Captain Atom and The Flash
DC Comics, Fair use

You asked me, “So, what is your favorite superhero?” And of course I said The Flash. And when I answered you did something so few people do, that brightened my heart. You were listening.

I told you about Jay Garrick, and Barry Allen, and Wally West. And how they all were The Flash. Each one in each of the comic “ages”, the Golden Age, the Silver Age and the Modern Age. And you asked me then, “But which Flash is your favorite?”

And I told you that Garrick was special because he had been the first Flash, the original. And that Jay was admired by all the other super-heroes and even The Batman calls him sir. And then I told you that Barry was even better because he had saved the last universe that was left in the Crisis Of Infinite Earths. But then I said that Wally was my favorite, because even though I had read about Barry first I had actually grown with Wally. That Wally was near to my heart because Wally always thought he couldn’t fill Barry’s shoes after Barry had died.

And I told you, while we were at Denny’s, about a Justice League issue, an annual, where the Justice League travels back in time. Except it all gets messed up and they are tiny like ants and everybody else is a giant compared to them. And while they are there Wally gets to see Barry… Alive!, in the past!

And I told you, in the comic, Wally says, “I could just run and touch him.” But he can’t… Wally cannot tell Barry he’s going to die. Can’t change the past. They aren’t supposed to mess with the past and risk altering the future. I said it moved me to tears.

And you listened. And that was something special for me. Because nobody had ever taken the time to listen to me rant about stupid stuff like that; stupid stuff that was near and dear to my heart.

And it changed me too, your listening. Because after that I thought that it was OK to love those things that I loved. That it was OK to love The Flash, and Wally, and it was OK to cry over stuff that hadn’t really happened, that were just stories.

I wish I had told you this before, how you made me feel.