DC Comics at some point (wisely) decided to put some of the company’s more popular superhero runs from the 90s into longer trades. I’ve covered a couple in the past here, notably Supergirl, Superboy, Green Lantern and Aquaman. These runs were often the work of fan-favorite writers. They also were not, for whatever reason, collected in trades like this before. There might have been a small one here or there, but these books aim to collect entire runs.
Well, arguably the most popular of those fan favorite runs was writer Mark Waid’s on The Flash. And I just finished the first collection of that run, so here we are.
Waid took over the Flash’s adventures at a time when Wally West had been the Flash for a number of years. And yet, a number of fans kept asking for Barry Allen to come back. As such, Waid really cemented his legacy on the book by sort of giving the fans what they wanted. He called the story “The Return of Barry Allen,” and all it really did was show people why Wally West was a good Flash. The story was suspenseful and had a hell of a good twist. Also, it showed some real growth for Wally as the Fastest Man Alive. It came early in Waid’s run, so naturally, I was looking forward to reading it again.
That storyline is not in this reprint.
What is? Well, there’s an extra-sized special where Waid just wrote the framing sequence in which future Flash John Fox traveled back in time to get help. That meant a quick adventure from Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, and Wally West, each with a different creative team. There were also two annuals from their respective years’ big summer crossovers, Armageddon 2001 and Eclipso: The Darkness Within. Waid at least co-wrote those issues, but Wally’s role in those stories were rather minimal all told.
And beyond that, the book has seven regular issues reprinted. Four of them were a “Year One” origin story, and the other three were an Aquaman team-up and a two-part battle with Abra Kadabra. All told, rather forgettable adventures that didn’t really add up to much. They don’t show Waid’s full potential as he would eventually redefine The Flash with Wally West as the lead character. Heck, we barely see his main love interest Linda Park in this book.
You know, I remember not being overly impressed with Waid’s run until he did bring Barry Allen “back”. If I didn’t know there were much better stories still to come from this run, I wouldn’t see anything special in this collected volume. Still, everyone has to start somewhere, and the annuals at least show Wally taking on the Rogues. That’s usually fun. 7.5 out of 10 unfortunate implications for crime witnesses interrupted by Waverider.