March 27, 2013

Barry Is Helping the Gem Cities and…Trickster? You bet! (Review of Flash #18)

Category: Reviews — By @ 3:32 pm

flash 18 coverNow that Gorilla Grodd is lost in the Speed Force and the Gem Cities have time to heal, Barry begins issue #18 helping the Gem Cities rebuild from the devasation of recent battles.  He is everywhere, and apparently one of the best wall-hangers and carpenters around (or at least a lot of Speed Force makes up for a lack of other training).  It is just as well that he has so much to do, as Barry has yet to reclaim his old job – the bureaucracy of both the Police Force and the union haven’t been able to render a decision on his old job now that he is no longer “dead”.

WARNING: SOME SPOILERS AHEAD! DON’T LOOK FURTHER UNTIL YOU HAVE READ THE ISSUE!

As we get into issue #18, we get to see a little more of the current status of Barry’s private life.  Barry is now living with Patty Spivot (and showing up at home on time, a nice twist on the old Silver Age meme of the “always late” Barry Allen).  He is also continuing to work at the Keystone Saloon, the infamous hangout of the criminal element of the Gem Cities, including the now-former Rogue Axel Walker (this is where we saw him work in earlier issues at the time Barry was first considered “dead”).

Meanwhile, someone doing a poor copy of Trickster’s M.O. commits a burglary that accidentally kills a guard – and the police are now after Axel!  In the chase scene we find out that Barry is no longer alone in fighting crime with the Speed Force.  In fact, there is a rookie “Speed Force” comprised of Albert and Gomez, two of the bystanders who were sucked in to the Speed Force along with Iris West.  They call themselves Sprint and Turbo Charger (the latter with a set-up not unlike Hot Pursuit from Flashpoint).  This new “Speed Force” isn’t quite as good as think they are…creating some friction between them and The Flash.  Where this will lead will certainly be explored in upcoming issues.  Interestingly enough, the Speed Force seems to have skipped the female members of the group who spent time there…at least for now.

Barry takes Axel to jail…but he also believes in Axel’s innocence and begins a search for evidence that will clear the Trickster of murder.  But, time is running short to do so, because we find that Trickster has found a new “family” after being kicked out of the Rogues…and that family is coming to call to free Axel from jail by force!  As that battle starts we find a twist that leads directly into the next issue of Dial H – and it certainly explains Flash’s involvement in that title.

Flash #18 is scripted by Brian Buccellato (who also handles the colors) while Francis Manapul takes a couple of issues off.  This story is a little more linear in its approach than some recent issues, while still setting up some interesting side stories for the future.  The quality of writing does not miss a beat here – and the idea of new Speed Force “rookie heroes” has the potential for very interesting conflicts as we move forward.  Marcio Takara handles the pencils and inks this issue – and while I am a raving Manapul fan, I have to admit that every time I see Takara’s art I like it more and more.  The page is more dependent on traditional panels than in a Manapul issue, but there are still creative uses of the page and the artwork is spot on in keeping with the overall look we’ve come to expect in this volume of The Flash.

SUMMARY: After all the events of Gorilla Warfare, Flash #18 provides an excellent change of pace…and a great starting point for conflicts to come.  Brian Buccellato’s scripting here does not miss a beat, and Takara’s artwork is more than credible in keeping with the standards we’ve come to expect from this excellent series.