Reviews: Flashpoint – Reverse Flash

Speed Force contributors Devin “Flash” Johnson and Greg Elias take a look at last week’s Flashpoint: Reverse Flash one-shot, written by longtime Flash artist Scott Kolins and illustrated by Joel Gomez, with colors by Brian Buccellato.


Check out the comments after the jump…

NOTE: These reviews contain spoilers regarding the events of Flashpoint: Reverse Flash.

Devin:

Flashpoint: Reverse Flash is written as a companion piece to The Flash v4 #8, “Reverse Flash Rebirth” and further fleshes out the new origin of Professor Zoom. We’ve seen the extent of Zoom’s messed up actions previously in Flash: Rebirth and the aforementioned Reverse Flash profile issue, but now we are really delving into Thawne’s psyche and exploring the screwed up thought processes that lead to those actions; Thawne has suddenly become a lot more interesting to me now that we are getting down to the meat of him and they (Kolins) definitely have my attention. Not so much in the overtly messed up stuff that Professor Zoom does to young Barry & company (although they are pretty sadistic) but the twisted thoughts before and whilst he is doing them. Bringing his character and just how truly disturbed and obsessed he is into a different light.

Kolins does a great job with the story and was obviously a large contributor and/or learned a lot while working with Johns on The Flash v2.  He manages to strike all the right notes with the characterization and really nails it in hammering home that Thawne is right up there with Grodd as one of the more twisted and cutthroat Flash villains out there.  The Rogues never want to really kill the Flash, they know that in order for them to keep the game going and keep other “capes” off of their backs that it is in their best interest to avoid killing a Flash. But Thawne has no such qualms and the only thing keeping him from killing Barry is the fact that he physically can’t. Barry and Thawne are forever connected as Thawne cannot exist without Barry, and his negative speed force can’t exist without Barry powering the “positive” speed force. This of course inspires a greater pathological need to hurt Barry as much as humanly possible without killing him and thus we see Zoom traveling through time experimenting with Barry’s life and cutting and pasting where he deems it necessary. And that is where the “fun” begins with Thawne. Watching his rollercoaster ride of experimentation and his twisted thoughts whilst toying with someone else’s life is almost hard to read at times and that is why it works.

While the story is a great continuation of “Reverse Flash Rebirth” I find myself missing Kolins and Manapul when looking at the art. Not all the time, but a lot of the time. The overall look and style of is pretty solid but the faces all look scrunched up as if they smell something bad and the more I look at it the more it comes off as a knockoff of Manapul’s style. I remember a little while back when Kolins unveiled a look more similar to Manapul’s which ended up, in my opinion, evolving into the best of both worlds. Unfortunately this one just doesn’t have those same qualities, yet. I don’t hate the art at all (it definitely doesn’t come close to the levels of Freddie Williams II on Wally’s last run) but I wouldn’t want to see this guy on a Flash title full time or anything. I will point out though that his non-costumed characters look a million times better than his costumed ones. Whenever they had Barry or Thawne in costume they just looked off to me like they did not fit the page or something. I do like his proportions though. Too many artists like to overly bulk up The Flash ridiculously. I personally prefer a more streamlined look to my speedsters and he definitely nailed that.  I could see him doing a future one-shot or fill-in story and probably being a bit better, as he definitely showed some improvement towards the end of the story (the last page was especially chilling). Also I hate to nitpick but the lightning is a big issue for me. Whereas EVS had the tendency to throw lightning everywhere, which got to be distracting and overdone after a bit, here we just see wispy trails of light to represent the lightning. It is like the opposite end of the spectrum almost like it is not enough. Again, I know this is nitpicking.

Overall I definitely enjoyed the issue.  I’m also looking forward to another One Shot filling in all that history with Wally later on (I can dream can’t I) and hoping that some of it will stay intact. The Return of Barry Allen was such a great story and I believe it deserves some respect. I know DC (or WB or whatever) is less than interested in keeping anything that developed Wally West into the beloved and much missed hero he is today but I would love to keep some of that intact. O.K. that wasn’t entirely fair. DC is giving us some Wally love with the Retroactive issues coming out in August by Bill Messner-Loebs, Greg LaRocque, and Brian Augustyn so I can’t complain too much. At least they are acknowledging that Wally still exists for the time being; although his role in the DCNu (if any?) has yet to be revealed.

Devin “Flash” Johnson

Random Notes

Really interested to see what look and what changes Zoom is going to take on in the DCNu. I’m guessing that things are going to end up all new and shiny because of whatever action they take to fix the universe.  I’m just curious to see where Zoom is going to fit in. I think we could be seeing a radical redesign and I could see them eliminating the yellow for something that translates to a film better. We will see.

Scott Kolins is killing it with his Flash-related stuff lately. This story combined with Citizen Cold are definitely among my favorite reads spinning out of Flashpoint, although I’m going to have to mark Citizen Cold a bit higher because it is both written and penciled by Mr. Kolins. I think I’ve mentioned before how Scott is probably my favorite artist on the Flash period. He nails everything about The Flash that I love.  I wonder if he was offered to be involved in the new series at all or if they automatically went to Manapul and Buccellato.


Greg:

Flashpoint: Reverse Flash is essentially a continuation of the story from November’s Flash #8, where Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins explored the backstory of Zoom as is stood post-Flash: Rebirth.

After having the pleasure of reading Flashpoint: Citizen Cold, it was good to see Kolins is playing in the Flash sandbox in more ways than one.

Kolins’ recent Flash writing has been strong and has me interested in his recent writing work, including the Solomon Grundy series and two issues apiece of Superman/Batman and Magog. Having worked with the Flash characters for so long, he really understands the pacing needs of the book and the implications of the powers involved.  Zoom’s time-traveling experiments (he is a Professor, after all) completely devalue key moments in character’s established stories and in the readers’ memories, and are certainly effective enough to warrant more than one look.  Used as a plot device, it directly addresses unanswerable questions about stories and continuity.  This is obviously a timely subject, given what is on the horizon at DC after Flashpoint.

Gomez’s art is wonderful.  Regular Flash artists (and new Flash writers themselves) Manapul and Buccellato have almost established a new “house” style for Flash comics, and that can certainly be seen here since Buccellato handles coloring duties.  Some of Gomez’s figure work on the first couple of pages is a little flat, but there are plenty of panels brimming with energy and the product as a whole is a very entertaining Flash comic.  The Flash vs. Zoom sequences are worth it on their own.

NOTES:

  • On the opening page, I initially thought Zoom was Wally West.
  • Though I do love the experimental aspect of Zoom’s actions, I am now officially confused as to what is in continuity and what is out.  For instance, Barry is shown deliberately breaking Zoom’s neck by violently twisting his head.  This also appears to occur in front of Iris, as the panel appears in the scene where Zoom is explaining the nature of his repeated attempts on her life.  Is this just a tangent timeline that Zoom created during his experiments, and did Flash still unwittingly break Zoom’s neck while saving his then-fiancée Fiona Webb?  I assume it is the former, for clarity’s sake.  Still, it is very effective stuff.
  • Gomez pays great attention to detail, which complements his penciling style.  When portraying the first time Flash caught a criminal, both the Turtle and a set from the Showcase #4 story (the alley) are shown in the panel.
  • Zoom’s torment of young Barry is fleshed out in some painful ways.  Though I have always felt that a big part of the appeal of Flash is his status as a “normal guy” with extreme power, I can see why Johns enacted some of the changes for his new Flash.

10 thoughts on “Reviews: Flashpoint – Reverse Flash

  1. married guy

    The killing of Zoom in front of Iris caught my eye as well.
    This was a good read, but really is superfluous to Flashpoint proper. It didn’t give us Flash readers anything we didn’t already know.

    I enjoyed Citizen Cold & Kid Flash a lot more.

    Reply
  2. chris

    Yep, The Flash snapping Thawne’s neck in front of Iris stands out, but there are also some continuity problems with Reverse Flash’s statements just before that scene: Barry didn’t “always find a way to stop” Prof. Zoom from killing Iris. He was doped up on PCP at the masquerade ball where Reverse Flash killed Iris (yes, I know, not really, but Barry didn’t know that then). The fact that he didn’t find a way to stop the killing led directly to Identity Crisis. Barry’s vote would probably have gone the other way had he prevented it. Also, when Prof. Zoom tried to kill Fiona, Barry (accidentally?) used lethal force to stop that, because,in part, he was still feeling guilty about not being able to protect Iris. . So, has this history been changed as well? Or is it just poor writing?

    Reply
    1. Perplexio

      I really hope not! She’d make such a great rogue for Barry. A jilted bride who had been left at the altar… There’s plenty of motivation for revenge there.

      Reply
    2. chris

      You’re probably right about that, but then it leads to more continuity problems. Did Identity Crisis happen? If Iris wasn’t spirited away back to the future, then how could Barry join her there? So, was Bart Allen born in the future? I guess we’ll need to wait and see what still stands when the dust from Flashpoint settles.

      Reply
  3. Michael Kramer

    I first noticed indications of fiona being retconned out in the Fall of Green Arrow a year or so ago. when Ollie was trying to justify killing Prometheus to Barry he mentioned Barry’s killing Thawne. Barry replied “iris was in danger.’ I was confused at the time but now it seems that everything from Iris’ death forward is being re-written by Johns and co. This is the kind of retcon I object to. I don’t mind small tweaks:
    baby from Krypton arrived on earth in a ship not a birthing Matrix
    Hal was in his Father’s beat up old plane instead of a simulator
    John Stewart was a Marine AND an architect
    etc…..
    Massive write-outs of continuity really bug me.
    I’ve been reading DC for the last twenty-four years
    Now Geoff and the retro-head patrol have decided that the last 24 or so years were crap and they’re going to re-write everything.
    to quote Wally West
    “I think i’m getting a headache!,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Yup, definitely a headache”

    Reply
    1. chris

      I’d forgotten about Barry saying that to Green Arrow. At the time I thought it was just poor editing, but now I think you’re right and that Fiona has been retconned out of the continuity. But it’s poor planning from DC to emphasise this retcon now, when, in a month or so, they’ll be releasing ‘The Trial Of The Flash’, which will remind us all that Barry killed Reverse Flash in front of Fiona not Iris.

      Reply
  4. Wally East

    Why is it that an artist can’t keep which way the lightning zigs straight from one page to the next? Seems like an easy thing and it bugs me when someone gets it wrong.

    I also didn’t care that much for that art overall. I did enjoy the writing though.

    Reply

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