FLASH Facts: Magenta

Your first love stays with you forever.

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One of the worst parts of growing up, of going through puberty and getting all those terrible gooey feelings for other people, is that nine times out of ten, that person you have gooey feelings for doesn’t have the same gooey feelings for you. This, in most cases, makes the gooey feelings turn to sad feelings, and then normal feelings.

For some people, like Frances Kane, sometimes those gooey feelings turn to angry feelings. Angry, killy feelings.

Growing up in Blue Valley, Nebraska, there wasn’t much to do. So little, in fact, that Frances Kane was able to deduce that her friend and secret crush Wally West was known to the world as Kid Flash. Frances watched Wally go around town living, in her eyes, a perfect life (but we know the truth) while she was living in hell.

Frances lived alone with her mother, who hated her. She was the lone survivor of a car accident that took her father and brother’s lives, and mommy dearest blamed Frances for it. Ma Kane was pretty sure that her daughter was possessed by the devil, and the fact that the fork and spoons kept flying around the kitchen every time Frances walked in didn’t help.

Frances turned to Wally hoping that he and the Teen Titans could help her get rid of the demon that was taking her over. Not only did the Titans help Frances, they figured out that she wasn’t possessed. Frances was a mutant with magnetic powers. With his school buddy having such abilities, Wally was excited to have Frances join the Titans.

Frances wasn’t so into it. Every time she used her powers, Frances felt weird, out of place. She didn’t want to be a superhero, but she wanted to be with Wally, and now that she had powers, Wally wanted to be with her. Again, we all already know that Wally was a pretty big jerk in his teens and early 20s. Frances maybe got the worst of it.

Wally pressured Frances to use her powers. He tried to get her to give up her life and be a part of his while at the same time being pretty offish with her. Yes, they were dating, but it was obvious to Frances, who Wally called Frankie - which she hated - that Wally wasn’t as into her as she was into him.

So, not long after Wally won the lottery, Frances left him.

Frances went to S.T.A.R. Labs looking to better control her powers. Instead, a dipshit doctor decided to run his own freaky experiments on her. The doctor, using hypnosis, created a second personality in Frances that he named Magenta. Then Ma Kane’s worst fear came true - Frances was taken hostage by one time Teen Titan Raven. Raven implanted a piece of her demon father’s soul in Frances, merging the two personalities within Frances and creating the supervillain Magenta.

The Titans, being heroes, beat Raven and her dad and kinda saved Frances. They got the demon soul out of her, but they - and more importantly, Wally - left her to deal with the trauma and split personality stuff on her own.

Frances suffered alone for years, fighting to keep control of her life from the evil personality hiding within her mind. As she struggled, she watched Wally turn into a true hero - a hero who gave selflessly and fought the good fight. She watched as Wally went from being the womanizer she knew to a mature adult in a steady relationship with a smart, talented, and beautiful woman (Linda Park!). The anger simmered inside Frances, slowly coming to a boil, and when it did boil over, Magenta was released.

Magenta attacked Linda, and was only stopped by Flash doing what Flash does best, thinking quick and talking baddies out of doing bad things. Wally and Linda took Frances to their home to help her find solace. During her brief stay at the West/Park home (maybe a week) Frances and Linda became fast friends, much to the chagrin of Wally who didn’t cotton to his first love and the love of his life sitting around laughing at his eating habits.

Before she left Keystone, Wally needed Frances’ help defeating a superpowered mafia called The Combine. These jerkwads hid a bomb somewhere in the Twin Cities, and Wally couldn’t find it. He used Frances’ magnetic powers to locate the bomb, then purposely angered her to bring out the Magenta personality so that she would have enough power to get the bomb away from civilians before it went off. Wally’s plan worked, but it cost Frances a lot. Frances left feeling tricked.

Frances showed up again shortly after Wally and Linda became engaged. This time her plan was super simple - kill everyone. Lucky for Wally, Linda is awesome - she was able to talk Frances down by pointing out all the crap that comes with being with Wally. Sure, Wally didn’t like this winning tactic, but hey, day saved.

Once more Frances left, but she was still caught between her two identities. The Magenta identity won over again, and she joined forces with a cult leader named Cicada who I don’t want to go too much into because I really hope the Cult of Cicada shows up on The Flash sooner or later. All the same, Flash beat Cicada, but Magenta got away.

She popped up again with the New Rogues, a team of supervillains who were looking to replace the awesome Flash Rogues. Flash took down these New Rogues after a bit of a battle, partly because Magenta got tired of one member, Girder, hitting on her, so she kinda wrecked him hard. 

As Flash took out the rest of the New Rogues, Magenta snuck off. That was the last we’ve seen of her in the comics.

Personally, I’m sad that Frances Kane didn’t pop up more in the comics. Something that plays directly into my love for the Wally West years of Flash is that, while written by William Messner-Loebs, Mark Waid, and Geoff Johns, stories would often connect to Wally’s past mistakes, and his treatment of Frances was arguably his greatest mistake. Frances represented the young, misogynistic Wally West that Messner-Loebs brought into maturity, and her appearances were reminders for Wally that he needed to constantly work to be a better hero and a better person. That, for me, is something I struggle with. I think we all do to some extent. Each of us has regrets, and sometimes those regrets pop up unexpectedly. When they do, we have two options; push it back down, or learn from it and become a better person. 

Art Sources:

Brian Bolland

Scott Kolins

Butch Guice

Mike Wieringo