Stop me if you’ve heard this one…but the Flash is dead. That’s right – dead, gone, kaput. A full 13 issues after Flash was relaunched with Bart Allen in the suit, the character is killed by the Rogues and the title ends, with the older title restarting with it’s old numbering. It was a touching, unexpected ending for Bart. Sure, it had been said that he had permanently lost his powers, but since when has permanent meant anything in comics?
The only question that rages through my mind is how long has Bart’s fate been planned? Surely when the book was relaunched following Infinite Crisis, this was not the plan. Why all the buildup with Bart? Why give him his own setting and his own characters? Surely this much effort wasn’t made purely for the bait and switch. With the book’s original team taking off after the first six issues, perhaps that’s when the plan was made – halfway through 52 when Countdown was being planned.
Of course, there’s DC Editor in Chief Dan DiDio’s comment that the Flash on the promotional picture of Countdown was long-dead Barry Allen. That got the rumor mill turning, and cut the surprise of Bart’s death down for some people. I expected Bart to hang back in the DCU, but not to die. Then, of course, saw the finale of the Lightning Saga crossover between the JLA and the JSA, which brought back the missing Wally West, and you knew something was coming. But since both books came out on the same day, it was really a matter of which one you read first. Maybe not everyone saw Wally coming back, but it would have been ridiculous for the Legion to travel back to bring back Lightning Lad.
Now all the rampant speculation starts. With DC’s continuity shifting (courtesy of Infinite Crisis), it would be easy to say that it wasn’t really Bart Allen who came back, but rather an alternate Allen from another timeline. That leaves the door open for Kid Flash to come back to the role he was much better suited for. I’d like to see that, because I think they wasted Bart’s potential in running his up into the Flash suit so soon after becoming Kid Flash. But I’m not betting on this thing. Bart’s death seems to be a Flash milestone, and I’m thinking that this one’s going to stick.
The curious part of this is why DC delayed the title two weeks. The book had been doing fine with schedule thus far, and it seemed that the ending had been planned months in advance. So was the book pushed back to coincide with the final part of the Lightning Saga over in JLA and JSA? Was it schedule? The whole thing just seemed pointless. DC’s not nearly as bad with their schedule as Marvel (All-Star Batman and Robin doesn’t count), so it seems like the reason was intentional. I guess it doesn’t really matter.
The Flash is dead, long live the Flash. Time for Wally to run!