Time Machine: The Flash That Wasn’t

Having exhausted many of the subjects that had been on the docket for a long time, I started to think about what the next blogpost might be about and realized I hadn’t done a “time machine” post in quite a while. In fact, it’s been almost three and a half years since I took a look back on the state of Swamp Thing in 1984.

Going over some notes I had saved, this one jumped out at me: a preview of a comic that never actually existed. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give to you, “The Flash That Wasn’t.”

Allow me to take you back to 1985, during that glorious stretch when Mark Waid—who had not yet broken into the comics field as a creator—was working as editor for Amazing Heroes. This was both a great time for AH and a great time for comics, as Alan Moore and Frank Miller were in their prime, plus a whole bunch of other talents were doing some great stuff as well.

Late in the year, the Amazing Heroes Preview Special for 1986 came out, which offered our first real glimpse at what the Post-Crisis DC Universe might look like. I bought it and immediately buried my nose in it, reading through as many entries as I could absorb in the shortest possible time. One of those entries was particularly intriguing:


Written by LEN WEIN and MARV WOLFMAN; artist undetermined; edited by ALAN GOLD

32 four-color pages on standard newsprint; 75 cents; newsstand distribution; published monthly by DC COMICS INC.

A last-minute entry into the Preview Special, The Flash is shrouded in mystery. Created by Len Wein and Mary Wolfman, who at this point are scheduled to co-write the series, The Flash is reported to bear absolutely no similarities to the long-time DC star who met his end in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Editor Alan Gold assured AH that this new character won’t even be a super-speedster, but will instead be able to manipulate various forms of energy—light, sound, and so forth—in order to defeat his foes.

In his secret identity of MacKenzie Ryan, the Flash will be a technician at S.T.A.R. Labs in Metropolis, working side-by-side with Jeanette Klyburn. Says Gold, “MacKenzie is more than just friendly with Jeanette. Whether or not they’re lovers is still open for debate at this point, but he’s definitely the only non-work interest in her life. Mac is also a single parent, with a daughter somewhere between the ages of eight and 12.

“The only other thing I can say right now is that there will be a new, major DC villain in the first issue. He has no name as of yet, but his origin and the Flash’s origin will be inextricably connected.”

No artist has yet been chosen for the book, which has just seen its release date pushed into the far future, but Gold and Wein indicate Chuck Patton to be the most likely candidate.—MW

…MW is Mark Waid, of course.

I was enormously intrigued by this upon first reading it; then deflated when I learned it wouldn’t be happening. Of course, I could have spared myself the emotional rollercoaster had I just read the magazine properly, in order, from beginning to end, because Waid revealed in the editorial intro that “DC’s new Flash has been pushed back off the schedule, so don’t read that preview, okay?”

So much for that.

With the new power set, this Flash sounds similar to the alternate Flash from the Tangent line from ’97-’98. (In powers, I mean. The Tangent Flash was female, of course.) Most intriguing of all, however, might be the “new, major DC villain” that was to be introduced in the first issue, whose origin was to be “inextricably connected” to that of this new Flash. Since neither Wein nor Wolfman ended up working on the Post-Crisis Flash, I wonder if they took this idea and recycled it (or perhaps aspects of it) elsewhere.

An interesting little piece of what might have been.

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