Flash’s airplane free fallPosted: 06/22/2014
While the Flash can run around Earth in about the same time it takes you to read this sentence, he lacks a vital superhero power that so many of his super friends possess: poor Flash can’t fly. Earthquake in China? The Flash’ll be there to help in seconds. Explosion in Antartica? The Flash can investigate before the smoke clears. A spaceship broke apart up in the stratosphere? Oh, well, better hope Superman’s around. So in Flash #54, written by William Messner-Loebs and drawn by Greg LaRocque, finds himself miles above the planet’s surface. No parachute, no buddies, no jet packs. This’ll be one story we hope ends in a whimper and not a bang.
We begin as the Flash (real name Wally West, who’ll always be my Flash) boards an airplane to help out the FBI. Unfortunately, for reasons to protect his identity or live like the common people or not have to eat six thousand calories after running across the country, our protagonist decides to take a several hour excruciating plane ride. Government business and whatnot.
You can imagine what happens next. A superhero can’t go anywhere without running into terrorists or evildoers or someone attempting to cause some damage. Maybe comics only cover the exciting moments of a superhero’s life, leaving off the page all the boring stuff like reading the morning newspaper or standing in line at the post office. But let’s not forget another comic book rule: the more character development someone gets, the higher risk that something bad will happen to him or her. Such as that poor flight attendant — the moment we learned about her hopes and dreams was the moment she doomed herself. See in the next panel as she gets sucked out the plane:
Once again, poor Flash. Acting heroically means making some really dumb choices to retain the proper levels of impossible morality. Julie Meyers is falling to her death and only the Flash can save her. The Flash, who can’t fly or sprint on air or run so fast that the Earth spins in the opposite direction and reverses time. But he has to do something. Sometimes it really sucks to be a superhero. Like really, really sucks:
The Flash can totally catch her, but what then? They can both splatter into goo together, I guess. Sadly, improvised plans deal with one problem at a time. First step: catch the woman. Second step: not explode into a liquid when they hit the ground.
I do admire her gesture. It’s sorta insignificant, as Flash needs Michael Phelps-levels of food intake to function properly, but maybe the placebo effect’ll keep his mind off of his pain. Or maybe this is all an elaborate fetish to have a woman feed him peanuts while in free fall. If people like feet or horses, why not that?
I know I’m making fun of this whole situation, but despite being fictional, this is some hardcore heroism we’re witnessing here. The reason I chose this issue to highlight is just how out of his element the Flash is here, yet he shows no hesitation or fear. Freeze guns and boomerangs? Those he can handle no problem. But knowing that he would be falling full force towards the Earth with nothing to protect him or slow him down but violently kicking his legs — he does it. No hesitation. No fear. Remember, superheroes are better than us in every way.
A happy ending is the best ending. Plus, now Flash knows he can jump out of planes and survive. Two birds with one stone.