The Final Run? Talking Flash with Alan Burnett

Talking Flash with Alan Burnett

The Flash is one of those characters who's life is always it seems, on edge. Villians to the left of him, Foes to the right, and his extended family has felt some hard blows of their own. With a crisis looming (Final Crisis that is), DC is bringing in a veteran of DC characters to help guide his path.

Enter Alan Burnett. Best known as a animation writer, he's had his name on Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond The Batman and on the recent Batman: Gotham Knight. Continuing his affiliation with DC characters, he's made himself known in comics with recent well-received stints on Superman/Batman and Justice League of America. And now he's taking on the Flash with this month's #244.

Let's talk to Burnett to see what's up in the life of Wally West.

Newsarama: Thanks for talking to us, Alan. Your first issue, #244, hit last week, and threatened a "scary blast from the past" (according to the solicits) as well as a new threat in Keystone. What can you tell us, for folks who may have missed it in their shops last week?

AB: Well you know it's 4 issues all together -- the first issue sets up the rest. I'm afraid of spoiling here, but the first issue deals with some strange attacks that are going around the country that Flash becomes involved in. We're also doing with an affliction where Flash's powers start to fluxuate.

The storyarc is called "This Was Your Life, Wally West" and it deals with a new adventure and harkens back to the past, where we get to see Wally's life and his relationship with other people and different situations. Basically, it's a summing up of Wally's life.

NRAMA: Wow, that sounds rather… final. Is this the end of Wally West?

AB: I can't answer that question.

NRAMA: Let's switch subjects here and look at the big picture. What are your feelings about the character of the Flash, with the current Wally West and previous speedsters?

AB: Well, I love the Flash. The Barry Allen Flash is one of my favorite heroes from childhood. And Carmen Infantino's artwork made me fall in love with the Flash as a child. I literally felt like I was running as I was reading the comic book. I enjoyed the fact that Flash had this 'Clark Kent' aspect about him in that he was a naturally slow person in civilian life. He's the kind of guy who you don't want telling a joke because it'll take to long to get to the punchline.

NRAMA: [laughs] That's an apt description.

AB: Yeah. I got a lot of amusement out of that. The Flash was one of my favorite characters as a kid. Even though the Flash is an earthbound hero, it's remarkable to me the various ways his story can be taken. As you're writing stuff, you've got ideas about speed powers can be applied in the most unusual ways and makes you smile. I've had a fairly good time in writing. It takes some good research with Wally West's life being so, shall we say, complicated.

NRAMA: As we all know, the Flash has played a pivotal part of every "Crisis" book – so how does the events of Final Crisis play into the Flash series?

AB: You know, I can' t really say.

NRAMA: I thought I'd try. [laughs]

AB: Actually, I don't really know for sure. I find that sometimes when I write comics, even one-shots, that what I'm writing is affecting other things that are happening. I was given some parameters in writing this storyarc, but I don't know what's going on outside.

NRAMA: You're talking about method here, so let's go further. Your previous comics work has been with teams (Justice League of America) and duos (Superman/Batman), but now you're going into a solo title. How's that more singular focus working out for you as a writer?

AB: I like to center on one character if it's possible, even if there's a crowd of people operating around. In this story, I'm dealing with members of the Teen Titans, the current Titans and the Justice League, so it does get pretty populated as the story goes along. Generally, I like to deal with single characters so you can concentrate a lot of emotion on that person.

NRAMA: So how did you end up on The Flash, Alan?

AB: This started several months ago. Every once in awhile, Eddie Berganza calls and asks if I'd like to do a title. With my full-time job at Warner Brothers Animation, I try not to take on more than I can handle but he caught me at just the right time. And that's essentially it.

NRAMA: Eddie's a familiar name in your career. I've noticed that all your work at DC Comics has been with him. Is it coincidence, fate or something else?

AB: DC has been wanting me to write stuff for a number of years. I was approached several times before I said yes, and that was with Eddie offering Superman/Batman. It was a time when very little was going on project-wise and if I was ever going to do comics, it was the right time. Eddie and I have continued that relationship, and he's very easy to work for.

NRAMA: And as someone who's read your work, I've noticed that as of now you've only done short bursts of comics now and then. Have you put any thought into doing a regular gig in comics like fellow animation vets Dwayne McDuffie or Pau Dini?

AB: Yes, I would love to do more comic books. I enjoy writing comic books, and get a kick out of seeing them drawn and how the artist interprets the script. It's a lot of fun and there's probably more of 'me' in comics than one of the animated shows because there's less chefs in the kitchen – or less chiefs, depending on your metaphors. So I have a lot of fun, and would love to do more --- when work at WB would allow that, or maybe when I'm not working at WB anymore.

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