The Comic Speculator: Barry Allen Lives!

Cover of Flash #225
Cover of Flash #149
Cover of Flash #217
Cover of Flash #179
Cover of Showcase #4

DC Universe #0 hit the new comic stands this week and started a firestorm of rumors about the return of Barry Allen, the Silver-Age flash. The story even found legs in the Associated Press and was printed in The New York Times. Click here to read the story:

While some of us are thrilled by Allen’s return others, myself included are still reeling from the lack luster return of Wally West, the Modern Age Flash. Regardless of which Flash is your favorite, an argument that can get just as nasty as the Hal Jordan/Kyle Rayner Green Lantern debate, today the speculator is taking a look at some key issues in Barry’s comic life. When Allen does return, presumably in the pages of “Final Crisis”, there will be a definite spike in value on all of the Silver Age Flash’s appearances. Especially if he returns EVIL! That’s right I’m calling my shot! Barry is coming back a bad guy! Maybe I’m insane but I’m betting Grant Morrison would love to take a beloved Flash icon and make him a villain. You herd it here first! And yes, I’m a Wally West guy.

Barry Allen’s first appearance was in “Showcase” #4, DC 1956, which currently guides for $45,000 in Near Mint condition. “Showcase” #4 is also considered the first Silver Age superhero comic hence Barry Allen’s importance to the point of reverence with creators and fans alike. Allen took his superhero name from his childhood hero Jay Garrik, the Golden Age Flash. At the time DC’s Golden Age heroes like Garrick and the other members of the JSA didn’t exist in Allen’s universe but were fictional comic book heroes. Later the concept of Earth One and Earth Two would bring the Golden Age heroes back into the DC universe but that is a whole essay within it’s self. Perhaps I’ll ask my friend Mike, an expert on the subject, to write a brief explanation of Earth One and Earth Two in the DCU.

Allen’s first appearance and most of the Silver Age “Flash” run is definitely well out of the price range for the average collector but there are plenty of other key appearances that are still very affordable.

Flash v1 #179, $110 in Near Mint condition. 1st unnamed appearance of Earth-Prime when Flash travels to the real world to meet series editor of the time Julie Schwartz. Earth-Prime is the current home of the DC heroes and the keystone of the 52 existing Earths in the DCU. Mind-blowing isn’t it?

Flash v1 #217-219, $50 in Near Mint condition. Neil Adams takes over the creative duties with issue #217 and begins the first of his legendary Green Arrow/Green Lantern stories as a back-up feature.

Crisis on Infinite Earths #8, $20 in Near Mint condition. This is the issue to watch. Barry Allen is killed while stopping the Anti-Monitor from destroying the Earth. When Allen finally does return I’m predicting this issue sees the largest jump in price.

Flash v2 #149, $3 in Near Mint condition. Barry Allen travels through time to help Wally West defeat Cobalt Blue, Allen’s evil twin brother. Issue #149 was part of a five issue storyline called Chain Lightning by Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn and is still one of my favorite Flash stories.

Flash v2 #225, $3 in Near Mint condition. Issue #225 was the final issue in Geoff Johns amazing run on the Flash and what an issue it was. Barry Allen appears this time to help Wally West defeat Professor Zoom the instant before Zoom murders West’s unborn twins. On a sad side note West twins more recently reappeared in last years pathetic Flash relaunch as pre-teens with really weird powers. It’s sad that this latest Flash incarnation tarnishes what Johns did for the character of Wally West and I only hope that after Final Crisis West is not pushed aside as Kyle Rayner was when Hal Jordan returned.

The DC message boards are already lit up with talk of Barry’s return and with “Final Crisis” shipping soon his return couldn’t come at a better time. Bringing heroes back from the dead has been DC’s bread and butter for the past five years and has yet to prove unprofitable. Barry Allen seems to be the next to join the ranks of dead heroes returned to life along side Hal Jordan (Green Lantern), Oliver Queen (Green Arrow), Rex Mason (Metamorpho); no Metamorpho’s return wasn’t as huge as the previous two but I like him a lot and it’s my column, so there. After you see Iron Man this weekend pick up a copy of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” and see what all the what all this Barry Allen fuss is about. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

For more on “Infinite Crisis” and other new comics check out my other blog, This Week in Geek where I discuss the new comics of the week that could be tomorrow’s collectibles. If you have any questions about these books or anything else in the comic book world feel free to contact me or post your question in the Comic Book community forum. Want to know what your comics are worth? Join Worthpoint for free and post your titles in the “Ask A Question” section.

  • veegee77

    I’ve never been a huge Barry Allen fan.

    My discovery of The Flash happened post-crisis with Wally West taking over the mantle as well as a new monthly series. I enjoyed the first sixty-some odd issues but it wasn’t until Mark Waid took over the book with “The Return of Barry Allen” storyline that it really hit the ground running. But nothing, and I mean NOTHING prepared me for Geoff Johns’ run which started around #164 (Matt, can you clarify?) The Flash has been unreadable since Geoff Johns’ departure. Even Mark Waid’s brief return was AWFUL. Even though I have never been a huge Barry Allen fan I AM excited about his return, but not for the reason you think.

    I recently read an interview (with Grant Morrison I think) where he said something to the effect that there has been something missing in the DC Universe since the end of the original crisis. He said that Final Crisis would bring everything full-circle. The more I thought about it the more I realized he was right. Everything that was destroyed, killed or changed in the original Crisis on Infinite Earths has been undone. Supergirl is back. Earth-2 is back. The multiverse is back. The only thing missing…..Barry Allen. With Geoff Johns (and Grant Morrison) steering the return of Barry I don’t think we can go wrong.

  • DanielPalmer

    OMIGOD!!! DCU#0!!!! I’M SO HAPPY!!!eleven

    …and so it has gone on the interwebs over the past week. Look, I’m as big a Flash fan as the next guy, but all this ‘Return to the Silver Age’ stuff has to stop. As Matt pointed out, Waid and Johns did TREMENDOUS work in moving Wally out from the shadow of ‘Uncle Barry’, strengthening him as a character in his own right. Now, let me preface the next part with a quick admission: Wally West and Dick Grayson are two of my favorite characters in all of fiction, and I will defend them to the point of irrationality.

    I even own Devin Grayson’s run on Nightwing. *shudder*

    My point is that the DCU is not just built on God-Like heroes (Morrison) or flawed heroes (Marvel), but a lot of it is built on legacy. The original Teen Titans were together to step up into their mentor’s shoes should the impossible happen and someone died (Batman RIP…Morrison again, huh). The only one who fulfilled that original promise was Wally, and he has been Flash for 20 years, 10 years fewer than Barry wore the Scarlet Pajamas. Is it cool that Barry is coming back in this, our Blackest Night, our Darkest Hour(I like GL AND Transformers too!)? Exceptionally. Should he stay? I don’t know. Will he stay? It doesn’t look like it, based on the criteria of his return.

    The return mechanism that Geoff used is inherently problematic: Barry from his time in the future said in Flash 200 run that he would come back 3 times. Geoff used up 2 in his run, and provided this is the third, Future Barry knew about Final Crisis, knew he would be back to aid temporarily, and would continue to his fate in the original Crisis.

    DCU #0 paints a very different picture of the Return of Barry Allen: he seems to be reconstituting himself from the Multiverse…did Barry die knowing he was going to come back? My head hurts now, and I’m all nerded out…

  • Matt Baum

    Palmer! I am impressed man! I had no idea you were a nerd of the first order. I have to agree with you, when Barry returns it’s not going to be for long. Morrison loves a big tear jerking end to a story, the last issue of his JLA run is a perfect example, and considering a Flash has died in every Crisis story. Well I’ll let you do the math. I can’t see Barry sticking around long especially when Wally has just returned. Vegee is also right, everything that was done in the original Crisis has been undone since then, everything except bringing Barry back. As for the end of the return to the silver-age; it looks lile everything old is new again… Yet again. Better get used to it Palmer, comics like life are cyclical and what comes around always goes around. The big kids show the little kids what’s cool and the circle of life continues. As for Dick Grayson, you really should check out this latest Nightwing story line. Peter Tomasi’s Nightwing is a great read.

  • DanielPalmer

    I guess there’s no hiding it: I’m a comic book nerd. Some would say that is an understatement, but I digress. Look, I appreciate that the DCU works way different than the House of Ideas, and that the Legends Never Die promo piece is a testament to that, but the best part of this return to the Silver Age is that old concepts have been updated and improved.

    Green Lantern has NEVER been as compelling or engrossing as it is right now. I was raised a Kyle fan, but I am loving seeing him part of something bigger.

    Green Arrow, while now in the (semi) capable hands of Judd Winick, celebrated his return with the amazing “Quiver” arc by Kevin Smith (an arc he actually finished) and followed up on in “Archer’s Quest” (Meltzer).

    I guess my point is that you can’t really update Barry Allen. He’s the patron saint of the DCU, even if they have been screwing up Wally since he came back with the kids (if you want to see the best written Wally in a while, check out the latest JLA).

    Morrison is one of my favorite writers, from his Animal Man, to JLA, to X-Men, and I have faith that he will do right by all of us…and re-kill Barry Allen. Or something.

    Oh, and Nightwing is already on my pull list.

    Since I think I am the only one who read Seven Soldiers, check this out:

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