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Comic Book Legends Revealed #561

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COMIC LEGEND: In the original version of “The Return of Barry Allen,” “Barry Allen” was going to be revealed to be Bart Allen!

STATUS: True

“The Return of Barry Allen” was an epic storyline by Mark Waid where he had “Barry Allen” return to show how Wally West truly belonged to be THE Flash…

returnofbarry

After everyone is thrilled to have Barry back, Barry begins to act more and more erratically. Eventually, Wally figures out the truth…

Wally ends up winning the day and solidifying his place as the Flash, and fans all realized how awesome Mark Waid was.

However, as reader Duggy noted, originally the “Barry Allen” in the story was going to be someone else entirely – BART ALLEN!

Bart Allen, the hero known as Impulse, debuted in Flash #92 by Mark Waid and Mike Weiringo…

bart1

bart2

bart3

bart4

That is true, however, in a sort of circuitous way.

I asked Mark Waid about it, and he explained that originally the idea for “The Return of Barry Allen” was an idea he had for his stint as the main writer on Justice League International Quarterly. If you haven’t read Waid’s JLIQ stories, you really should hunt them down. They’re excellent. Especially his first one from #5, “Be Careful What You Wish For.”

And yes, in this original idea for the story, which would have been just one long story in JLIQ, Barry would turn out to be Bart Allen. However, soon after the idea came to Waid, he was given the chance to take on the Flash ongoing series, so he dropped the idea for JLIQ and it morphed into his first epic storyline on the Flash ongoing series.

And we’re all the better for it!

Thanks to Duggy for the suggestion and thanks to Mark Waid for the information – and for just writing a kick ass Flash and JLIQ, in general.
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Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed at Spinoff Online: Which original Grey’s Anatomy cast member was added to the pilot through CGI?
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On the next page, was the Justice League Unlimited version of “For the Man Who Has Everything” the only adaptation of his work that Alan Moore actually LIKED?

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65 Comments

“BURN”………

I’ve got nothing of importance to add this week, so instead I’ll just say:
Anyone who hasn’t picked it up yet owes it to themselves to hunt down The Return Of Barry Allen. That was a spectacular, still one of my favorite Flash stories almost 2 decades later. It was the culmination of everything Flash-related since the pre-Crisis Trial of Barry Allen. That, Crisis, the end of the multiverse, the loss and return of the JSA, and Wally’s entire history came to a head. After this, The Flash took on an entirely new life, with Wally firmly in place as The Flash, the specter of Barry Allen finally and permanently behind him.

Honestly, Luke Cage being the only human would have been great.

I think Marvel’s objection was that it was too similar to other zombie type stories (like I Am Legend).

Return of Barry Allen. Terminal Velocity. Chain Lightning. Dark Flash. Waid’s Flash was incredible. And to think right after Waid we had a very short Grant Morrison run and then right into Geoff Johns’ Flash. Wally was the heart and Soul of the DCU for so many years. And now….well, Im still waiting.

Man, I forgot how delightfully weird Marvel Zombies was.

It would not surprise me at all if Alan Moore has never even seen that episode of JLU…

I did like the JLU adaptation of “FTMWHE”…except for one part.
When Superman says, “Burn”, it has a much more subdued feeling in the comic than George Newburn’s yell on the show. To me, it’s just much more dramatic (and better) the way it was done in the comic and I was looking forward to that being transfer to the cartoon. I was rather disappointed with the result.
But still…a good episode overall. Even though, by that point, I was tired of seeing The Big 3 all the time.

It’s so strange to look back on the days when the Ultimates universe never interacted with the main Marvel Earth-616. Because after Spider-Men, characters seemed to pop back and forth between the two universes all the time. I guess that’s exactly why they kept them separate for so long (even if Marvel Zombies crossed over with both).

It would not surprise me at all if Alan Moore has never even seen that episode of JLU…

While I agree, I think it is worth nothing that Moore specifically DID ask Timm for a copy of the episode. So he showed some real interest in seeing it. I’ve edited that into the article now, to be clear.

Zombies that talk and think? In what way were these zombies? I never read the series so it is a sincere question.

They were no longer living and they ate people.

The movie that started the [expletive deleted] meme that zombies eat brains, Return of the Living Dead, had them thinking and talking. (I think that may also have been the first movie to apply ‘zombie’ to the flesh-eating undead, that Romero created in Night – Romero’s movies only used ‘ghoul’ or less specific terms like ‘things’ until, IIRC, Land.)

Ok thanks so kind of cannibal superheroes.

(Speaking of Return of the Living Dead and Marvel Zombies, in whichever mini introduced Headpool (when he still had a body), I was disappointed when he was using the HELMET comm to contact them, he didn’t say ‘send more capes’ or something like that. It seems highly unlikely Deadpool wouldn’t make the reference under the circumstances.)

I don’t remember anything but grunts and groans and mindlessness in Night of the Living Dead. Any how there’s room for different ideas. I just was interested in what the Marvel Zombies were since I haven’t read any of that series.

The hook in Marvel Zombies is that they lose their cognitive capacity the longer they go without eating. They had all just feasted on Magneto before the pages posted above, so they had their minds back (and because of that, they also had the guilt of their actions, like Spider-Man being so sad about eating his wife AND his aunt).

The only adaptation of an Alan Moore work that I’m aware that he enjoyed is Altered Vistas’ fan-made animation of “Black Legacy,” a story originally published in Doctor Who Weekly. Moore wrote: ”
First, let me say how much I enjoyed Black Legacy. It is not only the first screen adaptation of my work that I’ve actually watched more that the first five minutes of before being overcome with rage and disgust, it is the only screen adaptation of my work that I’ve enjoyed from start to finish and can say I thoroughly approve of. This is clearly a work that is born out of nothing save for a simple love of the material. It has not opted to change elements of the story, give it a less bleak ending or introduce a love interest and cute pet dog for the chief Cyberman protagonist. You have simply adapted the story as faithfully as you were able, without feeling the need to ‘improve’ it, and the very fact that this approach is almost unique in my experience speaks volumes for the state of contemporary culture.”

The quote comes from here.

I’m still willing to write a Power Man vs. Zombies mini-series. It is still a great idea. I’ll also defer to Reggie Hudlin and David Walker to write a cool tale such as this.

Compared to Marvel Zombies, a symbiote-bonded amnesiac time-travelling Wolverine cyborg would be a pretty neat, original idea, a breath of fresh air, something we’ve hardly seen before and it’d make me want to pick up that comic. But only compared to Marvel Zombies.

Ugh, Greg Land’s art. I’ve never been able to figure out why I dislike it so much, but I really can’t stand his work. I just find it really off putting.

Put me down as one of the people who fell for the Alan Moore myth. Personally I didn’t care much for the JLU interpretation just because a lot of the “dark” elements of the original story were lost. Jor-El becoming a bigot, Kryptonian society falling to pieces, Kara getting beaten into a coma, Kal having a crap job, the Phantom Zone protesters. All cut out for more WW/Mongul fight sequences (the producers of that show really had a thing for beating her up). The whole appeal of FTMWHE is that you have this perfect Utopian society in decline. That was cut out. I hope Supergirl does a better job with that. Of course they also have more creative freedom than JLU did because it’s a different character.

The thing that bothered me about the Marvel Zombies (keeping in mind I’ve only read the UFF story) is that after they all became zombies, they all turned evil. As if they adopted a completely different personality. Even being “mindless” would have made more sense than that.

Javro- Kamino Neko was referencing Dan O’Bannon’s 1985 movie, Return of The Living Dead, where zombies both think and talk. Also (again as Kaino said) none of Romero’s movies from the 20th century ever used the word zombie.

Kamino Neko- Just going by memory, I would imagine that Fulci’s Zombie (aka Zombi 2) that first used that word to describe Romero style flesh eating dead folks.

Also (again as Kaino said) none of Romero’s movies from the 20th century ever used the word zombie.

Nor do the living dead have any particular affinity for brains in the original Romero movies, just flesh in general.

Cool Brian thanks for extending that explanation. It’s actually an interesting variation. As products of the imagination i don’t get get hung up on there being a “right” or “wrong” take on what a zombie (or ghost or demon or elf etcetera) might be..

given how moore has a dislike of any of his stuff be adapted by hollywood mostly due to how the tlogm turned out along with from hell. plus watchman. not surprised there is no way to every confirm if he had any opinion on the jl episode though did hear one time from some one that alan actully thought the episode was good that it stayed true to the story. and he liked it .

No comment on Moore’s opinion on Saturday Morning Watchmen? :D

demoncat_4 – Was this the same someone who did that thing that one time? Or the other time when that one guy did the other stuff. And was this by chance the same someone who stole your shift key and ability to complete sentences? Because he. Okay, I thought I could go on like that but it’s too painful…

No comment on Moore’s opinion on Saturday Morning Watchmen? :D

I once heard someone say that Leah Moore said that he liked it, but I’ve yet to see the actual quote from Leah Moore saying it.

They’d really need more explanation on how Luke Cage survived in a zombie apocalypse that can affect super heroes. Because his skin is really no tougher than the Thing or Hulk or Colossus or heck, Mr. Fantastic. So he really wouldn’t be any more invulnerable than any host of other characters who were affected.

Thanks for doing that research Brian! I hadn’t found that note from Timm about Dave Gibbons’ response. Thanks so much for addressing this and serving as a Paper of Record!

I have the same point as M-Wolverine. Arguing that Cage can’t become a zombie because he has “unbreakable skin” is just ludicrous if other far more invulnerable beings -like Hulk, Sentry, Silver Surfer, etc. can be killed by/made into zombies.

I’ve always disliked the Marvel Zombie stuff because it doesn’t make any sense. The idea that there is some kind of virus that can infect so many superhuman and invulnerable beings is just unsustainable. Even more, there were lots of beings who were affected by the Marvel Zombies who should have been untouchable – for example, the Silver Surfer. If I remember correctly, the Zombies even ended up eating Galactus and taking his cosmic power. For that to work, everything we know about the essential nature of Galactus – for eg. that he is a being of energy who is contained in the suit and also an abstract being who appears to different races in ways that fit their own mythologies – would have to be thrown out. It was just an idea that did not and does not make a lot of sense.

James Baker – Oy, facepalm for me. Fulci’s oeuvre never even occurred to me. (Probably because, while aware of them, I have never seen them.)

I can’t quite figure out why, maybe it was just me trying to make sense of it, but I always had the feeling that Marvel was hinting that the virus that made super-humans turn in to zombies was created by magical means, my suspicion was that it would be traced back to someone like Dormammu or Blackheart, it seemed the only way to explain how it could affect so many varied power sets, I mean how could the Ghost Rider ever get infected let alone Luke Cage, yet somehow he was, you may be able to say they got him prior to transforming but . . . oh well.

Which would tie it back to zombie roots because before Night of zombies were generally more mystical, like vampires, than scientific.

ShaunN –

There has been a push from modern writers to make Luke Cage’s unbreakable skin as “definitive” as Spidey’s agility. I remember when it was barely better than a bulletproof vest, and not nearly as invulnerable as other superhumans, but Cage has been power-boosted. And I’m okay with that.

But yeah, Marvel Zombies doesn’t make much sense.

Brian, why not ask Rich Johnson on that matter since he is closer and/or friend with Alan Moore?

I actually like the JLU version of “For the Man Who Has Everything” considerably more than the original story. I saw the episode first, and when I later read the story, I was surprised at how much less sense it made and how unsatisfying it was. First off, if the Black Mercy is showing Superman his ideal world, why is it so crappy? It seems more like a nightmare he’d be eager to escape than a dream he’d never want to wake up from. If anything, the underlying idea of it seemed to be that Krypton was better off destroyed, because it would’ve gone totally to hell if it hadn’t been.

Second, why is it purely a Kryptonian life in his fantasy? Does Superman not have any attachments to Earth despite spending his whole life there? The animated adaptation made much more sense. Superman’s dream world was a blend of his Earthly and Kryptonian lives, the people in it were composites of his loved ones from both worlds, and it was a fulfilling life, just one he was smart enough to realize was too perfect and unchallenging to be real.

I think the SUPERGIRL version will also make more sense, because she actually spent the first half of her life on Krypton, so it’s a vision that fits better with her character and her background.

On Marvel Zombies:

What exactly is the origin of the zombie virus? IIRC, it’s heavily implied in issue 1 that Magneto struck a deal somehow to get the virus on earth to wipe out humans…which it does, though not how he expected. And then it’s dropped and we get various narratives about its origins. Not that it ever made sense; sure, it only takes a scratch, but that doesn’t account for anyone with unbreakable skin (like Juggy or Cage).

Return of Barry Allen:

Count me in with the Wally supporters. Great book, but by extension, was future Bart going to be a villainand Wally was going to be given a chance to help shape his younger self into a better villain? Because that might have been a neat twist at the time.

In his introduction of the Marvel Zombies TPB, Robert Kirkman goes into greater detail on his original story idea. Luke Cage was alive, but he was working for the zombies rather than fighting them. The zombies had abducted Jessica Jones and her child, and Cage agreed to track down survivors in the zombie universe and rat out their location in exchange for his family being allowed to live. Of course that doesn’t match the timeline of the Marvel universe (Power Man Luke Cage being married to Jessica Jones?), but then again a LOT of things didn’t match the Marvel timeline. Kirkman also added that it was editor Ralph Macchio who not only shot down this idea but gave him the idea to just make the zombies the main characters.

Moreso than invulnerable characters becoming zombies, I question how characters with healing factors like Wolverine and Deadpool could succumb to a zombie virus. From a logical standpoint, it would make better sense for the zombies to keep those characters alive at all costs, as their regerative abilities would be able to feed them perpetually. Cut off a piece, wait for it to grow back, repeat. ; )

To Christopher Bennett – the reason Moore presented Krypton as a nightmarish world was because Superman knew on some level what was going on. Understanding, at least subconsciously, that his new life was being shaped around his desire that Krypton had never been destroyed, Superman’s mind began introducing destructive concepts (the ridicule of his father, the attack on Kara) into the mix so as to force himself to reject everything he was seeing.

I loved the Marvel Zombie universe in particular Crossover, Frightful and the first few outings in the Marvel Zombies series (1,2, dead days). Unfortunately it went into the ground hard for me after that, though still kept following like a true Marvel Zombie…

Sure some stuff was out of whack but it was another earth and their powers etc could have varied. There was some genuinely funny and creepy stuff going on but really felt invested in T’Challas story as part of it. Can easily see why its not for everyone though!

As someone mentioned before that run if Flash Waid-Morrison/Millar to Johns was epic. Flash was always a character I had no interest in until someone recomended an early Waid issue. Loved it and followed through those teams and was really rewarded. I felt the gravity of Barrys death in Crisis even if I didnt like him personally or have much interest but Wally will always be my Flash. The did such a good job of the legacy concept there

“…like Spider-Man being so sad about eating his wife AND his aunt.”

Regarding the Return of Barry Allen, I never liked the biography plot device. If Reverse Flash had the biography all along, shouldn’t he have known (a) that Iris wasn’t really dead and (b) that he would die trying to kill Fiona?

To Christopher Bennett – the reason Moore presented Krypton as a nightmarish world was because Superman knew on some level what was going on. Understanding, at least subconsciously, that his new life was being shaped around his desire that Krypton had never been destroyed, Superman’s mind began introducing destructive concepts (the ridicule of his father, the attack on Kara) into the mix so as to force himself to reject everything he was seeing.

Exactly. You’ll also notice that the dream-Krypton gets more & more unpleasant as the story goes along. That’s Superman’s consciousness coming to the fore and trying to shake him out of his dream world.

As to why Superman’s dream world doesn’t contain any Earth elements in it, don’t forget that this was a pre-CRISIS Superman story and that Alan Moore grew up reading Silver Age Superman comics. That version of the Man of Steel was ALL ABOUT the lost world of Krypton. You rarely even saw him mourn his Earth stepparents. For the post-CRISIS style Superman they featured in the DCAU, yeah, an Earth/Krypton blend makes more sense.

BTW is this the same Ultimate Reed who’d grow up to be a mass murderer?

BTW is this the same Ultimate Reed who’d grow up to be a mass murderer?

Ay-yep.

Actually, the only adaptation of his work I’m aware of Moore canonically
approving of in print was the fan CD version of his early Cyberman story
‘Black Legacy':

http://www.alteredvistas.co.uk/html/black_legacy.html

Scroll down for his comments.

If you read Marvel Zombies (the Kirkman mini series, can’t say for the other ones that followed) as an over the top, Ennis-like What If? it’s quite an enjoyable comic.

Michael:

Thawne in TRoBA was a very early Thawne, one who hadn’t met Barry Allen or Iris yet. The story notes that the book didn’t contain any information of who Reverse Flash was, so there was no way for him to connect the dots. With the amnesia from time travel when Wally sends him back coupled with Wally keeping the book at the end of the story, it’s implied that Thawne would have forgotten almost everything of his encounter with Wally, including presumably what was in the book. The timeline would then go forward from there with Thawne meeting Barry.

Now, Thawne’s death at Barry’s hands is a problem anyway, as you would assume that he would be well aware of it and would seek to avoid it…but then it’s possible that he went back anyway because he was that crazy. Or he thought his death would happen differently and he changed it the first time but couldn’t the second time. The problem with villain from the future who time travels is that you can drive yourself crazy trying to figure out why they would be self-destructive.

I love Barry Allen. I loved Silver Age Flash. I still wanted them to keep Wally as the Flash, dammit.

Ken Rainer ~
“Greg Land’s art. I’ve never been able to figure out why I dislike it so much”
Possibly because the expressions don’t match the scenes in a way that’s off just enough to be distracting, but not so much as to be obvious if you’re not looking for it?

M-Wolverine and ShaunN ~
The Hulk wasn’t turned into a zombie.
Bruce Banner was. (It carried over when he transformed into the Hulk.)

That might also explain Colossus (I don’t remember), but not the Thing. (Still don’t remember his transformation. I remember the Hulk because I had the same objection you guys did, but that explanation worked for me.)

Ken Rainer ~
“Greg Land’s art. I’ve never been able to figure out why I dislike it so much”
Maybe because the expressions never quite match the scenes, in a way that’s subtly distracting but you won’t spot it unless you’re specifically looking for it?
(Or have read the X-Men issues where they never stop smiling and it’s creepy? But that was two different artists in a row.)

M-Wolverine and ShaunN ~
The Hulk wasn’t transformed into a zombie.
Bruce Banner was. It carried over after Bruce changed into the Hulk. (I remember because I had the same problem you did until I actually read it, and that explanation made a ton of sense to me.)

That might explain Colossus, too. I don’t remember how the Thing was transformed.

Wally West is still my Flash. I remember and love the Morrison/Millar run as it had just arrived to me when it was first collected when my mom went into the hospital for surgery. It was all I had to read, and it was all that I needed. I don’t care at all how they change Wally as long as they stay true to his character, but have they done that in any form since the big reboot? I picked up the Convergence title that had Wally and family in it, and of course loved it, and, of course, didn’t pick up any other Convergence books. Is the DCU big enough to continue the decades-long story and character of Wally West? Is he not unique in getting entirely lost/dumped as a fully developed character (with room to grow) during the reboot (with multiple trade paper backs and more to his history)?

I can’t think of any other character that was so incredibly important in the DCU with a prolific publication history across multiple titles and not just his own that was just trashed wholesale. I’m not going to pretend to understand how the DC multiverse works these days beyond knowing that the pre-Flashpoint Superman exists on the New 52 Earth. Why not have Wally West reappear similiarly (or via any method)?

Feel free to steal this idea because it’s not incredibly likely that I’ll be writing a Flash book in the next year or two: Just use what Waid and others always used when Wally was utterly and hopelessly lost. Linda Park, the original Linda Park, is on Earth. Out of the Speed Force, Wally wills himself back into existence because Linda is his anchor. He will always find her. He will always find his way back to Linda. It’s as simple as that, and anyone else is more than welcome to make it more complicated than that.

Once you have a zombie Hulk, doesn’t that more-or-less solve the problem with some of the others? He should be powerful enough to zombify the Thing or Colossus, certainly.

And, yeah, even I had come to think of Wally as THE Flash, eventually (unlike some of DC’s other “replacement” characters).

@ Alaric – “You wouldn’t like me when I’m hangry!” Yeah, that would do it.

@Alaric ~
“Once you have a zombie Hulk, doesn’t that more-or-less solve the problem with some of the others? He should be powerful enough to zombify the Thing or Colossus, certainly.”

I was thinking about that when I posted, but I don’t remember if that’s what actually happened.
I think Colossus got bit before Banner.
(iirc: Alpha Flight were the first to go – which is why I have the series – in an untold story. They spread it to the X-Men, then it went to the broader world from there.)

1. “A lot of people complained that Luke Cage can’t be a zombie…” Really? Did they REALLY? In a spin-off from a Zombie Fantastic Four story where one guy’s skin is literally rocks, Luke Cage is the one people took issue with?

2. “Return of Barry Allen” turned me from someone who was vaguely aware that Flash existed to a full-on fan. Still one of my favorites.

3. The JLU version of the Moore story was…fine, I guess. I was never gonna like it as much as the original because of things like Mongul and WW’s strength levels (respectively much weaker and stronger than Pre-Crisis), the fact that seeng Superman enraged was pretty commonplace on the show already, and the lack of Robin being the one to save the day.

Marvel zombies Dead days explains that while Alpha Flight did fight the X-Men, the X-Men were saved by Magneto who recruits them to New York for the last stand there. It’s explained that they felt it could be contained by SHIELD and the remaining heroes until Quicksilver is infected by Mystique who was masquerading as Scarlet Witch (Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness is where we get that). Quicksilver takes off overseas and that’s when it gets out of control. In Dead Days, the last 5 heroes aboard the Helicarrier before being infected are Thor, Storm, Doc Strange, Nightcrawler, and Colossus. Thing is infected by a scratch (whatever that means) by Mr. Fantastic. Banner was in the process of being infected but wasn’t full zombie. So we have to believe that Thing was able to break the skin of Thor and Colossus (who was fully armored) somehow, but it isn’t shown on panel.

IIRC, the zombie virus was introduced by that universes’ Sentry.

The FTMWHE story may make more sense with Supergirl, as mentioned above. I agree also with those who posit that Superman never trusted the fantasy perfect world the Black Lotus immersed into his mind. In fact, the Black Lotus may work like Black Mamba’s Darkforce abilities, enticing one while slowly killing them. One would suppose Clark’s perfect life would be here on Earth, where he could protect the Kents, keep the farm absolutely pristine, and sweep Lana off her feet with further subtle usage of his meta-abilities. On Krypton, he’s just a schlub.

Mark Waid is badass. ‘Nuff said.

Less than six weeks after falling for Wally in the Justice League Unlimited cartoon series The Return Of Barry Allen was one of three books highly recommended to me by another fanfic author. The first I read was Terminal Velocity (wish I really love.) The second was TROBA. That book cemented it for me: I was in love with Wallace Rudolph West and more so the comic book version than the cartoon version that made me start searching for the name on the internet. Oh, and another by-product was paying attention whenever I ran across the name Mark Waid.

Wally is and has been my favorite comic book hero since 2008 when he supplanted Superman for that spot in my heart.

I miss him something terrible. Comic books just haven’t had the same appeal ever since he went MIA. (Yes, I know about the changeling child in the latest Flash books and in the TV show. I don’t recognize those either in body or soul. They are strangers to me. To me Wally is still MIA.)

BTW, i still despise Eobard Thawne. The bastard! ;)

Well, if Banner turns into the Hulk as a Zombie, then Colossus could have been bitten as Piotr. But really, like Wolverine and such, shouldn’t Hulk heal from it? Isn’t he basically immune to diseases? I could see one of those where “Banner has cancer; but it’s in remission when he’s the Hulk” stories, but zombie Hulk takes a major stretch if it just doesn’t magically affect everyone, and someone like Luke Cage is immune.

[…] “The Return of Barry Allen” Almost Meant a Different Flash’s Return (Comic Book Resources) […]

I actually remember listeing to a podcast-interview with Alan Moore where he actually said he enjoyed the episode. Sadly i can’t remember the name of the podcast bit I’m 100% sure about this.

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