In every installment of I Love Ya But You’re Strange I spotlight strange but ultimately endearing comic stories. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a suggestion for a future installment!
Reader Fernie wrote in with this suggestion (well, technically, he asked me how this came about, but still)…
Okay, so when Wally West got his own solo series as the Flash in 1987 (by Mike Baron, Jackson Guice and Larry Mahlstedt), the first issue ended with a shock (okay, the ACTUAL ending involved Vandal Savage, but right before that) when Wally West discovers that he has won the lottery on his 20th birthday!
He accepted the money the next issue…
Baron’s run ended with Flash #14 (by Baron, Mike Collins and Larry Mahlstedt) and he gave incoming writer, William Messner-Loebs, a fresh start by revealing that Wally not only lost all of the lottery money but he now OWED a whole lot of money!
So during Loebs’ run, Wally was constantly strapped for cash. That’s why he joined Justice League Europe in the first place, as they paid a stipend.
The thing is, he also ended up owing the U.S. government a whole pile of money and finally, in Flash #52 (by William Messner-Loebs, Greg LaRocque and Jose Marzan), he decided to just throw himself on the mercy of the Internal Revenue Service and see what they could do and, sure enough, they decided to put him to work!
As it turned out, the guy that they sent the Flash after had made his money on the stock market by breaking down the barriers between our world and Hell itself and then possessed a demon and then also created a small group of powerful elemental demons that served him. All of this just so that he could manipulate the stock market! However, chasing the Flash around was so much trouble that he just decided to pay the debt off…
Loebs was on the way out, as well, though, so he had a storyline where an old Golden Age villain, the Icicle, decided to leave his fortune to the Flash when he died. The Icicle’s grandson did not like this and he became the new Icicle and tried to kill the Flash. After defeating him, the Icicle’s granddaughter also decided to fight the Flash, but in COURT!
Wally was working out a deal where the money would go to fund a series of charities and that each of the charities would then pay him to be their bodyguard and he would easily clear six figures. Then he and the granddaughter were kidnapped by Wally’s friend, the reformed villain known as the Pied Piper, who showed them the good their money could do for the homeless in the area.
In the end, the granddaughter decided to become the new Icicle herself and she offered to pay off Wally’s debts…
Since the debts seemed to be done with when the new writer, Mark Waid, took over, it seems likely that that is how it got resolved. Loebs did a wonderful job clearing everything up so that Waid could take over the book with a clean slate. One of the best jobs I’ve seen by a writer in that regard, as Loebs had been on the book since Flash #15. Mark Gruenwald also did a good job with that with Captain America, also a book that Waid took over, oddly enough.
Thanks to Fernie for suggesting this one (in a roundabout way)! If anyone has a suggestion for another bizarrely awesome comic book for this column, feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com! I love hearing from you all!
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