So they're bringing back Barry Allen. That's the Silver Age Flash, who died some 23 years ago saving the universe from the sinister Anti-Monitor, for those of you who might be casual comics fans. Grant Morrison, writer of 'Final Crisis' (the crossover in which he returns), is on the record as saying, "That's the point of comics - they don't have to die, because they're fictional creations. We can do anything with them, and we can make them come back and make them defy death. And that's why people read comics, to get away from the way life works, which is quite cruel and unheroic and ends in death."
Now, Morrison has taken a lot of flack from fandom as a result of this quote, but I actually support it. I might good-naturedly point out that for all his reputation as an avant garde, boundary-pushing innovator, Morrison is really just as much of a traditionalist as Mark Waid or Geoff Johns (two people who are constantly raked over the coals for rehashing old stories and writing fanwank, but who didn't bring back the Shaggy Man or Klarion the Witch-Boy. Or Barry Allen, for that matter, although it wasn't for lack of trying.) But I agree with the quote. He's right. I do read comics to spend a little time in a brighter, happier world where the good guys win and the bad guys lose, a world that isn't cruel or unheroic. I applaud Morrison for having the guts to say something unashamedly sentimental in a fan environment that currently believes that they need to leave hope and joy behind in order to be considered "grown-up". (I've said it before and I'll say it again. Comics are not a grown-up medium, they are an adolescent medium. The obsession with not being seen as "kiddie" is a clear signifier.)
So no, I'm not bothered by them bringing back the Flash, and I'm not bothered that Grant Morrison shrugs off criticism for them bringing back the Flash. What I'm bothered by is that in practically the same breath, DC makes one of the major selling points for 'Final Crisis', "Hey! We're killing off a major figure of the DC Universe, one that will absolutely shock you! You must not miss this massive, huge, epic change in the very composition of the DC Universe!!!!!!"
That's the problem perfectly encapsulated. When they think change will sell comics, they insist that it's vitally important that you pay attention to these changes and buy the comics involved. When they're no longer interested in dealing with the problems these changes have made, they switch everything back and insist that nobody should put too much emphasis on 'change', that it's really just all about telling good stories and hey, you like these characters anyway, right? It is not the change or the impermanence of change that bothers us, it is the hypocrisy involved. It is the fact that I frequently bought lousy comics because I was told I would need to have them to follow the overall story of the DC Universe, only to have them back away from the changes but somehow manage to keep my money in their wallet. Lots of people can't articulate that irritation, but they all feel it.
You want to bring back the Flash? Knock yourself out. You want to openly admit that no matter how graphic, how inescapable, how brutal a character's death is, you're eventually going to bring them back anyway? Good for you, it's a great first step. But could you please do us all the service of not continuing to lie about how "important" death in comics is in order to take my money?