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52apolooza: Flash

Written by Christian on Monday, October 17 2011 and posted in Reviews

The Flash dashes into 52apolooza!  How does it fare against our 52apolooza Reviews?  Click and find out!

Welcome to 52apolooza, the Outhouse feature focusing on DC's September Relaunch.  All of DC's 52 titles will be reviewed by our pool of reviewers to point out the best and worst that DC's new comic book line has to offer.  To see how this book ranks among the other new DC titles, be sure to check out our 52apolooza Rankings!

Barry Allen is still the oldest (and possibly the only) Flash around in the DCnU?  How is his new book?  Read on and find out!

Marvel Reviewer: Comic_Doctor

I was looking forward to reading Flash #1 for a few reasons. One, Flash has always been a DC character I've liked. Two, I really liked the whole Flashpoint event that led up to the DCnU. And three, I've met Francis Manapul a few times. He's a great guy and a talented artist, but the question was "could he write?".

I think he can. Manapul did a nice job showing us a bit of who Barry Allen is in his civilian life, plus he easily fit in some supporting characters to the story. I'm sure we'll see much more of Iris West, Patty Spivot, Director Singh, and Captain Frye in future issues. This Manuel character is new to me, and probably to everyone, but I like the story that's been built around him, and I'm very curious to know what he's involved in.

Again, Francis Manapul is a talented artist, and he's always getting better. I like his versions of both Flash and Barry Allen. He has an elegant, simple looking style that isn't muddied down with over rendering. The pacing and storytelling are well done, and so are the characters' facial expressions. I have to give some props to colorist Brian Buccellato too. Brian's colors are very different than what you normally see in a comic, and they work very well with Manapul's art.

I think everyone knows who the Flash is, so I believe new readers will have no problem understanding Flash #1, and I hope the stay around for the ride. It looks to be a good one.

Writing: 20/25
Art: 21/25
Accessibility: 20/25
Enjoyability: 21/25

TOTAL: 82/100
Grab Bag Reviewer: James Moore

One of my more frequent criticisms of the big superhero books of the last half-decade or so has been a tendency for the art to be done in a glossy realistic style. Blame Hollywood or videogames, this dominant style has led to lot of boring looking comic books. So when a book as beautiful as The Flash comes out it's a very pleasant change.

It should be no surprise that Manapul's art remains spectacular and inventive. When the title character is in motion, his art really pushes into the sort of pure comics visual acrobatics that J.H. Williams III traffics in. The falling off a building page has been justifiably praised, as it's one of the best uses of panel breakdown blended with overall page design you'll likely see in a Big Two comic. Manapul similarly livens up what could have been a dull forensic scene by framing it as a bird's eye view of Barry Allen's apartment with inset panels. He is also the only artist since Quietly on Batman and Robin who I've seen integrate sound effects so directly into the environment, like a "Splash" made out of water.

Attention is also paid to wardrobe design and making the characters dress in realistic and fashionable cloths. It's one of those details one would think would be de rigueur for artists, but is rare enough that it really does deserve praise. Manapul even makes Jim Lee's over-busy Flash redesign work though a combination of watching it form around Allen in an interesting way, as well as some nice lightning effects escaping from the scene.

No small part of the art's effectiveness is the contributions of colorist (and co-writer) Brian Buccellato. It is just incredibly pretty with soft, warm pastel hues infusing the art with shimmer and glow. It's a sort of pop watercolor look that really makes the book distinctive, and it's also just genuinely pleasurable to soak in.

The Flash, however, is a little less successful on the writing side. A big part of this failure is that Barry Allen makes for such a dull protagonist. White-bread and indistinct Allen, as well as Hal Jordan, may be the most compelling counterargument for "There are no bad characters, only bad writers." Manapul and Buccellato try to make him more readable by basically making him Peter Parker. Well, humorless Peter Parker CSI, complete with two beautiful women who will invariably compete over his affection. I'd say it's ridiculous for two intelligent and charming women (and the creative team really does make them quite charming) to be so interested in a plank of wood, but I know enough Chad Michael Murray fans to suggest that it could happen. They also use the Spider trope of making the antagonist someone with a personal connection to the lead. Still, to Manapul and Buccellato's credit, the tone is more quirky sci-fi than standard superhero. While the story never quite achieves the liminal, sprightly, or hyper-kinetic aspects that could have made it really special, it also never gets dour and even Allen's weakness as a character never causes the book to collapse. Given that the creative team have not really writtenbefore, the skill and enjoyability of the Flash is actually kind of impressive. If anything, Manapul's art is probably enhanced by setting it free from the writing tics of his last collaborator, Geoff Johns.

While perhaps not the most powerfully written book, The Flash is still an excellent visual confection. It may not be a runaway debut, but The Flash is on track to do reasonably well in this race.


Total 52apolooza Score (with Two Reviews In): 165 (Average Score 82.5)

Written or Contributed by: BlueStreak

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About the Author - Christian

Christian is the exasperated Abbott to the Outhouse's Costello. When he's not yelling at the Newsroom for upsetting readers or complaining to his wife about why the Internet is stupid, he sits in his dingy business office trying to find new ways to make the site earn money. Christian is also the only person in history stupid enough to moderate two comic book forums at once.


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