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Bedard Flashes Wally West into “Convergence: Speed Force”

by  in Comic News Comment
Bedard Flashes Wally West into “Convergence: Speed Force”

Fueled by fan-favorite Flash stories written by Grant Morrison and Mark Waid, writer Tony Bedard is set to unleash pre-“Flashpoint” Wally West on the DC Universe this April in “Convergence: Speed Force.”

The two-part miniseries, set within the upcoming DC Comics’ “Convergence” event, features a depowered Wally, and his children Jai and Iris racing against time and the “Flashpoint” version of Wonder Woman, a character Bedard describes as a mass murderer and tyrant who possesses enough speed and power to kill the fastest family alive.

But fear not — Wally has some high-speed help from a most unlikely source as Bedard also confirmed to CBR News that Fastback from the iconic 1980s funny animal series, “Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!” will also be featured in “Convergence: Speed Force.”

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Bedard also revealed that while the miniseries ties directly into the “Convergence” event, it stands alone as its own story — a story about a man and the staggering degree of love he holds for his family. Featuring interior art by Tom Grummett and Sean Parsons, “Convergence: Speed Force” boasts a cover by Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund and a variant cover by superstar designer Chip Kidd.

CBR News: I can’t ask you about “Convergence: Speed Force” without first asking if you are digging the new TV series, “The Flash.”

Tony Bedard: Actually, I love “The Flash.” It’s a show that’s not afraid to be fun, and the special effects work surprisingly well. I love seeing that lightning trail from him as he runs. They’re doing a great job of embracing all the things that make the Flash work as a comic book. I have to assume a lot of that is due to how involved [DC Comics Chief Creative Officer and longtime “Flash” writer] Geoff Johns is with the series. I was delighted to see how many of the initial episodes he wrote. That really set the tone.

Have you worked with the Flash before as a writer or an editor?

I think “Convergence: Speed Force “is the first Flash comic I’ve ever written myself, but I had plenty of editorial contact with the Flash back when I worked on Grant Morrison’s “JLA” run as Associate Editor. I was already a fan of what Mark Waid had done with Wally West, and then as an editor I had a front row seat for what Grant did to build this great buddy vibe between Wally and Green Lantern Kyle Rayner in “JLA.” They were two legacy characters, both having replaced iconic Silver Age heroes, both ever aware what big shoes they had to fill. The Wally/Kyle connection was great fun and it made both characters come alive for me. So it’s pretty cool all these years later to be working with both of them in the “Convergence” event.

Beyond his dynamic with Kyle, what makes Wally an awesome superhero?

The short answer is that Mark Waid made Wally an awesome superhero. I was just getting into reading comics back when “Crisis on Infinite Earths” gave us the death of Barry Allen and forced Wally to step up from Kid Flash to take on the role of his mentor. But even when he got his own series, Wally was always in the shadow of the great Barry Allen. I think that when Waid took over writing “The Flash,” not only did he cement his standing as one of the best writers in the history of comic books but he made Wally into a more complete character and a greater hero than Barry ever was. Wally’s struggle to live up to Barry’s legacy just seemed nobler and more human to me than Barry ever did. And Wally explored his powers in a way that exceeded anything I’d seen in a Barry Allen comic. He learned he was part of a continuum of super-speedsters, and somehow that didn’t reduce Wally or make him less special — it elevated him. Maybe he was just a product of his time and the fact that he became the Flash at a time when comics were able to explore more complex themes, but Wally West is “my” Flash and he always will be.

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And what about his children, Jai and Iris, who will also be featured in this miniseries?

It’s often said that it’s a mistake to marry off a superhero or give them kids — that it makes them less relatable to younger readers. But in Wally’s case, having kids just seemed like the logical next step of a character that had evolved from a self-centered womanizer in the early “Flash” issues to a guy who truly exemplified what a hero should be. I know Waid pretty well and I know that when he wrote “The Flash,” he was on a mission to make Wally truly heroic. He built a strong relationship with Linda Park, and by the time they settled down and had kids it just seemed like a natural evolution for the character. Having Jai and Iris in the picture also introduced worries and complications that further tested the kind of hero Wally had become. It’s been great fun to revisit that moment in Wally’s life, especially now that I’m a father myself.

Are Wally and his family self-aware that “Convergence” is happening?

Like all the characters in “Convergence,” at first they don’t really know what’s going on. Wally, Iris and Jai are in Gotham City when a giant dome covers the whole town, cutting it off from the outside world. When the series starts they’ve been there for a year, assuming they’re still on Earth, just unable to leave town. But when the dome comes down and they see they’re on another planet with other cities plucked from different timelines, they realize pretty quickly what’s going on.

And what else can you tell us about “Convergence?”

“Convergence” is a celebration of all the many versions of the DC Universe that we’ve seen over the years. The basic idea is that some cosmic entity has gathered cities from across the DC Multiverse and placed them all on one planet to battle it out and determine which version of the DCU is strongest. This gives us a really cool opportunity to see battles that would otherwise be impossible.

RELATED: Bedard Tackles “Emperor Aquaman” and “War of the Green Lanterns Aftermath”

Flashpoint Wonder Woman is a character you know well as you wrote her last, and only, appearance. What do readers need to know about her coming into this series?

Just that she is really bad news. In “Flashpoint,” Wonder Woman and Aquaman were supposed to get married, but when Wonder Woman’s mother is murdered, it sparks a war between Atlantis and the Amazons that has truly disastrous consequences for the rest of the world. Aquaman floods Western Europe, drowning millions. And Wonder Woman conquers Great Britain, systematically wiping out the male population. So the version of Wonder Woman that Wally and his kids face is a mass murderer and despot with the speed and power to kill them.

I’m a long time fan of Captain Carrot, so I am totally jazzed that a “most unexpected Zoo Crew character” will also feature in this storyline. Can you confirm that we will see Fastback in “Convergence: Speed Force?”

Yeah, I guess the cat is out of the bag. As Wally and the kids zip across this planet trying to rally a resistance against whoever brought them here, they encounter a speedster they never expected: Fastback, the super-fast turtle. And I have to admit it was a total hoot to write him, especially in what is otherwise a pretty grim situation. He is just such a great example of the power of comics. Back when I started as an editor at DC, one of the best pieces of advice I got was to embrace the goofy aspects of comics. This was back at the height of grim and gritty comics, so it was easy to discount such things as the Zoo Crew. But the ability to include such crazy elements as funny animals is part of what makes comics a unique and vibrant storytelling medium. So in an event that brings together all versions and aspects of DC Universe history, we had to include characters like Fastback. They’re in the DNA of the DCU. Plus, Iris and Jai are utterly delighted to meet him.

Do we see the other members of the Amazing Zoo Crew?

While Wally does run through their home city of Follywood, Califurnia and we see a few funny animal citizens reacting, we do not see any others from the Zoo Crew. But I do think you’ll be satisfied with just how involved Fastback is in the battle with evil Wonder Woman.

Did you read “Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!” in the 1980s?

No, I was a latecomer to comics. I only started reading them when I was 15, and at that age I wouldn’t have been caught dead reading funny animals. But that’s not a reflection on the Zoo Crew. That was just me being a teenaged meat-head. Since then I’ve come to embrace a lot wider variety of stories, and I’m glad to say that teenagers have also evolved, or else there would be no such thing as Bronies. [Laughs] It’s a brave new world and Fastback’s in it.

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Finally, how does “Convergence: Speed Force” tie into the other “Convergence” titles, including the main series written by Scott Lobdell and Jeff King?

While “Convergence: Speed Force” reflects certain events from other “Convergence” books, it really stands alone as its own story. This is all about a father and his kids being separated from their wife and mother, trying desperately to reunite their family. Along the way, there are bad guys and talking turtles to deal with, but at its heart “Convergence: Speed Force” is all about Wally West and his love for his family — a power even greater than the Speed Force itself.

“Convergence: Speed Force” #1 by Tony Bedard, Tom Grummett and Sean Parsons races into stores April 8.

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