Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be doing theme weeks (more or less), with each week devoted to a single writer. This pseudo-week: Mark Waid. Today’s page is from Flash (volume 2) #96, which was published by DC and is cover dated December 1994. Enjoy!
Mark Waid semi-week begins with one of his most beloved series (I own older Waid comics, but I decided to go with this one), a series I have tried very hard to get into but just can’t. I really don’t know why. They’re perfectly fine comics, but they just don’t strike a chord with me. Oh well! But we’re not here to debate the merits of the run in general, we’re here to check out the first page of one issue, the “Terminal Velocity” story that led up to issue #100!
Waid lets us know immediately who the principals are: Linda Park and Wally West. He also lets us know that they’re an item. Long-time readers will recognize that he’s playing on the fact that Wally West, puffed up with hubris (I kid!), always introduces himself as Wally West, the fastest man alive, but in this case, something very weird has happened to Wally and he stumbles over the second part of his introduction. That and the fact that he’s making a bit of a joke about the “good times and bad” helps us know that even though this looks bad, Waid’s Flash doesn’t take itself too, too seriously. There’s always a mix of drama and excitement, and we get a bit of that here. In fact, Waid plays off of this for a lot of the arc, which is more “serious” than some of the stories leading up to it.
And check out Larroca’s quaint art, when he actually drew stuff instead of whatever the hell he does now! This is really the best angle from which to view this scene, because it heightens the drama very well. Larroca puts the reader in Linda’s place, as our eyes naturally go to the upper left, where she enters the room. Her eyes guide us right to Wally’s flaming head, which, while it’s not in the exact center of the page, is the focal point around which everything revolves. Larroca has studied his shadows, because Wally would throw three of them, and they also rotate around him. Linda’s shadow is subtly more horrified than she is – look at the way Larroca draws her shadow hand, as it seems to be pulling back more than Linda is. He’s hinting at her horror without showing it on her face, and it’s a nice touch. Her double-breasted jacket is quite 1990s and her skirt is perhaps a bit short, but that’s partly the function of the point of view. Larroca has the same problems with feet a lot of artists do – is she in stockings or shoes? – but that’s a minor complaint. The way the page is laid out is very nice, and then Larroca gives us a visual cue to turn the page with the flame wisping off Wally’s head and pointing above the credits to the second page. It can’t be easy to pull off this kind of page, with the POV and the shadows, but Larroca does a very nice job. He got better, and then somewhere along the way, he decided that what he’s doing now is better. I can’t agree.
Waid and Larroca (with some help from Carlos Pacheco and others) do a good job on this entire arc. If this is your first Flash comic, this is a fine first page to get you into the story that changes Wally FOREVER!!!!! Well, at least for a little bit.
Next: Another beloved Waid run! Sheesh, everyone likes this dude! Find other great comics in the archives!