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Gone in a Flash

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You can’t really fault Flash fans for being hesitant to embrace Tom Peyer as the series’ new writer. After all, any time there is a change in the creative team, it is viewed with uncertainty. Add to that the fact that Peyer is replacing Mark Waid, a superstar with a brilliant history with the character, and you have more cause for concern.

But what raises the fans worries most is DC’s mishandling of the title and the character over the last several years, starting with Infinite Crisis. In that, they took the then current Flash, Wally West, and banished him—seemingly forever—into the speed force.

This resulted in the long running Flash series to be cancelled and replaced with a brand new series with a brand new number one with hot shot Hollywood writers at the helm and a brand new character, former Kid Flash Bart Allen, wearing the Flash costume.

Flash: The Fastest Man Alive itself asked a very interesting question: what happens when a major shake up done to generate excitement generates no excitement whatsoever? The answer is that the book is cancelled after 13 issues, Bart Allen is killed off, and Wally West returns.

Some people thing that bad sales killed Bart Allen. Certain statements from DC indicate that this was the plan all along. I don’t know which one is worse. The former indicates DC grossly miscalculated what fans want to see. The latter shows that DC has absolutely no concern for the emotional investment readers have for their characters. Either way, it breaks down the trust Flash fans have with any changes DC might want to make with the character.

Therefore, Tom Peyer walks into a completely unfair situation. Since fans are bitter because of the treatment their favorite character has received—and they hoped Waid would not have left so soon—the chips are stacked against him before his first issue even comes out.

Of course, outside of a superstar scribe like Greg Rucka or Geoff Johns, any writer would have to face the same prejudice. But just because Peyer isn’t a big name yet doesn’t mean that he is not a skilled and talented writer. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of things going in his favor.

First off, he has worked with Mark Waid numerous times before. He offered a writing assist on Waid’s 1990s run on Legion of Super-Heroes before taking over the writing duties himself (with co-plotter Tom McCraw). And he even worked with Waid on the Flash during the Flash & Green Lantern: The Brave and the Bold.

Having worked with Waid doesn’t mean that he will be a carbon copy of the author. But it does mean that they share a similar mindset. Logic dictates that if you like Waid’s writing, Peyer shouldn’t be that far off.

And Waid isn’t the only great writer he has worked with. He has partnered on various titles with luminaries such as Roger Stern and Marv Wolfman, two of the best superhero writers in recent history.

But even if he didn’t work with Waid or those other writers, Peyer still would be a good choice to take over. He is an industry veteran who has almost 20 years experience in the business. Sure, he hasn’t made a splash like Brian Michael Bendis or Ed Brubaker, but he has worked consistently on many less popular characters and titles.

He has written L.E.G.I.ON. , Quicksilver, Legionnaires, and the second volume of Marvel Team-Up. But if you need any more confirmation of his writing skills, look no further than his vastly underrated work on Hourman, the DC series which ran from 1999 to 2001. That was, in my opinion, a classic case of a great series that never found a proper audience.

So, if you can put aside all the past drama associated with the Flash, you may come to realize that the character and series is in good hands. You should give Peyer and the series the benefit of the doubt. You might find yourself glad you did.  

Also out this week:

Super Friends #1:

Some of you old-timers out there might see this title and get wistfully nostalgic. You might want to rush out to pick this title up, expecting to see Wendy and Marvin, or at least Zan and Jayna. But this isn’t a monument to your lost childhood. It’s an appeal to readers who are currently in the full blossom of their own childhood.

This series is part of DC’s new program of kid-friendly titles. It is a tie-in to Mattel’s toy line aimed at the 3 years and older set. You won’t find a realistically rendered, grim and gritty Batman here. What you’ll find is a cartoony, shiny, happy Batman with a wide smile in place of his trademark scowl. If your kids or nieces and nephews play with the toys, this might be the perfect complement. 

Sholly Fisch (W), Dario Brizuela (A), Johnny DC/DC Comics, $2.25.   Ongoing Series.

Princess at Midnight:

Holly Crescent leads a sheltered life. Being schooled at home doesn’t give her much opportunity to meet other kids or to make friends. For some children, this would be a serious problem. But not for Holly. She has other things to occupy her time.

Namely, she spends each night living up to the awesome responsibility of being Princess of Castle Waxing. The Horrible Horde is constantly laying siege to her castle, and she is the only one to fight them off.

This is an all-ages, self-contained, graphic novel by one of indie comics biggest stars, Andi Watson. If there is a child you know with a vivid imagination, or you were that child once, this would be the book for you.

Andi Watson (W/A), Image Comics, $5.99. Original Graphic Novel.

Strangeways: Murder Moon:

Seth Collins is an ex-Army officer. He is in someways still fighting the Civil War, three years later, as he struggles with the horrors he experienced in the conflict. But a brand new horror is about to enter his life.

A letter from his estranged sister brings him to Silver Hand, a frontier town under attack by a wolf-like creature. His friend and partner Webster is accused of being the beast. If Collins cannot clear his friend and find the creature, Webster will be hanged. But Collins’ investigation is hampered by the town sheriff who has secrets he doesn’t want Collins to unbury. A secret that might prove more deadly to Collins than the wolf.

Matthew Maxwell (W), Luis Guaragna (A), Highway 62 Press, $13.95.  Original Graphic Novel.

Tangent: Superman's Reign #1:

The Tangent Universe started as a “fifth week” event. What is a fifth week event? It’s when there is a month with five Wednesdays in it, and they create a special series of themed issues released during that week (because no issue of any other series would have an issue scheduled for the week).

Tangent sprung from the mind of Dan Jurgens in 1997 and featured alternate takes on the DC heroes. The names remained the same, but that was the only thing.

The Tangent Universe returned for another fifth week event in 1998 and then all but disappeared from the pages of DC books. That is, until recently, when the events of Infinite Crisis made the Tangent books an alternate earth. Now, Jurgens returns to write a 12-issue miniseries which crosses the Tangent characters with the DC Universe counterparts.

Dan Jurgens (W), Matt Clark (A), DC Comics, $2.99. Twelve-Issue Miniseries.

Bohda Te #1:

You think your neighbors are bad? If you lived in Bohda Te, your neighbors would be a horrific feline, a dead schoolgirl, an angry little robot, a volatile military project, singing faeces, and a giant squid. Pretty scary, right?

The good thing is, Bohda Te is not easy to get to. It doesn’t appear on any map, and it won’t show up on any GPS system. The only way you can find it is if you are one of the lost, forgotten or rejected.

However, the bad thing is, if you are one of the above, you might stumble upon this mystical place. And unfortunately, once you arrive at Bohda Te, you will never be able to leave. Have fun with the singing faeces!

Jamie Smart (W/A), Amaze Ink/Slave Labor Graphics, $3.50. Ongoing Series.

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William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY with his wife Jennifer. He also writes periodic comic reviews for PopMatters, is a weekly contributor to Film Buff Online and writes title descriptions for Human Computing’s Comicbase collection management software. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.

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