With the ever controversial One More Day, and the blanket ban on New 52, it looks like marriage in comics is thing of the past. It’s a shame too because then we miss out on trades like Iris Allen’s Life Story of the Flash, a delightful biography of Barry Allen’s tenure as the Flash told from the point of view of his wife. It’s basically a recap of Barry Allen’s life told in a very clever way. The narrative weaves in prose and comics in a way that makes it really easy and fun to read. I really liked how they drew the comics portions in the style of the late silver/bronze age of comics. This gives the reader a nice, subtle idea of when the original storyline took place. There were plenty of other really nice touches that I really enjoyed, such as crediting Iris Allen as the author on the back jacket and having the reviews be from Lois Lane and other journalists in the DCU. It’s just really charming. Another thing I really liked about the trade is that even though it’s really just a summery, it has a lot of humor and heart. I wasn’t very familiar with the Flash characters going in, but once I finished the book, I felt like I really got to know Wally and Iris West. In that regard, it works as a great gateway drug into the Flash mythos. It effectively shows the heart of Barry and Iris’s relationship, all their ups, downs, funny moments, and heartaches. One panel in particular stood out to me. It was an exchange where Barry and Iris casually discuss a recent crime he’d stopped like he was just talking about a regular day at work. It’s the book in a nutshell: both mundane and fantastical.
Allow me to get on my soapbox for a minute and tell you that this is what I really like about married couples in comics and why wish they hadn’t banned it. With supercouples, we’re done with the cliche ‘will they or won’t they,’ where the will involves the hero revealing his or her secret identity. It’s a definite ‘will.’ It’s been done a million times and will be done a million more with each new hero’s love interest. With a married supercouple, their relationship is built around mutual trust and teamwork. The spouse is someone the hero/heroine can always rely on. They laugh in the face of ’til death do us part. To me, a healthy, happy relationship that can survive several kidnappings, super villain attacks, presumed deaths, and actual deaths is more interesting than whatever Peter Parker and Carley Cooper ever had. There seems to be a mentality among many editors that marriage happens at the end of the story. It’s what happens after Snow White rides off with Prince Charming on his white horse and when superheroes decide to settle down in the suburbs. They feel that it limits story possibilities. I feel that it’s the opposite. By refusing to let heroes marry, they’re the ones limiting story ideas. Marriages aren’t perfect, and that in and of itself leads to plenty of possible story lines. What if the spouse got sick or hurt because the hero was reckless? What if he or she becomes a target for super villains? What if they get caught in a time warp or inter-dimensional portal and it’s up to the hero to get him or her back? What if the spouse becomes a superhero in his or her own right? What if they become a villain? What if one of the super-spouses is presumed dead for one reason or another and the other has to find them against all odds? What is they have kids together? What if the spouse can’t take it anymore and wants a divorce? These are just a few off the top of my head. There are plenty of possible plots that can be done and it’s too bad that it won’t be happening anytime soon.
This book is a great argument for marriage in comics. It chronicles the highs and lows of an iconic super-couple and their dying, undying, resurrected, and retconned love while also working as an introduction to the Flash mythos. I highly recommend it.