Flashpoint: Kid Flash Lost is one of the more pleasant surprises to spin out of Flashpoint and the first time we’ve seen Bart Allen in a solo book since the end of Impulse way back in 2002. Yes, I am aware of the short-lived Flash: The Fastest Man Alive but that was not Bart Allen, at least not the Bart that I know and love. Sterling has managed to do what Geoff Johns, Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo , and Marc Guggenheim were never able to do; he has successfully captured Bart’s voice. That makes all the difference when it comes to my enjoyment of this story. Sterling has clearly done his research and given that he has reportedly pitched three different ideas for a Kid Flash series to DC since 2007 he obviously has a passion for the character. I have to say that they chose the right man for the job.
NOTE: This review contains spoilers regarding the events of Kid Flash Lost #1 of 3
The story opens with Hot Pursuit (a character introduced during the final issues of the last Flash series and obviously an integral part of the story) evading the police and from the get go it is made pretty clear that this is not the same Hot Pursuit that met his demise in The Flash #12. This new super speedster has stolen Hot Pursuit’s suit, Baton and Speed Force-powered motorcycle and escapes by riding up a wall (an old speedster trick) and soon disappears into the time stream.
In the next scene we see Bart chasing after Barry Allen while Barry berates him by saying he is a second rate Kid Flash and that he will never ever be able to fill Wally’s shoes. Bart’s inner monologue during the sequence squarely puts us in the mind of Bart Allen. Again the voice is there and that makes all the difference. Bart sounds like Bart and acts like Bart and after some nods to past writers and another example of a writer actually using past character development to enhance a story; Bart’s photographic memory comes into play when he remembers all the little details that are off about Central City then “Barry” and finally himself (in that order) and he reaffirms his identity as THE Kid Flash and punishes “Barry” with a flurry of punches. That is when he breaks free of his illusion and wakes up in the 31st Century as a prisoner of Brainiac, who has apparently ruled this version of the Earth for the past five centuries (a pseudo nod to DC Universe Online maybe). He escapes from his shackles and is chased by Braniac’s minions as he explains to us that Bart is a time anomaly and that he seeks to drain the chronal energies from his body for some nefarious purpose. Without the Speed Force Bart is helpless and trying to evade recapture until he is rescued by Hot Pursuit who was also held captive as a time anomaly. They escape together and Hot Pursuit reveals that “he” is actually Patty Spivot. Patty is an old character from the Bronze Age of The Flash and apparently is being set up to be a major player in Flashpoint. After Professor Zoom killed the previous Hot Pursuit, Patty stole the suit, baton and motorcycle from the evidence locker in an attempt to be “something bigger” and we learn that not only are Bart and Patty both time anomalies, they also need to find Hot Pursuit’s Speed Force Gas Tank (I’m not making this up) in order to return to their rightful timeline before they both disappear.
I love more than anything how Bart’s actual experience comes into play throughout the story. Little references to his past and personality are all over the place and most important of all, Bart is still Bart. He has obviously been a hero for quite a while and has become fairly competent at it. I have to take issue with the overused “Oh NOES I’m cut off from the Speed Force” bit, but at the same time it works within the story (especially if you are reading the main Flashpoint series) and most importantly Bart still acts like Bart. He may be more experienced, but he is still easily distracted, loves video games and can quip with the best of them. There wasn’t really much to the story otherwise but this is clearly a set up for something bigger. Sadly this is coming off as a swan song to the past before they erase everything and introduce an angst-ridden, Scott Lobdell written version of Bart that promises to be almost unrecognizable just by the pictures alone. I actually am a fan of Scott from back in the day (I have a complete run of Generation X and all the action figures including the special ToyFare Magazine exclusive of Synch) and he definitely had a good grasp of teenagers back in the day. I haven’t really read anything of his in the last few years and I don’t know how well his experience with writing teenagers during the nineties is going to translate to this but I’m hoping that things work out for the best. Personally I would have rather had someone like Fabian Nicieza on board (I’m a huge fan of the New Warriors, specifically Nova) but I’m slightly optimistic. But I digress; I’m definitely looking forward to the next issue and what comes of this.
As far as the art goes, I really hadn’t heard of Oliver Nome until this issue, but I have to say I’m impressed. Quite a few artists have issues with drawing teenagers but Bart almost pops off the page at times. This is the best I’ve seen Bart drawn in quite a while from the head all the way down to the boots. I know I was in the minority on this, but I actually dug Bart’s old boots and I was pretty annoyed when EVS redesigned. If only because it made it clear that this was Bart’s own look and own unique spin on things. Too often Bart is drawn as Wally-lite and I like when it is made clear that he is not a Wally clone. Oliver gets that, and even though he has Wally’s old boots, Bart’s poses and mannerisms make it clear that it is the real deal. The Braniac pages also look pretty solid and they take a lot of visual cues from the PS3 MMORPG, DC Universe Online. I was curious and checked out Oliver’s deviant art page (you can see some of his pages throughout this review) and it looks as if he did some sketches and concept work on the game so it makes sense that certain concepts made their way into this series.
I know this is a bit off-topic but I’m wondering what exactly is going to happen to DC Universe Online once the reboot takes hold. A lot of work went into the character designs and the launch and it seems like most of it is going to be pretty meaningless after this. I haven’t played the game in months so I’m not sure where it is story and gameplay wise, but when I left it wasn’t what I would deem to be very good.
All in all I’m definitely looking forward to the next two issues, but like I said; I have a feeling that this is just a “Dear John” letter to fans of the old DC Universe and that this is all going to be pretty worthless once the DC Universe reboots. This isn’t a bad note to go out on though; I’m feeling the Bart love that Sterling is bringing to the table and I’m hoping that one day he gets to write that Kid Flash series. He obviously has put a lot of thought into the character and has done his research. I have to admit though, I haven’t read much of his work but he has gotten a fan based off of this first issue. Of course all that will be negligible once the new DC begins but it is nice to know that some writers don’t just eschew all previous history because it does not fit into their ideal interpretation of the character.
Random Notes and Thoughts:
I don’t understand the inclusion of Patty Spivot or what Geoff’s intention was in including her. Honestly I think she is a stark reminder of just how convoluted Barry’s history is and I find myself wondering yet again just why it was necessary to get rid of Wally. I know that they wanted to streamline their characters to make it easier to translate them to film, animation, etc but really? The rich history of the DCU and the legacy aspect is what drew me to the company in the first place. The idea of heroes growing older and getting replacements was a novel and unique idea and I wish they hadn’t felt the need to backtrack so much. I do get what they are trying to do here so I can’t begrudge them too much.
As I mentioned before I loved Bart’s old boots and I feel like they could have done something to make his suit stand out a bit more if they were going to get rid of the boots. The gloves and belt have their own unique spin to them but it isn’t enough (and the new design is too much). I guess it is a moot point now but I really wish EVS hadn’t made the changes he did. The Kid Flash Bart Allen action figure is one of my favorite collectibles and every time I look at it I’m reminded of the vanilla changes made to the suit. The boots had flavor and while they didn’t make a heck of a lot of sense to run in why does that matter? It is a comic book. Costumes aren’t supposed to be realistic they are just supposed to look cool.
I’m scratching my head over how Braniac is going to fit into the overall story and whether this is going to lead to some changes to DC Universe Online as well. As I mentioned before DCUO is based on the old DCU and with the reboot looming I can’t help but think that they are going to have to make some drastic changes to the game to coincide with the new DCU. I really can’t imagine how much time and effort would have to be dedicated to making these changes but I feel like it is almost necessary.