Make It So: Flash ’90 by Jerry Whitworth
Recently it was announced DC Comics will be publishing Batman ’89 and Superman ’78, comic book miniseries based on the Tim Burton Batman and Richard Donner Superman film series, respectively. Not long after, Jamal Igle offered the services of Sterling Gates and himself for Flash ’90, a sequel to the 1990 Flash television series. In 1988, Warner Bros. wanted to start adapting its properties for live action television again with Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman in the rear view mirror of being hits in the respective ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. CBS had interest in a series based on the adventures of the Flash and tapped Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo to adapt it for the small screen. The release of Batman (1989) proved to be heavily influential for the series, setting a darker tone with a detailed, molded superhero suit, a modern setting in a background with a 1940s aesthetic, and an orchestral soundtrack. Already an expensive prospect, the special effects nature of the character’s adventures made the show carry a high price tag (the pilot alone cost six million dollars with the average episode costing nearly two million, which accounting for inflation would be worth double that today). Sadly, the show ended after a single season of 22 episodes when it failed to defeat NBC’s The Cosby Show and Fox’s The Simpsons, television juggernauts of their time with pre-existing audiences. Lets see what a Flash ’90 series could entail.
Speaking with Keith Dallas in his 2008 book The Flash Companion, Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo revealed some aspects of what a second season of The Flash would have covered. The first season saw a slow burn for the attraction between the Flash Barry Allen and his partner S.T.A.R. Labs scientist Tina McGee that would have bloomed into a romantic relationship. Julio Mendez, Barry’s colleague in the forensics lab, was going to learn the Flash’s secret identity. But perhaps the most notable change was going to be a greater focus on the Rogues. Initially kept from adapting the Flash’s costumed foes, the introduction of the Trickster, Captain Cold, and Mirror Master from the comics and original enemies such as the Dark Riders, Ghost, Deadly Nightshade, Pollux, and Omega mostly in the second half of the series proved to be a big hit with viewers. Bilson and De Meo planned on opening the second season with a two-part special teaming several of the villains against the Flash to establish the Rogues. Further, more of the Flash’s enemies were set to emerge with a specific eye to Gorilla Grodd. However, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine the likes of the Reverse-Flash, Speed Demon, Heat Wave, Weather Wizard, Pied Piper, Dr. Alchemy, Captain Boomerang, Abra Kadabra, Turtle, Rainbow Raider, Golden Glider, Big Sir, or the Top being added to the series. But if Batman ’66 taught us anything, a Flash ’90 series wouldn’t be beholden to only what was available back then.
Over the years, the Flash has accrued even more foes, making an impressive gallery of rogues that much more fantastic. Magenta, Kilg%re, Blue Trinity, Plunder, Brother Grimm, Cicada, Tar Pit, Murmur, Blacksmith, Girder, Double Down, Peek-A-Boo, Black Hole, Psych… a Flash ’90 series has plenty to pull from. But that doesn’t even include the addition of other speedsters. A tie-in comic for the TV series introduced a Kid Flash unique to its continuity in Vincent Everett in place of Wally West. But especially in recent years, fellow riders of the lightning have proliferated. John Fox, Jesse Quick, Bart Allen, XS, Savitar, Black Flash, Dark Flash, Zoom, Hot Pursuit, Daniel West, Wallace West, Future Flash, Godspeed, Avery Ho, Meena Dhawan, and Red Death have all appeared in the ensuing decades since the Flash series aired. But likely the biggest interesting development is the universe for the show has been formally identified as Earth-90 and became a prominent facet of the 2014 Flash television series that spun out of the Arrowverse. A Flash ’90 title would almost have to crossover with the new series at some point.
Style guide art was courtesy of the Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez Fans Facebook page.