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!