First off I know the reviews are usually Kelson’s thing (and you can expect to see his later in the week) but I decided to share my two cents and take a shot at it. This is my first time reviewing a comic book online so all feedback is most assuredly appreciated. Now on to the review:
Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Francis Manapul & Scott Kolins
Color: Brian Buccellato
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Cover: Manapul w/Buccellato
Variant Cover: Greg Horn
Assoc. Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Ok, this is the way a Flash relaunch needs to be done; Fast and Furiously. Through the last two issues we’ve been on a nonstop action-packed, roller coaster ride that shows no signs of letting up with Part 3 of The Dastardly Death of The Rogues.
As many of you may be aware I was not the biggest fan of Barry’s return. I love Wally and he has been a character that I loved reading about and identified with for years. He was the Flash that I got into and despite the once off story featuring Barry (JLA Year One, The Secret of Barry Allen, and Rogue War), he seemed like a distant memory of a character that died an awesome memorable death. I’m also a huge fan of legacy characters in general. It’s what made DC kind of stand out on it’s own. They had characters that got older, retired, or died and then a new hero would take their place. When Barry died and Wally took his place as The Flash this was huge. It was the first time we had seen a character developed as a sidekick take on the role of their mentor, the first time the inherent promise had been fulfilled. In other words this was ground breaking and it stands out as one of DC’s defining traits. Allowing their heroes to age and move on (quasi) organically while still allowing the character’s previous developments to shine is what DC has been doing pretty well for years.
Just one reason why I don’t like all the back tracking. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve done some great stuff with Barry Allen and Hal Jordan since their returns but I feel like nothing is making them that unique other than that they are older heroes returning to take back their mantles from their previous sidekicks (or letting them co-exist like the superhero equivalent of Gallagher Too). I loved the steady progression we were seeing in the DC Universe and it really made me feel like I was growing up alongside these characters. I wouldn’t be disappointed if a newer younger version would take his place, I would expect it. It needs to happen in order for others to have that feeling as well. Of course as I said, it needs to happen organically; when a character has without a doubt outlived their usefulness and needs a shake-up. The problem is that this is mostly subjective, but certain things like sales, the ability to hold a solo title, etc, etc can (and should) be factors in whether a character is worth keeping around.
With that said, Barry Allen has just about won me over. Just about. First Johns is doing a great job turning these stories into Barry Allen stories. Meaning that you can’t easily insert Wally into these pages and call it the same story. Barry’s occupation is a huge part of this. We get to see a Flash that actually works with the police and at the crime lab. He is at the forefront of all information about Rogues and criminals running loose and then in an interesting twist has to do the forensics to convict them after taking them down. I love how they are playing up the C.S.I. part of it and even flat out referencing it on the cover. CSI: Central City. I could definitely see The Flash being an awesome TV show if they emphasized the C.S.I. elements like Johns does in this issue. There is also a noticeable lack of internal narration that we had with Wally that emphasizes that this is a different Flash through and through. In contrast when Bart Allen took over as Flash they kept the internal narrative from Wally’s run and I don’t think this helped in establishing a whole new ball game.
We open with what we’ve already seen in the Newsrama preview, Digger Harkness (also known as Captain Boomerang) is in the prison infirmary after a welcome home beating from the Iron Heights prison guards. Boomerang attacks a guard in a last ditch attempt to escape his fate and is beaten and subdued fairly easily. Facing another ruthless beating from the guards, Boomerang under duress utilizes his former Black Lantern abilities and creates explosive boomerangs out of thin air and takes care of the guards. I guess that works. I would have liked Boomerang to pull off something a little craftier than randomly developing powers to generate boomerangs out of thin air. It would have been cool to actually see him pull off a real prison escape ala Piper. Also part of the fun of Captain Boomerang was his ingenuity and over the top quality when crafting them. These new developments reek of a nineties revamp. In fact this reminds me of when The Punisher died and came back and was able to pull ghost weapons out of his trench coat. He also fought angels. Don’t believe me?
It was lame then and it’s kind of lame now. I can only hope once this Brightest Day thing is over that he somehow loses them. Would the JLU Episode where he tied The Flash to a huge Boomerang be half as fun? With that said I can’t wait until we see Boomerang face off against The Flash. Hopefully the ghosterangs will have some cooler properties than simply exploding, although it doesn’t seem like it according to the Flash Fact at the end of this issue.
Now we get to the:
When we left Barry last issue the evidence recovered in the investigation of the death of Mirror Monarch identified Barry Allen as the murderer. Luckily Director Singh blames it on scene contamination caused by Barry and the issue is quickly resolved. I was wondering how Barry would get out of that one and I love that. I’ve begun to wonder again. And surprisingly I’m wondering more about whats going to happen next instead of when we will see Wally again. Don’t get me wrong, Barry will never supplant Wally West as my Flash, but I think that with the latest developments with Wally and the West family he should be at most in semi-retirement. He has a family to raise and a daughter to train. Oddly enough Barry while older has neither so I guess it makes sense in the scheme of things, I just wish they could have done this with Bart instead. They were pretty much heading in that direction back in The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive when they killed Bart off anyway. He had just joined the Police Academy and was studying Forensics. Now that I think about it Marc Guggenheim actually used similar story elements to this one when Bart was almost arrested after Steppenwolf broke into Bart’s locker. He was looking for a device Bart recovered earlier from underneath Los Angeles after a fight with the ironically named one-shot villain, Impulse. He escaped from the authorities by revealing that he was the Flash and then running to his final fate at the hands of the Rogues. I guess Barry’s stories are interchangeable with someone but I guess it works a bit better when you are in the actual crime lab and not a rookie recruit. Or maybe Johns should never ever leave the Flash ever again…
But I digress, Barry and Iris meet for Coffee to discuss Barry’s dilemma and a closed case that he is investigating when the Renegades strike again, in a scene that reminds me of Spider-Man 2, when Peter and Mary Jane are talking in a coffee shop and Doctor Octopus throws a car through the window:
And while we are on the subject of art, Mr. Manapul’s sketchy style has a way of drawing (hehe) me in nicely. It seems as if he has come a long way in a very short time. The Flash #3 has impressive work throughout with scenes like this one:
Francis’ style has a way of just making The Flash pop. The way he conveys speed is only enhanced by his sketchy style giving a visually vibrant and unique feel of speed. He really is making the Flash stand out as an iconic hero in a way that hasn’t really been done since Howard Porter left the Flash along with Geoff Johns after Rogue War in 2006. Sure there have been a few flashes of excellence here and there (Karl Kerschl, Tony Daniel) but for the most part it’s been pretty uneven in the art department. Something you can’t have when the main draw of The Flash is his look and his speed. Francis Manapul, Scott Kolins (my personal favorite Flash artist), and Ivan Reis (in Blackest Night and the Green Lantern tie-ins) have done a great job maintaining the momentum and draw the Flash the way he should always be drawn. Slender and sleek, not rippling with ridiculous muscles and kinetic, always on the move and bursting with vibrant energy.
After the initial attack, Barry checks on Iris while simultaneously asking her to check out Iron Heights through a contact and then changes into his working clothes. The Renegades muse about the whereabouts of The Flash just as he appears and surrenders himself to the them in an effort to calm them down and avoid casualties. The Renegades trap him in a supposedly speedster-proof force-field and begin reading Barry his rights. After some back and forth, Barry uses the time talking to figure out the frequency of the field and jumps through. Trixster comments that The Flash should not have been able to break through and Warlock replies that it’s better they know now for their eventual encounter with Professor Zoom. Love all the foreshadowing. After a brief chase with some added foreshadowing of Iris Allen’s future, Barry is apprehended again. He is only saved by the sudden appearance of Captain Boomerang and his exploding ghosterangs setting up a three way battle between Barry, Boomerang and The Renegades next issue.
More props btw for the Renegade character designs. The more and more I read this issue, the more and more it feels like an episode of a TV show or a treatment for a movie. With the right material, the Renegades’ costumes could translate very easily into contemporary Rogue movie costumes. Francis did a fantastic job updating the Rogue’s looks, especially with Commander Cold:
At the end in keeping with the spirit of Barry Allen and also hitting home a little more that this is Barry Allen’s book and Barry Allen’s stories, we have a Flash Fact. Drawn by Scott Kolins and done in two parts, the first is a scientific explanation of how boomerangs work. To illustrate it we have a young Digger Harkness, who is practicing throwing his boomerang before dinner. The second part gives us a mini-profile of Captain Boomerang and his recent exploits. Kind of an update for those who didn’t follow Blackest Night and aren’t following Brightest Day. Geoff Johns has gone out of his way to make this book accessible to new readers, even in the third issue we are brought up to speed fairly quickly on what we’ve missed earlier in the story.
All in all I give it a solid B+. We all know Johns can write a good Flash story and he isn’t disappointing many here. He is little by little fleshing Barry out a bit while also hitting home key things about him that will never change; His unswerving sense of right and wrong, his methodical approach to just about everything, his analytical scientific mind, and his love for Iris. These things are what ultimately define Barry Allen and make him attractive as a character. Johns knows this and plays it up well. Francis Manapul’s art helps move the story along at breakneck speed and stops for nothing. His style fits the Flash better than anyone has consistently in a while and I hope that he is in for the long haul.
A few things, like the unnecessary change to Boomerang’s powers kinda bug me, but I’m a wait and see kind of guy. I’m sure Johns will find a way to make it work or hopefully it will be reversed by the time Brightest Day is over.
Thanks for reading.
I’m hoping that this is going where I think it’s going… That Prof. Zoom and Digger are somehow working together. What I’m hoping is that Prof. Zoom has convinced Digger to turn on the rogues and to help him escape in exchange for him going back in time and preventing his son, Owen’s, death.
The way Owen’s death was done in Blackest Night and the big reveal in Rebirth that Prof. Zoom can change the past just lead me to believe that Owen’s death was a setup for partnering Professor Zoom with Captain Boomerang. I guess we’ll see.
I loved the art in this, and enjoyed that they brought back Flash Facts.
But I’m still having trouble accepting Barry’s and especially Iris’s new youth and easy re-integration into society. In this issue, Barry asks Iris to tap her reporter contacts … why does she still have them? Remember, she was an old retired woman? And had been living in the future for years? How did she get a job back? Were they both in Witness Protection?
I wish I could relax and go with the flow with this but these things are jarring for me. You know who is more likely to still have reporter contacts? Linda Park. And who is more likely to be txting all day long? Younger heroes. We’ve never seen Stephanie Brown or Supergirl text but Barry Allen does?
Good point regarding the texting. I am having trouble excepting Alan Scott’s wife Molly being drawn younger in Justice League, Iris at least is explained.
It bothers me that Wally appears to be more mature at this point than Barry does and he is still supposed to be younger. At the same time though the stories are interesting and compelling enough (to me at least) that it barely registers. At times yeah it hits you, and then as suddenly as it hits we are in another scene and it’s quickly forgotten. One of the main reasons why I’m loving the style of this series. It’s unabashedly wham, bam, thank you, m’am and it works well for a series about the Fastest Man Alive.
Also texting is one of those things that isn’t really age or gender specific anymore. Everyone does it. Of all ages. It’s more of a personal preference thing than a generational thing nowadays. It’s not like Barry and Iris are 80. They appear to be in their early 30s (for some reason)so I could definitely see them texting back and forth as opposed to calling. Especially due to the high stress nature of their jobs. She is a reporter always on the go, making phone calls to contacts, sources, etc it would be much easier for her to text instead of having a short or lengthy conversation with The Fastest Man Alive.
Barry is a crime lab technician who has to be concentrating on testing evidence or being on the scene and examining evidence. Texting is much easier than having to talk on the phone while testing or recovering evidence. Also think about it. I talk pretty fast sometimes and I don’t have superhuman speed. I can only imagine how Barry’s speech comes across sometimes to Iris. Texting can often be a clearer and more concise way of communicating for a Super Speedster. Being super fast he can quickly text even in the middle of meetings or conversations without the other person even realizing it. This is extremely useful for someone in Barry’s line of work and with his unique set of skills.
“Also texting is one of those things that isn’t really age or gender specific anymore.” Totally right. I’m in my 30s and text all the time … BUT it took me years to get used to this to the point where it was a natural part of my day. Imagine a 35-year-old from 1995 suddenly disappearing and reappearing today. Would texting come naturally to them? Email, Internet, cell phones … all radically new. Sure, you can explain it away as Barry being the Flash means he can quickly adapt to new things. But Iris too? Remember, Iris – though she looks 20 – has experienced 50+ years of life. More importantly, if you aren’t going to concentrate on the “man-out-of-time” or “adjusting to the future” aspect of Barry (like a mini- Captain America thing), why not use Wally?
Hasn’t Iris been around in the present for most of the last few years? Yeah she has been deaged considerably but she was still around when cell phones were introduced and I’m sure she loves her blackberry.
I can definitely see your point about not really utilizing the “man-out-of-time” scenario but really he is The Flash. In Green Lantern #44, Barry quips that the internet is too slow for him. Most things really are. Catching up is all about what he wants to catch up on and how fast he can read up on it. Plus who wants to read about angsty man-out-of-time Flash? I had enough of that with the beginning of Bart’s series. No more angsty Flash if we can help it.
After hanging out on the JLA satellite I would think wouldn’t be too big a deal. ;P
Geoff could work in a bit of humor with the texting. He could toss in a throwaway remark from Iris complaining about all the cellphones Barry goes through from texting too fast and wearing out the keypads.
You are right… but the problems from the first and second issues are still there. I guess that won’t change, so i’ll have to keep complaining 🙂
Don’t forget, Iris is from the future. Texting could be grade school tech for her.
p.s. The giant boomerang from JLU was taken from when Boomer did just that to Barry during his first series.
Well, I can’t say I’m horrible dissapointed with this book, I want to hate it but I don’t. However, I think there are a few problems that bother me.
First and foremost, the aged of the characters… why are they all so young? Why are they all so up to date with current technologies? the Flash is faster than twitter, why is he texting?
Manapul doesn’t impress me, but I think he is Ok. What I don’t get is the choice to use an style that makes the book look “retro”, not only the ink washes colored make it look like it’s painted with watercolor, the color palete makes it look like and old movie.
All in all, the book advances fast and is packed with action, and is mostly fun… but the choices for certain story elements are so archetypical, that they don’t really atract me. But is way better that previous attempts.
I thought we already covered the texting thing? 🙂
The thing that bugs me is the cover (and DC’s advance advertising of this issue): the Flash dead? That appears
NOWHERE in this issue! Can someone explain?
Yeah, well it sort of has to do with people not following Julius Schwartz example of covers matching stories.
Hey Digger, boomerangs that are thrown and explode on contact aren’t boomerangs. They’re bombs. Would you want an exploding boomerang returning to you?
I actually think Captain Boomerang’s powers should stay. He should also be able to manifest other types of boomerangs other then the exploding bomb type. Flare boomerangs, giant boomerangs but the giant ones take a lot out of him, razor, electric, and so on.