Comic Book Review: Flash #13

The Revolution strongly disliked the new Flash: Fastest Man Alive title that debuted after Infinite Crisis. I hated that Dan Didio so rigidly felt like since there had been another Crisis, that there also had to be a change with the Flash. Wally was given a truly horrible exit and Bart was rapidly aged and then made the new Flash. On top of that, the writing by Bilson and Demeo was rather poor.

Sales numbers were less than impressive and by issue #8 they were just about the same sales number of Flash #225 which was Johns’ last issue on the title before the terrible final story arc and the cancellation of The Flash. By Flash: FMA #9, the sales numbers were almost 3,000 copies less than Flash #225 and Flash: FMA #10 sold almost 4,000 copies less than Flash #225. Clearly, this new Flash was not the hit with the fans that DC had hoped for.

So that brings us to Flash: FMA #13 where it appears that Bart is going to pay the price for Dan Didio’s mistakes. It looks like since Wally was given back to us over in Justice League of America #10 that Bart is going to be taken away from us. Let’s hit this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Mark Guggenheim
Penciller: Tony Daniel
Inker: Jonathon Glapion, Marlo Alquiza & Tony Daniel

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with a scene set in 2989 A.D. where Bart is talking to his grandpa, Barry Allen. Barry tells Bart that a hero is someone who stands even when their legs are gone.

We cut to the present were Valerie is in Inertia’s machine and working frantically to prevent the Speed Force from creating a discharge enough to destroy the West Coast. Iris comments that history is in flux. Iris then leaves to go help Bart since he is now powerless.

We cut to Bart staring at the Black Flash whose presence signals Bart’s death. Suddenly, Iris Allen is on the scene. Iris tells Bart that she is going to help him give Valerie some time so she can work on a solution to save the West Coast. Bart knocks out his grandmother because he doesn’t want her getting hurt.

Bart contacts Valerie and tells her that he will buy her some time. Valerie tells Bart that she can discharge the energy build-up by releasing all of it, but that also includes the Speed Force. That she can’t transfer that power back to Bart.

We cut to Pied Piper punching out Inertia. Piper comments how Inertia played all of them. However, Piper adds that Inertia is not the only one here with a secret agenda.

Bart takes Iris’ tranquilizer gun and engages the Rogues. Bart shoots two of the Rogues and reduces the odds to four to one. The remaining four Rogues proceed to lay a beatdown on Bart.

The Rogues hold Bart down while Kadabra comments how young the Flash looks. The Piper arrives with Inertia in his grasp. Kadabra comments how Inertia looks just like the Flash. That Inertia’s machine was really designed to steal Flash’s powers and give them to Inertia. That Inertia has been using drugs to give himself super speed powers.

Inertia retorts that he may have lied about what the machine does, but he did deliver on his promise to the Rogues for the chance to kill the Flash. Kadabra responds that this child here is not the Flash. Bart then shouts that he is the Flash and breaks free from the Rogues and proceeds to pound away on Inertia.

The Rogues then spot that someone is inside Inertia’s machine. Inertia runs to the machine. Bart realizes that he has to catch Inertia so Inertia doesn’t stop Valerie from saving the West Coast. Bart tackles Inertia. The Rogues panic and don’t want to go back to jail so they all blast Bart Allen. Bart gets blasted by cold, heat and lightning.

However, Bart gave Valerie enough time to diffuse Inertia’s machine. The West Coast is saved. Valerie and Iris rush to Bart’s side. Valerie tells Bart to tap into the Speed Force so it can heal him. Bart comments that he has already tried. That the Speed Force isn’t working the way it should. Bart says he is glad that Wally is back. Bart tells Valerie that he loves her. Bart then dies.

We cut to Titans Tower. Robin’s cell phone rings. Robin gets the news of Bart’s death. Robin drops the phone and slumps to the ground. We cut to the JSA brownstone and see Liberty Belle crying as she holds Jay Garrick. We cut to a candle light vigil by thousands of people at the Flash Museum to honor the memory of Bart Allen.

Comments
The Good: Nice. Flash #13 was a very well written issue. Guggenheim really impressed me with quite an emotional read. Now, I may not have liked what DC did with Bart, but I’m not going to bash on Guggenheim for that. Guggenheim did the best with what he had to work with. And Guggenheim turned in a technically sound and well written issue. Guggenheim’s writing was poetic and intense. It made this issue a riveting read.

Flash #13 was a well paced issue. I dig how Guggenheim managed to increase the tension and sense of dread within the reader as the issue progressed. Near the end of the issue, the reader is frantically turning the pages hoping against hope that Bart would survive this story.

Guggenheim also crafts some fine dialogue. Bart’s running monologue in this issue is classic. It is emotional, touching and very fitting for Bart’s swan song. Guggenheim did such a good job with Bart’s emotions. We got an excellent sense of Bart’s will to live. His fleeting hope that the Black Flash was here for Inertia and not him. Then we get an excellent sense of Bart’s resolve and acceptance that he is going to die, but that he will die as a hero. That he will die as a Flash.

The scene where the Rogues comment that Bart is just a child and that he is not the real Flash was excellent. Bart’s responds that he is The Flash and then he breaks free and proceeds to beat up Inertia. That got me all pumped up and excited. This scene was a response to readers like myself who refused to call Bart the “real” Flash when Bart replaced Wally after Infinite Crisis. Bart is The Flash and is worthy of the name.

The scene where the Rogues kill Bart was well done. The Rogues have never seemed more villainous, despicable and weak. They are pathetic men. The killing of a Flash definitely firmly establishes the Rogues as big-time villains who are surely no joke. And payback is going to be a bitch. You have to think that Wally is going to exact some serious revenge on the Rogues once he finds out that they killed Bart.

Guggenheim gives us a powerful and heroic death as Bart pushes himself past the pain and his lack of powers. That Bart is a hero and stands even when his legs are gone. Grandpa Barry Allen is the consummate hero and Bart made Barry proud with how he fought in this issue.

The ending was beautiful. Guggenheim clearly knows that less is more and gives us two full pages without any dialogue or text at all. Just the images are enough to convey the profound sense of pain and loss that Robin, Liberty Belle and Jay Garrick all feel. And then the final page with the candlelight vigil in honor of Bart was the perfect ending. This was a strong ending that had a real impact on me. And I’m not even a fan of Bart!

The scene with Robin just broke my heart. I feel so bad for Tim Drake. It seems that every day he loses another person dear and close to him. And to make matters worse, the last time Tim was around Bart was during the Titans East storyline and Bart had harsh words for Tim. I’m sure Tim would have liked to have had a more pleasant memory in mind for the last time he saw his friend alive.

Of course, Tony Daniel supplies plenty of fine artwork. I really miss his art over on the Teen Titans. Tony Daniel still draws one of the best Robins ever.

The Bad: All right, now that I have praised Guggenheim for delivering the best issue he could with what DC gave him, I’m now going to address the huge mistake that I feel Flash #13 was.

Was it really necessary to kill Bart Allen? DC and, more specifically, Dan Didio really screwed the pooch with the handling of Wally West and Bart Allen. It was an idiotic and poorly conceived idea to have Wally receive an ambiguous exit from the DCU and to replace him with Bart Allen. With one bonehead move, Didio managed to totally screw up and stomp all over a perfectly fine character in Kid Flash. It is a real shame.

It was a mistake to write Wally West off in such a cursory and unsatisfactorily manner. I may have not liked that DC killed off Barry Allen, but at least Barry had a heroic death. Then, Didio compounded the mistake by foolishly aging Bart into his early twenties and then making him the new Flash. Didio’s simplistic logic that if you have a Crisis then you must have a new Flash was incredible dumb. Talk about an arbitrary rule that lacks any reason. And the resulting product showed the defect in Didio’s decision.

Now, I’ll admit that I was never a big fan of Bart. I never really liked Impulse. However, I thought Johns did an excellent job with Bart as Kid Flash over on the Teen Titans. Suddenly, I started liking Bart. I thought Bart was a great Kid Flash and a pretty neat character. I liked his insecurities and the trouble he had of trying to step out of the huge shadows of Jay Garrick, Barry Allen and Wally West.

Then Didio goes and ruins Bart’s character for me by prematurely aging Bart and then shoving Bart down our throats as the new Flash. So, Didio finally realizes his error and decides to hit the panic button. We get Wally delivered back to us over in Justice League of America #10 and poor Bart is now the odd man out. Rather than somehow revert Bart back to his younger age and let him resume being Kid Flash, Didio orders Bart’s death. Poor Bart has to pay the price for Didio’s moronic decision of how to handle the Flash in the wake of Infinite Crisis.

There is no doubt that Wally’s twins will probably assume the identities of the Tornado Twins and take the place in the DCU that Kid Flash would have had. After all, Didio probably feels that there is no need for three teen-aged Flashes running around the DCU.

I was really hoping that Bart would be sent back to the future to work with the Legion of Super Heroes. Or maybe that since the Multiverse is back and better than ever, that it would provide DC the perfect literary vehicle to place Bart in another universe where he could be the Flash. Unfortunately, it is the long dirt nap for Bart. Oh well, honestly, I’d much rather have Barry or Wally than Bart as the Flash. But, that doesn’t mean that I wanted to see Bart killed off.

I can totally understand how angry, frustrated and cheated Bart Allen fans must feel right now. And because of that I’m not going to gloat at all that my boy Wally is back as the Flash.

And what is up with Robin? Is Dan Didio’s newest hobby torturing poor Tim Drake? It is getting almost laughable how many close friends and family members that Tim has lost in the past couple of years. Who is next? Wonder Girl?

Overall: Flash #13 was an emotional read. I really enjoyed Guggenheim’s efforts on this issue. I’ll praise the writer and bash DC for this issue. Bart was a great Kid Flash and deserved better than this. Having said that, I’m glad that I get to add The Flash back to my list of titles that I read now that Wally is back.

3 Comments

  1. Wonder Girl’s next on the chopping block, but only after she and Tim hook up and have angsty “Kon-is-dead” sex.

    There’s a line from The Lion in Winter, spoken by Prince Richard when he and his brother have been imprisoned for conspiring against their father Henry; Richard vows not to beg, and when challenged that it doesn’t matter how they conduct themselves as they fall, he says: “When the fall is all there is, it matters.”

    Well, Guggenheim was handed what was essentially a single arc to pick up the pieces of the previous writers’ wreckage, and make Bart’s death matter. It’s an editorial edict, but when the edict’s in, the execution counts, and Guggenheim gets an A for effort (and execution). In fact, by the time it became clear that Bart was getting the axe, a substantial number of message-boarders were very disappointed that this run was ending.

    I really wonder where the Rogues go from here. A few issues of Countdown ago, the Pied Piper remarked that he was hanging out with the Rogues because they were essentially harmless, and he needed the companionship; well, as I suspected as soon as I read that line weeks ago, that’s turned out not to be the case at all. The Rogues’ hallmark is that, unlike Batman’s band of psychos or Superman’s collection of blockbusters, they’re mostly a collection of bankrobbers and petty crooks who have a fairly genial relationship with the heroes they face (look at their appearance on JLU, where Mirror Master, Cold, Boomerang, and Trickster kvetch in a villains bar while drinking non-alcoholic beverages). That’s out the window now; if “Identity Crisis” is a precedent, the League, the JSA, the Teen Titans, and the Outsiders should all be coming down on them like the wrath of God.

  2. I am sad man, honestly very sad after this issue. I didn’t like Bart as the Flash, just because he wasn’t Wally but the writing was getting better and the story more interesting. All the hype into making Bart the new flash was a total waste and it makes me feel cheated… man I am so bummed out I am going to read JLA #10 again just to feel good ;____________;

  3. I just thought of something.
    What if Bart was who the Legion were after in JLA.

    This was a good read, but I’m sad to see Bart go. He should never have been aged and made into the Flash. I enjoyed him as Impulse, and I loved his transition to Kid Flash, but the handling of the Flashes since infinite crisi has been awful. Lets hope Wally’s return changes that.

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