Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Eldest #3

WARNING: If you enjoy the DC Silver Age, you may be offended by this post.

Ok, so I'm hearing that Flash:Rebirth is getting ready to be published and that makes me ask just one important question: What's the big deal with Barry Allen?

Why does everyone absolutely love this guy? I mean, I grew up reading all my dad's old Silver Age JLA books and he always seemed like a nice guy, but not anything special. What made him different from Carter, Ralph, Hal, Arthur, Ollie, or Ray? Honestly, any Flash adventures I ever saw where he wasn't with the league were pretty boring.

Compare this with all the old Superman books I grew up with. Superman always seemed a little campy to me, but I wrote that off as him being Superman and who's gonna compete with him? Also, compared to the Detective Comics that dad had plenty of, Flash was just silly. Of course, that was when Neal Adams was doing Batman, so maybe that's not a fair comparison.

This is my point: Name something Barry Allen did that was more heroic than what he did in Crisis on Infinite Earths. The sole reason he's so beloved by the general comic book reading populace is the fact that we've been beaten over the head with how great a guy he was. You never see anything about how he was boring and dull. All we ever see is the current heroes fawning over how great he was. And in the Crisis he was great... for three issues right before he died.

Of course none of this takes away from the amazing courage and heroism that the character showed during the original Crisis. By sacrificing the way he did, he gave the other heroes of his and future generations a standard to live up to. He was held up as the model of what it was to be heroic. But only because of how his career ended. Not because of what he did while alive. My argument is just that Barry Allen inspired more people while he was dead that he did while he was alive. Heck, even Batman agrees with me:

And you can't argue with the goddamn Batman.


SallyP said...

But...but I LIKE Barry!

Sea_of_Green said...

Well, this is kinda complicated. I understand perfectly why someone who didn't grow up reading about Barry wouldn't be all too enamored with him. However, people who ARE fond of him are fond of him for several reasons:

- Barry had a VERY cool job -- that of police scientist -- which was never really explored well in the comics. And Barry DIED before DC finally got a hold of some writers who actually KNEW something about police science. Old Barry fans have speculated for a long time about how the Barry Allen Flash could have been so much more WITH an informed writer. They're especially eager to see WHAT writers will do with him NOW that public interest in police science (via television) is at a peak. WALLY, on the other hand, NEVER had an interesting job, and has always been kinda dumb compared to Barry.

- Barry was SUCH a sweet, nerdy guy. OMG, he was a FABULOUS nerd! Easily the nerdiest member of the Justice League -- and it made him so darned loveable to readers who are fond of/identify with nerds. It made it all the funnier that his best friend was Hal Jordan.

- The races between Superman and the Flash were SO entertaining. The fact that Superman makes the Flash's powers redundant doesn't matter -- 'cause Superman makes almost EVERYONE redundant.

Eldest said...

See I understand all that, just none of it applies to me. I always saw the Flash as a supporting character regardless of who it was at the time.

I can honestly say that I've never read a single Flash title since Wally took over the job. My experience with him is solely from JLA and various other crossovers.

He just seemed to me to be a funnier more outgoing character than Barry, who always came across as a totally inept goof when he wasn't in costume. Maybe Wally was written in a completely different way in his own title, I don't know.

I agree that "police science" is a much better profession now than back then. I mean what did he do before? Check fingerprints and mess with "chemicals"? Now it actually makes him seem smart (Barry Allen is the new Grissom) instead of someone who doesn't have what it takes to be a street cop or detective.

Also, I think Supes should have won all the races.

SallyP said...

Now, I always thought that Wally was the one who was an inept goof, not Barry.

Barry was always rather sweet, he was nice, and heroic, and I have to assume, had a certain dry sense of humor. He'd need one if he was friends with Hal.