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The T-shaped superhero: Flash and the art of doing one thing really well

Bart Allen as The Flash

The new Flash show premieres tonight, and I couldn't be more exited. He's my absolute favorite superhero, and I really hope this new show nails everything great about the character.

How the Flash became my favorite superhero

In 2005 I started reading comics for the first time. Really reading them.
If you can set aside reality and accept the conceit of a world where men and women wear tights and routinely save the world from apocalytic disaster, comics are a lot of fun.

Like almost everyone I know, I already knew who the major players were (thank you SuperFriends). I used Batman and Superman as a starting point and expanded my reading from there.

As I started reading, something started bugging me about most superheroes.

Look at Superman for example. He can keep pace with the Flash, shoot lasers from his eyes, keep your ice cream cold on the way home from the store, and fly.

Superman is the complete package superhero. Which is why he's so boring. There's no problem he can't solve, or enemy he can't crush. Telling a great Superman story is the Gordian knot of storytelling. It's not impossible, but can only be accomplished by the best of writers.

Contrast Superman with the Flash. He's got basically one power: he can move faster than the speed of light. No laser vision, no turning back time, just pure raw speed.

He has to get creative, and sometimes moving really fast isn't enough. My favorite Flash story is found in Flash: Fastest Man Alive. It follows Bart Allen as he moves from Kid Flash to take on the mantle of his mentor Wally West. He's forced to deal with an unsolvable problem and his speed is the only thing he can use to save the day.

The T-shaped superhero

I spend my days working in marketing, and one of the big pieces of advice passed around over the last few years has been to become a T-shaped marketer. The idea is this: build a little bit of knowledge about everything related to marketing, but focus on knowing everything about a limited number of subjects.

The Flash doesn't work in marketing, but he is the ultimate T-shaped superhero.