Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #622 (Story 2)

Background

In Amazing Spider-man Vol. 1 #574, we saw how Flash Thompson became disabled in the war in Afghanistan, losing his legs in combat. This backup story focuses on Flash's subsequent rehabilitation.

Story 'Stages of Grief'

Flash wins a wheelchair race; Peter and Betty are there to cheer him on. Weeks later, at a Bronx V.A. Center, Flash is trying to walk on his prosthetic legs, and having a rough time of it. He falls, and demands to be helped back into his chair, saying he can't make it. Peter and Betty are talking to the doctor afterwards--Peter says he just saw Flash weeks before, and he was doing so well. The doctor informs Pete that euphoria and depression are both part of the process, and the process can't be rushed.

Weeks later, Peter comes to visit Flash at the same hospital at night. Flash has dozens of pictures of various Marvel U characters pinned up on his wall--he calls it his "research". Flash says he's been looking into cybernetics, and that his legs can be regrown. He demands Peter get in touch with Spidey and his "super-nerd" friends, S.H.I.E.L.D, Avengers, whoever, and in exchange he'll be their superhero.

Spidey's later hanging off the side of a building, talking to Betty on a cell phone. She informs Pete that the doctor thinks Flash is going through the usual stages of grief, but going through them backwards.

Later, at Phelcorp Pharmaceuticals, Spidey drops in on Curt Connors to see if he can help Flash. Connors asks how could Spidey request that of him after all Connors has been through trying to regrow his own lost arm and turning into the Lizard.

Weeks later, Spidey drops in on Flash to tell him in person that he's exausted all his options. Enraged, Flash tosses his laptop. Another week later, Flash gets an email from a company called 'Reabilify™', telling him he's an ideal candidate for their indestructible cybernetic replacement limbs.

It is at this point that Betty Brant comes to collect Flash for his birthday party. The cast of partygoers includes Liz Allen, Flash's newly sober father, and Flash's old girlfriend, Sha Shan, who's also now his new physical therapist.

Weeks later--Flash deletes a message from the Reabilify™ company, telling him it's his last chance at getting the new limbs. He's with Sha Shan, trying to walk again, and falls down. This time, he goes down laughing. Looking on are Betty and Peter--Betty asks if this stage is "false euphoria" on Flash's part. Pete says it sounds more like "stage zero--grace.".

General Comments

The stages of grief--denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance--loosely serve as the framework for this story. Luckily, as Flash chooses not to accept the offer from the Reabilify™ company (and as the writer chooses not to cheapen Flash's situation by making him some kind of cyberneticly-enhanced 90's throwback), the outcome of this story is never entirely predictable, and that's a big bonus. The party scene was also a nice, poignant touch.

Overall Rating

Though there's seemingly precious few characters to actually root for in Brand New Day, and we don't see much of Flash in these pages (and whatever happened after Chameleon posing as Peter rudely told Flash off in #603?), his struggles with being disabled give his character an admirable depth. At the same time, disabled or not, they still let Flash be who he is: a likable knucklehead. From the art to the scripting, good stuff all around. There's an obvious affection here for one of Spidey's most enduring supporting characters.

Footnote

From what I can tell, Sha Shan hasn't been seen in these pages, or the Marvel U, since ASM #280 from back in 1986.