Sunday, September 30, 2018

Flash (vol.2) #153 (1999)

Flash (vol.2) #153 (October, 1999)
"The Folded Man"
Story - Mark Waid & Brian Augustyn
Pencils - Paul Pelletier
Inks - Jose Marzan, Jr.
Letters - Gaspar
Colors - Tom McCraw
Assistant Editor - Frank Berrios
Editor - Joey Cavalieri
Cover Price: $1.99

Welcome back to The Dark Flash Saga, a little story arc that might only be exciting to me... but, whattayagonnado?

After our exciting start yesterday, things are going to become a bit more procedural with this chapter.  Is that a good thing?  Well, let's take a look and find out.


We open on a Monday.  A pair of police are attempting to arrest a man named Edwin Gauss for computer theft.  Seems kinda odd to have only two officers there to make the arrest... though, I suppose it's not as if they knew that Edwin Gauss has actually become the Folded Man!  The baddie uses his odd dimensional powers and grabs Officer Lou by the head... crushing it!

We jump ahead to Thursday... when Lou is being laid to rest.  The new Flash rushes in to check on how Angela Whatsherface is taking things.  We learn here that the new Flash has been on the scene for about a month... and has struck up something of a romantic relationship with the Forensics Expert.

Flash sweeps her off her feet, and runs her all the way to Paris for a coffee.  It's plainly clear that this isn't the first time they've made the trip.  We do learn that, despite how close they've become over the past four weeks, she still hasn't the foggiest idea who's under the mask.  She compares that to how "open" Wally-Flash had been... but new Flash squashes any discussion of that guy.

As they talk, I notice something that I totally missed last issue.  This new Flash has a lightning-bolt shaped scar on his left cheek.  I actually re-flipped through Flash #152 just now, and... yup, it was there too!  I just missed it.  I guess there's some points for subtlety... or poor eyesight.  Anyhoo, new-Flash mentions that just before his arrival, he was responsible for another Speedster losing their life.

What he doesn't know is... Impulse is nearby listening in on the whole discussion... and transmitting it all back to Max Mercury and Jesse Quick.  Max suggests that the "other Speedster" nuFlash is referring to might be Wally... which leads him to deduce that nuFlash might just be Barry Allen.  Bart brings up "Linda" again... but is ignored.

Speaking of Linda... after falling through the oblivion of time, she finally lands... in Keystone City?!  She immediately finds Wally... and they embrace right then and there.

Suddenly, they find themselves surrounded by... some bubble-masked future-cops (?)  I dunno.  They refer to Wally as "Walter", and he claims that they've been after him "for years".  Linda watches as Wally's eyes briefly change color...

... then, he changes into the Flash, and trounces the bubble-maskers.  At this point, Linda realizes... wherever she is, she's anywhere but home.

Back in the present, nuFlash and Angela pay a visit to Devlin Bridges, the man whose tech Gauss the Folding Man had stolen.  He's doing all sortsa "techie" stuff... like talking to invisible people, and typing on invisible keyboards.  I really hope he doesn't stick around too long.  Anyhoo, he explains that Edwin Gauss is a Quantum Physicist on par with Mr. Terrific of the JSA.  He's been trying to complete some of Einstein's research on Unified Field Theory (seems easy enough, right?).  Anyhoo again, he's used Bridges' technology to craft a suit for dimensional travel.

Just then... speak of the devil, the Folding Man appears!  He's a... uh... man of few words, no?

After some fighting... and maybe the sending of a Bridges Staffer into literal limbo... the storytelling isn't quite clear here... the Folding Man kinda recoils a bit, giving nuFlash enough time to snap up Devlin and Angelica and run them to safety.  It's really kinda wonky... and, I'm not sure exactly what happened here.  Here, you take a look:

Yeah... these panels are consecutive...
Outside, Devlin explains the Folding Man's powers using rocks and sticks... the basic jist is, Edwin Gauss can be anywhere!

... Including right there!  The Folding Man reappears, and we get some more fighting.  Angela suggests "cutting the power" to the suit... to which, Devlin breaks the news that the suit is... self-sufficient! Ruh-roh.  Just then, the baddie creeps up behind Angela... and as nuFlash runs in to make the save... he gets punched real good by a giant unfolded fist.

We wrap up with nuFlash coming to... in the Fourth Dimension!


This was... just another issue of Flash, right?  Doesn't really feel like there's to see here.  Sure, we've still got the whole "Who is this Flash?" thing going on... but, that kinda took a backseat (or, perhaps a side-seat) to the Folding Man situation.

Now, I'm not suggesting for a minute that I thought that this nuFlash was ever going to be The Flash... but, this was a pretty good way of showing us how "business as usual" might go if that were to be the case.  It almost forces us to "move on"... and, in that regard, this was pretty well done.

Of course we've still got the time-lost Linda... and now, a wrinkle featuring a weird eye-color changing Walter West who's been hounded by bubble-masked cops "for years".  So, yeah... it's still peculating... it's just not our main focus (yet).

So... let's try and wrap our heads around Who this Fella is... without, ya know... spoiling anything (to the best of my ability).  At this point, I see there being a case for the following three speedsters:

The case for Barry Allen:

  • He claims to have been responsible for the death of another Speedster (assumed, by Max Mercury, to be Wally)
  • He's dating a very Patty Spivot-y woman
  • He feels older
  • Remember, he has "Barry's Personal Effects" inside the Obelisk
The case for Wally West:
  • Last we saw him, he was left in the 30th Century... so, aging is a definite possibility
  • This is still Wally's book
  • Wally's journals are in the Obelisk... and I don't recall him keeping a diary up to this point, those could be entries yet to come
  • He keeps up his membership with the JLA and Titans
  • It's mentioned that he unmasked for Donna Troy (over in Titans)
The case for Bart Allen:
  • Impulse was briefly a member of the New Titans, so unmasking for Donna Troy could fit for him as well
  • The Flash as a "legacy" mantle... Bart would be next in line for the title
  • The fact that nuFlash is the complete opposite of Bart... indicating that he might've "seen some stuff" that matured him up real quick

Of course, Google is right there... but, where's the fun in that?  Let's just pretend it's still 1999.

Now, for the story itself... like I said during the open, it felt "procedural".  Not "must reading", but not bad either.  It almost feels like a bit of a misdirection.  Instead of a deeper investigation on nuFlash, we get a "villain of the month".  It works for what it is... but, can't help but feel a little let down coming off of last issue.

The art... it's still Paul Pelletier, and it's still pretty great.  The only hiccup (for me) was that scene at Bridges' office... the storytelling gets a bit hinky there, though that might be chalked up to my own density.  That's always a possibility.

Overall... we've getting a bit of a slow build here, but I'd say this one's still worth a look.  I wouldn't suggest reading this one cold... however, if you're interested in The Dark Flash Saga, you're going to want to check this chapter out.


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Saturday, September 29, 2018

Flash (vol.2) #152 (1999)

Flash (vol.2) #152 (September, 1999)
"New Kid in Town"
Story - Mark Waid & Brian Augustyn
Pencils - Paul Pelletier
Inks - Vince Russell
Letters - Gaspar
Colors - Tom McCraw
Assist Editor - Frank Berrios
Editor - Joey Cavalieri
Cover Price: $1.99

Who's that Flash?  And, didn't we talk about a different dude in the duds yesterday?!  Well, I don't wanna spoil it... and yes, we did!  In fact, today we're going to cover the story I usually conflate with the one we covered yesterday!

I kept wondering why the John Fox arc was such a bling spot for me, and one theory I had was... I got it confused with this one!  Now, this one I have read... but, it's been nearly twenty years, so I can't remember much of it.  I think I was disappointed by the ending... though, didn't have so much of the "DC context" that I do today, so I'm hoping this time around might be different.

Also: We've got Paul Pelletier art!


We open at a crime scene, where Jay Garrick is standing in for an M.I.A. Wally West.  This scene is pretty gruesome, pieces of the victim are scattered all over a hotel room.  Jay takes a quick look, and locates a chunk of heart ventricle... coated with oxidized potassium.  This leads him to deduce that Dr. Alchemy must have used his Philosopher's Stone to muck about with the vic's body chemistry.  This also makes him realize... that several of these body parts might just be booby-trapped!

After an explosion, the air around Jay and the Crime Scene Investigators (or, the Forensic Four, perhaps?) turns unbreathable.  Lucky for them, the Flash is there to save the day.  Make that A Flash is there.

This Flash manages to pull everybody from danger, and even performs a little mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on all of the investigators, including Angela Margolin (who I immediately assumed was Patty Spivot).  Anyhoo, she seems to enjoy it.

Jay thanks Flash for the assist, and posits that he might be one of the "Future Flashes" they'd met during the Chain Lightning storyline.  Flash replies with a "No"... and, as he takes off says he is The Flash.  Jay ain't havin' none'a that... so he takes off after him.

As they run, they come across a drive-by shooting that's just about to go down.  Jay's happy that the Flash is there to stop it... but is shocked when the fella just runs on by without interjecting!

Turns out, though... that this Flash did do something about it.  He has the ability to steal the speed from objects... and the bullets all fall to the ground.  Jay corrals the creeps and drops 'em off at the station before resuming the pursuit.

A little down the ways, this new Flash runs into the rest of the Flash-Family, Impulse, Max Mercury, and Jesse Quick.  He makes them all look like amateurs (in self-defense, of course).  After he speeds off, the gang wishes that Wally were here (he'd been left in the 30th Century).  Bart suggests that he's likely still searching for Linda.  To which, the rest of the Flash Fam say, "Who's Linda?"  Uh-oh.  Bart goes on to try and remind them who Linda is... but, seems to stumble with the facts himself.  The elders figure that he's just talking about something from a video game, and dismiss him outright.

Well, we know better, right?  So, where is Linda, anyway?  Well, she's... somewhere else.  Earlier this year we took a look at the issue where Wally and Linda were to be married... which ended with her vanishing, and people (even Wally) not quite remembering her.  Well, this is where she vanished to.  She is surrounded in darkness and taunted by a voice.  The voice tells her that Wally's dead... and there's nowhere for her to escape to.

Turns out, she's in a sort of metal box... floating outside of time.  The voice tells her that nobody remembers her back home... and that her only life, is in that box.  To which... she dives into the vast oblivion of time!

Back on Earth, Dr. Alchemy is turning apples to gold... which, if I'm honest, is probably among the things I would do if I had his powers.  He finds himself attacked by the Flash... and it appears, for a moment, that the baddie's going to have the upper-hand in this confrontation.  That is, until he finds himself surrounded by Flashes.  The new Flash then shifts the speeds of the chemicals in Alchemy's brain... rendering him unconscious.

We shift to the Garrick home, where news of Dr. Alchemy's defeat is on the news.  Jay tosses his helmet at the set in frustration.  June tries to calm him down, but it's no use.  Then... the new Flash shows up!  Jay isn't really happy to see him.  He's here to make a deal... he wants Jay to cover Keystone, while he stays in Central... he also wants Jay's endorsement.  When Garrick asks why he would ever endorse a man he doesn't know... this new Flash unmasks.  We don't see who he is, but Jay does... and he's immediately on board.

The new Flash assures Jay that he's not "too old for this", which had been a recurring thought/caption from Jay during the issue, before taking off.  Worth noting, he does stop to drop off some flowers for Angela Whatsherface.

We learn that this new Flash lives inside a lightning-bolt shaped obelisk that appears outside of the Flash museum.  We follow him inside, to find... a whole lot of boxes... some labeled "Barry", others labeled "Wally".  So... who is this new Flash?!

We wrap up with the Flash picking up a framed photograph... we don't see who the picture is of... and apologizing to it.  Hmm...


So, there we have the first chapter of the "Dark Flash Saga"... and we're left with more questions than answers (as it should be).

The biggest question has gotta be... just who in the heck is this new Flash?!  Well, of course today that answer is a simple Google Search away, but let's put ourselves back in ye old 1999 for a minute.  This actually was something of a "burning question", so much so that Wizard Magazine made it their "Online Question of the Month".

Here, take a look:

From: Wizard: The Comics Magazine #99 (November, 1999)
Seems the most popular candidate is Barry Allen.  This is likely something that will be lost on many new-er readers... but, back in the day, it felt like we got a "Barry Returns" rumor on a yearly basis.  Any time there was an "unknown" or shadowy character in a Flash book... people went nuts with "Barry's coming back!"... especially with how Marv Wolfman wrote (in his introduction to the Crisis on Infinite Earths collected edition, dated July 15, 1998) that he wrote a "back-door" into Barry's death scene, so it could be undone.

So, yeah... Saint Barry never really went away.  Seemed like we were constantly being threatened (or teased, if Barry was your guy) that he was on his way back.

So... points in his favor (besides 45% of the Wizard vote)?  Well, he shows up at a crime scene.  He also seems to have eyes for a very Patty Spivotty woman, in Angela Whatsherface.  He's also really really good at this Flash thing... and his understanding of the Speed Force.  Finally: inside the obelisk, he does have a box of "Barry's Personal Effects"... which seems more personal to me than "Wally's Diaries".  I could definitely have seen this being a way of "back-dooring" Barry back into the books.

Next highest vote-getter (with only 21%!)... Wally West himself.  Points in his favor?  Well, this is sorta his book.  Also, there's that box of Wally's Diaries inside the obelisk.

Impulse received 7% of the nod... which, is about right.  We'd have to assume that this was an adult version of Bart Allen, naturally.  Points in his favor?  Well, the new Flash tossed him around a bit, but knew he wouldn't be hurt.  Also, Jay's reaction to the unmasking... I dunno... it felt like he was seeing a kid who suddenly became an adult (hmm...)

Other vote-getters included Max Mercury... which, I dunno... seems kinda silly.  Barry's evil brother Cobalt Blue... but Jay wouldn't have been so quick to trust him... our main man, John Fox gets a scant handful of votes... even Marvel's Quicksilver (wha?).  I say all of this, just to show how this little story arc got a lotta folks talkin'!

I miss that sorta thing in comics.  I miss it a lot.

So... as an issue?  I thought it was pretty great!  Awesome mystery-building, and it's always fun to have Jay Garrick on "point".  He is the "head" of the Flash Family, and it's nice to get the opportunity to have him as our POV character, and the voice in our heads.

Linda still being "time-lost" (or just lost) is something I'd kinda forgotten.  I mean, she's been gone the better part of a year at this point... I could'a sworn that had already been wrapped up.  That's the problem with binge-reading, I guess!  Also, with binge-reading something twenty years ago (where'd my life go?).

Art is provided by my main man, Paul Pelletier... and it's awesome.  He might just be my top guy at this point.  He just never disappoints.  Such a versatile talent... just candy for the eyes.

Overall... if you're looking for a great Flash-mystery... this ain't a bad place to look!  It doesn't look like it's been collected (though, I haven't the foggiest idea why not)... but it is available digitally.  Absolutely worth a look!


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Friday, September 28, 2018

Flash (vol.2) #112 (1995)

Flash (vol.2) #112 (April, 1995)
"Future Perfect"
Story - Mark Waid
Guest Pencils - Anthony Castrillo
Inks - Hanibal Rodriguez
Colors - Tom McCraw
Letters - Gaspar & Kevin Cunningham
Assistant Editor - Alisande Morales
Editor - Brian Augustyn
Cover Price: $1.75

Today I'm comin' atcha from a blind-spot in my Flash-fandom... that weird John Fox arc, which... for whatever reason, I never prioritized reading.  In fact, it's with this piece that I'm reading it for the first time!

Let's get to it!


We open with the villain Chillblaine holding a bunch of folks (including Linda Park) hostage in the Penthouse sales floor of Schwartz Jewelers.  For Chillblaine, think dollar-store Captain Cold... kinda.  It's also kinduva "revolving door" persona, basically... if you're dating the Golden Glider, chances are... you're going to be Chillblaine.  Anyhoo, he's filled the joint with ice... including the elevator he took to get there.  The elevator cable snaps.  Luckily, John Fox just happened to be watching this unfold on the news... and so, he's there lickety-split.  He's the Flash, ya know!

So, he saves the guys in the elevator... and rescues Linda, but Chillblaine gets away.  That night, we return to the West-Park home, where John is staying.  Ya see, he and Wally sorta "swapped places"... Fox is from the far-flung future, and came back to the late-twentieth century due to a possible new Ice Age setting in.  Linda seems polite to him, however, has the Pied Piper (who was a good guy at this point) move in as well, just to be safe.  Fox drops a bit of knowledge, claiming that there would be a "microwave scare" in 2015.  Welp, we must'a dodged that bullet.

From here, we get the quick n' dirty on Mr. Fox.  A monster called Mota attacked during his era... and he (Fox) bebopped through time to get help from all of the prior Flashes.  This time-travel left him with super-speed (convenient, no?)... with which he defeated the baddie.  He'd go on to be the Flash of his time.  Piper jokes that it's a good thing Wally isn't here, otherwise, knowing his "legend" lives on into the future, his ego would be going out of control... 

Fox wonders why Linda isn't all that upset that her boyfriend is missing in time.  She explains that that's just "Tuesday" for her.  Wally's always running through time... and he always makes it back home.

We shift scenes to the funeral of Johnny Quick.  Before moving on, I gotta say... this guest-artist... you'd almost swear it was John Byrne.  Some very Byrne-y faces here.  Anyhoo, Johnny was killed during a recent run-in with Savitar... and the Flash family has come to pay their respects.

His daughter, Jesse Quick and his wife, the former Liberty Belle argue a bit about how the reward of superheroing isn't worth the risk.  Fox intervenes to tell Jesse that he knows for a fact that her father will be remembered in the future.  He might be just sayin' that though... either way, it made Jesse feel better, so what's the harm?

Also present is XS, Barry Allen's granddaughter and member of the Legion of Super-Heroes.  Just like her cousin Bart, she's been stuck in the "present" for a little while now, only she's starting to become homesick.  John Fox has an idea!  He fixes up Barry's old Cosmic Treadmill to be a straightforward time machine.  He prompts XS to hop on, and before we know it... she's gone!  Wow, that was anticlimactic, wasn't it?  She didn't even say goodbye!

Later that night, Fox learns that Chillblaine is at it again.  He and Piper head over to the Diamond District... where they find a bunch of shiverin' civvies.  Also, the entire ceiling of the joint is iced up... so, if anyone so much as sneezes... the whole thing's going to come down.  Cue some goofball sneezing... right here.

Future-Flash is able to rescue all of the civilians, however, Chillblaine escapes yet again.  As Fox goes to give chase, he slips on the ice... and crashes right into a nearby squad car.  He gets up annoyed that the baddie got away.  Piper tells him to not to be so hard on himself... and to take this one as a "win".  After all, he saved all of the civilians.

Fox returns to Linda's place... closes himself in a room... and lets out a terrific scream, which really messes the place up.  Linda, hearing the hub-bub knocks on his door to see what's up.

He tells her he just knocked over a chair.  Lemme tell ya, this page is verrrrry Byrne-y.  I'd almost swear it was him drawing it.  Linda asks how he's feeling, before teasing him about his "accident"... his big slip was broadcast over the news.  Fox plays along and laughs at his goof.

Then... things turn serious.  Linda says not to worry about Chillblaine... because, once Wally gets back... they'll take him down, no problem.  Fox breaks the news to her that... as of right now, Wally ain't comin' back!

So where in all hells is Wally anyway?  I'm glad you asked... not that I have an actual answer for you.  We wrap up this issue by shifting scenes... somewhere.  Wally is waking up... somewhere very Flashy!


Not sure what took me so long to start reading this arc... it seems like something right up my alley.

Without proper context, it's difficult to really parse this one.  I'm not sure how it ends... I'm not sure where Wally is... I'm not even sure if John Fox is who he portrays himself to be!  It's a great place to be for reading... notsomuch for analyzing.  I didn't even want to risk checking the DC Wikia for Fox-Flash-Facts, for fear that I'd spoil the end of this one.

What we do get here is, John Fox trying to fill Wally's shoes the best he can while he's away.  From the looks of it, he might be getting a bit too comfortable with Linda.  Something happened during his last run-in with Chillblaine that "flipped a switch" where Wally was no longer going to return.

I'm left with a couple of (unfounded) theories.  First One: Chillblaine is/was responsible for this "Ice Age" Fox came back for... or... Second Guess: Fox has fallen in love with Linda, and he's making the call that Wally ain't ever comin' home.  Either could result in an interesting story... and I'm not sure which one I'm pullin' for (if either of those possibilities were to pass, that is).

Fox shows a fair amount of kindness here... he tells Jesse Quick that her father's legacy will live on, and he manages to send XS back where she came from (well... not quite, but we don't know that yet).  The latter scene was a bit weird... I'd figure XS would have at least wanted to say goodbye to Bart.

I mentioned it a few times during the synopsis... but, man, this guest artist... definitely a John Byrne fan, right?  Especially when it comes to the faces, it's as spot-on Byrne as I'd ever seen.  Really terrific stuff!  So good that I'm surprised we didn't see more from this Castrillo!  Heck... give him five years, he might've been known as the "better Byrne"!  Compare this with, say, Lab Rats... personally, I'd give this the nod.

Waitasec... this is volume 2... issue 112 of Flash.  Two... One One Two... John Byrne wrote and drew a graphic novel called... 2112.  Two One One Two.  This 2112 concept originated as Freaks... a book to be set in the DC Universe... which would be sorta-kinda repurposed into later Byrne projects... Next Men and Danger Unlimited.  There might be more here than meets the eye!!!  Orrrr, I'm just being silly.  Nah, it's definitely some Illuminati stuff...

Overall... this probably isn't the first issue of Flash you wanna read, however, if you're familiar with the characters and concept... I think you'll have a lot of fun with this one!  A very solid package... which, isn't always what we got in the 1990's when we saw the dreaded "Guest Artist" in the credits!  This issue is available digitally.


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