Adam Graham's Blog: Christians and Superheroes - Posts Tagged "the-flash"

Book Review: Showcase Presents Flash, Volume 1

Showcase Presents: The Flash, Vol. 1 Showcase Presents: The Flash, Vol. 1 by Robert Kanigher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Some will identify the launch of the Fantastic Four and Spider-man with the start of Silver Age of Comics. That's not quite right. It all began with the Silver Age Flash (Barry Allen) who was introduced in Showcase #4.

This book collects the last story featuring the Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick last appearance in his 1949 Magazine (Flash #104) along with Silver Age Flash tryouts in Showcase #4, #8, #13, and #14 (1956-58) and then the new Flash continuing bi-monthly series from 105-119.

There's a lot to like about the book. Many of the best Flash villains are introduced in this book including Captain Cold, Gorilla Grodd (called only Grodd in these stories), Mirror Master, Dr. Alchemy, the Weather Wizard, the Trickster, and Captain Boomerang. The first four of these had multiple appearances, so early on there was a great sense of what the Flash's rogue's gallery would be like, and Grodd clearly stood out as more evil from the rest.

The Silver Age Flash also followed the tradition of the Golden Age version by not having book length stories. Instead, the Flash introduced back up characters. Wally West was introduced as Kid Flash in Flash #110, Ralph Dibney as the Elongated Man in Flash #112, and three dopes Winky, Blinky, and Noddy were introduced in Flash #117.

After his introduction, Kid Flash actually had five solo adventures in which Barry Allen didn't appear accept perhaps as a cameo. The early Kid Flash wore a uniform just like the adult version only smaller. The adventures are typical light kid fare.

The Elongated Man stories are fun as the Flash actually gets jealous of him. The Elongated Man adventures are team ups with the Flash and mostly light. It's worth noting that Elongated was introduced more than a year before Marvel's Mr. Fantastic.

The Winky, Blinky, and Noddy characters were without a doubt the stupidest concept re-introduced. They were originally in the Golden Age Flash Comics and really infantile characters who probably gave us a hint as to why Marvel had its early 1960s ascendancy.

However, they weren't enough to spoil this book. It introduced some great concepts and characters. The Flash's powers remain impressive as does his mighty rogues gallery stands the test of time nicely. Ironically, my favorite story in this book wasn't a story with a rogue, but "Around the World in 80 Minutes" (Showcase #13) which features the Flash circling the globe in 80 minutes for the heck of it, with the goal of making it back in time for his ever-late alter ego to make a date with the temperamental Iris West. Along the way, he has to solve several desperate problems and fend off several grateful maidens.

It's a story that represents the fun and light-heartedness of this collection. While characterization remains weak, this is groundbreaking stuff that launched a whole new age of comics and that makes it a worthwhile read.

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Published on February 04, 2014 17:42 Tags: silver-ave, the-flash

Book Review: Golden Age Flash Archives, Volume 1

The Golden Age Flash Archives, Vol. 1 The Golden Age Flash Archives, Vol. 1 by Gardner F. Fox

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The original Flash was Jay Garrick, created by Gardener Fox for Flash Comics #1. This contains all the Flash stories that appeared in Flash Comics #1-#17 as well as covers which often feature other characters. This also includes a fine foreword by Mark Waid, who wrote post-Crisis Flash stories.

Like the more famous Silver Age version, this Flash obtained his powers in a laboratory accident and sets off to fight evil. There are several interesting things about this golden age hero. First of all was that Garrick's girlfriend is in on the secret. Indeed, there's not much of a secret for the first few stories with Joan even introducing Jay as the Flash at one point, though by the end of the book, his identity is a secret to everyone but Joan. Not keeping your girl in the dark is definitely a positive step in relationship dynamics.

The book is a little inconsistent about the Flash's speed as usual. At one time, a story says he can move at the speed of light. In another, we're told it takes the Flash 3 hours to travel to Canada. The speed of light ain't what it used to be.

This was a tough book to rate. The Flash's concept was fun and much like in the Silver Age Flash and Atom stories I've, Fox has fun fleshing out the pseudo-science behind the character's powers. I particularly like how the Golden Age Flash used his speed to make himself almost invisible.

But in the end, these Garrick Flash stories are simply a cut below the Golden Age's best. It's not on par with the Adventures of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, Sub-Mariner, or the Human Torch, but certainly better than characters like Marvel's speedster, the Whizzer. In the end, I'd probably rate this a 3.45. Good, but not great.

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Published on February 05, 2014 19:33 Tags: the-flash

Book Review: The Golden Age Flash Archives, Volume 2

The Golden Age Flash Archives, Vol. 2 The Golden Age Flash Archives, Vol. 2 by Gardner F. Fox

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This selection of Golden Age Flash stories collect tales featuring Jay Garrick's Flash from Flash Comics 18-24 and the All Flash Quarterly 1 and 2.

This book was just a lot of fun. The Flash doesn't have any legendary opponents in this book but the stories done with a lot of humor and style. There are protection racket gangsters who harass a restaurant and are made to eat their just desserts, there's the Flash building a brick wall around criminals harassing a group of bricklayers, and the book concludes with the Flash battling the Spider-men from Mars in Flash #24.

While Flash Comics contained multiple features, All Flash Comics was the Flash's own Quarterly magazine. Issue #1 of All Flash noted Flash's departure from the Justice Society under the rules that if a character got his own magazine he had to leave. Issue #2 is a full-fledged book length saga of revenge following a criminal's twisted path to revenge as it poisons him and puts everyone around him at risk. This story like most of the other Flash stories in this book feature a solid moral.

The book is delightful and represent a huge step forward from Volume 1, and it's too bad that there's not likely to be a Volume 3.

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Published on February 07, 2014 17:15 Tags: jay-garrick, the-flash

Comics Review: Iron Man, Mr. T, The Flash, Justice League, World's Finest, Superman, Batman Beyond

From the '70s, the 90s, and the twenty-first century, here are my comic book reviews for the week. The Iron Man book I got off of an out of print Marvel DVD containing every Iron Man comic to 2006, and I own physical copies of Mr. T and the T-Force and Justice League Adventures. The rest come through Comixology:

Iron Man, Volume 1, Issue 52:

This issue features Iron Man refitting and retesting his equipment as he moves to California and enjoys fun in the sun,but quickly finds himself in a battle with a guy with fire powers who runs a satanic cult. The story has potential but is a little odd as he'd recently faced anther fire based villain and Firebrand. Also, the stories features Marianne Rodgers, probably the best girl Tony has encountered in this run and who he heartlessly kicked out of his life. She's still suffering and that's sad

I also have to say that I agree with the letter's page in wondering when we'll see a return of Classic Iron Man villains. The 1970s was a difficult time for Tony Stark and Iron Man.

Rating: 2.75 out of 5.0

Mr. T and the T Force #2:

This issue is T-riffic T-centered extravaganza as Mr. T battles an Incan warrior physically and then when forced to take drugs, battles demons that urge him to surrender to drugs. It's awesome call to stay off drugs and again reflects the heart and spirit of Mr. T in this series. Only problem with this is the somewhat silly and contrived rules that the T-Force operates under, particularly that no one in the T-force but one kid can actually save Mr. T. But for a 1990s Indie comic this was still awesome despite that.

Rating: 4.75 out of 5.0

The Flash (2011-Present) #22:

A solid issue as the story of the Reverse Flash's rampage against those connected to the Speed Force continues. In this issue, the Flash takes some precautions protect Iris and we get the first hint I can remember of her having a thing for Barry which could create a love triangle situation with Patti.

Also, we get the re-emergence of Darwin Elias who seems to have become practically a mad supervillain and is plotting to kill the Flash but instead becomes a target for the Reverse Flash.

Only complaint is that it's too short, that plus not having Barry working in the lab is dumb. Besides that, this is solid issue that has me looking towards the next issue.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5.0

Justice League Adventures #4:

In this book, the Amazons go crazy and start trying to take over the world by force. Part of the key to the Amazons success is that they have magic that makes every woman born on a country's native soil loyal to their cause. This leads to a suggestion that all female members of the Justice League stay at the Watch Tower since they might turn on them in battle which would be a valid point if not for the fact that Wonder Woman wasn't effect and more importantly that Hawkgirl was an alien from Thanagar which means the Amazons were unlikely to have her native soil lying around.

After that silliness, this actually turns into a really good comic. It's a lot of battle scenes but it's all well-told and well-scripted action. The story's plot bears a strong resemblance to the much-hated Amazons Attack. However, the big difference is that this story is actually good. It's helped by the one-and-done nature of the Justice League Adventures and also by having a more comprehensible plot with a satisfying conclusion. This is a fun story that really does work.

Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0

World's Finest (2012-Present) #5:

This book doesn't quite fit the description. There's a bit of a framing story about Powergirl and Huntress talking about getting back to Earth 2 but the story ultimately revolves around the two flashing back to solo adventures. Karen goes to check out one of her investments in research that she hopes to use to get home and instead encounters a robot beast from another dimension that she has to fight in a decent action sequence.

At the same time, Helena is attending a "Take Back the Night" rally in Boston when a sniper begins taking potshots. We don't find out where the alien robot was from or why the Sniper was taking shots. Indeed, Huntress made it clear she didn't care why the guy was taking shots, though she assumed that it was because he was pro-rape rather than just a nut of a sniper which was probably more realistic.

In the end, the story has some moments but this was a pure filler issue and not very entertaining at that.

Rating: 1.75 out of 5.0

Superman Adventures (1996)

The mind-controlling villain, The Commander escapes from prison and implants a post-hypnotic suggestion on live TV telling people to kill Superman. Whenever Superman shows up for the rest of the book and performs a rescue, the crowd shouts, "Kill Superman!" and that's the plot. Even dumber is that Superman thinks of leaving Metropolis over this.

David Michelinie, famed Iron Man writer wrote this book which is what makes it so disappointing. There was a lot that could be done, but instead we get a lazy story. There's a twist at the end but at this point, Superman Adventures was being written by a rotating group of writers, so I'm not optimistic it'll be picked up.

Rating: 2.0 out of 5.0

This is another solid chapter in the continuing story. Batman battles Shriek in a battle that's a distraction from Rebel One's main plain. Max is part of that plan and has to find a way to get a message to Batman without alerting Rebel One who's threatened to murder her family. The book has real tension and the fight scene is solid. Batman Beyond really has the whole digital first thing down and it's a fun book to read.

Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0

Superman Beyond #19 (2012-13):

Essentially, this is a battle issue with Superman and the Justice League trying to stop the war. Some decent battle scenes and a promising ending sets up the finale of the series.
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Published on May 18, 2014 21:20 Tags: iron-man, justice-league, mr-t, superman, the-flash

Book Review: Flash Greatest Stories Ever Told

The Greatest Flash Stories Ever Told The Greatest Flash Stories Ever Told by Mike Gold

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book from the early 1990s takes a look at the best Flash stories ever told. The introductory materials are solid. The stories themselves are a bit of mixed bag and not quite as good as either the Golden Age, Superman, or Team Up greatest stories book from this era.

The book features four stories from Jay Garrick's Flash including the widely reprinted origin story from Flash Comics #1. One of the nicer ones was, "The Slow Motion Crimes" which showed the golden age version of the Silver Age Flash's first villain, "The Turtle."

The Silver Age version of Barry Allen defines the book, with pages 68-243 being stories from the Silver Age of comics. While I usually think these books tend to stack the books with too many modern stories this one almost has too few. Still, it has fun with the Silver Age concept with stories featuring top flash villains like Gorilla Grodd, the Mirror Master, and Captain Boomerang (who joins a truce and teams up with the Flash and Elongated Man.) At the same time, the Flash's key allies including Kid Flash, the Green Lantern, and of course, Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash (this story has them teaming up against Vandal Savage.)

The weakest of these was, "The Trail of the False Green Lanterns," which had the Flash and Green Lantern teaming up against three duplicate Green Lanterns who are committing crimes. It's confusing and hard to follow story that's not really a highlight for either character.

The best of the silver age stories is "The Flash-Fact or Fiction" which has the Flash travelling to our universe in an accident caused by fighting a strange alien. A lot of fun, particularly when the Flash comes to DC comics Editor Julian Schwartz to get a treadmill built.

The book then features one single story from the 1970s which really feels like an imaginary story and is kind of weak. The Flash took many historic and memorable turns in the 1980s before Crisis on Infinite Earths, but it was decided not to actually show any of these stories but to have writer Cary Bates do a 10 page text summary of the last 75 issues of the Flash Volume 1. That's really a ripoff for readers who don't buy these books for text summaries.

The book closes with the second issue of the Wally West Flash comics which has Wally fighting Vandal Savage, winning the lottery, and inviting his girlfriend to shack up with him. This wasn't even all that good of an issue and definitely very flawed for what's supposed to be just Issue 2.

Still, if you can get this cheap enough, the Gold and Silver age material make it a worthy read.

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Published on August 07, 2014 20:29 Tags: the-flash

The Doomed Relationship of Barry Allen

The Flash is the only currently airing TV show I keep up with. Other than that, it's distant reruns (though I'm getting caught up on Doctor Who.) The latest episode, "The Nuclear Man" in addition to focusing on a being who is the fused version of two men and who could detonate like an Atom bomb, wiping out a major city, and investigation into the murder of Barry Allen's mother that uncovers evidence of time travel, we have the really important:

Barry goes on two dates with a female sports reporter named Linda Park. Date one is a lovely night out at a restaurant and a walk. On the second night, he has a lovely night of dinner, mini-golf, and jazz music. Linda, however has other plans as she hopes to have sex with Barry, and she makes the moves on him, throwing him onto the couch, and beginning to passionately kiss him. However, he gets a text that a wildly burning inferno of a man has been spotted and goes to deal with that threat.

Barry tries to apologize but is called away on Flash duty, which he lies and tells her is police duty. She calls and checks up with him and after Iris (who he confessed feelings for but has always been just a friend) passive aggressively sabotaged the relationship with Linda by telling Linda he hadn't gotten over an unrequited love. Barry then he eats a dangerously hot pepper and pledges not to let anything interfere with his relationship with this woman he met days ago including his job as a crime scene investigator.

In fact, Barry is so serious about this relationship that he left his friends with Firestorm, who Doctor Wells indicated was less than two hours away from creating a nuclear explosion that could wipe out Central City. Because after all, while it might be helpful for STAR labs to have the fastest man alive handy, he has to go and find the hottest pepper he can to win the "affections" of Linda.

As you can tell from the tone of my summary, the relationship angle of this story really drags it down. Linda is a problematic character for a number of reasons.

My wife pointed out that there's clearly a double standard of gender at work here. Barry is clearly awkward, uncomfortable, and inexperienced in dealing with the opposite sex romantically and is concerned they're going too fast and he says so. She totally dismisses the concern and keeps pushing. If one flipped the genders, a guy who pushed a girl wanting a nice time on a second date into bed and then kept pushing when she made clear he was uncomfortable would be viewed as a creep and maybe a predator. Here, she's portrayed as sexy for it.

To make this even worse, Barry is a police scientist who states he went out on police emergency and she responds by checking up on him. This points to her being very possessive of someone she's only had 2 dates with. It'd be one thing if they were in a long term relationship and she had reason to believe he was cheating on her. But to call the police and check on him after two dates shows someone who is messed up.

Even worse is the idea that this is portrayed as normal and healthy with Barry's reaction being unusual. Hollywood has cracked down on smoking in films and on television to be socially responsible and not to encourage smoking. Given the family target audience of the Flash, this seems very socially irresponsible. The live in relationship between Iris and Eddie is not biblical or a good idea, but the idea that a second date is a good time to start a sexual relationship is insane. They know nothing about one another. This is very unhealthy behavior.

It was somewhat ironic when my wife and I watched his on Hulu that an ad for a dating site appeared which explained all the steps of getting to know each other that a couple took before being "in love" and offered the motto, "Before there's love, there's like." When the ads are more responsible the show, you have a problem.

And at the end of day, Barry humiliates himself to salvage this relationship (to use the word loosely) and makes impossible promises of letting nothing interfere with this three day old relationship and once again leaves the duty of watching a walking nuclear bomb to his non-super powered friends at STAR labs.

I can't help but feel for Barry.He's interested in spending time with a girl and getting to know her. When Cisco delicately raises the challenges the Flash's power could represent in bed, he brushes the concern off as this was only a second date. Instead, he gets a woman whose less concerned with a person and more concerned about how "good" he is at dating and has no time to really get to know him.

Linda, as portrayed so far is the polar opposite of Barry with a completely different value set. While Barry lives to help others (which is why he was so jazzed about being the Flash), Linda is the queen of being self-absorbed. This is not going to work.

I would like to hope this character quietly disappears from the series never to be spoken of again between Seasons 1 and 2 like Cat Grant in the 1990s Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, but this is the 21st Century and Linda Park was the name of a character in the comic book, although this version bares little resemblance to that character.

I'm not calling for a boycott or protests, or stopping watching the show. For prime time TV, this is fairly innocent. There was nothing sexually explicit in the episode and I give them points for making the mention of potential problems for the Flash so vague adults would have an idea but it'd go over kids heads.

But I think it's important to be aware of the messages and worldviews that entertainment is trying to sell us, and maybe it's a good point for parents to discuss wise and unwise relationship choices.
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Published on February 15, 2015 00:33 Tags: the-flash

Comixology's Massive Flash Digital Comic Sale

I'm a big fan of the Flash and will be doing a review of The Flash: The Greatest Stories Ever Told tonight. If you want to check out some great Flash stories, Comixology has a truly massive Flash Sale going on with more than 500 digital comic books on sale including Golden Age Flash, Silver Age Flash, and Bronze Age Flash, and the post-Crisis Wally West Flash, as well as JLA Year One, Crisis on Infinite Earths, and Bronze Age crossover books with Superman and Batman. It also includes the current Flash series up through about Issue 37. It's an incredible sale for fans of the fastest man alive.
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Published on March 13, 2015 06:19 Tags: digital-comics, the-flash

Book Review: The Flash: The Greatest Stories Ever Told

The Flash: The Greatest Stories Ever Told The Flash: The Greatest Stories Ever Told by John Broome

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Composing a Greatest Stories Ever Told book for the Flash is hard. because the Flash isn't a single hero like Superman, Batman, or Wonder Woman. Rather, three different heroes have been known for a decade or more as the Flash: Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, and Wally West (who also was Kid Flash fighting alongside Barry Allen during the Silver and Bronze Age.) This is also the second attempt from DC which did a similar book in the 1980s.

The book begins with two Golden Age stories featuring Jay Garrick's Golden Age Flash, "Stone Age Menace," a fine Mystery Sci-Fi elements, and the last golden age Flash story, "The Rival Flash" which ended the series in style and also could be seen as a precursor to the villainous Reverse Flash.

Then, we have the Silver Age Era which gives us the oft-reprinted, "Flash of Two Worlds" which founded the DC multiverse, "The Gauntlet of Super Villains" features the first team up of Flash's very colorful rogues gallery. There's the wedding of Barry Allen and the Reverse Flash's attempt to foil it in, "One Bridegroom Too Many." In there, we also learn that Barry Allen got married to Iris during the Silver Age and not revealing he was the Flash for fear Iris wouldn't marry him, because it's a good idea to have a marriage based on lies.

Also featured is "The Flash-Fact or Fiction" which has the Flash travelling to our universe in an accident caused by fighting a strange alien. A lot of fun, particularly when the Flash comes to DC comics Editor Julian Schwartz to get a treadmill built.

Then the book reprints a 63 page story from 1978 from DC Special Series #11. The series features the apparent Death of Gorilla Grodd and is split into four parts one each with Garrick, Alan, and Wally West, and then one where you get three flashes together. It's a solid story and really a fitting rarely reprinted item to go in this book.

The book wraps up with a post-Crisis story with Wally West as the Flash called, "Out of Time." Unlike the 1980s edition which just seemed to pick a random Wally West story, this one is an important one. It shows the character's persistent fear of not being able to be everywhere at once. It also gives us more clues as to how the Speed Force actually works in a way that would begin to redefine the Speed Force.

Overall, I not only enjoyed this book, l liked it better than the 1980s version which is a rare thing to say about the 21st century run of Greatest stories book. It's true that we don't have as much introductory material, but given the straightforward stories, Mark Waid's introduction is more than adequate. The stories are simply better and this book includes some of the very best Flash stories, so I heartily recommend it.

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Published on March 14, 2015 22:28 Tags: the-flash

The Father Figures Who Made the Flash

My guest post on how fathers shaped Barry Allen in CW's The Flash at Speculative Faith.

Also check out the digital comic based on the TV series in Flash Season Zero #20
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Published on June 20, 2015 10:05 Tags: the-flash

TV Episode Review: The Flash: Enter Zoom

With Supergirl a bit mediocre, and Doctor Who turning in the worst episode of the Capaldi era so far, the Flash was clearly the best thing I watched all weekend as he faced Zoom after six episodes.

The good:

---I loved Barry's decision to go after Zoom but also understand the team's conflict over it. There's a real dilemma. Zoom had spent the first five episodes sending every Earth Two villain to take on the Flash and innocent people were being put at risk. While the Flash is outflanked here, I think Barry made a sound decision at least in principle for all the right reasons. He can't defeat Zoom without having some idea what he can't do.

---The comical battle between Flash and the fake "Doctor Light" was brilliant. Hats off to the creative team for using comedy effectively. This sort of "light" moment allowed Zoom's coming back to really hit the audience like a punch in the gut.

---The realization of Professor Zoom was so good, so satisfying. We know our hero is up against a big time challenge and we get an idea of the scale of the challenge. Rarely has the idea of a speedster villain been so well-played, when you're really given a sense of menace that speed could represent. This is leaps and bounds ahead of the Reverse Flash in terms of pure menace and I have to agree with characters wondering if Zoom's even human. And the way he manhandles the Flash despite some good strategy was stunning. Flash has got a monster on his hands and we can expect this to build to a rematch in fifteen episodes or so.

---Tom Cavanagh absolutely kills it as Harrison Wells from Earth 2. He does a good job taking this Harrison Wells and making him an entirely different character. I love the twist on the realization that the reason for his attitude and horrible behavior wasn't because he was a bad guy but because he was just desperately concerned for his daughter.

---Cisco stretching himself as Vibe is done in a way that is amusing with him trying to find some way to Vibe Wells.

---The character of Patti is also being well-handled both as her relationship with Barry is developing quite nicely and she gets close to the secrets. I would complain about how this really goes against a lot of the Iris plot as Barry's "One True love" throughout Season One, but I actually like Patti more than I did Iris last season. Iris is definitely being better handled this season, but I think it's probably a good idea to let us know Iris is before throwing her into any more romances.

We do seem to have that recurring theme of people hiding things from people they should trust in the Flash and it playing out with Patti and Joe. You have to wonder if they'll ever learn.

The Bad:

---Okay, Barry, there's a reason they call it a "secret identity." It's supposed to be a secret. His revealing his secret identity to Linda seems totally non-sensical. She doesn't deserve to know. They went on a few dates, she pushed too hard, and nothing we saw last season justifies her knowing, particularly when his current girlfriend doesn't know.

With modern superhero shows, we're moving away from the paradox of characters who stand for truth living a total lie to the people they care about the most as they open up about their superhero identity to people who are close to them in shows like The Flash and Supergirl, but this list shouldn't be everybody out there and I can't wonder if he'll pay a price that'll make him a little more cautious.

Summary: "Enter Zoom" is one of the best. It's a very entertaining story that pays off with a memorable defeat for our hero and shows the challenge he has ahead. It's the best show of Season 2 so far. 9/10.
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Published on November 15, 2015 23:16 Tags: the-flash, tv-review

Christians and Superheroes

Adam Graham
I'm a Christian who writes superhero fiction (some parody and some serious.)

On this blog, we'll take a look at:

1) Superhero stories
2) Issues of faith in relation to Superhero stories
3) Writing Superhe
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