As wonderful as Mike Wieringo's work is, I don't know that I'd appreciate it the way I do if I hadn't encountered it as part of Mark Waid's wonderful run writing FLASH, fourteen (!) years ago. Wieringo's run as artist came on the heels of the epic "Return of Barry Allen" storyline, where Wally West, the former Kid Flash, finally came to terms with the legacy of his predecessor Barry. It was a smart, thrilling storyline -- someday, honest, I'll write about the special place Flash #79 holds in my heart -- and one that reset the board for the rest of Waid's run. In embracing Barry's legacy, Wally simultaneously became his own man; he stopped worrying about being as good as Barry and focused on becoming Wally.
Waid and Wieringo were a perfect marriage of writer and artist. And I think, at that particular point in my life, when I was finally settling into college and life away from home, I was a particularly receptive reader. Wally West was becoming an adult at same time I was. It was a nice bit synchronicity that made their run really resonate with me in a way that I don't think it would have otherwise. And the sheer sense of joy and freedom that leapt off of every page of Wieringo's wonderful artwork made the whole thing all the more perfect.
There's that word: Joy. Certain artists you just associate with one word or one feeling because their work seems like a monument to it. Theodore Sturgeon and love. Clifford Simak and decency. Isaac Asimov and reason. Mike Wieringo and joy. The worlds and the people he drew just looked like fun places to be -- whatever villainy the Flash faced was doomed from the start, because Ringo drew us a world where evil was a non-starter and the good guys would always prevail sooner or later. It was a nice place to visit every month.
I never met the man. I'll miss him anyway.