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