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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comic Book Moments – Day 46

Here is the latest cool comic book moment in our year-long look at one cool comic book moment a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we look at a cool scene from Joe Kelly and Doug Mahnke’s JLA.

Enjoy!

To set the scene, in an attempt to resolve his ingrained fear of fire, the Martian Manhunter accidentally unlocked some primeval Martian evil-doer known as Fernus the Burning, who promptly took over J’onn J’onzz’s body and was a nasty bad guy.

At the end of JLA #88, he set off a nuclear bomb in North Korea.

Here, in the beginning of JLA #89, by writer Joe Kelly and penciler Doug Mahnke, we see the Flash react…

I suppose the moment would be the shot on page 2, where Doug Mahnke captures the sheer brilliance of the Flash in a manner matched by few other artists out there.

62 Comments

That was pretty fucking sweet.

elbichoemboscado

February 16, 2009 at 2:24 am

And now, according to Didio and Johns, the cool one is Barry Allen? F##k

WALLY IS THE MAN!!
WALLY IS FLASH, THE FASTEST MAN ALIVE!!

I know that isn’t going to happen, but we could forget all this Barry Allen nonsense as quick as possible and bring back Max Mercury, the quiet speedster.

Corky Winterbottom

February 16, 2009 at 4:13 am

So The Flash can travel at near light speed, right? And presumably his superhero body is able to cope with the physical trauma that such speeds would subject him to, right? But… what about the Koreans? Normal human beings suddenly being forced to travel at the kind of speeds that would strip their skins off, disintegrate their bones and make their eyeballs explode.

I suppose it’s somewhat pointless to subject superhero adventure stories to this kind of scrutiny, but I was just struck by the irony of a superpowered being trying to save thousands of people from a nuclear blast only to tear their fragile bodies apart in the process.

On the last panel of page one, you can see one of the Korean citizens bent double and clutching his stomach. At the speeds he was travelling, I imagine a queasy tummy would be the least of his problems.

Hey-ho.

Nice artwork, though.

Oh man this was one of my favorite scenes from that run.

Wow.

Loved this one.

elbichoemboscado: EXACTLY. I mean, I sort of get the urge to get Hal Jordan back as Green Lantern – it was a bad, sales-driven end for him, and he was replaced by a complete stranger.

But Wally? Wally’s been the Flash for 20 YEARS now.

Not to mention the whole Legacy aspect, which I guess now goes: Jay -> Barry -> Wally -> Bart -> Wally -> Barry?

Is Jay going to be the main Flash in another 20 years?

Ah…those were the times. This was the best era in Justice League history, IMO. I could always count on this series to deliver a solid, intense story. But then, that godawful arc by Byrne and Claremont almost killed the series. I’m gonna have to go backand re-read the Morrison/Waid/Kelly stories one of these days.

This is why I have never liked Flash comics. It’s just soooo ridiculous! As Corky pointed out, even if the Flash has some sort of magic aura that protects the people he carries, they are still traveling at near light speed, then stopping in a nano second. Their brains would turn to jelly.

Plus, if the Flash can move half a million people faster than a nuclear reaction, all Flash comics should be three panels long.

Panel 1: “Flash! Help! The Mirror Master is robbing the b…”

Panel 2: WOOOOSH!

Panel 3: “…ank!”
“The Mirror Master is in a cell downstairs. Oh, and while I was at it, I rounded up all of the other rogues. And Luthor and the Joker and all the others, too. And the most wanted criminals from every country. And I rebuilt New Orleans. And I knitted a sweater for everyone in the world. And I made a pie. Want some?”

As a Flash fan, let me say that while this was a very cool scene, even at the time I thought that it jumped the shark. It’s been shown many times why the Flash does not go “all out” with his speed when battling villains especially while in the city. #1 reason: sonic booms. While I could see him pushing himself to save these people, it’s just too fantastical even for comic book logic to think he could run that fast. That is the equivelant of running around the Earth 700 times in a microsecond. Sorry but Wally was never able to run that fast except when borrowing super speed from other speedsters. Barry Allen could have done it because he regularly ran to break the time barrier but his use of the Speed Force was different than Wally’s.

Speaking of the Speed Force, it’s quite obvious you don’t know anything about Wally. Established way back during Terminal Velocity storyline (1995, Fernus debuted in 2003) Wally can lend speed force to anyone he is touching. The Speed Force isn’t just a covering, it’s an energy that permeates a person that protects him/her from all physical forces including fatigue, sensory overload, and friction (though does not provide completely immune). He cannot lend Speed Force to things so he would most likely melt every road he ran down and disintegrate every nitting needle he touched if he ran all out and did all the things you say he could do.

Oh, and if you are showing scenes from this run of JLA, you HAVE to do the one with Wonder Woman and the alien despot from #79. KA-LASSIC!

Joe Kelly’s JLA run was pretty under-rated in my opinion. He also wrote one of the most disturbing scenes of all time: Flash with his legs ripped off begging the JLA to run away. Usually I’m pretty numb to comic book violence, but this scene really got to me.

Hell yeah. I wasn’t so crazy about the Fernus storyline, it was just a bit over the top, but I absolutely loved Joe Kelly on JLA. It made both him and Mahnke favorites of mine.

That scene was an example of over the top but eh. It was a cool Wally scene. When I sit down to read a Flash comic it means I’ve suspended a LOT of disbelief beforehand.

uhm, it’s a sweet page.

but the Flash would have had to be moving significantly FASTER than the speed of light.

supposedly, he moved 500,000 people 35 miles away. that’s a total distance of 17.5 million miles. (using round numbers and assuming they all began in one place)

in a vacuum, it would take light 94.5 microseconds to move that distance, not .00001 microseconds. now, .00001 seconds is ten microseconds – but that’s still faster than the speed of light.

I agree with David and others, even using comic book science and logic this one is quite the stretch. Sonic booms galore. And moving those human bodies so much faster than the speed of light as jhota points out. It’s all pretty silly.

And for all those people saying it’s silly for Barry to come back…let’s get real now, Wally is basically Barry. Wally already has the exact same origin as Barry. Exactly the same, down to the location. He used to be different because he was a womanizer. Not anymore. He used to be different because he was something of a jerk. Not anymore. He was a Republican. Now his politics are never mentioned. He’s a one woman man like Barry now. He’s married like Barry now. He has a secret identity like Barry did. He has twins…like Barry. His main villains are Barry’s villains, the Rogues (for a while he had unique ones). At this point, after spending so much time turning him into Barry, why not just put the real deal back in the costume?

i remember that scene gave me chills . not to mention the look in the flash’s eyes says it all. cool moment

Why didn’t Wally just move the A-bomb away instead of the people?

When will the drawings of the super fast man in the red spandex suit finally start acting like a real person?

I agree that this scene employed bad science (or math). It would’ve had the same impact if Flash had saved only 500 Koreans rather than 500,000. Heck, it might’ve had MORE impact.

Being the one true Flash, Barry Allen probably would’ve found a way to save everyone. Perhaps by racing around the nuclear explosion so fast that it funneled all the energy into the upper atmosphere.

When will the drawings of the super fast man in the red spandex suit finally start acting like a real person?

I know you love the chance to contribute condescending snark whenever possible, but you miss the point. A good superhero comic is able to portray the utterly unbelievable and make it seem remotely plausible, even for a second. This is especially true for DC, which has always tried to use at least SOME real science in explaining how its heroes do what they do. Kelly just seems to have overdone it with those stats he gave there. Besides, once Flash is that powerful, why does he even need a team?

No, I understand what your point is, and I’m saying it’s dumb. Not a single one of these characters is even remotely close to being believable, and to nitpick because of one instance of fantasy among a genre wholly reliant upon that kind of fantasy is the worst kind of fanboyism.

If you want superheroes to be bound by the laws of physics, then YOU are missing the point.

The Flash moves super-fast. That’s the only logic that matters.

“…eyes of almost infinite mass turn toward the blaze…”

Argue about suspending one’s disbelief and getting the decimal points right in a superhero comic all you want, but that is a goddamn cool moment and a chilling bit of prose with some excellent art right there.

If Flash rescued everyone at faster than light speeds, and that math doesn’t work out then Joe Kelly misplaced a decimal. It’s a typo, which is dumb, but doesn’t take away from the coolness of the moment. If anyone knew how to rescue that many people that fast, it’s Flash. That’s kind of the point.

Amen, Bill. This whole arc should be it’s own cool moment, or at least week of coolness. Without spoiling much, I hope to see “Fern, ol’ girl” show up. How much of the year is left?

This is why I’ve never liked the Flash. It’s like he can do ANYTHING just because he’s fast. And the fact that the “Speed Force” is muttered any time the Flash does something that defies even speed of light physics. No sonic booms? “Speed Force.” No giant pot holes in the ground? “Speed Force.” I’m willing to go as far as accepting those things and even the fact that he doesn’t tear his own body apart, but to say the Speed Force becomes transferred to someone else while he’s touching them? That’s reeeally pushing it for me. And the infinite mass punch? If it has infinite mass (not quite infinite since it’s only the mass of a white dwarf star) that means it would would have the gravity of a white dwarf star. That would have serious repercussions on… well, just about everything in the whole star system, not to mention what it would do to Earth. But I’m guessing somehow the speed force protects Earth and everything on it from being sucked into the gravity that would produce.

Gee, I just loooove how fans can take a post that’s all about a cool Flash moment and turn into a Barry vs. Wally grudge match. Thanks for the buzzkill, guys.

>>And for all those people saying it’s silly for Barry to come back…let’s get real now, Wally is basically Barry. Wally already has the exact same origin as Barry. Exactly the same, down to the location. He used to be different because he was a womanizer. Not anymore. He used to be different because he was something of a jerk. Not anymore. He was a Republican. Now his politics are never mentioned. He’s a one woman man like Barry now. He’s married like Barry now. He has a secret identity like Barry did. He has twins…like Barry. His main villains are Barry’s villains, the Rogues (for a while he had unique ones). At this point, after spending so much time turning him into Barry, why not just put the real deal back in the costume?<<

Yeah, the one true Flash…your point is interesting, though.

Ironic, actually, that the Barry character under Johns and Didio has much more to do with today’s heroes than what he was originally, and people don’t get that.

Y’know, voting to mindwipe villains (and being the deciding vote to boot)…hey, even encouraging in his own way for Wally to allow Hal to mindwipe the world and make everyone forget who the Flash is. Moral lines that the character would never cross because of how he was written that fall away like dead leaves because the character needs to be updated for today’s audience.

Again, can’t wait for the scene where Barry tells the Thawne Zoom how great it felt, secretly, to break his neck so everyone can ooh and ahh.

There’s more to a character (or a character’s memory) than who wears a suit, and it’s pretty clear that while Wally may be like Barry (I’ll cede that point), Barry doesn’t seem much like Barry in recent history…

it just that, to me, it is a cool scene – until you read the numbers.

13:58 would have been just fine, rather than the silly .00001 microsecond dreck. nuclear blasts (compared to the speeds the Flash can reach) are SLOW. the blast front of a nuclear detonation travels at around 10k mph – the speed of light is around 670 million mph.

so Wally had plenty of time, without the silly over-exposition. which tossed me out of my reasonable suspension of disbelief – especially when we’ve been told time and again that Wally going faster than light speed was either impossible or very, very bad.

Barry Allen and Hal Jordan: two unbelievably powerful guys with unbelievably dull personalities. Niether one of them became even remotely interesting for anything other than thier powers until the stories that led to thier downfalls and eventual deaths! Take a lesson from that and leave them dead! They’re much more interesting as memories “haunting” those who have picked up thier mantles…ESPECIALLY in Flash’s case!

Cool scene though, is this story collected?

FunkyGreenJerusalem

February 16, 2009 at 6:06 pm

If you want superheroes to be bound by the laws of physics, then YOU are missing the point.

Yeah, it’s like in the recently collected Morrison/Millar Flash run – it’s a cool use of ‘science’ when he runs into a prism at the speed of light and comes out as seven different coloured Flashes, but you really don’t want to think too long and hard about it.

(On an unrelated note, what is cool about that part of the story is that it takes up less than half an issue. Something really cool happens, and comes to it’s conclusion, all in the space of a few pages. More writers should take note).

If you want superheroes to be bound by the laws of physics, then YOU are missing the point.

No, the problem is that the writer screwed up his own math by a ridiculous margin. He says over and over again that West moves “near light speed,” but as shown above to accomplish all that he’d have to be moving at least several dozen times faster than light. Having Wally West do that at .0001 MICROseconds, not even .0001 of a second but .0001 of a MICROsecond, just pushes it to the point of retardation though. We might as well return to stories of pre-Crisis Superman towing a bunch of planets from one galaxy to another using a single chain or accidentally blowing out whole suns with a sneeze.

Yeah, it’s like in the recently collected Morrison/Millar Flash run – it’s a cool use of ’science’ when he runs into a prism at the speed of light and comes out as seven different coloured Flashes, but you really don’t want to think too long and hard about it.

That’s just cool pseudoscience. I can dig that, as long as you don’t think too long and hard about it. That’s suspension of disbelief. This however is just crappy math that anyone who is halfway thinking can catch as faulty. It’s like telling someone not to think too long and hard about someone saying in a story 2 + 2 = 10. That’s just suspension of intelligence.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

February 16, 2009 at 6:53 pm

We might as well return to stories of pre-Crisis Superman towing a bunch of planets from one galaxy to another using a single chain or accidentally blowing out whole suns with a sneeze.

FUCK YEAH!

Thank you, Joshschr.

I’m with Bill. That “eye’s of infinite mass” transition into that panel is glorious.

As long as we’re tearing apart the psuedoscience, does it bug anyone else that the scene ends with the Flash & other STARING DIRECTLY INTO A NUCLEAR BLAST?!?

FunkyGreenJerusalem

February 16, 2009 at 10:54 pm

Why isn’t anyone ripping it apart on a thematic level – how can he have found the strength to do this seemingly impossible feat without taking the time to think of Linda, who is his inner strength.
It just fails flat out on that level.

There’s more to a character (or a character’s memory) than who wears a suit, and it’s pretty clear that while Wally may be like Barry (I’ll cede that point), Barry doesn’t seem much like Barry in recent history…

Great point.

Why isn’t anyone ripping it apart on a thematic level – how can he have found the strength to do this seemingly impossible feat without taking the time to think of Linda, who is his inner strength.
It just fails flat out on that level.

Wally Flash and Spider-Man should be the next DC-Marvel cross-company crossover, and it could just be the two of them taking turns doing increasingly impossible feats while thinking of their loved ones, almost in a competitive fashion. That would be awesome. it wouldn’t even need a plot really. Just lots of heavy machinery to lift and energy/time/psychic barriers to run through

@Mutt: Don’t you see how wiped he looks? Yes, he can run at near light speeds. But it takes huge ammounts of effort to do so. Does Donovan Bailey take 10 seconds to go 100 m every time he needs to travel that distance? Of course not. He’s capable of doing it, but it’s a huge strain every time.
@ Everyone who is complaining about this not following laws of physics and biology: It’s called soft sci-fi. Who cares if you break a few laws of physics. What matters is that it has internal logical consistency and emotional resonance.

FUCK YEAH!

Actually you’re right, that would be kinda cool. :)

FunkyGreenJerusalem

February 17, 2009 at 12:46 am

It’s called soft sci-fi. Who cares if you break a few laws of physics. What matters is that it has internal logical consistency and emotional resonance.

Shove it grampa!
Even those last two went out the window when Phillip Dick came on the scene.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

February 17, 2009 at 12:47 am

And wow, even now, that name, in a sentence like that, makes me snigger.

It’s called soft sci-fi. Who cares if you break a few laws of physics. What matters is that it has internal logical consistency and emotional resonance.

I actually totally agree with your sentiments here. It doesn’t matter if a scene breaks a few laws of physics as long as it has internal logical consistency and emotional resonance. That’s why I don’t like this scene, I don’t feel like it has ANY internal logical consistency at all.

Since people act like it’s a nitpick or that this is just a matter of moving a decimal place over just one place, let me spell out how mindboggingly ridiculous this feat is even by superhero standards.

532,000 people. Kelly says they were transported one at a time, sometimes two. Each person rescued requires two 35 miles trips to be run: one trip into the city to fetch them, another trip to transport them out of the city to safety. So 500,000 people equals at least 1 million 35-mile trips, meaning the Flash ran a combined 35 million miles AT LEAST to save those people. And he ran that 35 million miles in .0001 MICROSECONDS. Not .0001 seconds, .0001 MICROseconds. Keep in mind that a microsecond is 1-MILLIONTH OF A SECOND.

If you expand the math to see how far the Flash would have run going at that speed in one second, you come up with 3 QUINTILLION, 700 QUADRILLION MILES PER SECOND. Now what’s the speed of light? ONLY 185 THOUSAND MILES PER SECOND. So basically, Kelly has him running at 20 TRILLION TIMES THE SPEED OF LIGHT with each human being, yet the captions say that he is only running NEAR light speed. That’s not a minor nitpick or a small miscalculation, it’s astoundingly bad math and horrible science even by comic book standards.

This is why you keep pseudoscience a little vague so that suspension of disbelief is easy for the reader, or if you can’t even handle that, you make up fake science altogether like Stan Lee did with his “unstable molecules” and “vita rays.” But if a writer is going to take upon himself the challenge of throwing out real numbers and real science in order to give a scene more gravitas, he is willingly opening himself up to valid criticism if he gets it outrageously wrong.

I have no problem dealing with crazy comic book science. I can accept magic and unstable molecules and the fact that you can travel across a city by swinging on ropes. It’s not the science that bothers me so much, it’s the absurdity of making Flash that fast. It renders every Flash story that came before it ridiculous.

A man who can move at light speed threatened by a boomerang? Even if an invisible ninja snuck up behind him to shoot him in the head point blank, he could run away between the time the bullet touched his hair and when it would have hit his skin. It basically means that the only reason anyone in the world is a threat to him is because he’s an idiot.

I can recall the exact instant I lost interest in Superman. I was reading a Superman comic back in the sixties. Somebody shot Lois Lane dead right in front of Superman. Oh noes! But not to worry. Faster than the human eye could see, Superman grabbed Lois, flew her to the Fortress, built a robot duplicate of her, flew back and placed the robot in the path of the bullet.

I didn’t take this to mean Superman was really fast. I took it to mean that either Superman is retarded, the writer is retarded, or the writer thinks I’m retarded.

In any case, I was done.

That’s just suspension of intelligence.

If you think people are stupid, just come out and say you think they’re stupid. I’d rather be called stupid for taking this scene at face value than running to get my calculator while reading comics.

So if Kelly had written that it took Flash about 2 minutes (I agree with 94 seconds at the speed of light) to clear everyone out of the city, the scene would have been flawless? Or would he had to have been so vague as to just say “Flash ran fast enough to save everyone in the city”?

My math may be off, but I think Kelly overestimated the speed of light by 2 trillion times, not 20 trillion, and I think the speed of light is over 186 miles per second, not 185 miles per second.

So if the Flash can move a half million people in a millisecond (God knows how the people survived that kind of acceleration) how does Mirror Master or The Top fight him?

I mean they have scenes in comics were he and the villian are talking to each other as Flash runs toward him. They’ll have Captain Cold laying down ice. Water couldn’t freeze fast enough. By the time the villian could say “A-ha!…” The Flash would have hit him with a fist going a million miles an hour like twenty times, reducing his face to goo.

Wally has had it long-established that he generates a “force-field” that “dampens inertia, wind, etc” not just for him, but for those in his immediate vicinity such as passengers…

The best example of Wally using his speed to full effect is one of his last against Vandal Savage… He removes the bullets from Savage’s gun, while talking to him… Utterly brilliant.

These pages are actually quite good – in an otherwise pretty terrible run on the title.

So if the Flash can move a half million people in a millisecond (God knows how the people survived that kind of acceleration) how does Mirror Master or The Top fight him?

I can’t remember exactly how the people survived the acceleration, but it has been explained. He has some kind of aura or something that covers it.

As for the other issue of how any villain ever poses a threat, well that’s the same reason that Clark Kent’s glasses work as an effective disguise. And that reason is “Shush – it’s just one of those things you have to accept and not think too hard about”

Sorry, David, just spotted that you covered the same point as I did, with more coherence and actually quoting the storyline.. ooops…

Of course it’s bad science; besides which, the JLA obviously should’ve just used their teleporters to get everyone out of there.

… oh, wait.

(The sequence does bring up my big complaint about Mahnke: occasionally, there’ll just be a fugly panel tossed in for the hell of it. What the hell is up with Wally’s lips in that second panel of the final page?)

So if the Flash can move a half million people in a millisecond (God knows how the people survived that kind of acceleration) how does Mirror Master or The Top fight him?

Actually it’s not a millisecond, but .00001 MICROsecond, which actually translates to maybe one ten-millionth of a millisecond. But it’s WAY more ridiculous than doing it in a millisecond.

My math may be off, but I think Kelly overestimated the speed of light by 2 trillion times, not 20 trillion, and I think the speed of light is over 186 miles per second, not 185 miles per second.

It’s 186,000 miles per second, I hit “5” instead of “6.” (typo) But whether its 2 trillion or 20 trillion times the Flash’s established top speed (don’t feel like redoing the math), that is still a lot.

For example let’s do a thought experiment, and pretend it wasn’t the Flash inexplicably operating at 20 trillion times his established power level but Batman. The book opens with Batman entering a village, seeing a 20 ton nuclear bomb times to detonate, and Batman casually and with one hand pitches the bomb into the sun. With no explanation. Then the story just carries on at normal. For all the people in this comments thread saying to just suspend disbelief, if they saw Batman operating at 20 trillion times his strength level without explanation I’m sure they’d raise an eyebrow.

And when i said “suspension of intelligence,” I wasn’t calling people stupid believe it or not. I just think they suspended their rational thought because they desperately wanted to like something. With DC fans for example, anything that can go under the “ICONIC” category or encourages godlike worship of the heroes’ infinite goodwill and sense of civic duty is automatically a good story or scene and there’s no need to think further about it. For example look at books like Superman for All Seasons. Weak plot, dialogue, characterization, motivation, pacing, etc, but it spends the whole time mooning over how all-powerful yet caring Superman is and it’s considered one of the greatest Superman stories ever. Similarly, this scene shows “Wow, look how much Flash cares, he’s all powerful but he’s always willing to use that power to help as many people as possible and pose heroically afterward. ICONIC.”

Being stupid is not being able to think about something. Suspending your intelligence is choosing not to think about something.

The best example of Wally using his speed to full effect is one of his last against Vandal Savage… He removes the bullets from Savage’s gun, while talking to him… Utterly brilliant.

Then he reloads it, again at super-speed, just to drive home the point that he can!

Then he reloads it, again at super-speed, just to drive home the point that he can!

I remember that scene. It was pretty cool.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

February 17, 2009 at 4:23 pm

I can’t remember exactly how the people survived the acceleration, but it has been explained. He has some kind of aura or something that covers it.

It’s the Speed Force.

I can’t remember exactly how the people survived the acceleration, but it has been explained. He has some kind of aura or something that covers it.

It’s the Speed Force.

I said that on the CBR forums, but then someone corrected me pointing out that the explanation for this predates the Speed Force by about 30 years.

I said that on the CBR forums, but then someone corrected me pointing out that the explanation for this predates the Speed Force by about 30 years.

No, you’re right, decades before there was ever a Speed Force it has always been established that the Flash has a protective aura that protects him from wind and air friction. I think it even dates back to Broome. Although I don’t know how it works when he’s going 20 trillion times faster than the speed of light though.

2 trillion.

Did you use .0001 microseconds in your calculation or .00001 microseconds?

Even if you’re right, it really doesn’t do much to make the scene any less ridiculous.

Also, Flash and all those people would be blind, as they looked into the explosion…It would burn their retinas out…..

To all those math guys out here: near the speed of light you can’t calculate speed = distance / time because of time dilatation effects. You need to use Einstein’s relativity theory ;)

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