Death and ennui

Hey wait, where you going? Come back, I promise this isn’t going to be depressing.

I think for anyone who follows media cycles, there comes a point when you sigh and say “That’s quite enough.” For me, it happens when all the stuff that’s being pushed on you is of middling to no value. It’s perhaps exacerbated by my failing to renew my subscription to The Economist.

In any case, I present this list of Things Whose Ubiquity Is Indirectly Proportional To My Level Of Excitement About Them:

* The Simpsons Movie

* Local stage productions of “High School Musical”
* Silverchair’s new album (I swear I get 1-2 press releases a week about this thing)
* The Redwalls’ new album (ditto)
* Michael’s return to Lost
* Meltdowns by Lindsay and Britney
* A really blurry video of Beyonce falling
* Flash Gordon returning to TV

OK, that last one’s a lie. The buzz on that is proportional to my level of interest (“mild”). Mainly, it’s been stoked by TOC‘s TV editor Margaret Lyons who keeps inquiring if I’m looking forward to it, followed by me correcting her that it is this Flash and not that one, that I follow.

Speaking of, the most recent Flash, Bart Allen, died in last month’s issue, just as his mentor and uncle Wally West (the prior Flash) returned from a sort of self-imposed exile in the speed force. It’s a shame that the character was killed just as Marc Guggenheim was starting to shake off the awful Bilson/DeMeo re-launch. But worse than that is the possibility that DC has thrown out the baby with the bath water in an attempt to get the series back on its feet. It’s bad enough that DC bungled the character’s life, but worse than that they’ve bollixed up his death.

Up until this 13-issue run, DC did a pretty good job of developing Bart Allen as he grew from Impulse to The Flash. But in the first few several issues of the relaunch, Bilson/DeMeo took a storied title and ran it into the ground by writing it as if they were crafting a discarded script for Smallville. Guggenheim came aboard and grounded the character, thanks to a job with the LAPD and a romantic interplay that resembled the hard choices and failings typical of your first adult relationship.

But it’s possible the damage was done. Plus, most readers still felt as if they were in a limbo over Wally West’s departure, unsure whether they should mourn his passing and embrace his successor or bide the time, and have patience with his placeholder. Per tradition, Bart Allen as The Flash died saving the world (not during a Crisis like his forebearers, but still) and received a similarly literary send-off (a quote from Sir Walter Scott that read “And come he slow, or come he fast, it is but death who comes at last”). But even with these ties to the past, his was a quick and senseless death, and quickly followed by the return of his much-loved uncle (and the much-loved Mark Waid who has a better ear for The Flash than anyone in the last 25 years). In giving so little weight to his death, DC tarnishes the spirit of the character.

The Flash is a harbinger of change in the DC Universe. And the death of a Flash has always been heavy with meaning. With so many changes yet to come for DC characters, and so little meaning attached to the loss of Bart Allen, I’m wondering if I’ll get that same “That’s quite enough” with comics, too.

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