I don’t know why it’s called “All-New” on the cover. It’s the only special based on the 90s The Flash TV series from CBS. Also, that’s not what the publishing information calls it.
The Flash TV Special
DC Comics (1991)
COLORIST: Glenn Whitmore
LETTERER: Albert De Guzman
EDITOR: Brian Augustin
“The Quick And The Dead”
WRITER: John Byrne
ARTIST: Javier Saltares
“Meet Kid Flash”
WRITER: Mark Waid
PENCILERS: David Williams & Darick Robertson
INKER: Gary Martin
I want to take a quick moment to talk about the show. At the time my only exposure to the Flash were the Filmation and Hanna-Barbera cartoons, which never really focused on Barry’s private life or supporting cast. However by this time Wally West was the Flash, his mentor still dead. For whatever reason show creators, Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo, were more interested in Barry, and yet used Tina McGee, one of Wally’s supporting cast, as Barry’s new love interest. (Iris was there but quickly shoved to the side.) They also added a dead brother to Barry’s backstory because they apparently didn’t think making his whole family cops or the comic history of being inspired by tales of Jay Garrick (fictional or biographical) was inspiration enough. I don’t know if they or CBS wanted the tone of the then-successful Tim Burton Batman movie (right down to getting Danny Elfman to make the theme and Shirley Walker’s music close to it) but that’s not the right tone for either Flash and Central City isn’t Gotham City. The show was rife with adaptation errors.
On the other hand I knew none of this when the show aired and once you get past this it was a great show. The characters were great, acting was mostly solid, and the effects really good for the time. The show deserved a second season though knowing what I know now Wally really got the shaft.
That said, on to the first review. A scientist thought dead seeks revenge on the people he thinks wronged him, using a machine that lets him walk as a ghost until Tina figures out what’s going on since she and another victim worked on the project with him. The story itself could have worked for an episode of the show but the dialog leans too much on being a comic. The Flash can’t talk to people while running in the show, either due to the science or the budget, except over a radio. Also he’s blonde in this story like comics Barry rather than John Wesley’s Shipp’s brown hair. However, he can actually turn his neck, which the show’s costume didn’t allow, the curse of using the same restrictive molded rubber costume style Burton used on Michael Keaton’s costume. Yes, it does come back to the movie because like I said this show leaned as heavy as it could into the movie, and it might even been how the show was greenlit.
Remember how I said Wally got the shaft? Well, the second story’s biggest flaw is doing the same thing. This time it’s Tina recreating Barry’s shelves, hoping to figure out how it gave him his powers (this was pre-Speed Force in the comics) and a criminal kid who of course escaped the show’s comic relief, officers Murphy and Bellows, who breaks into STAR Labs and gets hit. Vince Everett decides to call himself Kid Flash and use his speed to commit crimes, and unlike Barry he doesn’t need large amounts of food to sustain his speed and is faster than the Flash. However, that comes at a cost, which Flash uses along with the kid’s obsession with his jacket of trophy pins to bring him down. There’s also a subplot with a fallen reporter who now hosts a tabloid show and is here to investigate the urban legend of the Flash (another Batman element shoved into the Flash) and while it doesn’t factor into the main plot it’s a good subplot. There’s still talking while running but it’s between the two speedsters and that’s fine for comics, and Barry can still turn his head, which is important when you’re running at Mach 2. There’s a nice nod to fellow speedster Johnny Quick but outside of Wally’s old hero name being used for a criminal (which again only bothers me because of the shaft Wally got with the show) this is a great story and one that would have made a fantastic episode as it uses the whole main cast perfectly and the art looks like the actors. This is when Waid still told good superhero stories.
Overall it’s the second story that makes this comic a must-own for fans of the show but the first story also mostly works. The comic includes a brief behind the scenes and episode list. If you didn’t see the show it is worth watching, adaptation errors notwithstanding but this is a good introduction to the show.