Book of Doom: Flash: Fastest Man Alive #13

flash 13So the Flash is dead. Oh, wait, Wally’s back, so, no, I guess it’s just Bart Allen that’s dead. Bummer, right? Well, maybe.

This week’s Book of Doom is, obviously, Flash #13, as I have a real knack for picking issues where the main character bites it. First Captain America, and now this. This death that doesn’t matter.

Unlike everybody else, I’ve been reading this series since it launched, and I’ve always just hated it. It’s so boring, but it always promises something interesting in the next issue, so I keep buying it like a sucker. Plus, I’m a gigantic Flash fan. I’ll always prefer Barry, but I just love the legacy of it and the idea behind it. I love the Flash.

But I never gave a warm, wet crap about Bart Allen as the Flash. He seemed like a place-holder, and I got bored quickly with this series, especially since it was so, oh, yeah, boring. And now Bart’s dead. That’s lame. They didn’t even give the kid a chance. They just gave him the character of OYL Nightwing and thought people would buy it. Nobody wants to read about an angsty, mopey Flash. He’s the FASTEST MAN ALIVE. He should be happy about that. The weird thing is, I always really liked Impulse, so this was doubly annoying for me. Bart Allen became a big, boring asshole when he ran Superboy-Prime into the Speed Force.

Here’s what everybody else has to say about it. And, no, there’s no guest blogger this time around, unfortunately, because I’ve been busy as hell at work and drunk the rest of the time. Here we go!

Fin Fang Doom:
Including this one, I’ve only read three issues of Flash: The Fastest Man Alive. I bought the first issue when I was giving pretty much everything a One Year Later try-out. Usually those tryouts last three issues, but this one didn’t make it past one. Then Doom DeLuise chose Flash: TFMA #5 as one of our Books of Doom, and I was once again thoroughly unimpressed. But for some reason, when DeLuise chose Flash: TFMA a second time as the Book of Doom (which I believe is a Legion first), I was eagerly anticipating the issue.

Despite not knowing who Val was, or what Inertia’s plan was, or what Pied Piper’s plan was, or how the Speed Force got trapped in a huge machine, or if Iris West was from the future, or pretty much anything
that’s been going on for the last twelve issues, I enjoyed the issue. It was a nice little ending to the story of Bart Allen, a great character who’s really been crapped on by DC in the last year and a half.

I’ve only known Bart from when he was Kid Flash in the pages of Teen Titans, but he was one of my favorite characters vrom that series. But once he “grew up” as a result of Infinite Crisis, I pretty much lost all interest in the character. Kid Flash was unique because he was a fun-loving, fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants teenager amongst a group of pretty somber superheroes. When he became the Flash, Bart was just another one of the dozens of angst-ridden young adults in the DC Universe. He lost what made him special as a character.

So I guess it’s fitting that in the final issue of Flash: TFMA, Bart had lost what made him special as a hero: the Speed Force. But even though he was no longer special, it doesn’t mean that he was no longer a hero. Just like how even though Bart “grew up,” it doesn’t mean he wasn’t still a kid. Bart was really redeemed a bit for me by Abra Kadabra’s comment that even though he had the body of a man, Bart still had the eyes of a child. It’s seemed for the last year that DC and the Flash writers had completely forgotten how to handle this character, but at least they remembered in the end.

Oh, and it’s probably worth mentioning that right before reading Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #13, I read Justice League of America #10. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something about that issue might have increased my enjoyment of any story featuring the Flash.

Jean-Claude Van Doom:
A quick aside: I picked up a copy of this issue on Wednesday. Then, today, I got a promo copy of it in the mail from DC. That was stinking useless. At least it had the different cover…

Okay, so, Flash #13, what to say? I guess the crucial issue for me here is that I don’t know Bart Allen. I mean, I know who he is. But I don’t know anything about the character beyond his lineage and I’m pretty sure he was in Teen Titans. But I don’t read that book and don’t care about the team. I honestly think I might not own a single issue of anything with Bart Allen as a somewhat central figure, not counting these two issues of Flash (oh, and that other one we did a Book of Doom on).

I say all this because I don’t know if there’s anything worse than reading a “death” comic when the character that dies means absolutely nothing to you. Sure, this issue was pretty well done. Tony Daniel’s art (and especially his covers) did some heavy lifting. Marc Guggenheim is clearly a good writer. I don’t know, maybe I would’ve given a crap even if I’d just read one or two of the preceding issues. But I didn’t. So, Bart’s dead and I don’t care.

And since I’m so dispassionate about him, the book seemed like a sort of empty revelry in demise. It only seems fitting that it made little to no impact across the DCU this week.

Jim Doom:
Much of why I had no idea what was going on in Flash #13 was because I had no idea what was going on. I don’t understand the latest situation with the speed force. I don’t understand why tens of thousands are dead. I also don’t understand why, if people are traveling back in time to save someone, they don’t just travel back a little bit earlier so it’s not as urgent.

I realize my ignorance of the pre-existing conditions handicapped my reading of this, but the drama and the circumstances in this issue just seemed so forced. It just seemed like it was going through the motions of a dramatic story. I can’t really explain why it felt so hollow, but it did. The “I – AM – THE – FLASH!” splash page really should have probably been awesome. But really, think about this sequence of dialogue:

Kadabra: “He isn’t the Flash.”
Flash: “Heh.”
Kadabra: “Excuse me?”
Flash: “S’just funny, s’all…”
Kadabra: “What is?”
Flash: “Lemme…lemme put it to you this way…I am the Flash!”

Jeesh. They had how long to lead up to this moment, and that’s his big line? And the inner monologue is just so groan-inducing.

“It shocks me. The fury. Overtaking me like a riptide.”

Much like Bart Allen, this series has been like a little kid that grew up too fast who thinks he’s an adult. It’s packed with emotionless cliches. The only two things that worked for me were the two silent pages of friends learning the news.

And just like that, it’s over. It’s a bummer that Bart’s dead. I liked him a lot in Teen Titans. I think the timing was just wrong for him. He could have been a major player, but he came along at a time in the DC Universe where the Powers That Be would much rather revive their childhood than build something new. Bart wasn’t going to last when fans were waiting for either Barry or Wally to return.

Bart’s career as The Flash, just like this series, never really had a chance to succeed.

Well, that’s the whole shebang. I think that you can agree, judging by our responses, that we all agree that Flash: Fastest Man Alive #13 is the worst issue of a comic book ever to come out in the history of mankind.