Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Tony Daniel Joins The Flash

DC Comics has announced that artist Tony Daniel will become the regular penciller on The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive beginning with issue eleven, during writer Marc Guggenheim's first story arc as the title's new writer. The news is accompanied by a note that Flash fans will be getting two beautiful covers for this exciting issue--Daniel has provided a striking variant cover featuring the scarlet speedster fighting his famous Rogues. Clearly, Guggeheim and Daniel will be sticking to what has been proven to work as they begin their run on The Flash. I, for one, am looking forward to it.

Acclaimed artist Tony Daniel (Teen Titans) steps in to pencil The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #11, written by Marc Guggenheim and inked by Art Thibert. Daniel will remain on The Flash as the new series penciller. In this story, called "Full Throttle," the top Rogues are united by one voice to take down the Flash--but who is it? "I'm looking forward to working on The Flash with Marc Guggenheim, who I think is a very gifted and unique up-and-coming writer destined for big success," says Daniel. "I've always been a huge Bart Allen fan and the Flash is one of the most recognized DC icons. 'A' game, here I come!" Also, DC Comics has added a variant cover by Daniel to issue #11, which retailers will receive in a split of approximately 50/50 with the solicited cover by Ethan Van Sciver.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Big Screen Justice League

Variety reported on Friday that Warner Bros. has commissioned a script for a proposed Justice League feature film from screenwriters Kiernan and Michele Mulroney. Though the studio is still struggling to get The Flash and Wonder Woman into theaters, it appears as if they are considering a feature film that would bring the greatest superheroes of their various film franchises together in an epic adventure. Is this too good to be true? At the very least, as Variety notes, the potential payoff of delivering audiences the JLA on the big screen cannot be ignored by Warner Bros.

Batman may meet up with Superman on the bigscreen after all--along with Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Flash and all the rest of DC Comics' biggest names. Warner Bros., with its major appetite for fresh franchises, is looking to make a feature based on super team the Justice League of America, hiring writing duo Kiernan and Michele Mulroney to pen the script. It's the first major action the studio has taken on the project.

The feature film is bound to include some combination of DC's most iconic superheroes, although the studio wouldn't confirm which ones they might be. It's unlikely that the studio and DC Comics, a division of Warner, would opt to feature second-tier characters. Since its inception in 1960, JLA has featured almost every major hero in the DC Comics universe, although the core team has largely remained the same: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter... "The Justice League of America has been a perennial favorite for generations of fans, and we believe their appeal to film audiences will be as strong and diverse as the characters themselves," Warner prexy of production Jeff Robinov said in announcing the hiring of the Mulroneys.

Monday, February 26, 2007

New York Comic Con '07

The annual New York Comic Con was held this past weekend. DC Comics was there to hype their upcoming projects, of course, and to let at least a few details slip regarding what's ahead for the scarlet speedster and some of his more famous foes...
  • A panel entitled “DCU: A Better Tomorrow--Today!” offered a sneak peek at upcoming events in the DC Universe. DC Executive Editor and Senior Vice President Dan Didio noted that two of the Flash's Rogues will be playing a major role in the new weekly series Countdown. Wizard reported that the "Countdown teases included a note that Flash villains Trickster and Pied Piper would play into the series heavily."
  • A teaser poster unveiled at the DC Nation panel, in fact, features two gloved hands cuffed together under the banner headline "Villains Defiant." According to Newsarama, Didio explained that "the storyline tease refers to two men who shouldn't be together shackled together for the duration of Countdown, and [they] will travel through the underbelly of DCU." One of those hands clearly belongs to the Trickster. Is the other the Pied Piper? Or someone else entirely?
  • In a major slip of the tongue, also covered at Newsarama, Didio admitted that the Flash appearing on the clue-cluttered DC Comics teaser poster released several weeks ago is, in fact, the great Barry Allen. What role Barry will be playing in upcoming stories remains to be seen, but the revelation has left the fan community buzzing.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Live Action: "Pilot"

“Pilot” (September 20, 1990)

Writers: Danny Bilson & Paul DeMeo
Director: Robert Iscove
Editor: Frank Jimenez

Synopsis: Central City is under siege, its residents terrorized by an underground army of bikers known as the Dark Riders. After being struck by a bolt of lightning in his laboratory one stormy evening, police scientist Barry Allen discovers that he has been endowed with superhuman speed. With the help of Dr. Tina McGee, Barry trains to control his unique powers and sets his sights on avenging the death of his brother by eliminating the threat posed by the city’s malevolent motorcycle gang once and for all.

Commentary: The Flash looks and feels like a television spin-off of Batman (1989) and, for all intents and purposes, it is; the series pilot borrows heavily from Tim Burton’s box office hit, both stylistically and thematically. What is unique about Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo’s comic book adaptation is that this is a story about family in which the heroes are men and women of science. The contrast between Barry Allen, a forensic scientist, and his brother Jay, a hardened field officer, establishes a dynamic that will continue to define the series. Additionally, The Flash earns points for attempting to convey the spirit and style of comic book adventures on the small screen. The resulting lightning-bolt logo screens that open and close each episode are unforgettable. The pilot episode presents a dark take on the familiar origin story. The plot contains more than a few overt clich├ęs, villain Nicholas Pike and his sinister Dark Riders teeter on the edge of the ridiculous, and the aforementioned imitated style and borrowed mythology create the sense that we’ve seen this all before. Additionally, I have always felt that imposing vengeance on Barry Allen as a crime-fighting motivation is somewhat crude. Fortunately, John Wesley Shipp really carries the story as an appropriately dashing and charismatic leading man. That all-important sense of fun doesn’t really kick in until Barry dons the crimson costume of the Flash for the first time, though, leaving us excited and eager for the television adventures ahead.

High-Speed Highlight: The Flash dismantles an entire motorcycle into its constituent parts in less than three seconds, leaving its outlaw rider a bit bewildered.

Quotable: “Come on, Murph. Will you give the poor guy a break! I mean, how would you act if you got hit by lightning?” --Officer Bellows defends Barry Allen’s eccentricities

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Live Action: Introduction

Beginning tomorrow I'm going to be posting a new ongoing feature. Classic Covers will continue to appear on Fridays, and on Thursdays you'll be seeing Live Action, a regular column dedicated to reviewing episodes of The Flash television series. I haven't been able to make a final decision regarding the frequency of this feature but, as there are a mere twenty-two episodes to consider, it's likely they'll be appearing bi-weekly.

The Flash premiered on September 20, 1990 and aired on CBS for one full season. The show was created and produced by Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo. Whilst that writing team's recent relaunch of The Flash comic series was dismally received by readers, however, many a comic fan has fond memories of John Wesley Shipp's days as the scarlet speedster of the small screen. Television dramas that attempt to capture the unique spirit, adventure, and style of comic books are few and far between, and The Flash is surely a noteworthy example. The complete series is now available on DVD. Some of its installments were fantastic fun, some were silly or absurd, and others were--if you can believe it--just plain dull. I'll be looking at the episodes one-by-one in their original broadcast order and posting relevant facts and commentary. It's been more than a decade since I've seen most of these episodes and I'm very much looking forward to revisiting the series.

Be here tomorrow, then--same Flash time, same Flash channel!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Flash Strikes!

It has been confirmed that the Flash will be guest-starring in "The Joining," the season finale of The Batman on the CW's Kids' WB! No airdate has been set yet for the two-part episode. The Superman Homepage has also reported that a fifth season of the animated series is currently in production at Warner Bros. Animation. The new season will follow the upcoming finale by delivering regular guest appearances from Flash, Superman, Aquaman, the Martian Manhunter, and others as the Dark Knight's connection with the Justice League will become a focus of the show's stories. I have to say that I'm looking forward to this as The Batman has proven itself of late with a number of exciting installments and some strong storytelling. I will, of course, be posting artwork and airdates as they become available.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Chain Lightning in 30 Seconds

There are an awful lot of comic books in the world, and reviewing superhero mythology can be a time consuming task. Zeke at FiveMinute.net has done us all a service, then, in posting "Flash: Chain Lightning in 30 Seconds." That's right. The five-issue epic that brought The Flash's second volume to its 150th issue, unquestionably Mark Waid's most complex and convoluted story arc, has been reduced to a mere nine panels! Now you can read the thrilling tale of Wally West's thousand-year battle against the cursed Cobalt Blue in the same amount of time it would take the scarlet speedster to read the contents of your local library, albeit by bypassing some of its time travel nuances. Check it out.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Mythbusting

As a regular reader of Brian Cronin's insightful Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed column over at Comic Book Resources, I've been patiently waiting for one of the selected myths to involve the fastest man alive. I don't have to wait any longer. Installment eighty-eight in the series tackles a question that's on many a fan's mind since DC's recent continuity changes. Did DC Comics make Bart Allen the Flash simply because of the character's appearance on Smallville? Read Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #88 for the definitive answer to this and other troubling questions!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Upcoming: The Flash #12

DC's solicitations for May have been posted, and they reveal that the first story arc of Marc Guggenheim's run will conclude with The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #12. The publisher also promises a surprise ending that will "change the Flash forever." Should we be excited or afraid?

Written by Marc Guggenheim, Art by Tony Daniel & Art Thibert, Cover by Tony Daniel. Tony Daniel (Teen Titans) brings “Full Throttle” into the endgame stage! The dark force behind the Rogues’ full frontal assault is revealed--and this issue’s shocker ending will change the Flash forever! DC Universe. 32 pg. FC. $2.99 US. On sale May 16.

Monday, February 12, 2007

DC Super Friends

Last week, the Aquaman Shrine broke news on Mattel's forthcoming DC Super Friends, a unique line of action figures aimed at a preschool audience. Now, Tegan at the Aquaman Website reports that Wizard Universe and Action-Figure have posted our first look at the child-like new figures. The Flash features in the series alongside Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, and Lex Luthor. Each figurine also features an air-powered accessory. As ToyFare notes, the crimson comet was not a part of Mattel's previous DC Superheroes line; this will be the character's debut in a 6-inch Mattel format. My niece is definitely going to be getting some of these!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Flash Facts: Double Down

Can expertly-wielded playing cards kill? Last night I caught episode twenty of the always-entertaining and highly-educational Mythbusters. The episode includes a segment entitled "Killer Cards," in which Jamie and Adam test whether or not an ordinary playing card can become a deadly weapon if thrown with enough power. After constructing a device capable of hurling cards at a top speed of 155 mph, they effectively prove that it's impossible to seriously injure someone in this way, let alone kill. Try explaining those facts to Double Down, the Keystone City Rogue whose organic playing cards have sliced into the fastest man alive on more than one occassion!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Reviews: The Flash #8

Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo's final issue of The Flash is now on the stands. In a month's time, the book will be taken in a new direction by writer Marc Guggenheim. So, how does the most recent installment of this unpopular relaunch compare to what's gone before? What are people saying about The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #8?

  • Phil Mateer almost bought The Flash #8 but ended up putting the issue back on the rack. Writing at All About Comics, Phil sums up the thoughts of many readers when he explains, "I almost bought this, too; it’s the second chapter in a who-knows-how-long story, but it’s a satisfying chunk by itself, with the occasional sense that Bart Allen’s world is an interesting place, with characters and events the reader might want to find out more about--and that’s been missing, for me, since the relaunch. The Flash franchise has benefited from a lot of long runs by good writers (John Broome and Cary Bates in their eras, and more recently Mike Baron, Mark Waid, and Geoff Johns), and right now it’s ripe for someone to make it their own... Anyone who can deliver two or three good episodes of this title in a row will get me back as a reader, and the count is now at 'one.'" Will Marc Guggenheim prove to be that writer?
  • The aptly-named DCU Boy over at The Continuity Blog feels that "the writing team may have started out horribly, but they are going out greatly. This was the best issue of the series to date. It was full of action and yet managed to move the character forward as well... I am starting to get used to Bart as the Flash, finally. I love Wally but he will be back some day. I think it is time to let Bart ride the lightning."
  • The Mad Monk of Christians Read Comics Too! is also pleased with the book's progress and, whilst continually refering to himself in the third person, reconsiders Bilson and DeMeo's contributions to the mythology. "The Mad Monk is tired of the Flash bashing. In fact, The Mad Monk predicts that after this creative team's issues are collected into trade form, praise will be heaped upon it.... This was a great story. It has brought a tale of becoming your destiny and carrying on the family tradition to us all. The Mad Monk feels a renewed connection to the character. Now a new team will come on next month and we all will see what happens."
  • The Knave of Krypton isn't entirely impressed but sees reason for hope. His review echoes a question that lingers in the mind of every reader: Why did DC Comics feel the need to re-launch The Flash? "That sad little re-launch that couldn’t continues to not find its footing this issue, but it does manage to dig its face out of the mud and look up in anticipation of improvement... It’s pretty embarrassing that DC has fumbled one of its A-list characters so completely; however, this issue, while clunky and uneven, manages a few nice moments."

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Greatest Stories Ever Told?

Newsarama recently presented a list of collected editions DC Comics has planned for the coming summer. In July the publisher will be releasing a new trade paperback entitled The Flash: The Greatest Stories Ever Told. How does this volume stack-up against previous books with that title? Do the chosen stories represent all of the men to have worn the crimson comet's costume? And does the table of contents for the new collection truly boast some of the greatest stories ever told about the fastest man alive? Kelson Vibber has posted a rather detailed break-down of the stories that will be reprinted in the new collection. Visit his blog to see what you can expect from the forthcoming Flash anthology.

DC announced that Flash: The Greatest Stories Ever Told will appear in July of this year... I pulled out my copy of the 1991 edition, and it’s fair to say this is an entirely different book... Both books are very heavily focused on Barry Allen, and each includes just one story with Wally West as the Flash. Flash: The Greatest Stories Ever Told includes two crossover stories: “Flash of Two Words” features both Barry and Jay, and “Beyond the Super-Speed Barrier” features all three during Wally’s days as Kid Flash. So, assuming the contents are final, do they hold up to the title’s promise?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Levy to Direct The Flash

Warner Bros. has announced that Shawn Levy will be assuming the directorial duties on The Flash. The news, reported this morning by The Hollywood Reporter and Superhero Hype, swiftly follows David S. Goyer's revelation that he will no longer be involved with the project. Though Levy is best known for directing comedies, such as the recent box office hit Night at the Museum, the announcement indicates that The Flash will be approached as a serious superhero saga. That being said, Warner Bros. is also indicating that creative disputes with Goyer may have involved a debate over the film's tone; with Levy in the director's chair, The Flash will reportedly be lighter than other superhero epics. We can only hope that decisions regarding the film's tone and style will be inspired by those creative elements that have ensured the comic book adventures are so fondly remembered.

Shawn Levy has stepped on board to direct Warner Bros. Pictures' The Flash, the big-screen adaptation of the DC Comics speedster hero. Levy's decision to get involved in the project is his first move since the successful release of his Night at the Museum, a $225 million boxoffice smash.Charles Roven and Alex Gartner are producing Flash. It is believed that Levy will act in a producing capacity as well.Created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Harry Lampert, the original Flash first appeared in Flash Comics #1 in 1940. In comics lore, there have been four incarnations of the scarlet speedster, who has remained one of DC's most popular characters. He has the ability to run and move extremely fast, use superhuman reflexes and violate certain laws of physics, like time travel. David Goyer, who co-wrote Batman Begins for Warners, had been attached to write, direct and produce a screen adaptation. But Goyer quietly left the project several months ago, though it was not until Friday that he announced his departure on his MySpace page...

Sources said that Levy, who before Museum had been known for such comedies as Cheaper by the Dozen and The Pink Panther, has no intention of making Flash a comedy but is aiming for a lighter movie than previous Warners comic book adaptations, such as Batman Begins and Superman Returns. Goyer's Flash also had been dark-themed. Levy will oversee the writing of the new draft, and it is believed elements of Goyer's script will be used in the development process.

Goyer Departs The Flash

David S. Goyer has left the Warner Bros. production of The Flash. He announced the news at his blog on Friday, and the story was subsequently posted at sites such as Superhero Hype. Though Goyer had been enthusiastically preparing to direct the crimson comet's big-screen debut, and he'd already written the screenplay, he notes that creative differences ultimately ensured his departure from the project. In a related story that broke almost simultaneously, writer/director Joss Whedon has been dropped from the big screen production of Wonder Woman. What's happening at Warner Bros.?

"Well, I've been waiting a few months to relate this news--but I am sad to say that my version of The Flash is dead at WB. The God's honest truth is that WB and myself simply couldn't agree on what would make for a cool Flash film. I'm quite proud of the screenplay I turned it. I threw my heart into it and I genuinely think it would've been the basis of a ground-breaking film. But as of now, the studio is heading off in a completely different direction. I expect you'll hear of some new developments on that front shortly..."

I have to say that this news leaves me terribly disappointed. Based on what little information was leaked in interviews, Goyer's approach to the Flash film seemed intelligent, original, and ambitious. By all accounts, his version of The Flash would have stood apart from all other superhero films. Perhaps that's what frightened studio executives. Now, at the very least, the project will face extensive delays. Goyer posted further comments regarding his association with the project at his blog on Saturday.

"To be honest, when WB first approached me about doing The Flash, it seemed a little too good to be true. A part of me thought they'd never really make a movie like that. For the record, the script did involve both Barry and Wally as the Flash. I wanted to showcase the legacy aspect of the hero--as that was something that hadn't been explored yet in film. Like Batman Begins, the script drew on some seminal comicbook runs (Mike Baron, Mark Waid, Geoff Johns)... The truth is, I've had a remarkably good track record with these kinds of films so far, so I don't have a lot to complain about. My peers and I are well-compensated for what we do. We're essentially living the dream we'd envisioned when we were kids. Now we get to meet and work with people we viewed as roll models and heroes."

Friday, February 02, 2007

Thursday, February 01, 2007

DCU Updates

Whilst answering twenty questions posed by readers about DC Comics' purposefully cryptic new promotional poster, DC Universe Executive Editor Dan Didio dodged a direct question about Barry Allen's apparent presence. Didio also indicated that the poster "is not about one book or one story but about the major events that will unfold throughout the year" and, perhaps unsurprisingly, that "some of these images are literal and some are symbolic." Make of that what you will and visit Newsarama to read the rest of his connect-the-dots responses.

Q: Is that the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Barry Allen as the Flash?

DIDIO: If that was Barry, shouldn’t he be lying on the ground with the dead instead of standing with the heroes?

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the vast DC Universe, Geoff Johns has announced that he will be leaving Teen Titans following the current "Titans East" arc. When Newsarama asked why he's departing, the writer compared the situation to his run on The Flash and indicated that, ideally, he'd like to do work on both books again given the opportunity. It goes without saying that we'd love to have you back, Geoff! In fact, it's wild dreams like that that have prompted some readers to stick with The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive through its shaky start.

"It’s never easy leaving a book, but after nearly four years on Teen Titans, I felt it was time to let someone else take the teens on.Some of my friends have asked, 'Why not stay on until Teen Titans #50?! You’re so close!' But it’s like when I left The Flash after 'Rogue War'--even though I found out later there were only a few issues of the series left because of what they wanted to do, I felt it was the right time to go. That doesn’t mean I’ll never write Teen Titans or The Flash again if I have the opportunity. I hope I do."