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CSBG Archive

The Comic Book Alphabet of Cool – F

We continue our tour through the alphabet, with a different cool comic book item each day, from A to Z!

Today we look at a cool Marvel supporting character.

You know, I honestly don’t know who came up with this idea, but the one bit that really turned Flash Thompson from your prototypical bully into a much more interesting character is the idea that Flash Thompson is a huge Spider-Man fan.

How cool is that?

The guy who is a total jerk to Peter Parker is also the biggest fan of Peter’s alter-ego, Spider-Man? Besides the irony, it adds hidden depth to Flash, because it’s not like being a Spider-Man fan was the “cool” thing to do – it really is NOT the cool thing to do, and yet Flash does it anyways, showing a bit more of a spine than we expected from him.

Some writer, Steven Grant, I believe, made the compelling argument at some point in the 1990s that Flash and Peter were an odd pair because, by 1994, they really weren’t FRIENDS, were they? I mean, they hung out and all, but it was just this odd “I’ve known you for so long and I am friends with the same people you’re friends with” thing where Flash was friends with Harry, MJ and Gwen, but not really so much with Peter – they just were THERE together for so long that they sort of became friends, but, as I believe Grant points out, that’s not much of a basis for a real friendship, is it?

Later writers did not particularly seem to know what to do with Flash. Heck, Paul Jenkins literally put him into a coma.

Now, Marc Guggenheim has Flash as an Iraq veteran who lost his legs saving his comrades. It will be interesting to see how Flash plays out in his new condition. I’m betting he’s the new superhero we see in those American Son promos Marvel has been doing.

What do you folks think?


Long ago Peter and Flash became friends after Flash served in Vietnam. “Nam had changed Flash, was the excuse. I assume a rebbot eliminated that, but returning from Iraq could be an excuse to make them friends again.

Flash as a superhero? Sure why not? He could join the Avengers and give Spidey yet another lame reason to turn down membership!


Jeez. And here I thought giving him brain damage so he couldn’t remember being friends with Peter was harsh. Touche, Guggenheim.

I just want him to follow Reed Richards around, yelling “NERRRRD!”

That’s what I love about Spidey’s supporting cast, especially Flash and JJJ(Junior), when written well. At face value they may be unlikeable and deeply flawed characters. But they have their own set of values, and are prepared to stick to them through thick and thin. Jonah may bully and cheat the young Ditko era Peter Parker, but if someone tries to threaten him into revealing who takes the photos of Spidey, under pain of death he won’t betray his employee.
Similarly with Flash, when everyone else doubts and fears Spidey, he is the one who will stand up for his hero. In a particularly nice role reversal, when Flash is framed for being the Hobgoblin, Peter is one of the few to visit him in prison, berates Flash for his treatment of him over the years despite Flash’s rational for doing so, and then says that despite everything, they are now friends, and Peter will try to prove Flash’s innocence.

Flash was a Spidey fan almost from the beginning, so it was definitely either Lee or Ditko (probably Lee) who came up with the idea.

Wow, Flash is an Iraq-war veteran amputee? OK. Hopefully they provide some reason for making this Flash and not a new character.

I do like Flash Thompson. He is one of the few examples of an acquaintance in superhero comics.

(Who drew that picture? Was it you, Brian?)

(Who drew that picture? Was it you, Brian?)

Tim Sale from Spider-Man: Blue, I believe.

I always hated that big jerk Flash Thompson. Know who else I hated? Steve Lombard. What a jerk he was!
I seriously don’t understand a) why Marvel blew his legs off? (Seriously? That was dumb.) or b) any love for Flash Thompson. Just don’t get it.

Steve Lombard never made sense, anyway. He would have made sense if he was a jock at Smallville High in the Superboy comics, but in the Superman titles he was stupid. A poor attempt to ape Flash Thompson, I think. Did my heart good to see what what Wolfman did to him in the early days of the Byrne reboot.

Man, after the 90s, writers started hating the HELL out of Flash.

DeMatteis made him a drunk, Jenkins made him a vegetable (while simultaneously having Osborn frame him for drunkenly crashing his car into a school; don’t think anything ever became of that), David took away his memories, and then Gage took away his legs.

There’s not really a whole helluva lot more to do to the guy except make him bald and give him lobster-hands.

Oops, Guggenheim, not Gage.

Hey, Flash, want some legs back? Superduper quantum contruct legs? That give you super powers, and are hollow so you can hit that Taco Bell refill stand for just gallons of Cherry Pepsi?

All you have to do is make Q be for Quasar.

if not…I think there’s a B. Gordon on Craigslist selling a used wheelchair.

Dude, Quasar cannot possibly be cooler than the Question!

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