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Grumpy Old Fan | All Flash has to do is act naturally

"First Season Episode Guide" -- so (sniff) optimistic--!

The Dark Knight Rises is on its way. Man of Steel is filming. The costume from that David E. Kelley Wonder Woman show will finally get some air time. I wouldn’t even bet against Green Lantern 2.

So today, I’m here to talk about adapting The Flash.

Apparently a Flash movie has been in development for several years, at least since Green Lantern went into production (and from a few of the same folks). I don’t know the basics — which by now may well have changed — but I suspect many of us fans would start from the same points: which Flash, which Rogue(s), etc. After so many superhero-comic adaptations, we can derive certain formulae from the things.

However, to me The Flash is different.

The idea of super-speed is ideal for the comics medium, because time basically slows down for everyone but the speedster, and comics excel at playing with the reader’s perception of time. Ironically, though, in a moving-picture setting, the real effect of super-speed is trickier to pull off. Sometimes it works to show everyone else slowing down, as in The Matrix’s “bullet time,” the bionic running of The Six Million Dollar Man, or the tray-catching scene of the first Spider-Man. (Naturally, the last always seemed to be an homage to Barry Allen discovering his powers in Showcase #4.)

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Comics A.M. | Justice League #1 sells 360,000 copies in four months

Justice League #1

Publishing | Four months in, the DC Comics relaunch seems to be a success. The most recent sales figures show Justice League #1 selling more than 360,000 copies since August, and Batman #1 and Action Comics #1 selling more than 250,000. By contrast, Marvel’s strongest seller was Ultimate Spider-Man #160, which was in the 160,000-copy neighborhood. These figures seem to reflect sales in the direct market only; it would be interesting to see how many digital copies have been sold. [The Hollywood Reporter]

Awards | Nominations are open for this year’s Eagle Awards. [Eagle Awards]

Retailing | San Francisco retailer Brian Hibbs shares the top-selling graphic novels in his store for 2011, by units and by dollars. [Savage Critics]

Retailing | Christopher Butcher looks back on the events of the past year in the comics store he manages, Toronto’s The Beguiling. [The Beguiling blog]

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Comics A.M. | Wizard tries to ‘reach out’; Image Expo adds creators

Wizard

Conventions | Wizard’s executive chairman Mike Mathews tells Heidi MacDonald that after the resignation of former CEO Gareb Shamus, the company wants to be “a Switzerland of entertainment” and mend fences with members of the industry: “Gareb is one of these types of personalities who has taken strong positions over the years with various people in the industry and brands. And that kind of hurt us because of where we are trying to go — we’re trying to be a Switzerland of entertainment and we want to try to try to reach out to brands.” MacDonald notes the company is offering a $100 credit toward Wizard conventions to former Wizard subscribers whose subscriptions abruptly ended when the magazine was shut down. A new CEO is expected to be named early next month. [The Beat]

Conventions | Image Comics announced several more guests for the Image Expo, scheduled for Feb. 24-26 in Oakland, California. The lineup now includes Blair Butler, John Layman, Rob Guillory, Nick Spencer, Joshua Fialkov, Joe Keatinge, Jim McCann and Jim Zubkavich, among many others. [press release]

Organizations | The Associação da Luta Contra o Cancer is running an awareness campaign in Mozambique featuring images drawn by artist Maisa Chaves of Wonder Woman, Catwoman, She-Hulk and Storm checking their breasts for lumps. [Daily Mail]

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Grumpy Old Fan | A full bracket for DC’s March solicits

OMAC #7

Since the March solicitations kick off the back half of the New 52′s first year, it’s probably worth noting that the whole line remains unchanged: no “midseason replacements” like Justice Society, but no cancellations either. If I hear relieved sighs from OMAC and Men of War, certainly Dan DiDio and Jim Lee have to be pleased generally that they’ve gotten this far with the 52 intact.

Well, pleased or stubborn, I suppose. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.

Ahem.  Away we go…!

HISTORY LESSONS

One of my pet peeves about the New-52 is the sense that it lacks a meaningful “history.” For at least the last few decades, a reader might not have known exactly what had happened or when, but s/he could tell that these characters hadn’t just fallen off the turnip truck. I say this because the solicits for Justice League #7 and Flash #7 both allude to their books’ untold backstories. With Justice League, we’ll learn about membership turnover and other details of the five years between the League’s debut and today. (To be sure, some of that has already been alluded to in the League’s previous present-day appearances, like JL Dark #1.)

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After the JSA/JLA Thanksgiving, it’s time to clean up

Kerry Callen posted this before Thanksgiving, but it seems especially appropriate now that the holiday is over. Ever wonder how super heroes handle clean-up chores after those big turkey dinners? Callen has the answer. Are Flash’s pals being unfair? Can he convince them that they are? Only one way to find out.

‘Heroes will rise’ in Diesel’s new DC Comics underwear

As someone who spent a significant portion of his childhood in superhero Underoos, I can appreciate the sentiment behind these new DC Comics-branded boxerbriefs from Diesel and Warner Bros. — even if I can’t envision myself, as an adult (lacking the body of an underwear model), wearing them. Or, y’know, shelling out $34 for the pleasure.

However, if you’re itching to sport the logos of Batman, Green Lantern, The Flash and The Joker above your cotton- and elastane-clad buttcheeks — or to see someone else do the same — then these are for you.

There’s probably a “stocking stuffer” joke to be made — also, “The Fastest Man Alive” — but I’ll do my best to resist. Alas, the folks at Diesel apparently don’t have that level of restraint, as the (let’s hope intentionally) hilarious promo video for the underwear drops the phrases “heroes will rise” and “show ‘em what you’ve got.” You can check it out below.

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Grumpy Old Fan | We are family: DC solicits for February 2012

Because a Crisis On Infinite Earths homage would have been too predictable

At first I wasn’t especially excited about too much in DC’s February solicitations. However, the more I looked around, the more optimistic I became. Six months into the New 52, some connections are starting to gel, and their interactions (well, as far as what you can glean from the ad copy) seem more organic. As always, there were a few pleasant surprises in the collected editions, and some details from which to spin hopeful speculation.

But enough with the purple prose — let’s hit the books!

TO UNLIMITED AND BEYOND

The gee-whizziest news of the February solicitations has to be the digital-first format of Batman Beyond Unlimited. I have not been the quickest to adapt to digitally-conveyed comics, mostly because my personal technology level hasn’t caught up. However, I do read a number of webcomics, as well as newspaper strips online, and if the price were right, I’d gladly sample BBU’s features on my computer before picking up the print version. Having Dustin Nguyen and (yay!) Norm Breyfogle involved doesn’t hurt either.
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Grumpy Old Fan | More polish for the Silver Age

Closing time at Wayne Manor: 1969's Batman #217

Last week I asked why the Silver Age is so pervasive in DC lore. Even though that’s something of a rhetorical question, I felt like it was left largely unanswered. The short answer is that the Silver Age represents the modern DC Universe’s origin story, so you’re never going to get rid of it entirely, regardless of reboots, relaunches, and/or legacy characters. However, in terms of style and tone, things are naturally more complicated.

It’s hard for me to talk about the Silver Age without relating it to the subsequent Bronze Age, mostly because I grew up with the comics of the mid-1970s. I see the Silver Age as an era of wild ideas, told in standalone stories which were light on consequences, whereas the Bronze took those stories and ideas and extrapolated a more “realistic” status quo from them. This is not to say that the Bronze Age was some vast improvement, since realism in superhero comics is a tricky prospect at best.

However, to me that point of compartmentalization, at which a previous creative team’s run goes from an ongoing concern to a finished body of work, is highly significant. That’s when the rules governing a feature are established (or amended), and therefore that’s when the people in charge of that feature decide how (and how much) it can grow. The same applies in the aggregate to the universe those features share.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Will DC’s past catch up with it?

A Flash family reunion

Three recent bits of DC news are running together in my mind. Cumulatively they may amount to nothing — housekeeping details and/or fallout from the New-52 relaunch — but individually they seem significant, because they may well speak to the proverbial “reset button” which DC claims does not exist. Put simply, I think that reset button exists, I think it affects all of the New-52 books, and I expect it to be revealed within the next year or two. Whether it gets pushed, and/or how much resetting occurs, is another matter.

While it may be overprotective to put a SPOILER WARNING so early in the post, I realize some of you may want to discover these things as they are actually published.

I don’t blame you — I was trying to avoid the Wonder Woman thing, but that’s what I get for reading convention coverage. (And yes, I have seen the recent news about a certain Flash character.)

Anyway, SPOILERS for potential DC milestones big and small….

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Future doesn’t look bright for Wally West

Art by Joshua Middleton

Peppered with questions over the past few months about the status of Wally West in DC’s New 52, The Flash collaborators Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato have professed a fondness for the character, and even teased that he would crop up at some point.

But in a just-posted interview with Comic Book Resources, the co-writers revealed they’ve submitted a Wally proposal to DC. The problem is, the publisher doesn’t seem to be in a rush to reintroduce the former Kid Flash turned Fastest Man Alive.

“The pitch is on Dan [DiDio's] desk,” a laughing Manapul tells CBR. “Let’s see if he finds it! That’s really all there is to say!”

However, when contacted by CBR, a DC representative said there are no plans for Wally West at this time.

Buccellato addressed the Wally Question on his blog in August, shortly before the relaunch: “We often get asked that very fair question, and we wish we had an answer that would satisfy. But the simple truth is we don’t. Our book is about Barry. We are focusing on Barry. And there is nothing we can say to put Wally fans at peace. Sorry, guys. I really am. And we are not bothered when we are asked about Wally. It’s okay to ask us … I’m glad there are people out that that feel so strongly about The Flash. Unfortunately, there is no new information to impart. I can’t tell you why there is no Wally.”

He did offer some speculation, though, centering on Wally’s origin being dependent on Barry Allen, and Warner Bros.’ interest in a Flash movie featuring the latter version.

Check out the CBR interview with Manapul and Buccellato for details of their plans for The Flash.

Food or Comics? | Brilliant, holy, super habibi

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Brilliant

Graeme McMillan

It is, thankfully, the last week of September which means that, if I had $15, I only have one more week of new launches from DC to pick out potential favorites, Sophie’s Choice-style. This week: Aquaman #1, Flash #1, Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Men #1, Justice League Dark #1 and Superman #1 make the cut (All DC, all $2.99 each).

If I had the chance to add some more money to take that total to $30, I’d go for some Marvel books: Brian Michael Bendis gets well-represented with Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #2 ($3.99); New Avengers #16.1 ($2.99), his “new readers jump on” issue with art by Neal Adams; and Brilliant #1 ($3.99), his new creator-owned book with Mark Bagley. Here’s hoping I’m in a suitably Bendis-y mood when I read all of these ones.

Splurgewise, it has to be Habibi (Pantheon, $35), Craig Thompson’s new graphic novel. I know a few people who’ve had a chance to read it already, and everyone has made it sound like a large leap ahead from Blankets, and something almost worth the many-year wait it’s been since his breakthrough last book. I’m really looking forward to this one.

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First look at Greg Capullo’s The Flash #2 variant cover

The Flash #2, by Greg Capullo

Accompanying its story about DC Comics’ New 52 sellout — that’s right, all 52 premiere issues have sold out at the distributor level — The Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy blog runs our first look at Greg Capullo’s variant cover for The Flash #2.

Unfortunately, the image is small, so we don’t get to fully appreciate the illustration, complete with the “OMG” setting on the speedometer. Hopefully DC’s Source blog will provide a larger version of the cover soon.

Capullo, who’s already receiving praise for his work with writer Scott Snyder on the relaunched Batman, also provided variant covers for Green Lantern #1 and the upcoming Justice League #3 and Action Comics #4.

In case you haven’t read the official announcement at Comic Book Resources, DC also revealed this morning that Aquaman #1 is the 11th title from the relaunch to sell more than 100,000 copies. It joins the first issues of Action Comics, Batgirl, Batman, Batman and Robin, Batman: The Dark Knight, Detective Comics, The Flash, Green Lantern, Justice League and Superman in doing so. In addition, Batman has joined Action Comics and Justice League in breaking the 200,000-copy mark.

The Flash #2, with the Capullo variant, arrives Oct. 26.

Official: Barry Allen/Iris West marriage falls victim to DC relaunch

Although this won’t raise the pop-culture alarms that news of the end of the marriage of Clark Kent and Lois Lane did, DC Comics has confirmed that another, much older union will bite the dust in the publisher’s line-wide relaunch: that of Barry Allen and Iris West.

The word comes this afternoon from editor Brian Cunningham, who writes at The Source that Barry, like Clark, is a single man who’s never been married. “I’ll give you all a few seconds to take that in and digest it,” Cunningham says.

That’s right, as with Clark and Lois, post-Flashpoint the nearly 45-year-old marriage of Barry Allen and Iris West never happened. It’s probably not a huge surprise, considering the push to make  superheroes younger and/or more relevant tends to involve the jettisoning of spouses (see also: Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson).

But in the New 52, Iris and Barry aren’t dating, either. No, like Lois, The Flash is seeing somebody else — in his case, his longtime lab assistant Patty Spivot, who was introduced back in 1977, when Barry and Iris had only been married for 11 years. Surely the Central City Police Department has rules about relationships in the workplace …

“If that upsets you, sorry about that,” Cunningham writes. “But I make no apologies for opening up a traditional storytelling avenue with our hero’s romantic life, something that’s been shut closed for a very long time now. This is no indictment of marriage. I’m a married man and wouldn’t trade it for anything. But in the realm of fiction, I feel strongly that this change to Barry opens up fresh, new creative directions and exciting new storylines.”

He assures Iris fans that she’ll remain a part of The Flash‘s supporting cast, writing a blog for the Central City Citizen’s website.

The Flash #1, by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato, arrives in stores Sept. 28.

Grumpy Old Fan | New 52, Prologue: This is the way the world begins

The Flash #139, the beginning of the end

I’m pretty sure every other DC-Comics blogger in the known universe will be doing this, but for me it is an imperative: from now through the end of the month, this space will give short, probably reactionary, and likely ill-considered reviews of all 52 new titles. Not surprisingly, then, this week is all Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1.

* * *

I liked Flashpoint #1 pretty well. I thought it was a promising start to a story that — in a daring departure for a big event — could stand on its own without universe-altering ramifications.

Of course, that was in early May, a lifetime ago.

While Flashpoint #5 finishes that story, it does so in a way that feels maddeningly hollow. Not the epilogue, mind you — that sequence just manages to avoid mawkishness, and is a well-done counterpoint to the end of issue #1. No, my problem with issue #5 (and to a lesser extent with the miniseries generally) is the way in which writer Geoff Johns apparently just decides he needs to wrap things up.

SPOILERS FOLLOW for Flashpoint #5, and later for Justice League #1 …

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DC reveals The Flash #1 variants by Francis Manapul and Ivan Reis

From "The Flash" #1 variant by Ivan Reis and Tim Townsend

DC Comics continues the promotional onslaught for its line-wide relaunch this morning by unveiling the variant covers for The Flash #1 – one by series artist and co-writer Francis Manapul, and the other by Ivan Reis and Tim Townsend.

The Flash #1, which pits Barry Allen against an all-new foe who can be everywhere at once, debuts Sept. 28.

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