Whatever Happened to The Flash?

Its been an interesting week for fans of The Flash, with the announcement that not only will there no longer be a Wally West co-feature in the main Flash title when it relaunches next year, but also the Kid Flash book that was supposed to accompany it has also been scrubbed.

Its quite disappointing news as far as I’m concerned.  The loss of the Wally co-feature stings as the character was the main Flash for over 20 years, so it had been nice to think he still had a home in the DCU with Barry’s return, however the real pain comes from the cancellation of Bart’s book before it even began.   As a fan of the old Impulse series and Bart as a character, the prospect of a new book, with Bart and Max (and whoever else from the Flash family crossed over, Iris West being an obvious candidate) had been something I was really excited about and was possibly the new book I was most looking forward to next year.

So what happened to change DC’s mind?  No one’s really sure at the moment (and in honesty, its probably unlikely we’ll ever really know).  Regarding the loss of the co-feature from Barry’s book I can understand that from a certain point of view.  Co-features push the price of the book up to $3.99, and a lot of the comic buyers have complained about that price point.   So, with Barry currently getting a big push in Blackest Night, it makes sense that DC would want to target the Flash ongoing at the $2.99 price point to keep the book affordable to new readers.

The loss of the Kid Flash companion book makes less sense to me.  Ever since Green Lantern successfully relaunched, Green Lantern Corps has done well.  Now admittedly, Green Lantern Corps waited a little before launching as a monthly, although it did have the Recharge mini-series as a lead in post-Rebirth.  So I wonder why something similar couldn’t have happened here.  The Rebirth format is proven through Green Lantern, and Bart and Max sustained the Impulse ongoing for many years, so at least having a Kid Flash mini-series to test the water in a similar way to Green Lantern Corps Recharge might’ve made sense.

Of course I think its also fair to say that Flash: Rebirth hasn’t entirely been as well received as Green Lantern: Rebirth.  Complaints about the delays, story pacing and retcons to Barry’s history have dogged the series (not that Green Lantern Rebirth didn’t have its share of complaints about the Parallax space bug retcon).  So I have to wonder if this is in part to attempt to focus a build up on Barry once again to try and drum up some more enthusiasm for the franchise that might’ve been lost by the complaints about Rebirth.

The Flash as a franchise has really struggled since Infinite Crisis.  Prior to that, the series was wobbling, trying to re-find its feet after the stellar run from Geoff Johns.  Then came down the editorial edict that Wally was to die in Infinite Crisis as a way to shake up the DCU, and place Bart as the Flash.  The backlash to this move was pretty strong, and the Bart series failed pretty much straight out the gate (a pity as there was some good creative talent on board, and given time to breath it might’ve worked, however I still feel it was pushing Bart into the main role way too soon).  Then Wally comes back, with his new familly, but that doesn’t take either, so now we’ve got Barry.   But then Rebirth isn’t as well received as planned, so now there seems to be yet another shakeup in direction.

There’s definitely the feeling that DC recognise the importance of the Flash, and really want it to succeed, but they just can’t get it to work.  Look at the two most recent reboots.  First the return of Wally, with Mark Waid writing, and then Flash: Rebirth with Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Skiver.  Both of these come across as really winning ideas.   Both should’ve really worked, and yet when its come down to it, neither has particular taken off.

Which kind of leaves me wondering if this latest move, to slim the proposed franchise right back to just a single Barry Allen title is a move to try and bolster the new direction once again.  To keep reader’s attentions focused purely on Barry and on Geoff John’s plans for the character, and then, when the direction is firmly in place, we can hope that the Kid Flash book resurfaces, or some other “Flash family” type book.

For myself, I must admit, while I’m now a bit less enthusiastic about the Flash next year, I’ll probably still pick up the first few issues of Barry’s book to see where Geoff Johns is going with it.  While I’ve not been a huge fan of some of the Rebirth retcons, his take on the character in Blackest Night appeals to me so I’m happy to give the book a try, and after Geoff’s run on both Wally’s book and now his Green Lantern work, can anyone really say they’re not expecting big things from the Flash book over the next 2-3 years?

But I’ll definitely miss the Bart book we never got.

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