Sunday, July 10, 2016

Flash (vol.2) #87 (1994)

Flash (vol.2) #87 (February, 1994)
"Christmas Rush"
Story - Mark Waid
Pencils - Mike Wieringo
Inks - Jose Marzan, Jr.
Colorist - Gina Going
Letterer - gaspar
Asst. Editor - Ruben Diaz
Editor - Brian Augustyn
Cover Price: $1.50

Okay, this one's gonna be a toughie... not because it's a bad issue, quite the opposite, in fact.  This is just one of the many books that fills me with a feeling that I can only describe as homesickness.  I'm sure you don't need me to tell you, the Waid/Ringo run on Flash is one of those almost magical eras in comics.  They made me believe that a man could run... and be interesting doing so!  It was a tandem that will not (and sadly, cannot) be replicated.

Let's dive in on the spoilery synopsis!


We open with the Flash taking care of business as some gun-toting luchadores are stealing some cash from the Keystone Charity Drive.  Wally's lamenting the fact that he cannot be with his loved ones at the moment... and we flashback to earlier that day.  Wally is being a petulant brat about the insane December heat in Keystone, the likes of which have not been outdone since my last December in Phoenix.  Linda is trying her best to put up with her humbuggin' beau.  Wally loads some freshly-wrapped gifts in Linda's trunk, and hears of the goings down at the mall from the car radio... he's off!

Back at the mall, Wally is handedly neutralizing the "threat".  He grabs the sack-o-cash from one baddie, causing the money to rain down on the mall patrons, who do what any red-blooded Christmas shopper would do... start stuffing as much of the dosh into their shirts as possible!  Flash manages to snag back every last dollar, and, in one of my favorite panels ever, tells the crowd just what he thinks of them!

Wally returns home to find Linda unpacking their Christmas decorations.  As Wally's secret-identity is public knowledge, he receives a lot of gifts from civilians during this time of year... including one bug-eyed angel ornament.

Linda reminds Wally that they're having a Christmas party that evening and proceeds to give him a bit of static over his constantly being needed elsewhere.  Our man throws one hell of a missing-the-point-decorating-tantrum... using his super-speed to deck the tree out in mere moments.  Linda ain't nearly as impressed as Wally thought she'd be, and she stomps out.

We shift scenes to Taylor's Toys, where consumerism... er, the holiday spirit has overtaken a mob of Keystonians.  An incredibly awkward "gang" enters the scene to... steal toys?  One is wearing perhaps my second favorite tank-top belly-shirts.  This one doesn't say "SPIT"... it says "Bite it!".  Awesome!

Anyhoo, the Flash is quickly on the scene, and ties these geeks up in a swing set.  While the goobers are hanging upside-down, a bag of cocaine falls out of one of their pockets.  Wally's already ticked, this is not helping his mood.  He interrogates one of the goofs, and is told that "Santa Claus" gave them the coke.

We move to later that night.  It's Christmas party time, and wouldn'tcha know it... there's no sign of Wally.  We do get Chester Runk, the Dibneys, the Pied Piper, and (maybe) Starfire (?) though.  The Parks are excited to see their daughter's "young man", and Linda gives kind of a "He's the Flash, whaddayagonnado?" reply.

At that moment, the Flash is at the docks watching a trio of St. Nick's on a boat with a whole lotta coke.  They were able to smuggle much of it in plain sight, thanks to their gift sacks.  Well, Wally's had all that he can stands, and he can't stands no more.  He makes his presence known, and runs (on the water) straight for the boat.  As he draws closer, the Santa trio bails.  Wally runs headlong into the boat, causing it to explode!  In a touch of irony (is this irony?) the explosion causes a gentle snowstorm... of cocaine.

Wally returns home to find he missed the party entirely.  He is greeted by Piper, and proceeds to use him as a sounding board for his latest tantrum.  In another great panel, we watch as Wally finds out all that's left in his stocking is a lump of coal!

We come to find out that Wally is being watched... via the gaudy angel ornament he was gifted earlier.  He is being observed on a large monitor by a man drenched in shadow.  We come to find that several of the ne'er-do-wells that Wally faced during this issue had only one goal... distract the Flash.  The shadowy man then proceeds to turn his goons into nutcracker puppets.

We wrap down as Wally and Piper get a knock on their door.  The person on the other side has something for Wallace.  Could it be that Christmas finally arrived for young Mr. West?  Nah, it's a subpoena... Wally's being sued for negligence!  


A lotta fun, this one!  We get a really nice mix of Wally-as-Flash and Wally-as-Wally here... these are the types of stories that I hold most dear.  We get to see Wally trying to maintain that balance... struggling to keep everyone in his life happy.  This isn't the Wally of old, either... not the selfish, kinda egotistical Wally... this is one that has matured.  Perhaps not completely, but he's well on his way.

I always dug Linda as both Wally's confidant and almost "straight man".  Wally's tantrums in regard to the heat and the hustle and bustle ring quite true to me... as I often find myself sounding the same complaints.  We've actually had near triple-digit heat on Christmas where I'm currently living, and man oh man does it suck!  It's a rare December day where I don't have the air conditioner running at least a couple of hours out of the day.  I know it must sound like I talk a lot about how hot it is... but, it's really all we've got out my way!

Wally's near-misses with Linda's folks is fun as well.  I really need to reacquaint myself with this era... if not for the pangs of homesickness it brings... one'a these days, I will.  I cannot quite recall if this was a running gag at the time.

Overall, a great issue... of a great book... during a great time.  Mark Waid is, ya know, pretty good at this comic book thing.  You don't need me to tell you that... and Mike Wieringo... damn, he's good... and this is, in my opinion, before he would peak!  I'd wholeheartedly recommend any Waid/Ringo book... definitely keep an eye out!


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