Chunk, comics, dc comics, Flash, Geoff Johns, He-Man, Justice League Europe, Killowog, Linda Park, Masters of the Universe, Metamorpho, old people, Rod Whigham, Skee-Lo, TO Morrow, Wally West, wedding, William Messner-Loebs, worst of the best, wtf
Welcome to Worst of the Best! This feature examines comics that are missteps, screw-ups, or just wtf’s of an otherwise perfectly good run. Today I will be looking at an issue that cut particularly deep for me when I was younger, Flash #61.
This issue is cover dated as April, 1992, so it would have come out a couple months before that. I had been collecting comics for a little over 2 years at this point. Also, The Flash tv show been on and gone (unfortunately) by this time. While Batman had gotten me into comics, I soon grew an interest into the Flash also.
Following the events of the DC event Crisis on Infinite Earths, Barry Allen’s longtime sidekick, Wally West, had taken over duties as the Flash. This volume was his book and since this was the one I read growing up, Wally will always be MY Flash.
The bulk of the run that I had read at this point had been written by William Messner-Loebs and drawn by Greg LaRocque and Larry Mahlstedt. Loebs had done a lot of work on expanding Wally’s supporting cast in the title. Sometimes in a franchise you have a solid protagonist with a colorful supporting cast that almost overshadows the main character. This happens occasionally with properties like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. A good, heroic character that appears generic next to their creative supporting characters.
This is not what happened to Flash though. For the most part, Flash’s supporting cast was made up of civilians. Early on, Wally’s mother was in the book. At the time I was fine with that. A parent being a regular part of a superhero comic is almost unheard of even today. John Byrne had wisely decided to include Superman’s adopted parent, Ma and Pa Kent in his reboot earlier.
Over time though it just felt like the cast got muddied with characters that really didn’t have an impact and that were more suited to a soap opera than a superhero comic book. Honestly, the only one that made an impact was Chunk, a former supervillain that had made friends with Wally eventually. Also, I believe Chunk was the first regular black character in a comic that I read.
Now I really enjoyed this run on Flash, but the ever-increasing shift to a soap opera tone came to a head with this issue. Entitled “The Old Wedding Dodge” by William Messner-Loebs with Rod Whigham and Frank McLaughlin. This issue details Wally’s elderly mother getting hitched. Just what eleven year old me had been waiting for.
Now there is some superheroic stuff going on this issue, but it really feels like they had to put that in so their editor wouldn’t fire them all outright. Don’t get it twisted, the A-story here is the wedding.
There’s also a cameo from Flash’s teammates on Justice League Europe. Just don’t get your hopes up into thinking they do anything cool in this book, they’re milling around at the wedding party.
How do you make Killowog look boring? And is Metamorpho auditioning for Chippendale’s? Is he wearing the bow tie, or did he form the bowtie at the last-minute while running late for the wedding? I would much rather have read that story.
Wally has to go get the preacher for the wedding who is being held up trying to talk a jumper down from a bridge. The preacher is able to talk down the man who happens to be Justice League baddie T.O. Morrow. The hell? Whatever. This is the only real speed action scene we get in the book so I’ll take it.
Later on back at the ceremony, some other geriatric couple decides to get married, so the decision is made to make it a DOUBLE WEDDING!!!
Who the hell is this comic for, 70-year-old little girls? Cause they don’t exist, son! It’s all right though, because all of this leads to what is probably the best splash page in comic history.
Oh yeah, time for a dry, dry geriatric make out sesh. How’s that for a “climax”?
The only redeeming aspect I can find in this issue is at the end when Wally is contemplating about how everyone else at the wedding seems to have someone except him. Enter Linda “she’s just a friend” Park. Duh duh DUUUUUHHH. FORESHADOWING!
It’s rare that I can point out exactly when I wanted to drop a title, but in this case I am 100% positive, this is it. I had read this title since at least the tv show was on and I went back and filled in this run from the first issue. Flash was a good book that I enjoyed but this crap story was the straw that broke the back.
I didn’t pick the Flash title up again regularly until Geoff Johns’ run in 2000. And not before Wizard magazine started going on about how good the book was, because Wizard was never wrong, kids.
Not wanting to end on a downer, here’s the baller-ass cover to issue 50 when Wally got his awesome metallic costume! I wish he still had this texture on his suit to differentiate him from the other speedsters.