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?

Come on, Flash. Do it.

Do it!

Fuck yeah!

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.


Anonymous said...

That is so many kinds of Airwolf. But the fact that William Messner-Loebs is not getting any work while people like Judd Winick are writing fifty million books a month is totally not Airwolf.

PS--First comment! Woo!

Anonymous said...

Indeed. And... second!

Anonymous said...

Damn, that is cool. I didn't start picking up the series until Waid's run so I totally missed this moment. What was even better was that he used his feet rather than the "arm tornado" technique you usually see.

Anonymous said...

Totally fucking awesome.

It's cool to see the Flash in this blog, because outside of The Best Post Ever I don't think he's really shown up all that much. The Flash is totally Airwolf.

I generally agree about the white eyes thing, but they can work. I think the white eyes look pretty decent in this issue, and they're pretty okay in the Justice League/Justice League Unlimited TV show. In general, though, I like his eyes to be visible. The Flash is supposed to be the kind of hero you can look in the eye... not unlike Superman.

thekelvingreen said...

I know this is pre-9/11, but how did that big guy get through security?

"Anything under that trenchcoat, sir?"

"Just a couple of bandoliers filled with hi-ex."

"Carry on sir."

Okay, and I got goosebumps when Flash jumped. I've never read a Flash comic in my life, and I don't normally like DC, but I got the bumps-of-goose. F*@% YEAH! indeed. Good choice Dave.

Why aren't these guys heroes any more? Do people really want to be reading the DC trinity being shitty to each other instead of doing stuff like this?

Kevin Church said...


Unknown said...

ahh, pre-Infinite Crisis Wally with the shiny suit. What was Waid thinking...?

Anonymous said...

Ahhh..that was awesome.

Anonymous said...

Dude, this feature is totally Airwolf. Keep 'em coming!

Anonymous said...

Say what you will, but Bill Messner-Loebs' take on Flash is my favourite. I also think that issues 48-50 are very good, worth taking a look at, and has Vandal Savage come up with a truly evil plan which is not just "kill the hero", although that, in fact, does occur.

Anonymous said...

Hey, POST 9/11 Airport security in my experience has been seriously crappy. That's got to be one of the shittiest jobs ever.

And as for Greg LaRocque- his work with Waid on the title later was SuperFuckingAwesome Airwolf. I love his stuff, he sometimes does the local Philly conventions and he's a great guy too.

He's got a new GN with Scott Lobdell coming out next month, Crybaby: Extinction.

Anonymous said...

See, this is exactly the kind of stuff DC needs to get back to. That's just to damn perfect. Words fail me. Beautiful. Beautiful.

Looks like any excuses I had for putting off getting the pre-Waid FLASH's just went out the fuselage.

Scipio said...

TOTALLY AIRWOLF. I agree completely, Dave, that is one of the few Flash moments I can actually ever REMEMBER, because W M-L did such a good job with it.

Bully said...

Great post! I'm looking forward to more entries in this series.

There are too few moments where the hero hesitates to do anything because he fears he can't, and then dives in headlong anyway because he won't give up, no matter what. Batman wouldn't be written that way these days: he'd know he could do it. That's boring. Spider-Man used to be written this way. This sequence is Flash's equivalent of Spidey lifting the giant machinery over his head. Brilliant, airwolf stuff.

Bill Reed said...

Holy shitemonkeys!

This is why I love Wally.

*MUST* find this issue.

Kitty said...

Oh hells yes! Creative heroism ROCKS MY SOCKS.

RobB said...


Awesome, I always liked Larocque's art, he had a nice healthy run on the Flash.

Shiny Costume = Airwolf

Anonymous said...

Not to bust on Mike Weiringo, who is all kinds of snazzy, but Waid's best work on Flash was with LaRocque. The "Dark Flash" arc at the end was very good, though.

Anonymous said...

Nice entry, Dave. Slightly off topic, I have to add my voice to all the fans of William Messner-Loebs. He wrote some great stories, was an accomplished artist, and it's a shame he's not getting any new work.

One of my prized posessions in my con sketchbook is a fantastic sketch he did of Wolverine McAlistaire, the protagonist of his Journey comic series. And another fun con story: he was signing an issue of Justice Machine that had been published by Innovation when he paused and turned to his wife (Nadine, I believe). "Wait, didn't you write this story?," he asked. She said yes. So he asked her to sign the book, thanked me for being a fan, and then got up to track down Innovation publisher Dave Campiti (also at the con) to settle a little matter of incorrect credits and missed payments.

Anonymous said...

I had forgotten all about this issue! Nice first pick for the F*@% Yeah Files. I'm going to go dig this one out and re-read it.

Harvey Jerkwater said...

The Flash from about #40 to about #100 was one of the highest concentrations of awesomeness in regular comics I ever done seen.

Messner-Loebs had a lot of fun with the properties of super-speed. Schweet.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

This has long been one of my favorite issues of anything, ever, and it's a worthy choice for the first F*@% YEAH comic. I was just the right age for the late Loebs/early Waid Flash runs -- late high school and early college. It was fun to have Wally growing up, in the nigh-ageless serial-fiction way superheroes some times do, at the same time as me, and I only hope there's a book out there doing the same thing for other kids at that age.

Dean H. said...

The William Messner-Loebs run on the Flash has got to be the most under-rated run of any creator on any title. Both Mike Baron and Mark Waid are talented guys, but the Loebs' stuff was much better than either of their work. His Wally West was as interesting and three dimensional as Frank Miller's Batman and yet no one talks about it.

Great post.

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