The Flash: Ignition


By Geoff Johns, Alberto Dose, Howard Porter & Livesay (DC Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-4012-0463-1

There are many super-speedsters in the DCU and most of them congregate in the conjoined metropolis of Keystone and Central City. Wally West, third incarnation of The Flash, lived there with his true love Linda Park, his Aunt Iris and rocket-racers such as Jay Garrick, with juvenile speedster from the Future Impulse and his mentor/keeper Max Mercury, the Zen Master of hyper-velocity, only an eye-blink away…

Created by Gardner Fox and Harry Lampert, Garrick debuted as the very first Scarlet Speedster in Flash Comics #1 (January 1940). “The Fastest Man Alive” wowed readers for over a decade before changing tastes benched him in 1951. The concept of speedsters and superheroes in general was revived in 1956 by Julie Schwartz in Showcase #4 when police scientist Barry Allen became the second hero to run with the concept.

The Silver Age Flash, whose creation ushered in a new and seemingly unstoppable era of costumed crusaders, died heroically during Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985-1986) and was promptly succeeded by his sidekick Kid Flash. Of course Allen later returned from the dead – but doesn’t everyone?

Initially Wally West struggled to fill the boots of his predecessor, both in sheer ability and, more tellingly, in confidence. Feeling a fraud, he nonetheless persevered and eventually overcame, becoming the greatest to carry the name.

This volume reprints issues #201-206 of Wally’s long-gone-and-much-missed monthly comic and opens in the aftermath of a blockbusting battle which tore the Twin Cities and the extended Flash Family apart.

In the wake of those events the Scarlet Speedster disappeared and, thanks to the intervention of nigh-omnipotent spirit The Spectre, everyone who knew Wally West was the Flash forgot the secret.

Unfortunately that also included Linda and Wally too…

Scripter Geoff Johns and artists Alberto Dose, Howard Porter & Livesay kick started a new era in the hero’s life with ‘Driven’ as the double metropolis began to suffer the lack of a super-fast protector. Crime went up and a wave of cold-themed killings seemed to indicate that former thief Captain Cold had graduated to homicidal mania. Meanwhile, slow but steady police garage mechanic Wally West plodded on with his new job, fixing the battered vehicles of Keystone PD and coming to terms with the fact that Linda has just miscarried their unborn child…

When a huge car-crash jump-started his powers an ultra-swift Wally was baffled, but by the end of ‘Shifting Gears’ had deduced that his newfound ability to not be killed by a variety of accidents and attacks meant something or someone had messed with his mind…

In ‘Crash and Burn’, as the freeze murders escalated and with every cop hunting Captain Cold, Wally was forced to confront the fact that he must be the long-missing Flash. He has a long, illuminating chat with a guy in a diner; and if he had been in possession of his memories he would have realised that he’d just shared coffee and philosophy with the suspected murderer everybody wanted…

Back in the scarlet suit but with his memories still vague, Wally tracked the icy felon but evidence was slowly pointing to another killer framing the sub-zero scoundrel – a suspicion confirmed when the befuddled speedster was attacked by a new Mr. Element and only saved by the Bad Captain in ‘Cold Reality’.

Whilst Linda, tormented by insidious dreams, left Wally, her confused husband was driven to research the life of the Flash; convinced at last that it was his own, and when Batman hit town, determined to discover who had doctored the memories of the entire Justice League, the motive behind the miracle was finally uncovered in ‘Secrets’ culminating in a spectacular confrontation with the true killer, a poignant reconciliation with Linda and a blistering fresh start for the Fastest Man alive in ‘Up to Speed’

For more than seven decades the adventures of the Flash have been the very acme of superhero storytelling, with successive generations of inventive creators producing the very best of high-speed action and superlative drama. This is another of those supremely readable classics and a terrific place for new readers to jump aboard the rollercoaster…
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