Just disregard the first eight issues


The Flash has been one of those characters that you either love or hate. When Barry Allen bit the bullet during Crisis on Infinite Earths, I’m sure readers had some trepidation when Wally West donned the scarlet jumpsuit and took on the identity of The Flash. Wally had a really good run for nearly 20 years before DC decided it was time for Wally to retire with his wife and kids and join the speed force – that is if you believe the hype, which I don’t. I would bet Wally and family are happily living out their days on one of the multiple Earths that have reappeared.

With Wally out of the picture, someone else had to step up to fill those running shoes. Since most of the rest of the speedsters have been killed off, had their powers stripped, or are just too old (Max Mercury, Johnny Quick, Jessie Quick, Jay Garrick, John Fox, Red Trinity, and so on to name a few), the only one left is Bart Allen.

Now I love Bart Allen since he first burst on the scene in Flash #95 and continued in his own Impulse series. Mark Waid was the perfect writer for both Flash and Impulse, but somewhere new writers came in and solid story telling started to drift. When DC relaunched The Flash as The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive, starring Bart, I was pretty excited at first. Notice I said, “at first”, because it was clear from the very issue #1, this title suffered, and suffered big time. By the time the third issue arrived I was nearly ready to stop reading one of my favorite titles of all time (I have a complete run from Flash #300 (first series) all the way to the current incarnation, and keep looking for back issues to complete the set). I decided to stay on, and when I read Flash #9, complete with a new writer, I knew it was worth the wait.

As far as I am concerned the first eight issues should be wiped from your memory, and you should only remember these key facts:

  • Bart returned from the Speed Force wearing one of uncle Barry’s costumes
  • Bart aged during his time away and is now a 16 year old trapped in the body of a 21 year old
  • He met a really cute girl from Star Labs (Valerie Perez) and they began dating
  • Bart moved from Keystone City to become a CSI in Los Angeles, but in a few moments can be back in KC should the need arise

There. Any questions? That’s too bad if you do, because I just said the first eight issues must be stripped from your memory. Those are THE ONLY facts that are still relevant as we move forward into the new age of the Flash.

Having Marc Guggenheim on board as the writer is like the first warm breeze of Spring. It gets you all worked up anticipating things to come. From the first page, I was totally drawn into the story. Being the fastest man alive (on this Earth), Bart should be able to multi-task, and while he is having a conversation with Robin about rejoining the Teen Titans, he is busy taking down a super villain calling himself Impulse.

Probably not a good idea to go around using that moniker…

What strikes me about Guggenheim’s writing is how he is able to make Bart and the Flash FUN again. This is most evident as Bart mocks the classic “I’m Wally West, and I’m the Fastest Man Alive” line, by following it up with a zinger on not only his back story, but many of the other DC characters with similar problems.


After the fight is over, Bart discovers a bit of technology buried beneath the street, and promptly takes it to Valerie to have it analyzed. Turns out it is from Apokolips. But before anything else can happen, Bart and Val must run off (literally) to Keystone to have dinner with some friends.

Wally West made it a point to make his identity public so people knew who they were dealing with. This was probably not the smartest thing to do, as it created all sorts of problems when he dated and later married Linda Park. Almost like clockwork, some crazed villain would kidnap Linda to get at Wally.

Bart doesn’t want this to happen, and would rather keep his life private, and he has sworn Valerie to secrecy. But when was the last time someone who was dating a famous person kept their mouth shut? During the diner conversation one of Val’s friends drops enough subtle hints that she knows Bart’s secret.

This leads to a fight between Bart and Valerie after dinner, and the two decide to call it quits for a while. I like the Valerie Perez character, and like that the Flash title dealt with relationship issues between heroes and normal people. Superman doesn’t count because he has never made his secret identity known to a large group of people.

Valerie was introduced during “those issues which shall not be mentioned”, so I don’t know if the breakup here is a way for Guggenheim to clear away the old, or if we’ll see Val again. Personally, I would really like to see the return of Carol Bucklen as the love interest. Although considering her own convoluted history, that may not be the best idea.

Back in LA, Bart pines away for his love, when Snaggletooth…er… I mean Steppenwolf arrives from Apokolips to reclaim the device. A big battle ensues, which tests Bart’s abilities and powers. Unlike other battles, which end quickly with a series of fast punches, Bart has met his match and realizes he needs to use his brawn and brain in order to defeat his enemy.

Even when his first big idea fails to work, Bart shows he has earned the title of the Flash by dusting himself off and preparing for another go. Fortunately, before he can get his butt handed to him a second time, reinforcements arrive to take Steppenwolf down for good.


The issue ends where it began with Bart talking on the phone with Robin. Instead of jumping to rejoin the Teen Titans, Bart tells Tim he’s going to hold off joining a team until he is ready. The inference is he is waiting until he is ready to join the Justice League, but it also means he knows he has a lot of growing to do.

The Good

  • Guggenheim
  • The art
  • Bart Allen as a hero and not Emo Flash
  • Great use of humor

The Bad

  • Would hate for Val to be gone from the series
  • The story seemed a bit forced

Like I said before, totally disregard “those issues which shall not be mentioned ” and regard Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #9 as the new first issue. With Guggenheim behind the wheel and with great art provided Andy Kuhn, Ron Adrian, and Art Thibert, this series is going to be one heck of a ride. While there still a lot of things to sort out, like which Earth Barry and Wally are currently hanging out, this issue was solid enough to earn it a well deserved 3.5 Stars.


Parting Shot


About Author

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...


  1. Stephen,
    I’ve got 35 issues of Flash pre-300 (many are reader quality) that are duplicates. Do you have any duplicates? My series 1 collection run begins at 237 but I have several before that. I’d like to fill in my gaps pre-237 also.


  2. Matthew Peterson on

    I have a few duplicates (as well as access to some relatively pleasant worn reading copies through my store) of the pre-237 issues, I’ll try and dig them up and see if anyone needs them.

    As for the issue at hand, while I like the new direction (indeed, ANY direction) better than our first 8 issues, I’m still troubled with the decision to make Bart a police scientist AND have him wear a costume identical to Barry’s. It would be a terrible idea to bring Barry Allen back, but it would be an even worse one to just morph Bart into a clone of him.

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