January 30, 2013

Barry Turns Himself In To…Grodd??? Yes! (Review of Flash #16)

Category: Reviews — By @ 8:43 pm

Flash 16 coverThe “Gorilla Warfare” story arc is moving quickly toward next issue’s final chapter, and Barry Allen believes he has finally found the way to fight back against a very powerful King Gorilla Grodd.  The multiple story threads we’ve seen so far in this story are quickly coming together, and we are once again in for a very wild ride in Flash #16.  The solicitation for this issue promised a trip into the Speed Force, the “introduction of a major villain”, and the story of the “one and only date between Barry Allen and Iris West”.  Once again, the team of Manapul and Buccellato delivered on that and much more.  And, strangely enough, Occam’s Razor takes a significant role in this issue.

As we get ready to start this issue, Barry has been recovering from a vicious beating at the hands of King Grodd, carefully watched over by Patty Spivot.  At the end of last issue, Barry’s Speed Mind hit high gear, playing through several potential plans of action and their outcomes, with Barry awakening at the end of issue #15 with the realization that his only course of action was…to turn himself over to Grodd!

SOME MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD – PLEASE READ THE ISSUE BEFORE CONTINUING HERE!

Before we get into the Barry’s meeting with Grodd, we get that promised “date” between Barry and Iris, which happened 5 years ago.  As it turns out, while Iris was (and likely still is) attracted to Barry, she had an ulterior motive for that meeting and things turned out badly for Barry and Iris.  Those who know about Daniel West and his issues will understand Iris’ actions a bit better here, and perhaps there will be a chance in future issues to explore this situation further.  But for now…

We are back in the present day with Patty and Barry talking about his decision to allow himself to be captured by Grodd, and saying a very tender goodbye to each other.  Barry races to Grodd, who is so caught up in his own arrogance that he doesn’t realize The Flash has a plan…one that pulls them both into the Speed Force in a way that no Flash has ever accomplished before!  This brings us to the question, “Who is King of the Speed Force?”  That question may be fully answered next issue…but for now…

Speaking of the Speed Force, Iris and company are still trapped there, in an abandoned Soviet tank that is being attacked by a Wooly Mammoth (only the in Speed Force, right?).  What happens next to them helps to bring us to this issue’s cliffhanger, setting up not only our final battle with Grodd but also presenting us with our first clue as to who that new “major villain” may be (my bet is on the guy who is glowing). 

This issue once again handles multiple story lines exceptionally well, providing a sense of the wide scope of events around the Gem Cities due to this assault by Gorilla Grodd and his army.  I’m impressed how this story arc has juggled so many threads simultaneously without detracting from the overall story line of “Gorilla War”. 

As for the artwork?  The art in Flash #16 continues to uphold the high standards fans have come to expect from Manapul and Buccellato.  This issue once again makes excellent use of the page in a way that few artists seem to do, especially during our visit to the Speed Force.  The colors again make this issue pop – I’ve commented more than once in other forums on how Barry seems more “there” as the Flash, and the overall work in this issue is outstanding.  Just a note – I find it extremely interesting that Grodd’s channeling of the Speed Force shows up as red lightning, a trademark previously reserved for the Reverse Flash pre-New52.  No, I don’t believe Grodd will turn out to be the Reverse Flash – but it does mean there may be a different symbolism in the New52 for the various colors of Speed Force energy.  All of this is to say that, as always, this is one series where you truly have to “read the artwork” to get the full story – and it is well worth the effort.

As for Occam’s Razor?  It shows up more than once in this issue, and it is very interesting to see both Iris and Barry using this idea of “the simplest answer is the best” in their very different situations.  In that spirit, let me give the simplest response to The Flash #16 – it’s well worth the read!

About the reviewer: Ed Garrett is a long time Flash fan, having collected The Flash and other comics since the 1960′s (when they were only 12 cents).  He is a fan of Jay, Barry, Wally, Bart, and all the other speedsters who have graced the pages of DC Comics over the years.  Ed uses the handle xBarryxAllenx as the administrator of The Fastest Forum Alive, a Flash fan forum.