By Jay Rincher
“The Human Race” has always been one of my favorite comic book stories. The plot, as quickly as possible: Wally West teams up with his childhood imaginary friend, a very not-imaginary Sonic the Hedgehog knock off made of radio waves, to compete in an intergalactic race for a pair of cosmic gambling gods. Racers who lose die and their planets are destroyed; the winner has the pleasure of racing until they lose or die. Wally discovers that his Krakkl has kept up his years long winning streak by borrowing the speed of the other inhabitants of his home world – they remain in a state of near perpetual motion to provide him with the speed required to prevent their extinction.
While there’s a lot to love about this story, from the absolutely mindbending opening to the lush Paul Ryan art, I’ve always been obsessed with [this] page by Ron Wagner.
After learning Krakkl’s trick, Flash asks the people of Earth to literally run for their lives so that he can be fast enough to save the planet. And the most amazing, captivating part of this entire story to me is that everyone agrees. It’s the anti-Don’t Look Up – humanity is faced with an immense cosmic death trap and when someone says “hey, you can help me stop this” the people all stand up and say “yeah.”
Not only that, there seems to be universal agreement that the threat earth is facing is real and that the destruction of the planet and human race would be bad. Nobody plans to evacuate to Mars or flee to another dimension, there are no debates about the difficulty of the plan.
After the last few years, can you imagine why I think about this page a lot?
One of the most common critiques of superhero stories is that they are a power fantasy. I don’t think that’s really possible to dispute but I can say that for me the power fantasy is having the power to help. It’s the same sort of thing that animates my favorite episode of Doctor Who or Star Trek TNG or Voyager. A collective effort (and maybe a smidge of noble sacrifice) wins the day. And the more I mull over it, I might’ve ended up becoming a fan of Who and Trek because of this comic rewiring my brain. I love goofy science fiction where the good guys win, everyone goes home and the wacky events will never be mentioned again.
The Flash #138 “The Human Race, Part Three: Home Run”
Writers: Mark Millar and Grant Morrison
Artist: Ron Wagner
Inker: John Nyberg
Colourist: Tom McCraw
Letterer: Gaspar Saladino
Jay Rincher is a writer and critic who has written for publications including The MNT and GWW. You can follow him on Twitter here!
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