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Saturday, May 14, 2011 

Johns continues to push Barry Allen for exaggerated deity status

Note: Blogger's interminable maintenence caused this post to revert to draft mode. I apologize if anything was lost.

USA Today's written about the Flashpoint crossover we didn't ask for, and continues to ask us to embrace the Flash simply because it's Barry Allen, not because his writing is any good (and as I've long concluded, it's not):
"He's not about a hundred guys who run fast," Johns explains. "He's not Green Lantern where Green Lantern is about this intergalactic space corps. The Flash's huge canvas is time. I've always said when I was redoing both these characters, it's time and space.

"Batman's the ultimate crime vigilante superhero. You will never ever top Batman, and for time travel and crossing all these different planes of reality, you'll never top the Flash. The Flash owns time."
Which is tantamount to elevating Barry Allen and any other speedsters to deity status. And how is anyone supposed to appreciate this if they're going to make him sound like he's an immortal?
Whoever is the central character ultimately shifts focus from event to event, according to DC co-publisher Dan DiDio, and Johns is always the go-to guy in the sense of understanding the full scope of the DC universe, the interactions and the subtleties of the relationships between characters.

"When you enter into creating a universe and changing some of those relationships and those dynamics," DiDio says, "he's the perfect guy because he understands what the status quo is and he's able to break that norm in order to deliver a world that's coming out of Flashpoint."
And predictably, they don't mention how Johns has made several efforts to rewrite the DCU's cast he controls in ways he alone sees fit.
At the same time, Flashpoint editor Eddie Berganza feels that Johns' penchant for putting a "laser focus" on what makes a certain character cool has helped Green Lantern and now the Flash rise from relative obscurity to a more mainstream prominence.

"Instead of dealing with all the little excess baggage that every character comes with, Geoff's biggest talent is to access what's important to some and what isn't," Berganza says. "It's what makes the best story on an emotional level: What do you get the most out of? It's not little trappings about how long the heroes have been around. They all have barnacles, and Geoff is really able to shed them off and get to the point and the heart of the character."
And they don't mention how Johns' specialty is more like throwing out what came before for the sake of PC-ness, seeing how he turned Barry's background dark and unpleasant. And if sales are any indication, I don't think Johns has elevated either Flash or Green Lantern to better recognition by a long shot.
Some of Johns' favorite scenes in Flashpoint aren't the big action sequences or large-scale reveals, but the moments between Flash and Batman when they first meet in the first issue, just because of the way Kubert does expressions. It is a story where both characters play important roles, especially emotionally, and Johns wanted to emphasize that.
Again, this emphasis just signals the problem with this crossover, since it tells how this will likely be a dark-tinged story. In fact, Johns did something vaguely similar in 2003 when he had Hal Jordan as the Spectre erase everyone's memory of Wally West as the Flash.
"The world's so big, you can get lost in it, but as long as I stuck to that, it was pretty refreshing," Johns says. "It's a pretty different story. 'Event' sometimes has bad connotations with it by fans just because they see it's going to be loud and a lot of characters thrown in and no emotional weight, but that's not what I wanted to do. We successfully pulled off an amalgamation of everything."
But what about the monetary cost? There's only so many titles being dragged into the mess, at least 16 minis involved, I don't think people are going to be pleased (just as I'm not pleased at having to rewrite this post all over again because of Blogger's mega-maintenance setbacks). With Batman as a leading focus here, the biggest problem could be more than just loudness - it could be the darkness coming in its wake.

Update: now, here's that CNN page I think I added here as well when I first wrote the post, but Blogger's massive maintenence operation wiped out that part of it. So again, what was I trying to comment on:
Taking decades of mythology in new directions might seem like a daunting task. But Bob Bretall, Mayo's co-host on the Comic Book Page podcast, said it's a balancing act that Johns performs well.

"He can retool a character or his/her history to make it more relevant to current readers without throwing away or disrespecting the work of previous creators."
Oh I don't think so. He made Barry and company's background darker and more unpleasant in Flash: Rebirth, recycling the overwrought premise he'd used for his new take on Zoom from 2003. That's hardly what I'd call respecting what previous generations worked on.

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'has helped Green Lantern and now the Flash rise from relative obscurity to a more mainstream prominence.'


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