Friday, October 14, 2005
THE F*@% YEAH FILES #1: Flash's Mid-Air Rescue
My first selection for the F*@% Yeah Files is this big sequence in Flash #54 that was written by Bill Messner-Loebs and drawn by Greg Larocque.
I’m going to temper my praise for this excellent F*@% Yeah moment with some criticism. After Flash #50, I think, our hero got a shiny new costume with big white Batman eyes, which I hated. It’s not the shiny metallic quality of the costume, I think that works okay. It’s the damn white eye things, they don’t work with the character. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of the white eye things in general; they look great on Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Batman… even Spider-Man has them. Warbird from The Avengers would look better if she went back to the white eye things (and changed her name.) I just think that some heroes shouldn’t have white eye things, and Flash is one of them.
Let’s get back on track. This is a simple, plot-driven, self-contained story. Flash is on a cross-country flight with some government agents. He meets a cute and funny flight attendant named Julie Meyers, forms a little bond… and then the plane gets hijacked by goons while he’s in the bathroom:
I just realized this is the second comic book where taking a piss actually factors into the plot (the first is here). That’s kind of cool.
Anyway, Flash takes out the hijackers, but in the melee a hole gets blown in the fuselage. The cabin decompresses, sucking the unfortunate Julie Meyers out into the stratosphere, as seen below:
The title of this story is “Nobody Dies,” and Messner-Loebs establishes earlier in the book that as far as Wally West, aka Flash, is concerned, as long as he’s around, nobody dies. “It’s a rule,” Flash says.
So he’s suddenly faced with this situation where an innocent bystander is going to die. She’s probably already dead. At first glance, there’s nothing he can do. He runs fast - how’s he going to help a woman falling from 30,000 feet?
I fucking love that! I don’t want to get all sappy or anything, but that’s what it’s all about, man: saving people and shit. I’m a big sucker for acts of heroism and conspicuous gallantry, whether they be fictional or otherwise. I remember the first time I read this issue, I got goosebumps. I just think it’s a great moment and sort of exemplifies All That Is Good in superhero comics.
So after Flash jumps out of the perfectly good airplane, he has to locate the plummeting flight attendant, catch her, and somehow save both of them from certain death.
So he frickin’ runs in place in mid-air to slow himself down:
Only in comic books, folks.
Flash manages to slow their fall by “airwalking;” he builds enough friction or air pressure or something to put the brakes on – somewhat. But the ground is coming up pretty fast…
Of course, Flash and Julie Meyers survive the fall because damn it, as long as Flash is on duty, nobody dies. It’s a rule.
I chose this sequence for the F*@% Yeah Files because it’s a great example of a hero doing something –gasp- heroic. Messner-Loeb sets up and unravels the crisis well, and Wally’s internal dialogue is spot-on and enhances the sense of risk. While I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Greg Larocque’s art, I have to give it up for the guy’s sense of pacing and drama. You can’t go wrong with that epic whole page shot of The Flash jumping out of the airliner – that’s a thing of beauty.
In short, Flash #54 really gripped my shit. I know Celine Dion would agree.