Monday, November 28, 2011

The Trial as a Flashpoint #2

Barry didn't know it, but his whole world was crumbling around him.

Hal Jordan, who had been Green Lantern for almost as long as Barry had been The Flash, quit the intergalactic corps created by the Guardians of the Universe at the same time Barry endured his trial for the murder of Eobard Thawne.

It still kills me to think about it now, but I was at my own crossroads, having just made the difficult decision to relinquish the persona of Kid Flash, at the same time that Dick Grayson gave up being Robin, after he realized that he was no longer the Boy Wonder. We walked away from the Teen Titans, the only real home either of us had known in the last few years leading up to the Crisis.

For me, the walk took an eternity.

I still can't explain how it'd reached that point, how I had become so selfish, rejecting the one person who had defined my whole life, whom I'd modeled my superheroic career around, who had actually given me my powers!

At that point in my life, however, that's exactly how much regard I had for Barry, for the life he'd helped me create. It didn't hurt that I had Dick to legitimize my decision, the friend who could most identify with my thought process.

I only wish I had been a little more thoughtful, a little more grateful, that I hadn't so easily and so completely abandoned Barry.

Hindsight informs so much of what I know now, how Barry not only couldn't rely on me, but not even Hal, when he could have used both of us, not just for emotional support, but for so many more things, the fact that the Rogues chose that moment to plague him as they hadn't for half a decade, for starters, coming together as a unit as they had never done before, a united front that attacked him from every angle...

He was completely on his own. He'd lost his wife, and now he'd lost the favor of the public, and was facing the loss of his very freedom, the thing he'd fought for since before he became The Flash, a pioneer of forensic science in the guise of Barry Allen.

His private life was ruined, and his costumed identity became isolated, because of me, because of Hal, because that's the way the world works. You're surrounded by friends until you need them.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Trial as a Flashpoint #1

My name is Wally West, and I'm the fastest man alive.

When I was a boy, my aunt Iris dated Barry Allen. Neither of them really knew each other when it started out. For instance: Barry Allen was the Flash. For instance: Iris West was actually from the future, the 30th Century, to be exact.

I grew up idolizing Barry, becoming a charter member and president of one of the largest Flash fan clubs in the country (or at least in all of Blue Valley). One day, Iris invited me to Central City so I could meet her boyfriend. What she didn't know was that I would become involved in an exact replica of the accident that gave The Flash his powers.

And what Barry didn't know was that his future bride had been sent as a child to watch over him, her life essence transported over a millennium in order to watch over him.

Barry talked in his sleep; that's how Iris found out about his double life.

The Reverse-Flash murdered Iris; that's how she found out about hers.

The Reverse-Flash is Eobard Thawne, a nobody from the 25th Century, a janitor who worked at the Flash Museum, working day after day under the legacy of Barry Allen. Eventually, he became obsessed, found a way to give himself Barry's powers, and decided that the only way to step out of the shadow of his assumed nemesis was to destroy him.

He tried many times before finally succeeding, sending his vibrating hand through my aunt's skull, killing her instantly.

Or so we thought.

Barry wouldn't know it for years, but his life had already been ruined by Thawne. The Reverse-Flash killed Barry's mother when he was very young, a death that haunted him throughout his life, and motivated him to enter law enforcement, trying to solve a murder that had been pinned on his own father, Henry.

Thawne wasn't the only foe to tamper with Barry's life. There was also Abra Kadabra, who came from the 64th Century. But we wouldn't know that until Barry killed Thawne. And the trial of The Flash began.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Occupy Wall Street, Part 5

The conventional interpretation of his occupation might have been investigator. Marty Marias was more accurately contracted as an observer, and therefore a consultant; he reported back to others what he saw, and as such was an interpreter.

Marty had recently been asked to talk about three particular individuals, all of whom who had been taken into police custody and had been subjected to interrogations. They were persons of interest in the assassination of Gabriel Bell. He wasn't given their complete identities, and in truth he preferred it that way.

The first of them was a woman known as Zinn, a transient and amnesiac who had been taken in by another of them. In her case, Marty was only interested in her details, her particulars, what her information told him about whether or not she would have been capable of killing a man. She had first been identified as homeless, but that quickly turned out not to be the case. She had been the victim of an assault, and so that was how she had ended up in the general area of the crime, disoriented and "rescued" by one of the others. She was a school teacher, in fact, and had only been missing a few days when she resurfaced and became intwined in the sequence of events that led to the death of Gabriel Bell. She taught first grade, children who had reached the age of dawning responsibility. Marty saw that she was not comfortable in her life, that she would have done anything to escape it, but not in conjunction with the assault, not with the loss of her self-control. If anything, she would have used the preceding events as a frantic means to rediscover herself, to a semblance of what she had once known about herself.

The second was a writer, whom Marty knew as Jake, no last name, just as the others had not come with given names, or so Marty had to assume. Jake was clearly unfulfilled in his life, possibly disgruntled in his frustrations to make a career out of his stories, and it was written all over his face. Given half a chance at even a suggestion of acceptance, he would have done anything, would have been capable of anything, would have rationalized any act, no matter how extreme, if the circumstances presented themselves. Marty could easily extrapolate from any of that Jake's ability to kill, especially someone who had achieved a measure of success and in a public way that he himself had been denied, or had denied himself (it was never easy to tell which one).

The third, and the man who had affected the "rescue" of Zinn, was called Swift, and he had come into the scenario under very ambiguous circumstances, and had not adequately reconciled them for himself even though he had taken great strides in the attemot. It was Swift who had mistakenly identified Zinn as homeless, and, intoxicated by her not-inconsiderable beauty, had taken it upon himself to free her from the sorry mess that had become her life. He was a businessman, who was already familiar with the allure of power, who would have relished whatever fantasies he had constructed around the figure of Zinn. Once the realities were made plain, he had attempted to redirect his efforts, so that he would not become impotent in her eyes, and would retain the illusion of control he had once enjoyed over her. Such a man would easily have been capable of switching this sense of identity into other, less wholesome, directions, if it had proved to be a waste of his time.

Marty considered the context these figures had found themselves in, the desperation they had all fallen into, and the atmosphere of despair and resolve that created such a dangerous situation, even before the murder of a prominent individual like Gabriel Bell. Although he had ruled out the woman already, he felt that anyone might have been driven to that point, even beyond their normal limitations, because they had been drawn to that place by a common desire, something that had previously been elusive for each of them, but had crystalized in a single movement, and now in a single death. Those others who had observed that place tended to remark that such individuals were hardly worth their pity, that if they had simply worked out their own problems, they wouldn't have had to blame someone else.

The death of Gabriel Bell had galvanized the entire movement, forced those observers to view the plight of the individuals who had gathered in a new light. Just as Marty was charged with scrutinizing three individuals, an entire nation was now forced to re-evaluate their judgments. Bell had been a charismatic victim, and that was all any such movement ultimately needed. Marty wondered if the solution to his problem were similar. It wasn't so much what any of them had to gain, but what the murder of another person would mean to them personally. The woman wouldn't gain anything, obviously, but a murder, even a misguided and misdirected one, would give her back the power she'd lost. The same would be true of the businessman. The writer could only be accused by way of a psychotic break. Although he would surely have had a kind of motive, his personality otherwise contradicted such an outcome. He was an introvert by choice, not by nature. Although he would have suffered from the misdiagnosed social reactions of others most of his life, he was ultimately an observer, much like Marty himself. To call the writer a killer would have been for Marty to call himself one. The woman was much the same; anyone who worked with children inherently considered life in their own way sacred. She couldn't have been the killer anymore than she could have killed the businessman for taking advantage of her, or at least having the appearance of having done so. The businessman, however, and not because he was a businessman or because business itself was inherently antisocial or that he would have had a personal grudge against Gabriel Bell as someone who had spoken out very publically against some of the very practices the businessman himself had depended on throughout his career, but because of the rejection of the woman, of the contradiction he couldn't reconcile, and so he took it out not on the woman, but Gabriel Bell, someone in whom the businessman could project his feelings of inadequacy.

So that was how Marty reported it to those who had asked his opinion.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Iger Wickstein

It was my last chance.

It was my last chance and I tried not to show it. I had gone back to that moment so many times, I no longer had to pretend. I was trapped.

All the details, the rain falling like shards of glass, the screeching tires from the SUV, the streetlights blinking on and off, the bolt of lightning...they crashed through me just as surely as the thoughts that had run through my mind in that moment.

It was the end, the end of everything, and I was forced to relive it again and again. I should have died, but instead I became tethered to that moment. It was a simple question, whether or not I wanted a second chance, sometime after my death, in the in-between, after the light at the end of the tunnel. I said yes.

I had no idea what I was doing.

After the first time, I thought I could do it again and this time get it right. That's exactly what I thought. I went back again and experienced it all over again. And then I went back again. And again. And again.

I couldn't let go. It wasn't my life that flashed before my eyes, but my death, and it was of my own choosing. I couldn't let go.

It became almost like my life, a sequence of predictable, inevitable results, changed anew from new thoughts, new observations, new obsessions, new hopes, new delusions. The same thing happened again and again, I knew exactly what was coming, and I couldn't stop it, and I just kept repeating it.

What else was I supposed to do?

It was my life.

And my death.

Eventually it had to end, but not jus yet.

I persisted, I persevered, time and time again, until my last chance. I don't even know how I knew what it was, except that when it came around, that's exactly what I felt, as if it were my last chance. I was well past yearning for more. I was ready.

Everything repeated exactly as it had originally happened, all the details. I knew what would happen. It came. I died again, died for the last time.

After repeating it a thousand times, it was almost a relief, the end of everything, of all possible consequences, and the beginning of reflection, everything that I had denied myself in life. That's why I revisited my death so many times, because I was more afraid of my life than my death.

But then, aren't we all?