After the events of FOREVER EVIL, Central City is a mess…in just about every way you can measure. The reconstruction work has begun, and everyone is dealing with the consequences of the vicious attack on the Gem Cities by the Crime Syndicate. Barry is feeling a particular level of guilt…after all, he IS the Fastest Man Alive. The themes of devastation, recovery, regret, and lost time run strongly through this excellent debut from the new FLASH team of Robert Venditti, Van Jensen, Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund. Oh, and did I mention….Wally?
LIGHT SPOILERS ONLY
We begin with a flash-forward to Iris being pulled from a wreck that Barry was unable to stop. There is an unidentified (for now) young man who didn’t make it…but more on that later. In the present day, every member of the Central City Police Department has been required to go through psychological evaluation in order to be cleared for duty. Makes sense, given the utter devastation the city has faced. Barry could use some counseling…he can’t stop moving, can’t stop running around the city, can’t stop trying to make up for the simple fact that he wasn’t there when they needed him. Not that he could help that fact, as anyone who has been reading FOREVER EVIL can attest. But still, there’s that guilt…that significant guilt. Later on he receives a special gift from Patty that plays into this theme of lost time, and by the end of the issue you’ll find just how significant that truly is as we flast-forward once again, this time twenty years to find the Future Flash…and a startling revelation! As for Wally…I’ll have to leave that to you to read. All I will say is that we will obviously see a lot of him in this series. Hang on to that thought, okay?
New writers Robert Venditti and Van Jensen have done a great job in establishing their themes for THE FLASH, and I’m looking forward to their contributions to the great history of this franchise. Many of you know the song “The Ballad of Barry Allen” by Jim’s Big Ego (Jim, by the way, is Jim Infantino, the nephew of Carmine Infantino). I had that song running through my head throughout reading this issue. Barry is absolutely the type of guy who would experience this type of guilt and his reaction here makes perfect sense. As for the artwork…let me admit here that I’m VERY biased, as I’ve been a fan of Brett Booth for some time. Lest anyone forget, this is the artist who gave us some great redesign ideas for Wally while we were all missing him at the start of the New 52. He’s obviously a true fan along with being a fantastic talent. His take on The Flash’s speed mixes in a little Infantino with a little bit of Manapul, and I like how he handles super-speed motion here. His glowing lines on the Flash’s costume seams may get some notice in our comments section, but overall I like the look and style he brings, with great inks from Norm Rapmund (always a great job whenever he is inking) and excellent colors from Andrew Dalhouse.
A final thought – those very few of you who read my personal blog at the start of the New 52 (before I started reviews here at Speedforce.org) know that I was willing to give Manapul and Buccellato a chance at a time that others were questioning why DC gave such a great assignment to artists who didn’t have a track record in writing. Not that I’m psychic, but that turned out really well…and I’m still a fan of M&B and am glad to follow them over to DETECTIVE for more of their excellent work. With this change, I’m once again more than willing to give the new team a chance…but there is a difference. That difference is I’ve already seen their work in writing and art elsewhere, and I already know what these excellent creators are capable of producing. I’m certain we will see some differences in tone or plot or style from the new team, and that’s okay – I’m impressed with their first issue and am looking forward to more.