Blackest Night: The Flash: #1 shows how to start a Flash miniseries: by hitting the ground running. Literally. While Geoff Johns took a slow burn approach for Flash: Rebirth, this time he starts in media res, with the Flash racing around the world to let everyone know what Earth is up against: the dead are rising from their graves, possessed by Black Lantern rings.
The one-page opening sequence, followed by a dramatic double-page splash of the Flash running, serves another purpose: filling in readers who might not be familiar with the main Blackest Night miniseries. As someone who hasn’t been following the main event directly, I found this page extremely helpful. Similarly, I imagine the two-page recap of Flash: Rebirth would probably help anyone approaching this miniseries from the Blackest Night perspective get “up to speed” with the current status of the Flash.
Once the recaps are out of the way, the issue alternates between high-speed Flash vs. Black Lantern action and interludes of the Rogues as they prepare to face their dead comrades. It’s effective pacing, providing both contrast and a sense of weight to an issue that, despite the battles, is still mostly setup (more about that later).
I’ve probably said it before, but Scott Kolins’ art is a perfect fit for the grizzled Rogues. He proves equally well-suited to the undead Black Lanterns. Kolins also does a great job of conveying motion and stillness — important, since that contrast is one of the issue’s major themes. On the downside, there are places where his art comes off as too rough. A one-panel appearance of the Titans stands out as an example.
The story is surprisingly connected to Flash: Rebirth, following through on several elements established in that miniseries but not (at least as far as issue #5) resolved. It seems that Blackest Night: The Flash will be exploring the fallout from Rebirth‘s changes, paving the way (one hopes) for more stand-alone stories in the new Flash ongoing that launches next year.
Even so, this issue feels less like setup and more like an actual story than the five issues of Flash: Rebirth that we’ve seen so far.
Okay. It’s spoiler time. If you don’t want to know specifics, stop reading now. Otherwise, keep reading after the cut.
You’ve been warned!
The two main Black Lanterns who appear in this issue are Professor Zoom and Solovar, former leader of Gorilla City. I thought that the initial confrontation with Zoom was over way too quickly, but it’s clear that he’ll be back later. I would have liked to get a better view of the Black Lantern Reverse Flash costume, but I think the more dramatic views (including the first-appearance splash page) served the story better.
The book raises a lot of questions about the nature of the Black Lanterns and whether they can be restored to life. (OK, it’s comics, of course they can!) In particular, “Solovar’s” remarks about how he doesn’t want to be like this, begging Barry to help him, and Barry’s response: “I don’t know how.”
The confrontation between the live and dead Rogues should be interesting.
Connections (Now with Spoilers!)
From comments I’ve seen online about Blackest Night, it seems that this issue takes place either during Blackest Night #4 or between that issue and #5. It starts with Barry Allen racing around the world to get the word out, and ends with everyone heading for Coast City. That said, this issue seems to spin out of the event more than it feeds back in.
It also appears that Blackest Night as a whole takes place very shortly after Flash: Rebirth. Barry is still catching up on the changes since his own death and still working through the revelations about his past and about the speed force. There’s also the through-line with Gorilla City and the speed force painting seen in Flash: Rebirth #2. (Note: The gorilla leading that ceremony was Nnamdi, Solovar’s son, who succeeded him as leader.)
I’m disappointed that they’ve decided to stick with the retcon that Barry lost his parents when he was young. It just feels like an unnecessary darkening of the character. But if they’re going to keep it, it’s good to see them exploring how it affected Barry’s personality and history.
The focus on the Rogues, and Scott Kolins’ artwork, also gives the book the feel of a follow-up to Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge. Add in the Rogues’ cemetery, Tarpit and Captain Boomerang, Jr., the new, green Gorilla City, and it feels like a bridge between Geoff Johns’ previous Flash run starring Wally West and his upcoming Flash run starring Barry Allen.
The more I think about it, this is starting to look like the book I wanted Flash: Rebirth to be. Now if we could just have a little more Wally and Bart…
“In particular, “Solovar’s” remarks about how he doesn’t want to be like this, begging Barry to help him, and Barry’s response: “I don’t know how.””
Based on the other Blackest Night stuff, this is probably a lie to evoke Barry’s sympathies. The black lanterns feed off strong emotions.
It’s been established that they are not the people (gorillas) brought back to life, but the ring re-animating the body and using the person’s memories to pretend to be the person.
I haven’t been following Blackest Night at all but I really enjoyed this story… I loved seeing Owen and Tar Pit hanging together, the Rogues watching their backs, Gorilla city torn asunder by Solovar (?!?) AND most importantly – all used in a manner that suggests they have a real plotline instead of useless bit cameos. In reading this issue, I conidered what Rebirth really had to offer in the end except a retcon of Barry’s past. This story probably could have flown right out of Final Crisis without a hitch. We still would have gotten Prof Zoom – alive and dead, Wally could have premiered his new speedforce costume at any time, Max could have arrived in Kid Flash… Now I can only hope that Mopee is revealed to be behind everything in Rebirth #6.
Two major points I had a hard time with – the tortured hero narrative bit at the beginning referencing Barry’s “new hero origin” – where the moment of transition from man to hero essentially boiled down to Zoom murdering Nora Allen. The central focus of his origin and sense of justice comes from being victimized. Of course, this is exposition for Flash: Blackest Night in the wake of Rebirth.
The second is a misuse of the term electrical. Yeah, I know it’s a comic book – but the word electrical references a very specific kind of energy. Despite being hit by lightning, Flash isn’t powered by electrons. If his power was “electrical” in nature he’d never get anywhere near the speed of light.
It would probably be less visually exciting to see what Flash would really leave behind (water vapor) running several hundred mph and the origin synopsis on page 3 is probably used to explain the fireworks that are drawn around Flash now – but they could have just stuck with “speedforce discharge” – whatever that is.
Correction – two minor points I had a hard time with… 😛
I agree, the story paced well and I was in particular happy with the dialog since so much of Rebirth’s talking was explaining rather than telling bits about the characters or their emotional state.
In general I was much happier with Kolins’ art than his first few issues of the Flash regular series. His work indeed does fit the Rogues well but now and then it steel feels a little jagged for the Flash character and in particular Barry. The splash over page two and three were just right in my opinion and I hope Kolin’s can do more of this quality.
The only Blackest Night Tie-ins I am not reading, until they are collected are the Solomon Grundy, Superman/Batman, & Titans ones. I feel that Flash Rebirth has really tied into Blackest Night with the Professor Zoom coming back Reveal. I have some of The Blackest Night Tie-ins up on my comichall eBay account, including Flash # 1, though potential buyers have to be live in the fifty states of the U.S.A.
I loved this issue, though I wish we saw more Rogues.
I agree with the earlier post, the Solovar bit where he was begging Barry was to evoke emotion. That wasn’t sincere. Barry knew this. But I think it’s a ploy that would work better for Black Lantern Blue Beetle trying to goad Booster over in his book.
Wish we could’ve seen some ghosts from Wally West’s past as well. Savitar and Cassiopeia of Red Trinity come to mind.
Maybe we’ll even see Black Lantern Inertia and Black Lantern Weather Wizard Junior?
There’s also Johnny Quick of course.
Black Lantern Intertia and Johnny Quick oohh I hadnt thought about that one. He might but I doubt it, Zoom seems to be where the focus is heading in perhaps the next book or so. My guess is issue 2 will focus on the rogues more and hopefully part 3 we’l get to see some more Flash vs Black Lantern Zoom.
I did love the book, I can reread it at least another couple of times until #2 comes out.
This book was really cool! This is truly the most fun I’ve had reading flash in a LONG LONG time. I’ve been diggin rebirth okay, but here I really felt like I was reading a good Flash STORY.
Only two bummer points, which were minor: I felt that the Rogues stuff could have been more balanced out with the Flash action. And I got a really bad feeling with the “lets acknowledge Wally and then pretty much forget about him” approach we got… I hope that doesn’t become typical.
But the fun factor of this issue was way up. Some things that amused me:
Totally dancing around having to mention Fiona Webb, despite her being integral to the whole Barry killed Zoom fiasco. Though I have to wonder if Zoom will bring that up– to eat at Barry.
The totally silver-age Barry rationale of “Hmm something weird is going on” SNAP! “I know, I’ll go to gorilla city and consult my friend Solovar to help me figure it out!”
The weird “Just in case anyone asks” comment about only having Solovar look at his moms case file, and specifically not Batman. (okay, this half amused me and half rubbed me the wrong way)
The super-speed Zoom fling!
Barry being one of the first people in all of the BN books I’ve read to actaully think of turning off his emotions to combat the Black Lanterns. Duh!
Anyhow… it was a fun issue, I really felt like I got the Flash back, and I also felt like this was definitely BARRY, which was pretty cool.
FINAL NOTE in my ridiculously long comment: while I’m still not warmed up to the Wally costume yet, I’ve dug the (if only breif) Kolins and Reis takes on it much more than the EVS rendering… strange but true.
.-= mattchee’s latest blog post: A Couple of Killers =-.
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