Tag Archives: Repost Source

Did the Flash Save Comics?

[Picture of the Flash (Barry Allen) from Showcase #4]Yesterday’s article about the Flash (warning: major spoilers for this week’s DC Universe: Zero) in the New York Daily News brings up the hero’s key role in launching the Silver Age of Comics. Superheroes had fallen out of favor in the early 1950s, and comics were exploring genres like westerns, horror, romance, etc. When DC successfully relaunched the Flash in 1956, there was an explosion of new super-hero titles.

The Daily News quotes former Flash scribe Geoff Johns as saying, “Without Barry Allen, we’d still be reading comic books about cowboys.”

I don’t think that’s precisely true. Not to discount Barry’s contribution—it’s entirely possible, even likely, that super-heroes would have remained a background genre. But for one thing, we’re looking at half a century of ephemeral pop culture. For another thing, let’s consider: why were comics going after the western, crime and horror genres when super-heroes failed? Because that’s what was popular in movies and television at the time.

I’d guess that, without the Flash revitalizing super-heroes, we would have seen more science-fiction comics in the 1960s, more police comics in the 1970s, sitcom comics in the 1980s, and so on. Comics genres would probably have followed along with trends in pop culture instead of becoming heavily focused on a single genre.

We wouldn’t be reading cowboy comics today; we’d be reading reality comics.

Perhaps the presence of multiple genres would have eventually gotten rid of the “but, you know, comics are just for kids” mentality. (Not that it’s worked for cartoons or video games yet, but video games are still relatively new, and cartoons have similarly been dominated by the musical fairy tale and slapstick comedy short.)

Eh, who knows? Maybe they’d be all about pirates.

Edit: The comment thread at The Beat also has some interesting speculation on comics without the Silver Age Flash.

Cataloging Worlds

After reading the “Who cares what Earth this takes place on!” intro to the Justice League: New Frontier tie-in comic, I started thinking about the whole Earth-1, Earth-616, etc. thing. The confusion over Earth-1 vs. New Earth in DC (something which overshadowed discussion of the actual story in the first issue of Tangent: Superman’s Reign) highlights the question: just how important is it to label these fictional universes, anyway?

And once you’ve decided to catalog them, how do you label them?

A few multiverses that come to mind are DC’s, Marvel’s, and Michael Moorcock’s.

The multiverse of Moorcock’s Eternal Champion cycle is extremely fluid, with details changing whenever he wants to tell a different story. Just looking at the Elric stories, there are three or four origins for Stormbringer, and as many for the Melnibonéans and their pact with Arioch. There are several versions of the 20th-century Count Ulrich Von Bek (depending on whether you include Count Zodiac). Worlds are less like parallel lines and more like streams that can run together, mingle, and separate again (kind of like the briefly-used Hypertime as used by DC).

DC and Marvel, on the other hand, favor a discrete structure in which each universe can be precisely identified. This may have something to do with the focus on continuity as a key element of comic-book storytelling, and would explain why, for instance, Marvel has made an effort to number what seems to be every single alternate reality they’ve ever published.

Approaches to numbering:

  • Sequential. DC started out like this, with Earth-1, Earth-2, Earth-3, etc.
  • Random. Current DC multiverse, except for the first few we saw at the end of 52 which were based on worlds from the original DC multiverse (Earth-2, Earth-3, Earth-5 from Earth-S, Earth-10 from Earth-X). Marvel’s main continuity, Earth-616, was reportedly picked at random (though there is some disagreement on this point).
  • Referential. Things like choosing Earth-S for the worlds of Shazam or Squadron Supreme, or Earth-C for Captain Carrot. Earth-97 for Tangent (which appeared in 1997) and Earth-96 for Kingdom Come (which appeared in 1996) would also fall into this category (but see the next point).
  • Systematic. Taking referential labels a step further, using a consistent scheme. Marvel derives most of its designations from publication dates.

Personally, I prefer to just name them. “The Tangent Universe” or “New Frontier” or “Supremeverse” gets the idea across more directly than, say, Earth-9.

Finding Back Issues: Then and Now

I’ve had parts of this in draft form for at least 2 years. Last night, while brushing my teeth, I decided to pick it up with a new approach. This morning, I jotted down a couple of notes. And earlier this evening I saw Comics Should Be Good’s post, Where do you buy your comics?—and realized the time had come to actually finish the darn thing.

How I searched for back issues of comics in…

1988:

  1. Look at the local comic store.
  2. Wait for a convention that my parents were going to.

1998:

  1. Look at the local comic store.
  2. Drive around to other stores.
  3. Save up for San Diego Comic-Con.
  4. Look on this new site called eBay.

2008:

  1. Look at a couple of local comic stores.
  2. Look on eBay and Mile High Comics (singles)
  3. Look on eBay and Amazon (for trades & hardcovers)
  4. Look at a convention.
  5. Look for other sources on the net.

Two main things have changed: mobility (I couldn’t drive when I was 12) and the web. Continue reading

Not the Flash

Ad: Faster than a man in tights.Speedster? Check.
“World’s fastest man?” Check.
Skin-tight costume? Check.
Wings on head? Check.
Lightning motif? Check.
Round insignia on chest? Check.
Yellow boots? Check.

I first saw this ad for movietickets.com with 3:10 To Yuma a few months ago. He’s trying to impress his date by running and buying the tickets for their movie while they’re still at dinner. The show’s sold out, but it turns out she’s already bought the tickets online. Noticed a poster outside afterward. Amazingly, they’ve got the video clip online. And they’re selling posters. *shudder*

I haven’t been quite sure what to do with it, since I’m not sure I’m ready to start in on listing every parody of the Flash to ever appear in media.

Hmm, now that I think about it the Blur in that Baby Ruth commercial back in the 90s was blue, too.