Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Flash 80-Page Giant #2

The World's Oldest Teens

Truly the Titans' trippiest tale, told by:
Tom Peyer, Writer
Kieron Dwyer, Penciller
Hilary Barta, Inker
Rick Taylor, Colorist
Tim Harkins, Letters
Special thanks to Mark Waid!
For Bob Haney and Nick Cardy ... consummate creators of comics.
Book separations by Digital Chameleon
Cover by Mike Wieringo and Norm Rapmund with color by Patrick Martin
Edited by Joey Cavalieri with Frank Berrios

It is great to see Wieringo come back to The Flash, even if it is only for a cover. Unfortunately, he didn't draw his co-creation, Impulse, this time, although this cover does fit well with the theme of this book. Like other 80-page giants, this issue contains seven separate 10-page stories. But what makes this issue unique, is that all the stories focus on a different part of Wally West's life, told in chronological order. So the cover gives us the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick, the future Kid Flash, Wally's daughter, Iris, and the original Teen Titans, starring Wally as Kid Flash. The only thing I'd change on this cover would be swapping Kid Flash with the Teen Titans to put those three images in order.

The first story, by Brian Augustyn, focuses on a 13-year-old Wally (back when he still wore a replica of Barry Allen's costume) having an early adventure with Jay Garrick. It's a nice little tale, but it takes place long before Impulse showed up, so we'll skip it. Bart Allen does, however, make a brief appearance in the second story, chronicling an early Teen Titans adventure.

One day, at the Teen Titans' secret headquarters, Robin, Aqualad, Wonder Girl and Kid Flash received a priority S.O.S. from Baldwinsville, U.S.A. The letter, signed by 300 teenagers, begs the Titans to come help them, but doesn't say what their problem is. Aqualad thinks the message is a fake, but Robin's convinced the letter is sincere, based on the current teenage slang used in it. And by current, I mean the early 1960s.

So the Titans hop in their helicopter and fly over to Baldwinsville, where they are greeted by an old lady saying, "Thank Ringo you're here!" The Titans wonder who this granny is and why she's taking a Beatle's name in vain. But the old lady, accompanied by an old man, claims they're really teenagers who suddenly turned old last Friday during a mysterious blackout at the drive-in. Aqualad says the story "sounds like bilge water," but Robin is willing to give the old folks a chance. To prove they're really teenagers, Robin asks the old man who "slaps skins for Basil and the Beefeaters." The old man correctly identifies "Basher" Binghamton, and Kid Flash notes that no one over 21 knows the Basher.

So the Titans agree to take the case, and start by visiting Baldwinsville Gas & Electric. A worker there tells them that Friday's blackout was preceded by a strange power surge at the manor of an old, harmless scientist named Ezekiel Methuselah. Robin says they'd "better make the Methuselah scene," and the worker says he trusts the Titans despite their youth and "unfathomable jargon." Kid Flash says, "Your faith chokes us up, Daddy-o! Color us determined!"

Not long after, at the Methuselah Manor, Robin rings the doorbell, which is answered by a large, green monster. Suddenly, the Teen Titans turn into old people, and the monster begins attacking Kid Flash.

Chapter Two

Kid Flash recognizes the monster as "The Mammal from Beyond Earth" — the same movie all the Baldwinsville teens were watching last Friday. The Titans struggle to fight the monster in their now much-older bodies, and Aqualad, who's never seen the movie, asks Robin how it was defeated. Unfortunately, the movie ended with the beast collapsing from a broken heart.

However, Kid Flash is able to land a couple of blows on the monster, which reveals it to be a robot. This gives the Titans the confidence to destroy the machine, but they're left exhausted after the ordeal. A red-headed teenager then approaches our heroes, and introduces himself as Methuselah junior, now.  He explains that he discovered that people carry an invisible aura with many undiscovered properties. Among these are particles Methuselah calls youthons — submicroscopic electric fountains of vitality, which diminish over time, causing the condition of old age.

After decades of study, Methuselah developed a youthon-absorber, which he hid in his monster robot to steal all the youth from the teenagers at the drive-in. Methuselah digs through the rubble of his robot to pull out his device, which he aims at the Titans, saying he'll drain their remaining youthons and age them to dust. Kid Flash courageously charges forward, and even becomes younger, as he grabs Methuselah's device and destroys it. The absorber backfires, and all the youthons leave Methuselah, reverting him back to an old man and making all the teenagers young again.

The Teen Titans head back to a party celebrating the restoration of Baldwinsville's teenagers, and Kid Flash explains how he saved the day. When Methuselah mentioned auras, Kid Flash's newfound aged wisdom kicked in, and he figured out how to use his super speed to accelerate the youthons he had left and become young enough to stop Methuselah.

We then see that Wally has been telling this story to Bart while racing through the desert. Wally brags about this incredible accomplishment from when he was Bart's age, but Bart notes several flaws with Wally's story. First, there is no such thing as youthons. Second, Wally wasn't born yet when people talked like that. But, Bart ultimately did enjoy the tale and asks to hear it again.

The next story, by Christopher Priest, features Wally shortly after becoming the Flash. He was still pretty reckless at that age, believing he could go on two separate dates simultaneously. But he began shirking his responsibilities with Justice League Europe, so the Teen Titans set up an elaborate ruse to help Wally get his priorities in order.

That story is followed by a complicated tale from William Messner-Loebs. Captain Cold and Golden Glider make an attempt to go straight, and Wally helps line them up on a government mission to take down a drug cartel. But the government decided the drug lord they went after is a valuable asset, so they tried to kill Cold, Glider, and the Flash. It's all very confusing, but it does have a pretty cool moment of Wally basically freezing time during the middle of an explosion.

And that leads us to Impulse's second and final appearance in this book.

The Answer

Mark J. Kiewlak, Writer
Paul Ryan, Penciller
Joe Rubenstien, Inker
Steve Dutro, Letterer
Noelle Giddings, Colorist

Wally has finally worked up the courage to propose to his longtime girlfriend, Linda Park, and she said yes. But that night, Wally can't sleep, suddenly finding himself paralyzed by fear. He tries to keep himself busy by reading books on marriage and filling out wedding invitations. But it's no use. Wally is still restless as ever, unable to sleep next to his fiancee, and unwilling to leave her side to go out on patrol. Finally, Wally concludes he needs to talk to someone.

Interestingly, Wally's first phone call is to Max Mercury. However, Max and Helen went out to dinner, and Bart answered the phone. Before Wally can finish saying, "Bart, is that you?" Bart arrives at Wally's side, already wearing his Impulse uniform. Wally is surprised that Max left him home alone, but Bart says he was playing video games with Carol. Bart then spots Wally's wedding invitations, and takes it upon himself to hand-deliver them all right away.

Flipping through Wally's copy of Marriage for Dummies, Bart asks his cousin why he's getting married to Linda, pointing out that they already live together and everything. Wally says it's more romantic that way, and admits it's hard to explain. Bart plops himself upside down on Wally's couch and asks if he should get married someday. Wally can only say, "We'll see." Bart then heads home, telling Wally to let him know how his marriage turns out.

Wally is happy to have Bart out of his hair, but he's still no closer to resolving his dilemma. So he calls up Jay Garrick, who's been married to his wife, Joan, for 50 years. Wally asks Jay if he ever felt like there was so much more to give his wife, but for some reason he was afraid. Jay tells Wally he still feels that way, and that he should feel that way. But Wally insists that's not fair to Linda, saying after everything she's been through, she deserves to have it all. Jay tells Wally to accept his shortcomings, acknowledge he's trying, and vow to try harder the next time. But this fails to comfort Wally, who thinks such an attitude is easy after 50 years of marriage.

Wally then realizes that he's afraid to begin a lifetime with Linda, because he dreads the ending, with one of them dying. Wally tries to stop worrying about the future, and decides to head out as the Flash to prevent people from dying in the present. In the next few hours, he saves 137 lives, but he's still as anxious as ever. So he heads up to the JLA Watchtower on the moon.

Wally talks to Kyle Rayner about his deceased girlfriend, asking if he really loved her with all his heart, or if he always held something back because he was afraid he might lose her someday. Kyle struggles to answer, saying he had only just started dating his girlfriend when she was killed, and he didn't have time to start developing such thoughts. Wally apologizes for bringing up painful memories and teleports back down to Earth.

Still as troubled as ever, Wally runs around saving a few more people before resigning himself to head back home. But on his way, he hears one more 911 call and decides to check it out. It takes him two seconds to get there, but he's already too late. An old woman died, leaving her longtime husband at her side. Flash is very sorry for the widower, but to his surprise, the man has found peace in his wife's passing. He tells Flash that he and his wife shared all that two people can share and never wasted a moment of their marriage. And his wife, who's name was Hope, told her husband right before she died that there was nothing to be afraid of for either of them.

Wally and the old man talk for a while longer, and Wally finally finds the answer to his problem. He now knows that he is strong enough to face his ultimate fear of losing Linda. Wally gets home just in time to watch Linda wake up, who asks Wally why he's crying, to which he responds, "Because I love you, Linda."

The next story follows Wally's daughter, Iris, the Kid Flash of the near future. Iris meets Iowa Bowin, great-grandson of Isaac Bowin, the Golden Age Flash villain known as the Fiddler. However, Iowa is determined to not follow in his family's criminal footsteps, and Iris helps him become a hero.

Our final story, by Tom Peyer, features XS exploring the ruins of the Flash Museum. The robotic curators of the museum speculate on Wally West's death, determining that he was strapped to a massive boomerang and hurled out of existence. But Jenni Ognats finds hope in this, saying that boomerangs always come back.

This was a pretty fun comic book. I liked how the separate stories stuck to a theme and how we got to see so many different aspects of Wally's life. Some of the stories fell a bit flat, especially the two future ones, but as a whole, this was a good issue. Impulse played a very small role, but I did like how he showed up in one goofy story and one sweet story.

There aren't any letters to the editor, but there are a few new ads.

A red bowling ball with the letters: IYDKYDG. This stands for If You Don't Know You Don't Go, and turned out to be a mysterious Coca-Cola ad campaign targeted toward tech-savvy teens.

An alliance this powerful isn't forged overnight. Batman & Superman: World's Finest.

Now the future can be in your hands! Legion of Super-Heroes PVC figures.

You drive a tank. You destroy major cities. You rescue beautiful women. Welcome to the world of BattleTanx. For Nintendo 64.

Order a subscription and receive an erasable memo board absolutely free. Ironically, this order form does not list The Flash. It does have Young Justice, though.

It's a strange world. Let's keep it that way. Planetary.

An obituary for Bob Kane, written by Jenette Kahn, president and editor-in-chief of DC Comics. Kane, who died Nov. 3, 1998, at age 83, was for years credited as the sole creator of Batman. But recently, more people are beginning to acknowledge the writer of those early Batman comics, Bill Finger. Kahn's obituary is rather kind and straightforward, but now that he's been dead a while, more people are willing to talk about Kane's unsavory characteristics.

Hanging with the Gen 13 gang would give anyone hallucinations ... but are the things Lynch is seeing really happening?

For America! For democracy! For tomorrow! The Justice Society returns!

Sprite presents and Obey Your Thirst production. A refreshing commercial series. "Voltron." Featuring hip hop artists coming' together as one to put a stop to the player haters of the culture.

Next time, we'll finally find out what that parent-teacher conference is all about in Young Justice #7.

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