To be honest, I’ve been dreading this arc. Between the title, “This Was Your Life, Wally West,” the promotional descriptions, and the timing, it clearly seems that DC is setting it up as a last Wally West story — whether it literally is, or whether it’s simply the last story in his solo book. The last time that happened, we got “Finish Line,” which was…underwhelming at best.
Fortunately, this issue proved to actually be good. Writer Alan Burnett has a good feel for the characters, and portrays Wally as a competent hero. He holds his own against Amanda Waller. The Justice League has no qualms about sending him on a case solo. When he encounters obstacles that prevent him from using his normal tactics, he immediately finds a way to work around it.
Importantly for continuing readers, the story doesn’t feel disconnected from the previous runs. Story elements continue seamlessly from “Fast Money,” following up on choices and actions both at the personal level and at the heroic. And while the tone is more serious — possibly the closest to Geoff Johns since he left the book — it’s not a major departure.
Similarly, while Paco Díaz’ art is more realistic than Freddie Williams II’s more cartoony style, it’s clear that he’s working from the same character designs, so the change in style doesn’t jar the way that, say, the change from Scott Kolins to Alberto Dose between “Blitz” and “Ignition” did. (Although that was a deliberate artistic choice, so perhaps it’s not the best example.) I particularly like the fact that the Flash’s costume has some texture to it: the belt, in some panels, actually looks like a belt and not just a different color in the fabric.
The family dynamic is well-balanced with the super-heroics. Readers who dislike seeing Iris and Jai will be happy to see a lot more solo action from the Flash. Those who do like them will be pleased to see that their new, not-about-to-die status is actually explored rather than simply taken for granted.
This is probably the best first issue from a creative team that The Flash has had in years. It’s certainly better than the first issues of “Finish Line” or “Lightning in a Bottle.” I still have reservations about where the story may be going, particularly since we’ve got a major change coming in a few months, but I suppose we’ll see.
Now, on to specifics. Thar be spoilers ahead…. Continue reading