Damn this comic to hell.
After the spoiler-filled cover of The Death of Superman, I was more than a little ecstatic when I saw this trade. Cue the trumpets, Barry Allen’s back!!
I’ve already mentioned that I wasn’t always Wally West’s biggest fan, and while he’s grown on me a bit, I still continue to wish Barry could make a triumphant return. Color me surprised when I read the title of this collection. Could it be true? Could the comic gods have actually brought Barry Allen back from the dead?
As it turns out…no.
The comic opens with a pretty monumental surprise: Barry Allen, alive and well, interrupting his friends’ Christmas festivities. Wally West, Jay Garrick, and company are understandably shocked at their supposed dead friend’s reappearance. They accept him warmly though, astounded but happy that somehow their friend has been returned to them.
All, that is, except Wally.
Wally is happy to have Barry back, but there’s a part of him that believes it’s too good to be true. He approaches his mentor carefully, weary of who he might really be. Eventually though, Barry convinces Wally that he’s the real deal, and the two share the title of The Flash as they defend their Twin Cities.
I admit, I fully embraced the reappearance of Barry Allen, if for no other reason than that I truly wanted to believe he was back. There was a nagging voice at the back of my mind warning that there must be a twist coming, but I ignored it, choosing instead to enjoy the unexpected reappearance of such a great character.
This euphoria is short-lived though, for both Wally and myself, as the resurrected Barry starts to show cracks in his facade. It culminates with him leaving Wally to die as he proclaims that he is the one and only Flash.
Hurt and confused, Wally searches for answers. This is clearly not the man he idolized as a child, nor the one who taught him everything he knows. Eventually Wally discovers a book located at the scene of the supposed Barry’s first reappearance, and suddenly all becomes clear to him.
Barry is not really Barry at all, but Professor Zoom, aka The Reverse Flash, from the future:
Cue my broken heart.
I really, really friggin’ hate this guy. Hasn’t he done enough?! I had hoped once Barry killed him that would be the end, but of course he’s from the future so time travel totally becomes a thing and we get the pleasure of dealing with his obnoxious murdering self.
…not that I’m bitter or anything.
Now that the mystery has been revealed, Wally sets about sending Reverse Flash back to the future, so that he can eventually go back in time again, cause massive destruction, and be killed by Barry (all under the logic that “if we don’t let him do that, it could cause a chain of events that isn’t necessarily for the better.” Yes, it makes sense, but I don’t have to like it.)
Wally succeeds in returning Reverse Flash to the 25th century, but there’s still one piece to the puzzle. The book that Wally found, the one that revealed Flash’s true identity, was a biography of Barry Allen/Flash, written a few short years from the present day. Most surprising was who wrote it:
Iris, presumed dead along with Barry, is apparently very much alive. I found the idea of her return to be equally exciting and sad. It would be great for her character to return (both for readers and for Wally) but at the same time it would feel incomplete to have her without Barry. The two were so in love and I really don’t want to read about her sadness and regrets over his death. I’m good with not dredging up all that heart-wrenching emotion, thank you very much. I’m curious to see if this is a storyline that gets followed up on, or if its a side reference that never goes anywhere. If Iris can come back, maybe Barry can too?
I guess the question is, should he come back? Obviously the writers could always find a comic loopole to bring him back from the dead, but there’s a certain poignancy and finality in his death. He made the ultimate sacrifice and died a true hero, and to bring back the character might sully that image.
Then again I really miss Barry, so a part of me doesn’t care too much if he loses his martyrdom.
The writing was good, the art was entertaining, but damn this comic for toying with my emotions. I guess I can’t always take a comic cover (or title) at face value. Why couldn’t The Death of Superman have been a fakeout with this being the real thing??
Yep, I like that idea much better. Let’s rewrite the comics and make that happen.
Are there any comics you wish had ended differently?