Thursday, August 23, 2007

Live Action: "Be My Baby"

“Be My Baby” (February 21, 1991)

Writer: Jule Selbo
Director: Bruce Bilson
Editor: Lawrence J. Gleason

Synopsis: One night on the streets of Central City, Barry Allen encounters Stacy Ann Doubec, a troubled young woman on the run with her baby, Lillian. Though Stacy is reluctant to reveal the reasons for her distress, Barry soon learns that the imperiled mother is being relentlessly pursued by Philip Moses, the child’s father, a cruel multi-millionaire who will let nothing stop him from stealing back his only heir.

Commentary: Could there be a nicer hero than Barry Allen? During the course of the series our impeccably polite, kind-hearted, and mild-mannered police scientist hero has taken in homeless teenagers, crotchety senior citizens, and a wide variety of beautiful damsels in distress. It's all a bit much, really. Unfortunately, this episode takes that trend to a new level when he returns home one evening to find a bassinet on his doorstep. In “Be My Baby,” the fastest man alive gets to spend quality time with a bouncing baby girl. As a result, there are endless scenes featuring Barry as babysitter. It’s odd to see guest star Bryan Cranston--now familiar to viewers for his roles in a number of high-profile sitcoms--as the story’s dastardly villain of the week, Philip Moses. Despite exhibiting a number of personal quirks, Moses is an uninspired antagonist and his malignant motivations simply aren’t convincing. This is an episode that never takes off and, sadly, never attempts to offer us the sort of twists that we’re so eagerly anticipating. If the synopsis seems skimpy it’s because the plot is too. Worst of all, “Be My Baby” is never particularly fun or funny, despite the intent of its script. After a few tantalizing hints of superhero style and comic book action earlier in the season, The Flash has seemingly plunged back into the realm of mundane drama.

High-Speed Highlight: Highlights? Watch as the scarlet speedster aims to entertain a dozen cranky toddlers simultaneously! Marvel as the crimson comet constructs a child’s crib from simple laboratory equipment! Thrill to the sights of the fastest man alive using his astonishing superpowers to make a run for baby food! That’s right, baby food.

Quotable: “One of your adventures before you became the Flash, eh Barry? ‘Dearest Barry: Be back in the morning. Please take care of Lilly. Love,’--or, rather, annoying, cute little drawing of a heart--‘Stacy.’ Are you sure you’re not the father?” --Tina McGee teases Barry Allen upon finding a basket, a baby, and a note on his doorstep

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Flash Facts: Quantum Tunneling

Has the speed of light been broken? A pair of German physicists claim to have done just that, reports the Scotsman. Using a process known as quantum tunneling, Dr. Gunter Nimtz and Dr. Alfons Stahlhofen of the University of Koblenz say they have accelerated microwave photons past the speed of light in defiance of Einstein's special theory of relativity, which states that an infinite amount of energy would be needed to accelerate any object beyond the speed of light. "In an experiment, microwave photons, energetic packets of light, appeared to travel 'instantaneously' between two prisms forming the halves of a cube placed a metre apart... When the prisms were placed together, photons fired at one edge passed straight through them, as expected. After they were moved apart, most of the photons reflected off the first prism they encountered and were picked up by a detector. But a few photons appeared to 'tunnel' through the gap separating them as if the prisms were still held together." Aephraim Steinberg, a quantum optics expert at the University of Toronto, isn't buying it, however. At New Scientist, Steinberg offers an explanation for the quantum tunneling effect, leaving Einsten's theory and the speed of light intact.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Birthday Card Game

Yesterday, The Aquaman Shrine featured a simple yet amusing item, " a birthday card that came with a built-in card game, with little punch-out cards featuring various members of the DCU, all by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez." The Flash is featured alongside Aquaman, Superman, Batman, Robin, Green Arrow, Hawkgirl, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Green Lantern, Plastic Man, Batgirl, Captain Marvel, Hawman, and the Joker! What's more, Rob has offered a high-res sheet of the cards as a download. Whether you're at work or at home, whether you're involved in a project of vital importance or just looking for a way to pass the time, I'd say you should drop whatever it is you're doing, print out the birthday card game, and get playing!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Upcoming: The Flash #234

DC Comics has released a complete listing of their offerings for the month of November, including an entry for The Flash #234. Waid and Rogers's ongoing story will continue to focus on Jai and Iris, the scarlet speedster's superpowered twins. The issue's bizarre cover artwork by Manuel Garcia evokes memories of the once popular transformation stories of the Silver Age. Additionally, it looks as if Barry Allen, Wally West, and the Cosmic Treadmill will be play a prominent role in November's Booster Gold #4.

Written by Mark Waid and John Rogers; Art by Daniel Acuña and Doug Braithwaite; Cover by Manuel Garcia. The unstable powers of Wally West's growing children reach a terrifying new level! And in the backup feature, "The Fast Life," by Mark Waid, John Rogers, and Doug Braithwaite, the compelling tale of Wally's family's life on a Flash-friendly alien world continues. DC Universe. 32pg. Color. $2.99 US. On Sale November 21, 2007.

Update: It looks as if November is going to be a busy month for the world's fastest human. He's everywhere! I'm not sure how I could have missed this, but Wally West will also be teaming-up with the Doom Patrol in The Brave and the Bold #8, written by Mark Waid with art by George Pérez and Bob Wiacek. This sounds like an adventure that's not to be missed!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

On Sale: The Flash #231

On sale today from DC Comics is the landmark The Flash (v.2) #231, a return to the title's previous numbering as Wally West returns to Keystone City as the scarlet speedster. And he's not alone! These days, the Flash is sharing his superhero adventures with his entire family. Newsarama has posted a seven-page sneak peek at the issue, offering us a glimpse of the mighty West twins in action!

Written by Mark Waid; Art by Daniel Acuña; Covers by Doug Braithwaite and Acuña. Continuing the storyline so explosive we can't give anything away--and it's destined to be one of the most talked-about tales of 2007! DC Universe. 32pg. Color. $2.99 US. On Sale August 15, 2007.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Flash Forward

What can we expect to see in the pages of The Flash during Mark Waid's triumphant return to the title? Apparently, things will not be the same as they once were. Wizard has posted "Flash Forward," a brief look ahead to those story elements that the writer intends to explore during his new reign.

From getting ricocheted across time and space to arriving home too late to stop the brutal murder of his cousin, the past few years of Wally West’s life have been a far cry from his lighthearted ’90s heyday. Wizard tapped upcoming writer Mark Waid, who takes over with August’s Flash #231, to explain why the series will again be a runaway hit with fans... “I would rather chart new ground than to hit Speed Force stories again, or God forbid that we do any time travel,” promised the writer. “I don’t even want the book narrated by Wally.”

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mike Wieringo (1963-2007)

Mike Wieringo, the celebrated comic book artist who first earned widespread recognition because of his exceptional work on The Flash, has passed away. Readers who experienced Ringo's work on the scarlet speedster's title will surely never forget his vibrant, lively, downright charming interpretation of the characters. Obituaries have been posted at Newsarama and Comic Book Resources.

The comics industry lost a luminary this weekend--Mike Wieringo passed away Sunday of a sudden heart attack... Wieringo was born June 24, 1963 in Venice, Italy, and first caught the attention of comic book fans when he joined writer Mark Waid on DC's The Flash with issue #80 in 1993. Together, the two co-created the character Impulse, the future speedster brought back to the present. Wieringo (or, 'Ringo as he was better known by then) moved on to Robin at DC, and then moved to Marvel... He loved what he did.

Update: Mark Waid, Todd Dezago, and Karl Kesel have posted personal commentaries regarding the artist's passing in "Remembering Mike Wieringo" at Newsarama. Wieringo's family, writing at his official website, is asking that those wishing to honor his memory make their donations to the ASPCA or the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Live Action: "Tina, Is That You?"

“Tina, Is That You?” (February 14, 1991)

Writer: David L. Newman
Story: Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes, and David L. Newman
Director: William A. Fraker
Editor: Lawrence J. Gleason

Synopsis: Barry Allen is being tormented by recurring nightmares, dark dreams in which anxieties regarding his uncertain relationship with Tina McGee manifest themselves. When Tina tries to help him using a Star Labs experiment in bio-feedback, the content of Barry’s nightmares is accidentally transferred to her mind. Tina awakens as a different woman, a sinister version of herself, bitter and hell-bent on destroying Barry Allen. The Flash is thus forced to face-off against his friend and confidant as she threatens the city in her new role as the wicked leader of the all-girl Black Rose Gang!

Commentary: It’s difficult to take an adventure like this seriously. Everything in the unimaginatively titled “Tina, Is That You?” is a tad too ridiculous, from the over-the-top dream sequence that opens the episode to the scientifically absurd premise to the loose, sloppy characterization. The plot seems little more than a joke spun from the fact that The Flash’s writers have been prolonging the forced romantic tension between their lead characters for more than a dozen episodes. The angst that is implied to exist between Tina and Barry isn’t any more believable here than it was at the start of the series, however. Appropriately enough, this installment was first broadcast on Valentine’s Day. (This may explain the last-minute shift in the show’s broadcast order. A distinct reference to the events of this episode can be heard in “The Trickster,” an episode that was filmed later but broadcast prior to “Tina, Is That You?”) Amanda Pays is granted the opportunity to play Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde--both a good and an evil Dr. Tina McGee--and she does a decent job with both roles in spite of the script. Unfortunately, the Black Rose Gang she comes to lead is a weak, underdeveloped cliché. Guest stars Courtney Gebhart and Denise Dillard, who serve as Tina’s embittered henchwomen, aren’t given much to work with. It would have been nice to see their roles expanded, to see the Black Rose Gang take on further dimension. As it stands, this story is no stunning testament to feminism. This is also one of those tales in which the Central City police are implied to be embarrassingly inept. “Tina, Is That You?” is one of the sillier installments of the series, and that’s saying something in the wake of “The Trickster.”

High-Speed Highlight: Using the blade from an exhaust fan and a rod of scrap metal, the Flash creates a high-speed saw in order to slice his way out of a makeshift gas chamber engineered by Tina and the Black Rose Gang.

Quotable: “You need me. Together we can tear this city apart… Work with me and you never need worry about [the Flash] again... I can do anything I want to him. I can speed him up, I can slow him down. I can let him live, or I can make him die!” --Tina McGee takes leadership of the Black Rose Gang

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Reviews: All Flash #1

Wally West and family are back! And so is Mark Waid, who has written his first story for the scarlet speedster since bringing an end to his legendary run on the series seven years ago. All Flash #1, a single-issue special, presents a narrative designed to link the end of the previous Flash series with a continuation of Wally West's series. There's plenty of nasty unfinished business for characters and readers alike after the events of The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #13, in which Bart Allen was brutally killed by the Rogues. Here, Waid forces Wally to avenge his protege's death and prepares to move on. The celebrated writer is accompanied by a bevy of artists including Karl Kerschl, Ian Churchill, Norm Rapmund, Manuel Garcia, Joe Bennett, Ruy Jose, and Daniel Acuna. But is All Flash #1 the all-out event it's been billed as? Here's what folks are saying about the one-shot...
  • iF Magazine's Tony Whitt notes that the timing of this planned event works to negate some of its intended impact. "I think I’d be a bit more thrilled about Wally’s return and all that if I’d had more time to miss him, just as I’d have been far more wrecked about Bart Allen’s death if I’d had more time to get to like him as much as the editors at DC appear to want me to have done." The issue is awarded a B- grade.
  • Adam Chapman of ComiXtreme grants the issue three and a half exclamation points out of five, noting that there's intrigue in the fact that our hero finds himself in a unique position. "The big point of this issue is to put Wally West back inside the Flash costume and establish his new status quo. Wally is now unique in that both his predecessor and his successor have died, and he's once again taking up the legacy of the Flash."
  • Rokk Krinn, writing at Comic Book Revolution, commends Waid's ability to capture the emotions of the characters. His comments also acknowledge the way in which Waid has brought further dimension to what has come before. "All Flash #1 is a rather emotional read. Waid does a fine job tapping into the pain and anger inside of Wally’s heart due to the brutal murder of Bart. Waid pays further tribute to Bart by really building up the heroic nature of Bart and how he had truly evolved and grown into an impressive man."
  • Johannah Draper Carlson, one of the Savage Critics, wasn't impressed with the issue, despite Mark Waid's celebrated return. "I'm apparently part of the target audience--I remember Waid's first run fondly, I understand the appeal of the nostalgic hints--but there's nothing in this issue to bring me back for more." Then again, Carlson can appreciate the book's simple reason for being. "On the positive side, this doesn't seem necessary for those interested in trying the new Flash series. It gets the hero from where he was to where the writer wants him to be going forward. If you don't care how he got there, skip it and try the first issue of the relaunch."
  • Brian Cronin of Comics Should Be Good writes that All Flash #1 "is just about as triumphant as one would expect from a comic that is designed to bridge the gap between the end of the previous Flash series and the re-starting of the Wally West Flash series--which is not much." He ends the review by filing the issue under "Not Recommended."

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

New Frontier Preview

Warner Bros. Animation has released a three-minute preview for the eagerly-anticipated Justice League: New Frontier animated movie. The brief video includes snippets of interviews with Paul Levitz, Dan DiDio, Darwyn Cooke, Gregory Novek, and Bruce Timm. There's also a glimpse of Neil Patrick Harris recording his voice work for Barry Allen as well as several scenes of the scarlet speedster in action.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Justice League Roll Call

Will the fastest man alive make his feature film debute in Justice League of America? Although there has been no word on the status of the Flash's own feature, Superhero Hype! has reported on a rumor that director George Miller is interested in helming the Justice League of America film in development at Warner Bros. The report also suggests that the line-up of heroes in that film will consist of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and the Flash.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Interview: Mark Waid

Will Mark Waid be leaving The Flash once again, so soon after bringing Wally West back to us? The internet has been awash with rumors, rumors that gained a boost from the San Diego Comic-Con announcement that Waid had been named Editor-in-Chief of BOOM! Studios. According to the writer himself, however, that is simply not the case. Newsarama has posted an interview with Waid regarding his new position and his work on DC's The Brave and the Bold and The Flash. He takes the opportunity to set the record straight regarding his dedication to the scarlet speedster.

"The deal with BOOM! is not exclusive... Like I said before, I enjoy working with those characters, so they knew I'd want to continue doing that. But second, it is important to remind people that I can still fulfill my other commitments and still work with other characters because we don't want this announcement to be about me leaving somewhere else, but instead the announcement should be about me joining BOOM! Studios. That's what the focus of this announcement should be about. I have every intention of fulfilling my commitment at DC, and I've been talking to Marvel about what I can do there. And I don't anticipate that any of that will change... Look, this was part of the deal from the beginning--that I keep doing these comics. I want to keep doing Brave and the Bold. I want to keep doing Flash. As far as how long, we'll see what happens, but I'm committed to them right now."

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Spotlight on Infantino

Over at Comic Book Resources, Bill Reed continues counting down his 365 Reasons to Love Comics. The man behind reason number two hundred and seven is that elegant master illustrator, the artist who ushered in the Silver Age of comics, Carmine Infantino. Reed's column profiles Infantino's comic career and is supplemented with some classic images from Silver Age Flash comics.