The Life Story of the Flash Part 1 (1997) – Review

In honour of the new show and 75th anniversary of the title of The Flash, I have decided to review a nice little history lesson on the 2nd man to ride the lightning, Barry Allen. Originally printed in 1997, and reprinted in 2012, this was a good way of showing off the greatest hero we could ever know.  Warnings ahead, this is setting spoilers for both the show and current comics so take caution before you read.

Final Spoiler Warning: This review contains spoilers for the end of Convergence and the The Flash TV Show.

life-story-of-the-flash

And additional cover to tribute to the original.

Written by then Flash scribe Mark Waid (you may remember him from this article I wrote,) and then editor Brain Augustyn. The book was set up by several previous stories, including the first meeting between Professor Zoom and Barry Allen. This story is told from the perspective of Barry’s widow Iris Allen, or Iris West if you only know her form the current TV series. It is written in the style of a biography with comic panels and pages filling in every so often. The artwork is all original for this story, and expanding on background for Barry and Iris. It is meant to be an introduction for those who never grew up with Barry Allen as the Flash. The Flash having perished 11-12 year earlier in the original crisis at the time of printing on our Earth. In this universe the book was actually written in the future, and brought hints of things to come.

the story

This is the original appearance of the book in the universe.

The story starts off by giving us a glimpse at Barry’s childhood and how he became a forensic officer. It gives us an example of what initially inspired him to become the Flash. At first it seems insignificant, but a small throwaway line “One of twins,” foreshadowed a plot line 2 years before it was brought to fruition. That would be the introduction of Cobalt Blue, his long lost twin. We also get a look at his trade mark talent of always being late, and the creation of the material he uses for his suit.  After seeing his college deeds we move on to a quick recap of the family and life of Iris West. This gives us a glimpse at her backstory and family, which will play an important part later. It also brings us the story of how they first met, and their first date. The second chapter ends with the proposal Barry made her before becoming his city’s scarlet champion.

Our next chapter brings us to the fateful night Barry became the world’s fastest man. This takes queues from different incarnations of his origin. He is investigating a drug called “mopee,” which is based off a short lived attempt to give him his own Bat-mite like figure. Thankfully it never took, but you can see more that over here. Unlike in the recent show, Barry was able to get up almost immediately after accident. It did delay him for a date he was to not have missed. Going off to a local dinner, Barry gets a hold of what happens to him, and finds inspiration from an old source, his old comics featuring the original Flash Jay Garrick. When he goes to tell Iris however, she goes on a rant about people changing, and so Barry decides this is a secret he must keep to himself.

Our next chapter gives us a look at the start of Barry’s career in the red pajamas. It starts by showing us the ring he uses to store his costume, along with the excuses he used to hide it. Then it starts to list up the feats he has accomplished. Running faster then light, going up walls, sawing through guns, and for all of these he still couldn’t escape from his new reporter fiance. Soon it starts talking about the trials Barry faces as goons he faces go from thugs, to costumed criminals. However, it turns out he is not alone. Meeting up with other heroes, Barry formed the Justice League of America, hoping that it would bring his childhood hero out of hiding. He also made friends with other strangely powered individuals like the publicly known Ralph “Elongated Man” Dibny.  His best friend from this group was fellow “cop” and legacy holder Green Lantern, despite the clashing personalities. Now with all this attention, the Flash had gathered quite the following. A museum was made in his honour just over a year after he appeared. People were sending him letters there, to which he took the small amount of time to read and reply to each one.

I am going to leave this off here for now, as this has more then just what is on the surface. I have already mentioned a few plot lines that been set up here, but more are to come. I will give my full review and final thoughts at the end of it.

Robert McConkey

Long time resident of South Western Ontario. Comes from a wonderfully mixed background which leads to confusion of what race I am. Lover of pop culture and taker of all media.