Monday, April 30, 2007

Surf & Turf

Rob at the Aquaman Shrine has posted an amusing half-page DC Comics advertisement for The Flash #177, that unforgettable issue from 1968. ("The scarlet speedster puts on a new personality and a head to match! in 'The Swell-Headed Superhero!' On sale January 18th.") The ad appeared in the pages of Aquaman (v.1) #38, which is reviewed in the same entry.

While you're at the Shrine, you're going to want to check out the first installment of Aquaman: Cover to Cover, a week-long extravaganza spotlighting some of Rob's all-time favorite cover art featuring the king of the seven seas! If you like seeing the crimson comet's Classic Covers here on Fridays, you're going to love the beauties that Rob has selected.

Oh, and Surf & Turf, the imaginary Aquaman team-up book? Hilarious and brilliant. Rob assures me that when he's calling the shots at DC Comics, the first issue of this inspired series will feature the Flash and Aquaman fighting side-by-side, swimming with the fishes. It will, unquestionably, be an instant classic.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Flash Friday

Tegan's Unofficial Aquaman Website is directing readers to Mike Wieringo's personal blog, where the former Flash artist has unveiled a new sketch of the king of the sea along with some memories regarding Mark Waid's pitch for the character. Visitors to Ringo's blog will also want to check out the "Flash Friday" post of April 20th (Entry #367), in which the artist shows off a new portrait of the scarlet speedster!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

On Air: "The Joining"

The Flash is coming to Gotham City for the season finale of The Batman! Consider this a reminder that part one of "The Joining" airs this Saturday morning at 10:30am on the CW. The Martian Manhunter will be teaming with the Dark Knight, but the story will conclude on May 5th in an episode that will reportedly feature a cameo for the fastest man alive, among others. When the Comics Continuum asked Executive Producer Alan Burnett if the crimson comet would be putting in an appearance he coyly replied, "Flash? Maybe. You just might see him." TV Guide has a preview of the episode and of The Batman's upcoming fifth season, in which the Justice League will be frequent guest stars. Newsarama notes that the April 30th issue of TV Guide includes a peek at how the Flash will appear in The Batman's animated universe.

As the fourth season of The Batman (Saturdays at 10:30 am/ET, on the CW) winds down, the Caped Crusader is starting to make some superfriends. In the two-part season finale, which begins this Saturday and concludes on May 5, Batman joins forces with Martian Manhunter to stop an alien invasion in Gotham City. And that's just the beginning: When the show returns this fall for Season 5, a parade of superheroes will guest-star. "Martian Manhunter is starting the Justice League," executive producer Alan Burnett says, "and he would like nothing better than to have Batman on the team." Also on the guest list: the Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Hawkman and Superman.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Smallville Legends

Wizard is reporting that viewers can now catch an animated Bart Allen leaping into action during commercial breaks on Smallville. The CW is airing Smallville Legends: Justice & Doom, a five-part series of supplementary animated shorts featuring Smallville's version of the Justice League--Impulse, Aquaman, Green Arrow, and Cyborg. The first installment is available for viewing online now and the completed series is set to be included on the Smallville: Season Six DVD release.

A fair number of kryptonite-spawned faces have invaded Clark Kent’s hometown in its six seasons of primetime television. Typical guest stars get super-strength, bug-like powers or other annoying party tricks. However, writer Stefan Nilson invaded Smallville last week with something completely different.

Smallville gazers who left their sofas for snacks during the mid-show commercial break Thursday night missed the first in a five-part series of animated shorts titled Smallville Legends: Justice & Doom, which the show commissioned to supplement the adventures of its burgeoning Justice Leaguers. “Mark Warshaw, who is one of the producers for Smallville, came up with the plot for it, and from there I was writing the scripts for all five episodes,” Nilson said. “It’s following what the Justice League characters [Green Arrow, Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg] are doing outside of Smallville and Metropolis.”

Monday, April 23, 2007

Rogue Profiles

Newsarama is prepping readers for DC's Countdown with Counting Down to Countdown, a series of articles chronicling the intricate histories of those characters set to play a major role in the new weekly series. The latest installment offers a pair of articles concerning those two prominent Rogues destined to be at the heart of the action: "Trickster: A Man With the Ego of a God" by Kevin Huxford and "The Pied Piper" by Koben Kelly. Additionally, the posting seems to confirm that the Trickster featured in Countdown will be the original, James Jesse. (This despite the fact that a teaser poster features Axel Walker's distinctive gloves.) Visit Newsarama to read the Rogue profiles and learn more about two of the Flash's most conflicted foes, James Jesse and Hartley Rathaway.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Live Action: "Double Vision"

“Double Vision” (November 1, 1990)

Writer: Jim Trombetta
Director: Gus Trikonis
Editor: Greg Wong

Synopsis: Someone is using religion and superstition to terrorize the people of Central City’s Spanish Hill during the annual Day of the Dead festival. Unbeknownst to the police, these strange happenings are the work of drug lord Reuben Calderon, who is intent on kidnapping the daughter of the man whose testimony will put him in prison. Whilst investigating these events, Barry Allen begins to experience unsettling blackouts. Tina McGee discovers that an implant has been buried in Barry’s brain and, as a result, the Flash has become the remote-controlled puppet of Marcos Trachmann, Calderon’s cybernetically-enhanced henchman!

Commentary: This is a strange and relatively complex episode. “Double Vision” is memorable because it includes a number of distinctive elements that add a unique flavor to the proceedings. Firstly, there’s the setting. Spanish Hill represents the latest in a number of distinct districts that help to reinforce the character of the fictional Central City. Additionally, the Day of the Dead festival, filmed at the Ventura County Multicultural Arts Council’s annual celebration, is beautifully incorporated into the action. At times the cinematography in this episode is stunning. Then there are the episode’s many religious components, which lead to some interesting scenes involving the mythology of SanterĂ­a. Villains Reuben Calderon and Marcos Trachmann are using belief and fear to achieve their goals and, as usual, the scarlet speedster is mistaken for an otherworldly force. This, of course, ties in nicely with the show’s usual themes, leaving our police scientist hero struggling to prove that the evil forces at work in Spanish Hill are using “black science” rather than black magic. Charley Hayward is entertainingly eccentric as the villainous Trachmann and the unusual technology he wields is effectively used in a number of entertaining action sequences. There’s also a rather stunning twist to the plot during the episode’s exciting climax. It’s worth noting that “Double Vision” features the most outright surreal moments yet seen in The Flash, including a hypnotism-induced nightmare sequence in which the superhero is literally tied up with a puppeteer’s strings and awkwardly forced to dance! (Upon seeing this, a comic aficionado can’t help but think of the classic cover to The Flash #133.) It is scenes such as this that help the episode to stand out. Clearly, the series is already attempting to break free of any constricting storytelling formula, and the results are commendable.

High-Speed Highlight: The Flash snatches a bullet out of the air, saving witness Peter Paul Aguilar from being killed before he can testify against drug kingpin Reuben Calderone.

Quotable: “You see, a brain and nerves is just like a machine and its wires. Once you map out the circuits you can punch a button and get anything you want. You can get hate. You can get fear. You can get pain.” --Trachmann lectures on neurobiology and control

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Tangent Comics

Also due from DC Comics this summer is Tangent Comics (Vol. 1), the first trade paperback collection of stories featuring the reimagined heroes of DC's fifth-week event. At his blog, Kelson Vibber discusses the history of Tangent Comics and Lia Nelson, Tangent's Flash, "a human made of light."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Upcoming: Greatest Stories Ever Told

DC Comics has announced a release date and a final table of contents for The Flash: The Greatest Stories Ever Told. The 208-page trade paperback will collect eight classic stories spanning nearly fifty years featuring Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, and Wally West.

Written by John Broome, Gardner Fox and others; Art by Carmine Infantino, Ross Andru and others; Cover by Alex Ross. Collecting the finest Flash tales of all time! This fast-paced volume finds the Flashes locked in battle against their greatest foes, including Gorilla Grodd, the Reverse Flash and many others. Collects stories from Flash Comics#86 and 104, The Flash #123, 155, 165 and 179, DC Special Series #11 and The Flash(v.2) #91. DC Universe. 208 pgs. Color. Softcover. $19.99 US. On Sale August 15, 2007.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Upcoming: The Flash #14

DC Comics has announced their line-up for the month of July. Apparently, The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #14 is going to be big! The issue, featuring a beautiful cover by Joshua Middleton, represents the second of two special issues seemingly designed to attract readers to the revitalized title. The solicitation reveals that DC is expecting high demand for the book, and the publishing hype has prompted Newsarama to ask, "So just what is going on in The Flash in June and July?"

Written by Marc Guggenheim; Art by Tony S. Daniel and Art Thibert; Cover by Joshua Middleton. DC Comics announces the second month of a special Flash promotion as the Fastest Man Alive's world changes forever! Retailers: please check your Previews order form for a special incentive designed to help you meet the demand for this story. Fans: remind your retailer early and often to order you a copy! DC Universe. 32pg. Color. $2.99 US. On Sale July 18, 2007.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Halloween Scare with Mr. Mxyzptlk!

Newsarama's It Came from the Quarter Bin has a look back at Young Justice #3 (December 1998), a Halloween-themed romp featuring Mr. Mxyzptlk written by Peter David with art by Todd Nauck and Lary Stucker. The amusing cover for the issue features the book's three central sidekicks dressed-up as their superhero mentors. It is also, in the case of Impulse, somewhat prophetic. Is this the first time that we've seen Bart Allen wearing the traditional Flash costume?

Kicking off a month of quarter bin DC Comics is Young Justice – the superkiddie team featuring the core unit of Robin, Superboy, and Impulse... It’s Halloween and using the latest in nanotechnology coupled with mystic voodoo some sinister men in sinister robes are able to print out Mr. Mxyzptlk. The printout becomes real and Mr. Mxyzptlk is once again unleashed onto our Earth. What horrors can the madcap in the purple hat bring to our society? What evils can a man dressed in orange unleash?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Interview: Geoff Johns

Newsarama has begun posting Justice Socializing, an ongoing series of articles offering an inside look at the new Justice Society of America. The first installment features writer Geoff Johns reflecting on the team's core members--including the original Flash himself, Jay Garrick. Visit Newsarama to read Johns's full commentary.

Geoff Johns says: "Along with Alan Scott, Jay is as important to the DC Universe as Superman in my eyes. He represents that tie to history and tradition and he fills a role no one else does. I think it’s important to have older mentors in a fictional universe who kick ass, just like Obi One and Gandalf. There was an editor at DC who no longer is there that said when we launched JSA back in ’99, 'You should get rid of the old guys; they just make it lame.' I immediately thought, this guy doesn’t get it. The greatest thing about the DC Universe is the diversity in character types. From Adam Strange to Zatanna. From Krypto to Swamp Thing. Why have all the same type of characters? There are so many more stories to tell when you make the possibilities endless."

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Reviews: The Flash #10

Marc Guggenheim began his run on the right foot, so to speak. The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #9 displayed a strength of narrative and character that had been utterly absent from the series since its devastating relaunch last year. The issue offered a new start for Bart Allen and, as the writer intended, a fine starting point for those readers who were willing to give the book another try. Guggenheim's good work continues in The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #10, a fast-paced issue that continues to redefine our central character and confidently contributes to the historic mythology of the legacy he's inherited. The Rogues Gallery is back in all its glory! There's a sense of continuity to the "Full Throttle" arc--particularly evident in its connections to the Geoff Johns era--that will reassure longtime readers and excite newcomers. Indeed, the sheer number of online reviews that have been posted for this issue reveal that the creative shift is attracting attention...
  • Tim Callahan, writing at Geniusboyfiremelon, is glad that he didn't drop this book. "After the first issue of the Bilson/DeMeo relaunch, which was notoriously horrible, I told my comic book guy, the lovable James Arlemagne, that I'd keep buying it anyway because I am a sucker and I wouldn't be able to stand a gap in my collection when the inevitable good writer takes over around issue 12. Thankfully, Guggenheim rescued me a few issues early, so I only had to waste $24 instead of $32."
  • At comiXtreme, Adam Chapman has awarded the issue four out of five exclamation points and declares, "For those that abandoned this book shortly into the relaunch, its time to come on back to the Scarlet Speedster... There's a ton of potential here, and Guggenheim is bringing back familiar characters that have, throughout the past few years, been instrumental to the book's success."
  • Phil Mateer at All About Comics feels that Guggenheim is, somewhat ironically, moving too quickly. "Bringing in Zoom proves to be a Good Thing, and leads to a well-staged battle scene. However, there’s too much going on... This book could have used a few more well-crafted stand-alone stories before jumping into another multi-issue epic."
  • Brian Hibbs, one of The Savage Critic(s), raves that the issue is "highly OK" but qualifies this by "wondering when Bart is going to develop a distinguishable character."
  • Fanboywonder's Charles Wisniowski echoes the concerns of those readers who are still not entirely satisfied with the new crimson comet's characterization. "This month, we feel like we’re reading a Wally West by another name." Wally West, there can be no doubt, has cast a very long shadow.
  • On the other hand, Fun with Foolio begins an ongoing series of reviews with a look at this issue that praises its character work. "Where the last issue spent time cleaning up the previous creative team's mess, this issue sets out to entrench Bart Allen as a bearer of the Flash legacy... While Flash #10 works as a Flash comic, it works even better as a Bart Allen solo book. Any number of scenes remind us our protagonist got his start as an exuberant goof-off extraordinaire--not because he's immature, but rather because his outlook and sense of humor bubble through the way he's written."
  • Iann Robinson of Our Worlds at War comments on the new writer's gift for words and appreciates the issue's art. "Guggenheim has a great sense of dialog, I actually laughed out loud a couple of times, and artist Paco Diaz seems a great partner in crime for this book."

Monday, April 09, 2007


Wizard is reporting that after leaving The Flash at Warner Bros., David Goyer has proposed a feature film that will focus on the DC Universe's villains. Supermax will take the Green Arrow behind bars, shifting the spotlight to a cast of comicdom's colorful supervillains. I've always enjoyed reading comic tales set inside the DC Universe's supervillain containment facilities--from Arkham to Belle Reve to Iron Heights--and this unique superhero film sounds like it could be a lot of fun. Given Goyer's work with The Flash, it might also bring some of the scarlet speedster's lesser-known Rogues to the silver screen!

Maybe it was giving up the gig writing and directing The Flash for Warner Bros., but it seems like David Goyer’s a little bit more into villains these days. Just weeks after he and Warners envisioned very different takes on the Flash, Goyer sold the studio on an idea that focused on the more villainous side of the DC Universe. Supermax is Goyer’s take on supervillain incarceration in the DCU.

Revolving around a wrongly convicted Green Arrow being whisked away to the super max prison for out-of-control heroes and villains (where he's forced to face a number of inmates he put there), Goyer says the flick—which he’s developing with writer Justin Marx—isn’t just a Green Arrow film... "We’ve populated the prison with all sorts of B and C villains from the DC Universe. For the fans, there will be all sorts of characters the hardcore comic book junkies will know, but they’re all going to be there under their human names and no one is wearing a costume, but there will be a lot of characters with powers and things like that.”

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Live Action: "Honor Among Thieves"

“Honor Among Thieves” (October 25, 1990)

Writers: Milo Bachman, Danny Bilson, and Paul DeMeo
Story: Howard Chaykin & John Francis Moore
Director: Aaron Lipstadt
Editor: Lawrence J. Gleason

Synopsis: The famed Death Mask of Rasputin, a Russian national treasure of incalculable value, is schedule to be displayed at the Central City Museum. As the priceless artifact is being transported, a team of highly-skilled thieves assembles to plot and pursue a daring heist. Stan Kovacs, the ruthless leader of this gang, is planning to seize the Mask as his associates stage a number of simultaneous strikes! Fortunately, Kovacs and his cronies aren’t counting on interference from Central City’s speedy protector.

Commentary: “Honor Among Thieves” matches its predecessor by proving itself as another entertaining and well-scripted installment of the crimson comet’s television series. It’s clear from seeing this episode’s unique gang of thieves in action that The Flash’s writers and producers were itching to introduce the Flash’s familiar Rogues Gallery. Demolition expert Mark Bernhardt, for instance, instantly brings to mind a certain hot-headed pyromaniac from the pages of the scarlet speedster’s comic. Similarly, chemist Parry Johnson evokes that famously cold-blooded Rogue when he wields a freezing apparatus during a break-in at Star Labs. Unfortunately, a network mandate prohibiting costumed supervillains on the series would keep the beloved Rogues Gallery out of episodes like this--until they could be re-imagined later in the season. Regardless, this episode’s distinctive villains possess just enough character and menace to keep things entertaining from start to finish, and the ensuing action sequences attempt to make creative use of the Flash’s super-speed powers whilst remaining within the bounds of the limited special effects budget. A sub-plot involving Barry Allen’s attempts to end his estrangement with his onetime mentor, archeology professor Ted Preminger, brings an emotional depth to the story, expands our hero’s back story, and also manages to elaborate on the show’s usual scientific themes. Offering an astute observation regarding Barry’s chosen line of work, Tina McGee asks, “What is a police scientist if he’s not one-half cop and one-half archeologist?”

High-Speed Highlight: By stacking bricks of gold from a heavy pile of stolen bullion, the Flash erects a one-man prison cell around Parry Johnson in seconds.

Quotable: “As long as you stay in the tabloids, you’re still just a rumor. But it looks like this Flash name is going to stick. I don’t know, I think it’s kind of… sexy. Yeah, you know. Like a sports car or an aftershave.” --Dr. Tina McGee muses on the name that the Central City press has chosen for its resident superhero

Special Thanks: Thanks, as always, go out to Kelson Vibber for the screen captures featured here.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Flash Facts: Bullet Trains

CNN is reporting that a French bullet train--a TGV, or Train a Grande Vitesse--has broken the world speed record for conventional rail trains. The V150's 25,000-horsepower engine pushed it to 357.2 mph (574.8 kph) on a run from Paris to Strasbourg, past the existing record of 320.2 mph (515.3 kph) set in 1990. The ultimate world speed record for trains remains unchallenged, however, set by a Japanese mag-lev train that attained 361 mph (580.9 kph) in 2003. "Pierre-Louis Rochet, former head of French state-run rail network SNCF's international division, said this may be as fast as it gets on standard rails."

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Physics, Schmysics

Did I just refer to the speed force as a convoluted comic book plot device? Forgive me. As an April Fool's treat, Newsarama has reposted "Backwards Masking," an article written by the magician Zatanna (with a little help from Tom Bondurant) that recounts some of the more inspired retroactive rationales in comic history. The Flash's now famous speed force makes the list for offering a tidy, all-encompassing explanation for the scarlet speedster's historic disregard for the laws of physics. Who am I to argue with Zatanna?

Jay Garrick and Barry Allen were both scientists, so how come it took college dropout Wally West to question all the physical laws they broke just about every second? (I kid because I love, Wally!) Between the frictionless aura and Wally’s temporary need to consume mass quantities, the Flashes each nodded in the general direction of plausibility, until Mark Waid revealed the all-purpose answer. Not only was the Speed Force a limitless reservoir of super-speed energy, it facilitated time-travel and acted as an afterlife. (And it tasted great on pie!) What it lacked in scientific accuracy it made up for in elegant simplicity. It was a little more than a “just because” answer, but it was a lot more satisfying than the whole Mopee mess.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Origin Story

Zeke directs our attention to a recent installment of Origin Story, an online webcomic that allows readers to submit humorous dialogue to fill in a standard template. The March 27th edition of the webcomic, contributed by Matt Downie, bears the title "Superspeed Origin." As Zeke comments, "These comics with the same panels every time don't do much for me, but you can tell this particular submission is the work of a Flash fan." Indeed. Can there be any doubt as to which convoluted comic plot device is synonymous with this so-called "rapidity space"?