did, how he came to hate Barry, and so on…this is a younger Thawne, before he ever actually met Barry. Given the history that’s unfolded, he must be returned–alive–to his own time, that events might unfold as they’re known. This puts the entire timeline at risk, meaning that Wally can’t just kill him. In the course of the story we see the damage Thawne has caused, as well as the allies by Wally’s side, and it seems this is “the” issue where Wally fully, truly came into his own, getting out from under Barry’s shadow, etc.

Visually, this was a very solid issue. I read through it pretty quickly, and it wasn’t until I reviewed the first few pages that I really caught on to a nifty element: that we’re seeing Zoom’s fist get closer and closer until he and Wally collide–but interspersed between the fractions of time, we’re given flashbacks and context to bring us up to speed as things then jump to “real time.” On realizing this, it seems extremely cinematic–at least TV-cinematic. And that alone works very well for me. While my mind wants to compare this to the tv series, there are obvious elements that do not sync on a literal panel-to-screen basis…but the tone itself does. Leaving aside the visual differences to the tv show (which came some 20-21 years after this issue was published), the art is quite good and I have no problem with it at all. Given the size of this issue–at least double, if not TRIPLE–there was room for a lot to be packed in, as well as other moments spaced out…which allowed several full or double-page splashes to be VERY effective in a way that seems like a lost art in contemporary comics.

Story-wise, this had plenty of context–it’s from an era when it was NOT “inevitable” for everything to get a collected volume–so even coming in on the final chapter, I picked up readily on the overall “core” story beats related to this issue as I read. There’s plenty of detail, certainly some great moments and such that went over my head or that were in other issues so not even in my realm of awareness–but this felt like a season finale that I jumped in on, and didn’t feel LOST.

The prime drawback to me of reading this issue isolated and now lies in the fact that it illustrates to me–in one issue–just how deserved Waid‘s reputation on the book is and leaves me interested in the rest of the story, as well as more Flash (comics) in general.

I still know very little regarding the other speedsters outside of Jay and Wally…but I appreciate their presence, recognize them by name at least, and enjoy seeing the “Flash family” united, with a great sense of history and development. Though this issue leaves me interested in more Flash comics, it’s an interest tied to this era, to this particular incarnation of the series, emphasis on Wally…as opposed to much from the final several years before and thus far in the New 52.

I enjoyed this on reading it…and in typing the above roughly as stream-of-consciousness, I’m left simply feeling this was a fantastic issue, very well worth my time and money. Consciously knowing it is the end of a larger story, I’m hesitant to recommend this solely as a single issue…but if this one issue is an indicator of the quality of the entire story, I’ll “blindly” recommend that for now, containing this issue.

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2 Responses

  1. Great look at an awesome time for the Flash. This entire era is “must reading”, in my opinion. So much fun stuff!
    I remember early on, this being a somewhat contentious story line for fans… many were excited that Barry may be back… while others were worried for Wally’s future… hmm, that sounds sorta familiar, eh?

    • Just a little familiar 🙂

      I rarely see much Flash in the quarter bins from this era…probably cuz it was good and folks don’t ditch it as readily as other ’90s stuff…or it’s still in enough demand that it stays in “regular” back issue bins…

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