Saturday, April 13, 2013

Discuss: Fast Guys


Rip Jagger said...

With the passing of Carmine Infantino, the Flash has been on my mind lately. The way Infantino expressed speed was genius, no one did it better, even with modern techniques it's never been equaled.

One of the problems with speedsters traditionally is the way the power is shown. Quicksilver was a mess, just a green blur in some issues. It got much better when he showed up later in the blue costume.

I'd add a few names to the list. Johnny Quick from DC of course, and Lightning from the THUNDER Agents. The latter of course used up his lifespan to gain speed, a real consequence for a power often worth having.

Rip Off

Matt Celis said...

Rip said what I would have said about the Flash and Carmine Infantino. Peerless. No other speedster matters to me, the Barry Allen Flash was my favorite super hero as a kid, followed by Hal Jordan Green Lantern. What they had in common was that their powers really were limited solely by their imaginations. Flash came up with terrific speed tricks to solve problems that just running fast would have been useless against.

Silver/Bronze Age Flash also has the best costume out there, rivaled only by Gil kane's GL, Spider-Man, and the Ditko Blue Beetle.

Quicksilver I enjoyed for the conflict he would create in the Avengers, but otherwise is pretty unlikeable and unimpressive. I think he originally maxed out way below the speed of sound! Whereas the Flash maxed out at the speed of LIGHT!

Anyway, it's funny you brought this up as i have been trying to replace my Flash collection lately and just scored about 25 issues in a bargain bin for less than $1 each!

William said...

For some reason, I've always had an affinity for the speedsters. The Flash was always one of my favorite DC guys. (I liked both Golden and Silver Age versions). I especially loved the SA Flash's costume. Still one of the best super hero costume designs ever, IMO. (R.I.P. Carmine). The Flash was also one of the only DC books I read on a semi-regular basis as a kid. I always used to wish he had been a member of the original Super Friends cartoon as well. I mean come on, wouldn't he have been a cooler addition to the team than Aquaman?

Then later on I discovered Quicksilver and he became one of my top Marvel "B" listers. I first remember him from Amazing Adventures, (the comic that reprinted the early issues of the X-Men), and unlike Rip, I actually used to love the way Jack Kirby drew him like a green blur in his early appearances. He was my favorite X-Men character for a long time after that. I also loved the way John Byrne drew him in his blue and white suit during his stints on the Avengers and the FF. No one depicts super speed on paper like Byrne.

david_b said...

Ah the Speedsters... Agreed with both thus far. Matt, SO funny you mentioned the bargain bin, it's where I found my Flash ish 300 a few weeks back and a handfull of others I should have grabbed, perhaps they're still there, if I'm lucky.

Carmine had such a speed style that no one came close to with Pietro. No one handling Pietro either on Avengers or FF could really draw speed well, except maybe, MAYBE Buckler (drawing Quicksilver in FF and Whizzer in Avengers GS 1), but no one could give it Carmine's flavor and panache. As what was lamented before, Quicksilver was never well utilized, the later usage was him as the human cannon ball was pretty lame, especially after repeated issues; his main superpower was frankly antagonism.

As I know Doug will agree, Kid Flash's outfit was one of the coolest designs in the DC Universe. I loved the early Carmine renditions of KF, followed closely by Cardy and Perez.

The important thing for me was how Carmine gave thought to depicting Barry and Wally, not as muscle-bound top-heavy heroes, but as essentially runners, which is where the bulked up '80s comic with Wally and the Shipp television series fell short.

Speaking of the brief show, I did like how producers depicted the speed and shot Flash primarily at night (to cover both the 'Batman' movie fans plus it's easier to control the lighting and shadows). You had your retro neon styling (big at the time with shows like 'Silk Stockings'..) but fun guest stars. And who didn't love Mark Hamill as the Trickster especially on the final episode..? The DVD boxset missed out on what would have been great commentary, but you can download the producer commentary from the internet for the last episode separately.

Comicsfan said...

I've really only given some thought to Quicksilver, but the problems with his handling could probably be applied to any super-speedster. Except the Road Runner, which is of course invincible.

Matt Celis said...

i had the first few issues of Wally West Flash and for me the main problem was the 100% personality overhaul that discarded everything that had been established by Wolfman & Perez in Teen Titans. They turned him
into a reckless, womanizing a-hole when he had been a centered, thoughtful Midwestern kid with traditional
conservative values. For me that would have been much more interesting to explore amidst the craziness
of superheroing.

Matt Celis said...

Alas, #s 300 and 350 are among my missing issues! I'm tryin to fill in gaps to restore a collection that was stolen a while back and never recovered...lost a ton of comics from the late '70s and early '80s including every issue of JLA from around 130 to the end.

Unknown said...

I'm also in agreement with nearly everyone here regarding Infantino, Barry Allen, Kid Flash's costume and Quicksilver's uselessness.

I'd also add that Cary Bates & Irv Novick did a great job of carrying on the silver age feel of The Flash in the 70's. Now if you want to feel some pain, search out the issues that Ross Andru or Don Heck drew. They were the worst artists that could possibly have been chosen.

I really gave up on DC during the Crisis on Infinite Earth's fiasco. I mean, c'mon! I understood the parallel-worlds concept when I discovered it in the second grade. How hard could it be to grasp? Killing of Barry, wrecking Wally's personality, etc. Just one fiasco after another. But don't worry, they'll NEVER bring Barry back.

Maybe it's a good thing DC didn't have Quicksilver during the Crisis. Imagine how much worse that character could have become.

P.S. Loved the Prof. Zoom issues the most, because of the reverse costumes, before they went south with his character too.

James Chatterton

Edo Bosnar said...

Generally I like speedsters the best as members of a team - Flash in JLA, Kid Flash in the Titans, etc. I'm glad Rip mentioned Johnny Quick: I really grew to like him in All Star Squadron.
And in general, DC's fast guys were better than Marvel's in the personality department. Both Quicksilver and Northstar (at least initially) are jerks. And Aurora wasn't much better either, for that matter. In fact, the only Marvel speedster I can think of who's not a complete jerkwad is the Whizzer, but he's called the Whizzer for Pete's sake.

Fred W. Hill said...

Although I only ever read a very few issues of Flash, I recognize Barry Allen as king of the speedsters, not only starring in the longest run of any of them in any title but also having ushered in the Silver Age with his first appearance.
Still, as a Bronze Age Marvel maniac reading those Silver Age Avengers reprints, I had a bit of soft spot for Pietro. Stan and later Roy kept him grounded in that his powers while remarkable weren't as incredibly far out as those of the Flash. Then there was his loutish personality, overprotective of his sister, distrusting of "mere" humans, hot tempered and a prima donna. Unpleasant but all too realistic and it fit with his background. The first issue of the Avengers that I purchased off the rack for the cover price was issue 104, with Rich Buckler's magnificiantly drawn 1st page featuring Quicksilver racing off an airplance holding onto Larry Trask (yeah, that was Buckler channeling Neil Adams, but at that time I had no idea who Adams was). That was not only Roy Thomas' last issue, aside from a few fill-ins, but Pietro's swansong as a regular Avenger, and next thing we knew he was taking Crystal away from Johnny Storm. Yeah, Quicksilver was a bit of a jerk, but a fascinating character.

david_b said...

Oh, per Matt's mention of Wally's '80s comic, agreed on all his points and literally HATED it after the first few issues.

It could have been so much better. The art was alright, but the writing and awful personality change stunk, which along with the post-Perez Titans, ruined my new brief '80s interest in DC Comics. I still collected the new Justice League for a dozen issues, but playing for laughs as it did, it just became the same joke month after month.

mr. oyola said...

Never was much one for the speedsters - though I like Quicksilver if only b/c he seems like the biggest dick in the Marvel Universe.

My favorite depiction of speed (and this is coming from someone who has never bought a Flash comic) was relatively recently, in the late 90s when Grant Morrison was doing JLA. The Flash (Wally West) was chasing a speedster Martian around the world and a panel depicts them startling some dude carrying a jug in like India and he starts to drop it, several pages later after they have traveled thousands of miles, another panel shows the Flash catching the jug before it hits the ground and handing it back to the guy.

That did more to depict the level of speed to me than any blur.

Anonymous said...

I was never a huge Flash fan...Quicksilver started out okay, but got very annoying later on; I liked the way Peter David wrote him in X-Factor.

Remember the Superman/Flash races? Those were always fun. I think there was a Quasar comic with all the Marvel speedsters (Quicksilver, Speed Demon, Black Racer, Makkari, etc.) having a race...I can't remember who won though.

Mike W.

Matt Celis said...

I had the same problem with the new Justice league. First, it wasn't all that funny. But worse, they apparently thought they were brilliant writers and every cheap joke had a self-referential bwah ha ha to tell us how clever and cute they thought they were, all the while they reduced Guy gardner, Blue beetle, Black Canary, and Captain Marvel to one-note characters...ugh! Double ugh!

Matt Celis said...

Quicksilver's dickishness is why I would
keep a slot open for him on the Avengers if I wrote it. Any scene will immediately have added drama/conflict just due to Quicksilver being around to rant and rave, take umbrage, feel put out, or condescend. What a guy!

Doug said...

Hmmm, Matt --

So Beetle, Guy Gardner, and Canary were one-note characters you didn't like, but...

In your Avengers, keeping Quicksilver around TO BE a one-note character would be a swell idea. Just checking my scorecard to make sure I had that right.

In all seriousness, though, I don't know that any writers really gave much of an effort to redeem Pietro and give him that bona fide "hero moment". If I missed something, please tell me where that happened. As I recall it, his appearances in the FF after issue #300 seemed to send him further along that downward spiral.

Lastly, I liked the Justice League revival because it was a spirited DC comic, as were most of the post-Crisis reboots. DC was finally able to craft heroes with personality. In the latter '80's, I enjoyed DC Comics more than I enjoyed Marvel.


david_b said...

Hate to say, ol buddy, but by that time I found nothing interesting from either big company.

Doug said...

Au contraire, mon frere.

John Byrne and Jerry Ordway on Superman, the aforementioned Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire Justice League, and George Perez doing perhaps his best work on Wonder Woman would have been reason enough to take a look. Granted, the advent of Lobo as a "major player", Giffen's transition of the Legion into something I didn't recognize, and some crappy mini-series along the way were head-turners in a negative way. But DC still got quite a few of my shekels as a new college grad/recently married as compared to what I was sacrificing to the House of Ideas.


Doug said...

You know, looking at the images I put on the post today, it's really too bad Professor Zoom was such a great character, because seeing him right next to Wally, the Reverse-Flash costume would have made a great "grown-up" outfit for Wally.

I think Bart wears something similar today, doesn't he? Of course, I'm not at all privy to this "New 52" business, so correct me if I'm stuck on Earth-BA.


Inkstained Wretch said...

My favorite speedster is ... Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash. I always loved his costume, which was so retro it was cool. I mean, a Hermes/Mercury helmet with wings on it? What a great visual signifer, even if I could never figure out how it stayed on his head ... The rest of the costume was great too: Simple to the point of almost not even being a costume. Primary colors, no spandex, not even all that tight-fitting. Just a blue trousers, boots, and a red rugby shirt with a lightning bolt on it. -- exactly like something a first generation hero would throw together.

I liked the personality he had in the Bronze Age stories too. Simple. Decent. A "Greatest Generation"-type in semi-retirement but always willing to jump back into action. I always imagined him talking like Jimmy Stewart.

Matt Celis said...

Quicksilver was a dick who loved his sister, stood up for mutants, cared deeply for his family and friends...he was a multifaceted dick. The JLI was not multifaceted for the most pary.

Matt Celis said...

I don't think yellow works as the primary color in a hero's costume. Whizzer is a case in point.

Anonymous said...

First off, I have to say my favourite speedster has always been the Silver Age Flash (Barry Allen), and yes, his iconic red costume is one of the best superhero outfits of all time. Carmine Infantino, rest in peace ol'buddy, really was revolutionary in how he depicted the Flash in the comics. I'm amazed how much writers have ramped up his powers over the years - now he can run at several times the speed of flippin' LIGHT? As the Beast would say, "Oh my stars and garters!".

As for the 90s TV show, I felt it was OK, even though the outfit John Wesley Shipp wore was too bulky; I think the producers were trying too hard to make him look (at least in their minds) like a superhero. I would have preferred a leaner, more streamlined costume, something that would have made him look like a runner.

Pietro's speed powers were not in the same class as the Flash, but he always seemed to have a chip on his mutant shoulder. Did someone kick sand in his face when he was a kid? To me, that was what made him memorable as a character.

I'm surprised no one here has mentioned Superman - superspeed is one of his powers, not so? I still remember that famous comic where he raced against the Flash.

Northstar? Well, he's more famous for being one of the first gay characters to be introduced in comics.

- Mike 'wish I had superspeed to clean up the mess that is my house' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Matt Celis said...

Is it retro if he started wearing it in the '40s? Maybe it's actually futuristic!

Matt Celis said...

northstar's personality is very Quicksilverish with his dickishness tempered by his love for and attachment to his sister. I enjoyed him a lot. I liked how subtly byrne indicated he was gay: it went over my head as a kid but rereading Alpha Flight #1 it's so clear! And those issues with Deadly Ernest (terrible name) leave no doubt.

david_b said...

Oh, DC had the few hightlights you mentioned, but none stirred any of my interest..

Byrne's most creative artistry had peaked at Marvel, Matt and I agreed the Maquire JL was already tired and while Perez certainly had an impressive body of work by now, WW always bored me regardless of who drew her. The lousy post-Perez Titans and terrible West Flash book had ruined my favorite characters, so there went my trust.

But I'd certainly agree DC was still far more dynamic than Marvel was at that junction.

Wally West said...


I remember reading reprints of Johnny Quick in some GIANT FLASH issue and really liking him. The art wasn't too 'Golden Agey' and it was clear that his costume influenced that of Kid Flash. I wasn't around for his revival (as I'd grown out of comics by the time I'd grown out my teens) but I would have loved to have actually seen him revived along with Doll Man, who I also liked reading reprints of.

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