This volume of THE FLASH gets off to a good start with issue #1, retelling the origin of the Flash and reintroducing us to the cast of characters…but there is a twist here that is important to note. It may seem a little much to restate the origin of the Flash again (after addressing it a bit in FLASH REBIRTH), but there are some really good reasons to do so here. This does represent a good jumping on point for new fans, but it also takes a few beats to establish just what being Barry (and being The Flash) means in this new era, pulling key points from past iterations of the Scarlet Speedster. And, the origin story is echoed in a way that directly sets up the arc. We’ll have more for you on all of that…right after the jump.
SOME SPOILERS AHEAD
Before we get to the story, I want to switch up my usual order of review and touch on the artwork. As noted with FLASH REBIRTH, this is a more indie style of artwork. For me, that’s fine (I’m an indie fan as well as a huge DC fan). There is a somewhat flatter look rather than a rendered appearance to the characters, but it’s done well here – in fact, even better than the REBIRTH issue, so it looks like the art team of Carmine Di Giandomenico (pencils/inks) and Ivan Plascencia (colors) are hitting their stride. Their work is particularly striking on the first splash page, with a combination of action, colors, and effects that simply blew me away when I saw it. That page is echoed near the end of the story…with good results there as well…but let’s save that for when we talk script. There was creative use of page layout, some really neat transitions from Barry to Flash and back, and generally good expression throughout the book. Now, if you are looking for fully rendered, Alex-Ross-Style art you won’t find it here…but I’m a fan of a variety of art styles, and I’m actually enjoying what I see here. It is different than just about any volume of the Flash I’ve seen (you may find some similar works, but for me it’s pretty well unique). And, that’s just fine with me.
Now, let’s talk story…I enjoyed the pacing of this story throughout. This is a good example of how you start an arc, not giving away too much but also getting to the point by the issue’s end. (I wish I could say that about all the REBIRTH titles). We are introduced to August Heart, setting up a backstory that has similar (though not exact) points to Barry’s. August’s brother was killed, and while no one has been framed for the murder, the real killer is still about to go free. Fast-forward to now and August and Barry are good friends…but first…let’s talk about how The Flash’s basics are established in this issue:
- We see the “Barry is always late” trope, in this case due to his trying to do waaay too much. He looks scattered and lost at times, but it’s actually being lost in thought of what he needs to do…for everyone.
- This Barry is the ultimate do-gooder, saving people but also bringing pizza to people. He would even rebuild houses for people…except for city codes getting in the way (which is actually good or else every issue of THE FLASH would become a HGTV show).
- We see Barry’s joy in remembering the original Wally West. While there is a potential for them to work together again and soon, it looks here as though this Wally’s main adventures will be with the Titans.
- Barry wants a partner in crime fighting, though he realizes the original Wally West will need to work for now with the Titans to investigate that missing 10 years for the DCU. His talk about realizing he cannot be in two places at the same time, even with all his speed, plays into this arc. But, it also foreshadows his willingness to train a new Kid Flash some day (when he discovers in a later issue that there may be a potential new Kid Flash, that is).
- We see a new-Wally who looks up to the Flash (as opposed to his initial New 52 anger at the Flash). He also looks up to Barry as a mentor in science, so this bodes well for a potential partnership down the road.
- We also see the budding relationship between Barry and Iris, where new-Wally is basically rolling his eyes at their claim of just being friends.
All this establishes basic “truths” about this version of THE FLASH. There are significant nods to favorite past versions of Barry and Wally (and Wally), but with just enough of a twist in each case to allow new angles on the story. That leads us to the big difference for this arc.
Barry’s origin story is echoed in a number of ways for August Heart, culminating in a Speed Force strike on him at the end of this issue…we have a new speedster! Based on future issue solicits and interviews with writer Joshua Williamson, we know that this is just the start of a Speed Storm, with multiple new speedsters (good and bad) coming to Central City soon.
A first issue has a number of jobs to complete…bring new fans up to speed, explain who the players are and what motivates them, and set up the story arc without being dragged down by other jobs the issue takes on. THE FLASH #1 does all that exceptionally well. It is the best DC book for this week IMO, with all due respect to Action, Detective, Wonder Woman and the rest. I can’t promise to give a 10 for every issue (in case the creative team wants to know), but I can give a 10 to this issue.
That’s my opinion – what’s your take? Leave your comments below.