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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 104: Flash (volume 2) #96

Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be doing theme weeks (more or less), with each week devoted to a single writer. This pseudo-week: Mark Waid. Today’s page is from Flash (volume 2) #96, which was published by DC and is cover dated December 1994. Enjoy!

Um, dude, your head's on fire

Mark Waid semi-week begins with one of his most beloved series (I own older Waid comics, but I decided to go with this one), a series I have tried very hard to get into but just can’t. I really don’t know why. They’re perfectly fine comics, but they just don’t strike a chord with me. Oh well! But we’re not here to debate the merits of the run in general, we’re here to check out the first page of one issue, the “Terminal Velocity” story that led up to issue #100!

Waid lets us know immediately who the principals are: Linda Park and Wally West. He also lets us know that they’re an item. Long-time readers will recognize that he’s playing on the fact that Wally West, puffed up with hubris (I kid!), always introduces himself as Wally West, the fastest man alive, but in this case, something very weird has happened to Wally and he stumbles over the second part of his introduction. That and the fact that he’s making a bit of a joke about the “good times and bad” helps us know that even though this looks bad, Waid’s Flash doesn’t take itself too, too seriously. There’s always a mix of drama and excitement, and we get a bit of that here. In fact, Waid plays off of this for a lot of the arc, which is more “serious” than some of the stories leading up to it.

And check out Larroca’s quaint art, when he actually drew stuff instead of whatever the hell he does now! This is really the best angle from which to view this scene, because it heightens the drama very well. Larroca puts the reader in Linda’s place, as our eyes naturally go to the upper left, where she enters the room. Her eyes guide us right to Wally’s flaming head, which, while it’s not in the exact center of the page, is the focal point around which everything revolves. Larroca has studied his shadows, because Wally would throw three of them, and they also rotate around him. Linda’s shadow is subtly more horrified than she is – look at the way Larroca draws her shadow hand, as it seems to be pulling back more than Linda is. He’s hinting at her horror without showing it on her face, and it’s a nice touch. Her double-breasted jacket is quite 1990s and her skirt is perhaps a bit short, but that’s partly the function of the point of view. Larroca has the same problems with feet a lot of artists do – is she in stockings or shoes? – but that’s a minor complaint. The way the page is laid out is very nice, and then Larroca gives us a visual cue to turn the page with the flame wisping off Wally’s head and pointing above the credits to the second page. It can’t be easy to pull off this kind of page, with the POV and the shadows, but Larroca does a very nice job. He got better, and then somewhere along the way, he decided that what he’s doing now is better. I can’t agree.

Waid and Larroca (with some help from Carlos Pacheco and others) do a good job on this entire arc. If this is your first Flash comic, this is a fine first page to get you into the story that changes Wally FOREVER!!!!! Well, at least for a little bit.

Next: Another beloved Waid run! Sheesh, everyone likes this dude! Find other great comics in the archives!

13 Comments

“And check out Larroca’s quaint art, when he actually drew stuff instead of whatever the hell he does now!”

This was the best line I’ve read all week.

I really like Larocca’s art in Iron Man, but I guess it wouldn’t really work in anything other than Iron Man. Shiny!

” And check out Larroca’s quaint art, when he actually drew stuff instead of whatever the hell he does now! ”

…knock it out of the park with every issue of Iron Man?

Neil: Different strokes and all. I can’t stand his art now, what with the blatant usage of actors’ faces and the computer effects, but I suppose I’m in the minority. This art appeals to me much more.

It’s hard for me to believe that anyone who loves comics can’t get into Waid’s run on Flash! His ‘Born to Run’ and ‘Return of Barry Allen’ [tho' the art isn't great] are really emotional storylines. This one, ‘Dead Heat’ and several other issues/stories are amoung my favorite comics.

Waid took the sidekick & turned him into the star of his own book using lots of growth issues. i always love Flash [whoever it is] but Waid turned the book into my favorite.

Looking back at it now, the art on this arc isn’t that bad. But it was a huge letdown after my first experience with Mike Weiringo’s art during the Impulse introduction issues and Zero Hour tie-in.

Have to agree with you about Larroca Greg, I always have preferred this style to his modern style

Larroca’s good at drawing technology stuff in IIM. He draws THE best Iron Man I’ve ever seen, bar none. But when people are outside the suit, shit starts looking questionable. Still, I like having him on every issue since 2008, sometimes double-shipping, so I think that’s pretty impressive in a world of artist musical chairs.

Linda’s in stockings. A common artist trick to suggest that is a line across the top of the foot; I doubt that line is to suggest the front of a shoe because chances are Linda would have have been wearing heels and Larroca does not pencil those in. The colorist then colors the foot to match the leg. This is one more element to suggest Linda’s surprise and vulnerability in this situation. Linda’s come home, kicked off her shoes, expecting to relax and finds Wally’s on fire.

Actually, let me totally nerd out on the Linda in stockings thing — she is in stockings, but this isn’t, as Dave-El suggests, that she just kicked off her shoes to relax. She’d just been saved from Kobra’s men by Argus, some of whom are ninja-like guys with swords, and at least one of her shoes was sliced in half, the other perhaps just getting knocked off in the melee.

I know this without having read these issues in awhile (although it has been within a year). I am a complete and total nerd.

Like Andrew-TLA though, I too first encountered Flash with the Impulse intro a few issues before this. What a good run.

And Waid’s trick of having Wally introduce himself as the fastest man alive is a neat, fairly subtle way to bring new readers in every issue, and it works. I haven’t read his DD yet, but I hope he’s been doing a variation on this in some way there.

How come I never get named checked for things I get right? (OK, no one say anything!)

Hey, maybe after being saved by Argus from an attack by Kobra’s men, she was hoping to relax? Yeah? No?

Ok, OK, you are right, Travis Pelkie! (My own nerd memory is slipping with age.)

Hey, it was a good guess, anyway, Dave. I’ll make sure to give you props for getting things right next time.

Actually, I think if it wasn’t for the detail of Linda’s shoe getting sliced in half, I wouldn’t remember this bit at all. I think I noticed a panel after that where she was missing a shoe, went back, saw the slice, and then it all stuck in my memory. Because I am weird.

@ Travis Pelkie and Dave-El Wow… yeah I’m gonna have to drag out my boxes of Flash Comics to chime in on this one. But if memory serves this was the arc with the fight against Kobra etc. leading into Wally joining with the Speed Force and coming back for the first time. It really wasn’t until this issue that we get to see just how badly Wally’s Powers have been amped up since the whole “Return of Barry Allen” Arc. I may now have to just read that entire story over again. Man those were good comics back then. Mark Waid has always been my favorite writer on the series.

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