REVIEW: DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS WHITE LANTERN FLASH
Although the BLACKEST NIGHT storyline within the DC Universe was centered on Green Lantern's corner of that particular universe, the adventure certainly spread far and wide to all corners of the DC Universe. No hero was left untouched by the events which took place, and that certainly included the recently returned Barry Allen, better known as THE FLASH.
Mattel has certainly taken advantage of this. While there has been a standard Barry Allen Flash figure in the DC Universe Classics line for some time, a few waves back, a Blue Lantern version of the Flash was offered, and in the final wave of DC Universe Classics, a White Lantern version of the character was presented!
Let's have a look at the history of Barry Allen, and of the events of Blackest Night, to see how the two came together for this most interesting action figure.
Barry Allen first appeared in Showcase #4 (Oct. 1956), created by writers Robert Kanigher and John Broome and penciler Carmine Infantino. His death in 1985 removed the character from the regular DC lineup for 23 years. His return to regular comics occurred in 2008 within the pages of Grant Morrison's Final Crisis limited series.
Born to Henry and Nora Allen, Barry Allen is a police scientist (his job title was changed to a forensic scientist in The Flash: Iron Heights one-shot) with a reputation for being very slow, deliberate, and frequently late, which frustrates his fiancée, Iris West. One night, as he is preparing to leave work, a lightning bolt shatters a case full of chemicals and spills all over Allen. As a result, Allen finds that he can run extremely fast and has matching reflexes. He dons a set of red tights sporting a lightning bolt, dubs himself the Flash (after his childhood comic book hero, Jay Garrick), and becomes Central City's resident costumed crimefighter. Central City University professor Ira West (Iris' adoptive father) designed Allen's costume (reminiscent of the original Fawcett Captain Marvel) and the ring which stores it while Allen is in his civilian identity. The ring can eject the compressed clothing when Allen needs it and suck it back in with the aid of a special gas that shrinks the suit. In addition, Allen invented the cosmic treadmill, a device that allowed for precise time travel and was used in many stories. Allen was so well liked that nearly all speedsters that come after him are often compared to him. Batman once said "Barry is the kind of man that I would've hoped to become if my parents hadn't been murdered."
As presented in Justice League of America #9, when the Earth is infiltrated by alien warriors sent to conquer the planet, some of the world's greatest heroes join forces—Allen is one of them. While the superheroes individually defeat most of the invaders, they fall prey to a single alien and only by working together are they able to defeat the warrior. Afterwards the heroes decide to found the Justice League of America.
During the years, he is depicted as feeling attracted to Black Canary and Zatanna, but he never pursues a relationship because he feels his real love is Iris West. Allen also becomes good friends with Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), which would later be the subject of the limited series Flash and Green Lantern: The Brave and the Bold.
In The Flash # 123 – "Flash of Two Worlds," – Allen is transported to Earth-Two where he meets Jay Garrick, the original Flash in DC Continuity; it is revealed that Jay Garrick's adventures were captured in comic book form on Earth-One. This storyline initiated DC's multiverse and was continued in issues of Flash and in team-ups between the Justice League of America of Earth-One and the Justice Society of America of Earth-Two. In the classic story from Flash #179 – "The Flash - Fact or Fiction?" – Allen is thrown into the universe eventually called Earth Prime, a representation of "our" universe, where he seeks the aid of the Flash comic book's editor Julius Schwartz to build a cosmic treadmill so that he can return home. He also gains a sidekick and protege in Iris' nephew, Wally West, who gains super-speed in an accident similar to that which gave Allen his powers.
In the 1980s, Flash's life begins to collapse. Iris is murdered by Professor Zoom, a supervillain from the 25th century who had long loved her and been jealous of Allen, and when Allen prepares to marry another woman, Zoom tries the same trick again. Allen stops him, killing Zoom in the process by breaking his neck. Unfortunately, due to Barry being unable to make an appearance at his own wedding, his fiancée eventually descends into madness.
Placed on trial for murder in connection with Zoom's death, Allen is found guilty by the jury. When he is told by a juror, who is being possessed by a mind from the future, that Reverse Flash (who Allen knows to be dead) brainwashed the jury into this verdict, Flash flees his trial. The Flash is then attacked by Reverse Flash, and realizes that the answers to this mystery, and restoring his good name, lie in the future, so the juror uses a time device to send them forward.
They discover that Abra Kadabra was disguised as Reverse Flash to ruin the Flash's good name. Defeating Kadabra, he retreats to the future to be reunited with Iris, having learned that Iris' spirit was in fact drawn to the 30th century, and given a new body, and was in fact the mind inhabiting the juror. The final issue of The Flash ends with Flash and Iris kissing passionately and the caption "And they lived happily ever after... for a while". There are a few references in the final issue (The Flash #350) to the upcoming events, and Flash's impending death.
Following the trial, Allen retires and joins Iris in the 30th century. However, after only a few weeks of happiness, the Crisis on Infinite Earths intervenes, and Allen is captured by the Anti-Monitor and brought to 1985; according to the Anti-Monitor, the Flash was the only being capable of traveling to other universes at will, so the Anti-Monitor could not allow him to stay free. Allen escapes and foils the Anti-Monitor's plan to destroy the Earth with an anti-matter cannon, creating a speed vortex to draw the power in, but dies in the process as the power becomes too much for his body. It has been said that Allen travels back through time and becomes the very same lightning bolt that gives him his powers, but later it is also strongly implied that the soul of Barry resides in the Speed Force, the mystical source and Valhalla open to all dead speedsters, and from which the living ones draw their amazing powers. After Allen's death, Wally West, his nephew and sidekick known as Kid Flash, takes up the mantle of the Flash.
In the fourth issue of Infinite Crisis, Barry Allen comes out from the Speed Force, along with Johnny Quick and Max Mercury, to help his grandson Bart deal with Superboy-Prime, taking the villainous teen with him in the Speed Force.
Twenty-three years after his death in Crisis on Infinite Earths, Barry Allen's essence made a return to the present DC Universe proper in DC Universe #0, preceding his full time return in the pages of writer Grant Morrison's Final Crisis.
DC Universe #0 features an unnamed narrator who initially associates himself with "everything". As the story progresses, he begins to recall his past and association with Justice League members, particularly Hal Jordan and Superman. The lettering in which he speaks to the reader is yellow on backgrounds that are initially black. As the story moves forward, the background slowly begins turning red. In the final pages, the narration boxes feature a yellow lightning bolt. Over time, as he recalls friendships and connections with other people, his mind begins to narrow, remarking "I...know him. I am no longer everything. I am a shaft of light split through a prism". Yet he is still the only one able to see "the shadow falling over everything", in the form of Darkseid. On the final page, the moon appears in front of a red sky, as a yellow lightning bolt strikes diagonally in front of it creating the logo of the Flash, as he remarks "and now I remember". The title of the story is revealed to be "Let There Be Lightning."
A Daily News story released on the same day proclaimed that Barry Allen has returned to life, with issue co-writer Geoff Johns stating, "When the greatest evil comes back to the DC Universe, the greatest hero needed to return."
Barry makes his corporeal return in Final Crisis #2. On the second to last page, Jay Garrick and Wally West feel vibrations to which Jay remarks, "Wally, don't you recognize those vibrations? It can't be... Not after all these years... Not after all this time." On the final page, Barry Allen is seen in hot pursuit of the bullet which kills Orion, outrunning the Black Racer and shouting to Jay and Wally to "Run!"
In 2009, writer Geoff Johns and artist Ethan Van Sciver created The Flash: Rebirth, a 6-issue miniseries bringing Barry Allen back to a leading role in the DC Universe as the Flash, much in the same vein as Green Lantern: Rebirth. When asked what Flashes would appear in the series, Johns and Van Sciver said, "All of them."
Barry Allen is one of the main characters in Blackest Night alongside Hal Jordan, the Silver Age Green Lantern. Allen appears alongside Hal Jordan in the Free Comic Book Day issue Blackest Night #0 that acts as a prologue to the July company crossover.
At the grave of Bruce Wayne in Gotham City, Hal Jordan and Barry Allen reflect on Batman's death and how the hero community is avoiding linking Wayne and Batman.
This reflection turns to the pair looking at their own deaths, comparing the sadness that Barry's death engendered in others while Hal's death produced anger. Hal sums it up by telling Barry, "I died a sinner. You died a saint." The conversation moves on to the world becoming "more dangerous" after Barry's death and observing that the deaths of Arthur Curry and Martian Manhunter cost the Justice League its "heart and soul". As they leave the cemetery, Barry expresses hope that their dead comrades will be returned to them. He specifically cites Batman noting, "If there's an escape, you can bet Batman's already planning it."
Barry also appears alongside Hal in the July issues of Green Lantern tying into the event. Recently, in a fight with Black Lantern J'onn J'onzz, he found a mysterious black residue at Bruce Wayne's grave-a black form coagulating much like blood that started corrupting him by partly decaying his skin and muscle during the fight against his former friend, who is intent on killing both Hal and Barry, seeing how they both died, and in the eyes of the Black Lanterns, must return to that state to keep the universe in balance.
After fighting off the undead Martian and the subsequent Black Lanterns with Hal and the arriving Atom, Mera, Firestorm, and two of the Indigo Tribe members, Barry, along with Wally and Bart, races across the globe to warn every superhero community across the planet. While doing so, Barry meets a Black Lantern version of Professor Zoom for a brief battle. Barry decides to go to Gorilla City to seek aid from its ruler Solovar, unaware the gorilla leader had been killed years before. Finding the city attacked, Barry assumed Grodd had struck only to be horrified to learn Solovar was now a Black Lantern. Their fight was shortened by Barry racing to Coast City.
He stops at the city's memorial, where he witnesses the arrival of the Black Lanterns' demonic lord, Nekron, and his disciples Scar and Black Hand. The Justice League, the Titans, Wally, and Bart arrive to aid Barry to take a stand against Nekron. Nekron reveals however that all the resurrected heroes are tied to him, because he allowed them to rise again. As such they belong to him. Nekron then used a series of black rings to turn Superman, Green Arrow, Bart, and several other resurrected heroes into Black Lanterns.
Barry and Hal find themselves being targeted by black rings and are forced to flee or risk joining the others as Black Lanterns. Barry manages to save himself and Hal through time travel two seconds forward, leaving the rings with no present targets. As Barry and Hal rejoin the heroes against Nekron and his army, Ganthet, one of the Guardians of the Universe and a leader of the Blue Lantern Corps, summons a blue power ring and Barry is chosen as a Blue Lantern so he would be more effective during the battle.
After being chosen as a Blue Lantern, Barry joins forces with the veteran Blue Corps member Saint Walker to continue battling the Black Lanterns alongside the understanding of the potentials and limitations of his new power ring. During the battle, Barry is forced to fight his own grandson, who his ring detects is still alive but would eventually die if not free from the black ring soon. Barry is shown to be skilled with his ring in creating energy constructs based on his imagination and an ability of flight, possibly because of the understanding with his friend Hal Jordan's ring, as he is able to create images of Bart as Impulse and Kid Flash against him in order to make him feel again. Barry's plan almost works as Bart reacts to the images of his past and the constructs begin to attempt to take the black ring from him, but later is interrupted by the Black Lantern Professor Zoom and Solovar. Wally and Walker later join Barry to fight against them.
Barry and Bart temporarily joined the White Lantern Corps during the final events of Blackest Night.
The White Lantern Corps was a group of heroes whom had, at some point in their careers, died, and had come under the influence of Nekron. The Entity, the avatar of the White Light upon which the White Lantern Corps was based, freed them from the Black Lantern rings, and briefly gave them a share of the White Light to defeat Nekron.
Barry Allen was one of these, as was Hal Jordan. To date, they're the only two characters that have been made in White Lantern editions.
So, how's the figure? Really very nicely done. As one might expect, it is mostly a recoloration of the Barry Allen Flash figure, which was released back in Wave 7 of the DC Universe Classics line.
As one would expect from the highly talented people of the Four Horsemen Studios, the headsculpt is superb. Barry Allen wears a cowl that covers most of his head, only leaving the eyes and the lower face exposed. There are wing-like appendages sweeping back from the ears. The facial expression is what I like to call "heroic determination", and it looks very impressive.
For the most part, the figure uses the standard male body molds common to most of the DC Universe Classics figures. This has given the line a certain consistency that I have always appreciated. However, there are a few variances.
First of all, and distinct to this figure, is the fact that the right hand has a White Lantern power ring attached to it. I'm sure this is the same mold that was used for the right hand of White Lantern Hal Jordan, another point where the consistent look and design of the figures pays off.
Additionally, the figure uses the lower legs and feet that are distinctive to Flash figures. The boot tops are sculpted, not just painted on, and they also have little wing-like appendages on their sides. The feet have distinctly treaded soles, a definite advantage to someone whose specialty is high-speed running.
The boots have obviously been used on every Barry Allen Flash figure that's been made, including the original, a slight recoloration for Toys "R" Us, the Blue Lantern version, and now the White Lantern version. The Professor Zoom figure also uses these boots, and the feet with the treaded soles, at least, have also turned up on the Crime Syndicate figure of Johnny Quick, as well as the recently-released Jay Garrick Flash figure, the first entry in the DC Signature Series from MattyCollector.Com.
That's getting a lot of mileage out of these treads -- pun intended.
Barry Allen's costume, as one might expect, is not its usual red with yellow trim. Instead, it's a pale silvery gray, with bright metallic silver trim. So, one might ask, why is the uniform not entirely white? Good question, really. It's been my experience that in recent times, Mattel has been a little reluctant to make the costumes of some of its DC Universe Classics figures too bright. A pure white might be just a little off limits.
In fairness, the White Lantern Hal Jordan figure is much the same. His uniform is a pale silver-gray, with metallic silver trim. But -- is it accurate?
Okay, if one turns to the double-page spread in Blackest Night #8, which shows the assembled heroes that have overcome the Black Lantern rings by way of the White Light, an assembled group that includes Hal Jordan, Barry Allen, Superman, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, Superboy, and several others, although their costumes appear t be mostly white, there is some color variance. Some portions of the costumes look to be brighter than others. There's a sort of shimmering white, and a bright silver, with some black detail lines.
Neither of these colors would be terribly easy to accomplish on the printed page. Additionally, throw in the fact that these heroes seem to be bursting out of a huge explosion of pure white light -- and heck, anything's going to look bright in the midst of that.
Now, interestingly enough, White Lantern Flash is a slightly darker silvery-gray than White Lantern Hal Jordan. Can this be considered accurate? Perhaps. If one regards the White Lantern costumes as, let's crudely say heavily "bleached" versions of their traditional costumes, perhaps a sort of "White Light" reflection of them, then red is generally considered a darker color than green. So from that standpoint, it does work.
In any case, I have no complaints about the color. Flash's head ornamentation and boots are metallic silver, as is the trim around his belt and gloves, and the White Lantern power ring. Interestingly, the belt and glove trim is radically different than usual. Rather than a single lightning bolt around the tops of the gloves, White Lantern Flash has two lightning bolts, outlined in black. Even more different is his belt, which is not the single, narrow bolt of lightning, but rather a very thick double bolt of lightning, in a quite different configuration, once again outlined in black.
The emblem on White Lantern Flash's chest is that of the White Lantern power ring, with a lightning bolt intersecting it diagonally. Barry Allen's visible facial features are their normal color, and he has very neatly painted blue eyes.
Any complaints? Well, no, not really. Just a mild criticism about a couple of features that I question the necessity of. White Lantern Flash has these pale blue lightning bolts coming off his gloves and back. Accurate? Technically, yes. In that same double-page spread in Blackest Night #8, Barry Allen clearly has lightning bolts coming off of him. So does Bart Allen, for that matter, who is also part of this group.
However, this isn't anything that's really distinctive to the White Lantern versions of these characters. Flashes have given off lightning bolts when they run for years, especially since artistic and printing techniques have advanced to the point where it looks cool to do it in the books. Consider the fact that both Barry Allen and Wally West got their powers after being hit by lightning that had also struck unusual combinations of chemicals on the way in, chemicals which also doused the two individuals. But none of the previous Flash figures have had lightning attached to them before.
So, first off, I question the necessity of it. Secondly, I have to say that I think Mattel took a needlessly cheap way out to do it. They used the energy lightning pieces that had previously been used on the "energy" Superman figures from Wave 2 -- Superman Blue and Superman Red.
Now, admittedly, I was never a fan of that incarnation of Superman. As far as I'm concerned, that was the second most boneheaded thing DC Comics ever did with Superman. The most boneheaded is the "new DC 52" that we're presently enduring.
But, why do I call this as taking a particularly cheap way out to install these pieces on White Lantern Flash? Maybe it's because the piece attached to the figure's back includes the energy Superman emblem on it as part of its design! Even setting aside my opinion of that version of Superman, this REALLY looks cheap on a Flash figure!
The wrist pieces are not encumbered with any particular logo, thankfully, and they're also very easily removed. They just clip over the wrists. The back piece is another matter. It's glued in, using the same square peg that caped figures use to hold their capes in place.
That square peg has been used for other purposes like this before. On Booster Gold, it attacked his little mechanical friend Skeets, on a trail of "energy". That was probably the worst use of it. On Mister Terrific, it was used to connect his "T-spheres" to him, also on little trails of energy. Now, I've heard it said that in some cases, these were glued in, and some weren't. For my figures, Skeets was glued in, the T-spheres weren't. I still chiseled Skeets off as soon as I could, and as soon as I take the review photos for White Lantern Flash, you can bet I'll be ditching the lightning bolts.
Your own preferences may vary, of course, but I don't really see these as necessary ornamentation for the figure, and that energy Superman emblem really irks me. I would expect better from Mattel than this.
Apart from that, however, I have no complaints. The figure looks cool, is well-detailed and well painted, and certainly well-articulated. As one would expect, White Lantern Flash is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, and ankles. And he represents one of the last really epic-level storylines that took place in the DC Universe before the current miserable overhaul.
So, what's my final word? Granted, this figure represents a very specific event in the DC Universe. However, it was a very impressive event, and a cool storyline. And if you'll recall, there was an entire wave devoted to some of the distinctive "power-ringed" versions of these characters, including the likes of Orange Lantern Lex Luthor, Indigo Lantern Atom, Star Sapphire Wonder Woman, and others. Although there was a Blue Lantern Flash in that wave, there's no reason not to add White Lantern Flash to the mix.
I'm very pleased and impressed with this figure, and if you enjoyed the Blackest Night storyline, and have been collecting DC Universe Classics figures, you should certainly consider adding him to your collection.
The DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS figure of WHITE LANTERN FLASH definitely has my highest recommendation!