Happy Comics Release Day!
In his introduction to Born to Run, Grant Morrison says that The Flash has the coolest power ever.
The ability to go anywhere instantly. The ability to finish annoying tasks in seconds, like cleaning your room or doing your homework. The ability to run as far as you can as fast as you can. When I was growing up, I wanted this superpower more than any other.
I still want super-speed today. Sadly, I’ve just stopped believing a bolt of lighting with come out of the sky and give me those powers.
There have been three main Flashes over the years: Jay Garrick from the Golden Age, Barry Allen, the first hero of the Silver Age, and Wally West, the Modern Age Flash. Wally is The Flash from the Justice League Unlimited television shows. My kids love him because he’s got the cool power and he’s clearly having a lot of fun with it.
Wally’s personality and popularly owe a great deal to Mark Waid, the writer of Born to Run. Before Waid took over The Flash title in the 1980s, it looked like Wally wouldn’t last as a replacement. After Waid was done, most comic fans knew this tagline:
“My name is Wally West and I’m the fastest man alive.”
This is the origin story of Wally West’s transformation from lonely Midwestern boy into the hero known as Kid Flash and then Flash. Wally as a character has been around a long time, since 1959, but this story served as his modern origin. Born to Run collects the first four issues of Waid’s run on the Flash, taking Wally back to the summer when he first visited his Aunt Iris in Central City and was transformed into Kid Flash.
There are a lot of cool action sequences where the older and younger Flash fight villains but the core of the story is a lonely, neglected boy finding a way to connect to people again. Even, at the end, his parents.
What Kids Will Like About It:
The story is told entirely from Wally’s point of view, meaning we get a kid’s perspective on what it felt like to suddenly gain super-speed. There aren’t too many kids who won’t smile at that.
The book starts with a great action sequence as the adult Wally stops a bomb at an airport and then goes back to the summer that he considers the best one of his entire life.
What Parents Will Like About It:
I marveled how all the artists managed to depict super-speed. It’s not an easy task to show your character moving like that in sequential art but all of the artists of them, particularly Greg LaRocque, did wonderfully.
If you’re a fan of Barry Allen, the Silver Age Flash, he has a nice role in this mini-series, both as The Flash and his somewhat corny alter-ego.
It’s the first one where Wally uses his super speed. Barry has Wally chase a baseball down. Wally does and then looks back. He sees the field behind him in flames from how fast he ran.
About the Creators:
I talked about Mark Waid fairly recently, in the article about Boom Studios Irredeemable and Incorruptible titles. Greg LaRocque is the main penciller in this collection. When I googled him, I found he had little significant artwork in this century and it made me a little sad because his work on this book is so good. Before working with Waid on the Flash title, he drew several Spider-Man books for Marvel.
Barry Allen is currently back again as The Flash, his death in the 1980s finally reversed. I’m not so sure this is a good thing or a bad thing but at least Wally has not met the fate of some of younger heroes–namely being killed off–and remains *a* Flash. He currently married with two kids.