The world premiere of Justice League is only a few short weeks away, meaning it’s the perfect time to brush up on your superhero history. Thankfully, DC seems eager to give us geeks a structure for our deep dive into its expansive universe.
On Monday, Ezra Miller took to Twitter and declared the start of “Flash Week” to fans.
Flash Week has been filled with goodies like a new stop-motion poster, some short exclusive footage from the upcoming film, and a wicked cool camera filter. But why not include a few comic books in this celebration? A lot of us stumbled on the legendary speedster thanks to The CW’s live-action adaptation, but there is a rich tapestry of comic book history that has shaped the character and all the goofy, lovable interpretations that we have seen in pop culture throughout the years. For the sake of your valuable time, and in consideration of all our wallets, I’ll only recommend the most essential comics you need to prepare you for the Justice League.
So, whether you’re a longtime comics fan or a relatively new member of the DC squad, celebrate the end of Flash Week with these great reads:
The Flash: Rebirth
by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver
While no less than four characters have taken on the mantle in the DC universe, when we talk about the Flash in Justice League, we’re talking about Barry Allen (sorry Wally fans).
The fastest man alive was first created by creative team Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino in 1956, though the character’s publication history has not been as consistent as the likes of, say, Batman or Superman. Barry Allen as the Flash was an integral part of DC’s comic lineup until 1985, when the character died in the Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline and was replaced by numerous other speedsters for nearly 23 years.
He was finally brought back to life and comics revalence with Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis in 2008, so The Flash: Rebirth serves as his official reintroduction to the world. Luckily, this limited series is a highly accessible story for old and new Flash fans alike. This story follows Barry’s weary integration back into his civilian and superhero life, so fans familiar with the DC Crises get to see how his death has affected the superhero community, his personal relationships, and his emotional wellbeing. Despite these heavy topics, new fans won’t be left clueless about what’s going on. The Flash: Reborn features a vivid retelling of Barry’s superhero origins and provides much-needed information on key aspects of his story, like Iris West and the concept of the Speed Force. This series also introduces fans to the villainous speedster Zoom, who is responsible for all the tragedy in Barry’s life since his childhood. This is without a doubt one of the best comics starting points for any fan.
by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
But that’s not all, folks! You should continue your reintroduction to the Flash with the similarly titled series by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato. While it is a New 52 story following the events of Flashpoint (more on that later, should you need it), it serves as a great next step for fans who want a deeper dive into his backstory before moving to the more serious material.
Aptly named “Move Forward,” The Flash fleshes out Barry’s brave new world of superheroics and features numerous battles with his classic rogues gallery, exciting developments in his relationships, and a new speedster known as the Reverse Flash ready to force Barry into the race of his life. The series also introduces other important comic characters to the Flash story, like the Teen Titans and Wally West who, when Barry died, honored his legacy by becoming Kid Flash.
Overall, this version of The Flash strikes a wonderful balance between Barry’s inherently fun personality and the significant concerns threatening the people of Central City. It never becomes too cheesy, nor does it become needlessly grimdark. It’s basically all the best parts of the CW adaptation, which makes sense given that Manapul and Buccellato’s The Flash undeniably inspired those first two seasons. So, if you can stand seeing an Iris portrayed by someone other than Candice Patton, you’ll love seeing the comic counterparts of some of your favorite Flash-related heroes and villains.
by Geoff Johns, Andy Kubert, and Sandra Hope
Have you noticed that the Geeks of Color twitter page likes dragging Barry to hell and back for “fucking up the timeline”? If you’ve ever wondered what this means, here is the answer you seek. Flashpoint is one of the most important storylines ever published in comics history, as it significantly rebooted DC canon in ways that fans can still feel today. Even better, it’s a story that puts the Flash in the spotlight of the superhero community’s attempts to save the universe.
One random day, Barry wakes up in a world turned upside down. He no longer has his super speed, heroes have gone missing, villains are now heroes, and the worlds of Themyscira and Atlantis are locked in a vicious war that threatens all of humanity. The only redeemable thing about this new world order is that his mother’s alive, when she was actually murdered during his childhood. But as the only person in this alternate reality who seems to know the truth, Barry must do everything in his power to figure out what went wrong. Through his investigation, he discovers that he is (mostly) the reason that the world is on the brink of destruction. He went back in time to change one little thing, which caused him to totally fuck up the timeline. And now the world has descended into chaos for his one selfish act.
On its own, Flashpoint is a compelling story that manages to humanize these beloved superheroes while presenting several interesting reinterpretations of their classic origin stories. Within the larger context of the DC universe, the events of this series birthed the famous comics reboot known as The New 52. This reboot relaunched the entirety of DC’s mainline publications back to issue #1, which opened the door to an innovative boldness that had been sorely missing from the world of superheroes at the time. DC has a pretty impressive track record when it comes to its crossover events, and this one is arguably its crowning achievement.
Change has even continued these days as The New 52 has now morphed into DC Rebirth. While it initially seemed like this new Rebirth was going to start a trend of unnecessary reboots, it actually appears like it directly ties back to the events of Flashpoint. In fact, Rebirth might even suggest that The New 52 was as fake as Barry’s nightmare alternate universe was…
Batman/The Flash: The Button
by Joshua Williamson, Tom King, Jason Fabok, and Howard Porter
… Which finally takes us to the latest major Flash storyline, co-starring the one and only Batman. Like I said before, superheroes in the DC universe have reached a strange, almost meta-realization that their fictional lives were forever disrupted by Flashpoint. While the Flash most definitely contributed to this issue, there seems to have been more powerful forces gently distorting their realities and controlling the fate of their lives. And whatever it is has a calling card – a giant, blood-stained smiley face button. But what is this mysterious force, and why is it doing this? What does this force plan to gain from playing God?
It’s a mystery too big for one superhero to solve, even if they are the world’s greatest detective. So why not bring in two great detectives to solve the case – Batman is Batman, of course, but Barry Allen isn’t just a forensic scientist with the Central City Police Department for show. With their combined intelligence and analytical skills, Batman and the Flash discover a slew of twisted parallel worlds that has trapped DC heroes from across the decades. And it looks like they’ve found the (big, blue, hint*hint*) force behind these disappearances…
There are a few things you have to know about this limited series going in. One, The Button is obviously referencing Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ seminal work, Watchmen. Two, it’s supposed to serve as a prequel to DC’s next major crossover event, Doomsday Clock, which will be starting next month. Three, it’s clear that we as comic readers will not only experience the long-awaited sequel to Watchmen, but that we will also experience a Watchmen sequel that actually incorporates the entire DC comics universe into one insane, glorious hot mess of issues and intrigue. And four, it definitely looks like the Flash will once again play a major role in the story and really solidify his position as one of the most important superheroes in all of DC’s comics history. So, five, I have been so fucking excited about this event since Johns debuted the first six pages at this year’s New York Comic Con.
But first, we need to make it to November and the premiere of Justice League, which is definitely overshadowing my excitement for anything else from any comics publisher at the moment. I’m getting old in my fangirl years, dear readers, so the wait just might kill me this time around. At least us geeks of color can freak out about it together.
Justice League will premiere on November 17, 2017. Stick with Geeks of Color as we bring you all the latest news and informative content on Earth’s greatest heroes. And don’t forget to mention some of your favorite Flash comics in the comments!