The Life Story of the Flash by Iris Allen

Just when I had finally accepted the death of Barry Allen.  Just when I had finally accepted Wally West as the new Flash.

THIS comic had to pop up on “the shelf”.

On the one hand, I love that this trade even exists.  A sort of meta-comic, this is the book teased at the end of Flash: The Return of Barry Allen.  It was fun to note that this comic also happened to come out in 1997, the very year that The Return of Barry Allen claimed it would be published.

Well played, DC.

This is a touching and truthful account of Barry Allen’s life, as told by his wife Iris.  She covers just about every aspect of his life, from his childhood and early adult life, to the freak accident that gave him his powers.

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I’m glad that with so many small changes in continuity, some things remain the same.  As crazy as a lightning strike hitting a bunch of chemicals is, it’s a part of the Flash’s identity, and it shouldn’t be touched.

Iris’s accounts are tinged with small asides referencing her feelings about certain events, with an emphasis placed on how she found out about Barry’s secret identity.

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I was particularly pleased to find this information included, as this time in the couple’s life is not collected on “the shelf” and was a gap in their story that I continuously wondered about.  It was bittersweet to learn that the first year of their marriage was a rather tumultuous one, but thankfully the truth ultimately brought them closer together.

Most touching was Iris’s account of how Barry sacrificed himself to save the world.  While she didn’t have details of what exactly happened, she muses that she hopes Barry found solace in his thoughts during his last moments.

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If she only knew.

The story continues to explain that Iris was pregnant at the time of Barry’s death, and that she later gave birth to twins.  A short family history is given to fill the reader in, with emphasis placed on Iris’s grandson, currently known only as Impulse.

This was a pretty invaluable addition to the history of Barry Allen’s Flash.  It fills in key information about his life and helps explain his significance to the overall story.  I can only imagine how invaluable this was at time of publication, to a new generation of readers who might see Barry’s name bandied about but not really understand who he was.  I love that such a compact history of the character was written, but even more so I love that it felt so organic, with Allen’s reporter wife penning the book.  It feels so much more fitting than had it simply been released as a history of the character.  That personal touch makes a huge difference to the narrative, and helps place it in the context of its contemporary comics.

Reading this story was a mix of emotions.  I couldn’t help but start missing Barry all over again after reading so much about his life.  While I’ve accepted Wally West as the new Flash, there’s still a special place in my heart for Barry, the loyal, sure-footed Flash who gave his life to save the world.

-Jess

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