Battle of the Flashes
Browsing the forums I could not help but notice a battle raging concerning one of my favorite franchises- Flash. Barry vs. Wally, Bart vs. Wally, Bart vs. Barry, Jay vs. Barry- the debate has taken the same form in nearly every permutation. Green Lantern has this debate as well, but more on that in another blog.
Honestly, just browse the forums and you can see it too (here, or here, or here). A common theme in my blogs is looking at the reasons for some of these discussions. So lets have a conversation focusing on what seems to be the largest debate- Barry and Wally.
Wally West- it is easy to see why many consider this 'their' Flash. Barry Allen left the DCU after an impressive 30+ year run in Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985. He came back in 2008 and had his own 'welcome back Barry arc' in 2009. That is roughly a 23 year absence from comic books. While research indicates that many comic book readers are in their 20s or 30s, having Wally be the primary Flash for 23 years is certainly influential. He was Kid Flash before then and those 23 years when he donned the scarlet suit were not some stagnant period either- there was a huge proliferation of comic material in this period; there was another Crisis arc and the incredibly influential and popular JLU animated series and many other animated cross-over features that touted Wally as the Flash. This means that an entire generation of comic book readers have grown up having firmly implanted in their minds that Wally is the Flash, any knowledge that they would have of Barry Allen would be tangential in a kind of 'they make mention of him sometimes' kind of way.
Barry Allen- this is where we kind of shake things up. He was The Flash from the silver age (genesis in the 1950s) all the way to 1985. 30 years of comic book development. His death was a huge ordeal, and the length of his demise even more important. I like the way that Matt Cherniss put it in the forward to the hardback copy of Flash: Rebirth- "some heroes die saving a loved one, others save their beloved city, maybe even their home planet. Barry literally saved the entire Universe from being erased from existence. If a hero does that, and then just happens to show up a few months later, it would have surely minimized one of the seminal events in Comic Book history." So Barry's death was seminal event and the fact that he was gone for 23 years (compared to Hal's 10 years and Superman's couple of months) only serves to heighten the importance of the narrative event and the character's legacy. Yeah he popped up randomly in Infinite Crisis, but that does not count as a comeback (only his torso came back to grab Prime). Oh, interesting tangent- why could he be gone for 23 years while other characters came back so quickly? I am going to chalk it up to his ready-made and incredibly fun to read replacement Wally. But again- that is another topic.
So what do we have here? Older comic book readers that were into it before 1985 will remember Barry with fondness and welcome him back as their Flash. Readers that have come into the fold in that 23 year span will identify with Wally. And, interestingly enough, brand spanking new readers will likely identify with Barry. Barry is the one with the current title, there are no more cartoons currently airing to advertise Wally, anyone who took the time to read the Mortal Kombat vs. DCU bios know that the Flash you play is Barry and DCUO features Barry quite prominently. Therefore, new readers will join team Barry. Flashpoint could change this as it will probably involve all the Flashes, but we will have to see.
Barry's return and subsequent focus in all things DCU (comics, video games etc...) was bound to shake up some folks. But, overall, DC has been handling it well. I like it best when Barry tells Wally that there will be two Flashes now- Wally is by no means out of current continuity, he has just been somewhat marginalized for the time being. But, given the incredible fanbase that he has, you know that he is going to make a comeback and in a big way. He has to, it makes fiscal sense for DC to bring him back with either his own title or a large role in Flashpoint. And with all the buzz that Barry's current title has (I add to that buzz daily, I love it) I do not think it will be long until we see more Flash material. That is good news for fans of the Scarlet Speedsters.
This is a debate with no easy answers, no conclusions, only differing opinion. But, what is important is that this is a great franchise with wonderful characters- I cannot in good conscience ultimately decide between Wally and Barry. Sometimes I land on Barry's side, but then I watch JLU and am back to Wally. Either way, Flashpoint is going to be great and the future of the Flash, no matter which one you like, looks good. Flash fact.
"Barry is better because he is older, but Wally is younger and does have a cooler costume (just darker red). "
I have respect for Barry by virtue of the guy's legacy, though Wally's humour is not lost on me. And the darker red is always appreciated, though I do like the design of Barry's mask better.
Both Barry and Wally are great characters, you guys should stop arguing over which one's better all the time, it really doesn't matter...
Awesome, just awesome. I don't quite understand people who argue about it either, hence the blog post trying to find out why they are arguing when both characters are awesome.
I do love JLU, quite sad its not around anymore. Is it?
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