Fifth Degree: Mark Waid’s Flash

Flash #0

Flash #0

by Josh Crawley

In honor of New Avengers #61 shipping this week, I’d like to talk about Mark Waid’s first run on The Flash.

I know that seems like an odd leap to make, but I don’t want to spoil anything.

Remember my column a few months back, Collecting in the Beginning? Well, before Waid and Ron Garney brought some much-deserved attention to Captain America, Waid had been crafting some amazing stories on DC’s slightly more symmetric of their Scarlet Speedsters, Wally West.

I don’t recall the exact reason I decided to ask a friend to buy Flash #0 for me. I do know I wasn’t regularly making the half hour trip to Madison to buy comics (at Westfield Comics), but I don’t know why I would’ve even wanted that issue. I hadn’t bought many DC comics at that point in my life, and it isn’t like the internet was quite as prevalent then as it is now. Maybe it had something to do with the Zero Hour #0 retelling of origins of characters. Why am I still babbling about this? No clue.

Flash #0 is one of my favorite comics ever. It very well may be one of the best comics ever, too. Waid was joined on art by his regular Flash collaborator Mike Wieringo, who’d settled into drawing what I consider the iconic Wally West: fun and youthful but mature, cartoony but believable, and topped with sideburns and a pompadour. Sadly, this would be the last issue of Flash Wieringo would draw, though he went on to do plenty of other great work, including some great Flash covers!

The issue reads as a great stand alone story, yet it still answers a question Wally had been asking himself for a number of the title’s preceding issues. It also leads into the next storyline: Terminal Velocity!

In Terminal Velocity (Flash #95-100), we’re treated to the return of Impulse (who made his debut in Flash #92-94, collected in the Impulse: Reckless Youth softcover along with Impulse #1-6), who’s now being trained by Wally. Also, Kobra is in town, there’s a plethora of speedsters, and Wally names the successor to the mantle of the Flash! His motivation? The love of his life, Linda Park.

Yeah, I’m a sap. Whatcha gonna do about it?!

The art in this storyline is primarily by Salvador Larocca, but we also get treated to Carlos Pacheco and someone who would soon be a regular artist on the title: Oscar Jimenez. Others who shouldn’t go without being named are Jose Marzan, Jr on inks, Gina Going on colors, the amazing Gaspar Saladino on letters, and all edited by Brian Augustyn. I’m sure I’ve left someone out, and for that I apologize.

I can’t easily recommend you buy Terminal Velocity, however, because DC felt some reason to let it go out of print. Lame. I’m going to blame Dan Didio, Geoff Johns, and Barry Allen, though I swear there’s no hard feelings!

Race Against Time

Race Against Time

And now that I check, Dead Heat is out of print, too. Dead Heat was a crossover between Flash and Impulse titles (issues 108, 109, 110, 111 and issues 10 & 11, respectively) that featured the death of a speedster! Anyone reading Blackest Night: Flash can probably guess who. Dead Heat leads directly into Race Against Time, which is in print!

Race Against Time has more art by Jimenez, as well as some by a young Jim Cheung! It also features the return of future-Flash John Fox, who first appeared in an earlier Flash Special #1 way back in 1990.

Since buying all of these trades, I’ve gone back and read more Waid work on the Flash in single issues, as well as the Return of Barry Allen (in print!) and Born to Run (essentially Wally West Year One; not in print) softcovers. The new edition of Greatest Flash Stories Ever Told, while it not only has a vast majority of stories different from the first edition, also ends with another great Wally West Flash tale by Waid, Wieringo & company.

If for some reason I ever lose all of my belongings, these would be on the short list of things I’d have to replace. They really are that damn great.

And so ends the column for this week. Want more of me running my mouth? Check Twitter. Need to tell me something? Email & post info below!

Westfield Comics
7475 Mineral Point Rd STE 22
Madison WI 53717
Josh Crawley is the tenured Master of Disaster for Westfield Comics, not to be confused with Josh Crawley, the keyboardist for Everclear.

The cover to Flash #0 came from The Comic Book Database.


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