Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"You gotta' have...........friendssssss!"

Ah Friendship.

Where would we be as people, and indeed as a civilization without friends. It's such a simple, yet complex relationship between one or more people, and yet some friendships more so than others, tend to define our very lives.

And in comics, as in real life, the same can also be said.

Who can forget the many examples of legendary bro/sister-ships in the imaginary world of comics such as:

-Batman and Superman
-Supergirl and Batgirl
-Iron Man and Captain America
-Milk and Cheese
-Spider-Man and The Human Torch

And there's plenty more, but you get the picture. And yet, so few of these friendships(other than the some of the ones I just mentioned) actually inspired a series or mini-series devoted to those pairings.

But one bromance did, and Mark Waid wrote about in late 1999.
This ring a bell?

Yep, fresh off his awesome 12-issue maxi-series, JLA: Year One(which was all shades of awesome retro Silver Age fun) the same team of Waid, Kitson, and Peyer reunited and but out this awesome 6-issue mini-series devoted to the classic bromance of Hal Jordan and Barry Allen. 

And oh what fun it was!

To put things in context for a minute, both Hal and Barry were still dead around that time period, with Wally replacing Barry as Flash, and Kyle doing the same for Hal. And while creative @ DC at the time tried to duplicate that legendary relationship, either due to time or different personalities, it never really reached the levels that Hal and Barry did. 

And leave it to Mark Waid, lover and admirer of all things Silver Age, to remind all of us just why those particular two seemed to click. Even if they both admitted to not knowing why there really friends in the first place.

Over six issues, Waid attempted to show and explain why Hal and Barry, both total opposites in personalities, would ever get along as well as they did. 

Issue one sets up the basic premise and theme that runs throughout the whole series, name exploring why these two get along so damn well, and redefining why their friendship was and is so legendary.

Issue two continues to run with that theme, but with some crazy Silver Age-esque plot ideas, like this one:

Basically the Mirror Master and Black Hand(pre-Johns) team-up to you know, kill Barry and Hal, all the while the issue of why Hal never had a teen sidekick gets addressed, as a young Wally becomes Kid Lantern for a day. Told you Waid loved himself some Silver Age:)

It's a fun issue that really shows why Barry and Hal work well together, and that even bland old Barry himself is capable of feeling jealous, as per the whole Kid Lantern thing.

Issue three sees the other Green Lantern/Flash duo from the Golden Age interact with their Silver Age "replacements."

We get to see the little difference and similarities between the four namesakes, as they all bond over a shared excursion to a planet full of hostiles aliens. Of course right? because nothing says male-bonding in the world of superhero comics like fighting evil aliens right?:)

Next up is issue four, where we finally get to see just how Barry viewed Hal's friendship with Green Arrow, and yes, that old green-eyed monster called jealousy rears it's ugly head back in, as Barry tries to figure out just what Hal and Ollie have in common, especially during that famous road trip across america and the differences in ideologies between himself and Ollie. 

I loved the fact that Waid in a modern and realistic fashion has Barry respond Ollie's ultra-Liberal viewpoint in a manner where Barry's finally allowed to show both emotion and a personality all his own. As everyone well knows, back in SA, Barry was really quite bland, blander than a piece of plain, white bread, so it was really good to see a different side to Barry here.


Ollie in his typical fashion of being a jerk, really helps Barry and Hal make-up and hug it out. As was his plan all along. 
Well maybe not a literal hugging out, but they do kiss and make up. Okay, they don't kiss, but you get the idea.

 Issue five's plot is truly SA at it's best, playing off the funny retro cover, It's Hal's turn to be jealous as his bosses, the Guardians(back before they were murderous dicks, as opposed to just you know regular boss dicks. Yeah that did not come out right:) contact Flash to help them defeat a mysterious alien energy force that's killing any Green Lantern who comes in contact with it left and right.

It's another fun issue, that explores and hammer's out the trust issues between these two that sometimes comes up, especially in inopportune times, like oh say right in the middle of a battle with a killer energy source.

The identity of the killer source is revealed(and it makes sense of you know who Hal's then arch-nemesis was) and all's right with the world again. Until the next issue.

In the sixth, and final issue of the series, the theme of why these two are such good broskis, is made all the more clear as both Barry and Hal have to contend with Star Sapphire.

Now usually that wouldn't be too bad, but Waid throws in the old Golden Age Star Sapphire(yes, there actually used be a GA one and she fought the GA Flash, not the GA Green Lantern) and if that wasn't enough, this all happens right after and around the time that Barry's wife Iris was killed by Prof. Zoom(But don't worry, she got better later)

So yeah, Barry's not really in the right frame of mind to deal with all this craziness, especially when the issue of Hal and Carol(Carol Ferris)'s unconventional relationship comes up.

Waid really turns up the psychological drama and emotion here, as Barry is just one hell of an emotional wreck, with his buddy Hal trying to distract him, but to no avail.

         Good, good stuff here.

So in case you already don't have these issues, do yourself a big favor and grab this mini-series. It has all the heart and action you'd expect from a caliber of writer like Mark Waid, and trust me, his love of these characters really shines throughout the whole series. 

And really, looking at how the current state of DC is, it's really quite sad and a tragedy even, that this level of love and affection shown towards those characters isn't reflected back from the current regime, no matter how hard they swear up and down to the contrary.

At this point in time, they're pretty much seen as cash-cows, which of course they are, but still, back in the day, they seemed to be treated with respect and reverence  I guess those days are gone for now, both @ DC and Marvel. It's sad really, but that's life right?


Dan said...

I loved this series. It was like the unofficial sequal to Waid and Kitson's JLA Year One which is probably one of my favourite mini's of all time.

Kitson just had that silver age feel down so god damn well. Boy we had it good back then.

Dale Bagwell said...

I don't know about you, but I feel Kitson's a highly underrated, or at the very least, under-valued artist.
I love his clean lines, designs, and layouts. Not to mention the way he handles expressions.

It's a shame he isn't used more in more popular and mainstream titles since he's such a dependable hand.

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