Brave and the Bold #28, “Firing Line,” by J. Michael Straczynski and Jesus Saiz occupies an unusual niche for the Flash. While Barry Allen has been back for a year and a half, this marks his first real solo adventure in an ordinary comic book format since his return. Flash: Rebirth is very much a transition, more setup than story, and while Barry certainly has the spotlight in that book, he shares the stage with a host of other speedsters. Wednesday Comics came close, but was very much caught up in exploring the alternate format.
Calling a team-up story a solo adventure might be pushing it, but this does read much more as a Flash story than a Blackhawk story. It’s told from the Flash’s point of view, the key dilemma is a decision the Flash has to make, most of the Blackhawks are indistinguishable from each other, and a group known for air combat spends the entire issue grounded.
At its heart, the story uses the clash between two classic comic book genres to ask the question: “When is it acceptable to kill?” The Flash — perhaps the example of the Silver Age superhero: slightly goofy, with crazy science adventures and a code against killing — is dropped into the middle of a war, unable to leave until an injury heals. And not just any war: World War II.
On that level, it works. The Flash’s idealism and the Blackhawks’ determination contrast well, until he finds a way to align them. Jesus Saiz’ artwork feels a bit stiff and static during the Silver Age-style framing sequence, but is well-suited to the war story that takes up the bulk of the issue. The coloring also highlights the contrast between the Flash’s bright red costume, the Blackhawks’ dark blue, and everything else in muted grays and browns.
It also manages to avoid the stilted dialog that occasionally crops up in JMS’ writing. Every once in a while I’ll be reading something and a line will leap out as either very awkward, or a quote from Babylon 5. That didn’t happen even once here.
So what doesn’t work?