First Strike: The Invasion! Podcast Ep.6: Flash #21

Bass and Siskoid tackle Flash #21, in which Wally West and Chunk are sent on a mission to Cuba, where they team up with Fidel Castro (and maybe Manhunter) to fight the Durlans!

Listen to Episode 6 below (the usual filthy filthy language warnings apply), or subscribe to First Strike: The Invasion! Podcast on iTunes!

Relevant images and further credits at: First Strike ep.6 Supplemental

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15 responses to “First Strike: The Invasion! Podcast Ep.6: Flash #21

  1. Great show guys.

    I really need to go back and read Messner-Loebs’ Flash again. I bought every issue, but it was often out of loyalty to the character, as, like you guys mentioned, I was not in the mood for “the long game” in finally getting Wally up to heroic speed (pun intended). Now that I’m not a teenager, I could probably glean more from what Messner-Loebs was doing. It does seem ironic that character growth took so long for The Fastest Man Alive.

    The fact that Wally slept with a shape-shifting alien SHOULD have been a big deal, but when your childhood buddy is shacking up with Starfire every night (and who can blame him!), then I guess it’s just another notch on the bedpost for old Wally West, Man-Whore. I’m honestly surprised they didn’t use this version of Wally for an STD PSA campaign.

    Great episode!


  2. Wally’s mom refused the JLI membership in his stead (JLI #19) — which would’ve helped their economic slump after having lost his Lottery-won fortune. Oh, and the always-shredded costume is actually addressed later on.

    Greg Larocque shined on the Flash. I think he drew pretty women, but I see your point. Ironically, he’s been somewhat of a cheesecake artist in his post-comics career.

    William Messner-Loebs stint on the Flash is my favorite and remains, it seems, underrated. Mark Waid wrote a highly regarded era for Wally, rightly praised, but it reads a little self aware in retrospect, a little impressed with itself. I prefer Messner-Loebs’ humble balance of genuine interest in character > fisticuffs and professional monthly-funnybook scribe. Meaning, he wasn’t *trying* to make Great Comics; he simply wrote great comics. Such a fine distinction!

    Also: Messner-Loebs knew enough about Cuba and its political dynamic with the states to boldly sound sympathetic in an era where that wasn’t exactly kosher (especially in the next Flash issue).

    A terrific first person account of his run here:

    And continued here:

  3. Sorry, Bass; DC had a Chameleon Kid, separate from Chameleon Boy. Maybe next time.

    Your list of speedsters has a bit of an overlap. The Red Trinity became the Kapitalist Kouriers.

    This was the first Flash issue I had read in a little while, as I kind of bailed out early on Mike Baron’s run. I was reading Manhunter, so I also grabbed this one. It’s serviceable; but, I didn’t continue reading the series. However, I thought Wiiliam Messner-Loebs was doing a great job at trying to rehabilitate Wally, after Baron (and Marv Wolfman before him) had turned him into such a jerk. Loebs got him to heroic, before Mark Waid came in to do his thing. Messner-Loebs was always a solid storyteller, and rarely got his due, in part because he was rarely connected with a spectacular artist. His Journey series (about mountain man Wolverine McAllistar) was terrific, and he did a bang up job on Comico’s Jonny Quest series.

  4. Great episode.

    As a kid reading comics in the late 70s, Barry was the first Flash I encountered. But Wally is my Flash. As you say, he has a great arc predominantly under the pen of Waid. It was here he became the hero he was meant to be, understanding the legacy of speedsters and finally becoming the premier speedster in the DCU.

    All that said, I have a great fondness for the early part of this title, particularly the Baron/Guice issues. This was a Wally that I don’t really wanted to be a superhero but felt obligated to. He had to take up the mantle of the name because of Barry’s sacrifices. Look back in Crisis #12 when he puts on the red costume again. He isn’t iconically looking out at the horizon, striking a classic pose. He looks almost defeated, the weight of the world on his shoulders, as he tries to be a Flash Barry would be proud of knowing that is a tall order.

    Those early issues where he is broke but wins the lottery, where he is asking for medical insurance and payment for side jobs, all while adjusting to his lower speed levels are pretty powerful for me. He is trying to do the right thing but he is tempted, tired, and frustrated. That personal struggle of trying to live up to an impossible ideal but still working towards it was cool for me.

    I felt the title lost its way a bit once Messner-Loeb took over so I left the book until Waid came back and stayed on while Waid worked his magic.

    As for Firehawk, it is indeed in Crisis on Infinite Earths #8 that she makes her new costume. When Red Tornado blows up (that name again Siskoid … you must talk about him), Firehawk’s costume is torn to tatters. Using her powers, she makes the new one.

    1. I confess to getting really confused about that sequence regarding FIrehawk and Power Girl and Crisis and new costumes. Yes, Firehawk got a new costume during that scene in Crisis (using powers that Firehawk had never been seen to have before or since. It could be suggested that Firestorm whipped up the costume, but that’s not how the scene comes off), but I know nothing about when Power Girl got her new costume, which is what I thought they were supposed to be talking about. I just ended up confused.

      1. Power Girl started out with the boob window, then that was taken out (in All-Star) and she was in a high neck leotard. She always had the red cape and blue boots and gloves. The leotard was given a scoop neck (by Joe Staton), which remained until she got that awful yellow thing, in JLE, which was followed by the blue costume, then she was back to white, with the boob window. They played around with her boots a bit, then also with things like seams on her costume.

  5. “It’s when Chunk was popular.”


    I’m sure I’ve said this before, but it’s a testament to this show’s entertainment value that I keep listening even though I could not give a Legion of Super Heroes member about the crossover series it covers.

  6. BTW, if you want to catch up on Red Tornado without actually having to read the comics, check out the Red Tornado article in BACK ISSUE #72 written by one of that publication’s best writers.

  7. While I liked the early years of this Flash series well enough as they were coming out, over the years I’ve found it harder and harder to enjoy the ‘whiney Wally’ as you guys called him. Moments of true heroism were few and far between and most of his interactions with his foes, family and friends were kind of tedious under Mike Baron, and only slightly better under JMDM.

    Waid came on this book and saved it with great characterisation and a much needed injection of likeability for the protagonist.

    Another great episode.

  8. I’m just going to go ahead and say what we were all secretly thinking: vagina dentata. Why didn’t the Durlan save the bullet and shapeshift herself an emasculated Flash? After that, I don’t think he could have run fast enough to keep her from finishing him off in a less enjoyable way than she did in the story. Also, are we sure it was a female Durlan? I’d like to give a segment of the Flash readership a heart attack is what I’m saying.

    I bought the first issue of Manhunter at a convenience store in 1988, dug it, but never again saw a copy out in the wild. Around 1991, I was buying my comics at a barrio flea market within walking distance if you were desperate and didn’t mind arriving drenched in sweat from the summer sun in Texas. I just googled it as a 6+ mile round trip minimum every weekend, depending on which scuzzy living situation I was in over a period of a couple of years. I had a bike for a few months in there somewhere, though. Anyway, they had back issues of the book, so I started collecting from #2 and made it to about this point before giving up.

    Similarly, I’d bought Flash off the newsstand until making the decision to consciously uncouple with #9 because I found “The Chunk” repulsive and was getting bored with the title anyway. #21 was in the flea market’s bins, and though I couldn’t have told you a thing about the issue before you guys started talking, it all started to come back to me once you did. I wasn’t into LaRocque’s art, not so much for any fault in it as it was the early ’90s and if you weren’t an established favorite or drawing in an EXTREME style I wasn’t too keen on you. I also hated all the dorky retro aliens and picking up on all the Flash plotlines a year out from where I left them reminded me why I’d abandoned them in the first place. I’d bought this issue as a Manhunter tie-in just as I was realizing I wasn’t enjoying that book much beyond the opening story arc, but I was still hacked off by his lack of presence here. I’m pretty sure I got Manhunter #8, if only because I liked linked covers, but I’m much less confident I came back for the other two issues of the crossover. The covers are familiar though, so maybe you’ll jog my memory.

    I’ve had the Flash episode of DC Bloodlines wrapped for a couple of weeks, but have held it to attend to other shows. Also, I realized that when I upgraded my operating system, its file search options became much suckier, so I’m currently going through thousands of songs reassigned numeric titles when they were retrieved from a crashed drive years ago. I haven’t done the background music yet, and I was pulling up lousy, limited options for such a major player as Argus*. It gave me the gumption to dive back into song recovery hell. Thanks for the kind words, and I look forward to defecating all over the Scarlet Speedster in the near future.

    *Relative to New Bloods only

  9. Another excellent recap Siskoid and Bass.

    Messner-Loebs’ run on the Flash was a bit hit and miss for me. There was some nice character beats but the adventure bits seemed mundane to me. Flash should have high octane adventures but he alwats seemed to be involved in street level crime, such as bringing in tax dodgers to help with his own tax bill. It was only with Waid’s run that Wally’s adventures really kicked up into high gear.

    I did enjoy your overall discussion of the Flash though. Listening to your discussion, it really cements the thought in my head that while Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are the Trinity, it is the Flash (through his introduction to the multiple earths) and Green Lantern (with the basis of the birth of the universe through Krona) that are the true cornerstones of the DC Universe that we love today.

    Look forward to the JLI issue next time round.

  10. Like many of the other people commenting the Messner-Loebs run of FLASH was a mixed bag. Artistically I loved it and I enjoyed a lot of the side characters but it seemed like sometimes the stories would focus a bit too much on them. While Wally wasn’t the callow youth he was during the Baron run he was still kind of a jerk. The thing is when you read the run as a whole going from Baron to Messner- Loebs to Waid to Johns it feels like watching someone grow out of being a teenager and into an adult. So Messner-Loebs run is just another step in that progression.

    To be fair I think most of my love of those books comes from picking up a bunch of back issues when they announced the Flash television series in the summer of 1990. Nostalgia is a powerful drug and all.

    Thanks for another great episode. This show has been so much fun and y’all are doing a great job covering my all time favorite DC Crossover.

  11. I was a huge fan of Bill Loebs’ Flash, as he made Wally likeable again after the cheating no-mark of the Baron run. I remember this issue, it was deeply weird, but it did set us on the road to Obama normalising relations with Cuba.

  12. Let me start by saying great podcast.
    Invasion was my first real crossover after I started collecting comics, so I love this series.
    And I loved this era of The flash.

    In fact I’ll briefly be covering The Invasion and these issues of The Flash on my Starman/Manhunter Adventure Hour podcast here in about two months.
    I’ll be sure to point people to your podcast for a more indepth look at it, as I’ll only cover it briefly as it deals with Starman and Manhunter.

    Again keep up the great work guys….

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