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Tuesday, September 09, 2014 

Superficial press coverage of retcon to Barry Allen's parents

Several weeks ago, the San Angelo Standard Times published a superficial article about the new TV adaptations of famous comics series. The part about the Flash is where they're ambiguous about Barry Allen's parents in the comics:
In the comics: DC’s first Flash appeared in 1940, but it is the second Flash, who debuted in 1956, who is the most famous and is the star of the TV show. Barry Allen is a forensic scientist with the Central City Police Department, and also the Fastest Man Alive, thanks to being connected to the mysterious “Speed Force.” The Scarlet Speedster appears monthly in “Flash” and “Justice League.”

In the trailer: Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), who first appeared on CW’s “Arrow,” seems very similar to his counterpart in the comics. Some elements of the third Flash (Wally West) are included, in the form of a group of scientists helping the Crimson Comet explore his powers. Also included is a recently added element to the Flash origin, that of Barry’s obsession with finding his mother’s killer. The Arrow cameos in the premiere.

Fun Facts: In the comics, it is a super-speedster villain from the future who kills Mrs. Allen, and in the trailer it is clearly a super-speedster villain who does the deed.
"Fun"? I take issue with that claim, which, glancing at it some more, still isn't so clear Nora Allen's death at the hands of the Reverse-Flash is something Geoff Johns forced in 5 years ago. How does that equal greatness? I wouldn't be so quick to call the death of Bruce Wayne's parents at the hands of Joe Chill fun, because truly, murder is a terrible thing to happen, and forcing this into Barry's origins only drained one of the last comics with a more optimistic premise of what it had, as DC goes out of their way to make almost every superhero they publish suffer tragedy in the worst ways possible.

Worse, this is delivered without comment on the storytelling value, and they don't even mention the part where Eobard Thawne knocks a young Barry down a flight of stairs, one of the most glaring examples of fanfiction elements. Nor are any questions raised whether Johns' retcon is good source material for a movie. And in the paragraphs about Arrow, when they talk about the guests making appearances, the Atom comes up, and they say it'll feature:
...the arrival of Ray Palmer (who is the shrinking hero “The Atom” in the comics)
Not anymore, I'm afraid. Since the New 52, he's been retconned into a minor character who's no longer a superhero. But that goes without mention in the article, since mistreatment famous heroes and their co-stars is of no importance to the mainstream press, and they've proven it for a decade now. This is just another superficial article whose goal is only to promote the TV and movie adaptations without telling anybody whether the specific comic tales they're based on are any good.

Update: here's another article about the new TV show with a comment on Barry Allen that's disgusting, because it reflects a knee-jerk PC reception of the Silver Age:
DC launched a second Flash in 1956, this one the familiar police scientist named Barry Allen. (The TV show will keep that part.) But that Flash was considered so boring that DC killed him off in 1985, and didn’t bring him back until 2008! To rectify the boring part, DC’s Chief Creative Officer — and “Flash” executive producer — Geoff Johns introduced a new wrinkle to Barry’s characterization: His mother had been murdered by a mysterious super-speed blur, and his father was convicted (erroneously) for that murder, which is why Barry became a forensics scientist. (The TV show is keeping most of that, too).
Well isn't this the cheapest nerve I've ever seen. Barry is not the one who's "boring", it's his characterization - or lack thereof - that is. Or, more specifically, how he was written that was "boring". Why must I keep having to make that clear? Why do they not have what it takes to say how disappointed they were in Robert Kanigher and John Broome, no matter how much they respect them as writers? Again, a classic case of juvenile mentality at work by people writing blanket insults against tons of comic readers who don't all think that way.

Furthermore, if they really think Barry was "boring", then by that logic, every story during the Silver/Bronze Age was a spectacular failure, even as an action-adventure. Why don't they just come out and say they never liked the Silver Age, or any age for that matter? Because by this point, I'm convinced that's exactly what they think.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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