Comic Book Legends Revealed #470
COMIC LEGEND: Originally Barry Allen was going to be found guilty in his trial and become a fugitive hero!
STATUS: Basically True
One of the stranger plotlines of the 1980s was the long-running “Trial of Barry Allen” in the pages of the Flash that ran for over a year until the end of the series.
Barry Allen describes the situation pretty well to his friend Hal Jordan here…
The thing was, very early on, longtime Flash writer Cary Bates knew that he was going to be ending the book with #350 and that Flash would be going off to Crisis to be killed, so that is a big part of why he stretched the storyline out so long. After all, why start a new story when you know the book is ending soon anyways?
Originally, the storyline ends with Barry being found guilty but he learns that the jury was tampered with. He decides to just leave our time and go to the future and live out the rest of his life with his wife, Iris, who had been sent to the future some time ago (as it turns out, “the rest of his life” wasn’t very much longer as he dies soon after in Crisis on Infinite Earths).
However, what if Crisis DIDN’T happen? What would Cary Bates have done THEN? In a fascinating interview over at the Speed Force with Greg Elias, Bates explains what he would have done and it sounds like it would have been an awesome story…
Because DC had given me over a year’s advance notice of the Crisis and Flash’s inevitable demise, I was focusing all my energies on the Trial storyline, since it would now carry through until the very end of the book’s run. So in all honesty I never contemplated what Flash’s life might have been like after the verdict. But the far more interesting question is what might have been had there been no Crisis event? Well, for one thing the Trial would’ve probably ended a good 8 or 9 issues earlier. Flash would’ve been vindicated and found not guilty in the court of public opinion—but perhaps not by the court system. In fact, before the Crisis entered into things, I do remember toying with the idea of Flash being found guilty and going “on the run” (literally). This would’ve kicked off a new story arc which would have had Flash continuing to do his good deeds as a wanted man with an arrest warrant hanging over his head (sort of a variation on the Green Hornet concept of a hero who the authorities view as a criminal). What I liked most about this idea was the delicious irony of a Flash who ends up joining his own Rogues Gallery.
I’d have liked to have seen that!
Thanks to Greg and Cary for the information!