Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sight and Sound: "The Space Beast Round-Up"

"The Space Beast Round-Up," written by George Kashdan, featuring Tommy Cook as Kid Flash, aired 19 September 1967 as part of Filmation's The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure. This innocent Teen Titans cartoon is packed with action but, despite featuring a plethora of rampaging extraterrestrial monsters, it refreshingly lacks any true villain. In the end, no one is hurt and the alien attack is revealed to be the result of an interplanetary misunderstanding. The underrated Aqualad really gets a chance to shine in this particular adventure, taking out several of the titular space beasts almost single-handedly. Kid Flash's performance, on the other hand, is a bit embarassing to watch. Young Wally West exhibits none of the ingenuity and inspiration of his esteemed mentor, spending most of the episode senselessly running in circles! Fortunately, Speedy and Wonder Girl are on hand to offer the young speedster some assistance.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fast Talk: Knowledge Absorption

Knowledge Absorption:
If a panel like this doesn't prompt you to perform a sudden double take, I don't know what will. One of the more impressive byproducts of the Flash's astonishing super-speed powers is his ability to absorb knowledge at a rate that matches the incredible, accelerated speed of his movements. This allows the monarch of motion to become something of a superhuman polymath or Renaissance Man. When faced with a medical crisis worthy of Michael Crichton or Robin Cook in "24 Hours of Immortality," by Robert Kanigher and Irv Novick, the fastest man alive decides that the matter is simply too dire to leave to the professionals. The scarlet speedster must become a surgeon himself, and he accomplishes this by "absorb[ing] the surgeon's exhausting briefing with lightning rapidity" before taking up a scalpel. (It was kind of Barry to take a nanosecond to don the appropriate scrubs, too. Not only is his crimson costume likely filthy from all that crimefighting, but the more sterile attire is sure to instill some confidence in his bewildered patient as well!) Not surprisingly, this knack for accelerated learning has been used sparingly in stories featuring the Flash, and the writers have imposed some temporal limitations on his encyclopedic memory as well. It's a wonder that scientists like Dr. Tina McGee aren't more interested in studying the Flash's brain rather than his body!

Issue: The Flash #206 (May 1971)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Upcoming: The Flash: Rebirth #4

The Flash: Rebirth continues in July with its fourth and (possibly) penultimate installment. DC Comics is remaining cryptic in their description for the issue, but Ethan Van Sciver's brilliant cover artwork is sure to aid in maintaining the excitement surrounding the mini-series. Visit DC Comics for a full listing of their releases coming in July.

Written by Geoff Johns; Art and covers by Ethan Van Sciver. Barry Allen left a legacy that thrived after his death. Now his return threatens it all. What secrets does Barry hold inside him about the fate of the Flash Family? What destiny awaits Wally and his twins? What murderous force targets Bart Allen? And what does it truly mean to be a speedster? On sale July 22, 2009. DC Universe. 4 of 5. 32 pg. Color. $2.99 US.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Flash Facts: Solar Gravity

"Although it requires a speed of seven miles a second for an object to escape the Earth's gravitational pull, it would require an escape velocity of 383 miles a second to carry an object outside the sun's gravitational field."

Issue: The Flash #208 (August 1971)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Science of the Flash

This week's dose of scientific fast talk and scientific straight talk is provided by our friend Jason, a.k.a. Papa Zero. In "Science of the Flash," he offers readers an in-depth examination of those scientific principles that support the scarlet speedster's astonishing superpowers. How is the fastest man alive able to seemingly sidestep the laws of physics? How do the hero's various abilities relate to one another? Possible answers to these questions may prove elusive but, fascinatingly, not impossible. This speculative essay considers the unique and extravagant abilities of the monarch of motion in the context of an ever-evolving understanding of physics and examines, in detail, conceptual quandaries relating to the sound barrier, the Doppler effect, redshift, sensory nerve impulses, and angular momentum. The resulting collection of facts and theories is utterly engrossing. This one is a must-read, folks! Visit This is Gone for a thorough look at the "Science of the Flash!"

"One of my favorite things about the Silver Age Flash comic books I used to read was how the story would incorporate a factual element of science into a fantastic situation to blur the lines between that which is possible and that which is impossible. Sometimes the writers would invent ridiculous pseudo-science to explain away some awkward loophole and sometimes that psuedo-science would turn out to be prophetic. Nevertheless, Flash always seemed ahead of the curve as relates to matters of science..."

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Quick Quiz: Favorite Storyline?

It's time for another speedy recap of our monthly Quick Quiz. With The Flash (v.2) at an end and Wally West presumably left to run in the shadow of his esteemed predecessor, the latest poll asked readers to cast their minds back over the third scarlet speedster's memorable mythology. Of the most significant storylines from The Flash (v.2), Wally West's most epic adventures, which is your favorite?

An impressive 30% of the blog's readers selected "The Return of Barry Allen," a landmark story arc packed with plot twists by writer Mark Waid and artist Greg LaRocque, as their favorite adventure. It's clear that this remains one of the best remembered stories featuring the fastest man alive. 27% of all respondents chose the emotionally charged "Terminal Velocity" storyline from Waid, Salvador Larocca, Carlos Pacheco, and Oscar Jimenez. 5% of voters selected "Chain Lightning," a sprawling time travel narrative written by Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn and illustrated by Paul Pelletier. 13% of readers recognized the traumatic "Blitz," by writer Geoff Johns and artist Scott Kolins. No less than 23% of respondents favored the thrilling "Rogue War," from Johns and Howard Porter. Somewhat surprisingly, no virtual ballots were cast in favor of the other significant storylines listed, including "The Dark Flash Saga," "Lightning in a Bottle," "Ignition," and "The Wild Wests." Additionally, at least 2% of respondents chose to vote in the Other category. Sixty-two voters took part in this particular poll.

With the true return of Barry Allen capturing the attention of comic readers everywhere, it would be difficult to ignore the impact that Waid and LaRocque's "The Return of Barry Allen" had on the mythology of the fastest man alive. This seminal storyline skillfully played with the hopes, fears, and expectations of its enthralled audience whilst simultaneously empowering and revitalizing its central hero, at long last allowing Wally West to be recognized as an exceptional superhero in his own right. That being said, the story arc was also up against some stiff competition in this particular poll. With a number of powerful storylines from the likes of Mark Waid and Geoff Johns on the ballot, and each reader allowed only a single vote, fans may have been forced to overlook some of their favorite tales. Which of these epic stories did you cast your vote for? Which adventures do you feel were overlooked? The conversation continues using the comment facility below.

In the comic book world, the month of April 2009 belongs to the resurrected Barry Allen, so it's only natural that our next Quick Quiz poll should attempt to guage the excitement surrounding the eagerly-anticipated release of The Flash: Rebirth #1. With the first issue of The Flash: Rebirth now available, how would you characterize your interest in this epic mini-series? Let us know in the current sidebar poll!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Flash Facts: Reaction Time

"Reaction-time tests show that it takes 0.62 of a second for expert auto drivers to apply the brakes after seeing a danger signal. (Thus, at 60 miles an hour, a car will travel 52.8 feet before the before the brakes are applied.)"

Issue: The Flash #193 (December 1969)

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Sight and Sound: "Trials of the Demon!"

"Trials of the Demon!," a recent installment of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, aired 20 March 2009 on Cartoon Network. The episode was written by Todd Casey, directed by Michael Chang, and features Andy Milder as the voice of Jay Garrick. In the episode's festive teaser sequence, the caped crusader teams-up with the fastest man alive to defeat some frightening Halloween hijinks planned by the Scarecrow and Scream Queen. I never miss an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. The series is refreshingly light-hearted, clever, creative, and irresistibly fun. This episode was no different. I've been waiting a long time for the scarlet speedster to guest star on the series, so it's a delight to see the ever-affable Jay Garrick facing off against one of my all-time favorite supervillains, the scaremongering Scarecrow. I'm particularly fond of the peppy soundtrack provided for these tales by Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion, and Lolita Ritmanis. This installment may also be historically significant, as Kelson Vibber has observed. Believe it or not--discounting a flickering nod in the opening credits of Justice League: The New Frontier--this would appear to be the first time that Jay Garrick, the first Flash, has appeared in animation.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

April Fools' Day

Vibe: Rebirth

With The Flash: Rebirth hitting comic stores everywhere today, the scarlet speedster's triumphant return has been unexpectedly overshadowed by a development offering tantalizing hints regarding the future shape of the DC Universe. DC Comics has announced that the next chapter in the continuing rebirth cycle will resurrect Paco Ramone, the sonic superhero known as Vibe! Vibe: Rebirth, a five-part mini-series launching at the end of this year, will reunite the now familiar creative team of Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver and reinvent one of the DC Universe's forgotten heroes.

In a Newsarama interview Johns explained, "We want to turn Vibe into a pillar of the DC Universe... Our goal is to elevate the Vibe Universe... As a character, he's different because of his intrinsic values and what he believes in and how he approaches crime and how he approaches criminals and how he approaches the guilty and the not guilty. There are very specific details to his character and personality that we'll be exploring on a completely new level."

Unfortunately, although Paco Ramone's resurrection will undoubtedly have far-reaching ramifications for the Justice League and its associated heroes, this ambitious project does not bode well for fans of the fastest man alive. DC Executive Editor Dan Didio has revealed that the mini-series' fast-approaching December 2009 release date will ensure that writer Geoff Johns will not be guiding Barry Allen's adventures once the five-issue Flash: Rebirth comes to an end. The future, it would seem, belongs to Vibe.

The net is, naturally, buzzing with the news. Once Upon a Geek has posted further details on this epic event, including an extensive interview with Johns and Van Sciver. Speed Force considers the potential impact Vibe's return may have on the Flash. The Justice League Detroit blog looks at the unlikelihood of this particular creative development. Additionally, Fortress of Baileytude has posted a more enthusiastic commentary on what this means for DC Comics's publishing plan and fan base.

Update: Happy April Fools' Day from the Irredeemable Shag, Frank, Michael, Kelson, and myself! You can read about this and other comic book-themed April Fools' Day pranks at Publishers Weekly's The Beat. Vibe: Rebirth will be available, of course, only on the Bizarro World. Instead, boys and girls, enjoy The Flash: Rebirth!