As you know, I have been spent much of my writing time thelast year or so on the 100 Greatest Moments series for Chartwell Books, adivision of Quarto. I have been deeply gratified by the largely positive responsethey have received from reviewers and readers.
The sales were better than Quarto anticipated so after thefirst three – Justice League, Super-Heroines, and Super-Villains – were completedI was asked to write three more. This time, the focus would be character specific,starting with Batman since 2019 is his 80th anniversary.
On Saturday, though, I was free and clear to talk about bookfive, due out in spring 2020. This one will feature The Flash.
Say the Flash and it depends on the generation. Toold-timers, he is Jay Garrick, the Golden Age hero. To baby boomers through today,it likely means Barry Allen, especially since that was the guy under the hoodin 1990’s CBS series and the current CW show. But, there’s a whole generationwho grew up on Wally West being the Fastest Man Alive. And let’s not forgetthat Bart Allen was infamously the Flash for a year or that others throughoutthe DC timeline have also been the speedster.
The other two are targeted for 2020 and I had to get right towork, getting Batman written by February and the second book in the new set by July23. I had been asked not to mention the subjects of books five and six for awhile.
I was also aware that so much of the foundational work onthe Flash’s world, his friends, lovers, and foes were created in a shortcreative burst from 1956-1964 or so. This is where we first met Barry, IrisWest, Captain Cold, Dr. Alchemy, Mirror Master, Grodd, Pied Piper, Trickster,Heat Wave, the Top, Abra Kadabra, and Reverse-Flash. It’s where Wally West becameKid Flash and Ralph Dibny began solving mysteries as the Elongated Man. We gotthe Cosmic Treadmill and Flash museum.
As I began making my own notes, I reached out to several whoeither wrote or edited the hero and got nice responses from Cary Bates and MarkWaid. Additionally, Flash producer Marc Guggenheim chimed in with some favorites.The usual assortment of historians – John Wells, Jim Beard, and John Trumbull –gave me their thoughts. But the real workhorse was Keith Dallas, he ofTwoMorrow’s excellent The Flash Companion, who gave me his ideas andthen some.
I prepped the list and sent it to DC where they made a few suggestions,noting, as I feared, it felt Silver Age heavy. I then did an analyticalbreakdown showing that it was fairly evenly spread around with the Golden Age (8%),Silver Age (30%), Bronze Age (12%), and Modern Age (50%, with 28 entries since2000). So mollified, I was able to begin writing.
While I knew most of the JLA and Batman material frommemory, I recognized I needed to reread plenty of Flash stories to get thefacts right. The closer to today moments got, the more convoluted and complexthe stories got requiring paring back to the essentials for the lay reader.
To me, the Flash is all about legacy and family, setting thecharacter and his world apart form the greater DC Universe. That said, it’salso interesting to see just how pivotal the Flash has been to DC’s continuity since1985. Commercially, he was the spark that ignited the Silver Age and his death inCrisis on Infinite Earths rung down that era and sent shockwaves amongthe readership. But, when we saw him in Infinite Crisis and Final Crisisand the Flashpoint and Wally’s return in DC Universe Rebirth Special,we’ve come to recognize they, not the Trinity, are the cosmological focalpoint. That was certainly a fine reminder and something to help infuse thetext, recognizing how special they are.
The manuscript is being polished this week, the artworkbeing gathered, and a cover chosen. The spring 2020 catalogue is about to go liveand the pre-order link should be at Amazon any minute now.
Who is number six? Sorry, mum remains the word.