Monday, December 19, 2005

REVIEWING: "The Secret of Barry Allen" TPB

Before I get into this review, I'd like to comment on something else.

The other night my wife and I were watching the animated Frosty the Snowman, and right in the midst of Paul Coker designs and Jimmy Durande songs, I got to wondering that if a "magic hat" can animate a lifeless snowman, what would happen if said hat was placed upon a dead human? Would it bring him back to life? Would it create a zombie? And, since Frosty doesn't actually have a brain, wouldn't it make him some sort of mindless, ice monster, waving his twisted, gnarled limbs as arms and murmering from his black coal "mouth" a frightening I'll be bacccckkkkk! I'll be baccccckkkkk!!" wich would scare the bejesus outta any child that tried to animate such? Those dead, unpupiled eyes staring deep into the child's soul just awaiting another chance to reap ravok in a mid-winter night's dream.'s just one of those wonderful joyous holiday thoughts I have at this time of the year. (*ahem*)
And now, back to the show.

Perhaps DC Comics should just go ahead and use Frosty's magic hat on the corpse of Barry Allen and be done with it and resurrect him from his "Crisis on Infinite Earths"'s death because they certainly won't let any of their readers of the current FLASH title ever forget him.

But this 2005 DC Comics trade paperback collection of reprints isn't just all about Barry Allen. It reprints issues of the current Flash series #'s 207-211,213-217 leaving out #212 (probably because it had nothing to do with the issues before of afterwards from it being an odd issue out or some writer being too lazy to meet a deadline).

In fact, it's not until the second half of this TPB that we get into the theme of Barry Allen, really. The first part revolves around the former Kid Flash, Wally West, dealing with the fear of someone harming his wife because they know his real identity, and an attack by one of his villians has caused his wife to miscarry their unborn offspring(s). But this whole "situation" had been solved when Hal Jordan, the current resident host body of "The Spectre" (and why DC won't let the best version of the silver-age Green Lantern alone, Lord only knows), erases everyone's memory of Wally ever having been the Flash in the first place (including Wally and his wife, Linda, as well).

This had been on the request of Wally to The Spectre, but he didn't realize what an impact it'd have on him personally, or his wife (who leaves him after rediscovering his secret ID as The Flash to get her head together). In fact, not only did West not know he was The Flash, but neither did anyone in the "heroic society" including the Justice League of America (which rather upset them all).

In this first storyline, West tries to find where Linda's gone away to and ends up distancing himself from the JLA companions until some of his old aquaintances and "friends" like Batman and Nightwing (the former original "Robin the Boy Wonder" and fellow old team-mate from "The Teen Titans") help set him straight about things. And, finally he reveals his ID once again to the JLA and other costumed heroes he knows.

In fact, in the entire DC Universe, about all it seems one needs to obtain the knowledge of anyone's secret ID of their heroes, is to claim to be one yourself. Get into the JLA, even as a back-up occasional member, and one obtains a wealth of knowledge. Let's dearly hope none of these heroes turn evil or the use of this knowledge will really cause the proverbial shit to hit the fan, someday.

Now, most of this Identity Crisis is all due to "The Elongative Man" (Ralph Digby)'s wife, Sue, being recently murdered by a super-villian, just because he knew (as well as the public at large) that Digby WAS The Elongative Man, and this is all related to the current DC crap so many fans of the company are disgusted over almost as much as that storyline some years ago of "The Death of Superman".

Then, we get into the real theme of this collection, "The Secret of Barry Allen", which begins when "Green Arrow" gaves West a letter which Barry Allen had left him in case of his death. In the letter, Allen explains an act in which he had some shame and requests West to do this last favor for him.

Allen's guilt lay with where he had "Prof.Zoom" magically lobotomized by the magician, "Zatanna" after he thought Zoom had killed his own wife (Iris). Later on, Iris returned, but Zoom stayed in this mindless state. So Allen didn't want yet another of his old villians, "The Top", to end up that way as well because he'd taken that villian to Zatanna also, but instead of wiping out his mind completely, he eliminated the evil traits and turned The Top into a hero. This eventually didn't set as well in The Top's mind as Allen had hoped; in fact, it finally drove the former villian crazy and caused his death. But, old villians are hard to kill. The Top's mind was evidently so powerful that he kept coming back possessing the minds of others, and was as crazy in each form every time.

Allen wanted West to track down The Top and have Zatanna restore his old criminal mind, and make things as they were before.

Of course, West succeeds in doing this.

Sounds pretty confusing? Actually, the whole storylines make fair sense, and there's no real way for me to explain all the "goings-on" by just reviewing this TPB; you'd just have to read it all yourself. I must admit that there's some nice little cameos by the GA Green Lantern, Metamorpho and others. One thing, or, I should say, a statement the writer (Geoff Jones) made that I found pretty much just incorrect, was that the reason the original GA Jay Garrick "Flash" wore a helmet as part of his costume was because it was a World War I relic which belonged to his father, and I think most fans would agree that instead this part of his attire was designed after the winged helmet worn by Mercury of the ancient Roman gods.

And along the way we get to see many of The Flash's old rogues like "Captain Cold", and "Gorilla Grodd" (and a buncha others), plus a few of his old villians that have reformed (???) and now heroes???? Well...that's probaby yet to be seen.

Oh yeah...and the artwork's not bad either; some Turner , Sciver and Porter covers and interior Porter artwork which is more than simply passable.

And of course, a happy ending as Wally West's wife, Linda returns.

P.S.: (Please excuse any typos this time around folks. This makes 3 weeks of work without a week day off!)


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