Flash (vol.2) #123 (1997)

Flash (vol.2) #123 (March, 1997)
“The Flash of Two Cities”
Writers – Mark Waid & Brian Augustyn
Penciller – Paul Ryan
Inker – John Nyberg
Letterer – Gaspar
Colorist – Tom McCraw
Assistant Editor – Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt
Editor – Paul Kupperberg
Cover Price: $1.75

You ever get a really bad cut on your finger?  Like one that required you to wear a Band-Aid, lest you bleed all over everything you touch?  Well, that’s what I’ve got going on… and lemme tell ya, it sucks!

I usually hit the backspace key around… eight or nine-thousand times per blog piece… today, however… I think I’m going for some sort of record.  My fingers just can’t seem to find the right keys!

Anyhoo, since we’ve got no “sick days” allowed here on the humble blog… I guess we’re going to have to press on through… and talk about The Flash!  Man, wouldja lookit that cover?  A Mike Wieringo take on Flash of Two Worlds?!  What’s not to love there?  

Is there any possible way the story can live up to that cover?  Well, let’s find out…

We open with the Flash “putting out fires” in both Keystone City… and Santa Marta, California?!  Well, let’s step back for a moment… turns out the mayor of Keystone City finds Wally to be something of an unwelcome presence… and feels like he attracts more bad than good to their fair city.  And so, Flash got the boot!  The city of Santa Marta accepted Wally with open arms… and so, he’ll operate as the Flash out of the left-coast… while still living as Wally in Keystone.  Ya follow?

After taking care of a crisis at the airport, Wally decides to take a look at his new daytime digs… and comes to find that in California, they treat their hero-types… ya know, really well.

He meets his personal liaison, Monica… who shows him around his palatial abode.  Seems like she might be interested in more than just a professional relationship with our man.

Which takes us to… Wally’s current squeeze, Linda Park, who is about to have dinner with her friend Fran Becker at a hoi-poloi French restaurant.  They chat about Wally’s current status as a man without a city… and start trash-talking the Mayor.  You’ll never guess who happens to walk by… Heyyy, it’s the Mayor.  And he’s not exactly pleased to learn that Wally’s still spending his nights in Keystone.

He passive-aggressively wonders aloud if Wally remaining as a part-time Keystoner will make the city any safer… before heading to his table.  Linda turns to Fran all “Can you believe that guy?”, to which, Fran’s all “Um, maybe he’s got a point.”  That’s probably because, well… he sorta does.

Back in California, Wally is taking in the sights… of himself!  Since his move, Santa Marta has wired the entire city so folks can watch the Flash in action.  Sounds like a pretty bad idea to me, but Wally is too star-struck (with himself) to notice that this is kinda weird.  He suddenly finds himself surrounded by… groupies?!

And then, a Tyrannosaurus Rex shows up!

Wally tries to fight the beastie off… only to learn that the bugger’s intangible.  On a nearby bridge, Santa Marta people (Santa Martians?) convene to watch the action… unfortunately, their combined weight overloads the bridge causing it to crumble.  Wally grabs an umbrella from a pretzel stand and rushes them off just in the nick of time.

Thinking fast, Wally grabs a live wire and jabs it into the dinosaur’s “gut”, causing it to short out and vanish.  Turns out the entire thing was a trick illusion, and the only damage that actually occurred was the bridge collapsing from all the weight.  Look out, Santa Martians… your sugary beverages are about to be taxed to kingdom come (Really reaching for that Waid pun!).

We next shift to… uh, the Moon (not really) where a Mister Frost is revealed to be responsible for the trick illooosion.  Seems this fellas really into special effects… and is fielding offers from both LexCorp and WayneCorp (thought that was WayneTech?)… but sadly, none from Steven Spielberg.  This dude’s… well, kinda boring.

After a contentious pop-in with Linda and Mr. Stanton of WKEY-TV, we wrap up at the Gambi Tailor shop… where a group of roguish nogoodniks kick in a door and approach… a sewing machine?

Well… I think I can safely say this story didn’t quite measure up to its cover, but I had a fun enough time with it nonetheless.

A few things… this Mister Frost character.  You ever read a page… then immediately forget what it said… so you read it again… and the same thing happens?  That’s how my reading of Mister Frost’s introduction went.  Just such a boring character… perhaps (hopefully) purposefully so, to show us just how cool Wally’s actual Rogues Gallery is?  Dunno… after about a half-dozen rereads of this dude’s intro pages, I still wouldn’t recognize him if he delivered a pizza to my front door.

Secondly, drawing attention to the fact that a public-superhero living in your city might be dangerous.  I mean, I get it… and agree… who’d want to live on the same block as Wally West?  But, by addressing that in story, I dunno… just seems like one of those “genies” thatcha can never quite put back “in the bottle”.

I get that we always walk the line between fantasy and reality in comics… fantastic situations commingled with the mundane everyday… but, putting such focus on Wally being a “dangerous neighbor”?  I think that’s something that we fans should see (and discuss) but the people in the books maybe shouldn’t?

I was recently reading/reviewing the Young Animal Mother Panic/Batman “Milk Wars” special.  In it, Violet (Mother Panic) makes a snarky remark about Batman putting children in harm’s way is sort of his modus operandi.  That bugged me… not because it isn’t true… but, it’s just that once the “actual” people of Gotham City take notice of such a thing, the very idea that they’d allow Batman to operate the way he does begins to fray.

Just feels like we’re taking “fanboy talking points” and making them actual story beats.  Not a fan of such a thing… it draws me out of the story, plus I’m not the kinda guy who needs my ribs repeatedly elbowed with just how silly comics are.

Other than that… the story here was decent.  The art was also quite nice… though, when you’ve got an awesome Ringo cover, you’ve kinda gotta bring your “A” game.

Is this an issue I’d recommend tracking down?  Well yeah… but this could’ve been 22 blank pages between the covers and I’d say that.  I love the homage to the first Flash #123… and this was a time before we were bombarded with classic cover homages (and variants… oh lord the variants), so this is definitely a novelty.  The story… might not rock your socks, but it’s perfectly readable and enjoyable.  This issue is available digitally… though, for if you dig the cover like I do, you’ll probably want the physical version.

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