When I first started reading and collecting comics, I really had no idea where to start. So while I was reading Wizard Magazine (RIP) I kept seeing mention of this guy Geoff Johns and his writing of The Flash. Now I knew who The Flash was in some respects but I could never call myself a fan. I really do not know what the disconnect for me was. But I decided to give the book a shot and let me tell you it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
I started reading the book right after the The Flash: Iron Heights one shot issue. I was introduced to Wally West, formerly Kid Flash and now The Flash, who was a married man and struggling with his legacy. His uncle was Barry Allen, The Flash before him who was dead…at the time. He was the protector of twin cities; Keystone City and Central City. He was also a member of both the Justice League and The Titans. So life was pretty busy for the fastest man alive.
The themes of legacy was probably the biggest theme throughout the initial run. The Rogues led by Captain Cold frequently compared Wally to his predecessor. There was also a new Rogues group forming of mostly completely new characters. Jay Garrick, the first Flash, served as a grandfather figure to Wally. Wally’s younger cousin (and Barry’s grandson) Bart aka Impulse frequently reminded Wally he planned to usurp him as The Flash someday. This all culminated in a tragic event where Wally’s wife, Linda Park, got caught in the crossfire and lost their unborn children. This all stemmed from a conflict between The Flash and Zoom, an obsessed villain who felt Wally did not have enough tragedy in his life to have a proper legacy.
Johns also did this thing where in between major story arcs he would take an issue to put the spotlight on one of Flash’s villains. Mirror Master, Gorilla Grodd, Zoom and Captain Cold were the highlights. Captain Cold was definitely a creators pet but Johns knew how to use him well without overshadowing. A hero is only as good as his villains and these spotlight uses definitely highlighted that.
As mentioned before Johns created a multitude of new villains for Wally West. The Plunder, Girder, Murmur, Blacksmith, Brother Grimm, Cicada, Double Down, Fallout and Zoom. Zoom deserves a special mention due to the slow and deliberate buildup to his debut. Introduced as Hunter Zolomon, a criminal profiler who had to walk with a cane due to a mistake he made in the field. He was Wally’s ally on the force but after suffering another tragedy, Wally refused to use his time travel abilities to help Hunter. This set Hunter to become Zoom and one of the deadliest enemies of Wally.
The confrontation with Zoom ended at issue 200. At the end there was a new status quo. But I’ll cover that in a second part. This first half of Johns’ run on The Flash was amazing. I was hooked for years. I even dug up back issues to complete my collection. If you have not checked it out, you can easily find trades or omnibus of Johns’ run. It is highly recommended.