Sunday, August 27, 2006

Waverider? More like Cockblocker.

Comics have no shortage of alternate reality, possible future, or 'imaginary' stories. Sometimes, they're just a fun look at what could happen; sometimes they're an excuse to messily kill your lead character/golden goose and get away with it. And sometimes they're like watching preseason football: the A-list players sit this one out, and even though a whole lot can happen, it doesn't mean anything in the end.

Case in point: Flash Annual #4, "Family Business" Written by Mark Waid, pencils by Craig Brasfield, inks by Andrew Pepoy, with a cover by the great Mike Parobeck--with Burchett! I believe this was before Waid's run on the regular Flash book, in fact, before Kingdom Come and every other big thing he's done.

This was part of Armageddon 2001, DC's Annual event for 1991. The overlying plot was, in the year 2030, the future was ruled by fallen hero Monarch. A scientist gains time-travel powers, takes the name Waverider, and travels back to 1991 to try to find the hero who would go evil...long story short, it was supposed to be Captain Atom, and ended up being Hawk, of Hawk and Dove. (Yeah, I know. Try not to think about it.) The point is, Waverider would touch a hero, and get a look at their future. And this being the Flash's annual, it was his turn, and Waverider catches up to Wally at Keystone City's Flash Day.

Flash is signing autographs, when he is approached by a young woman who introduces herself as Bonnie Blackmon. Since Wally was portrayed as a bit of a horndog back then, he's willing to hear her out, and Waverider touches Flash at that moment. Jump forward to the far-flung future of August 31, 2001: Wally's life has completely changed. He's married to Bonnie, and they have a son David. They live in Flagstaff, Arizona, under the name Edwards, and he hasn't been the Flash for nine years.

In short order, David uses his superspeed to save a young girl from being hit by a bus. However, David has inherited Wally's speed but not the aura that protects him from friction and other effects, and is badly hurt. Wally races him to the hospital, but a scar-faced man has seen all of this.

Bonnie takes a moment to fill the reader in on the last ten years: While working for Diogenes Industries, she discovered papers proving that she was working for "the biggest syndicate boss in the midwest." With a filing system that couldn't be beat, since she found it in a filing cabinet, in the main office, with a coffee pot on top of it. Diogenes (and I'm not sure why the name, since Diogenes was a philosopher--consult your local library or something!) had the ability to see a person's inner thoughts and secrets at a touch, and with his son was able to build a crime empire. He puts together an army of Flash's enemies (but who doesn't?) but Bonnie and Wally still manage to have him put away.

Unfortunately, Diogenes touches them both at the trial, and is able to keep coming after them. On their wedding day, Wally's mother is killed, but no one liked her anyway. Forced into witness protection, Wally retires as the Flash, planning to return, but after the birth of their son, he stays retired.

Diogenes still seeks revenge on the Flash, and power for his son. The scar-faced man was Leonard Snart, better known as Captain Cold. With his information, the usual evil plan is put into motion: David kidnapped, old villains set up like bosses in Final Fight, Flash called out of retirement. The villains are each given a secret weapon to steal Flash's speed, and a posthypnotic suggestion to send Flash to the next boss: Weather Wizard, Sloe, Steddy, and Mr. Sprynt, Rainbow Raider, Golden Glider and Chillblaine, and Paradox. Kind of like Spider-Man, it's getting to the point where one villain can't just attack Flash, it has to be like forty.

Man, when Weather Wizard is the best villain you can call in, I can see why you call in more guys. I think Waid introduced Sloe, Steddy, Sprynt, Chillblaine, and Paradox here; and Chillblaine's the only one I recall as ever returning, since it's not a bad idea: Glider gives her boytoys her brother's cold gun tech. "This one's number six."

By the end of the gauntlet, Wally's speed is drained, and he arrives at Diogene's in plainclothes. Diogenes plans to give his son superspeed, but since he lacks the "right genetic makeup" his son is turned into an ancient corpse, then Diogenes dies himself. Wally's then able to have his speed--and his aura--given to his son.

Or, that's how the future could've gone down, if Waverider's touch hadn't distracted Wally. Diogenes' son is able to sweep Bonnie away, either back to work for him or to a shallow grave in the Meadowlands. In the regular continuity, Wally and Bonnie never meet, David is never born, Diogenes is never heard from again, and Waverider's a total blocker.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think I remember hearing that Captain Atom was supposed to be Monarch but too many people heard it was going to be himn so they switched at the last minute to Hawk.

And that was in the days before the internet invented.