The Flash is one of the most fascinating characters in the DC universe because of how flexible he can be in terms of storytelling. Sure, all the superheroes that have taken the mantle of the Scarlet Speedster are all traditional heroes with clear moral values, but their stories can often be quite varied and express many different tones, whether they are serious, dark, lighthearted, you name it.
In that regard, the Wally West era of the title was perhaps the most prolific in terms of quantity and quality of stories, often producing some storylines that have become part of the pantheon of the Flash mythology. And issue #54 of the second volume, written by William Messner-Loebs and drawn by Greg LaRocque, shows the character of Wally accomplishing one of his most heroic feats and perfectly establishing the heroic values that the Flash has.
Of course, this story is the now-classic Nobody Dies.
The story is actually quite straightforward, especially when compared to modern comics: there is a group of terrorists that have taken some innocent people hostage and Wally has to save them. In the process, some get trapped in the crossfire and Wally has to push his abilities to his limits in order to save people.
It is a very simple plot, but one that thrives in terms of execution and understanding of who the character in question is. Messner-Loebs wrote this story to define what heroism is according to him and also to ask a certain question about the Flash’s skills (but I’m not going to tell you because I want to keep it a surprise).
A big problem that I tend to see in modern comics is the lack of capacity to be straightforward and brief in terms of the stories they are trying to tell. It seems that most stories attempt to be long, drawn-out and they are very hard to digest. In this case, Messner-Loebs manages to write a story that properly expresses what the Flash stands for in just 22 pages. That in itself is an art form and one that is sadly forgotten for the most part in the modern comic book industry.
And it is a very good story at that, with Wally having the right balance of seriousness and quips while also providing a lot of cool action moments and a dramatic conclusion that is quite pleasing to the reader.
I also want to highlight Greg LaRocque’s art in this issue. I think he is one of the most underrated comic book artists of his time and doesn’t get the credit he deserves in terms of drawing aesthetics, the quality of the sequences, and just the sheer cool factor that this story has.
The Flash, at least from my perspective, is a tough character to draw. You need to constantly provide that intense feeling of running and moving around, constantly trying to portray a character that is in an ever-present state of motion. It is quite challenging, but I think LaRocque has done a phenomenal job in The Flash series and he deserves a lot of credit in that regard.
It is a very simple story, but with a lot of heart and a really nice representation of who Wally West is and what he stands for, which is something that is very significant when analyzing a character of this ilk.
Nobody Dies is one of the most significant Flash stories in terms of the message its trying to convey and the quality of the story itself. Definitely worth your time.